Archive for February 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars have new logo for 2013

February 17, 2013

via ESPN:

740995The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new logo to signify a new era.

New video boards, which will cost about $50 million and will be the largest in the NFL, are next.

Billionaire owner Shad Khan, team president Mark Lamping, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley unveiled the redesigned logo Tuesday, a minor facelift for a franchise that’s making major changes.

“If the Jacksonville Jaguars are truly to experience a rebirth, it was time for a new logo,” Khan said. “Not a radical change. We wanted to find the right look that was faithful to the past and respects the players and the fans, and also bring unmistakably a new energy to the Jaguars franchise.

“Our new symbol for a new generation.”

The new logo, which comes on the heels of hiring Caldwell and Bradley following a 2-14 season, maintains traditional colors (black, teal and gold) and offers a more realistic and fierce jaguar head.

“Now that’s a cool cat,” Khan said.

The Jaguars also released their theme for 2013 — “Stand United” — and announced tickets prices for next season as well as a series of fan forums.

Jaguars_primary_new_logo_16Arguably the biggest news of the day came with the release of concept drawings for the massive video boards, which would top those in Houston and Dallas. They are slated to be ready by the 2014 season, although the city of Jacksonville still has to approve the plans and organize funding.

“We want EverBank Field to be a destination where people are going to come to see it,” Khan said.

Whether stadium upgrades and re-branding efforts help generate more revenue remains to be seen. The Jaguars rank 29th in the league in local revenue, a significant drop over a 16-year span.

Jacksonville ranked second in that category during its inaugural season in 1995.

“We need to fix this,” Lamping said. “If we do not, we threaten the financial stability of the franchise in Jacksonville. … Whether it’s the National Football League or any other business, you have to compete economically. And to believe that local revenue is not important, then people are ignoring what is happened in the National Football League over the last 10 years.

“To believe that somehow you can be satisfied and be competing on equal footing with every other National Football League team by being at the bottom, I think that’s not true.”

In hopes of increasing revenue, the Jaguars are implementing a strategic price increase for season tickets. Although 80 percent of season tickets remain the same price for 2013, the team increased prices for low-cost, high-demand seats.

The team also plans to create all-inclusive ticket packages as well as on-field seating for next season.

“We know the No. 1 thing we have to do is put a better team on the field for our fans, but you can’t expect that your focus can only be on it,” said Lamping, who is charged with the business side of a franchise that has missed the playoffs 11 times in the last 13 years. “That needs to be No. 1, but there’s other things we need to do to allow us to compete, because every team is trying to win.

“To somehow believe that one team is going to win each and every year and that’s going to address all their issues, that’s not realistic.”

This is going to be like the Detroit Lions a few years back. They change the logo, try to get a fierce presence in the league so people will start caring about them, and then retool their franchise to be productive. I think the Jaguars have promise at certain positions but they need to start focusing on other areas. They need an offensive line, a bunch of secondary players, a new defensive line, and one more wide receiver. If they handle this through the draft and through free agency than they can make it to the playoffs in 2013 just like the Colts did this season. They need to get back to a ground and pound mentality when Jack Del Rio was head coach. They had Fred Taylor and MJD carrying the ball 40 times and getting big regular season plus postseason wins. If they retool those areas that I mentioned, there should be no reason why the Jaguars can’t run with the AFC South next season…

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Seattle Mariners add Kameron Loe to their bullpen

February 17, 2013

Via Seattle Times:

Milwaukee Brewers Photo DayVeteran relief pitcher Kameron Loe has always been the type of guy who gets noticed.

When you’re 6 feet 8 and 245 pounds with a martial arts background and known to keep a boa constrictor as a pet, most people see you coming. And yet, Loe, 31, part of a Milwaukee Brewers bullpen that came within two victories of a World Series berth in 2011, nearly sneaked through the entire winter without getting picked up as a free agent.

That is, until the Mariners, having shored up their starting rotation late last week, jumped at the chance to add needed bullpen experience from the right side. Loe is on a minor-league deal for now, but the Mariners — having freed room by jettisoning Shawn Kelley and his $935,000 salary via trade — won’t hesitate to add Loe to their bullpen if he shows something this spring.

“They just said I’d have an opportunity to pitch,” Loe said Thursday as the Mariners held their second spring workout. “I’d love to have the seventh or eighth inning, or at least help out at the end of a close game.”

The Mariners have Oliver Perez, 31, to work the eighth inning, but he’s left-handed. Josh Kinney, 33, did some setup work from the right side late last season, but he’s appeared in only 93 big-league games since his 2006 debut.

MLB: FEB 28 Spring Training - Rangers v AngelsThe only other right-handers to bridge the gap to closer Tom Wilhelmsen are 100 mph flamethrowers Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor, but both have barely gotten their feet wet in the majors.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that once the team addressed its rotation last week by adding Joe Saunders and nonroster invite Jon Garland, focus shifted to the bullpen. It wasn’t a coincidence Seattle’s talks with Loe’s agent got serious right around the time a decision was made to designate Kelley for assignment.

“When a Kameron Loe is still out there, a guy who’s a quality big-league reliever and … you’ve got a chance to get him, I think you need to go ahead and do that,” Wedge said. “Especially with all the youth in our bullpen.”

That youth isn’t necessarily an issue yet, but Wedge said it’s something the team needs to prepare for.

“We’ve got a lot of young pitchers who had a lot of success last year,” he said. “But this is their next go-around under a different set of circumstances. A lot of those guys broke in during the middle of the season. It’s a little bit different the next year when you come in and you have expectations on you.”

Enter Loe, a side-arming sinkerballer who still harbors ideas about becoming a starting pitcher again, something he hasn’t done in the majors since 2007 with the Texas Rangers.

“Eventually, I’d like to get back to being a starter if they see an opening for me,” Loe said. “I either want to be at the beginning of a game or the end of a game.”

Regardless of how he’s used, Loe knows he has to do something about his career-long struggle against left-handed batters, who pounded him for a .307 batting average last year.

His sinker runs away from lefties, so it’s largely ineffective. Loe is instead working on making his change-up more consistent and plans to challenge lefties inside with his fastball more.

“I think that will be the equalizer for me,” he said.

When he doesn’t do it, the results can be disastrous. Loe was lit up for a 10.45 earned-run average his final 13 outings last September as he battled a broken toe and general arm fatigue, leading to the Brewers eventually releasing him.

Kameron+Loe+Milwaukee+Brewers+v+Boston+Red+biBuvy3w-EulFor now, Wedge views Loe strictly as a bullpen guy. He wants to see more of the pitcher known for generating an above-average number of swings and misses with his lower arm slot.

Loe still was trying to be a starter again in 2009 when he left for Japan to play for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. That decision led to Loe parting ways with a longtime “roommate” even more imposing than he was — a 7-foot boa constrictor named Angel. He’d received her for his 19th birthday after a childhood spent collecting snakes, lizards and frogs in California’s Simi Valley.

Angel wound up living with Loe and former Rangers teammate C.J. Wilson at a condominium they shared in Dallas, where they’d bring her a live rat to eat once a week. Loe would even bring Angel into the clubhouse.

But he, reluctantly, had to put her up for adoption when he went to play overseas.

In the end, that Hawks gig lasted just five starts after Loe was shelled and relegated to the Japanese minor leagues. But he got another shot back in the U.S. when the Brewers made him a nonroster invite to camp in 2010.

Loe actually started for two months in Class AAA and compiled a 4-3 record a 3.16 ERA in 10 outings.

“I was going pretty deep into games,” he said.

But the Brewers needed bullpen help and called Loe up. He held opponents to a 2.78 ERA over 56 outings in his first big-league stint in three years.

He’s stayed in the majors as a reliever ever since, picking up some new pets along the way. He found a tarantula in the backyard of his Scottsdale, Ariz., home last October.

“I kept him for 10 days but he wasn’t eating, so I had to let him go,” he said.

For now, it’s just his bulldog, Roxy, living with him and his wife, Nikki, and daughter, Ayla.

Loe says his pets have always been gentle. But the huge mixed martial arts fan looks like he could handle some animals gone wild, spending his spare time practicing Muy Thai kickboxing.

“I just know how quick and how balanced those martial artists are,” he said. “And if I could translate any of that into my pitching, I thought it would be a good idea.”

He’ll need it to translate better than it did in the final month of last season. But if Loe can show the Mariners something this spring, they’ll likely choose to see a lot more.

I think this is a tough move for Kameron considering he will be playing against the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim all the time in that tough division. I think playing in big Safeco Field is going to help him keep the ball in the yard but he needs to develop that change-up a lot more this spring training to garnish more strikeouts and ground balls. He had success in the American League when he was a starter for Texas and he is a proven veteran with over six years of MLB experience, so he should earn a roster spot out of camp. I think he can be a great seventh inning guy in Seattle because they don’t score a lot of runs and rely on their bullpen in one run games. Let’s hope Kameron gets back to 2011 form and comes into camp healthy and ready to compete at a high level…