Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lookin' Out My Back Door

"I'm so happy to be stuck with you."

Some mid-week ramblings shall we?:

Trent Green finally got traded to the Dolphins. I can't even begin to fathom why it took this long for the Chiefs to pull this trade off. Look, if you know a guy is not happy with where he's at, and probably won't play any of the season because the organization has basically moved on to the future (whether that's Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle remains to be seen), why continue to hold on to him? It's not as though his trade value was going up and down because it was public knowledge the Chiefs weren't going to start him. Basically, the teams that were going to trade for him had a good amount of leverage in the dealings for Green. Also, it's June, meaning that everyone's QB situation is basically accounted for. Miami had already made this trade declaration back in March, and yet, the Chiefs thought they could get a third-rounder for Green, knowing that there were literally no buyers out there. Sure, Cleveland was in the running for a little while, but now, with Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye, and Derek Anderson on the roster, there was clearly no room for him there. Minnesota? Well, apparently they never really were interested. So the only takers all along were Miami, and yet, the Chiefs wanted more. Well, finally, they were tossed back to reality, and settled for a fifth-rounder. What I find fascinating is that unproven commodities seem to be worth more, in terms of draft picks, than proven talent. I think that Deion Branch will perhaps be the last vet to ever be traded for a first-round pick. Look at what happened over this past off-season. You have the aforementioned Green going for a fifth-rounder, the Pats trading a fourth-rounder to Oakland for Randy Moss, the Niners also swapped a fourth-rounder for Darnell Jackson, and the Bills got two threes and a seventh for Willis McGahee, a guy who, had it not been for ten yards, would have joined an exclusive list of players who rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. Only five players who have started their careers in the last ten years have accomplished that:
  • Shaun Alexander
  • Corey Dillon
  • Eddie George
  • Clinton Portis
  • LaDainian Tomlinson
That's a pretty select group, and for the Ravens to only give up two threes and a seventh for a guy who is entering just his fourth year in the league seems a little low to me. Sure, the average career for an NFL running back is short, but this guy is an All-Pro talent. Another way of looking at is through how many pro bowlers have been produced from 2000 to 2005 in the first round, and how many have been produced in the third and seventh rounds:

First Round:
  • 2000- 11
  • 2001- 14
  • 2002- 8
  • 2003- 7
  • 2004- 10
  • 2005- 3
  • Total- 53
Third Round:
  • 2000- 1 (Laverneus Coles)
  • 2001- 3
  • 2002- 1 (Brian Westbrook)
  • 2003- 2
  • 2004- 2
  • 2005- 1 (Frank Gore)
  • 2006- 0
  • Total- 11
Seventh Round:
  • 2000- 0
  • 2001- 0
  • 2002- 0
  • 2003- 0
  • 2004- 0
  • 2005- 0
  • 2006- 0
  • Total- 0
So why is it that McGahee, who was drafted in the first round, went for so little? Perhaps it was due to a couple of injuries McGahee had over the past year, but still, even if those players they end up drafting end up doing great things, will they ever account for the value of a franchise back? It just seems crazy to me that teams are able to pry away veteran talent, some of whom are in their prime, like McGahee, for relatively little value.

Now, look at some of the trades involving picks for picks in this year's Draft:
  • Jets trade 25, 59, and 164 to Panthers for 14 and 191
  • Broncos trade 21, 86, and 198 to Jaguars for 17
It's clear that certain teams put a big premium on young guys that probably won't be able to contribute for a few years. Another interesting move was by Houston, who traded two second rounders to the Falcons, as well as swapping first rounders this year, to get Matt Schaub, who has only thrown 161 passes in the NFL in his three years with Atlanta. Then, the Texans promptly signed Schaub to a six-year, $48 million deal that includes $7 million in guaranteed money. Schaub has basically no track record other than the fact that he has "franchise potential." So, Houston decided to mortgage a huge part of its future, both in terms of draft picks and money, to get Schaub, a guy they are hoping will turn their fortunes around. Meanwhile, here is Trent Green, a guy who had thrown for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons before suffering a concussion stemming from a hit in Week 1 of the '06 season, who just went for a fifth-round pick, and will probably end up signing a deal worth about $3-4 million over two years. Personally, I think Schaub will be a good quarterback in this league, but if you really wanted to make an immediate impact, a guy like Green would have been perfect, especially when you consider the Texans did relatively little to upgrade its O-Line, meaning a guy like Schaub, who has little experience, will have that much less time to get adjusted to the flow of the offensive, than Green, who, although passinb behind one of the better lines in the league, still would probably have a much smoother transition into making split-second decisions. Even though he missed almost half of last season, Green still had a 61.1% completion rate. Yes, he had more INTs than TDs (7 to 9), but the Chiefs' receivers are garbage, and if Green had guys like Andre Johnson and Eric Moulds to pass to, I would think that the numbers would have been a lot better in comparison to throwing to Eddie Kennison and Sammie Parker. Perhaps this move will work out for the Texans, but don't expect an immediate turnaround, the kind that a veteran like Trent Green would have had a better chance to provide.

So I know we're living in a country that allows us the freedom of speech, which I use to the utmost degree, but someone's got to get a hold of Gary Sheffield and tell him to shut up, or get some advisement before going public with some of the racially charged things he says. In a recent interview with GQ, Sheffield was quoted as saying the following:

"When you see a black face on TV and they start talking, English comes out. That’s what I said. I ain’t taking a shot at them or nothing. I’m just telling it like it is...What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out. ... (It’s about) being able to tell (Latin players) what to do — being able to control them...Where I’m from, you can’t control us.”

I will say this in Sheffield's defense: The number of African-American players in the league has definitely gone down...but is it for the reasons Sheffield is saying? I'm going to have to go with an emphatic "no." First of all, it's a rarity that I delve into anything dealing in race relations, but after hearing these comments, I felt like I had to say something. Yes, the percentages are down (in a study done by George Willis of the New York Post, the percentage of African-American players in the majors was at 8.4% in 2006, which was down from 10% in 2002, and 19% in 1995), but it's not because management feels they can't "control" African-Americans. Simply put, the talent pool of African-American players has shrunk over the past decade, and it's not due to racism or anything like that, at least, again, in my opinion, but due to the fact that, as time progresses, kids in the inner-city have been given more opportunities to do more things than they have in the past. Unlike now, sports were on a limited scale, with baseball, basketball, and football being the only kind of sports that kids could play in the city, but as we talk about the present, and 2007, with an advancement of after-school programs, and a sizable portion of money being put into the education of inner-city kids, who, at one point, were not given the opportunities they have now to express themselves in something besides baseball, African-Americans now have things like the arts and music as a means to use their creativity and imagination. In the Latin countries, there is not the kind of emphasis being put on education that there is in this country. I think that African-Americans still can prosper in baseball, but here's the thing: They have the ability now to prosper in so many more things besides baseball that the numbers have been driven down. Due to the fact that these kids in Latin America are under the impression, and I have to say they are probably right given their situation, that the only way for them to make a life for themselves and for their families is by becoming great at baseball, or another sport like soccer, and make their money through that. There isn't the kind of outreach being done in these countries as there is here. To me, this is why there are more Latin players now than there ever have been. Yes, Major League Baseball is definitely exploiting this, and the numbers don't lie (29.4% in the majors, an all-time high), but they are exploiting this for a reason other than what Sheffield is saying. The reason is because the depth of talent in these countries is far superior to what we have here. Also, another thing is that these players are playing at a higher level than the ones that Americans are playing, which means that these kids are more "pro-ready," and that a team can see a return on their investment sooner and more inexpensively than they would an American high-schooler regardless of race. In keeping with that, the less amount of time a player needs to spend in the minors is the less amount of money a team needs to spend on their development. So, it is more a financial reason, and not a race reason, that there is a growing number of Hispanic players coming into the league that African-Americans. If we didn't have the kind of programs and allowance of abilities of those living in the city that we do, then maybe the amount of African-Americans would rise, but in an overall sense, it would hinder the progression of the whole, because there are plenty of kids who don't necessarily view sports the way someone like myself does, and without the kind of funding being put into their education, they would never be able to fully express their abilities to the world, which I think has a lot more relevance in the world than baseball ever will.

I'm going to do a recap of the Stanley Cup tomorrow, and also, maybe some other grumblings, but for now, I have to go find a job. So stay tight, I'll be coming at you real soon. Take care now. Peace.


No comments: