Training Camp Notes and Deadline Deals
THE NFL REPORT
MORE TRAINING CAMP NEWS & NOTES AS CARDINALS CALL QB KOLB THEIR STARTER (FOR NOW) WHILE JETS' CROMARTIE STIRS UP MORE DIRT ...
THE BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE COMES AND GOES BUT WE SET YOU STRAIGHT ON THE DEALS INVOLVING DEMPSTER (TO TEXAS) & THE LA DODGERS
By Jim Hurley:
You know the old axiom that's been around football for a long, long time that goes something like...
"If you think that you have two starting quarterbacks than you probably really don't have any."
Case in point may well be the here-and-now version of the Arizona Cardinals- the team that went to the Super Bowl back in February of 2009- who have tossed and turned nightly regarding who will start for 'em at the position this year ...
Should it be $65 million journeyman Kevin Kolb or still wet-behind-the-ears John Skelton?
Well, the Cardinals- kind of- answered that question on Tuesday when it was announced that Kolb would start this Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game that kicks off the 2012 NFL Preseason schedule. Kolb will get the nod against the New Orleans Saints and all signs appear to indicate it's his job as long as he wants it or until he gets hurt which seemingly happens all the time based on his track record in both Philadelphia and Arizona.
Naturally, we're talking the opening preseason game of the year here and so it's not any sort of critical game in terms of the standings but consider that if Kolb wobbles during his first-quarter snaps against a shaky Saints defense than it could open a Pandora's Box type feeling for this NFC West squad that last year played better when Skelton was under center (although many folks will claim that the Cardinals simply played weaker competition in many of those Skelton starts en route to the team's so-so 8-8 SU (straight-up) campaign).
Keep in mind that the 2011 Cards finished 19th in the NFL in total offense and only 17th in passing offense (averaged 222.9 aerial yards a game) and so there's really lots of room for improvement but let's take a moment to break down last year's numbers for Kolb and Skelton:
Not a whole lot separating these competing quarterbacks, right? But check out one interesting stat that could help make up Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt's mind come the start of the regular season: Last year Kolb was sacked 30 times while Skelton was sacked some 23 times- if Kolb takes a couple of sacks this weekend where he might have been able to toss the ball away, it could have Whisenhunt and Company ready to change course. Just sayin'!
In other NFL Training Camp News & Notes ...
There he goes again! New York Jets cornerback/return specialist Antonio Cromartie just never knows when to shut his mouth- just like his head coach Rex Ryan, his team's No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes and blabbermouth do-nothing LB Bart Scott.
In an ESPN-related interview yesterday, there was Cromartie declaring himself the team's second-best wide receiver behind Holmes and ahead of the likes of Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schillens and rookie Stephen Hill- way to boost the team morale, Mr. Cromartie!
His exact words included the following: "I haven't really played it (wide receiver) in the past four or five years, but I can put myself as the second just with raw ability and talent going out there."
Hey, there's no question that the Jets' current cast of wide-outs besides Holmes hardly ranks as a who's who of NFL pass-catchers but the reality is Cromartie has been torched plenty in his Jets stay (although not as much last year despite New York City tabloid criticisms of him) and has not exactly been a Pro Bowl-type player and so why say anything of this sort here?
Nope, the big-mouth J-E-T-S have not changed at all ...
Speaking of guys who once were Jets wide receivers, the Seattle Seahawks announced they have signed Braylon Edwards following a MIA-like 15-catch season last year with the San Francisco 49ers. Edwards- who more or less got a break here in Seattle because Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have yet to flourish- never has been the same following a DUI arrest back in 2010 when he was a key member of the NY Jets (see 53 catches for 904 yards with 7 TDs) but he's hoping this "second chance" brings him a new life in the great northwest.
Maybe Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll can handle Edwards and some of his off-the-field antics but don't necessarily count on it. No doubt the 'Hawks will throw him the ball plenty in the preseason and see if his hands are better than what they used to be!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are gearing up for a big-time NFL Preseason run all summer long and we'll get you started with the Side & Totals Winners of this Sunday's Hall of Fame Game in Canton between the Saints versus the Cardinals.
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THE BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE'S - FINAL KEY MOVES
Okay, so we spent a good deal of time yesterday switching back and forth following the Major-League Baseball Trade Deadline coverage between ESPN and the MLB Network and it seemed like everyone that made a move was getting a proverbial pat on the back.
Heck, MLB Network's well-respected studio analyst John Hart was tossing verbal bouquets to every general manager who decided to make a swap but could everyone have been "winners" at the deadline?
Well, we will take a temporary moment to pat ourselves on the back 'cause last year following a few key moves we declared that the St. Louis Cardinals were the biggest winners when they snapped up SS Rafael Furcal, RHP Edwin Jackson and relievers Octavio Dotel and lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski- all were significant pieces to that World Series-winning team and we gave the Redbirds an "A+" back than for all the maneuvers.
Now, everyone's quick to do the same with the Texas Rangers who acquired RHP Ryan Dempster (2.25 ERA in 104 innings this year with the Chicago Cubs) right before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday but the reality is the Rangers had a proverbial gun-to-their-head knowing that RHP Neftali Perez would have to undergo Tommy John surgery (sorry, but we're not giving Texas GM Jon Daniels any pat on the head for keeping that one quiet!) and, while Dempster is a time-tested hurler who will eat up some innings, he's no major difference-maker in the AL West ... if you ask us!
C'mon, who got the better starting pitcher via trade this past week- the Los Angeles Angels (see RHP Zack Greinke) or the Rangers with Dempster?
Plus, hear these following facts of life:
Dempster is a career sub-.500 pitcher with a career mark in the bigs of 117-121 with a 4.31 ERA and all of that in the National League!
Nice pitcher? Yes.
The missing piece in the Rangers' puzzle to finally win it all after back-to-back World Series losses? Don't think so!
Meanwhile, we will tip our cap to the Los Angeles Dodgers who lost out in the Dempster Sweepstakes.
The NL West squad last week snagged 3B Hanley Ramirez from the train wreck that is the Miami Marlins and didn't he look super-energized in that weekend sweep at archrival San Francisco plus they spent the past 24-or-so hours landing long-time Philadelphia Phillies OF Shane Victorino and one-time Seattle Mariners closer Brandon League. No doubt that Ramirez and Victorino will be everyday players in manager Don Mattingly's lineup that desperately needed to add both power and speed to the order plus League may be one of those guys- like Rzepcvzynski a year ago- who simply needs a change of scenery and you could see League being an eighth-inning set-up guy for fire-balling closer Kenley Jansen (20 saves) and even an occasional closer despite the fact he nabbed just 9 saves in 15 opportunities for the M's this season.
Finally, we question why- specifically- two MLB teams didn't pull the trigger on any big deals:
The Detroit Tigers should have gobbled up a bullpen piece or two and some help off the bench but that didn't happen and the Tampa Bay Rays had to make a move for offense but didn't wish to part with any of their young arms- but are we to believe they couldn't have picked up a Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants) or the aforementioned Victorino for a relatively cheap price? Hmmm.
NOTE: Our NFL Training Camp coverage rolls on in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.
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