Friday, February 16, 2007

There are serious matters to discuss, but any chance I have to share with the world a cross between Adam Morrison's "I'm 15 and I'm going to the Iron Maiden Concert!" moustache and a "Joey Silvera" moustache I am going to take. I truly hope that this picks up steam with the rest of the team. When Eddie Murray and John Lowenstein were 'stache-ing it up in the '70's, the Orioles were good. Catch O's fever in 2007, this time on BETA!

Now, let's talk about the sport that rules our lives. Football. Lots going on around here that could carry some serious implications. First and foremost Rex Ryan interviewed for the San Diego Chargers' now vacant head coaching position. The philanthropist in me hopes he gets it because he deserves it. The fan in me hopes he never gets a job offer and he stays here as Defensive Coordinator until he retires at a ripe old age. So it is safe to say I am torn.

Actually, I'm not that torn. I want him to stay here and be the head coach of the Ravens in 2008. I think Billick has run his course here, 13-3 record notwithstanding. In my opinion (and the opinion of my good friend Greg, who crystallized the thought much more succinctly than I ever could have) he is a good coach, but he is too smart to get out of his own way. The reason the Ravens won in 2000 is because he was so new that he let the other coaches do their jobs and stayed the hell out of the way. Lots of good coaches do that. Now he thinks that he has to get extra smart and extra cute, especially in the postseason, and it is going to prematurely end our seasons until he is gone. A year or two away from the game and he comes back with another team and does well for 4-5 years. But in order to accomplish all of this, he needs to fail in 2007, and that would mean (to borrow from Bill Simmons) some serious "fantanking". Rooting against my own team for short term failure in order to obtain the possibility of longer term success is not something I take lightly and not something I could do easily. If a team I root for starts off badly and there is no reasonable hope for a meaningful turnaround that season ('88 Orioles anyone?) I will gladly root for continued lack of success in order to get that good draft pick and maybe that hot coaching prospect. But to hope for failure before mini-camp has even begun, well I am not sure if I can do that. I'll let you know how it goes.

To franchise tag or not to franchise tag. THAT is the question. Whether it is nobler to keep Adailus Thomas around for another season when odds are that we are going to have to lose him the following year due to salary cap limitations or to let him go now and use the cap space to help shore up the offensive line and the is the big decision over at Owings Mills right now. I have waffled back and forth on this, and here is where I stand right now (reserving the right to pull a complete 180 at any time no questions asked): let him walk. I think that keeping 10 of 11 starters on the #1 ranked defense in the NFL is a pretty good deal, and I think that Jarret Johnson is ready to step up. He will never be as versatile as AD, but he will do the linebacker position justice. I think Johnson would surprise some people. The fans would come close to rioting if Thomas left (my money is on San Francisco, a team with a real chance at going places in the next year or two), but the thing is that he would command over $7 million as the franchise player, and he is 30. I know he hasn't been a defensive starter for his entire career, but he has been a gunner on special teams his whole career, and that lends itself to catastrophic injury. He is due to start losing a step or two. The risks are not worth the payoff here.

Now let's talk Jamal Lewis. There have been some rumblings about the team's plans to cut him before his $5 million roster bonus kicks in. Cutting him saves $3.3 (or something close to that) in cap room this year. But here is the deal folks, his "3 year" contract that he signed in 2006 was really a 1 year contract. It was a "show me you are back from the injuries and distractions" contract. He didn't show me enough. Now I have heard him say that he was injured for a good part of the season last year and that he is going to be back %100 this year. Well, I would love to believe that. But even if that is the case, he has been hampered by injury for the majority of his career (elbow injury his rookie year caused him to miss a lot of training camp, the blown knee in 2001, the ankle in 2004/2005, and that is without delving into his college career). He is the style of back that absorbs too much punishment, and I think it has caught up with him. This would be an even easier decision if Musa Smith could stay healthy for more than a quarter and a half. I still don't know what if anything they plan to do with Mike Anderson. Are they planning on converting him back to a fullback, which is why they are letting Ovie (ain't EVEN trying to get the last name right because it is after midnight and I have been up since 6 A.M.) test the free agent waters? Personally I would rather they keep Ovie around, draft a good RB in the first or second round, and use the rookie along with Anderson like the Patriots used Lawrence Maroney with Corey Dillon. Jamal? Good luck and Godspeed my friend. Thanks for all the hard work.

I will check back in on the subject before the draft. In the meantime, I need to get my brain into Spring Training mode. Benson out, Traschel in? I am going to have to get some sleep before I can delve into the muck that is the Orioles in 2007.


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