Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Musings in the World of Baltimore Sports

The latest chapter in the Ray Lewis saga has the 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker envisioning suiting up for the Cowboys next season.

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware told that Lewis' "dream" was to play for Dallas, and he has been discussing it with Ware for months.

This story screams negotiating ploy as Lewis continues to try to generate a bigger market for himself. What better way is there to drive up the market than to drop hints to opposing players that he would be interested in signing there?

While it's likely that Lewis has voiced an interest in the Cowboys to Ware, there's no telling how serious he really is about playing in Dallas. Also, consider how much the All-Pro Ware would like to play with another star like Lewis. It would be easy to take a few comments and turn them into it being Lewis' "dream."

Lewis has sounded off to several media sources this offseason, but this is nothing new. He has never been afraid to speak his mind, even if it means ruffling some feathers in Baltimore.

Following an injury-plagued 2005 season, Lewis campaigned for a new defensive tackle to protect him and even went as far as requesting a trade if general manager Ozzie Newsome failed to do so. The Ravens drafted Haloti Ngata in the first round of the 2006 draft, appeasing Lewis in the process.

One thing is certain: if Lewis departs for greener (no pun intended) pastures, he will definitely leave a few burnt bridges that could potentially hurt him in the future if he plans to start any business ventures in the Charm City.

Stay tuned for the next edition of 'Ray's of Our Lives.


The agent of center Jason Brown and linebacker Bart Scott said Monday that he expects one of his two clients to re-sign with the Ravens before hitting the free agent market on Friday.

It's hard to believe that Brown or Scott would sign only days away from being able to field offers from other teams.

Brown is believed to be seeking guard compensation similar to what Jets guard Alan Faneca received in free agency last season. This would put the Ravens center in the $8 million per year range, likely to be more than the Ravens are willing to go.

While Brown has provided strong leadership for a young offensive line, the 2005 fourth-round pick has never been selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Ravens would like to keep Brown but are prepared to move guard Chris Chester to center, especially with the expected return of right guard Marshal Yanda.

If not for Chester's play in place of Yanda last season, the Ravens would be panicking over the potential loss of Brown, but the team seems willing to let him go if the price climbs as high as it's rumored to go.

The more intriguing possibility would be the Ravens signing Scott to a contract before Friday, leaving fellow linebacker Lewis in a precarious position.

While the team has spoken publicly about maintaining both linebackers in addition to the franchise-tagged Terrell Suggs, it is considered a long shot given the team's other free agents and salary cap situation.

Signing Scott would send a message to Lewis that the Ravens are prepared to move on without him, putting more pressure on Lewis to find a suitor that will meet his high financial demands.

My guess is that neither Scott nor Brown is inked to a contract before free agency begins.


Free agent safety Jim Leonhard was one of the surprises of the 2008 season, filling in for Dawan Landry after the starter suffered a season-ending neck injury.

In addition to providing solid play in the secondary, the savvy Leonhard provided a spark in the team's punt return game, replacing the oft-injured and ineffective Yamon Figurs.

Though Leonhard would be nice to retain, I have a difficult time understanding the strong infatuation with the undersized safety, especially when he's expected to be in high demand in free agency.

Leonhard is a poor tackler, an area the Ravens need to improve in the secondary as cornerback Fabian Washington is a liability in run support and safety Ed Reed's tackling has declined due to lingering neck and shoulder issues.

The Ravens need a strong tackler to complement Reed in the backfield, the type of player Leonhard is not.

With the drafting of safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski in 2008 and the expected return of Landry, the Ravens should not view maintaining Leonhard as a high priority.


Though position players reported to Spring Training five days ago, Orioles left fielder Felix Pie is still absent due to visa issues in the Dominican Republic.

Having been acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, Pie is expected to be the starting left fielder, but general manager Andy MacPhail and manager Dave Trembley need time to evaluate the young outfielder.

While visa issues are common in the early days of Spring Training, Pie needs as much time as he can to acclimate himself to new teammates and a new coaching staff.

Pie's absence figures to benefit outfielder Lou Montanez and prospect Nolan Reimold, two players that have seemingly been surpassed by the former Cub in the organization's plans for the future.

A strong spring by either could put more pressure on the club to find a spot for them on the 25-man roster, but with Pie being out of options; it would probably take an injury of some kind to open a spot for Montanez or Reimold.

Update: The Baltimore Sun is reporting Pie's visa issues have been resolved, and the young outfielder will report to Spring Training as early as Tuesday morning.


I hope 2006 first-round selection Billy Rowell is paying attention to what's happening in Fort Lauderdale. The third baseman had a disappointing season at Single-A Frederick in 2008, hitting only .248 and slugging only .368.

While the 20-year-old prospect is still in the organization's long-term plans, Trembley was complimentary of first baseman and 2005 first-round pick Brandon Snyder this week at Spring Training, citing his strong power to the opposite field.

The former catcher temporarily fell off the radar after suffering a shoulder injury in 2006, but the first baseman put up impressive numbers at Frederick last season, hitting .315 with 80 RBI.

Snyder has seen limited time at third base, and there has been discussion of giving the 22-year old more opportunities to develop at the hot corner.

The talk of Snyder potentially becoming an option at third base sends a message to Rowell that the organization will not wait forever for his development.

Critics have questioned Rowell's work ethic and openness to coaching, and Trembley's strong praise of Snyder hopefully provides a push for Rowell to step up his play in 2009.

It's too early to give up on Rowell when you consider he was drafted at the age of 17, but this figures to be a pivotal year in determining whether he will be a legitimate prospect moving forward.

The farm system's infield talent is minimal and with the impending free agency of Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff following the season, the organization needs Snyder and Rowell to continue to develop.


Following Maryland's shocking 88-85 overtime upset over North Carolina, the students rushed the floor of the Comcast Center, mobbing Greivis Vasquez and the victorious Terrapins.

This predictably sparked the tired debate of when it's acceptable to rush the court after a big win in college basketball.

While the celebration may be a reflection of how far Maryland has fallen over the past five seasons, critics should consider the fact that most students currently enrolled at Maryland have only witnessed one NCAA tournament appearance in their college careers.

Let them celebrate, as you never know when another win as improbable as Saturday's will take place again. As long as the rioting is kept to a minimum, the students are entitled to enjoy the win.

Now, the debate on the safety issues involved in students rushing the floor is another story entirely.

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