Thursday, August 07, 2008

J-E-T-S



So now what does Sportscenter fill 60 minutes with?

The Jets, eh? Fine with me. Somehow, the Packers got away with it. At least in the short term, they get the last laugh as they get a first-day pick for a guy who retired, and sent him far, far away to a team that may be in the NFL, but crosses paths with Green Bay as infrequently as anyone.

Brett Favre is out of sight, and now, congratulations Dallas, as you now have quite clearly the best QB in the NFC according to this blog.

I am interested in how this goes. I plan on watching every second of Jets football this year, which is quite a bit more Jets football than I have ever seen. And, we can see how Aaron Rodgers responds to a small amount of eyes on his work, too.
Sweet Football Season is nearly here!

Even Johnny Unitas ended elsewhere....



The Jets get a do-over …sort of, 17 years later….kind of like Sosa coming back after he hit all his home runs in Chicago.


The stunning news that Brett Favre has been traded to the Jets puts a fitting end to the team's 1991 draft-day debacle.

That was the day some still believe Favre should have been drafted by the Jets, not the Falcons.

Ron Wolf, the longtime Packers general manager, was the Jets assistant general manager back then. In a phone interview with Newsday in January, he recounted how Favre came so close to wearing Jets green, not Packers green.

The Jets, picking 34, had a deal with the Cardinals to move up two spots to 32, ahead of the Atlanta Falcons. The deal was agreed to, they believed.

And they were going to make the deal for one reason.

"We were going to pick Brett Favre," Wolf said by phone from his Jupiter, Fla. home.

Knowing the Falcons were heavy into Favre, Wolf lobbied hard for the Jets to make a move. And when they reached agreement on a deal with the Cardinals, he thought he had his man.

"But when it came time for the Cardinals pick, they told us the guy they wanted was on the board, so they didn't do the deal," Wolf said. "They picked their guy, the Falcons picked Brett Favre and that was it."

The Jets, understandably angry and frustrated, had to move on. So they looked down their chart of quarterbacks and took the next one. It was Browning Nagle. Everyone knows how that worked out.

This story is nothing new, especially for Jets fans, but it's worth retelling for the umpteenth time now that Favre is finally a Jet.

Wolf even admitted he bumps into Jets fans from time to time who mention this story to him.

"That really is rare for something like that to occur," Wolf said. "When you think you have a deal done, you kind of stop trying to do something, stop trying to make moves. Dick thought he had a deal done.

"And in the end it just didn't work out."

The Jets, meanwhile, have started Nagle, Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, Ray Lucas, Rick Mirer, Chad Pennington, Vinny Testaverde, Quincy Carter, Bubby Brister, Glenn Foley, Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens, Ken O'Brien and Jack Trudeau.


What does Scouts Inc think of the Jets chances?


The saga is finally over and Brett Favre is now a member of the New York Jets. Acquiring Favre reportedly cost the Jets a fourth-round pick that could become a third-rounder or potentially even a first-rounder depending on how successful the Jets are this season. That fits with New York's win-now approach to its offseason.

While New York's offensive system is not the same West Coast offense that Favre ran last year in Green Bay, there is still plenty of time for the future Hall of Fame quarterback to get on the same page as the coaching staff and his teammates. One thing is for sure -- Favre's physical tools blow Chad Pennington's out of the water and his poise, experience and ability to read a defense far surpass those of Kellen Clemens. Favre also feels and eludes the pass rush much better than either Pennington or Clemens.

The Jets spent a lot of money to upgrade their offensive line and while it should be better in pass protection, there are still questions if the offensive tackles can hold up. Young LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson has to get stronger and can be bull-rushed by power ends. Another concern is that Damien Woody is an interior lineman by trade and has had problems with conditioning in the past. Favre is very effective with the three-step game or dropping deep in the pocket, surveying the field and slinging it downfield. While the offensive playbook might have to be simplified a bit early on, coaches and players will do whatever it takes to get Favre up to speed. We also might see Favre taking more preseason snaps than he is used to, but there is no doubt that Favre gives the Jets a better chance to win than the options they had just one day ago.

In recent seasons and specifically last year, the Jets' offense was not particularly vertically inclined. Not only could the O-line not protect long enough on a regular basis for the Jets to call a lot of deep passes, but Pennington's lack of arm strength also made these vertical calls less apt to succeed. Clemens' lack of field vision, pocket presence and ordinary accuracy didn't make the Jets' ability to go deep much better when he was behind center. Favre will change that in no time.

Laveranues Coles was considered one of the fastest receivers and most dangerous deep threats in the league early in his pro career, but has mostly been limited to possession duty of late. He doesn't have the tremendous speed that he once had, but he can still stretch the field and blow by slower cornerbacks. He is very tough and was battling injury for much of 2007, but overall, he can't be considered a true No. 1 and might be declining. Still, his career could take a turn for the better with Favre throwing him the ball. Jerricho Cotchery has just average speed, but is developing nicely year after year. He could play more of a move-the-chains role in much the same way Donald Driver did with Favre in Green Bay. Cotchery is the one player who could benefit most from this trade for Favre. He has good size, sure hands and the run-after-the-catch ability that Favre's receivers in Green Bay had. He should be Favre's go-to target.

A more effective running game means stronger time of possession numbers which, in turn, help New York's defense immensely by keeping it fresher than last year. The Jets were ranked just 19th in converting on third downs, moving the chains only 38 percent of the time. Favre should make that number rise and sustain drives. This could be particularly important to New York's defensive line as new NT Kris Jenkins has weight and stamina concerns and the defensive end position as a whole is substandard.

This offense could still use one more wideout and the offensive line depth is extremely worrisome, but the biggest thing holding this unit back before the Favre deal was the player behind center. Favre makes that problem go away. This also puts Clemens in a role similar to the one Aaron Rodgers held for years in Green Bay. He now gets to watch and learn from one of the game's all-time greats. The Jets could now shop Pennington for future draft picks to help replenish what was lost to acquire Favre.

There is an awful lot to like about this trade from the Jets' perspective. New England is still the best team in the AFC East, but New York should make a very strong push for a wild-card spot with Favre at the helm.


I wish I had more time, but here are a few more quick things:

Email:

Computer and BaD Radio's relationship with him is greatness. How did BaD radio become friends with him?


Computer is from Three 6 Mafia which is a fairly tense name, but let’s not focus on that. He is a die-hard Cowboys fan, and I guess he found us online looking for Cowboys talk one day. He is now a regular contributor, and will no doubt have a huge role on today’s episode as I am told he talked to Pac Man last night.

Baseball Time in Arlington with a great examination of the Rangers Catching Quandary


Borrowing a page out of the John Sickels playbook, I decided to pit similar players head-to-head using a variety of skills and tools as the measuring stick. Because most defensive rating systems were developed for fielders and have to be modified for catchers, I am going to use SABR’s six tools rating system to evaluate their defensive skill sets. This isn’t a perfect means for player comparison, but it’s fun and hopefully it will spark some intelligent discussion.

As it stands now, the Texas Rangers have four capable catchers occupying spots on their 40-man roster. With the trade deadline in the rear-view mirror, the Rangers must focus on establishing a plan for ‘09 that will firmly secure one catcher’s role with the organization, while probably showing the door to two of the remaining three. Having seen all four of them in person, both at the Major League level and in the minors, and discussed their specific attributes with scouts, I will attempt to paint an objective picture using four of the seven skills from Sickels and SABR’s six defensive tools for catchers.

Skill #1 - Strike Zone Judgment

Max Ramirez has produced a .400-plus OBP in five of his six professional seasons. In 1435 career minor league at-bats, Ramirez has a remarkable lifetime OBP of .416. His pitch recognition is excellent and his patience at the plate creates opportunities to see more fastball counts. Max takes walks and makes contact when he swings, which keeps his strikeout totals reasonably low. Ramirez just doesn’t get cheated very often at the plate. His career AVG/OBP differential is over 100 points, and given his advanced strike zone judgment, I expect his on-base skills to eventually translate to the next level.

Skill #2 - Power

This one is close, but I’m going to give the edge to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden both have excellent pop in their bats, but Saltalamacchia has not only the physical size (6′ 4”, 235 lb.) and strength, but also the sweet stroke from the left side of the plate to be a major power threat in Arlington. His Major League results haven’t exactly proven this to be correct, but the potential is still very much alive. Don’t forget, this is the same kid who hit 19 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League as a 19-year-old. The power is there.
Saltalamacchia’s problem has been his approach. Sometimes I get the feeling that there have been too many cooks in the kitchen. He rarely looks comfortable, and thanks to some injury issues, he has yet to find any offensive consistency. He is still very young, and thanks to his power potential, Saltalamacchia will make a valuable addition to any team.

Skill #3 - Hitting for Average

As is often the case, the player that has the more refined approach at the plate stands to get better pitches to hit. Not only does Max Ramirez have the best approach at the plate, he also has the best chance to hit for a high average at the Major League level. Max has very good contact rates, and because of his ability to work the count in his favor, he often gets to swing at pitches out over the plate. When Max gets to swing at pitches out over the plate, the greater the chance he has to hit line drives. Care to guess what his batting average was when hitting line drives at Double-A Frisco? That’s right: .773.

Skill #4 - Offensive Speed

This one really isn’t that close. Saltalamacchia is a good athlete with decent speed for a catcher, but Gerald Laird has decent speed for a baseball player. The man can actually run. Despite a large frame (6′ 1”, 225 lb.), Laird has surprisingly nimble feet. He isn’t quite gazelle-like, but there is a certain grace to his gate. This may seem like a joke, but Laird is actually a very good athlete who is one of the only real base-stealing threats from his position in baseball. He has a quick first step and a natural baseball intelligence that only goes to enhance his overall value on the basepaths.

The Six Tools of Defense:

Tool #1 - Stamina

Of all the catchers on the 40-man roster, I think Laird is better suited to catch at least 50 percent of the team’s games and is capable of catching 75 percent. In ‘07, Laird appeared at catcher in 115 games and despite a sharp decline in his offensive numbers, his defensive game didn’t experience a similar drop-off. Teagarden has suffered injuries during his minor league tenure that could limit his eventual workload behind the plate.

I think in a perfect scenario, Teagarden would be able to catch 50 percent of a team’s games during a season, but I have my doubts that he would be able to catch anywhere close to 75 percent. His injury history just raises too many red flags at this point to think he will be able to handle the same workload as Laird.

Tool #2 - Good Glove

Good glove, or Error Rate, is basically a measure of how many errors occur when a catcher participates in a putout. If you exclude strikeouts and focus solely on a catcher’s Independent Putouts, you can start to compare a catcher’s glovework to another. When it comes to that glovework, all four Rangers catchers have shown the ability to flash the leather, but Teagarden stands above the rest. Since there isn’t enough IPO fielding data for all four players, I decided to use my eyes over the numbers. It’s not an exact science, but I feel confident that Teagarden will have the better glove in this regard at the Major League level.

Tool #3 - Good Arm

Throwing out runners isn’t just about having a strong throwing arm. You have to be acutely aware of the running situation, you have to receive the ball cleanly, you have to make a smooth glove-to hand-transfer, and you have to make a strong and accurate throw. Both Laird and Teagarden have proven to be well above-average at cutting down would-be basestealers, but for the sake of the comparison, I’ve decided to go with Laird as the catcher that shows a better handle on this tool.

For his career, Laird has thrown out runners at an almost 40 percent clip. Considering that the average steal success rate is close to 70 percent, Laird’s career caught-stealing percentage is far above league average. His glove-to-hand transfer is very smooth and he throws a very accurate ball with some zip on it. His “pop” times have always been excellent, and his quick release allows him to throw out runners in spite of a pitching staff that is littered with guys who are slow to the plate.

Tool #4 - Ball Handling

When a ball is bunted out in front of the plate, which catcher is better equipped to pick up the ball cleanly and execute the play? Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s a very narrow and quite often insignificant means of defensive evaluation. I’ve seen all four of the catchers play, and I’ve seen all four of them make plays on bunts out in front of the plate. One player didn’t stand out as the superior ball handler, but I will admit that some are better suited for that play than others.

If I was forced to assign a ranking, I would naturally go with the better all-around defensive catcher in Teagarden, but I haven’t seen anything that would make me think that Laird isn’t a capable ball handler as well. Um…moving on.

Tool #5 - Effective Game Play

Effective game play is the ability to make heads-up, error-free plays on double-play opportunities as well as minimizing passed balls and sacrifice hits. Teagarden’s superior defensive skill set makes him the easy choice here. He has quick reflexes and an excellent glove that help to limit the number of passed balls during a game, as well as the ball-handling skills, strong arm and baseball intelligence to execute the proper play on sacrifice hits and double-play opportunities.

Tool #6 - Game Calling

Which catcher gets more out of a pitcher than the others? Which catcher will make the right call
against the right hitter at the right time? The answer is Taylor Teagarden.

An underappreciated facet of the game is the relationship between a pitcher and his catcher. Teagarden is a quarterback on the baseball field. His cerebral approach to the game and his excellent communication skills gives his batterymate every possible advantage out on the bump. Teagarden is a student of the game. He watches for trends and is quick to make adjustments to help maximize production. The ability to effectively communicate a game plan to a pitcher while earning his complete confidence might be the most valuable skill a catcher can possess.

There it is. I don’t want to type a conclusion to this piece because that is really for the reader to decide. All four players have the necessary skills to be successful catchers at the Major League level. This analysis was based on their attributes, both offensively and defensively, but I purposely left out all the other variables that would normally be a part of the decision-making process.

Specifically for this on-paper evaluation, I decided not include ages, Major League experience, contract status or any superfluous data that might be used to paint a player as the better candidate. I want to hear who you think would make the better starting catcher going forward. Which skills do you value you the most in a catcher? Please vote for your catcher of your choice and comment on why you think they should be the Rangers’ starting catcher.


More Email:


Bob –
Just an interesting note to add to your sports repertoire:

The top 3 current Dallas RB’s were at one time college back-ups to current starting running backs of other NFL teams.

Tashard Choice (Oklahoma in 2004) – backup to Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) – before transferring to Georgia Tech in 2005
Felix Jones (Arkansas in 2007) – backup to Darren McFadden (Oakland)
Marion Barber (Minnesota in 2004) – backup/split time with Laurence Maroney (New England)

This is pretty rare I would think.

FYI…

A ridiculously stacked college football team (Miami – 2001)
Najeh Davenport
Willis McGahee
Clinton Portis
Frank Gore
Jarrett Payton (Walter’s kid)
http://nfldraft.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=538436
keep on sportsing – and be careful of the red lights in Cali

Kris


CJ Wilson caught on tape with Ron Washington Tuesday Night-



Zach does the Soulja Boy

2 comments:

Jay said...

Guess you're going to have to rename your son to Aaron, huh?

Well I guess the Cowboys and Packers are both glad to see Favre in another conference. In the long run it's possible the Packers look good if Rodgers pans out. If he is their next Chutch/Henson/Quincey then they're screwed but they've got a good young team and if he can get up to speed this season it's possible they could be an NFC power for a long time.

We'll see. I know that in retrospect most Cowboy fans would have liked Romo to play a year sooner but at the time I think most of us sensible ppl were wanting to wait on Bledsoe to see if the Cowboys were going to be a playoff team first before giving up on him.

In the end GB loses the PR battle but wins the war of getting Favre out of the division and out of the conference.

The Jets are much more interesting. Still a bubble wildcard team but they look much better offensively now with some nice receivers, Thomas Jones, upgraded o-line and Favre at the helm.

HeadThief said...

Sturminator - love the blog. I was curious today and did some research on my own blog about QBs as they get older. The bottom drops out at 38, so if he's effective, the Jets ahve beaten the odds. If you're interested, check it out at http://landthieves.blogspot.com/2008/08/qbs-and-age-nfl-post.html