Friday, August 08, 2008

Cassels made of sand

I won't get to see last night's pre-season match-up between the Patriots and Ravens until Saturday, but I think I can safely say that Matt Cassel needs to play better than he did to remain on the roster. Cassel completed two of four passes for eleven yards. Unfortunately, one of those completions was to the Ravens.

In fact, without Brady playing, Pats signal-callers tossed three int's to no touch downs.

Cassel, in the last year of his contract, will need to perform better in the subsequent exhibition matches to find himself on the Pats roster - or possibly any other roster come the regular season opener.

On an encouraging note - the Pats got a big play from their connection to the roots of the NFL - rookie linebacker Shawn Crable, a third round pick, had three tackles, an assist, half a sack and an interception.

Crable, a six-foot-five, 245-pound alum of Tom Brady's alma mater, was born and raised in Massillon, OH. For those who don't know, Massillon was home to the Massillon Tigers, a football team that folded in 1920. The Tigers won the Ohio Independent Championship (the pro championship) for three consecutive years, from 1904 to 1906 - beating the Canton Bulldogs in the '06 title game. In October of 1906, Canton is the first team credited with completing a forward pass under a rule change for the '06 season.

Other sand castles...

The Jets feel they have added the final component to becoming a contender with Brett Favre. This followed an off-season during which they over-hauled their offensive line, adding Alan Faneca (32 years old) at left guard and Damien Woody (31) at right tackle. The 32-year old Faneca will be wedged between D'Brickshaw Ferguson at left tackle and Nick Mangold at center. While that improves the left side of the line, Faneca was largely manhandled by Patriots linemen in the last couple of Steelers-Patriots meetings, and, at 32, there's very likely not much left in his tank (yes, Faneca was first team all-pro last year, but he also had better people around him than he will in the Meadowlands).

As for Woody, their answer to stopping people on that side is a career interior lineman with a weight problem and slow feet. 'Nuff said.

All in all, the Jets should be better, but this isn't an offensive line that anyone is going to worry about until they show they can really manhandle their opponents.

As for Manny...I would be a lot more interested in Major League Baseball's announced investigation into Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras if I believed that anything could really come of it. I appreciate that Bud Selig feels it should be investigated. I believe discipline should be in order, but, despite some of the Union's recent losses in the court of public opinion and in the halls of the Nation's law makers, I don't think that MLB will be able to make anything stick in regards to Manny. They might be able to sanction Scott Boras, but that's where that discipline will end.

In Da Bronx the starting rotation is quickly unraveling. Joba Chamberlain will miss at least two more starts, and possibly more (some rumors floating out there say that even when he gets back, it might be straight to the bullpen), and now word is that Andy Pettitte might miss a start with stiffness in his pitching arm. None of this should be a surprise given - Chamberlain was rushed into the rotation, almost never throwing in excess of 30 pitches per outing in the last season and a half, and then, within four starts throwing at least 100 pitches, and averaging more than that per start since then.

As for Pettitte. I guess it's harder to be as effective as he was in Houston now that he's off the juice.

With the Yankees rotation crumbling, it will take a miracle for the Bommahs to make the post-season. It's not unrealistic - just very, very unlikely.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Observational Thursday

Jacoby Ellsbury can play defense. I don't think Coco would have made the catch that Ellsbury made, diving under the outstretched glove of Jed Lowrie.

Speaking of Ellsbury - for all his recent struggles at the plate, he's hitting .357 in his last nine games with one home run, four runs scored, five driven in, and two stolen bases. Nice to see.

During the Red Sox championship runs we often heard from the pundits about how the Boston nine would be in trouble if they lost David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez for any significant time. Let's face it - They've been without Big Papi this whole season. Yeah, Ortiz has been in the line-up for all but a month, a month and a half, but this is a .250, roughly 75 RBI Ortiz, not the .302, 128.4 RBI per season Big Papi we've seen before this season in Boston. And Manny, well, let's just say the Sox are 6 - 4 in their last ten, with five of those wins coming after Ramirez was traded.

Over in the NFL...

Brett Favre on the Jets. This should be entertaining. It won't be good, but it should be entertaining. Consider - the last time Favre had to learn a new system was when he was traded to the Packers. Favre reputedly did nothing to help with Aaron Rodgers' development, and will likely do nothing for Kellen Clemens'.

Just a hunch, but I think this might be the year that Favre's consecutive starts ends. Any team that thinks Damien Woody is the solution at right tackle, five career starts at the position, has serious issues with their offensive line. Or, to put it another way, the Jets feel that a lineman that lost his job in Detroit is the solution to their O-line woes. It doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence that either Mike Tannenbaum nor Eric Mangini really know what they're doing.

Sure he may have helped the Jets improve, but they're no better than a .500 club. They might eke out more than that, but only by the grace of playing the NFC West clubs.

It's not the decision I expected him to make, considering - he will have to face New England twice, and San Diego, and to get to the Super Bowl he has to believe that the team around him in New York has to be able to get by the Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Steelers, and Jaguars - all teams, that even with Favre added to New York, are still better than the Jets. That doesn't even take into account the Titans, Browns, Broncos, and Bengals - all teams that are probably better than the Favre-Jets.

Is it just me, or is anyone else envisioning Joe Namath in a Rams uniform, or Johnny Unitas in a Chargers uni?