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Post  RedMagma on Sun Feb 17, 2008 9:40 am

Rox ready to roll


http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

The Rockies made a historic run to the playoffs last year, winning every game they played for the better part of the final month, and Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd bears so much respect for the ethic of his players that he never thought they might take their success for granted.

But within five days after the conclusion of the World Series, he saw something that confirmed what he believed about them: The Rockies' weight room was nearly packed, with the players already beginning their preparation for the 2008 season. "I was really encouraged by that," said O'Dowd. "It's a different feeling, knowing you can win, as opposed to hoping you can win."

Manny Corpas stayed in Denver, and so did Ubaldo Jimenez. Franklin Morales and Jason Hirsh appeared regularly, and so did many of the position players. Their sense of urgency to compete is still in place, apparently, and we know this about the Rockies: They will hit, with a deep lineup worthy of an AL power, and they will generally catch the ball. Jayson Nix enters spring training as the favorite to be the second baseman, and if he beats out Jeff Baker and Ian Stewart, he'll probably give Colorado more defense at the position than they got from Kaz Matsui last year.

What remains to be seen is whether the Rockies will put together the kind of pitching that carried them into the World Series.

Jimenez held opponents to a .228 batting average in 15 starts, while Morales kicked in eight crucial outings down the stretch, going 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his five starts on the road. Hirsh broke down after 19 starts, and Aaron Cook couldn't pitch after Aug. 10 because of a muscle strain in his side. The Rockies have Jeff Francis at the front of their rotation and the very underrated Corpas at the back end of their bullpen, and how they fare will depend largely on what Cook, Jimenez, Hirsh and Morales contribute.

Troy Tulowitzki's drive to win has not changed, in the aftermath of his new contract, as Troy Renck writes. The second base candidates are competing.

• Some Giants are relieved that Barry Bonds is gone.

• Albert Pujols will try to play with a torn elbow ligament, as Derrick Goold writes. He made peace with a St. Louis television station.

Tony La Russa should continue with the Cardinals' youth movement, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• The Blue Jays are very fired up about the early-spring work of closer B.J. Ryan, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, as Richard Griffin writes.

• Mike Mussina moved some locker assignments around so that he could have more access to Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, as Ed Price writes.

Have heard that a number of pitchers in the Yankees' camp, including Mussina, seem to be in better condition as spring training opens.

Kei Igawa will try to rebound. Carl Pavano still has expectations, as Wallace Matthews writes.

Jorge Posada is still excelling at age 36, writes Jack Curry.

• Carlos Beltran went all Jimmy Rollins, and said that the Mets are the team to beat. Within the same Todd Zolecki notebook, Kris Benson sets the record straight: His wife Anna is not a Penthouse model.

Benson may be a good bet for the Phillies, writes Jim Salisbury.

Ryan Howard is feeling a lot better than he did last spring, writes David Murphy.

• The player most asked for in Braves' trade discussions this offseason, according to GM Frank Wren: second baseman Kelly Johnson.

• Willie Randolph is on the hot seat this year, writes Bob Klapisch.

• Felipe Lopez is going to get a chance to play every day, says Manny Acta. Sounds like a dangled carrot: Lopez will have to earn his playing time.

• Jay Payton is likely to be a fourth outfielder for the Orioles, if he stays.

• Jason Varitek is entering the last year of his contract, as Sean McAdam writes. Dustin Pedroia was among the first Red Sox regulars to arrive, writes Rob Bradford.

Dan Shaughnessy has a mound of questions for Curt Schilling.

• Former No. 1 pick Luke Hochevar may pitch out of the bullpen, as Dick Kaegel writes.

• It's a World Series title or bust for the Tigers this year, writes Lynn Henning.

• Yorman Bazardo has picked up the dream that his brother could not pursue, writes Jon Paul Morosi.

• Rafael Soriano is ready to close games, writes David O'Brien. Chipper Jones knows he's got to stay in the lineup.

Jeff Francoeur gained 17 pounds with his offseason regimen.

• Marc Wiley is in charge of the Marlins' moundsmen.

• The proposal for the Marlins' new park is moving along, writes Sarah Talalay.

• Gio Gonzalez is well traveled, writes Joe Stiglich. Kiko Calero is throwing free of pain.

• The Mariners' No. 1 pick has the thighs of a speed skater, writes Geoff Baker, which makes sense, given his workout regimen.

• The Rays are trying to build on the confidence of their young pitchers, as Marc Lancaster writes. Cliff Floyd is in the Rays' camp to work, and to win, as Marc Topkin writes.

• Trevor Hoffman is getting a fresh start, as Dan Hayes writes. He is tinkering with his delivery, throwing from the windup rather than the stretch, as Tom Krasovic writes.

• Matt Kemp is looking for ways to improve his image, writes Bill Plaschke.

• Torii Hunter's talents were evident from the start, writes Mike DiGiovanna. Erick Aybar will have to overcome his fielding yips if he's going to be the everyday shortstop for the Angels.

Ervin Santana looks like he might bounce back this year.

• Randy Johnson is cautiously optimistic about how he's feeling. Brandon Lyon is pumped to be the Arizona closer.

• The Rangers are going to work on hitting with two strikes, over and over, writes Evan Grant. Brandon McCarthy is still pitching with great expectations, writes Anthony Andro.

• The Reds need more pitching, writes John Fay.

• A pitcher who likes to be called "Masa" has joined the Indians' staff. Andy Marte and Josh Barfield are looking to fight their way into the mix in Cleveland. Mark Shapiro is not worried about Eric Wedge's ability to handle pressure, writes Jim Ingraham.

• The Twins have a lot of pitchers but very little experience, writes La Velle Neal.

• The Brewers are setting their sights on an NL Central title, writes Gary D'Amato.

Ned Yost revisited the moments of the final week of the season and says he didn't lose his mind, in this Tom Haudricourt story.

There is one thing in here that jumps out: In the midst of the infamous September game in which the Brewers retaliated against the Cardinals, while with a one-run lead late in the contest, it is said that Prince Fielder could have taken Yost off the hook by going to his manager and telling him to save the vigilante stuff for another day. But since Fielder didn't do that, Yost felt compelled to go ahead with the retaliation.

Which makes you wonder: Who's in charge here? Fielder is 23 years old and lacks Yost's experience and big-picture perspective, and it was the manager's responsibility to go to the player and say: Hey, Big Man, you have carried all us year, and we have so much respect for what you've done. But we've got a one-run lead, we're fighting for our playoff lives. Don't worry, we'll get them back some day -- we play the Cardinals in six different series next year -- and we'll answer back. But we're going to table this for tonight. Another day, you can pick the hitter we drill; heck, you can pick the inning. We'll drill two Cardinals if you'd like. But we can't get into this stuff tonight.

Says Yost about this situation, within the piece: "I'd do it again if I had to. I'll do anything for my players. Anything.

"If you don't stick up for your players, you lose them."

If Yost worked for me, I would have a conversation with him about all this. But hey, I'm a dopey sports writer who has run nothing more than a Strat-O-Matic team.

• John Grabow and Matt Capps will lead the Pittsburgh bullpen, as Dejan Kovacevic writes. Among the questions for the Pirates: Will their stars rebound, as Rob Biertempfel asks.

Doug Mientkiewicz is lending versatility.

The way this division is taking shape, you could see the Pirates finishing as high as third place. The Cubs and Brewers are, on paper, clearly the class of the division, with the Reds, Pirates, Cardinals and Astros all going into spring with major issues.

• Ozzie Guillen says he's going to be cocky this year, within this Chris De Luca piece.

Scott Boras client Joe Crede says the White Sox didn't approach his agent about a possible extension, as Joe Cowley writes, and the White Sox beg to differ.

• Mark DeRosa is the Cubs' second baseman, for now. Lou Piniella will let the team's pitching work itself out.

• The Cubs are suing a rooftop owner.

• Johan Santana is shrugging off expectations, writes Lisa Kennelly.

PED ZONE
• Andy Pettitte arrives in Tampa Sunday night and the heat will be on him, as George King writes, in the aftermath of the congressional hearing. The Yankees' front office reportedly feels duped by the left-hander.

• A childhood friend supplied the HGH to Andy Pettitte's father, reports the Daily News.

• Paul Lo Duca sort of apologized, but sort of didn't, as Mark Zuckerman writes. He borrowed liberally from the Jason Giambi playbook, writes Ken Davidoff.

• Mike Vaccaro tells the tale of Roger Clemens in Washington, to the verse of "Casey At The Bat."

• Clemens may have overreached, writes George Vecsey.

• Drayton McLane could give a boost to Clemens, writes Richard Justice. I wonder if Clemens is at all toying with the idea of coming back and pitching, in his effort to show he is clean -- and his legal issues may not begin to be resolved for months. I can't see him sitting around waiting for the hammer to fall.

• Barry Bonds has followed a different script than Roger Clemens has followed, writes Gwen Knapp.

• Baseball continues to struggle with its addictions, the ex-wife of Rod Beck tells Melissa Isaacson.

AND OTHER STUFF
• We're gaining momentum as the postseason nears -- that's five straight SEC wins and counting for Vanderbilt.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:33 pm

In wake of Giants' success, watch teams stockpile speed rushers
Yasinskas




http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=yasinskas_pat&id=3248965

Giants pass-rushing standouts Justin Tuck (91) and Osi Umenyiora roughed up Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII. Brady was sacked five times and fumbled in the first half.

Two weeks ago at University of Phoenix Stadium, the New York Giants made the perfect quarterback look imperfect.

As New England Patriots passer Tom Brady took hit after hit and got sacked five times, 30 other teams were taking notes and thinking about the future. The Super Bowl rings the Giants will get in a few months will be their reminder of victory, but a prolific pass rush might end up being this team's legacy.

The NFL long has been a copycat league, with the 3-4 defense and the zone blitz taking turns as popular trends in recent years. But New York might have shown that the purest and most productive way to fluster a quarterback is the old-fashioned way. Take a speedy defensive end -- or, in the case of the Giants, two or three -- and just turn him or them loose.

NFL Draft 2008

SCOUTS' D-END RANKINGS: Virginia's Chris Long gets top billing. How does Scouts Inc. rank the best of the rest? Insider Draft tracker

DRAFT CENTRAL: From Scouts Inc. rankings to Todd McShay's mock drafts, here's complete coverage of the April 26-27 draft. More

It sounds easy enough in theory, but there's a reason the Giants made it work to perfection. They've done a masterful job of stockpiling speedy and athletic defensive ends and getting them on the field, even if they're not all lining up at defensive end. The value of that became obvious in the playoff run and unquestionable in the Super Bowl.

Although a lot of other teams have been content for years to go with one strong pass-rushing defensive end, an ordinary starter on the other side and a couple of mediocre backups, New York has made it a priority to load up on true pass-rushers and not worry much about their ability to stop the run.

In the past five drafts, the Giants have selected six guys who have played defensive end in college. All six of them were prolific pass-rushers in college. Not all have worked out, and not all have stayed at defensive end, but that philosophy still has given New York an uncommon pass rush.

The Giants got 32 sacks in the 2007 regular season from starters Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora and backup Justin Tuck, who also plays inside at times. Give plenty of credit to coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese for making the most of this talent, but don't give them all the credit for acquiring it.

Coughlin took over in 2004, and Reese came on board before last season. Former GM Ernie Accorsi and former coach Jim Fassel started collecting defensive ends back in 2003 when they drafted Umenyiora to go with Strahan.

At the time, a lot of teams would have viewed having bookend pass-rushers as a luxury. But the Giants didn't stop there. In Coughlin's first two drafts with New York, the Giants took four more players who were prolific pass rushers in college. They took Isaac Hilton and Reggie Torbor in 2004 and Tuck and Eric Moore in 2005.

Hilton and Moore are no longer with the team, but Tuck's versatility has made him a fixture in the defensive line rotation and Torbor made a smooth transition to linebacker. New York really seemed to go overboard on defensive ends in 2006 when it used its first-round pick on Mathias Kiwanuka.

The Giants played Kiwanuka as a backup defensive end as a rookie before moving him to outside linebacker before the 2007 season. Kiwanuka went down with a season-ending leg injury in November. But New York still had a strong pass rush from Torbor and the defensive ends. It also helped tremendously in the Super Bowl when the interior linemen were collapsing the pocket and making Brady run into Strahan, Tuck and Umenyiora.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was in his first season in that role, and he helped the pass rush get stronger late in the season. It should only continue to get better. Strahan is nearing the end of his career, but the Giants have enough defensive ends and converted defensive ends on their roster to survive that and stay strong up front for years to come. But don't be at all surprised if Coughlin uses another draft pick (or two) on a defensive end this year.

And don't be surprised if a lot of other teams start trying to follow the lead of the Giants. Virginia's Chris Long, Clemson's Phillip Merling, Florida's Derrick Harvey, Ohio State's Vernon Gholston and Southern California's Lawrence Jackson all fit the mold of pass-rushing defensive ends. Long, Gholston and Merling are viewed as likely first-round picks, Jackson and Harvey as guys who could go late in the first round or early in the second round.

But those are early predictions. Starting Wednesday and continuing through Feb. 26 in Indianapolis, the league must go through the scouting combine and individual workouts. That could push five or six defensive ends into the first round as the rest of the league gives more thought to how the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:34 pm

you giants haters are reeeeaaally making this super bowl win not as satisfying as it could be... boo hooo....

...not!

they may not win it again next year, but they will always go down in history as the team that took out the mighty pats in the final minute of the final, ultimate game by a qb who just got "lucky

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:35 pm

Versatile Long leads impressive group of defensive ends
McShay

By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.
(Archive)
Insider

Updated: February 18, 2008

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The 2008 NFL draft should feature at least eight defensive linemen selected in the first round. The most likely candidates include DEs Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, Phillip Merling, Derrick Harvey and Calais Campbell, and DTs Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis and Kentwan Balmer.

Long, Dorsey and Ellis rank among the six elite prospects in this year's class. Long earned the highest grade of the 2008 senior prospects I studied on film last summer, and his game was even more refined this past fall. He is versatile enough to play end in a three- or four-man front, and some teams think his best fit in the NFL could be at linebacker. Dorsey and Ellis have somewhat similar styles; Dorsey spent most of his time working as a three-technique at LSU, while Ellis did most of his damage at nose tackle. Regardless, both display the first-step quickness, explosive power and closing burst to disrupt in the NFL.

The remaining five projected first-rounders have a wide variety of backgrounds and styles. Gholston is an undersized edge rusher who might fit best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Balmer played tackle at UNC but might fit best as a 3-4 end in the NFL. Merling and Campbell are unusually big 4-3 ends coming out of the college ranks, and depending on the scheme, could play inside and/or outside at the next level. Finally, Harvey has the frame and speed to play a more traditional weakside end in a four-man front.

There are far more quality ends than tackles to choose from in this year's crop of defensive linemen, and the official combine list confirmed that feeling. Of the 52 defensive linemen invited to Indianapolis, 35 are listed as college defensive ends.

This deep group can be broken into three different parts. First, there are traditional ends that fit best in a 4-3 scheme. Some quality examples expected to be available between Rounds 2 and 5 include Lawrence Jackson, Darrell Robertson, Christopher Ellis and Jeremy Thompson. Second, there is a group of bigger ends who project better as inside players in a three-man front. Kendall Langford, Jason Jones and Johnny Dingle fit that mold and will be available after the first round.

The third group is best classified as rush-linebacker types. These are typically end/outside linebacker tweeners who lack the size to consistently stack at the line of scrimmage but are blessed with enough pass-rushing burst and athleticism to play a more versatile role, either as a full-time starter at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or as a sub-package edge rusher. Some second-tier examples will include Quentin Groves, Clifford Avril, Titus Brown, Jameel McClain and Jeremy Geathers.

As for the tackles, there's a noticeable drop-off in talent after Dorsey, Ellis and Balmer. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if Pat Sims is the only one to come off the board in Round 2. Sims came on strong as a junior (4.5 sacks and 15 QB hurries) and should test well enough to solidify a spot in the first couple of rounds.

Defensive tackles available on Day 2 should be viewed as potential situational contributors. There will be several undersized three-technique types capable of occasionally disrupting the opponent's backfield. The best of the rest include Trevor Laws, Letroy Guion, DeMario Pressley, Andre Fluellen and Carlton Powell. Then there are space-eaters like Marcus Harrison, Red Bryant, Frank Okam and Athyba Rubin, who will fit best in two-gap schemes at the next level.

Finally, there are a handful of small-school defensive linemen vying for spots in the late rounds. In my opinion, the three with the biggest upsides are Langford (Hampton), DE/OLB Curtis Johnson (Clark Atlanta) and DT Kurt Hout (Ferris State).

Top 25 Defensive Line Prospects in 2008 NFL Draft
Player School Position Height Weight Speed
1. Chris Long Virginia DE 6-3 1/4 266 4.80
2. Glenn Dorsey LSU DT 6-1 1/4 310 5.10
3. Sedrick Ellis USC DT 6-0 7/8 308 4.95
4. Vernon Gholston Ohio State DE 6-3 5/8 255 4.65
5. Kentwan Balmer North Carolina DT 6-4 1/2 308 5.05
6. Phillip Merling Clemson DE 6-4 3/8 275 4.71
7. Derrick Harvey Florida DE 6-4 1/2 250 4.65
8. Calais Campbell Miami DE 6-7 5/8 279 4.80
9. Lawrence Jackson USC DE 6-4 3/8 261 4.92
10. Quentin Groves Auburn DE 6-3 1/8 249 4.43
11. Pat Sims Auburn DT 6-3 7/8 310 4.96
12. Darrell Robertson Georgia Tech DE 6-3 7/8 247 4.75
13. Trevor Laws Notre Dame DT 6-0 7/8 297 5.16
14. Cliff Avril Purdue DE 6-3 252 4.70
15. Marcus Harrison Arkansas DT 6-2 3/4 310 5.05
16. Kendall Langford Hampton DE 6-5 3/8 295 4.95
17. Letroy Guion Florida State DT 6-4 1/4 297 5.17
18. Jason Jones Eastern Michigan DE 6-5 1/8 272 4.80
19. Red Bryant Texas A&M DT 6-4 3/4 326 5.05
20. Christopher Ellis Virginia Tech DE 6-4 1/4 260 4.64
21. Dre Moore Maryland DE 6-4 1/8 307 5.00
22. Demario Pressley NC State DT 6-3 1/4 300 4.85
23. Jeremy Thompson Wake Forest DE 6-4 3/8 264 4.80
24. Andre Fluellen Florida State DT 6-1 7/8 285 5.05
25. Johnny Dingle West Virginia DE 6-3 1/28 275 4.85

Day 1 Defensive Linemen in 2007 NFL Draft
Player College Position Drafted By Round (Overall)
1. Gaines Adams Clemson DE Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 (4)
2. Jamaal Anderson Arkansas DE Atlanta Falcons 1 (Cool
3. Amobi Akoye Louisville DT Houston Texans 1 (10)
4. Adam Carriker Nebraska DE St. Louis Rams 1 (13)
5. Justin Harrell Tennessee DT Green Bay Packers 1 (16)
6. Jarvis Moss Florida DE Denver Broncos 1 (17)
7. Anthony Spencer Purdue DE Dallas Cowboys 1 (26)
8. Alan Branch Michigan DT Arizona Cardinals 2 (33)
9. LaMarr Woodley Michigan DE Pittsburgh Steelers 2 (46)
10. Turk McBride Tennessee DT Kansas City Chiefs 2 (54)
11. Tim Crowder Texas DE Denver Broncos 2 (56)
12. Victor Abiamiri Notre Dame DE Philadelphia Eagles 2 (57)
13. Ikaika Alama-Francis Hawaii DE Detroit Lions 2 (58)
14. Dan Bazuin Central Michigan DE Chicago Bears 2 (62)
15. Quentin Moses Georgia DE Oakland Raiders 3 (65)
16. Jay Alford Penn State DT New York Giants 3 (81)
17. DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler NC State DT Kansas City Chiefs 3 (82)
18. Charles Johnson Georgia DE Carolina Panthers 3 (83)
19. Brandon Mebane California DT Seattle Seahawks 3 (85)
20. Ray McDonald Florida DE San Francisco 49ers 3 (97)
21. Quinn Pitcock Ohio State DT Indianapolis Colts 3 (98)

The following is a graphic representation of the number of defensive linemen selected in each round of the previous three NFL drafts. Most NFL teams use this type of chart to study position trends when setting up their draft boards each year.

Three-Year Average of Defensive Tackles Drafted
Round 2007 2006 2005 Average
1 2 3 5 3.3
2 2 0 1 1.0
3 5 2 2 3.0
4 4 4 3 3.7
5 3 3 4 3.3
6 2 7 5 4.7
7 1 4 4 3.0
Total 19 23 18 20.0

Three-Year Average of Defensive Ends Drafted
Round 2007 2006 2005 Average
1 5 5 4 4.7
2 5 1 2 2.7
3 2 3 2 2.3
4 5 3 2 3.3
5 2 5 2 3.0
6 2 2 6 3.3
7 4 5 3 4.0
Total 25 24 21 23.3

Todd McShay is the director of college football scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:36 pm

Discerning intangibles is difficult task

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/columns/story?columnist=reese_floyd&id=3244346

Anyone is capable of determining the measurables of a draft-eligible player. NFL scouts are able to quantify a player's speed, agility, strength and body-fat percentage using a variety of drills and measurements.

Being able to value a player's intangibles is quite different, and the aptitude to put a value on these characteristics is what makes a talent evaluator great. With the NFL scouting combine set to begin next week, here are five important intangibles that scouts and front-office personnel will try to evaluate:

Character: Character is the main reason a sixth-round draft choice can become the league MVP. High-character players are aware of their value and they understand exactly what is expected from them. Of all of the intangibles, character allows teams to hit on a sixth-round pick, but it is also capable of making a first-round picks a bust.

Part of the reason it is getting increasingly difficult to evaluate character is because colleges, agents and parents are doing a better job of camouflaging kids who may have questionable character. This is why screening and spending time evaluating the character of a player is so important. Further investigation might find that what appears to be a quality character kid is actually quite the opposite.

Work ethic: This is one of the more underrated intangibles because I think a lot of people still believe that it is difficult to outwork someone in the NFL. This is not true. My experiences with players like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Eddie George prove it.

Work ethic can increase a player's innate abilities one level. If your ability is reflective of a backup, a great work ethic makes you a starter. If you're a starter, it makes you a Pro Bowler. If you're a Pro Bowler, it makes you a Hall of Famer. Every year, we see players make rosters because they will outwork others on the team. It happens on the practice field, in a meeting room or with a playbook.

Mental toughness: Really, mental toughness is the basis of NFL football. This can apply during a long drive late in a game, when a player looks across the line to see that his opponent is so tired he can't stand up, and the player is exhausted himself. Great mental toughness is the ability to go one more play harder than you did the last one. If necessary, you will do the same thing on the next play.

It is too easy for most people to exaggerate a tight hamstring as a reason to get out of practice or to lose focus during a meeting. Wondering how to eliminate the pain is human nature. In the NFL, players must absorb the pain. They overcome the pain, then they dive into that pain again tomorrow, improving themselves even more than today.

Instincts: Instincts are the radar that guides all tangibles. They are the compass of a great football player. If a player lacks some measurables, instincts can make up for them. Evaluating instincts effectively can separate the fair evaluators from good, and good from great. You will watch great players, for no apparent reason, go left when everyone else is going right and end up in a position to intercept a pass or make a key play.

Instincts are the ability to, in the turmoil of a play, make the correct decision when everyone else is making the wrong decision. Because players often fall into the right position by accident, only the most astute evaluators can determine if an action was because of instincts or just a blunder that ended fortunately for the player.

Football intelligence/judgment: Football intelligence has to do with instincts, intangibles, judgment and making the right decision in a specific situation. Is there a right time to get a pass interference penalty? Sometimes there is. It has to do with the understanding of the game and often a very specific situation. For example, when you run a fake punt, you need a player with good football intelligence handling the ball.

Even if a player scores low on an IQ test, he can still have great football knowledge. There is coaching involved, but you can't coach every guy on every play. Football intelligence varies from position to position. I believe judgment is the key element to it. When you run a play like the "Music City Miracle," you want Frank Wycheck throwing the ball because you know he will make the right decision on the pass. You need someone with good football intelligence and judgment.

Former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese frequently contributes to ESPN.com.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:43 pm

C- Varitek or Posada. It depends. Offensively it's Posada by a longshot, but for defense and leadership it's Varitek. If I were to choose if I'd rather have a catcher who hits or who handles the team, it has to be the ladder. Therefore, the slight edge goes to the Sox. Edge-Varitek.

1B- Youkilis or Duncan. Right now, you have to take Youk. Youk is a very good hitter, he always gets .285-.300 and is consistently in the 15-20 home run area. While I think Shelly can hit 20 home runs or more, he hasn't done so yet. Edge-Youkils

2B- Pedroia or Cano. Two different ballplayers here. Pedroia is a good hitter and a reliable leadoff man. Cano is a stud in every offensive category and can carry an offense with his skills. He's a legit middle of the order threat. Pedroia's good for .290-.320, Cano is good for .300-.340 every year with 25+ home runs. The Yankees have the obvious edge here. Edge- Cano.

SS- Lugo or Jeter. I really don't want to waste my time with this explanation here. Edge- Jeter.

3B- Lowell or Rodriguez. A-Rod had an unbelieveable season last year, a Mickey Mantle type of season. I really don't want to hear A-Rod and his postseason unproven, because not any of the pitchers even gave A-Rod a chance to come up big because of the holes they put the team in. We are talking about the best player in baseball vs. a good solid 3B in Mike Lowell. For those who think A-Rod won't ever have his clutch postseason it will happen, you can't keep a player of his stature down so long. I mean look at Bonds, he was a terrible postseason player before 2002 until he finally came through with a big postseason that year. I mean the A-Rod haters will have to find something else to pin on A-Rod when he has the great postseason. It's not is it going to happen it's when is it going to happen. It's only a matter of time. Edge- Rodriguez.

LF- Ramirez or Matsui/Damon. All three players are on the decline and have seen the better days. They are somewhat injury prone. I think this is debatable, but I still think Ramirez is a bit better eventhough he doesn't have much left. Edge- Ramirez.

CF- Ellsbury or Melky. Very close. I think Ellsbury has more upside but he has yet to prove it through a whole season. Right now, I'll call it even. Edge- Even.

RF- Drew or Abreu. Abreu is the ideal guy hitting in front of A-Rod. He works the pitcher, gets on base and is always among the league leaders in extra base hits. Drew and Abreu are both equal in power, about 15-20 home runs, but Abreu is the better all around player. He steals bases and is an on base machine, the same cannot be said for Drew. Edge- Abreu.

DH-Ortiz or Giambi. Ortiz is the obvious winner here at this stage of Giambi's career. Edge- Ortiz

SP- Beckett or Wang. I like Wang, I think he's a legit ace, but Beckett is a better ace. Although Wang's the ace right now, but Hughes and or Kennedy are likely to pass him, but he is a very good pitcher. He has won big games before, he has 2 postseason wins, so he can pitch in big games. However, Beckett is who he is, an ace and a playoff demon to other teams. Edge- Beckett.

SP- Matsuzaka or Pettitte. I was very disappointed to hear that Andy did HGH, but at least he admitted it. He's still one of my favorite Yankees. Dice-K and Andy both finish with similar wins, 14-17 and ERA. This one's too close to decide. Edge- Even.

SP- Wakefield or Mussina. With the injury to Schilling, Wakefield is the likely #3 starter. He and Moose are old and on the decline, but I think Moose will be better this year than last. Moose won't be great, but won't get bombed as much either. Edge- Mussina.

SP- Buckholz or Hughes. Sky's the limit for both of these guys. Clay had a no hitter and Hughes had a near no hitter and probably would've had one if he didn't get hurt. Hughes also had that tremendous pitching performance in the postseason against the Indians. Both have showed they have the stuff to be aces. These two will probably be at the top of the rotation for their rival teams for many years. For the next 10-15 years the main debate will be about which one of these guys has the slight edge. But as of right now, they start at the same point. Edge- Even.

SP- Lester or Kennedy. Kennedy reminds me of a young Mike Mussina. I personally don't think Kennedy has quite the upside as Hughes and Buckholz, but he has quite the upside too. Lester I think is okay, not great. I think the Yankees have the edge here. Edge- Kennedy.

CL- Paplebon or Rivera. I still think Mariano is great, but he's not quite as dominant as he once was. He has lost a little, but only a little. I only think there's one closer better than Mo, and I hate to say it, but it's Paps. He moved passed Mo last year. Paps is what Mo was 5 or so years ago, but Mo is still close to that. Edge- Paplebon.

SU- Okajima or Chamberlain. Oki is a terrific reliever, but Joba is unbelieveable. The Yankees are being smart keeping him in the bullpen, because he is needed there. I also think that is his long term solution. Mariano can't pitch forever unfortunately, so you need a replacement. I think the Yankees are going to do the same thing with Joba that the Sox did with Paplebon, keep him in the bullpen and make him the closer. I really think Joba will be the closer when Mo retires. Edge- Chamberlain.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:44 pm

Pettitte answer questions for more than an hour


http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/

TAMPA -- Andy Pettitte spoke to reporters at Legends Field for more than an hour concerning is own HGH use and his relationship with Roger Clemens going forward. The Yankee lefty, who testified before Congressional lawyers in a 105-page deposition that Clemens admitted to HGH use, was flanked by GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi. Also there in support were long time teammates - Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, who sat through the press conference in its entirety and then hugged Pettitte one-by-one at its conclusion.

Pettitte repeated that he felt he would be and wanted to be friends with Roger Clemens when all this was over, but the one thing Pettitte would not go into was his testimony against Clemens.

Petitte also indicated several times his decision to take HGH was "stupid" and out of "desperation" because of his injury situation with a torn flexor muscle in his elbow. He claimed he never took HGH to gain an edge but only to get off the DL sooner to help repair the tissue damage in his elbow.

Pettitte said he will apologize to his Yankee teammates for the distraction he caused and has already apologized to the Steinbrenner family for "embarrassing" the organization. Supposedly, the Steinbrenners told Pettitte they were behind him "100 percent" and that he hadn't brought the organization any embarrassment. Pettitte said he disagreed with the owners on that point.

Asked why he took HGH again in 2004 he said, "Stupidity and desperation are the only excuse I can give you...I found out my dad (Tom) was using it) I had just signed a three-year contract with the Astros and after my first start I found out I needed surgery...I wasn't going to have surgery. I felt I was going to let the organization down...."

He said of Clemens, "I love him like a brother. It's a horrible situation....both men (Brian McNamee) are my friends. It's a horrible position to be in."

Pettitte said he spoke to Clemens about a month ago, but not since. He said, "The main reason is it wouldn't be smart to talk to him while we're under oath (and testifying). It's bound to pout a strain (on our relationship) because I usually talk to him and we play golf several times (in the off-season). It's an uncomfortable situation."

Asked whether listening to Clemens say Pettitte "misremembers" their 1999 conversation when Clemens admitted he took HGH, Pettitte said, "I don't take it personally. Roger is a grown man. He's doing what he feels is the right thing to do." Pettite reiterate that McNamee told the truth about his HGH use, but would not get into whether McNamee was telling the truth about Clemens.

Asked why he didn't tell the Mitchell Report the whole truth about his use in 2004, Pettite said, "I'm sorry I didn't tell the whole truth. I never wanted to ring my dad into this. He (his dad) urged me to tell the truth even if it hurt him. He's a private individual. I hope with the help of y'all I can put this behind me."

Pettitte was asked whether he thought about retiring after this situation came up and he admitted he did.

"I'd be lying if I said that didn't cross my mind. Not over the last couple of days...It's been a hard off-season.." He said about bailing out, "That wouldn't be the thing to do as a man. I'll take it like a man."

Pettitte admitted that it was McNamee who called to tip him off that the would be named in the Mitchell Report about a week before the report came out.

Pettitte admitted that he did not want to testify before Congress and thanked his attorneys, who were present, for getting him out of it.

"I didn't want to do it," Pettitte said.

Pettitte doesn't think he'll be suspended by Commissioner Bud Selig.

He said of his own preparedness for the season, "My arm feels great..." But he lamented that his legs were not as strong as he would have hoped at this time.

Pettitte asked whether he feels the sport has been cleaned up said, "If you're doing anything all you have to do is see what I've been put through and what Roger has been through and you'd get cleaned up real quick."

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:46 pm

As a Boston native, I remain a devoted Red Sox fan. If I find myself in the stands at Fenway, and Pettitte is on the mound, I'll give him hell because of his pinstripes and for that reason alone. I watched most of his press conference and I have to admit, it moved me. I admire him for standing in front of the world and answering every question. I believe he was contrite and not simply staying on point. I do have an issue with Pettitte failing to see that the healing benefits of HGH give its user an unfair egde over injured players not taking HGH. But that's neither her nor there. The bottom line is Pettitte did the right thing after doing the wrong thing. It was one of the best non-baseball baseball plays we've seen in a while. When Andy Pettitte pitches at Fenway, I hope the Faithful let him have it, but in no greater measure than any of the other Yanks will surely get it.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:47 pm

Pettitte still has some rough days ahead
By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com

Monday, February 18, 2008

TAMPA, Fla. -- Have we ever seen anything like this? Have we ever seen a player do what Andy Pettitte did Monday? Have we ever seen a baseball player, stuck in the muck of a performance-enhancing drugs scandal, sit behind a microphone and explain it all for close to an hour? Actually tell us what he did? And why he did it? And how it felt? And why he lied about it? Tell us what a mess it has made of his life? How it alienated him from one of his best friends on earth? How painful it w ...

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* Comments (1-18)
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PHILLABUSTER1
PHILLABUSTER1 (9 minutes ago)
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The Yankees don't need either of these fossils any more.
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rudyrudat
rudyrudat (22 minutes ago)
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Hey Roger! I hope you look at this whole mess as a blessing. For once in your pampered life, you get the chance to know what it's like to be a real human being. After your recent actions, I suspect this concept is lost on you. Oh well, perhaps "your kids" will get the clue despite you.
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ptramonte
ptramonte (25 minutes ago)
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Jayson (and all of the other writers out there),

I agree with Mistersammo on this one. I have to believe that those fans that give Andy hell will do so because he is a Yankee, not because of HGH. Yeah, they might taunt him on the HGH, but if not that, they would have found something else. Jayson's line that this will never end for Andy might only be true because the likes of Jayson and the other pundits don't want it to end. The story will stay alive, because they want it to stay alive. I suspect that most fans are tired of the story. I don't condone the use of ANY performance enhancing drugs and want the game cleaned up. But this specter of endless hand-wringing, congressional hearings, and the holier than thou pronouncements of pundits as to whether someone belongs in the Hall of Fame is getting old. Implement a meaningful testing/penalty regime and lets play ball. Jayson, write about the upcoming season.....
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macca405
macca405 (26 minutes ago)
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confirmed cheat= great guy,stand up gentleman??????????? ???????????????
c'mon now ESPN and mlb have offically "jumped the shark"
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PHILLABUSTER1
PHILLABUSTER1 (35 minutes ago)
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Yeah like when je gets rocked because he can't pitch anymore.
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lamerde75
lamerde75 (39 minutes ago)
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cdg, I couldn't agree more. Giambi does get a bad rap for a lot of people, but when he held that news conference everyone could tell he felt bad about what had happened and genuinely, as Jayson Stark puts it, meant what he was saying. I'm glad Petitte did what he did today; it was a stand up move on his part but let's not go overboard with the praise. mostly he looks great just being next to Roger Clemens and his litany of lies.
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Mistersammo
Mistersammo (42 minutes ago)
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As a Boston native, I remain a devoted Red Sox fan. If I find myself in the stands at Fenway, and Pettitte is on the mound, I'll give him hell because of his pinstripes and for that reason alone. I watched most of his press conference and I have to admit, it moved me. I admire him for standing in front of the world and answering every question. I believe he was contrite and not simply staying on point. I do have an issue with Pettitte failing to see that the healing benefits of HGH give its user an unfair egde over injured players not taking HGH. But that's neither her nor there. The bottom line is Pettitte did the right thing after doing the wrong thing. It was one of the best non-baseball baseball plays we've seen in a while. When Andy Pettitte pitches at Fenway, I hope the Faithful let him have it, but in no greater measure than any of the other Yanks will surely get it.
o
cdg02001
cdg02001 (54 minutes ago)
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Jayson:

Please, stop pretending like Giambi's apology wasn't genuine. He was/is under an ongoing federal case pertaining to BALCO and his lawyers advised him to not directly mention steroids (he probably avoided it so the Yanks couldn't void his contract, but I'm not sure I blame him - they agreed to leave wording about steroids out of the original contract to begin with).

But Jason Giambi will forever be the first baseball player who, while playing the game, manned up and fessed up to what he did. Sheffield and Bonds thought they were taking flaxseed oil, McGuire doesn't want to talk about the past, and Sosa no speak-y the English.

You and every human being knew what Giambi was taking about. And unlike Lo Duca he didn't say "come on, man." He was emotional, he apologized to his teammates but first to the fans for ruining the game. And he spent 30 minutes face to face with each member of the 40 man roster he belonged to, apologizing and answering any of their questions. After than (according to Mattingly), he spent more time than any other Yankee in the batting cages all season. And what happened? He became Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 - based not on steroids, but on the raw skill that got him to the bigs in the first place.

Everyone who used steroids is first and foremost a cheater. But the ones who apologized and admitted the use (de jure or de facto) remain respectable. Jason was the first one to do that, and for three years he was the only one. Don't forget.
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eddyjoemd
eddyjoemd (1 hour ago)
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i loved andy pettitte and still do. my fav yankee after mattingly (im an '82 baby). hes a great ballplayer and person. i wish i could go out to watch him pitch and cheer for him even if hes a "cheater". hes no lesser a person and will still command respect.
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Bigbadwolf666
Bigbadwolf666 (1 hour ago)
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Big ups to him for being a man and admitting it and not hiding or lying like a coward.
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spartan_00
spartan_00 (1 hour ago)
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pettite will be fine, he can flat out throw the ball,this wont hurt him.
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ScottMoreau
ScottMoreau (1 hour ago)
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For the record, snoop, Pettitte offered up the time he used HGH in 2004, without any evidence against him, just to clear his conscience.
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GOTERPS55
GOTERPS55 (1 hour ago)
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i bet clemens wishes he could go back in time and do what pettitte just did. well, too late now because all his chips are sitting in the middle of the felt table. how does roger clemens sleep at night? i'm wondering what took more balls... roger's persistent selfishness and evasive ambiguity OR andy's geuine sincerity.
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ScottMoreau
ScottMoreau (1 hour ago)
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This was probably the most noble act of owning up to an actnthat I have ever seen. I understand that Andy Pettitte shouldn't be commended, as he's done this to himself, but he's one of the good guys, and he did nothing to dissuade me from that belief today. And this is coming from a Sox fan. Nice work, Andy. You're alright in my book, and I hope they don't take you down.
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snoophog
snoophog (1 hour ago)
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What he did today was commendable to a degree. Which was admit to the discrete times he used that were corroborated by hard evidence and also magically all happened before 2005, when MLB "outlawed" the juice. However, you are absolutely naive to believe that these occurances were the only times he used. If I had a dollar for every idiot who has "admitted" to doing it "just once" and then "coming to his senses", I would be richer than these steroided freaks.

What would REALLY impress me is the guy who has not been caught, who is not sitting on the point of an evidenciary spear, who comes out and says, "you know what, I've been using for years, and I've been very careful covering my tracks, but I want to come clean, even though I'm not in the Report and not discussing this before Congress under oath". Find me that person.
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terry_bennett
terry_bennett (2 hours ago)
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If all involved guilty parties (MLB and union Bigwigs included) would just do what Andy Petttite has done, all of the speculation could end and we all could focus on playing and watching and enjoying the game. Good move on Pettitte's part.
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oximeter
oximeter (2 hours ago)
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That day with Roger at his house when he showed Andy how he could bean sandhill cranes with a baseball was probably prominent in his thoughts as he talked today.
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MPHaynes
MPHaynes (2 hours ago)
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Maybe stories like this don't die because Sports Media USA is determined not to let it.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:47 pm

For the record, snoop, Pettitte offered up the time he used HGH in 2004, without any evidence against him, just to clear his conscience.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:49 pm

Another big season from Posada?


http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=neyer_rob

Yesterday in the Times, Jack Curry wrote about the amazing Jorge Posada:

After the Yankees drafted Posada as an infielder in 1990, they moved him to catcher in his second minor league season. Posada said that his longevity as a catcher had been aided by not playing the position full time until he was a professional. By the time most catchers are in the minors, their bodies have been absorbing abuse for more than a decade.

During Posada's superb 2007, he was jolted when a reporter asked if he was getting "any help." Posada did not know the reporter and, at first, said he did not understand the question. After the reporter was more specific, Posada dismissed the question.

"It's too bad that we have to deal with this, but this is the way it's going to be for 20 years," Posada said. "It might be this way for longer than that."

When Yogi Berra was 35, he caught 63 games and began the transition to the outfield. When Gary Carter was 35, he caught 47 games. When Johnny Bench was 35, he caught five games in his final season. When Posada was 35 last year, he might have had the best season ever by a catcher that age.

Among catchers 35 and older, Posada's on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, or O.P.S., was .970. Only Gabby Hartnett's .971 in 1937 was better. Posada's .338 average, 51 points above his career high, was second to Hartnett's .354 70 years earlier. Posada knocked in 90 runs, which trailed Carlton Fisk's 107 R.B.I. in 1985. Posada's 20 homers were the sixth highest.

This piece was sort of about Posada having to answer questions about steroids, but I find those questions a lot less interesting than this one: Was Posada's 2007 the best season ever by a catcher his age? Curry mentions Gabby Hartnett's 1937 season and Carlton Fisk's 1985, but doesn't make any adjustments for context. Let's do that, focusing on adjusted OPS (OPS+). Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, here are the top six seasons, as ranked by OPS+ by catchers who were at least 35 and played in at least 120 games:

Player Year Age OPS+ Games
Jorge Posada 2007 35 154 144
Carlton Fisk 1990 42 134 137
Carlton Fisk 1983 35 134 138
Elston Howard 1964 35 128 150
Mike Piazza 2006 37 122 126
Ernie Whitt 1989 37 121 129

How rare are good-hitting seasons by "old" catchers? There are only 17 seasons of 100-plus OPS+ -- that is, league average or better -- by catchers 35 and older. Fisk has four of those seasons. Ernie Whitt (Ernie Whitt?) has two of them. Nobody else has more than one. Not even Hartnett. He makes the list with a 114 OPS+ in 1936, but doesn't make (my) list in '37 -- the season Curry mentioned -- because he played in only 110 games that year.

The problem with Curry's analysis is that of course it stacks the deck in Posada's favor, comparing him to every player his age and older … many of them much older. A more meaningful comparison would consider catchers from ages 34-36. So here they are, same parameters as above:

Player Year Age OPS+ Games
Jorge Posada 2007 35 154 144
Elston Howard 1963 34 140 135
Carlton Fisk 1983 35 134 138
Elston Howard 1964 35 128 150
Yogi Berra 1959 34 125 131
Lance Parrish 1990 34 123 133
Jorge Posada 2006 34 122 143

Is Posada the best "old" catcher ever? No. That title clearly belongs to Fisk. Best mid-30s catcher? I don't think I'm prepared to say that; it's a great battle between him and Howard. Which is appropriate because those two have a great deal in common. Both were Yankees. Both weren't worked particularly hard in their 20s; Posada because of Joe Girardi, Howard because of Yogi Berra.

How good was Elston Howard? In his Age 34 season (above) he was the American League's MVP; in his Age 35 season (ditto) he finished third in the voting. If he hadn't gotten that late start he might be in the Hall of Fame.

But you know what happened to Howard after he turned 36? He stopped hitting. Howard's OPS+'s from ages 32-35: 153, 113, 140, 128. Over those four seasons, his 133 OPS+ is No. 1 all time for catchers in that age range (minimum 500 games). And No. 2? Posada (130 OPS+), followed by Hall of Famers Hartnett (127), Berra (118) and Fisk (117).

Howard's OPS+'s from 36-39: 77, 98, 42, 92. That last number, while constituting an impressive rebound, 1) came in only 71 games, and 2) came in Howard's last season.

Will the same fate befall Posada? Almost certainly not. Howard's a sample size of exactly one, and certainly doesn't predict Posada's future. On the other hand, Fisk is essentially the only catcher who's remained a truly productive hitter into his late 30s. Who is Posada more likely to resemble, Fisk, or the many other good-hitting catchers in the game's long history?

The answer seems obvious.

More obviousness: Posada was incredibly lucky in 2007. Perhaps it goes without saying that when any player puts up numbers that are both historic and out of character with the rest of his career, he had a bit of luck on his side. It was more than a bit, though; when Posada put the ball into play he batted around .390, far higher than his career norms. This year he'll be back to normal, and should post numbers something like his outstanding performance from 2004 through 2006. But can he keep it going for more than another year or two? Historically speaking, it's terribly unlikely. And as great as he's been, one wonders if he'll really be worth $13 million per season from today through October of 2011.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:50 pm

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The truth will set Andy Pettitte free
Hill

By Jemele Hill
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Updated: February 18, 2008, 10:45 PM ET

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Andy Pettitte's brutally honest hourlong news conference effectively sent the message that short-term humiliation beats long-term scorn any day.

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Andy Pettitte

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Andy Pettitte came clean on Monday, and now he can move on.
None of us can really know how difficult it was for Pettitte to face the media Monday afternoon at the Yankees' spring training facility after being named in the Mitchell report and giving a deposition to Congress detailing his illegal use of human growth hormone in 2002 and 2004. Some see Pettitte's involvement in a performance-enhancing drugs scandal as further proof that the lack of integrity in sports is too widespread and that cheaters always will remain far superior to testers. One BALCO was taken down, but who knows how many others have taken its place?

Someday, science might prove to be too much. But Pettitte at least proved something important and hopeful. Drug and blood tests can be beat, but the truth can't. And in the steroids and human growth hormone game, the truth-tellers are far ahead of the deniers.

As painful as Monday was for Pettitte, he is in a much better position than his buddy Roger Clemens, as well as Barry Bonds. If you survey the BALCO and Mitchell report aftermath, take note of the markedly different positions of the deniers versus the "truthers."

The deniers are facing jail time and/or the kind of public condemnation reserved for hardcore criminals. Marion Jones is awaiting sentencing for lying to federal agents about her role in BALCO and a check-fraud scheme. Bonds is facing perjury charges. And if Congress forces the issue, Clemens also could be indicted. Lawmakers also are looking into whether former American League MVP Miguel Tejada lied to a congressional committee in 2005. In the meantime, Clemens' reputation has been destroyed and he has made rapid gains on Bonds in the public-scorn department. Like Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire before him, Clemens has become a pariah.

Those who chose to be honest -- even if that honesty was a result of government pressure -- have either moved on completely or are on their way to doing so. Pettitte's teammate Jason Giambi survived the public backlash concerning his involvement in BALCO, which is hardly referenced anymore. Paul Lo Duca, who was named in the Mitchell report, recently took the first step in the Giambi Guide to Recovering From Steroid Involvement, apologizing at spring training Sunday, even though -- like Giambi -- he didn't say exactly what for. Even Victor Conte, the BALCO mastermind, has faded into the background. He struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors and served four months in jail and another four under house arrest.

Six months from now, what Pettitte has gone through since the Mitchell report was released will be an afterthought because Pettitte wisely chose the avenue of truth instead of the path of ego and cowardice. He will recover. Clemens, if he keeps up his fraudulent act, will not.

"They say the truth hurts sometimes," Pettitte said Monday. "But you have to get it out there. The truth will set you free. I'm going to sleep a lot better now."

I was among those who were tough on Pettitte in the beginning, because he offered a weak statement when the Mitchell report dropped and because there were serious questions about whether he was being completely honest.

Congress forced Pettitte to come clean completely, which included the embarrassing revelation that he scored HGH through his ailing father, Tom, who obtained the substance from a former high school classmate of Pettitte's.

Despite the shame of pulling his father into this scandal, Pettitte and the public are better off for his forthrightness. Pettitte did a lot more to shed light on this ugly underbelly in sports than the congressional hearings did. Pettitte put a human, humble face on an enormous problem in sports, providing at least some insight into what makes athletes take things as far as Pettitte did.

Pettitte explained that even though trainer and friend Brian McNamee was against his using HGH to heal his injured elbow, Pettitte considered it his only option. "There was definitely some hesitation," Pettitte said of his HGH usage in 2002. "I felt like I was making an awful lot of money. There was some tissue damage in my elbow, and I felt like I had to do that. I felt like it was the right thing to do in my heart. For some people, that's hard to understand. I thought about it for a few days. I didn't know anything about HGH, but I was told it could help me."

This is not to say Pettitte deserves a free pass, or sympathy. But his situation was a plausible, believable scenario. I believe Pettitte when he says he wasn't that educated about HGH but took it because McNamee told him it would get him back on the mound faster.

The one thing very few athletes can handle is losing the ability to compete. In a sports society in which results matter more than integrity, even a well-thought-of guy such as Pettitte is vulnerable to making an unethical decision because of his competitive nature. We love that athletes are so driven, but under the wrong influence, that trait can be their own worst enemy.

"I didn't do it to get an edge," Pettitte said. "I didn't do it to get stronger and faster or throw harder. Do I think I'm a cheater? No, I don't. Was it stupid? Yes, I was stupid. Was I desperate? Yes, I probably was."

As crazy as it sounds, the humiliation Pettitte suffered as a result of using HGH ultimately will do more to deter other athletes than the threat of jail time will. Nothing is more frightening for professional athletes than the prospect of losing their iconic status, reputation, credibility, ability to compete and possibly their income. They like the lives they lead. Just because some of them don't like to be role models doesn't mean they don't enjoy being considered as such.

Pettitte said Monday that he hoped no other athlete would ever have to go through what he has gone through. As long as athletes understand the price of lies, they won't.

Jemele Hill can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:53 pm

Personal issues make Mattingly glad Yanks hired Girardi as manager

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2008/news/story?id=3251988

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Don Mattingly realizes the family issues he faces would have kept him from managing the New York Yankees and is relieved he was bypassed for the job last fall.

Mattingly arrived at the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training facility Monday, and said his decision to be moved from the team's hitting coach to major league special assignment coach for the 2008 season was a no-brainer since it will allow him to be with his children.


Dodgers manager Joe Torre said it will be good to have Don Mattingly around, if only for a while. Mattingly switched to an assignment coach's role to be able to spend more time with his children.

"A family decision is always an easy decision for me," he said. "It's the first time ever that I ever made a commitment to someone and not lived up to that, so that was hard. That bothered me, but sometimes when you are talking about your family, you've got to do things and that's just the way it is."

A former AL MVP during 14 seasons with the Yankees from 1982-95, Mattingly spent the past four seasons as a coach in New York under manager Joe Torre. After Torre left the Yankees, Mattingly lost out to Joe Girardi to be the manager and followed Torre to Los Angeles.

"I am really grateful I didn't get it," Mattingly said of the Yankees' managerial job.

Mattingly's private issues became public earlier this month when his estranged wife, Kim, was arrested and charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct after police say she refused to leave his property in Indiana.

The couple filed for divorce in November on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

"You never want that. Obviously, that stinks. Obviously you don't want your laundry out there," Mattingly said. "I worry about it more from my kids' standpoint. I don't really worry about what people think, but the kids, it's a little bit different story.

"I worry about my youngest, keeping him straight during the transition."

Mattingly was referring to his 16-year-old son.

During the next three weeks, Mattingly will be with the Dodgers. Then he'll catch up with them throughout the season.

"The Dodgers have been great," he said. "They've treated me better than I deserve because I have no track record with this organization. I love being with Joe, and they've shown me a lot of respect and I'd really like to return that if they want me.

"I am looking at this like a long-term situation for me without anything set in stone."

Torre said it's good to have Mattingly around, if only for a while.

"He works hard, he doesn't expect anything, he has a great grasp on the game," Torre said. "It's unfortunate he won't be with us all year."

Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax worked with Dodgers pitchers Scott Proctor and Chan Ho Park on Monday.

"It's a treat," Torre said. "He'll work with some pitchers away from everybody else so he can get some one-on-one time. Tomorrow, he'll work with one of the younger pitchers. Park and Proctor both asked about it when they saw him here."

Torre said Koufax was one of the first to call him with congratulations after he was hired as manager of the Dodgers last fall.

"He's just been a very special friend, not that we talk on a regular basis," Torre said. "We stay in touch. We were both from Brooklyn, he was like five years older than I was."

Torre faced Koufax on several occasions during their playing days.

"Not a lot of fun," Torre said. "I had a couple home runs off him. He struck me out a good number of times."

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:07 pm

The AL East Remains the Powerhouse Division

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=762


by Nate Silver

I won’t be breaking any news here, but I’ve been working tonight on strength-of-schedule adjustments for the PECOTA projected standings, and the AL East remains the strongest division in baseball by some margin. What follows are the average projected third-order wins by division:

1. AL East 85.6
2. NL East 81.5
3. AL Central 81.1
4. NL West 80.7
5. AL West 79.7
6. NL Central 77.9

So, we have two divisions that look like outliers: the AL East is clearly stronger than any other division, the NL Central is clearly weaker, and the other four are bunched fairly tightly together.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these figures change for each individual club once we account for the fact that a team cannot play itself. From the Yankees‘ standpoint, for example, the AL East is only an 82.8 win division rather than a 85.6 win division, since once of the nice things about being the Yankees is that you never have to play the Yankees.

In fact, the general impact of this strength-of-schedule adjustment is to widen the standings gap between the strongest teams and the weakest ones, because of the sort of self-immunity effect that I just described. Seven teams gained at least a game in the standings as a result of the adjustment, and almost all of them were pretty strong clubs to begin with:

Cubs 89 –> 91

Indians 89 –> 90
Tigers 89 –> 90
Angels 89 –> 90
Brewers 87 –> 88
A’s 78 –> 79
White Sox 77 –> 78

Note that the Cubs, who have probably the easiest schedule in baseball, are the only team to gain two wins. Also, it’s a little strange that the White Sox gained a win, but the improvement was merely fractional (77.4 to 77.8, which now gets rounded up). These teams, meanwhile, lost one or more win.

Orioles 69 –> 67
Giants 72 –> 70

Pirates 71 –> 70
Nationals 72 –> 71
Mariners 73 –> 72
Twins 74 –> 73
Marlins 76 –> 75
Braves 86 –> 85

This adjustment will be reflected in future versions of the projected standings.

Also, a quick word about the depth charts: we’re aware that players who have switched teams are showing up in the wrong places in many instances. This will be fixed once the new round of the PECOTA cards actually goes up on the site. The projected standings themselves are not affected by this problem. Nor is PFM, which should be working fine. As always, we appreciate your patience.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:30 pm

Remembered Mitchell Report was started and initialized by Republicans. Congress hearing was started by Republicans not Democrats. That's a fact.

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Re: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=olney_buster

Post  RedMagma on Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:37 pm

Remembered Mitchell Report was started and initialized by Republicans. Congress hearing was started by Republicans not Democrats. That's a fact.

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