Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Brett Favre retires...for real this time

This time it's for real. Brett Favre announced to the Packers that he is retiring from the NFL after 17 years. Favre holds almost every single major passing record in the NFL Record books. One wonders what the Falcons franchise would look like if they didn't trade Favre after one season? The Falcons selected Favre in the second round of the 2001 draft, but then Falcons coach Jerry Glanville didn't like the pick of Favre at all saying it would take a plane crash for him to put the rookie into the game. Favre attempted five passes for the Falcons and was traded to Green Bay in the offseason.

Oh what could've been.

Washington Nationals Spring Training doesn't include exercise

Holy Shit these guys are professional athletes? Nobody can ever argue with me that Tiger Woods isn't an athlete, but these guys are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We're still here...kinda

In case you haven't noticed the severe lack of updates on TSP, we've really thrown our hats into the world of Rays blogs. Our own spin off blog Outs Per Swing, has been well received, even picking up an endorsement from Rays owner Stu Sternberg. We've also joined Rays Anatomy at MVN and have started writing for them as well. This explains the lack of TSP activity, and while we hoped to keep TSP as active as possible it's almost impossible with the schedules we have. However, we will continue to post when we can. In the mean time you can catch us over at OPS and MVN.

Outs Per Swing

Rays Anatomy at MVN

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jason Kidd to the Mavericks for real this time. Lets party like its 1994

Let's go back in time folks. Back to a simpler day when we didn't have to dig up Keith Van Horn's body to complete a trade. Jason Kidd is a Maverick again, just like 1994. In what might be the most delayed trade since, well, Erik Bedard's deal last week, the Mavericks & Nets completed an eight player deal sending J-Kidd and his big headed kid to Dallas for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Van Horn's Soul via sign-and-trade, '08 and '10 1st Rd Picks and $3 million in cash.

This is the latest move that shifts the balance of the NBA even more West. It is truly a Varsity/JV Split in the NBA right now. One wonders if the Spurs will now make a move in order to counteract their rivals in the west.

The move is definitely a win-now move for the Mavs. J-Kidd is 34 and heading into the twilight of his career, but to me he's still a Top five PG in the league and can only make Dirk, J-Howard and Jason Terry that much more dangerous. For the Nets, this finally ends the Jason Kidd era that included two finals appearances, but no titles.

Monday, February 18, 2008

PSA:Outs Per Swing

If you haven't already checked out our newest blog Outs Per Swing please do. We have a new interview with R.J. Anderson as well as pictures and live reports from spring training

Spring Training Preview Yahoo Picture Style

"Did Livan really just eat that kid?"

Little too close for comfort

"Hey Pedro, Why did the chicken cross the road?

"Joba, haven't you showered since the playoffs? These bugs are everywhere

Dwight Howard's Superman Dunk vs. Michael Jordan's Skywalker

Don't get me wrong, I love Dwight Howard aka Superman aka Big Black Jesus aka Freak Nasty aka Ya Baby Daddy. But nobody is going to tell me that this:

Is better than this:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crumpler, Leftwich Cap casualties

I guess I need to keep that "Will work for food" sign around longer for former Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons players. Following the lead of Miami's releasing of veterans: Trent Green, Marty Booker, Zach Thomas and others, the Atlanta Falcons went on a firing spree of their own today highlighed by releasing Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler and Byron Leftwich among others. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few additional names such as Keith Brooking, Warrick Dunn, Lawyer Malloy and Joey Harrington added to that list soon. Here are some comments from Falcons new GM Thomas Dimitroff:

"This is a difficult day for the entire organization."

"These decisions weren't easy, but we felt they were necessary to build a team in the long-term best interest of the Falcons and its fans."

The Falcons can also thank Mike Vick for this situation. Since they cannot recover his signing bonus it put the Falcons salary cap in terrible shape.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will work for your team: A look a the remaining 2008 Free Agents.

For some teams Pitchers and Catchers report in just two days and yet we have a former MVP, a former CY Young winner, and numerous All-Stars still looking for work. Take a look at our top 10 list of players who are still free agents:

Barry Bonds:
The Greatest hitter of all time, period. Last year, Bonds posted a 170 OPS+ at the age of 42. Alex Rodriguez had a monster year last year, arguably his best, and he posted a 177 OPS+. His "off the field" problems are keeping him "off the field" more than his play.

Kyle Lohse:
I think Lohse probably had a deal on the table earlier but gambled for a bigger payday and lost. His best hope is to sign a 1 yr deal and hope to put up good numbers and try again next year.

Bartolo Colon:
Damaged goods, coming off back to back injury plagued seasons. May sign a deal to rehab with a team and come back mid-season or next year.

Shannon Stewart:
Posted some good numbers last year .290/.345/.394 with an OPS+ of 101. Not bad for a 33 year old. Should get a job sometime in the spring as a 4th OF'er.

Kenny Lofton:
Same as Stewart, put up good numbers at a more impressive age, 40. Should catch on during ST.

Livan Hernandez:
Big surprise nobody has taken a harder look at the innings eater. Livan will probably sign on as a back end starter for a team that has injury concerns or is looking for a veteran to anchor their rotation.
EDIT:Talk about working quickly, It seems Twins GM Bill Smith is a big TSP fan. Since this post Hernandez has signed a 1 year deal between $5 and 6 Million dollars with the twins. Thats one down...

Josh Fogg:
Much like Livan, I'm surprised someone hasn't signed Fogg to a 1 or 2 yr deal yet. Not that he's any good, but still surprising someone hasn't over paid for him. Maybe teams are getting smarter.

Jeff Weaver:
Similar to Fogg, it looks like teams have finally realized what you see is what you get. An average ERA+ of 74 the past two years shouldn't get you a $8-10 million dollar contract.

Reggie Sanders:
Coming off an injury plagued season. Still can be a valuable bat off the bench and mentor to young players. Just a matter of time before he signs with his ninth big league team.

Armando Benitez:
Not worth much more than a minor league deal at this point.

Monday, February 11, 2008

All Hail Jim Zorn?

The Redskins finally decided on a head coach this weekend. It wasn't Gregg Williams, who interviewed 4 times, Ron Meeks, Pete Carroll, or Steve Mariucci. However, it was a Jim, but not the Jim's who interviewed before like Jim Fassel, Jim Mora Jr., Jim Schwartz, Jimmy Dean or Jim Beam. Nope, it was another Jim, one you probably never heard of if you live outside of the Pacific North West. Jim Zorn was named Washington Redskins Head Coach after a month long search for Joe Gibbs successor. Zorn was hired as Redskins Offensive Coordinator earlier this offseason in what many thought was a strange move. Why hire an offensive coordinator without a head coach? This is were Dan Snyder is a genius, he knew Zorn would be a perfect fit for the next head coach because, well, he is the next head coach. This goes down as one of the strangest moves in a long line of weird management decisions by Snyder. Revist one of my earlier stories and you'll see that Snyder is doing his best to make Al Davis look sane. Zorn, a former Seattle Seahawks QB, and most recently QB Coach has never held a head coaching postion and only interviewed for the position this past thursday after Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo withdrew from consideration.

As a Cowboys fan the Zorn era couldn't have gotten of to a better start. Standing behind the three Redskins super bowl trophies Zorn said, "I look at these three trophies,and it's quite intimidating." Excellent Jimmy, just wait till your standing in Texas Stadium with the star in the middle of the field, god looking down on his team through the open roof, and five Super Bowl banners hanging from the rafters. That won't scare you a bit.

On to more Zorn-isms:

Zorn said he definitely planned to hire an offensive coordinator. Wow, this guy is bright. Imagine the concept, If I'm the offensive coordinator and then I become the head coach I'm definitely going to need to hire another offensive coordinator. Great Plan!

Of course, as a Head Coach your coordinators are key because one coach can't have his hands in everything at one time, but you would like to think the head coach at least knows what everybody is doing and that he has final say on matters. When asked about the defense Zorn replied "I'm going to leave that alone." He was then asked about the riggers of having to put out so many fires on a daily basis as an NFL head coach. Zorn didn't disappoint the masses with:

"I'm hoping I don't have to put out every fire."

"I'm hoping there are going to be enough people in place in a supportive role that they can put out the fire before it gets to me,"

"Because I want to coach. I'm not here for fluff. I want to lead and I want to motivate."

Look, don't bother my man Jim here with defensive game plans and injury reports, we don't need that fluff. Let's cut to the game day pep talk

Quite possibly the best Zorn-ism of all, Zorn said his family is proud to wear the Maroon and Black of the Redskins. Take a minute.....Maroon and Black.....Ok time is up. Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about the colors of the Redskins. Team colors: Burgundy and Gold

Yep, just like I thought. Now let's check out what Maroon and Black looks like

Exactly, Welcome to the NFC East Jim Zorn. We're glad your here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Erik Bedard Deal Finalized; More on Schilling's injured shoulder.

Erik Bedard is finally a Seattle Mariner. The story of Bedard going to the M's for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, minor leaguer P's Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio originally broke on January 27th, when Jones left his winter league and informed teammates that he was going to Baltimore. Peter Angelos then put a halt on the deal saying he had no idea such a move was going down. Basically no new news came out for days until last night, when word got out that Bedard was flying to Seattle to take a physical.

If healthy, the tandem of Bedard and Felix Hernandez gives the M's one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the AL.

In the latest Curt Schilling news, Dr. Craig Morgan, who claims he knows Schilling's pitching arm "better than anybody who breathes on this planet" says the only way Schill's shoulder can fully heal is with surgery:

"I think his chance of coming back to pitching with rehab or a conservative approach is zero,"

"He might not come back after surgery, either. However, if the surgery is successful, he should be fully rehabbed by about All-Star break."

The Saga continues...

Curt Schilling injured and talking, it's officially baseball season.

The first major non steriod story of the 2008 MLB season is finally here. Curt Schilling has a mystery right shoulder injury that could possibly end his 2008 season and career altogether. That isn't even the juiciest part of the story. Apparently, Schilling and the Red Sox organization have been bickering on the course of action that should be taken. On his personal blog 38pitches.com Curt offers up this:

"There have been disagreements these past few weeks in an effort to provide me with a solution that would allow me to pitch as much as possible during the 2008 season,''

"At no time did I ever consider taking a course of action against the club's wishes. In the end, regardless of who agreed with whom, I have chosen the club's course of action and will vigorously pursue any and every option I can to be able to help this team to another World Series title in 2008.''

The Boston Herald repored that even without surgery Schilling may be out until the All Star Break, if not longer. If Schilling is out for half or most of the season the Red Sox will still boast a top of the line rotation of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz.

One question that comes to mind is, what happens if the Twins would've held off on the Santana deal with the Mets? The Schilling injury questions may have given the Twins a little more leverage in a deal with a the Red Sox. That would've most likely forced the Yankees to counter attack a better Sox offer.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Prepare for the REVOLUTION!!!

The Rays Revolution is upon us. Many of you may have noticed an increase in our Rays coverage as the MLB season draws closer. We never intended The Stat Pack to become a Rays blog or a blog dedicated to any one team or sport. However, as hardcore Rays fans we feel the need for a place to express ourselves about the team. That leads us to the first Stat Pack spin off blog: Outs Per Swing.

Why the name Outs Per Swing you ask? While my colleague Jules and I were attending a Rays game last year we had the privlege of sitting in front of some very... ummm southern cultured...ummm good ol...well basically they were just rednecks, who obviously didn't follow much baseball. During one Carlos Pena at bat the two gentlemen decided to discuss Pena's stats. Here is a recap of the conversation:

Guy1: What does OPS Mean?

Guy2: Huh?

Guy1: It says he has a .988 OPS.

Guy2: Oh, I dont know...maybe Outs Per Swing.

Guy1: Probably, That's a pretty good Outs Per Swing.

And there you have it, two sabermetrics fans were born. By the ninth inning and ninth beer a piece, Aki Iwamura came up to lead off the inning and our two new Stat gurus greeted him by screaming "COME ON ICHIRO".

So that is the story behind the name. The coverage will be similar to the Rays coverage we've had on TSP, but with more updates and more in depth looks into Rays games, moves and any news regarding the team. We will also continue to have interivews with various players and writers on both OPS and TSP.

TSP will continue to provide you with a wide range of coverage tackling all sports, including major news from the other 29 MLB teams not named "RAYS". Also be on the look out for an increase in NBA coverage.

We thank you all for your readership and look forward to many big things for both The Stat Pack and Outs Per Swing. We will leave you with this for you viewing pleasure. The old logo never looked so good.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Slow Afternoon

Work is a little slow today, so we had some fun with Orestes Destrade of ESPN. Orestes played four seasons in the Majors and five more in the Japanese-Pacific League. He was also an executive in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization.

Jules (TheStatpack): What do you think about this years Caribbean Series, Orestes?

Orestes Destrade: Either of the 2 DR teams will take it. Licey looking to avenge their loss to the Aguilas in the DR championship last wk. Mex and Ven can't hang this yr with either DR teams. Especially, when they are hosting it in Santiago and playing in front on their fans. Having played there, it's crazy world cup soccer atmosphere right now! I am sorry to see that PR did not have a winter season due to economic team issues. baseball is really struggling to survive over there...that's another stroy we'll talk about another time.

Jules (TheStatPack)Have you helped the Rays at all in their building of Latin American training schools.

Orestes Destrade: Ironically, when I was with them for those 4 yrs as an exec I helped much more in creating a connection with my Japan ties and their subsequent exchanging of players thru the yrs. They have a verry good latin american guy in Connie Alfonso.

Bob (Lowell, Ma): I don't think BK can be considered the best as long as you have the Wizard of Westwood in the mix.

Orestes Destrade: With you on that...Wooden hands down, then it's the Dean, then BK for me.

Jules (TheStatPack)Where do you rank Coach K then?

Orestes Destrade: Top five with Rupp.

Jules (TheStatPack)Rupp? Even though he was a racist and refused to recruit black players?

Orestes Destrade: Racist were all over the sports world back then. We can't change that...he was a great coach, who won often. Just like BK is in my top 5 though, he wasn't the sweetest guy on the block!

JBG (Scranton, PA)Jules brought his chat A-game today.

JW: Thanks big guy

Bob (Chicago)O, you've mentioned hitting the batting cages before, but do you play in any pickup games or even something more organized?

Orestes Destrade: I used to until a couple yrs back. I would player/coach a wood bat summer college league(actually, over 19yr league). Now, i just hit for the fun and cardio and play in 4 or 5 charity MLBPAA games around the east coast.

Jules (TheStatPack)wood bat summer college league aka slow pitch beer league softball

Orestes Destrade: Ouch, Jules...actually, a very competitive league. Infact, a few yrs ago I faced Joe Blanton in this Nashville league before he was drafted. Several others are in AA and AAA.

Tommy(TheStatPack)Its 82 and sunny in Florida. Rays report in 9 days...Is there anything better than ST?

Orestes Destrade: If i may for aun momento...there really isn't. I have sooo many great memories of ST as a player, but also as a kid im Miami with the O's there. Fun, sun, baseball, beaches, baseball, sidewalk cafes, etc...

Jules (TheStatPack)Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure Orestes. How well do you think you would have done vs Kazmir in your prime?

Orestes Destrade: I'd OWN him in my prime!!!!!!!! Tough, in my prime, he'd only be 5 yrs,old yet, I'd OWN him!!!!!!!

Vercetti(Tampa)Jules obviously doesn't know that while he was in grade school you were busy Smashing the Japan Series and Kazuhiro Kiyohara

Orestes Destrade: V for Vendetta!!! Thanks bro...I'll say this, just like the slogan, The older I get...the better I was Atleast in my head!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Problem with James Shields Mechanics?

Thanks to our friends at DRaysbay for putting this into my head. During yesterdays chat with Baseball Prospectus’s David Laurila, some concern regarding James Shields mechanics was raised. See Below:

Dennis (LA): Thanks for your great work. Your interview with Brian Bannister was one of the best things I read all year last year. Just wanted to ask you your opinion on two players: James Shields and Nick Swisher. What do you see in their futures and who do you think is the more valuable player?

David Laurila: Thanks, Dennis. Bannister makes any interviewer look good.

I recently had someone opine to me concern about Shields' mechanics, specifically that they haven't been consistent over the course of his career. Granted, that's not my opinion -- I'm only passing along what I heard -- but if true it poses a question.

Swisher can hit. Given a choice of the two, I'd take Swisher.

jlarsen (DRays Bay): Could Shields' changing mechanics be due to him regaining velocity and control post-surgeries(I think he's had one kind of reconstructive surgery already)?

David Laurila: This might be a good question for Doug Thorburn. I'll put it on the list, as it's better to get an expert opinion than my own.

I quickly took out the good ol’email address book and asked a pitching mechanics expert if he's seen anything in Shields that should be of concern. My source explained that Shields inconsistency is due to the fact that many different people have tried to get him to develop a “real breaking ball.” The source went on to mention that as long as Shields has a plus change up, he only needs a “show-me” breaking ball to be successful, and also that Jim Hickey is a great fit for Shields.

Bob Knight could be your new Boss

Bob Knight resigned last night as Texas Tech head coach. His son Pat Knight will take over the team. If you have a nice boss give them a hug today or buy them lunch because this guy could be your boss.

Rays Willy Aybar arrested on Domestic Violence Charges.

Willy Aybar was arrested last week in the Dominican Republic on domestic violence charges. Aybar has been held without bail since last Thursday and may be in jail until May. For all those who thought Elijah Dukes was bad, Willy Aybar seems worse. However, we've seen players arrested in other countries and be aquitted before i.e. Juan Uribe.

The impact on the Rays could actually be pretty big. Willy Aybar was figured to be Joel Guzman's left handed platoon partner to start the season at third base. Aybar was also expected to be the utility man on the team. Now because of Aybar's latest set back, The Rays may bring in a veteran who can play multiple positions or they may be inclined to have top prospect Evan Longoria start the season in the majors.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sloth wins SuperBowl

Hey you guyssss!

Cheer up New England Patriots fans you still have Wes Welker.

The sky has fallen over the North East corner of the USA. The Pats went 18-Oh, 18-No, and in case you haven't heard they lost the Super Bowl. Fear not Chowdah's you still have the record holder for single game Super Bowl Receptions: Wes Welker aka "The Bunny Rabbit" aka "Thumper".

Seriously, how many days till people start flipping out over the fact Belichick went for it on 4th and 13, leaving a possible 3 points on the field in a game the Patriots ended up losing by 3 points. I could see 4th and 1 or maybe 4th and 5, but 4th and 13? How many plays does Josh McDaniels have in the playbook for 4th and 13? Obviously none that work.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

NY Giants Superbowl Champions:Eli Manning, David Tyree come up strong for Giants

The star of the night was much-maligned youngster Eli Manning, who in just one calendar year has gone from poster child of inconsistency to Super Bowl hero. Manning's efforts were duplicated by a large number of unheralded players on offense, an offense that was surprisingly more efficient than New England's. Fourth-string Wide Receiver David Tyree caught two huge passes in the fourth quarter, the first being a touchdown with just under 11 minutes left that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead, but then even after New England marched down the field to take a 14-10 lead late in the game, Tyree came up big again with one of the most remarkable catches in Super Bowl history. On 3rd-and-5 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, Manning somehow slipped away from a pass rush that seemed to have swallowed him and rifled a pass that traveled nearly fifty yards in the air, which Tyree caught it by pressing it against his helmet with a defender hanging all over him. Manning made two more clutch throws on the drive, the first of which was on 3rd-and-11 where he threw a sideline route that wide receiver Steve Smith caught and tiptoed down the hashmarks towards a first down. On the very next play, Manning's favorite target during the regular season, Plaxico Burress, broke away from Ellis Hobbs and waltzed into the endzone, catching the uncontested pass and putting the Giants on top for good. Burress' touchdown catch was only his second catch of the entire game.

New York's tenacious defensive pressure was what kept the game close for the duration, as they put Brady on the turf thirteen different times, sacking him five. All season long, Brady has seemingly had a forcefield around him in the pocket as his offensive line would pick up blitz package after blitz package and allow Brady to scan the field for one of his multiple weapons. We saw flashes of that offensive brilliance tonight, but the Giants were able to stifle the attack long enough to keep the game in reach, and they ended up with the last chance to put points on the board, and converted. It's great to witness this event for Michael Strahan, one of the most recognizable faces in the entire league because of that always-present smile, and also among the classiest and most well-spoken in the NFL. He finally has a ring after 15 years. Also, this is a team who won it without Tiki Barber, who was arguably a top five running back in each of his last two years with the team.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Top 100 Prospects of 2008 from Scouts Inc. & Baseball Prospectus analyzed

As promised, here is a more in depth look at the Top 100 Lists of ESPN/Scouts Inc. and Baseball Prospectus. Of course I will start off with the Rays list. Nine Rays made the Top 100 on Scouts Inc. highlighted by: Evan Longoria(1), Desmond Jennings(11), Wade Davis(15), David Price(16) and Jake McGee(26), giving the Rays five out of the top 26 prospects. Rounding out the nine Rays were Reid Brignac (49), Fernando Perez (72), Jeremy Hellickson (75), and John Jaso (78). Not too much to argue with here besides maybe Reid Brignac. Last year's consensus best SS in the minor leagues takes a bit of a hit this year, falling behind Carlos Triunfel (18, Mariners), Elvis Andrus(31, Rangers), and Mike Moustakas (47, Royals). Brignac did take a step back last year offensively, .260/.328/.433, but from most accounts made strides defensively towards becoming a Major League defender as SS. This season will no doubt be a huge year for Brignac, not only to prove his '07 season was a one year slide, but also the addition of Jason Barlett means the Rays now have a legit option at SS for the future besides Brignac. With the lack of a RF prospect one interesting idea would be, if his defense regresses, to move Brignac to Right, where the Rays plan to platoon players this year. Other than that I really don't have many Rays related gripes with Scouts Inc.'s list.

Now on to Baseball Prospectus list of Rays. Again the Rays had a heavy presence at the top, with five of the top 25 prospects headlined by: Evan Longoria (3), David Price (6), Wade Davis (15), Desmond Jennings (18), and Reid Brignac (25). The only other Ray on the top 100 was Jake McGee (40). Obviously there are some discrepancies between the two lists. The most prevalent, in my opinion, is the number of Rays. Scouts Inc. lists nine, but Baseball Prospectus only lists six. Baseball Prospectus completely left off Jeremy Hellickson, Fernando Perez, and John Jaso. I can't understand why. Perez & Jaso should see a lot of action at AAA Durham this year and maybe even get a taste of the big leagues come September. In our recent interview Jim Callis , he said that John Jaso has a chance to be the everyday catcher for the Rays if he can stay healthy. Fernando Perez has an outside chance to crack the Majors this year as the fourth outfielder. If something should happen to Baldelli or Floyd, or most likely both, he could see significant time in a talented Rays outfield. Jeremy Hellickson is still probably two years away and most likely will spend the bulk of his season at High Class A Vero Beach, but he is leader of the next group of arms behind the more advanced Price, McGee, Davis, Niemann, and Talbot.

The rest of the BP Rays list is interesting. Evan Longoria is ranked 3rd behind Jay Bruce (1) and Clay Buchholz (2). I have no problem with Bruce being first. Most people have Bruce and Longoria 1st and 2nd in either order. However, I think this is the first time I've seen Buchholz ranked not only over Longoria, but also Joba Chamberlain who checked in the list at four. I think of it this way, who would I rather have to start a franchise Buchholz or Longoria? I'm taking Longoria all day. I believe the comparisons to David Wright are not only flattering, but very true. If the comparison does pan out then Longoria will be a perennial All Star and MVP candidate. I can't really argue with Desmond Jennings at 18 or Davis at 15. I believe Desmond Jennings is a potential impact player, but I'll see how he does at High A or Double A first before arguing for him to be higher on the list. Davis at 15 is fine and I expect him to be Top 5 or 10 at the least next year. I was very surprised to see Price ranked as high as 6 since he hasn't thrown a professional pitch yet. I've heard all types of projections on Price. One projection early on had him coming in this spring with a chance at the Majors, but most expect him to start at AA Montgomery and quickly rise to the Majors as soon as late August or early September.

The final two on the Baseball Prospectus list are Reid Brignac and Jake McGee. At number 25, Reid Brignac is the second SS on the list behind Moustakas, who most believe is likely not going to be a SS long. The other two SS that were in front of Reid on the Scouts Inc. list, Triunfel and Andrus, check in considerably lower on this list at 55 and 58 respectively. I guess it’s who you ask about Reid Brignac, as there seems to be no consensus to where he belongs. The final Ray on the list is Jake McGee, checking in at 40. The knock on McGee is his lack of a secondary out pitch behind his fastball. I'm interested to see how he progresses this year, where he likely will spend a lot of time at AA Montgomery. If he can develop another one or two above average pitches to round out his arsenal he should be a serious candidate for the top 10 next year. If not, all is not lost with McGee as the Rays maybe able to convert him into a dominate late inning reliever.

That's it for the Rays portion of the lists. I have just a few tidbits on the other names on the two lists. First, Lars Anderson 1B for the Red Sox. Scouts Inc. has him solidly in the top half of their list at 28, while he barely made the Baseball Prospectus list coming in at 100. Again, referring back to our interview with Baseball America's Jim Callis he says, "I think Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson is going to make a leap forward this year and become recognized as one of the very best hitters in the minors." Like Reid Brignac, I guess it's all about who you ask with Anderson.

Two other names I wanted to look at because of the recent Johan Santana trade were OF's Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. Gomez is the center piece of the deal and is regarded as the Twins CF of the future if the deal is completed. On Scouts Inc, Gomez checks in at 35, but on BP he's in the lower half at 65. Either way, I feel that Gomez as the center piece is way too low for the greatest pitcher on the face of the planet. The other player in the talks surrounding the trade was Fernando Martinez. Martinez is regarded by most, if not all, as the #1 prospect in the Mets system. The big gripe from the Twins supporters was they traded Santana without getting the Mets crown jewel in return. Scouts Inc. has Martinez at 10 while Baseball Prospectus has him just in the lower half at 51. That’s a pretty big difference. Is he a top 10 player or a barely a top 50 player? Martinez has huge power potential and is an above average defender in CF. He started last season at AA Binghamton at age 18....yes I said 18. An injury cut his season short, but even at age 19 in AA he is on the fact track to the Majors, and a big kudos to Omar Minaya for being able to land Santana (potentially) without giving up his blue chipper.

Ok my fingers have officially cramped up and my eyes are bleeding, but there you have our recap of the Top 100 list of Scouts Inc. and Baseball Prospectus. Of course, each writer and analyst has their own criteria and their own judgments, so no list is perfect. Remember, the Rays own Edwin Jackson was once one of the top prospects in baseball and we're still waiting on him to show that he's even an average starter. We respect Keith Law(Scouts Inc.) and Kevin Goldstein(Baseball Prospectus) tremendously and it will be fun to check up on this list in the next few years to see who's made it, who was a bust and who came out of nowhere to became a star. We expect to have another list from Baseball America soon, so I need to recover so we can do this all over again soon.

Rob Neyer is at it again

BJ Upton had a great season in Center last year after moving from the infield. He finally hit like everyone expected him to and played well defensively. He tied for first in OPS+ among Center Fielders with Curtis Granderson. Now he's crowned as Rob Neyer's best Center Fielder for the next five years:

"As a hitter, Granderson was a bit over his head last season, but he's obviously an outstanding player. What shocks me is that Upton, four years younger, was just as good with the bat. The Rays spent far too long realizing that Upton's not an infielder, and it's impossible to know how he'll fare in center field, long term. But he's always looked like a center fielder to me, and I have a faith-based belief that he'll be just fine out there."

Congrats BJ.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peter King: Rays Nation Leader

Check out Red Sox's fan Peter King decked out in a new Rays hat. He also wore a Rays hoodie on Mike and Mike. The question is Did Peter King lose a bet? Or is he truly a Rays fan? TSP Investigation to follow.

Baseball Prospects Top 100 Prospects of 2008 Released

Too many 100 prospect lists for one day. Here is Baseball Prospectus' Top 100 Prospects of 2008 released today by BP Prospect Guru Kevin Goldstein.

Like the Scouts Inc. List we will give you the top 5 right here and click the link above for the rest
1. Jay Bruce
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Evan Longoria
4. Joba Chamberlain
5. Clayton Kershaw

And also, like the Scouts Inc. list we will have a write up tomorrow. I see a ton of interesting things on the BP list that we will discuss tomorrow.

Scouts Inc. Top 100 Prospects of 2008 Released

Keith Law of ESPN/Scouts Inc. released the Top 100 Prospects of 2008 today.

For the sake of time I'll just list the top 5 and you can click above for the rest.

1. Evan Longoria
2. Jay Bruce
3. Joba Chamberlain
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Colby Rasmus

We will have a bigger write up on our thoughts tomorrow.

A Few Rays Rumblings

Here are just a couple Rays related pieces I found yesterday.

First, Rob Neyer continues to rank the best position players, under 30, for the next 5 years on his blog. This week he focuses on left fielders. Neyer points out, correctly, that the crop of good, young left fielders is pretty slim. That forces him to include a couple of players who are over 30(Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano). Last year the top rated player based on OPS+ was Matt Holliday, but that doesn't mean he'll be the best in 2012...that would be Carl Crawford according to Mr. Neyer.

He goes on to say this about Crawford:

"You have to like Crawford, but it's worth mentioning that he has not showed a normal growth curve. At 22, he was roughly six wins better than a replacement player ... and was roughly six wins better than a replacement player at 23, 24, and 25. I'm not sure what to make of that, except there's no obvious reason to think he's suddenly going to become a great player (though I do believe he'll have a few great seasons)."

That's a back handed compliment, but I'll take it.

Neyer couldn't compile a top 10 list, so he did a top 7.

1. Crawford
2. Braun
3. Holliday
4. Soriano
5. Bay
6. Kubel
7. ????

He leaves the last spot open for the star prospects who change poistions and end up in left field...like Ryan Braun.

I think it's a pretty big compliment to have Crawford ranked number one over Ryan Braun. Braun is making the switch to left field this season and if he remains there I think he's going to far outshine Crawford in most offensive statistics. Maybe Neyer is waiting to see Braun duplicate his 2007 success before he ranks Braun at the top?

Next, Keith Law lists his top prospects by organization in his espn.com blog.

Here are the Rays top 5:

1. Evan Longoria
2. Desmond Jennings
3. Wade Davis
4. David Price
5. Jake McGee

The biggest surprise is Jennings number 2 ranking. He just completed his first season in A ball. I hope Mr. Law is right in his rankings, I'd love to see Jennings manning the outfield with Crawford and Upton, if that's possible.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Redskins still looking for head coach...Raiders tying to get rid of thiers? Who's Crazier

Someone asked me this morning which organization was more dysfunctional. the Redskins or the Raiders? At first, I immediately thought the Raiders. Who can be more dysfunctional than the Raiders? Al Davis looking like a crazy deranged nursing home escapee, Lane Kiffin laughing on his way to cash his paycheck and Dennis Green laughing in Coors Light commercial .

The funny thing is, the Redskins can give the Raiders a run for their money. During the Daniel Snyder era the Redskins have hired and fired Norv Turner, hired and fired Marty Schottenheimer after one year, lured Steve Spurrier away from College only to have it blow up in their faces, then finally crawling back to Joe Gibbs who had been out of the game for over a decade.

During that same period the Raiders basically traded Gruden for draft picks, hired and fired Bill Callahan, also hired and fired Norv Turner, then turned the clocks back a decade to hire Art Shell, who like Marty Schottenheimer was one and done. Now they are reportedly trying to get rid of their current coach,which they deny. Whew, that's a lot of changes. When you add it up you end with very similar situations. The Redskins have enjoyed more success on the field but still haven't reached the Super Bowl since 1991. The Raiders went to the Super Bowl in 2002, but have won 19 games since. The Redskins have the more talented team by far with Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis and a solid defense. The Raiders have what they believe to be a franchise QB in JaMarcus Russell but not much else.

The similarities still remain. The Raiders situation is crazy. It was reported that Lane Kiffin was sent a letter of resignation written by Al Davis. Of course, Kiffin refused to sign it. Since then Dennis Green has been mentioned as a candidate and the Raiders have denied that they want to get rid of Kiffin. So their franchise remains in limbo.

It is much of the same for the Redskins. Joe Gibbs retired again and since then Snyder has interviewed 150 or so candidates, including Jim Fassel and former Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. When Gibbs retired most people thought it was just a matter of time before Williams stepped in. Now a month and four interviews later, Williams was fired over the weekend as defensive coordinator, putting him out of the Redskins picture completely. Also, offensive coordinator Al Saunders was let go. Normally, when a head coach goes the coordinators go as well so that's not too far out of the norm. Most teams will clean house except for maybe a few assistants, but they usually let the new head coach appoint his own generals. Not the Redskins. Dan Snyder has already named new coordinators (Jim Zorn,Offense; Greg Blache, Defense) and he's still interviewing for a head coach. That already puts the next head coach at a disadvantage. What happens if he wants to pound the ball with Portis and Zorn wants to air it out with Campbell and Santana Moss? What if the next head coach is a believer of the 3-4 and Blache is a 4-3 guy?

The Raiders have their head coach for now, and they have retained their coordinators, so at the moment I'll give the edge to the Redskins as the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL. I wouldn't be surprised if Isiah Thomas interviews with Dan Snyder in the next few days.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just get the hell out of here baby

It's being reported that the corpse Oakland Raiders owner "has been pushing for Lane Kiffin to resign as his head coach and is considering Dennis Green as a potential replacement, sources close to Kiffin and the team said." He's even gone so far as to draft a letter of resignation for Kiffin to sign but Kiffin has refused and is daring Davis to fire him. Is anyone ever going to want to coach for that man again after this?

Brady Boot-gate

Am I the only one who doesn't believe anything coming out of New England about Tom Brady's ankle "injury"?. We've discussed The Hoodie's injury report practices here before, but this Tom Brady wearing a walking boot and being late for practices, etc is a bit much. I think it's just The Hoodie trying to mess with the New York Giants and toy with the media he hates so dearly. If Brady had to run the Boston Marathon tomorrow I'm betting he'd be just fine.

Dana Jacobsen is a sailor

As we continue Dana Jacobsen week here at TSP, we have to send major props to Baseballmusings.com for this picture of Dana drinking like a fish:

CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG...At least Trey Wingo looks amused in the back

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dana Jacobsen is a bad word at ESPN.

For those of you who don't know, Dana Jacobsen, co-host of ESPN's first take, was suspended for these alleged remarks at the Mike and Mike roast:

"F--- Notre Dame," "F--- Touchdown Jesus" and finally "F--- Jesus."

Jacobsen was reportedly intoxicated, but she was at a freakin roast. First of all, She is an adult and of legal drinking age, if she wants to get smashed then she should get smashed. Second, she was at a freakin roast where anything goes. Anyway, the point of this is I decided to ask Gary Horton a question during his ESPN.com chat. It was a legit question and Gary seemed to like it. The twist is I asked the question as TheStatPack(FreeDanaJacobsen) however, when the question was posted it was posted as:

TheStatPack (NJ): Better tandem at RB Maroney/Faulk or Jacobs/Bradshaw?

Gary Horton: (4:06 PM ET ) That's a great question, and I'd almost call it a push. Faulk is the most unique back of the four, because he's more of a nickel back, used more on third downs. I love the contrasting running styles of Jacobs and Bradshaw. I think the Giantsd may be stronger in terms of pure running ability, but the Pats have more versatility.

Are you kidding me? Dana Jacobsen is such a bad word they, ESPN, turns her into New Jersey? I would argue NJ is a lot more dirty than Dana Jacobsen. Oh well Dana, we will always have a spot for you at TSP.

Falcons to hire Mike Smith

ESPN's Michael Smith is reporting Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith(no relation) will be named Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Smith has been the Jag's coordinator for the past six seasons. Good luck with Byron Leftwich, Joey Harrington and Chris Redman, Mike.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Rays closing in on deal with James Shields

From The St. Petersburg Times:

Rays pitcher James Shields and agent Page Odle are on their way to St. Petersburg this afternoon with plans to finalize a 6- or 7-year contract in the next 24 hours.

"My goal is to have this done tonight," Odle said.

We'll have more as it comes in.

According to the St. Petersburg Times:

The Rays have come to terms with James Shields on a 7 year $44 Million Dollar deal(includes possible incentives). The first four years of the deal will be guaranteed. The Rays hold options for 2012, 2013 & 2014.

Excellent deal for the Rays. With the cost of pitching rising at an insane rate, the Rays are getting a great deal. If Shields pitches like an average 3-4 starter, the Rays will be saving about 5-7 Million a year alone on this deal.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I hope Mike Preston loves the Ravens Hiring John Harbaugh as Head Coach.

Last week, as I frantically searched my apartment for valuable things I could donate to the "Keep Jason Garrett Fund", I took a minute to read a column by Baltimore Sun writer Mike Preston. The article's title was "Garrett's rookie mistake." The premise of the article was that Garrett made a huge mistake by leaving Baltimore without accepting the head coaching job. As I read the column I found myself wondering if Preston believed half of what he was writing. Here are a few excerpts:

"If Jason Garrett becomes the Ravens' head coach, let's hope he won't show as much inexperience during the season as he showed yesterday."

"Garrett spent most of the day interviewing with top Ravens officials about their vacant head coaching position and walked away from their offer, one of the most coveted jobs in professional sports."

One of the most coveted jobs in professional sports? Is the New York Yankees managerial job up for grabs? I'd argue that being Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys is a more coveted job than head coach of the Ravens. I like the Ravens, but the team has more than a few problems. Next excerpt:

"Or maybe Garrett really doesn't want to become a head coach. If he was really passionate about becoming a head coach, Garrett would have taken the job."

"There was some panic in his eyes yesterday and apparently some concern about the Ravens' job. But if Garrett had done his homework, he would be the new Ravens coach."

Seriously, if I could be be the President of a third world country or be a blogger in the United States of America, I'd keep typing forever. Just because he turned down what he felt was a bad offer doesn't mean he's not passionate about being a coach. That just means he's smart enough not to ruin his reputation by taking a crappy job...See Cam Cameron & Bobby Petrino. This next group of excerpts maybe my favorite:

"No one really wants the Atlanta job. The Falcons' franchise quarterback is in prison. Their starting running back is old. Their former head coach left them before the regular season was completed."

"Dallas is very attractive. The Cowboys are in their peak years. They have a good defense, a franchise-caliber quarterback, two good running backs and a go-to receiver."

"But the one thing that the Cowboys can't give Garrett right now is a head coaching position."

"The Ravens can, but they do have problems. They have older players on defense, no long-term solution at quarterback and a grumpy set of veterans with big egos. Their best player, linebacker Terrell Suggs, is unsigned."

So you don't take the Atlanta Job because they have no QB & no RB. You leave Dallas because they are in their peak years, they have a good D, Franchise QB, not one but two good running backs and a legit #1 wide receiver. He also forgot the three Pro Bowl offensive linemen and the All Pro TE. You give all that up for a Ravens team that has no QB, no WR's, an aging and declining defense, a grumpy set of veterans with big egos and no guarantee that their best player will be back? And just for the record I'll take Ed Reed over Terrell Suggs anyday, but that's me.

Yep, sign me up for that. I'd much rather go to Baltimore and get fired in three years, instead of holding on to my cushy job in Dallas with Wade Phillips' parking spot and the head coaching job of one of the world's most prestigious franchises waiting for me within the same three years.

And finally on his Baltimore Sun blog Preston gives us this gem:

"It' s not like Garrett is Bill Belichick or Mike Holmgren. He's Jason Garrett, for goodness sake."

I think I love this one the most, who did the Ravens end up with? John Harbaugh. He's not Jason Garrett, Leif Garrett or even Jim Harbaugh for goodness sake. For one of the "most coveted" jobs it's sure seems odd that they couldn't even get Jim Harbaugh. They had to settle for his brother. Now we love the fighting Harbaugh's, but we'd expect someone who's actually been a coordinator or former head coach to take over one of the "MOST COVETED" jobs in all of professional sports. Frankly, I'm surprised nobody dug up Vince Lombardi or Tom Landry for an interview. Then again maybe those guys aren't passionate enough.

Sidney Crosby on Injured Reserve?

Normally we don't cover much hockey at TSP, but this story caught my eye from ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby was placed on injured reserve Monday, a move that allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to add an extra forward for their final two games before the All-Star break.

Crosby injured his right ankle during the Penguins' 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday and is expected to be out at least a month and possibly longer.

The preliminary diagnosis is a high ankle sprain, an injury that occurs in the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula in the lower leg.

The first reason is, because its Sidney Crosby, who is like the NHL's Michael Jordan. Casual fans like myself only pay attention to the NHL because of Crosby, in the same way casual fans watched the NBA for Jordan.

The second reason is, aren't hockey players supposed to be tough? Your telling me this guy is going to miss more than a month for the same injury T.O. came back from in three weeks? Doesn't sound so tough.

Im kidding, and I know that they are being cautious with the franchise player and I agree with them to give him all the time he needs. Also, the skating element puts huge pressure on the ankle, but I found that funny that T.O. is some what tougher than a hockey player.

And that's your 2008 Hockey update, see ya next year

Super Bowl XLII: Patriots Vs Giants

Or Beauty vs. The Beast

For all those who said Manning vs. Brady couldn't happen in the Super Bowl because they played in the same conference, you were wrong. You just had the wrong Manning. Eli "Insert Banjo Here" Manning is going to the Super Bowl and not to watch his brother Peyton either. Thanks to Brett Favre for choking in the cold weather and gift wrapping the NFC Championship for the Giants. Eli again had zero turnovers, and I guess that 3rd times a charm thing is ringing true for the Giants. They beat the Cowboys after losing the first two games and then Lawrence Tynes kicked the game winning FG after missing two previous attempts. Too bad this will only be the second time the Giants play the Pats so they almost certainly will lose. Ugh, Opie Manning is going to the Super Bowlm who woulda thunk it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rays sign Kazmir too...

Just when it looked like there was no deal in place the St. Petersburg Times is reporting the Rays and Ace SP Scott Kazmir have agreed on a 1yr $3.785 Million dollar deal avoiding arbitration. With Kazmir signed, the Rays have re-signed all their arbitration eligble players to deals.

Rays sign Carlos Pena, Dan Wheeler & Jonny Gomes, Trade for Willy Aybar

The Rays seem to make moves in bunches, and this week is no exception. The Rays started the week by agreeing to terms with RP Dan Wheeler on a 1 yr $2.875 Million deal. They continued working with their arbitration eligible players, agreeing to a 1 yr $1.25 deal with DH/RF Jonny Gomes. However, they've saved the two biggest deals for last. First, the team just announced they have come to terms with 2007 team MVP Carlos Pena on 3 yr $24 Million dollar deal. Pena, the 2007 MLB Comeback player of the year, set team records with 46 homeruns and 121 RBI. The deal keeps Pena with the Rays through 2010. The other big deal was the acquistion of utility man Willy Aybar from the Braves. Along with Aybar the Rays will receive minor league INF Chase Fontaine in return for Lefty Reliever Jeff Ridgway. Aybar fills a huge void for the Rays by being able to play three infield positions right away. The Rays also plan to get him some work at first base and the corner outfield positions in spring training. The Rays still need a lefty reliever, but obviously were convinced Ridgway was not the answer.

The lone bad news of the week is Scott Kazmir expects to end up in arbitration against the Rays.

"All we can do is really prepare ourselves because they have the file and trial policy,'' Kazmir said. "I guess you just gotta go. They made it loud and clear. ...

"If we go to arbitration, which it kind of looks like right now, so be it. It's just what we have to do. Sure, it would be nice to have everything settled right now and not have anything to worry about.''

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Stat Pack Exclusive Interview with Dodgers 1B James Loney

In the lastest edition of Stat Pack exclusive interviews, we have a real special treat. Dodgers First Basemen James Loney was nice enough to answer some questions for us and go over his offseson, his approach to heading into his first MLB season, and shooting hoops with Sam "I Am" Cassell.

James had a stellar prep career (varsity 2000-2002) at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas (suburban Houston). He hit .509 his senior season and also accumulated a record of 9-1 with a 1.80 era as a pitcher, striking out 106 batters in 54 innings. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1st Round (#19 overall). He had signed with Baylor University to play college baseball, but opted to sign a pro contract. He made his Major League Baseball debut with the Dodgers on April 4, 2006 against the Atlanta Braves. In 2007 Loney hit .331 with 15 HR's and 67 RBI's in 96 Games.

TSP:What have you been up to this off-season?

JL:Hanging out with family and friends

TSP:What is your off-season training regime like?

JL:Lifting weights, running and baseball activities

TSP:This is the first season where you're going in as part of the Major league roster; do you approach spring training any differently than the previous years?

JL:No, you can't take anything for granted

TSP:The Dodgers made a few significant moves this off-season with the signings of Andruw Jones and Hiroki Kuroda. With the return of a healthy Jason Schmidt, do you feel like this team has the talent to win the division and do damage in the playoffs?

JL:World Series Champs!!!

TSP:What are your personal goals for this season?

JL:To be consistent and help the team win

TSP:The Dodgers have a great young nucleus of players in the Majors right now with Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, Andre Either, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton and yourself. How's it been playing with those young players?

JL:Fun, It's good to be with those guys at this level

TSP:Do you think it's important for you to go through the same system together? Does it help you grow as a team?

JL:I think it helps chemistry

TSP:There are a lot of former Dodger prospects on the Rays or in the Rays farm system. Do you still keep in touch with guys like Edwin Jackson, Justin Ruggiano, Chuck Tiffany, Sergio Pedroza and Dioner Navarro?

JL:Jackson and Ruggiano and Joel Guzman

TSP:Despite your stellar minor league numbers the past couple of years, the Dodgers seemed reluctant to call you up and keep you in the majors, opting to instead sign aging veterans. Did you feel at all slighted? Did it drive you to work even harder to get back?

JL:It definitely is a reminder to always work as hard as you can

TSP:We've noticed that you're very active in the community. You obviously enjoy it; do you think it's important to be involved with charities, fundraisers, visiting children's hospitals, etc? Also, do you feel players have a responsibility to do so?

JL:I don't believe it is a responsibility, but I like doing it and I like seeing people smile.

TSP:Recently Sam Cassell beat you in a game of H-O-R-S-E, do you plan on getting him back in some way? Do you think he could hit a curve ball or a 95 MPH fastball?

JL:I beat him in a game of P-I-G. He is athletic so he could probably make contact.

Again, The Stat Pack would like to thank James for his time and chating with us.

Jason Garrett Staying in Dallas, Chan Gailey Returns to the NFL

ESPN's Ed Werder is reporting Jason Garrett has turned down the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens head coaching offers to return to the Dallas Cowboys as offensive coordinator. It is a smiliar situation to 2004 when Jerry Jones convinced both coordinators, Sean Payton(offense) and Mike Zimmer(defense), to turn down head coaching jobs with the Oakland Raiders and University of Nebraska. Payton took the Saints head coaching job a year later, while Zimmer has bounced around from Dallas to Atlanta before accepting the Bengals Defensive Coordinator position earlier this week. One would believe Garrett will receive a substantial raise, some where in the 2.5 Million dollar range as well as a promise that he will eventually succeed Wade Phillips within the next couple years.

The pressure now falls square on Wade Phillips shoulders to win a playoff game next year. If the Cowboys come close to having the same regular season success in 08 that they had in 07 and fail in the playoffs again, I believe Phillips will be fired and Garrett will step in at that time.


IRVING, Texas -- After looking into two coaching jobs, Jason Garrett decided to remain offensive coordinator of the Cowboys after Dallas made him the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL.

The Cowboys promoted Garrett to assistant head coach and gave him a new contract that will pay him in the ballpark of $3 million per year, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting.

How would you guys like to be making more or as much as your boss? Please say a prayer for Wade Phillips career.

In another coaching move, the Kansas City Chiefs have hired former Cowboys & Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey to replace Mike Solari as offensive coordinator. Gailey has been on the staff of 11 playoff teams and coached in the Super Bowl four times, including three with Denver. He has been either a head coach or an offensive coordinator eight years. He is also king of the Field Goal so get used to seeing a lot of 3's on the board in KC.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eva Longoria defends Jessica Simpson.

Being married to a Texas sports star isn't easy, just ask Eva Longoria. Eva has some words of advice to lend to Jessica Simpson, who is one more bad Romo game from being banned from her home state of texas.

"People gave me that . . . when I started dating Tony," Longoria, star of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," said in an interview Monday with E! Entertainment Television's "Daily 10."

"If he had a bad game they'd blame me. If he, uh, you know, had an injury, it's like, 'What did you do to him?' " the 32-year-old actress said, laughing.

"Believe me, they are not thinking about us when they're on the court, when they're on the field," she said of Parker and Romo. "It's like they've got a little more important things to do."

This really isn't news worthy but it gives me a reason to put these up...enjoy.

Dolphins to officially name Tony Sparano head coach.

The Miami Dolphins have hired Dallas Cowboys Assistant Tony Sparano as their head coach, replacing Cam Cameron who was fired earlier in the month. Sparano has coached in the NFL for nine years. Before joining the Dallas staff in 2003, Sparano was on the staffs of Cleveland (1999-2000), Washington (2001), and Jacksonville (2002). He was the head coach at New Haven in the college ranks from 1994-1998. Sparano was also a candidate in Atlanta and Baltimore. The move reunites Parcells with his former assistant. Sparano was the Cowboys play caller in 2006 before giving that up this season to Jason Garrett, who has still not accepted the Ravens offer to become their head coach.

I know Sparano is held in high regard by many around the league, but he's got his work cut out for him in Miami. A first time NFL head coach taking over a 1-15 team with no clear QB, a lack of impact players on offense and an aging defense doesn't sound like a great fit, but when your 1-15 there aren't too many great fits.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A late congrats to Greg Ellis on Comeback player of the year.

As I sit and try to get through Day One after the Cowboy playoff blowup for the second straight year, I almost forgot to send a little love Greg Ellis' way. Over the weekend Greg Ellis, not Randy Moss, was named NFL Comeback player of the year. For those don't remember I campaigned earlier for Randy Moss not winning the award and it going to someone who was actually coming back from something other than laziness. Moss finished second in the voting with 10 votes, two behind Ellis's 12. Ben Roethisberger, another good candidate I mentioned earlier, came in third with seven votes. Ellis, the 10th year veteran from North Carolina, finished the 2007 season with 12.5 sacks(a career high) after missing eight games last year and three this year with a torn his Achilles tendon.

"It went through two phases, really, two phases where I felt like that's going to be it," Ellis said. "When it first happened, I felt like that's probably going to do it for me, because I'm familiar with the Achilles and know guys who have torn it before. The guys I knew, most hadn't returned back to that same rare form that they were before they left the game.

"Then the second time was in training camp. Everything started going good. I started rehabbing here, then I got to training camp and started to have pain around the heel part of it."

NFL Divisional Roundup: T.O. Cries, Billy Volek to the rescue, Eli "Rain Man" Manning still in it, Pats still perfect, Favre still playing

Here are the cliff notes version of the weekend that was in the NFL Divisional Playoffs:

Green Bay 42 & Seattle 20

Seattle jumps out 14-0, but Ryan Grant has a monster game in the snow and the Pack advance. Could this be the end of Mike Holmgren'c career? Like Dungy, Holmgren is on a year to year basis. Will he stay or will he go? I think he stays to finish out the remaining year on his contract. The NFC west is weak and Seattle should be back in the playoffs next year. It looks like Brett Favre is ready to party like its 1996. Seriously, who knew that 11 years later Favre would still be playing in the league at such a high level?

New England 31 & Jacksonville 20

I really thought the Pats would come out and dominate, but the Jags kept it close going into the half at 14-14. Tom Brady had a ridiculous game with 26 of 28 passes completed. Just for fun he threw the ball to Randy Moss once. And for all those who said the Pats can't run the ball,Maroney went off for 100+ yards.

San Diego 28 & Indianapolis 24

What a shocker here! The Colts looked like they were getting healthy at the perfect time. The Chargers lost the NFL's leading rusher in the 2nd quarter and their starting QB in the 4th and still won the game. And Marcus McNeil gave us this gem

With 12:38 left to play and San Diego leading by four, the Chargers offense waited to huddle during a TV commercial break. As they waited, several Chargers -- mostly 6-7, 336-pound offensive tackle Marcus McNeill -- started swaying and dancing to the music being played during the TV timeout.

"That's how it's supposed to be," McNeill said. "It doesn't make no sense to be at crunch time and your butthole is all tight."

Thank you Marcus.

New York Giants 21 & Dallas Cowboys 17

This one hurts, but definitely not as bad as last years for some reason. I actually got to sleep last night, whereas last year I was sitting up in my bed, in the pitch black dark, at 3 in the morning replaying Romo's bobble. For the second straight year the Cowboys gift wrapped a playoff game for the other team. Jerry Jones may want to seek a refund on Patrick Crayton's new contract. He had two huge drops and then ran a half-assed route late in the game. T.O. wept for his QB....and they said he's a bad teammate. Good thing by 8:05 I was watching Nicholas Cage with a stringy mullet in Con Air.

Additional Game Note: Jules text me during the game to say "I feel like Eli is my retarded brother or something" "I can't hate the guy." Eli is the NFL's version of Rain Man. He has a cool normal brother and, apparently from that quick TD in the 2nd quarter, he's an excellent driver.

It's officially baseball season for me...32 days till pitchers and catchers report.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sports world recap: Pete Carroll to Atlanta? Lynching Tiger? NFL Divisonal Playoffs, Josh Brown Aka Hot Pants and Steroids, Congress and Clemens

Welcome to the "incase you've been living under a rock post." Sorry We've been slacking lately...blame in on Jessica Simpson or Kim Kardashian, either one will do fine.

Sources say there is mutual interest between USC Coach Pete Carroll and the Atlanta Falcons. Every year Pete Carroll's name is thrown around for an NFL job, he entertains the idea for a few days and then realizes he has it made in L.A. Seriously, even if the Falcons gave him full control of the team, why would he take it? He would be fired in 3 years and have to take a job at the University of Idaho and build his way back up. At USC, he is at the top of the college football world and can contend for a national title every year.

Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman
has been suspended two weeks for her comments about Tiger Woods. While discussing Tiger Woods' dominance, She said that young players on the PGA Tour should "lynch him in a back alley." Even in 2008, where alot of things are tolerated, you have to know better than to use the word "lynch" in the same sentence where you talk about an African American. She deserves to be fired not for her comments, but lack of common sense.

On to the topic I've been trying so hard to avoid this week, ESPN's playoff coverage. ESPN.com's NFL page would like you to believe the sky is falling on the Patriots and Cowboys. Two quick notes, The Patriots are UNDEFEATED, as in they haven't lost a game this year. The Cowboys, all of a sudden the worst 13-3 team ever, have the same record as the red hot NY Giants in the last four games 2-2. Just for the record the Colts were 2-3 headed into the Playoffs last year and they did pretty well.

Seattle Kicker Josh Brown has rigged his pants to include a heater for the other NFC showdown in Green Bay. Brown told KIRO Radio that no matter how low the temperature drops, his legs will be 75 degrees. In other news, thanks to Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo's pants are a blistering 98 degrees...yes the pun was intended.

Congress pushed back its' steriod investigation of Roger Clemens and others. Does congress have nothing better to do? Isn't there a war going on somewhere?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Joe Gibbs Resigns as Redskins Coach & President

Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs will resign as Redskins Coach & President at a 3 P.M. press conference. Since returning to the game after retirement, Gibbs went 31-36 including 1-2 in the post season. Gibbs won three NFL SuperBowls during his first tenure from 1981-92; the second time around he took the team to the postseason in two of his four seasons.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Stat Pack 20 plus: Exclusive interview with Jim Callis

We here at TheStatPack were lucky enough to have the Executive Editor of Baseball America, Jim Callis, answer a few questions for us. If you want to know anything about drafts, farm systems, prospects or the minor league in general, Jim's the foremost authority. If you want to read more of Jim's work you can check out BaseballAmerica, or you can order the 2008 Baseball America Prospect Handbook here.

TSP:Have you ever been approached by a major league team to work in their personnel department?

JC:Not directly. I've had a couple of teams ask, more in conversation, if I could ever see my self scouting. It would be fun to work for a team, but it also would be tough right now because the hours involved would take me away from my family (four young kids, ages 6 to 12).

TSP:The Rays farm system has been rated at or near the top of baseball for 2-3 years now. What makes it so good?

JC:They have a tremendous combination of blue-chip prospects and depth. They've had a bunch of very high first-round picks because of their poor major league performance, and they've made good use of them (Evan Longoria, David Price). They've also done a nice job with later-round choices such as Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac and Desmond Jennings, to name just a few.

TSP:Do you think the McGee/Davis tandem is as good as advertised?

JC:I do. When we did our personal overall Top 50 Prospects list for the 2008 Prospect Handbook, I had McGee at No. 17 and Davis at No. 18. They're two of the very best pitching prospects in baseball.

TSP:Heath Rollins just put up one of the best seasons in the history of the entire Rays organization. How come his name isn't mentioned in the top group of Rays pitching?

JC:His stuff isn't good enough to rank with that top group. His slider is a legitimate pitch, but the rest of his stuff is fringy. And while his season was impressive, he was 22 and spent the whole year in low Class A, which was not. Let's see him succeed in high Class A and Double-A. Until then, he's more of a "keep an eye on" type than a true prospect.

TSP:Same question just with Chris Mason?

JC:I honestly don't think that's the case with Mason. He's right at the head of the class of Tampa Bay's second tier of pitching prospects. He's not a big velocity guy either, but he did have more fastball in college and may get some more velo back. He has a chance to have three average or better pitches.

TSP:How do you see Jeremy Hellickson progressing through the minors? Is it a stretch to see him at AA next year and in the Bigs by '09 or 2010?

JC:The Rays are very cautious with high school pitching prospects--just look at how carefully they've handled Davis and McGee. Hellickson will definitely start 2008 in high Class A and I wouldn't be surprised if he spent the whole year there. I see more of a 2010 ETA, because of how the Rays handle young arms and also because they'll be breaking guys like Price, McGee and Davis into the majors soon and the pitching staff won't have as many holes as Hellickson gets closer.

TSP:Even after the recent moves, The Rays have a lot of OF talent in the Major Leagues. They also have Fernando Perez, Desmond Jennings, & Ryan Royster working through the minors. Out of that group, who do you see making the biggest impact in the Majors? How soon?

JC:You're right, they still have more outfielders than they know what to do with. I like Jennings. He's a toolsy athlete who seems to be adapting very quickly to pro ball. But because of Tampa Bay's outfield depth, I think he'll get some time to develop. I wouldn't expect him in the majors before 2010.

TSP:Is Evan Longoria the best overall player in the minor leagues?

JC:Close, but I'll go with Jay Bruce. Longoria was the second-rated position player on my Top 50 list in the Handbook, and I had him ranked No. 4 overall.

TSP:How does Evan Longoria compare to former stud 3B prospects Alex Gordon & Ryan Braun?

JC:His bat is in the same class--it's an all-star bat. Longoria is a former shortstop and I think he'll be a better defender at third base than the other two guys.

TSP:What do you expect from David Price this season? Do you think he will start his year at AA Montgomery? If so, does he make it to AAA at some point during the season?

JC:I don't think the Rays have made that decision yet. I do think he'll get to Double-A by June if he doesn't start the season there, and because he has a big league contract and already is on the 40-man roster, I bet he makes his major league debut by September at the latest.

TSP:Do you think John Jaso can be looked at as a future everyday catcher for the Rays?

JC:I do. He's a sleeper who can really hit and play decent to solid defense. The big question is whether he can stay healthy, as he has been bothered by persistent shoulder problems in pro ball.

TSP:Besides Niemann, McGee, Davis & Price the Rays have some other arms like Mitch Talbot, JP Howell & Calvin Medlock hanging around. Do you see any of those three making significant contributions to the Rays in the upcoming years?

JC:I like Talbot more than the other two guys. Howell really competes but has marginal stuff, and Medlock is more a middle reliever for me. I can see Talbot being a No. 4 or 5 starter for Tampa Bay, though the competition for rotation slots will be fierce.

TSP:Obviously there are only 5 spots in the Major League rotation, and a lot of the Rays pitching prospects, barring serious injury, should be ready by the 09 season. Pencil in Kazmir, Shields and Garza, how does the rest of the rotation shake out between Niemann, Talbot, McGee, Davis, Price, Jackson, Sonnanstine, Hammel...etc? Do you see any of those guys as serious candidates for bullpen/closer roles if they don't make it as starters?

JC:The potential depth there is just staggering, isn't it? Of course, injuries and attrition will thin this out a little bit. There has been a little mention of Jake McGee and Wade Davis as a possible closer down the line, and I could see Niemann possibly in that role. The frontline guys right now appear to be Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, David Price, Jake McGee, Wade Davis and James Shields, in some order.

TSP:Is it true that Reid Brignac's defense has improved, and defensively he maybe ready to make the jump? If he gets off to a hot start next season could we see him in the majors this year?

JC:I don't know if he improved in 2007 as much as he held ground. He can get the job done at shortstop and be fine there, but he won't be a Gold Glover. With Jason Bartlett coming aboard in the Delmon Young trade, I think Brignac will spend most of the year in Triple-A regardless of his start.

TSP:The Rays hold the #1 Pick in the draft. If the Draft was held tomorrow their pick would be _______?
JC:The top talent right now is Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, but the Rays don't really need a third baseman. I think he's more suited to play left field or first base, but those aren't huge areas of need for Tampa Bay either. That said, you don't base the No. 1 overall pick on need. Other guys in the mix at this point would be Missouri righthander Aaron Crow, San Diego lefthander Brian Matusz, Missouri high school righthander Tim Melville and Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham.

TSP:Will we ever see international players incorporated in the Draft? Do you think we should?

JC:I don't think so. For one, it would be a logistical nightmare. And two, while it might save some money on the handful of elite international players because they wouldn't be free agents, it also might drive the cost up on the next tier of players. I would just leave it like it is. Teams that work hard and make the investment can find quality talent at a relatively reasonable price. No need to change that. Putting them in the draft would just gum up the works even further.

TSP:Who's the Rays most overrated prospect right now?

JC:Maybe Jeff Niemann. He's still a good prospect, but I'm becoming less convinced he'll become the frontline starter he looked like coming out of college. He still has a chance to be a No. 3 starter, though.

TSP:Who's the most underrated?

JC:I'll throw a few names at you . . . Glenn Gibson is probably getting overlooked because he only recently came over in the Elijah Dukes trade and hasn't pitched in full-season ball yet, but I like him. Also keep your eye on Jaso, whom we mentioned earlier, and righthanders Alex Cobb and Josh Butler.

TSP:Who's the Baseball's overall most overrated prospect right now?

JC:Two guys I don't like as much as my cohorts at BA are Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez and Marlins righthander Chris Volstad. They're both legit prospects, but I see more tools than skills with Gomez and I don't think Volstad misses nearly enough bats.

TSP:Who's the most underrated?

JC:Reds righthander Johnny Cueto has performed well in the minors and has good stuff, but people underrate him some because he's not very big. I think Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson is going to make a leap forward this year and become recognized as one of the very best hitters in the minors.

TSP:You're driving the '10 Rays World Series Bandwagon; can you give me an early prediction on the Rays opponent and the World Series MVP?

JC:When I first made that prediction last spring, I had them beating the Dodgers. Let's go with B.J. Upton as World Series MVP.

TSP:"I make you commissioner for one day, what's the first thing you do?"

JC:I'd get rid of the slotting process with the draft. The draft is the easiest and best place for lower-revenue teams to compete with higher-revenue clubs for talent, yet MLB discourages that from happening and steers more talent to the higher-revenue teams.

The Stat Pack would like to thank Jim Callis again for sitting down with us. And remember to pick up a copy of the 2008 Baseball America Prospect Handbook here.