Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rob Neyer (Accidentally) Fisks Joe Morgan. Hilarity Ensues.

A big thank you to Jon for pointing this out.

You know how bullies will grab the arms of weaker kids and make them hit themselves in the head while asking “why are you hitting yourself?” over and over? That weak kid is ESPN, the head is, counterintuitively, Joe Morgan, the arm is Rob Neyer, and the bully is a group of very clever commenters.

First, from the JoeChat!

Joe Morgan

A lot of people didn't like the Wild Card when it was instituted, but I think the Wild Card has really helped baseball down the stretch each year. Without the Wild Card, we'd only have one race right now. I think the Wild Card is a great concept and in fact, I think we should expand the playoffs, if baseball is willing to shorten the season. All of the other leagues have expanded playoff formats and I think we should do the same.

Adam (Walla Walla, WA)

My Blue Jays have a 24 run differential yet are 11 games below .500. What gives?

Joe Morgan

It just tells you that the run differential doesn't mean anything. It doesn't. It's just a number. If you beat a team 11-1 today and you lose 1-0 the next day, you're run differential is 9, but you're at .500. Run differential is not the way to grade a team. If you look back over the last 5-6 years, you will find that run differential doesn't tell you nearly as much as total pitching stats and total offensive stats, BA with runners in scoring position, etc. It just tells you when they're good, they're really good and when they're bad, they're really bad.

Derek (Queens)

Simple question, Joe. Who gets your vote for AL MVP and why?

Joe Morgan

That is a very difficult question for me and I think we have to wait. If Joe Mauer has a big series against Detroit, then I would have to give him my vote. If he doesn't have a big series, then you have to start thinking about players like Mark Teixiera, Derek Jeter and my darkhorse guy that I give my props to is Kendry Morales in Anaheim. When Guerrero and Hunter were out, he provided the pop until they were back.

Steve (Middletown, CT)

Sabathia for Cy Young? He has more wins than Greinke.

Joe Morgan

I would vote for CC, but not so much for that reason. I would vote for him because when he came to the Yankees, he was under extreme pressure to do three things: 1) win games; 2) be the ace of the staff; 3) beat Boston. The only thing left to do is lead them in the playoffs, but the votes will be in before the playoffs. There have been a lot of guys that they brought to that staff to be the ace and haven't, guys like Randy Johnson. CC will have more innings pitched, Greinke may have better other numbers. But for me it's innings pitched and wins and losses. But you can not take away from what Greinke has done. I would not argue with anyone who votes for him.

Now, what do you think happens when Rob Neyer is asked about Joe Morgan’s answers without knowing he’s being asked about Joe Morgan’s answers? This happens:

Jay (PA)

Rob, a friend of mine said that CC should win Cy Young because he did the three things he was brought to NY to do: win games, be the ace, and beat Boston. Please explain to him what a ridiculous argument that is.

Rob Neyer

Gee, Jay. He's your friend, and he'd probably listen to you more than me. I'll just say that while those arguments make a good case for Sabathia having a wonderful season, I can't see how they push him past Greinke (or for that matter, King Felix).

Jerry (Chicago)

Rob, a friend of mine said Joe Mauer MUST have a big series against DET this week or he won't win the MVP. Is my friend as well as Jay (PA)'s friend insane or what?

Rob Neyer

It's just not true. Mauer's got all the buzz right now, and will win

Pete (Fl)

Rob, run differential is a meaningless stat. If a team wins one game 11 to 1 but then lose the next game 2-1, they have a run differential of 9 (which is good) but a .500 record (which isn't). I mean the fact that the top 4 teams in the AL in run differentials is NY, Boston, LAA and Texas yet Texas isn't in the playoffs just proves the point!

Rob Neyer

That fact doesn't prove any such thing, Pete. Next time you see me, I'll explain why.

Nice work everyone. You’re all heroes in my book.

NFL Power Rankings (based on my superficial non-statistical 3-week analysis)

Top 5

1. NY Giants – Their defense looks excellent again, and it’s tough to find a team more well-rounded on offense.

2. Baltimore Ravens – If their defense catches up to their offense, look out. With the Saints, one of the only two teams to score more than 100 points so far.

3. NY Jets – Mark Sanchez looks like a 5 year veteran.

4. New Orleans Saints – Will the offense hold up against the Jets and Giants in their next two games?

5. Cincinnati Bengals – A fluke away from being 3-0, the Bengals have looked like a real team for the first time in a long time.

Interesting fact: Did you know that the Denver Broncos have only given up 16 points total so far this year?

Bottom 5

1. Cleveland Browns – This is the team that I least want to watch on Sunday. Only the Rams have scored fewer points, and no one has given up more. A complete train wreck.

2. St. Louis Rams – They may be able to move up if Kyle Boller can hold on to the starting job, but that sentence alone illustrates just how bad they are.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Once the defense crumbled it was all over.

4. Oakland Raiders – JaMarcus Russell is the worst QB I’ve ever seen. Just because they beat KC does not make them better.

5. Washington Redskins – Losing to the Lions is inexcusable. If the Redskins play the Browns this year anyone exposed to said game will probably pass out from boredom, like in the Flash Forward show.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stop Running!

The Packers could really cut down on their protection problems if they would just cut down on the number of Ryan Grant 1 yard runs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jay Mariotti, You Dirty Old Man

I understand how someone like Jay Mariotti could write this. Most of his day is taken up by whining about whiny baseball players, campaigning for (Cubs GM) to be fired, and yelling at Woody Paige. That said it would be nice if he watched a football game now and then, maybe perused the box scores in the USA Today, or even on the internet where he, you know, writes his column.

Anyway, he apparently does read US Weekly, which at least gives him some info on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

I am at a newsstand, staring at the cover of a gossip magazine.

So Jay is one of those guys who walks into the 7/11 and ogles the not-quite-nudie magazines. I just want to get to the back cooler to pick up my Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee, but no, Jay Mariotti is standing there, rudely blocking the fastest path and forcing me to detour down the cat food/deicer aisle. Just great…

On it is a photo of Jessica Simpson, lamenting the breakup of her relationship with Tony Romo and gushing that she wants him back.

Yeah right. Like you "read the article." Uh huh.

Except the cover refers to him simply as "Tony,'' which is absurd in that it assumes "Tony'' is a major figure in Americana when, in fact, he's an erratic and overhyped quarterback who might be benched before you can say Daisy Dukes.

I was walking down the streets of Ft. Worth the other day (I’m too cool for Dallas. Ft. Worth is underground. It’s dangerous. You fly into Dallas/Ft.Worth and everyone’s like “Hey, I’m in Dallas! Yee Haw!” But not me. I’m all about the wrong side of the tracks. By the way, does anyone know anything fun to do in Ft. Worth?)

Anyway, while I was walking the streets of Ft. Worth I heard a faint rumbling in the distance. AS I approached what I’m sure is a bustling downtown area it grew louder until it became a deafening, Phil Spector-esque wall of sound. The people were shouting in unison, trying to evoke, by sheer force of will, their football savior.
They shouted “We Want Kitna!”

Seldom do I agree with the knee-jerk opinions of retired athletes,

Sorry to be breaking in so often, but this is just a lie. Mariotti does this all the time. He’s nothing but knee jerk. He wants everyone fired. Hell, he even got himself fired by being all super knee-jerky. When you think Mariotti, you think jerk. And that’s halfway to knee jerk.

many of whom are bitter cusses plagued by Contract Envy, Media Envy and other jealousies centered around today's stars. But when it comes to First-Name-Basis Tony,

So now the “first name basis” thing is out of line? Dude, you were quoting Jessica Simpson. She is/was on a first name basis with Tony Romo. Do you expect her to call him Mr. Romo in interviews? If Jessica would have called him her Sweet Baboo would you have extrapolated from that that the entire nation is referring to Tony Romo as Sweet Baboo? Maybe you will redeem yourself with rigorous statistical analysis.

who continues to fluctuate wildly in his fourth season as an NFL starter while smoother operators such as Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco excel as sophomores,

Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan appear to be pretty good and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but are we really going to rely on two games for our basis of comparison? A lot can go right and wrong in two games. Romo had a great game against a bad Tampa team, and a bad game against what is probably a great Giant defense. Flacco has been good, but one of those good games was against the Chiefs (The other was San Diego). Ryan has played against Carolina and Miami. The Giants probably have the best defense out of the group, and it’s not surprising that a QB might struggle against them.

Besides that though:

Completion Percentage, career:

Romo – 63.1
Ryan – 62.0
Flacco – 60.4

Yards per attempt, career :

Romo – 8.1
Ryan – 7.8
Flacco – 7.0

Romo does have a higher interception percentage, but his touchdown percentage also blows the other two out of the water:

Romo – 6.2%
Ryan – 4.2%
Flacco – 3.8%

it's hard to disagree with the harsh assessments of Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman. Considering all are Hall of Famers who've won Super Bowl rings when Romo has yet to win a playoff game, they have the credibility necessary to criticize Romo's considerable underachievement in one of pro football's most scrutinized jobs, QB of the Dallas Cowboys. And as each periodically weighs in, I find myself nodding at just about every shot taken at Jessica's ex.

As for Emmitt Smith, I think Mariotti may have debacled this argument.

"I don't know why on God's Earth Tony Romo has been anointed a superstar in the National Football League," Dorsett said in a FOX Sports Radio interview. "Tony is very young in his career. Not to say you can't be young in your career and be a superstar because you've got one up there in Minnesota in Adrian Peterson.

“Romo is too young, except he’s not. Because of Adrian Peterson.”

“Also, there was this guy named Tony Dorsett who rushed for 1007 yards and a 4.8 YPC with 12 TDs in only 14 games (and only 4 starts) in his rookie year of 1977, followed by over 1700 yards from scrimmage in his next season.”

But the thing is this: You have a guy who hasn't done much, and quarterbacks in the NFL, most of them go through this growing curve.

I think central bankers relying on the “growing curve” may have caused the recession.

He hasn't gone through that growing curve, but he was anointed this great player all of a sudden. Now he's having to live up to that. And obviously Tony has some deficiencies ... I think the media has given him too much credit for doing nothing. He hasn't done anything really in the NFL to deserve all the recognition and visibility he's gotten so far."

OK, this simply isn’t true. First of all, I don’t think anyone puts Romo up there with Manning and Brady (and I would include Brees too, but what has he ever won? Huh? Tell me!) And second, Tony has been a pretty good QB. Here, look.

He’s also ranked 4th and 11th in DYAR the last two years. I still think the reason that people view Romo as anything but a good QB is his botched hold in the playoffs. Something that really isn’t a starting QB’s job.


Maybe it's as much a commentary on the sizzle of the Cowboys and their P.T. Barnum owner, Jerry Jones. But any perception of Romo as a marquee player, as the TV networks like to sell him, is woefully wrong. He can't win big games, whether it's a critical late-season contest, a playoff game -- he's 5-10 in December and January -- or a game such as the one Sunday night.

I still think this goes back to the botched hold, as previously mentioned. That hold happened after Romo led a drive from the Dallas 28 to the Seattle 2 yard line, and they were only kicking because a replay overturned what was previously ruled a first down by Jason Witten. The review of that game on ESPN contains this sentence:

“Romo was a big reason the Cowboys even made it this far, having turned their season around by winning five of his first six starts after replacing Drew Bledsoe and blossoming into a Pro Bowler.”

In his second playoff loss, the Cowboys fell to the Giants team that would eventually defeat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Tough crowd.

A Week 2 meeting against the New York Giants was turned into a mega-event by Jones, who described it as "bigger than the Super Bowl'' because it was the opening regular-season game of his $1.2 billion, 73-acre colossus of a stadium. From the retractable walls that change from silver to blue (depending on the weather) to the 72-by-160-foot video board that hangs over the field like a high-tech cyclops, Jones rather ridiculously spoke of his new creation in orgasmic terms.

"I can't sleep at night,'' he said.

This leads to all sorts of bizarre questions about Jay Mariotti’s sex life which I think we should all just avoid. Agreed? Agreed. Good.

In other words, Jones wanted dearly to win the game and maximize his thrill.

Still no? Oh Ok. Are you sure? I have a good drug joke? Hutchence/Carradine?

No, I guess you’re right, I don’t want think about it either.

But Romo, who usually plays well in September,

Inspired by the fall colors, the cool breezes, and memories of times long since past…

Can we stop with the “he plays well during X” thing? It’s so very stupid. Maybe the Cowboys have just had better matchups early. Maybe it’s just random. Who knows? What it isn’t, is an arbitrary turn of the calendar. Tony Romo doesn’t wake up on October first having lost his ability to play football.

sabotaged his boss' dream with a dreadful performance -- 13 for 29, 127 yards, a 29.6 passer rating and three killer interceptions, all leading to Giants touchdowns in a 33-31 loss.

Yes, that’s bad.

It followed a strong outing by Romo in a Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay, against whom he threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.

Wow, that’s pretty good.

This was supposed to be the year when he threaded together consistent games, grew up as a leader without any Terrell Owens distractions and took the Cowboys deep into the postseason. Instead, he already has planted a familiar seed that suggests he's doomed to a career of inconsistency. He lacks the dynamic efficiency and cool that has defined the greatest Dallas quarterbacks, Aikman and Roger Staubach.

I wasn’t really around for Staubach, but when I think Aikman, I think “maybe the greatest offensive line of all time” and “remember that one time when Jason Garrett played great behind said O-Line” and “it sure is easy to pass when Emmitt has you in 2nd and 4 all game.” But that’s just me. I guess. Also, everyone should keep in mind that leaders don’t throw interceptions. I hear Brett Favre was a great leader (the media told me!) and that guy never threw any interceptions.

"I think things happened so quickly for Tony -- in terms of obscurity to, all of a sudden, the national spotlight -- that he hasn't fully grasped what being the Cowboys quarterback is all about," Aikman said in the offseason.

Oh Troy. I know I sort of ripped on you above, but I actually think you’re a pretty solid Hall of Famer and appreciate that you try to bring smarter statistics to your broadcasts. So what gives? Is being the Cowboy quarterback like being a True Yankee? Does the Cowboy QB have to throw twice as far, uphill, while wearing stirrups?

Smith is challenging Romo to be a better leader, accusing him of not "demanding excellence'' from teammates. "I never saw him go snatch somebody up, and say, 'Hey, we can't win like this. We can't have guys jumping offsides. I can't have [a defender] coming at me unabated. Who is making the mistakes up front? Why aren't you picking this guy up? This is not going down this way. If you can't get your job done, get off the football field,' " he said.

Unlike Troy Aikman, who routinely yells at Starbucks baristas for a certain lack of professionalism. Does anyone think that Marion Barber would run harder if Tony Romo was more inspiring? Does DeMarcus Ware fall asleep in the corner after every practice?

Grouchy, old Cowboys, they are not. Having survived and thrived in the Dallas pressure cooker, they know what's required to win championships.

That’s right. You can’t beat a great offensive line, the all-time leading rusher in NFL history, Charles Haley, Deion Sanders in his prime…

No one is seeing a title aura in Romo,

Or, new age bullshit. That's good too. His helmet also violates several tenets of Feng Shui, and his horoscope indicates that stupid, angry scribes will unfairly denigrate his accomplishments.

who takes too many chances and doesn't manage a game as much as he mismanages it. Last year, he has 21 turnovers in 13 games.

Romo threw 26 TDs last year and threw 14 picks. He also fumbled a lot, which is bad. To be specific, he fumbled 13 times. However, he was also incredibly unlucky as his team only recovered 3 of those fumbles. Research (by Football Outsiders) has shown that while creating fumbles is a repeatable skill, recovering them is not, and that fumble recovery tends to regress to the mean. Romo put the ball on the ground too much last year, but he was also terribly unlucky.

This year, he's on the same pace. "There are some throws that you shouldn't attempt to make when you are playing certain teams," Aikman said this week. "We've seen him try and do that from time to time. When you play a team like the Giants, who match up pretty evenly talent wise, you have to be smart about those throws. Interceptions happen more in the playoffs and in bigger games in December. When the games are close, you have to be smart with the football and that has been a problem with Tony. I know the coaching staff is trying to eliminate those mistakes."

Tony Romo has problems, but he’s not exactly an interception machine. He’s always thrown more TDs than picks, and usually a lot more. In 2007 when he threw a career high 19 picks, he also threw a career high 36 TDs. Aikman’s advice is good, but there are many QBs who are far more careless with the ball than is Romo. And when a QB fumbles it’s often not the QBs fault, especially if he’s blindsided. In his glory years, how often did Troy Aikman get pressure from the blind side? Never?

Said Dorsett: "He's not going to be on top of his game week in and week out, because this game is a very fast-moving game and he makes some decisions sometimes -- he's like a gambler man, he takes chances and sometimes those things, he gets bit in the butt by that.''

This is true of every QB. Let’s just move on.

Their reactions are far more severe than his own. After every stumble -- nine times, he has had passer ratings of under 60 -- he flips his cap into backward mode and says he'll try better the next time. "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to play up to the level the rest of the other guys did," Romo said Sunday. "I have to get better at the mistakes I made and I will."

Brett Favre had a passer rating under sixty 55 times. Troy Aikman had a passer rating under sixty 39 times. It happens.

It's undeniable that Romo, as the Cowboys QB and by virtue of some strong performances in less-pressurized moments, has been anointed by the media before proving he deserves top billing. Remember, he emerged from obscurity, signing with Dallas as an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois. Just as major college programs in the Midwest ignored him, so did every NFL front-office boss but Jones. Is it possible the scouts had it right in the beginning?

I really hate crap like this. First of all, if you are on a contending NFL football team, every game is pressure-filled. There are only 16 of them. Sure, some might be more important, but none are unimportant. Second, here Mariotti is making what I call the “Peyton Manning” error. The rub on Manning used to be that he couldn’t win the big game. The error is that once you get late in the season and into the playoffs every game is a big game, and unless you win the Super Bowl, every player on a contending team will, at some point, lose the big game. While it’s true that Romo has been less than stellar in the playoffs, and indeed, late in the season, he has won big games. And if not for the botched hold, he would have a last second game-winning playoff drive under his belt.

He was supposed to flourish under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, but Romo keeps making the same mistakes in the games that matter most. Since replacing Drew Bledsoe as the starter in 2006, he has been enabled by Jones, who sorely wants Romo to become a dominant player to validate his oft-doubted status as a talent evaluator. As always, Jones is dabbling in fantasy when reality says Romo might not be a better idea than Jon Kitna, the veteran who wisely was signed as a backup. To no one's surprise, he defended Romo on his radio show this week.

I feel bad for what I’m about to do, because Kitna is actually not a terrible QB, and by all accounts he’s a pretty good guy, but he’s not in Romo’s league in terms of talent or production. Kitna’s career completion percentage is 59.8%. He’s thrown almost as many picks (151) as TDs (152). His career rating is 76.6. He’s had a few good seasons in the past (1999, 2003) but also a ton of absolute stinkers (in 2001 he threw 12 TDs and 22 picks).

Romo is a 63.1% passer. He’s never been anywhere close to throwing as many picks as TDs in a season, and his career mark of 85 TDs/49 Picks is very good. Romo is good for 8.1 YPA, whereas Kitna comes in at 6.6. It’s embarrassing that I have to write this. Jay Mariotti should walk around with a bag over his head and a giant scarlet M on his lapel so that everyone knows he's a moron, for writing this. This guy used to write for a newspaper? For money?

"We have all the confidence in the world in Tony Romo," Jones said. "You'd like for him not to have a day like that, but when everybody is pointing fingers, when it didn't go good, then you want someone who can walk into that huddle in the next snap at practice, the next snap in the ballgame and walk out there and cut and shoot and play like they just won the Super Bowl. That's a great quarterback."

On cue, Romo's coaches and teammates also keep supporting him. "Tony's a fighter," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's going to keep after it."

Sounds like his teammates and coach like him. Almost like he’s some kind of leader or something…

"I know you guys don't see it from our perspective, but he takes a lot of things he does wrong very, very hard,'' center Andre Gurode told reporters. "I can't just imagine how he felt [Sunday] night when he went home. You see the guy [Monday], pat him on the back and say, 'Hey, we're going to correct our mistakes and get better.' ''

That smells like leadership to me…

"The bad thing is when we win, it's all the quarterback, and when we lose it's all the quarterback," cornerback Terence Newman said. "There's times he's played bad and we've picked him up, and there's times we've played bad and Tony's picked us up."

Wow, he really seems to have the locker room. Do you think Jay has now rambled on for so long that he forgot about the first part of this column?

To his credit, Romo often has bounced back from poor games to deliver solid performances the following week, which will be expected Monday night when the Cowboys host reeling Carolina. Last year, he answered a wretched game in Pittsburgh with a 113.8 passer rating in a win over the Giants. "[Quarterback] is certainly a physical position, and you've got to have the physical skills. But, at the end of the day, it's got to be someone that has a tough skin, that's got a high level of willpower,'' Jones said. "Someone that can say, 'Look, I didn't play well that play, that game,' and come back and play outstanding. The greatest of them all had many days as rough as Tony had Sunday.''

Sounds like a solid guy. A warrior, even. Shrugs off the bad, goes out there, yada blah bklsf;af…

But not nearly as many. This far into his career, Romo isn't nearly as accomplished as those with comparable years of NFL experience, including Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning.

I’m sick of dumping stats into this Gorgon of a column. You already know that going by stats Mariotti is wrong. You know that Roethlisberger is “accomplished” because the Pittsburgh defense is so awesome that they won him his first Super Bowl even though he put up the worst QB rating in Super Bowl history. They carried him a bit last year too.

You know that much the same is true of Eli Manning, though he has improved greatly in the last year and a half. Rivers probably has better numbers, but basically the same "accomplishments" as Romo. The fact is that Romo is, at the very least on par with these guys, and he’s better than at least a few of them.

No, the ups and downs of the Cowboys aren't all his fault, not as long as Jones stands by the overmatched Wade Phillips as his head coach and the defense -- zero sacks so far after amassing 59 last season -- gets pushed around as one of the league's worst. But in a quarterbacks league, Romo is a maddening case of having no idea what's coming from week to week, especially when Manning burns the Cowboys for 330 yards and two scores.

1. Blame defense for loss.
2. Hold Eli Manning’s monster day against Tony Romo, not against defense referenced in point one.
3. Follow rabbit down rabbit hole where this may make sense.

"It's frustrating," he said Wednesday. "I'm really disappointed in myself right now. I'm really not okay with my play right now." But not disappointed enough to stop wearing the damned backwards cap, I'm sure.

And get off the lawn! Rapscallions bringing their floozies around here with their caps and saggy pants. Consarnit.

In the final analysis, he has the look of a heartbreaker. Jessica Simpson knows that much.

Out of my way Mariotti. This isn’t a library. If you want to “read” the magazine, buy it. I need my Starbucks Doubleshot Energy+Coffee. And hey, maybe pick up one of these football magazines while you’re at it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Packers Robbed of Precious Seconds

The Refs apparently screwed up:

"In the fourth quarter of the Cincinnati-Green Bay game, Cedric Benson was tackled on third down, in Green Bay territory and one yard short of the first down marker, with about 5:10 left on the clock. Cincinnati took their time deciding what to do and finally sent out the punt team. The play clock was down to about five seconds, and Green Bay's defense was sprinting off the field as the punt return team took their place. At this point officials reset the play clock to 25 seconds, and the clock ran all the way down to about 4:10 before Cincinnati took a delay of game."

I did some digging and this appears to be entirely accurate. The Bengals ran a play with 5:20 left. It was a one-yard run that stayed in bounds. The play clock is supposed to start counting down from 40 seconds immediately when the play stops. The Bengals then took a delay of game at 4:09 (which was declined by the Packers).

The entire section on delay of game in the rulebook (4-5-6, pages 21-22) doesn't account for any time where the game clock would keep running while the play clock is stopped. If the play clock stops for some reason -- the game clock should stop -- then the play clock should be reset to the same number of seconds (article 3, option c in the rule). If there are less than 10 seconds and the play clock is stopped, it should be reset to 10 seconds. Not 25. There are seven examples given (in article 2) as to when the play clock should be set to 25, and they are all times when the game clock is completely stopped.

When sifting through these rules and the entire section on timing -- in addition to racking my brain for any reason to send the play clock back up to 25 -- it appears the Packers were legitimately shorted somewhere in the ballpark of 20 seconds.

That's from Matt Snyder at Fanhouse.

Aaron Rouse is no more

I'm pretty surprised that the Packers actually cut Aaron Rouse. I didn't think he was that bad.

Stat of the Day

From Ken Tremendous on Twitter:

The lowest OPS of any MLB regular who qualifies is Yuniesky Betancourt's .607. Zack Greinke's OPS-against, from the entire league, is .612.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Strange Case of Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley was recently sent home by the Chicago Cubs for complaining of excessive negativity around the organization, and for being a huge doofus.

Few will argue that the Cubs screwed up big time when they signed Bradley, and this isn't just a "hindsight is 20/20" kind of thing. They gave a guy a 2 year contract worth $10 million per year (with an option for a third, though I can't remember whose option it is) after a career year at the age of 30 while mostly playing DH in a tiny little ballpark. Oh, and there were better, cheaper options out there like Raul Ibanez and Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu.

Anyway, my question is this. Do you want Milton Bradley? Because you can probably have him. Before you start throwing things at me and calling me an idiot, consider the following:

1. Milton Bradley gets on base.

His power may have dried up a bit, but he was never actually very powerful to begin with. What Milton does very well to this day is to not make outs. Even in a down year he still posted a .378 OBP. He was always miscast as an RBI guy for the Cubs. Milton should hit somewhere near the top of the lineup. Chicago radio guys love to harp on Milton's Paltry 40 RBIs, but even in his career year he only drove in 77. Milton walks. Frequently. If you bat him out of position, you have no one to blame but yourself.

2. Milton will be cheap.

The Cubs owe Milton at least another $10 million bucks, and by all accounts, no one wants him, which means to deal him and get him out of the clubhouse will require the Cubs to eat a bunch of that money. Probably close to all of that money.

3. The Brewers, as always, lack OBP.

There are 2 (debatably 3-4) Brewers who are skilled at getting on base. They are Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun (and perhaps Felipe Lopez and Casey McGehee). Otherwise you have this:

Kendall - .326
Hardy - .300
Cameron - .348
Hart - .325
Escobar - .315
Gamel - .331
Counsell - .354 (hey, not bad)
Weeks - .340

In the last 5 seasons, Milton Bradley has OBPs of .402, .373, .414, .436, .378.

But he's a screwup!

I still think the screwup thing is overrated. If he would have hit .300 with 27 HRs, the Cubs would not have cared. His perceived lack of production was the primary driving force behind Milton's off-the-field issues.

But the Cubs wouldn't trade in the division!

90% of the time I would agree, and that may still be the case here, but what if you have no other buyers? And they may view this as passing a cancer onto a division rival.

But he's terrible defensively!

Yeah, that's true. It would definitely be a tradeoff. But it's not like Corey Hart is a defensive All-Star to begin with, and it would be nice to have a guy who is always on base for Fielder and Braun. I can live with some lousy defense.

I don't think there's a chance in hell that this happens, but I actually do think it would be worth pursuing. And at the risk of engaging in bullshit sports cliches, I actually think Milton Bradley might play better against the Cubs (and in general) with revenge on his mind.

Finally, if you did get him and it did work out, it would make Cubs fans miserable. That's worth something, right?

Line Offensive

Tom Pelissero has a nice breakdown:

On 45 true dropbacks Sunday, the Packers utilized six-man protection 21 times (46.7 percent) and seven-man protection nine times (20 percent), not including plays on which tight ends and running backs chipped before going out in pattern. Only nine times was the offensive line left to fend for itself — yet Rodgers was sacked six times and hit four others by a Bengals defense that sent 17 blitzes (37.8 percent).

These are compounding issues that can’t be solved simply by keeping in extra blockers on every play. If anything, excessive help can become a crutch, allowing players to get away with lousy fundamentals that need to be fixed before this offense can get back on track.

Well worth a read.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nick Barnett Doesn't Want My Twitter Input

If you were watching the game today, you saw Nick Barnett whiff terribly on an important 3rd and short. You then saw him do his job and make a tackle on the ensuing play. Then he celebrated like a jack ass.

Since he is a prolific twitterer, I decided to give him some feedback:

@NickBarnett whiff a tackle on 3rd and still dance after the next play??Remove head from rear please.

Oh yea for everyone that had something to say after I celebrated for making a takle for lost KISS MY ASS... I was trying to get the defense

I was trying to get defense fired up... And so what if I missed the takle before am I suppose to stay in a funk about it!?? Get a life

I chuckled, figuring tons of people probably sent him the same type of message. I don't use twitter a lot so I didn't think to check my private messages. I was putzing around on my phone and decided to check em...


Thanks for your input Nick. Hopefully you'll have more time to twitter from your new found backup role.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dead Spinendous

Just an FYI, the writers of FireJoeMorgan.com are editing Deadspin today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Big Ten's Problem Is Apparently Captain Sweater Vest

Chris Brown makes a compelling case that Jim Tressel has no idea what he's doing (at least in terms of X's and O's).

Some of the stills he uses are jaw-droppingly amazing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

J.J. Who?

Urlacher is Done

To add injury to unmitigated disaster, the Bears have now lost Brian Urlacher for the year.

At least the Bears can still enjoy watching the Packers and Vikings compete for the NFC North crown.

Sunday, September 13, 2009




It's going to be a good week.

The officiating crew can get bent.

Also, Alan Barbre and all of the receivers. Good lord.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fun Baseball Stat Of The Day

Jason Kendall*: .624 OPS in 2009.

Ryan Howard: .615 OPS against LHP in 2009.

That's sub-Jason Kendall offensive production in 38% of the Phillie's 1st base PAs.

*Chosen because he was the worst hitter I could think of.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Football Picks

Since the NFL season starts tonight (Woohoo!), here are my predictions for the season. I don't think I have any really controversial picks here. I've heard a lot of buzz about the 49ers that I don't really understand. I think Jacksonville has a bounce-back season, and I suppose that's controversial, but the AFC South is the division that I'm the least confident about. I suppose I'm probably underrating the Titans, but every team in that division is pretty good and someone has to finish last. Feel free to post/comment your predictions.

AFC West

1. San Diego
2. Denver
3. Kansas City
4. Oakland

AFC South

1. Jaguars
2. Colts
3. Texans
4. Titans

AFC North

1. Ravens
2. Steelers
3. Bengals
4. Browns

AFC East

1. Patriots
2. Jets
3. Dolphins
4. Bills

NFC West

1. Seahawks
2. Cardinals
3. Rams
4. 49ers

NFC South

1. Saints
2. Falcons
3. Panthers
4. Bucs

NFC East

1. Giants
2. Cowboys
3. Eagles
4. Redskins

NFC North

1. Bears (11-5)
2. Packers (9-7)
3. Vikings (9-7)
4. Lions (6-10)

AFC Wild Card

Colts, Steelers

NFC Wild Card

Packers, Cowboys

Super Bowl

Patriots over Bears

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Revisiting The Past

For some reason I thought it necessary to put the following in my Google Calendar:
Tracker predicts 88 win on jan21
I went back to find the post on which this prediction was made. It makes for interesting reading.

: It seems as though Melvin is done making any substantial moves for the time being. With Hardy resigned, Fielder not on the trading block, and not looking for starting pitching, it looks like this is the team. I really would have liked to see some additional starting pitching, some outfield depth, or another infielder as those all seem to be places where the team could still improve.

: I am disappointed, just because the team has a few obvious warts which could be handled in low cost fashion, in my opinion. Oh well.

These past few years have been based on some very good prospects. Success this year, if there is to be any, will quite possibly rest on the shoulders of players who do not make the team out of camp, and who are hardly "can't miss" prospects. I think they're roughly a .500 team as currently constituted, and unless the Cubs have a disaster (which is possible, by the way) it's going to take a wild card to get into the playoffs again. That sounds like a tall order without one more pitcher and some extra OBP.

: They look like last year's team (minus CC), a little better in the pen, no different offensively, no different defensively, and no significant difference in the starting rotation, in fact perhaps slightly better. The latter assumes Yo = Sheets, and Bush is second half Bush. If so, they're not a division contender, but at 87-88 wins, a wild card contender.

Speaking of low cost, Verducci reports the Mets offer to Sheets is close to the Penny offer (1 yr, $5 mil, club option) Sheets wants 2-18 with his option.

If Melvin had offered Sheets 2-18 at some point last year, I think Sheets would've punched him.

: brewers are more likely to improve than dis-improve (un-improve? a-prove?) at:

sp (gallardo)
sp (parra)

don't fret.

ESK (from a different post): Real Brewers Prediction: 82 wins, a terrible bullpen, top 5 in extra base hits but bottom 5 in OBP...again

If you recall I was extremely pessimistic, but preseason number crunching turned me around into thinking the Brewers would finish around .500. Originally I thought they'd have 78.

JJ Wants to Know Why

Every time J.J. Hardy dissects his situation, he comes up with one question.

Whenever he is sitting in his minor-league hotel room and dwelling on how it all went down, the same inquiry pops into his head.


"It's been simmering. There are questions in my mind," Hardy said. "The more and more I think about it, the more I think, 'Why would they do this to me?'

Since he seems so confused, I figured I'd help him out:

.229/.300/.367 75 OPS+

Of course, Hardy understood that, until his agent got in his ear:


At first I felt OK. It would give me a chance to relax," said Hardy, who avoided arbitration this season by signing a one-year, $4.65 million deal in the winter. "But that's when my agent told me about the 20 days.

"That's when I was like, 'Now I understand.' The more I replay the conversation with Doug, the more I realize there was never a chance for me to be called up before (the 20 days)."

Now, lets assume this is correct. Is that the reason Hardy has been abysmal in AAA? He has made zero case for being called up before now, his OBP has dropped to .280 and his lack of power remains. Melvin makes the point that the Brewers stuck with Hardy when he was utter shit his rookie season but apparently Hardy's agent doesn't want Hardy to think about that.

Hardy quit on the team the moment he was sent down and his attitude has not changed since being in AAA. Even if this was just a shrewd business move (getting an extra year of control) Hardy has done absolutely nothing to show his performance deserved a premature recall.

Last year David Price had reason to be pissed at Tampa. Hardy has no where near the talent and apparently also lacks the mental fortitude of the Devil Rays young pitcher. It's a shame, Hardy could have been an above average pitcher. My sense now is that he'll never be more than a .780ish OPS guy the rest of his career, which we should all hope lies elsewhere.

Hardy has pissed away the last bit of respect I had for him. Get an arm for the guy in the offseason and lets move on.

Right Fielders of the NL Central

Everyone in Chicago hates Milton Bradley as far as I can tell. This is mostly related to his off-the-field antics, but it is also fueled by his lack of power and RBIs (I’ve often wondered how big of a difference it would have made to the Cubs if they had simply swapped Bradley and Soriano in their order, but my time to play around on the Baseball Musings Lineup Calculator is limited today). And I grant you that Milton has had a bit of a power outage this year, but to everyone in Chicago, it could be worse:

NL Central RFs by VORP

1. Garrett Jones – 23.0 (Pitt)
2. Hunter Pence – 18.7 (Hou)
3. Milton Bradley – 13.6 (Chi)
4. Ryan Ludwick – 10.0 (Stl)
5. Corey Hart – 9.0 (Mil)
6. Wladimir Balentien - -.01 (Cin)

By EqA

1. Garrett Jones - .329
2. Milton Bradley - .286
3. Hunter Pence - .280
4. Corey Hart - .272
5. Ryan Ludwick - .268
6. Jay Bruce - .244

In fact, on behalf of my Brewers, I’ll gladly trade you Corey for Milton, straight up, if you’ll eat some of Milton’s salary. I’ll stick that .400 OBP in front of Braun and Fielder any day. And you’ll love Corey. He’s like an old version of Alfonso Soriano (which is, ironically, the current version of Alfonso Soriano) but with less power. You may even be deceived into thinking he’s a leadoff hitter because of his speed.

Let me or Doug know if you’re interested.