Thursday, November 26, 2009

Week 12 Prediction

Pats 34 Saints 27

Take the 2 points and the Pats. Don't believe the hype about the Saints versus the AFC nor the Drew Brees versus Belichick. The Saints have a mediocre scoring defense and Tom Brady and the Patriots will exploit it. These two potent offenses are likely to beat the 56 point over/under so take the over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Workable BCS Playoff Plan

Towards the end of every college football season there is an outcry against the fairness of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) selection of who the Division I football champion is. Today a complicated formula ranks all of the teams and then the top two teams play in a BCS bowl game the second week of January. Most fans want an eight game three round playoff that will "fairly" crown the winner. There are pages and pages of plans on the Internet that will never come to fruition. The problem is that the proposals will not maximize the profit of the organizations that run the bowls. A plan that focuses on delivering the maximum television revenue to the powers that be in the BCS can be realized.

Today the BCS bowl system has four key games played at the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl on or about New Years Day. The BCS Championship game is played a week later rotating between these four venues. It seems clear that the BCS values a New Years Day/day after (when New Years Day falls on Sunday) and a weeknight championship game a week later. Most of the fans plans involve playing a number of key games between December 15th and December 31st. The BCS clearly does not want their games in December. Television audiences are diminished during this time period. Looking back to 1998 all of the four BCS games were between January 1st and 5th with the BCS championship game on the 7th or 8th.

For the most part the Rose Bowl features the Big Ten versus the Pac Ten champion, the Fiesta Bowl features the Big 12 champion, the Orange Bowl hosts the ACC champion, and the Sugar Bowl hosts the SEC champion.

I will now throw my plan into the proverbial ring and propose the following. All of the eight team playoff plans pushes two of the BCS bowl games into December to allow the winners to play on New Years Day. The eight team plans are total non-starters for the bowls. A four team playoff can work within the current structure. A four team plan would have two BCS games on New Years Day featuring the #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3 team. The other two BCS games could be played between January 2nd and January 5th. The BCS Championship game could be played on January 7th or 8th featuring the winners of the two New Years Day games.

The advantage of this plan is that the best teams would have extra games, fans would be able to watch four of the top teams play each other, there would be some measure of having the best teams play for the championship, and the bowls would be enriched. The negative side is that two teams would lose out on big time bowl games, the two championship teams would have less than a week to prepare for the championship game, and fans would still complain about not having a true playoff.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week 11 Prediction

Pats 27 Jets 17

Pats win but won't cover the generous 10.5 point spread. The Pats haven't beaten any non-Tampa Bay/Tennessee team by more than 10 points and will continue the trend. The Jets' Kris Jenkins at nose tackle is a key injury which will open up the Pats running game. Don't look for the Pats to score like they have been over the past four game with the Jets as the seventh best scoring defense and a top four team in preventing red zone scores. Take the under (45).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 10 Prediction

Pats 27 Colts 24

Take the 3 points and the Pats to beat the Colts in Indianapolis. Leave the 49.5 Over/Under alone. With Bob Sanders, Kelvin, Hayden, and Marlin Jackson injured in the Colts secondary expect the Pats to test the Colts rookies in the secondary. The Colts are the #1 team in terms of points allowed and the #6 team in points scored. The Pats are #2 and #4 in the same categories respectively.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Adalius Thomas’s Future with the Patriots

It might be a little difficult to understand Bill Belichik's (BB) handling of Adalius Thomas's playing time. Our eyes tell us that Thomas is one of the best players on the field. Looking at Thomas's playing time, however, tells another story. With Thomas's inactivation for the Titans game, playing 18 of 61 snaps for the Bucs game, and now playing 44 of 72 snaps in the Miami game provides some clues for BB's thinking. (Mike Reiss of provides the playing time: Bucs game and Dolphins game)

Thomas's playing time is partially diminished by Tully Banta-Cain's tremendous success as an outside linebacker. With the strengthening of the Pats secondary this year and BB's trend in running nickel and dime packages there is only room for one or two linebackers on the field. Those spots are taken by Jerod Mayo and Banta-Cain. Thomas has been relegated to the third best linebacker on the team.

Thomas's deactivation for the Titans game was probably BB sending him a message. BB likely figured that Tennessee was so terrible he didn't even need his best players on the field.

Some have speculated that the Patriots cannot afford to have their number three salary and number one defensive salary player be a part timer. Let's look at Thomas's salary from two perspectives. First from the cash side Thomas's contract has the Patriots paying him $4.9 million in 2010 salary and $5.9 million in 2011 salary with a $107K annual workout bonuses for $5 million and $6 million over the next two years. Cash wise this is not a concern for a team whose payroll will likely be in the $130 million range.

The salary cap numbers look a little different. Thomas's salary cap hits will be $9.4 million in 2010 and $10.4 million in 2011. If Thomas is cut before the start of next season his cap number will be $11 million in 2010. If he is cut after June 30th then the $11 million can be split over both the 2010 and 2011 season. Thomas's contract details were written about by Peter King in SI.

The Pats have $11.5 million in salary cap dead money in 2009. This number includes cut, traded, retired, and injured reserved players. Richard Seymour's number of $6.1 million is the lion share of the dead money followed by $1 million for Mike Vrabel and then everyone else is below $1 million. (Salary cap data is provided by Patscap.)

Cutting Thomas in the offseason doesn't seem to have a great return on investment. The Pats would have to take a $5.5 million cap hit for the next two years versus $9.4 million and $10.4 million hits each year. If the owners and players union don't come to an agreement and next year is an uncapped year then cutting or trading him in the offseason might allow them to take the full hit in 2010 and not affect future years. By the same token they might not have to worry about the cap and thus won't care about the numbers.

With this year's salary cap as a model it appears that the Pats could trade or cut Thomas. Thomas's prorated salary cap number is similar to Seymour's salary cap number this year.

Given the dearth of good linebackers available for BB's scheme I would be surprised if the Patriots got rid of Thomas next year. He is one of the best players on the field and even though he is overpaid, the Pats will not be getting a strong benefit from cutting him in the offseason.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yankees Fan Sounds Off on Sox Offseason

Now to Hub Money's first mail bag! Don H., one of my good friends with a serious personality flaw (he is a Yankees fan) sent Hub Money its first official fan email. Editors note: In Don's world Stinkys = Red Sox, asterisks are the editor's changes to keep the mailbag PG, and this letter was sent before the League Championship Series.

"Based on your analysis, the Stinky Sox are in real trouble for 2010, cir Yankees of 2003-2008. Big contract obligations to under-performing aged vets, with no younger free agents on market to fill the holes. In 2009, the Yankees got 3 years younger, cut payroll of: Abreau, Giambi, Mussina; AND will win the WS.

For 2010, Yankees look even stronger as defending WS champ. Pitching gets BETTER + younger, AND payroll shrinks again by shedding Matsui, Damon, Mitre, Marte, Molina, and 1 or 2 other stiffs.

Now the really bad news for your stinky sox is that history is repeating itself as a 6 year cycle if you compare Yankees of 2003 - 2008, and stinky sox of 2007 - 2013.


  • 2003 - lost game 7 of ws on broken bat ********
  • '04 - lost game 7 of alcs on ****** up Fenway low wall in right field with fan touches ball in play preventing winning run scoring from first (game 5)
  • '05 - 3 and out
  • '06 - 4 and out
  • '07 - 3 and out
  • '08 - no playoffs

Stinky Sox

  • 2007 - won 6 game WS
  • 08 - lost game 7 of ALCS
  • 09 - 3 and out
  • 10 - a fight for wildcard and 3 and out vs. Angels again
  • 11 - same as 10
  • 12 - fire Tito and rebuild

In my humble amateur analysis, back at the all star break in July, when the Stinkys blew their 3 game lead and went 10 down in the standings, I made this dire 5 year bear market outlook for the Stinkys.

In July, I said that not coughing up an extra $10M for Teixeira they needed a desperation move. They had to give up Pedroia or Youkilis and Buchholtz to get Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee. I stand by that analysis.

Atlanta proved for 10 years if you have 4 #1s you can compete while you fill major holes.

Now that you have Martinez, you still have big problems for '10 and '11:

1. Closer – [Papelbon] is disgruntled, Jerry McGuire him at $10M /year for 7 years like Mo [Mariana Rivera], or trade him ASAP. Closer is a must-have so lock him up.

2. Hitting - still need 2 more bats even if you resign Bay (see #3)

3. Shortstop - must give up Ellsbury, Pedroia, or Youkilis for a Tier 1 shortstop

4. Catcher - okay for 2010 to platoon Martinez and Varitek. However, if not aggressive today, the Yankees will box out snagging the best 25 year old stud (assuming Mauer is not a capitalist next year) and thus we fix our #1 issue.

5. DH - what a mess for you; AND the Yankees will box you out for '10 in FA/trade where Matsui is a free agent freeing up $10M cash.

6. Farm - Stinkys raided farm for '07 - '09 teams, now you pay the man for 3 years to rebuild. Yankees get kudos for sucking up 07/08 to develop the 6 young stud pitchers we have that will be thorns in your side for next 6-10 years!

So how smart were the Yankees to hang onto those 6 stud young pitchers, and develop Gardner, Cabrera, Cano, and Cervelli in-house? Amazing!

We can literally give up Damon, Matsui, Marte, Mitre, Molina, and not exercise club options for Wang (won 19 games 2X in 06 and 07) and Xavier Nady (3 arm operations). That amounts to the starting LF, RF, DH, #2 starter, and 2 solid contributors; AND field a better team in 2010. Plus our team is seasoned proven WS winner, average age gets 3 more years younger, and sheds $40M in payroll.

Our only off-season must-do is resign the captain / league MVP / Mr. November /house-that-Jeter-built himself. And pick either resigning Pettitte or Wang. Plus we sit in the catbirds seat to sift through FA and trades to address long-term: Catcher and SS. My friend, you know my analysis is accurate.

In recap, put your seatbelt on. Sorry to say you will be sucking it up big time for 2010 to 2013; watching the Yankees win 3 or 4 more WS!

Yankees rule AGAIN!"

A few corrections and clarifications for an otherwise good letter: Marte is under contract until 2011. Mitre has a team option for 2010. Wang is arbitration eligible for 2011. Jeter is under contract for 2010.

I will agree that the Yankees are in a better position for this offseason then the Red Sox are. My guess is that if the Sox management is smart they will treat this offseason as a lost year. They have no prospects ready to come up from AAA: With a weak free agent class this year, mortgaging the future would be a terrible mistake. With almost $40 million in salary coming off of the books at the end of the 2010 season they should be positioning themselves for the 2011 season and beyond.

To respond specifically to Don's points…

  1. Continue to offer Papelbon arbitration this season and trade him next year. He is going to want a big money contract and the Red Sox management will not want to commit big time dollars. If the opportunity presents itself, Papelbon is probably the best chip for a trade.
  2. The Sox definitely need more bats.
  3. Giving up Youkilis or Pedroia would be foolish. They are the studs that the team should build around. Ellsbury should only be traded for a great player. Yes, the Sox could use a better shortstop. I would not give up building blocks of the future for a 2010 shortstop. Let's see how the Hanley Ramirez sweepstakes goes for 2011.
  4. Unless a catcher like Mauer is available in 2010, the Sox should wait until Varitek comes off of the books in 2011 before making a move.
  5. DH situation will be fine in 2011. In 2010 the Sox are stuck with Ortiz and his contract.
  6. I think the "raiding" of the Sox farm system requires more analysis. The Sox are not in a good position for young prospects in 2010.

The Sox fortunately will be able to rebound in 2011. I think it will be interesting to watch them in 2010. They need to bring in some A-list talent to make sure they continue to sell out at home throughout 2010. Their top concern should be not to put themselves in a bad position in 2011. For 2010 they need to keep fans in the seats. They are probably really concerned that their sellout streak is probably in jeopardy.

So far in this offseason we have seen several small market teams cutting or trading arbitration eligible players that they probably would have kept in other years. There may be some good players available for large market teams where in other years these players would have been offered arbitration. Even with this glimmer of hope, the Sox will still not be in a great spot for 2010.

I will differ from Don in that contract-wise the Red Sox are in good shape for 2011. They will have Drew ($14 million), Youkilis ($12 million), Matsuzaka ($10 million), Lester ($5.75 million), and Pedroia ($5.5 million) at significant salaries and don't have significant obligations otherwise. Some of their top minor league talent will have hopefully matured to be able to contribute to the big league roster. The 2011 free agent market is significantly better than 2010.

So Red Sox fans, be patient. 2010 may not be our year but there is no reason not to be optimistic about the Sox's long term future.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 9 Prediction

Pats 27 Miami 20.

The Pats will be able to cover the Wildcat formation and the Tedd Ginn Jr. in the kicking game but won't be able to cover the 10.5 point spread.