Monday, August 13, 2007

2007 Conference USA Preview

Conference USA is the gateway conference from the mid-mid-major conferences (MAC, Sun Belt) to the mid-majors (WAC, Mountain West) and even the BCS. Cincinnati, South Florida, and Louisville went from Conference USA to the Big East, while TCU stepped laterally into the stronger Mountain West. None of the current programs, however, look like they are going to step up anytime soon.

Order of Finish

C-USA East

  1. Southern Miss Golden Eagles 10-2 (8-0)
  2. Marshall Thundering Herd 7-5 (5-3)
  3. UCF Knights 6-6 (5-3)
  4. East Carolina Pirates 4-8 (4-4)
  5. Memphis Tigers 4-8 (3-5)
  6. UAB Blazers 3-9 (2-6)

C-USA West

1. Houston Cougars 9-3 (7-1)

2. Tulsa Golden Hurricane 9-3 (6-2)

3. Rice Owls 6-6 (4-4)

4. SMU Mustangs 3-9 (2-6)

5. UTEP Miners 5-7 (2-6)

6. Tulane Green Wave 1-11 (0-8)

Conference Championship

Southern Miss over Houston

Can you imagine, Brett Favre over Andre Ware in the C-USA championship? Unfortunately, no player near the caliber of these two is playing in the C-USA today, so we can only dream. Still, that should be a pretty entertaining Wednesday night football game.

Bowl Bound Teams

The C-USA champion gets an automatic bid into the prestigious Autozone Liberty Bowl, so book a trip for the Golden Eagles to Philadelphia. Houston should be able to handle Kent State in the GMAC Bowl, while Tulsa will find itself in the Bowl. Marshall will probably go to the Texas Bowl, while either UCF or Rice will find themselves in the New Orleans Bowl vs. Troy.

Players to Watch

  1. Damion Fletcher, RB, Southern Miss, SO
  2. Kevin Smith, RB, UCF, JR
  3. Justin Willis, QB, SMU, SO
  4. Jarett Dillard, WR, Rice, JR
  5. Albert McClellan, DE, Marshall, JR
(Media all-conference team)

Fletcher led the conference in rushing last year as a freshman, posting a 1388-yard, 11 TD season. Smith ran for 934 yards and 7 touchdowns in only 9 games, so watch out for him if he can stay healthy. Willis had a fantastic freshman year, throwing for 2047 yards with a 26-6 TD-INT ratio. Dillard hauled in 91 catches for 1247 yards, 21 one of those catches for TDs. McClellan is coming off an 11 ½ sack season.

Best Chance for an Upset

Tulsa over BYU, September 15. I don’t really have any justification for this pick. It just kind of seems like an upset that would happen, no?

World Beaters (Toughest Schedule)

Southern Miss. After opening with Tennessee-Martin at home, the Golden Eagles travel to Tennessee, and then have a date at Boise State and their blue field on September 27. Arkansas State comes to Hattiesburg for the season finale, and while they are from the Sun Belt, they are one of the top 3 teams.

Sucka Ducks (Weakest Schedule)

Memphis. The Tigers host Ole Miss to open the season, then travel to the scary, scary confines at Arkansas State, before returning home for a monster test vs. Jacksonville State. Middle Tennessee then comes to town later in the year, meaning the Tigers scheduled a Division I-AA school and two Sun Belt schools, which is excusable only if you are in the Sun Belt.

Best Mascot

Marshall Thundering Herd. In a tight race (every team but Memphis, Rice, and Houston has interesting names), the Thundering Herd prevail. Even though no one really know what kind of animal makes up the herd, everyone knows that you don’t want to fuck with one when it is thundering.

Which program is the next to take the Louisville-South Florida-Cincinnati-TCU (to an extent) leap up?

Probably Southern Miss. They have a five-year record of 39-25, including one conference championship. They haven’t had a losing season in 13 years, and have gone to a bowl game in 9 of the last 10 years. They’ve had the same coach, Jeff Bower, for 16 years, which is a good sign of program stability. Plus, they produced Brett Favre, one of the top 5 quarterbacks ever. Marshall is another candidate, if only because they have constantly been an upward moving program, from Division I-AA’s Southern Conference to the MAC to the C-USA. I’m sure Marshall envisioned dominating the C-USA the way they did the MAC (where the Thundering Herd rattled off 5 conference titles in their first six years in the league), and thus leveraging themselves into an offer from (most likely) the Big East. Unfortunately, the program has really leveled off, in recruiting as well as in on-the-field performance. Gone are the days of Chad Pennington to Randy Moss, and there is no sign that they are returning anytime soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Browns Preseason Game 1: No Brady Quinn, Browns get the win

Just some thoughts on the Browns first preseason game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs…

  • Charlie Frye looks like the clear-cut choice for the starting quarterback job. Frye went 12-15 for 122 yards and made excellent decisions in the passing game. His only poor choice was another bonehead move in the red zone, this time when he tried to scramble into the end zone with 12 seconds left in the half, the ball on the seven-ish yard line, and the Browns out of timeouts. Frye was stopped short, and the clock ticked to zero with Cleveland getting nothing to show for an impressive two-minute drill run by Frye. (Frye also fumbled a lateral to Jerome Harrison that was returned for a touchdown, but the decision was right. Frye should have just waited for Harrison to get out more into the flat.) Derek Anderson didn’t really get as many opportunities to throw as Frye, but when he did, he did not look sharp. A lot of his passes would sail over his receivers’ heads or dive at their feet, and his decision making was shaky. Twice Anderson checked out of a play on a blitz, and twice the play he checked into did nothing. (The first play was a Jason Wright run directly into the hole where three Chiefs were blitzing, and the second was an ineffectual pass to a tight end over the middle.) Ken Dorsey proved that he is nothing more than a third string quarterback, as his arm strength prevented him from throwing more than 10 yards downfield. Brady Quinn did not play, despite the promise made by Coach Romeo Crenell that he would get a few plays.

  • Jamal Lewis looked good in limited time, running the ball 4 times for 20 yards and snagging 3 catches for 16 yards. Lewis’s success came despite the Browns rarely employing a fullback in front of him, which is Lewis’s preferred style of running. Jason Wright ran hard, but right into Chiefs defenders. He is going to have to learn some shake-and-bake moves or how to take a hit, or else have his season ended very soon by multiple concussions. Jerome Harrison led the team in rushing with 8 carries for 33 yards, but looked the worst out of the three running backs. First, he had the aforementioned fumbled lateral with Frye that Harrison just gave up on, allowing the Chiefs to return it for a touchdown. Then Harrison fumbled again on the next series, but the ball was recovered by Travis Wilson. He did improve on his blitz pickups from last year, but he still dances too much in the hole and looks like a work in progress. The Browns best run of the day came on an end-around by Josh Cribbs for 12 yards, although I don’t know how necessary it is to be running trick plays in the preseason. All of the backs had much larger holes than Browns backs of years past have had, with Seth McKinney and Joe Thomas standing out. Thomas, however, did look shaky in pass-protection, twice getting flagged for holding and constantly getting beat on inside moves. He did show good recovery after getting beat, though, and his quarterbacks still got the ball off in time, so that’s a good sign, I suppose.

  • Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and Joe Jurivicious were absolute non-factors in this game. Travis Wilson stood out with 2 catches for 29 yards, with a big one coming on third down on Frye’s end of the half two minute drill. An interesting development is taking place on the third tight end front, with Buck Ortega (4 catches, 39 yards) and Ryan Krause (2 catches, 34 yards) looking very impressive and incumbent Darnell Dinkins looking awful, in both pass-catching (not his strong suit) and blocking (what he’s there for).

  • The defense looked dominant—although the Kansas City offense was atrocious—with Kamerion Wimbley looking like he’s ready to make the jump into the NFL elite. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright looked solid in coverage and in run support, while linebacker Kris Griffin impressed among the backups. An area of concern had to be stopping the run out of zone coverage; twice on third and long the Chiefs ran and picked up 15-17 yards. Other than that, the defense looked very impressive (although I don’t know why they showed so many blitzes).

  • Phil Dawson looks like he’s past his late-season slump from last year, drilling three field goals (rookie Jesse Ainsworth missed his only attempt wide-left). The return game was two different stories. On kick returns, the Browns excelled, highlighted by Chris Barclay’s 88-yard touchdown return late in the fourth quarter to win the game. On punt returns, however, Cribbs and rookie Syndric Steptoe made poor decisions. Cribbs and Steptoe both fielded a punt inside the 10 (a big no-no), and then Steptoe let a punt go that bounced at the 20 and ended up being downed inside the 10. Hopefully the injured Tim Carter can do a better job when he gets healthy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

INTERNET Road Trip 8/9/07

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2007 MAC Preview

I’m a bit partial to the MAC, with two member schools—Kent and Akron—located in my proverbial backyard and knowing people who attend or attended a few others (Miami, Bowling Green, Toledo, Eastern Michigan). That being said, the MAC is still a relatively weak football conference. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s no Sun Belt. The MAC is right there on with Conference USA and the WAC, and actually surpasses those conferences some years, but not this one. So without further ado, let’s GET TO GETTIN’!

Order of Finish

MAC East

  1. Kent State Golden Flashes 7-5 (6-2)
  2. Ohio Bobcats 9-3 (6-2)
  3. Akron Zips 7-5 (5-3)
  4. Miami Redhawks 6-6 (4-3)
  5. Bowling Green Falcons 5-7 (4-4)
  6. Temple Owls 3-9 (1-7)
  7. Buffalo Bison 0-12 (0-8)

MAC West

  1. Western Michigan Broncos 8-4 (6-1)
  2. Northern Illinois Huskies 8-4 (5-2)
  3. Ball State Cardinals 8-4 (5-2)
  4. Toledo Rockets 7-5 (5-3)
  5. Central Michigan Chippewas 3-9 (1-6)
  6. Eastern Michigan Eagles 1-11 (0-7)

Conference Championship

Western Michigan over Kent State

First off, don’t ask me why the MAC plays an unbalanced schedule. It almost makes my head explode. As for the standings, I see Kent sneaking into the conference championship on one of those fluke seasons where they’re not the best team (Ohio and Miami definitely are better, and Akron and Bowling Green could make a case, as well), but just happen to win the right games to sneak in. The East (and the MAC as a whole) usually plays out that way, with Ohio sneaking into the title game last year and Akron winning the whole thing the year before despite not being the best teams in the division. As for Western Michigan, my conference champs, they’re coming off an 8-5 season and have the schedule to, again, win the right games. I pick the Broncos over the Golden Flashes because I just can’t see Kent winning a MAC football championship in my lifetime.

Bowl Bound Teams

The MAC gets three automatic bowl bids, with the champion usually playing in the Motor City Bowl, meaning Western Michigan will be playing in front of a home state crowd. Kent will go to the GMAC bowl, while Ohio will find itself in the International Bowl. Northern Illinois and Ball State will have strong cases for at-large bids, while Toledo, Akron, and Miami will need some serious help.

Players to Watch

  1. Nate Davis, QB, Ball State, SO
  2. Kalvin McRae, RB, Ohio, SR
  3. Dan LeFevour, QB, Central Michigan, SO
  4. Louis Delman, FS, Western Michigan, JR
  5. John Greco, OT, Toledo, SR

Davis, the preseason Player of the Year, is the most talented player in the MAC. He will battle it out with fellow sophomore LeFevour—coming off an impressive 3031 yard season with an amazing 26-10 TD/INT ratio—to see who will be the next great MAC QB. McRae is a touchdown machine (15 TDs last year) while Greco is the best pro prospect in the MAC. Louis Delman is preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

(Media picks here.)

Best Chance for an Upset

There are a few candidates in the MAC:

· Toledo over Kansas, September 15

· Ball State over Indiana, November 3

· Miami over Vanderbilt, October 27

I know these aren’t the most earth-shattering upsets, but they’re the best the MAC can hope for this year. As the young QBs mature, perhaps bigger shocks will be in store.

World Beaters (Toughest Schedule)

Miami. The Redhawks travel to Minnesota, host Cincinnati, go to Colorado, and then play Syracuse at home over a four-week stretch in September. Then they travel to Vanderbilt on October 27. I know none of those teams are in the upper-tier of their conferences, but the talent difference between the best of the MAC and the worst of the Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC is still wide, while Cincinnati was a bowl team last year (and is coached by Brian Kelly, who won the MAC last year with Central Michigan).

Sucka Ducks (Weakest Schedule)

Ohio. The Bobcats open at I-AA school Gardner-Webb, and then travel to Sun Belt pushover Louisiana-Lafayette the next week. An impossible trip to Virginia Tech follows on September 15 before a return to Athens to host Wyoming. The Virginia Tech game almost makes up for the first two dates, but it has to be one or the other: either a Division I-AA school or a Sun Belt school.

Best Mascot

None. Most of the teams have pretty standard fare (Bobcats, Rockets, Falcons, etc.), while the unique ones are confusing. What is a Zip (a kangaroo, apparently) or a Golden Flash (a hawk, apparently). Buffalo is the worst, going with the obvious Bison.

Is Any MAC Program Big Ten-Worthy?

No. Ever since the Big Ten made its desire for a twelfth team known, it has been kicked around locally that a MAC team should be considered, due mostly to the geographic considerations. First of all, travel isn’t what it used to be. The need for close geographic proximity is obsolete, as proven by Boston College’s inclusion in the ACC. Second, no MAC program is anywhere near ready to be a Big Ten team. Besides the obvious lack of talent, no MAC team has the facilities nor the student body to compete with the behemoths of Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State. Even if a team was to be picked from the MAC, what team would it be? Over the past five years, there have been five different MAC champions (including Marshall, who is no longer in the conference). Only one team has posted a winning record in each of the past five seasons, Northern Illinois, and the Huskies never could parlay those wins into a conference championship. This parity is what makes the MAC exciting and an enjoyable conference to follow; it is also the main indicator that no MAC program is ready for the Big East, let alone the Big Ten. The worst program in the Big Ten the past five years has been Illinois; don’t you think that if the Fighting Illini were in the MAC, they would have one at least two conference championships over those same five years? Actually, they would probably have four, every year except 2003, when Big Ben was still at Miami, Omar Jacobs was setting records at Bowling Green, and Garret Wolfe was still running wild at Northern Illinois. Until a MAC program can have a sustained run in the five to six season range like the seasons Bowling Green, Miami, and Northern Illinois had in 2003, I just can’t see the Big Ten pillaging the MAC.

Barry Bonds and 756

So the inevitable has happened and Barry Bonds is the new home run king, which is a shame. Henry Aaron carried the title with dignity and class. Bonds seems like he'll be a surly asshole about things, just like he always is. I mean, can you imagine Bonds congratulating the next home run king (likely Alex Rodriguez, which I'll get to in a second) the way Aaron did for Bonds, even though Aaron has done everything but say he doesn't think Bonds deserves to break his record? I wish the next crown-bearer will be more gregarious, honest, and nicer, but A-Rod--the inevitable suitor--is just as testy as Bonds, but in a completely different way (where Bonds will just ignore reporters, A-Rod will feed them cookie cutter lines lacking any empathy). A-Rod cheats, too, but unlike Bonds's shady, mysterious dealings with banned substances, Rodriguez lays it all out on the field, peeking back at the catcher, knocking the ball out of mitts, and yelling at fielders trying to catch fly balls. And while there is a certain edginess to cheering for Bonds, cheering for A-Rod just makes you a dork.

On another note, don't you think it's weird that the most memorable baseball call from 2007 won't be the call of 756 (which is a pretty good call, actually)...

...but this?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Mighty Quinn has arrived (finally)

Brady Quinn finally signed with the Browns today, and all I have to say is why bother? Why not just make him sit out the rest of camp? He's so far behind now that what's the difference, right? But since that didn't happen, let's take a look into the crystal ball and see how Quinn's new five-year, $20 million contract (which could turn into $30 million, with incentives) will play out.


Quinn won’t even see the field before the third preseason game, as Coach Romeo Crennel proved that he will punish rookie holdouts during Braylon Edwards’s rookie season. At about the ten game mark, with the Browns out of the playoff race and Crennel fired, Quinn will be thrown into the fire, and will show incremental improvement every week, giving the Browns and their fans a glimmer of hope for the next season. During the off-season, Quinn will act like a queer.


Quinn will pick up where he left off, justifying the Browns surrendering a top-5 pick to Dallas for his rights. The Browns get off to a surprising start, and Quinn is the talk of the NFL. After two weeks of this, everyone in America is sick of it and now hate the Browns for being good and getting attention (unlike before, when America hated the Browns for sucking ass and being a joke to the national media). The Browns just miss the playoffs, but Quinn is playing at a Pro Bowl-level by the end of the season. During the off-season, Quinn will act like a douche.


Quinn will holdout of training camp, demanding that he be paid like the Pro Bowler he played like at the end of the previous season (but is not actually, since he didn’t make the Pro Bowl). After missing the first two and half weeks of camp and drawing the ire of fans and teammates alike, Quinn will sign a seven-year, $80 million extension. He will then blow out his knee in his first preseason appearance, putting the rest of his career in question. During the press-conference announcing the devastating news, Quinn will cry uncontrollably, and not only when he is talking, but when others are as well, until eventually the entire room goes silent, waiting for him to compose himself (which he does after another 10-15 minutes).


Quinn will miss the entire year rehabbing. When he is not in the gym or in the tape room, he will act like complete Clown Shoes.


Quinn will report to camp in fantastic shape, but will have to compete with last year’s starter, Drew Stanton, who won fans over with his gunslinger ways in Quinn’s absence. Neither QB will gain an edge on the other, and the Browns enter the season with Quinn as the starter, but Stanton just as deserving. Cleveland will be split into two camps, either pro-Quinn or pro-Stanton, reminding those with a memory span longer than two years of the Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb debate. I will then kill myself. (Also, Brady Quinn will act like a complete queer who smells vinegary like a douche and will wear a big pair of ridiculous Clown Shoes.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

2007 Sun Belt Preview

There is both a major advantage and a major disadvantage to writing about the Sun Belt Conference; the major advantage being that you don’t know shit about the conference, and the major disadvantage being that neither do I. With that said, let’s see what we can bullshit each other into believing makes sense.

Order of Finish

  1. Troy Trojans 9-3 (7-0)
  2. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders 8-4 (6-1)
  3. Arkansas State Indians 7-5 (5-2)
  4. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns 5-7 (4-3)
  5. North Texas Mean Green 3-9 (2-5)
  6. Florida Atlantic Owls 2-11 (2-5)
  7. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 2-10 (1-6)
  8. Florida International Golden Panthers 1-11 (1-6)

Just to give you an idea of how little I know what I’m talking about, I picked Troy based on two things: they’re usually tough in NCAA Football for the PS2, and Demarcus Ware was a first round pick out of there. Oh, and they are widely considered the best team out of this pile of junk. Middle Tennessee State comes in a close second (I have them being undefeated in the conference coming into the season finale at Troy that will have no one watching) based solely on the fact that former Cleveland Brown playoff stud Kelly Holcomb went there.

Bowl Bound Teams

The Sun Belt champion gets an automatic bid in the New Orleans Bowl, so book Troy a horse (Trojan, perhaps?) to the Superdome. Middle Tennessee can probably get an at-large bid, while Arkansas State may get screwed (and I use the term loosely considering that the Sun Belt should thank the stars it gets one bowl bid).

Players To Watch

  1. Omar Haugabook, QB, Troy, SR
  2. Calvin Dawson, RB, La. Monroe, SR
  3. Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas State, SR
  4. Damon Nickson, S, Middle Tennessee, SR
  5. Tyrell Fenroy, RB, La. Lafayette, JR

Haughabook is the pre-season Player of the Year, and is coming off an above-average 21-17 TD-INT ratio, so watch out for him. Dawson ran for 1210 yards and 11 TD last season, while fellow Louisiana student athlete Fenroy was right there with him, posting 1197 yards and 10 TD. Johnson is the pre-season Defensive Player of the Year, while Nickson is also a safety (and has a nifty spelling to his last name).

(Media All-Conference Picks here.)

Best Chance For An Upset

Troy over Oklahoma State, September 14. And that’s about it for upset talk. I guess Troy could play tough at an Arkansas team dealing with a lot of upheaval, but you have to figure that Darren McFadden and the opening day Razorback crowd will be too much. So the Cowboys are the conference’s only hope of beating one of the big boys.

World Beaters (Toughest Schedule)

Troy. As mentioned above, the Trojans open at Arkansas, then go to Florida and host Oklahoma State before beginning conference play. As if that gauntlet wasn’t enough, a November 3 trip to Georgia interrupts the Trojans conference schedule and breaks what could have been a season-ending eight game winning streak. Troy’s non-conference schedule also include D I-AA team Western Kentucky, but so does half the rest of the league (the Hilltoppers will be joining the conference in 2009). (By the way, Florida should be ashamed. They host not only Troy but Florida Atlantic as well. Way to defend your crown, you pussy, faggot-ass, crocodile-wannabes.)

Sucka Ducks (Weakest Schedule)

Louisiana-Lafayette. The Rajin’ Cajuns non-conference schedule opens at South Carolina, hosts Ohio, and travels to UCF. Not exactly the gauntlet Troy faces, while also excluding Western Kentucky. I mean, if you’re going to schedule a patsy lineup, you should at least include the patsy that will be joining your league someday. (By the way, the Cajuns will not even come close to beating any of these so-called “patsies.”)

Best Mascot

Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns. C’mon. That one was easy. (Troy should get points taken away for their painfully obvious selection of Trojans.)

How Bad Is The Sun Belt?

Pretty bad. Over the past five years, not one program has a cumulative record above .500. Only one team has repeated as conference champ (North Texas, 2001-04, when they were running wild with Patrick Cobbs & Jamario Thomas), no team has posted double-digit wins, and La.-Monroe shared the conference title in 2005 with a 5-6 record. Only Troy in 2004 has defeated a ranked opponent (vs. Missouri, 24-14), and only North Texas has won a bowl game (vs. Cincinnati, 24-19, 2002 New Orleans Bowl). [Edit: Troy beat Rice 41-17 in last year's New Orleans Bowl. Thanks Timothy the commenter.] The conference is young, however, and hopefully the schools are putting the money they earn by playing all of these road games against BCS schools to good use (by which I mean back into the football program, not into academics hahahaha).

2007 College Football Preview

The following is the schedule for my 2007 College Football preview. I'm going to break it down by conference, going from what I consider least to what I consider best.

  • Tuesday, 8/7 Sun Belt
  • Thursday, 8/9 MAC
  • Monday 8/13 Conference USA
  • Wednesday 8/15 Mountain West
  • Friday 8/17 WAC
  • Monday 8/20 Big East
  • Wednesday 8/22 ACC
  • Friday 8/24 PAC 10
  • Monday 8/27 Big 12
  • Wednesday 8/29 Big Ten
  • Friday 8/31 SEC & National Wrap-up
I'll do my best to stick to this schedule, and I'm also going to try to work an NFL preview somewhere in between all of that. So starting tomorrow with the Sun Belt conference, get ready for a month of pigskin preparation.

Friday, August 03, 2007

REDEMPTION! The Return of the 1st Round QB Busts

Tim Couch was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, and I like it, as most people in Cleveland do (I have no idea what people in Jacksonville think, although I'm sure Byron Leftwitch and David Garrard are happy that Couch--who hasn't played in 4 years--was brought in instead of Dante Culpepper). With Couch back in the league, there are now three "bust" quarterbacks in position to make good of careers gone bad. Today I'll look at these three stalwarts, and then tell you why they are going to take the league by storm.

Tim Couch, Jacksonville Jaguars: 62 G, 11,131 yards, 64 TD, 67 INT, 59.8% Comp. Pct., 75.1 QB Rating (which is shockingly higher than Brian Sipes)

Tim Couch was doomed to be a bust essentially from Day 1. It started when he was drafted by the 1999 Cleveland Browns, an expansion team that had no line, no running game, and one receiver (Kevin Johnson). Add in the fact that Couch was playing in Chris Palmer's offense--an offense that stresses the vertical pass--after coming from the dink-and-dunk system at Kentucky and you can see why he was behind the 8-ball. After getting beaten to hell his first two years in the league (the second of which was cut short by a broken wrist), Couch finally got some average protection in his third year, and showed a knack for coming from behind. Unfortunately, injuries began to take their toll, opening the door for Kelly Holcomb's gunslinging ways and the quarterback controversy that eventually ushered Couch out of the league. Injuries incurred during off-season workouts and surgeries for lingering arm problems have prevented Couch from coming back, until now. Competing with a starter the coaches don't like in Byron Leftwitch and a backup who hasn't taken advantage of his opportunities in David Garrard, Couch has an opportunity to step into a starting role if he can prove to the Jacksonville brass that three years off and four years of abuse haven't taken too much of a toll. Couch actually has the least chance to succeed of the three mentioned here, because A.) he's third on the depth chart, B.) he hasn't played for three years, and C.) his receivers lack polish on short and intermediate routes, which is exactly what Couch is best at throwing.

David Carr, Carolina Panthers: 76 G, 13, 391 yards, 59 TD, 65 INT, 60.0 Comp. Pct., 75.5 QB Rating

David Carr's career could be considered Tim Couch version 2.0. Drafted by an expansion team, Carr had little to work with and the worst protection in NFL history. After adding Andre Johnson (100 times the weapon Kevin Johnson was for Couch), Carr hit a bit of a stride, that is whenever he could stay upright. Carr's career peaked in 2004, when the team finished 7-9 and Carr showed some spunk in leading the Texans to some tight victories. Things regressed the next two seasons, however, and Carr now finds himself with a new team. Like Couch, Carr is behind a starter who may be on thin ice in Jake Delhomme. I like Carr's chances of success better than Couch's, though, because Carr is the most talented of the three busts, as well as playing with the most talented team.

Joey Harrington, Atlanta Falcons: 70 G, 12,478 yards, 72 TD, 77 INT, 55.2 Comp. Pct., 68.1 QB Rating

Joey Harrington was drafted number 3 overall in the same draft David Carr went number 1, going to the Detroit Lions. Terrible personnel combined with Harrington's subpar play led to his eventual release and subsequent signing with the Miami Dolphins. After taking over for the disastrous Dante Culpepper, Harrington was barely adequate and let go this off-season and picked up by Atlanta to back up Mike Vick. We all know what happened to Vick, so now Harrington's the man, and I must say that I like his chances for success the best out of these three. With Joe Horn added to a young receiver corps., as well as the continued presence of Alge Crumpler, Harrington arguably has the best weapons to work with, especially when you consider Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood running behind him. Add in the fact that Bobby Petrino, a quaterback and offensive guru, is his coach and it's easy to see why Harrington should have a break-out year.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New Blog News

I've decided to re-format again. Now, Diminishing Skills will be exclusively for sports. For movies, music, TV, and whatever else, head over to Not Even God Knows What You're Doing, and remember to bookmark it, fool!

The Cleveland Indians: Stocking The Rosters of MLB Teams For (at least) 12 Years

(Note: This is an unfinished project of mine that I started back in April and just lost track of. I'm never going to finish it, but, since I did put a lot of work into it, I decided to just post what I had done. Also, Jeremy Guthrie has turned out a lot better for the Orioles than I expected (3rd in the AL in ERA). Oh, and most--if not all--of my stats came from

I have often said that the Cleveland Indians have produced more players playing somewhere in the majors than any other team, and I’ve never really counted to see if I am right (nor am I going to anytime soon). While I don’t know if I am right or not, I do know a lot of players, and more importantly, a lot of good players, have come through Cleveland. What follows is a comprehensive list of all active players who have spent some time with the Indians on the major league roster. I’ve decided to break it down by team to see who the biggest pilferer of Indians players is and to split up this gargantuan list.


Baltimore has an affinity for picking up former Indians golden boy pitchers, and they have the last three waves covered. Jaret Wright was the first, riding a wave of hope created by his unexpected 1997 playoff success for five years of pitching ranging from mediocre to atrocious. Danys Baez was next, a mysterious Cuban defector signed in hopes of being the next Livan or Orlando Hernandez, and then hoped to be the next Jose Mesa (pre-rape allegations), and finally discarded. Jeremy Guthrie is the latest, drafted amid hype (at least in terms of the baseball draft), starting fast at AA ball, and then failing to excel at any level beyond that. Good luck, Leo Mazzone.

  • Danys Baez, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2001-03 (amateur free agent)

CAREER STATS: 502 IP, 31-37, 111 SV, 394 K, 3.78 ERA

AWARDS: 1 All-Star Game (2005)

CAREER YEAR: 2005, Tampa Bay, 72.1 IP, 5-4, 41 SV, 51K, 2.86 ERA

LOST: via FA to Tampa Bay

Baez was signed out of Cuba in a rare instance when the Indians outbid the Yankees. Danys was originally a starter, then shifted to relief, then shifted back to starting (10-11, 4.41 ERA for a bad 2002 team), before being shifted back to relief in 2003, this time as the closer. Baez had 25 saves for a 94-loss Indians team that year, but also blew 10 saves. This shaky performance persuaded the Indians to let Baez walk following the season, when Baez signed with Tampa Bay, where he saved 71 games in his two seasons. All in all, I don’t remember the Danys Baez era being a good one.

  • Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2004-06 (via draft 1st RD 22nd pick)

CAREER STATS: 50 IP, 1-1, 34 K, 5.22 ERA

CAREER YEAR: Guthrie is young, and in his brief cameos in the majors, he has been pretty terrible. He is off to a decent start with the Orioles, however, posting 13 IP, 1-1, 10K, 2.77 ERA

LOST: Waived (Claimed by Baltimore)

Guthrie didn’t spend much time in Cleveland, making only 16 appearances over 3 seasons, one of them a start, and none of them good, posting a 5.87 career ERA with the Tribe. I didn’t even know he wasn’t with the team anymore to be honest. When Guthrie was drafted 22nd overall in 2002, he was somewhat of a risk because of his perceived unsignability (some had him in the top 5, but he dropped because of his high asking price, and he did in fact turn out to be a tough sign, failing to come to terms until October, 2002). I remember Guthrie dominating at AA Akron (62.2 IP, 6-2, 1.44 ERA, 35 K, 14 BB, 2 Shutouts) in his debut season, but then getting shelled at AAA Buffalo (96.2 IP, 4-9, 6.52 ERA, 62 K, 30 BB) after getting promoted. The reasons for Guthrie’s AAA struggles were cited as an inability to adjust to the better hitters he was seeing, and he apparently never gained the ability, posting a 7.91 ERA at Buffalo the next season. The fact that Guthrie was waived with absolutely no fanfare shows how far his star has fallen.

  • Jaret Wright, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1997-2002 (via draft 1st RD 10th pick)

CAREER STATS: 969.2 IP, 68-59, 2 SV, 693 K, 5.08 ERA

AWARDS: 5th place 1997 AL Rookie of the Year

CAREER YEAR: 2004, Atlanta, 186.1 IP, 15-8, 159 K, 3.28 ERA

LOST: via FA to San Diego

This one hurts, not because of what he is now, nor because of what he was with the Tribe (save for one magical October), but because of what he could have been. In the 1997 playoffs, the relatively unknown 21 year-old Wright helped get the Indians within one out of a championship, posting a 3-0 record, including two wins over the Yankees and a win in the World Series (which should have been two World Series wins if Jose Mesa could have closed Game 7 vs. Florida). Following that October, no one was as revered in Cleveland as Jaret Wright. Rumor has it that the Indians could have had Pedro Martinez for a package including Wright or Randy Johnson straight up for him and passed, and no one in Cleveland could really blame them. Ouch. Wright imploded almost immediately the next season, beginning with a spring training beaning of Derek Jeter that led to Wright being labeled a headhunter, which invariably led to Wright fearing the inside part of the plate. The result was a constant shelling of Wright’s pitching on the rare occasions he wasn't injured. After beginning a meltdown in Game 3 of the 1999 ALDS versus the Red Sox that would cost the Indians a series and Mike Hargrove his job, Wright pretty much cemented his exit from the Tribe and killed the hope of Indians fans everywhere. Wright has gone on to show glimpses of his 1997 self, but injuries keep getting in his way. Here’s hoping he never regains his form, if only because the Indians could have had Pedro freaking Martinez for him and passed. Ugh.


  • Julian Tavarez, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1993-96 (amateur free agent)

CAREER STATS: 1194 IP, 77-61, 22 SV, 691 K, 4.39 ERA

AWARDS: 6th place 1995 AL Rookie of the Year

CAREER YEAR: 1995, Cleveland, 85 IP, 10-2, 68 K, 2.44 ERA

LOST: Traded with Joe Roa, Jeff Kent, and Jose Vizcaino to the San Francisco for Matt Williams and Trenidad Hubbard.

I don’t remember Tavarez’s 1995 season being so good, but I do remember the 1996 Sports Illustrated MLB Preview Yearbook (which sadly only lasted 2 years, I think) ranked him as the best reliever in baseball, so I guess Julian’s 1995 was that good. The biggest thing I remember about Tavarez, however, is his face looking like a golf ball. What the hell happened to that guy? Also, how about that trade? While Tavarez pitched for the Giants for three seasons (two of them good), the real story is Jeff Kent, who of course became Jeff Kent while with the Giants. Matt Williams had the most frustrating 30 HR season ever (.263 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 12 SB (!), an amazingly putrid .307 OBP, and anger, anger, ANGER over some sort of custody battle with his ex-wife) for the Indians in 1997, and was eventually traded for Travis Fryman following the season. What would you be happier with: six years of unremarkable third base play (offensively, as Williams was above average and Fryman was excellent in the field) from Matt Williams/Travis Fryman (six year averages of .267 AVG, 17 HR, 74 RBI, .327 OBP, .433 SLG, .761 OPS) or six years of Hall of Fame second base play from Jeff Kent (six year averages of .297 AVG, 29 HR, 114 RBI, .367 OBP, .534 SLG, .901 OPS)?

  • Alex Cora, SS

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2005 (free agent signing, LA Dodgers)

CAREER STATS: .245 AVG, 32 HR, 219 RBI, 263 R, .311 OBP, .347 SLG, .658 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2002, LA Dodgers, .291 AVG, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 37 R, .371 OBP, .434 SLG, .805 OPS

LOST: Traded to Boston for Ramon Vazquez

Cora was signed to be a defensive replacement for Johnny Peralta at shortstop, and filled the role adequately for half of 2005 before being traded to Boston for Vazquez, a younger, lighter hitting, worse fielding version of Cora. I don’t have much more about him except that he is Joey Cora’s brother (who also briefly played for Cleveland after John Hart stupidly traded David Bell to Seattle) and that prior to the 2005 season Sports Illustrated called him the best number 8 hitter in baseball (and the only reason he hit 8 is because he played for the Dodgers in 2004).

  • Coco Crisp, OF

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2002-05 (player to be named later in Chuck Finley-Luis Garcia trade, St. Louis)

CAREER STATS: .281 AVG, 43 HR, 218 RBI, 299 R, 78 SB, .327 OBP, .413 SLG, .740 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2005, Cleveland, .300 AVG, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 86 R, 15 SB, .345 OBP, .465 SLG, .810 OPS, 1 RAP ALBUM

LOST: Traded with Josh Bard and David Riske to Boston for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Mota, and cash

Coco was a somewhat exciting player with a more exciting name (which led to the best sign I’ve ever seen at Jacobs Field: “My Grandma is CooCoo for Coco Crisp!”). He has speed, but lacks the instincts necessary to consistently steal bases. He doesn’t get on base enough to lead off, but lacks the power to be a middle of the lineup presence. He is a borderline superb corner outfielder, but is overmatched in center. I am still shocked that the Red Sox thought Crisp was the answer after Johnny Damon bolted for New York. It looks like the best part of that deal is the cash (although Andy Marte is still young and Kelly Shoppach looks like he’s going to be a solid starting catcher for some team real soon).

  • Manny Ramirez, OF

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1993-2000 (via draft 1st RD 13th pick)

CAREER STATS: .313 AVG, 472 HR, 1527 RBI, 1267 R, .410 OBP, .597 SLG, 1.007 OPS

AWARDS: 2nd place finish 1994 AL Rookie of the Year; 8 Top 10 MVP Finishes (1998-2005); 9 Silver Sluggers (1995, 1999-2006); 10 All-Star Games (1995, 1998-2006); 2004 World Series MVP

CAREER YEAR: 1999, Cleveland, .333 AVG, 44 HR, 165 RBI, 131 R, .442 OBP, .663 SLG, 1.105 OPS

LOST: via FA to Boston

Manny is the one that got away. I disagreed with overspending to re-sign Jim Thome, because while Thome is a tremendous slugger and has a personality tailor-made for Cleveland, Manny is one of a kind and one of the two or three best right-handed hitters ever. While everyone agrees that Ramirez is an elite hitter, rarely is he ever described as one of THE elite hitters of all-time. A lot of it has to do with his personality, which is a shame. If anyone needed to stay in Cleveland--and, more importantly, out of Boston—it was Manny. Here, Manny Ramirez antics are legendary and loved. My friends and I still laugh at the crazy stuff he pulled (climbing the wall at Jacobs Field only to see the ball land a good 25 feet in front of it; the Chad Ogea story; etc.) and marvel at his greatness (grand slams that everyone knew was coming; that 1999 season). Boston fans and the media tolerate Manny’s quirks as long as he produces, and acknowledge that he is a great player who they demand be better (the only time this wasn't the case was after Ramirez won the World Series MVP). Cleveland fans embraced Manny’s quirks regardless of production and marveled at the steady pace this Dominican savant pounded the baseball day after day, month after month, season after season. I guess I just miss my friend.


The Blue Jays have a couple of castoffs from the 2002-2004 rebuilding years of the Tribe, and have actually made useful players out of them.

  • Brian Tallet, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2002-03, 2005 (via draft 2nd RD)

CAREER STATS: 92.1 IP, 4-3, 55 K, 3.90 ERA

CAREER YEAR: 2006, Toronto, 54.1 IP, 3-0, 37 K, 3.81 ERA

LOST: Traded to Blue Jays for Eddie Buzachero

Tallet was part of the wave of players tried out from 2002-03 as the Indians tried to find a new core following the end of their AL Central dominance. Tallet showed flashes (2 starts, 1.50 ERA 2002), but couldn’t stay healthy (if I recall correctly). I have no idea who Eddie Buzachero is, so I’m sure that Toronto got the best of that trade.

  • John McDonald, SS

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1999-2004 (via draft 12th RD)

CAREER STATS: .244 AVG, 7 HR, 75 RBI, 134 R, .285 OBP, .321 SLG, .606 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2006, Toronto, .223 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 35 R, 7 SB, .271 OBP, .308 SLG, .579 OPS (McDonald played the most games this season, so I’m assuming his glove was in the field the most this season; therefore, this is his career year.)

LOST: Traded to Toronto for Tom Mastny

John McDonald was supposed to be the heir apparent to Omar Vizquel, and Johnny Mac certainly had the leatherwork to back up that assumption. I remember when at AA Akron McDonald was widely considered the best defensive player in the minors. Unfortunately, the hits never came for McDonald, and he just couldn’t justify an everyday spot in the lineup. As the Indians built a powerhouse lineup, McDonald was squeezed out, eventually turning into Mastny, who has proven to be an effective reliever in a little over half a season for Cleveland. As for McDonald, I hear he is in a platoon at 3B with Jason Smith while Troy Glaus is on the DL.


Chicago has only one former Indian, but it just happens to be the all-time Cleveland home run leader (334 HR). Oddly enough, the White Sox also once employed the Tribe’s number two home run slugger, Albert Belle (242).

  • Jim Thome, DH

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1991-2002 (via draft, 13th RD)

CAREER STATS: .282 AVG, 477 HR, 1312 RBI, 1271 R, .410 OBP, .566 SLG, .976 OPS

AWARDS: 4 Top 10 MVP Finishes (1997, 2001-03), 1 Silver Slugger (1996), 5 All-Star Games (1997-99, 2004, 2006)

CAREER YEAR: 2002, Cleveland, .304 AVG, 52 HR, 118 RBI, 101 R, .445 OBP, .677 SLG, 1.122 OPS

LOST: via FA to Philadelphia

To many Cleveland fans, Jim Thome’s defection to Philadelphia in the winter of 2002 represents the end of the glory days of the 1990s and caused most of the casual fans to abandon the team for a few years (many, in fact, have yet to return). Losing Thome hurt many fans on a strangely personal level, due mostly to his low-key, ah-shucks, Midwestern personality, which lent to the belief that he would take a lesser deal to stay in a town so suited to him. The man was a staple of the community. In fact, he frequented two establishments I myself worked at (a golf course he lived on and a trout resort). For me, while Thome’s departure hurt, Ramirez’s stung more. Thome was wise to leave a club that was about to enter a major rebuilding period, while the Indians were wise to not match Philadelphia’s offer (although the Indians did offer Thome a statue at Jacobs Field, which would have been hard for me to pass up). The huge chunk of payroll Thome would have eaten up would have prevented Tribe GM Mark Shapiro from locking up his young nucleus (Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook, C.C. Sabathia), not to mention blocking the development of Hafner. Ramirez left when the Indians were still contenders, when Ramirez was younger, and, as cited earlier, when Ramirez was in the prime of a once-in-a-generation career. Thome’s Indians career will always be remembered fondly in Cleveland; his departure, however, will never be completely forgiven in the hearts of most Tribe fans.