Changes Ahead

Breaking Balls


Knee Jerk Reactions On the Ryan Howard Extension

Phillies slugger Ryan Howard signed a 5-year contract extension today, ensuring that he’ll be in red pinstripes until 2016.


As a Phillies fan, I feel like I’m forever indebted to Howard and the rest of the 2008 team that brought this city it’s first World Series title in 28 years. I’ve learned to accept Howard’s shortcomings, those being his incredibly high strike out rate, his impatience at the plate, the fact that he cannot consistently make the throw from 1st base to 2nd, and his penchant for going cold at the most inopportune times (See. 2009 World Series)

The problem I have with the deal is this:

Ryan Howard is currently 30 years old. By 2016 he will be 37, if the club decides they want to pick up his option for the final season. There are no guarantees about what the state of the Phillies will be in 4-5 years. Their nucleus (Rollins,Utley,Howard, Werth) are all in their early 30s and history tells us this is where the decline in production typically starts. Not to mention that with this extension given to Howard, Jayson Werth is all but gone in the offseason, so scratch one of the names off of that list.

Also, Ryan Howard isn’t your typical player in terms of free agency. Former Phillies first baseman Jim Thome blocked Howard’s path to the Major Leagues, thus prolonging the his MLB service time. If Ryan Howard was coming up on free agency at the age of 27/28 like a good portion of MLB players do, then giving him a 6 or 7 year deal wouldn’t be as bad. A 37 year old Ryan Howard playing first base scares me, especially given that he’s not the greatest of defenders as it stands today and that’s only going to get worse with age, you can’t argue it.

All my negativity aside, I’m glad that Big Brown is going to be a Phillie for life, I just hope in 4-5 years that Ruben Amaro Jr. looks like a genius for this move and not a complete joke.

What are the Phillies thinking ? – (FanGraphs)

2010 NFL Mock Draft 3.14: Final Edition

With less than 1 hours and 30 mins until draft kickoff, I just got home from work and I am franticly making last minute changes to my mock so I can go crush beers and cheer and boo like no other. Let’s get at it!

As mentioned before, I expect more trades this year than I can count in the 1st…and just wait until the 2nd round. One of the deepest draft in a decade and a whole night to sit around re-evaluating your board and calling teams? Yowza

Here is how I see it…Cleveland has the worst pick in the draft. I think regardless of how it shakes up, the first 6 picks will be: Bradford, Suh, McCoy, Okung, Eric Berry and Trent Williams. Unless the Chiefs go WILD CARD and take Buluga. I just don’t see the Browns being so lucky and having Berry fall to them, some one will take/trade up for him at 5/6. Leaving the browns in an awful scenario. Do they really like Clausen? Dare take Dez Bryant? There are rumbles they could take Earl Thomas, but that is his peak I feel..the Browns are the wild card. They would love to trade back I bet but…who the hell would trade up there for the same reason I listed? For who?

Let’s try one last (maybe) time.

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, OKlahoma
Same as before. As previously documented here, we have Bradford going 1st overall to the QB-needy Rams. When I wrote the previously linked article in February, everyone and their mother had Suh going to the Rams except a few select people. Weird how easily that has changed.

2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
I had them taking Okung very early, well, at least I argued they should consider it if they saw him as a franchise LT to protect Stafford. But I heard some one have a good point: if they truly wanted an upgrade at LT…wouldn’t they have chose Michael Oher last year and not Brandon Pettigrew? Makes ya wonder. Jim Schwarts is a defensive minded coach, and he knew how nice it was to have Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee. I bet GM Martin Mayhew may very well be pushing for Okung, but oh well. It’s not that I don’t like Suh, I like him a ton actually, but the bust rate for DT’s in the top 10, let alone 5, is so much higher than tackle.

3. Tampa Bay Bucs: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Same as before. McCoy fits so well here, and I think the Bucs would take him even if Suh were still on the board because he fits better as the 3-technique tackle in the Tampa defense. I think the Bucs are also happy enough with Donald Penn at LT, and have a far more serious need at DT, and well, Dline all over.

4. Washington Redskins: Trent Williams, T, Oklahoma
Yeah, I know Okung is rated higher to most, but I think it is either one of these two here unless something dramatic happens. And to be honest, Williams is bigger than Okung anyway and I think he fits better in the Denver zone blocking scheme Shannahan is bringing over. Remember Ryan Clady? Shanny made him into, I believe, the best LT in the NFL. Williams arguably has a higher ceiling than Okung, and it is his questionable work ethic that has him rated #2 as far as T’s go. Most agree he is/can be more talented than Okung.

5. K.C. Chiefs: Russell Okung, LT, Oklahoma State
I think the Chiefs would strongly prefer Okung to Williams, and, if Okung goes to the ‘Skins they made consider a different move here. This screams trade. But still, I am not sold that Scott Pioli would draft Eric Berry this high, the price is just too much for a safety. I think this move allows them to shuffle LT Brandon Albert to RT or Guard which ends up upgrading their o-line in 2 positions with one move.

6. Seattle Sehawks: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
If the Chiefs do in fact take Berry, I would put the highest rated OT to Seattle here. I am not crazy about this fit, because the Seahawks need a shit ton else, but I think Berry is the likely (better be) the highest rated player on their board at this point and they aren’t drafting a QB.

7. Cleveland Browns: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Each day that passes I am happy I can comfortably move him up the board. My apologies will come in the form of financial, not just words.. By far the best and most complete DE/OLB in this draft. Very well rounded, has impressive size that makes him fare very well against the run, but has enough pass rush skills. Coming off a 12.5 sack season…to me one of the players with the lowest bust potential. I think he is better in a 4-3 as an end, but Cleveland needs to just take good football players at this point.

8. Oakland Raiders: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
The pick I just refuse to move. I am really just gonna trust Mel Kiper here and hope this works so I look smart and I dont have to completely rearrange this all.
I had Bruce Campbell here before, which I absolutely hated, but now I am switching one surprising pick for another. The only two people alive who don’t believe JaMarcus Russel is a bust is Russel himself, and his mom. Jimmy Clausen is a cocky douche, and deservedly so goes to the perfect team for that. By the way, Campbell falls all the way out of the 1st round now. Easily.

9. Buffalo Bills: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
God the Bills are abysmal. They seemingly have more holes than any other team in the NFL. They need so much, and OT is just the beginning, which is why I had Bulaga here for so long..might regret moving him, because Baluga is a big ol’ man. Might regret these last min panic movies. The Bills are making the worst fucking decision in the NFL this year switching to a 3-4 with some god awful personel which makes an already awful team worse. But, they need people for thier system and a NT is one of the most important ones. Quick and powerful, Williams clearls up lanes for Paul Puz to keep making them tackles.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Earl Thomas, S, Texas
F*** you Jacksonville, I want Earl Thomas for the Birds. But, the kid just keeps moving up, and rightfully so. I have had Thomas in the 10-14 range for about 2 months now while most mocks ridiculously kept having him in the low 20’s. Probably one of the calls I feel most proud about at this point, although that makes me sad because I really wish he could fall naturally to the Eagles. But the Jags want to trade..sooo. Also, I think the idea of taking CJ Spiller here is ridiculous. That is far too much of a luxury pick to make for a team that is easily the 4th best in its division. How you can argue taking a player top 10 who clearly will not start is beside me Mel Kiper.
*Check out my awesome rant at #15 for more on CJ Spiller

11. Denver Bronocs: Rolando McClain, MLB, Alabama
I think the Broncos should take Earl Thomas, and I bet they would really like to take Maurkice Pouncey, but it is a little early for the latter. I think they want to trade down and take the latter. I just don’t see the Broncos trading one headache WR for another. Arelious Benn or Golden Tate in the 2nd seems more likely.

12. Miami Dolphins: Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
Kid is a fast riser and Parcells kinda guy. Remember DeMarcus Ware coming out of barely-a-college Troy? Hughes can be an OLB beast with the right guy teaching him. Documented before I like the guy.

13. San Francisco 49′ers: Anthony Davis, T, Rutgers
I didnt feel comfortable before not giving either the Seahawks or San Fran one of the OT’s when they both have two 1st rounders. The 49′ers biggest hole on offense is RT, and Davis is an overweight, work-ethic concerned goon…but he is a mauler and the last of the 1st tier of OT’s. Jerry Hughes or Sergio Kindle could go here if no OT is around. Word around the campfire is the 9ers got a man crush on Clausen if he falls this far.

14. Seattle Sehawks: Bryant Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Apparently Bulaga is falling, and my well known hate for CJ Spiller aside, Seattle needs OL period. Bulaga has short arms and has drawn comparisons lately to Robert Gallery who was a bust as T as they both came from Kirk Ferentz’ system, but, kid is a mauler and if he doesn’t work out at LT, you got a mean dude at RT for the next while.

15. New York Giants: CJ Spiller, RB, Clemson
I had to change this and ruin my Rocky Bernard/Road ice cream joke, but oh well. I don’t agree with the pick, but I heard heard/read enough to believe that this is possible. I mean, they got a hold of CJ this morning and asked for his cell phone number…so that deff. means they are gonna take him…right? Oh, read below for my CJ Spiller rant.

By the way, I don’t like CJ Spiller. “Oh..he can give you 10-12 carries and help out both return games.” Since when did you use 1st round picks for the return game? Remember the last person who did that for a player who wasn’t completely starter worthy at their normal position? Yeah, it was Miami and Tedd Ginn. How’d that work out? 2 years later he was traded to the 49ers for a 5th rounder. By the way, the 49ers traded for him because of their abysmal return game. Moral of the story? Trade 5th round picks for awesome returners, not use 1st rounders for small RB’s who can’t carry the load full time. BOOM! Lawyered.

16. Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida
I am embarrassed to have assumed the Titans would be lucky enough to fall into Derrick Morgan this late. John Clayton made a good observation that the more 3-4 teams there are ruin the places Morgan would have to go to early. Just unfortunate for him. By the way, I also heard the Eagles may like him hard and instead of the trade up for Thomas they may want Morgan..seems like a luxory trade to me though. You may have noticed my lack of JPP comments so far, it’s because I am not crazy about him. I dont like players with lack of college production…let alone lack of D-1 college play. I will admit athletically he looks like he can develop into a Jevon Kearse…but Vernon Gholston also drew similair comparisons. JPP is a guy the Giants may target.

17. San Francisco 49′ers: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Upset pick of Wilson over Haden here, but I am going for it. I like Kyle Wilson a much that I forced my mock draft to let the Eagles have him before. I felt bad about it though, obviously, and I am playing it right. Remember when Nate Clements got the first real monster CB contract? Gross.
Reference my Giants pick for here.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida
F*** you Pittsburgh, I want Pouncey for the Eagles. Either way, I love this dude. He can start at Guard or Center immediately. Center most likely for the Steelers, as they have an uber weakness there. I rescind my previous statement, at 6′4 and 308 he is bigger than I recall, AND dude can move it at the 2nd level and plays real smart. Real important to have a great Center when you play against Kelly Gregg/Haloti Ngata and Shaun Rodgers/Dan Williams 4 or 5 times a year.

19. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
To be honest, I am not too crazy about Graham. Nice player, good motor, but he just seems to be too small to be an effective 3-down pass rushing end, and too slow to really be a LB. But every mock I have ever seen has him going here and I am getting too tired to get creative.

20. Houston Texans: Joe Haden, CB, Florida
With Dunta Robinson gone I think they go away from RB here and don’t pick Ryan Mathews. Texans can score for days anymore, but still can’t stop anyone.
I have changed my mind on Haden a little bit. I read too much into his original slow time at the combine. The kid plays fast on tape. He is a little raw, but has a shit ton of talent and is an aggressive and willing tackler. I like it. Surprise he falls to 2nd though.

21. Cincinatti Bengals: Dez Bryant, WR, OK St
This is more like it. A slide by the douchey WR to a team that doesnt care about character and for some reason is still activiely looking for more WR help even with Chad and just signing Bryant and using a 2nd on Chad Simpson last year. Makes sense.

22. New England Patriots: Jermaine Gresham, TE, OK
Honestly…Alge Crumpler? He can’t be their starting TE, dude is like 285 pounds and is a “blocking” TE now…aka just clogs the way. I also see Demaryius Thomas or Sergio Kindle here as a possibility. Some how the Pats have a good amount of holes on there team, and they need outside pass rush and youth on defense.

23. Green Bay Packers: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
Dude is a Mauler. Packers need o-line help everywhere. USC OT Charles Brown is also a possibility. Sleepers..Rodger Saffold, the Tackle outta Indiana. Don’t know if they can wait on the development though. Same with C Brown outta USC.

24. Philadelphia Eagles: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
Gross. Third best CB. Okay, here is the deal. The birds need areas are S, CB, LB, DE, and interior Oline. I see no way they don’t draft a player from those positions here. I also don’t think they would draft any LB here, let alone in the 1st round. I would love Maurkice Pouncey, but he won’t be here and he is sort of more luxory at this point. They can get buy with Nick Cole at C and Andrews/Jean-Gilles at RG for a while until Jackson comes back to C and Cole can shift over if necessary. My well-documented man crush on Earl Thomas aside, I do not think he will be anywhere near here. BUT, I do think the Eagles would consider trading up for him in the 12-14 area to be honest. I don’t like Everson Griffin at DE either (good size though), so I have a sad, sneaking suspicion the Birds go CB here. If Joe Haden was around at 17/18 I bet they would also consider moving up to get him too. Either way, I think they go CB here and then maybe take a S like Nate Allen with their 1st 2nd rounder, or maybe go risk/reward and grab Carlos Dunlap. Taylor Mays is the opposite of what they need…dude can not cover at all, and as much as he will be an awesome Madden player, I dont want him, nor do I think the Eagles do. Rutgers CB Devin McCourty could be the other option.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Damaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
I like this move. The Ravens are loading up on offense here, and Thomas has awesome size/deep speed that will allow Bolding to dominate the intermediate area of the field. If Gresham was still here, he looks like their sort of player too.

26. Arizona Cardinals: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas
Had Sean Witherspoon here before..but the more I think about it I think they go with more a 3-4 prospect than squeezing that douche Witherspoon into ILB.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Rodger Saffold, T, Indiana
This is a real deep year for OT, and the Cowboys pick up an underrated prospect and a player who could potentially start for them at LT in a year or so. Cowboys suck by the way.

28. San Diego Charges: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
Too convenient of a pick? Yeah, I know, but still. I can tell you what, even if he is not here, I have a feeling they would still not draft Terrance Cody here. I am more than aware that NT is a big need for them, but I don’t think Cody is 1st round worthy. Let’s be honest, is he really better than say Brian Price outta UCLA just because he has an extra 50 lbs of fat on him? Being 370 is not an asset if you are just fat…and I unfortunately have seen him with his shirt off.

29. New York Jets: Jared Odrick, DT, PSU
Good player to grab this late, and the Jets benefit from a deep DT class. NY needs some more youth and depth upfront and Odrick can lockdown a spot on the d-line.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
I am so glad I do not have to stick with Taylor Mays here. I feel like people have finally wised up (myself included) and not fell in love with May’s’ awesome physical measurables. Dude can’t cover for SHIT. And for all the hype of how huge and fast he is…dude barely even lays the lumber. Hard to do that when you take awful angles. Also, Cedric Griffen tore an acl and Antoine Winfield, one of my favorite players for the longest of time, is starting to slow down.

31. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Price, DT, UCLA
Price hasn’t had the greatest workouts, and I bet the Colts would love Odrick to fall to them here but they have been on a mission to get bigger at DT since Dungy retired and here is a good chance.

32. New Orleans Saints: Everson Griffen, DE, USC
I don’t see Griffen with the highest of ceilings, but he has very decent size actually and could be a good enough complementary DE to Will Smith in New Orleans.

Mock Draft 2.1

Well, I originally had put up the first half of my last mock draft a little over 3 weeks ago, but I have been pretty sleepy since then. Here is version 2.0, I may make a few minor changes Wednesday night if I feel fit.

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, OKlahoma
Same as before. As previously documented here, we have Bradford going 1st overall to the QB-needy Rams. When I wrote the previously linked article in February, everyone and their mother had Suh going to the Rams except a few select people. Weird how easily that has changed.
Continue reading

Roy Halladay Transition to The NL: So Far, So Good

I’m not sure Philadelphia fans could of envisioned a better start than this for Roy Halladay. In just his second start as member of the Phillies, Halladay threw a complete game, scattering seven hits and giving up just one run. He pitched out of a couple jams, including one in the 6th inning in which the bases were loaded.

In two games started so far, Halladay has pitched 16.0 innings, struck out 17 batters, and has allowed just two runs, giving him a minuscule 0.56 earned run average. During Spring Training started I offered my opinion that Phillies fan were setting themselves up for disappointment with their expectations of Halladay, but after two starts, he might actually live up to all of those lofty expectations.

There are, however, still some people out there who jumping the gun. Mitch Williams of the MLB Network, who occasionally makes appearances on Phillies Post Game Live on Comcast Sportsnet said last night that he believes that Roy Halladay can win 25 games. Note to Mitch Williams, no player in the National League has surpassed 25 wins in a season since Steve Carlton did so with 27 in 1972. Roy Halladay can win 20 games this season, but 25-30 seems almost unrealistic.

However, with the way Halladay has performed in his first two starts, it almost seems possible. But then reality sets in and you realize he’s faced the Washington Nationals and the winless Houston Astros in his first two starts, and he won’t be that fortunate every time out.

Here’s hoping Halladay goes 24-0, so my critical statements of Mitch Williams end up being correct.

Seth Davis Doesn’t Appreciate Your Duke Column, Israel Gutierrez

Seth Davis is aware of all of the “I Hate Duke & Here is Why” columns, but he’s found one that he doesn’t agree with. Israel Guitierrez, a columnist for the Miami Herald wrote a piece last week on the whole Duke hatred topic. Well Seth Davis didn’t like it, went as far as calling it “dumb.”

I met Gutierrez on my road trip to Florida and he was a likable enough guy that I have gone out of my way to read his columns. I must say that I’ve enjoyed what I read from him, but even I have to agree with Seth Davis on this.

Here’s an excerpt from that column:

For some reason, we know that if the devil had a face, it would have little beady eyes (like Mike Krzyzewski’s). If he had a voice, it would be nasally and annoying (like Krzyzewski’s) and if he had a name, it would be impossible to spell and the sound would follow no laws of language (like, well, you know).

That’s the best Israel could do? You are now a well known journalist because of your brief appearances on ESPN’s Around the Horn, and this is the kind of junk you put out? If you know anything about T.J. Simers of the LA Times, it’s pretty obvious that Gutierrez used Simers style of writing for this post. Why does a Florida grad (Gutierrez) have beef with Duke? I’m sure Israel received some angry e-mails over the weekend.

Link to Gutierrez column is here

A Look Back At My Final Four Predictions

Before the college basketball season started. The Big asked commenters to post their Final Four predictions.

Here is mine. – top comment, CadillacTime (Phillies fans can appreciate the user name)

If you don’t feel like clicking, my picks were Kansas, Villanova, Texas, and Michigan State. The last one being the only accurate selection I made.

So that would be a 1-seed (Kansas), an arguable 2-seed (Villanova), a 5-seed (Michigan State), and an 8-seed (Texas). The good thing about my predictions early on were that Kansas was ranked 1st for a good portion of the season. Michigan State and Villanova were both ranked as high as number 2, and Texas made it all the way to number 1, but after they were defeated by Kansas State during Big-12 play, they endured quite the free fall. In fact, Texas fall was so bad that they were an 8-seed come tournament time and were bounced in the first round by Wake Forest.

Picking 1 out of 4 hurts my ego a bit, but if anyone picked this years Final Four accurately, then they deserve a contract from ESPN to fill some sort of College Basketball analyst position.

As far as the actual Final Four teams’ go this year, I am a bit surprised that Michigan State made it. Losing Kalin Lucas in the first round to a ruptured achilles tendon spelled disaster, but coach Tom Izzo has done a good job with the resources that he has. Butler? Total surprise. Duke? Surprised, but not that surprised, they always have a chance to go far with the type of talent they have. West Virginia doesn’t really shock me. A lot of “experts” were talking about them to start the season and Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are studs. However, like Michigan State, they too lost their starting point guard, Tuck Bryant, to a leg injury in the tournament.

I think at this point I’m just satisfied having picked all tournament teams as my preseason Final Four teams. Those people who picked North Carolina to win the ACC and then go to the Final Four, well shame on you people.