17 November 2011

On the Cubs hiring of Dale Sveum

First of all, yes, it did take me a little bit to pronounce it right (SWAIM, not SVEE-um). My first thought was, as it will be going forward, In Theo We Trust. Sveum isn't a name that's in vogue. It's not a Valentine or a Francona. Hiring (and paying a premium) for a hot name hasn't exactly paid off nearly as much as was paid for it.

Even though it's a different sport, take a quick look at Dan Snyder's tenure as Washington Redskins owner. In 1999 he bought the team as what was then the highest price for a team in history for ALL sports. The list of big names brought in includes: Steve Spurrier, (the return of) Joe Gibbs, Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuleta, Albert Hayneworth, Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb.

The bit that resounded with me during Theo's intro presser was that in free agency, they would be paying for future and not past results. Nearly every name in the above list fits in the former category. In Snyder's 13 years as an owner, the Redskins have all of 2 ten win seasons and 3 playoff appearances (2 wins). Not exactly a fine track record for success.

One last tidbit: Was Joe Maddon a "name" when Tampa's version of the Superfriends (Friedman, Silverman, Sternberg) hired him in 2006? Nope, but he sure as hell is now, winning Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011. Am I saying I'm expecting Sveum to win 2 MotY's in 6 years? No, but again, it all goes back to what I said, In Theo We Trust.

Recruitment for Blackhawks fandom

A Twitter friend of mine recently posted that with the NBA lockout, she was open to suggestions to whether or not she should a) start following the NHL, and b) to where she should direct her allegiance. I then took it upon myself to write an email making a case for the Chicago Blackhawks. The following is the result:

Subject: My case for you becoming a fan of the Blackhawks

History. The Blackhawks were one of the Original Six of the NHL, and outside of the other 5 teams, they outdated the rest of the NHL by 41 years (the first expansion of the NHL didn't occur until 1967) During this time they won 3 Stanley Cups, and haven't forgotten about them, as 4 of the members of the 1961 Cup-winning team are Blackhawks Ambassadors.

Talent. Chicago has locked up a solid core of players on both offense (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa) and defense (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson) all under contract for at least the next 3 years, and with the exception of Hossa, all of those named are under age 30. They won the Stanley Cup as recently as 2010, and after a salary cap-induced gutting of the team in 10-11, are currently sitting at the top of the Western Conference.

Player Development. A large amount of the roster are players that were originally drafted by the Blackhawks. After winning the Stanley Cup with a rookie goalie (Antti Niemi) and watching him leave, Chicago was able to replace him with a near-elite netminder in Corey Crawford, who although is only 22nd in GAA, is counted on a more consistent basis, making 15 starts in 19 games (most teams are just a little above 50-50).

Local support. Chicago leads the NHL in home attendance, frequently packing the United Center for Standing Room Only capacity, and have sold out every game since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Blackhawks fans also travel well, as chants of "Let's Go Hawks!" are frequently heard around the league.

Other tidbits:

Chicago is close enough to Iowa to make a road trip to catch a game, something you've shown you're willing to do because you came for a White Sox-Twins game.

The Blackhawks logo/uniform was named best in the NHL

Eye candy. Ahem, I give you Patrick Sharp, who was named on of the 50 most beautiful Chicagoans earlier this year, Jonathan Toews, and Brent Seabrook.

There's not a more recognizable National Anthem performance than that of Jim Cornelison, whom you might remember from theNFC Championship game last year (Lee DeWyze was originally scheduled to sing it, but Cornelison replaced him after an outcry of support.)

Let me know what you think and if there's anything more I can do to help you become a Blackhawks Fan.

12 November 2011

Hmm, what other outdated stats is Philly interested in trading for?

That's the question I asked myself when I heard that the Phillies signed former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4-year, $50 million contract. I tweeted this thought after initially heard the news, because it seemed to me that Philadelphia overvalues saves and it creates a market inefficiency.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that Papelbon isn't a good pitcher. But as a reliever, he's definitely not $50M good. No one really is. The Yankees might be the only other team that would be willing to pay that much for a closer, and it would have to be for a Mariano Rivera-type in his absolute prime. As it is, based on average salary per year, Papelbon is the 3rd highest paid pitcher on the Phillies, behind Cliff Lee ($24M) and Roy Halladay ($20M).

To borrow a term from MLB Network's new show Clubhouse Confidential (a great watch, BTW), Philadelphia signed Papelbon on "the wrong side of 30," after Papelbon's age 31 season. Another thing I noticed was that the Phils are paying essentially for one year of inflated stats (shades of the Cubs signing Soriano for his one-year peak and a 40/40 season). In 2011, Papelbon posted his career best in FIP (1.53) and 2nd highest K/9 (12.17). However, his BABIP has been trending up for the past three years, and while in '11 is was still an unusually low .307, it tells me he might be regressing more towards the league average BABIP and continue to trend higher through his 30s.

Again, am I saying Philadelphia didn't sign an elite closer? No. My point is that no pitcher is worth $12.5 million per year whose primary duty will be to pitch in one inning. Only 3 times in 63 appearances in 2011 did Papelbon enter the game before the 9th inning.

08 November 2011

Today JoePa, Penn State lost whatever respect they had

You've probably heard the story already, but today put it over the top for me. In the wake of the news about Jerry Sandusky it was requested that questions this week in Joe Paterno's weekly press conference only be football related (Penn State plays Nebraska in Happy Valley on Saturday). Said presser was cancelled by PSU President Graham Spanier. After more than 150 reporters showed up for questioning.

I'm still shaking my head as it is. First of all, if you've read the story, JoePa is either just as guilty as Penn State AD Tim Curley and Sr. VP Gary Schultz, or none of the 3 are. There's no middle here. Curley and Schultz have already been indicted on charges of perjury and that they failed to alert police about abuse complaints. So yeah, Paterno did the bare minimum legally by telling Curley about what he heard. But to sit on it for as long as he did, morally puts him in the same vein as Sandusky.

Rapists in my opinion are some of the most vile scum on the planet. Child rapists are even worse. You can't change the past. And because of JoePa's lack of action, I've lost all respect for him.

As I'm writing this, the New York Times is reporting that PSU is already planning Paterno's exit. @RappUp is tweeting that it looks like it's going to be a firing rather than resignation, as the PSU Board of Trustees voted to ask Paterno to resign and he refused.

02 September 2011

Quick post: The Lance Briggs Situation

Inspired by AITA on Aerys Sports, here's my quick take on the Lance Briggs contract situation.

Three years ago, he tested the open market as an unrestricted free agent. There should be no argument against the fact that the Bears paid him fair market value. In my opinion, this wouldn't even be an issue if Briggs' agent wasn't that scumbag Drew Rosenhaus. Also, I don't really think Briggs has out-performed the contract. If he came back in two years with two more Pro Bowls under his belt and only ONE year left, then I could see it. But this is simply ridiculous.


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