1. At the age of 37 and with a five-year, $114 million dollar contract remaining, Alex Rodriguez has shown his decline in the playoffs. What do you do with Rodriguez for the next five years?
BG: The Yankees made a mistake when they re-upped Alex Rodriguez, who also has a no-trade clause, in 2008 for way too long and way too much money. Rodriguez has broken down the last two years physically and it has really slowed him down. People really underestimate how much injuries or nagging issues affect players if they do not heal properly. Just look at Lance Berkman in 2011 after he recovered from a knee injury. At the age of 35, he hit .301 with 31 home runs, while driving in 94 runs. Can A-Rod do that at the age of 37 next season? Because if he can, he’s worth holding onto. If the Yankees don’t think so though, having him agree to go the Miami Marlins makes tons of sense. The Marlins need to attract fans to that new monstrosity and keep their trendiness alive, so they either need to get a lot better really fast or bring in a polarizing player who people will want to keep track of. Rodriguez is from the area and his every move is as controversial as it gets. If the Yankees do not value him anymore, this seems to be their best chance to send him away.
BM: I would love to see him kicked out on his ass, but I’d say it would be in the best interest of the team, at least currently, to keep him on. No one is going to take that salary, so the only real option is to cut him. I wouldn’t do this unless he becomes a major problem in the clubhouse and is hurting the team overall. If he avoids doing this, keep him and he may make you some of that money back. He is 125 home runs away from Bonds’ all-time record. While he will make $6 million more each time he ties someone ahead of him on the list, the Yankees may be able to capitalize on the chase to a greater degree. As he reaches 762 (which would only require him to average 25 home runs a year for the next 5 years, very achievable if he stays healthy), I would wager that they will make tens of millions of dollars off of promotions, memorabilia and ticket sales. Plus, he wasn’t a bad player this year, he just wasn’t great (and sucked at the end). And I’m sure they would like to take the glory of having him pass the record as a Yankee.
JP: A-Rod has been doing poorly in the playoffs, but there’s not much the Yankees can do, unless he chooses to leave himself. His five-year contract ties him to the team. Even general manager Brian Cashman says he expects A-Rod to be the third baseman in ’13. Though some speculate he should switch to another team, I think he is so well-known as a Yankee (with the fifth most homeruns in history and three MVP titles) that this is where he should stay. In 2006, his playing declined and he was moved to eighth in the batting order by Joe Torre when they lost against the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALDS. He then bounced back in 2007 and wound up winning an MVP award. Even though it seems like he’s on the decline (his batting average going from .302 in ’08 to .272 now), the team’s best bet is to wait it out. He’s still above average, according to Cashman. Sure, waiting/hoping for him to get better isn’t an ideal solution, but the only way A-Rod can leave is if he chooses to switch on his own accord, which he’s expressed no interest in doing. It might be best to bench him/pinch hit against right-handed pitchers, but aside from that, just give him a chance to bounce back.
Brendan gets three points for thinking about the revenue A-Rod can rake in the next few years. Jamie gets two for taking the wait it out approach. Brandon gets one because no team deserves that contract, especially the Marlins who are trying to rebuild.
2. There’s been a rise in young quarterbacks this season. Which 25-year-old or younger quarterback are you picking to start a franchise with?
BG: Young quarterbacks are starting in the NFL earlier and earlier these days, so there is a good selection to scan through here as well as a track record to back them up. Looking at experience and accomplishments, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton would be easy selections for the top under-25 quarterback, but they have their issues. After one, huge season statistically, people forgot that Stafford has an injury history and that people used to say that he was made of glass. Newton was the flavor of 2011, but he struggles to win games and if you look at him during certain situations, you can tell that he gets down on himself and quits. Due to those inefficiencies, the pick for me is Andrew Luck. Luck was the most highly touted prospect since Peyton Manning for a reason. He has the poise and determination to be successful in this league. The numbers may not be there yet, but they weren’t there for Manning either. Luck has all the tools you would want, he hasn’t struggled with injury in his career and we saw last year against USC and this year against the Green Bay Packers that he doesn’t give up until final whistle. What more could you ask for?
BM: I count 11 quarterbacks that fit this category. I think that 5-10 years from now, when we’ll find out the answer to this question, it will be Luck, Griffin, Newton or Stafford. I honestly expect most of these QBs to be around for a while, but the rest of them have very clear ceilings in my mind. I don’t think Gabbert, Tannehill or Wilson will be better than average. I think Sanchez, Ponder, Dalton, Freeman and Bradford will all level off as good players at best. Out of my top four, I think Stafford is the best bet. I mean, I know the guy has Calvin Johnson in a passing league and has struggled a bit this season, but he threw for 5,038 yards last year. I’m just too hesitant to crown RGIII after six games, and Luck is going to have to build up his resume as well. Newton has insane talent, but I wonder if he might end up wasting it if he doesn’t develop further. So, I’ll take Stafford and bet you that he puts together between 30,000 and 45,000 yards in his career — providing an excellent anchor for any offense over the next decade.
JP: Andrew Luck from the Indianapolis Colts. Even though the 23-year-old is a rookie, he’s the starting QB in his first game. The fact that there have been so many younger quarterbacks has been credited to better training programs in high schools and colleges. Luck played at Stanford University and was runner-up for the Heisman in 2010 and 2011. While at Stanford, he won the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award. He was Offensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12 conference in 2010 and ’11. He was also categorized as one of the “most hyped amateurs in recent sports memories.” Proving his strength, in Sunday’s game against the Browns he helped the team have a strong start by doing well passing and running the football. And Luck’s last name really says it all — I think he’s going to bring good fortune to the Colts this season.
Brandon gets three for discussing Luck’s tools, intangibles and a similar development pattern as Manning. Jamie gets two for discussing Luck’s previous achievements. Brendan gets one because while Stafford is good, your franchise isn’t necessarily going to have a Calvin Johnson on it.
3. We’ve got two big-time NBA teams in N.Y. this season with high expectations and new acquisitions. Which team finishes with a better regular season record, the Nets or the Knicks?
BG: The Nets are going to be able to score, but can they defend other teams? They’ve gathered the relevant pieces and have players who can do things with or without the ball offensively. Deron Williams will lead, Brook Lopez will score and rebound down low and Joe Johnson will most likely be their go-to sharp shooter. The Knicks also have a feeling out process to go through as well. Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are all fine players, but how will they handle their roles with this team? The huge issue still remains though of whether Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudimire can co-exist. Both players have MVP potential, we have seen this, but can Mike Woodson get it from both of them when they share the floor? The two teams are pretty close in stature, but in the end, I think the Knicks, who have a better defense and more chemistry at this point, will get off to a faster start and thus will end the year with the better record in 2012-13. The Nets will be the better team at the end of the year though.
BM: The Nets will finish with a better record. I’m not saying that Joe Johnson will make this team amazing, but please consider what else the Nets will have this year: Brook Lopez back from injury, a full year of Gerald Wallace, a guarantee that Williams is not about to abandon ship and a more developed MarShon Brooks. Consider that if you combined the average points per game from last season (and two seasons ago for Lopez) of their five starters this season, you get 87.8 ppg. After that, you have to factor in Brooks and C.J. Watson. This team is going to score a lot of points. Their defense may not be great, but they will win a lot of games against inferior teams, and I would say they will go at least .500 against the top half of the league. The Knicks on the other hand, are plagued with aging players, poor management by the ownership and a seeming long-term inability to get their shit together. They have a lot of talent, but I’m going to have to say they finish five games back of the Nets.
JP: The Knicks. I almost picked the Nets, simply because I’m a fan of Jay-Z. However, they realistically will not do as well this season as the Knicks. The Nets have a lot more new faces, whereas the Knicks have an older, more experienced team with players like Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. The Knicks re-signed players like Steve Novak and J.R. Thompson. They also acquired Jason Kidd. With the combination of new players and team veterans, they’ve got a solid lineup. Amar’e Stoudemire’s knee injury definitely hinders the team’s ability starting out the season, but Anthony can fill in as forward until he recovers. The real answer to this question will come on Nov. 1 when the two N.Y. teams face off, but my prediction is definitely in favor of the Knicks. The Nets might be better in a few seasons, but for now, they’re at the disadvantage.
Brendan gets three for pointing out the Nets’ strong roster and for the Knicks acquiring old players. Brandon gets two because the Knicks don’t really have any chemistry either, especially with the roster overhaul. Jamie gets one because older doesn’t mean better, especially if it’s Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd.
Brendan wins Around the Dorm, 7-6-5.