Archive for November, 2007

The Johan derby is picking up steam

So things are pretty crazy for Johan Santana right now. A day after the news broke that the Yankees were in talks, we find out the Red Sox are in talks as well. It’s not a huge shocker because we knew those two teams were probably the front runners. Both have the young talent to trade and it is just a matter of who is going to blink first. The Twins are in a great position because the have the two most free spending franchises in history fighting over their guy. They should have no problem getting exactly what they want as they play the two teams off of eachother. I am predicting this is sorted out before the end of the winter meetings. If I was taking bets the Yanks would be the favorite because I think they are more winning to part with more. We shall see though.


Is Ferentz my worst nightmare?

I am a big Michigan football fan (which you would know if I actually spent time working on my about page) so the coaching search has captured a lot of my attention lately.

As my friend Brian at mgoblog has been talkingobsessing for days now, all the rumors are pointing to Kirk Ferentz as the next coach of Michigan. This isn’t totally out of left field, as when ESPN TV was talking about possible replacements he was one of the four guys named (along with Les Miles, Rich Rodriguez and Brian Kelly). Now at this point no “mainstream media” has picked this up which may or may not mean anything. As mgoblog mentions at one point, certain sources had said the deal was signed and sealed, but if that was true my gut says someone from ESPN or some Michigan newspaper would have called by now and asked and at least gotten enough info to make it public. Instead I continue to hope this is a sign that the deal isn’t done.

I am pretty against this at the moment because Ferentz is not the guy I want. Truth be told, I don’t know who that is. It’s easy to say Les Miles because he’s with a huge program and has been successful and seems established as a big time coach. At to it that he is a “Michigan man” and he seems more appealing. The fact that he is crazy and maybe often extremely lucky (see the Arkansas, Auburn, or Florida games for examples) doesn’t scare me as much as it does others. I think he should be given credit for not having quite as good of a team as people make it out to be. He has a wealth of talent, but his RB is a 2-star running back with zero speed. His star WR has been hurt on and off all season and has never seemed at 100%. His defensive star has been banged up the last few weeks and his senior QB has spent the last couple of years on the sideline. I am not saying that justifies 2-losses or anything, but it could explain some of the closer losses. Getting back to Ferentz though…

He has had three crappy years in a row (ok two crappy, one mediocre) most recently. Immediately prior to that he had won shares of two Big Ten titles and gotten to a BCS bowl. But in 9 seasons he is only 38-34 in Big Ten games (or about 4-5 wins per season). To put it into perspective, in his last nine seasons the much ostracized  Glen Mason went 31-41. One could argue it’s tougher at Minnesota. Plus I have heard the point made (at least once at mgoblog) that Ferentz had some easy Chicago recruiting during the Willingham era and before Zook came to U of I. I went to check this out and here is what I found (according to

  • 2002: 0 Illinois recruits
  • 2003: 2 Illinois recruits (one 4-star, both from Chicago suburbs)
  • 2004: 1 Illinois recruit (5-star from Chicago suburb, appears to be from the same school as one of last years)
  • 2005: 6 Illinois recruits (one 5-star, four 4-star, 5 of them from Chicagoland)
  • 2006: 3 Illinois recruits (all 3-star or less, all of them from Chicago)
  • 2007: 3 Illinois recruits (one 4-star, two from Chicagoland)

Weis’ and Zook’s first seasons were 2005.  Rivals only goes back to 2002 so I assume that this coup of recruiting happened before that. It doesn’t look like he was raking in the Chicago recruits before those guys (in fact he did better after). During that timeframe though Ferentz’s recruiting classes only finished in the top 5 in the Big Ten (!) 2 out of 6 times. 2005 it finished 11th overall (again according to That’s even MORE worrysome though because those recruits from the ’05 class should have been sophomores or juniors this year, which means that this years team shouldn’t have sucked so much. It looks like there have been some injuries but most of those guys haven’t panned out yet. It’s entirely possible that we would have learned more next season, which is ironic since there are people who think next year was Ferentz’s last chance to prove himself. Instead he might be bringing his mediocreness to A2 next year.

My biggest fear right now is that Michigan slips deeply in the middle of the road status. Take a look at Miami or Florida St. to see what I mean. Or the great ‘Bama teams of yesteryear. Is Ferentz the worst choice? No of course not, but this would not be the move you would expect college football’s all-time winningest team to make.

The BCS picture get’s clearer, but a lot can still happen

I am not quite in the mood to look real deep into it, but something tells me the BCS picture hasn’t been this crazy going into the last weekend as it is this week. One thing that has become entirely clear to me though: Everyone who says that a playoff would “de-value” the regular season should be put in their place by now. My cousin is a big advocate of  this nonsensical logic that says if we have a playoff with 4 or 8 teams that suddenly every regular season game won’t matter. The logic that one-loss and your season is over would be gone like this season…oh wait, there are no (real) teams that are undefeated? If Missouri and West Virginia lose this week we could have a team with TWO losses in the championship game? I don’t believe it!!! I haven’t talked to my cousin to see if his stance has changed. You can’t tell me that with the way things are this year a four-team (or better yet 8 team) playoff wouldn’t make a lot of sense. In fact I would keep the 6 BCS conferences with their automatic bids and then give out two at-large spots, just like now. It would have setup things so the following 8 teams would be in:

  1. Missouri/Oklahoma winner
  2. West Virginia
  3. Ohio St.
  4. USC (if they win)
  5. Virginia Tech/Boston College winner
  6. LSU/Tennessee winner
  7. Hawaii
  8. Kansas

Those numbers don’t neccessarily represent seeds, but it would take a lot of guessing out of it. Right now the nightmare scenario is if OU wins and WVU loses, who plays Ohio St. in the title game? The thing is, a lot of people would say tOSU doesn’t belong there. If we had a playoff we could find out. It would also let Hawaii play a real team and when they got stomped we could all say “see they didn’t deserve it” but at least we would know. Instead we will end up with this clusterf*** of bowl games:

  • Champ: Missouri vs. WVU
  • Rose: Ohio St. vs. USC
  • Fiesta: Kansas vs. Georgia
  • Orange: BC/VaTech vs. ASU
  • Sugar: LSU/Tennesee vs. Hawaii

My ballot [11/26]

  1. Missouri
  2. WVU
  3. Kansas
  4. Ohio St.
  5. Georgia
  6. VaTech
  7. Oklahoma
  8. LSU
  9. USC
  10. ASU
  11. BC
  12. Hawaii
  13. Tennessee
  14. Florida
  15. Oregon
  16. Uconn
  17. Illinois
  18. Clemson
  19. USF
  20. Arkansas
  21. Texas
  22. Auburn
  23. Cincy
  24. Virginia
  25. Oregon St.

LSU is out, now what?

Lots move to come on this one, but LSU is out of the national title hunt. That means the chance of one two-loss team playing for (and winning) the national title just got better. The Kansas/Missouri winner has even more control now. If the winner of that can win the Big 12 title game (which should be Oklahoma, but I think if they lose to Ok. St things get crazy) they are a lock to be in the game. The other team figures to be West Virginia, but they still have to beat UConn and Pitt (at least both are at home).

If the Kansas/Missouri winner loses the Big 12 title game OR West Virginia loses one of it’s two games, that should leave Ohio St. back in the picture. OSU is done playing which means their 11-1 record is safe and they will be in with no question. If both of the teams lose, things get hairy. We will know in about 2 hours whether Hawaii is going to go undefeated but even if they do they probably need a lot more to happen for them to get in.

Amazingly the top 2-loss team right now seems to be Georgia, who needs Tennessee to lost tomorrow to even play for the SEC title. If Tennessee wins tomorrow, Georgia will likely be in the top 5 in the BCS on Sunday (if they win). Georgia is 7th and LSU figures to fall farther than that, ASU (6th) already lost, and Kansas or Missouri will lose. It’s not crazy to think Georgia could go all the way to 4th (!). If that happens and WVU or the Big 12 team loses could they really be #2? Can a team from the SEC that doesn’t even play for the title game actually play for the National Title? It seems crazy…

If Kansas/Missouri winner loses, and WVU loses there are a couple of teams that have a realistic shot:

  1. LSU – Crazy as it sounds, if they win the SEC title game they will be 11-2 with both losses coming in triple OT to conference teams. They should get a boost from beating Tennessee.
  2. Pac 10 champ – This could still be Oregon, USC, or Arizona St. USC is in the best shape after beating ASU. If they can survive UCLA they STILL need Oregon to lose to win the Pac 10. Again, does a team that doesn’t win the conference make it?
  3. ACC Champ – This will either be Virginia Tech (8th), Virginia (16th) or Boston College (16th). Virginia and VaTech play eachother tomorrow and the winner plays BC in the title game. Those are some big wins to finish the season and might be enough.

Things are so crazy at the moment, if I was (back) in Vegas I would go with Ohio St. vs. West Virginia in the title game. We will know a lot more tomorrow so expect an update on all of this on Sunday.

The Sox make me crazy…

Back from Vegas and a week behind in posting, there is a lot to get caught up on. The biggest news (for me personally) was Lloyd Carr officially retiring, but a close 2nd was the White Sox making some moves.

First they traded Jon Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera. My knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was a stupid move especially after just resigning Juan Uribe. That was probably a bit off-base. First off, Cabrera was 7th among AL shortstops in OPS last season. He led AL shortstops in win shares with 25 (h/t: Hardball Times), which was 12 more than Juan Uribe, meaning he was worth 4 more wins than Uribe last season. From a fielding perspective, Cabrera just won another Gold Glove, but that doesn’t always mean a lot. He is a better fielder, but I don’t know if he is vastly better.

The Sox gave up Jon Garland who after three almost identical seasons from ’02-’04, had a breakout 18-win season in 2005. He won 18 more in ’06 but his ERA went back up. He seemed to struggle last year as his walks went up and his Ks went down. He’s 27 now and with 6 full seasons as a starter under his belt we have probably seen what Garland is, a respectable third starter who doesn’t have the stuff to be an ace. He should fit in well with the Angels where he will be no higher than third behind John Lackey and Jered Weaver. Pitching closer to home should help as well.

Both players are going to be in the last year of contracts with the Sox saving about $3 million with Cabrera instead of Garland. Obviously this means we have our starting SS for next year. It wasn’t until I did some researching that I found that Juan Uribe has played a half seasons worth of games at 2B and 30 more at 3B (most of both with the Sox in 2004). This means that they could keep him around as a utility infielder. He is a decent fielder but his inability to walk and his low BA and high strikeout rate don’t make him much of a pinch hitter. And he’s not very fast so that eliminates him as a pinch runner.  I personally think that utility guy is a backup plan. They may try to trade him for whatever they can get. He’s not terribly expensive and some team out there might trade a low level prospect for him. So if the Sox wanted to save $4.5 million they might. Otherwise I guess he shares time at 2B with Danny Richar.

That wasn’t the only move the Sox made as they signed reliever Scott Linebrink to a four-year deal (!!!). There is so much wrong with this. First off, the Sox are so hesitant to give a starter 4 years, but have no problem giving a reliever this. What is more disturbing is that apparently the Sox haven’t learned their lesson from last year’s signings of Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton, both whom got 3 year deals. Linebrink has been pretty good, with an awesome season in 2005. And he has strung together 5 pretty good years in a row. But he has never pitched in the AL and The Cell isn’t a forgiving ballpark. I suspect this will not end well. It also means the bullpen for the Sox is pretty set for the next couple of years, barring anything crazy…

  • RH – Bobby Jenks (by my calculation he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season)
  • RH – Scott Linebrink (signed thru ’11)
  • RH – Mike MacDougal (signed thru ’09)
  • LH – Matt Thornton (signed thru ’09)

Those four guys are sticking for at least the next two years. Scary…

Proverbial nods to Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Baseball Reference for providing me some needed info.

Dixon is out, is Tebow the man now?

Dennis Dixon is out for the year. It ended Oregon’s big season and Dixon’s incredible run. The injury will likely impact his draft stock but that’s not the topic at hand. The topic is the Heisman trophy, where many considered Dixon the front runner. With Dixon out the race seems somewhat open. Mr. Dan Shanoff has been hyping his boy Tim Tebow for weeks now. But the question is, does he really have a shot?

Tebow is a sick player. In his limited play last season it became obvious that he was either going to be a huge disappointment when playing full time or he would be a star.  Any guesses on where he is at? I would say there is little question he is the best player in college football right now, the bigger issue is, he’s a sophomore.

No sophomore has won the award in the history of the trophy. Many have come close…just last year sophomore RB Darren McFadden was passed over for senior QB Troy Smith. In 2004 freshman RB Adrian Peterson was passed over for junior QB Matt Leinart. In 2003 it was junior QB Jason White over sophomore WR Larry Fitgerald. In 2001 senior QB edged sophomore QB Rex Grossman.  I am not saying that all of those sophomores (and one freshman) deserved to win, my point is simply that they didn’t.

Can Tebow be the first? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it. My impression is that a majority of the Heisman voters are “traditionalists” and will continue the trend at hand. Plus it’s my belief that voters reward players for their entire career (even though that isn’t how the award is designed) and that should play a factor in again this season. Darren McFadden should have won in many people’s eyes last year and might make up for it this year. The guy is 4th in the NCAA in rushing and a ridiculous player. I don’t think Mike Hart will win, but he is going to earn a lot of votes for 4 solid years of playing.

If I had a vote, right now I would be using it on Tebow, but I don’t. And if I could bet on the winner this weekend, it would be McFadden. But talk to me again in 2008.