Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Weekend in Review

Senior All Star Games

East-West Shrine Game

Dan Stevenson put on a very impressive performance. He often had the opposing lineman pushed five yards downfield. The ESPN announcers praised him for being one of the main reasons why Arkansas running bak De'Arrius Howard had three rushing touchdowns on the day. On the last play of the game, Stevenson pushed his man into the end zone, but other defenders flooded the hole he created to stuff Howard for the West win.

Brandon Hoyte participated on defense and special teams and had two tackles.

Hula Bowl

Corey Mays, a team captain for the East, shared the team lead with six tackles.

DJ Fitzpatrick was the East kicker, but also got in on one punt. He scored four of the East's ten points, with a 36 yard field goal and an extra point. His three kickoffs averaged 61.7 yards. It actually looked like he was kicking off farther, if not lower, than he did during the regular season. On his one punt, a defender came in untouched. Non-chalantly, DJ stepped to the side, then stepped up and booted the ball 51 yards. But wait, rushing the punter wasn't allowed in this game. So, DJ got a second chance to kick without any pressure, and that punt went 45 yards.

Senior Bowl

Mo Stovall, coming off of a great week of practice, caught one of two balls thrown to him; the completion went for nine yards. Of course, both teams combined to complete only 25 passes on the day.

Georgetown 82, Notre Dame 82 / Villanova 72, Notre Dame 70

Men's Basketball

Is it even worth separating these games? These games were both typical of the men's losses this year. In the Georgetown game, an ND comeback was capped by a four point play at the buzzer by Colin Falls. The first overtime ended on a missed layup by Chris Quinn. "Oh well," right? Nope. "The Little Team That Almost Could" couldn't hold a lead throughout the 10 minutes of bonus basketball, and in the end Georgetown showed the heart to put the game away. The Villanova game was similar. Notre Dame played the first half even. Villanova built a huge lead only to see the Irish come charging back. Quinn tied the game on a brilliant pass to Torin Francis with 13 seconds left. Following a time out, Nova drove inside and missed a layup. But, no one boxed out Chris Quinn's man, and that guard came flying in from the wing to tip in the winning basket.
It may be too little, too late, but this team may finally be starting to figure things out. Over the past few games, they've played well when they worked the ball inside and took high percentage shots. (Go figure!) However, they haven't done it for 40 minutes yet. In the Georgetown game, they only worked inside after they were down big. In the Villanova game, they played the inside game in the first half. In the second half, they only went back to it after they were down 17. This team needs to learn how to play hard for a full game, build a lead, and keep that lead.

Rutgers 69, Notre Dame 43

Women's Basketball

This wasn't a pretty game by any measure. Notre Dame's first field goal came 11 minutes into the game, at which point the game was 20-1 in favor of Rutgers. Notre Dame then went on a run to cut the lead to 20-14. The closest they got was early in the second half when Rutgers led 28-24. The next thing you know, Rutgers is up 48-26. The Scarlet Knight radio announcers said that Notre Dame looked confused facing Rutgers' physical defense. It sounded like they were flat-out scared as well. This has been the story for the past few years when Notre Dame played Rutgers, but the results have never been this bad. Next up for the Irish is Syracuse. The Orange don't quite have the talent of Rutgers, but they play ND with an equally physical approach. They may in fact be a more physical and, to some, thuggish than Rutgers.

South Florida 68, Notre Dame 64

Women's Basketball

I didn't get a chance to see or listen to this game, and I normally don't like to comment on a game when that is the case. But, it looked to be the same old story. An Irish cold streak allowed South Florida to grow a 15 point lead, before the Irish came all the way back. Notre Dame held a slim margin until USF's Ezria Parson's hit a three with 2 second left to force OT. In the extra period, Megan Duffy had a chance to return the favor, but missed a potential tying three with 3 seconds left.

Breaking Down the Latest Baseball Trades

Phillies Get

Arthur Rhodes: Rhodes is a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) who had a very good 2005 before leaving the Indians to attend to family issues. Oddly enough, for a lefty specialist, he was very good against righties and average against lefties. Of course, many of the righties he faced were switch hitters, and they're facing him because they're worse hitters from the right side. The lefties, meanwhile, would have all been natural lefties. Rhodes joins fellow lefties Rheal Cormier and Aaron Fultz in the Philadelphia pen. The only remaining lefties in Cleveland's bullpen are Scott Sauerbeck and Jason Stanford. Sauerbeck, who had an inconsistent 2005 after a year out of baseball, is more of a long reliever than a shut down guy. Stanford did not play in the majors in 2005.

Red Sox Get

Coco Crisp: Defensively, Crisp appears to be a similar player to the guy he's replacing, Johnny Damon. Crisp has good range and a decent glove, but like Damon has a very below average arm. Crisp actually started as a second baseman in the Cardinals farm system before being moved to the outfield. (Allegedly because he once did an Ozzie Smith backflip on the way out to his position; realistically, it was likely because of his athleticism and speed.) Crisp settled into the second spot in Cleveland's order after struggling in the leadoff spot at the beginning of 2005. It will be interesting to see how he handles a move back to leadoff in the spotlight that is Boston. He was strong enough to line drive 16 home runs last season. He should enjoy lining balls into Boston's short right field corner, peppering balls off the Monster, or finding some grass in center and running for days.

David Riske: Riske had an up and down career in Cleveland. He looked to be the Indians future closer, then struggled in that role. He started 2005 with the best scoreless streak in baseball. Then, it seemed like he gave up a home run every time he went in - for a total of 11 on the year. Still, he is an established and serviceable reliever.

Josh Bard: Bard is young, but he's already an established backup catcher. He broke into the majors a year before Victor Martinez, because Bard was believed to be better defensively and more experienced handling pitching staffs. Bard will compete with John Flaherty to replace Doug Mirabelli as Boston's backup catcher. Mirabelli left for San Diego as a free agent. I would be rather surprised if Bard doesn't beat out Flaherty for the job.

Indians Get

Jason Michaels: Michaels comes over from Philadelphia. He's never played full time, but he looks to be a very similar player to Crisp. Like Crisp, Michaels plays left and center fields, and is said to be decent in both spots. Last year, Michaels hit .304 with a .399 OBP in 289 at bats. Actually, it looks like Michaels is a poor man's Crisp, with slightly less power and speed. That being said, in 2004 Michaels did have 10 HR and 40 RBI in 299 at bats, which is about half a season's work for a full time player.

Andy Marte: Marte was the top prospect in the Braves organziation, until he was traded to Boston for Edgar Renteria, straight up. He immediately became Boston's top prospect. Now, he's the future at third base for Cleveland. Marte is already major league quality defensively, but is perhaps a year away as a hitter. (Of course, the same was true of Brandon Phillips, and he's still trying to figure out his swing.) This was a needed trade for the Indians, who didn't have a major league quality third base prospect anywhere in the organization. Aaron Boone has one year left on his contract. Unless Marte hits really well in spring training and the minors, and/or Boone flounders offensively again, Boone will be Cleveland's 2006 third baseman and Marte their 2007 third baseman.

Guillermo Mota: I have to apologize, as I've been confusing Mota with Yhency Brazoban. It was Brazoban who filled in as LA's closer last year, picking up 21 saves. Mota has 7 saves for his career. Mota also has a career ERA of 3.61. This will be Mota's first season in the American League, so he should benefit from hitters being unfamiliar with him.

Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach, a catcher, is in a similar situation to Marte's. He's not as big of a prospect, but he still has the potential to be a solid player. And, like Marte, he's probably ready for the majors defensively, but needs just a little more work on his hitting. The arrival of Shoppach is a good thing for the Tribe's farm system. Cleveland's previous top catching prospect, Ryan Garko, may be made into a full time first baseman, as he wasn't developing defensively as a catcher. In fact, Garko played first exclusively this past winter. If Shoppach's hitting develops this year, he may see playing time at catcher with Victor Martinez playing some first. Martinez also occassionally played first base in the minors so his bat could be kept in the lineup. On top of that, Martinez is considered a below-average catcher defensively (he is a converted third baseman), so Shoppach's glove and arm would be a good complement. I wouldn't be surprised if non-roster invitee Einar Diaz broke camp as the Tribe's backup catcher, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Shoppach was "in the show" soon thereafter.

A PTBNL (Player to Be Named Later) and $1 million.