Monday, July 7, 2008

Checking In Like the Rest of the Staff Here

Despite the minimal amount of time I actually spent watching sports over the weekend, there still is a bunch to cover...

1) Julio Lugo. Guess what? I'm not going to bash him. He made a huge defensive play against the Yankees Sunday night, robbing Bobby Abreu of an RBI single or double in the sixth. If the bullpen actually holds onto that 4-2 seventh inning lead then that is the play of the game. They did not of course, but I'm just saying.

2) I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago and things still looked good, but I can definitively say that Jonathan Papelbon does not inspire the confidence in me which he has in the past. When he came into that tenth inning tie on Sunday I just knew the Yankees were going to find a way to win. I guess that's probably half Papelbon though and the other half my feeling that whenever a game goes to extras at Yankee Stadium, which is that the Yankees are going to win about ten times out of ten.

3) Manny's backwards K where the bat never came off his shoulder with the go-ahead runner on third and two outs in the ninth inning - what more is there to say? WTF.

4) More Julio Lugo. Look, I want Jed Lowrie in there as much as the next guy and really see no need to keep sending Lugo out there. With that being said, it should be noted that his OBP of .351 - which is not all that bad honestly - is better than the starting shortstops of every other first place AL team. This includes the White Sox starting shortstop, the love of our lives, Orlando Cabrera. Other prominent AL shortstops whom Lugo out-OBPs are Derek Jeter, Edgar Renteria, and Bobby Crosby. OBP may not be the be all and end all, but is a pretty important stat. If you consider getting on base and not making outs an important skill to have offensively then you need to give it it's proper due. Yes, Lugo really has no other discernible skill beyond walking and hitting singles as evidenced by his whopping 13 XBH this year (12 doubles and 1 HR) and .328 SLG but you cannot deny that he has done a good job getting on base. In fact, the OBP discrepancy between him and the other guys named above actually highly favors Lugo.

Julio Lugo - .351
Derek Jeter - .343
Orlando Cabrera - .319
Bobby Crosby - .317
Edgar Renteria - .302

And now that I have said my niceties towards him, let's move on and prepare ourselves for the Jed Lowrie Era.

5) The Brewers acquired CC Sabathia. This is a great move for them for all the reasons that they will say on, namely the fact that they now probably have the best 1-2 rotation punch in the NL. The D'Backs Brandon Webb/Dan Haren duo could match them but Webb has seriously cooled down since his torrid start, posting an ERA over 6 and a WHIP of almost 1.7 over the last month. Still, as long as the Brewers have as big of a mess at the back end of their bullpen as they do now with former, disgraced Red Sox Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne hanging back there they really cannot be taken entirely seriously. A bad bullpen will absolutely destroy you in the postseason. If I am the Brewers, I am on the phone with Billy Beane in Oakland right now seeing what the cost of Huston Street is. Street is by no means the best closer in baseball but of the good ones that could be available, he is the best of the bunch and a marked upgrade over what they have now. After all, what is the good of a lead if you cannot protect it?

6) Seriously, what more can you say? A-Rod becoming the Katie Holmes to Madonna's Tom Cruise is just too good to be true right?

7) Fantasy football is less than two months away and in about six weeks, people will start drafting. I've already vented in these spaces before about how I consider football to be the least challenging and strategic fantasy game of the three majors so I won't go off on that again. What I have not railed against yet is how I don't like head-to-head fantasy leagues and how I think all should be roto for the greater good. Here is why:

The best team always wins. I understand that matchup leagues make the gameplay more life like - your team can do great and you can lose or your team can do awful and you can still win - but screw that. I like the idea of knowing that if I draft a good team that they will be in it until the end regardless of how luck turns out. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you see four teams ahead of you in the standings that you have outscored for the year? Again, I understand that the idea is to make things more "life-like" but with fantasy I like the idea of consistency being rewarded, not a few hot/cold weeks. And you know what else, I guarantee you if you were a Tom Brady owner last year you are probably whole-heartedly agreeing with me right now.

8) Ben Coates and his arm-brand have been elected into the Patriots Hall of Fame. This is completely merited and deserved for Ben Coates. Quite simply, he was the team's best receiver in the mid-1990's and you could pretty much say that as went Coates, as went Drew Bledsoe and the rest of the Patriots offense. Imagine if Ben Watson had hands and could block well to compliment his athleticism? Well that would be Ben Coates. The guy was an absolute beast and one my all time favorite Patriots. Furthermore, if you took an informal poll to gauge people's favorite Patriots of the 1990's, I can all but guarantee you that Coates would top the list and be joined by guys like Sam Gash, Willie McGinest, and maybe even Chris Slade. Unfortunately, the Pats really have not had a solid, all around tight end since Coates left, but in his day, Coates was an absolute beast. I'll leave you with the combined stats from his two best seasons (1994 & 1995) when he was a 1st team All Pro: 2,089 receiving yards, 180 receptions, 13 TDs. Nice. Congrats Ben.

9) Some fearless predictions for the upcoming Patriots season:

Jabar Gaffney - 50 catches, 750 yards

Laurence Maroney - 15 TDs, 1500 total yards

Jerod Mayo - 150 tackles

Fernando Bryant - 9 INTs

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