It’s a holiday and I’ve ingested roughly six pounds of meat in the past 24 hours so pardon me if I seem a bit lethargic.  Due to these extenuating circumstances today’s posts is going to be a series of half baked ideas that aren’t worthy of a full column unto themselves.  String a couple of them together like a strand of bratwurst however… 

  • I think the 2013 Cubs campaign will be judged on the career of a single player – Jake Arrieta.  I was at Wrigley on Sunday and watched him deliver one of the more memorable performances I’ve seen from a Cubs starting pitcher since the 2003 season.  Arrieta has all the tools you’re looking for in a top of the rotation pitcher.  The Orioles thought enough of him to make him their opening day starter in 2012.  Unfortunately the lack of control (and subsequent free passes to the opposition) caused Baltimore to lose faith and make Arrieta the key component in the Corey Feldman deal this summer.  At this point that appears to be a pretty clear win for the Cubs as the second piece, Pedro Strop, has stepped right into the Cubs bullpen and has served as the key piece to calm the sea back there since his arrival.  Dale Sveum has already spoken to bigger plans for Strop in the years ahead so that alone provides value beyond what Feldman was going to bring to the table.  But Arrieta is the key.  If he can get that control of his under control then that trade comes back to look like a straight up hijacking and this crummy season was all of a sudden not for naught.
  • I’m not a fan of the Corey Crawford deal for the Blackhawks.   Six years for $36 million is not the best use of $6 million worth of an NHL team’s salary cap.  The Blackhawks have built their team in the model of Detroit where historically you don’t pay for goaltending.  If you put the best forwards, and particularly defensemen, in front of them then just about any goalie can make the saves that they’re supposed to at this level.  $6 million worth of cap hit is what you pay to a goaltender who you’re banking on making the saves that they’re not supposed to if that makes sense.  Put another way, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane take up $6.3m of the cap each.  Patrick Sharp is $5.9m, Marian Hossa is $5.275m, Seabrook is $5.8m, and Duncan Keith is $5.5m.  If push came to shove would you rather keep Crawford over any of those guys?  Also, what’s the point in signing Antti Raanta if you’re going to close the door on the goaltending opportunity at the United Center for the foreseeable future?  I’ll defer to the Bowman clan and their expertise, but this one just doesn’t add up for me.
  • I am going to write about the Bears later this week but I just want to put out there that I don’t think Marc Tressman is getting enough credit yet for what he’s bringing to the table.  I fully understand the need to get a few wins under his belt before we build him a statue but something tells me we have a good one on our hands here Bears fans.  Enjoy the ride.
  • I had my fantasy football draft on Friday night.  I know that the internet needs another fantasy review/recap /forecast like I need a hole in the head but here are a couple principles I’ve built my team around. 
    • Running backs are worth their weight in gold.  Somehow with the 12th & 13th pick in my draft I was able to wait it out and let Ray Rice and Matt Forte to me there.  Daddy like…
    • I’m in the camp that thinks Dwayne Bowe is in line for big things this year.  My reasons are simple, #1 – Name the best quarterback that’s ever thrown a ball to Bowe.  You can’t can you?  Say what you will about Alex Smith but he’s the answer to that question after week 1.  #2 – Andy Reid offenses pass the football.  Who else do you think Alex Smith is going to target in that offense?  Bowe is going between the 10th and 15th WR in most drafts and I think he’s going to play like a top 5 receiver.
    • I’m scared away by all of the options in Denver right now.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  There’s no way Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and their tight ends and running backs can all get the touches they’re going to want.  There’s only one football.
    • I like the offensive line in San Francisco and I like the running backs who benefit from the holes they open. 
    • I think Josh Gordon is going to aptly fill the Michael Irvin/Vincent Jackson role in Norv Turner’s offense in Cleveland this year.
    • I have no idea who’s going to get the ball but I think the Tom Brady Effect will be in action once again in New England and he’s going to make stars out of some fellas the casual fan has never heard of before.  I chose to address this with volume of Patriots skill position players.

That’s it for today.  I hope you’re Labor Day Weekend was as relaxing and rewarding as mine.  Thank you for reading and be sure to check back as the NFL season shifts into full gear and the Daytona Cubs and Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA team) make their respective playoff pushes.