Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jason Taylor Needs to Wake Up

Jason Taylor needs to wake up. As earlier posted on TSFFB here , there is an apparent feud brewing between JT and Bill Parcells. The Tuna is upset over Jason Taylor missing out on the voluntary offseason workouts that are going on.

Let's look at things from Bill's side. You are Bill Parcells. Your team had the worst record in the NFL last season. You are the new "executive vice-president of football operations" of said team. You have a new coach, Tony Sparano, who has never been a head coach before at this level. Sparano was hired because of his widely recognized ability to get along with players and develop young talent. You don't have to be the players' friend, because you aren't their coach. You aren't their sitter. You are there to build a team up from the bottom of the NFL barrel. You have been shopping your aging captain, Jason Taylor, hoping to get more young talent in return. Unfortunately, you received little to no attention from other teams. Then, said captain leaves your young team for a reality dancing show on network TV during an offseason that his leadership is needed more than ever before. There are no other leaders, no other faces to look up to. One day, said captain "pops in" for a visit to say hi to teammates, and decides to come in to your office while you are studying tape. Would you welcome him with open arms?

Now clearly, from a human relations standpoint, Bill Parcells has a lot to learn. Could he have handled it better? Of course. But does he have a right to be peeved? I certainly think so. Emmit Smith and Jerry Rice had great careers on "Dancing With the Stars," but they were retired. Jason Taylor is the face of the Dolphins, the leader of a 1-15 team trying to take a good draft class and prepare them for a long season. He can't dance around his responsibilities.

Olsen vs. Billingsley: Marlins Have the Edge?

When I saw the pitching matchup for last night's game (Andrew Miller vs. Derek Lowe), I knew the odds would be steep. Fortunately for the Marlins, things appear quite the opposite tonight:

Scott Olsen: 3-0, 2.06 ERA
Chad Billingsley: 0-4, 6.53 ERA

Of course, that also puts a lot more pressure on the Marlins. They've gotten to the point where they have to win the Olsen starts (a situation unlikely to change until Andrew Miller gets blasted down to AAA...please???).

Now here's some more discouraging news. Take a look at their 2007 stats:

Scott Olsen: 10-15, 5.81 ERA
Chad Billingsley: 12-5, 3.31 ERA

So the bigger question: Has April, 2008 has been a fluke or a legitimate trend? Things can change quickly...we'll find out tonight.

Canes Basketball Gets Big Man Out of Michigan

The Miami Hurricanes basketball team landed their first oral commitment for the 2009 class in 6-8 power forward Donnavan Kirk out of Detroit, Michigan (Detroit Country Day School also produced NBA stars Chris Webber and Shane Battier). Kirk is a four-star player according to (who rates him as the 21st-ranked power forward in his class), and is a consensus top 100 player. Michigan State, Iowa, and USC offered Kirk before he chose the Canes today. The word on the streets is that Kirk finishes strongly around the basket and is a strong post presence, in addition to being a superb athlete and free-throw shooter for a big.

Next on the Canes 2009 basketball wish list - point guard phenom Kenny Boynton out of Plantation. Boynton appears to like Duke and UF, so the Canes are considered longshots, but one can wish, eh?

Bill Parcells Needs to Grow Up

Those who have faithfully read our blog would know we've been highly supportive of Bill Parcells, especially in regard to the draft. He's a veritable sage when it comes to evaluating personnel, and his steady hand is just what the Dolphins need to right their ship (which had fallen somewhere near the place Captain Jack Sparrow found himself in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie).

With those praises out of the way, it's time for a little criticism. What was it that made Parcells ineffective as coach of the Cowboys? His people skills, namely when applied to outspoken superstars like "the player" (that's T.O. if you didn't recall).

The childlike antics seem to have surfaced again, this time with Jason Taylor. There's no excuse for this:

"Two weeks ago, Taylor took a break from his dancing gig and visited the Dolphins. He visited with teammates in the locker room and, after a warm reception, decided to call on Parcells.
Taylor walked into a room where Parcells was watching tape, and Parcells ignored him. He looked at Taylor and went back to his work without saying a word.
That incensed Taylor."

In cases like these, Bill Parcells needs to rediscover that thing called puberty, which supposedly raises the mind to a more adult form.

Later Hammel

In case any one out there has actually listened to my podcast then what I'm about to write won't come as much of a surprise, but for those of you with a life I'll try to make this short and sweet. I've had a bit of a conspiracy theory involving the Rays that dates back to the end of spring training, and basically it goes as follows.

The only real problem about having so much raw, untapped talent is that it's hard to single out who's in and who's out as quickly as you would want. And this formula becomes even more difficult when these fringe players are out of options, and just happen to be good enough that you can't cut them out right. So what do you do? Well if you're the Rays you send down the players with options even if they are the best player (Longoria). And you put a guaranteed starter on the DL even if he's not that hurt (Kazmir). All of this was done just to try to get a few extra weeks to evaluate the talent that's left.

Now for the last few weeks with the team playing quite well management has been almost hoping for a bad outing just to help them make there minds up. And now that Kazmir is coming back time is running out fast. Well last night Jason Hammel gave them the excuse they needed. After giving up three runs and putting a lot of base runners on, Maddon had no choice but to pull him after only going 2 2/3 innings. Now we will go over the reasons why Hammel has drawn the unlucky chamber in this game of Rays Roulette. Kaz, Sheilds, and Garza are absolute locks which leads only two starting positions and with success of Sonny and the hard on they have for Jackson the chances of the starting five changing is slim to nill.

And with the bullpen playing out of their minds the only changes that will be made is dropping Birkins for Reyes, but even Birkins is playing well, unless of course they release Reyes and keep Hammel but I just don't see that happening. And if you look to the bench Haynes is the one they might move but then you have to take in to consideration what to do when Aybar and Zobrist are healthy. Now all of this is of course is speculation but no matter how you look at it Hammel's days are numbered, and it's not because he can't cut, but because he's on a team with too much talent.

UM's Hernandez Continues To Impress

UM freshman pitcher Chris Hernandez, 7-0 on the season and boasting a 2.77 ERA, was named ACC Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Last Friday, during UM's 1-0 victory over No. 16 Virginia, Hernandez struck out eleven batters and gave up only two hits in eight shutout innings.

The Canes are 36-5 (20-2 in the ACC) and will face St. Mary's for a weekend series beginning Friday. Canes fans will remember St. Mary's as the victim of a Jack McClinton onslaught in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last month. We'll see if the Gaels can fare better in baseball. My money is on "no", but the Canes have lost to Sun Belt powerhouse FIU (I'm laying the sarcasm on pretty thick this morning) this year, so anything is possible. Starting pitching like that exhibited by Hernandez and Erik Erickson, combined with the unbelievable play all season of super-hitters Blake Tekotte and Yonder Alonso, should propel the Canes this weekend as they look to cap off one of their best regular seasons in school history.

Please Send Andrew Miller Down

I've just gotten back from the Marlins game. It was a disheartening 7-6 defeat, made all the worse by the hope of a near comeback gone wrong. Throw in a couple annoying Dodgers fans and I was ready to throw my Cracker Jack prize at the nearest orange seat.

But of all my mixed emotions, there was one thought that could not be shaken, altered, or excused. The Marlins MUST SEND DOWN ANDREW MILLER.

What more do they want to prove? They may as well have put a batting practice machine out there in his place. The Dodgers smacked Miller around for 6 runs, 9 hits in just 3 innings. Then Doug Waechter came in and threw four shutout innings. Hmmm. Perhaps Waechter ought to just start the game?

All you need to know is that after having Andrew Miller bat in the bottom of the 3rd, Fredi Gonzalez still chose to make the change for the top of the 4th. Fredi knows it, the fans know it, and the management should know it...Andrew Miller is in desperate need of refinement. Send him down NOW!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Come What May

The game is in the top of the eighth, and the Marlins have again surprised even some of their most ardent supporters, me among them, with an amazing comeback from a 5-0, and later a 6-1 deficit. Much of the credit goes to Jorge Cantu, 3-3, and now batting .312. I had to write this post right now while the conclusion of the game remains in doubt.

Regardless of how the score ends up, this is another game typical of how this season is going for the Marlins. Pinto is pitching in relief and Andrew Miller only lasted 3 innings as a starter. Nothing unusual here. Just another day at the stadium.

I look up, and sure enough there is a play at the plate. The throw comes in from right field from Hermida, the relay by Uggla, and Rabelo tags out DeWitt at the plate to preserve the 6-6 tie. You simply can't ask for much more from any team, let alone one with the lowest payroll in the Majors. It's rally time in the bottom of the eighth. Lead-off hitter, Hermida, on base with a single. Gotta go!

Bye Baker and Farewell Fafita!

Baker was gone as soon as Foster was signed. There was no way Miami was going to keep more than four QB's going into training camp. McCown, Beck, and Henne are safe, for obvious reasons, and now they have Foster as a training camp arm while they groom him to whatever position they best feel his skills lend themselves to.

As for Fafita, I noted in my last blog that his days in Miami were coming to a close. First of all, he isn't a "Parcells Guy". He was inherited from a regime that Parcells CLEARLY has no respect for. That is why it is being written by some news outlets that Beck may be gone at the end of 2008. Second, and more importantly, Fafita just didn't show enough potential compared to the defensive lineman that Parcells drafted. With JT apparently sticking around until, at least, the trading deadline, the DLine rotation has become VERY crowded!

Bottom line: Parcells trusts his judgement more than he does Cameron and Saban's! That means we have to say "Bye to Baker and Farewell to Fafita"!

Cantu Loves it Here, Fredi's Been Here a While

Not only do the fans (especially The South Florida Fan) love Jorge Cantu; apparently the feeling is mutual. Jorge Cantu expressed his love for the Marlins franchise and the city of Miami. Here's a specific quote:

"I love this team," Cantu said Sunday in Milwaukee shortly before the Marlins won the series two games to one. "This team hustles, day in and day out. Look at the way we're playing. We're in first place. Everything is rolling for us. It's a great feeling to be part of a winning team."

With comments like that, it's hard to slam a guy for swinging on 3-0 with the bases loaded...then again, that was poor.

It's still unclear whether Fredi Gonzalez loves the Marlins as much as Jorge Cantu, but he's now the longest-tenured coach in South Florida. Fish Stripes finds that pretty amazing, and we have to agree. A city once led by the holy trio of stalwarts Jimmy Johnson, Jim Leyland, and Pat Riley (with the not-too-shabby Doug MacLean rounding the quartet), now has Fredi Gonzalez (2nd season), Tony Sparano (just started), Erik Spoelstra (really just started), and Coach X (Panthers don't even have a coach yet). Amusing stuff.

Immortalizing Pat Riley

In hindsight, Pat Riley should have retired from coaching after the Heat won the championship in 2006. He could have retreated from the hardwood on the highest note, scraping a yacht-sized legacy across Key Biscayne, the slew of idolaters lining up to scream their euphoric praises. That was, as Riley himself admitted, the culmination of his career, the championship that validated his years of just-shorts after a blessed first chapter (four championships in LA).

Now? Riley goes out as a controversial figure, his virtues extolled, but his vices discussed as well. That's the downside to leaving the game on the lowest note, abandoning a team when they're poised to claim the most lottery balls. Is it fair? Of course not, and I suspect the acclaim will be what most people remember once a few years trickle by. It just seems he should have gotten that unconditional respect now.

Let's examine the post-announcement reaction:

- Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel puts out a well-crafted eulogy, highlighting Riley's talents not only as a coach, but as a master of the English language. How true.

- Greg Cote of the Miami Herald defends the move, both from Riley's perspective and the team. Beautifully written.

- ESPN's J.A. Adande exalts Riley for his greatness, suggesting (as I did above) that the good will outweight the bad.

- Chris Sheridan of ESPN offers some cautioning words for those who think Riley is done with coaching. He doesn't doubt Riley's sincerity, but his ability to hold true to his current thoughts. Sheridan certainly has a point.

- Lastly, here's a well-assembled montage of Riley through the years.

As for Erik Spoelstra, the Palm Beach Post's Tom D'Angelo paints a brilliant picture of who the guy is and why he has a bright future ahead of him. We couldn't agree more. We bid adieu to a true paladin of the game and welcome a potential great.

First Look at 'Canes 2009 Recruiting Class

From talk of Hurricanes drafted in last weekend's draft, to talk of those whose names will be called in 2012. It is never too early to begin acquainting yourself with your school's future. And in that spirit we take a first glance at the Miami Hurricanes' verbal commitments for the 2009 recruiting class.

The undisputed stud of the class so far is Wichita, Kansas five-star RB Bryce Brown. Brown is the #1 overall prospect according to and brother of Canes 2008 #1 linebacker signee Arthur Brown. Brown had offers from UF, FSU, USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma, among dozens of others. Besides having excellent vision, and explosive breakaway speed, he is a small (6 feet if you're generous) but powerful back in the mold of WVU's Noel Devine. He is also by all accounts a fantastically quirky and eccentric character (at this year's UM spring game, Bryce showed up in a tuxedo T-shirt revealing his freakish strength for a 16 year old; additionally, he is an outspoken advocate of yoga).

Besides Brown, the Hurricanes have received an early oral commitment from Miami American High's Olivier Vernon, a 6-2, 225 lb. four-star defensive end. Vernon dominated the Miami Nike Camp, and boasted offers from Alabama, Auburn, and USF before ending all speculation and picking the Canes. He runs a 4.53 forty, according to

The Hurricanes also fortified their interior defensive line by picking up tackle Luther Robinson today. Robinson, from Ft. Pierce Westwood High, is 6-2 and 270 lbs. He visited just this weekend and was sufficiently blown away that he decided to end all suspense about his recruitment. The Canes also have picked up TE Billy Sanders of Phoenix, Arizona. He has great size, hands, and blocking ability, and received offers from Washington, Washington State, 2008 Orange Bowl champion Kansas, and Arizona. Finally, the Canes received a legacy pickup - Ft. Bend, Texas' A.J. Highsmith, the son of Hurricane legend Alonzo Highsmith and cousin of recent LSU standout LB Ali Highsmith. A.J. is considered a dual threat quarterback, but he is tiny for his position (6-0, 186) and will most likely find himself playing defensive back at the next level.

It is heartening to see that Randy Shannon has not rested on his 2008 stellar recruiting class laurels. There is much work to be done. They still need cornerbacks and offensive linemen badly. They will need such help if the 2009 recruiting class will be considered in time as another integral stop in the official Hurricanes Comeback Tour.

Can the Marlins Hit the Slow Stuff?

Reader Paul posed an interesting question yesterday: Can the Marlins hit changeups? It seems simple enough, and yet the answer is fairly complex.

The Marlins have whacked their way to 15-10 not through any sort of patience, but by exploding through fastballs. If this were a high school dance, the Marlins would be the kids who rest during the slow songs to save energy for Alice DJ. So far it has worked, but will it continue to?

If you watched the Marlins-Brewers series this weekend, you would have noticed a fundamental change in strategy. The Brewers hardly threw any fastballs, tempting the Marlins with low curveballs and frequent changes of pace. For the most part it worked.

It was especially evident during first pitches. Clearly, the scouting report is in; the Marlins are best in the league when it comes to first-pitch hitting. Teams just aren't going to give them the high heat anymore, at least not to start off the counts.

How do the Marlins respond? They have to show patience on those early pitches, either staying back or taking altogether. Many of those pitches were balls, and if the Marlins can work the count up to 1-0, they'll start to get those fastballs they so dearly love. The added benefit? Become successful at waiting and teams will go right back to first-pitch fastballs again. Who knows? Maybe Joe Torre and the visiting Dodgers haven't even caught on yet.

One additional note: It's worth reading Future Fish's disheartening soliloquy on the failed Luis Castillo trade. The trade was already criticized at the time, and now it's made worse by the fact that the Fish released both players they acquired in that deal (Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler). The Marlins have made a number of fine trades, but this was one of their worst.

Marlins and Rays in First Again

Earlier this year (on April 5th to be exact), I wrote a post chronicling the rarity of the Marlins and Rays being in first place at the same time. In that piece, I noted that it had happened only ten times in baseball history, with April 16th, 2004 being the furthest into a season.

Not so anymore. Both April 27th and 28th, 2008 shattered all previously conceived notions. The Marlins currently lead the NL East at 15-10 and the Rays the AL East at 14-11 (riding a dominating 6 game winning streak). As amazing as that sounds, there are intangibles that make it even more improbable. I'll state the reasons for each team:

1. Florida Marlins - Not only were the Marlins predicted last in the division by every analyst, but the Braves, Phillies, and Mets were supposed to be dominant. Could the Marlins conceivably be in first place after 10 games? Certainly. Any team can ride a 6-4 start out of the gate. What about after 25 games? NOBODY would have predicted it. In fact, most people would have been shocked by a third place standing.

2. Tampa Bay Rays - There was a good deal of optimism surrounding the team this year, but not the kind that has them leading the Yankees and Red Sox. They were the lovable losers, who just might squeak the engine that could to third place for the first time. Somewhere along the way, the Rays forgot to listen. They just dismantled the Red Sox for a punishing three-game sweep, and the division has taken notice. This Rays team is a legitimate threat.

How long will these expected bottom-dwellers slurp the cream at the top of the crop? You can't expect too much, but let's relish it while it lasts. After all, it could be for a while.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Riley Out, Spoelstra In!

The Pat Riley coaching career is officially over... until new coach Erik Spoelstra makes the team good again. No, seriously, it's over. Riley insisted he was "definitely sure" his days as a coach were numbered, leaving behind an illustrious Hall of Fame legacy unmatched by more than two or three in the coaching pantheon, if that. We've been critical of Riles this year, but there's no doubting the great service he's done for the Heat and more generally, the NBA universe. We say farewell to one of the colossal legends of the game.

As for Erik Spoelstra, I couldn't be happier! He's the perfect guy to take over this team. Not only is he a strategic genius when it comes to on-court execution, but he possesses those key player-friendly skills that make coaches popular in the clubhouse. We should also expect a seamless transition, as he'll be retaining assistants Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo.

Erik Spoelstra may not exude Riley's stature or experience, but he's going to be a fantastic coach. I'd go so far as to say he might join Riles in the Hall of Fame some day. That's how much I think of him.

YOUR thoughts on the Dolphins draft....

As for MY view of the draft:

J Long - Safest pick but also the biggest need! Does not make mistakes (penalties/sacks) and that is a Parcells kind of guy.

P Merling - Was projected as a 1st rd pick w/o the hernia. He is the first of MANY Dolphin picks this year that beg the question: The problem is figuring out where he fits? DE?OLB? THAT is where I have to trust Parcells.

C Henne - Good value! I hope both he AND Beck become quality QB's so we have some depth (or, better yet, trade fodder for the future). Tough kid with intangibles but he doesn't stand out in any area.

K Langford - Another pick that experts love but is he the next Jason Taylor or the next Matt Roth? Sounds like he can rush the passer but does nothing to anchor the end against the run.

S Murphy - Are we supposed to believe he is our starting LG? I think Miami wanted Greco and settled for Murphy. This pick surprised me because he is known for his finesse, not power, which makes him the Anti-Parcells guy! Also, am I supposed to be impressed that his father is Dale Murphy?

J Parmele - I like this pick because I don't trust our R&R Team (Ricky & Ronnie) to be fully healthy by training camp. I was surprised we got rid of Booker, since he was a PLAYMAKER whenever he got on the field, but we needed a third every down back. I believe that Parmalee has the ability to get the 3.5-4.0 yards/carry until the starters are healthy. (I don't believe Brown will be 100% till 2009.)

D Thomas - Major project that hit a fast food worker for slow service? It's the 6th rd but this just doesn't seem like a Parcells guy (bad character/major project).

L Hilliard - New Fullback or poor man's HB? (BTW, I thought Parcells didn't like small school players: 4 picks were from smaller schools)

L Dotson - NT project? 7th rd pick that I am not going to pretend that I know anything about.

I guess, in summary, what I am saying is that I like this draft only because I want to give Parcells the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that this jumble of players will strengthen our roster. I wish we had traded JT and got some decent value (either in 2008 or 2009 draft) and I hope we sign a couple of impact college FA (DJ Hall, Highsmith, Robertson, and/or Henderson).


Post-Draft Thoughts Around the Blogosphere

The general feeling, at least locally, is that the Dolphins rocked the draft. Perhaps it's a bit of hometown optimism, but I think we can safely assume that wasn't the case last year (nobody thought Cam Cameron deserved anything above an F). Maybe it's more polarization than homerism that occurs. Regardless, here's a quick summary of what's being said.

FinsNation was so pleased with the draft, they likened Parcells' performance to a comic book character. Phinsider seems pleased enough that Parcells and Ireland have a plan for this team. Phin Fever gives a breakdown of each draft pick. Here's the full draft board if you missed any picks.

We at The South Florida Fan are also pleased with the draft, with the lone exception of Lorenzo Booker being traded and Jalen Parmele/Lex Hilliard replacing him. I have my doubts on Chad Henne, but it was a very solid pick for the end of the 2nd round. We want to thank everyone who followed along with us. Congratulations also to FinsNation, Phinsider, and Phin Fever, for providing such excellent coverage throughout the weekend.

Canes Extend 1st Round Streak, Make Barely a Whimper Rest of Draft

The wait was longer than any Hurricane fan wanted, but the relief when Kenny Phillips was named as the 31st overall pick of the Super Bowl champ New York Giants resonated throughout Hurricane nation. That makes it 14 years in a row that the Hurricanes have had a player chosen in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Many draft analysts saw this pick coming. The Giants needed safety help, and Phillips was at the top of the board for safeties, so it was a no-brainer for the Patriot-slayers. The pick made Giants fans ecstatic - they were chanting Phillips' name moments before the pick, and let out a thunderous roar when he finally was picked. Phillips is a ball hawk, and a punishing hitter, and teams making evaluations this draft season were wowed by Phillips' football acumen. He will be an impact player from the starting line.

Calais Campbell was the 50th selection in the draft, going to the Arizona Cardinals. Campbell dropped to the middle of the second round because his productivity suffered his junior season (after a stellar sophomore season) and because of poor combine numbers. Many say in Campbell's defense that he was getting double-teamed quite a bit during his junior season.

A Hurricane whose numbers did not suffer in 2007 was MLB Tavares Gooden. He was the team's defensive MVP, making a career-high 119 tackles. Gooden was selected No. 71 overall by the Baltimore Ravens, where he joins fellow Cane alumni and current Ravens defensive stalwarts Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Gooden possesses impressive strength, and his 4.5 speed is extraterrestrially fast for a linebacker. He could be looked upon as the steal of the 3rd round, I predict. His career was slowed by injuries, and when he finally started to recover, he showed that he can be a force on the defensive side of the ball.

And that was it as far as Canes being drafted. Rounds 4-7 came and went, and no more Hurricanes' names were called. Some, however, have already signed free agent contracts. WR Darnell Jenkins, nicknamed "nuke" because of his nuclear speed, was signed by the Houston Texans. Cornerback Glenn Sharpe, of phantom 2003 Fiesta Bowl pass interference call fame, was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons. DT Teraz McCray was signed by the Buffalo Bills. And OL Andrew Bain joins teammate Phillips in the Big Apple.

IN baseball news, my thesis last week was correct - the Hurricanes are the best team in the land, and they are their own worst enemy. After falling to lowly FIU last week, the Hurricanes swept 16th-ranked Virginia in ACC play at Mark Light Field. The Hurricanes pitching was scintillating - they held the Cavaliers to a .144 average during the series. The Canes are 36-5, and 20-2 in the ACC, with only ten regular season games remaining.

Marlins Win, But Play Poorly

Wes Helms smacked the game-winning homer in the 10th inning, igniting the Marlins to a 3-2 win, a 15-10 record, and an impressive series victory in Milwaukee. That's the good.

Now let's focus on the bad. Marlins fans shouldn't be blinded by Helms' late heroics; the Fish were awful this afternoon. It just so happens that the Brewers were even worse (0 for 8 with runners in scoring position). More games like this and the Marlins will quickly plummet out of first place.

Let me highlight one situation in particular:

7th inning, bases loaded with nobody out. Hermida strikes out in humiliating fashion (a truly gruesome at-bat). Willingham follows with a strikeout of his own. Then Cantu comes up and gets the count to 3-0. WHY ON EARTH WOULD HE BE SWINGING AT 3-0???? I can only think of three reasons:

1. Cantu lost all semblance of common sense and defied the team's orders.

2. Fredi Gonzalez gave him the green light (a move so utterly idiotic, it's baffling).

3. Cantu lost track of what the count was.

It was a truly disgraceful situation, and Fredi Gonzalez ought to be held accountable. Don't be fooled by the victory today; the Marlins were lucky as four-leaf clovers.

Now that I've cleared the air, let me close with something more positive. The Marlins return home for a nine-game homestand against the Dodgers, Padres, and Brewers. We should welcome these victors home with open arms, to a city which - as Miami-Forum reminds us - can boast exceptional artistry.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings

Just a quick post of some UDFA signings for each Florida team here. Picks in Italics are my "players to watch" from this list, or players who I at least feel were good signings to at least try.


WR Davone Bess (Hawaii) - I really love this signing, Bess can be a great WR for us.
LB Kelly Poppinga (BYU)
T Mike Byrne (Delaware)
T Dan Gore (Boise State)
QB Jayson Foster (Georgia Southern)


QB Paul Smith (Tulsa)
WR Adam Bishop (Nevada)
DE Alex Boston (Florida State)
TE Chris Brown (Tennessee)
WR Rudy Burgess (Arizona State)
FB Anthony Catrone (Maine)
WR Clyde Edwards (Grambling)
CB Isaiah Gardner (Maryland)
CB Michael Grant (Arkansas)
WR Jeron Harvey (Houston)
DT Theo Horrocks (Vanderbilt)
OL Drew Miller (Florida)
LB Lamar Myles (Louisville)
CB Brian Witherspoon (Stillman)

Tampa Bay

DB Jonathan Hefney (Tennessee)
DT Tywain Myles (Tarleton St.)
DT Chris Bradwell (Troy)
CB Elbert Mack (Troy)
K Chris Gould (Virginia)
WR Amarri Jackson (USF) tryout
T Jared Carnes (USF) tryout
T Walt Walker (USF) tryout

Other Florida College Notables:

Redskins T Shannon Boatman (Florida State)

Titans S Tony Joiner (Florida)
Cardinals G Carlton Medder (Florida)

Vikings DT Leger Douzable (Central Florida)

Texans WR Darnell Jenkins (Miami)
Giants OL Andrew Bain (Miami)
Bills DT Teraz McCray (Miami)
Vikings QB Kyle Wright (Miami)
Browns WR Lance Leggett (Miami)

90% of all of these guys will probably either be cut, buried in the depth charts, put on the developmental list or used with the practice squad, but it's still interesting to see who goes where. Besides, to be a Super Bowl contender, you have to have a complete roster top to bottom. Even the quality of a team's practice squad is important.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sun Belt Draftees Don't Include FAU

FAU seniors Josh Pinnick, Cerge Sincere and Taheem Acevedo have not heard their names called at the NFL's college player selection meeting - as expected. But a few Sun Belt guys have ...

Troy's Leodis McKelvin, a defensive back and kick return specialist, was taken by the Buffalo Bills with the 11th overall pick, tying a record for a Sun Belt player. Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware was selected 11th in 2005 by the Dallas Cowboys.

McKelvin, a 2008 Senior Bowl attendee, returned seven career punts for touchdown at Troy. Over his final two seasons, he started all 25 games at left cornerback for the Trojans, recording 126 tackles (3.5 for losses), five forced fumbles, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups.

McKelvin ran a 4.38 40-yard dash during his workout at the NFL Combine.

Also: Arkansas State’s Tyrell Johnson was selected with the 12th pick in the second round (43rd overall selection). Johnson was the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career as the Sun Belt Conference’s career leader in tackles.

Middle Tennessee DE Erik Walden was selected with the first pick in the sixth round (167th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys.

Seems like the Cowboys like to scout the Sun Belt. Maybe a couple of the FAU seniors will have a chance to latch on there as free agents ...

Just for the record, FAU defeated Troy, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State this season.

The Owls still have never had a player drafted or even play in an NFL regular season game. That will all change in the next year or two, however.

Dolphins Add Depth in 6th

After taking OG Shawn Murphy in the fourth and RB Jalen Parmele in the sixth round, the Dolphins doubled up. The last two picks of the 6th round were OG Donald Thomas (UConn) and RB Lex Hilliard (Montana). Hillard should battle Parmele for the third RB spot, while Thomas should find another place on the ever-evolving offensive line.

Both of these guys are projects, but that's what you expect in the 6th round. Thomas could use more size, but he plays with unusual determination. Hilliard was a second choice to Mike Hart (I know, another Michigan guy) for me and the Dolphins, I suspect, but Hart went two picks earlier. Hilliard's the kind of unknown player from a little-watched team that could make Parcells look good come next year...or, he could make a fine practice squad filler.

With the 10th pick in the 6th round...

See? Someone at Dolphins HQ was reading our blog and said, "Hey, we need a RB to backup Ronnie!" Well the Dolphins drafted Jalen Parmele, RB from Toledo. You would think I'd be a little happier with this pick, but, alas, I'm not.

While Parmele might be a good #3 back in years to come, there were 2 or 3 RB's still on the board who could have had a more immediate, long term impact. Mike Hart (Michigan) and Chauncey Washington (USC) surpringsly are still available. Hart could turn into a great 3rd down back. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in vision and quickness. And you have to think, after being projected as a 3rd round pick, not being taken until 6th or 7th round, he might have a little chip on his should (see 2008 Citrus Bowl to see what Hart can do with a chip on his shoulder). Personally, I don't see Parmele making it through training camp.

Clearly, Miami's first 2 picks were stellar, filled vast holes. Since then, there hasn't been much for me to get excited about.

SFDB Gets An Interesting View of the Draft

Contrary to popular belief, ESPN does not have a monopoly on NFL Draft coverage, at least not in the Miami area. Read about The South Florida Daily Blog's sojourn to Dolphin Stadium for the Dolphins' Draft Day Party/Select a Seat event.

The pictures are pretty intriguing, and I have to highlight one quote:

"Throughout the stands, small groups of people relaxed in a kind of surreal setting not unlike a regular season Marlins game."

Rick's observation is reason #2011 why the Marlins need their own stadium.

Horton Hears a Boo?

One of the most controversial players on the Florida Panthers roster is winger Nathan Horton. Drafted in preference over Eric Staal, the Panthers have always thought very highly of him. He's a sniper with an absolutely deadly shot, but he's always had one major problem. He's lazy.

I'm talking Garfield-the-cat-like.

Horton has shown some major flashes of brilliance but his constant lack of effort is his major flaw. He skates hard when he gets mad or when there's a scoring chance, but when it's time to do the dirty work of getting a puck out of the corner, he is simply stuck in second gear.

Who can blame him though? He's played for a coach that gives the team the day off after blowing a third period lead. He's been taught to only give what you feel like, and nothing more. With Martin finally being removed from the bench, this is the year for things to change. Out of all the Panthers stars, I've found myself booing Horton's effort more than anybody elses (except maybe Olli Jokinen -- post Zednik era).

Speaking of Jokinen, I'm still one of the lone people that thinks he should be dealt at draft day. This is a talent rich draft, and the Panthers don't pick until the third round. Jokinen has never truly fit in with the Panthers, shown by his overall lack of chemistry with just about everybody. Jokinen is a great player, but he is not the superstar that the Panthers are forcing him to be. The only way I think Jokinen stays around next year is if the Panthers finally decide to add some talent, and bring him in a real star so that Jokinen can go back to just being very good. Brian Rolston anybody?

All I am trying to say is that my patience is running thin with Horton. While Staal was the NHL All-Star game MVP this year, Horton was struggling to reach 20 goals at that point. That is simply unacceptable for the amount of talent he has. Especially now that he has found a line that shows unbelievable chemistry, and now that he's going to have a real coach behind the bench next year (we hope), Horton is out of excuses in my book. If he doesn't net 40 goals next year, I'm going to be extremely disappointed.

Just a Thought...

As the Dolphins continue to draft, I can't help but wonder where the 'fins are going to get their points from. There's the so-far unimpressive John Beck or Chad Henne calling the plays. Ronnie Brown should be back, but healthy? He remains to be their one, lone threat. Ricky Williams will be back, for a few weeks anyways until he remembers he's Ricky Williams and disappears into the Amazon. Ted Ginn, Jr. is their biggest threat at WR, and he didn't exactly stand out in his rookie year. Behind Ginn on the depth chart is Greg Camillaro, Derick Hagan, David Kircus, Tab Perry, and Ernest Wilford. Not exactly a yellow brick road to the endzone.

I think its clear Parcells wants to build up front. But even if you give Beck (or Henne, or McCown) 10 mississippi's, if no one's open he's gonna be in trouble. I'm a little nervous that defenses will simply stuff 8 or 9 in the box to stop Ronnie and force the Dolphins to beat them through the air. I would have loved to seen Miami take an Early Ducett or Mario Manningham or Andre Caldwell in the 3rd round. We'll see what is left for the 'fins in the last few rounds.

Dolphins Add Another Trench Warrior

I mentioned a few minutes ago how Bill Parcells was trying to build the offensive and defensive lines. With the Dolphins' 4th round selection, I was proven right again.

The 'Fins grabbed OG Shawn Murphy out of Utah State. His strengths are in his quickness and agility, which don't normally fit the Bill Parcells mold (Parcells is known for treasuring strength and size). That being said, Parcells must have seen a lot of potential in Murphy, enough to pull the trigger here.

Murphy should be a nice complement to Jake Long along the refurbished offensive line. Once again, Parcells gets a positive grade.

NFL Draft: Day 2

The Dolphins should be quite active in Rounds 3-7, as they possess a plethora of picks.

They've already shown their trade savvy, moving down from the #64 to #66 pick in exchange for an extra 6th rounder. Even better, they still got the guy they wanted: DE Kendall Langford out of Hampton.

This proves the oft-recited theory that Bill Parcells wants to build the trenches first. He has now taken a T and two DE, and with Jason Taylor still there, this should be a formidable squad. Langford should stand in as a great 3-4 player with position versatility, so I like the pick a lot.

Marlins Fail to Overshadow Dolphins

This may have been the Dolphins' day, but the Marlins also played. It was a disappointing 4-3 loss, decided by a late Prince Fielder home run. The Marlins wasted a good start from Hendrickson while exhibiting an uncharacteristic sloppiness throughout.

A win tomorrow would really further the Marlins' cause as legitimate contenders. They need to demonstrate that they can win a series against a decent team like Milwaukee, especially on the road. 15-10 would sound nice too.

With Nolasco vs. Parra, it's basically a toss-up. It's time to stop hiding in obscurity and show the town who's best. Which Nolasco will show up?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

2008 NFL Draft Day 1 Recap

And we have reached the end of Day One. Lots of interesting events today.

  • 12 Trades in the first round. 9 trades in the 2nd round.
  • No WRs picked in the first round, with teams instead choosing to pick 9 offensive lineman and 7 defensive lineman. HALF of the first round was for players in the trenches.
  • The WR rankings that most sites and mock drafts were going by were also completely turned on their heads. Donnie Avery was the first WR picked, and the WR that most people thought was #1, Limas Sweed, was the 9th WR off the board, with Donnie Avery, a guy most people projected in the 4th or 5th round, was the first WR off the board at #33.
  • Because of the way players fell, I think that the Steelers really lucked out in this draft, landing Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed, both players who were once consider out of their reach at #23 in the first round, much less landing both of them.
  • The new 10-minute format kept an aura of suspense around everything in the draft, instead of seeming slow and drawn out like the draft from last year. I gotta say I really loved that.
Now, onto the evaluation of the Florida team's drafts. We'll start with Miami.

Miami Dolphins

Rd 1 - #1(1) Jake Long (OT) Michigan
Rd 2 - #1(32) Phillip Merling (DE) Clemson
Rd 2 - #26(57) Chad Henne (QB) Michigan

You can read below on why I liked each of these picks. I think that Long filled a huge need and will be a team leader. Merling fell to us to be an absolute steal at #32, and filled another need. Henne was a decent pick for that late in the 2nd round, but I don't think he was a huge need for us. Again though, it's not a bad pick because of intangibles, and he may beat out Beck in camp and prove me wrong. Finally, we got a 4th round pick in exchange for Lorenzo Booker. I gotta say, if it wasn't for this trade, I would probably grade Miami's first day as an A, but I think we really lost a lot of potential when we gave up Booker for a lousy 4th rounder, so that hurts them.

Miami's Day One Grade: B+


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rd 1 - #20(20) Aqib Talib (CB) Kansas
Rd 2 - #27(58) Dexter Jackson (WR) App St

I questioned Tampa Bay passing on Devin Thomas and other receivers in the first round to pick up Talib, but it seems that later on they got the WR they wanted anyways. According to ESPN's "Hashmarks" blog, Talib had this to say:
"(Gruden) told me that I reminded him a lot of (former Oakland defensive back) Charles Woodson,'' Talib said. "He said that if he had an opportunity to coach a player like Charles Woodson again, he didn't want to pass it up.''
And then they picked up Dexter Jackson, the fastest player from the combine, and apparently want to bring him along slowly under the guidance of Joey Galloway. Defensive Tackle was probably the Bucs' biggest need, but the DT class simply wasn't deep enough for them picking at #20.

Tampa Bay got who they wanted and addressed their next two biggest needs. Aqib Talib was considered by many to be one of the best CBs in the class, and Jackson, while ignored by many, is certainly the fastest.

Tampa Bay's Day One Draft Grade: B+


Jacksonville Jaguars

Rd 1 - #8(8) Derrick Harvey (DE) Florida
Rd 2 - #21(52) Quentin Groves (DE) Auburn

I said it all last year, the one thing separating the Jaguars from taking control of the AFC South away from the Colts was a better pass rush. Needless to say, I think they nailed that here. The Jags made a bold move to go all the way from 26th to 8th to pick the guy they coveted most: Derrick Harvey. In order to do this they had to surrender the 26th, 71st, 89th, and 125th to move up. According to the draft value chart, the Jags got a steal here, giving up 1,127 points for 1,400 points. Even if you use the new chart, the Jags only gave up 1,127 for 1,505 from the Ravens. Some people will say that it was too much, because 4 draft picks for just moving up in a round looks expensive, but I actually admire the Jags going out and getting exactly who they wanted.

I really like the Derrick Harvey pick for reasons mentioned before, but Quentin Groves is also a huge steal for the Jags at #52. Groves is a player that can stand up and play OLB for the Jags, and is going to be a pass rushing force. With these two picks, Jacksonville adds two speed-rushing players who will, at least in my opinion, take the Jaguars to that next level they've been chasing for years now. Getting past the competition in the AFC will be tough, but at least they're better suited for it now. The only way to stop Tom Brady and Peyton Manning is to pressure them, and now the Jags have the tools to do that.

Jacksonville's Day One Draft Grade: A+


And that is going to about wrap up my draft coverage. I will be at work for all of Day Two, so someone else will be taking over the live coverage of the draft for tomorrow. I'll post one more wrap-up/grade blog after everything is said and done, either late Sunday or early Monday.

Thanks for reading.

With the 57th pick, the Miami Dolphins pick...

Chad Henne, QB, Michigan.

Why he was #57: Henne is a 2nd/3rd QB like any other from all of the other drafts. Analysts will talk about how strong his arm is etc. etc. but the fact is, he's the 4th best QB in a draft class that might've seen a QB like John Beck go #1. He does have a strong arm, but he doesn't look off receivers, has a slow release, and doesn't always make the greatest decisions. Manningham and Arrington made him look better then he was.

Why the Dolphins need him: In my opinion, they don't. Beck has just as strong of an arm, but has a faster release and is more accurate. Josh McCown is also a good enough backup. Henne is a depth pick.

Why I Like the Pick: Wait, what? Didn't I just say that we didn't need him, yet I still like the pick? There's a few reasons here. One, if you look at the available players, there wasn't too much there that would be better then Henne. Maybe Justin King or Charles Godfrey at CB, but really, in terms of value, Henne is the only one that really fit. Plus, as I mentioned about Harvey/Nelson, having a familiar face around helps rookies with the transition to the NFL. Chad Henne and Jake Long were teammates for 4 years, and were both strong leaders for their team. Besides, competition is always important at any position.

Now the only question is, are we going to go after Mario Manningham or Mike Hart in round 3, too? Maybe we'll hire Lloyd Carr next.

Tampa Bay trades 2nd round pick to the Jaguars.

News that involves all three Florida teams :)

This was a pick that was supposedly a part of the rumored Jason Taylor trade. So apparently it isn't going to happen.

Jacksonville uses the pick to take Quentin Groves, a player that I was really hoping would end up with Miami. What this does mean, however, is that Jason Taylor will very likely be in a Dolphins uniform next year, as Groves was probably one of the best options for replacing him.

The Jags have plugged their holes in defense now, and done it with some very good SEC players in Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. Jacksonville's defense is going to be absolutely ridiculous next year.

Edit: Great, now there's reports that the deal is still in the works, and that the Jags moving up to grab our guy might even be part of it, or that maybe Tampa Bay was just trying to get another pick before trading to us..... I'm just going to leave it alone until something actually happens, I'm reading this all as speculation now.

Edit 2: Yet ANOTHER radio report of a Jason Taylor deal, this time with Green Bay for the #56 and #60.... this is getting out of control. Edit 3: Green Bay used #56 on Brian Brohm, so there's nothing to this rumor, either.

Lorenzo Booker traded to the Eagles

Lorenzo Booker was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for their 4th round pick. #16 in the round, #115 overall.

While it is good that we are stockpiling picks to rebuild, I have to admit that I was somewhat excited by the idea of the Fins using LoBo as a Reggie Bush/H-back type of player next season. Using a player like that in dual-RB sets with some back-field dump-offs can be pretty dangerous.

On the bright side, however, this could also mean that Sparano and Parcells have been impressed enough with Ricky Williams that they do not think they need LoBo anymore.

With the 32nd pick, the Miami Dolphins pick...

Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson

Why he's #32: Many people had Merling as a mid-first round pick, but his injury problems dropped him this far. He has good size (6'4", 276) and he's fairly quick (4.71 40 yd dash). However, he isn't very strong (only 17 reps) and stands up a little too much for my liking. But, in terms of playing well in games, he's the opposite of Glenn Dorsey. Merling recorded 7 sacks last season - 1 against FSU, 1 against VTech, 2 against Wake, 2 against BC and 1 against Auburn. He had similar effectiveness in his tackles for a loss, again recording most of them in Clemson's biggest games.

Why the Dolphins needed him: Jason Taylor is about to be traded.

Why I Like the Pick: Merling was an absolute steal at #32. He has a lot of upside and will need to be coached up some after coming back from sports hernia surgery. I only "like" this pick instead of loving it because he's another Jason Allen in that we have to wait for him to get healthy before we can do anything with him, and we could've had a more immediate impact player like Brandon Flowers or Devin Thomas at the same position. It's a good pick, but it's tempered by a little disappointment at the same time.

Did that just happen?

We somehow just managed to make it through the entire first round without having a team draft a single wide receiver. To make it worse, there was even a TE taken before any WRs.

The Dolphins almost have to go with the best available player here. Devin Thomas at #32 would be an absolute steal.

Of course, we also have to replace Jason Taylor now because of the Tampa Bay trade, so Quentin Groves is still a possibility. Brian Brohm and Chad Henne are also both still available, though I'd hate to see us take a QB right now.

More Jason Taylor rumors

XM radio and FinHeaven have reports that a deal between the Fins and Bucs is a done deal. Apparently Tampa Bay is giving Miami the 2nd and 4th from this year, and next year's 6th (probably a conditional).

Just a rumor, but it would be nice to get that much for him.

EDIT: Another rumor is that Lorenzo Booker was traded to Philly for a 4th round pick.

The JT trade I wouldn't mind. The LoBo trade would, quite frankly, tick me off.

EDIT 2: Both trades have been confirmed in some respect. SIRIUS radio is confirming the JT trade, and NFL Network is confirming the LoBo trade.

Three trends so far that could favor the Dolphins

Trend #1: DTs and DEs are flying off the board. There's a lot of teams in the bottom of the first round that need DEs. We could very well see a last-minute Jason Taylor trade.

Trend #2: CBs are falling fast, and with no WRs taken so far, a lot of teams are going to be looking that direction instead. Few thought that Devin Thomas or Limas Sweed would fall this far, I expect them to be taken up soon. We could very well see a guy like Antoine Cason or Brandon Flowers fall to us at #32.

Trend #3: As mentioned in Trend #2, WRs are falling. This shifts everyone back, so a guy like my Sleeper pick, Andre Caldwell, could fall to us even into the 3rd round at pick #64, leaving #57 for a guy like Chilo Rachal.

Tampa goes with... who?

The Buccaneers have chosen Aqib Talib, CB from Kansas. While he was probably one of the top 5 CB's available, I think the Bucs had other, more pressing needs, most notably the WR position. And with their pick of the WR litter, it is a little perplexing as to how they came to the Talib decision.

Perhaps they're thinking since no WR's have been taken so far, they can still get a high level WR in round 2, but the high level CB's may be taken? Who knows, but I, for one, would have liked to see the Bucs take the WR from Texas, Limas Sweed. We'll see what is available come round 2.

And Tampa Bay chooses....

Wow, lots of trades in this draft. The Panthers came in from nowhere and surprised me there.

Tampa Bay had the opportunity to pick any WR they wanted, a position they definitely need with an aging Joey Galloway and an inconsistent Ike Hilliard, but they instead chose Aqib Talib.

While Aqib should be at least a decent CB in the NFL, and the Bucs have always been a defensive minded team, I feel like he was picked here more as a "best player available" because of how far he fell, rather then as a real team need for Tampa Bay. I guess they're thinking that perhaps Ronde will be following his brother into retirement soon.

Tampa Bay's pick coming up soon.

So who are the Bucs looking at? I think the Bucs biggest needs are at either DT or WR.

Looking at what's left, and the fact that no WRs have been drafted yet, I think TB should be looking especially at the Wide Receiver position. Detroit shouldn't pick a WR, Houston will probably go with Jeff Otah, leaving Philly and TB taking the top two WRs out of these guys:

Limas Sweed, Texas
DeSean Jackson, California
Devin Thomas, Mich State
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma

My gut feeling is that Philly will go with the bigger guy (Sweed 6'4" 215) and Tampa Bay would probably love to have a speedy guy like DeSean Jackson (4.34 40 yd). However, Jackson's size (5'9" 169) may be just a little too small for Gruden's taste, so he might go for Devin Thomas instead. Thomas is 6'2" 216 and ran a 4.4 40 yd dash, so he's kind of the happy medium between Sweed and Thomas.

Edit: disregard the Houston comment, they just traded with Baltimore so the Ravens can get Flacco.


Gotta love Jacksonville taking Derrick Harvey and reuniting him with the Eraser, Reggie Lewis. The Jags are turning Gainesville into it's own private recruiting grounds!

First CB picked at #11.

With the first CB not being picked until #11, it's becoming more and more possible that an elite CB like Antoine Cason or Brandon Flowers could fall to us at #32.

Originally I was saying we should go with a guy like Quentin Groves at #32, but that was assuming that the top CBs were already gone. If Flowers or Cason were available at #32, however, I'd love to see us catch either of them.

And there's the Surprise.

Apparently Jack Del Rio did have a trick up his sleeve.

Jags move up to #8 to take Derrick Harvey.

I LOVE this pick. A lot of people will say it was a "reach," but Harvey is exactly the kind of player the Jags need to really become a Super Bowl contender, and it's good to see them being active in the draft to move up and get who they need. When Jake Long was asked who the toughest two DEs he faced in college were, he mentioned Vernon Gholston but spoke very highly of Derrick Harvey. Harvey will really be a force on the outside, a good current NFL player to compare him to, in my opinion, would be Dwight Freeney.

Not to mention, reuniting Harvey with Jags safety and former Gator Reggie Nelson. Having a familiar face around helps smooth the transition for rookies.

The Jags gave up their first, two 3rds, and a 4th for the pick, which is a bit expensive, but I still think it's going to be a great pick. With the way they've been going, the Jags may just beat out the Colts in the AFC South this year.

No Surprises So Far.

I don't think anyone would be surprised with how things have worked out so far. I really thought KC would trade down, but it doesn't surprise me that they stayed put, either. I also think that Oakland should've looked elsewhere, but this is Al Davis we're talking about.

New Orleans and Baltimore tried to move up for Dorsey and Ryan, but neither could pull it off. Still, keep an eye on those teams to try to move elsewhere for other top prospects. They're obviously willing to play ball with their picks.

A radio show in Jacksonville had an interview with Jack Del Rio, and, although I didn't listen to it, the prevailing idea from people that did is that JDR has a trick up his sleeve, so that's another team to watch as well.

Week 1 - Dolphins vs. Jets. Jake Long vs. Vernon Gholston. Tell me that won't be a heated matchup.

Trade Rumor.

We made the first pick, so now Dolphins fans must sit and wait until #32 for our next pick. Or do they?

Matty I @ The Phinsider is reporting rumors that Tampa Bay has offered up their #52 2nd round pick for Jason Taylor. I still think we can get better if we hold out until later in the round. For instance, if the Redskins are targeting Merling @ #21, but he doesn't fall to them, they may decide to make a last minute trade out of the position for Jason Taylor to get that immediate impact. At the very least, I'd like to see either a pick earlier in the 2nd round, or some more later round picks packaged with the #52.

1 Hour Left.

The NFL Draft begins in one hour. Let's start this off by talking about Miami's first pick, Offensive Tackle Jake Long.

Why he's #1: 6'7" 315 lbs. Benches 225 37 times. 7.44 3-cone. 27.5 Vertical. 32 7/8 arm length. 10 1/4 hands. Basically, he's a beast. In his entire college career he allowed 2 sacks and had 2 penalties. He even remembers when the sacks were, which shows that he obsesses over things like that. Jake Long is tenacious and finishes every play, he's the kind of guy that will pancake you, then if you try to get up, he'll pancake you again. Big 10 Offensive Lineman of the year for two years in a row. Beat Joe Thomas out of the award as a junior. Smart kid, hard worker, a "Parcells guy."

Why the Dolphins need him: Championship teams begin with the offensive line, and end with the defensive line. People can talk about RBs and QBs and WRs all they want, but without strong trench play, it doesn't matter how good your "skill position" players are. If you can't control the Line of Scrimmage, then you can't control the movement of the ball. Think about it: What is the most important player-to-player ball transfer in a football play? QB to RB? Nope. QB to WR? No way. C to QB? Now you got it.

Our offensive line play last year was, to be frank, absolutely horrible. Vernon Carey and Samson Satele had great seasons, but two guys can't control 4 when the other 3 aren't playing up to par. Before drafting Jake, our depth at offensive line was so short, that we didn't technically even have the RT spot filled.

Why I Love the Pick: The free-agency addition of Justin Smiley and Jake Long as our draft pick will create a solid, young line. Carey at RT, Smiley at RG, Satele at C, Mormino at LG and Long at LT. Mormino isn't great, but has a lot of upside. Putting him in between two great young players like Satele and Long will take a lot of pressure off of him and allow him to grow into a decent player himself. The Dolphins also have a young QB in John Beck that will benefit greatly from the added protection, and a strong backfield that will run behind a road-grader like Jake Long all day long (pun intended). Ronnie Brown was leading the NFL in rushing before he was hurt. Now imagine the same but with a much better offensive line.

So basically, adding a guy like Jake Long not only brings his own personal set of skills to the team, but also allows the players around him to play up to, or above, their potentials as well.

Finally, It's Draft Day

Now like most people I too believe the NFL draft is Christmas in April. And since Rate has been doing such a good job covering everything, I have sat back and kept my mouth such. But now that we are only hours away I just can't stand it anymore. So I'm going to touch on the needs of two cities, the one I live in now, and the one I'm from and love.

Starting with my current home of Tampa the buzz is that the Bucs have to draft a "play maker" receiver to replace Joey Galloway. The only problem is of all the the big three projected first rounders none of them come close to the speed the Bucs desire. All the really fast guys are all under six foot and do not fit the Gruden mold of a play maker, also since the Bucs have only five picks for the entire draft the chances of a Desean/Dexter Jackson slipping into the second day are slim to none. Now corner is another need for them and the organization has already said if USF standout Mike Jenkins is sitting at #20 they will definitely grab him but if he's not that might look at going D-Line. And even though there are four QB's on the roster expect them to try to move Chris Sims for a late round pick and use it to grab Garcia's possible successor.

Now to touch on the Bucs division rival to the north we make a stop at my old stomping grounds of Charlotte, N.C. Now I will be upfront and say that I'm a Panther fan since the day they won the expansion rights and much like the rest of the NFC South you're good one year then bad the next. Now the Cats don't have too many glaring holes. For the most part their problems are depth related and with several extra second day picks the chances of the trading up or down are not very likely. Now as of last week their first pick was a no brainer, the best OL available preferably Ryan Clady or Jeff Oath. But with the retirement announcement the other day from Mike Rucker there is only one pick that really makes sense, and that is DE Derrick Harvey.

Now I'm not the most knowledgeable guy on Mr. Harvey but I have seen enough to know that he is a beast of a pass rusher and would compliment Peppers very well. Plus I have heard rumors that Chris Leak, who is from the Queen City, has been pimping his buddy to the organization. The Panthers have been very good on draft day and hopefully the future menu of the Cardiac Cats will include a little Gator.

Navarro Good, Bullpen Better, C.C. Best

The two biggest question marks coming into this season have, by all means, been the two biggest surprises so far. Dionar Navarro came into this season with a make or break attitude hell bent on proving to every one that he more then belongs to be in the Bigs. Average fielding and sub-par hitting had him closer to the exit than his locker, and after another freak accident where he had to get stitches in his hand slipping in the dugout, it looked like just another mishap that has seemed to follow him through out his career. But since coming of the DL he has been nothing short of fantastic. In four games he has gone 6 for 14 with 2 walks and 3 R.B.I.'s. Not to mention the starting pitchers he's caught in those games have all looked quite impressive. He has almost single handily kept the team in competition over those games.

I say almost because the biggest surprise by far has been the pen. After setting records for worst relief pitching in baseball history, the Rays now hold the title of best bullpen in the majors with an E.R.A. at 3.4, and if you were to take Reyes out of the equation it would about 2.9. Hats off especially to Scott Dohman, who has been more then effective as both a long reliever and a situational pitcher. But to be the best you have to beat the best, and after a slow start there is no one hotter right now than Carl Crawford. Last night he hit two triples and a single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games and give the Rays (and my fantasy team) the boost it most desperately needed.

What is really impressive though is that during this streak, 12 of those games have been multi-hit games and 6 have been three hitters. As of now Carlos Pena is really the only one slumping and I think Maddon giving him a night off will be good for him, and I do believe he will bounce back shortly. So hopefully the team can keep this winning streak rolling and when you can get production from you superstars and your "scrubs" then only pennants can follow. Wait, did I just say that?

Dolphins Trade 4th Rounder to Dallas

The only question remaining about the Dolphins and Cowboys ongoing relationship is which airline they're flying: American or Southwest? Both have pretty decent Dallas-Miami transit (I'd bet on Southwest...these trades seem boarded like cattle calls). Just to remind you, Bill Parcells, head coach Tony Sparano, and Jeff Ireland all came from Dallas while Zach Thomas went to the Cowboys, and those are just the stars.

The deal sends linebacker Akin Ayodele and tight end Anthony Fasano to Miami for a 4th round pick. Want to know more about these players? Phin Fever breaks it down as well as can be done. The comments at FinsNation seem pretty supportive too. And at Phinsider? Matty likes the deal so much, he thought he was being pranked when texted about it.

My thoughts? I absolutely love this trade. Right now, the Dolphins need serviceable players, and Parcells landed two for one. It's the best value he could possibly get for a 4th round pick, and it stands as yet another glowing moment in the Bill Parcells' Miami Dolphins legacy.

A Magic Brew?

Fillet of a Fenny Snake,
In the Cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frogge,
Wool of Bat, and Tongue of Dogge,
Adder's Fork, and Blind-worm's Sting,
Lizard's leg, and Howlet's wing,
For a Charm of powerful trouble
Like a Hell-broth boil and bubble.

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616),
Macbeth (IV, i, 14-15)

This line, uttered by the second of the three ugly witches in Macbeth as they stir their boiling cauldron, is one of the most familiar phrases associated with traditional witchcraft. Maybe the Marlins have something in common with the three witches.

There is something to be said for team chemistry, and the Marlins this year seems to have just that. With the right mix of ingredients, the flavors blend into a delicious and savory dish whereas individually the components are dull and lackluster. Add a Cantu, a Hendrickson, a Gonzalez, and throw in a Helms and a Miller or two, into a pot already containing a Ramirez, a Willingham, and a Jacobs, and you might just drool over your home plate. Uggla even sounds occult, like the mysterious incantation in a magic brew.

Double, double toile and trouble ;
Fire burn and Cauldron bubble.

So, who are the real Brewers?

At 14-9, Who's All-Star Bound?

Riding the coattails of the newly immortalized Scott Olsen, the Marlins eeked out a 3-0 extra-inning win over Milwaukee. It was a victory in which the Marlins showed their versatility; we knew they could win the slugfests, but now we know they can take the pitchers' duels too. A truly superb win.

Olsen's magnificence got me to thinking about the All-Star game. Here's my list of potential all-stars, with a brief explanation and probability estimate:

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS - He won't be voted in as a starter, but he's destined for a spot. Probability: 90%
2. Dan Uggla, 2B - Even with his early struggles, 2B is the least competitive field. Utley's the certain starter, but Uggla should squeeze in behind. Probability: 55%
3. Josh Willingham, OF - He'll have to keep things up, but right now he stands a decent chance. Probability: 40%
4. Mike Jacobs, 1B - Too competitive a position for Big Jake, but his ridiculously hot start at least puts him in contention. Probability: 5%
5. Jorge Cantu, 3B - Chipper Jones and David Wright are locks, so Cantu would have to be good enough to earn a third spot. Probability: 2.5%

1. Scott Olsen: At 3-0, 2.06, Olsen would make the team today, but his lack of name recognition and competition still make the odds steep. Probability: 25%
2. Kevin Gregg: He'll need to rack up more saves, but the 3-0 record should help too. Probability: 20%
3. Renyel Pinto: Rarely does a non-closer make the squad, but Pinto has been brilliant enough to deserve a mention. Probability: 1%
4. Mark Hendrickson: If Olsen goes, he certainly won't. Still, at 4-1, I had to list him. Probability: .25%

Total Odds: At least two should make it, with the third a 50/50 shot.

Scott Olsen Does it Again

Another fantastic start from Scott Olsen. He pitched 7.1 innings against Milwaukee allowing ZERO earned runs and gave up only 4 hits on just 99 pitches. He kept the Marlins in the game and gave them the opportunity to win it in extras, 3-0. His ERA has fallen to 2.06 - and that's including his first start, coming out of injury, where he gave up 4 runs in five innings against the Pirates.

People can say what they want such as, "the Marlins pitching will falter eventually," or, "this team is on a hot streak and will cool off quickly," or "Hendrickson certainly won't last...he's a 5th starter on any other team," but nobody is going to tell me that Scott Olsen is having a surprise beginning to the season. I just won't hear it.

I am convinced that he will remain a bright spot in the rotation throughout the year for the Marlins. This is not a fluke, this guy is for real. How comforting it is to know that the Marlins will likely win every time he pitches.

And by the way, I have taken note of Olsen since the SFF was in its infant stages. Go all the way back to March 17 with one of my first pieces: The Scott Olsen Turn-around. Anyone who disagrees with me, do not hesitate to comment on this post.

12:01 AM - Draft Day Begins

As ASponge mentioned, I'm going to blogging about the first round of the draft all day today, so keep checking back here to see my rants and ramblings. Most of the coverage is going to focus on Miami's picks, but I wanted to kick-start the day with a my predicted top Bust and Steal.

BUST - Glenn Dorsey - Somehow, Dorsey's injury problems are being swept under the rug, a luxury that not many players get to enjoy. Yes, he has great size at 6'2" 297 lbs. Yes, he has strength (225 27 times) and good speed (5.14 40). But, I want everyone to think about that for a second. Where were these strength and speed numbers pulled from? His Pro Day, where numbers are often inflated, and a running assumption that he's been primed for the NFL by the SEC. Now, I'm a die-hard SEC fan, and would argue that as true for just about any other player, but there's one thing that people seem to forget about Dorsey. He disappeared against major SEC teams. In his senior season at LSU he had 7 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss. Here's those stats broken down by game: Miss St (1 Sack, 2 TFL) V-Tech, (0,0) Middle Tenn St. (1,1.5) South Carolina (1,1) Tulane (0,0) Florida (1,1) Kentucky (0,0) Auburn (0,1) Bama (1,2) La.Tech (1,3) Ole Miss (0,0) Arkansas (0,0) Tennessee (0,0) and Ohio State (1,0). Puts it a little into perspective, doesn't it? With the exception of his 1 and 1 against Florida, Dorsey accumulated most of his stats either against scrub schools, or from the bottom of the SEC. Also, remember how good LSU's lines just about always are. If there really is such thing as a "system QB," then I think that Dorsey is a "system DT."

SLEEPER - Andre Caldwell - Obviously, being a Gator grad makes me a little biased here, but I just cannot understand why Bubba isn't getting more attention. For one, his "injury" that people stigmatize him for was a freak accident on a kick return. How does that make him injury prone? Caldwell also turned in the 2nd fastest WR 40 time (4.37) at the combine, and displayed good hands in drills. But, what really sets Bubba apart from everyone else is that he has to be the most well-rounded WR in the draft. We've seen him run out of the backfield, he's even thrown a few times, and he's a very good blocker. The NFL player that always comes to mind when I think of Caldwell is Hines Ward. They're both similar weights (Caldwell is 6'1" 200, Hines is 6'0" 205), they both have great hands, and they both not only are good at blocking, but really enjoy blocking. Is Caldwell going to be a 4-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP like Ward? Let's not give him too much credit. But I do think that he is going to be a very solid contributor for some team. Personally, I'd love to see the Dolphins take him at #57. A great blocking receiver like Caldwell on the outside can really open up the field for Ronnie, Ricky, and especially LoBo.

That's all for now, much more to come as the day rolls on. Make sure to follow along with the live-updating comments (basically a chat) at The Phinsider in addition to your coverage here at The South Florida Fan.

Here's hoping for a great draft! Now I'm off to get some sleep.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Interesting Pitching Matchups in Marlins - Brewers Series

For the Marlins, this weekend features a series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Each game in the series could go either way due to the even pitching matchups:

FLA: Olsen (3-0, 2.60 ERA)
MIL: Gallardo (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

FLA: Hendrickson (4-1, 3.82 ERA)
MIL: Villanueva (1-2, 5.09 ERA)

FLA: Nolasco (1-2, 5.91 ERA)
MIL: Parra (1-1, 5.40 ERA)

Normally I would say that the Marlins must win the Olsen game and the Hendrickson game to take the series. But as you can see, the Marlins have a great chance on Sunday even though Nolasco's on the mound. There is potential for a Florida sweep, whether it be in or out of our favor.

The Twins in South Florida?

And I am not talking about the Minnesota Twins!

With the trade to bring in Luongo to Vancouver, the Canucks had a formula that hoped to result in a Stanley Cup Championship. Missing the playoffs this year has not been good for the Canucks and their fans as they hope to make major changes to their team this off-season.

A rumor around the trade deadline was that JM called up the Canucks asking for Henrik and Daniel Sedin for Olli Jokinen. At the time the Canucks turned that offer down but would they again if the offer presents itself again? I feel that this trade would be great for both teams. Both teams are in desperate need of a HUGE change and this would be very huge!

Yes the Panthers basically get a full top line in acquiring the twins and they would only get Jokinen in return and possibly a 2nd or 3rd round pick in this years or next years draft. This would not be so bad for the Canucks because they would have Jokinen and his deal of a contract plus they would still have cap space to bring in another player that could fill one of the holes they need to fill. The Twins also come at a bargain because their contracts are:

Henrik: 3,575,000/year
Daniel: 3,575,000/year

The only problem with this is that they both are UFA after this coming season!

I personally love this deal. If the Panthers can acquire them, they would not have to overspend on a top line winger and they can use that money to get a puck moving defenseman and a role player. The one thing I can say is that they would have to offer the twins a contract extension just so this trade would not look like a flop! AKA: Luongo for Bertuzzi deal! YIKES. I still have nightmares about that deal, oh and the Bure deal (me shaking my head as I type).

The one thing I want to stress is that having the Sedin twins on this team would give guys like Frolik, Matthias, Olesz, and Kreps a chance to become superstars. The Sedin twins are known for their teamwork and passing ability. If you put a kid like Frolik or Olesz on a line with the twins then you might be looking at a 40 goal rookie season out of Frolik!

These are just some things you Panther fans need to be aware of. The organization has to think what is best for the kids who are ready to come up very soon with the Panthers. I love this deal and would do it in a second. What are your thoughts?


Draft Day Excitement

Excitement is starting to creep its way across the South Florida blogosphere, but will it result in euphoria? Only this weekend will tell. Here's a rundown of what to read while you watch (yes, it's a multi-tasking endeavor):

First Stop: Naturally, your first stop should be here. The South Florida Fan and Dolphins' expert Rate will be blogging throughout the day, providing instant opinion on the Dolphins' three draft choices. Expect participation from other members of our staff as well (but you should listen to Rate the most...he's the biggest expert).

Second Stop: FinsNation will be tearing up the Internet with their commentary. We'll be reading them all day, so you should too. Here's FinsNation's specific rundown of their upcoming festivities.

Third Stop: Phinsider should be just as compelling. They've already let Dolphins enthusiasts know their idea of the ideal draft, which features Quentin Groves at #32 and Chilo Rachal at #57. Those may be reaches, but the Dolphins just might get lucky.

Last Stop: Come back here, and we'll direct you to the next best place. See you all tomorrow!

Owls Try to Top WKU This Weekend

Sorry to steal the top spot from ASponge. Grading the Marlins is my favorite South Florida Fan feature. However, I need to relay some information to the growing number of Owls supporters that frequent this blog.

This weekend it's the FAU Owls and the WKU Hilltoppers in a Sun Belt series between two pretty evenly matched teams. FAU is in 3rd place and WKU is in 4th. ULM is running away with the leauge at 17-4 but the Owls and Tops are within striking distance of 2nd place Troy (12-6).

The Owls are 10-6 SBC, 23-16 overall
The Tops are 10-8 SBC, 23-17 overall

Tonight's pitching matchup is the Owls' embattled ace Mickey Storey (2-4, 6.80 ERA) against WKU lefthander Bart Carter (4-3, 5.79 ERA).

From the looks of the numbers on the offensive side for both teams and the high ERAs of both pitches, we could be in for another loooooooooooong one at FAU Stadium.

None of what you read was the important part ... this is: ON THE RADIO (well, computer): Steve Bishop and Jay Warman will have the call on

Yep, you read that right. I will be the color man on tonight's broadcast at 6:30. I have hardly any experience but figured I'd give it a try. How hard could it be? I'll probably regret those words.

Marlins Hitter Evaluations: 2nd Edition

After being prodded enough by Jay Warman and a few readers, I've decided to come out with the next edition of Marlins Hitter Evaluations. You may recall that in the first edition, I had some choice words for Jorge Cantu, while praising Robert Andino to no end. Things have evened out a bit, so prepare yourselves for a brunch-like meal of crow:

1. Hanley Ramirez: .333/.406/.622, 20R, 17RBI, 7HR, 8SB - The average has dipped, but the power has become explosive. Even more impressive are the 7 steals since my last edition. The best news? His defense has improved considerably from last year. My only concern is that he's becoming homer-happy, turning himself into an all-out slugger instead of the placesetter they need him to be.
Full Season Projection: 147R, 125RBI, 52HR, 59SB (Wow!)
Grade: A+ (Previous Grade: A+)

2. Dan Uggla: .262/.333/.488, 10R, 10RBI, 3HR, 8 Doubles - Uggla has been on an absolute tear over the last two weeks, benefiting in part from The Great Andino's bat. The OBP is steadily rising, while the power continues to show. This generation's "Charlie Hustle" is now on track for another excellent season.
Full Season Projection: 77R, 77RBI, 23HR, 61 Doubles
Grade: B+ (Previous Grade: D+)

3. Mike Jacobs: .277/.307/.614, 13R, 17RBI, 7HR, 7 Doubles - The much-discussed Mike Jacobs is rarely walking (4BB), but he's taking advantage of everything he swings at. Jacobs not only carries the distinction being the Marlins' top slugger, but he also hit the fastest HR in the majors this year (4/11/08 at Houston).
Full Season Projection: 100R, 130RBI, 54HR, 54 Doubles
Grade: A (Previous Grade: B-)

4. Josh Willingham: .329/.396/.659, 15R, 16RBI, 6HR, 5 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2SB - Willingham has been steadily and consistently mashing the ball. While Hanley and Jacobs have gotten all the attention, Willingham has been nothing short of phenomenal. Just look at those numbers!
Full Season Projection: 110R, 118RBI, 44HR, 15 Triples, 15SB
Grade: A+ (Previous Grade: C)

5. Jeremy Hermida: .246/.295/.421, 8R, 10RBI, 2HR, 4 Doubles - Hermida's totals are down because he missed the first week of the season (see projections). That being said, the OBP is disgusting for a player of his caliber. The power has been nice, but he needs to start lacing more singles and walking a whole lot more.
Full Season Projection: 88R, 110RBI, 22HR, 44 Doubles
Grade: C (Previous Grade: Was on DL)

6. Jorge Cantu: .325/.381/.532, 12R, 8RBI, 3HR, 7 Doubles, 2SB - WHAT??? Where the hell did this come from? I can't argue against this anymore. While it would be foolish to expect him to keep this up and his defense is still poor, this man deserves the highest accolades. By the way, crow has a bitter taste.
Full Season Projection: 96R, 64RBI, 24HR, 56 Doubles, 16SB
Grade: A+ (Previous Grade: F)

7. Alfredo Amezaga: .306/.424/.429, 8R, 5RBI, 4 Doubles, 10BB - The average and slugging have dropped, but that .424 OBP is stupendous! For a speedy singles hitter to get on base at that rate, all we can do is applaud. The defense has been terrific too. He has earned the nickname Amazin' Amezaga tenfold.
Full Season Projection: 64R, 40RBI, 32 Doubles, 80BB
Grade: A+ (Previous Grade: A+)

8. Cody Ross: .146/.163/.220, 3 Doubles - It's been a slump-ridden season for the likable Ross. I still believe he'll pull out of it (see our piece on his Wonder Boy moment). Don't be discouraged, We still believe!
Full Season Projection: 29 Doubles
Grade: F (Previous Grade: F)

9. Matt Treanor: .211/.268/.263, 3R, 2 Doubles, 1RBI - No matter how often Misti May gives it to him, the power just won't come (okay, that was wrong...I meant gives him encouragement). Even so, he's been an impenetrable fortress behind the plate, and his defense makes him worthy of a roster spot.
Full Season Projection: 41R, 14RBI, 27 Doubles
Grade: D+ (Previous Grade: D+)

10. Mike Rabelo: .216/.250/.324, 4R, 4RBI, 1HR - Another near waste of space in the lineup, at least Rabelo has a little power (just a little). Any gains he may have made there on Treanor, however, are quickly forfeited by his much inferior defense.
Full Season Projection: 55R, 55RBI, 14HR
Grade: D+ (Previous Grade: Was on DL)

Luis Gonzalez - Any drop in average has been more than made up for by his patient plate appearances in key situations, power, and salubrious clubhouse influence
Robert Andino - The Great Andino hasn't gotten much playing time, and his numbers are a lot more human. We'll still never forget his walkoff shot and stellar defense. Also, he gets credit for giving Dan Uggla his magic bat.
Wes Helms - Wes hasn't shown much yet, but we should give him time to work out of his slump

MVP: Hanley Ramirez/Josh Willingham (a tie)
Most Improved: Dan Uggla
LVP: Cody Ross
Most Likely to Improve: Cody Ross
Most Likely to Decline: Jorge Cantu
Most Likely to Break Out: Jeremy Hermida
Who to Watch: Dan Uggla

Meet the Marlins Prospect: Ryan Anetsberger

Ryan Anetsberger - Third Base - 6'1 - 215lbs - 22 years old - Bats: Right - Throws: Right

Ryan Anetsberger
Jamestown 222 22 7 1 15 39 .266 .331 .446

A 15th round pick out of Illinois State University in this year’s draft, the Marlins feel like they got a bit of a sleeper on their hands in Ryan Anetsberger. When he first showed up on the Illinois State campus, he was a thin shortstop known more for his glove than his bat. Ryan’s now a legit bat at the hot corner with good gap power, and of course the glove/arm combination is still there.

The Marlins liked how he looked in the Cape Cod League, and were more impressed after he was named the MVP at the National Baseball Congress World Series from another summer league. In his final season at Illinois State, Ryan hit .328/.398/.484 with 5 homeruns in 186 at bats. That performance got him named to the 2nd team All-Missouri Valley Conference. The Marlins decided to skip the Gulf Coast League with him and have him go straight to short season Jamestown. In 222 at bats with the Jammers, he hit .266/.331/.446 with 7 homeruns and was selected to the NYPL All Star Team.

Ryan should be in Greensboro all year as a 22 year old and like many of the college players in the SALLY league, I would expect him to put up big numbers. He has never been a big homerun guy, as he has just 15 homeruns combined dating back to when he was a 19 year old at Illinois State. It will be interesting to see if there is a big power spike, or if he continues to be a gap to gap hitter. Of course, there’s already talk about moving him somewhere else on the diamond as Matt Dominguez and/or Ben Lasater may join him in Greensboro next year. For now though, Ryan is still at the hot corner.

Update: .282/.354/.324 3xbh 3bb 17k in 71 at bats in Greensboro

Still playing 3b because Matt Dominguez has mono

Countdown to NFL Draft: 1 Day

Believe it or not, the NFL Draft is just one day away. Months of suspense, permeated by year-long NFL media coverage, will finally come to a close. Is it as J.A. Adande candidly remarked, "Just a bunch of guys putting on hats," or one of the greatest days in sports? There are certain to be some in each camp, but the historically high ratings give ESPN enough reason to slam the issue down our throats.

As for our coverage, we'll be following right along, providing analysis with each Dolphins pick. For those who don't know, the first two rounds are on Saturday and rounds 3-7 on Sunday. Here's the Dolphins' draft board for each of those days:

Day 1 (Saturday):
Round 1, #1(1) - Jake Long, OT Michigan
Round 2, #1(32) -
Round 2, #26(57) - (acquired from San Diego for Chris Chambers)

Day 2 (Sunday):
Round 3, #1(64) -
Round 4, #1(100) -
Round 6, #29(195) -
Round 6, #38(204) -
Round 7, #1(208) -
Round 7, #38(245) -

Phinsider opines on what the Dolphins might do in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. They envision the team considering defensive end/outside linebacker, defensive end/defensive tackle, tight end, and wide receiver.

One position Phinsider doesn't discuss is quarterback, which FinsNation thinks is just fine as is. FinsNation makes a strong argument for current project John Beck, while also confessing a liking for Brian Brohm. John Beck is hardly the big man on South Beach these days, but he deserves a little more time. Even so, I admit to harboring a secret desire for Brian Brohm as well. He may lack the arm strength, but his well-chronicled accuracy and terrific in-game instincts should make for a splendid NFL quarterback.

Lastly, one aspect of the draft that shouldn't be ignored is Bill Parcells' obsession with character. We all know how poorly the Parcells-Terrell Owens experiment turned out in Dallas. With Parcells now on the Dolphins, the Cowboys seem to be acquiring as many troubled players as possible, such as suspended cornerback Pacman Jones. As Pasik seems to illustrate, this never would have happened under Parcells' watch. Look for the Dolphins to avoid those kinds of players like the plague this weekend.

The Marlins' Achilles Heel Exposed

Everything went according to literary form in last night's 7-4 loss to the Braves, as if scripted directly from Homer's "Iliad." Let's break down the mythology:

Achilles Heel: The back of the Marlins rotation, namely the unreliable Burke Badenhop. He proved to be the weakness tonight, allowing five runs in the first inning.

Achilles the Warrior: The bullpen, which has obliterated all things in its path since Opening Day. Much like Achilles' triumphant return to the front, the bullpen relieved Badenhop and surrendered just one run. It was a solid enough performance to slay Hector, but the Trojan lead was too great.

Achilles' Friends (Agammemnon, Aias, Odysseus, and co.): The Marlins lineup, which never gave up despite the odds. Special credit must go to Josh Willingham, who powered all four of the team's RBI.

The final result? The Marlins, like Achilles, may have been slain for the night, but the division battle is still looking promising. Nobody saw this Marlins team coming, and that's why they're the Trojan Horse of the National League.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Strange Thursday in Boca

Some things to tell you:

1st: Tonight the FAU athletics people had a schmooze fest for the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce at the site of the new football stadium. It was preceded by the football team's final spring scrimmage. After scrimmaging behind the Oxley Center, the team headed to the site of the stadium and held a bonfire and pep rally.

2nd: Brooke Hogan. Yes THAT Brooke Hogan, was at the scrimmage and the bonfire. Apparently she is considering attending FAU. I say let her in if the Hulk wants to make a nice donation towards the new stadium. Howard Schnellenberger Field at Hulk Hogan Stadium anyone? And we would always have someone good to sing the national anthem.

3rd: There was a press conference today at 3:30 and FAU baseball coach Kevin Cooney announced his retirement after 21 years on the job. He coached future big leaugers. He coached in regionals. He coached the Owls to a super regional, just one step away from the College World Series. He brought FAU baseball into Division I. He had a winning record in 18 of 20 seasons. This season will make 19 out of 21.

Associate Head Coach John McCormack is expected to succeed Cooney. Mac has been with the Blue Wave/Owls for 18 years.