THE COUCH SLOUCH

Looking at all the options for Tom Brady

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Tom Brady can take any job in America he wants.

Sure, many NFL teams would love to have him for the next season or two, but I guarantee you almost any organization – big business, Wall Street, law firms, Hollywood, ad agencies, even Spirit Airlines – would hire him in a Foxboro heartbeat.

What, if you're BBDO trying to convince Coca-Cola to let you run its next TV campaign, you don't think Tom Brady in the room can't help you seal the deal?

Who wouldn't want TB12 – the all-time QB1 – on their roster?

I know Brady never EVER gets hit in the pocket, but he could make a better, safer living without having to put on pads, cleats and eye black every Sunday. Heck, he's Tom Brady – he shouldn't even be working Sunday.

A bail bonds or check-cashing store would have lines around the block if Brady were working the night shift.

He could make Ben from Ben & Jerry's an offer he couldn't refuse and recast the ice cream powerhouse as Tom & Jerry's. He could turn IHOP into the International House of Brady. He could revive "The Brady Bunch" on ABC, getting Gronk acting work as the crazy neighbor next door.

For Brady, the implausible is plausible. Is there any other 42-year-old in the nation as healthy, handsome and happy? This man's version of a personal setback is having a baby with a model and leaving her for another model.

Yet despite a world of possibilities, Brady almost certainly will remain in the NFL in 2020.

Speculation has been rampant whether first-time free agent Brady will stay in New England or leave the Patriots. Almost daily, there are stories in which sources say which way Brady is leaning. I am not sure who these "sources" are – Brady only talks to Julian Edelman, his nutritionist and the fellow who handles the air pressure in his footballs.

Does Couch Slouch know what Brady will do? Of course not. However, through contacts of mine with the Patriots' video surveillance team, T-Mobile, ADT and Russian hackers, I have obtained access to a series of recent texts between Brady and his wife, Gisele Bündchen, discussing his NFL options.

(Note: The texts have been edited for space and clarity.)

Gisele: San Francisco?

Tom: It's actually Santa Clara.

Gisele: Minnesota?

Tom: Mosquitos in the summer.

Gisele: Las Vegas?

Tom: Gruden in my face 24-7? I don't think so.

Gisele: Houston or Dallas?

Tom: I don't want to leave the U.S.

Gisele: Los Angeles?

Tom: Remember when we had a home in L.A.? Took 20 minutes just to pull out of the driveway.

Gisele: Jets or Giants?

Tom: I don't care if they name a rest stop after me, I'm not going anywhere near the New Jersey Turnpike.

Gisele: D.C.?

Tom: Let's wait and see if Trump is still in office.

Gisele: Jacksonville?

Tom: That's not even Florida – it's really Georgia.

Gisele: Chicago?

Tom: They already have Mitch Trubisky.

Gisele: Cincinnati?

Tom: I don't mind a team that is rebuilding but I don't want one that is reincarnating.

Gisele: Indianapolis?

Tom: Look at me. Look at you. Look at Indianapolis.

Gisele: New England?

Tom: Belichick.

Gisele: I'll call the movers.

Ask The Slouch

Q. The Seattle Dragons-Houston Roughnecks XFL game – still in doubt – ended with two seconds left, inexplicably. Is there an explanation? (Bill Sharpe; Houston)

A. If the game had gone to overtime, everyone gets paid overtime; wherever possible, the XFL is still cutting corners.

Q. I happened onto a PBA telecast recently and, as I watched, mesmerized, the thought came to me: How can we use instant replay to screw up bowling? (Jim Clanton; Spokane Valley, Wash.)

A. You cannot screw it up – just as bananas are nature's perfect food, bowling is nature's perfect sport.

Q. The Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim soccer clubs refused to play the final 10 minutes of their match due to vulgar signs in the stands. What would it take to get you to stop writing? (Jim O'Brien; Racine, Wis.)

A. It appears you have taken a huge first step.

Q. I read that Al Michaels might get traded from "Sunday Night Football" to "Monday Night Football." Any chance you could be traded from newspaper columnist to paperboy? (James Wagner; Akron, Ohio)

A. I wouldn't pass the physical for paperboy.

Q. Spike Lee vs. James Dolan – who you rooting for? (Michael Phillips; Charleston, W.Va.)

A. I didn't take sides during the Crimean War (1853-56) and I won't take sides here.

Q. Do you think the Astros have developed a way to tip their batter off that he's about to be hit by a pitch? (Kim Hemphill; South Riding, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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