Too Much Science.

Not Enough Gut.

I’ve spent a little bit of time listening to people debating what the Eagles should do during the off-season.  Quarterback, defense, Brian Westbrook.  There are a lot of questions.  While listening I heard someone make the point that the Eagles organization needs some dissenting voices.  Obviously, they need a common goal, to win a Super Bowl, but how about some fresh ideas about how to get that job done?  I liked the idea, because the more you watch the Eagles, the more you realize they do every the same.  I think Joe Banner could write a computer program for being the Eagles GM at this point, and just set it on auto-pilot.

The Eagles run their organization with the efficiency of a poker playing bot.  All the calculations have been done.  The information plugged into a database, and the decision pops out for them.  A player is this old, plays this position, makes this much money…what should we do?  The numbers will tell you, and the Eagles always seem to play it by the numbers.  It’s a good approach in a number of areas.  It keeps your salary cap number in check, and it also appears the Eagles have perfected the formula enough to assure some level of success.  If we do the following….we won’t go 5-11.

They’re not the only team that does it, and football is not the only sport where it occurs.  We have all been made keenly aware of Moneyball.  Baseball scouts carry laptops now instead of stopwatches.  Does Moneyball work?  Sometimes.  To a certain extent it does.  The point isn’t that the ideas don’t have merit.  The effective management of the salary cap, the ability to know when a player is past their prime, it all helps.  But, sometimes there are exceptions to be made, or risks to be taken.   A poker bot might give you the best chance of cashing in a tournament, but if you want to win the whole thing, you might have to override its decisions every once in a while.

And, this is where the Eagles seem to be lacking.  In the guts department.  The killer instinct department.  I’d just like to think there are people in charge of the organization that can judge whether or not a guy can play.  In their grand scheme of things, Kevin Kolb should be ready to go.  So, play him.  Or, someone man up, and admit Kolb isn’t the answer.  Trade him away, and admit he’s not Don’s replacement.  Maybe they are unsure about Kolb.  Well, don’t look at it like Donovan gives you the best chance to go 10-6.  If you can trade Donovan for help, give Kolb a chance.  If he plays well, maybe it’s 12-4 team, maybe you have a shot at something real.  If he can’t play a lick, maybe you go 7-9, but who cares?  At least they would have taken a shot.


Is He Asking for Pesos?

You Been Chugging NyQuil Joe?

Arbitration eligible players submitted their salary requests to their respective teams yesterday, and the teams offered their counter proposals.  For those unfamiliar, salary arbitration is a process where players who aren’t eligible for free-agency can be awarded a higher salary through the decision of an arbitrator.   The player comes in with a number, the team comes in with a number, and the arbitrator picks one.  A lot of times teams will negotiate somewhere in the middle to avoid the possibility of losing.  More than anything else, arbitration is the real cause for the exploding salaries of baseball in the last two decades.  It allowed players with hardly any track record to compare themselves to proven stars based on solely a single year of statistics.   Lofty requests by the agents and players, fear of losing by the owners, and the salary scale just started growing exponentially.

Enter the infamous Joe Blanton.  One of three arbitration eligible players for the Phils, Blanton is not being shy with his salary request.  The number that Big Joe came up with was 10.25 million.  For reference, back to back Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum asked for 13 million, which would be a record judgement.  A few years back when Ryan Howard was coming off 50 HR seasons, a rookie of the year award, and an MVP, he asked for 10 million.  Blanton was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA last season.  Granted, considering the state of the Phillies pitching staff last year, he was an important figure at times.  But, this is a guy that’s 3 or4 years removed from his best season, and has a career ERA over 4.

The Phillies countered with 7.25 million, but after seeing Blanton’s demand they’re probably thinking they could have gotten away with 6, 6.5.  For perspective you look at the deal Brett Myers signed.  He’s older, coming off an injury, but a pretty similar pitcher if you ask me, and Myers struggled to get a one year deal.  There is no way Blanton gets over 7 million a season on the open-market.  This is a guy the Phillies couldn’t trade during the Cliff Lee mess, and this is why.  Everyone knew he was due arbitration, and was going to be wildly overpaid.

There’s no way Blanton can win this.  If I were the Phillies, I’d just walk in with Lincecum’s baseball card and flip it over at the hearing.  My personal favorite stat between the two of them is Lincecum has more career strikeouts in about 400 less innings.  Is Blanton half the pitcher Lincecum is?  Maybe.  So, maybe 6.5 million, but again that’s not what the open-market would dictate.  The present situation seems to be that the elite are still getting paid while the middle of the road guys are struggling, needing to be humble.  That’s what Blanton should be doing, but instead he’s blessed by the arbitration fairy.

If the Phillies settle this before the hearing, then I’ll lose all respect for them.  And, if the ruling went in favor of Blanton, I’d burn the building down.  He literally cannot win, though.  It’s a nice negotiation ploy.  We’ll see if the Phillies fall for it.  But, they better stick to their guns.  I’m thinking about all the “Joe Blanton’s making, what?” columns next year when he waddles out of the gate with a slow start.


Aziz Ansari needs a Spin-Off.

Nothing is going on.  I think the most interesting story I saw today was a ball kid at the Australian Open (that’s tennis) pissed himself during a match, and they had to stop play for half an hour.  Apparently puddles of urine aren’t good for the hard courts.  I also saw that Venus may have been playing without underwear, but really, how much tennis can you possibly take in one sitting?  So, instead of tennis you get Aziz Ansari.

Up until I saw a clip of him doing stand up tonight I would have referred to him as “The Only Funny Guy on that show I don’t Watch.”  He’s on Parks and Recreation.  Well, Amy Poehler out, Aziz Ansari in.  That’s my tentative plan for the future of that show.  Hilarious stand-up too.  Here’s a clip from a DVD he has coming out.  Some bleeped profanity….

Aziz Ansari on Sheets at College Humor.