AFC East Free Agency Forecast

As with the NFL, and most recently the NBA, I have locked myself out of writing any posts for an extended period of time. However, with all of this hullabaloo (yea I said it) seemingly coming to an end with the NFL, I figured I would share some of my feelings with you.  You will have to keep in mind the whole restricted/unrestricted thing may change with a new CBA and some guys that I may list could be off limits. 

That being said The AFC East seems to be getting more competitive. The Jets are making a run of becoming the Eagles of this decade by losing two consecutive conference championships in a row. The Patriots still have Tom Brady and the young defense is starting to get it. The Dolphins defense looks to be even better this coming year and if they had a clue on offense could contend. The Buffalo Bills are no longer a scheduled win on the schedule and have a lot of young talent to steal some wins away.  Today I will be focusing on the offensive side of the ball and give you some names to look out for.

It would seem that there would only be two teams in the market for a quarterback, however the Bills seem to be standing by Fitzpatrick and in my opinion it’s the best move that Gailey has made since he’s been there.Miamiwill most likely be looking to land a veteran, some names I could see ending up inSouthBeachwould be Carson Palmer, Vince Young, Matt Hasslebeck, and possibly Mcnabb. I think the best fit would be Palmer however both he and Mike Brown seem to be sticking to their guns. I can’t see Palmer retiring and for the right price I think Brown would pull the trigger. Bottom line, Henne will probably start next year andMiamiwill run the ball about 60 times a game.

The running back position will probably see the most movement especially in this division.New Englandneeds more balance and an injection of some youth in the backfield. The law firm was great last season but with Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris applying for social security and Kevin Faulk most likely retiring, they need one or two guys to fill the void. The Jets simply cannot rely on LT and Shonn Greene to shoulder the load. They drafted McKnight out of USC last year and he struggled getting into the offense.Miami, similair toNew Englandneeds one or two backs. They drafted Daniel Thomas out ofKansasStateand the remaining backs from their roster are all free agents (Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard).Buffaloseems to be the most stable at the position and may add someone to replace Fred Jackson

DeAngelo Williams is the biggest name and best buy in my opinion. I have sources (I really do) that have reported that Williams bought a home inMiami….coincidence? Probably, if I had the money I would have a home inSouthBeachtoo. That being saidMiamihas spent the most money in free agency almost every offseason in the past five years and I have a feeling Williams will end up inMiami. Another big name that will have some rumors swirling around it will be Reggie Bush. All signs point to the Saints moving on and you can’t tell me that a coordinator wouldn’t be able to find use for him.  Look for a Darren Sproles sighting in the AFC East next year as well. I could seeNew Englandlanding either player. Both can catch the ball out of the backfield and have the explosiveness that the current wide receivers are lacking. Ahmad Bradshaw would also be a good fit for the Patriots as well with his downhill running still. The Jets may want the players I just listed as well as any of the Ricky and Ronnie duo from the Phins. I could seeBuffalotaking a flyer on a guy like Mike Tolbert or Michael Bush to replace the hard nose runner they may be losing with Fred Jackson’s possible departure.

The wide receiver position will be interesting. The Jets would be dumb to not re-sign Santonio Holmes and they would be just as smart to re-sign Braylon Edwards. Edwars catches a lot of criticism and rightfully so, for his dropoff after his monster 2008 season. However towards the end of last season he came around. His catch against Indy was huge and if he does become a free agent he would command some decent cash from teams.New Englandcould be looking to add the stretch the field asset they once had with Randy Moss. Could that be Vincent Jackson? If so, there is no reason this team couldn’t make another Super Bowl run.MiamiaddedMarshalllast season and also drafted the speed guy they were lacking in Edmund Gates. They probably won’t be making a move for a wideout, however there has been some politicking going on from Brandon Marshall to add his best friend and ex-college teammate Mike Sims-Walker.Buffaloneeds another guy to help out Steve Johnson and lee Evans. They could be in the market for a guy like James Jones from Green Bay who I think is a poor mans Brandon Marshall, he is a big physical receiver just not a lot of speed.

I don’t see a lot of big time tight ends going anywhere. I also don’t see a huge need for the position within the division.New Englanddrafted a great pair with Gronkowski and Hernandez and should be set. The Jets have Dustin Keller and don’t use him enough in my opinion. The Dolphins could certainly use an upgrade at the position to help free up Fasano from blocking all the time. The Buffalo Bills have a number of young guys and could definitely bring in a guy like Owen Daniels who may move on from the Texans.

Offensive line will be interesting in this division. The biggest story will be what will happen with Logan Mankins. IfNew Englandparts ways with him depending on if they can and will franchise him again they have an issue in the middle of that line. They are very strong on the outside with Volmer and the new giant Solder on the other side. Light may resign for a hometown discount, but I’m not sure either side will be keen on that. The Jets lost Damien Woody and both Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano would love to add the high priced guard. If Mankins is off the table look forMiamito go after Davin Joseph hard. Carl Nicks, Ryan Kalil, and Harvey Dahl are all quality guys that again may or may not be available.  I’m not sure ifBuffalowould be in the bidding for Mankins but they could certainly use a tackle. The best options at Tackle are Tyson Calbo, Jared Gaither, and Doug Free. Who knows,Buffalocould keep Matt Light in the division and let Cameron Wake abuse him some more. Center is pretty solid in this division,Miamidrafted Pouncey to be their center in the first round of the draft  and the other teams in the division are pretty decent up the middle. If they wanted to upgrade they could try to pick up Olin Kruetz or Samson Satele, howeverMiamishipped Satele out of the division because he couldn’t handle the big nose tackles like Wilfork and Jenkins.

The Bills and Dolphins need the most help offensively ranking 28th and 30th in scoring offense but that doesn’t mean New England and New York won’t snag some of the players that I’ve listed. All four teams can improve in certain areas and it seems that we will soon be finding out who is going where.

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Boston Red Sox Offseason 2011 (continued)

In a previous post I took a look at the Red Sox pitching situation heading into 2011.  In this post I will look at how Terry Francona will fill in his lineup card in 2011, and what options Theo has to look at over the winter.  I will write this post as if it as an actual lineup opposed to doing a position by position look at the Sox.

1) Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury

Putting Jacoby in left last season was a failed experiment.  I was very outspoken and against it from day one. I didn’t understand the fascination with Mike Cameron at all.  Forget what the computers say, I trust my eyes and my eyes tell me that Jacoby is a very good center fielder with great range.  Some believe that Jacoby will be a trade chip that would land a Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez.  I think that would be a mistake.  Keep Jacoby in center and in the lead off spot.  He has game changing speed and is an exciting player.

2) Second Base: Dustin Pedroia

This is as set in stone as it gets.  Pedroia will be coming back from his foot injury that sidelined him most of last season.  There is nothing scarier than a motivated Pedroia and that’s what the Sox will have when he reports to Fort Myers in the spring.

3) Left Field: TBA

The Red Sox have Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, and  Darnell McDonald under contract for next season I believe.  While Kalish, Nava, and McDonald were great in a fill-in role last season, if they are called into full time duty for the Sox this season, they will be in trouble.  I fully expect the Sox to make a huge run at Carl Crawford.  Crawford has long been a favorite of mine and I would love to see him in Red Sox apparel. Crawford has shown he can hit 20 home runs.  We know he is a grand larcenist on the base paths.  He is also a solid defender.  I am the biggest advocate to bringing him to Fenway.

Other options: Jayson Werth, Hideki Matsui, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer

4) 1st Baseman Kevin Youkilis

Like the rest of the Red Sox lineup, Youkilis will be returning from an injury that shelved him for the rest of the 2010 season.  There have been reports that Youk will be working out at third base this off season in case the Sox go out and make a splash in the first base market.  The Sox are sure to inquire about the availability of Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder. There are also several free agents of interest at the position.  I do find it very likely Youk will move across the diamond next season.

Free Agent options: Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Derek Lee, Carlos Pena

5) Catcher: TBA

It will be in the Sox best interests to bring back Victor Martinez.  He put up great numbers last season while missing an entire month.  Martinez is a free agent and is sure to command top dollar on the open market.  The Tigers are reportedly already showing high interest in Victor, which will only drive up the bidding for the Sox.  Personally, I believe he is worth 3-4 years at about 15 million per.  If the Sox are unable to resign him, they might be forced into putting Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the dish.

Free Agent options other than Victor: John Buck, Matt Treanor, Yorvit Torrealba, Rod Barajas

6) Designated Hitter David Ortiz

Whether Ortiz likes it or not, the Sox will be picking up the team option they have on him for the 2011 season.  1 year at 12 million is very fair for Ortiz given his age and his production.  Ortiz isn’t getting any younger but continues to hit 30 home runs and drive in close to 100 runs a year.  Whether the Sox do decide to restructure his contract or just pick up his option, Ortiz is a sure bet to be in the Sox dugout in 2011.

7) Third Base: TBA

Adrian Beltre had a career year last season with the Red Sox while managing to be the only one to remain healthy all season (and knocking two guys out Elssbury, Hermida).  Beltre is expected to decline the 10 million dollar player option he has for 2011.  I would love to see the Sox bring Beltre back but the problem is his representation is Scott Boras.  Boras is known to command top dollar for his clients, and he usually gets it.  Ideally, Beltre will resign with the Sox for 3 years 45 million.  If Beltre leaves, the Sox have in-house options.  They can either move Youk across the diamond or they can move Jed Lowrie to third.

Free Agent possibilities: Miguel Tejada, Brandon Inge, Aramis Ramirez

8) Right Field JD Drew

Many Red Sox fans will be grateful that this is Nancy Drew’s last season as a Red Sox.  Many fans will be calling for Ryan Kalish to play right field full time.  I myself will sit back and enjoy JD’s last season in Boston.  I will appreciate that he was huge for the Sox in the post season when it mattered most.  The man makes the game look so easy with his sweet swing and his range in the outfield.  Yes, it is maddening that he grounds out to second base 3 times a game. But there is just one season left and then it will be Kalish’s time in Boston.

9) Shortstop Marco Scutaro vs Jed Lowrie

This will be an interesting battle to watch in spring training.  Marco Scutaro put together a solid season with the Sox in his first year in Boston.  He made more errors than I was comfortable with but overall I had no gripes with Scutaro’s play.  Lowrie caught fire toward the end of the season and had many calling for him to man the shortstop position.  Lowrie has always been solid when healthy, the problem is he is never healthy.  Whether its a wrist, mono, or who knows what Lowrie is worse than JD Drew when it comes to injuries.

The Bench:

Ryan Kalish– No Red Sox endeared themselves to the Fenway Faithful than Kalish.  He reminded the fans of a man named Trot with his all out play, cannon for an arm, and knack for hitting grand slams.

The Sox would love to bring back Bill Hall.  But Hall is likely to go out and test free agency seeing if there is a place where he can be an everyday player.

If the Sox are able to bring back Victor Martinez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be the backup. If Salty gets the starting gig, there will be a spring training battle between Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown.

Mike Cameron still has one year left on his deal as does Darnell McDonald. The Sox will need a back up corner infielder and here are some names that would fill that void: Jorge Cantu, Jim Thome, Mark Kotsay, and Brad Hawpe.