Friday, April 01, 2005

AVAILABLE LINEBACKERS

Everyone keeps harping on the Patriots need for linebackers. They’re not in desperate straights just yet; there is still the draft, the June first cut downs, and there may be some veterans who are cut at the end of training camp. I guess the best conclusion to draw is that Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick did not panic and start throwing outrageous amounts of money at linebackers who do not fit their profile or economic structure. Bully for them I say. Jolly good job, mates.

However, (there is always a however, otherwise this would be a pretty short entry), the fact remains that the Patriots have a gaping hole in the middle linebacker spot without Tedy Bruschi (if he sits out the season). Maybe Bill Belichick believes that Matt Chatham, Larry Izzo, Dan Klecko, and possibly a street free agent can fill the hole in the middle of the defense next to Ted Johnson without Bruschi and with Roman Phifer gone. I certainly would not have believed that a team with Asante Samuel as the number one cornerback and undrafted free agent Randall Gay as the other starter would win a super bowl, so unlike the I Hate Bill Belichick club being co-chaired by the Globe and Herald sportswriters, I can only go by history and let Bill Belichick prove himself correct over the course of next season.

The free-agent cupboard is bare. The perpetually injured Rob Morris who never lived up to his potential with the Colts is about the only inside linebacker out there and I have not heard anything about the Patriots beating down his door.

The draft has intriguing possibilities such as, if he is even available at the end of the first round, University of Florida inside linebacker Channing Crowder, whom for obvious reasons will unfortunately fill my head with images of the hideous Carol Channing slurping down clam chowder (repress shudder…too late. Uggh). Other names bandied about include a second round prospect, Adam Seward from UNLV; Odell Thurman from Georgia (the Patriots have a few Bulldogs on their roster already: Ben Watson and Richard Seymour); and Barrett Ruud from Nebraska.

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MELTDOWN:

Yes, the Celtics lost their fourth game in a row. No, I don’t want to talk about it. Yes, I’ll feel better when they spank the Hawks and go into their big, nationally televised game versus the 76ers. (The Celtics and Sixers playing on national TV? By the ghost of Brent Musberger, it must be 1984! What? Musberger is still alive? Not as far as I can tell from his infrequent appearances on tv.)

Anyway, I was watching the Surreal Life 4 back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

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YANKEES SHMANKEES:

I am sick to death about hearing how the Yankees improved their pitching staff so much over the winter while the Red Sox sat around as their pitching staff was depleted. Give me a freaking break! I can not sit here and listen to this any longer without making a few comments:

The Yankees lineup is much weaker than last season. Does no one else see this? Let me elaborate a bit:
C: Horsehead Posada: OK, no drop-off anticipated here;
1B: Tito Martinez: Wait, I fell asleep and woke up in 2001, right?
2B: Tony Womack: One good season with the Cardinals after a bunch of underachieving years with the Diamondbacks leads to…Yankee Stadium? I am happy as a clam that Womack is here. The Yankees were fitting Miguel Cairo for his Red Sox-killer costume after last year where all he did was beat the crap out of us, and the Yankees reward him by letting him walk? Great decision…for the Sox!
SS: Derek Jeter: Let me make this very, very clear: Derek Jeter aspires to be as good a player as Edgar Renteria, not vice-versa.
3B: A-Rod: A-Rod had quite a drop in the power numbers last year. Coming off the juice sucks.
DH: Jason Giambi: See above comment. Replace A-Rod with Giambi.
LF: Bobblehead Matsui: Bah, I can not come up with anything disparaging about Matsui. He plays well, he plays right, he plays hard, and he plays with pride. If he played for us, I’d love him. (But that noggin is gigantic!)
CF: Bernie Williams: Well, even though he can not run anymore, the Yankees are not concerned because the Yankees have Doug Glanville to fill in. (Read that again and tell me why Yankees fans are not throwing up in their mouth every time they think about Carlos Beltran playing for the Mets?)
RF: Gary Sheffield: See the Giambi and A-Rod comments. Replace with Sheffield.

Next up, that vaunted starting rotation:

SP: Randy Johnson: Hey, I love the Big Unit. He’s a physical marvel. But he will break down this season or next, just as David Wells will break down for the Sox at some time in the next two seasons. But somehow I think this breakdown will hurt the Pinstriped ones more than Wells breaking down will hurt the Sox.
SP: Carl Pavano: Prove it to us kid. The big apple ate up Ed Whitson, and I doubt you are any tougher than he was. Also, remember that game two years ago where the Sox score thirteen runs in the first inning against the Marlins? They ended up winning 24-4 or some audatious number like that? Carl Pavano started and was rocked and gave up 7 or 8 runs without getting an out. Just thought you would all like to know that.
SP: Jaret Wright: See the Tony Womack comment above. Just because you pitch well in Atlanta does not mean that success carries over to a different team without a genius pitching coach.
SP: Mike Mussina: If it was 2001, I might be concerned about his presence in the rotation.
SP: Kevin Brown: See above.

Finally, the bullpen:

Mike Stanton, Paul Quantrill, Flash Gordon, Steve Karsay: See above. If it was 2001, I might be concerned about their presence in the bullpen.
Mariano Rivera: At least we beat him once in awhile now instead of never. He’s still nasty and scary though.

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