The NFL’s second season has been fast and furious.  Here is the third installment of the NFL Free Agent Report.  Click here for the earlier reports.

Jacob Bell
St. Louis signed RG Jacob Bell to a six year deal.  He will bolster their offensive line.  He played for Tennessee last year.

Justin Gage
I missed this one initially.  Probably because he’s not a real impact player.  Well, Tennessee actually kept a free agent here.  He had 55 receptions for 750 yards last year.  Not bad.  He got a four-year, $14 million deal. 

Travis LaBoy
Arizona signed LaBoy away from Tennessee.  He had 6 sacks last year and 19.5 in his four year NFL career.  His deal is for five years and $22 million.  They may convert him from DE to LB as a replacement for Calvin Pace.

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Randy Moss
New England only pays big bucks to players they feel are irreplaceable.  Evidently Randy Moss qualifies as he signed a three-year deal worth $27 million. You know what Randy brings to table when he’s motivated.  I don’t see that changing next year.

Antwan Odom 
Odom signed a five-year, $29.5 million deal with Cincinnati.  The DE had 8 sacks last year for Tennessee.

David Patten
New Orleans liked what they saw out of David Patten last year and locked him up for two more years.  He had 792 receiving yards last year on 54 receptions.

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL |

I’ve scoured the fantasy baskeball waiver wires to find gems so you don’t have to.

G
Travis Diener
- It seems as if Jamaal Tinsley is never coming back.  In the meantime, Diener is doing just fine without him.  In his last three games he’s averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 three-pointers per game. Unlike Tinsley, he’s even shooting at a decent clip (47.1% from the floor without missing a free throw).

Willie Green - Willie has picked up his play recently, averaging 18.3 points, 3.0 rebound, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 0.5 three-pointers per game over his last four games.  He’s shot 49.2% from the floor, but you’ll have to deal with the 65% he shot from the line.

F
Luis Scola - With Yao out, Scola has stepped up his game.  In his last five games he’s averaging 14.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.0 steals (although all five came in one game).  He’s shot 62.7% from the floor and 66.7% from the line.  As a plus, he qualifies at SF, PF, and C.  He’s making Argentina proud.

Carl Landry - Landry has also helped shoulder Yao’s load for Houston.  In his past five games he’s averaging 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.6 steals.  He’s shot a ridiculous 71.4% from the floor and 66.7% from the line.

C
Kendrick Perkins - Perkins has stepped up his game recently as well.  In his last three games he’s averaging 12.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.3 blocks, and 1.0 steal.  You’ll forgive his 54.5% free throw shooting when you factor in the 84.2% he shot from the floor over the stretch.
Well, that’s it from the Waiver Wire Bin.  Free free to leave your comments.

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA | Tagged: Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Bin |

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The gunslinger is finally putting his Colt 45 in his holster and riding off into the sunset.  After 17 record-breaking years, Brett Favre is finally calling it quits.  He didn’t exactly go out on top, but he was pretty darn close.  Being able to retire in a year in which he completed 66.5% of his passes for 4155 yards with 28 TDs to 15 INTs and a 95.7 rating as a 38 year old quarterback is nearly impressive as his collective work. 

It seemed every week he was shooting down another record.  Most TD Passes, Most Passing Yards, Most Passing Attempts, and Most Wins a Starting QB.  He was already the career leader completions heading into the year.  He finished second to Jim Marshall (270) with his 253 consecutive games played.

He won three MVPs and a Super Bowl ring.  He’s completed passes that no other quarterback in history even thought of attempting.  He seemed to have more fun this year than he has in the past.  Maybe he already knew this was going to be the end.  I won’t remember him for the interception he threw that propelled the Giants to the Super Bowl.  I’ll remember him for the snowball fight with Donald Driver, him running down the field to celebrate with his receivers, his improvisation to make seemingly impossible completions, and his passion for the game.

Now it’s time for Aaron Rodgers to follow the legend.  It’s not going to be an easy task, but we all have to give him a chance.  As a football fan I want to say “Thank You” to Favre for playing the game the way it was meant to be played.  Defensive Backs can sleep easier tonight.  I just hope somebody consoles John Madden.

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Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL |

Here are some middle infielders who could break out this year.

Yuniesky Betancourt – Seattle Mariners
Yuniesky has hit .289 in each of the last two years.  He scored 72 runs, had 38 doubles, and 67 RBI last year.  In his third full season he’ll hit 40 doubles and drive in 75 runs.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cleveland Indians
If Asdrubal can beat out Josh Barfield for the starting 2B spot, he could end up being a nice late round/waiver wire bargain.  In 45 games last year he scored 30 runs, hitting .283 with 22 RBI.  I could see 80 runs, 25 doubles, and 60 RBI.

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Stephen Drew – Arizona Diamondbacks
I expect Drew to build on a decent rookie season that saw him producee 60 runs & RBI, 28 doubles, 4 triples, 12 HRs, and 9 SBs.  His average (.238) was awful, but I expect him to improve dramatically as a Sophomore.  He shined in the playoffs last year hitting .387 with 6 runs, 2 HR, and 4 RBI in seven games.

Yunel Escobar - Atlanta Braves
Yunel made the most of his 94 game stint in the Bigs last year hitting .326, scoring 54 runs, with 25 doubles and 28 RBI.  A 90 run, 40 double season is not too far of a stretch for Yunel.

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Howie Kendrick
– Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, U.S., Earth
Howie hit .322 in 88 games last year scoring 55 runs, slugging 24 doubles, and driving in 39 runs.  If he’s able to reproduce that for a full season you’ll have a 100 run, 40 double, 70 RBI guy that was drafted in the late rounds.  Not too bad if you ask me.

Jayson Nix - Colorado Rockies
Nix hit .292 with 80 runs, 33 doubles, 11 HR, 58 RBI, and 24 SBs for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League last year.  He’s got a great glove, which helps as he’s trying to win the starting base job.  He helped Team USA beat Cuba in the World Cup by hitting .387.

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The sky’s the limit for Tulo.

Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
I don’t expect a sophomore slump fro Troy, who hit .291 with 104 runs, 177 hits, 33 doubles, 24 HR, and 99 RBI while playing near flawless defense.  I expect him to make the All-Star team, win a Gold Glove, rack up close to 200 hits, 30 HR, and 100 RBI.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Our second look at the NFL’s second season.  Click here for the first report.

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Bernard Berrian
The Vikings made a play on Berrian to fix their pathetic passing attack.  They overpaid for him (six years, $42 million), but they thought he was the best WR in the market.  Personally I would have went with Bryant Johnson, which would likely have been considerably less. 

Lance Briggs
Briggs signed a six-year, $36 million deal to stay with the Bears.  He has recorded 100+ tackles in each of the past four seasons.  He wasn’t quite as effective last year, but you can say that about most of the Bears defensive players.

Chris Clemons
Clemons had 8 sacks last year for Oakland, and Philly hopes he can continue to pressure the quarterback in Philly’s blitz happy defense.  He signed for five years and $18.5 million.

Keary Colbert
Colbert never panned out in Carolina, but Denver decided to give him a shot anyway.  In four years he has 109 catches for 1424 yards and 5 TDs.  Still, he was able to secure a three-year deal worth $7.2 million. 

Erik Coleman
Coleman had at least 100 tackles his first three years before getting half of that amount last year.  He signed a four-year, $10 million deal with Atlanta to try and bolster their secondary.   

Alge Crumpler
Crumpler took his good hands and attitude to Tennessee.  He wasn’t happy in Atlanta this year, and it showed.  He’ll get a chance to play with another electric QB in Vince Young.  Let’s hope he makes better decisions than Vick. 

Jeff Faine
Tampa signed Faine to a six-year, $37.5 million deal making him the highest paid Center in the league.  Not a bad gig if you can get it. 

Drayton Florence
Drayton signed a six-year, $36 million deal with Jacksonville to bolster their secondary.  He has had over 60 tackles the past two seasons and 10 INTs in his last four.  Seems to me he was overpaid. 

Randall Gay
Another New England cornerback to bolt.  He returned home by signing a four-year, $17 million deal with the Saints.  Gay has 85 career tackles and 5 INTs. 

Devery Henderson
The Saints brought Devery back for one more year with a $2 million deal.  He had 20 catches last year for 409 yards and 3 TDs.  This move makes sense, but does little to excite me. 

Von Hutchins
Von will also help to bolster Atlanta’s secondary.  Last year he had 95 tackles and an INT for Houston.  His deal was good for four years and $9 million.

Sammy Knight
The Giants turned to Sammy to replace departer Gibril Wilson at Safety.  He signed to a three-year, $5 million deal.  He has 42 career INTs (4 last year) and made 93 tackles last year. 

Bobby McCray
Bobby signed a five-year deal with New Orleans worth $20 million.  He had 3 sacks last year after recording 10 in 2006. 

Mewelde Moore
Mewelde adds another element to the Steelers’ backfield.  Fast Willie is the burner.  Najeh Davenport is the power back.  Mewelde is an elusive third down back.  He is shifty and has good hands.  He is also valuable in the return game.

Calvin Pace
The Jets continued their offseason overhaul by signing Calvin Pace to a six-year, $42 million deal.  He had 98 tackles and 6.5 sacks for Arizona last year. 

Jacques Reeves
Reeves doesn’t have to move far going from Dallas to Houston.  He had 61 tackles last year and should help Houston’s secondary.

Justin Smiley
After signing a five-year, $25 million deal with Miami, I don’t think he’s ever lived up to his surname like he is now.  He’ll strengthen Miami’s offensive line.

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Michael Turner
Turner signed a six-year deal worth $34.5 million.  He’ll get a chance to be the man in Atlanta.  Warrick Dunn was shown the door and Jerious Norwood will have to settle for third down duties.

Demorrio Williams
Kansas City signed the LB away from Atlanta.  He has 299 tackles over the past three seasons as well as 5 INTs.  In 2005 he had 128 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 picks.  He’ll be 28 this year. 

Damian Woody
The Jets just keep on spending.  They bolstered their offensive line by signing Woody to a five year deal worth $25.5 million.  Eric Mangini knows all about Woody from their time together in New England.

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL |

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Photo courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI
(Photoshop work by Yours Truly – hence the amateur look)

If you’ve been following basketball closely, you’ll know the following players have been playing out of their minds.  If not, it’s time to play catch up.  Here are some of the hottest players in the league.

Guards
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Kobe Bryant
– His finger doesn’t seem to be bothering him that much.  In his last four games he’s averaged 34.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 1.3 three-pointers per game while shooting 50% from the floor and 82.0% from the line.  Last night he exploded for 52 points and 11 rebounds.

Deron Williams - Williams has been feeding and feeding and feeding lately.  He had 19 assists Saturday against Memphis.  In his last three games he’s averaged 16 points, 14.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 three-pointers per game.  He’s shot 45% from the floor and 80% from the line.

Forwards
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Dirk Nowitzki - Everybody’s favorite German is scoring in buckets again.  In his last nine games he’s averaging 31.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 block, and 1.6 three-pointers per game while shooting 50% from the floor and 86.8% from the line.

Mike Dunleavy- Naturally with back-to-back 36 point efforts, Dunleavy was a lock for the En Fuego team.  In his past four games he’s averaged 28.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.3 three-pointers per game.  He’s shot 52.2% from the floor and 79.5% from the line.

Centers
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Dwight Howard -
  Howard has been playing like Superman lately.  In his past six games he’s averaged 24 points, 15.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals.  He’s shot 66.3% from the floor.  You’ll have to deal with the 54.3% he’s shot from the free throw line. 

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

It’s time for a look at the Corner Infielders that could be in for breakout years.

Daric Barton - Oakland A’s
Barton hit .347 with 4 HRs and 8 RBI as a September call-up.  Just as impressive was the ten walks he accumulated in his 18 games. 

Josh Fields - Chicago White Sox
Josh showed some pop last year hitting 23 HRs in 373 at bats.  If Joe Crede gets dealt, the third base gig is his.  He’ll have to improve on the .244 average though. 

Ryan Garko – Cleveland Indians
I look for Garko to build on the .289, 21 HR, 61 RBI season he produced last year.  I’m expecting an RBI total in the high 80′s to low 90′s.

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Alex Gordon
– Kansas City
Gordon did OK in his rookie year considering the hype he came with.  He hit .247 with 15 HR & 47 RBI.  With a full season under his belt, look for Gordon to improve dramatically.

Andy LaRoche - Los Angeles Dodgers
He’ll have to push Nomar for playing time, but LaRoche has big-time potential.  He didn’t show it last year when he hit .226 in his 35 game stint, but it’s there.  Perhaps he’s still a year or more away. 

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James Loney
– Los Angeles Dodgers
Loney had an outstanding season last year hitting .331 with 15 HR and 67 RBI in 96 games.  He’s primed for a 30 HR, 100 RBI season.

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Evan Longoria
- Tampa Bay Rays
No, not Eva, although some think he’ll have a rookie season as hot as Mrs. Parker. 

Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
He hit well as a call-up last year.  Now he’ll get the chance to earn the starting 1B job.  He’s not going to hit the .321 he did in his 84 at bats last year, but he could be a nice bargain in the late rounds.  He’s got decent speed for a first basemen.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB | Tagged: Eva Longoria |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Roger Maris was suggested by aaJjoe7, a friend of mine from Sporting News.  Here are my findings.

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
1463 Games 
5101 At Bats
.260 Batting Average
826 Runs
1325 Hits
195 Doubles 
42 Triples 
275 Home Runs
851 RBI 
2429 Total Bases 

World Series:  41 games, 33 hits in 152 at bats (.217), 26 runs, 5 doubles, 6 HRs, 18 RBI 

Awards
1960 & 1961 MVP
4 All-Star Games
1 Gold Glove
MVP votes in three seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Slugging % – Three times (Led league in 1961)
OPS – Three times
Games – Twice
At Bats – Once
Runs – Three times (Led league in 1961)
Doubles - Once
Triple – Twice
Home Runs – Four times (actual all-time single-season record in 1961)
RBI – Three times (Led league in ’60 & ’61)
Total Bases – Four times (Led league in ’61)
Extra-base Hits – Four times (Led league in ’60 & ’61)
Walks – Twice
Hit by Pitch – Twice
Intentional Walks – Once

This one is tough.  Yes, he did win back-to-back MVPs.  Yes, he did have a three year stretch where he was one of the very best in the game.  Yes, he did break Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season (with or without the asterisk).  Looking at the numbers my head says ”no way”.  However, my gut says something different.  My gut says that Roger Maris endured a lot in his pursuit of the home run title.  Let’s be honest, the asterisk he wore like the Scarlet Letter was much less deserved than the ones we want to pin on steroid users such as Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.   The back-to-back MVPs brings him to the doorstep for me.  The three World Series wins (and 7 World Series appearances) is what kicks the door in for me.  My gut says that we owe Roger a big apology in the form of a Hall of Fame pass. 

References
Baseball-reference.com

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan
George Van Haltren

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity. Oh, there goes Rabbit. He choked.  He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy.  STOP, STOP, STOP.  It’s not time to recite Eminem lyrics.  It’s time to review which catchers are going to snap back to reality after having great 2007 seasons. 

We’ve already covered the Bounceback Catchers, so without further ado, I present you the Back to Earth Catchers.

Johnny Estrada (.278, 123 hits, 25 doubles, 54 RBI)
Johnny may still have a decent average, but sharing time with Paul Lo Duca likely means he won’t get enough at bats to be as productive as last year. 
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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI
Jorge Posada (.338, 42 doubles, 20 HR, 93 RBI)
Somebody should check to see if Jorge tapped into Roger Clemens’ private stash.  At 36 years of age, he batted .051 points higher than his previous best batting average.  He also set a career high for doubles.  While I expect him to have a good year in that offense, I would be shocked if his batting average didn’t drop at least 30 points.

Sorry there isn’t more, but not enough catchers had the type of year that leads me to believe they can’t match it.  However, I don’t think Victor Martinez will drive in as many runs.  I also doubt Mike Redmond gets as many hits or RBI.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

George Van Haltren is another one suggested by Favre is overrated 2007, a friend of mine from the Sporting News community.  I’ve decided to review his numbers and offer my opinion to his Hall of Fame worthiness.

The Numbers
1984 Games 
8021 At Bats
.316 Batting Average (72nd All-time)
1639 Runs (33rd All-time)
2532 Hits (80th All-time)
285 Doubles 
161 Triples (38th All-time)
69 Home Runs
1014 RBI 
3346 Total Bases 
583 Stolen Bases (20th All-time)

93 Games
40-31
.563 Win %
65 Complete Games
4 Saves
281 Strikeouts
4.05 ERA
1.528 WHIP

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Four times
On-Base % – Four times
Slugging % – Once
OPS -  Once
Games – Eight times (Led league in 1894, 1896 & 1898)
At Bats – Seven times (Led league in 1898)
Runs – Eight times
Hits – Nine times
Doubles - Twice
Triple – Seven times (Led league in 1896)
Home Runs – Twice
Total Bases – Five times
Extra-base Hits – Twice
Walks – Twice
Stolen Bases – Five times (Led league in 1900)

Winning Percentage – Twice
Stikeouts – Once
Shutouts – Once
Saves – Three times

I didn’t know of George Van Haltren before researching this.  What I found out is “Rip” had eleven seasons of 100+ runs (5 with 120+), eight seasons of 10+ triples, several seasons of .300 or better hitting, solid overall rankings, and even some decent pitching.  He had a strong arm in the outfielder, racking up outfield assists.  He was one of the best of his era and, along with Jimmy Ryan, is the only player (that isn’t banned because of gambling) with 1600+ runs that isn’t in the Hall of Fame.  I think it’s time for that to change.

References
Baseball-reference.com
The Baseball Page

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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