In terms of whether the division's top teams improved, the answer is undoubtedly yes. The Tigers and Twins both made moves that certainly upgraded their rotation and lineup respectively, while the White Sox probably improved, assuming that Peavy actually plays this year (mind you, if the Sox were going to gut their farm system and trade Richard, they probably should have gone after Halladay first, but I'm not complaining because that would have sucked to epic proportions). However, I feel that this criteria is generally irrelevant because no team improved enough to take a run at the Wild Card should they fail to win the division, and the playoffs are a whole new season where the most talented team often doesn't win.
Another criteria that can be used is whether the overall level of talent in the division improved. To evaluate this, I'll look at all Major Leaguers acquired and lost by teams in the division:
Chicago White Sox
Gained: Jake Peavy, Mark Kotsay
Lost: Clayton Richard
Gained: Justin Masterson
Lost: Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko, Rafael Betancourt, Ben Francisco
Gained: Jarrod Washburn
Lost: Luke French
Kansas City Royals
Gained: Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Freel, Josh Anderson*
Gained: Orlando Cabrera
*Josh Anderson is not being listed as being lost by the Tigers because he had been designated for assignment before being traded. However, the Royals have stated that when he reports, he will be called up, so he is in the Majors for the Royals, but the Minors for the Tigers. Brian Anderson is not being listed as lost by the White Sox for the same reason.Overall, the division appears to have actually lost talent (courtesy of the Cleveland Indians). I will argue that the quality of pitching in the division remained at approximately the same level, counting Cliff Lee as equal to Jake Peavy (as Peavy won't start for awhile) and Clayton Richard, Luke French, and Rafael Betancourt as equal in value to Jarrod Washburn. However, the hitting has definitely gotten worse, with Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko being the players of note leaving and Orlando Cabrera the only player of note gained.
Now, while the level of talent in the division may have actually been reduced, it does not mean that the division will necessarily perform worse against other divisions. To evaluate this, I will take a look at every individual team and evaluate what effect their moves is likely to have on their record:
Chicago White Sox
Chicago definitely improved their rotation with Jake Peavy, but his impact will be limited as he won't be in the rotation until late this month at the earliest. He should be good for a couple extra wins.
The Indians have definitely gotten worse by trading away almost every good player on their team. However, the impact of these moves could be mitigated in terms of wins if they play at their talent level. Statistically, before their deadline moves, the Indians were under-performing by five games according to Bill James' Pythagoream Theorem of Baseball (expected winning %=RS2/[RS2+RA2). If the Indians play at the level projected by this for the rest of the year, they probably still will lose games at a greater rate than they are now, but the effect on their record will be strongly mitigated.
Washburn solidifies the rotation, but this will only transfer into a couple more wins unless the Tigers offense reawakens. Hopefully, they can pick up a bat off of waivers.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals managed to pick up three players that other teams were just trying to unload. Unless Betancourt manages to figure out how to hit, the impact of their moves will likely be negligible.
The Twins managed to pick up a quality bat to hit in front of Mauer and Morneau, something that may provide a big boost to their offense, which is currently sixth in runs scored in the AL (currently, they're behind Cleveland, which will probably change soon). However, they have a mediocre pitching staff, so while improved, their team still has holes. That said, with Peavy out until late this month and Detroit still unable to hit (although Guillen has been highly impressive since returning and may be the boost the team needs), the trade for Cabrera may produce more wins than any other trade in the division.
Overall, it appears that the division will perform slightly better against the rest of the league thanks to moves by the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox. That said, the division really is not that much better than it was before the deadline, with Cleveland surrendering any prospect of winning for this year, next year, and probably the year after that.
So at this point I am having many issues with finding enough information for schools not named Michigan before 2004. I've had to skip one Penn State class and am sure I'll have to do it with other schools. Fortunately, Purdue and Minnesota are mailing me their information. I've got requests out at many schools trying to get information. So at this point, I've got two Michigan classes in a row, and then back to the grind of finding information. Enjoy.
Edit: It's randomly bolded, and I can't get the editor here to unbold parts of it. I give up again. When I write my posts in dreamweaver they are supposed to come out perfectly!
Set the Stage:
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
2001 Performance: 8-4-0, 2nd Big Ten, 20th Overall
New Blood: 23
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 2002 class was recruited off of a mediocre 8-4 campaign in 2001, which succumbed to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. Lloyd aimed for a very balanced class here, though a light on the line on both sides of the ball. The emphasis on skill positions was expected to pay off in spades. This class contained 13 in-state players, showing Lloyd's preference for Michigan Men to come from Michigan.
How They Did:
Overall Record: 47-16
Varsity Letters: 61
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 17
Full Eligibility: 15
5th Year Seniors: 12
- Jason Avant, WR, All-Conference 2005
- Dave Harris, ILB, All-Conference 2006
- Gabriel Watson, DT, All-Conference 2005 2006
- Jason Avant, 2006, 4th Round, 109 Overall
- Steve Breaston, 2007, 5th Round, 142 Overall
- Dave Harris, 2007, 2nd Round, 47 Overall
- Gabriel Watson, 2006, 4th Round, 107 Overall
Of the 23 students drafted, 18 graduated, 17 started a game, 15 used their full eligibility, and 12 played as redshirt seniors.
I think this class justifies the use of the man-game starting ratio. This team had an extremely weak starting percentage, barely over 15%, but a high winning percentage, ~75%. The senior season, at 7-5, reflects the starting percentage well. All other classes for Michigan within this time period should have a higher starting percentage, and better senior seasons. This was nowhere near Carr's best performing class.
The lean of this class was towards its skill players in recruiting, and a couple of strong players came from it. Steve Breaston and Jason Avant were both strong receivers and anchors for their senior campaigns. However, the linemen, even though they had less presence, had 43% of the starts for the class. Gabe Watson, DT, won two All-Conference First Team honors, and was drafted just before Jason Avant in the '06 draft. Of the skill players, only two wide receivers an an inside linebacker (Dave Harris) stood out, while Gabe Watson, Reuben Riley, Mark Bihl, and Rondell Biggs all became strong presences on the line during their respective senior campaigns.
The Alabama recruiting abuses have always deeply troubled me, and I very much enjoy when Brian takes them to task. Despite those efforts, I still think the issue is under-exposed.
Alabama cheats*. Alabama’s cheating is more effective and has far greater impact than any conventional cheating one might consider, such as paying recruits or bribing officials. Alabama is playing with a significantly expanded roster. It would be akin to a 30 man roster for the Red Wings with no salary restrictions on the top end. Or John Beilein being able to work with 17 scholarships for an extended period of time. Those who point out that teams that oversign still have to trim down to the 85 scholarship limit apparently refuse to acknowledge it is the marginal players who will be “trimmed”; the best players will remain. For those who reject the expanded roster analogy, then perhaps it is similar to having a developmental squad from which budding stars can be promoted and to which disappointments can be demoted and eventually “let go.”
I have developed nothing new here, just restated a problem we’ve all discussed before. What is missing is the full impact of oversigning.
As a refresher, here are the last four classes for Alabama and Michigan.
Alabama oversigned by 22 players and Michigan undersigned by 1. I don’t care about any individual stories – players who didn’t make the grade, players who changed their minds, players abducted by Andromedans. Doesn’t matter. The reality is that those stories, those excuses have to be there because of the oversigning. The stories do not create oversigning, oversigning creates the stories.
That is a twenty-three player advantage over the last four years. A whole class, consisting of four 5 star players, ten 4 star players and nine 3 star players.
What would Michigan be like today if they had at their disposal the cream of an additional crop? Let’s put faces and names on such a class. Given that Michigan has only had five 5 star players over the last four years, we’ll need four of those. I drew lots and William Campbell was the odd man out. Next, we need ten 4 star players, or 2.5 per year (to spread the tenure of the players out over the four classes). Since I can’t cut a player in half, I went 3, 2, 3, 2, taking the best and worst 4 star from each class and the middle-ranked 4 star for the classes where an extra player was needed (if an even number, I flipped a coin). I needed nine 3 stars or two per class with one extra coming from the class with the most three stars, again top, bottom and middle when needed.
Here’s your class:
These would be additional players in the system over the last four years. The names are a reference point – envision an identical player of equal skill that would be part of the team. Sort of like the mgoblog YMRMFSPA.
Now, what would having that additional talent do to our two deep?
By my crude analysis, that would be an additional five starters for the 2009 team with three more breaking into the two deep. Feel free to disagree here and suggest other combinations.
I admit I have Mallet-clone starting over Tate. That may produce some debate; however, a highly-rated, five star veteran, even if not a prototype spread QB, surely would get the nod to start this season. Look at the center of the OLine! Schilling, Molk and Boren-clone with Schilling-clone backing up both guard positions. Very nice. I give the Matthews-clone the nod over Hemmingway, but the wisdom of two possession receiver types is open for debate.
On defense, we are a good sight better. If we keep the 3 traditional linemen the same, we now have Graham-clone as the Deathbacker. Is he too big for that role? Then we can move him to DT and have Van Bergen backup, which might bring another clone into service with the LB corps. A DLine of Graham, Martin, Graham-clone is frightening. We have Ezeh-clone backing himself up in the middle, which supplies nice depth. At the corners, we have the two Warrens starting with the two Cissokos backing them up, which, in my opinion, makes for the deepest set of corners in the conference, and one of the top CB groups in the nation. Our nickel and dime packages would be lethal.
No real help at the Safety position because we are drawing on our own history here!
From a distance, on offense I see a powerful, very deep interior OLine to clear the way for Minor Rage, and a veteran QB with an intriguing backup. On defense, I likely see a front four of Graham, Van Bergen, Martin, with Graham-clone at Deathbacker, which is downright fearsome; two players rated as preseason All Big 10 selections in the front four. And I see an all world CB group with four guys who would probably start on any team in the Big 10.
Maybe Alabama is on to something after all.
* As does any team that egregiously oversigns.
Fiutak writes that Nick Sheridan "wasn't awful in the season opener against Utah" which is exactly why he was replaced by Steven Threet in that game. Fiutak makes such genius "observations" as Brandon Moore is "not a great route runner, but he's a devastating blocker" (Moore never saw the field during his first season last year, so how could Fiutak know that?). And don't get me started on his preview of the offensive line:
"The key to the line might be the play of Mark Huyge, a 6-6, 291-pound sophomore who was good enough this spring at right tackle that it allowed Schilling to move inside. A major surprise, considering he didn’t see the field last year, he showed that he could handle the workload with excellent athleticism and good toughness. He’s great at pulling and getting on the move."
First of all, Huyge didn't see the field last year because he was INJURED, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that he did well in spring ball because he would've surely played last season if he was healthy given the state of the offensive line. But Fiutak makes no note of this as he was merely pulling this preview out of his ass. He even contradicts himself when he says Huyge is "great at pulling and getting on the move", How the hell do you know that if he didn't play?! Were you at spring practice? Did you ever watch Michigan play and actually take notes of how every player on the offensive line was performing? Did you exhaustively go over the game tape and analyze the intricacies of every play as Brian does here at MGoBlog? No. You merely looked at the names on the roster and made up stuff that would make you look like you know what the hell you're talking about.
This matters only because innocent people might go to this website thinking they are getting real analysis. Not knowing that Fiutak and his coworkers are no smarter than the anyone else. Sure, they can probably tell you the names of all the starting quarterbacks for every FBS team, but just because you can memorize all of the defensive lineman on North Texas doesn't make you smart. Just because an 8 year old can know the batting averages of every batter on the Tigers doesn't mean he could manage the team. Fiutak is put on Big Ten Network as an expert, he writes a column for FoxSports.com last I knew. He is polluting the internet with his uneducated viewpoints. A hack like this must be discredited at every possible turn.
Death to CFN!
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For those of you who have forgotten what a blowout win is, it’s a win where <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan scores many more points than the opponent. Those days will be here again soon, but unfortunately probably not this year. So hang in there, and here’s a list of my favorite blowouts to keep you smiling until we’re seeing them live again. (Which should be real soon, I promise.)
· 10 2007 Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0 – Cripplefight 2007 between two teams headed in different directions, but we didn’t know it at the time. For Michigan it was redemption following two horrible weeks that I won’t recount, and was the first of eight straight wins. Mike Hart guaranteed victory, and victory he achieved in blowout fashion. Also known as Yakety Sax Part Deux.
· 9 2004 Michigan 43, Miami (not that Miami) 10 – This is the game we all expected to be Matt Gutierrez’ coming out party, and instead it was Chad Henne’s. I can still recall learning about Chad starting from the guy who’s lawn we parked on. Even though it was a blowout, it was actually closer played than the score indicated due to a plethora of Miami (NTM) turnovers. Two TD passes to Braylon Edwards were an omen of good things to come.
· 8 1998 Michigan 27, Penn State 0 – Penn State was fired up for this game following the embarrassment from the year before. An early goal line stand over four downs made it clear Michigan came to play. 27 points later, Michigan had its first home victory ever over the Nittany Lions.
· 7 2002 Michigan 49, Michigan State 3 – This game was Bobby Williams’ death knell. The prior year was clockgate, and Lloyd was pissy. Maybe it was just me projecting on Lloyd, but he seemed to relish this one a little more than usual. He certainly didn’t call off the dogs until well after it was decided with a couple insurance TD’s for good measure. (It is honestly the only game I can recall where I thought he ran it up a little.) He seemed to be declaring that if you needed an extra second to beat us last year, this year we don’t even need the *2nd half* to beat you punks.
· 6 2003 Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0 – This was awesome in a conveniently wrapped package, seeing as there was only doubt for about ten minutes of gametime. Steve Breaston had a couple great returns, late in the game Brady Quinn got a welcome to college football that involved lots of mass and pain, and the Leprechaun got teary eyed. ESPN had tabbed Notre Dame for “The Season”, and it was secretly very enjoyable to watch that week’s episode to see how they would hide the fact they were destroyed. As I recall, Tyrone Willingham was only vaguely aware at best that they had been blown out. Return to Glory, indeed.
· 5 1993 Michigan 28, Ohio State 0 – From the 1985 season when I really understood college football, through the year 2000, we lost to Michigan State five times, and lost to Ohio State three times with a tie. Think about that a second. 1993 is a perfect example of why, in 2000, Wolvrine32 had virtually no respect for Ohio State. In 1993 we were unranked at 6-4 and facing a #5 Buckeye team that rolled into Michigan Stadium only to slink home after a thorough and meticulous beating. These things run in cycles, and we owned them in the 90’s. Let’s hope the tables turn back in the coming decade.
· 4 1997 Michigan 27, Colorado 3 – Not only the backdrop of Colorado’s prior visit to the Big House, but also the talk of the Michigan “M” standing for mediocre and the sheer shock of the whole thing make this an all-time blowout great. I went to the game with an ND friend, and he actually cringed several times when Hessler (Colorado’s hapless QB) got sandwiched. Neuheisel pulled him less from ineffectiveness than from concern for his well-being. Things got ugly. It was awesome.
· 3 1991 Michigan 31, Ohio State 3 – This is the Desmond Howard “Heisman Pose” game. Also my first Michigan game I actually attended, with the best seats I’ve ever had at a game. What a great day. Howard also caught two long passes and generally ran in circles around any DB in a white jersey he could find.
· 2 1997 Michigan 34, Penn State 8 – Judgement Day couldn’t have gone more to plan, at least without footage of Beano Cook actually sobbing after the game. This game was a massacre, and if Penn State QB Mike McQueary doesn’t still have recurring flashes of Glenn Steele bearing down on him, then he lacks some form of basic survival instinct. (Sometimes I think of Steele sneaking up on McQueary working in a real estate office and pulling a Terry Tate just to mess with him.) I still remember the PSU crowd cheering mildly sarcastically after that 4th quarter TD, both because they had avoided the shutout and because Penn State had scored the first TD in a second half on Michigan all season. A minor footnote in a major win for the program. (A good friend described it afterward as a “three hour orgasm.”)
· 1 2006 Michigan 47, Notre Dame 21 – Make no mistake, Lloyd could’ve named his score here. This was a decent Irish team, which only scored 14 in the first half because Henne threw one bad interception and Ron English got confused and put in Jim Herrman’s playbook for the last drive of the half. God I loved this game. Context: it followed the Year of Infinite Pain, and was the message to all college football that we were back. Also, Brian posted the following on MGoBlog that my wife still refers to as The Michigan Prayer: “Win you bastards. Win. Win for Michigan. Win for America. Win for that little boy in the hospital. Win for me. Don’t lose. Win.”
Bonus coverage, 1992 Michigan 61, Houston 7 – This is bonus because although the opponent or context wasn’t anything special, I can still see Tyrone Wheatley zipping down the sideline for a TD on the opening kickoff, my second home game as a student. Michigan 7, Houston 0, 14:49 remaining, 1st Q. And no one touched him. Plus, it’s the most we’ve scored since the Bo era. Oh wait, no it isn’t, we put 63 on Minnesota that year. Man, Gary Moeller could really coach him some offense.
There has been a crap-ton of commentary about the scheduling of UConn. This Diary attempts to address the issues most people aren't grasping regarding Michigan's future schedule.
For those thinking we need a (currently) elite team (eg, UF, OU, USC etc.) b/c of the new stadium reno and we're the 'leaders&best':
On Oct. 1, 1927, Michigan played Ohio Wesleyan in the first game at Michigan Stadium. The game was a success as Michigan started the scoring on a 28-yard pass from Louis Gilbert to tight end Kip Taylor and prevailed easily, 33-0. The new stadium was dedicated three weeks later against Ohio State on Oct. 22, 1927.in 2010, I imagine the dedication will be against MSU. A UConn level opponent is not out of character for an opening game.
For those thinking that we need to schedule like we did in the 80s and 90s:
I don't know what else to tell you besides, welcome to 2009. PSU is a member of the B10. The BCS exists. We have ND as our opponent every year. The AD budget is about $90M per year. UCONN is a D1A team and in fact has shared a BEast title and gone to bowl games. They have been D1A since 2000 and a BEast football member since 2004. All these facts describe the current climate of college football: teams are scheduling weaker. For money reasons, EVERY D1A team wants to have as many home games as possible. So, even if M wanted to schedule a decent team, they would require a return trip, *IF* that other team doesn't already have a good OOC opponent and would want to play M in addition to any other big game they scheduled for year X.
- b/c of money issues, EVERY BCS conf. team is demanding home games. Whether or not you think of UConn as a BCS team, based on the definition of "is," it is.
- b/c of the BCS MNC format, teams who schedule 2-3-4 BCS opponents in the OOC are jeopardizing their chances at playing in the BCS MNC game. The notable exceptions reside in the Pac10 where they only play 3 OOC games in most cases. This is commendable, and I'd love to explore this further in the comments. Note, however, that most of the Pac10 teams look for mostly low-mid level BCS OOC opponents. Just. like. UConn.
For those thinking that the schedule is easy in 2010:
We play ND, PSU and OSU on the road in 2010. @ND is the 2nd game of the season, IIRC. UConn is a solid BCS team. Not great, but not terrible. They have been a better team than Vandy, Wazzu, Washington (!), Iowa State, Duke, North Carolina... I'll let others make a bigger list.
For those complaining that the HOME schedule is crappy in 2010:
I don't hear you bitching about the home schedule in odd numbered years when you get ND, PSU and OSU all at home. There are 2 sides to the coin. The AD is under no obligation to give you a better home schedule in even years. If you think you they should charge you less for season tickets in even years, then volunteer to pay MORE in odd years.
This all isn't to say that I want a weak schedule. I'd love to play CU, ND, BC, FSU and Miami (YTM) like back in the day. But, it's 2009. Things have changed in CFB (e.g., UConn is as good if not better than CU) and it's not Bill Martins' fault for any of this. People just need to recognize the reality of the situation.