Saturday, February 28, 2009

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

I didn't initially intend to use a Douglas Adams reference as a double entendre in regards to the Pats record against the Dolphins during Mike Vrabel's tenure in a Pats uni, it just happened that way.

I will miss Vrabel, but I'm not going to bitch about the team moving him. At this point I trust that the team knows what it's doing from a personnel standpoint. I will say that, even though I agree with the coffin corner that this deal makes sense for the Patriots, I still think this is an absolute steal for the Chiefs. For the 34th pick in the draft the Chiefs got a quarterback that's got nothing but upside who just led the Patriots to a 11-5 record. I would like to have seen the Pats get a fourth rounder as well - even if it were in next year's draft.

Through the course of the season, Cassel actually put up better numbers than Brady did in Brady's first season as a starter back in 2001. There are those that will be quick to point out that Cassel did it throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

I'd like to point out that Brady did it behind a healthy offensive line and with healthy starters at the running back position - so that advantage is really a wash. And Brady did it with a healthier and better defense in place than Cassel had.

I'm not saying that Cassel is better than Brady, or will ever be better than Brady. All I'm saying is that at the same points in their careers, the two are very comparable - and what GM...what team's fans wouldn't want to take that?

They are getting set at signal-caller on the offensive side of the ball, which lets Scott Pioli build around a cornerstone. Now they can concentrate on building the offensive line through free-agency and the draft.

On the other side of the ball they get Mike Vrabel whom Bill Belichick has described as one of the smartest players he has ever coached.

I've noticed a lot of the stories about this point out that Vrabel is coming off an off year. None of those stories mention that the entire Patriots defensive front struggled. The vaunted defensive linemen seldom tied up the personnel that allowed Vrabel to run free in earlier seasons.

Even if Vrabel is at the tail end of his career, my bet is that he's still got two good years left, and this gives the Chiefs a much needed leader on what was a pitiful, leaderless defense.

More than anything else, these two players were brought in to change the culture and climate of the locker room. They were brought in to help teach the young players on this team how to win.

Will they this year? It's unlikely, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Chiefs make some noise in 2010.

For Chiefs fans that think this is a bad deal, or that Cassel is the second coming of Scott Mitchell, let's get something cleared up - unlike many of the back-ups that have come before that turned out to be busts, Cassel has a full season under his belt as a starter. Not three or four starts that got some personnel guys all hot and bothered, but a full season, and has been with your personnel guy since he came out of college four years ago. This isn't some guy that Pioli fell in love with over four games of tape - this is a guy that Pioli has seen on the practice field day in and day out for almost half a decade, and then watched pilot the Patriots to 11 wins (could have been 13 if the defensive line could get into the backfield last season). You're getting a player, and the only thing that could be a problem is the team's offensive line.

One last thought - I can't help but find a certain irony that Cassel will be starting for the team next season to which he owes a debt in regards to getting his chance to start.

Matt, Mike, good luck, so long, and thanks for all the fish. It was a fun run.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Stupid is as stupid does...

The Manny news out of La-La Land...

The Dodgers announced Thursday night the star outfielder’s agent Scott Boras had declined a $25 million, one-year contract with a $20 million player option for 2010. It was the club’s fourth offer to Ramirez this offseason.

“We want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. “When his agent finds those ‘serious offers’ from other clubs, we’ll be happy to restart the negotiations.”

Nice to see some team management that's not willing to negotiate against themselves to get talent in their folds. As for Ramirez, it appears he and Scott Boras are negotiating his way out of baseball.

Someone needs to explain to Ramirez that market value isn't what his agent tells him it is, rather it's set by what someone is willing to pay. Evidently his market value is two years at $45 million less his agent's commission.

Congrats to Tom Brady on the nuptials.

After a rough stretch it looks like the Bruins are back on track.

Gotta admit, I thought the Celtics game against the then 14 win Clippers was a gimme. Evidently they did too.

It looks like Fred Taylor will be the newest member of the Patriots backfield. Taylor will be providing additional depth to a backfield that includes Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. My guess is that Heath Evans gets re-signed and that a back will be picked in the late rounds to round out the team's depth at the position in training camp.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Irony is funny and other thoughts...

So the Dodgers look like they have finally found a solution to the soap opera that is the Manny Ramirez situation.

As every Sox fan knows, Ramirez pulled every trick in the book in order to engineer his exit from Boston because he believed he could make more money if he was out from under the Sox's onerous two option years at $20 million per. Reportedly Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, told Man-Ram that he could potentially land a four-year $100+ million deal. It looks like he's going to get a one year $25 million deal with a player's option for a second year at $20 million.

That means, in essence, that Ramirez landed a raise of $2.5 million (once you take out Scott Boras' commission) only if Ramirez doesn't exercise his option year. If he does, then all he's done is engineer a $500,000.00 raise spread over two years, but he's managed to pay Boras $4.5 million for pretty much the same money he would have made anyway had he stayed with the Sox.

Gotta love the irony.

Over on the gridiron I've been wondering what the Pats brain-trust has planned for the off-season in regards to rebuilding. I know that what I might see as an issue, or as the most important needs are not necessarily what Bill Belichick sees as the team's greatest needs.

Biggest need -

For whatever reason, last season the pass rush was horrible. Brutal might be the best word. Had the pass rush actually existed, the Pats probably would have beaten the Jets in the overtime game, might have actually made a game of it against the Chargers, and probably would have won the game against the Colts. Part of the issue was Ty Warren playing the season with a pulled groin, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them grab another defensive linemen in the middle rounds in an effort to add depth to the ends. I think it's more likely that they will try to find the solution, however, with an outside linebacker in the early rounds.

Second biggest need -

Defensive back would appear to be the next biggest need on the Pats radar. I put this behind the pass rush because a solid pass rush can cover for all sorts of sins in the defensive back-field, and lord knows that the Pats didn't have a solid pass rush last season. Also, due to injury, the team was forced to play a lot of young players that really had to learn on the job, some of whom may turn into solid DB's. However, I still think this is an area that they will address through free-agency or the draft in an effort to find a starting caliber corner.

Other places -

Depth on the offensive line - last season protection was an issue for two reasons; one - Matt Cassel had to get up to game speed after playing little since high school and often, early in the season held on to the ball too long and took the sack rather than throwing the ball away. Unfortunately, this issue was compounded by the fact that half the starting offensive line was injured for half the year.

I figure the team will, like in every year since Jabar Gaffney got there, look for a third receiver to slot in behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

The team will also draft or sign a free agent quarterback to compete with Matt Guttierez for the third string QB slot once the team trades Matt Cassel.

Other Patriot thoughts -

No, the team will not bring in Marvin Harrison.

I think Laurence Maroney is running on borrowed time.

I'd like to see the team bring Heath Evans back.

I'm curious to see if Larry Izzo is hit with a suspension for his admission to using performance enhancers provided by Greg Anderson.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Rosevelt Colvin back in camp with the Patriots. I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't either - but I can see him being given the opportunity to make the team as a bench player.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Picking up the pieces of the last couple of days...

Marvin Harrison is no longer a Colt. Given the fact that he was getting paid $7.6 million last season and has a cap number in excess of $13 million for next season and has averaged fewer than 50 yards per game for the last two seasons, missed time due to injury, and failed to put up 1000 yards combined in the last two seasons, this is hardly a surprise. What is a surprise is that the receiver who will turn 37 before the season begins didn't think renegotiating with the Colts was his best option. Personally, I think he loses money - and a lot of it - by not renegotiating with the Colts.

Honestly, any team that pays big money for him given the fact that he looked out of gas last season, deserves all the derision that comes their way.

I can't be the only one that thinks that the Celtics possibly bringing on Stephon Marbury is foolish. The man has been a malcontent everywhere he's played, and comes off as Allen Iverson-ish in regards to taking coaching...that is, he doesn't.

While I'm on the Celtics - They've gotten off to a good start without their big guy. I previously noted that if the Celtics were able to go 4-4 during the roughly eight game stretch without Kevin Garnett that the C's would be in good shape. Starting off the run 2-0...not a bad way to get there, particularly after absolutely destroying a Nugget team in Denver after losing to them by nine on the Parquet earlier in the season.

So without KG the C's are already 2-0 with only two tough contests left in the strech - the Cavs and the Magic at the tail end of the eight game stretch, the idea that they could go 6-2 and hold onto the top seed during Garnett's absence is not unrealistic.

I like the Pats signing Tully Banta-Cain. He was a solid, if unspectacular back-up. He ads depth to a position that needed additional depth last season.

I still don't think Matt Cassel will be on the Patriots roster come training camp, but I also don't believe that the trade to get Cassel is going to happen before draft day. I do think that he will garner a first round pick and something in the mid to late rounds, but the first rounder will be in next year's draft, and will likely result in a pick in the bottom half of the first round as I firmly believe that wherever Cassel goes, the team likely to land him will finish in the top half of the league, but just out of the playoffs.

So now only Jerry Jones is allowed to talk to the press. The dysfunction in Dallas is almost palpable. I can't help but feel as though this is a team that isn't going to win a playoff game while Jones is playing fantasy football with real life players.