Finding the Right Player at the Right Price: Javier Arenas, Slot Cornerback

The Ravens should sign Kareem Jackson.

The Ravens should sign Brandon Flowers.

The Ravens should sign Chris Culliver.

Every year, fans look through the list of available free agents and hope that the Ravens will make a splash in the free agent market. That is not what the front office does. The Ravens pride themselves on finding the right player at the right price – a solid veteran on an undervalued deal.

A great example is Corey Graham.

The primary reason Corey Graham signed with the Ravens was that he was promised with an opportunity to compete for a job on defense. Graham played in the league for 5 years primarily on Special Teams. Let’s apply the same formula that was used to sign Corey Graham to this year’s list of free agent Cornerbacks in search of the next Corey Graham. Starting with the Pro Football Focus list of available Free Agent Cornerbacks, we will add overall grades for special teams. The goal is to find a solid special teams player who played well as a Cornerback on a limited number of snaps.


Chris Cook was eliminated due to his off-field issues and perceived lack of motivation. That leaves us with Javier Arenas, a 27 year old Slot Cornerback who played for the Atlanta Falcons last year. Arenas is a small Corner. He is 5’9″ and 195 pounds. He played College Football for Nick Saban at Alabama. Cornerbacks that played in the Alabama are known for 3 traits:

  • Tackling ability
  • Man to man coverage
  • Play the ball in the air

I’ve taken Javier Arenas’ draft report and modified it based on the game tape from the 2010-2014 seasons. Below is a summary of what he could potentially bring to the Ravens:


Let’s look at some examples of Arenas’ play on the field. Have a comment? Discuss this on the BSL board here

Man Coverage

Man Coverage is where Arenas shines. Here is an example against the Colts.

Arenas man coverage

Arenas  challenges receivers on the release and jams the receiver within 5 yards of the LOS to disrupt the route.

Arenas jam

This puts Arenas in a position to take control of the route and re-direct or ‘flatten’ the route of the receiver.

Arenas re-route


Arenas is a solid tackler for his size. He wraps up and brings his opponent down in the open field. For his career, Arenas missed 4 tackles out of 97 attempts. Arenas has difficulty bringing down bigger receivers due to his size. He is a solid tackler against the run. Bigger backs such as Le’Veon Bell at 244 pounds may pose problems for Arenas primarily due to size.



Javier Arenas plays with great discipline. Arenas was flagged for 3 passing penalties on 184 passes thrown at receivers that he covered. Here is an example of a ball knocked down in coverage.

Pass defense


Arenas’ biggest weakness is his height. He will struggle against bigger and taller receivers. A great example was his matchup against Tony Gonzalez. Arenas was able to stay on the hip of Gonzalez throughout the play, but was unable to deflect the ball due to his height.


Another area where Arenas struggles is that he does not possess long speed. Receivers are able to beat him on long vertical routes. When he is on the field, there should always be Safety help up top. Bigger receivers similar to Damarius Thomas really pose matchup problems for Arenas in that they can shield him from the ball using their body or catch the ball on deep throws with their height advantage.


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They Said, We Say: Orioles Talk January 24th

A week from today the Baltimore Orioles will have their annual FanFest event. In less than a Month (February 19th), their Pitchers & Catchers will report for the start of Spring Training. Once again we venture around the web to see what others are stating about the O’s, and to give our own reactions.

(Discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

The links:

Baltimore Sports Report: 8 Internal Candidates For Orioles GM

They Said: Considering the lengthy (and sometimes embarrassing) search that ensued prior to Duquette’s hiring and the short time frame before Spring Training, I think the best route for moving forward in the front office might be hiring from within. Is there anyone that might be a good fit?

We Say: If Duquette’s move becomes official, I have the full expectation that Showalter, Anderson, and Graham will share the job on at-least a temporary basis while a larger search is held. It would be very easy at some point to lift the interim tag. That would disappoint me. There are plenty of highly qualified external options that are interested in this potential vacancy (and I’m not talking about the names the O’s leaked previously – Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers). There is zero reason that a larger search should not occur. Let’s play a hypothetical where Duquette leaves for Toronto tomorrow (Sunday the 25th). Name the Showalter, Anderson, Graham trio as the temporary replacements. Spend Monday through Friday (the 26th through 30th) interviewing two candidates per day. On Sunday the 1st have second interviews with the three finalists. On Tuesday the 3rd, announce the hire.

That type of window should not be overly compressed for the O’s. After all, the Duquette to Toronto rumors broke December 7th. There has been plenty of time to establish a list of prospective hires, and compile necessary background information. It would be a disservice to the organization to not bring in numerous potential options and go through that process.

Where I do agree with BSR, is with their allusion to where we are on the baseball calendar. It would be difficult for an external hire to bring in ‘their guys’ this year. That would probably have to wait until next October. While unfortunate, I don’t think that should prevent the O’s from going and finding their new face of Baseball Operations now (again, should things become official with Duquette leaving). I also don’t think the internal options represent optimal choices vs. what is available to the O’s if they do a larger search.

CSN Baltimore: Four weeks from Spring Training, the O’s have questions

They Said: Do the Orioles have to keep Ubaldo Jimenez? Jimenez celebrated his 31st birthday, and he’s hoping this year will be much better than last year. A healthy and productive Jimenez in the spring creates an issue for Showalter: six starters for five spots. Of course, the Orioles can try again to trade Jimenez, but there’s nothing new on that front. That tried early in the offseason, but couldn’t. 

They can send Kevin Gausman to the minors, but they don’t want to do that. Or they can try and trade one of their other starters, Wei-Yin Chen or Bud Norris, both of whom are entering their free agency years. That doesn’t seem likely. 

Jimenez’s effectiveness is sure to be one of the big stories at camp.

We Say: Unless Chen or Norris are moved, the O’s should be going into the year with Jimenez pegged for the bullpen. BSL’s Jeff Long wrote about the approach Jimenez should take if he was in the pen, and then a status report once he was moved there.

I have not given up hope for Jimenez as a starter. Jimenez has always had control issues, but last year was absurd as he struggled with his mechanics. Just getting back to his career norms would make a significant difference. There was some changes made in September, but you don’t want to make too much out of that. Jimenez fought his mechanics on a pitch-by-pitch basis last year. He has to show some positive consistency first. Nobody expects him to be the guy he was in the 2nd half of 2013, but if he gets locked-in mechanically for a stretch – it is possible the upside which caused the O’s to sign him shows again.

That said, his contract should not mean that a rotation spot is waiting for him to begin the year.

As an aside, the other alternative not mentioned by CSN Baltimore was Gonzalez. If Jimenez looks strong in Spring Training (and again Chen or Norris have not been traded), you could potentially use Gonzalez out of the bullpen if you decide you want Jimenez starting when the seasons starts. There is no scenario in my mind where Gausman being sent back to AAA becomes an acceptable scenario. Hand him the ball every 5th day.

MASN: Quick Update on Reimold

They Said: The Orioles were on the verge of signing outfielder Nolan Reimold to a minor league deal last month on the final day of the Winter Meetings, but it didn’t get done and other teams joined the mix. I’ve heard that the Indians are the most aggressive suitor at the moment and may have moved past the Orioles.

We Say: In a Winter where basically nothing has been accomplished, even a Minor League contract for Reimold will illicit nothing but groans from O’s fans should it happen. Count me as one that would welcome the signing though. I’ve always been a Reimold fan, and a Minor League deal means nothing. There is no risk. He goes to the Minors and if he performs, maybe he earns another shot in the bigs at some point. If he does not perform, there was nothing lost. In 2014, Pearce took advantage of an unexpected opportunity and had a breakout season at age 31. You won’t convince me that Pearce holds any talent advantage over Reimold.

MLB Christian Walker #7 1st Base Prospect

They Said: Walker has quickly made it to big league-ready status following a college career that included consecutive national championships and just two-plus years in the Minors. While his first full season was solid, he really broke out in year two, leading the organization in home runs and RBIs.

We Say: There continues to be conjecture in O’s circles that Dariel Alvarez could force his way onto the Opening Day roster. If you are going to consider that possibility, there should probably also be some consideration for carrying Walker. If you carried Alvarez and him starting in RF, then you would have De Aza in LF, and Pearce as the DH. If you carried Walker, you would have De Aza and Pearce on the corners, and Walker at DH.

Alvarez turned 26 in November.
2014 (AA & AAA combined): 532 ab’s, .306 baa, 15 hr’s, 87 rbi, 37 doubles, 3 triples, 21 bb’s, 62 k’s, .330 on-base %, .472 slugging %, .802 OPS.

Walker turns 24 in March.
2014 (AA & AAA combined): 532 ab’s, .288 baa, 26 hr’s, 96 rbi, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 56 walks, 132 k’s, .357 on-base %, .489 slugging %, .846 OPS.

In Alvarez’s favor is a strong arm, and additional experience. Maybe more of a line-drive / gap-power bat? More contact. He would give the O’s another OF, while Walker would be relatively locked into DH (with occasional starts at 1st). Walker could help himself as a player if he showed he could be a competent (Pearce esque) LF.

In Walker’s favor appears to be a higher offensive ceiling, with more raw power now. Might pile-up significantly more k’s, but also looks more willing to take a walk.

I don’t love a scenario where either player is starting in the bigs during 2015, and being depended on. If one player were to get that nod, I can see the logic in Alvarez having a leg-up; just think if you are going to consider that – Walker should be in that conversation as well.

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Terps rocked in Indiana; Quick Hits

Tonight the University of Maryland had the opportunity to move into sole-possession of first place in the Big Ten, with a road victory over #13 Indiana. Instead, the Terps suffered an 89-70 beating that will recalibrate expectations for MD going forward.

With the loss, the Terrpains (Ranked 8th in the USA Today Coaches poll, 13th in the AP poll coming in) fall to 17-3 overall, and 5-2 in league play.

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

Indy Star

Indy Star

Quick Hits:

1) It felt as if the first half was largely controlled by Indiana, but MD went to the break down just 3. I felt as if MD had taken the Hoosiers best blows, and were in good shape overall. I anticipated half time defensive adjustments, along with an expectation the Terps would get to the line more often to close out the game. Neither of those expectations came to fruition, leading to a long night for MD fans.

2) Maryland got serenaded to chants of ‘Overrated’ as the game was winding down. Fair or unfair? Either way, MD will get a chance for redemption vs. Indiana February 11th at College Park.

3) The Terps had just 10 foul shots for the game, and made just 4. The surprise of the game for me was that MD did not have 20+ attempts. Playing a team with very limited size, I expected that Wells, Trimble, and Layman would regularly drive to the rim, get contact, and earn their trips.

4) It’s hard to get blown out while shooting over 50% from the court, yet that happened tonight (MD was 27 of 53, 51%).

5) Maryland is a very good team when at-least 2 of of their ‘Big 3′ play well. Tonight the only one of the Layman, Trimble, Wells trio that played okay was Layman – and after a quality first half, he was a ghost pretty much in the second twenty minutes.

6) Indiana was 30 of 50 (60%) from the floor, including 15 of 22 from 3 (68%), along with 14-18 at the foul line. Give credit to the Hoosiers (particularly Yogi Ferrell with his 7 of 8 night from 3) for knocking down shots, but that’s an embarrassing defensive effort from the Terps.

7) Smotrycz and Pack struggled mightily defensively tonight.

8) Wiley was 3 of 5 for 9 points, and Nickens was 4 of 8 (all 3′s) for 12 points. Interested to see what the tape says about their defensive efforts.

9) Dodd started the game, but Coach Turgeon quickly turned to Graham against the smaller, quicker Hoosiers. Graham had 6 points (making all 3 of his FG attempts, while missing the front-end of two 1&1′s) and 6 boards. Dodd finished with 1 board. His final minutes had to be extremely limited. Cekovsky did not get on the floor until garbage time. Smotrycz also saw some time at the 5 tonight.

10) The Terps often praise Ram’s on-ball pressure. Might have been interesting to see him get time earlier tonight.

11) It felt at times like Turgeon was trying to let MD’s players figure out their issues on their own tonight. Did he figure it was a matter of effort? Routinely we saw that smaller, quicker Indiana lineup attacking the basket, and looking for kick outs to the perimeter. Some changes from the bench were necessary.

12) The Hoosiers – without the injured Hanner Mosquera-Perea – had a rotation of guys all 6’7 and below. MD was never able to exploit that size advantage. Indiana won on the boards 27 to 24. Totally unacceptable.

13) Next-up for MD is Northwestern (10-9 overall, 1-5 in the Big Ten) Sunday night at home.

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