Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Blast From The Past: Bryan Harvey

I remember Harvey well. He was that dominant fireballing closer who just fell off the map in the mid nineties. I decided to find out a little more and look a little closer at Harvey's career. There's no better way to start my Blast From The Past series than with a fireballing country boy flameout from my childhood.

After leaving rural Catawba County for UNC-Charlotte in 1981, Harvey spent only a year in school. Harvey quit and went back home where he retread tires for a living and moved with his wife into a mobile home. He then worked as a furniture delivery man, playing softball in his spare time. In 1984, a former teammate called him and asked him to play in a semi-pro tournament that day. Word got around of Harvey's dominance that day and the Angels invited him for a tryout.

In 1985 he made his pro debut at Quad City in Single-A. He started out with a bang, going 5-6 with a 3.53 ERA, but striking out 111 in only 81.7 innings. His walk rate was a little high, but since no one was gonna hit him, it didn't really matter. The next year, in high A ball, he continued handing out free passes, strikeouts, and very little else. In AA Midland in 1987, he notched 20 saves while cutting back his walks, increasing his strikeouts to 13.25 every 9 innings, and lowering his ERA to 2.04. On May 16th of that season, he made his major league debut in some mopup duty for the Angels. His first batter was Cal Ripken, who struck out looking. Next he faced another future Hall of Famer, retiring Eddie Murray on a grounder to third. Then there was a taste of vintage Harvey. He walked Fred Lynn, threw two wild pitches and then stranded Lynn at third.

By 1988, Harvey was set to be a big factor in California's bullpen. Harvey adapted to the big leagues remarkably well, posting 17 saves, a 2.13 ERA, and 67 K's to only 20 BB's. He allowed earned runs in only 3 of his first 26 games that year, and his ERA wasn't higher than 2.47 all season. He finished 2nd to Mark McGwire in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Over the next two years, Harvey saved 50 more games for California, striking out batter after batter, but issuing far too many walks to be among the elite.

In 1991, however, Harvey turned a corner of sorts. Harvey finally exhibited some control, and it resulted in one of the greatest relief seasons of all time. He saved 46 games with a 1.60 ERA. Most remarkably, however, is that his ERA never got as high as 1.89. He never struggled with his control once during the season, and finished 5th in the Cy Young race. Through July 7 of that year, he pitched in 32 games, getting 22 saves in 39 innings, striking out 49 to only 5 walks. Harvey remained dominant in 1992 but was injured, limiting him to under 30 innings. Due to his injury, California left him unprotected in the expansion draft, whereupon he was selected with the 20th pick by the Florida Marlins. Harvey would be the bright spot of the Marlins' inaugural season, notching 45 saves with a 1.70 ERA. In 1994, though, the injury bug would rear its ugly head yet again, limiting Harvey to only 10.3 innings. He tried to return the following April, but after surrendering a 3 run homer to Glenallen Hill, Harvey blew out his elbow and left his season debut without getting an out. The pitch to Hill was the last Harvey would ever throw in a Major League Game.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery, the 34 year old Harvey returned in 1997 with a shot at Atlanta's bullpen in spring training, but suffered an untimely rib injury which kept him from making the roster. I remember being disappointed, because as a Braves fan I was convinced we had a real hidden gem in our camp that year. I was 13 at the time, so I didn't know to be skeptical of his health. He later latched on with the Marlins system again, but never reached the big league club.

In his career, Bryan Harvey made over $18 million in total salary, which isn't too bad for an old boy from Soddy-Daisy, TN. He saved 177 games, and averaged 10.42 K/9 over his career, a very impressive total. It's a real shame Harvey couldn't make a comeback, because he was one of the hardest throwing relievers of his era. He could really dial it up, and he was one of the best relievers in baseball when healthy. I guess he went back to Catawba County, but I'll still think of him whenever I see K-Rod whiffing hitter after hitter in that Angels uniform. I suppose if his son Kris ever reaches the bigs for the Marlins - he was last seen hitting homers, striking out, playing crappy defense, and doing not much of anything else in the low minors last year - I'll be reminded of Bryan as well.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Moneyball 2007: Arizona D-Backs

Which teams are getting the most bang for their buck this year? Using Baseball Prospectus' MORP and depth charts, here's a team by team look, including any players expected to get at least 35% of the playing time, and the '07 salary will only depict what that team is forking out:
Note: DW refers to deadweight players - guys who won't play much but will be paid like they do.

ARIZONA '07 Salary '07 MORP
C: Miguel Montero ~$300,000 $10,250,000
C: Chris Snyder ~$300,000 $6,325,000
1B: Conor Jackson ~$350,000 $8,750,000
2B: Orlando Hudson $3,900,000 $16,550,000
3B: Chad Tracy $2,750,000 $11,825,000
SS: Stephen Drew $300,000 $13,125,000
LF: Eric Byrnes $4,575,000 $9,700,000
CF: Chris Young ~$300,000 $15,950,000
RF: Carlos Quentin ~$300,000 $12,500,000
SP: Brandon Webb $4,500,000 $20,425,000
SP: Randy Johnson $2,000,000 $7,550,000
SP: Livan Hernan. $7,000,000 $5,575,000
SP: Doug Davis $5,500,000 $8,575,000
SP: Edgar Gonzalez ~$300,000 $6,725,000
CL: Jose Valverde $2,000,000 $6,700,000
RP: Juan Cruz $1,437,500 $4,975,000
RP: Jorge Julio $3,600,000 $3,225,000
RP: Bran. Medders $390,500 $2,950,000
RP: Brandon Lyon $1,500,000 $1,600,000
DW: Tony Clark $1,000,000 $1,125,000

Total salary for key players: $42,303,000
Total MORP for key players: $174,400,000

This is what happens when you build from within and build really, really well. The value passes the cost before you even get out of the infield. Montero is a very good prospect and Snyder is a very capable backup. Conor Jackson isn't a worldbeater at first base, but he's not terrible. Orlando Hudson's defense is invaluable and probably the biggest reason for Brandon Webb's breakthrough last season. Speaking of Webb, PECOTA thinks he'll be this good for a while. That's awesome news for the D-Backs, and it makes overpaying for the last 2 years of Randy Johnson's contract a little easier to swallow. Josh Byrnes is one of the smartest young GMs in the game, and the prospects will keep rolling in after this year. You've got guys like Carlos Gonzalez, Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Micah Owings, and my sleeper Joey Side coming along in that system.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A few screws loos

Oakland dumped righty reliever Kirk Saarloos off on Cincinnati last week for a minor league pitcher no one's heard of. Saarloos will never be dominant and relies on a good defense and a good bit of luck. He walks more hitters than he strikes out.

The A's on the other hand pick up David Shafer, a low walk, high strikeout guy who's not all that far away, in my opinion. He'll wind up in middle relief, but actually could be an effective one. Can't quite figure out what Krivsky saw in this deal, but I'm not too worried about it. Also, shouldn't the Reds be going after some young hitters? They've got more mediocre-yet-MLB-ready pitching than any team in baseball. The cupboard seems kinda bare on offense, though. Oh well.

* I haven't forgotten about the World Series countdown.. It's more time consuming and trade analysis is a little more topical and fun right now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Greatest World Series ever played: #40

1996 - The Most Famous Hanging Slider of All-Time

For years, Yankees fans spent Octobers in an unusual way - watching the games on TV. In 1996, it had been 15 years since the Yankees had been to the Fall Classic, and 18 since they won. The Boss, the fans, and even Billy Crystal was getting restless. In 1995, they showed flashes of resurgence. In '96, they put it all together thanks to a new-look lineup. Gone was Don Mattingly, stalwart for years in pinstripes. In came a slugger made for Yankee stadium, Tino Martinez, who bashed his way to 25 home runs and 117 rbis on the season. Gone was the offensive black hole named Pat Kelly. In came Mariano Duncan, who hit .340 in a season to remember. The Yankees no longer relied on Black Jack McDowell or Sterling Hitchcock to start 50 games. Veterans Jimmy Key and Kenny Rogers were now on the staff. Most importantly, however, was the emergence of 3 young players who would form the foundation of the dynasty to be. Outfielder Bernie Williams went from a helpful outfielder with promise to a legitimate MVP candidate, hitting .305 with 29 HR and 102 rbi. 24 year old starter Andy Pettitte emerged as the ace of the staff, winning 21 games. Finally, a rookie shortstop named Derek Jeter took the league by storm. It was no coincidence they trusted him with a single digit jersey. Those aren't too easy to come by in Yankee Stadium. After starting the playoffs on a bad note with a loss to the Rangers, the Yankees rallied to 3 straight wins by a total of 4 runs. After dispatching of division rival Baltimore in the ALCS, Yankee nation was primed for it's first World Series appearance since the Reagan administration.

The National League's representative, however, was no spring chicken, so to speak. The Atlanta Braves had been here before. In fact, they'd won the National League in 4 of the last 5 years and were reigning champs. After sweeping the Dodgers in the first round, the Braves ran into trouble in the championship series with St. Louis. Atlanta ace John Smoltz beat the Cards in game one, but the redbirds reeled off three straight wins against Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Denny Neagle. Atlanta badly needed to make a statement in game 5 and send the series back to Atlanta. It did. An offensive barrage led to 14 runs while Smoltz held St. Louis scoreless. Game 6 offered Maddux a second chance, and he delivered a 3-1 victory. In game 7, Atlanta never gave the Cards a chance. Atlanta batted around in the first frame, scoring 6 runs on a hit batsmen and 5 hits, including a Tom Glavine triple. Glavine and two relievers held St. Louis scoreless and the Braves cruised to a 15-0 win and a chance to repeat. Atlanta carried one of its best teams to the postseason in '96, led by its legendary three starters. Tom Glavine (15-10, 2.98) and Greg Maddux (15-11, 2.72) had gotten the spotlight for years, but '96 was the year of John Smoltz, who proved nearly unbeatable on his way to a 24-8, 2.94 season. He notched 10 strikeouts in a game 12 times in his memorable season and was the clear #1 for the Braves. The Atlanta lineup was much the same as in '95, except with the addition of a superb teenage outfielder named Andruw Jones.

Game one took the teams to Yankee Stadium, and excitement was high. Smoltz' control was a bit off, issuing 5 walks, but Atlanta quickly deflated the New York crowd. In the 2nd, 19 year old Andruw Jones homered in his first at-bat, becoming the youngest player to hit a home run in the World Series. In the following inning, the Braves added to the lead with an offensive outburst. After 2 singles and a sac-bunt, with two men in scoring position, the Yankees brought the infield in, anticipating a bunt from Atlanta star third baseman Chipper Jones. Jones ripped a two run single, took 2nd on the throw, and promptly stole 3rd. Fred McGriff brought him in with a single, making it 5-0, and after a Javy Lopez walk, the young Jones was up again. This time he hit a 3 run homer, becoming the only player not named Gene Tenace to homer in his first two WS ab's. The score was 8-0, and the Yankees didn't recover. Atlanta cruised to a 12-1 victory.

With its wealth of starters, Atlanta sent out another ace in game two, Greg Maddux. The Yankees avoided any big Atlanta innings, but Fred McGriff drove in a run in each of his first three at-bats, and Maddux dominated. The Braves won 4-0, taking a huge 2-0 Series lead and, more importantly, were headed back to Atlanta.

In game 3, Atlanta trotted out yet another ace, Tom Glavine, the hero of the previous World Series. David Cone held Atlanta scoreless for 5 innings while New York built a 2-0 lead. In the 6th, Atlanta threatened, loading the bases with 2 outs. Ryan Klesko then drew an rbi walk which brought NLCS MVP Javy Lopez to the plate. Cone induced an inning-ending pop-up, however, and the Yankees held onto a 2-1 lead. Atlanta pinch-hit for Glavine in the 7th and replaced him with Greg McMichael in the 8th. McMichael immediately gave up a single to Derek Jeter and then a homer to Bernie Williams. This sealed the game for the Yankees, who would go on to win 5-2.

Game 4 featured the Gambler, Kenny Rogers, going up against Denny Neagle. Rogers proved ineffective, and a dismal 2nd inning was nearly New York's undoing. Fred McGriff led off with a homer, Mariano Duncan failed to cover first on a Jeff Blauser bunt, and Marquis Grissom ripped a two-run double. The Braves had a 4-0 lead and yet another rout appeared to be on. Atlanta added insurance runs in the 3rd and 5th, and seemed to be on cruise control until a controversial 6th inning. Derek Jeter popped up into foul territory in right field, but the RF umpire interfered with Jermaine Dye's attempt to catch it, giving Jeter a second chance. He singled, Bernie Williams walked, Cecil Fielder hit an RBI single which also brought in Williams on a Dye error, and Gerald Hayes hit another RBI single. The lead was suddenly cut in half, and the Braves went to the bullpen, bringing in young Terrell Wade. Wade issued a walk to Darryl Strawberry and out trotted Bobby Cox again, this time bringing in Mike Bielecki, who admirably notched 3 straight strikeouts. One of Bielecki's strikeout victims was Paul O'Neill, pinch hitting for catcher Joe Girardi. In the bottom of the 6th, the Yankees brought in backup Jim Leyritz to take over at backstop. In the 8th, Atlanta brought in ace reliever Mark Wohlers to seal the deal. On the first play, Gerald Hayes hit a dribbler down the third base line. Rather than fielding and throwing out Hayes (whose speed can be clocked with a sundial), Jones waited to see if the ball went foul. It didn't, and the Yankees had a baserunner. Strawberry singled, and Duncan hit a hard grounder which wasn't fielded cleanly. It wound up as a force, and the Yankees had men on 2nd and 3rd. Next up was backup catcher Leyritz. On what would be remembered as one of the greatest World Series moments of all time, Leyritz connected on a hanging slider for a game tying, three run homer.

The game went to extra frames, when Atlanta reliever Steve Avery surrendered another run in the 10th. A mental error by reliever Brad Clontz led to a Ryan Klesko error later in the inning and John Wetteland closed out the wild, 8-6 Yankee victory. The series was tied, and Atlanta's momentum was completely gone.

Game 5 proved to be another one for the ages, but not for momentum shifts and big home runs. Rather, game 5 was a matchup between two 20 game winners who pitched like 20 game winners. Young Andy Pettitte pitched the game of his life, as did John Smoltz. Neither allowed an earned run, but in the 4th inning, Atlanta suffered yet another defensive gaffe as Marquis Grissom dropped a flyball and the Yankees capitalized with a run. It was all they needed, and Pettitte held the Braves in check before giving way to Wetteland in the 9th. The Yankees had done the impossible, winning all three in Atlanta, taking the series lead, and sending the series back to New York needing only to win one more.

Game 6 featured a rematch of Maddux-Key, and the Yankees struck first. A 4-hit 3rd inning gave them a 3-0 lead. Maddux got back on track and left it up to the offense. In the 4th, a Jermaine Dye bases-loaded walk cut the lead to 3-1. In the 5th, however, after Marquis Grissom was called out trying for a double, Bobby Cox went out to argue and on his way back to the dugout was ejected. This drew a bit of controversy as Cox was finished making his case and the ejection was certainly delayed. The Braves wouldn't pose a threat until the top of the 9th. Klesko singled, Terry Pendleton singled, and Atlanta had runners at 1st and 3rd. After a Luis Polonia strikeout, Marquis Grissom hit a single, scoring Klesko and sending pinch runner Rafael Belliard to 2nd. With 2 outs and a runner in scoring position, Mark Lemke came to the plate. Lemke had a reputation for clutch postseason hitting but couldn't come through, popping up in foul territory to third baseman Charlie Hayes. The Yankees had dropped two at home but won 4 straight against one of the best pitching staffs ever assembled. The heroes of the series were John Wetteland, who saved all 4 wins, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, and of course Jim Leyritz.

Why was the Series great? It had several great contests, including the Leyritz shot in game 4 and the amazing pitching duel in game 5. Andruw Jones made history and the series ended with a one run win with a man in scoring position.

Why wasn't it great? 4 straight wins by the Yankees, and the first three games weren't particularly exciting. Also, the series was marred by some terrible defense from both teams. Still, one of the better 4-2 series in memory.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The 41 Greatest World Series Ever Played: #41

1969 - Amazin'

Since their inception in 1962, the New York Mets were the laughing stock of baseball. In 1962 they were the worst team to ever play, winning only 40 of their 160 games. They endured a lovable loser tag for years, until 1969. In the summer of '69, the Mets overcame a poor start to make a push for the playoffs. The Chicago Cubs, however, still led the division in mid August by 9 1/2 games. They were playing so well, shortstop Ernie Banks remarked that the Cubs should play extra games just for fun. "Let's Play Two" doomed the Cubs, who completely fell apart in September, clearing the way for the Mets to blow past them on their way to an 8 game lead in the brand new National League East. In the first ever NL Championship Series, the "Amazin's" swept the Atlanta Braves, 3 to 0, and were headed to an improbable first World Series appearance.

Baltimore's road to the World Series was quite different. Just three years earlier, the O's had won the 1966 World Series and then established themselves as the prominent team in the American League. They cruised to an AL West championship by 19 games, winning 109. Like the Mets, the Orioles swept their opponent in the ALCS 3-0. Heading into the Series, the Orioles were the clear favorite to win the title.

Game one saw a matchup of Cy Young winners, Mike Cuellar, who won 23 games, against New York's young ace, Tom Seaver, himself a winner of 25. However, on Seaver's second pitch, Orioles rightfielder Don Buford launched a home run to right field. As he rounded 2nd base, he told Al Weis, "You ain't seen nuthin' yet." With a lineup that featured stars Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, and Brooks Robinson, Buford had good reason to be confident. Cuellar pitched well and Baltimore cruised to a 4-1 win, prompting many to predict a short, quick series. They would be right.

In game two, the Orioles sent out their other 20 game winner, Dave McNally. Like game one, the Mets were sending out a young gun, this time Jerry Koosman. Like Seaver, he was in his third season. Like Seaver, Koosman's inexperience was supposed to work against him. McNally was on target, but Koosman matched him unexpectedly. Mets OF Donn Clendenon led off the 4th with a home run against McNally while Koosman stifled the O's, not allowing a hit for 6 innings. In the 7th, however, Baltimore struck, tying the game. In the 9th, McNally's dominance ran out. He gave up 3 straight singles and Ron Taylor shut the door on the O's with a scoreless 9th. The O's had managed only 2 hits in the 2-1 loss, and the series was tied heading to New York.

The Orioles put their trust in young star Jim Palmer in game 3. Unfortunately, they weren't ready for the Tommie Agee show. Agee did his best Don Buford impression and led off the game with a home run. Mets starter Gary Gentry helped himself out with a two-run double in the 2nd, and he wouldn't allow a hit until the 4th inning. In the 4th, however, the Baltimore all-star lineup threatened, putting runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs. Ellie Hendricks ripped a shot to center, but Agee came from nowhere to make a stunning snowcone catch.

Three innings later, Agee would match the feat, making a diving catch with runners on to bail out Gentry yet again. Agee's play in game 3 was arguably the turning point of the series, leading New York to a 5-0 victory and a 2-1 Series lead.

Game 4 saw a rematch of Cuellar and Seaver, and Tom "Terrific" lived up to his nickname, scattering 6 hits and holding the O's scoreless for 8 innings. In the 9th, however, with only a one run lead, Seaver ran into trouble. Back to back singles left runners at the corners with future Hall of Fame 3B Brooks Robinson at the plate. Robinson hit a line drive to right, but Ron Swoboda was there, making a diving back-handed catch. Frank Robinson would tag up to tie, but the catch saved the inning as Seaver got out of the jam. Seaver came back out in the 10th and continued to baffle O's hitters. In the bottom half of the 10th, Don Buford misplayed a Jerry Grote hit which allowed him to reach second. It wouldn't be the end of Baltimore's defensive struggles. With two men on, pitcher Pete Richert fielded a sacrifice bunt and skimmed the runner with the throw, sending the ball into right field. The go-ahead run came around, Earl Weaver argued to no avail, and the Mets were suddenly up 3-1 in the series.

Game 5 featured a rematch of game 2's talented starters, McNally and Koosman. The Orioles got to Koosman early when McNally hit a 2 run homer in the 3rd, followed up by a Frank Robinson solo shot. McNally cruised until the 6th, when a famous play took place that changed the course of the game. Cleon Jones jumped out of the way of a shoestring pitch, but immediately claimed it hit him. After examining the ball, evidence of shoe polish was found, and Jones was awarded first base. Donn Clendenon, the next batter, hit a two run homer to get the Mets back into the game. In the 7th, 2B Al Weis homered (don't you think he wished he could've jogged by Don Buford at that moment and smiled?) to tie the game. In the 8th the Mets scored twice on doubles and a key error by Boog Powell. Koosman remained on the mound and finished out the 5-3 win, finishing what was seen by many to be the closest thing baseball had to a miracle. The "Miracle Mets" not only beat the Baltimore Orioles, but did so in 5 games.

Why was this series great? The key defense of the Mets, the underdog story, the great pitching on both sides.

Why not as great as others? The games weren't particularly close or didn't come down to the last atbat very much. The Mets won by 3 games, so there was never a sense of shared urgency out on the field. That said, this is the greatest 5 game series ever played. Amazin' indeed.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who Will The Next Fool Be?

"After all is said and done / You won't be satisfied with anyone / So after you get rid of me / Who will the next fool be?"

For my triumphant return to 5 Tool Blogger, there's only one topic fitting for such a return - the NCAA coaching carousel. We'll go school by school:

The World Is Not Enough

It's a classic tale that repeats itself all the time. Coach meets school, school likes coach, school hires coach, coach wins his first 24 games, and goes to a BCS bowl in each of his first 3 seasons. He never has a losing record, and takes his team to bowl games in each of his 6 seasons, including two National Championship appearances. Coach recruits thugs, coach loses control of said thugs, coach gets fired, thugs rule supreme, and the cheese stands alone. The operative question here is: What the hell happened?

It really starts with Butch Davis. He got the swagger back in the 90's, and cleaned up a program that was honestly very lucky to be allowed to play. I don't know if any school came as close as the U to receiving the death penalty as Miami since SMU got it years ago. Throughout the late 90's, Miami made a habit of losing to the better teams and absolutely slaughtering everyone else. The recruits were flowing back in, and the U was poised for a big step up when Davis bolted for the NFL, leaving the job to offensive coordinator Larry Coker, a player favorite. Coker went 35-3 in his first 3 years, and went to 3 BCS bowls. While 2004 was a bit of a disappointment, they were still a fairly dominant team and didn't lose a single game by more than 7 points. In 2005 the defense continued its dominance and Miami cruised to a 9-2 regular season record. Both losses were within 4 points. Then it all came crashing down in the Peach Bowl, when the thug bit caught up to them. It wasn't so much the 40-3 asspounding at the hands of LSU that infuriated the Miami brass and the rest of the nation. It was Miami's decision to start a brawl with LSU's players. If anyone wants to know how the brawl went, here's a hint: The next time Miami picked on opposing players, it was Florida International. 2006 was a bit harsh on Coker, and his team really struggled at times, mostly with themselves. The Canes are 6-6 and headed to the MPC Computers Bowl to take on Nevada, where the players will inevitably dance all over the Wolfpack logo before getting their asses handed to them. And then there's the whole can of worms involving the FIU brawl. Or was it FAU? Does it matter?

To be fair, though, this isn't completely Coker's fault. Even Butch Davis had trouble getting rid of the thuggish image down there (remember his star LB, Ray Lewis?). A blowup like this has been stewing for years and years. The air of superiority down there is ridiculous, especially these days when it isn't even accurate. U of M graduates who are now in the NFL generally refuse to train in the offseason with their team, opting instead to train in Miami (which really makes you wonder - why in the hell would ANYONE opt to train down at Miami's piss-poor facilities when an NFL complex is at your disposal?). The Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, and Kellen "F****** Sol'ja" Winslow attitude has been brewing down there since the Warren Sapp days. Why did this all fall on Coker's shoulders? What did he do differently?

Coker is 58-15 in his career, nearly .800.
He handled his rival, FSU, pretty well, going 5-2 against the Noles.
Miami's old rival, Florida, was owned by Coker, who went 3-0 against the Gators in their down years.

Really, he was more successful than Butch Davis, and arguably a better football coach. Davis would routinely get stomped by FSU or VT or, cough, UCLA, but Coker generally only lost close games. The Canes came to play, and were always competitive under Coker. I somewhat understand the decision behind the firing, but Miami should know - the pressure is on them, the school: If they don't bring in someone to absolutely clean house, the same thing will happen again. Coker was a victim of the U. It's that U mentality that's killing the program - someone needs to make it Miami again instead of "The U." Coker had one down year (Butch Davis once went 5-6 after winning the Big East) and he's still taking them to a bowl. It was a supposedly necessary firing, but it was a dangerous one. They have to get a coach who commands the respect of those players, which won't be easy. Second, they have to get a coach who will clean up the image down there.

Now, with it being such a dangerous job, the sorts that will be open to it will be varying and peculiar. From what I can gather, here are the candidates so far:

- Randy Shannon - The current DC at Miami, the players are big fans of his. He's constructed one hell of a defense in recent years, and is a very good coach. I don't think he's the right fit, however. Miami needs someone new to come in, like I said, and clean house. If this were about football, then Shannon would be a great choice. This is about discipline and righting a ship, though, and I'm just not sure Shannon would be the man for that job.

- Jim Leavitt - Now, realize I use the word "candidate" loosely. I'm not reporting on who is most likely to get the job - only offering my opinions on the guys being linked with the job. The current head coach at South Florida is the only football coach the Bulls have ever had, and I think he's due for a bigger job at some point. He's certainly earned it. The Bulls have always been competitive, and they've beaten, make that whipped, some physically superior teams in recent years. I don't know much about Leavitt, other than he has been huge for that program. Hell, if he stays even 5 more years, the Bulls might end up playing in Leavitt Stadium one day. He's chiefly responsible for improving South Florida's facilities, and he is as dedicated to a school as I've ever seen. If Miami can pry him away, they'd be fools not to seriously, seriously consider him. Odds are, though, he'll stay at South Florida.

- Steve Kragthorpe - The head coach at Tulsa is equally unlikely to leave, and I'm really not sure why Miami would pursue him. I'll give him credit - he turned a terrible, terrible Tulsa program into a mediocre one almost overnight. In '01-02 under Keith Burns they were 2-21. In Kragthorpe's first two years they were 12-13. Kragthorpe, though, is still building in Tulsa, and I don't think he's going anywhere.

- Chuck Amato - This is really just a curiosity of mine. The one thing always holding Amato back was a lack of great recruits. He turned up a lot of great players, but at Miami he would really be able to put his recruiting talents to good use. He's familiar with the area from his days at FSU, and would be an interesting choice if it came down to it.

- Any number of hot assistants out there. David Cutcliffe, Jimbo Fisher, and many others come to mind. Who knows what will happen with this job? Too bad SOS turned them down - he would be PERFECT for that job. I think Fisher is the more realistic candidate here, but I don't think they're too serious about him.

- The rest of the names I've heard mentioned:
Steve Mariucci (no)
Jeff Tedford (hell no)
Jim Harbaugh (Miami doesn't have the guts)
Barry Alvarez (fuhgettaboutit)
Jim Grobe (yeah, right)
Mike Leach - something to keep your eye on. He's slowly moving up the ranks, from Kentucky to Texas Tech, and is supposedly interested in the job. If he can recruit those south Florida athletes, his system would really be impressive down there.

What I think should happen: I think Miami should go after Texas Tech's Leach or USF's Leavitt. If they both turn them down, go after Kragthorpe, if Arizona State doesn't snatch him up first.

What will happen: Well, Leach's name is certainly getting passed around, but the frontrunner at this point looks like Randy Shannon. I'd say Kragthorpe is probably 2nd along with Leach right now.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

UGA Running Backs - Week 2

The 6-20-28 Quandry

For explanation as to what I'm doing, check last week's College Football roundup. I'll designate any runs with less than 7:30 left in the 4th quarter and a two score lead with (late clock runs).

Kregg Lumpkin -
9 yards on 1st & 10
5 yards on 2nd & 1
6 yards on 1st & 10
2 yards on 2nd & 5
2 yards on 1st & 10
(late clock runs) 2 yards on 1st & 15
4 yards on 2nd & 13
6 yards on 3rd & 9

8 rushes for 36 yards. No negative runs yet again for Lump. 32/73 needed yards, good for 43.8%. However, take away those 4th quarter time killing runs, and it goes to 20/36, a 55.6%.

Danny Ware -
3 yards on 1st & 10
2 yards on 1st & 10
16 yards on 2nd & 10
6 yards on 1st & 10
7 yards on 2nd & 4
0 yards on 1st & GL (9)
9 yards on 3rd & GL (9) (TD)
-1 yards on 2nd & 7
1 yard on 2nd & 3

9 carries for 43 yards. He got 34/72 needed yards, a 47.2%. Danny didn't have any meaningless 4th Qtr carries, so this number is pretty accurate.

Thomas Brown:
3 yards on 2nd & 8
0 yards on 1st & 10
11 yards on 1st & 10
5 yards on 1st & 10
2 yards on 1st & 10
-2 yards on 1st & GL (2)
8 yards on 1st & 10
-1 yard on 1st & 10
3 yards on 2nd & 11
4 yards on 1st & 10
3 yards on 2nd & 6
13 yards on 2nd & 10
7 yards on 1st & 10
(late clock runs) 3 yards on 1st & 10
1 yard on 2nd & 7
9 yards on 3rd & 6

16 carries for 69 yards. He got 62/140 needed yards. That's 44.3%. Take out his 4th quarter time killers and it's 49/117, or 41.9%.

So, for this game, on runs that really mattered, here's how much of the needed yardage each back accumulated:
Kregg Lumpkin - 55.6%
Danny Ware - 47.2%
Thomas Brown - 41.9%

For the season, after two games, here are the raw rushing totals for all the backs:
Thomas Brown: 26 carries for 96 yards.
Danny Ware: 15 carries for 111 yards.
Kregg Lumpkin:13 carries for 62 yards.

Stuffed (runs of 2 yards or less):
Thomas Brown: 8
Danny Ware: 4
Kregg Lumpkin:3

Yards Gained/Yards Needed:
Thomas Brown: 73/199... 36.7% of needed yards
Danny Ware: 58/119... 48.7% of needed yards
Kregg Lumpkin: 45/85... 52.9% of needed yards

What does this tell us? Well, after two weeks, it's clear that Kregg Lumpkin should hold a slight edge over Danny Ware for the starting job. One thing is for sure - Thomas Brown is going to have to work hard if he wants to help this offense like the other two on the ground.