Sunday, December 31, 2006

Canada's Juniors Off to Semi's

The Canadian World Junior Team defeated Slovakia 3-0 this morning, making their record a perfect 4-0 and giving them a buy into the semi-finals next week.

Canada has depended on a very diligent defensive game and has had some trouble scoring.

The only team in the tournament with a shot at beating them is the USA. Even though Canada had their way with them earlier in the tournament, we at the Four Seamer still feel they have the defensive game to match Canada and the offense to beat them.

Canada does have the edge between the pipes with Carey Price. Matt Zatkoff has not proven himself yet in this tournament between the American pipes as they lost to the Germans in overtime and then to Canada.

The semi-finals will take place on Wednesday.

Spengler Cup Done, Canada Loses in Final Again

The Spengler Cup is over and Canada lost it on a fluke play in the third period, when Canada’s goaltender, Justin Pogge, gave the puck away to the HC Davos player and found it in the back of his net.

It was an unfortunate break for a Canadian team that had played well all tournament. Mario Scalzo and Stacey Roest impressed with their speed and shooting abilities. Tim Brent was very good on the offence and Dany Syvret played well on the Canada blue line.

The Toronto Marlies let Justin Pogge and Jay Harrison go over and represent Canada. This was a huge step up for Pogge who last year backstopped the Canadian World Junior team to a gold medal in Vancouver.

The team was coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn. Quinn was also the coach for Canada’s Olympic teams in Salt Lake City and Torino as well as for the World Hockey Championships.

Congratulations to the forgotten, Team Canada, from the Four Seamer team.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Huff Close to Deal With O's

Aubrey Huff and the Baltimore Orioles are close to a deal, reports FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. The deal is believed to be in the three year, 18 million dollar range.

Huff was traded from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the Houston Astros last season so he is very familiar with the pitching in the AL East.

Huff is not a defensive upgrade as he struggles defensively, but his bat is very strong. He will most likely be playing left field and not the regular third base that he has played for years.

He is expected to bat third in the lineup between Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada.

Tiger and Elin Are Having A Cub!

Tiger and Elin Woods announced today they are going to have a baby. There was talk after Tiger decided not to play at the Mercedes Championship that something might be up but few expected this.

Woods has announced he will be starting his season at the Buick Championship in late January.

Aaron Boone Signs With The Fish

Third baseman Aaron Boone has reached a one-year deal with the Florida Marlins. The deal will pay $925,000 and Boone is expected to replace Wes Helms.

Boone will give Florida some versatility as he can play second base if need be. Look for him to get an everyday job at third base for the Marlins this season. He could be a very important veteran addition to a very young team.

Last year he played for the Cleveland Indians and appeared in 104 games hitting .251 with seven home runs and 48 RBI.

RJ Trade Rumours

The New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks are getting closer to a deal that would see 43-year-old left-hander Randy Johnson become a Diamondback once again. RJ still makes his home in Arizona and even though they are a mediocre team at best, it has been said that he would prefer to play there.

The Yankees are said to want two D-Back prospects. Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings and Ross Ohlendorf seem like the most probable possibilities. They are all highly touted pitching prospects in Arizona’s very deep system.

Johnson will be expected to sign an extension as soon as the trade happens. If that doesn't happen, the deal could fall apart.

Something should be done soon nonetheless.

Loretta to the Yanks?

There is talk that the New York Yankees are looking into Former Boston Red Sox infielder Mark Loretta as their utility guy for this season. He would follow the likes of Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens who have donned a Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees jersey.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ramblings...is back!

The Four-Seamer took some time off to attend the Titans-Bills Christmas Eve game, check out some Toronto Raptors basketball, win (and lose) a few fantasy football championships and enjoy some time away from the world of sports for a few days. Most of the time, we watched looping sports Year-in-Review shows, read sports books given to us on Christmas and watched the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Suffice to say we can't escape the world of sports. Be it Christmas morning (on the west coast at least) or the night before (on the east side) sports surround us even at the times we are supposed to take a rest. Indeed there remains one day each year - the day after the MLB All-Star Game - that abducts sports from North Americans... and we like it that way! On with Ramblings.


Zito Gets A Giant Contract

Barry Zito has finally found a new home. The former Oakland Athletics ace has reached a preliminary agreement with the San Francisco Giants on a seven-year, $26 million deal with an option for an eighth year at $18 million.

Zito will be a nice replacement for Mike Schmidt, who also found a new home this off season when he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the fourth 100-million dollar plus deal this winter and only the 14th in league history.

The Texas Rangers were said to be the favourites in this thing, but yesterday said their offer would be withdrawn at the end of the week if they had not heard from Zito and his agent, Scott Boras.

The Mets, Yankees and Mariners were also said to be very interested.

A physical has been scheduled for tomorrow and a formal announcement should be made Monday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bosh Eyeing New Year Return


Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh is setting a return date of January 3, 2007.

This news is coming on the heels of the Raptors taking over first place in their division without their all-star power forward.

Bosh was told by a team "vet" to not resume playing on the road. Word is guard Darrick Martin gave CB4 the advice.

Bosh will have missed 12 games by the time he comes back.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Suppan Joining the Brew Crew

Jeff Suppan has finally found a home and he will be looking to ‘brew’ up some wins this season in a new jersey.

Last year's National League Championship Series most valuable player will be joining the up and coming Milwaukee Brewers this season and for the next three.

The deal is also structured so that there will be a team option for the fifth year.

With 44 wins over the past three seasons, the Brewers are getting a solid number three or four pitcher who does not get injured very often.

Financial terms have yet to be released and when they are we will have a better gauge on whether this is a good signing or not.

Leetch to Atlanta?

The Atlanta Thrashers have reportedly talked with Brian Leetch’s agent, Jay Grossman, on a possible deal to return to the NHL in an Atlanta Thrashers jersey.

Leetch was rumoured to be looking into either returning to New York or joining the Boston Bruins defense corps.

It was widely speculated that he was only interested in joining an eastern conference team because he still resides in New York.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Peca's Injury Serious


After colliding with Blackhawks defenceman Jim Vandermeer last night in Chicago, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Peca fell to the ice screaming and clutching his knee.

We all feared and expected the worst and a source familiar with the situation has informed Sportsnet that Leafs fans fears have indeed been realized. Peca is said to have torn his MCL and fractured his tibia in multiple places.

This is horrible news for a Toronto team that has really shored up its penalty kill thanks to Peca. Young players like Matt Stajan and Alex Steen are really going to have to step it up.

We at the Four Seamer feel the Leafs could be calling up a guy like Boyd Devereux from the farm to fill in for Peca. Devereux played in more than 500 NHL games so he should be able to fit right in.

The hope is Peca heals quickly like his good friend Mats Sundin because the Leafs will need him back in the lineup if they want to make a playoff push.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Changes in the NHL

The National Hockey League has finally shed some light on proposed changes to fix a few problems. These changes impact the current scheduling system and includes a restructuring of the divisions, going from six divisions to four.

The biggest and most widely criticized problem in the current scheduling format is that every team doesn't play each other each season.

Right now as I write this up, I'm watching the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Chicago Blackhawks for the one and only time this season, and the first time since the 2003/2004 season. This is one of the most entertaining first periods I've seen all season.

As previously mentioned in The Four-Seamer, the Leafs haven't played in Chicago for nearly four years. Chicago is one of the most exciting young teams in the NHL, and it's certainly enjoyable watching Chicago's young guns go up against my Leafs. Hell, I even wrote up a blog touting the Blackhawks as a team to watch without having seen them play live on television this season.

The current system of playing divisional opponents eight times a season is over-kill. Especially since the bulk of these games come in home-and-home series and early in the season. It certainly de-values those games to some degree, and fans would certainly rather see a couple of different teams from the opposite conference instead of another two night stand with, say, the Columbus Blue Jackets (if you're a fan of a team in the Central Division). For Western Conference hockey fans, the big example is the ability to see Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals once a year.

Would these changes improve things? It will certainly help to some degree. The system would create four divisions: two with eight teams each, and two with seven teams each. That's a bit strange, meaning 16 teams will play more divisional games than the other 14. These inconsistencies do exist in sports: In Major League Baseball, the American League has 14 teams while the National League has 16 teams.

But the benefits are there. Fans will get to see every big-name star from around the league play their team atleast once a year.

The playoffs could arguably be a bit tougher to make, as the top two seeds in each division qualify for the top four spots, leaving only four other wildcard spots up for grabs for the next best teams. The current system has each division champion occupying the top three spots, leaving the other five for the next best.

There would be more divisional games, but they would be against more teams rather than more against the same teams. And only six per season, giving added importance to divisional rivalries as divisional points impact the six or seven other teams in the divisional standings. This would certainly build some more hype and attention towards these games.

And this balancing would lighten travel burdens for teams, as the divisional realignments would be based more on teams in the same time-zones. This could possibly create greater television viewership and fan support. Younger fans would be able to watch more games as less Western Conference teams in the eastern part of the continent would play teams on the Pacific Coast with a three-hour time difference.

The NHL is certainly on the right track.

WJHC Predictions

The 2006-2007 World Junior Hockey Championship will be taking place in Sweden and two-time defending champions, Canada, are the favourites once again. We are predicting that they will win their third straight gold medal this year.

The main competition will come from the United States and Finland, who Canada downed Tuesday night 7-2 in an exhibition game.

We believe the dark horses this year will be the Russians as almost everybody is counting them out, but we feel they can never be counted out at the World Juniors.

No matter what, this has become a Christmas tradition for many Canadians and hopefully our country will once again showcase our talented junior hockey players.

Canada's Players to Watch:
Bryan Little
Andrew Cogliano
Steve Downie
Brad Marchand
Marc Staal
Carey Price

It should be a great tournament. Canada kicks round robin play off Boxing Day at 12:30 pm ET on TSN. TSN will also be streaming the games live on http://www.tsn.ca/.

NHL Rumblings


Good call, Rod

Toronto Blue Jays fans might remotely remember Rod Barajas. He was the team's new catcher, but then he wasn't. Just like that.

Barajas, a free agent who spent the last three seasons with the Texas Rangers, was all set to board a flight and head to Toronto to finalize a two-year, $6 million contract. It seemed like a bargain for Toronto. Three million a year to fill the starting catcher spot with a more than adequate offensive and defensive catcher.

Well, someone must have told Barajas he was in fact taking a pay cut, as he abruptly fired his agent, cancelled his flight, and backed out of the deal.

For a few weeks we didn't hear from Barajas, figuring he was selling himself to other clubs to get a more satisfactory deal. Until he signed Wednesday with the Philadelphia Phillies for... one year, and $2.5 million?

No word on when he plans to fire this agent. But I think the Jays are saying good riddance. Anyone who turns down $6 million in favour of $2.5 million can't be the best of decision makers.

Not that he knew or anything. But the deals don't exactly sweeten as the winter goes on.

Maybe Barajas should have taken a page from Barry Bonds' book and just showed up at the winter meetings to peddle his services...

Breaking down the Sixers-Nuggets deal

It took 12 agonizing days, and the recurring theme is the Sixers got ripped!

Amidst rumours he was headed to Charlotte, Boston, Dallas, Denver, heck even Toronto, 76ers disgruntled guard Allen Iverson was finally dealt to the Denver Nuggets along with rookie forward Ivan McFarlin (future trivia question?) for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith and two first-round picks in 2007.

Early reaction to the deal has been critical of the trade from the Sixers perspective. We think that criticism is exactly the problem with the way fans and analysts look at the NBA these days. Star power always wins out, even if it doesn't always win on the hardwood.

There's no doubt A.I. is the best player in the deal, and there are those who feel the team that gets the best player in the trade wins it. But we think the Nuggets gave up far too much for a player they knew was going to have to be dealt sooner or later anyway.

Big mouths that feel that need to form an opinion one way or another (see: Bill Simmons). Simmons claims Miller is "a decent point guard" proceeding to knock him down a peg based on the fact he has played for four teams and because he's 30-years-old.

OK, here's the punch line: Andre Miller was as, if not more, valuable to the Nuggets than Allen Iverson will be.

Miller is 30-years-old, eh? Uh oh...

Wait, how old was Steve Nash when he won his first MVP? That's right, 31.

Four NBA teams, huh? Quite the journeyman. He must not be very good then...

Wait, Nash is technically with his third team (he has had two stints with Phoenix), so is Jason Kidd. Those two are widely considered the best point guards in the world right now. He doesn't play the point, but Tracy McGrady is playing with his third team - at only 27 years of age. Last we checked he was one of the best all around players in the game. Joe Johnson, Baron Davis, Shaquille O'Neal. Three teams, three teams, three teams.

The point? The amount of teams you play for has absolutely no bearing on your past and present success. Never has, never will.

In fact, all it proves is teams still have enough interest in you to acquire you.

So please, Mr. Simmons, spare us the rhetorical arguments.

Being 30-years-old? Another non-factor. Miller is still in the prime of his career. Oh yeah, and Iverson is 31.

So let's take a look at the stats from the start of the 2006-07 season:

Iverson: 31.2 PPG, 7.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 4.4 turnovers
Miller: 12.7 PPG, 9.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 turnovers

There's no doubt Iverson has an edge, but the difference isn't as large as most would think. That's because most have a bias leaning towards scoring. Points equal popularity, and A.I. epitomizes flash and offense. He is a sexy basketball player. Miller is not.

But Denver doesn't need to be sexy. They already have the hottest girlfriend on the block. Her name is 'Melo.

Comparing Iverson and Miller is without a doubt comparing apples and oranges. But why take another apple if you already have one? Miller was the orange that complemented the apple - Carmelo Anthony.

Who? Yeah that guy. The one who leads the NBA in scoring, and has put up more shots this season than anyone else in the league. Guess whose number two in that category?

The answer? The Answer. That's right. The Nuggets will now have the top two scorers in the league, and the top two shot-takers in the association.

Miller and Anthony were working. Denver was 13-9 and in sixth place in the tough western conference with that combo. Word is they aren't going to be able to overtake Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, Utah or the Lakers anyway, so how will this deal help exactly?

Never in the history of the NBA have two more shoot-first scorers been teamed together. It just doesn't work. Both Iverson and Anthony are going to be fighting for the ball all game long, and there aren't enough shots in a game to satisfy them both. Neither is afraid to speak out when things aren't going their way. This spells disaster.

The Nuggets had one of the best quarterbacks in the league and one of the best wide receivers to complement him. And they just dealt that receiver for another quarterback. Two guys can't throw passes at the same time, let alone two egos.

Miller is still one of the best point guards in the league, and at only 30, he and Anthony had many years ahead. This apparent "quick fix" is being applied to something that ain't broke.

Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention. The Nuggets threw in TWO first-round picks for next season (Philly now has three) and a serviceable power forward in Joe Smith.

So, tell me again. Who got ripped?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

MLB Rumblings


Delhomme still not healthy

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme is still not healthy enough to practice as he missed another day today.

It is becoming more likely that he will miss his third straight game after straining a ligament in his thumb in a December game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Panthers are also adding more people to the injury reports as quarterback Chris Weinke has been listed as probable with a sore chest. Weinke did take to the practice field today.

Carson Palmer was a full participant in today's Cincinnati Bengals practice and it looks like he will be ready to go this weekend.

Ponikarovsky/Wellwood up in air for Friday night

Maple Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky left practice today in a sling after hurting his arm when falling on a player. With forward Kyle Wellwood having strained his groin yesterday, the last two days of practice have been tough on the team.

As a result the Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled forwards Aleksander Suglobov and Ben Ondrus from the Toronto Marlies this afternoon. Wellwood is believed to be traveling with the team and Ponikarovsky is staying behind.

Losing two top players is going to hurt, with forward Nik Antropov already out of the lineup. We think the first line could be Mats Sundin between Darcy Tucker and Alex Steen. This was a line combination used in the earlier games when Ponikarovsky, Wellwood and Antropov were playing well together.

The Leafs are travelling to Chicago for this first time since 2003 to take on the Blackhawks Friday night. Face off is at 8:00 p.m ET.

Pens Off the Market, Looking for New Home

Mario Lemieux has taken the Pittsburgh Penguins off the market. Lemieux is said to now be talking to cities looking to bring in an NHL franchise. He is leaving the door open for an arena to be built in Pittsburgh. Winnipeg is said to be very interested in an NHL franchise as well as places such as Las Vegas, Kansas City, Houston, Portland and Hamilton. We feel that Kansas City is the most likely destination, although it does not seem like the hockey hotbed that Hamilton and Winnipeg would be/have been.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vote For Rory!!!!

The “Vote for Rory” movement now has some steam after results were just released showing Vancouver defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick is only trailing Anaheim defenseman Scott Neidermayer in voting.

Fitzpatrick has 428,832 votes, trailing only Niedermayer who has 447,502.

Fitzpatrick has not yet recorded a point this season in the 19 games he has suited up for, but he is beating Chris Pronger, and Nik Lidstrom in voting.

You can vote for Rory too by clicking here.

Isle of Capri Unsuccessful

The Isle of Capri casino has lost out on its bid to obtain a gambling license in Pittsburgh. The Penguins were banking on them winning the bid and building them an arena free of charge. This may be the straw that breaks the camel's back as it is well known Kansas City is looking for another major sports franchise, be it NBA or NHL.

Only an ownership group including flamboyant Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban can save the team now.

The shoe certainly will drop soon, but in losing Jim Balsillie's bid the NHL lost what could have potentially been the best owner in the NHL, with deep pockets, a love for the game, a great business mind and an all round nice person.

Hopefully Mario Lemieux can get out soon because you can really see how emotionally drained he is.

Toronto area business man Frank D’Angelo and his billionaire partner Barry Sherman are also saying that they are interested.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brad Gagnon's 2006 Pro Bowl starting lineups

The NFL will announce the starting Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday. Brad Gagnon has his teams picked.

AFC

Offense
QB: Peyton Manning - Even Palmer's numbers and Brady's mystique don't get them past this obvious choice.
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson - No comment necessary.
FB: Lorenzo Neal - Send LT with his lead man.
WR: Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson - You could make the argument for BOTH Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and Laveranues Coles and Javon Walker will make a push, but the best numbers - especially when needed - lie here.
TE: Antonio Gates - Numbers couldn't be more identical to Tony Gonzalez, except the eight touchdowns.
OT: Jonathan Ogden, Shane Olivea - The beast Ogden is obvious. Olivea has been helped by LT, but he's still leading the way at most important line position for the most productive back in the game. Proof he matters: the numbers put up in garbage time by backup Michael Turner. Oh yeah, and Philip Rivers has only been sacked 24 times.
OG: Alan Faneca, Will Shields - Like Ogden, the sheer presence of Faneca (who can also play tackle if need be) gets him by. Shields led the way for LJ all year despite the loss of some of the most important parts to that KC line.
C: Jeff Saturday - Best part of a great offensive line in Indy.
K: Matt Stover - 23-25 speaks for itself.

Reserves at skill positions
QB: Carson Palmer, Tom Brady (sorry Rivers)
RB: Larry Johnson, Rudi Johnson (sorry Willie Parker, I'm filling this team with Johnsons)
WR: Coles, Harrison (Sorry Wayne, Walker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans)
TE: Gonzalez

Defense
DE: Jason Taylor, Aaron Schobel - The league's sack leaders. Both been money for years, the latter just hasn't been noticed yet.
DT: John Henderson, Vince Wilfork - With Marcus Stroud missing a chunk of the year, Henderson stepped up and helped the Jags defense to smother running backs all year long. Wilfork is simply a star for the Pats.
OLB: Shawne Merriman, Adalius Thomas - Merriman was incredible despite missing four games due to a steroids suspension. Thomas stood out on an already ridiculous defense in a contract year.
ILB: DeMeco Ryans - You might not have heard of him yet, but look at the stats! Maybe my choice for rookie of the year, too.
CB: Champ Bailey, Rashean Mathis - The biggest names put up the biggest numbers and gave up barely any big plays.
S: Ed Reed, Deon Grant - Grant has capitalized on a rough year from Troy Polamalu and the Steelers defensively.
P: Shane Lechler - If not for the secondary showing some strength, he'd be the only Raiders representative.
KR: Justin Miller - Two touchdowns and tied for the league-high in average yardage.

NFC

Offense
QB: Drew Brees - Almost less of a debate than the LT claim.
RB: Steven Jackson - Tiki Barber will be in this spot, but Jackson's productivity has been better.
FB: Mack Strong - The one constant in a rough year for Seattle's offense.
WR: Terrell Owens, Steve Smith - Donald Driver, where'd you come from to make it close?
TE: Alge Crumpler - Despite the three first-round picks, Crumpler has been the Falcons best receiver this season.
OG: Steve Hutchinson, Chris Samuels - Hutchinson needs no explanation, and did the job for Chester Taylor and, to a lesser extent, Brad Johnson that he did for Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle. As for Samuels, he led a Redskins attack that, despite losing star back Clinton Portis for the season, was one of the best rushing teams in the league.
OT: John Tait, Jammal Brown - Tait, paired with the man directly under this, was the key to keeping Rex Grossman alive (which, for some Bears fans, is a good thing). Brown will not be voted a starter, but the Saints line has been almost perfect at both protecting Brees and paving the way for Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. Brown, who had to make the transition from right to left tackle before the season, has been a huge part of the success, and deserves to represent the surprising group in Honolulu.
C: Olin Kreutz - Like Saturday, will be a Hawaii constant for some time still.
K: Robbie Gould - Slowed down as of late, but still had a quite a streak going and leads the league in points (among kickers, something we have to clarify nowadays the way LT goes).

Reserves at skill positions
QB: Marc Bulger, Tony Romo (that's how bad NFC quarterbacks were this season)
RB: Tiki Barber, Brian Westbrook (really really really sorry Frank Gore, but Jackson, Barber and Westbrook are not guys that can be left off the list. Gore will be the snub of the year)
WR: Driver, Torry Holt (no problems there)
TE: Jeremy Shockey

Defense
DE: Julius Peppers, Will Smith - Don't tell me Aaron Kampman or Leonard Little put the fear into opposing quarterbacks like these guys do.
DT: Tommie Harris, Kevin Williams - I don't care how many games he missed because of the hamstring injury, Harris downright dominated and stood out on the Bears defense. Pick a Williams, either Williams. Either way, Kevin and Pat deserve to be there for the Vikings.
OLB: Lance Briggs, Lofa Tatupu - That's three straight 100-tackle seasons for Briggs. Tatupu has had a bit of a down year after that spectacular rookie season, but he's here by default.
ILB: Brian Urlacher - He may never win it, but is consistently a major part of MVP debates. This year is no exception.
CB: Lito Sheppard, Ricky Manning - Sheppard has missed some time, but has been one of the best players on the field when healthy in that Eagles secondary. Manning is, of course, the token Bears representative. If he's not here, expect Charles Tillman to be.
S: Adrian Wilson, Dwight Smith - Roy Williams is still the hardest hitting safety and has five picks in Dallas, but Wilson's numbers have been simply incomparable in Arizona. Smith has been the bright spot on one of the league's worst pass defenses.
P: Mat McBriar - The best total and net average in the NFL.
KR: Devin Hester - The best season for a kick returner ever. Period.

Ramblings


Hockey franchises staying put


Heard it here first!

As The Four-Seamer said before the Vernon Wells deal was signed (which, by the way, was confirmed in a press conference today) the deal puts Blue Jays corner outfielders Reed Johnson and Alex Rios on the market. And almost as soon as word got out Wells was signing (but not until after we said so!) Alex Rios trade rumours began swirling.

Unfortunately for the Jays, Rios makes the most sense. Only because he is young and extremely talented, looks to have found, for the first time in his career, his home-run power, and has the mobility to hit one through nine and play all outfield positions.

Before he went down with a staph infection last season, the American League All-Star reserve was ripping the ball, and near the top of the league in batting.

Word on the street is the going rate for Rios is a fourth starter. Ahem. Excuse me? A FOURTH starter? For the guy many thought the Jays would let Wells go because of, knowing he could move into Wells' center field spot without losing a step? This is a guy many think could be BETTER than Wells in the coming years.

If the Blue Jays settle on Rios for a fourth starter, and are forced to use Matt Stairs in right field all season, they will be making a gigantic mistake.

A trade may be in the works, but not for an everyday, middle-of-the-pack fourth starter. The guy (or guys) the Jays get in return may be fourth in the rotation (as ESPN's Buster Olney put it, the phrase "fourth starter" may be being used in a more quantitative form than qualitative) but he will have the talent of a third. So, assuming Gustavo Chacin is the Jays third man, this newbie would become the fourth guy in order, despite having the talent of a third.

Still following?

Our bet? Watch for the Florida Marlins.

The Fish are in search of a man to play center field, and as we said Rios can do just that. And how about that staff of young, talented pitching?

That's right. Three 22-year-olds, one 24, all rookies, all double-digit game winners.

Olney feels the New York Mets are a possibility, with arguably the highest touted prospect in baseball Lastings Milledge being the prime bait alongside pitcher Aaron Heilman. If this deal is on the table, take it. Why not? Milledge has more upside and time before free agency than Rios, and Heilman has been talked about as one of the best relievers in the game. His numbers, albeit in relief, with the Mets tower over those put up by big name free agents "big names" Gil Meche and Ted Lilly. In fact, it's not even close.

Rotoworld reports the Jays tried to deal Rios for Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm last winter. Boy would they regret that now. But with a young player with the skills of Rios, we feel the team is bound to be regretful of any deal they make while he is still "becoming" a top end player. Isn't it a consensus that four years from now, when Rios is a free agent, he will be worth much more than a fourth starter? Of course. So, don't do it for a quick fix.

Monday, December 18, 2006

NFL thoughts


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rumblings


Friday, December 15, 2006

Vernon Wells-Toronto Agree To Terms

Vernon Wells and the Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to the previously described seven-year, $126 million dollar contract. The contract does have an opt-out clause in it after the fourth year, meaning the Jays are guaranteed to have him for the next five years at the very least.

Wells has been quoted as saying that family comes first and that this deal will allow him to help many generations of his family. The great thing is that Vernon was true to his word and really did want to stay in Toronto.

It is in our opinion that this is the best off-season move the Jays have made. Locking up the face of the franchise with this sort of contact is a sure sign that Ted Rogers and the Blue Jays are serious about winning now and in the future.

The Blue Jays' 2007 payroll is also expected to be announced soon, according to Godfrey.

This deal has not been made official yet. That is expected to be done at a news conference Monday.

The Jays still have their starting pitching to address and since there is not much left on the free agent market, the Blue Jays are said to be looking at the trade route. With the signing of Vernon Wells, we believe that either Alex Rios or Reed Johnson could be shopped around.

Canada's World Junior Team Announced

Canada's 22 man World Junior team roster was announced today. With 11 returning players from last year's team they are surely the favourites to bring home their third straight gold medal. Five of the returning players will be coming back to the defense corps that allowed the fewest goals last year in tournament history. Couple that with savvy 19-year-old netminders Carey Price and Leland Erving and Canada will have no trouble stopping teams from scoring. The real concern is on the offensive end. Andrew Cogliano and Jonathan Toews will be counted on to bring the offense for team Canada. The Canucks are the favourites again this year, but Finland and the USA are also said to be contenders. Canada will face off against Sweden on Boxing Day to open up the round robin tournament.

Captain: Christopher Letang
Assistant: Steve Downie
Assistant: Jon Toews
Assistant: Marc Staal
Assistant: Tom Pyatt

Mora controversy in Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora said today he was kidding. We at The Four-Seamer don't buy it.

Mora went on a Seattle sports radio show Thursday and sprouted his passion for coaching the University of Washington Huskies football team, despite his team being in the thick of the playoff race in the NFC.

In fact, he went on to say he would leave the team in the midst of a race to join the Huskies staff.
Mora's claim that the comments were made tongue in cheek seems far-fetched. If he was being fictitious, he might want to consider a future career in acting, because nothing sounds that dead-pan serious that was meant to be a joke.

Regardless, we felt Mora's job was in trouble headed into the season. This incident, combined with what might very well be the second straight year that a team with a surplus of talent has missed the playoffs and Mora's own father saying phenom Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was a coach killer, should mean Mora will be looking for a new job come January.

Based on his more-than-hinting comments about Washington, we would argue Mora already has a pretty good impression of his fate.

All's Wells with contract offer

Done deal? Not yet, but it appears the Toronto Blue Jays will indeed come to terms with outfielder Vernon Wells on a seven year deal worth $126 million. Wells has confirmed the sides are close in negotiations.

Also of interest is that Wells told The Associated Press he was at a time tempted to head home to Texas, where the ballpark is 20 minutes from his home.

The sixth richest deal in baseball history, and quite possibly the biggest in Canadian sports history, could be made official any minute now.

This goes against our suggestion yesterday that, despite our bias, V-dub should decline and opt to play the field next winter. Ultimately, and this is quickly evident in the AP story, Wells wanted the security and comfort of his new home... and right now.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ramblings


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sign it, Vernon!

According to several reports, the Toronto Blue Jays have made a formal contract offer to outfielder Vernon Wells. The deal is reportedly worth $126 million over 7 years, or $18 million per season.

If signed, it will be the sixth richest contract in the history of baseball, and obviously the biggest in Blue Jays history.

The Jays have shown their desire to build a contending team by spending tons of money, and are hoping that's incentive enough for Vernon to stay in Toronto.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This just in: Meche's replacement not very good

Miguel Batista is back in the American League. The Seattle Times says the pitcher has signed with the Seattle Mariners for $24 million over three seasons.

Batista will be almost 40 at the end of the deal. He has a career 68-79 record and 4.46 ERA. He was 11-8 last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Prior to that he spent two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, amassing 15 wins and 36 saves.

Zito to Texas?

The Texas Rangers have confirmed they made an offer to free agent pitcher Barry Zito.

The deal is $102 million for six years.

Klassen Canada's best in 2006

Canadian speed-skating superstar Cindy Klassen has wrapped up the 2006 year by taking home the Lou Marsh award, given to the best Canadian athlete every year.

Klassen has won more medals at the Olympics than any other Canadian has. Having had the chance to speak with her in person, she's a very classy individual that is definitely deserving of this award. Good for her, and good for the sports writers and broadcasters to vote for her.

Missing Pinner more and more everyday

One day after a running back they cut tore up their defense for 125 yards and three touchdowns, it looks as though the Detroit Lions will lose running back Kevin Jones for the rest of the year.

A report today adds to that, saying Jones may miss the start of the 2007 season as well.

The Lions have some good backs, which is why they cut Artose Pinner in the first place (something they may regret just a tad now). This will be a chance to see some of Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason.

He can't help out their run D

The Indianapolis Colts may have signed Ricky Proehl at the perfect time.

Reports today say an injured Achilles' tendon may keep wide receiver Brandon Stokley out of Indy's lineup for the rest of the year.

Will it matter with that offense? Probably not. But Stokes was a good slot possession guy. Proehl should fill the role just fine, and unlike most people associated with the Colts' organization, knows what it's like to win it all.

Blackhawks not so black and blue

In just a couple weeks the Chicago Blackhawks have seen their fortunes turn for the better. Under new head coach Denis Savard the team has gone 4-0-3, managing atleast a point in all seven contests to bring their record to 11-12-5, moving them back into the picture in the Western Conference.

In an Original Six city, the state of affairs is truly disappointing for the few Blackhawks fans that make it out to the United Center. The NHL club frequently gets outdrawn in attendance by the AHL Chicago Wolves, often drawing less than 10,000 fans. But at this point the NHL club has nowhere to go but up and maybe that will inspire the fans in one of the most traditional hockey markets to come back.

Getting Martin Havlat back from injury is huge. The Blackhawks winger has three goals and two assists in his two games since returning from an ankle injury. He has 18 points in nine games, for an average of two points per game. He's only 25, and minus some injury troubles he's encountered in his career in Ottawa and just recently in Chicago, he has the potential to be one of the league's most explosive scorers. His individual talent alone has made highlight reels many times this season all while only playing in nine games.

In signing Peter Bondra, who is just two goals shy of 500 for his career, the Blackhawks will pick up some scoring and veteran leadership that will help deal with the loss of Michal Handzus, who tore his ACL and is out for the season.

Another factor to look at is the man between the pipes in Nikolai Khabibulin. The Russian goaltender maxed out on a huge contract after winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the pre-lockout season of 2003-2004, and played terribly on a Chicago team that was just as terrible last season. But now the 33-year-old has turned things around. After returning from a broken finger Khabibulin has put up solid numbers and currently stands at 9-4-2 on the season with a goals against average of 2.53 and a save percentage of .919%, similar to the numbers he put up in his more successful years with Tampa Bay and Phoenix. But for a guy who's never won more than 32 games in a season, the Blackhawks are depending heavily on him to live up to his contract and most importantly, stay injury-free.

The old man won't go away

Kenny Lofton is still playing ball. Latest reports have him set to start the 19th season of his career with the Texas Rangers.

Here's the scary part: Word is he is going to be a one-season filler, until the Rangers make a stab at Mr. Vernon Wells.

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