In Week 7, Staff Writer Kevin Lee is “The Ref.” Staff Writer Krystal Spencer, newbie Correspondent Joshua Fidler, and Sports Assistant Brandon Gould are the players and are challenged to answer how much would they pay Cliff Lee to play for their team, who will be the best point guard for the next 10 years and who is more likely to make it to the Super Bowl, the Jets or the Ravens.
1. Cliff Lee will be one of the most coveted free agents in the coming offseason. How much would you pay Cliff Lee to play for your team and for how long, given the possible risk of signing another Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano?
KS: Regardless of Zito and Zambrano, every player is different. If I had money like the Yankees, I would try and offer him a four-to-five-year deal for no more than $100 million. The problem is finding a team that’ll spend that kind of money for him. I highly doubt we’ll see another CC Sabathia type of signing for Lee.
JF: The problem with Cliff Lee is his age. He is 32, which is old in sports terms. There are very few pitchers who were able to repeat their past successes in their mid 30s. I would expect two to three great years from him, and after that I expect him only to be a number two or three starter. To get him I think it will take five years and a $100 million. You can compare him to both Johan Santana and CC Sabathia in terms of stats, but the reason Santana and Sabathia will get more money overall, is because they were both younger when they signed their deals. Cliff Lee is also not a flamethrower, which will help him when he eventually loses some velocity. Most flamethrowers, when they age have to reinvent themselves, Cliff Lee will still be able to pitch as he does now, with off-speed stuff and accuracy. The velocity will be the difference between a Cy Young, and him being the two or three towards the end of his deal.
BG: Cliff Lee may have not risen to the top fast or in style, but he has been consistent since he’s gotten there. There is always the risk of injury, but the way he has pitched the last few seasons – regular season and postseason combined – has been incredible. If I was faced with the decision of how much I would give Lee I think I’d model it off CC Sabathia’s contract with the New York Yankees. Lee is 32 years old, so his contract wouldn’t be as long. However, I’d give him at least $23 million a year over the span of five or six years. He’ll need to sign with a contender to be at his best, but his presence in the postseason alone would warrant such a contract.
KL: Sure Cliff Lee has done everything on the field to earn a huge contract, but as a GM would that be the wise thing to give him? I personally wouldn’t give Lee more than a four year deal because of the nature of pitchers to be hampered by injuries. Even the “durable” Johan Santana has had knee, elbow and shoulder surgeries in the first three years of his Mets career. The inherent risk of pitchers makes me hesitate to give Lee anything more than a 4 year deal, especially considering his age. Josh gets 3 points for mentioning those points, Krystal gets 2 for getting the duration/money right, and Brandon gets 1 because 23 million a year for five to six years is way too pricey for the reasons listed above.
2. The NBA season kicks off in less than a month. As fans, we have the privilege of seeing one of the best young point guard crops in quite some time. Who will be the best point guard for the next 10 years?
KS: I’m all about John Wall of the Washington Wizards. When someone’s the No. 1 draft pick and has so much hype surrounding them, they usually fizzle out or have an unimpressive rookie season. But
Wall’s success at University of Kentucky will translate, simply because of his different style of play.
JF: I think the point guard who is going to be the best over the next 10 years, is also the point guard who is the best right now, and he is Chris Paul. Paul has been averaging 10 assists per game and nearly 20 points per game for his career, and he is still getting better. If he somehow ends up on a better team, say the Knicks, I expect him to be even better and maybe even win a ring or two, which is usually the way people judge how good players were throughout their careers. Not only is he such a threat offensively, he has also been good defensively. He was named second team All-NBA Defensive team in ’08, and was first team in ’09. The only thing standing in Chris Paul’s way is his body, by which I mean injury. If healthy, Chris Paul will be the best point guard over the next 10 years.
BG: There are a lot of good point guards out there, but I think Rajon Rondo will be the best point guard of the next 10 years. Rondo came into the league with a lot of questions surrounding his play, but he has done well to correct those issues. Since Rondo has come into the league he has increased his minutes each year and shown statistical improvement during those minutes. Rondo’s points-per-game, assists-per-game and steals-per-game have gone up every year since he joined the Celtics in 2006 and he hasn’t even become the main guy yet. I think Rondo will start getting more of the pressure as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen continue to age and I think the 24-year-old will step up to the challenge and keep producing.
KL: To me, Chris Paul is the most well rounded point guard in the NBA right now. However, I think Deron Williams isn’t too far behind in terms of the best point guard currently. In 10 years, I think Stephen Curry is one player who I think has a shot to surpass both Paul and Williams. Curry is one of the best shooters and offensive threats in the NBA, but what sets Paul and Williams apart from Curry is the passing. With that said, I’m optimistic that Curry can work on his passing skills, especially in the run and gun system that he’s in. Josh gets 3 for picking Paul. Krystal gets 2 for picking Wall. Wall will be very good, but he’s going to need time to adjust to the pro game. Brandon gets 1 because although Rondo is very good, I think he’ll never be the best because his shot and lack of an offensive game will hold him back.
3. The Ravens beat the Jets in Week one, but since then the Jets have won three straight. Both the Jets and Ravens are 3-1 heading into Week five, and both have had similar off-seasons by acquiring high profile players. Which team do you think has a better chance in winning the Super Bowl?
KS: J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! This team has a more complete package than Baltimore as opposed to the defense-centric team from last year. LaDainian Tomlinson has their run game on lock, and Jerricho Cotchery/Braylon Edwards have combined for 4 TDs in their first four games. Besides, the Jets have an easier schedule this year for non-AFC matchups.
JF: I think the Ravens have a better chance at winning the Super Bowl. I think the Ravens have a better offense. Quarterback Joe Flacco can be considered in the top-10 best QB’s in the league. He also has numerous weapons, which include Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin is one of the top receivers in the game, and Ray Rice is one of the best all around backs in the game. Some may say the Jets are better with the re-emergence of LaDainian Tomlinson, but at his age I don’t think he will sustain this attack the entire year. I do think that the Jets have a slightly better defense, but have a big question mark with Darrelle Revis and his hamstring. Ray Lewis and the Ravens will also have Ed Reed back soon, who when healthy is arguably one of the best safeties in the game. With Lewis and Reed back together, their defense may only be second to the Jets. The gap in the offense is big enough to make up for the fact that Jet’s defense is a little better, which is why I think the Ravens have a better shot.
BG: I’m biased because I am a New York Jet fan, but I think the Jets have the better chance to make it to the Super Bowl. I attended the Monday night opener and I can tell you that the lack of production from Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense was the main reason they lost 10-9 – any type of offensive drive would have given the Jets the win. That anemic offense must have taken a dose of steroids or something since then because they’ve been on fire. Sanchez has been exactly what we thought he would be after last year’s playoff run and the scary part is that Santonio Holmes hasn’t even played yet and Shonn Greene is in a slump. Once the offense gets into full gear the Jets will be tough for anyone to stop.
KL: I personally think the Jets are better than the Ravens because their offense has become so much more reliable in the past few weeks. Even if LaDainian Tomlinson can’t sustain his production throughout the season, the Jets still have Shonn Greene. Brandon gets 3 for picking the Jets and for backing his opinion up with more than his Jets Bias. Josh gets 2 because although he had great reasons why the Ravens are better, he didn’t sell me as to why the Jets can’t sustain their offensive production. Krystal gets 2 for having a solid argument.
Josh wins this week’s AtD, 8 – 6 – 5