Friday, July 29, 2011

Yankees better off without Jimenez?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Can the Jets legitimately sign Holmes and Asomugha?

(Photo Credit:

First off, I would like to say "Welcome back" to myself. After over a week away from the writing world and a few months away from serious football discussions, I am back in business.

In the three months after the NFL draft, I conducted my own personal "boycott" of the NFL. Deep down I thought they could get a deal done and I was far more optimistic of their chances than those of the NBA, but I wasn't going to give them attention they didn't deserve. At least not until I get paid for this.

I didn't even start my fantasy football league until yesterday, despite the ability to open it weeks ago. You want my business? Get back on the field, and that's exactly what the NFL has done.

Now it's time to get down to what the Jets need to do in the next few days to solidify their chance at another deep playoff run.

The first order of business for New York is to re-sign Santonio Holmes. Holmes is the best offensive player on the market and he made a huge impact for the Jets after returning from his suspension last season.

In 12 games last season, Holmes had 52 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns. In his final nine, he had 42 catches for 616 yards and all of his scores.

It took Holmes three games to get acclimated to Mark Sanchez and the Jets' system but once he did he was a difference maker, scoring game-winning touchdowns in the final 10 seconds (or on the final play) in two consecutive November victories.

I know the Jets have other free agents to sign, namely Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie, but Holmes is easily the best player of the three. Edwards and Cromartie are top-10 names in this free agent period, but there's another big name the Jets are rumored to be after.

Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the league's top cover corner (along with current Jet Darrelle Revis), is hitting the market. It's rare that a player of this caliber becomes an unrestricted free agent and the Jets would love to pounce on the former Cal stud.

I think Asomugha and Holmes are the two best players available. The real question is: Can the Jets afford both?

Already $1.2 million over the new salary cap, New York has some tough decisions to make. They can restructure the contracts of players like D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, but will that be enough to allow them to pay two top-tier free agents?

I'm no salary cap expert, but I'm not sure the Jets will be able to afford these two players. So the question becomes, who should the Jets go after harder?

If the Jets add Asomugha and lose Holmes, it will be absolutely impossible to throw on this team. They were a top-six pass defense last season and the Raiders were second, mainly due to Asomugha's presence.

Combining Asomugha and Revis would make New York's pass defense the best in the NFL, hands down. With an already solid group of linebackers and Shaun Ellis being the only potential loss along the defensive line, the Jets run defense would also stay in the top 10 after ranking third last season.

It's a legitimate possibility that the Jets could allow fewer than 15 points per game if they sign Asomugha after allowing 19 points per game last season. But would their offense be able to move the football?

Even with Holmes and Edwards last season, the Jets sometimes struggled to score points. Losing his top two receivers would not help Mark Sanchez's development, even if New York brought in players like Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss or Sidney Rice if they could afford him.

LaDainian Tomlinson is a year older and another year slow and while Shonn Greene is likely to take on an increased workload, he's yet to prove he can handle the extra touches.

If the Jets keep Holmes and miss out on Asomugha and Cromartie, they will be stuck with Kyle Wilson on the other side. Unless Wilson made vast improvements during the lockout, which seems unlikely, he's not ready to start at the NFL level.

The Jets may have Revis shutting down one side of the field but Wilson will get picked on all day, not to mention how bad the Jets nickel and dime backs will be.

Keeping Holmes would mean the Jets offense could stay afloat and Sanchez would avoid a disastrous third season. But would that be enough to overtake New England and finally win the division?

It really doesn't matter who wins the division, as the Jets proved last season. The defensive-minded Jets beat the offensive-minded Patriots in the playoffs because of the way the teams were built.

Adding Asomugha to an already stacked defense would make the Jets a force to be reckoned with in cold-weather playoff games. As much as I love Holmes, if I had to choose one player, it would be Asomugha.

There are talented but troubled wide receivers on the free agent market that would come cheaply as low-risk, high-reward gambles. Burress and Moss are the two names the come to mind.

Both of those receivers have reputations as selfish players, but both would step into roles where they would see a lot of balls thrown their way. That, along with the opportunity to play for a winning football team, means these two could be excellent gambles.

Filling the cornerback position opposite Revis will not be cheap for the Jets. And having Revis and Asomugha locked up for multiple seasons gives the team time to draft talent at receiver as well, leaving their Super Bowl window open for a few more seasons.

The NFL is a passing league. If you can stop the pass, you can win games. No matter how bad their offense might be, Revis and Asomugha would allow the Jets to do just that.

The Jets would love to get their hands on both Holmes and Asomugha, but that would take some skillful cap maneuvering. They will likely have to choose one, and the choice should be Nnamdi.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Anthony and Stoudemire give Knicks fans another reason to root against a lockout

(Photo Credit:

After reports surfaced that Deron Williams has a deal in place to play in Turkey if the NBA lockout doesn't end before next season, similar rumors swirled around Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

Stoudemire and Anthony reportedly reached out to the players' union about rules and insurance issues of playing overseas. Stoudemire's agent said his client is not interested but if he was, this would be terrible news for Knicks fans.

The major problem with this idea is the risk of injury. The Knicks were one of the few teams willing to give Stoudemire a max contract last offseason because of his injury history, which includes retina surgery and microfracture knee surgery.

Stoudemire also was ineffective in the Knicks' first-round playoff series against Boston due to a pulled back muscle, which he is still in the process of rehabbing.

Even Anthony has not been allowed to lift weights or shoot a basketball while rehabbing right elbow bursitis and, while that injury is nowhere near as serious as any of the ones in Stoudemire's past, it still proves the point that the Knicks can't afford to have their two stars risking injury overseas.

I've said previously that the Knicks can't afford to lose a season during the prime of their star players due to a lockout and this news adds to that sentiment. What happens if, god forbid, Stoudemire plays overseas and suffers a career-threatening injury?

The Knicks could not get insurance on Stoudemire's contract when they signed and if he was injured overseas, they surely would not have to pay him the balance of his $100M contract. Both Stoudemire and the Knicks would be screwed.

That scenario would leave the team with money to sign another big-name player, but would also ruin the current team structure Donnie Walsh and others have worked so hard to build and set the rebuilding process back a year or two.

While Knicks fans need to root against an extended lockout, they also need to root against their stars going to play overseas. The move makes sense for Deron Williams, who has just two years left on his contract, can opt out after next season and may not want to stay in New Jersey anyway.

Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are not Deron Williams. Stay put, boys.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Should the Yankees worry about Phil Hughes?

(Photo Credit:

Phil Hughes got off to a shaky start in his return to the mound Wednesday, but was that not to be expected?

Hughes walked Michael Brantley, the first batter he faced, and then allowed two singles, the second scoring Brantley. A Russell Martin throwing error led to another Indians run, but Hughes was able to get out of trouble down just 2-0.

Then he settled down...kind of. Hughes didn't have a clean inning all night but scattered three singles in the next three innings before hitting two Cabreras (Asdrubal and Orlando) and walking another batter in the fifth.

Hughes was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out to Brett Gardner to leave the bases loaded and end his night at 87 pitches.

All in all, it was a mixed bag of a return for Hughes. Five innings, ten baserunners, two strikeouts and 57 strikes compared to 30 balls. He worked his way into trouble in his first and last innings, but got out of the fifth without allowing a run or even a hit.

Stats are nice but what most Yankees fans are concerned about is Hughes' velocity. The 24-year-old right-hander hit as high as 93 mph on the radar gun and hit 92 at one point during his final inning.

But, as the New York Post reports, Hughes' average velocity dipped from 92.3 in the first inning to 91.5 in the third and 90.6 in the fifth, a bad sign for many who have questioned Ivan Nova's demotion to Triple-A to make room for Hughes.

While this drop in velocity may be reason for some to worry about Hughes' arm, it isn't for me. Most pitchers throw harder in the first inning than they do in the fifth, particularly one that hasn't thrown to major-league hitters in three months. Give the kid some time.

After allowing the first three batters he faced to reach base, Hughes allowed seven baserunners (still too many) and didn't allow a run on a hit, walk or hit batter. The late loss of control and two batters he hit are slightly worrisome, especially in the fifth inning when his velocity was dropping near pre-DL stint levels.

Overall it was a shaky first start back for Hughes, who obviously has some work to do before he gets back to his 2009 pre-All Star Break level. Some people I've talked to believe he never will, even before this start, while I'd like to see him throw a few more turns before I make any rash judgments.

Hughes is just 24 years old, an age where many pitchers are just starting their careers. Hughes already has an All-Star appearance and an 18-win season on his ledger, so he's earned a longer leash than one borderline start after a dead-arm period. I'm willing to be somewhat patient with him.

But are the Yankees? With Nova waiting for a rotation spot in Triple-A, the leash may be short if Hughes continues to struggle considering the way Nova was pitching since a rough April.

Some fans may be rooting for Hughes to fail and the team to bring back Nova, but I think that's a terrible way to look at the situation.

The Yankees need both youngsters in their rotation next season and, while Nova may be the odd man out as of now, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are no locks to stay healthy and it's likely neither will be wearing pinstripes next season.

Rooting against Hughes is not the answer for Yankees fans in the short or long-term, regardless of how you feel about the situation with him and Nova. The Yankees will need both in 2012 and very possibly later this season as well - you want both of these guys pitching well, not just one.