Archive for August, 2011

The NFC East loves to beat on itself. Each fan base has a rivalry that spills directly from what the teams leave on the field for them to feed off of. All of this is for good reason as well, as competition stays at a premium here. No team has repeated as division champion since the Eagles in 2004; and for anyone handing them the division this year, pay close attention to this fact.

A year ago, the return to prominence of Michael Vick took the NFL by storm. He was the final piece needed to push the Eagles back to the top of a division they have won more times in the last ten years than any other club. However, does it carry over again as seamlessly? The Cowboys offense woke up late last season, and the return of Tony Romo will put them in position to take a shot back at the top of a division they won just two years ago. The Giants are always in the mix, and despite a rash of injuries, still are arguably the most balanced team of the four. The Redskins are rebuilding, but offer the potential of an upset towards any of the division’s more celebrated squads.

As said last year in this same column, the NFC East will be the traditional battlefield it always has been.

 

ALL-DIVISION TEAM

QB: Michael Vick RB: Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy FB: Leonard Weaver WR: Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Hakeem Nicks TE: Jason Witten OT: Jason Peters, Doug Free OG: Chris Snee, Todd Herremans C: Jamaal Jackson

DE: Justin Tuck, Trent Cole DT: Jay Ratliff, Mike Patterson OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Brian Orakpo MLB: London Fletcher, Bradie James CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel S: LaRon Landry, OJ Atogwe

K: Lawrence Tynes P: Mat McBriar Returner: DeSean Jackson

 

DALLAS COWBOYS (6-10 in 2010)

Offense: T. Romo-QB, M. Austin-WR, J. Witten-TE, D. Bryant-WR (B+)

Defense: D. Ware-OLB, J. Ratliff-NT, T. Newman-CB, G. Sensabaugh-S (C+)

 

The Good: For all that is said about the offense stalling out, it played better once Jason Garrett took control of the team last season. Also, it will get a boost with the return of Tony Romo, a healthy and more experienced Dez Bryant and using more of Felix Jones. The biggest difference here could be Rob Ryan taking over as Defensive Coordinator. His aggressive scheme should help a Dallas defense that had coverage like a broken dam downfield, while put for too little pressure on the quarterback outside of DeMarcus Ware.

The Bad: The offensive line is rebuilt, but still has a long way to go. Tyron Smith will take his lumps as the youngest player in the league while starting at right tackle. Add to that that they will be breaking in four new starters in front of Romo, and it could be a repeat of last year’s poor unit that gave up 30 sacks a year ago and could not field a 1000 yard rusher either.

Romo is Dallas' greatest asset. The sooner they start protecting him as such, the better.

X-Factor-Felix Jones: Jones is a definite candidate for biggest breakout player this fall. He could be called on more in the receiving game than any other running back in the league, especially if the line doesn’t hold up well. He’ll have the advantage of having his great speed to hit defenses that are busy guarding the multiple Cowboy receiving threats off guard quickly.

Fearless Prediction: @NYJ (L), @SF (W), WSH (W), DET (L), @NE (L), STL (W), @PHI (L), SEA (W), BUF (W), @WSH (L), MIA (W), @ARI (W), NYG (L), @TB (L), PHI (W), @NYG (W)

In The End: They’ll be better if they stay healthy, and that’s a big if. Miles Austin is hurting already and Romo has to stay upright for them to be much better at all. A mixture of a revived defensive approach, along with a more steady offense will make them better, but they still aren’t tough enough up front to push into the playoffs this year. Record: 9-7

 

NEW YORK GIANTS (10-6 in 2010)

Offense: E. Manning-QB, A. Bradshaw-RB, H. Nicks-WR, M. Manningham-WR (B+)

Defense: J. Tuck-DE, O. Umenyiora-DE, A. Rolle-S, C. Webster-CB (B-)

 

The Good: They can move the ball downfield. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are one of the more underrated receiving tandems in the game, despite combining for 1,996 yards and 20 TD in 2010. Eli Manning is far from the “elite” passer he fashioned himself as, but gets it done more often than he doesn’t. Ahmad Bradshaw’s breakout last season gave them the Tiki Barber like dual threat they had been lacking for years, and the Bradshaw-Jacobs backfield is capable of giving defenses multiple types of headaches being deployed together.

The Bad: They didn’t get much better at any critical area, and now they could be paying for it. The offensive line was already a problem, and now with the departure of Steve Smith and Kevin Boss, there is less talent for Eli to have bail out the rushed throws that will be even more common now. The defense was in position bail them out, but a plague of injury swept over that unit, claiming Osi Umenyiora, Terrell Thomas and first round pick Prince Amukamara.

After a pretty brash offseason on the interview circuit, Manning will have to show and prove like never before this year.

X-Factor-Jason Pierre-Paul: Placed in the middle of a deep defensive end rotation, the team’s 2010 first rounder had to make the best of his limited opportunities last season. He still managed 4.5 sacks, and with Umenyiora out for the beginning of the season, he will have an opportunity to be a priority for the first time. Even after Osi returns, he will have a chance to be one of the best third ends in the league.

Fearless Prediction: @WSH (L), STL (W), @PHI (L), WSH (W), SEA (W), BUF (W), @MIA (L), @NE (L), @SF (W), PHI (W), @NO (L), GB (L), @DAL (W), WSH (W), @NYJ (W), DAL (L)

Summary: It’s a roughly unsettled team that is battling injury, depth and a tough division. However, if any team has the tools to improve and pull out an upset divisional win it’s the G-Men, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards this year with a still unsettled offensive line and thin receiving and linebacker groups. Record: 9-7

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6 in 2010; Division Champs)

Offense: M. Vick-QB, D. Jackson-WR, L. McCoy-RB, J. Maclin-WR (A)

Defense: N. Asomugha-CB, T. Cole-DE, J. Babin-DE, A. Samuel-CB (B+)

 

The Good: It’s a track meet in Philly, with an offense that can score from anywhere. DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy can finish a drive as soon as they touch the ball. But they had that last year. The biggest improvement in this team is that now, it’s going to be much harder to play catch up, because there are very few windows to throw the ball into. The additions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie make avoiding Asante Samuel nowhere near as easy of a proposition, therefore letting Trent Cole and new additions Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin go blitz crazy without worrying about any repercussions. If the Eagles get ahead by 10, it may be over.

The Bad: The offensive line could derail all hopes of a high powered offense if they don’t keep Vick on his feet and give McCoy a chance to get in the open field. Vick could be well served to take fewer hits in the open field, but he has to be able to drop back and work at least. Keeping him healthy is the key to how far this team can go, and that responsibility is being given to a group he’s already been forced to protect, a bit of odd role reversal so soon.

The additions of Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha gives the Eagles' blitz Secret Service-like protection to do as they please.

X-Factor-Casey Matthews: The team’s third round pick is being thrust into the middle of a subpar linebacker corps, and is inheriting a world of responsibility immediately. Since teams will be more apprehensive about going deep against their corners, the attacking over the middle and with the run will be the plan to overcome Philly. Matthews will have to rise to the occasion in a hurry to bring this unit up to speed.

Fearless Prediction: @STL (W), @ATL (L), NYG (W), SF (W), @BUF (W), @WSH (W), DAL (W), CHI (W), ARI (W), @NYG (L), NE (L), @SEA (W), @MIA (W), NYJ (W), @DAL (L), @WSH (W)

Summary: There’s a world of expectation here, and for good reason. It is a team that showed great promise a year ago, and went out and seemingly signed every available impact player on the market to finish their ascent. There will be some bumps along the way, but they will once again be the class of the East and will push deeper towards Super Sunday this year…health permitting. Record: 12-4

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (6-10 in 2010)

Offense: S. Moss-WR, C. Cooley-TE, T. Williams-OT (C)

Defense: D. Hall-CB, B. Orakpo-LB, L. Landry-S, L. Fletcher-LB (D+)

 

The Good: For better or worse, most of the internal drama is moved out. Mike Shanahan vs. Donovan McNabb vs. Albert Haynesworth took down this team before it took to the field quite often. Regardless of the right or wrong of the scenario, having focused team will benefit the entire prognosis for the season. The new blood of Tim Hightower, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Ryan Kerrigan and OJ Atogwe both addresses problem areas from a year ago and provide new hope at formerly controversial positions.

The Bad: Rotating between John Beck and Rex Grossman doesn’t inspire much hope. While the improved supporting cast (especially at running back) will help mask some of these inadequacies, in the end the QB has to bear down and win some games for their team, and Beck couldn’t win over the Dolphins less than desirable QB opening and Grossman is a thrill seeker of the worst kind. The “best” thing either of them could do is get the team in position to draft a suitable QB of the future in April.

No matter who is throwing the ball, Santana Moss will have more freedom to roam with the boost to his supporting cast at receiver.

X-Factor-OJ Atogwe: A quick signing before the lockout took place, he stands to be the most meaningful addition to the club in the end. The Skins porous pass defense (261 yards per game, 2nd worst overall) had to be addressed in multiple places, and adding the former Ram’s diverse ability to play either safety spot will provide a much needed final line of defense.

Fearless Prediction: NYG (W), ARI (W), @DAL (L), @STL (L), PHI (L), @CAR (W), @BUF (W), SF (L), @MIA (W), DAL (W), @SEA (L), NYJ (L), NE (L), @NYG (L), MIN (L), @PHI (L)

Summary: It will be another frustrating year in D.C. There will be flashes of greatness and the defense will improve this year, but in the end it all comes back to the lack of a field general to pull out the tough wins and a tough end of the schedule. There are still some major moves that need to made to pull this team up the ladder and for the first time in two years, they will not improve their on their win total. Record: 5-11

 

To see how right, wrong or in-between this all works out, and me living with it, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360

Preview issues of magazines, newspapers and websites are always a special breed of funny. Well, later on that is, because at the time, they are both justifiers to the fan’s claim of this being “our year”, while doubling as doomsday declarations for some lowly teams. They are builders of gurus, professors, and genius’, shaman and fortune tellers for those that get February right in August.

However, it’s a two way path…bound by the rules of one way street.

Get it right, you’re a star. Miss the mark, the fool on the hill will get to make room for you. Those same leaps of faith taken on a team that showed promise the year before (what up Bengals, 49ers and Vikings), can come back around and take you down in a slow burning, 16-week flame up of embarrassment along with them. My shot last season at NFL prediction superstardom missed the mark badly. Division champions: one. Playoff teams: six of 16. However, here’s where it gets really fun: Top 10 draft squads PLACED IN playoffs: three. Let’s just say there’s some rebounding to be done in this week’s swing in the dark at projection immortality.

However, before I take that next prideful leap of faith starting tomorrow, I will shamelessly look back at this time last year (I’ve got Sunday Ticket this year to watch each of my fates unfold in front of my eyes this time. Joy.). When as far as I knew (or anyone else for that matter) I had the script to how the next seventeen weeks of the NFL would go exactly. Check back in tomorrow to see the reboot of this effort in the 2010 CSP NFL division-by-division preview, starting out in the NFC East.

 

NFC EAST

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Cowboys (12-4)                        1. Eagles (10-6)

2. Giants (11-5)                              2. Giants (10-6)

3. Eagles (8-8)                               3. Cowboys (6-10)

4. Redskins (7-9)                         4. Redskins (6-10)

Vick took a lead role in turning my outlook for the East on it's head. The Cowboys provided plenty of supporting actors though.

The Tony Romo injury didn’t help here, but the Cowboys played like they’d never met each other before long before he went down. The re-emergence of the Eagles went hand in hand with Michael Vick blowing up on the scene, and playing like his video game self in real life (ask the Redskins). This division is always tough, and up for grabs, but the Cowboys clearly proved to be among the most paper of champions.

 

NFC NORTH

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Vikings (13-3)                           1. Bears (11-5)

2. Packers (11-5)                           2. Packers (10-6)

3. Bears (6-10)                               3. Lions (6-10)

4. Lions (3-13)                               4. Vikings (6-10)

Favre won't be around to provide anymore false confidence this year...right?

I really, really underestimated how shell-shocked Brett Favre was after the Saints took turns on him in the NFC Championship the year before. He played his last year like his soul never found his body again. 99% of the Vikes 2010 offering (it’s never Adrian Peterson’s fault) looked like it never got over the last loss of the 2009 season. The Bears and Packers jumped at the opportunity. The Bears turned into the most surprising division winner in the NFC and the Packers ended up right about where I though (minus the Super Bowl run and all, but more on that in a moment…)

 

NFC SOUTH

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Saints (13-3)                               1. Falcons (13-3)

2. Falcons (8-8)                            2. Saints ()

3. Panthers (6-10)                       3. Buccaneers (10-6)

4. Buccaneers (2-14)                 4. Panthers (2-14)

I'm not the only one that didn't see the Bucs coming. I take no fault here at all.

About that Super Bowl prediction…yeah, that was here instead. The Saints played well, but the Falcons made this division their own. The Buccaneers surprised everyone with how well they played. However, everyone didn’t go on the record as having them stay 2-14. That’s what happens when an entire team plays about 5 years older than they were on paper. I won’t be making that mistake again.

 

NFC WEST

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. 49ers (10-6)                                1. Seahawks (7-9)

2. Cardinals (8-8)                        2. Rams (7-9)

3. Seahawks (5-11)                       3. 49ers (6-10)

4. Rams (2-14)                                4. Cardinals (6-10)

This sums up perfectly how I feel about the NFC West last year.

Who could’ve called this? The Seahawks and Rams had been perennial screw ups and the Cardinals lost Kurt Warner. The Niners had talented default victor written all over them. That was before Sam Bradford did a remarkable Peyton Manning, year one, impression and the Niners played “Duck, Duck, Goose” with subpar QB’s all year. In the end, the division put the first sub-.500 club in the playoffs…which went on to beat the defending champs. Once again, nobody could’ve scripted this. And I apologized for this all before.

 

AFC EAST

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Jets (13-3)                                    1. Patriots (14-2)

2. Patriots (11-5)                           2. Jets (11-5)

3. Dolphins (7-9)                         3. Dolphins (7-9)

4. Bills (3-13)                                  4. Bills (4-12)

Right record, wrong team. I'll take it though.

The Jets and Pats running the division happened as even a blind guy could see coming. I even got the record for the second place team right, even if the team wasn’t. After some of the miscues that are about to be coming up from rest of the AFC in this recap, I’m considering this a victory.

 

AFC NORTH

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Bengals (11-5)                            1. Steelers (12-4)

2. Ravens (11-5)                            2. Ravens (12-4)

3. Steelers (9-7)                           3. Browns (5-11)

4. Browns (3-13)                          4. Bengals (4-12)

What in the hell was I thinking....

I learned a few valuable lessons here last year. #1) Never put faith in a combo of grown men that call themselves “Batman & Robin”. #2) Carson Palmer is not a winner. #3) The Bengals will always find a way to stay close to their true selves, the Bungles. Think I’m salty about my major whiff on the AFC’s Super Bowl rep? Whatever could’ve given you that idea…? (I also learned that Troy Polamalu is the difference between the “Super Steelers” and whatever they were in ’09, but it was more fun to get in my feelings over the Bengals here).

 

AFC SOUTH

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Colts (12-4)                                 1. Colts (10-6)

2. Texans (9-7)                            2. Jaguars (8-8)

3. Titans (8-8)                              3. Texans (6-10)

4. Jaguars (6-10)                         4. Titans (6-10)

Old reliable Manning delivered on his usual promise, and helped me save a bit of face.

Finally, a division champ I got right. Even though they have won it every year since what feels like 1925 now. The rest of this division just kind of survived through the season, and was rather unremarkable after the Texans proved they have no interest in fulfilling their potential and the Jaguars woke up way too late to catch the Colts off balance.

 

AFC WEST

Prediction                                           But for real…

1. Chargers (11-5)                         1. Chiefs (10-6)

2. Raiders (7-9)                             2. Chargers (9-7)

3. Broncos (7-9)                           3. Raiders (8-8)

4. Chiefs (4-12)                              4. Broncos (4-12)

When the Raiders go undefeated in any category, it's guaranteed to mess up any logic deployed.

It was backwards year nearly in the West. The Chargers were the safest pick in the lot and had no chance of the Chiefs taking them down, right. This really happened, and along the way, somehow the Raiders (!!!) went undefeated in the division and the Broncos were running gimmick plays with Tim Tebow by the end of the year. Once again, this wasn’t my fault. Nope.

 

 

So that’s what was, and looking at it you’d think I’d be dissuaded from trying this again right? Right? Let’s just say that tomorrow, I’m looking at getting at least half the top 10 of the Draft right tomorrow in this year’s edition and get 100% more division winners right than last year (which would be a grand total of two). However, I will tirelessly stand by these predictions, and when you come back to heckle me this year; let’s just keep it to fruit and vegetables from the townspeople. I felt a few stones last year…Rams and Chiefs fans especially.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter for Day in the Life of a guy trying to make good on promises made months before at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360.

 

The Chicago Cubs sit firmly lodged in 5th place in the National League Central, with little hopes of escaping the spot this summer. This is nothing new, as they have been lodged out of competition for the past few summers; however how they arrive there is what the worst part of the story is. The Cubs total payroll sits just a bit north of $125 million, which is the sixth highest total in the game. This would be fine if many of the deals that are driving up the price were from productive players that kept them in the postseason race annually. Not the case here as the team hasn’t been to October baseball since 2008, and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2003. Something’s amiss.

The organization decided that former General Manager Jim Hendry is to blame for this underachieving, and it’s hardly a stretch to believe so. He’s responsible for chaining the team to some of the worst signings in baseball in the last 10 years. However, he’s far from alone. There have been a number of huge deals that continue to haunt payrolls around the game. Some made sense at the time and some others…well…we’ll get to those too.

In one way (or 23 million), here are the 10 worst contracts at work right now in Major League Baseball:

 

10. Alex Rodriguez: The fiasco around when A-Rod declared his intent to push for a new contract says nothing compared to the ransom he hauled in when he finally got it. The 10 year, $275 million deal he received was a raise to a guy that was in the middle of his best years already and will guarantee him at the minimum $20 million per year past his 40th birthday. Even for the Yankees that’s bad business.

Time is not on the Yanks side with several deals, but Rodriguez will be on the books well past his considerable prime.

9. Carlos Zambrano: The first of a few Hendry engineered deals that will showcase here. It’s always risky when talent has to be judged against character, and they are polar opposites. Now he’s has reached the intolerable level as a character and has been exiled from the clubhouse, but still has around $37 million potentially left on the books. Big problem here, since nobody seems to be interested in alleviating them of Zambrano; he even made it through trade waivers without anyone taking the bait.

 

8. Aaron Rowand: He cashed in on his career/contract year in Philadelphia in 2007 (.309/27/89) and turned it into a five year, $60 million dollar deal out in San Francisco. Since he arrived in the Bay, he’s never hit over 15 homers or drove in more than 70 runs and has been a part-time starter the last two years.

 

7. Carlos Lee: It’s not that he hasn’t hit down in Houston, it’s just that it was way too much for way too long. Especially for a player that was due for a decline from the moment he signed his deal. While the power numbers have stay respectable, everything across the board has dropped each year. And now he’s pulling down $18 million per season and has 11 home runs in August, along with an unmovable contract for the rebuilding Astros.

Lee's deal has lasted long past it's value to the Astros as contenders. And now is more of an anchor.

6. CC Sabathia: It’s not that he’s not worth it; he’s averaged it’s just that the Yankees were way too confident in how they dealt it out. CC became the highest paid pitcher in baseball when he signed his 7 year, $152 million deal in 2009. However, an opt-out cause (to add personal security) was included after the third year. And now the Yanks are desperate to improve their pitching, all while their only sure thing is set to potentially opt out of his previously (but now not so) long-term deal, and they’ll have to give him even more than the $23 million he’s pulling down per year now, only for probably the same amount of years he was already on the hook for.

 

5. Oliver Perez: The Mets signed a lot of big contracts that went nowhere, but few went shorter than what they handed they handed Perez’s way. After resigning him to a 3 year, $36 million dollar deal in 2009, he gave them back two seasons of work that totaled a 3-9 record to go with a 6.81 ERA in 31 games. It got so bad that he was released in March of 2011, while still owed $12 million for the season, which he is collecting as a minor leaguer for the Nationals Double-A squad.

 

4. Jason Werth: It’s early the call this a complete bust, but from the beginning it scream bad investment long term. The Nationals had a lot of money and had to put it somewhere. Werth’s stock as a back-to-back All-Star was high and he cashed in on it in a major way. To the tune of 7 years and $126 million which will net him $21 million a year on his 38th birthday. Not bad for guy who hit 30 home runs once and has never topped .300 in a single season…not to mention is hitting .224 with 14 home runs in the first year of this deal.

 

3. Alfonso Soriano: Of the multiple heavyweight deals holding the Cubs down, this has been the anchor of the group. He came to the Cubs fresh off a 40/40 season in Washington and looked to just be getting started into his prime as one of the best overall hitters in the game. However, like the Werth deal, this was given at the wrong time in length-to-value total. Now he’s 35 and has had leg injuries take away much of his productivity and all his speed (he’s never drove in more than 79 runs and has stolen a total of 15 bases the last three years in Chicago), yet he’s still on the hook for $18 million annually through 2014.

Soriano never lived up to numbers he previously reached on the field before Chicago, to earn the one's he gets off it in the Windy.

2. Barry Zito: At the time, this was seen as a major coup for the Giants. They broke the bank for one of the most promising young pitchers in the game who already had a 2002 Cy Young Award to his credit in Oakland. This promise was rewarded to the tune of $126 million over seven years for the then 28 year old lefty. However, since coming to the Bay, Zito has had an ERA of 4.52 (nearly a run higher than the career total he brought to the Giants) and has a 43-61 win/loss mark since 2007. He’s on the books for another $39 million over the next two seasons before the team can buy him out for $7 million. I’m sure General Manager Brian Sabean can’t wait to cut the check to cut ties.

 

1. Vernon Wells: This a pretty amazing contract all around, and for every possible wrong reason that a contract can be amazing. That the Blue Jays ever thought to give Wells $126 million is the MLB’s answer to Area 51-level confusion. However, they got off light. Just as the deal was about to get messy, they convinced the Angels to take it off their hands. And now, LA gets the heavy lifting of the deal for the rapidly aging Wells, who even at his best was just a very solid player that did a bit of everything well. But now he’s making $21 million annually for the next 3 seasons, out of a contract that who’s only out clause is an early termination option that Wells alone controls.

How’s he making out this season and would he potentially pull the trigger on this opt out? Well considering he’s a top 10 paid player for hitting .201 and getting on-base 23% of the time, I’d say the odds aren’t too good. Enjoy that light lifting on the field for the heavy load leaving the bank Vernon.

 

 

Jered Weaver re-committed to the Los Angeles Angels in the form of a five-year extension for $85,000,000. That will net him $17 million a season, and remove one of the biggest potential participants in what is shaping up to be a big free agent class in 2012. Everything is great right? That’s more than he’ll ever need, and that’s not a sentiment that is lost on him. However, the question many are asking is, “did he get enough?” The industry standard in sports speaks to value and ability by the numbers on the check, it is possible that Weaver somehow still undersell himself, from a certain point of view.

Regardless of what is to come or what could have been, he is worth (in talent terms) much more than the little over $7 million a season he’s gathering right now. That number places him as one of the biggest values in the game for the time being, but what other players are giving back a lot more than what they are getting back by industry standards? Currently, more than a few clubs are building up empires, even filling up World Series trophy cases, without breaking their bank accounts. Here are the top 10 biggest values in Major League baseball, both now and into the future…for a few.

After leading the AL in strikeouts a year ago and ERA this season, is it possible Weaver is still underpaid $85 million later?

10. Adam Wainwright: The big St. Louis Cardinals pitcher is earning $6.5 million this season to do nothing more than rehab himself to return after Tommy John surgery in March. However, when he returns, his two-year option is sure to be picked up since they are only for $9 and $12 million for the next two seasons. In neither year will he be the highest paid starter on his club, despite being the only one to finish in the top three in Cy Young voting the last two years.

9. Joey Votto: The Reds first baseman became one of the biggest surprise (and value) winners of the MVP in years last season, and got a deserving bump in pay due to it. However, he’s still a big time value at the position, making $5.5 million this year (a $5 million dollar boost from last year). By the time it ends in 2013 it will have escalated to $17 million for that year, but it’s still a nice price for a guy that has 193 RBI and hit .323 in the last two years, and is only 27 years old.

Votto gave the Reds an MVP winner last season in exchange for just over half a million dollars.

8. Justin Upton: After his breakout campaign in 2009, Arizona wasted no time and re-upped the then 22-year-old outfielder to a six-year, $50 million deal. It escalates late to $14 million per year in the final two seasons, but right now it’s landing them an MVP candidate for just over $4 million. More importantly, it locks up one of the best young building blocks in the game into his late-20’s.

7. Brian McCann: The Atlanta Braves catcher as made claims to becoming both the game’s best hitting catcher, and biggest steal at the position. Despite having five seasons over 20 home runs, receiving the last three Silver Sluggers at catcher in the NL and six straight All-Star Games, he’s bringing in only $6.5 million this season and won’t top $12.5 at any point of his current deal. This is roughly half of what Joe Mauer will be bringing in annually as the game’s other premier catcher.

6. David Price: This is the perfect example of the risk of rewarding on potential paying off. The Rays gave Price a six-year deal for $8.5 million total after taking him number in the 2007 Draft. He made his way to Tampa Bay in short order and now the Rays have gotten All-Star seasons the last two years from the young left for the grand total of $2.2 million.

5. Troy Tulowitzki/Carlos Gonzalez: The Colorado Rockies duo is in the same ballpark in more ways than one. Last season they combined for 61 home runs and 212 RBI, while hitting .326. After getting those numbers for a whopping total of $6 million dollars, they reward both with huge extensions that will keep CarGo with Colorado until 2017 and Tulo through 2021. However, currently both franchise centerpieces are pulling down a total of $10.5 million in 2011 and neither will make eight figures a year until 2013.

The Rockies young duo is turning in premium performances at a 2 for 1 price, for now.

4. Ryan Braun: Take this one with a grain of salt, because it’s not going to stay this way forever (his recent five-year, $105 million extension kicks in soon), but right now the Brewers are getting MVP numbers at coupon price. Credit the Milwaukee front office for foresight in extending him eight more years at $45 million after only a year & half. But considering they are getting a potential MVP for only $4 million dollars this year ($13 million dollars less than Matt Holliday and $15.5 million less than Carl Crawford; his left field contemporaries) he’s a steal of monumental proportions, for now.

3. Joakim Soria: There’s not a lot of money spread around the Royals roster, and their All-Star closer is pulling down the most manageable contract of any premier finisher in the game. He netted $426,000 for 42 saves in 2008, then $3 million for one more in 2010. Usually results like this mean he’d be on his way out-of-town from small market Royals, but he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, as he is signed to KC through 2014. All for no more one $8.5 million, all on team options to renew each season.

2. Evan Longoria: Another instance similar to Braun’s where potential was cashed in on early, only much, much quicker. Tampa Bay locked Longoria up long-term four days after his Major League debut to a six-year, $17 million deal. In return, he’s given them three All-Star Games in his first three seasons and won’t make over $10 million in a summer until 2015.

1. Albert Pujols: Judgment day is coming in this case, and it could be ushered in by the loudest cash register sound ever heard. The thing is that nobody can say he hasn’t earned it, and definitely is due for it. $16 million per season isn’t a value by the usual rules of engagement, but Pujols has made a career of resetting expectations. Back in 2004, the Cardinals handed him an 8 year, $100 million deal that now resembles a “cash for clunkers” deal. Why? Because since that deal he’s brought home three MVP’s for himself (and only dropped out the top three once), a 10th World Series and led an all out assault on the record books along the way.

The best player in the game is the sixth highest paid player....at his position. Nuff said.

Here’s a list of first basemen that make more than him right now: Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Todd Helton and Miguel Cabrera. This is a worthy list in many other scenarios, yet not when stood up next the game’s premier player, or biggest bargain. One thing is for sure, by Opening Day next year; this is one list that he won’t top any longer.

Terrelle Pryor’s plight to make the NFL is well known. However, now that he is on the way to the field, how he does from here on out is still up in the air.

 

Picture this: massive athletes with big personalities and unbelievable backgrounds, looking to make a big entrance before finally making it to a competition. One that by the time it actually happens has become a bit of an afterthought.

Was Vince McMahon made the commissioner of the NFL as part of the lockout settlement? Because the most recent issue surrounding the NFL and its supplemental draft has played out like something out of his world rather than Roger Goodell’s.

At the center of this whole circus has been Terrelle Pryor, formerly of Ohio State football and currently of NCAA infamy, and his standing for the NFL’s bonus draft. Already suspended for the tip of the iceberg of issues surrounding him receiving improper benefits beginning of what would have been his senior year at OSU, when the rest of the glacier came up, he lost his college eligibility. However, this all emerged after the NFL Draft was in the books, one that he never intended to be a part of. Since he didn’t declare, and was not draft eligible, free agency was not an option. However, today he was declared eligible for the NFL’s second round of entry.

Pryor is picking back up an old set of questions just as the new ones are answered.

So here enters the supplemental draft, and what exactly that is.

Read more at Suite101: Most Known Unknown: Terrelle Pryor and the NFL Supplemental Draft | Suite101.com http://www.suite101.com/content/most-known-unknown-terrelle-pryor-and-the-nfl-supplemental-draft-a385079#ixzz1VPVsQQbY

Bradford’s Big Debut, Outside The Numbers

Posted: August 16, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Tags: , , ,

The St. Louis Rams beat the Indianapolis Colts on all fronts in their 2011 preseason debut, as the 33-10 score in their favor clearly indicates. More important than the score however, was the detail in the flow of the game. Some of the new blood worked its way into the mix. The projected first stringers looked sharp in limited play. The backups (and a few familiar faces as well) played with an inspired style, as they try to stay on past the new three games. Josh Brown was kicking field goals from the Edward Jones Dome across the river to East. St. Louis. Fans that left downtown rightfully had a lot to be excited about; and for a change, it didn’t involve the featured stars on the other sideline (especially since Peyton Manning made more headlines for meeting up with Tony LaRussa instead of throwing footballs; he didn’t even put a jersey on.)

Bradford didn't reach 50 yards on Saturday, but looked like a completely different man from the one that threw over 3,500 as a rookie.

However, the biggest impact on Saturday was made in a more subtle way by the home team’s biggest star. Sam Bradford took to the field with what can best be described as a new aura. The 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year displayed a stronger presence in his little over a quarter of action on Saturday than he did at any point last season….

 

Read more on the clear evolution of the Rams’ crown jewel QB at St. Louis Sports 360 today: http://stlouissports360.com/bradfords-big-debut-outside-the-numbers/

LATE REGISTRATION? – NFL QB Rookie ETAs

Posted: August 10, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
Rookie quarterbacks have big expectations coming into their new gigs. Which ones will have the chance to make their respective marks first?

To call the NFL a quarterback-driven league is a major understatement; there is no great team that doesn’t have at least an above average signal caller. The most quarterback deprived teams in the game had perfect attendance towards the top of the NFL Draft back in April, and how vigorously they attacked the draft-eligible pocket presences shows their knowledge of their main problem. This year’s rookie class was ripe with potential difference makers in the pocket. Three QBs were among the first 10 picks, and six in the top 40. Of these picks, the Carolina Panthers used the first overall pick on the position, becoming the 9th time the first pick has been used on a QB in last 11 years.

Cam Newton was the first off the board, but will he make the first on impact on the field as well?

However, how does it play out for the immediate picture around these clubs? Taking a quarterback for many years was a developmental pick. An investment that was taken to have time to mature and become an asset ready to contribute in a major way on debut, not a week one starter who’s struggles are accepted…

What lays ahead for this year’s group of rookie QBs? More on the big footsteps they are walking in, as well when each could make their debut as full-time team director today in Suite 101.

Read more at Suite101: NFL Freshman Orientation | Suite101.com http://www.suite101.com/content/nfl-freshman-orientation-a383934#ixzz1UdHSefhh