Archive for March, 2008

Your 2008 Opening Day Lineup

March 31, 2008

Thanks to the Sun, and Roch.

Brian Roberts – 2B

Melvin Mora – 3B

Nick Markakis – RF

Hell, so far, so good!

Kevin Millar – 1B

Aubrey Huff – DH

Ramon Hernandez – C

Uhhh…..Millar as the cleanup man?  Well, maybe Aubrey can rebound from last year and give us something similar to his 2003-2004 self, when he averaged .300 with 32 home runs and 105 RBI. And perhaps the newly in-shape Ramon will improve on his ’07 numbers as well…

Luke Scott – LF

Adam Jones – CF

Luis Hernandez – SS

Uh oh.  Come on, hack-man!

Jeremy Guthrie – P

Lets see the 1st half Guthrie from ’07, and not the 2nd half Guthrie.  Behind Jeremy, Daniel Cabrera looks like hes all set to lead the league in walks for the 2nd consecutive year, and Adam Loewen may not be fully healed from his elbow surgery, if pre-season results are to be trusted.  And they aren’t….right?

Happy Opening Day, and LETS GO Os!

Gibby, We Hardly Knew Thee

March 31, 2008

Can’t hit, hot wife, can’t field, injury prone, ridiculously de-flated body since the steroid scandal hit. Alright, so maybe we knew you pretty well. Regardless, Jay Gibbons, the 2nd longest tenured Oriole, was cut by the team after they learned they would have to deal with his situation now rather than later (due to MLB suspending his suspension…whatever that means).

Jay hit a measly .189 this spring with 0 home runs and 4 RBI in 16 games, not making a very strong case for himself as the O’s left-handed power man of 08.

Gibbons’ misadventures in the outfield at Camden Yards are pretty well documented, as every ball hit to right had the potential to turn into an inside the park home run. And we didn’t even have a cute saying for his struggles, like the Sox do with Manny (“That’s just Gibby being Gibby,” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)

But don’t shed too many tears for old Gibby.

As punishment for his being a crap-tastic, always hurt baseball player, Gibbons gets….$12 million. To sit around all day and take swims in his swimming pool full of gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck. With his uber-hot wife. Maybe he’ll try to go to Japan to resurrect his career, or maybe he’ll be content in retirement at the ripe old age of 31, traveling the world on Peter Angelos’ dime.

Either way, see ya later Jay, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

As for the Orioles, this is yet another in what seems to be a growing list of positive signs that the rebuilding effort is 100% underway and has the full support of the Greek upstairs. With that being said, there are just about 4 hours to go until the 2008 season AKA “The Campaign to Stay in Double Digit Losses” begins.

Larry Bigbie – Post Mitchell Investigation

March 24, 2008

I always liked Larry Bigbie. Back in the Summer of 2004 when I decided to really start getting back into being an Oriole fan, Bigbie’s was one of the jerseys I contemplated purchasing. He was a young kid with a big upside, (the potential to be) an Oriole through and through, having been drafted by the Birds in 1999. I still remember one raucous $5 student night when the O’s took the Cleveland Indians into extra innings, and most of us college students in the upper deck were getting pretty restless, the alcohol having stopped flowing in the 7th inning (per stadium rules). Now faced with the choice of watching the teams keep playing, not knowing how much longer we would be forced to stay dry, or scooting out to the bars while our O’s played on, we were in quite the pickle(s). Larry Bigbie did all of us a great service that night, driving a pitch into the bleachers in right-center in the bottom of the 10th, sending us all happily into the night along with that baseball.

Of course we now know that it probably wasn’t just sweat and perseverance that gave Bigbie the ability to hit that, or any of his, home runs, but rather a strong mix of Radomski-Segui cocktail.

Thanks to Nestor over at WNST.net for pointing out this article from Yahoo! sports. Jeff Passan chronicles Bigbie’s recent life since becoming, as he puts it, “baseball’s Sammy Gravano.” Bigbie has been playing in Japan, and seems more than a little upset that it was he who is attributed with ruining the good names of his friends Jack Cust and Brian Roberts. He says that the feds already had the names, they just brought them to him with “incentive” to be truthful, and that he tried to get ahold of Brian when the Mitchell Report broke, but that Roberts has never called him back. It’s a sad piece. The story is a good read for any baseball fan interested in digging a little deeper than the Mitchell Report headlines, and for any Oriole fan curious just how things played out before, during, and now after the investigation for the kid from Ball State (another reason to like him) with the perpetual cheek-full-o-chaw that we all rooted for during the early years of this decade.

2008 NFL Mock Draft, Vol. 7.0

March 23, 2008

In his latest mock draft, Todd McShay of Scouts, Inc. says of the Ravens, “[they] are are one of the wild cards in the top 10. They will take the best available talent even if he doesn’t fit a need, and odds are none of the available players at their need positions will be worthy of the eighth overall pick.” His best guess at this point is that our purple and black will now go with Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State.

Ryan Clady
OT | (6’6″, 317, 5.15) | BOISE STATE

Strengths: Displays excellent initial quickness and overall agility for his size. Very effective pulling and getting out on second-level as a run blocker. Gets adequate hand placement and has above-average balance. Can seal the edge when asked to reach defenders lined up over outside shoulder. Gets set quickly in pass pro. Has very little trouble with speed rushers. Can mirror and slide versus double moves. A natural knee bender. Extends long arms once in position and can ride edge rushers past the pocket when he gets his hands on them. Plays under control and appears comfortable when left on an island. Gets into defenders legs when goes low and is an effective cut blocker. Works from the snap until the whistle and looks to throw blocks downfield.

Weaknesses: Does not show great lower body strength and is going to have problems driving defenders off the ball in short-yardage situations. Lacks ideal explosiveness, hasn’t learned how to roll hips into blocks and fails to knock many defenders back at the point of attack. Occasionally will get beat by inside quickness. Needs to learn to set while staying more balanced. Can be overaggressive, lunges a little too much and is vulnerable to push-pull moves. While shows adequate awareness in pass protection and helps out when nothing comes to him, over commits at times and has some problems picking up delayed blitzes. Big enough to hold ground but bends at the waist rather than the knees and is going to have some problems holding ground working against NFL caliber bull rushers. Can get jumpy when defenders start jumping around before the snap and he’s vulnerable to false starts.

Overall: Clady redshirted in 2004. In his first active season at Boise State (2005), he made 11 starts at right tackle. In 2006 he moved to left tackle, where he was the starter in all 26 games over the next two seasons. He was a second team All-America selection in 2007. Like a lot of young offensive linemen, Clady needs to get stronger and sharpen his technique. However, he clearly has the frame, quickness, agility and work ethic to quickly develop into a quality starter at left tackle in the NFL. Clady projects as a mid-first round pick, as a result.

Our Take:
Assuming McShay gives the Ravens the same “needs” that we fans have this offseason, namely CB, QB, DE/LB, his forecast of Clady is a bit puzzling. He thinks Leodis McKelvin will fall to the Bills at #11, while Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey will already be off the board. Is it that much of a stretch for the Ravens to take the 11th best overall player with the 8th overall pick? Especially if it addresses a glaring need? If Ozzie & Co. deem that it, in fact IS too much of a stretch, we see them looking to trade down rather than making a choice like Clady. He must be impressing at workouts, since his scouting report (above) written after last season had him forecasted as a mid-first round pick, not a top 10. His weakness of “getting jumpy when defenders start jumping around before the snap,” and being “vulnerable to false starts,” are also troubling to us. Pre-snap movement on defense is becoming par for the course in today’s NFL, and don’t the Ravens have enough trouble with stupid false starts as it is without bringing on another happy feet lineman? Not to mention the fact that we think the Ravens are pretty set for the next few years on the OL. No, Todd, we don’t think our Ravens will be choosing Ryan Clady. Even if it would be cool to have on our squad a guy that was in the “hook-&-ladder, statue of liberty” game.

photo credit: Scout.com

UMBC Earns First Ever NCAA Tournament Bid in Men's Hoops

March 17, 2008

Alright, so it doesn’t pertain in any way to either the Ravens or the Orioles, which is what this site is “supposed” to be all about – but there is no way we can not mention that, our alma mater, the UMBC (University of Maryland – B’More County) Retrievers Men’s Basketball team won the America East Conference Championship over the weekend, and are now headed to the NCAA Tournament. The atmosphere at the RAC arena was truly electric, and the Nest wants to send out congratulations to Coach Randy Monroe, Jay Greene, Darryl Proctor, Ray Barbosa, Matt Spadafora, and the rest of the guys on that team. Seeing UMBC on our brackets for the first time this March is something we will always remember.

The coolest thing to ever happen at UMBC:

Nick-A-What Showin’ off his sign-makin skills:We know we have some readers who are Terps’ fans – don’t worry we still love them (and you guys) too. Just let us enjoy this one for now. It’s been a long time comin’.

(photo credit: Dan Steinberg – washingtonpost.com)

2008 NFL Mock Draft, Version 6.0

March 14, 2008

With 6 weeks until the 2008 NFL Draft, the speculation and mock drafts just keep coming! Here is the latest from Scouts, Inc.

#8: Rashard Mendenhall, HB, Illinois

Unlike the scouting reports we have put up so far, this one was compiled since last season, so it is more up to date.

Strengths: Thickly and powerfully built back. Possesses adequate height, a strong lower body and enormous arms. Runs with adequate pad-level and will generate lots of yards after initial contact. Drives his legs and always seems to be falling forward. Vision and patience are adequate to good. Shows above-average initial quickness and outstanding burst when bouncing runs outside. Very few backs his size share such a noticeable second-gear (see: 2008 Rose Bowl vs. USC). He is a reliable pass-catcher with a good feel for getting open underneath. Can pluck the ball on the run and is dangerous in the open field with a head of steam. Is more than willing in pass pro and possesses the size/strength to anchor versus blitzing linebackers. Does not have a lot of wear on his tires and his best football should be ahead of him.

Weaknesses: Not overly elusive and won’t generate many yards by making defenders miss in space. Had some fumbling issues earlier in his career. Only one season as fulltime load carrier at collegiate level. Will need some time to adjust to blitz pickup in NFL. Awareness in that regard is only decent. While he has been a productive receiver, he needs to do a better job of catching with his hands rather than allowing it to frequently get into his body. Off-season conditioning has never been his strength. Doesn’t have much room left on frame to add bulk, so he will need to guard against adding unnecessary weight.

Overall: After graduating high school early and arriving on campus in the spring of 2005, Mendenhall contributed immediately as a true freshman. In 10 games, he ran for 218 yards on 48 carries and had 13 receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. In 2006, he ran for 640 yards and five TDs on a Big Ten-best 8.2 yards per carry, adding another 164 yards and a score on 12 receptions. As a junior, Mendenhall delivered 1,999 total yards and 19 TDs in 13 games. He led the conference and ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards (1,681). Mendenhall peaked as a junior, which was his first season as a fulltime starter at Illinois. While he still can improve as a football player, there are no glaring weaknesses to his game. Mendenhall is a powerful runner with the burst to hit the occasional homerun. He also is more than capable in the passing game both as a receiver and blocker. With good coaching and attention to detail, Mendenhall has a chance to rank among the upper-echelon starters in the NFL a couple years from now. Mendenhall is worth a mid-to-late first round pick and he should be the second or third running back selected in April’s draft.

Our take:
This one seems the least likely out of any we’ve put up so far, even less so than DT Sedrick Ellis. Willis Mcgahee was a lone bright spot for the Ravens on offense last year, finding yards where there seemingly were none, and showing elusiveness and explosiveness. And he just turned 26 in October, so he certainly has several productive years ahead of him. Running backs drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft are expected to come in and contribute immediately for the most part, and Mendenhall would be a backup on the Ravens. Its safe to say that Paul Tagliabue Roger Goodell will not be announcing Rashard Mendenhall’s name at #8 at the Draft, at least unless the Ravens have traded out of that spot.

Note: Mel Kiper, Jr. wanna-be Todd McShay still has the Ravens going with Leodis McKelvin in his latest Mock Draft.

O’s Not Showin’ Nicky Mark The Money

March 14, 2008


Nick Markakis had his contract renewed by the Birds the other day, after negotiations for a long-term deal apparently reached a standstill. The renewal comes with a $55,000 raise, and Nick will make $455,000 this season (it seems strange to discuss professional athletes’ salaries in the thousands, doesn’t it?). Markakis is understandably not too happy about the whole scenario. As the newly crowned face of the franchise, not to mention the reigning team MVP, he stands to make less money than such players as Adam Loewen and Jeremy Guthrie this season. Markakis told the Sun, “That’s just how the Orioles feel. I don’t have much of a choice. I’m just going to have to deal with it,” before leaving the training complex early.This sort of thing happens to young players. It is just the way the system is set up in the MLB. The owners have all the leverage when players are starting their careers, and the balance of power shifts to the players as they gain experience and become eligible for free agency. The Milwaukee Brewers’ 2007 MVP, Prince Fielder, just went through the same thing with his team, and is just as ticked. Fielder had his contract renewed to $670,000 in 2008 after earning $450,000 in ’07, when he finished 3rd in the NL MVP voting. Said Fielder, “”There are a lot of guys with the same amount of time I have who have done a lot less than me and are getting paid a lot more.” So we’re just saying – it ain’t uncommon.

The O’s need to do what they can to say on Markakis’ good side after this, making sure he understands the business side of things, and reassuring him that they DO plan on paying him handsomely in the very near future. The centerpiece of the youth movement and rebuilding project here in B-More, Nick has to be convinced that he will get a fair shake. Do whatever you need to do to accomplish this Mr. Macphail:

Weekly steaks at Ruth’s Cris on the team? Done.

New electric razor for 5 o’clock shadow maintenance? The bat boy is at radio shack as we speak.

All the in-room entertainment he wants, charged to the room of Aubrey Huff? Sure. Here’s his room number.

Whatever. He. Wants. The O’s are probably making the right decision here from a business standpoint, but they need to be careful. Allow Nick a few days to steam and have his little hissy fits if he wants to, but be there to welcome him back aboard with open arms (and wallets) sooner rather than later when he calms down.

Cap Casualties: Mike & Mike

March 14, 2008

The Ravens’ made two moves this week in trying to better their salary cap situation moving forward in the off season, getting rid of veterans Mike Anderson and Mike Flynn. Anderson is a guy who many would say never really got a fair shake in Baltimore. Hell, prior to coming here, he had led the Denver Broncos in rushing in 2005 while scoring 15 TDs. He signed prior to the 2006 season thinking he was going to be the Ravens’ #1 guy in the backfield, only to see the team re-sign Jamal Lewis before the ink on Anderson’s contract was even dry. Mike A’s final numbers in B-More: 54 carries, 245 yards, 1 TD, 13 receptions, 80 yards. As others have noted, Anderson never made a nuisance of himself, or caused a ruckus because he felt slighted over his lack of playing time. Instead, he merely accepted his role and did the best he could when he was called upon. Anderson’s departure saves the Ravens $1.8 million in cap space.


The release of Mike Flynn is one that may be a good bit harder for purple-and-black faithful to stomach. Not only was Flynn one of the last remaining guys from the Super Bowl XXXV winning team, he is an all around great guy that has endeared himself to the people of Charm City during his tenure here via his charitable contributions, easy-access persona, and hard-working, team-first attitude. Flynn was the personification of an overachiever, having played on two practice squads as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Maine before landing with the Ravens, where he started for the past 8 seasons. Flynn’s release saves the team another $2 million under the cap.

The Ravens probably think they already have Flynn’s replacement on their roster, even if they aren’t quite sure who exactly will fit the bill best. Chris Chester was being groomed as Flynn’s heir apparent, but did not show enough last season to have the starting center job handed over to him. Guard Jason Brown AKA “The Human Bowling Ball,” is another option, though his All-Pro-level play last season may make the team hesitate to change his position. Should Brown be moved to center, Marshal Yanda would likely slide over to guard, his more natural position, with Adam Terry and Jonathan Ogden at the tackle spots, tentatively. Ogden, thought by most to be leaning towards retirement anyway, may have been “tipped over” to the retirement side upon hearing of Flynn’s departure. J.O. took the release of Edwin Mulitalo pretty hard last offseason, and the loss of another of his long-time line mates may be too much for the big guy to handle going forward. Hopefully, either way, Ogden informs the team of his intentions sooner rather than later. If he does retire, Jared Gaither’s offseason pressures just increased ten-fold.

Brian Billick doesn’t know why he was fired

March 14, 2008

B-More’s favorite guru is making the rounds in the local media this week, fresh off a visit to Iraq, and has basically been amicable towards his former employer. Billick describes Steve Bisciotti as “a good partner,” and says that the decision to fire him was, in the owner’s eyes, “in the best interest of the organization.” However, he has also basically said that he was never given a reason for why Bisciotti changed his tune about keeping him on board. While the way the firing went was a bit sketchy at best, as we have admitted here before, Brian (as he was always quick to make sure we knew) is a very smart man. As such, he should have no trouble figuring out “why” he was fired as head football coach of the Baltimore Ravens. But since he seems to be having a brain fart about it, the Nest is happy to help.

Brian, please see:

Exhibit A
Exhibit A-2
Exhibit B

Bone-headed play calling, clock mismanagement, and an offense that a high school defense could stop. Nine years of that sort of thing adds up, Brian. And we’re not trying to be jerks – Steve Bisciotti fumbled the firing, no question. But it was the right move for the team, and Brian can’t honestly expect us to believe he can’t for the life of him figure out why he was let go. If that is the case, then perhaps he will have a better chance of replacing oh….Emmitt Smith in the broadcast booth than replacing say, John Madden.

Suggs Gets Tagged, Not Happy With Position

March 14, 2008

According to this story at ESPN.com, the Ravens put the franchise tag on Terrell Suggs today. While this was expected, what may not have been expected is Sizzles’ apparent displeasure with the position he was tagged as. The Ravens slapped the franchise tag on Suggs as a linebacker, which gives him a 2008 salary of $8,065,000 – the average of the 5 highest paid LBs in the NFL. Suggs contests that he played more than 50% of the team’s defensive snaps at defensive end – DEs get paid more. Had he been franchised at DE, the Ravens would owe Sizzle $8,879,000 – a difference of $814,000. We had been under the impression that it was completely up to the Ravens what position they chose to franchise Suggs at, and that they would obviously choose LB, since it makes the most sense financially for the team. However, it now seems that Suggs will ask the NFL and the players’ association to look at the Ravens’ game films to determine if he did indeed play more than 50% of the snaps with his hand in the dirt, in which case the team may be mandated to give him the higher salary.

Both parties seem eager to want to get a long-term deal done, but this hardly seems like a show of good faith on Suggs’ part. On the other hand though, how would you handle it if your employer tried to take 10% off your salary based solely on your title?


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