The "Offensive Genius" has been fired. Brian Billick was fired today by Steve Bisciotti, a few weeks after the owner said he would bring Billick back. "I just changed my mind," the owner told The Baltimore Sun on Monday. "I can't explain it to you. It's the toughest decision I've had to make." Billick was hired in 1999 after a successful stint as Minnesota Vikings offensive coordintor. The hope was Billick would build the same style offense in Baltimore that he had in Minnessota to go along with an already stellar D. However, like Tony Dungy & Marvin Lewis, the opposite happened. Under Billick's rule the offensive was never great or even good for that matter, but the defense was stellar and Billick rode that defense to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV. In Billick's defense, Baltimore was never able to find a "franchise QB." Instead Billick was forced to work with a group including: Elvis Grbac, Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, and an old Steve McNair. Billick was 80-64 as Ravens coach.
I doubt Billick will be out of a job for long. If I'm Atlanta or Miami I am seriously considering Billick as the head man.
Monday, December 31, 2007
The first casualty of the Parcells era is GM Randy Mueller. The Miami Herald is reporting GM Randy Mueller was fired by Parcells today. Parcells is to meet with Cam Cameron tomorrow, but there has been no mention of which way Parcells is leaning on Cameron. In addition, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Mike Baugh and College Scouting Coordinator Rick Thompson are gone.
This move is the first of many that Parcells will be making in the next few weeks. I don't expect him to retain Cameron. I believe Parcells will look to bring his own coach to cook the groceries Parcells and the new GM buy for him. The first GM candidate that comes to mind is Scott Pioli, Vice President of Player Personnel for the New England Patriots. Pioli, started his NFL career with Bill Belicheck and the Cleveland Browns. He then followed Belicheck to the Jets (where he also worked with Parcells) and has been with Belicheck throughout his New England tenure. There is also the fact that Pioli is Parcells son-in-law. The question is will Pioli give up his successful job with New England for a rebuilding job in Miami?
Another name to keep your eye on is Jeff Ireland, vice president of College and Pro scouting for the Dallas Cowboys. From all accounts Parcells and Ireland have a good working relationship and there could be a mutual interest.
Friday, December 28, 2007
It is being reported that Miami Hurricane QB Kirby Freeman is requesting a transfer to a college in Texas. As a Hurricane fan I’m hoping this is true and Kirby will take his 12 Tds, 16 Ints, and 44.67 % career completion percentage with him.
Jules and I have compiled a list of potential suitors for the services of Kirby Freeman.
University of Phoenix
Our Lady of the Lake University-San Antonio.
Loredo Community College
Connecticut School of Broadcasting
Barbazon school of modeling
Concorida University at Austin
University of Border Patrol
University of San Antonio at Mexico
Texas Woman's university
In the infamous words of the legendary band Steam
Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na
Hey Hey Hey
Now that the hot stove has cooled down for the moment, I want to take a look at how the current Rays roster projects when it comes down to opening day. I'm sure the Rays aren't done making deals and I expect a veteran lefty reliever to be signed or traded for. I also expect a veteran catcher and infielder to be brought in to compete with current backups Shawn Riggans, Ben Zobrist & Joel Guzman. There has also been some talk that a Morgan Ensberg type player will come in to play 3rd base while Longoria gets some more ABs in AAA, but I'm going to assume thats all talk at the moment and Longoria will be here on opening day. Barring major injuries or deals, here is our best guess at the Rays 2008 Opening day roster
2B Akinori Iwamura
LF Carl Crawford
1B Carlos Pena
CF BJ Upton
DH Rocco Baldelli
3B Evan Longoria
RF Jonny Gomes(The Rays open up against the O's and assuming Bedard is still there Gomes will get the bulk of the starts against Lefties)
C Dioner Navarro
SS Jason Bartlett
SP Scott Kazmir
C Shawn Riggans
1B/3B/OF Joel Guzman
2B/SS/3B Ben Zobrist
OF Cliff Floyd
SP James Shields
SP Matt Garza
SP Andy Sonnanstine
SP Edwin Jackson*
CP Troy Percival
SU Al Reyes
SU Dan Wheeler
MR Juan Salas
MR Scott Dohmann
MR Gary Glover
LR Jason Hammel*
*Out of Options and can't be sent to minors without passing waivers
Big improvement over last year, especially in the rotation where Jae Seo and Casey Fossum roamed the Trop last year looking for a strike. Defensively, you have to like the improvment especially up the middle. Bartlett and Aki will man the DP positions over Ty Wigginton and Ben Zobrist. While the slick fielding BJ Upton takes over CF for Elijah Dukes who was better suited for a corner OF spot.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
In 2004 Tony Romo was just your average 3rd string NFL QB. He was 23 and had no ESPN commericals, no Cowboys Passing records, no $67.5 million dollar contract and definitely no Jessica Simpson. However, Romo did have a weekly journal he kept up on Cowboysplus.com. This April 19, 2004 edition of "Roamin' with Romo" was supposed to be about the anxiety of draft day approaching, but Tony Romo also gave us some incite to the casanova inside him. Here is an exerpt that I couldn't pass up
All right, here's the women and dating part. I didn't go on a date at all this week, but I did attend a fancy party Saturday night where there were a lot of women. I arrived at the party at 9 p.m. There were already 500 people there. It took place in the banquet room at a nice hotel in downtown Dallas.
My friends from SMU and I hung out and talked to a bunch of different girls throughout the night. Finally, at around 11 p.m., this attractive brunette came up to me at my table. She asked me if I was using the chair next to me. I decided last week that I've been too shy when I see a good-looking girl. I told myself the next time I see a girl who I find attractive, I am going to go talk to her or at least show her I like her. So being the Casanova that I've been lately, I proceeded to tell her I was using it, and that it was reserved for the most beautiful brunette at the party.
Now I've never given a one-liner like that before, so I was eager to see her reaction. She looked at me a little dumbfounded with her baby browns. She then gave me a sly smile, (little did I know that she was extremely witty) and said "you are so sweet."
Yes, she liked it, it actually worked. I began to ask what her name was when she said it was so nice of me to save that seat for her all night. I told her it was no problem. She then leaned over like she was going to kiss me on the cheek but instead whispered in my ear. "Try it on a blonde," she said as she grabbed the chair and took off. She did give me a smile as she walked away, though, so at least I kept my dignity
It seems Romo took the brunette's advice and tried it on a blonde, actually a few blondes. Luckily for Tony she was right because it seems to be working. I'm sure Ms. Brunette is wishing she was a blonde right now since Romo is now the franchise quarterback and $67.5 million dollars richer. It's funny she smiled as she walked off, because Romo is the one smiling all the time these days.
The definition of the NFL Comeback Player of the year award is: "The player named Comeback Player of the Year shows perseverance in overcoming adversity, in the form of not being in the NFL the previous year, a severe injury, or simply poor performance." Past winners include: Joe Namath, John Riggins, Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Dan Marino, Doug Flutie, Tommy Maddox, Tedy Bruschi & Chad Pennington. Then you have Garrison Hearst who is the ultimate comeback player winning the award twice. In Hearst's case as well as Marino, Namath, Montana and Bruschi, the winner was coming off an injury the previous year. They put in the hard work and returned as close to form as possible the next year to receive the honor. In cases like Maddox & Flutie, those players were out of the league for some time and returned to find success they had lost or never had in their previous stint in the league.
Let me start this by saying I am a fan of Randy Moss and think he is one of the top 5 WR's in the game of football. However, the reason I'm writing this is lately I've been hearing people mentioning Moss as a possible Comeback Player of the Year candidate. At first, it seems pretty simple, sure Moss has come back and is enjoying one of the best if not his best season ever. Then you ask yourself this question, What is Moss coming back from? Moss did miss three games in 2006 with a hamstring injury but nothing compared to the back injury Montana overcame or the near career ending stroke Bruschi suffered. However, the awards definition lets you count for poor performance. This is partly true in Moss's case, but the poor performance was his own doing. Moss has said numerous times "I play when I want to play" and evidently when his team is losing he doesn't play. That is where my beef with Moss winning, or even being considered for the award comes in. Here are a few quotes from Moss during the 06 season:
"I might want to look forward to moving somewhere else next year to have another start and really feel good about going out here and playing football"
Moss responded to questions about his dropped passes and lackluster effort in several games, saying "Maybe because I'm unhappy and I'm not too much excited about what's going on, so, my concentration and focus level tend to go down sometimes when I'm in a bad mood."
If a player admittingly quits on his team when they are losing or facing adversity should he be awarded for playing great when things with the team are on the up and up? Last year in Oakland Moss had a career low 42 catches for 553 yards and 3 Tds, both also career lows. The Raiders ended up 2-14 and Moss was traded to the Patriots. The Pats are 15-0 and about to become the first team ever to go 16-0. Magically Moss's performance is through the roof. He has 92 catches 1,393 yards and 21 recieving TDs, one away from tying Jerry Rice's single season record of 22.
Should we reward Moss for a poor 2006 and a great 2007 when he didn't play as hard last year because he was on a bad team? Or should we take a look at some of the other players in the league who have had much more to overcome than being unhappy?
I'd much rather see the award go to someone who busted their ass to either get back in the league or to get healthier than someone who sat on theirs because they're "in a bad mood". I don't know the exact qualifications of the award, but a guy, who if eligible, should get consideration is Buccaneers DE Greg White. White was drafted in the 7th round of the 2002 draft by the Houston Texans but failed to make the roster. He played for two years in the Arena Football League before getting an invite to Bucs training camp this year. White has enjoyed a great season in the NFL and is one of the reasons the Bucs are tied with the Patriots at number one in scoring defense. White is a fierce pass rusher and it's him, not 2007 1st round pick Gaines Adams, who leads the Bucs in sacks. Another candidate who should get a serious mentionin is Cowboys LB Greg Ellis. Ellis converted to linebacker in 2006 and was enjoying a good season until he ruptured his achilles against the Arizona Cardinals. Ellis then missed the final 7 regular season games as well as the Cowboys lone playoff game. He also missed the first four games of the 2007 season. Once back on the field, the Cowboys took it slow with Ellis, he didn't make his first start until Week 7 against Minnesota. In the 12 games Ellis has played he has posted a career high 12.5 sacks (11.5 of them while his team was trailing in the game). I guess thats not bad for a 33 year old coming off of a injury most thought would end his career. There are many other candidates who should get consideration like Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Grant. Randy Moss and the Patriots are going to get all the records and awards they deserve. The NFL Comeback player of the year shouldn't be one of them.
Friday, December 21, 2007
If you notice that we don't update in the next few days its because we are celebrating the Holidays...all of them Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa & Festivus.
The Stat Pack
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Oh no, stop the presses T.O. sounds off on Tony Romo's girlfriend. This obviously is the beginning of the end for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones is talking with the NFL's competition committee about canceling the rest of the Cowboys season because of these comments.
"Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite in this locker room or in Texas Stadium," T.O. said. "I think with everything that has happened, and obviously the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel like she's probably taking his focus away."
"Other than that, she was high on my list until last week.
"Oh, I got a message for her when we make the playoffs. Just stay tuned," he added.
Some people are actually taking this seriously, but they fail to realize T.O. was laughing while making these comments. Gotta love Terrell...Getcha Popcorn ready.
It is now being reported that Bill Parcells has turned down the Atlanta Falcons offer and has his sights set on the Miami Dolphins. Talk about terrible luck. look no further than Falcons Owner Arthur Blank. First Michael Vick, then Bobby Petrino, now Parcells backs out. This is not the first time Parcells has skipped out on a team when they thought a deal was in place. Before taking the Cowboys job many believe Parcells would be the Tampa Bay Bucs coach, but Parcells balked on that job also. We will continue to monitor the Big Tuna's movement. Who know's your team may be next.
I also found this interesting. While looking at the Parcells "coaching tree" I noticed Tom Coughlin was an assistant to Bill Parcells when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV. I then noticed when Coughlin was head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars his QB coach from 1999-2000 and Offensive Coordinator in 2001 was none other than...Bobby Petrino
I was reading Len Pasquarelli's column this morning on Pro Bowl snubs. I agree with alot of the names he mentioned. As I said yesterday we believe Mario Williams, Fred Taylor, and a few Bucs defensive players should have been on the Pro Bowl squads. Another one I could see a case for is Charles Woodson who is enjoying a fine season. Woodson's teammate and fellow corner Al Harris was named to the Pro Bowl, but Woodson has the more impressive numbers. The one argument I have a problem with is Pasquarelli's suggestion of Charles Woodson over Dallas Cowboys CB Terance Newman.
From Pasquarelli's column
Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson, who is enjoying a defensive player of the year kind of season
Woodson, a gifted two-way defender, is having a brilliant year. He supports the run as well as any cornerback in the NFL, has four interceptions and 10 passes defensed, and also returns punts. Terence Newman of Dallas is a superb player, but he missed two full games and four starts because of a knee injury.
Basically, Pasquarelli is saying Newman is fantastic, but he missed two games and four starts and he shouldn't be in the Pro Bowl because of that, and the fact that Woodson has four interceptions and 10 defended passes. As Cowboy defender of the world I had to look deeper into the matter. Woodson has missed one game this year, but started the other 13. Newman has played in 12 games, but only started eight. In less games and playing time than Woodson, Newman has picked off the same amount of passes(4) and has MORE passes defended. Im not arguing that Woodson is having a Pro Bowl season, but so is Terance Newman in fact he's having a better season with less time played.
Len, before you go picking people off the Pro Bowl roster and replacing them with a potential snub make sure that move wouldn't create an ever bigger snub.
It's being reported on ESPN that Bill Parcells will be named the Vice President of Football Operations for the Atlanta Falcons. The announcement may be made as soon as today. This also likely means the end of the Rich McKay era as GM of the Falcons, although some are saying Arthur Blank may offer him another job in the front office, should McKay choose to stay on. As a Cowboy fan I have nothing but admiration and respect for Parcells. He took the Boys out of the dark ages of Chan Gailey and Dave Campo. While Wade Phillips has done a great job of coaching them, nobody can deny that Parcells built most of the 12-2 team the Cowboys have today. I believe he will do a tremendous job of rebuilding the Falcons franchise. Arthur Blank is a great owner and I'm sure he will provide Parcells with the resources(mostly money) to bring the franchise back from the dumps.
Two big questions facing Parcells are who will he bring in as Head Coach? And who will be the Falcons QB both next year and in the future? Knowing Parcells he almost certainly will try and get a coach from "his coaching tree", meaning Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels could be in the running after studying under Parcells disciple Bill Belicheck. I also might as well throw Charlie Weis name out there. He may choose a different route and if that is true I'm sure Mike Singletary will get heavy consideration. As for a QB I fully expect the Falcons to address the future of QB through the draft possibly taking Boston College QB Matt Ryan. For the immediate future at QB you can be sure a "Parcells guy" like Chad Pennington will be a target of the Falcons this offseason, but you could never count out a Vinny Testaverde/Bill Parcells reunion. Personally, I think Donovan McNabb would be a great fit in Atlanta. Parcells is familiar with McNabb, having faced him at least twice a year as the Dallas Head Coach.
After a terrible offseason with Michael Vick and an awful 3-11 season, made worse by Bobby Petrino quitting on the team, Falcons fans can start feeling good because Parcells improves every team he's affiliated with. His track record of taking broken franchises and making them contenders is flawless. He won Super Bowls with the Giants, took the Patriots from the worst team in the league to the Super Bowl, turned around the Jets franchise from laughing stock to competitors in the AFC, and restored the winning tradition of the Dallas Cowboys. Brighter days are headed for Atlanta, the Big Tuna is Back.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The NFL released their Pro Bowl rosters today. Plently of surprises and snubs included. The Cowboys will be the most represented team with 11 players. Teams such as NFC South Champion Bucs and Jags have 0 representatives as of now. However, knowing how the Pro Bowl goes there will be plenty of changes before the game. One pick we cannot argue with was Sean Taylor, the slain Redskins safety was voted as a starter on the NFC squad. Some players The Stat Pack were rooting for that didn't make it include: Tenard Jackson, Fred Taylor, Derek Brooks, and Mario Williams. Complete Rosters
Cowboys going to Hawaii:
T.Romo...just another day of getting laid
Monday, December 17, 2007
If Jerry Jones hasn’t banned Jessica Simpson from Texas stadium he should. He should also include any other beautiful blonde with a singing career who is dating Tony Romo at the time. At first I thought people were crazy, but after a little research I found that SuperRomo does have weakness... BLONDES!!! You all remember Christmas 2006: Tony Romo is spotted with Carrie Underwood laughing and hugging before the game. You probably also remember the result, a 23-7 loss to the Eagles. Romo struggled 14-29 for 142 yard a TD and 2 Ints. That was his worst game in the NFL…until yesterday, again against the Eagles. In front 63,277 fans including Romo’s parents and Jessica Simpson, Romo was completely awful: 13-36 214 yards 0 Td’s 3 Ints. I mean he was Eli Manning awful. He didn’t have the magic to come back because Kryptonite was wearing a pink Romo jersey. So here is my Public Service Announcement to the Jones family; Keep the hot blondes around for the National Anthem and then kick them to the curb.
If you haven't figured it out by now we are joking. We're not joking about Romo sucking on days the blondes are there but that people blame his performances on that. Also, while most people are in an tizzy about this they fail to realize that she was also at the Thanksgiving game that Romo and the Cowboys dominated.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Mitchell Report
According to the investigation Roger Clemens started using steroids in 1997. The same year Boston thought he was in the "twilight of his career" and let him walk into free agency. In his 4 seasons before that (1993-1996) he won a combined 40 games. During the next 2 seasons, after his alleged steroid use began he won a combined 41 games for Toronto. From age 34-44 Clemens won an astounding 162 games. Assuming the playing careers of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are over they will both be eligble for the Hall of Fame at the same time. At that time if Barry Bonds is left out of the Hall of Fame and Roger Clemens gets accepted that will be the biggest travesty in the history of the MLB and maybe sports in general.
LIST OF NAMES:
Exavier "Nook" Logan
Gary Bennett Jr.
Gary Matthews, Jr.
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Paul Lo Duca
Davey O'Brien, Maxwell & Heisman trophy winner. All SEC First Team, SEC Offensive Player of the year, and number one choice of parents to marry their daughters. This is not a wish list folks; this is the life of Timothy Richard Tebow.
The miracle baby whose parents' chose to go forward with his birth after doctors advised them to have an abortion. Tebow is the All-American boy who wasn't even born in America. Tebow was actually born in the Philippines while his parents were serving as Christian Missionaries. He was heavily recruited out of High-School and didn't even really attend High School. Tebow was homeschooled by his mother Pam. The state of Florida allows homeschooled students to compete in athletic events as long as the school is in the county and district the student resides in.Tebow has even inspired the state of Alabama to allow home schooled athletes to participate in school athletics; "The Tim Tebow" bill is currently pending in Alabama legislature. Tim Tebow is a wonder on and off the field. The question is will his amazing story be one of just another great college player or will he be able to have the success on Sundays that he's currently having on Saturday.
Measuring the success of past Heisman trophy winners, Tebow's future is very hit or miss. The past four QBs who have won the Heisman are Carson Palmer, Jason White, Matt Leinart and Troy Smith. Only Palmer has established himself as a franchise QB. White never made it in the NFL, briefly signing with the Tennessee Titans before quitting due to "bad knees". Leinart has had an up and down career so far. In his 2 seasons he has shown flashes of greatness and flashes of not so greatness before injuring himself this season. Troy Smith started this season as the Ravens 3rd QB and saw some action during Week 14, but he's not considered their QB of the future.
When it comes to his on the field talents many experts and analysts are referring to Tebow as the prototype of "tomorrow's quarterback." He's a big kid,(6-3 235), who can run and throw the ball with equal skill. However, many question whether Tebow is a system quarterback or if his running/throwing style will translate in the NFL. Hawaii Head Coach June Jones even spoke out on ESPN recently that Colt Brennan is a better QB than Tebow because Tebow is more of a "system quarterback". I was recently given some quotes from Michael Tanier, an analyst at Pro Football Prospectus about Tebow. Tanier said "Tebow is the ultimate system quarterback. Unfortunately, the system has nothing to do with NFL football". "Tebow is rarely standing in the pocket, working through a progression of reads, and finding an open receiver, you don't have a lot to base an evaluation on, and we know almost nothing about his play recognition skills." Tanier added.
Tanier also made some interesting comparisons. Most notably to Ben Roethlisberger, who is of the same size(6-5 241) and mold of Tebow. Roethisberger is a linebacker under center who can run and throw very similar to Tebow. Also, coming out of college there were some questions about Roethisberger being a "system quarterback" because his Miami (OH) system was very shotgun friendly. However, Roethisberger's system was a little closer to an NFL system than that of Urban Meyer's spread misdirection based offense. Another name brought up was Alex Smith. I myself like this comparison because Smith played in the Urban Meyer system at Utah. Smith is roughly in the same mold (6-4 212), a little bit lighter than Tebow, but his abilities and playing style are very similar. They have both enjoyed great success in Meyer's offense at college. However, that great play has not translated over to the NFL for Smith. To his credit he has had three different offensive coordinators in three seasons and he's not surrounded by the best talent in San Francisco, but Smith himself has shown little of the potential the Niners thought he had when they selected him number one overall in the 2005 Draft.
Looking forward, the best thing Tebow has going for him is time. He's is heading into his junior season at Florida as a Heisman trophy winner with a national championship ring, something nobody before him has done. He has a least one more season to prove the critics wrong about his pocket passing ability. Conversely he also has at least another year of being exposed as a potential "system quarterback". I recently spoke to ESPN.com's Matt Mosley about Tebow's NFL prospects and he said "insert quote here". Will he be the next Big Ben or will he be Alex Smith? Nobody can say right now, but one thing is for sure, he's fun to watch and I can't wait to see how the rest of this story book career unfolds.
Plus Chuck Norris likes him
I'm sure you are receiving thousands of congratulations, and I'd like to add mine to the list. You are not only an incredible athlete, but from what I have read about you, an incredible person as well. My wife and I want to wish you the very best in your football season next year, which we will be watching, and also in all of your other endeavors.
Chuck Norris (signed)"
How can you not like this kid?
Various sites and sources are reporting a few players who will be named in the Mitchell Investigation. Some of the bigger names are:
No big shocks on this list. There are no A-rods or Jeters on this list which is very good for MLB. The interesting one is Roger Clemens. Clemens has been sort of linked in the past, but nobody has outright accused him of steroid use. The interesting thing from here on out is to see how different Clemens is treated than Bonds. Bonds is almost 100% surely not to be a first ballot Hall of Famer because of his alleged steriod use. I highly doubt the media, fans, and writers will have the same view of Clemens.
In addition, Miguel Tejada being on the list in intriguing since the O's basically dumped him to the Astros for what many believe to be less than he's worth. Did they know something before hand?
For more names
For more on Clemens
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Elijah Dukes is in the Elite Eight of deadspin.com's SHOTY(Sports Human Of The Year) Awards. He's the number 4 seed and is up against "Agent Zero" Gilbert Arenas. Go vote for everyone's favorite angry outfielder.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well I have a few about this one.
Free Mike Vick. Are you serious? "Rowdy" Roddy White must have fallen and bumped his head before this celebration last night. For those who didn't see, Roddy White unveiled a homemade "Free Mike Vick" shirt during a celebration in last night's loss to the Saints.
Free Mike Vick? There is nothing to "Free" Mike Vick from. When you are indicted on a federal crime and you agree to plead guilty as part of a deal you are admitting that you committed a crime. Whether you agree with the sentencing or not Michael Vick committed a crime and he was sentenced by a judge within the sentencing guidelines. Vick is actually lucky that Judge Henry Hudson didn't give him the maximum 5 year sentence. I am not a dog lover. In fact I don't like dogs at all. However, I do agree if you knowingly commit a crime then lie about your involvement and violate your probation, you should face the penalty. I know Vick has friends, family, teammates and even some fans who still support him, but you can't believe for one minute that Mike Vick is being held unlawfully or unjustly. I'm all for giving Vick a second chance once he completes his sentence, but portraying Vick as a victim and supporting a "Free Mike Vick" campaign is ridiculous.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The Rays chose Evan Longoria with the third overall pick in the 2006 MLB draft and he has not disappointed. In his one and half years in the minors he's played his way into being the second ranked prospect by MiLB.COM. Longoria has succeeded at every level he has been at, and with the Rays announcing that Aki will move to second base it seemed obvious that Longoria would be the starter at third base on opening day. What seemed obvious a couple weeks ago is now been a question mark with recent comments made by the Rays and the reporters that cover the Rays.
Most Rays fans believed that when the Rays traded Delmon Young it was ok because his production would be made up by the upgrade of the infield by playing Longoria. Since the trade there have been several articles in the media that have discussed the possibility and probability of Longoria not being the starter at third base. Rays fans are excited by the upgrades that have been made in the off-season by the organization and the evolution of Longoria at third base seems to coincide with that strategy.
While fans look at Longoria as a savior at third base, the Rays organization may be looking at two different models of what to do with franchise third basemen. Last season the top two third base prospects in baseball made their way to the pros. One started the season at third (Alex Gordon), and the other came up after a couple months in AAA(Ryan Braun). Both Gordon and Braun were drafted in the top 5 of the 2005 draft and both spent all of 2006 in the minors. Longoria was drafted in 2006 and spent the rest of 2006 and all of 2007 in the minors. Maybe the Rays looked at the different way Braun and Gordon were handled and have made a decision accordingly.
Alex Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Nebraska and has been one of the top prospects in the game ever since. Royals fans have herald him as the next George Brett and savior of the franchise. He only played one year of minor league ball, and despite the Royals organizations promise that he would not skip AAA ball, he did and made his MLB debut in 2007. While he finished the season with decent numbers, it was a struggle for most of the year.
486 AB .325/.427/1.015 29 Home Runs
1 K per 4 AB
1 BB per 6.75 AB
543 AB .247/.314/.725
1 K per 4 AB
1 BB per 13 AB
Ryan Braun was picked two spots after Alex Gordon in 2005. Braun, like Gordon, was a college third basemen with a high ceiling. Braun signed early, like Longoria, and was able to play a little bit in 2005. He played all of 2006 in the minor leagues but, unlike Gordon, started the 2007 season in the minors. Braun spent an extra month in AAA and dominated, which forced the Brewers to call him up to the big team. Braun did not disappoint the team after being called up and won the rookie of the year.
231 AB .303/.367/.956
1 K per 5 AB
1 BB in 11 AB
117 AB .342/.418/1.119
1 K per 11 AB
1 BB per 8 AB
451 AB .324/.370/1.004
1 K per 4 AB
1 BB per 16 AB
The Rays organization have case studies of two players that were almost identical in the draft, but were handled differently by their teams. The Rays have always been careful with their prospects and after comparing Longoria's numbers to these two players they may have made a decision already.
486 AB .298/.388/.934
1 K pe 5 AB
1 BB per 9 AB
104 AB .269/.398/.888
1 K per 4 AB
1 BB per 5 AB
Evan's stats in AA are a little below Gordon's, and his AAA stats are much lower that Braun's. Maybe the Rays noticed the same thing and are hoping that by giving Longoria the extra time next season his season will turn out more like Braun than Gordon. The Rays have made some great moves this season, and fans are ready for the team to compete. Longoria is the future of this team and will hopefully help it competitive for years, but would Rays fans rather have Longoria give them a Gordon type season, or wait a month and give them a Braun performance?
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Many of you don't know who he is. Many of you probably don't care, but David "Chip" Reese was one of the finest card players to ever grace planet earth. I'm a big fan of poker in general, and being the poker fanboy that I am it makes me sad to report that Mr. Reese died today in his sleep of pnuemonia, he was 56. This is a huge loss for the poker world as a whole.
Welcome to another edition of The Stat Pack 20. Actually this time is more like The Stat Pack 20+ which is a good thing. This edition features an exclusive interview with Jonah Keri. If you don't know who Jonah is then you probably live under a rock and/or don't pay attention to excellent writing.
Jonah Keri is a writer for ESPN.com and a contributor to multiple other publications, including Investor's Business Daily, the New York Times, the New York Sun, YESNetwork.com and Salon.com. He's also the editor and co-author of "Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong". Jonah has also joined Tom Tango, Craig Burley, John Brattain in a blog to spread the word to the media on Tim Raines' worthiness as a HoF candidate. Please visit http://www.raines30.com/ and help the cause.
Recently we had the privilege to sit down with Jonah Keri to talk about The Rays, Wall street, Final four and the MLB in general. Enjoy
TSP: Obviously we are dedicated Rays fans, as an Expos fan you can share our pain. What are your expectations of the Rays in the next couple of years?
JK: If by "couple", you mean "two", I think by the end of 2009, this team should start to resemble a contender. By then you'll have Evan Longoria starting at 3B, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton hitting the middle of the lineup, and a solid supporting cast. David Price will probably be in the rotation with Matt Garza, James Shields and Jacob McGee (I'm guessing the team will have traded Scott Kazmir by then, or in the 2009-2010 off-season). There's a solid core of talent here, and the next couple years should see the Rays' minor league talent bearing fruit too.
TSP: What are some writers thinking when voting for MVP? Chone Figgans and Frank Thomas received votes in the AL , yet some writers left Carlos Pena completely off the ballot. Where do you think Pena should have finished in the vote?
JK: I'd have put Pena in my top 10 if I had a vote, but not top 5. He had a terrific offensive season, but A-Rod, Magglio Ordonez and David Ortiz did more offensively, and Ichiro, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson produced more overall value than Pena given the positions they play--you could make a case for Victor Martinez over Pena too, and I say that as a big Pena fan.
TSP: Scott Boras said Carlos Pena is a $15 million dollar a year player. You've followed Pena throughout his career, do you think this season was a fluke?
JK: Scott Boras would call me a $10 million dollar a year player, and I played one year of Little League (poorly) before giving it up for basketball. I don't think Pena's 2007 was a fluke, but I also think it will end up being the best year of his career. There's no shame in that: If he settles in as a .270/.380/.540 player, for what they paid to get him, I'm sure everyone will be very happy.
TSP: Can you see a scenario where a player like Pena can sign a long term deal with the Rays with Boras as his agent? Or will Boras push him out of their market?
JK: I asked Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman a similar question. They said they weren't too concerned about it for the time being, since Pena is under team control for the next couple seasons regardless. If I were a Rays fan, I'd hope they don't sign him to a big, long-term deal. Pena turns 30 in May, and the list of long-term contracts for slugging first baseman over 30 that backfired is a mile long: Jason Giambi, Jeff Bagwell, Mo Vaughn...the list goes on and on.
TSP: A few of us at The Stat Pack recently read Ben Mezrich's new book, "Rigged", about the NYMEX. Is it really that crazy & hectic? The book makes it sound relatively easy; are guys really making hundreds of thousands a day moving oil without degrees and financial backgrounds?
JK: When I talk to mutual fund managers, many of them are extremely bullish over the exchanges as stock buys: Nasdaq (NDAQ), IntercontinentalExchange (ICE)--NYMEX is the same idea. It doesn't matter if we're in a bull or bear market for stocks or commodities. These guys are just middlemen, so as long as institutions keep placing buy and sell orders, they can reap profits. Whether or not they have degrees with financial backgrounds, I have no idea.
TSP: You made the transition from Wall Street to Sports. Most of the Rays top executives like Stu Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andy Friedman have made similar moves. How much of an impact, if any, does that have on them when it comes to spending money and deciding to pull the trigger on certain moves?
JK: I actually still write about the stock market--I've been doing both for nearly six years now. As far as Silverman and Friedman are concerned, that's another thing they talked about in our Q&A. The two of them feel they benefit in a way from coming in as outsiders, in that they don't have the same biases and preconceived notions that can come back to bite teams who rely on baseball lifers who lack an open mind.
TSP: Recently we've spoken to you about your views on the Rays plans for a waterfront stadium. You said you're all for it, but at the same time you agree with Rob Neyer's view about the stadium being publicly funded. Given the details that we have about the situation right now do you think a deal will get done? And what would it mean for the franchise if they cannot get the stadium?
JK: It depends entirely on whether the city votes in favor of the redevelopment plans on the Tropicana Field and Al Lang Field sites. If the vote doesn't pass come November, there's no deal, and it's tough to predict public sentiment, especially this far in advance. It's a potentially exciting deal, though. I've been to every big league ballpark but one (Minnesota), and AT&T Park is easily in my top three--the Rays are talking about building a park with a similar setting, but on a smaller footprint, which could be great. If they don't get the deal done this time, they can always go at it from another angle down the road. It took a bunch of different proposals before the Nats finally built their stadium where they did, for instance.
TSP: Andrew Friedman recently said nobody on the Rays is untouchable. What do you think about the recent rumors of the Rays moving Carl Crawford and Scott Kazmir? Isn't it too early to move those players when most people believe the Rays can contend in the next 2-3 years?
JK: The Kazmir rumors were a case of the Rays saying they'd listen to offers, and the New York media construing that to mean he was on his way to the Mets for a box of Ruben Gotay and a box of Cracker Jack. As for Crawford, the team has him signed to a very favorable contract, so I'd be surprised if they dealt him for anything short of a king's ransom. Friedman has said that no one's untouchable, though, and I like that. Sure, in a perfect world you keep Kazmir, Crawford and everyone else for years to come. But if the right offer comes around, you always have to consider it.
TSP: If the Rays were to win the World Series in 2010, do you see a potential Marlin like fire-sale situation where they could move key players like Crawford, Kazmir, etc in order to get younger cheaper players?
JK: Way, way too early to speculate in these terms. I also don't buy the idea that trading expensive players for cheaper players necessarily constitutes a firesale. After the Marlins won the '97 World Series, yes, that was a firesale. But trading free agents-to-be, making eight figures, for talented, young players with 0-3 years of service time can be a great move in the right context, whether you're the Rays or the Yankees.
TSP: You've said before you think a team can be effective with a 4-Man rotation, using a spot starter once in a while. Do you think that can realistically work over a 162 game season?
JK: It can work, but I don't see it ever happening. The best way for it to work would be to find four very good, pitch-efficient pitchers. Of course there are very few teams that can afford four Greg Madduxes in their prime. And those teams would never stake their reputation and all the money they spent on a four-man rotation.
TSP: In the last decade under the "Steroid Era" Baseball has seen an increase in attendance from 62 million a year to nearly 80 million. Revenue is at a record high 6.075 Billion. How is that a bad thing for business?
JK: Baseball players use performance-enhancing drugs--shocker. So do football players, basketball players, and everyone else. I just can't excited about this story, other than to wonder why the Justice Department has to waste its time on Barry Bonds.
TSP: We are pro Barry Bonds here at The Stat Pack. In your opinion should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame? And Will he ever make the Hall of Fame?
JK: Yes, Bonds should be in the Hall. I'd say there's a very strong chance he never gets in.
TSP: With all the record revenue, TV Contracts, merchandise and revenue sharing in Baseball, how can there still be "small market" teams?
JK: There always will be. Sure, the Rays and other lower-revenue teams share a decent slice of the pie. But compare the Yankees' revenue or the Red Sox's revenue with Tampa, Pittsburgh, Kansas City--they're worlds apart. That's why the Rays have to execute so perfectly--they're at a big financial disadvantage in the AL East.
TSP: We know the Players Association wouldn't ever go for it, but does baseball need a real salary cap like the other major sports?
JK: A salary cap is nothing more than a way for owners to put more money in their pockets. You can tweak the revenue sharing system to further level the playing field. Other than that, restricting players' earning power just makes billionaires richer.
TSP: What about having a salary floor like the NHL that prevents owners from just pocketing money?
JK: Teams should be free to spend whatever they want on payroll. Yes, it's a crying shame that someone like Carl Pohlad is one of the richest men in the world, yet gladly pockets tens of millions a year from revenue sharing, instead of investing in his team. But if MLB is truly committed to finding more ambitious owners, they need to do a better job of inducting new members into their club, instead of giving us giant, leeching wastes of space like Jeffrey Loria. As is, I'd say the Commissioner's office cares a lot more about finding owners who'll fall into line with MLB dogma, instead of recruiting outspoken and ambitious Mark Cuban types to take over franchises.
TSP: Joe Girardi has some very valuable young arms in NY. When he was with the Marlins, all five of his starters ranked in the top 115 in total PAP. Do you see that being a problem between Girardi and the NY Brass?
JK: I don't see that being a major problem. I'd also bet that the Yankees bring in a couple of veterans for their rotation, rather than relying on four young guys.
TSP: Over the last 5 years which GMs do you think have done the best job? The worst?
JK: I think it's a little too facile to give all the credit to the GMs, since it's always a team effort. As for organizations, I've been impressed with the jobs done by the Red Sox and Indians, more recently by the Diamondbacks and Rockies, and a bit before that by the Twins, Braves and A's.
TSP: With all the recent shuffling of GMs in baseball, be it firings, retirements etc, what advice would you give a new GM? What kind of skills does it take to maintain your job in this business?
JK: Win games. Seriously, it isn't any more complicated than that. Win games, and don't make the mistake of working in a town where Bill Plaschke and his ilk dump on you because you don't give good quotes. It's a fickle industry, and plenty of good people get fired for iffy reasons. But accountability is still king--teams that win tend to provide job security for the people that run them.
TSP: What do you think of Andrew Friedman's performance as a GM?
JK: Again, you have to assess the entire organization: Silverman, Feinstein, Hunsicker, Click, Bloom--you have to look at everyone involved in the decision-making process. Overall, though, I like what they've done. The Carlos Pena signing worked out great, the team stuck with B.j. Upton and was rewarded, I've liked what they've done in the draft, and I thought the Delmon Young trade was a very gutsy move, one that could really help the Rays (and the Twins too--the classic good trade for both teams).
TSP: Of course it's only almost the beginning of winter, but who do you have in the Final Four come March?
JK: I made my pre-season picks in print for the New York Sun, so I'm stuck with those four, for better or worse. UCLA, North Carolina, Tennessee and Marquette. It's wide open this year, though, I could name another half dozen teams who have a great shot at it. I'm looking forward to covering my first Final Four in San Antonio in April.
TSP: And finally, being the Expos fan you are, who would have won the 1994 World Series?
JK: Anything can happen in the playoffs--as we saw from the Cards in '06, the Marlins in '03, and in other cases, the best teams don't always win. All I know is the Expos would've been in the playoffs, which would have been a huge accomplishment in itself, considering it only happened one time in team history, and with a strike-related asterisk attached to it at that. I actually quit following baseball altogether when they wiped out the World Series, that's how upset I was with the whole thing. It took my then-girlfriend (now wife of 10 years) to convince me to stick with baseball for the long haul. She bought me a Felipe Alou rookie card, and I was hooked again. Too bad I no longer have a favorite team to root for.
The Stat Pack would like to thank Jonah Keri again for sitting down with us. And please support Tim Raines HoF candidacy at http://www.raines30.com/
Also check out this interview with Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman by Jonah
Keri: Q&A with Matthew Silverman and Andrew Friedman
As you all know, I love Rob Neyer's work. It seems he's normally hard on the Rays, so it was good to see some positive words about the recent trades in his chat today.
David (Atlanta, Ga): What do you think of the Garza-Delmon deal? I think the Rays might finally be onto it with Kazmir, Garza, Price, Davis and McGee together in Tampa soon. I really like what Harris did last year but alot of people seem to be higher on Bartlett than i understand. Whats your take on it?
Rob Neyer: (12:45 PM ET ) Bartlett's slightly more valuable Harris, considering defense and Harris's likely decline with the bat in '08. If you run projections for, say, the next five years, the Twins come out ahead because Young has a better (theoretical) chance of becoming a star than Garza has. But Young's no sure thing, and this is basically an even deal.
Steve (Lowell, MA): Can you remember a first overall pick ever being traded so early in his career? I'm glad that the Rays are finally putting some pitching together, but something about that just feels off.
Rob Neyer: (12:53 PM ET ) I look at it the other way. After years of hoarding outfielders as if they could play five at once, they're finally starting to take decisive actions. Last season was sort of a disaster, but I still say things in St. Pete are getting better all the time.
Monday, December 3, 2007
***UPDATE***The PTBNL is Left handed pitching prospect Glenn Gibson.
***UPDATE***Looks like Dukes has been traded to the Nationals for the ever popular PTBNL. One possibility is Kory Casto a left handed 1B/OF prospect. More to come at a 6 pm press conference
***UPDATE***In the Lastest update to the post that'll never end according to sptimes.com The Rays lost utility infielder Josh Wilson on waivers to the Pirates. The Rays must have taken him off the 40-man roster to make room for an expected addition.
***UPDATE***Also we are hearing from numerous sources that a deal between the Mariners and Rays is in the works involving Edwin Jackson and possibly Ben Broussard.
We've been hearing from our sources as well as sptimes.com that Elijah Dukes has been or will be traded to the Washington Nationals. We've been hearing this rumor for quite some time, but apparently our sources say Jim Bowden has been wanting to pull the trigger on one of his relievers, maybe Jon Rauch? Anyway we will keep you updated on the latest.
My random thoughts for this past weekend in sports:
Hawaii should be playing for the National Title. I don’t care who the 2nd team is but Hawaii should be number one.
Mizzou being left out of the BCS Bowl games is a complete joke. Two of the teams they beat (Illinois and Kansas) received BCS bids, but they did not. Illinois lost three games, including one to Iowa(6-6), and they will get to play USC in the Rose Bowl. Talk about injustice.
Congrats to Sean Payton for the dumbest move of the week. Calling a reverse when you’re trying to run out the clock with a 3 point lead might not be the smoothest move. Better luck next time.
0-16 here they come. Many people thought this week’s game against the Jets was the Dolphins best chance of finally winnign. I guess not… the underdog Jets routed the favored Dolphins by 28 points.
The Magic are for real ladies and gentlemen, like for real for real. Dwight Howard is a monster, averaging almost 24 pts and 15 boards a game. For all those people who laughed at Rashard Lewis getting a max deal it looks like he’s the perfect Robin to Howard’s Batman. One question that I do have about the Magic is would they be this good with Billy Donovan as the head coach?
My adopted team, the Seattle Sonics, are 3-15 but there is so much potential on this team. I know the Sonics are looking for a new home. Tropicana Field will be empty soon. See where I’m going here.
What has happened to Omar Minaya? Is he a graduate of the Isiah Thomas School for ruining a New York franchise? Lastings Milledge has been brought up in almost every single trade the Mets have been rumored in for the past two years. Names like Zito, Haren, Blanton, Santana have all been mentioned with the Mets and Milledge. So who does Minaya get in return? Brian Schneider and Ryan Church, are you serious? Even if Milledge is a head case you don’t trade him for a 4th OF and a below average catcher, especially when you already have two average catchers on the roster. Oh and if that wasn’t enough, Minaya actually paid the Rays to take Brian Stokes off their hands. Talk about career suicide.
Looking at the Johan sweepstakes I think the Yankees have made a stronger offer than the Sox. There isn’t that big off a drop off between Ellsbury over Cabrera, however there is a huge drop off from Phil Hughes and the pitchers the Sox are willing to deal.
I am also expecting the Rays to make one or two semi-major deals during the winter meetings.
And finally be on the lookout for another Stat Pack exclusive interview this week.