Saturday, January 31, 2009

Varitek makes a deal with the Sox

At long last the Red Sox and Sox Captain/Catcher Jason Varitek have agreed to a deal. The deal brings Varitek back to the Sox for 2009 and includes both a club and player option for 2010. The club option allows them to bring back 'Tek for the 2010 season for $5 million and the player option allows 'Tek to return for $3 million and a possibly an additional $2 million in incentives.

Varitek made a big mistake in declining arbitration, which likely would've kept his salary at a hefty $10 million. By declining any teams interested in Jason's services would have to surrender a draft pick in the process. Beyond that, 'Tek's services just aren't worth that much. Many have made the comparison to the Orioles Gregg Zaun in terms of experience and offensive production. Zaun recieved $1.5 million for his services this year and has a club option for $2 million in 2010. Have a look at their numbers from the 2008 season:

131 Games
37 Runs
93 Hits
43 RBI
.220 BA
.313 OBP
Age 36

86 Games
29 Runs
58 Hits
30 RBI
.237 BA
.340 OBP
Age 37

You'll notice Zaun played fewer games, but had a higher batting average and OBP than Varitek. Given the similarities between the numbers on these two and the disparity in the deals they got I think it's fair to say 'Tek's offer was generous and enough to allow him and his agent to save face after foolishly declining arbitration. This wasn't an awful deal for the Red Sox as everybody knows that Varitek's marketability is his intangibles such as his work with the pitchers and leadership in the clubhouse. I'm personally glad this matter has finally been resolved.

Super Bowl Prediction

I'm really not feeling much heat from this years Super Bowl, and I'm content to blame that on the Arizona Cardinals. Oh sure, nice little storyline about Kurt Warner making it back to the big dance after the Greatest Show on Turf fell apart against the upstart Patriots in 2001, but other than that...

I do have a soft spot in my heart for long suffering teams, (Prior to 2004 I could easily relate) but only when that team has a fan base that's suffered with them. In the last World Series nobody could deny that the Rays had an awful run up until that season as a franchise, but the Phillies had suffered through some pretty awful seasons and their fan base for the most part stuck it out with their team. The Rays could not sell out a game at their stadium until they made the playoffs and all of a sudden a fan base crawled out the woodwork with their recently purchased Mohawks and Evan Longoria jerseys acting like they had been following this club from day 1. When it came time to decide who I was backing it was no contest.

The Cardinals aren't quite as bad as the Rays, but seeing them in the Super Bowl after they rolled over for the Patriots late in the season doesn't sit right with me. If they actually gave it their all in that game they don't deserve to be playing in the Super Bowl, if they phoned it in during that final game it's bad sports karma.

I think the Steelers are by far the superior team and see a solid win for them Steelers 17 Cardinals 10.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jags Out, Spaziani In

In case you missed it, BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski was fired recently for interviewing for the vacant Jets job. BC's feelings were hurt that Jags had bigger aspirations than being BC's head coach for the forseeable future. I can't say I'm overwhelmingly disappointed. Jags was a solid coach that brought them twice to the ACC Championship game, but the Eagles were a pretty good team before Jags got here. I think Jags is a long shot for the Jets job and is probably only being considered because of his connection to Brett Favre from Green Bay. In all likelihood he'll pop up as a coordinator somewhere.

After a quick search BC has decided to promote long time BC defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani. I like this choice as coach. Spaz picked up the pieces when Tom O'Brien left for NC State and coached them to a win in the bowl game that year. I have always felt that BC's defense was the true strength behind the team, holding their own against even the toughest of opponents. Perhaps his coaching style won't translate well to the offensive side of the ball, but you can never be sure when it comes to coaches.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Goodbye Josh McDaniels!

It has been confirmed that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will head for the snowier pastures of Denver to take over for Mike Shanahan as the Broncos head coach. McDaniels will have some big shoes to fill to replace Shanahan, who spent 14 years in Denver and brought home back to back championships in 1997-1998.

One of the biggest questions surrounding McDaniels is his experience. He spent two years as the Patriots offensive coordinator picking up after Charlie Weis left for Notre Dame. The results posted by the Patriots offense in his first year as coordinator were staggering and quite respectable this year given that the reigning NFL MVP went out for the season in the first quarter of the first game. These results are pretty impressive, but how much is due to McDaniels and how much is due to Wes Welker and Randy Moss coming to town? It's really impossible to say definitively, but I'm leaning more towards the latter.

In recent weeks we've seen how a number of Bill Belicheck's former coordinators have performed in the head coaching positions with Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel losing their jobs as head coaches. In all likelihood, the only reason Charlie Weis still has a job at Notre Dame is due to the large contract they extended to him. This year the Fighting Irish went 6-6, the minimum required to be eligible for a bowl game. The Browns haven't soured on the Belicheck coaching tree as they've opted to hire Eric Mangini as their new head coach.

I'll be curious to see how McDaniels does in the big chair after only two years at the coordinator position.