Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dirty Sanchez

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have gone there, but I want to address the soaring stock of USC's Mark Sanchez...

A lot of teams seem to be falling over themselves for this kid since the Combine.

Yes, he says the right things, and is evidently very personable, but the odds are against him as a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.

His supporters will point out that he started for USC - a pro-style offense - that he started at USC while Matt Cassel did not, that he lost only one game in his only full season as a starter. But that's really the problem - he's had only one full season. That's been a real trap for teams - scouts get one year looking at a guy who might put up great numbers against mediocre competition. I will come back to Cassel.

Consider - Michael Vick started for two seasons in college and never had a completion percentage as high as 59 percent. That's translated to a completion percentage below 54 in the NFL.

Akili Smith had only one full season in college as a starter and the Bengals made him a number one pick back in 1999. He was 3-14 in the NFL and out of the league in four seasons.

There's actually a long list of college short timers that went high and ended up NFL busts. The lack of information works to a player's favor and against the teams.

Now, onto the Cassel conundrum. People will point out that Cassel, without a college start, is a reason that Sanchez can be successful. While people will argue that, it's not an accurate comparison. Cassel, like quarterbacks 25 years ago, went through the sort of apprenticeship process that was common around the league. Cassel spent four preseasons preparing, three full seasons of practice reps with a professional team, lining up against professional defenses, and even appeared in 14 regular season professional games, racking up 22 completions on 39 attempts before getting his season as a starter. It's not the same as getting a season against college competition.

I'm not saying that Sanchez can't or won't be successful in the NFL. What I am saying is that if he comes into a team and is expected to be the starter when he gets there, then it's highly unlikely that he'll have a good career. If he can go someplace and sit a couple of years and learn the pro-game, he'll be much more likely to be successful.

Given the way quarterbacks are just thrown to the wolves, I have to say I have my doubts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting drafty and some weekend observations...

I'm not a big draft guy.

In spite of how much I enjoy football, I'm not one of those guys who sits down and spends hours watching the draft. I'll flip to it, check the ticker, see who the Patriots picked, but I'm not going to wait and see - in part because I'm not really a college football guy.

That said, I find certain things related to the draft fascinating.

Let's start with the Combine...

Overall, I don't really believe this to be a useless exercise, but I do think the format and some of the perceptions surrounding it to be flawed. The idea that someone should slip precipitously due to a bad 40 time is silly, unless there are mitigating circumstances.

Let's face it, most of these guys teams already have two to four years worth of film on, unless they couldn't crack the line-up until their final year of college. Unless a guy shows up fat, out of shape, and acts like a bone-head, the workout numbers are pointless. The idea that a player can improve their positioning based on a great workout as opposed to what they did on the field is foolish. Some of the biggest draft busts were workout warriors at the Combine. Anyone remember Mike Mammula, the defensive end out of BC? He vaulted himself into the top ten with a monster performance at the Combine, when, realistically, he would likely have been better off as a late first or second round pick - expectations would have been different, and possibly his career as a result.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't have the attendees workout. To the contrary, I believe it allows a team to determine the dedication of the player, but I think much too much stock is given to the numbers that come out of these workouts. And some team is going to make someone a much higher pick in the draft than he deserves because of it.

Sox it to 'Em...

Evidently the Orioles are the tonic for what ails 'em. The Red Sox, coming off a weak start to the season got strong starts from Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, and Tim Wakefield after starting the season 2-6 - and one solid start from Josh Beckett (who continues to struggle with the big inning), the Sox have fought their way back to a 7-6 record. Coincidently, the Salem Red Sox (A ball), met with Frederick Keys for a three game set on Friday, and swept the Orioles A-level affiliate.

A few quick observations -

Lester reportedly looked like the pitcher that was the de facto ace of the staff last season. Hopefully the first two games was just Lester finding his footing in the new season - if so, then the Sox shouldn't have any issues with the starting staff moving forward.

As much as a like what Daisuke Matsuzaka potentially brings to the mound, I have to admit that he makes me nervous as the number two starter. There's something about the way he runs counts up that reminds me a little too much of Heathcliff Sclocumb. Yes, he's better than Slocumb, but his inneficiency tends to be a little nerve wracking. Masterson, on the other hand, filling in for Dice, was quite efficient in walking only two over 5 1/3 innings.

Wakefield's a monster asset. Sure, knuckleballers are the Russian-roullette revolvers of the pitching world, but Wakefield's complete game against the A's before the off-day at the end of last week gave the bullpen a much needed rest, and was the catalyst for what's happening now.

Speaking of Wake, you gotta love the way George Kottarras is calling the game when Wake is pitching. I would love to see if he could work the batting average a bit with some more starts - see if he's the Sox starting back-up of the future.

The jury's still out regarding his bat, but I like what I'm seeing of Nick Green in the field.

One final note...

The Yankees can't be happy that Chien-Ming Wang has been beaten like a cheap pinata this season. With no options, Wang would have to pass through waivers to work out his problems in the minors. What team would claim a pitcher that's 0-3 with a 34.50 ERA over six innings spanning three starts?

Sure, there's someone likely to claim him off waivers, but the Yankees aren't going to let that happen. The problem is, after his four out eight earned run start, what do the Yankees do about him?