Thursday, December 10, 2009

Heisman Vote - Brewers Signings - Snow Man Video

We’ll get to my thoughts on the Heisman, but first my thoughts on the Brewers action in free agency, my Thursday Night NFL pick, and at the end, a snowman video.

The Brewers were active yesterday, signing two veteran left-handers to bolster their pitching, which was putrid last year (starting pitching ERA was tied for last in the majors). Randy Wolf, a 33-year-old starter was signed for 3 years at $29.75 million, and LaTroy Hawkins, a 37-year-old reliever inked a 2 year deal for $7.5 million total.

The Hawkins signing seems like a pretty good deal for a veteran reliever that can be a set-up man for Trevor Hoffman, and has closing experience if necessary. Hawkins still has pretty good pop on his fastball, hitting the low-90’s consistently, which is a perfect contrast to Hoffman and his devastating change-up. Last year Brewers opponents saw Suppan’s 86 mph fastball, followed by Carlos Villanueva’s 87 mph fastball in the set-up roll before Hoffman came in with his 89 mph fastball. Now, hopefully Hawkins ability to consistently buzz the plate in the low 90’s will not allow the hitters to sit on the heater.

At first blush, I was underwhelmed by the signing of Randy Wolf, and confused by how aggressive the Brewers were in going after him. I’m still a little fearful that giving a 33-year old a 3 year contract could be risky, but after looking at the numbers, reading about his career and looking at the other options, I am firmly in the “good signing” camp on this one. Wolf has good velocity on his fastball and has a wicked curve. He has been healthy since his return from Tommy John in 2006, among the league leaders in starts in 2008 and 2009. He is an innings eater, and is a perfect core component of a good pitching staff. While that sounds less than thrilling, it is.

I think his upside is a great #2 in the rotation, and his likely production will make him a very solid #3 starter. So doesn’t $9 million seem expensive for a #3 starter? There are two ways to look at it: First, would you have traded Mike “K”ameron for Randy Wolf? I would have in a heartbeat. “K”ameron made $10 million last year. Second, there weren’t better options out there, and the Brewers may not be done. Basically, the Brewers were at the dance, scouting the talent, and they had more than few drinks in them to drown the sorrows of last year's disappointment. After that seventh drink, they decided they had the money to buy a drink for the best looking girl at the bar - and you're hoping that she turns out to still be good looking once you sober up - like Jenna Fischer after a couple seasons of The Office.

With the money they saved trading J.J. Hardy, they might still be in the running for Jarrod Washburn, a Wisconsin native. There is also still a chance they can pull off a trade for Javier Vazquez of Atlanta by dangling Matt Gamel out there. And finally, what about Ben Sheets or Mark Mulder? I know they’re coming off injuries, but they have tremendous upside if they can return to some form of their old selves. If you can ink them to an incentive-laden deal, wouldn’t that be worth it? We know Sheets has the stuff to be a #1 starter, but we’re also all too familiar with his injury history. I’d be willing to ride that roller coaster again now that we have Gallardo, Wolf, Parra, Bush & Suppan already in the fold.

Oh, and this guy has way too much time on his hands for this breakdown of Randy Wolf, and proves that baseball is a game that can be a little too reliant on stats. It’s kind of like choosing a wife based purely on her 36-24-36 measurements, and not taking the fact that she’s crazy into account. Something Chuck Finley probably should have thought of before tying the knot with Tawny Kitaen.

I don’t actually have a Heisman vote, because surprisingly, they don’t hand out votes to guys whose athletic careers peaked in middle school, and don’t work as an actual journalist. But if I did have a vote, here’s how my ballot would look, working from the bottom to the top:

Write-In Vote: CJ Spiller – RB, Clemson
The guy is the most electric player in college football. He can score through kick returns, punt returns, rushing, receiving, and he even threw a touchdown pass.

5 – Tim Tebow – QB, Florida
I would vote Spiller higher than Tebow, who has been a great leader, but not a great player this year.

4 – Colt McCoy – QB, Texas
On Thanksgiving, I thought McCoy was wrapping up the award, but his terrible clock management and poor play in the SEC Championship cost him the chance. He wasn’t good in the biggest games of the year.

3 – Ndamukong Suh – DE, Nebraska
He was completely dominant against Texas, and will likely be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Yet as a defensive player, he doesn’t move the needle enough to be a Heisman winner.

2 – Mark Ingram – RB, Oklahoma
He was a monster in the SEC Championship, guaranteeing Tebow won’t win the award. He has put up great numbers, and might resemble Emmitt Smith. But he was awful against Auburn with 19 yards on 16 carries, and on the bench during his team’s comeback.

1 – Toby Gerhart – RB, Stanford
The guy is a beast and put up huge numbers against the best opposition he played against. In an underwhelming year of top players, Gerhart is the choice.



BROWNS (+9) over Steelers
The Browns are playing much better, Brady Quinn resembles an NFL quarterback, and the game is in Cleveland. Pittsburgh is coming off losses to Oakland, Kansas City & Baltimore, and reeling. Quinn can take advantage of the struggling Steelers secondary (if Gradkowski could throw three 4th quarter TDs…..) and put enough points on the board to get the cover.

What would you expect to happen when a foot of snow drops on Madison, and the University calls off school the following day? Amazingly, the kids went out and got hammered and made snowmen in the middle of the street……..

This has been flying around pretty quickly, but it’s a great spoof on Notre Dame buying out Charlie Weis. And now that Brian Kelley has admitted that he is “pro-choice” he may have removed himself from consideration as their next coach. Randy Edsall of UConn is the next guy to go through the car wash……….

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