Browns coaching candidates, ranked

Terry Pluto has a good list of candidates. DBN has some more, including who is getting ready to interview. I’ll rank them. Note that Cleveland hasn’t actually scheduled interviews with some of them, so it’s pure speculation on his (and my) part. I’ve left Jerome Henderson off the list because he’s probably going to Miami with Adam Gase.

10. Tom Coughlin — No interview scheduled, but he’s my least favorite choice. I know he’s a successful coach, but he’s the oldest school of old school among the bunch, which makes him a poor fit for the analytically-inclined New Browns.

9. Doug Marrone — He reminds me too much of Pettine. Pluto says he’s pretty thin skinned and can’t take criticism well. The defense needs help, but I don’t think he’s the right guy to fix it.

8. Teryl Austin — Austin is something of a cipher to me. I know he’s the Lion’s defensive coordinator, but Detroit wasn’t much better than Cleveland this year. By DVOA, they were 16th, with Cleveland at 29th. However, there was only about nine percentage points between them.

7. Paul Guenther — Nothing scheduled for the Bengals’ defensive coordinator, but he’s another one like Austin that I just don’t know that well. The Bengals were pretty good defensively this year, but they also have a much better secondary than we do.

6. Chip Kelly — I think he’s a good fit with the new regime, but I question how willing he’ll be to accept a situation where he has little control over the roster (which is Brown/DePodesta). He’d be top three if I knew he could accept less control.

5. Hue Jackson — The other Bengals’ coordinator, he doesn’t have a track record of developing QBs, but he does have head coaching experience. He’s also well-liked and well-spoken; Cleveland could use one of those guys.

4. Lovie Smith — I don’t know how responsible Smith was for developing Jameis Winston, but he’s got a really good track record as a head coach. No interviews yet, but I would venture Cleveland comes a-calling at some point.

3. Sean McDermott — The more I hear about the defensive coordinator for Carolina, the more I like him. He wants to coach in Philly, so I don’t think Cleveland has a great shot at him, but Cleveland needs a good defensive guy to change things up.

2. Tom DeFilippo — I don’t know if the Browns even want Flip to be a head coach. I love his offensive schemes, though, and with more talent he’d look even better. He creatively got people involved (Duke Johnson, for one). I don’t know if other teams want to interview him, but I’d rather he be HC than lose him.

1. Matt Patricia — Unless, of course, we get this guy. Patricia is a brilliant guy and extremely analytical. He’s gotten the most out of an aging defense. He’s never been Head Coach, which will make the Browns job attractive. If we hired this guy, I would feel better about Cleveland next year than almost any other hire.

Vladimir Guerrero: Hall or Not?

Fangraphs says probably not, given that Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker were clearly superior, yet nobody’s heart would be broken if he got in.

I personally liked him quite a bit. He was fun to watch. He’s got good, not great, numbers. Unlike the other two important guys on the HOF ballot next year, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, there’s never been a hint of PEDs on him. For the record: both would be first ballot HOFers in my view. I think the electorate will give Pudge the nod on the first ballot, but maybe not. After all, as I grudgingly accepted, Piazza was better than Pudge, and Piazza didn’t get in on the first ballot. Then again, maybe Piazza didn’t make it because of the one time he called a press conference to say he wasn’t gay. Or maybe the fact that he secretly thought Hispanic players were conspiring against him, personally? (Piazza was a weird dude, is what I’m trying to get across.)

If I had to put 10 guys on my ballot, there’s no way Vlad makes the cut. Especially when he was a really bad baserunner, maybe the worst of all time. (See the Fangraphs article.) He was also bad defensively except for having a really good arm.

Still, I enjoyed thinking about Vlad as a candidate, almost as much as remembering how hilarious Piazza was. Mickey Pizza, you rascal you.

Go go Team Analytics!

As time continues, more is revealed about the ouster of Pettine and Farmer. While Pettine and Farmer fought each other, they also teamed up to fight Sashi Brown and Alec Scheiner. The latter two would basically say “you guys suck and here’s why, try sucking less next time?” The first two would say “You guys don’t know football, how could you possibly understand it?” And so on.

It was in an effort to create a culture of analytical analysis that the Browns hired Paul DePodesta from the Mets. ESPN, for one, thinks positively of the move, and so do I. His formal job title will be “Chief Strategy Officer,” although Brown is the guy in charge.

The one concern that the original article brings up is that there are no available head coaches who will buy into this philosophy. A lot of them will not take kindly to criticism from people outside of football. I have a suspicion that Brown/dePodesta wouldn’t confine their criticism to purely roster construction; they might start chiming in on stuff like schemes and actual play calls, and very few head coaches would tolerate that willingly.

My proposal: hire Flip to be Head Coach. His inexperience at the highest level would be an asset, not a liability. His job would be to implement the front office’s goals, tinging them with his own experience as a player and coordinator, without being set in his ways.

We shall have to see how the coaching carousel progresses, but I like the idea of trying some new and innovative. I’ll post more as I learn more.

Your 2016 Hall of Fame Class is…

Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. Full voting results are at Baseball Reference, and paint an interesting picture. To whit:

— Bagwell has 71.6% of the vote, while Tim Raines has 69.8% and Trevor Hoffman has 67.3%. One or all of them could make the Hall next year. There’s one obvious first ballot guy in 2017 (Ivan Rodriguez) and another who should get in but probably won’t because of his positive PED test (Manny Ramirez). Early prediction: Pudge, Raines, and Bagwell get elected next year, with the possibility of Hoffman.

— Every other first timer is off the ballot except Billy Wagner, who got 10% of the vote. Also gone are Alan Trammell and Mark McGwire, who hit their 15 and 10 year marks, respectively.

— Schilling got a huge bump to be over 50%, which means he’ll probably get in some day. Bonds and Clemens broke 40%, as did Edgar Martinez and Moose. Those are good totals, and none of them have been on the ballot for long, so they should get in eventually.

— Two different human beings thought that David Eckstein deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s one more than Garrett Anderson and one less than Mike Sweeney, both of whom were vastly superior players.

— With the 10 year limit, I don’t think Fred McGriff or Larry Walker will get in. I think that’s fair: both players were very good, but neither were slam dunk cases, and they’ll get some attention from the Veterans Committee.

— Griffey was only left off of three ballots. The three guys who didn’t pick him haven’t made their ballots public because they are cowards.


Your belated 2016 HOF coverage

I have done you, dear reader, a grave disservice in not inundating you Hall of Fame coverage. I cannot make up for this in a single post, but I will cover the newcomers for 2016. Perhaps that will be enough?

According to Ryan Theriot’s brilliant HOF tracker, things are looking good for the obvious choices.

As for the newcomers, here are my predictions for this new class:

Garret Anderson: The new Joe Carter, maybe? Anderson piled up the RBIs but has little else to recommend him. There was a brief window when he was underrated, then everybody way, way overcompensated. Off the ballot.

Brad Ausmus: Pretty good defensively, but an absolute zero with the bat. If you’re not a shortstop, you’d better have some kind of offensive contributions to make the Hall. Off the ballot.

Luis Castillo: A fun player, and I have a soft spot in my heart for switch hitters, but he was never anything special. Off the ballot.

David Eckstein: If there was a scrappiness Hall of Fame, he would be the first inductee, after which there would be no other inductees. (Maybe Darin Erstad.) Off the ballot.

Jim Edmonds: An interesting player! Finally. Edmonds was a very good center fielder who provided value with the bat. He barely missed a couple of round numbers (400 homers and 2000 hits). I don’t think he is Hall of Fame material, but I do think he’ll stay on the ballot for a couple of years, and he could back into the HOF on the Veterans Committee. Not elected, but on the ballot for 2017.

Troy Glaus: A slugging third baseman, he was competent with the glove, but not good enough to stay on the ballot. Off the ballot.

Ken Griffey Jr.: One of the finest baseball players in history, especially at CF, there is very little chance he is not elected. Elected on first ballot.

Mark Grudzielanek: If you thought to yourself, “I want a candidate like David Eckstein, but with a harder name to spell,” here is your man! Eckstein was a “better” hitter, with one year of mediocre production, but Grudz was a better fielder. Off the ballot.

Mike Hampton: Hampton’s career would have been much better had he never gone to Colorado. Not good enough to get into the HOF, but better. Off the ballot.

Trevor Hoffman: All-time saves leader hasn’t counted for much up to this point (Hi, Lee Smith!), but Hoffman was a legitimately good pitcher even with a light workload. The Hall, up to this point, has not been kind to closers. Hoffman is a gateway pitcher; let him in, and you’ll have to give serious consideration to a bunch of other relievers. That’s not “bad,” per se, but it isn’t good either. Not elected, but on the ballot for 2017.

Jason Kendall: Good offensive production, surprisingly good on the basepaths, decent with the glove. His injuries cost him time, and he probably hung on too long. The extra seasons hurt his rate stats, but didn’t give him enough time for the counting stats. Off the ballot.

Mike Lowell: Useful, and put together some very good seasons, but overall not much above average with the bat and nigh useless with the glove. Off the ballot.

Mike Sweeney: Mark Grace without the defense. Off the ballot.

Billy Wagner: Much more dominant than Hoffman, but doesn’t have the save numbers. If Hoffman is elected, Wagner will be an easier sell. If only one of the two relievers is elected, it’ll be Hoffman. Not elected, but on the ballot for 2017.

Randy Winn: The very definition of league average bat. Defense ranged from acceptable to atrocious. Off the ballot.

My ballot, if I had a vote, would be the following. Bonds, Clemens, Griffey, Piazza, Raines, and Bagwell are all easy picks. Alan Trammell deserves a spot in the Hall, even if I think he’ll fall off the ballot (which he almost certainly will.) I’d also add Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina, which leaves me with one spot. Part of me wants to give a shout out to Jim Edmonds, but there are lots of other good candidates. I suppose I would pick Schilling with my last ballot spot, even though Mussina is clearly better.

Predictions: Griffey is a shoo-in. Piazza should have an easy time getting in this year, and is named on 86.5% of all public ballots so far. I think one of Raines or Bagwell makes it, probably Raines, with an outside shot of both making it. Voters will continue to snub Clemens and Bonds because it gives them a sense of superiority over arguably the best pitcher and batter of all time, but I think they’ll break 50% this year. Trammell might break 40%, but probably won’t have much of a shot of making it.

See you Wednesday!

Fuck you too, Johnny Football (and sorting out the new Browns organization)

I have been pleased, by and large, with Johnny Manziel’s performance on the field, but now he’s totally vanished from the face of the earth after he was supposed to make a mandatory appearance at the Browns’ medical facility for his concussion progress. Peter King, meanwhile, says that Manziel really wants to play for Dallas. 

At this point, I’m no longer willing to put up with his talents on the field. I don’t know if he’s the raging alcoholic everybody assumes or just an idiot kid with way too much money and not enough brains (both are equally possible). If the Browns draft a QB in the first round (we’re #2 overall, and the Titans just drafted Mariota, who isn’t a moron), I think I would be okay with that. Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch seem like the two best choices in this draft; Goff is more polished, but Lynch probably has more upside. CBS Sports has Cleveland taking Goff.

In other Browns news, Dawgs by Nature posted a helpful flowchart and explained how the Browns organization will work now. Basically, the biggest concern now is that nobody will want to be Cleveland’s GM, because Sashi Brown will have the final say over roster decisions. The GM will basically be a glorified scout, so teams can easily block anybody from interviewing for the position. I hope this Brown guy is at least willing to listen to somebody who knows football, or it will be another long season in 2016.

Pettine almost certainly gone, probably Farmer too

Dawgs By Nature again gives us the most complete picture. Apparently Pettine is a whiny bitch (which makes me like him even less), saying that it was his players’ fault he was probably going to get fired. Classy. Might or might not be true, but that’s still an incredibly stupid thing to say.

More importantly, I keep hearing stories about how Pettine trusted O’Neil to fix the defense while he worked on the offense. A quote from Ian Rapoport seems a fitting epitaph for this regime:

Members of the front office were barely on speaking terms with the coaching staff, while Haslam informed them he must be consulted on endless football decisions.

Free advice to Haslam: hire the GM first (unless you keep Farmer). I would also keep Coach Flip, the best coordinator on the team; I don’t necessarily think he’ll be interviewed for the HC job, nor do I think he should, but Flip got chicken salad (or a reasonable facsimile) out of chicken shit.

Manziel’s concussion probably means that, unless he works his ass off between the end of the season and the draft, he won’t be in Cleveland next year. Showing up in Las Vegas the day before today’s game probably doesn’t help. (For the record, there isn’t a ton of evidence one way or another, but I choose to believe the Brownsiest possible scenario.) Ditto, I think, for Austin Davis, who isn’t demonstrably better than Josh McCown. McCown will, quite probably, stay on the roster.

We need a defensive guy in Cleveland. I think that much is clear. We need a GM and a head coach who work together. We need a head coach who doesn’t bench players for petty bullshit. We need a GM who either has the balls to stand up to the owner (Farmer wanted Bridgewater, who was my pick too) and/or a GM who doesn’t ignore glaring weaknesses (WIDE RECEIVER!!!!!!!!)

The new GM will have a top four pick to work with (maybe #1 overall). It is absolutely vital that this pick not get screwed up or, even better, that we trade out of the spot to accumulate multiple 1st rounders.

EDIT: Both have been fired, as per the owner of the Browns. The Browns are insisting on hiring the head coach before the GM — which is amazingly stupid — but hopefully they’ll move quickly on that. It looks like the person in charge of the roster, for now, will be the executive Vice President, Sashi Brown. The GM will report to Brown; apparently, Brown is a stats type of fellow, so maybe it will work out for the best.