Archive for the ‘Bradley's Buzz’ Category

Mel Kiper raves about Tech’s Bay-Bay, broken foot aside

Demaryius Thomas turns a short pass into six points. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Thomas turns a short pass into points. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Say this for Mel Kiper: When he likes a guy, he really likes a guy. (Think of Mel as the Sally Field of draftniks.) And Mel really likes Demaryius Thomas, the Georgia Tech product who had the seeming misfortune of breaking a bone in his foot last week while readying for the NFL draft.

You’d think a broken foot might give a draft-tracker cause for pause, but not our Mel. (Actually, he’s ESPN’s Mel. But I like to think he belongs to us all.) And here, in a mailbag just released on the Worldwide Leader’s Insiders site — all Mel links require registration — is a question from a reader regarding Thomas, who’s known fondly as Bay-Bay, and Mel’s cogent answer:

Q: I’m excited about the possibility of D. Thomas out of Ga. Tech, but he’s not from a passing offense! Isn’t this a guy who might not help the team at all early in his career because he’s still learning? Why don’t the Bengals get more of a sure thing? – …

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Ouch, Bay-Bay! Tech’s Thomas breaks foot as stock soars

Demaryius Thomas shakes hands, but not with Mel Kiper. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Demaryius Thomas shakes hands, not with Mel Kiper. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

File this under really lousy timing. On the same day Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas saw his name listed on Mel Kiper’s mock first round on ESPN.com, he broke his foot while training in Scottsdale, Ariz. So reports Tony Pauline on SI.com.

Thomas, known as Bay-Bay, broke his left foot in a three-cone drill. He’ll miss next week’s NFL combine. More from Pauline:

His agent, Todd France, told SI.com that it was a clean break and doctors expect a recovery time of four to six weeks. “There are no longterm effects from the injury and Demaryius will be 100 percent by the time OTA’s begin,” said France, who added that surgery is a possibility. “If surgery hastens the healing process, that is something we will consider.”

According to observers at Athletes Performance, where Thomas has been training, the 6-foot-3, 227-pound receiver had been turning in sensational workouts in preparation for the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Baseball Prospectus has Braves finishing 2nd

Would you remember Nate McLouth if he signed a baseball for you? (AJC file photo)

Would you remember Nate McLouth if he signed a baseball for you? (AJC file photo)

I’m a little confused. In his ESPN.com Insiders preview of the National League East, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus describes the Braves as “resurgent.” (Link requires registration.) But here’s the weird part: BP’s PECOTA ratings — no relation to Bill Pecota, a Brave of no great distinction in the ’90s — project the Braves’ record as 83-79.

The 2009 Braves finished 86-76. That’s resurgence?

PECOTA puts the Braves second in the division, five games behind the Nationals. (Ha! Just seeing if you’re paying attention. Behind the Phillies, natch.) Goldstein offers this breakdown:

Why They Might Win: Jason Heyward is the top position player prospect in the game, might be the right fielder on opening day and one of those rare talents who could make a big-league impact from day one. Their rotation could be outstanding, as Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are both good young pitchers who could be …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Did the Verducci Effect claim Jair Jurrjens?

Jair Jurrjens delivers, putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jair Jurrjens delivers, thereby putting himself at risk. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Was it just happenstance that Dave O’Brien’s report of Jair Jurrjens’ impending MRI coincided, more or less, with Tom Verducci’s annual look at young pitchers at risk? Because, as the SI.com writer notes, Jurrjens was one of those who appeared to have defied the so-called Verducci Effect.

Ten months ago Verducci identified Jurrjens as one of 10 pitchers under 25 who’d increased his workload by more than 30 innings. You can question the methodology — Eric Seidman of FanGraphs did here — but there’s enough data to make the V-Effect worth noting. Writes Verducci:

“In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: [Ubaldo] Jimenez and three studs who did it last year — Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Someone else likes South Carolina in 2010

"Don't despair, Steve! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Don't despair, Steverino! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

It’s not yet Valentine’s Day, so this is subject to change, but the leader in the clubhouse for post that has peeved the most folks in 2010 is the one where I dared to suggest South Carolina might be poised for a better football season than the Georgia-based SEC representative.

I got the usual dismissive response — “Bradley, you’re just trolling for a reaction” — but I really wasn’t. I actually believe South Carolina is poised for a better season. And now, from Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com’s Insiders, comes something in the way of corroborating testimony. Feldman lists South Carolina as the No. 1 team being overlooked for 2010. (Link requires registration.) His rationale:

“If the Gamecocks don’t come up with that clunker in the bowl game, I suspect they’re preseason top 20, but let’s not overreact too much to that game. QB Stephen Garcia did make some nice strides in 2009, and Carolina does …

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Julius Peppers wants out; the Falcons shouldn’t touch him

See this? Another Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

See this? Pictorial evidence of a Julius Peppers non-sack. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

News out of Charlotte today is that Julius Peppers says he doesn’t want to play for the Carolina Panthers because he has been ignored this offseason. (Peppers gave a radio interview, and his answer to one question prompted the usually straight-down-the-middle Associated Press to describe it as “rambling.”) Speculation has already suggested that Flowery Branch could/should be Peppers’ next place of employment. I have one word for this:

The word is “no.”

The Falcons need a pass rusher. Peppers rushes the passer — sometimes. He had 2 1/2 sacks in 2007. He had 14 1/2 in 2008. He had 10 1/2 last season in what was a contract year. Of those 10 1/2, six came against Washington, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. He had no sacks in four games against New Orleans and Atlanta.

There are times when you watch the Panthers and you think Peppers is Deacon Jones. Other times you think he has come down with the …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Buster doesn’t love Braves’ rotation

This, you should note, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This, as you doubtless know, is not a recent picture. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

We keep hearing that the Braves’ rotation will be just as good without the man who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting  in 2009. The (thin) reasoning: That Javier Vazquez was unlikely to have such a season again, but that Tim Hudson — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and who has won two games since — will absolutely return to top-of-the-rotation form. This, I say again, assumes a lot.

I haven’t quite bought it, and I note for your edification that the estimable Buster Olney of ESPN.com hasn’t yet, either. Writing for ESPN’s Insiders, Buster O. lists his top five rotations — top six, actually — and somehow doesn’t include the Braves’. (Link requires registration.) His rankings:

  • 1. Red Sox: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield.
  • 2. Yankees: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez, Phil Hughes.
  • 3.  White …

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Bradley’s Buzz: SI’s Heyman calls Braves’ offseason ‘cheap’

I apologize. I've used this picture before, but it's a classic. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

I apologize. I've used this picture before, but it's too good. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

I don’t always agree with Jon Heyman of SI.com. He seems to believe Bobby Valentine invented the game of baseball, while I’m of the opinion Bobby V. only perfected the art of preening. But I can’t quibble with this assessment of the Braves’ offseason.

Heyman lists “eight teams that struck out this winter by not spending enough.” The Braves are No. 8 on that list. (The Mets are No. 1, intriguingly enough.)His rationale:

“[The Braves] were remarkably cheap this winter, and the result is a rotation diminished by the loss of Javier Vazquez and a lineup that still needs another big hitter. Melky Cabrera was the only immediate help received for Vazquez, who was brilliant last year. Troy Glaus could prove to be a $2 million bargain, and Eric Hinske seems to be a lucky charm [he played for the AL champion the past three seasons]. They also got former All-Star closer Takashi Saito.

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Bradley’s Buzz: The verdict on UGA’s and Tech’s signees

Understand: I don’t believe Georgia’s recruiting class was a disaster, and I’ve already written as much. But even those who insist recruiting rankings don’t mean anything are duty-bound to check them out. And here, as a public service, they are:

ESPN.com has Georgia 12th nationally and sixth in the SEC.

Rivals.com has Georgia 16th nationally and sixth in the SEC.

Scout.com has Georgia 21st nationally and seventh in the SEC.

For most of Signing Day, ESPN was the only site that had the Bulldogs in the Top 10, but they slid out come sundown. Neither ESPN nor Rivals ranked any Georgia signee a 5-star player; Scout awards safety Alec Ogletree of Newnan five stars.

In five years of compiling recruiting ratings, ESPN ranked Georgia No. 13 in 2007 but in its top six the other three years. As noted early Wednesday, Rivals hadn’t rated the Bulldogs lower than 10th since 2001, when Mark Richt had been on the job barely two months. (They were likewise 16th then.) Scout had Georgia …

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Bradley’s Buzz: SI sees the Falcons taking a Boise cornerback

Another day, another mock draft. This one comes from Don Banks of SI.com, and his is noteworthy because it doesn’t have the Falcons taking a pass rusher with the 19th overall pick. (Which, as noted previously, the Falcons don’t yet own — there’s a coin flip with Houston upcoming in February.)

No, Banks has the Falcons taking a cornerback. And not just any cornerback. A cornerback from Boise State. His name: Kyle Wilson. Banks’ rationale:

“The search for the draft’s No. 2-rated cornerback behind Florida’s Joe Haden at this week’s Senior Bowl turned up a surprising name, that of the former Bronco defensive back, Wilson. He has blanketed receivers on behalf of the North squad, and has made play after play on the ball. There’s no team that needs cornerback help more than Atlanta, and look for Wilson to continue to climb up teams’ draft boards.”

Cross-reference time: ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has Wilson ranked fourth among cornerbacks and 38th overall (link requires registration), …

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