Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick Hits: King Felix, McNabb/Vick, LeBron

-Felix Hernandez should win the AL Cy Young award. There, I said it. I know it seems likely that it will come down to David Price and C.C. Sabathia, two left-handed aces on contending squads. But if this award is supposed to go to the best pitcher in the league, then it's King Felix and it's not even close. Just check out the numbers.

Hernandez: 249.2 innings, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 232 strikeouts, 13-12 record
Price: 207.2 innings, 2.73 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 187 strikeouts, 19-6 record
Sabathia: 237.2 innings, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 197 strikeouts, 21-7 record

Hernandez is averaging nearly 7.5 innings per start and has been absolutely dominant in most of his starts. He has 30 quality starts this season out of 34 appearances, compared to 26 for Sabathia and 25 for Price. He may only have 13 wins, but the Mariners have scored just 104 runs in his starts, just over 3 runs per game.

You may look at those stats and say hey, Hernandez pitches in the AL West and Price and Sabathia pitch in the AL East, a much tougher division. Excellent point. Curious as to how Hernandez has pitched against AL East teams this season?

In seven starts, Hernandez is 5-1 over 57.1 innings (over 8 innings per start) and has allowed FOUR earned runs (0.63 ERA). In four starts against the Yankees and Red Sox (he didn't start against the Rays, whose lineup stinks anyway), King Felix threw 33.1 innings, allowed 2 earned runs and struck out 40.

If that isn't enough to tell you who the AL's best pitcher is, then I just won't win this argument. Wins are not the best way to distinguish the best pitcher but since the goal of sports is to win, a pitcher probably won't win the Cy Young with just 13 wins. Put Felix on the Yankees or the Rays and he wins 23-25 games. And then, nobody argues his award.

-Everybody is choosing sides in Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia this Sunday, but why do people feel the need to pick one quarterback to root for? I like both guys and feel no need to root for or against either of them. I just want to see a great division rivalry game, which I think is what we'll get.

McNabb was always the scapegoat in Philadelphia. The guy did nothing but perform and win, yet Eagles fans never truly appreciated him for what he was: a perennial Pro Bowler who could end up in Canton when his career is over. And now Vick is the savior? Please.

The story behind Vick's resurgence is great; it shows what happens when unreal talent meets hard work. It's a shame that he needed jail to figure this out; he could have been one of the league's all-time great quarterbacks if he had worked at it from the start.

It would be great to see McNabb come in and put up an all-time performance to spite the fans who loved to spite him. But I don't see it happening with all the issues the Redskins have on both sides of the football. I'm taking the Eagles in a close game, 24-21.

-LeBron James thinks race is a factor in his declining public image? Give me a break LeBron, it's comments like this, if anything, that are a major factor in that declining image. If a white NBA superstar (rare these days, I know, sorry Nash and Nowitzki) ditched his hometown team in an egotistical public spectacle like LeBron did, the backlash would have been just as strong.

I commend James for raising $3 million for charity from "The Decision," I really do. Mark Cuban thinks he cost himself billions in brand equity (and he's right), but if you'd rather give $3 million to charity instead of $10 million out of your future billions, then go for it. It's a terrible business move. Just don't use your skin color as an excuse for what you did.

You publicly humiliated a team and a state where you were raised. If you ever go back to Cleveland outside of an armored bus that will be necessary to transport you to games, you might get shot. And your assailant could very well be black. Don't tell me that race plays a factor in your negative public image; your actions are the only factor.

So do me and everybody else a favor, LeBron: Shut up and play basketball. Everybody hears the reports of how serious you are in training camp and how focused you are on winning. If that's the case, go out on the court and prove it. That's the only way you will get your fans back, not by complaining that your race is making people think negatively of you. People liked you when you were in Cleveland and last I checked, you were still black then.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jets, Yanks both pick up big wins

There was a point last night where the Jets or Dolphins would run a play and I would change the channel to Yankees-Red Sox. Someone would throw a pitch (or call timeout and step out of the box) and I would change back. This went on for about half an hour, which goes to show you how great (and how important) both games were.

With a win, the Jets could take over first in the AFC East, something many didn't foresee after an abysmal offensive performance in the opening week. They are still tied at 2-1 with both Miami and New England but are in the driver's seat with head-to-head victories over both and a matchup with division cellar-dwellar Buffalo next weekend.

If the Yankees lost to Boston, they would have gotten swept and held just a 4.5-game lead over the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings. And with their final 3 games of the season coming in Boston, that could have potentially turned scary.

Instead, the Yanks fought back twice in the final three innings. Alex Rodriguez's two-run home run put New York up 2-1 after seven but after Mariano Rivera blew a four-out save, the Yanks needed a Robinson Cano single with the bases loaded to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th off of Jonathan Papelbon. The Yanks loaded the bases again in the 10th and a walk to Juan Miranda sealed a very important win for the Yanks.

New York is just a half-game behind Tampa Bay for the AL East lead now and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 1 (as is Tampa's). Barring a winless stretch from either squad and an undefeated stretch run for Boston, the only playoff races worth watching are in the National League.

The Jets, on the other hand, are far from the stretch run. But that doesn't make last night's victory over Miami any less important. Losing to Miami would've put the Jets two games behind the Dolphins and essentially 2.5, as Rex Ryan said before the game.

Now the Jets are essentially a half-game ahead. A three-game swing, no matter at what point of the season, is important to any team's playoff hopes. As well as the confidence of beating a good-looking division foe on the road.

Mark Sanchez had his second straight 3-touchdown, no-interception week, although he could've thrown two in the fourth quarter alone. Jason Allen nearly intercepted an overthrown ball from Sanchez and Kendall Langford dropped a gift pick-six from the Jets quarterback on an attempted screen pass.

Sanchez still has some work to do, but given the time to go downfield he throws a great ball. He fit some balls into tight spaces like his second touchdown pass to Dustin Keller and made some great back-shoulder throws to Keller on his first touchdown and Edwards on a key third down in the fourth quarter.

Through three weeks, it's obvious this is LaDainian Tomlinson's backfield and Shonn Greene is just a change of pace. As great as Tomlinson looks now let's not forget the tread on his tires; Greene will be a factor late in the season and if the Jets make the playoffs, similar to last season when Thomas Jones wore down. But considering Tomlinson hasn't had more than 15 carries in a game this season, maybe LT will last all year.

The defense isn't as stifling as it was last season but they still stop the run very well, although their pass defense has left a lot to be desired. The Jets have already allowed more 100-yard receivers this season (3) than they did all of last season (1). And every time, it's been the opponents' top target (Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall).

You can argue that those three receivers make up 60 percent of the top five players at their position, but the absence of a healthy and effective Darrelle Revis (thanks to a prolonged preseason holdout that ended just in time for the finale of "Hard Knocks;" coincidence? I hope so) at the start of the season is obvious.

If he returns healthy, presumably in two weeks when the Jets face Minnesota, the Jets pass defense should improve exponentially. Antonio Cromartie allowed Brandon Marshall to catch 10 balls for 166 yards but came up with some big plays when necessary and should be a good matchup against opponents' second receivers. Rookie Kyle Wilson has struggled but there's nowhere to go but up, right?

The bottom line is this: The Jets look good. Week 1 seems like the aberration so far and while Sanchez won't throw for three scores every week, he doesn't have to. Consider this team will be getting three Pro Bowl-caliber players back in the next few weeks (Revis, Santonio Holmes and Calvin Pace) and things are only looking up for the Jets.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Quick Hitters

-Brett Favre is "grasping at straws" in Minnesota? You mean with all that work he put in during OTAs and training camp, he has no chemistry with his current set of receivers? Please Brett, give us a break.

I know the injury to Sidney Rice, the loss of Chester Taylor and a banged-up Percy Harvin have deprived him of some of your most prolific offensive weapons, but this is why training camp is important. Like last year, Favre eschewed training camp to throw to high school receivers in Mississippi, who he presumably now has great chemistry with.

And while Favre admits he's part of the problem, he will likely never admit he should've participated in the preseason. I know he's throwing to two guys (Greg Camarillo and Hask Baskett) who also didn't go through camp with Minnesota, but when you're "not really sure who [you're] throwing to on particular plays," that's not just an indictment on the receivers.

As much as I'd love to see the Vikings crash and burn a year after Favre's magic brought them within an interception of the Super Bowl, I think eventually the man will turn it around. I'm just not sure if it will be in time to save Minnesota's season.

-Jose Bautista hit his 50th home run of the season last night against none other than Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Hernandez threw a complete game and allowed just 2 hits in a 1-0 loss. That's right, Bautista's homer was the only run of the game.

It's a shame that any time a baseball player has a big spike in production the steroid clouds start to circle. But I don't think that it's ever going to change.

The steroid era cast a black cloud around the game and honestly, that cloud will likely never be lifted. Any milestones like the one Bautista reached or the one A-Rod is chasing will forever be tainted; A-Rod's rightfully so but Bautista's? Maybe, maybe not.

I look at Brady Anderson hitting 50 home runs 14 years ago a year after hitting 21; he never hit more than 21 again. I'm 99.9% sure he was on steroids, but he's never tested positive (there wasn't testing) so how will anybody ever know?

Add in the fact that players can still take human growth hormone, which isn't tested for, and the black cloud will continue to loom over the once-proud game. Sorry Jose, but nobody will ever truly give your season the respect it deserves if you're actually clean. It's just the nature of the beast. Now take your next multi-million dollar contract as a result and be happy.

-Why would the Yankees pull C.C. Sabathia in the sixth inning of last night's game? I know he had 110 pitches and had allowed five straight batters to reach base, but he is still your horse. And to pull him with the bases loaded and bring in Joba Chamberlain, who is far from a shutdown relief option, was a big mistake.

When Joe Girardi made the move I questioned it even before the commercial break began. Sabathia was laboring, but he still inspires more confidence in me in that situation than anybody out of the bullpen not named Rivera. Sure he walked in a run, but the 3-2 pitch to Sean Rodriguez was closer than the 3-1 pitch that was called a strike (it was a ball, outside and maybe even high).

Sabathia wasn't getting shelled and Chamberlain proceeded to allow a two-run double to B.J. Upton to open the floodgates to a seven-run inning. Girardi may have been looking towards saving Sabathia for the postseason but this was an important game for playoff positioning and honestly, he blew this decision badly.

Even with the impending return of Josh Hamilton, I'd rather play the Rangers at home than the Twins on the road. And that's the difference between winning the AL East (which the Yanks lead by just a half-game now) and getting in through the Wild Card. And the decision to pull Sabathia for Chamberlain could be the one that haunts the Yankees come playoff time, especially if they end up on the road because of it (at Minnesota and potentially at Tampa)

-Everybody is talking about Michael Vick starting over Kevin Kolb, but is anybody really surprised? I am, only because I believed Andy Reid was 100% behind a healthy Kolb. I think starting Vick is the right move, at least for the time being. He almost brought the Eagles back against Green Bay and he led a 35-point offensive showing in Week 2, albeit against the Lions.

I find it funny that people are talking about this like it's the end-all-be-all of quarterback decisions. If Vick struggles in the near future, we could very well see Kolb back under center before we know it. That's the advantage of having two starting-caliber quarterbacks and Reid knows it; there are some teams that don't have any (hey Cleveland and Arizona, how are your seasons going so far?)

All the trade talks regarding Kolb are premature; I doubt Philadelphia is trying to hitch their wagon to Vick just yet. But Kolb looked terrible before his concussion and Vick has looked great, so he deserves to start until he loses the job. Not to mention the chance he runs with this opportunity, like he always has when he's been on the field.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jets up and down through season's first two weeks

After two weeks and a 1-1 start, the Jets are a team that is especially difficult to get a read on. They started the season with a 10-9 loss to the Ravens that wasn't as close as the score indicated and many experts had already written them off, predicting a loss to New England that would've sent the Super Bowl hopefuls to an 0-2 start.

But the Jets did what good teams are supposed to do: win with their backs against the wall. And they didn't just win, they dominated the second half, outscoring the Pats 18-0 without star corner Darrelle Revis, who left with a hamstring injury after getting beat by Randy Moss for a second-quarter touchdown.

Which brings me to a point on Revis. He whined, he moaned and he was rewarded with a "new" contract. It wasn't the long-term deal he'd hoped for but it was front-loaded with lots of guaranteed money, leading him to threaten another holdout in two years once much of that money is paid.

Revis' injury will keep him sidelined for the next game or two, although he remains hopeful he can play in Miami this Sunday. The Jets were fine without him in the second half against New England, but it's uncertain if Antonio Cromartie can handful the newly acquired Brandon Marshall.

Marshall had just 8 catches for 75 yards and no touchdowns against the Chargers last season, but was not covered exclusively by Cromartie. In their first matchup of the 2008 season, Marshall had 18 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. But Cromartie covered Marshall on just five of those plays, resulting in 4 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. This is the matchup to watch for this Sunday's game between two big, physical players.

But back to Revis. If he hadn't held out this preseason, I believe the Jets would be 2-0 right now. Revis wasn't quite at game speed in Week 1 and therefore was not assigned to man up on Anquan Boldin on every play, leaving a lot of the work to Kyle Wilson. Boldin ended up with over 100 yards receiving and the Ravens were able to move the ball well enough against the Jets defense to put up 10 points.

If a healthy Revis at full speed were to have shadowed Boldin all day, those numbers may have been significantly worse. And Revis also would not have gotten beat by Moss for a first-half touchdown last week. In my eyes, Revis' holdout has already cost the Jets a victory this season and if they happen to miss the playoffs by one game or less, I won't hesitate to throw some of that blame in Revis' direction.

If he does miss the next two games and the Jets lose either (particularly this week's showdown against one of the league's top receivers) you can potentially blame Revis and his holdout for a second early-season loss. And that would make missing the playoffs in a close race an unforgivable sin on Revis' part. Shame on you, Darrelle. Shame on you.

But back to the Jets as a whole. Braylon Edwards gave the team another distraction with his DWI this week and while he won't start, he should see the field on Sunday. Whether his head is in the game (a question even when he's not in legal trouble) is yet to be seen, but the Jets need his height in the red zone to give Mark Sanchez an opportunity to put points up, since the Jets receivers are still struggling to get separation from opposing defensive backs.

Sanchez was awesome against New England, setting career highs in completions (21) and touchdown passes (3) after a brutal opener against Baltimore. I said after Week 1 that it wasn't really Sanchez's fault, as his receivers struggled, his interior line play was subpar and the playcalling stifled his opportunities to make big plays.

The only thing that changed in Week 2 was the playcalling; offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer decided to let Sanchez loose and throw downfield and the results were evident. The Jets may be a ground-and-pound football team but Sanchez is not a dink-and-dunk quarterback. But he has used his checkdowns effectively so far this season and hasn't turned the ball over, proving he deserves another opportunity to open up the playbook and show off the physical skills that made him a top-five pick last season.

LaDainian Tomlinson looks like the LT of old, not the LT of 2009, and Shonn Greene has regressed from his playoff dominance. LT has built on a great preseason and should be the lead back in the near future, allowing Greene to keep his legs fresh and take advantage of tired defenses later in the season, which is why he had so much success in the playoffs last season when Thomas Jones wore down.

Miami will struggle to run against the Jets' stout run defense even without Kris Jenkins, as Sione Pouha is starting to come into his own as the team's nose tackle. The pass defense leaves something to be desired through two weeks and without Revis, that may continue to be a short-term issue.

I predict a low-scoring game this weekend between two teams with excellent defenses. Yes, I'm a believe in the Dolphins success so far; I thought it would be a three-team race in the AFC East before the season started and frankly, I still think New England is the third best team in the division. This will be the real test for the Jets and I think they will live up to expectations for the second straight week.

A touchdown from Marshall won't be enough for Miami to pull this game out as Sanchez will continue to take care of the football and make plays when necessary. Jets 13, Dolphins 10.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What a year for Swish! And Kevin Long

Nick Swisher's second hit of the month of September sure was one to remember! His two-run walk-off home run last night against Orioles closer Koji Uehara helped the Yankees to a 7-3 homestand and a 2.5-game lead over Tampa in the AL East race.

Swisher's career year is a big reason why New York is hanging on to that lead in their division, as Swisher is well on his way to shattering his previous highs in batting average (.262), RBI (95), slugging percentage (.493) and OPS (.869).

His OBP is down slightly from last season despite a batting average 43 points higher, as a result of just 52 walks (Swisher has never taken fewer than 82 in a season where he played more than 150 games). He stills sees a lot of pitchers (4.04 per plate appearance) but is making better contact on balls in the zone and relying less on the walk to reach base. I doubt the Yankees are complaining.

Swisher started slow this season, batting just .250 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in April. But constant work with hitting coach Kevin Long has taken what used to be a long swing that struggled to get the barrel of the bat on pitches and turned it into a quick and compact stroke that has ignited Swisher's improvement. Now he hits balls hard consistently, especially to the opposite field (like his shot against Uehara last night).

Long has also done great work with new Yankee Curtis Granderson, who struggled through most of the season's first four months. In his last 25 games, Granderson has 7 home runs and 14 RBI after hitting just 10 home runs and driving in 34 runs in his first 90 games. He is just 21-for-81 during that span, but is finally driving the ball like many who expected 30-35 home runs from him thought he would.

Swisher's season is reminiscent of what was expected from Granderson, who can really help the Yankees offense if he continues to hit like he has in the past month. The way Lance Berkman has been hitting in the DH role, this lineup has no holes from 1-9 as long as Jorge Posada is healthy behind the plate.

With Javier Vazquez returning to the rotation Friday and Andy Pettitte due back soon, all of New York's supposed holes seem to be getting filled at the right time. The Yanks are 5-3 so far in September and hopefully will ride their recent momentum and enter the playoffs playing good baseball. Remember the first 162 games only get you there, it's the final 19 (or less) that win championships.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Should Bush lose his Heisman?

On the surface, this is an easy answer. Saints running back Reggie Bush has been deemed ineligible by the NCAA for the 2005 season for taking improper benefits. Heisman rules state that you must be an eligible player to win the Heisman.

Therefore, the answers to the question posed in the title is yes, Bush should be forced to vacate his Heisman. By the letter of the law, that is. But I think it goes deeper than that.

When you start going into the past and changing things, particularly in sports, it sets a dangerous precedent. Now the question is, what's next? If Roger Clemens is convicted of perjury, should we go back and "vacate" his wins from seasons he was suspected to be using performance-enhancing drugs?

Should Mark McGwire vacate every last home run he hit, since apparently all of them were juice-enhanced? Should Alex Rodriguez be stripped of his home runs from 2001-03 when he signed his huge contract with Texas that supposedly drove him to use performance-enhancers?

How about other Heisman Trophies? The Heisman mission statement states that the trust "ensures the continuation and integrity of this award." If we want to talk about integrity, should Ricky Williams lose his 1998 award due to his after-the-fact issues with marijuana, an "illegal" drug. But I digress; that's a political issue not a sports one, and this is a sports blog.

Or how about 1968 Heisman winner O.J. Simpson? Surely murder in cold blood (I know, he was found "innocent") is a more heinous offense than taking improper benefits when your on-field exploits pump millions into the USC athletic department, no? Having a murderer on the list of college football's most prestigious award isn't the epitome of integrity either.

With Williams and Simpson, you can argue that they were never deemed ineligible and their issues came after their college (and even professional) careers were over, while Bush's happened while he was in college during the specific period of time where he won his Heisman.

But what about the baseball players who used steroids? A-Rod won the 2003 AL MVP while using performance-enhancers, shouldn't that be "vacated?" Clemens won his final two Cy Young awards in 1998 and 2001, seasons in which trainer Brian McNamee claims to have injected Clemens with steroids. Should Clemens have four Cy Young awards instead of six?

And didn't Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, last year's Rookie of the Year, also use performance-enhancing drugs? He got to keep his award after a revote, why couldn't the Heisman trust have done a similar "revote?"

This is the problem with stripping Bush of his Heisman trophy. It opens up a can of worms that will probably never be sealed again. I understand that how the rule is written, Bush is going to lose the award. But in taking his Heisman, the NCAA is doing much more than I think they realize, or care to realize. The Bush saga may be finished (at least once they officially strip him of the 2005 Heisman), but the fallout is just beginning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yanks abuse fading A's

I know they still have one game left to play in their four-game series, but the Yankees just can't help beating up on the Athletics in the Bronx.

First, it was an 11-5 victory against Oakland right-hander Trevor Cahill, who had allowed just 4 earned runs in his previous six starts, including four shutouts (two against the potent Texas Rangers). The Yanks smacked Cahill around for 9 hits and 8 runs in four innings in his shortest and least effective start of the season.

New York then did the same to the less-heralded Viz Mazzaro, who came into the game with an ERA under 4.00 and left with a 4.05 mark. Left-hander Brett Anderson didn't fare much better last night, allowing 4 runs in the first two innings as the A's lost 4-3.

In three games this series, the Yankees have outscored Oakland 24-11 and hit six home runs, including two from Mark Teixeira, his 29th and 30th this season. Why have the Yankees had so much success against an A's rotation that has been great all season?

First off, moving from the spacious Oakland Coliseum to the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium doesn't help. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Teixeira all hit home runs that would likely have been doubles or outs in Oakland. But regardless of the park, these balls were scorched off the Yankee bats and reached the seats within three seconds.

It also doesn't help that the Yankees feature the league's highest-scoring lineup, 52 runs ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox. Combine the park and the lineup and you have a recipe for disaster for any rotation, including one with a Cy Young hopeful (Cahill) and a popular pre-season breakout candidate (Anderson).

If you thought the Yanks were playing well lately, just imagine when they get reinforcements back. Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte are both making progress and should return soon from the disabled list, shoring up the middle of the lineup and the starting rotation, respectively. Javier Vazquez has ran with his demotion to the bullpen and could possibly find his way back into the rotation by season's end as well.

The Yankees also have a revamped bench with the acquisitions of Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns and the recent resurgence of Marcus Thames (even against righties!) and an improved bullpen after trading for Kerry Wood. Joba Chamberlain has pitched better of late since being removed from the eighth-inning role in favor of David Robertson and everything seems to be coming together at the right time for New York, despite the injuries.

Tampa Bay is still creeping up just a game behind in the AL East, but the Red Sox have fallen eight games back and it looks like both the Yanks and Rays will cruise into the playoffs, one winning the division and the other taking home the Wild Card.

It doesn't seem to matter which team wins this division, which has led some experts to look for ways to "punish" Wild Card teams in some way, potentially giving them less home games in the playoffs. I'm not sure how or if that would work, but it's a legitimate discussion. For another blog post, that is.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey Matt Leinart, shut up and play

Look at me, I played quarterback at USC. I got all the girls in college (and also once I hit the NFL and got PAID). So that means when Kurt Warner retires, the starting job is all mine, right?

No Matt Leinart, that isn't how the NFL works: You have to earn your stripes in this league and frankly, you haven't.

When Leinart heard coach Ken Whisenhunt was starting Derek Anderson last Saturday, he didn't quite take the "benching" (used lightly since it's still the preseason) like a professional.

Leinart claimed his benching was unfair considering how many more snaps Anderson had seen in the preseason. But let's not forget that Leinart has been in this offense for three seasons, while Anderson just joined the team as a free agent.

Whisenhunt already knows most of Leinart's strengths and weaknesses (despite not coaching him his rookie season) and knows equally as little about Anderson's. Not to mention the fact that Leinart has far more experience working with the Cardinals' crop of wide receivers.

Leinart also said he had been more efficient than Anderson and from a purely statistical standpoint, that is very true. His passer rating is around 110 while Anderson's is closer to 70. But this argument goes back to the playing time issues; if Leinart had taken as many snaps and thrown as many passes as Anderson, his 83 percent completion rate and astronomical passer rating would obviously have regressed towards the mean. You can't have your cake and eat it too, Matthew.

Now I haven't watched any Cardinals preseason games (forgive me), but I do know enough about both quarterbacks to make some educated assumptions. Leinart, despite that high completion rate, is averaging just 7 yards per pass attempt and while Anderson's YPA is a less-than-impressive 5.5 yards per attempt, his yards-per-completion rate is higher.

Anderson's stats (31-53, 287 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) look a lot more like what we would see from him in the regular season than Leinart's do (19-23, 161 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT). Leinart's higher QB rating is solely a result of his small sample size of work and should not be a deciding factor in Whisenhunt's decision (and obviously isn't).

Anybody who has watched football over the past few years knows that Anderson has tremendous arm strength and Leinart throws about as well as Johnny Damon from the center-field warning track. This explains both of those stats, as Anderson's lower completion rate is a result of more downfield passes while Leinart's inflated percentage is a result of him throwing lots of short passes. He hasn't turned the ball over but he hasn't moved the ball downfield well or created any big plays through the air, something the Cardinals have become accustomed to with Warner at the helm.

If Whisenhunt is looking for a quarterback to match Warner's production, he needs to pull the ex-bagboy out of retirement because neither of these two can come close. If he wants to at least mimic the past few years in terms of big-play potential, the answer is Anderson. If he wants to go in a different direction and play dink-and-dunk (unlikely considering the big-play talents of receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston), then Leinart should be his guy.

It seems Whisenhunt has chosen Anderson, albeit unofficially since he has yet to announce a starter. But all the trade talks surrounding Leinart only support the notion that Anderson will likely be named the starter.

The Bills, Raiders and Giants have all inquired about Leinart's availability (presumably for a backup role) and with rookies John Skelton and Max Hall also in tow, the Cardinals have no reason to hold onto Leinart as their quarterback of the future if the 27-year-old isn't their quarterback of the present.

I've never been convinced that Leinart is an NFL starter: He lacks the arm strength and even after four years in the league, obviously lacks the maturity and leadership characteristics necessary to lead an NFL team. If there were any doubters about that last statement, his recent moaning and pouting over a preseason benching should be evidence enough.

I'm also not convinced Anderson is a viable option; let's just say there's a good reason I drafted Skelton in my dynasty football league. I think he's the favorite to finish the season behind center for the Cardinals (who won't be in playoff contention) and he possesses the arm strength and potential to give Arizona fans hope he can be nearly as productive as Warner was in recent seasons.

Sorry Matt Leinart, but your window of opportunity is closing fast. And it's nobody's fault but your own. So go back to sitting on your fat first-round contract and hitting the clubs with all the West Coast babes. It's your calling. Being a starting NFL quarterback isn't.