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Sabres sign Ehrhoff for 10 years, $40 million.

He has scored 28 goals in the last two years and generated 90 points. Seems like a pretty good offensive defenseman. He helped guide the Vancouver Canucks to an appearance in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. What was supposed to become a free agent, his rights were traded to the New York Islanders and then later to the Buffalo Sabres. He is Christian Ehrhoff, the newest Sabre, who has signed a contract for 10 years, $40 million.

Wait, what? Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. He was highly coveted in this year’s free agent market but yet another frontload contract? Ehrhoff is good on the offense but critics proclaim that he won’t have the same help in Buffalo as he did in Vancouver and I would have to agree. Ehrhoff has also been criticized for his defensive play as well.

Look at people like Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, a restricted free agent, he’ll probably stay in Nashville most likely as I can see them matching an offer sheet. He is terrific at scoring goals but yet he was also an All Star, is younger and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 2011 for best defenseman.

There is also Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, who in 2009 was the first defenseman to score 30 goals in a season since 1993. It may help that he had Alexander Ovechkin with him. His offensive numbers weren’t as good as they were the last two seasons but I can still see him as an upgradeover Ehrhoff.

Bob McKenzie is an analyst for TSN, Canada’s equivalent of ESPN. He posted on his twitter the details of the signing:

“@TSNBobMcKenzie

Ehrhoff deal breakdown: 10 Years // $40 Million:

Year 1: $8M signing bonus, $2M salary;
Year 2: $5M SB, $3M sal. That’s $18M in 1st 2 yrs, or $15M before puck drops on 12-13 season.
Year 3: $4M; Year 4: $4M, Year 5: $4M; Year 6: $4M; Year 7: $3M; Year 8; $1M; Year 9: $1M, Year 10: $1M. Modified NTC. Cap hit=$4M/yr.”

. I was looking at the Canucks message boards and some fans are really upset that Ehrhoff was greedy. Hey, I tend to be upset when a good player leaves my team but the thing is this: who wouldn’t take this deal to make $10 million next year? I know for sure that I would.

Taken from TSN’s article about Ehrhoff: “My goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” Ehrhoff said in a statement released by the team. ”And after the offer I received from Buffalo, I believe this is the best place to make it happen.”

Mr. Ehrhoff, I know the Sabres make the playoffs- that’s what happens when you have Ryan Miller in net, but I don’t see the Sabres winning a cup anytime soon. I mean I could be wrong but that’s just me.

One can only think of the ridiculous long term contracts that did not pan out. Alexei Yashin was a 30-40 goal man during his tenure with the Ottawa Senators. In 2001 he signed a 10 year, $87.5 million deal with the Islanders. He was not the same player and he was gone in 2007. They also pulled this with goaltender Rick DiPietro in 2006 with a 15 year, $67.5 million contract. He has played in 39 games the last three seasons.

The New York Mets signed Bobby Bonilla to a 5 year, $29 million contract in 1992. He did hit a career high 34 home runs there and was a two time All Star but he had no Barry Bonds like he did in Pittsburgh. He was the controversy of many incidents and unlike with the Pirates, he had no top 3 MVP finish, which he accomplished twice while there.

Then there’s perhaps the most foolish of them all: despite averaging only 2.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and two blocks per game with the Washington Bullets, the Seattle Supersonics inked center Jim McIlvaine to a 7 year, $33.6 million contract. He was gone by 1998 and did not produce.

I think Christian Ehrhoff is a good offensive defenseman and will be serviceable to an improving Sabres team by acquiring fellow defenseman Robyn Regehr and reacquiring right winger Ales Kotalik. However 10 years is a big commitment and despite that Buffalo is still way under the cap, this much money for Christian Ehrhoff is complete lunacy. Let’s face it: almost all athletes these days are overpaid but many with hefty contracts are among the elite. Christian Ehrhoff is not an elite defenseman.

NHL to realign divisions by 2012-2013

NHL to realign divisions by 2012-2013

Things have really shaken up this off-season in the N.H.L. and free agency hasn’t even happened yet. The Atlanta Thrashers have moved to Winnipeg and the Jets have returned, the Philadelphia Flyers traded Jeff Carter AND Mike Richards, selecting Sean Courtourier, the one time best rated prospect in the draft. My beloved Chicago Blackhawks have traded the likes of Troy Brouwer, Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky to free up some cap space.

None though, may be as bigger as this one: the NHL is realigning their entire divisions at the start of next season, not this coming one but the year after. That’s right, new divisions. There will be four divisions: Pacific, Midwest, East and South.

The Pacific Division consists of the Vancouver Choke-Nuts, erm, Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes.

The Midwest division will have the Jets, Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars? Seriously? Detroit is out of our division? That doesn’t seem right.

The East Division has the Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, the Flyers and the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.

The South Division has the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

It will be harder to win the division for some. That’s not the issue. Perhaps it’s just me not liking change but this just seems really, really lame. Add to the fact that my team’s biggest rival is out of my division. Yeah, I’m upset.

Top 10 American League Hitters

When you have the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and always have Jose Bautista, you are likely to take a majority in a top 10 hitters list. These AL teams have some big boppers and here’s a look at the top 10 hitters in the AL using a new stat, adjusted offense:

Original post and stats here.

1. Jose Bautista-OF-Toronto Blue Jays

No surprise here! Mr. Toronto and the number one All-Star vote getter finally hit number 22 this past week after struggling a bit to make home run contact behind the plate. He has still kept his average up (.325), but was struggling to hit the the long ball as we watched other home run hitters like Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson catch up. I think the knock on Bautista over the course of the entire season will be his lack of RBIs. His numbers with the bases empty (.319 BA, 16 HR, 16 RBI, .719 SLG) crush his numbers with runners in scoring position, RISP, (.246 BA, 4 HR, 25 RBI, .509 SLG). The Blue Jays don’t get on in front of him often, but when they do, he hasn’t done much with the opportunity (14 hits in 57 at bats). He is still the best hitter in the game, the Blue Jays just have to hope that the offense can pick him up.

2. Adrian Gonzalez-1B-Boston Red Sox

It has to be argued that Gonzalez might just be the best hitter in the AL, but his power numbers are down just a bit so far this season. The biggest offseason acquisition by any team has come through with a major league leading average of .359 and 69 RBIs to go along with his 15 home runs. If we are talking about hitting with RISP, Gonzalez is the king. His numbers skyrocket when the Red Sox need him, going from an average of .319 with none on to .385 with RISP to .419 with RISP and two outs! That is absolutely a ridiculous number, which would provide the argument to being the best hitter. For those stat heads, Gonzalez’s WAR is third best in the majors at 4.3, behind Matt Kemp and Bautista.

3. Miguel Cabrera-1B-Detroit Tigers

It’s unfortunate that Cabrera has to play in the same league with Gonzalez, because otherwise he would be the best first baseman in the league. If it weren’t for Cabrera, the Tigers would be hovering around .500 and would not have caught the Cleveland Indians. Yeah, I said it. Cabrera’s OBP is less than only Bautista’s at .455, which helps to drive that team. Cabrera’s power numbers are down a bit so far this season, with just 15 home runs and a .576 slugging percentage, but expect those to go up a bit as the season goes along and he continues to improve his game. I think Cabrera is still getting better with every game and he is already one of the best hitters in the game.

4. Curtis Granderson-OF-New York Yankees

Granderson has had the luxury is hitting for a crazy amount of power so far this season. I watched him play in Chicago a week ago and before the game started, I was watching him throw around and hit in batting practice. There is no way a guy with his build should be hitting 21 home runs to this point in the season. I was blown away. As a midwesterner, I had never seen him in person. He has crazy athletic ability. His numbers against lefties (.267 BA, 9 HR, 22 RBI) are not as much of a cause for concern as they have been in the past, with a .220 career average against lefties. That makes life much easier on Joe Girardi and the Yankees management to keep playing Granderson and watching every day as the freak of nature might just hit another home run.

5. Kevin Youkilis-3B-Boston Red Sox

Youkilis is another Red Sox hitter who gets better when the team needs him, which is what adjusted offense is all about, coming through when you are supposed to. His average with none on sits at a lowly .259, but with RISP and two outs he is hitting .368 in 38 at bats. His career average is .293 and he hasn’t hit below .300 for a full season since 2007, so expect his average of .279 to go up. His WAR has also been higher than four every season since 2007, so expect his 3.2 to go up as well. Youkilis is a veteran who knows how to get the job done, so expect him to keep doing it.

6. Paul Konerko-1B-Chicago White Sox

Konerko is probably the most underrated first baseman in the AL. He is consistently one of the better hitters, but he is so quiet! This season has been one of his more impressive ones so far. He is on pace to set new career highs in both home runs and RBIs, his highs sitting at 41 and 117 back in 2004. People just don’t talk about Konerko much. He should be seriously considered for the All-Star game if he hasn’t gotten voted in yet, as he is having a better season so far than Cabrera. Last season was one of his best overall, and his .326 average and 21 home runs currently show that he should be considered amongst the elite.

7. David Ortiz-DH-Boston Red Sox

Papi is looking like the Papi of old. He is having an extremely productive season for the Red Sox so far, which is just in time for the Red Sox. This is the season that they pushed to win the World Series, and it has been an added bonus that Ortiz has been playing well. He hasn’t held an average over .300 for a season since 2007, so his .312 average is promising as we near the All-Star break. He will most likely receive his seventh All-Star honor this season and the 35-year-old Dominican big man will be looking for another ring before the end of his career.

8. Mark Teixiera-1B-New York Yankees

It’s a good this Tex can hit home runs, because he sure doesn’t hit for a good average the first half of the season. He has always been a notoriously slow started but has shown promise of improvement this season. He is only hitting .244 so far this season, but his 21 home runs have him tied for second in the league. He is another guy I saw in batting practice against the Cubs. I have never seen anyone hit the ball so hard from both sides of the plate. His 1.6 WAR is the lowest he has seen in his game since the first season of his career with the Texas Rangers, but expect that number to rise as the season goes on. He will go on a tear. He always does.

9. Alex Rodriguez-3B-New York Yankees

What did I say about the Red Sox and Yankees earlier? Filling in the sixth spot for those teams in our top 10 is Rodriguez. Ever on the road to redemption in most baseball fans eyes, Rodriguez is trying to shake off the steroid stigma and just get back to playing baseball. The one time future Hall of Famer and home run king, Rodriguez can still reach the 700 homer mark before his career is out, as well as 3,000 hits. He sits at 626 HRs, with 13 this season, so with another 17 to get to 30 (which he can get easily), he will sit just 57 away. His .296 average so far this season looks to get him back close to his .303 career average after struggling for the past few seasons in that category. I will still watch his run to get to 700 and 3,000, regardless of his past history.

10. Victor Martinez-DH-Detroit Tigers

Martinez has done what many believe the new star catchers are going to do in the future, stop catching. Martinez has been one of the most successful DHs in the league this season, hitting for a gaudy .332, the best on the Tigers’ squad. He is helping Cabrera carry the load, driving in 42 runs already this season, but his power numbers are down a bit, just six home runs so far this season. If he keeps swinging his hot bat and making good contact, there’s no doubt he can find that power. He is only 32 this year, so he still has a few good years ahead of him.

For a list of the top hitters, the stats, as well as an explanation of the stat used.

The Case for Vernon Wells

When Vernon Wells was acquired from the Blue Jays in a blockbuster deal that sent catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to Toronto, fans were both ecstatic and cautious. After watching Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre ink multi-year contracts including eight-digit money figures, the Angels decided it was their turn to make a move in a true act of desperation to remain a legitimate playoff contender in the competitive AL West.

Wells has been horrendous to say the least in 2011. Nearing the tail-end of his prime, he has produced a .197/.234/.332 batting line to go along with just 7 HRs and 25 RBIs. Needless to say, he has appeared in just 49 games translating to 205 PAs, but that is still a healthy bit of sample size with little to no production. And as he prepares to collect a $23 million paycheck at year’s end, it’s time to see change.

You ask me, “Are we going to see change, and if so, when”? This question can have a complicated answer. According to ESPN MLB Park Factors from 2010, The Rogers Centre, Wells’ former home, was the fourth most hitter friendly ballpark in the major leagues behind U.S. Cellular Field, Coors Field, and Yankee Stadium. Scroll down the page and you’ll see that Angel Stadium of Anaheim is all the way down at twenty-three, proving to be one of baseball’s most pitcher friendly parks.

While ballpark factors can be a large part of the story, it isn’t all. It is evident that Vernon Wells has been very unlucky in 2011, posting a .209 BABIP and .135 ISO to date. The BABIP shown is .76 ticks below his career average of .285, and his ISO is down as well by a drastic .58 points.

As mentioned previously, Wells is entering the tail-end of his prime and beginning his journey down the downhill slope. He went from one of baseball’s most hitter friendly parks to one of baseball’s most pitcher friendly parks. But we also see that Vernon Wells has been flat-out unlucky in 2011. So, what can we expect from him in the remainder of the 2011 season?

My best guess-timate is production from somewhere in between his spectacular bounceback 2010 campaign and his outright awful 2011 season. A .240/.300/.430 type line seems about right in final form, and as you can see, that is not worth $23 million dollar money or even half for that matter. The bottom line is that the Halos’ made an incredibly irresponsible acquisition in an act of desperation, and it’s going to be extremely hard rid themselves of arguably baseball’s most crippling contract.

Top 5 American League Rookies

As we prepare to flip the calendar from June to July, we decided to put together a list of this year’s American League-Rookie of the Year front runners. We have comprised a list of 5-prime candidates that we strongly believe will remain on top until this November when the coveted award will be announced.

1. Michael Pineda, RHP, Seattle Mariners

Michael Pineda has exceeded expectations in 2011. Regarded as a top-prospect entering this season, Pineda has not only been a clear-cut Rookie of the Year favorite, but he has been seen as one of the most dominate pitchers in the Major Leagues this year, let alone the American League. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his latest start versus a solid-Philadelphia Phillies offense and has been on top of his game in essentially all of his starts. He has posted and maintained a 2.64 ERA over the course of this year and an astonishing K/9 rate of 8.63 compared to a much smaller BB/9 of 2.64-a K/9 to BB/9 ratio of nearly 4:1. Although he sports an FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 3.08 and an xFIP (expected FIP) of 3.52 suggesting regression, only time will tell with this future surefire ace.

2. Zach Britton, LHP, Baltimore Orioles

Zach Britton, known to be a contact-to-contact pitcher, has been a pleasant surprise for the Orioles in 2011. He has taken the reigns in a rather weak Baltimore rotation that has lost former top-prospect Brian Matusz and right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to a brief DL-stint early on. Although he has a mediocre K/9 rate of 5.28, he has located the ball well, posting a legit 0.72 HR/9 rate to this day. If the 23-year-old left-hander can keep up with a 3.10 ERA that is due for regression, he will have strong consideration when the voting day comes.

3. Jordan Walden, RHP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

When Fernando Rodney was announced as the closer for opening day and failed to comply, Walden was the man who got the nod for the ninth inning from there on-and he has taken advantage of that opportunity. Walden has posted 1.3 WAR (wins above replacement), top amongst AL-relievers and has posted more WAR then fellow teammate Ervin Santana in 1/3 of the innings pitched. That’s just a glimpse of how spectacular he’s been. Walden has converted 17 of 20 save opportunities and has posted an unhumanly-high K/9 rate of 10.91. His FIP suggests that he can only get better from this point as he makes his case to become the third AL West-closer in as many years to win the award.

4. Mark Trumbo, 1B, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

When it was announced that All-Star first-basemen Kendrys Morales would miss one more season due to a leg injury, Trumbo was called on to fill rather big shoes, and so far he has succeeded. With the re-assurance that he is here-to-stay, Trumbo has hit 12 big-flys as head announcer Victor Rojas calls them, to go along with 30 RBIs and a solid OPS+ of 114. Not only has Trumbo done big things with the stick, he has stolen six bases and has played above average defense and is sure to be a candidate for this year’s Rookie of the Year award.

5. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

Seemingly a top prospect on every prospect list available, Hosmer wasn’t in Omaha long before he was recalled to Kansas City to take over as the full-time first basemen in 2011. With the disadvantage of playing in just 41 games, Hosmer has answered pretty well, hitting .276 with 5 HRs and 22 RBIs and a 108 OPS+ to this date. Guaranteed the future at first base, Hosmer should only get better with time and could skyrocket up these Rookie of the Year lists by year’s end.

Just missed the cut: J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR, Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, TB, Tyler Chatwood, RHP, LAA

NFL’s Top Weapons

5. Antonio Gates Gates isn’t who you normally think of when somebody says “Offensive Weapon”, but he really is. He’s a giant body, and runs faster than some receivers. I can’t put him any higher on the list because he doesn’t play another position, but he can play Tight End and …