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Posted on: April 22, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Carolina Panthers should avoid Newton, Gabbert

I am sure I am not alone in this thinking, but the idea that the Panthers are contemplating the selection of either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert with the #1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft may prove to be a very poor choice.

For starters, most NFL gurus seem to think that all the quarterbacks in this class need seasoning, and not one of them is ready to make the jump to be a Game 1 starter in his rookie season. With that premise, the same needs to be said for last year's Panther picks, Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. Neither were ready, but due to injuries and some struggles, both had to take some snaps.

I personally think Clausen needs another year. Depending upon the status of James Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, there is a decent nucleus for a running game. Steve Smith still can be productive. Not that these are solid reasons to annoint Clausen as a serviceable QB, but it's moreso to establish a better plan.

I don't think there is any secret that the loss of Julius Peppers has hurt the team. Most "experts" believe defenses win championships. being in a division with New Orleans and Drew Brees, Atlanta and Matt Ryan and Tampa Bay with Josh Freeman, the Panthers offense should be the least of its concerns.

In steps Marcell Dareus, the highly touted defensive lineman from Alabama. Projected as a Pro Bowler in-waiting. A player that can move up and down the defensive line to help the defense is more of a need. Carolina finished in the middle of the pack for defensive rankings in yardage allowed, but what should be more concerning is that the team defense was on the field for the 5th most amount of plays in the NFL. That's a concern that needs to be addressed, and it's in the best interest for Carolina to help stop the run better.

And if that doesn't work, go for the best athlete and player in the draft - DB Patrick Peterson from LSU. With the QBs in the division I have mentioned, what better foundation to start by getting a cornerback that can go against the top WRs in the division. This is such a deep defesive line draft, I believe Carolina is better served grabbing Peterson, and then coming back in round 2 to grab one of the defensive linemen that were projected first-round grades. Getting two starters on defense is much too valuable to pass.

But, most importantly, being in the division that the Panthers are in, I see 6 losses. I don't suspect the 2011 season will be any more productive than the 2010 season with Newton, Gabbert or Clausen. I believe the Panthers will finish with the worst record again. If not, say it is Buffalo.

By Carolina passing on Newton or Gabbert in this year's draft will more than likely force Buffalo to draft one of them.  My concerns for the Panthers are if they draft Newton, after drafting Clausen in 2010, what happens if they finish with the worst record in the NFL again? Guess who is sitting there for them to select? Andrew Luck from Stanford, who many believe was the clear cut #1 player if he chose to leave school.

If the Panthers pass on a QB this year, and Buffalo does draft Newton, if Buffalo finished with the worst record in 2011, the chances they would select Luck would decrease because of the investment in Newton.

So, therefore, the plan for Carolina should be just this: Draft Peterson or Dareus #1 overall.. draft the best defensive player that falls out of the first round, and then give Clausen one more year to fail, and draft Luck in 2012. The franchise will start to regain prominance.

 



Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: October 13, 2010 8:47 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 8:52 pm
 

Twins' GM Smith needs to re-evalute program

Minnesota Twins fans everywhere were teased endlessly when potential trade deadline talks composed of pitching aces Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt or even Ted Lilly.

But the overwhelming response by Twins General manager, Bill Smith, centered on the team's philosophy that it would not be in the best interest to be trading valued prospects.

It's pretty easy to determine by definition what "prospects" refer to in comparison to the term All-Star. Shoot, who would want to trade these valuable commodities of prospects at the risk of getting a proven all-star?

My hand is raised!!! I would!!!! I would!!!

It's been 19 years since the Twins have had a parade. There have been some awfully lean and tough years in between 1992 and now. There have been glimpses of success, although, being in the Central Division has allowed the Twins to have a team strong enough to compete for a division title in 6 of the past 9 years, plus have to play Game 163 that knocked them out of another.

It's the Twins way to develop within.

You know what? That has amounted to the ultimate reason there is an owner of the team, players on the team and fans of the team... That is to win championships.

The word on the street is that when the Twins were pursuing Lee, the asking price was too much by Seattle. Rumors are Seattle wanted top prospect Kyle Gibson, but the Twins didn't want to part with him. I think the Twins should really pay attention to what is happening around them. Cliff Lee has pitched Texas into the ALCS. There have been 8 pitching performances in ALDS history that a pitcher has gone 10+ strikeouts and no walks in a single game. Lee owns four of those 8. Huh??? Steven Strasburg needs Tommy John surgery.... Gibson fell in the draft, because he was injured.

Am I missing something?

Actually, I am not. 

Since '92, 35 twins have reached Baseball America's Top 100 prospects status until 2007:  David McCarty, Pat Mahomes, Midre Cummings, Willie Banks, Al Newman, Todd Ritchie, Mike Trombley, Richie Becker, LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Walker, Mark Barcelo, Jose Valentin, Dan Serafini, Torri Hunter, Eric Milton, David Ortiz, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restovich, Luis Rivas, Cristian Guzman, Matt LeCroy, BJ Garbe, Adam Johnson, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, JD Durbin, Matt Moses, Jesse Crain, Jason Kubel, Frank Liriano, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Chris Parmalee.

Since '08, there is Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Nick Blackburn, Aaron Hicks, Ben Revere and Wilson Ramos.

Take a good look at that list. Hunter, Mauer, Morneau have been MVPs and/or All-Stars. Cuddyer, Kubel and Liriano have made nice impacts. Players like Ortiz went on to have success elsewhere. Garza and Milton didn't last long. Slowey and Blackburn have raised concerns, and are thought to be no better than #3 or worse pitchers.

So, basically, only 6 of the 35 players have gone on to provide significant contributions. That should send the signal that being listed as a top prospect doesn't guarantee anything. And I would argue that only Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Liriano and Hunter are not easily replaceable. Now, we are down to 5 significant players out of 35. That equates to less than 15% of the players the Twins organization has coveted, have been worthy.

I am now going to add the 1st round draft picks since '91. David McCarty, Scott Stahoviak, Dan Serafini, Hunter, Jason Varitek, Barcelo, Travis Miller, Mark Redman, Travis Lee, Ryan Mills, Cuddyer, Garbe, Adam Johnson, Mauer, Span, Moses, Perkins, Kyle Waldrop, Matt Fox, Rainville, Henry Sanchez, Chris Parmalee, Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks. Add another 13 top draft picks that failed to give the organization any significant lasting impact.

So, that brings the total of 48 highly touted or drafted players. The "Twins Way" failed to sign Jason Varitek or Travis Lee.

When one really understands what I have provided here I hope makes people sit back and think in the terms that I do. In my opinion, Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks shouldn't be held in such regard that they are not tradable prospects. Neither of these players are hitting .300 with 30 HRs 100 RBI and 20 SB. Something is going to have to pop with them to make me believe that either of those two players will be signifcant contributors.

History and logic dictates that it's better to trade prospects to get all-stars. 

After all, where would the Twins be if Hunter was still in CF and Johan Santana was our ace?

What would you do?









Category: MLB
Posted on: July 29, 2010 11:34 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 11:48 pm
 

Twins acquire Matt Capps from Nats....

Shoot....

When I saw the Minnesota Twins swung a deal with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, I was hoping it was for some dude named Stephen Strasburg. After all, it appears the Twins have an awfully high opinion of catcher Wilson Ramos, that he was too valuable to trade as part of a package to acquire Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.

Don't get me wrong. I still think the Twins acquiring Matt Capps has some value. Although, I don't think it's a significant upgrade over Jon Rauch at the back of a bullpen. One could argue the Twins don't need Ramos, that he was meant to be a good trade chip, and it appears he has served that role.

In some regards, the Twins are being proactive, and not reactive. Rauch is still holding his own as a closer, but when I flip thru the MLB Extra Innings packages, and see closers in the Central Division such as Jose Valverde and Bobby Jenks with dominating 97-99 mph heaters, it kind of makes a fan dream of an arm like Carlos Marmol being taken away from the Chicago Cubs for the back of the Twins bullpen. Rauch's 92 mph fastballs as of late brings out the carpenter in me, as I want to grab my level to just see how straight those pitches really are. I think Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire, sees the same level plane, and knows it's only a matter of time.

The general thought is the Twins needed bullpen help, because of the amount of innings the Big 3 (Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker) were forcing the bullpen to throw.

Sometimes the old saying is "It's like putting the cart before the horse", or my personal favorite - "It's like wiping before you poop."

So, rather than fix the back end of the problem, the Twins need to be addressing the front end of the problem. So many times throughout the MLB season when a starting pitcher goes 8 innings or more, how often does the manager state, "It was great to give our bullpen a night off."??? Virtually every game.

So, why then did the Twins wipe first?

We hear the media outlets and other MLB teams praise the "model" that the Twins present. From the minor leagues to the major leagues, in how the Twins develop homegrown talent, how the Twins don't try to buy championships. Almost everyone praises the organization.

I don't.

If this organization is such a great model, and with the highly regarded new stadium that is considered a pitcher's park, having MVPs Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, and a manager who has won several division titles, I need someone to explain to me why pitchers such as Dan Haren.... Ted Lilly... and Roy Oswalt were or are reluctant to remove the Twins off the no-trade lists?

I think it's much deeper. I think it really boils down to the Twins organizational belief to covet their prospects to the tilt and snowball the fans into thinking "We tried! But they wanted to take all our 10 best propsects." Well, the Twins haven't won squat since 1991, so the "model" the organization has tried to live by hasn't worked for 20 years. So, in one man's humble opinion, I think it's time to change the philosophy. The past few years when making the playoffs, the Twins can't get past the first round. Everyone knows it's because the pitching can't match up to the opponents.

I would be willing to bet there are many Twins fans in the Upper Midwest that would rather see a World Championship trophy on display at Target Field next spring than wonder about losing a Class A prospect such as Aaron Hicks five years from now. It isn't just about Hicks or Ramos. It's about the plethera of highly touted players this organization has claimed to have had or used high draft picks on that have fizzled. Since 1991, there have been numerous players that produced at the minor league level that were virtually non-exsitant at the major leagues. David McCarty. Dan Serafini. JJ Johnson. Ryan Mills. Adam Johnson to name a few.

Prospects are just that- prospects. Back in the day, the 49ers prospected for gold. They had to sift thru hours of crap, before a nugget worth a dang was found.

I am the type of guy that would rather take my sifting pans, ala Ramos and Hicks, and get the gold nugget for today - Cliff Lee or Dan Haren. After all, isn't it the parent club that is what is most important? Every summer, MLB teams can draft 40-50 new players in hopes of finding that one gem, when all a team really has to do is just make some phone calls to about 12 teams no longer in the pennant race to find that gold nugget.

The acquisition of Capps brings on another question. I don't know his contract situation so, what value does he have to the Twins organization if Joe Nathan is 100% healthy in 2011? Nathan has begun to pick up a baseball. The reports of his progress seem to be on schedule. Do you trade Capps to another team and get less than the value of Wilson Ramos? Does Capps stay in a set-up role? Where does Rauch get placed? Did the Twins rent-a-player? If so, they rented the wrong player.

Being able to put the horse in front of the cart makes more sense in all factors.

Acquire a top-notch starting pitcher.

I just hope the Twins 2010 trading hasn't been CAPPSed off.





Category: MLB
Posted on: July 25, 2010 3:20 pm
 

MLB doesn't think ARod is a bad guy after all!

As I flip thru the MLB Extra Innings package on Sunday, July 25th, I tuned in just in time to hear Alex Rodriguez's name announced as the next Yankee batter.

As I see ARod wiping the dirt in the batter's box with his cleats, I see the home plate umpire fumbling thru his ball bag, looking at a ball... putting it back in his bag.. checking out another ball... "Nope.. this one won't work", and then a third ball is inspected, and then tossed to the pitcher's mound.

MLB and Bud Selig have done a special thing to promote MLB history as ARod is in pursuit of career home run number 600. Special baseballs have been made to signify the 600th home run ball. And when ARod steps to the plate, the special baseball gets put into play.

Thanks. I appreciate that.

I hope the Baseball Writer's of America are taking notes on this. Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. AROID, AFraud, ACheat are some of the names on headlines after his admission.

For the same writer's who have a Hall of Fame vote, and brush aside the Rafael Palmeiro's, Sammy Sosa's, and course, Barry Bonds's and Mark McGwire's of the world as cheating, PED'd-filled, whored baseball players, need to take notice that by the absolute personification of MLB specially making these 600th home runs balls, MLB is acknowledging the fact that ARod's soon-to-be-achievement has its merits in baseball history.

If MLB and Selig wanted to make a further stand on PEDs and those who have used, this idea of the special keepsake baseball would never have been produced.

So, I tell you Baseball Writer's of America. Even though you have been made judge and jury on the selection of Hall of Famer's, if MLB doesn't care if ARod used PED's to get to 600 HRs, neither should you, and that should also not be held against the great players before ARod.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 14, 2010 11:05 am
Edited on: July 15, 2010 1:08 am
 

T-Wolves "Kahned" Again

Sometimes, I wonder if that itch on my head is a sign I need to increase my dosage of Head And Shoulders Shampoo, or if I am puzzled at the rational thinking and moves done by the Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn.

When I hear Kahn speak, theorize, or maybe it's just the look on his face that he is about to cry when he is laughed at - to his face - on national NBATV by Kenny Smith, that this guy must really be one heckuva Con man to get this job, or what he's trying to sell to the fan base.

First off, I haven't watched more than five minutes of a Timberwolves game since Kevin Garnett was traded. I am not even close to the bandwagon. In fact, I am at least six blocks away, and heading the opposite direction.

I am not going to totally rip David Con for his latest fiasco of trading Al Jefferson to Utah for two future first-round picks.  On the surface, it sounds like a great deal, but, despite Big Al's limitations after coming back from major knee surgery, and supposedly for a man who doesn't fit the triangle offense very well, he still led the team in scoring, didn't he? Yes, I understand that he makes in the ballpark of $13M a year, but don't most franchises have that type of player?

But, then again, what do I know about basketball, or this T-Wolves franchise? I am a 5'9" Caucasian that when attemtping to dribble a basketball, it bounces off my hockey skate.

But let's just look at the facts here from the past 13, 14 months. We can't go too far back into the Kevin McFail era, but, I have to rationalize one of Con's thought processes when dealing Jefferson. As I mentioned, on the surface, getting two future #1 picks sounds nice, but Wolves fans have to remember that McFail traded away a #1 pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, when he acquired Marko Jaric. The Wolves have the 2011 pick top 10 protected (which should be a "gimme"), but it is GONE come 2012. So, acquiring one of the two first-rounders from Utah only means the Wolves are getting one pick for Jefferson. In the end, the Wolves still come out on the short end, because this team is not playoff bound even in 2012.

The Utah pick via Memphis is 2011 top-14 protected, 2012 top-12 protected, 2013 top-10 protected, 2014 top-9 protected, and then cash after 2015, so we don't know when that draft pick comes into play. So, where is the immediate gain?

But here's where I am mostly confused with Con's moves.

Yes, there was hype galore about Ricky Rubio, but there was probably a good reason why he fell fifth. His signability and talent. We all know how Con was laughed at for selecting three first-round point guards, making trades, etc. But, when a team needs outside scoring, inside scoring and just PLAYERS, the head scratching started on why he passed on Stephen Curry, who was regarded the nation's purest and best shooter, and averaged about 30 points a game in college. I can understand the gamble on Rubio, but then why draft Jonny Flynn? It would have been better yet to make an immediate impact by drafting Flynn and Curry. The fact that Con drafted point guards back-to-back give the invitation to head-scratching that he believed getting Rubio to the USA was a 50/50 deal.

Again, a franchise in turmoil needs to worry about today less than about the future.

I was 100% committed to buying a season-ticket package, getting fully on the bandwagon had Con drafted DeMarcus Cousins. I watched just about a dozen of Kentucky games on TV this year - and more college basketball than ever in my life, because watching Cousins and John Wall reminded me so much of the University of Houston days of Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. There was so much hype about Wall, I was intrigued to watch.

But I came away with one thought. Yes, Wall is a special talent. But, it seems to me that there are alot more collegiate and international players that are closer in talent, closer in ability to Wall than there are college players coming thru the ranks the physical specimen of Cousins.

For the Wolves fans who remember a young Kevin Garnett leaping high above the rim and one-handing a massive rebound, tossing an outlet fast-break pass, and the next instant, there is Garnett getting the lob toss for a slam dunk on the other end. My goodness, as I watched Kentucky basketball, I saw so many times Cousins doing the same thing as Garmett - but only at a freakish 290 pounds.

I saw Cousins catch passes at his knees in traffic, and make turnaround jumpers. I saw Cousins make double head fakes and slam one home. I saw Cousins run the floor like a small forward.

Wow. Visions went thru my head. Jerry West to Wilt Chamberlain. Magic to Kareem......  "The Big O" to Kareem ...Drexler to Olajuwon.....Hardaway to O'Neal... Nash to Stoudamire... Kobe to O'Neal....... Flynn to Cousins... Ahhh, the outside/inside connection.

As the 2010 draft neared, the split was about 50/50 on experts and fans on whether Wes Johnson or Cousins was the right pick for the Wolves. I think it's fair to say the basketball purists liked Johnson, and the cloddy basketball-dribbled-off-my-skate fans wanted to see the power of Cousins.

The issues on Cousins were pronounced. Work ethic, shape, maturity. Yeah, I get that, but when it's documented by many of the gurus that it "wasn't even close" that the best big man in the draft was Cousins, because he was a "special talent", it's easy for critics like myself to scratch our heads.

What's even more puzzling, is that as part of Con's recent moves was to make a "great" deal - on the surface - to acquire Michael Beasley, the second overall pick in 2008. But wait! Didn't Beasley also have his personal issues?

So, now Con is showing how he conflicts himself. Cousins appears to have less baggage than Beasley. I guess I would have been more excited to see Cousins at a $3.2M salary playing center than Darko Milicic at $5M.

And Wolves fans, don't get excited about muliple first-round picks like the  team had in 2009 and 2010. What is there REALLY to show for? Flynn? Johnson?

In 2010 draft, we saw, once again, Con's mysterious maneuver's. I admit, I don't know the difference between Martel Webster than shinola, but I do know that I saw Ryan Gomes score more than 20 points in box scores, and he averaged more points than Webster. Maybe his defense was lacking? But, sometimes, scoring more points than your opponent means you win a game? But let's take Webster and Gomes out of the equation at face value. Con traded the 17th and 23rd picks for the 30th and 35th picks!! HUHHHHH???

I sat there and saw the Wolves draft Luke Babbit after drafting Wes Johnson. I thought, "Ok, Babbitt is a poor-man's Wally Sczerbiak. Considered a great scorer in an average conference, and a pure shooter. I can live with that" However, also on the board was a player regarded as the best pure shooter in James Anderson from Oklahoma State, who when drafted by San Antonio at 20th, Jay Bilas, the ESPN draft guru, said that might be the steal of the draft. Again, Anderson is probably a safe bet to score as many points a game as Webster in 2010-11. In fact, I will bet a bottle of Head and Shoulders on it.

Listen folks, I get it. Con and head coach Kurt Rambis want a certain style, and pieces have to be moved, but I will always be the leader of the WouldaCouldaShoulda Fan Club. Ricky Rubio's 6 points and 4 assists in the Euro League isn't nature's Viagra to me.
 
Maybe I am wrong. The WouldaCouldaShoulda fan in me would like to think of a roster of Flynn, Curry, Corey Brewer, James Anderson/Babbitt, Gomes, Kevin Love, Big Al if you want him around, Cousins and then I would have drafted the other center with upside in that Whiteside kid at #23. That's a roster a fan can excited about.

If I am wrong, I apologize, but I know I won't get laughed at on national TV like the Con man.

In the meantime, I think I need to just make sure it's not the Head and Shoulders I need... Enough Shower Talk!  

Category: NBA
Tags: Timberwolves
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com