Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Buffalo Sabres win + Rick Jeanneret & Jim Lorenz

by Steve

Is anyone else getting sick of these two? Rick Jenerette and Jim Lorenz, the voices of the Buffalo Sabres continue on a nightly bases to be as biased as any broadcasters in the history of broadcast sports. I understand being partial to the home town team, but these two take it to a different level. The word objectivity means nothing to them , especially Lorenz.

Tonight as the Buffalo Sabres squeak by the New Jersey Devils 4-3 at HSBC arena Rick & Jim were up to their old tricks. Ryan Miller aka God and/or God’s second son played a decently good game giving up his typical three goals a night. The first goal however, can or can not be seen as his fault. A shot was taken from the left wing on net, Miller makes the save however, leaves a huge rebound off to his right directly in front of the net. Controlling the rebound is difficult but still the goalies duty. A New Jersey player capitalizes and puts the puck into the back of the net. Riick and Jim’s response? One of several extremely popular phrases heard multiple times in any given Sabres broadcast:

  1. Miller didn’t see it and or was screened.
  2. The puck was tipped and Miller had no chance.
  3. The defense needs to help out on that play.

If you guessed all three you were close, A and C are the correct answers as Lorenz uttered both as the game continued tied 1-1. Now this is expected if you watch the Sabres play, however what really eats me up is what followed. In the third period the game still tied 1-1a shot is fired on the Devil’s net from the same left side of the ice as the Sabres goal. Brodeur continues to make the original save but leaves the exact same rebound in the exact same spot as Paille puts the puck over a sprawling Martin Brodeur to take the lead. What was shocking was Lorenz’s commentary after this goal. “That is just awful goaltending” Awful? The exact same play but because it wasn’t a Sabre it is “awful”? Its getting embarrassing..

Lets just hope no one starts a real drinking game for every time Miller gives up a goal and either A. B. or C. are uttered from the Sabres’ broadcasters because deaths may ensue.

Furthermore, everyone in every city rooting for any teams complains about the refs, "Rick and Jim" are not abstained from this practice either. Routinely can you hear one or the other huffing and puffing about a blown call or outright complaint about the referees. There are only human, if you were being screwed you wouldn't be in first place. Quit the crying and huffing and puffing after every check Rick and Jim are suppose to be professionals, its kind of sad really. OHHHH HE WAS HAULED DOWN.. NO CALL!! Yeah and the same thing didn't just happen in the other end.

On a brighter note, the Sabres take a strangle hold on the Northeastern Division as Ottawa lost to Boston last night and the Sabres furthered their cause of the Eastern Conference crown and perhaps the Presidents Trophy for most points.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bills Dial Darwin

By 'Coast'

In a highly anticipated move, the Buffalo Bills traded veteran 2 time pro bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes along with journeyman quarterback Kelly Holcomb to the Philadelphia Eagles. In return, the Bills acquired DT Darwin Walker and a conditional draft pick.

Darwin Walker started in 15 games last year for the Philadelphia Eagles. He had 6 sacks which exceeded the 2.5 put up by Tripplett, McCargo, Anderson and Williams combined. He has had 6 or more sacks 3 times in his 7 year NFL Career, a feat never accomplished by the rest of the Bills DT core. Darwin is very quick and is a great penetrator, he fits the Bills defensive scheme. He will also provide an added boost to the pass rush on the defensive front. Walker also brings another smart football guy with high character to fit the Levy mold. Most importantly, Walker is happy to be in Buffalo and excited to be a part of the team. After the trade, Walker stated "As far as I'm concerned, this is the best situation for me and I'm looking forward to it."

Walker also brings playoff experience to a young Bills team. The only other player on the Bills defense with any significant playoff experience is Larry Tripplett, Walker will be able to help the young guys cope with big pressure situations. Last year in the Eagles narrow loss at New Orleans in the playoffs, Darwin Walker sacked Drew Brees twice showcasing his big play ability in big games.

Marv, Dick and Jim Overdorf have brought in another guy that wants to be in Orchard Park as they continue to rid the team of any potential cancers. With Mcgahee being shipped to Baltimore, this is the second high profile player the Bills have traded within the past month. Spikes is aging and wants to play on a team that can contend now, and he doesn't belief the Bills can do that. In an interview on ESPN, Spikes implied his displeasure with the Bills releasing Milloy and Adams a year ago from a defense that ranked 2nd in the NFL in total defense. Last season, there were some ripples of displeasure after the Bills released another veteran, Troy Vincent. Spikes has left with no hard feelings, but it was evident that he didn't like the way the team was going and that he didn't fit in the plans of the new management.

So where does this trade leave the Bills defense? The DT position has been solidified. Walker will come in and be an instant force. However, the LB core leaves a lot to be desired. Angelo Crowell, a player that Spikes believes is going to be a special player, is going to step in as the leader of the defense as he is moving inside. On the outside, Keith Ellison is most likely going to be starting along with a player yet to be determined. The Bills will need to look at linebackers twice in the first 3 rounds to add 1 or maybe 2 players that can contribute right away. The Bills have 4 picks in the first 3 rounds and it should be interesting to see how Levy continues to build this football team.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Breaking news Takeo Spikes traded to Philly

by Steve
The Buffalo Bills traded Takeo Spikes and Kelly Holcomb to the Philadelphia Eagles for Defensive Tackle Darwin Walker. Walker played in all 16 games last year and from reports is a real thinker which leads one to think he is a big Marv Levy 'high character' guy. This trade frees up cap space as well as fills a need position. The impact of losing Spikes is yet to be determined and at face value appears to be a fair trade. Walker is under contract through the 2008 season getting paid $1,300,000 in 2007 and $1,400,000 in 2008.

Some comparison: (2006)
Kevin Williams
36 tackles, 5 sacks, 6 pass defended

John Henderson
51 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 6 pass defended

Tommie Harris
28 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 pass defended (12 games)

Kris Jenkins
41 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 pass defended

Pat Williams
44 tackles, 1 sack, 2 pass defended

Darwin Walker
36 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pass defended

interview with Eagles report via WGR550 >

(more to come)

How to fix the NHL

by AP

The lockout is behind us and ratings are still down. What are the problems and how can the NHL and hockey in general fix them? Lots of suggestions but very few genuine answers or solutions have ever been proposed. Here’s a pitch for how to save the NHL.

Let’s start with problem number one; Gary Bettman, he has outlived his usefulness. The NHL needs to replace Gary with a hockey guy not a David Stern sidekick. They need a hockey guy, someone that knows the fans ie Brian Burke.

Second problem – How how about taking a cue from the NFL. Have the NHL explain what they are doing when reviewing calls and or what they are looking for. This is quick and simple

3rd problem – No American Super Star, the most marketable players are Crosby, Ovechkin, and Jagr but the problem is they are all foreigners. American kids need players they can look up too and want to be like; it’s hard for someone from Alabama or Texas to root for someone from Moscow or Moose Jaw. The solution is coming in the form of Pat Kane. He is an America kid from all-American blue collar town of Buffalo, NY. Pat is projected to be the first pick in this year’s draft and has an opportunity to make a bad teams’ roster in ’07. The NHL needs to market Pat Kane – because they need Kane to succeed.

4th problem – The availability of the NHL on TV or the lack of availability. If it wasn’t for MSG, I would end up watching maybe two games a week while I’ll be able to watch several poker tournaments and NBA games weekly. The solutions come in the form of ESPN. ESPN is the pinnacle of sports television. Without Sportscenter most Americans wouldn’t know what is going on in the world err sports world. The 1 minute total of NHL coverage doesn’t cut it. The NHL needs to workout a deal similar to their deal with NBC. Versus had a lot of potent ional with their willingness to bid on MLB but the network ranks up there with PAX. Now, I don’t know too many people that go over to their buddies’ house and say “turn on the TV, what’s on PAX?” The NHL has their own network but what makes people think they will pay to see NHL Network when only 1.1 million viewers turn in weekly to watch the NHL on NBC for FREE. NHL needs to cut a deal with all the major cable providers and give them a cheap deal to have their network plugged in a sports package with Versus, MSG, and ESPN. Once this is accomplished, the number of games in one week will triple.

5th problem – Marketing. For some reason the NHL only runs hockey commercials and ads during their own games when no one is watching? The NHL needs to start advertising during the Super Bowl, American Idol, etc. Let the world know, the NHL is out there! Having Crosby mentioned in the same breath as Lebron, A-rod, and Brady should be their number one priority.

6th problem – Officials. Call the rule book, plain and simple. Hockey is about skating; faster players should flourish and let them flourish by calling the rule book. Other solutions – Have the referee explain calls just like the NFL. Explain why they are reviewing the call, just don’t leave it to fans to guess and wonder why a legit goal is being reviewed. When reviewing the call, have a television in the score keepers box so he can see if the goal is a goal. A time limit being put on that wouldn’t hurt either.

7th problem – Mike Everyone and NHL Films. Ok, well not everyone but the two officials not the linesman. Mike the coaches, stars, and backup goalies perhaps with a 5 sec delay. Take us where the XFL went, everywhere. I want to hear teammates yelling at each other and I want to hear trash talking. Put cameras on referees’ helmets, fans will get a chance to see what they see. What is great about the NFL is NFL Films. The ‘year in review’ with miked players, coaches, and officials are spectacular. Background stories on the players and coaches, it’s all great and hardcore fans will eat that up.

8th problem – Abolish the instigator rule and protect the Stars. The league wants to control the level of violence in the game, but its concerns about public perception are having an adverse affect. The rule, which gives a player a minor penalty for starting a fight then suspends him for each subsequent instigator penalty, is too hard on players who play the role of enforcer. As a result, skilled players are continually clutched, grabbed and hacked at partly because officials can't catch every offense and partly because the offenders don't fear physical retribution from opponents. The year before the instigator rule was introduced; there were 6.96 goals and 1.75 fighting majors per game according to Removing the Instigator rule could see the NHL return to its roots of bench clearing brawls and line brawls. Fighting sells, much like sex; UFC is gaining popularity by the day for a reason. We want to see the unofficial “Gretzky Rule” – protect our superstars much like the NFL with its QB’s. All head shots should result in heavy fines and suspensions. No need to give a player a concussion and jeopardize his hockey career ala Eric Lindros. Who knows what could have happened to Lindros’ career if he didn’t take so many shots to his head because he had his head down. (Why he had his head down in the first place is another debate, I blame his PeeWee coach)

9th problem – Schedule. It blows! The solution – play everyone in your conference four times, your division additional two more times, and 10 teams in other conference twice for a total of 84 games. Yes, additional two more regular season games.

10th problem – Eliminate the limit on curves on sticks. Back in the late 60’s the NHL went from 1 1/2 inches to 1 inch to the current 1/2 inch. The reduction was set in place to control the unpredictable and dangerous shots. Things have changed, high glass, safety nets, and goalies are all wearing masks. Let the players have banana curves; it may or may not give a player an extra goal.

11th problem – The system. No true minor league system exist, NCAA Division 1 has only 59 teams, and hockey rinks are few and far to come by in Texas, Alabama, and Wyoming, etc. AHL “AAA” has 29 teams, the NHL has 30 teams, and few teams have AA teams. Anyone see the problem? The NHL needs to mimic Major League Baseball with their system. Every team should have AAA, AA, and A team. It would be great to see players playing in Jamestown, Batavia and other rural areas to finally work their way up to NHL through the system. Do you know how many Yankee hats I see in Tampa or how many Indian hats I see in Buffalo almost as many Yankee and Red Sox hats. Fans will follow their hometown team; follow those players, and their parent club once those players graduate. NCAA has 59 teams in Division 1 hockey with teams in mostly the North with an Alabama-Huntsville thrown in. It wasn’t too long ago when Northern Arizona and US International (San Diego) had D1 teams but travel cost among other things killed the program. The NHL needs to have colleges such as USC, Penn St, Tennessee, UCLA, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, heck all of the Big 12, SEC, and PAC 10 add serious D1 hockey. Kids will follow their schools’ athletic teams and eventual follow where their fellow classmates end up in the Pros. How does the NHL expect kids to become hockey fans when their parents never played or watched the sport? NHL teams need to visit schools, YMCA’s, and offer free learn to skate programs to create new fans.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New York Mets 2007 season preview

by Steve

The New York Mets in 2006 were one hit away from reaching the World Series for the first time since losing to the Yankees in 2000. One sick pitch by Wainwright and Carlos Beltran buckled like a mafia target getting shot in the knee. One more starter, one more lucky break, and the Mets were headed closer to another World Series championship. However, the 2007 Mets look poised to take another series crack at another ring. Here is a position by position break down:

Paul Lo Duca returns after a magnificent 2006 in which he hit .318 in 512 AB's batting second behind Jose Reyes. Playing solid defensively behind the dish and threw out 27 of 84 trying to swipe a base. The Mets have a valuable back in Ramon Castro who will spell Lo Duca during the dog days of summer as Paul turns 35 in April.

First Base
Carlos Delgado returns to first looking to build on 2006 success mashing 38 dingers and 114 runs batted in. Delgado struggled at times reaching base and had a mediocre .265 batting average. However, his power numbers remained consistent when compared to previous seasons. Delgs is also turning 35 this season but shows little sign of slowing down just yet.

Second Base
A general concern surrounds the four hole on defense. Jose Valentine was brought back by Omar Minaya and his crew for 2007. Valentine played a solid if unspectacular 2b a season ago hitting .270 with 18 round trips and 62 rbi's. Having commited only 6 errors is a major reason the Mets brass likes JV, however turning 38 this year is a concern, further spelled by a lack luster end of the season clearly evident in September and continued through the post season. Young Anderson Hernandez could be a replacement however, the Mets aren't as high on this kid as some. Flashing a wicked glove and tearing up the Dominican Winter League for the second straight year, .387 this season, Anderson has the tools but has failed in opportunities in the Bigs. Look for Valentine to maintain the position until he proves otherwise.

Third Base
We'll keep this short, David Wright is a baller. At 24 D Wright continues to improve, posting career highs in OPS, RBIs, average, stolen bases, hits etc. Only potential concerns are his .160 average in the NLCS and a fat contract he signed late last year. Other than that expect him to continue pounding doubles and going the opposite way with two strikes.

Short Stop
Another young stud, Jose Reyes, could make any drool with his skill set. Running around the base path like few can and jump starting a Mets offense that without him can struggle. Hitting only .300 as a lead off man is of little concern, however his on base percentage is something any Met fan would like to see improved in 2007, look for Reyes to put up MVP like numbers again this season.

Left Field
For some unknown reason, Moises Alou 41, was brought in to replace fan favorite and power lefty, Cliff Floyd, who was oft injured in 2006 to roam in left. Alou, a consistent .300 hitter could add to the present power in the Mets line up if he stays healthy and avoids a mid life crisis. Speedster Endy Chavez remains an option in all three outfield positions if injury strikes.

Carlos Beltran dispelled some beliefs that he could not hack it in a big town in 2006 mashing with 41 hr and 116 rbi. His defense is solid and its tough to blame him too much for the strike out in game seven last year. However, a concern is his .275 average with makes one wonder if he is only a 4 tool instead of 5 tool player.

Right Field
Again, another questionable call stems from a deadline deal in 2006 bring Shawn Green to the Mets and with it his contract paying him huge jack again in 2007. Green is coming off a routine 2006 and at 34, may not be starting every day in right field.

The wild card in all of this outfield talk is that of Lastings Milledge, who seems to be constantly rumored as a starter, as trade bait, and nothing else being jerked around a bit. Being left off the post season roster, messages of "Know your place rook" in his locker and being shipped between Norfolk and New York through out the season make it not very conducive to a productive season. Perhaps another half season of seasoning in the minors will inspire Milledge to live up to his potential, or maybe bring in some much needed pitching. Which leads us to the biggest question mark of them all...

The Depth chart currently reads like this: Glavine, El Duque, Maine, Oliver Perez, Chan Ho Park then Pete. Pete aka Pedro Martinez, isn't schedule to pitch until at the earliest July, and the three four five spots in the rotation a literal rotation for much of the upcoming season. Word has it the Mets brass does not want to start the season with Mike Pelfrey in the starting five, leaving the option of AAA wide open. Phillip Humber probably a year away, Chan Ho Park an old 33, and the likes of Jorge Sosa, Schoeneweis Aaron Sele and Heilman likely starting out in the bullpen the Mets are extremely thin at starting pitching and are praying Pete can return 100%. Whatever 100% for Martinez is in 2007 is anybodies guess, but lets all hope Pelfrey continues to dazzle and finds him self in the show by May.

The NEW sandman of New York, Billy Wagner, is back coming off a solid '06 leaving no question at the closer role. However, a lasting injury to Duaner Sanchez and the a 50 game suspension to Guillermo Mota Randolph will have to rely heavily on the retreads already mentioned along with Feliciano, the lefty specialist, and Heilman to get the ball to Wagner, with Dave Williams filling in for long relief.

It is tough to picture the Mets relinquishing their hold on the NL East with their powerful line up, but just like defense in football, pitching wins Championships, and until the Mets fill this hole don't hold your breathe for another ring just yet.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Buffalo Sabres playoff Rap +sweet 16 betting locks

Found on Eddie Haskill's Myspace page is the hottest Buffalo Sabres rap of the year. Bump these beats as the Sabres make their run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sweet Sixteen locks brought to you by the Water Cooler's very own handicapping master T-wreck. These locks are against the spread, and if able, bet the mortgage.

Memphis +3 (-105)
vs. Texas A&M

Pittsburgh +3(-105)
vs. UCLA

Vanderbilt +7.5 v Georgetown

Butler +10.5 v Florida

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New York Yankees 2007 baseball preview

By Petko and Steve

Six seasons ago, 2000, was the last time the Yankee fans celebrated a World Series victory. The Yankees have ended each of the past six seasons with a heartbreaking loss to clear underdogs. For last few years the players George and Brian have brought in for a quick fix are not ’true Yankees’ but this years team seems different.

Through out much of the 1990s the Yankees were very successful because of great pitching and home-grown talent. This year’s team is starting to resemble their old self a little more than in years past.

Let's take a look at the 2007 Yankees' roster position by position and see how it loads up for the '07 season.


Posada will again have no worries about being replaced for at least three years and again having to worry about catching about 140 games since the Yankees failed to find an applicable backup. Veteran suitcase Todd Pratt was brought in to take the load off Posada but again the Yankees will rely heavy on Posada more than ever.

1st Base

A lot of competition exists at this position. Is Giambi going to play first or be a full time DH? Yanks signed veteran Doug Mientkiewicz whose best years are behind him. The Yanks need his glove more than his bat. He is a former .300 hitter with the Twins but how much offense is needed for him to play ahead of young Josh Phelps and Andy Phillips? A-rod was happy to see his former high school teammate join the Pinstripes but expect a rotating 1st base till someone takes the bull by the horn. This more than likely will be Giambi’s last season catching balls at first with Phelps and Phillips battling it out at first for years to come.

2nd Base

Another homegrown talent – Robinson Cano is now a favorite among fantasy ballers. Cano is a stud and top 5 2nd basemen in all of baseball. Cano will bat 8th and hopefully get on base for Jeter to bring him in. No concerns at 2nd; Miguel Cairo is an exceptional backup.

3rd Base

Yes, A-Rod is still a Yankee and the fans should be thrilled to have him. He’ll improve on his errors and his bat is one of the best in the majors. He is one year removed from an MVP and near Gold Glove year, and besides his issues in the field, wasn't bad at the plate this past season. He is a franchise player in his prime who should bounce all the way back. Yankees don’t have anyone ready for the majors for at least two years; Cairo will again serve as an exceptional backup. Yankees won the Series with Scott Bosius and Charlie Hayes so why not A-rod? If the Yankees don’t win it all, expect A-Rod to opt out of the finals years of his deal and sign for even more jack.


Jeter is back and will more than likely lead off. Jeter needs to take charge in the locker room and on the field again for the Yankees to be successful. Jeter is to the Yankees as Bush is to Oil, he makes the Yankees successful. Jeter could also hit from 2 or 3rd spot and score a lot of runs. Yanks will look for rookie Alberto Gonzalez as future successor and capable back up for Jeter this season, if Gonzalez doesn’t pan out, Cairo will again fill in nicely.


Damon, Matsui, and Abreu are very scary offensive threat but not a scary defensive unit. Damon’s short range and Abreu’s lack of hustle will allow opponents to go for extra bases. Matsui and Abreu both have strong arms to go along with their bats. The ever patient Bobby Abreu fits perfectly into the old Yankee style of hitting and a healthy Matsui, and a consistent Johnny Damon make this one of the best offensive outfields in the majors. Melky Cabrea provides the role player in the outfield. Bronson Sardinha will be on Abreu’s heel if he doesn’t pan out in right but expect no competition this season unless Bobby falls apart. Gone is Sheff and Williams. Many failed to buy into Sheffield as a true Yankee and Williams’ best years are well behind him. It would be good to see Bernie retire as a Yankee but the man does have his pride.


Giambi will only bat and rarely field this season because of the depth at the first base. Cabrera and Phelps will also get a shot at DH to give Jason a rest. The Gambino is looking to build a solid year statistically in 2006 and with another year removed from the steroid scandal may continue to improve.


I hate to admit it but the Yankees don’t have a clear cut ace. The Yankees haven’t had one since Clemens left for Houston. The pitching staff on paper is better this season than the last four years. Gone are Wright and Johnson, both were busts as Yankees. No one has to worry about whether or not Pettitte can deal with the pressures of pitching in New York or if he’ll be a media nightmare. He’s a consummate professional that can be counted on every five days. Pettitte will also help to restore the faith in a fan base that is becoming ever more frustrated with the direction the Yankees have gone. Some lingering fears remain upon looking at what Pettitte accomplished in Houston, but hopefully returning to the Bronx will rejuvenate his career. The Yankees will get away with Mussina, Wang, and Pettitte as 1, 2, and 3. Wang is on his way to be the future ace of the franchise for years to come. Yankees lost out on Daisuke Matsuzaka sweepstake so they went with poor man’s Daisuke – Kei Igawa. He should be a capable #4. The same far East fears are present however, Japanese players for the Yanks have historically faired well. The biggest hole and question mark in the entire rotation or lineup for that matter is the #5 starter, Carl Pavano. He had as much use to him last season as a broken bat. More than likely Phillip Hughes will become a full time starter by seasons end, Humberto Sanchez may also see a lot of innings in New York to give the staff a rest. Yankees can’t rely on the chance Roger Clemens comes back but regardless this staff, when healthy is very good.


Mo is back and in a contract year. This guy is lights out, but at 37 there is the potential for a let down. He finished the year strong and shows no visible signs of losing it yet. The real problem will be getting the ball to Rivera in the 9th. The gas coming from hard throwing right Kyle Farnsworth is never guaranteed with instances of no control at times. However, with lefties like Meyers returning look for the ‘pen to be adequate and expect acquisitions or call ups mid season.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cleveland Indians 2007 Season Preview

by Coast and Steve

It is March 18th and the Indians have a slim lead in the American League Spring Training Standings with 2 weeks remaining. Can Cleveland be on top of the standings in the AL Central with 2 weeks remaining in September? That remains to be seen, but you have to be excited that their young team is beginning to gel.

Let's take a look at the 2007 Indians' roster position by position and see how it stacks up for the '07 season.


Victor Martinez is currently listed as the starting catcher however he will probably see action at first base. Victor Martinez is probably the best offensive catcher in all of baseball. He hit .316 a year ago with 16 homers and 93 rbi's and is a .301 career hitter. This Spring, he is lighting it up, hitting .423, best on the team. His defensive abilities don't compare to the likes of Pudge which is why he could see a lot of action at first this year.

If Martinez moves 90 feet to first, the door is open for Kelly Shoppach behind the dish. Shoppach gives the Indians a boost defensively. 11 of 30 men attempting to steal on him in 2006 were thrown out.

Look for Shoppach to play more games behind the plate this year except on the road in interleague games when Martinez will move to catcher and Hafner will be forced to play first base.

First Base

Again, look for Martinez to get a lot of action here this year but another man who will see some time is Ryan Garko. Garko had 45 RBI's a year ago in only 50 games along with 7 home runs after being called up from Buffalo. He is good offensively and young, so those number should even improve. Defensively, he had 6 errors in 45 games at first base, a number he certainly wants to cut down. Martinez on the other hand had 0 errors in 2006 at first base. Shapiro has yet to decide whether Garko will start the 2007 campaign in the show or continue to hone his skills at 1st in AAA Buffalo. More than likely first base will be a revolving door in 2007 with Casey Blake filling in.

Second Base

With one of the most underrated moves of the entire offseason, the Indians picked up 2nd baseman Josh Barfield from the Padres. In his rookie year last year, Barfield his .280 with 13 homers, 58 RBI and 21 steals. Also, Barfield was very solid defensively. He had only 9 errors in 147 games. He had a fielding percentage of .987. Barfield is having a great spring for Cleveland this year, hitting .367. This will help fill the void left by Ronnie Belliard who went to St. Louis.

Third Base

Andy Marte is the man this year at third base and now is his time to have a break out season. A year ago he was playing much of the year in AAA Buffalo and was highly regarded as one of the best third base prospects in all of baseball. He hit only .226 last year in 50 games but he improved vastly in September. The fact that he was traded twice following the 2005 season may have played a significant factor in Marte's slow start, that and the bitter spring in Buffalo along with the culture shock. However, his fielding and hitting improved last year from what it was in 2005 when he got limited action in Atlanta. Look for Marte to improve more and more this season and give the Indians a step up from Aaron Boone, a huge disappointment for the past 2 seasons.


In 2005, Jhonny Peralta exploded onto the scene as a rookie. He hit .292 with 24 homers and 78 RBIs. He made Indians fans semi forget about their beloved Omar Vizquel. He was regarded as one of the best young shortstops in the league. In 2006 however, his numbers dropped off significantly. He hit .257 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs. The talent is still there. This man has the ability to hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs a year. Now that his sophomore slump is over and some of the pressure of filling the shoes of a future hall of famer has warn off, look for Peralta to come back strong in '07. The rumors of an eye problem last year were rectified this offseason when Peralta underwent a surgery to correct vision problems. Peralta remains a major question mark in the middle of the Tribe infield.


Jason Michaels should be the opening day starter in left field although he did struggle a year ago. Cleveland acquired Michaels from Philadelphia after he had a season in which he hit .304. Last year Michaels disappointed , hitting only .267.

In center field is Grady Sizmore. This guy is a perfect example of a 5 tool player. He is in the top echelon of outfielders in all of baseball and is in the top 3 center fielders in the game along with Hunter and Beltran. He can hit for average, power, he has a strong arm and great speed. In 2006, Sizemore was the Indians' lone all star. He hit .290 with 28 homers and 76 RBIs as a lead off man. He had 53 doubles, 11 triples and stole 22 bases which was best on the team. He is still very young and improving. Look for big things this year from Sizemore. If his teammates help carry the load this year , he could have 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 steals. Sizemore however, must increase his average from only .290. The option to move Sizemore back in the order is a viable one if his steals and OBP can be matched by a player in the farm system.

Right field will be an on going carousel as well with free agent acquisitions David Delucci and Trot Nixon platooning at the position. Casey Blake is another option if Garko suprises and starts at 1st out of the gate. In 2006, Blake had probably his best year hitting .282 with 19 homers and 68 RBIs. Delucci hit .292 with 13 home runs in Philadelphia last year and is having an excellent spring, hitting .357 for the Tribe.

In the offseason, Cleveland acquired former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon as well. Nixon has a lot of experience, especially in the post season, and he could teach a lot to the young Indians team. Nixon has had injury problems the past few years but if he can get healthy, he could see a lot of time starting in the outfield.

The outfield corner positions will continue to be pushed by young guns playing in AA Akron and AAA Buffalo. These players include Sin-Soo Choo, Trevor Crowe, Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco and Brad Snyder. Sin-Soo Choo showed signs in 2006 after being called up from buffalo. He hit .295 and had 22 RBI in 45 games.

Franklin Guitierrez and Ben Francisco are also pushing to be on 2007 roster. Francisco is especially having an excellent Spring. He has 11 hits in 29 ABs including 3 homeruns. He is hitting .379 in the Spring, 2nd on the team.

Designated Hitter

Travis Hafner, aka. Pronk, will be the Indians' DH this year and this guy can flat out stroke. The past 3 years, his numbers have been ridiculous. If it wasn't for David Ortiz, he would be the best DH in baseball bar none. He has hit .311, .305 and .308 the past 3 seasons with 28, 33 and 42 homeruns respectively. He has driven in over 100 runs in each of those 3 seasons as well with 109, 108 and 117 RBIs. His 2006 campaign showed a major boost in Pronk's numbers, however his season was shorted to129 games after missing time with injury. Hafner is consistently getting better and don't expect him to slow down anytime soon. Another 40+ homerun and 100+ RBI season is undoubtedly in the making barring injury.

The Staff

CC Sabathia tops this list. CC seems like he has been in the league forever, but he is only 26. CC is due to have a break out type season. Last year he showed signs of greatness posting an ERA of 3.22. Sabathia needs to stay healthy this year so he can carry the load for Cleveland on the bump. Adding muscle over the offseason yet maintaining an extremely large presence on the mound may set Carsten Charles up for even bigger things in '07.

Jake Westbrook has solidified him self as the number 2 starter. He has been pretty solid for Cleveland over the past 6 years. He is an inning eater and has won 15 games in each of the past 2 seasons. He doesn't strike a lot of guys out but if he does a good job keeping the ball down he will force ground balls all day. Westbrook should pitch another 200 innings this year and will be reliable in doing it. The defense let Jake down last year and is hoping a more solidified infield will help him immensely. Entering free agency in 2008, also look for J dubs to be more determined than ever.

Cliff Lee burst onto the scene in 2005. He won 18 games that year and another 14 a year ago in 2006. He pitched over 200 innings each of the last 2 seasons. Currently, Lee is suffering a slight abdominal strain that could keep him off the rotation in early April but once he gets healthy he will be a vital part of this pitching staff.

Jeremy Sowers will be the number 4 starter when the dust settles and could begin the season as the number 3 man. Sowers was called up from Buffalo mid 2006 and pitched well. In 14 starts, Sowers was 7-4 with a 3.57 era which is very respectable for a pitcher in the AL. In 2007, Sowers' official rookie season, he could make a push for rookie of the year if he can build on his production of a year ago.

Paul Byrd will see action as the fifth starter. Byrd is a wiley veteran who is entering his 12th season. He struggled a year ago with an ERA near 5 put still was able to win 12 games. Byrd will be pushed from behind by Fausto Carmona.

Fausto Carmona will probably be in the rotation at the start of the season due to the injury to Cliff Lee. Carmona struggled in 2006 as a closer but has a huge upside and a lot of ability. If any of Cleveland's starters go down, it should be Carmona to fill the void.

The wild card for the rotation in 2007 definitely is Adam Miller. This stud of a righty was drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 2003 draft and is quickly rising within the organization. Look for him to make his major league debut in 2007.


The Indians bullpen will be another major question mark in 2007. With young arms making up much of the set up and long relief roles in the pen any one could be the closer by 2007. The Indians had the best bullpen ERA in baseball in 2005 before falling apart last year. The team will enter the season with Borowski, signed away from the Marlins, closing to start the season. This has to be an upgrade from the fat, overweight, alcoholic Wickman. Look for the eternal Roberto Hernandez to set up along with verteran Rafeal Betancourte to start the season. Familiarize yourself with the names Mujica, Mastny and Caberera as hold overs from last year after developing in Buffalo. Juan Lara is also having a good spring training and may elevate his status as the season progresses.

Predicted Opening Day Lineup

  1. Grady Sizemore (8)
  2. Jason Michaels (7)
  3. Jhonny Peralta (6)
  4. Travis Hafner (DH)
  5. Victor Martinez (2)
  6. Trot Nixon (9)
  7. Casey Blake (3)
  8. Andy Marte (5)
  9. Josh Barfield (4)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Final 4 Picks

T Wreck

Pitt over Notre Dame
Ohio State over Michigan State

Pitt over OSU


UCLA over Florida
Texas over Louisville

Texas over UCLA


Florida over Pitt
G'Town over OSU

Florida over G'Town


Texas over OSU

Florida over Kansas

Florida over Texas

Monday, March 12, 2007

NCAA Tourney and Some Buffalo Sports Takes

By: Mike 'Coast'

The NCAA selection committee released their long awaited field of 65 yesterday and as usual it came with many surprises. This year, I am probably the most confused of all time. Teams that should have been in without a doubt like FSU and Syracuse were left out, and teams that I didn't even know were on the bubble, like Stanford, got the invite. This is nothing new for the Seminoles though. They have had their bubbles burst every time they have been on the bubble essentially. There is also no way of convincing me that Xavier or Arkansas deserved a bid either.

The first point I would like to make is that the Stanford Cardinal have no right being in this tournament. Their resume is about as lack luster as mine applying for a job as GM of the Bills. Stanford had an RPI of 65 and a SOS of 32nd in the nation. They lost home games to Air Force and Santa Clara by a combined 50 points. They did beat UCLA at home but FSU beat Florida at home and Syracuse beat Georgetown at home, so what does a home win versus a good team get you? Further, they lost 6 of their last 9 games and lost their first game of the Pac 10 tournament. What is the committee rewarding here? Solid play within the conference at home and no big road wins? Are they rewarding a team that stuggled down the stretch and lost their tournament opener? This doesn't make sense to me and shoudln't make sense to anyone. Stanford is completely undeserving.

The Seminoles were only 7-9 in the ACC which was arguably the best conference in college basketball. I was not surprised to see them out but to see Stanford in was mind boggling. FSU has 2 more wins as they sit at 20-12. They are 41st in the RPI and their SOS is 20th. They won a big road game at Duke which is a tough place to win even when the team is stuggling. FSU beat Florida, the number one seed in the entire tournament. They beat Maryland and Virginia Tech convincingly. FSU also won 3 of their last 4 games including a win over Clemson who in my opinion is even more deserving than Stanford. FSU's other 2 wins were against Miami and NC State which may have looked weak at the time but after watching the ACC tournament, any ACC win is a good win. Also, all of Florida State's losses came against teams in the RPI top 50. They have no embarassing 34 point home losses to a military academy team. This just doesn't make sense.

I know it can be argued that FSU shouldn't have been in because of their 5 game losing streak as well. These losses came with an injury to their starting point guard Tony Douglas. The committee failed to take that into account. My point is that there is no way of rationally explaining how Stanford is in and Florida state is out. The methodology is very inconsistent.

On the same wavelength is Arkansas. They were 7-9 in the weak SEC west. They were 21-13 overall, a weaker winning percentage than FSU. However, they do have a better RPI at 35 and a better SOS at 10. 7 of their 13 losses however came vs. teams that didn't even make the NCAA tournament. Not a single team as a matter of fact even made it to the tournament from the SEC west. Talk about weakness...0 teams from their portion of the conference made it to the tournament. They made it to their conference tournament final but they did so by beating the likes of Miss. State and South Carolina. Their only respectable win came against Vanderbilt. When they played a high caliber team in the tournament it looked as if they didn't belong on the same court as Florida. Perhaps their biggest road win on the season was at Alabama who was then ranked 12th in the country. Alabama did not make it to the NCAA tournament.

Another team that is mind boggling is Xavier. Xavier?!?!?!?!? Coming out of the powerful Atlantic 10 conference. They are a 9 seed, the same seed as Marquette and Michigan State. The A 10 is a terrible conference top to bottom. How is the A 10 fielding multiple teams? The A 10 is not better than any mid major conference. Their RPI was a decent 33rd, but their SOS was a terrible 82nd in the country. At 24-8, they lost to the likes of Saint Louis, St. Joe's, Duquense, Bucknell and Cincinatti. Their best win was probably at Va. Commonwealth. The committee says they take into account the quality of teams an at large teams plays. That obviously isn't the case.

Another team with a serious gripe is Syracuse. They finished 5th in the Big East at 10-6 and were 22-10 overall. They won at Marquette and beat Georgetown at home. They have a good road win and beat one of the best teams in the country. Also, they were playing good down the stretch which is supposed to matter but obvisouly only matters when the committee feels like it. They were 7-3 in their last 10 including that win over the Hoyas. The selection dudes can complain about their weak non conference schedule all they want but their SOS still dwarfs than of Xavier and their RPI is much better than Stanford's (46 and 50 respectively). 10 wins in a BCS conference should always be enough to get you into the postseason and I am not talking about the NIT.

Just another take, Niagara got shafted. They won 11 in a row and 5 of their losses came when 6 or so of their players were suspended, including the MAAC's 2nd leading scorer Charron Fisher. The play in game needs to be abolished. A team works so hard to make it to the tourney and then they get rewarded by not really making it to the actual tournament. It is bogus. Niagara will cover vs. Kansas and could win. They will beat Florida A and M by 30. Fisher has a chip on his shoulder now and that is not what the committee wanted to do.

Just a quick take on the Bills. They resigned the A train which makes me sick to my stomach. The Bills don't have a featured back so in 2007 I am anticipating running back by committee. Anthony Thomas is going to be part of that committee and that is scary. The Bills need Marshawn Lynch at WORST in the draft. Trade up for Peterson. I will give up a 1st, 2nd and 3rd at this point, seriously.

WGR550, Buffalo Sabres, and drinking downtown

by Andy

Living in Buffalo has its perks. Delicious food, beautiful girls, a rich history, and only 15 minutes from the Canadian Ballet. Some of the down falls of the queen city are lack of an MLB team, cold winters, and America’s number one rated Sports Talk radio, yes WGR 550. This station gets worse everyday. I remember the days of the Coach and callers like “Mr. Negative.” Now we have Schopp (Colin Cowherd wanna be) and girls calling in.
Today was a normal day driving home from school. WGR was on, thinking they would be talking about Syracuse and local favorite Niagara getting jobbed by the tournament committee. Instead they were talking about why people are booing at the Sabres game and what’s going on with Ryan Miller. Callers (men and unfortunately women) were calling in saying “we bought the ticket, we own the right to voice our opinion” or “Miller is just hitting a bump.” Well here is a true Buffalo Sports fan opinion, one they can’t put on the radio:
1. We, the true fans boo at Sabres games because this is allegedly “our year.” When the team loses three games to 2 western conference teams and the best team in the East, we boo. We have to resort to buying tickets off the street 7 min after the puck drops because women and children ate up all the tickets for the entire year because Danny Briere is cute. They don’t understand what is actually at stake or what is going on during the game. They yell “Skate” or “Shoot” on the power play. I don’t think an NHL hockey player needs the help from a group of 18 year old girls. All they do is cheer. When we boo, they give us looks of disgust. Hey we don’t care if Derek Roy is “hot.” Hot to us is an eight game scoring streak. We boo because we know right now the Sabres couldn’t even carry the skates of a team like Detroit or New Jersey.
2. I heard a guy on the radio say Miller needs to start stealing more games. He stated that when we score 5 goals a game he plays well. But when we don’t, Miller needs to step up. When the Sabres had Dominic Hasek, he had a GGA of around 2 or 3 every year and we couldn’t score enough goals a game to win. Now we have the fire power, but it takes a 6 goal night to win. Ryan Miller can not steal games. We have to average about 4 or 5 goals a game to win every night. If we don’t we lose. Now yes Miller does have some good games, a la Toronto two weeks ago (6-1 W) but as far as overall performance, he’s not going to steal any games.
3. Almost every Saturday, my friends and I journey down to the bars in the city. And almost every Saturday we see Buffalo Sabres out. For the most part its mainly the same guys. What I don’t get is why they are out. Saturday night we saw some. I think its more important to be watching film or getting rest during this losing streak, than to be out drinking at 3:30am. I saw Tim Connelly out. Doesn’t he have a concussion that has sidelined him for a year. Didn’t he just fracture something that might hold him out the entire year? And didn’t we just give him a huge contract? Get home, elevate that leg, and rest up for the playoffs. Don’t be out till the sun rises getting drunk. Isn’t half our team on the IR? Well, I have seen these same guys getting hurt missing games, out drinking, taking pictures with 18 year old chicks.
4. If your going to go out in public, be nice. My buddy tried slapping up Campbell the other night at a sub shop and his croanie said “he just wants to eat, can’t he just be normal?” NO! As a professional athlete in Buffalo, on a good team, you’re the top interest of the town. You’re a celebrity. Shake a hand if you have too. You think Tiger Woods enjoys pictures of him being taken while he’s on his boat. NO. But he knows he has to let it happen. If you don’t want to be bothered stay home with your friends and party. I’m sure you make enough money, build a bar in your basement. That way you don’t have to look like an asshole in front of your fans.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Running Diary of Selection Sunday

4:27 Tim has a bet on every nba/college basketball game going on. Steve wants to know where the c finger pizza is.

4:30 Teams on the bubble: Illinois, Standford, FSU, Purdue, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Drexel, WVU. TT is in according to Tim, "write that down, they're a 9 or 10" Air Force is in, they're a military school, conspiracy? YES.

4:37 "Greg Oden number 1 in the draft, guaranteed" - Tim

4:39 Confusion about the pizza ... not one person is happy.

4:44 Best college basketball day of the year so far according to Tim.

5:17 We just heard Fran Fraschilla say "He might have intentionally missed that layup because he knew he had a guy coming for the rebound." Who misses shots intentionally unless its a free throw or your shaving points?

5:43 Andy just played "One Shinning Moment" and Steve had no idea what the relavance was.

5:53 Wow, the first game hasn't been played and we have had enough of Gumble.

5:54 " If Memphis makes it to the sweet 16 I'll buy shots" - Tim. John Caliparie pays to much attention to what Seth Davis says.

5:55 Andy turns on golf and Steve loses it, he proclaims "Dude we aren't watching golf!'

5:57 Mike's sister calls and Steve is screaming "dime!" in the background.

6:01 How ridiculous is it that they have entire show that people actually watch that shows what seeding 65 teams are in a tournament that realistically only 5-8 teams have a change to win.

6:02 Florida number overall seed? Questionable to say the least. OSU got jobed, anti north bias.

6:03 It must be nice for all these players to not have to go to class all of Spring semester and still get an A-. Who does their homework for them? Does everyone just have the same major? Are there specialists for each field of study?

6:05 Can someone get Billy Packer some make up a wig or some type of hat to cover up that dome? Where is the live camera @ Niagara U?

6:10 Butlet v. Old Dominion in Buffalo? WEAK Maryland v. Davidson WEAKER Buffalo gets a Horizon League team and the 8th best ACC team, brutal. "Butler v. Old Dominion might be the worst match up in the history of college basketball. Where is Butler, OD, and Davidson? What region are they from. I'd rather go to a MAAC tournament game" -Coast

6:17 Niagara is in the play in game. Wow, zero respect for the MAAC. They gotta win 7 games to win it all.

6:20 Pitt comin to Buffalo. Wright State has a change against them. Dukies comin to Buffalo. Duke Pitt Saturday is gigantic. Pitt has a tough road ahead. Wright State beat Butler, Jamie Dixon better watch his back.

6:27 How did Arkansas get in? Texas a four seed, would have been a good match up Durant v. Joe Thornton. Texas Tech, comin out of the East? Bob Knight.

6:37 Syracuse not in? Stanford 65 rpi this is a travesty. PAC10 is a joke. No respect for the Big East, I'm not filling out a bracket. NIT better games than the NCAA tournament

Friday, March 9, 2007

Buffalo Bills options at running back part 1

On Mike and Mike this morning, they aired a segment with Michael Smith discussing the trade.

He said expect the Bills to explore trade options with teams that have good RB depth, like the Cowboys, Chargers, and Panthers.

Mike: we need michael turner
we need to have anyone but turner
Mike: what do you mean
he hasn't done shit he's on a great team.. product of a system and the cost is way to much
fuck turner.. the only thing he ever did was break up the colts 16-0 season
Mike: hes the best running back we could get right now
marian barber?
that is the price
they are a championship team in the waiting they dont need draft picks
Mike: maybe they will bend
Mike: hes gone after next season for free
Mike: the chargers might want to get something for him when they can
Mike: he averaged 6 yards a pop last year
He had 14 TD's and averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season. He's going into his 3rd year,
barber is a beast
Mike: no he isnt he sucks
you suck
Mike: turner averaged 6 yards a carry in his career so far
Mike: barber plays in the NFC
turner played in garbage time chewing up the clock those stats are completly misguided
Mike: hes not a feature back either
Mike: he has a 73 and 83 yd td run in his career
Mike: the guy can ball
yea he had an 87 yard run against hte colts in 2005 he's living off that one run his entire carer
Mike: ur fucking lost dude
Mike: i fucking hate you
Mike: you would rather have barber?
yea who gives a fuck if they are in garbage time killing the clock against such great teams as oakland and kc
for hte price.. we CAN'T FUCKING GET TURNER and yea i would i hate michael turner he hasn't proven shit
Mike: i guess barber is decent
Mike: but i dont like him for some reason

Mike: i would rather have michael turner
i dont know who i'd rather have but if i have to give up a 1st and a 3rd for him its a joke

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Willis McGahee traded to Baltimore Ravens

Addition by subtraction? Seems more like subtraction at this point. The Buffalo Bills have holes: linebacker, cornerback, maybe defensive tackle, and wide reciever and now the biggest hole, running back.

Mcgahee was aloof. He was going to be a free agent at the end of the 2007 season. Willis never lived up to his potential. Take away his 2004 season and watching him the last two seasons anyone would ask, what's the big deal with this bum? What down is it, what time does the team serve lunch before a game, is Vilma playing? Willis seemed like he didn't want to be here from the beginning. Since 2004 Bills fans counted down the days till he would be a free agent, or hold out. We aren't stupid, we know Rosehaus, we know who is clients are.

The trade on paper was a good one. Three draft picks for a player estranged with the team and rumors of only one pick probably in the 3rd round. Levy didn't give any explanation for the trade but got two 3rd round picks and a 7th. Willis was drafted in the first round, had to sit out a year, but what does that have to do with the team now? That was the Donahoe era, and this is the Levy era. As stated, the trade is good on paper, but in reality was it a good trade for the Bills?

In the short term, this trade doesn't help the Buffalo Bills compete for the playoffs in 2007. More changes, more movement, no continuity, it doesn't seem conducive to winning. I don't buy the addition by subtraction until it works, Levy and Jauron want "high charecter" guys. We'll see how this high character squad does this season.

The timing of the trade factors in also. The number of free agent running backs is weak at best. The three relatively big names , Dillon (old probably washed up, basket case at times), Chris Brown(injury prone, hasn't proven anything), Dom Rhodes( DWI, wife beater, never a real starter, not wanted by his old team) these guys aren't givin' anyone a boner. Furthermore, the draft for running backs according to experts is relatively weak and with the other holes on this squad, its tough to go running back first round.

The solution is bring in Rhodes or Brown or even someone else tin addition and look at the 2nd or 3rd round for a running back. Anthony Thomas isn't the answer, and no one player is the real solution, but recent history tells that running back by committee can work (see Indy).

Losing Willis doesn't sink this ship, and probably will help this team if some solid RBs are brought in, but the questions that surround the position scare me. The ball is in Levy/Jauron's court.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Buffalo Bills need to trade Willis McGahee

by Steve

The Buffalo Bills offense was abysmal in 2006. The quarterback play and the blocking of the offensive line didn't help any but the glaring problem was the running back. One could make an argument that the running back couldn't get first downs on short yardage situations, or that the red zone running game was a joke. A person could also argue that the Bills running back danced to much, couldn't hit the hole, showed little break away speed and failed to achieve 1,000 yards. Well, I'm here to argue all of that and argue the running back should be traded.

The timing of a trade is key, there are free agents visiting Buffalo as we speak. However, the market for teams looking to trade for a running back is drying up quickly. Dominic Rhodes was in Buffalo today talking contract at One Bills Drive. Tomorrow Chris Brown formally of the Titans will be at OBD .

The running back started 14 games last season. If a starting running back can't break 1,000 yards in fourteen starts he can't be all that good. Eleven touchdowns in his last 19 starts is eye popping. Eye popping in a negative way, like when your eye gets popped out by a rusty.. running back. 3.8 yards a carry really? True Rhodes only averaged 3.5 a carry last year but for his career he has averaged 4.1 ypc. Chris Brown? 4.2. These guys may or may not be better than Mcgahee, but as a one-two punch could they be worse?

The running back just has not shown he is a top 5 back or even an above average back in this league. No doubt there have been flashes, and the name recognition is there. BUT with all of the off the field issues, comments in porn rags, threats of a hold out, crying for a new contract etc. The name recognition isn't improving, especially in Bills Nation.

Number 21 is still under contract for next season. A first round pick was wasted on him when Donahoe knew he would need a year to recover from a devastating knee injury. Thusly, he can't be given away, and is young enough that he has value. Anything other than a first day pick (rounds 1-3) and the signing of a free agent running back and I would prefer he actually stays on the team. But for now I would be willing to help him pack, if he even has anything still in Buffalo.

Trade Willis? Let's Look at the Facts

by Coast

Now that the Bills have bolstered their offensive line, the attention is squarely centered on the Bills starting running back Willis McGahee.

There is much debate among Bills and NFL enthusiasts about whether Buffalo should or should not trade him. I say that they absolutely should not.

Here's why:
  • Most importantly, there is no need to generate another need when the Bills already have so many. Everyone can agree that McGahee is an above average running back in this league so why get rid of him?
  • It will be impossible to get anything worth while for Willis. He is worth a third round draft pick at best. His production last season doesn't warrant anything more.
  • There is no one the Bills can get to replace him that is of equal caliber. With Thomas Jones going to the Jets and Travis Henry going to Denver, there is no starting tail back available to match the skill set of McGahee. Jamal Lewis is out there, but he has off the field problems and averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last season. Buffalo did have 2 players in town today in Chris Brown and Dominic Rhodes. Neither of these guys would do an adequate job of replacing McGahee.
  • Chris Brown never played an entire season in his 4 year NFL career. He only rushed for over 1,000 yards once and only averaged over 4 yards per carry once in his career. He has serious injury problems and cannot be depended on as a featured runner.
  • Dominic Rhodes played with Peyton Manning his entire career. You can throw just about any NFL caliber back in the frey with Manning and he will put up some numbers. Defenses just cannot key on the run with Manning under center. Case in point: Edgerrin James. With the Colts, James averaged over 4 per carry in 6 out of 7 years. When he moved to Arizona, a team without a proven NFL quarterback in Matt Leinart and with a declining quarterback in Kurt Warner, James averaged only 3.4 yards per carry and only 6 touchdowns, down from 13 the year before. Dominic Rhodes had a good year last year with Indianapolis, but it is hard to argue that he is of the caliber of James, and if James fell off as much as he did without Manning, it is possible that Rhodes will too.

What does McGahee bring to the table that these other backs can't?

  • Willis has been in the league 3 years. In the first year in which he could actually play, he burst onto the scene with 1128 and 13 tds in only 11 starts. This was with a quarterback that has proven he could succeed through the air and two respectable wide recievers in Lee Evans and Eric Moulds, although Evans was only a rookie.
  • In McGahee's second year, 2005, he played behind a first year quarterback and a franchise that was in disarray. Teams showed no respect to the passing game with Losman under center and were able to put 7 and 8 men in the box to stop the run. Also, the Bills offensive line had no cohesiveness as players were moved in and out of the lineup and changing positions. Jason Peters played his first games on the offensive line this season and Mike Williams was being thrown into the lineup at left guard. The offense and even moreso, the coaching staff, was a complete mess. It is impressive to me that he was even able to put up 1247 yards in this type of atmosphere.
  • Last season, McGahee couldn't reach the 1,000 yard mark, with 990 yards and 6 touchdowns. People look at these numbers and think, wow this guy isn't producing. Well, he was in a new system with another really bad offensive line. 3 of the 5 starting linemen at the beginning of the season are no longer on the Bills roster. Villiarial and Reyes were released and Gandy will not be resigned. Also, for the 2nd half of the season, McGahee was playing behind a line that consisted of a 7th round draft pick rookie Terrance Pennington and a 2nd year man, Duke Preston. They were O.K. but the run blocking was terrible. Further, McGahee missed 3 games verse the Packers, Colts and Texans. These 3 defenses were bad to say the least during the regular season so it is a distinct possibility that Willis could have ran for 310 more yards and got to 1,300. People would have a much different opinion of him if he had these numbers.

McGahee, on the field, is better than any alternative that we have or could attain in this offseason. Let the man play his contract year because he will be determined to have a great season to land some money in free agency. Besides, you can count on him to come out and dominate 33% of our division. You can bank on him having 130 and a td at least every time we play the Jets.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The initial post

The kickoff of the greatest Buffalo sports blog of all time is finally here. Opinions coming fast and furious, coverage of anything and everything relevant in the world of Buffalo sports. Thanks for stopping by