Thursday, February 5, 2009

4 Thursday

1) I think the NBA needs to make it a league rule that for as long as Kobe is on the Lakers and Lebron is on the Cavs, whenever the Lakers make their annual trip to MSG a Cavs game must come immediately before or after their game. I mean how cool is it that Kobe drops 61 on Monday and then Lebron answers two nights later with a 52/11/10 triple double? The idea of the NBA's two premier players trying to one up each-other on basketball's largest stage and premier venue is just awesome and something that needs to be duplicated as much as possible.

2) The biggest flaw the Red Sox had last year was an inability to hit good pitching. While I think they have had a subtly very good offseason I still worry that this somewhat major issue has not been addressed. Because they absolutely should not count on getting 150 games from Ortiz, Lowell, and Drew they need some slightly more enticing bench options than Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay to fill in for those guys when they are out. Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn are still out there and they can now definitely be had on the relative cheap. Why not be proactive instead of reactive?

3) When reading something by Mike Reiss the other day, he mentioned how the Pats were first in the AFC in yards after catch and third in the NFL. He brought this up when mentioning how other teams may value Matt Cassell and how they'd need to make sure he would fit well in their system. For a point of reference I decided to compare Matt Cassell's 2008 YAC% to Brady's 2007. What I learned was that in 2008 about 57% of Cassell's passing yards came in YAC yardage whereas in 2007, only 42% of Brady's yardage came from that. What does this mean to me?

First off, the Pats passing attack, specifically many of the plays for Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk are designed to get big yards after the reception. Whomever the quarterback, that is not going to change. Where I see the biggest difference however is in the plays down the field to Randy Moss. Those plays often won't get a ton of YAC - either because he catches the ball near or in the end zone or is pushed out of bounds on a sideline play - and that I think makes up the big difference. Now to be fair to Cassell, he had an inordinate amount of big drops from Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney this year that hurt him and the team considerably but I don't think anybody would argue with me that the Patriots were not able to execute the big pass play as much with Cassell as with Brady.

So that is one place where I think this stat shows the discrepancy between the two quarterbacks. The other is a bit more opaque and I don't have numbers to back it up, but rather a hypothetical:

When the Patriots face third and long situations or are in need of some quick strikes, isn't it better to have the quarterback less reliant on YAC and more reliant on the yards in the air the ball actually travels? Isn't it better to be able to consistently throw to the first down marker or 25 yards down the field than to throw the ball a few yards and hope the receiver does the rest? I say yes. Of course the counter-argument to this point is that the more mobile quarterback who can buy time to create plays and scramble is equally as valuable as the more stationary but shifty and accurate pocket passer. A tough call I guess, but I bring all this up as more food for thought when having the old Cassell versus Brady debate.

And one more for the record, Tom Brady really did not start to consistently be able to hit the deep ball until his third season and I still believe that Matt Cassell in his first year was better than Brady in his first year. Cassell however was 26 to Brady's 24 for whatever that is worth. Also, for what it is worth, Bledsoe was 29 when Brady supplanted him while Brady is coming up on 32. Joe Montana meanwhile was 34 when he played his last season for the 49ers and 36 by the time the 49ers actually would have had to make a Young vs. Montana decision as he missed nearly 2 full seasons to injury. So I don't think bringing up the Young/Montana thing is really pertinent. What does shock me however is how young Bledsoe was in the 2001 season. I would have thought he was at least 32 but obviously not.

4) I'll probably bang out my baseball preview in a few weeks. Once again I'll do positive/negative surprise teams and all the other stuff I did last year. As you may recall I pretty much nailed the team segment of my predictions calling good years for the Twins and Marlins and bad years for the Rockies and Tigers. With that standard in mind, I really want to follow that success up with equal or greater success this year. The problem is, I am not sure which way to go. The natural bandwagon "sleeper" team for the NL is the Marlins which therefore excludes them from my "positive surprise" list. They were the team I originally had pegged but it's cheesy to take the same team twice in a row, and as I said they are trendy sleeper pick now. With that said, I think that at this moment I am leaning towards the Giants. The AL West is going to be awful and they will possibly have the best staff in the division with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, and The Man Known Only to Fantasy Geeks AKA Jonathan Sanchez. Sure their offense will be pretty bad, but when playing almost 40 games against the set to suck Rockies and Padres I think they'll be able to make up a ton of ground there. So now you heard it here first, the Giants will be the surprise team of the NL, win 82 games, and finish second in the West.

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