February 26, 2013

Knuckle Balls are crazy

Thanks for former champ turned chump Matt Campbell for this:

RA Dickey is the man. As was Wakefield.

Brady opens the door for... Welker? or Wallace?!?

So yesterday Tom Brady signed a 3 year extension with the Patriots, guaranteeing that he will be in New England for his entire career.

1st things first- Brady is the man. Just the coolest dude ever. He knows a couple million means literally nothing to him (and his bread-winning wife) and he doesn’t have the ego that most athletes have, where they think their contract directly correlates to how good they are. For example, Drew Brees recently held out for top dollar because he believes he is the top QB in the league and wanted to be paid that way. Brady doesn’t need a contract or a piece of paper telling him this. (Something Flacco apparently DOES need.) Keep in mind this is the 2nd time Brady has re-structured his contract to allow the team to be able to spend the money somewhere else. It’s refreshing seeing an athlete not only SAY he wants to win, but actually walking the walk and taking the pay cut for the betterment of the team.  

Now, the consensus seems to be that the money saved from this paycut Brady is taking is going to go to complete a deal with Wes Welker. There were rumors yesterday about the Pats possibly offering Wes a 5 year, $40 Million deal.

WTF????? Really? Ummm I do want him back, but not for 5 freakin years. He is 31 right now. Yes I know the style of his play may allow him to play longer than others at his position, but still, 3 year max contract is what I was thinking.  Furthermore, some of that money freed up by Brady needs to go to defense! AND even if the Pats DO want to spend all that money on a free agent WR, go get Mike freakin Wallace for 5 years $40 Mil!!! I’d much rather have him that Wes for the next 5 years. Dudes a burner, a play maker, a game changer. Oh and he is only 26 years old. The prime of his career. Check out his speed here: 

(PS- I was serching for this video for a long time on Youtube. Wallace has SOOOO many highlight reel TDs. GET THIS GUY!!!!) 

If the Pats end up signing Wes for 5 years and $40 Mill I will be sorely disappointed with the Kraft family. Listen, Brady is the man, but he is a QB, a football player, an athlete. It’s not his job to construct a roster. I know he is close friends with Welker, so I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between Kraft and Brady that some of the $ Brady gave up will go to Welker, but I just don’t see the point of giving it ALL to him.

In any case, this makes for a pretty exciting few weeks. NFL off season talk is awesome. 

February 25, 2013

Time to Lock Up Tuukka!

The past few Bruin’s seasons have been fun to watch, especially for those fans that followed the team during the dark, dark Mike O‘Connell era (which mercifully ended in 2006.) Most of the success from the current Peter Chiarelli era is due to his hiring of defensive-minded coach Claude Julien and the risk he took on Tim Thomas, which we all know paid off in a big, big way.
On June 24th, 2006 Chiarelli somehow flipped Andrew Raycroft for Tuukka Rask, who was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the ‘05 draft.  At the time they thought some dude named Justin Pogge (LOL) was their goaltender of the future, despite the fact that 20 year old Rask was named top goalie of the 2005 World Juniors.
Since then, Thomas and Tuukka have shared the net for the Bruins and completely dominated. Although Thomas was always the clear #1, an injury in the 2009-10 season opened the door for Rask to get extended playing time. That season he started 45 games in the regular season and led the entire NHL in both Goals Against Average (1.97) and Save Percentage (.931)
That was the year the Bruins choked away the 3-0 series lead vs. the Flyers in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Rask himself didn’t play awful, but he certainly didn’t win any games for the Bruins either.  It’s important to remember he out-dueled Vezina winner Ryan Miller in the first round that year, before the collapse. The Bruins coaching staff felt as if Tuukka had earned the starting nod and in the first game of the next season, in Prague, Rask got the call over Thomas. However, Thomas played out of his mind in October of 2010, took his job back from Rask almost immediately, & never looked back on his way the best season all time by a goaltender (which of course ended with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smyth trophy win.)

Rask’s patience paid off again, however, when in the Summer of 2012 Thomas decided to go AWOL and retreated to a bunker in Colorado to pound Chik-Fil-A sandwiches or something.  The Bruins and Rask agreed to a 1 year deal worth $3.5 Million for this current 2013 shortened season. This is widely thought to be a “prove it” contract, which I always love because it means the player believes in himself and realizes contracts are earned, not given.
It is fair to say the concern the Bruins have with locking up Rask long term is a history of groin issues, which is NOT something a goalie ever wants to deal with.  They want to see Rask carry the load for a full season, and perform in the playoffs before committing to him.
My opinion is that Rask has done enough this season to command a long term contract. Chiarelli has a long history of signing players to extensions mid-season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen with Rask any day now.
This season Rask is 9-1-2 in the 12 games he has started.  He again has that 1.97 GAA to go along with a .925 save percentage. The Bruins PowerPlay is top in the league, and everyone knows your best penalty killer has to be your goalie. Most importantly, Rask passes the eyeball test on a nightly basis.  He is confident in net and his teammates trust him. His overall attitude is admirable- throughout the years he could have requested a trade, he could have started problems in the locker-room, but by all accounts he is a great teammate and an extremely competitive guy, which is something I really like about him. Next time he gets scored on watch how pissed he gets. This is the type of guy I want on my side.

Now, the question is, what type of contract should the Bruins extend to Rask?  Some important things to consider are his age- Rask is about a week away from turning 26- and the fact that the Bruins drafted 19 year old Malcolm Subban in the 1st round of this past year’s draft.
Here are highest paid  goalies in the league, their age and salary cap hits:
  1. Pekka Rinne (30)              7 years @ $7 Million
  2. Henrik Lundqvist (30)     6 years @ $6.88 Million
  3. Carey Price (25)                6 years @ $6.5 Million
  4. Cam Ward (28)                  6 years @ $6.3 Million
  5. Ryan Miller (32)                5 years @$6.25 Million

Corey Schneider is commonly compared to Rask & this past off season the Canucks signed him to a 3 year, $12 Million deal. I think that's way too low for Rask. I'm looking at the Carey Price 6 Year, $39 Million deal and thinking Rask commands something in that neighborhood.
I would expect the Bruins to offer Rask a competitive deal, and Rask seems like the guy that may not be looking for top dollar, as long as he is getting paid fairly and playing for a contender in a good situation, which is obviously the case in Boston. I especially think he can be convinced to take lesser money so that there is more cap space available for the rest of the team. After-all,  the Bruins play great TEAM defense and help the goaltender out a lot more than some other teams do.
My guess is Chiarelli extends a 6 year, $33 Million offer to Rask. It makes sense because by the end of this contract the Bruins would know what they have in Subban, and Rask would be 32- old enough to still be in his prime and possibly be dealt or even extended for 3-4 more years. Do not forget, Chiarelli signed Thomas to a 4 year contract when he was 34 years old, so he clearly is not afraid of aging goaltenders. Rask would probably accept this deal as well; 6 years is a long time to have a guaranteed salary and he would be paid as a top 5 goalie in the league.
We will see what happens but I am confident Chiarelli both should and will lock up Tuukka before the season is over, maybe he will even do it as a birthday present to Rask who turns 26 on March 10.
demotivational poster MANCRUSH

February 23, 2013

Wes Welker, WR, TBD

This drop cost Welker a ring and a ton of $

NFL free agency starts on 3/12 and of course the hottest topic in New England is what the Patriots are planning on doing with all-pro free agent Wide Receiver Wes Welker. Although he has already been a “victim” of the franchise tag, sources say the Patriots are not going to franchise tag him again this year, so he is set to test free agency for the first time in his career. 

Wes Welker Contract History

In March of 2007 the Pats traded a 2nd and 7th round pick to the hapless Dolphins for 25 year old Welker. They sign him to a 5 year, $18.1 million contract that includes a $9 million signing bonus, meaning he basically was making $3 million per year and under contract through the 2011 season. 

Over the life of this contract, Welker simply dominated. From 07-10 he averaged 108 receptions, 1,134 yards, and 5 TDs, Unfortunately for Welker, his 2010 was the worst year he had (86/848/7) and the Pats did not offer him a contract extension, so 2011 became a contract year for Welker. What did he do that year? He vastly outproduced his 2010 stats with an eye popping 122/1,569/9 for the best season of his career. 

During the 2011 season, through on going negotiations, the Patriots offered Welker a 2 year, $16 million deal, fully guarenteed. He turned this down. 

Prior to the 2012 season (a year ago form now), with Welker set to become a free agent, the Patriots decided to use their franchise tag for the first time on him, meaning his salary would be slightly over $9 million, triple that of the previous year. There was speculation he would holdout for a contract but signed the tender and reported to camp like the good little foot soldier he is. He said he had faith that he would be taken care of and had no interest in creating problems with the front office. However, during the season Welker was quoted as saying talks had gotten worse and broken down through "philosophical differences", the Pats weren't really budging on their offer, and clearly frustration was starting to set in for Welker. Despite the off the field issues, Welker again produced with a line of 118/1354/6 this past season. 

So that brings us to this year. If the Patriots DID decided to use the franchise tag on him again, his salary would jump to about $11 million, but like I said earlier, multiple sources say they will not tag him. 

Welker's career earnings are right in the $30 million range. The perception is that he hasn't been "paid" like he deserves yet, but that is sure to change this year when he hits the open market. 

Asante was a pro-bowl CB for the Pats and they didn't extend him either. 

Asante Samuel Comparison

Asante Samuel was drafted by the Pats in 2003 and by 2006 it was clear he was the best DB on the team. As a free agent, the Patriots decided to use the franchise tag on him, instead of extending his contract (Pretty much the exact same situation Welker found himself in 5 years later.) Samuel held out for part of the 2007 training camp but eventually reported and made $7 million under the franchise tag. Part of his deal that year was if he hit certain performance metrics the Patriots wouldn't use the tag on him again and he would become a free agent. That is exactly what happened. 

So on the first day of free agency in 2008, Samuel signed a monster deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, 6 years for $56 million. Wes Welker was quoted as saying this:

"Asante's a great player so it hurts not to have a guy like that. But then again, it's part of the business of the game. He chose money over championships and that's the way it goes sometimes."

This is Samuel's tattoo. Obv he's all about the $$

Fast forward 5 years later to the present day, and you just know Samuel is laughing at Welker and his dumb  comments. I mean, how many championships did the Pats win since then? None. Of course I understand Welker's thought here, the Pats ARE the favorites to win it every year (suck it Jets) but again, they haven't won the big game since well before Samuel left the team and that's all that really matters. 

The other day Samuel called in to a FOX radio station and the host asked him about Welker's current situation and if he had any advice for him, this was his response:

“Here's my advice to you, Welker: You better chase the money, brother.” (Samuel laughing while saying this)

Possibly Landings Spots for Welker

It is a near certainty in my mind that Welker has played his last game as a Patriot, though, you never really know what is going to happen. I'm assuming the Pats would be willing to offer him something along the lines of a 2 year, $15 million contract, but I am also fairly certain Welker will get larger and more lucrative offers from other contending teams out there and based on negotiation history with the Pats, I don't think Welker is going to give them any sort of hometown discount.

Everyone who is reading this probably knows my stance on Welker… I think he’s a great wide receiver, but I don’t consider him elite. Free agents are always over-paid and it will be interesting to see the offers he gets, but Ill bet theres a few teams out there willing to spend siginifcaintly more $ on him than the Patriots. The Pats, like me, believe Welker is more of a “system” wide reciver, than a game changer.  Their thoughts are evident with the increased usage of Julien Edelman in the slot this past season… We (the Pats and I, after many phone discussions) both agree that Edelman may not be able to replace Wes and his 120 catches, but he can certainly come close and is far, far less expensive (Edelman himself is a free agent as well, and last year he made less than $1 million. More on Pats WR options near the bottom of this blog) 

So lets take a look at the top 5 teams I think could/would go after Welker based on need and cap space. (Ultimately I see Welker signing something in the neighborhood of 4 years for $30 mil)

Buccaneers-  V-Jax and M Williams are down field receivers, and this offense would be sick with the addition of Welker. Freeman would be a lot more consistent with a go to guy like Welker in the slot. Imagine trying to stop an offense with Jackson, Dougie Fresh, and Welker. Yikes. 

Broncos- Welker wants to win a championship right? Well Denver is a player and a receiving corps of Decker, Thomas and Welker would be unstoppable. (Stokely's out) Who do you cover???  

Seahawks- This is a young team that can win now. They pound the ball with Lynch and with Welker in the mix, Russell Wilson will be even more dangerous. 

Colts- Just another contending team with a stud QB. Reggie Wayne can still play so I think the colts would be OK spending some money on a slot guy like Welker. 

49ers- Kaepernick would maybe throw the ball to someone else besides Crabtree if Welker was around.  

Now, as for the Pats and their WR situation. It's bleak. Here are the relevant WR from the 2012 roster:

Wes Welker, 118 receptions, free agent

Brandon Lloyd- 74 receptions, owed $4.9 million if the Pats pick up his option

Julien Edelman- 21 receptions, free agent

Obviously this is gross. The only saving grace is that we have Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski locked up for 4 more years. I could easily see Hernandez transforming into a full time WR, but it is clear the Pats need to sign a free agent WR, trade for, or draft one that can step in and contribute. 

Below are the notable free agent WR available across the league:

Greg Jennings
Dwayne Bowe
Mike Wallace
Brian Hartline
Danny Amendola
Brandon Gibson
Donnie Avery
Dominic Hixon 
Jerome Simpson
Kevin Ogletree
Devery Henderson
Josh Cribbs
Donald Driver
Ted Ginn Jr.
Titus Young Sr

There's other guys out there but they all suck. The Pats probably wont be willing to match the contract offers Wallace and Bowe will receive from teams like Miami, who need a wideout even more than the Pats. My guess is they sign 1 or 2 of the above guys, draft a WR in the 2nd or 3rd round, and hope that's enough for Brady. I think they are going to make a concerted effort to spend their FA dollars on the defensive side of the ball, given that they haven't won a Super Bowl in 8 years, back when Brady made it w/ no name wide receivers. 

Tom can get the ball to anyone. Period. 

February 13, 2013

Awesome non-sports Hypothetical game

You are being forced to spend the next 10 years of your life in a basement. After those 10 years, you will receive $10 million. Your basement comes fully furnished with a good bed, a sink, a toilet, a shower, and a trash chute. You are given a bonus of 30 points to spend on items/amenities you can take with you to your basement. 

Bonus: If you half your $10 million to just $5 million, you will receive 35 points to spend. If you you reduce your payout to $0, you can spend 40 points. 

My choices-

I'd take the $10mill when I got out and spend the 30 points on:

TV (7)- Easy choice here. 52" TV with all cable channels AND premium packages? Awesome. I can watch all sporting events, I can listen to music through the music channels, and I can watch movies on the premium channels. 

Kitchen (6)- Really what it comes down to is do you want your own fully functional kitchen or would you prefer Chef's to send food every day. Well, it's going to be pretty boring for 10 years so I would definetly pick the fully equipped kitchen with all ingredients. With unlimited time and resources, I'd be making some pretty amazing and delicious stuff.

Gym (5)- Another very easy choice. I'd come out of this 10 year period jacked and in amazing shape.

Booze (5)- This was the last item I picked. Kept going back and forth on if I wanted the temptation of alcohol around for 10 years.  Ultimately, I think the unlimited booze is going to come in a lot of handy & I can't watch Bruin's playoff games without some sort of alcohol to calm me down. As I write this is is clear to me that NOT choosing booze is a stupid decision.

Hygiene Products (3)- Easy choice. No way I want to hang around 10 years with no soap and no toothpaste. 

Medical Care (2)- This is more of a preventative choice. I just think medical care for 2 points is a good way to enure I stay alive during these 10 years. It would suck to somehow get the flu or something and die because you didnt want to spend 2 points on medical care. 

Skylight (2)- Oh yea. I think sunlight for a few hours a day would be necessary for me to make it through the 10 years. Can people even live without sunlight for 10 years? I'm guessing yes but I'm sure there would be some pretty bad side effects. 

Other items I considered:

I really thought hard about using 5 extra points and only taking $5mil after 10 years. I can't blame anyone who chooses that option. (Although I think anyone who takes 10 extra points and NO prize money is an idiot.)

Stunningly attractive 18 year old- I was never close to choosing this. 18 points? Is that serious? No thanks. Sure the 18 year may sleep with you on demand but can you imagine being stuck in a basement for 10 years with ANY chick? Nope. (the one exception here would be  Ms. Nobody wins on the blue. I could handle that. Maybe not for 18 points though.) 

Workshop- This is an interesting one because a work shop with all supplies and all tools would be pretty phenomenal. Not my cup of tea but I still almost picked it

Internet- 16 points is just too much for the internet. Even for me, someone who cannot live without fantasy football.... even I cant spend 16 on the internet. 

Surround sound system with all music- This is an awesome choice, but like I said earlier that TV option will have dozens of music channels and that would suffice for me. 

Pool Table- 1 point is cheap and I've always wanted to be nasty at pool. 

February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Prediction

Last year I incorrectly picked the Patriots to beat the Giants.....this year my favorite team isn't playing so I can look at it totally objectively.

-The Ravens look like a team of destiny. Ray Lewis' last year has a lot to do with it. 2 road victories in Denver and NE.

-Flacco has also looked superb, he hasn't thrown a pick yet in the playoffs.

That being said, I think the 1 week layoff was a big momentum killer for the Ravens.

The 49ers are bigger, stronger, and just better. It really is going to be a close game but I think the 49ers score a defensive TD and of course, my boy CK Colin Kapernick is going to be too dynamic to handle for the Ravens. It's something like his 12th NFL start and the dude is about to win the Super Bowl MVP. That's Tom Brady-esque circa 2001. Lets do it 49ers! (Even though I like John way more than Jim, obviously)

San Francisco 49ers- 35
Baltimore Ravens- 31

Colin Kapernick MVP