Saturday, March 1, 2008

Phil Savage Makes Leap Day A Holiday

February 29 is a date that occurs only every four years, in years evenly divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996, 2008 or 2016 (with the exception of century years not divisible by 400, such as 1900) for the Gregorian calendar, which is most widely used in the world today. These are called leap years, and February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. February 29 is also known as Bissextile Day or Leap Day.

Now Leap Day is not a national holiday, but Browns GM Phil Savage sure treated it like one. It started off at 4:30 AM when the Browns and QB Derek Anderson came to terms on a 3 year, $24M ($13M guaranteed) deal less than a day after Anderson rejected a 3 year, $20M ($10M guaranteed) deal. We'll see how the QB situation pans out, as Brady Quinn has already stated he plans to compete for the starting job in 2008, but it looks like a good move, IHMO.

It gives Anderson a chance to prove that the beginning of 2007 was no fluke and the end of 2007 was an aberration. If he excels, the Browns still will face a QB decision at the end of 2008, but both he and Quinn still will have value at that time. If he falters, Quinn is itching to take over. Both QB's contracts don't put too much of a burden on the Browns' salary cap number, so theoretically they both could be here for the next 3 years, but the odds of that happening are slim to none. The bottom line is the Browns still have 2 potential starting QBs under the age of 25 on the roster and are not financially handcuffed by it.

Savage then acquired Green Bay DT Corey Williams in exchange for the Browns' 2008 2nd Round draft choice. Williams was give the Franchise Tag by the Packers due to their depth at the position. The Browns then signed Williams to a 6 year contract. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed but rumors say is is worth $36M ($16M-$18M guaranteed). Williams is only 27 and fills the second DE spot and give the Browns a much needed run stuffer they have been missing since the 1990s.

In a surprising move, after a trade between Detroit and Cincinnati fell through, Savage traded the Browns' 2008 3rd Round draft choice and starting CB Leigh Bodden to the Lions for ginormous DT Shaun Rogers. This move is the riskiest by far as Rogers clashed in 2007 with Lions coaches and management in addition to struggling with his weight. When healthy, fit and motivated, Rogers can dominate the line of scrimmage as he was a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and 2006. But he ballooned form his normal playing weight of 340 pounds to 370 and seemed to take plays off on a regular basis. If the Browns can get him in shape and screw his head on straight they may have gotten a steal. If they don't they're looking at the second coming of Gerard Warren.

The following day, WR Donte Stallworth was inked to a 7 year, #35M ($10M guaranteed) contract in what has to be considered, with Joe Jurevicius hinting at retirement after 2008, an concession that Tim Carter and Travis Wilson are not the answer. With visits by Tenneessee DE Travis LaBoy, Ravnes LB Nick Greisen and Steelers LB Clark Haggans scheduled, Savage may not be done with addressing the Browns pitiful defense.

All 4 moves are definitely solid moves that look good on paper. It all depends on how each player produces in 2008 and beyond before the transactions can be judged appropriately. The moves did come at a steep price as the Browns do not have a draft choice in the first 3 rounds of the 2008 Draft. Savage stated that he treats the acquisitions plus Brady Quinn, who the 2008 1st Round draft choice was traded for last year, as the Browns first day of the draft this year. For a man who is thought of as a draft guru that is a bold statement.

The loss of Leigh Bodden is definitely an interesting one. Bodden has had injury issues the past few seasons but still is one of the underrated CBs in the game. It thrusts the second year duo of Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald into the spotlight in 2008 and answers the question as to why Daven Holly was resigned.

All in all a good weekend for the Browns. We'll see what Savage has up his sleeve for week 2 of free agency as the Browns still have cap room and holes to fill. It's too bad leap year only comes every 4 years. The 2008 version was very good to Browns fans.

Go Browns!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Browns Tender Anderson: Pros and Cons

The Browns put a 3 year, $20M offer ($10M guaranteed) on the table for quarterback Derek Anderson. At this point, Anderson and his agents have decided not to accept. The result of this is the Browns tendering Anderson the highest possible offer ($2.562M) for a one year deal since he was a restricted free agent and could have hit the open market if they had not tendered him an offer by 12:01 AM on Leap Day, February 29.

What this means is if another team signs Anderson, it would have to give the Browns a first and a third round draft pick as compensation due to him receiving the highest tender offer. The Browns would also have the right to match the offer instead of taking the draft picks. The size of the contract Anderson is/may be offered would determine whether the Browns would do the former or the latter. Any way the situation ends up, there are pros and cons for both parties.

The pros for Anderson if he receives an offer from another team are money and job security. Obviously, if he gets an offer from another team he's getting a bigger paycheck whether the Browns match the offer or not. If he leaves for another team for the kind of money he is looking for he is going to be the unquestioned starter and not have to worry about a first round draft choice breathing down his neck. The cons if he accepts the Browns 3 year offer or plays out 2008 on the one year tender is that it will be for less money and he will have Brady Quinn nipping at his heals again. Plus he bails on the offensive personnel and scheme that suits him perfectly.

The pros for Anderson if he signs the 3 year extension with the Browns are stability, the Browns personnel and the offensive scheme. He remains in a place and organization that he is familiar and comfortable with. He has established relationships, timing, camaraderie, etc. with the offense in Cleveland. He has the receivers in Edwards, Winslow and Jurevicius that can make the tough catches on his strong, yet sometimes inaccurate, throws. He has a punishing running back in Jamal Lewis that will open up plays down field which are a staple of his game. He is in an offense that accentuates his strengths (strong arm, quick release, big plays) and minimizes the impact of his weaknesses (accuracy, decision making, forcing throws into coverage) by utilizing an powerful offensive line and running back. This system let him mold his talents into a spot as an alternate for the Pro Bowl. If he leaves, he loses everything he has established with the Browns players and might not end up with comparable personnel or a scheme that takes advantages of the strengths of his game.

The pro for Anderson if he plays out 2008 on the tender offer is that he basically gets one year to showcase whether or not he is a franchise quarterback in the NFL, be it for the Browns or another team. But the con to that is that if he follows the trends that his performance followed after the second half of the season then he could end up losing more money than he could have made by resigning.

The pros for the Browns if Anderson receives an offer from another team is that that they can evaluate the length and cap impact of the contract and determine whether to match it or take the two draft choices that are sorely needed to address their porous defense. The cons are that they have a proven commodity in Anderson and draft choices always have more risk involved. Additionally, Anderson fits perfectly in their system with his strong arm and quick release. He has shown that he can succeed in the system that produced record breaking seasons from Edwards, Winslow, Lewis and himself. They also will have a quarterback controversy surrounding the team for another year and risk the chance that Brady Quinn may ask for a trade. Also, depending on the terms of the offer the Browns may incur a larger salary cap hit than they would like.

The pros for the Browns if Anderson accepts the three year offer is that they get a young, proven QB under contract for 3 years with a deal that doesn't severely tie their hands. It gives him more time to prove 2007 was no fluke and gives Quinn another year to study on the job so he's ready if/when he is needed. If Anderson struggles in 2008, Quinn can be elevated to starter and Anderson would be relegated to the back-up role. The terms of both players' contracts would not hindrance to this situation. The cons to this scenario are that Anderson, if demoted, could demand a trade or be a distraction for the team. Quinn, too, could also ask to be relocated if Anderson firmly establishes himself as the Browns franchise quarterback.

If Anderson plays out 2008 on the tender then the Browns get another year to evaluate him and could resign him after the season to a longer, more lucrative deal if they decide he is one who will lead the Browns for the next decade. They would then need to make a decision on what to do with Quinn. If Anderson falters in 2008, they can simply cut ties with him by not resigning him or they could bring him back as a back-up for less money. But they also run the risk of losing him to another team as he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2008. If that happens and Brady Quinn has not received extensive playing time there is no way of knowing what Quinn brings to the table for 2009.

The possibilities are endless but I have faith that Phil Savage has a specific plan for each situation. Whether it's matching another teams offer, taking the draft picks, getting Anderson to sign the Browns offer or having him play out 2008 on the tender, I believe Phil has analyzed each situation and know the parameters that will best benefit the Browns in 2008 and beyond. After the progress that was made in 2007 he deserves the fan base's confidence in his actions. No matter how it turns out, it's just good to be taking about meaningful Browns scenarios in late February for the first time in a long time.



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Myron Cope Passes Away

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers color analyst, Myron Cope, passed away today in Mount Lebanon, PA. Known for inventing the dreaded "Terrible Towel", Cope announced on the Steelers radio broadcasts until 2004. He was 79.

Going to school in Pittsburgh from 1995-1999 when the Browns left and went on hiatus, I came to appreciate the passion and joy Cope brought to a rival fan base. Unlike Chris Berman or Dick Vitale, Cope's joy and over-the-top outbursts were never premeditated or phony. It was genuine enthusiasm for a team he grew up with and worshiped.

Where it was his Subway "Myron's Cope's 6 Inch Kielbasa" commercials or the WDVE "Siegfried and Yoi" parody sketch (on who could ever replace the Roy of Siegfried and Roy) he was more than willing to poke a little fun at himself and not just opposing teams.

When you first heard him your initial reaction was "What the hell?" but the more you heard him the more he grew on you. Phrases like "Mmmm herr ha!" and "Yoi!" always made me laugh and it was something to smile about in a relative "blank period" for a die hard Browns fan.

I can't do him justice as a Browns fan so I'll keep it short. Condolences to the entire Cope family, the Steelers and the NFL. Everyone lost a good man today and there are too few of them around in this day and age.

RIP Myron

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What The Tribe Needs This Year

The Tribe started playing intrasquad games today in preparation for Grapefruit League play. With the roster predominantly set, minus a couple spots, here is what I feel the Indians need to get from everybody in order to fulfill the hopes and dreams of the Tribe Faithful with a World Series title in 2008.


Los Rafaeles - I expect a little drop off from you guys but if you can keep the ERAs in the low 2.00 range and get out there 50 - 60 times this year that is a good thing. Also, I hear Betancourt is a little quicker on the wind-up this year and that Perez has developed a change-up. I am giddy.

Fultzy - Just get lefties out. Honestly, that's why you are hear. If you don't do it you are out of here. It's the last year of your contract and you are on Roberto Hernandez Double Secret Probation.

Masa - Just be solid in your first year in the US so Los Rafaeles don't have to pitch in 90 games apiece. Also, and I can't stress this enough, please do not appear in any Japanese alternative lifestyle films. Not that there's anything wrong with that... I just don't want hear about it.

Jenny Lewis - Just be another option in the 7th and 8th. I have this wacky feeling that you have future closer written all over you but for now we need you to be that middle inning guy who nips any potential trouble in the proverbial bud.

Mastny - Be like you were in the playoffs and step up. Your inconsistencies kill you and if you do it in camp you are headed back to Buffalo.

Iron Joe - Continue to be fearless and have balls. Don't let your arm fall off like it has in past years. And if it's no to much to ask, can we please have some 1-2-3 innings? I mean the 45 saves is impressive, despite the ERA, but you are going to give somebody a heart attack at some point. I'm not joking. Let's try and prevent that and try and keep that ERA around 3.00.

Juan Lara - Just get well and have a normal life. If you can come back and play baseball it's a bonus. Get well, mi amigo.


C. C. - I'm not expecting another Cy Young season but 17+ wins, an ERA in the low 3.00 range and 200 innings would be great. Also, the realization that you will be idolized forever if you stay here even if it means less money.

Fausto El Diablo - I completely expect a bit of a fall off but 25+ starts and the continued wickedness of that sinker would be great. Just continue to grow because if C. C. bolts you are the man.

Jake The Snake - I expect your normal season. 30 starts. 200 innings. Era in the low 4.00 range. 15 wins. Great Leadership.

Byrdman - Whatever you did last year. I still don't know how you won 15 games with an ERA over 4.50 and yielding 47 more hits than innings pitched but you did. Just do it again. Also, no prescriptions from your dentist.

Cliff Lee - Be a man. I hear you have a bad attitude and didn't work on fixing the mechanics problems the staff told you to. Suck it up and do your job or you'll be in Buffalo again.

Sowers - I hear you are the ying to Lee's yang. Worked on what you were told, fixed your problems and are raring to go even if you have to start at Buffalo. Good job, kid. Keep it up. Injuries happen. You'll be in C-Town sooner than later.

Aaron "The Joker" Laffey - See Sowers. Also, I hear you show signs of the mental toughness that Jake has. I like that. You will be in C-Town sooner than later also. Be ready.


Shoppach - Another year like last year. Keep Vic fresh. Deliver when you have the chance. Call a good game. I love the way you call a game. The fact you help Byrd get 15 wins should speak for itself.

Vic - Continue to be the leader and drive this team. Show the emotion you did after the ALCS. Another defensive season like 2007. Be the class act of the ball club. .300, 20 HR, 100 RBI.


Barfield - Show 2007 was a fluke and 2006 wasn't.

Blake - Drive in some runs with runners in scoring position. Drive in some runs with two outs. You hit .270 last year but it was the least effective .270 I've ever seen.

The AsMan - Continue to improve. Do the little things the #2 hitter needs to do. Be that like spark that Omar used to be. Make the AsMan nickname stick over AC or AsCab.

Jamey Carroll - Don't be Ramon Vasquez. Don't be Mike Rouse. Thank you.

Garko - Take the next step. .290 like last year is great. Need to make it 25+ HR and 90+ RBIs. You lost 15 pounds over the off season. Make it mean something.

K-Marte - Wake up and get it. Coming to camp fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through Spring Training, son. Honestly, <.200 in the Arizona Fall League??? Have some (expletive deleted) pride.

Jhonny P - Another solid defensive season. Less strike outs on the breaking pitches away, PLEASE! Another year of minimal laziness like 2007.

Pronk - Return. You need to return. Screw that Travis guy. We need Pronk. .310, 40 HR, 110 RBI, .600 SLG, 100 BB. Remember? Please remember.


Choo - Heal up. I gotta a feeling we'll need you.

The Looch - Don't suck. You need to produce and do it consistently. If not I'm gonna be calling for Francisco and Choo, stat. You looked awful last year. Just awful.

Francisco - Be ready. I have no faith in The Looch. You've hit .300 in AAA forever, that's not a fluke. Plus with you in LF the OF defense and range is unfathomably good.

Guut - Make strides. .266 was nice, .275 would be great. 15 HR would be, too. Your defense is sick. Add a gold glove like Grady and that would be gravy.

Michaels - Just hit lefties. Don't steal ABs from Guut, Shoppach, Choo, Francisco or anyone else I have some sort of faith in. I'm tired of taking about you.

Grady - It's time for you to make "The Leap". You've won a gold glove. You've been an All-Star. You are beloved in the city. You need to make the leap and make the rest of MLB and the country go "Holy Sh#t!" I'm talking monster year. We need it. .300, 40 2B, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 25 SB, .400 OBP, cut down on the strikeouts. The defense speaks for itself but it's time for you to join Victor. I know you can do it, it's just a matter if you want it.