Friday, November 26, 2004

Post-Turkey Day Stuff

I was talking to my Yankees-loving brother-in-law yesterday and I asked him what he thought about New York getting Pedro. "It sucks" was the response I got, and one that I tend to agree with.

I'm the biggest homer I know and if I were general manager I'd want to sign everyone to long-term deals to keep the team together(Gabe Kapler to Japan for $2 million? I'd give him $3 million to stay). Of course I'd be second the worst GM in baseball history (after Dan Duquette), but Marty Barrett and Oil Can Boyd would still be playing, and that can't be all bad. That said, back on earth, if Pedro is so gung-ho on the Yankees, I hope they sign him -- and I won't lose a second's sleep over it. I understand that Martinez wants a long-term deal, and wants to squeeze as much out of this contract as possible,but there are certainly a lot more bad than good that can come from playing in NY. As Peter Gammons points out:
"Pedro Martinez's open begging to George Steinbrenner is unseemly at best, such an obvious attempt to get the Red Sox to negotiate against themselves after making an offer than guarantees $27.5M for two years and likely will be moved to three and $39M if he agrees. Martinez was quoted as equating his salary to respect, which is far, far away from the Pedro Martinez values that build schools, churches and housing for his neighbors in Montaguayabo in the Dominican Republic.

...New York is the absolute worst idea for Martinez. He is a Hall of Famer, but he is also extremely sensitive, and in New York, once the season starts, he will be simply treated as a mercenary and subject to far greater criticism and scrutiny than he's ever experienced in Boston. But if it's only about money, then agent Fern Cuza can deal with the circumstances."
Obviously, both Pedro and the Yankees have suffered an extreme (and apparently contagious) case of amnesia because New York batters have routinely lit him up, he can't pitch past the sixth (and the only thing worse than Yankee starters are their relievers) and maybe most important, everyone in New York hates him. But hey, other than those small details, it'll be a match made in heaven. To that I say, (borrowing a line from Fes): "I said good day sir. I said good day!"

Well, Plaxico Burress is out for this Sunday's game against the Redskins so we'll get to experience what life will be like if the Steelers don't re-sign him after the season. The matchup of the day should be between Antwaan Randle El (who's replacing Plax) and Fred Smoot -- maybe the only guy in the NFL smaller than #82.

Ed Bouchette reports that one of his sources believes that Plax would be happy with the franchise tag next season if the Steelers can't wrap him up long-term. This might be the best short-term solution since Pittsburgh will be up against the cap in 2005. Bouchette also thinks the Steelers should cut center Jeff Hartings, and CB Chad Scott at the end of the season because of their big salaries. As long as he's healthy, I might try to re-negotiate with Hartings, and if Scott was willing to play in the nickel and dime defenses in 2005, I might try to re-work his contract too. Otherwise, the money saved from cutting them should go into the "Keep Plax in Pittsburgh" fund.

There's been some discussion about whether Jerome should remain the starter now that Duce is back, but I really don't think it matters. The great thing about having two bruising backs is that when one goes down in week eight, the other can step in in week one shape. And that's what happened the past three games as the Steelers didn't miss a beat with Jerome. It'll be an interesting contrast to watch how the Redskins and Steelers approach the running game Sunday. Clinton Portis relies on his speed and ability to make people miss, while Duce and the Bus prefer to punish defenders. Other than the obvious differences in style, another difference is that by the second half, defenses grow tired of trying to tackle a lumbering, 250 lb. mass of flesh and that's usually when guys like Duce and Jerome get going.

Still, the offensive line, and Roethlisberger will have to play much better than they did last week to keep this defense from keying on the run. And not having Plax in the lineup will only make it more difficult. Luckily for the Steelers, the Redskins offense has yet to score more than 18 points in a game this season, and as long as Pittsburgh can avoid silly turnovers, things should work out fine (note: this is also how you beat the Ravens) -- and let's not forget, the Steelers have re-signed their secret weapon.

This is funny -- I just hope it's accurate:
Plea of the week
To: Blitzburgh
From: Joe Gibbs
Plea: Go easy.

This could get ugly. The Steelers defense is on fire, scoring touchdowns, covering spreads by recording safeties and creating mayhem with their furious pass rush and bone-jarring hits.

The Redskins have a long, slow limp to the finish line and there will be some beatings like this one along the way.