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Beancounters seem to rule Bills' roost

Column as I see 'em:

*In a Bills season preview, John Wawrow of the Associated Press reports that it was Jim Overdorf, the vice president and salary cap maven -- not General Manager Buddy Nix -- who handled the Lee Evans trade.

It's no shock to hear that the bean counters are making personnel decisions to save Ralph Wilson money. In retrospect, it's even more outlandish to think Wilson was ready to spend big bucks on a new head coach two years ago.

You remember those heady days, right? After Dick Jauron was fired, there were reports that Wilson would spare no expense in finding a replacement. There was talk of paying Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan $10 million a season. In Shanahan's case, it was $50 million over five. There was going to be a GM search, too.

How laughable it seems now. Can you imagine Cowher or Shanahan letting management trade Lee Evans to save money? Or settling for this offensive line? Can you see Mike Holmgren or Bruce Allen as GM, content to operate more than $10 million below the salary cap?

Nix goes along. Wilson ensures a tidy profit. There could be other cost-cutting moves. There's a chance Geoff Hangartner, a $3 million backup center, will be next, further weaking a flimsy O-line.

*Who do you pick for NL Manager of the Year? Three of the four likely playoff teams are headed by managers in their first full year with the team: Arizona's Kirk Gibson, Milwaukee's Ron Roenicke and Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez. I wouldn't rule out Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle, whose Pirates contended for four months after winning 57 games a year ago.

I'd go with Gibson, whose Diamondbacks lack star power but compete like crazy and get the most out of their ability -- as Gibson did as a player.

*For the second straight year, Scouts Inc. listed only one Bill in its annual ranking of the NFL's top 200 players. Nose tackle Kyle Williams came in at a lofty 37th on the list. That's eight spots ahead of the Lions' Ndamukong Suh. That suggests the Bills got a bargain last week when they signed Williams to a six-year, $39 million contract extension.

Evidently, the experts don't hold Williams accountable for the Bills' shabby run defense. But with Marcell Dareus on hand, there's no more room for excuses.

*Since July 4, Arizona's Ian Kennedy is 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA. Overall, he's 17-4. The Yankees sure could use him. They traded Kennedy after the '09 season in a three-way deal with Detroit and Arizona. Well, they got Curtis Granderson in the deal, which has worked out OK.

*Fans are ready to run Tyler Thigpen out of town, but give the guy a chance. It's preseason. He's a backup. Thigpen performed well for Chan Gailey in Kansas City. He's not the only quarterback struggling in preseason. Did you see Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning in the Jets-Giants game the other night?

*Here's a couple of suggestions for the Flash, the new WPS champions: Find a way to get Abby Wambach on her hometown team, and get at least one home game at All-High Stadium.

*Does anyone think the Bills' "Make Mom Proud" campaign brings back memories of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No to Drugs" initiative in the 1980s?

*Maybe if Maria Sharapova weren't so darned good-looking, she'd get more credit as one of the toughest competitors on the women's tennis circuit.

*OK, if the Bills are interested in cutting salary, they might consider moving Terrence McGee to the Giants, who have major injury issues at cornerback.

*A.J. Burnett has no business pitching a postseason game for Joe Girardi.

*I can't say I've been lying awake at night, wondering if Jim Furyk will defend his FedEx Cup golf title.

e-mail: jsullivan@buffnews.com