The history of the West Coast offense

Now that Mike Holmgren has his own man in Cleveland with Pat Shurmer, Browns fans are learning more about an offense that has its roots with Paul Brown and the Browns back in their glory days.

Tony Grossi traces the history of the offense in today’s Plain Dealer, starting with Paul Brown, then to Bill Walsh who joined him in Cincinnati and then on to Holmgren and other like Andy Reid. The “West Coast” nickname was originally coined by Bill Parcels.

It’s a great read for anyone who appreciates football schemes and how they evolve through the years. The bottom line for Browns fans is they have a quarterback in Colt McCoy who has the potential to flourish in this system. That said, the West Coast offense relies heavily on timing, so expect some growing pains as the Browns try to install a new system in a year without any off-season prep. I suspect the Browns and other teams installing new systems with play their starters much more in the pre-season.

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Rays winning despite not having large payroll

With their 13-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALCS, the Tampa Bay Rays are sitting just one win away from heading to the World Series for the first time in franchise history. And as John Romano of The St. Petersburg Times writes, the Rays are beating a team with a much larger payroll, and more resources at their disposal.

Tampa Bay RaysFor, in Tampa Bay, this season is beginning to look like sweet payback after all the years of ridicule. This series is quickly turning into validation after putting up with a lifetime of smug and an earful of snide comments.

The Rays are not just a hot team. And they are not a fluke. What they appear to be is deeper and more well-rounded than Boston. That’s remarkable considering the disparity in resources.

When the Red Sox decided to invest in a Japanese player in 2007, they spent $103-million on Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Rays spent about $12-million on Aki Iwamura.

When the Red Sox went looking for a bat in the free agent market in ’07, they signed J.D. Drew to a $70-million contract. That same winter, the Rays spent $800,000 on Red Sox castoff Carlos Pena.
When they needed help this summer, the Red Sox brought in Jason Bay, Mark Kotsay and Paul Byrd in various deals. The Rays acquired Chad Bradford.

So if Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is a genius with a $137-million payroll, what does that make Friedman and his $43-million allowance?

In other words, if the Red Sox lose, they will have no excuses.

Just the knowledge that they were beaten by a team that appears intent on making history.

The Rays follow the 2007 Rockies as examples of how payroll means noting in the postseason. And apparently experience is starting to mean less and less too, because this is one of the youngest rosters in the league. It’s amazing to watch this series and note that the Red Sox appear to be no match for the Rays. Think about that for a second. The mighty Red Sox, can’t handle a Rays team that many predicted to finish last in the AL East for the whatever-straight year. Amazing.

Top 10 Active MLB Control Artists

Show me a pitcher who doesn’t walk many batters, and I’ll show you a pitcher that wins games. Plain and simple, if you don’t hurt yourself by putting guys on base, you’re going to be in games and win a good portion of them. Here, we take a look at those active pitchers with the best control, i.e. those hurlers who yield the least amount of walks per nine innings. Interestingly, the Top 10 consists of all starting pitchers……

1. Carlos Silva, Seattle Mariners (1.634)–Okay, so Carlos Silva has lost more games than he’s won (59-60), but he’s pitching for the pathetic Mariners this year. What I’m saying is, 4-14 for a team that is 46-75 isn’t bad. And check this out…in 2005 with Minnesota, Silva pitched 188 1/3 innings and walked only nine batters. That’s just sick.

2. Jon Lieber, Chicago Cubs (1.725)–Journeyman Jon Lieber has been in the bigs since 1994, and has never walked more than 51 batters in a season. There’s no doubt his career ERA of 4.26 would be much higher if it weren’t for his excellent control.

3. Greg Maddux, San Diego Padres (1.803)–What, you expected not to see Mr. Maddux on here? Control is to Greg Maddux’ game what hot sauce is to Buffalo wings.

4. Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers (1.960)–Sheets has never won more than twelve games in a season, but part of that is because he can’t stay off the disabled list. Sheets has nearly four times as many career strikeouts (1181) as walks (303) in seven-plus seasons.

5. Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox (1.962)–It’s too bad that if we play word association, I’ll say “Curt Schilling” and you’ll say “bloody sock.” Then again, that also sums up the grit and determination of this guy. If I need to win a game, he’s one of maybe five pitchers I’ll give the ball to.

6. Mike Mussina, New York Yankees (1.987)–If you can see the concentration in a pitcher’s eyes, you know he’s focused on putting the ball over the plate and trying to get the hitter out. And how about this? In 18 seasons, Mussina has only hit 58 batters and thrown 71 wild pitches. Also, his 265-151 career record shows that my theory above has a bit of validity.

7. Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (2.060)–Though he’s only won 117 games in almost nine seasons, Mark Buehrle is a workhorse (has never pitched less than 200 innings in a full season) who keeps his White Sox in games.

8. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros (2.084)–Do you get the feeling Roy Oswalt hasn’t yet reached his potential? The guy is 122-62 since breaking into the majors in 2001, with a 3.20 ERA and 1286 strikeouts. And his control (360 walks, 16 wild pitches) isn’t too shabby, either.

9. Paul Byrd, Boston Red Sox (2.119)–I’m not sure that Byrd throws harder than 80 miles per hour, but there’s no doubt he can still get hitters out, which is why the Red Sox just obtained him from the Indians. And he gets better with age….in 2005 with the Angels, Byrd walked 28 batters in 204 1/3 — that’s 1.2 batters per game.

10. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (2.127)–With a 124-64 record over 11 seasons with mostly mediocre Toronto, Roy Halladay has consistently been one of the game’s best pitchers during his career.

Source: Baseball Reference

Red Sox acquire Indians starter Paul Byrd

The pitching-starved Boston Red Sox acquired Cleveland Indians’ starter Paul Byrd in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Boston’s rotation has been weakened by an injury to Tim Wakefield (15-day DL) and the struggles of youngster Clay Buchholz.

The Red Sox are awfully familiar with Byrd.

Byrd was at Fenway Park for Game 7 of last year’s American League Championship Series on the day the San Francisco Chronicle reported he had used human growth hormone from 2002 to 2005. He then said before the game that he had used HGH for a medical condition but that he never injected the banned drug without a doctor’s prescription.

“I have nothing to hide,” Byrd said about two hours before Game 7, in which Boston clinched the ALCS with its third straight win. “Everything has been done out in the open. I have a reputation. I do not want the fans of Cleveland or honest, caring people to think that I cheated.

“Because I didn’t.”

Byrd is 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA this season, but he’s been outstanding since the All-Star Break, going 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA. Byrd will be a free agent at the end of the season, so the Tribe did a nice job getting something in return for the 37-year old vet.

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