NFL Free Agent Frenzy

THE NFL FREE AGENT FRENZY

Do you have your fingers crossed? So do we! It's high time this NFL Lockout was put in the proverbial rear-view mirror and here's hoping all the wishes/prayers/thoughts of ending this rotten period in pro sports history are finally answered when owners and players – finally – get all the matters resolved sometime in the next 24-to-48 hours.

No doubt we're all rather tired of the NFL Lockout talk but wait till you see how much good stuff comes via the league later this week when the free-agent frenzy goes full tilt … as one sportscaster we watched Sunday night said we have not even seen anything like what lies straight ahead. Can someone give out some guidance as to where a few of the high-profile NFL free agents are headed once this NFL Lockout is settled? Okay, we'll do our very best:

NNAMDI ASOMUGHA, CB, Oakland Raiders – If you believe all the blaring headlines than this lockdown corner should find his way to Houston when all the dust settles this week in the free agency wars but insiders claim don't overlook a major run by the New York Jets who would love to team up the Pro Bowl defensive back with stud CB Darrelle Revis. Hey, Jets' GM Mike Tannebaum is one of the most creative salary cap guys in the land and he could make it happen. Trust us.

SANTONIO HOLMES, WR, New York Jets – As long as we're talking all things 'gang green' let's touch on where this one-time Super Bowl MVP (with Pittsburgh) will be headed and odds are he'll stay put with the J-E-T-S but both Washington and San Diego could make major runs at 'em and than there's always the distinct possibility that Holmes will get snatched up by a team that loses its own top-flight pass-catcher in free agency (did someone say the Minnesota Vikings and free-agent WR Sidney Rice?).

DeANGELO WILLIAMS, RB, Carolina Panthers – Last year was a gridiron disaster in Charlotte but consider that Williams combined for 2,632 yards in the 2008-09 seasons and there's still plenty of tread left on his so-called tires. There's a thought that Williams will head west and play for former Carolina head coach John Fox in Denver but both Miami and Cleveland could be interested parties too … plus Williams could stay put with the Panthers if they just 'show him the money'.

RAY EDWARDS, DE, Minnesota Vikings – Perhaps the top D-lineman that's on the current free-agent market, Edwards has cranked out 16 ½ sacks combined the past two seasons and what NFL team would ignore a high-octane pass rusher who is not a diva? Edwards is considered to be leaning towards the Seattle Seahawks but both Atlanta and New Orleans could make his a top priority. Let's say his chances of staying put in Minnesota are right now about 33 percent – that's it.

And now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners!

Editor's Note: The National Football League remained oh-so-close to a resolution at press time and be reminded that – according to in-the-know-sources – the NFL Preseason schedule is expected to go on as planned although the August 7th Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears has been cancelled. Folks, we'll keep you posted and so make sure you're all aboard for the NFL Preseason slate all summer long as there will be plenty of Side & Totals winners.

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES

Here's a two-part question we like to chuck out there in the days before the July 31st Major-League Baseball Trade Deadline:
Do you consider your team a 'contender' and, if so, what does your team plan on doing about making improvements the rest of this 2001 season? Well, here's a couple of MLB teams that we'll simply call 'alleged contenders' and what they may (or may not) be up to regarding the upcoming Trade Deadline (note all records below are through the games of Sunday, July 24th):

In the American League, it's the …

CHICAGO WHITE SOX (49-51) – The Pale Hose exited this past week just 4.5 games back of American League Central-leading Detroit (and 2.5 games behind second-place Cleveland) and so there's really no reason that the South Siders would 'give up' on this here-and-now season but manager Ozzie Gullien – with his black eye and all – hasn't exactly endorsed this current crop of players that has won its last two straight and enters the new week with a winning road record (see 28-26).

The Sox are truly offensively-challenged this season and that you can see by the MLB stats that has Guillen's gang ranked 20th overall in runs scored (393 runs) and 20th in slugging percentage (.381) and so it doesn't exactly take Mr. Al Einstein to note this club needs a bopper or two to complement the likes of 1B Paul Konerko (22 HRs and 70 RBIs)

There's a feeling the Chisox will be 'sellers' and not 'buyers' at the deadline but when have folks known general manager Kenny Williams to sit tight and not try and improve his lot? Look for the White Sox to try and import either Houston 1B/OF Carlos Lee (8 HRs and 53 RBIs) or Los Angeles Dodgers OF Andre Ethier (.296 batting average with 44 RBI) into their mix even if it means trading away a Triple-A type star prospect.

In the National League, it's …

CINCINNATI REDS (50-51) – No doubt that Sunday night's stirring 4-3 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves courtesy of a Drew Stubbs solo home run gave a major jolt of energy to the fans at the Great American Ballpark. After all – and as Stubbs noted in his quickie post-game interview with ESPN's Buster Olney – the Reds had not won back-to-back games for the first time since June 14-15 and so you must forgive manager Dusty Baker's team for getting all blustery in the aftermath of that win that kept Cincy some three games back of an NL Central rare currently shared on top by the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals (with the Milwaukee Brewers a whopping .001 percentage point behind them).

The Reds – who rank sixth in MLB in runs scored with 465 and 7th overall in on base percentage (at .328) need at least one starting arm to keep them in the mix the rest of the way and don't be surprised if Cincinnati makes a major run at San Diego Padres RHP Tim Stauffer – prominently mentioned this past weekend in our Jim Sez writings – or perhaps Pods teammate Dustin Moseley who's pitched to a tidy 3.19 ERA this year in 19 starts.

If the Reds are really serious about making a run for the post-season this year, than a blockbuster deal within their own division could happen: Might the Chicago Cubs be ready/willing/able to deal RHP Carlos Zambrano this week?

Finally, here's a couple of Sunday MLB Notes …

The Arizona Diamondbacks whacked Colorado 7-0 on Sunday afternoon and you might have that Micah Owings got the win while throwing five shutout innings but did you happen to notice that lefty Zack Duke – once the pride-and-joy of the Pittsburgh Pirates – fired four shutout innings in relief to earn his first save of the season and the first-ever save in his career. Duke – who allowed just three singles and didn't walk a batter – might be a missing-link type in this role for the D-Backs the rest of the way after having lost his #5 spot in the rotation recently …

Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays temporarily cooled off the Texas Rangers with a 3-0 series-salvaging win on Sunday night in Arlington. It marked only the third Rangers loss in their last 17 games as Toronto LHP Brett Cecil fired a complete-game four-hitter (all singles) and hope you noticed that Blue Jays table-setters SS Yunel Escobar (3-for-3 with a run scored) and RF Eric Thames combined to go 5-for-7 while the top three batters in the Rangers lineup (that's 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Elvis Andrus and LF Josh Hamilton) went a combined 0-for-11.

Now, that's the ticket to beating Texas, ain't it?

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