The Derek Anderson Award: A Look Ahead.

Buh-Bummmm. Bu-buh-buh-Bum (Natuaral Theme Song).

I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself, but the Derek Anderson Award may have been the greatest thing that happened on this blog last year. I’m sure there were a couple of other good ideas, but if you want a Derek Anderson award this is the only place you can find one.  That’s called exclusivity.  I’ve been seeing all kinds of ratings lately.  I took a stab at some power rankings myself yesterday, but that can only produce so much excitement.  The real question is, who are the quarterbacks in this league that will leave us wide-eyed with wonder as they put up 4.9 QB ratings?  Who will have more interceptions than completions in a game?  Is a six interception game on the table?  How about seven?  How many different Bills quarterbacks could win the DA?  We must know the answers, so let’s meander through the field.

The Namesake:  Derek Anderson, he of the 2-17 for 23 yards and a pick in a WIN against Buffalo, has unfortunately not landed a starting job for this year.  He’s been transplanted to Arizona to back up Matt Leinart.  I assume Leinart will eventually be benched. DA should be more concerned with the Cardinals 3rd string QB.  Anyone have any idea who that is?  Me neither.

The Road Block:  Matt Leinart.  Leinart has freakish upside potential for the DA.  Has been a wild disappointment, he’s essentially the TMZ version of JaMarcus Russell without the sizzurp problem.  Not only is Leinart a mess who could throw picks at any moment, the Cardinals feel like they’ve taken a step back.  If Leinart ends the year empty-handed I’d be shocked.

The Jamie Moyer: Who replaced Anderson in Cleveland?  That’s right, Jake Delhomme.  Why Moyer?  Well, it’s hard to win a DA as a grizzled veteran.  To play at this low a level at such an advanced age shows remarkable resiliency if nothing else.  Remember what Steve Smith said, “I never liked you as a quarterback.”  Don’t forget his swan song last year, 14-34 with 4 picks against the Jets.  QB rating: 12.7

The Starlet:  Jay Cutler.  No one has meltdowns like Cutler.  No one blindly throws into coverage like Cutler.  No one does less with more than Jay Cutler.  When people in Denver are saying, “Uh, well, uh I guess Kyle Orton isn’t that bad,”  you’re a train wreck.  The great thing about Cutler is he’s firmly implanted as the starter.  He’ll always get his throws.  Cutler’s lowlights last year were plentiful, a five pick game and a 10-27 with 3 pickaroos against the Ravens.  Rating: 7.9.

The Holy Trinity:  Brian Brohm, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick.  The Bills can and will be one of the worst teams in the league.  All three of these guys-and I expect them all to play-will be running for their lives when they aren’t turning around to hand the ball off.  We have a proven failure in Edwards, a guy short on skills in Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm has thrown 29 career passes.  Fitzy may have the most upside.  He teased us  with  a 9/23 against the Jets last year.

The Slippery Slope: Matt Stafford.  Stafford performed courageously last year at the helm of the Detroit Lions.  He took a beating, and still managed to show some real promise during a handful of solid performances.  There were the bad days, though.  He showed an ability to hit both ends of the spectrum pretty hard.  We don’t know enough yet to be positive this isn’t Jay Cutler in 4G.  Stafford’s 20-43 with 4 picks against Green Bay last year:  Cutler-esque.

The Reality Check:  Matt Moore.  Moore set the world on fire while replacing Jake Delhomme last year.  The Panther fans probably would have cheered a jugs machine wildly at that point, but Moore had some good games.  Give him the keys.  Only problem is, this is Matt Moore.  Sure he could continue to develop, or last year could have been a Bobby Hoying flash.  Carolina, in its short history, has been a hotbed for the DA.

Chalk City:  Josh Freeman.  Ah, so much potential.  So much grace.  Freeman emerged as a rookie last year and made his presence felt.  He’s got all the tools.  Horrible team, even worse backups (Who the bleep is Rudy Carpenter?), and an inappropriate level of confidence.  Week in, week out there was no safer bet to win the DA.  Among his highlights, a 14-33, 3 int performance against New York.  Rating:  12.1.  Look out for this guy.  Dangerous.

Fresh Meat:  Sam Bradford.  Will Bradford end up starting?  I think he’ll play a lot, but I’d be more concerned that the Rams won’t open it up enough to let Bradford flourish in a DA scenario.  Handing it off to Stephen Jackson all day and throwing 3 yard dinks isn’t conducive to the eye-popping stats a DA requires.  This could be a slow evolution into being a contender, watch-out for the back half of the year, and if he gets hurt the backup pool is a mother lode of potential with AJ Feeley and Keith Null.

The Gut Punch:  Mark Sanchez.  Sanchez won a lot of favor in the playoffs.  He’s looked at as an up and comer.  I don’t know any Jets fans, but I imagine they are pretty comfortable these days with Sanchez.  Don’t get your hopes up too high, though.  He might break your heart this year.  Sanchez was running a rudimentary offense on a team with a great defense and running game.  While doing that he still had some shockingly bad games.  10-29 with 5 picks in a loss to the Bills.  Rating:  8.3.   That’s almost a DA perfect game.  There will be more.

There are obviously a few other guys to watch.  The beauty of the Derek Anderson is that it only takes four quarters to state your case.  Almost anyone can step up, and wouldn’t it be exciting if Peyton, or Drew Brees threw their hat into the ring this year.  We’re democratic here, the more candidates the better.

What is Going On?

One Walk Kept Garza out of Halladay-ville.

Matt Garza threw the fifth no-hitter in the Major Leagues this season on Monday night.  Shut down the Tigers, allowed just one walk, and perhaps the most interesting thing is that I hardly batted an eye.  Oh, another no-hitter.  Seems like a pitcher is taking a n0-no deep into a game every week.  I feel conscious of them.  Watching Phillies games I look for that first hit more intensely now, thinking that a string of zeros might pop up at any time.  It was a couple of months ago that I made a post about 1968, the famous year of the pitcher, and since then nothing has changed to halt that comparison.  Offense is down, extraordinary pitching performances are up, and fans are seeing a different kind of baseball.

Of course the Twins also scored 19 runs on Monday night (so I don’t want to overstate things), but for the current baseball fan, the one who was brought up in the steroid era, I wonder if they recognize this product.  Where are the runs, and does that mean, where is the excitement?  I have this unofficial test of whether or not someone is a real baseball fan, or I should say an old-school type baseball fan.  A person who could have fit right in when baseball was the most popular sport in the country.  The test is simple.  It’s one question:  Do you appreciate a pitcher’s duel?  If you think back to the All-Star game this year, it was roundly criticized as being unwatchable, the ratings were terrible, but through the first several innings of that game the pitching display was remarkable.  I like watching Josh Johnson hit 98 with filthy movement, but I’m not sure that is for the masses.

I wonder if baseball is in danger of boring people to death.  You know, they really teased everyone with the steroid era, and now that style of play is being taken away.  It’s been a downward trend, but this year offense is way off, and you wonder if we are at a new plateau, or if we’re slowly heading back to the time when 32 homers could lead the league.  Is this just an unusual influx of quality pitchers?  Maybe a hardened cynic would say the pitchers are on the leading end of a new performance enhancing drug?  I don’t really believe that.  If the pitchers were on something new, the hitters would be too, but I suppose we could be the modern-day version of the fans that were buying into the whole bigger/faster/stronger phenomenon in the late 80s.  New generation of athlete…ok.

This year could just be a statistical anomaly, and it already is to some extent already.  Even in pitching friendly conditions a perfect game shouldn’t be around every corner, but I wonder what it would take for baseball to react to this change in offensive production.  Remember that 1968 was such a significant year that it led to rule changes meant to favor the hitter.  Everyone knows offense sells.  Think of the other sports, what you think of the NFL if the average score was 13-10?  It’d be harder to watch wouldn’t it?  The neutral zone trap and the Devils killed hockey.  They went from Gretzky’s Oilers and Lemiuex’s Pens to get a 1-0 lead and pack it in for the night.  I wonder in an era where the attention of the sports fan is so fleeting how long MLB would tolerate a “pitcher’s era.”  I think they’ve been trying to find some middle ground for a while now, but it’s been a roller coaster ride, and if they aren’t careful depending on where they end up, they could cost themselves some fans.