Patriot’s roster projection, v1…the rest…

Defense:

DE (4):

Locks:  Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Trey Flowers

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

I wanted to split out the defensive ends and defensive tackles, but with the way the Patriots kind of shuffle these guys around, maybe that wasn’t such a smart idea.  In any event, it looks as if the team has more DL types than pure DE types as of right this second.  The possibility also exists that if Jamie Collins, Don’t’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo are all healthy, either Collins or Hightower will rush the passer more from this position.  So I went with all 4 pure DE types being locks.  Obviously changes if Flowers’ injury from the exhibition opener is serious.

DL (5):

Locks:  Dominique Easley, Malcolm Brown, Sealver Siliga, Geneo Grissom

In:  Zach Moore

Out:  Alan Branch, Joe Vellano, Casey Walker, Antonio Johnson

Way Out:  A.J. Pataiali’l

Not many people loved the Grissom pick…where it happened in the 3rd round anyway.  So regardless of how well he does now, it’s unlikely he won’t make the squad.  Moore seemed to have some potential last year and I wouldn’t think he would be cut either.  Though I do wonder why they moved him inside this year.  But he would seemingly be DE depth as well.  Branch is the vet on D that I could see them moving on from kind of unexpectedly.  I don’t think the salary is prohibitive.  But if they wanted to keep all of these younger bodies in tow it may be a move that has to be made.  The other vets are fringe guys anyway.  And A.J. Pahkjnafanjknj…I admittedly know nothing about.

LB (5):

Locks:  Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo

In:  Jonathan Freeny, James Morris

Out:  Darius Fleming, Cameron Gordon, Dekoda Watson, Rufus Johnson

Way Out:  Xzavier Dickson, L.J. Fort, Eric Martin

Can’t get any more solid than the locks above.  Yet again though, the backup LBs are a weak group.  Belichick seems to basically use his backup LBs as special team linchpins every year.  Even the 4 “outs” are probably known more as special team guys.  Anyway, didn’t think much of Freeny until they played him a ton in the first game and he was lauded by Bill this past week.  Morris was kept on IR all of last year and I’ve heard whispers that they seem to like him.  In any event, don’t be surprised to see Chris White back here once his injury heals.  I know, L.J. Fort was already released today.  But since I had the bulk of this written before I found out, I’m leaving him here.  Proves I got one thing right anyway.  Well, maybe it proves nothing, but…

CB (5):

Locks:  Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan

In:  Tarell Brown, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts

Out:  Bradley Fletcher, Dax Swanson

Way Out:  Jimmy Jean, Brandon King

Letting go of arguably their 4 top cornerbacks on paper this offseason (Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard…ok, you can fight me on Fonzie) seemed to be a dicey proposition.  That hasn’t changed for me, sorry.  Butler goes from 5th or 6th CB to Super Bowl hero to now top CB…just like that?  Ryan played ok as a rookie, not so much in his sophomore year.  Brown and McClain are veterans who don’t seem to be special.  Roberts is a 7th round rookie.  If you want to add Fletcher here, throw him in the same category as Brown and McClain.  I have Bradley out since I’ve heard nothing from him since the start of camp.  He may still make it, especially if they stash Roberts on IR after his injury in the opener.  But you can’t tell me that you have any comfort with this group at all.  Scary.

S (5):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards

In:  Tavon Wilson

Out:  Nate Ebner

Way Out:  None

Same goes for the safeties.  McCourty is a good one, but one of the highest paid?  Not so sure.  Richards was a reach in the 2nd round, according to everyone (nice reminder of how well Tavon Wilson has worked out as an unheard of 2nd rounder…oops).  The other guys?  Unexciting.  That may be the kindest word to describe them.  These DB’s scare the bejesus out of me.  That about sums it up.

Physically Unable to Perform (2):  Chris Jones, Dane Fletcher

There are 4 dudes on the preseason PUP list.  Keeping these 2 on for the regular season.  LaFell and Wendell tentatively break camp with the team.  Since no one really knows how their injuries are progressing, this could obviously change.

Injured Reserve (2):  A.J. Derby, Tyler Gaffney

At least we know these 2 guys are here.  Already on the list going forward.  And so much for the Gaffney Hall of Fame push.  All I heard was that Tyler was going to be a major cog in the backfield this year once healthy.  That they stole him from Carolina last year.  Listen, if Carolina absolutely wanted to hang onto the guy, they wouldn’t have exposed him to waivers at the time that they did.  They would have carried him and then put him on IR when they didn’t have to expose him to waivers.  They took a chance that no one would claim him.  They were wrong, but if he was that invaluable, he wouldn’t be here in the first place.  Plus, he wouldn’t have been a 6th round pick either.  But what do I know?

Non-Football Injury (1):  Caylin Hauptmann

I think this guy is still on the NFI list and I don’t even know what for.  Nor do I care.  The Pats did care enough about him to carry him on the practice squad for however long last year.  But I’m not expecting him to be a factor at any point, no offense to him or his family.

Practice squad (10):

Andrews

Barker

Bequette

Boyce

Gordon

Jean

Rufus Johnson

Krause

Mundine

Swanson

Total shots in the dark here, as obviously it is early in the preseason.  But also because of the eligibility rules.  I am not going to pretend I know who exactly is eligible for the practice squad and who is not.  Sure, I could do all the research.  But, ummmmm…no thanks.  Not for this projection anyway.  I did just briefly look at the eligibility rules though, for the record.  All sorts of stuff about accrued seasons and 46 man game day rosters and third practice squad seasons and changes for 2014 & 2015 that will revert back to 2013 rules for 2016 if there is no extension and blah blah blah.  For this exercise, I will just assume anyone with less than 3 year’s experience is eligible.  Thank you so much for your understanding…

That’s about it…along with Fort being released there was a trade today and some more roster moves.  So I guess I won’t be perfect…

Patriot’s roster projection, v1

Projections can be silly.  Especially when there are 3 exhibition games left to play and plenty of jobs to be won or lost at the back end of the roster…or the front end…if your team is brutal.  Not to mention the injuries that always happen across the league.  As well as that stupid “air in the football” thing that is somehow still yet to be resolved.

But since I want to talk some actual football and there was nothing earthshattering to speak of in their first exhibition game…let’s do this today…and tomorrow.

Offense:

QB (2):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  Ryan Lindley

Lindley makes the squad if Brady gets suspended for any length of time.  Or maybe it’s Matt Flynn.  Or some other dude on another teams’ roster right now.  Either way, does it matter who is #3?

RB (6):

Locks:  LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden

In:  Jonas Gray, Tavaris Cadet, James White, James Develin

Out:  Dion Lewis

Way Out:  Eric Kettani, Tony Creecy

6 runners is a little heavy, but Blount is definitely suspended for 1 game.  So I’m taking 54 guys in this roster projection and so there is room for 6 backs.  Plus Develin is included here, even though he kind of has his own position of fullback/H-back/small tight end/whatever.  He’s realistically a lock I suppose.  Gray isn’t a lock because I feel like he is always a hair away from Bill Belichick’s doghouse.  Plus, when you think about it, there is probably a reason he was on the practice squad for half the season last year when anyone could have had him for nothing.  White apparently is the darling of camp again this year, but nothing has been impressive thus far about him when the lights are on.  I suppose that’s why I keep Cadet in, despite him being hurt so far.  Could be Lewis in Cadet’s spot, for all we know.  It surely isn’t going to be Creecy.  Or Kettani, despite the whole Navy thing…

WR (5):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell

In:  Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Aaron Dobson

Out:  Josh Boyce, Brian Tyms

Way Out:  Zach D’Orazio, Chris Harper, Jonathan Krause

Some question marks here.  Edelman has been banged up, but hopefully that is not serious.  Who knows?  LaFell is on the preseason PUP list.  That means he can be transferred to the regular season list and must miss 6 games as a result.  Don’t rule that out.  Dobson is hurt again, but is not on the preseason PUP list.  So if he is out, then it’s IR for the year…or cut.  Think they will give him one more chance.  Amendola is realistically a lock.  But something in the back of my head tells me he could be one of those veterans cut at the end of camp that you don’t see coming.  With all the doubts at the position now though, it appears unlikely.  Gibson?  Whatever.  But I like him better than Boyce and Tyms.  I’m already sick of Boyce.  He’s never been good, yet they threw to him all night last Thursday.  Maybe hoping he could earn a spot.  And he came up small.  Tyms is probably still better than Boyce on what either would make the roster for…getting open deep and spreading the field…like 3 times a game.  Maybe one of the kids is worth something.  Though since they only played late in the first exhibition game, something tells me they ain’t that highly regarded.

TE (3):

Locks:  Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler

In:  Michael Hoomanawanui

Out:  Jake Bequette

Way Out:  Jimmay Mundine, Logan Stokes

I always want to move on from the Hoo-Man…but the team seemingly loves him.  Bequette probably still sucks at this position too.  But you know how the Pats love versatility.  Don’t even know the last 2.  Can’t imagine they will crack the lineup.

OL (10):

Locks: Nate Solder (LT), Sebastian Vollmer (RT), Bryan Stork (C), Ryan Wendell (G/C), Marcus Cannon (T), Cameron Fleming (T/G?), Shaq Mason (G), Tre’ Jackson (G)

In:  Josh Kline (G/C), Ryan Groy (G)

Out:  Chris Barker (G), Jordan Devey (T)

Way Out:  David Andrews (C), Mark Asper (G)

A little bit in flux here as well.  Solder, Vollmer, Stork and Cannon have missed some time, though I believe Solder and Cannon are back at practice now and none of these injuries appear to be serious.  Wendell is on the preseason PUP list though and Jackson apparently got carted off at practice today.  Barker has been on and off the roster for a couple of years and of course Devey somehow stuck all of last year despite being putrid, so they could end up sticking.  Groy just got here and even though the kid they traded for him (6th round pick, LB Matt Wells) wasn’t anything special, Groy could be some needed depth at this time.  The team seems to like this Andrews lad.  But I don’t know how the team actually likes any of the youngsters after Garoppolo had zero seconds to throw last Thursday night behind them.

Specialists (4):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

I’m sorry, I cannot list Slater as a wide receiver.  This is what he is.  But…no complaints at all.  The guy is excellent at what he does.  No competition at the other 3 spots in camp, so even I could pick these right.  Though Cardona can suck total arse, they can cut him a day before the opener and someone else can step right in without a hitch.  I’m sure it’s happened before.  They cut Danny Aiken in the final cuts last year.  Of course they brought him back like 2 days later, but they still cut the long snapper.  Not unheard of.

Next:  Defense and injury lists…and maybe a total stab at the practice squad if I’m feeling it as well…

Inane banter…

…with myself while awaiting the legendary celebration the Red Sox are cooking up in preparation for Mike Napoli’s 200th major league home run…

*That’s why Napoli is still here, right?  For the marketing opportunities the Sox so love?  Since Nappy is at 199, I expected more hoopla around it.  Especially when John Farrell keeps penciling him into the lineup every night…and hitting him 4th or 5th to boot.

Does this make any sense at all?  Nap’s contract runs out at the end of the year, he has been absolutely putrid all year, the team is awful, etc.  Why is he taking up ANYONE’S playing time?

Listen, I have no idea if Travis Shaw will be even a serviceable major league ballplayer and/or if he is a real prospect or not.  But what is the harm in finding out now?  Especially when he had a weekend like he had last weekend and tore the cover off the ball.  Yes, it was 2 games.  But it felt like more than Napoli had done all season.

The organization was able to get a bag of used baseballs and a couple of beat up fungo bats (otherwise known as Josh Rutledge) for Shane Victorino…in addition to eating a lot of his remaining dough.  Are you telling me they couldn’t have gotten the same for Nappy?  So what if “he can clear waivers in August because of his salary”, as many yahoo’s have said.  Who needs him around now?

*Speaking of the trading deadline, it was refreshing to see the Sox do almost nothing.  Wait…no it wasn’t.  Admittedly, they didn’t have a whole lot of options to deal.  Not as much as last year anyway.  But there were some players that should have been shipped out.  In addition to Napoli, guys like Alejandro de Aza, Craig Breslow, Justin Masterson & Ryan Hanigan should have been given new addresses.  They weren’t going to get much for that steaming pile of dung, but these are also guys who serve no purpose on this team the rest of the year and are unlikely to be back next year.  Actually Hanigan may be, but as long as Christian Vazquez is recovered from his Tommy John surgery, he shouldn’t.  Vazquez and Blake Swihart should be the tandem, but I know they won’t be.  I’ll save my anger on that one for next spring however…

But one asset the Sox do have and have not dealt for 2 years running is Koji Uehara.  Love the dude.  But let’s be realistic.  He’s 40.  He has had a good year, but not quite as dominant as we have known.  He isn’t going to get better.  Etc.  Couldn’t get a nice piece for him?  Mystifying that they have not dealt him.

*The one move the Sox did make was to acquire Ryan Cook from Oakland.  Former All-Star…but ummmmm, think “All-Star” as in “All-Star Brock Holt” or “All-Star Scott Cooper” instead of “All-Star Mike Trout” or “All-Star Miguel Cabrera”.  In any event, had a decent run from 2012-14, though has been buried in the minors all this year for whatever reason.  Worth a look, especially since they traded zero for him essentially.

But where is he?  Pawtucket.  Because there needs to be space on the major league roster for Breslow, Masterson, Jean Machi (who?) and Machine Gun Joe Kelly.  Yup…makes total sense here too…nope…and don’t even get me going on Kelly.  Talk about useless.  I’d hold onto Kelly for now though, but wouldn’t throw him out there every 5 days to get pummeled.  Bullpen for him and see where that goes.  But…here he is toeing the rubber tonight.  Awesome.

*There is another dude in Pawtucket, Heath Hembree.  Dominates in AAA.  Never really has had an extended look in the majors.  Again, he may be no better than a AAAA player long term.  But do we need to see more Masterson?

*Sure looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. still cannot hit major league pitching.  6 for 51 for the year, 2 for 21 since his last recall.  At 25 years old, running out of time for his “prospect” status.  But you know what?  Keep him out there every day even when Mookie comes back.  Again, no need to see more of de Aza.  May as well play JBJ and see if he can hit a little in August.  September numbers may not matter, since he may be facing a ton of minor league pitchers then.  But let him play.  Maybe you can sucker someone into taking him over the offseason.

*Speaking of potential moves in the offseason, did anyone buy that garbage from Ben Cherington that he was “laying the groundwork” and “gathering information” for deals in the winter?  Me neither.  What a joke.  Heard that one before around here, by a gentleman named Peter Chiarelli.  And where is Pete now?

*Larry Lucchino stepping down as CEO and Sam Kennedy taking over.  I’ve said here before that, although Larry is a total arse, phasing him out from the baseball operation may have had a negative effect on the team this year.  Now they are officially putting a “non-baseball” guy in that chair.  Good thing?  Not sure.  Kennedy may be a helluva guy and smart as well.  But the team clearly needs to add more high level “baseball men” to the equation.  We will let it play out, but I can’t say I love what I am seeing with this move so far.

*LOVE the phantom injury the team came up with to put Rick Porcello on the DL last week.  Matter of time before that happened, but they likely had to convince Ricky to go for the idea.  Maybe next they can convince him to take the rest of the year off (like Clay Buchholz, except they won’t have to convince Clay to do so…he has probably already suggested it numerous times).  Stuck with the dude for the next four years, so they may as well see if they can get his head straight in this lost season.

*No tears shed over Daniel Nava getting claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay.  Nice story, overachiever, but he was brutal this year.  And a decent chunk of last year.  Can find a 32 year old 4th OF anywhere, like…de Aza!  Ok, Alejandro is only 31…

*I’d consider shopping Junichi Tazawa this winter.  He has had a nice run, but you know what happens with relievers.  Sometimes the shelf life is just not long.  And he isn’t even a closer.  30 years old next June, may be the time to sell somewhat high.

*I never bought the trade deadline rumors of being able to unload the Fat Panda onto the Padres or anyone else, for that matter.  But boy, if they could get someone to take that contract in the offseason, I’d drive him directly to that particular city.  If it was San Diego, I’d take Will Middlebrooks back for him.  After all, Bill James probably has Willy locked in to hit 32 bombs next year.  Good to see Will’s .212/9/29 line and .602 OPS landed him back in the minors with the Pads.  He’s hitting .333/2/10, .811 there in 51 AB’s, so maybe there is still hope for him.  Doubt it, but consider the next bullet…

*I leave with this:  Allen Craig is hitting .274/3/19 with 59 K’s and a .720 OPS in Pawtucket.  In 252 AB’s.  Ouch.  Probably works out to about 45 RBI’s projected over a full season.  Again, in AAA.  I don’t want to level any accusations or anything, but judging by the numbers alone and not seeing him in person at all…does he even care anymore?

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