Mamula’s 15-Year Anniversary.

Wrong Kind of Combine.

Ah, it was a simpler time when Mike Mamula aced the combine and pulled the wool over Philadelphia’s eyes.  Mamula, the beloved and undersized defensive end from Boston College must have been a pretty bright guy.  He did, after all, score 49/50 on the Wonderlic test, but he also knew how to package himself.  Good forty time, check.  More bench-press reps than Tony Boselli, check.  The rest, is six years of undistinguished play and not coming close to living up to expectations as the seventh pick in the draft.  I’m not going to list who was taken after him (Warren Sapp), that’s not the point.  The point is that Mamula used the combine as a trampoline.  For all it may help, the combine can still artificially inflate a player, and send him flying up the draft board.  Vernon Gholston anyone?  Guys can slip as well.  It’s the beauty of combine week, and it’s upon us again.

What do I love about the combine?  Well, first, I love the videos of large offensive linemen running the 40.  They are absolutely hilarious.  I also love hearing about players and the Wonderlic Test.  The Test is kind of a big mystery, and you never know if you can trust the scores or not, but there’s always a wild rumor floating around along the lines of, “Vince Young got a 9 on the Wonderlic.”  I appreciate that kind of stuff.  The Wonderlic Test actually has a pretty interesting Wikipedia page.  Literacy is apparently represented by a score of 10.  NFL players average 20, but they list some other professions as well.  Journalists?  26.  So, nothing to get too excited about, maybe we should cut the NFL prospects some slack.  In my mind, though, I would get a 50.

I suppose the combine could have some impact on what the Eagles end up doing in the draft.  It seems like more and more projections have Taylor Mays slipping to the Eagles.  The safety from USC wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the 20s in last year’s draft, but this season raised questions about his abilities in coverage.  No one wants a safety that can’t cover anyone, and there is even some grumblings about Mays ending up at linebacker.  If he bounces back at the combine, runs a great 4o-time, he may again be out of the Eagles reach.  Of course, if he doesn’t, do you even want him?

Peter King wrote this week about some GMs putting less and less weight in the combine.  They don’t want to be fooled by a couple of numbers.  They’re going to trust the film.  It makes sense I guess, but if a guy can’t run, he can’t run.  With the Eagles in desperate need on defense, I feel like they could fall victim to a workout warrior.  These guys, the Aaron Maybin types pop up every year.  The good news is, the Birds might be far enough down the board that the workout warriors could leap-frog them.  Let other teams snap them up, and the Eagles could end up with a player who has a little more football, a little less bench press.

We’ll see.  Big week for Kiper and company.  Stock rising, stock falling.  Tim Tebow’s new throwing motion.  It’s all good.


Everyone’s Afraid.

No One Wants to Predict A Twenty-Spot.

Ah, the late hours of the inter-web.  Gives you time to do things like scan stat projections for just about every major league starter.  You know, you click a link to see what they think Ryan Howard is going to do this year, and the next thing you know you are voicing skepticism over Matt Weiters’ pr0jections to no one in particular.  It’s like getting lost on youtube.  For me, at least.  Baseball stat projections will be big business in a few weeks while people gear up for fantasy drafts.  I don’t play fantasy baseball, but I’m a huge fan of making projections, so the numbers interest me.  I think for the most part, we get conservative calls.  Thirty-two homers for Prince Fielder, for example.  If I think he’s going to hit 40 do I say 40?  Or, do I say 32?  If he hits 32, and I say 40…I look like a fool.  If it reverses, well, he’s just out-pacing expectations.

The whole business is be conservative across the board, pick 10 guys you think are going to have good years, 10 who are going to have bad years, and roll the dice.  That’s what I would do.  The projection number that has me most interested this season is Roy Halladay’s win total.  The benchmark for a starting pitcher, that number that has always stood out, is 20 wins.  Is he going to win twenty?  Is he a twenty game winner?  These are things people say.  He’s an ace, well then, we should expect 20 wins?  Not necessarily.  Twenty wins no longer that common of an occurrence.

Here’s a list of each team’s last 20-game winner.  It’s another fabulous way to waste a minute, but things pop-out when you look at the list.  The Phillies last 20-game winner was Steve Carlton in 1982.  That’s a long time ago.  The Phils have one of the longest droughts, but we’ve really only seen a sprinkling of 20-win guys in the last ten or fifteen years.  So, we have this standard, 20-games, but last year no pitcher even reached the mark.  Imagine if the Phillies hadn’t had a 100-RBI man since 1982.  The truth is, it’s probably a slightly flawed number.  Just like 25 homers and 100 RBI aren’t what they used to be, neither is 20 wins.  Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young with 15 W’s last season, but it took 141 RBI’s to lead the National League.

All this brings me to Roy Halladay.  You look at Halladay, and he’s certainly an ace, so you start thinking about 20 wins.  Dominate pitcher, coming to an easier league, great line-up around him, why not 20?  Hell, why not 25?  I know I was thinking an easy twenty, but listening to and reading projections, the consensus appears to be 16-18 wins.  Should we be happy with that?  Sure, but why not twenty?  Halladay is a two-time 20 game winner.  He did it as recently as 2008.  The last two years he had 31 and 29 decisions.  He should get about 33 starts.  His average season is 17 victories.  So that’s where the projections are coming from, but I think there’s a little hesitation about heaping too many expectations on old Leroy.  Eighteen will be fine.

Fine, but not what I’m looking for.  And, not what I’m expecting.  I’m not afraid of the 20-spot.  I think Halladay gets there this season, and I’m expecting him to.  All of this is contingent on him staying healthy, but if he does, I don’t see why he can’t go 21-8, 20-10, something like that.  In 2006 and 2007 he lost only 12 games combined, but hit just 16 wins both of those years because of 19 no-decisions.  Roy shouldn’t be looking at 10 no-decisions a year in Philly.  Score for the guy, he wins you twenty.  Not a doubt in my mind.  No need to play it safe with the projections, Roy’s one of a handful of Phils I’m actually not worried about.