Can you feel it?

Opening Day is right around the corner!  Well, I’m not really counting the Australia games.  Did anyone actually pay attention to them?  And I guess I am not counting the Sunday Night Baseball game either, but at least we can all follow it.

Red Sox open up Monday at 3:00.  Seems to have snuck up on everyone…well, me anyway.  The Bruins have been smoking hot, the Celtics have been the opposite (much to most people’s delight this year though) and the Patriots have made a few impact free agent moves.

The fact that this Sox camp has been largely uneventful is probably another big reason as well.  Not to mention that instead of coming off a “chicken and beer” year or a Bobby Valentine debacle year, they are coming off a World Series Championship year.  I suppose that helps keep things in perspective.  (Side note:  speaking of “chicken and beer, have I mentioned that the strength coach for the Sox that year is now working (at least part-time) at a small gym in Billerica, MA?  Seems like quite a fall…especially considering he apparently was on the Diamondback staff during their World Series as well.  Feel kind of bad for the guy actually.  The players walked all over him in Boston, he said a few things publicly the ensuing winter suggesting as much, the team pretty much made him a scapegoat and canned him…and now he seems to be blackballed out of baseball completely altogether.  He probably deserved better.  But anyway, I digress…)

The team came to Spring Training this year without much controversy.  Dempster “retired” right before camp.  No big deal, he was basically insurance anyway.  Wouldn’t have minded that insurance, but I guess that is why they got Chris Capuano.  Not sure why they had to do that, as Workman seemingly had earned that spot on the roster, based on his work specifically in the playoffs.  But that’s really kind of a minor issue.  There weren’t really any spots up for grabs on the roster.  You knew most of the kids (other than Bogaerts and maybe Bradley) would be seasoned more in the minors…cuz that’s how the Sox roll.  Certainly the young pitchers.  Always good to have 15-20 pitchers that can contribute to the pitching staff of a team over the course of the year.  So try the Badenhop’s and Capuano’s early.  Keep guys like Francisco Cordero, Tommy Layne and Rich HIll in Pawtucket if they are ok with it.  Keep the kids down until they prove they are ready.  Gonna need them all.

The biggest noise came from the contract situations (see previous post).  Jonny Gomes shot his mouth off about how great he is.  And the endless Stephen Drew stories.  (Love how he is still completely delusional…as well as Boras.  Scotty Boras generally gets his guys deals that most people can’t fathom, but this time…not so much.  Kind of telling that when a great team like Detroit loses their SS, likely for the year (old friend Jose Iglesias), they go out and trade for two others not named Drew within a week:  Some Romine guy no one has ever heard of…and the corpse of Alex Gonzalez.  Gonzalez used to be a wizard at short, but A:  He is 37 years old, B:  He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for years and C:  Milwaukee actually played him at 1B last year, as I believe Baltimore was doing this spring before dealing him.  So much for Stephen Drew.  But Boras said recently that he has a 3 year, 39 million dollar offer on the table for him.  Sure thing chief).

Oh, Jonathan Herrera beat out Brock Holt for the utility infield role.  That was pretty major…not.  They actually could use a guy like Drew as a backup on the left side of the infield.  Solid veteran who could help out if Bogaerts and/or Middlebrooks falls flat on their face.  But not for 14 mil per.  Goes without saying.  Glad the team is going with these two guys though.  Xander should be playing SS, until he proves otherwise.  And I didn’t want to give up on Middlebrooks yet.  Which brings us to about the only story on the actual playing field this spring…and the last kid who was SUPPOSED to be in the starting lineup on Opening Day, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Not that the Sox were handing Bradley a job, but they kind of were when they let Ellsbury walk and didn’t sign anyone else of significance.  Grady Sizemore was supposed to be a gamble…anything he could give you would be a bonus.  Hadn’t played in two years, has been essentially useless for five.  Now he is the darling of camp.  Just cuz he played a few games.  33 at-bats and all of a sudden people are talking like he will be a 30-30 guy again this year.  Let’s pump the brakes on all this folks.  Grady was a pretty good player in his early to mid-twenties.  But now he is 31 and hasn’t done much for a half a decade.  Everything he will do this year IS a bonus and we can’t forget that.

That being said, I’d have him break camp with the big league club.  If he has anything to offer, might as well get it out of the gate.  Instead of him going to Pawtucket, or probably extended spring training, and wasting his hits down there.  Problem is, you’ll need someone capable of playing CF when he can’t.  And apparently we can’t count on Victorino to do that, because of injury and whatever else.  The talk of playing Nava there is a joke (remember a stint he had out there last year when Ellsbury was a late scratch one night and Victorino was unavailable?  It was ugly if you don’t remember.  And another side note:  What is all this talk by Farrell about “trying” to get Nava some time in center and “trying” to get Carp some time at 3rd still?  Haven’t you had the last 6 weeks to get those guys time at those places?  Many games, major, minor and intrasquad?  You are the manager, if you want to get them experience at those positions, just put them in the lineup already).

Bradley should also break camp with the team.  As opposed to last year, he has done squat in the spring.  But so has Papi with his 2 for 35.  OK, different situations, I know.  But Bradley can stay here for his defense and pick up some valuable major league at-bats in at least a platoon scenario.  Unfortunately, the way the roster is constructed, there may not be room for him.  Because you still have Nava, Gomes and Carp in the OF as well.  Do you really need all of those three though?  I’d rid myself of Gomes personally, since he extremely overrates himself and Farrell feels the urge to play him too much.  But they won’t.  Nava should suffice since he is serviceable at LF/RF/1B and switch hits.  Carp is expendable.  They love how he can hit cold off the bench, but so what?  That was one year and he was atrocious in the playoffs.  There is supposedly trade value out there for him.  What are they waiting for?  You can find a Mike Carp anywhere.  Deal him, open the spot for Bradley.  It’s best for the team.  Mike Carp?  Please.

My favorite part about the beginning of the regular season?  In all honesty it could quite possibly be the end of two straight months of “feel good” stories from all the local blowhard writers that are everywhere.  Enough already…nauseating…

 

Papi got his dough!

So…I guess he can stop whining?  Love Big Papi, but his contract talk over the years has been tiresome.  As for the contract?  Ugh.  I was on the side of giving him an extra year…at as much as 20 mil.  ‘Roids or no roids, the guy had earned it.  Even if he proceeds to hit a buck-fifty with 6 dongs in 2015.  Who cares?  Parting gift.  For all he has contributed throughout the years, I had no problem giving him one more year in 2015.  Not like the Sox don’t have the money.  They can just sell a few more bricks.

But the option years?  Not sure those were necessary.  Not to mention that they will be fairly easy to attain as well.  425 plate appearances?  Not really a lot.  What happens if he is hitting .220 in 2015 towards the end of the year…and has around 400 plate appearances in mid-September?  THAT will be interesting.  Ortiz most assuredly will think he deserves the 2016 option regardless of what he does in 2015.  So he will start squawking then.  And can you even imagine the chirping if he sucks in 2015 and they bench him at the end of the year so he doesn’t meet the requirements?  That could get ugly.  Club options with him in the past haven’t been so smooth, as everyone undoubtedly remembers.

Should have just given him the one year extension and called it a day.  After that he will be 40 and he would have to just deal with going year-to-year.  It’s not like anyone would overspend to get him then.  If they did?  Really wouldn’t matter.

Speaking of contracts, the whole Jonny Lester situation is an interesting one.  Lester had a good year in 2013, capped by a tremendous postseason.  He has, by and large, been a pretty good pitcher throughout his career of course.  If not an ace, at least a #2 guy.  Pitches in a tough division, gives you 30 plus starts and 200 plus innings every year.  Always being on a good team has helped.  Nice pitcher to have on your staff.  But people forget how brutal he was in 2012.  I guess the whole team was that year, so it’s easy to dismiss.  But the fact of the matter is that he isn’t a shutdown ace.  He just isn’t.  So him asking for 25 mil a year for 6 years makes me kind of shudder.  Not much of a “hometown discount”, as he claims he would be willing to take.

That kind of coin for a guy like Lester is silly.  Fans also get caught up in the fact that he has pitched for the Sox for his entire career.  They want to spend extra dough on keeping him because of this, and he has been part of two World Series championships and all that crap.  They are not thinking rationally about giving a 6 year deal to a 30 year old pitcher.  For ace money, typically a guy with a mid-2 ERA (Lester’s career low ERA?  3.21 in 2008, his first full season).

That all being said?  I’d still consider giving that kind of deal to him…but hopefully no more than over 5 years.  For one, as stated above, the Sox ain’t hurting for dough.  For two, there are some contracts coming off the books over the next few years, so there’s room.  For three, presumably the kids from the “ripe” farm system will take those open roster spots, at significantly less dollars.  So there will be more room.

But the most important thing to look at is the pitching staff overall, as it is currently constituted.  Lackey and Peavy are old and average at best.  And both probably gone within 2 years.  Dempster is already gone.  Buchholz can’t ever stay healthy and Doubront is inconsistent, making them both unreliable.  Capuano?  Haha!  And then you have the seven kids that are on the cusp:  Workman, Britton, Barnes, Ranaudo, Webster, de la Rosa and Owens.  Not all of these guys will be in the Sox rotation going forward of course.  Some will go to the bullpen (de la Rosa?  Workman?), some will be part of trades and some will just flat out suck and not make it.  They could sign a big name free agent, but that may be a trick or treat option.  May not be able to handle the AL East or primarily the heat that comes with pitching in Boston.

So who is left?  A guy that has been here for a while, stayed healthy, been pretty consistent over the years, always takes the ball and has had great postseason success.  This may be the best reason to give him the dough.  We may find out within the next week.

Patriots free agency chatta

Welp…we are almost here.  Another offseason to watch the Pats reach into the bargain basement bin for free agents to find value.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not want them to go out and sign a bunch of Adalius Thomas’, who get the money and then coast.  I don’t want them to be like the Redskins and throw money around willy-nilly.  I love to find value guys as well.  But as everyone is saying, the “window” is closing.  They haven’t won a championship in 9 years, despite being deep in the playoffs most years and having one of the best coaches and QB’s in NFL history…and plenty of other talent.  They also do spend money and go close to the cap, despite a lot of people saying otherwise.  So I don’t have tremendous issues with how the Patriots do business.  It’s been a pretty good run.  I just want them to spend SOME money on an impact player or two and make an even more serious run at a championship or two before Brady is done.  In recent years, they seem to be that impact player or two short.  I’m really not asking for much.

Using cap figures from Overthecap.com, I have some ideas on what the Pats should do.  Some of these have been discussed far and wide already.  Some of this is pretty much common sense.  But hopefully I have some value to add…pun intended…

*Release Gregory–oops, already done long ago.  3.7M cap number for a #3 safety at best.  Thanks for your time Steve.

*Try to restructure Wilfork.  He may not be up for this.  I think we all recall the negotiations to get this contract initially.  Not smooth, to be kind.   But an 11.6M cap hit for a 32 year old coming off a serious injury is way too steep.  I’m sure he hasn’t kept himself in great shape with the Achilles recovery either.  If he is not game for a restructuring…I’d release him.  Very tough call on the surface.  But based on the outward facts, it really is not.  The Patriots have always looked at the facts, not the connection the player has to the team.  They usually have been very cold, generally letting a player go a year too early than a year too late.  But there is precedent for keeping a year too late as well.  Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi were done in their final years with the Pats.  Bruschi played a lot, but not well.  Brown was hurt most of the year and inactive for the rest of it.  But they were both taking up roster spots that they probably shouldn’t have.  The Pats let Vince travel with the team last year, not something they usually do.  So there is a different kind of relationship there obviously.  Other facts to consider is that they made the AFC Championship game last year with the 30th ranked run D and guys like Chris Jones and Joe Vellano at DT.  Do they need Vince in today’s NFL?  I personally think the money is better spent elsewhere.  But in the end, I think the Pats keep him even if he doesn’t restructure.

*Mankins at 10.5M?  Probably too much.  Did not play as well as usual last year.  But played on a torn ACL the whole year in 2012.  And talk about contentious negotiations to get his contract.  In 2014, I’d leave him where he is.

*Re-sign and restructure free agents in the the last year in their contract in 2014.  McCourty (5.1M), Gostkowski (3.8M) and if the Patriots are letting Wendell walk and still think he has something left to play at center, Connolly (4.1M).  The cap will go up yet again in 2015, so Devin and Stephen can take a little less this year (cap-wise) and get rewarded with extensions with higher riches in 2015 and beyond.  McCourty is not as good as his reputation suggests (according to me).  But he is pretty good, knows the D inside and out and has versatility.  Gostkowski is money.  I don’t necessarily want to spend way more on a kicker than I have to.  But he will fit.  Not sure how the Pats view Connolly.  4.1M for him is kind of high.  But he does have versatility and if he is back at center, that has some value as well.  If they re-sign Wendell, then the best move may be to just axe Connolly and go younger at guard.

*Release Sopoaga (3.5M), Adrian Wilson (1.8M) and Jake Bequette (700K).  OK pretty obvious.  And Bequette doesn’t even matter.  I’m just tired of hearing his name.  He may be the worse 3rd round pick ever.  I’ll let others do the research on that though.

*Let Edelman walk.  If someone is going to give him an Amendola deal, see ya bud.  I love what Julian brings to a team.  He has developed as a WR.  Great punt returner.  In a pinch, though I wouldn’t recommend it, he could play DB or QB.  Special teams guy.  Great versatility overall.  Creates a lot of options.  But his injury history is extensive.  Last year was the first time he was healthy the whole year.  He came up big yes.  But Amendola was hurt (surprise) and the kids were new (and Dobson and KT got hurt at different times as well).  Gronk was hurt (another surprise).  He was basically the only guy to throw to.  Especially considering your lead RB’s can’t catch (Ridley & Blount) and your 3rd down back (Vereen) was hurt as well.  If all those guys were even a bit healthier, he ain’t catching 100+ balls.  The Pats have enough weapons without him.  He can easily be replaced.  Not worth the dough.

*Keep Amendola for one more year at least.  Danny has an extensive injury history as well.  But when he is on the field he is better than Edelman.  Trading him will yield next to nothing.  If there is a chemistry issue between him and Brady, than tell Brady to get over it.  If Brady threw to a covered Slater against Denver instead of a wide open Amendola on purpose, then shame on Brady.  Supposedly the Pats can cut Amendola with no cap ramifications after 2014.  Give him one more year and if it still isn’t working, dump him then.

*Let Blount walk.  Nice finish to the year…except Denver.  I’ll take him back if he comes cheap.  But if he wants dough, there is another LeGarrette Blount out there for next year.

*Let Spikes walk.  Obvious and enough said.

*Re-sign Talib, or spend dough on another top CB.  OK, another obvious one.  The hesitation on Talib is his hip and overall health.  Legit concerns.  But he clearly works in their system.  My recommendation?  Re-sign him AND another top corner.  All the moves above should create plenty of cap space for both.  My belief is that the offense will be fine with a few small tweaks.  Spend available dough on the D-backfield…AND…

*Sign a top pass rushing DE.  Chandler Jones is nice on one side.  Ninkovich is useful on the other.  But as an every down pass rusher?  Still don’t like it, never have.  Think he could be more useful as a 3rd DE, coverage LB, kind of jack of all trades on defense.  Cut his snaps and keep him fresh.  Sign one of the names you hear as a stud pass rusher, especially if a few more names get released from their teams in the coming days.  Adding this and the 2 stud DB’s above should be doable.  Then you can get any other adds in your bargain basement bin.

*Bonus…I’d draft a TE and athletic LB high and some young OL later.  Half a season of Gronk plus Hoo-man/Mulligan/DJ Williams/draft pick should suffice at TE.  At LB, with Spikes leaving, after Mayo, Hightower and Collins, there are a bunch of special teamers.  Be nice to have another prospect in the pipeline.  Even if you keep one of Connolly/Wendell and even though Dante is now gone, the starters on the OL should be fine.  But it would be nice to build depth.  DT as well.  I’m not drafting the “future QB of the Pats” yet now either.  Not time to do so at this point.

Bruins at the deadline…and another thing…

Let’s start with the “other thing”…and briefly.  The Sox and Marlins played to a 0-0 tie in spring training yesterday.  It is like the 2nd week of spring training, maybe the 8th game or something for both.  I’d look up the exact details, but just like most things in MLB spring training, it’s pretty irrelevant.

Anyway, the Sox apparently traveled the three hours for the game and the Marlins jacked up the ticket prices because well, the WORLD CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX were in town.  Only problem was the WORLD CHAMPION’S weren’t actually in town.  Since it’s early in spring training, who would expect the Opening Day lineup to be in tow?  I guess the Marlins did.  They were outraged when the Sox brought no one of significance…unless you could Jackie Bradley Jr. or Ryan Lavarnway.  I don’t think the Marlins counted them though.

The silliest thing about this whole brouhaha is that it appears MLB has an actual rule where teams are required to play “4 major league regulars or players who platooned regularly the previous year and play them at least three innings.”  And that also that fraud Joe Torre is actually “looking into it”.  Pretty unbelievable…everything about it.  IT IS SPRING TRAINING!  Teams should do whatever they want to do.  And teams should also not charge ridiculous prices to boot.  That’s really the crux of the matter.

If I were the Marlins, I’d be more worried about them playing most of their regulars (including Salty hitting cleanup…ouch) and having them be shut down by the likes of Allen Webster and Drake Britton.

Anyway, to the B’s…like most Bruin fans, I was pretty disappointed that they were only able to get a couple of “depth” defensemen at the deadline.  I was actually hoping for something bigger.  Instead, we got the Wade Redden treatment of last year.  Potter was generally a minor leaguer and Meszaros was a last pairing D-man by all indications.  Most people would agree they needed a top-4 D-man, someone who can reasonably replace Seidenberg.  Someone who could take some pressure off the kids, who are largely offensive minded.  That of course didn’t happen.

I kind of have a “love-hate” relationship with Peter Chiarelli.  He has said some dumb things in the past.  When they were up 3 games to none on Philly in 2010 and lost the series, “We are one of only five teams to be in the second round of the playoffs the last two years”, as if that matters.  2012, after losing in the first round to the Caps, “In a lot of the exit interviews the guys told me that this year felt like one big long year, with the long Cup run and all last year…”  I would never admit that.  Maybe the players partied too much after the Cup win.  Regardless, I wouldn’t want players making excuses like that.  I don’t want those guys on my team…seemingly guys that gave up because the previous year was a long year, etc.  Stupid.  But the B’s have been competitive, won a Cup and went to another.  So I have to deal with his dumb comments from time to time.  Kind of like the same thing with Claude.  Never necessarily loved his system, but it has gotten results here.  So who am I to complain?

So Chiarelli had a few more gems from his presser after the dealine, according to me, “no one ever judges us as having won at the deadline, so I guess it’s the same this year” and “sometimes the talks you have at the deadline lay the groundwork for future deals”…as if I care about the future at this current point in time.  I think he needs to have a better PR person…or someone that just speaks for him at the pressers.  But another resonated with me, “we could use the long term injury exception for Savard and Dennis and also possibly Adam…”  Meaning McQuaid.  That would essentially mean he would be done for the season if they used that exception for him.  Not that I am a huge McQuaid fan, but he is a solid piece, someone that is more defensive oriented than the kids.  And probably more of a sure thing than the two new guys.  To me, if McQuaid is possibly gone, that would place more urgency on getting something significant done.

Add in the fact some of the names out there were getting dealt for not much.  Pete should have gotten something bigger done.  Let’s not even talk about Vanek for a 2nd rounder…to Montreal of all places.  Love to see a guy that kills the B’s historically go to a team that people around here are pretty afraid of more than anyone else if this was a playoff matchup.  Awesome.  Pete probably channeled his inner Lou Gorman (“what would we do with Willie McGee?  Where would we play him?”…but that’s a story for a different day.

Add into it also the news that came out today, about the B’s having a deal done in principle for Alexander Edler.  I honestly don’t know much about Edler.  He must be ok if Vancouver locked him up until 2019 at 5 million per.  He plays a ton of minutes.  He’s only 27.  But I haven’t heard him being mentioned about him being elite or anything.  He’s a minus 27 this year…pretty bad no matter what team you are on.  And why would Vancouver want to dump him?  For apparently Bartkowski and Khokhlachev and maybe a pick?  (I suppose another question would be why do the B’s want to dump those two…as they were the guys in the failed Iginla deal last year also).  Lot of questions there too.  But why would the B’s make a deal contingent upon another team making a deal?  Which is why this one broke down.  Pittsburgh was making a play for Ryan Kesler and when that fell through, the Boston deal did too.  Not sure why they still couldn’t make it.  Or why the B’s relied on it.

Only time will tell if the lack of activity will hurt them.  One positive?  Looks like Pittsburgh didn’t get anything major done.  I suppose that is one small victory.

 

Rondo = Chump, addendum

I got to thinking on the whole “chump” thing.  There is definitely more than the one on the Celtics.  Rondo seems to be the high profile one.  The other one is at the bottom of the roster…sort of.

See, he is on the roster, but really no longer welcome at the arena.  Keith Bogans.  Here’s a guy that has been in the league since 2003-2004.  Been generally a bench player, though he has started 333 of 671 career games (a lot higher than I would have thought).  6.3ppg/2.7rpg/1.2apg career numbers, shooting 39% from the floor and 72% from the line.  Pretty run of the mill, right?  Maybe he plays some D, though I’ve never heard anyone rave about it to any degree.

2012-13 with the Nets his numbers were even lower than his career averages.  At age 32, you probably had to believe his career was winding down.  At least normal people would.  You could get a 20 year old with potential to do what he does, right?  For cheaper?  I would think so.

For reasons only really smaaaaht people know, in order to make the huge KG/Pierce trade with the Celtics, the Nets had to re-sign Bogans to a 3 year deal for over 15 million bazookas and then include him in the trade to make the salaries match.  Although the last 2 years are not guaranteed, $5,058,198.00 for 2013-14 ain’t so bad, no?  Especially when the highest salary he has made for any single season was $2,565,000.00 in 2008-09 (salaries courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com)?  Definitely not bad for an end of bench guy at the end of his career.

Apparently, Keith didn’t think so.  The reality is that all he had to do was come over here and embrace his role as a “cagey veteran”.  Provide some leadership.  Guidance for the youngsters on the life and grind of an NBA season.  Kind of be like an assistant coach essentially.  Keep his mouth shut and cash his checks.  It would be hard for me to believe the Celtics told him his role on this team would be otherwise.

But again, for some reason, he believed he was coming to Boston to play.  Even though the C’s are rebuilding.  Even though the C’s had a glut of younger, more talented shooting guards and small forwards.  Even though he is a career long 10th man at best.  Delusional I say.  So this is where the “chump” part comes in.  If the stories are to believed, and since a lot of them were coming from guys that around the team when they happened (broadcasters, etc.), I believe they are, Bogans started chirping about playing time.  And then there was some sort of incident on the team bus.  Bogans believed that “he had not been given an opportunity from Day One.”  Of course he hadn’t, but he was silly to think an opportunity was ever coming!  Shame on Ainge and/or Stevens if they told him when they got him he would have an opportunity, because they shouldn’t have.  But the writing was on the wall all along and anyone could have seen that.

So they sent him home…and he gets to keep cashing the checks.  Nice gig.  Nice leadership.  And the ironic thing is that he may have actually been playing meaningful minutes the last month or so with all the injuries.  Have to believe he has hurt his future value, certainly for keeping this contract, but also for getting even a minimum salary one after this one is terminated.  Happy Retirement Keith.  Nice way to go out.

Side note:  I can’t believe I just wasted about 600 words on Keith Freakin’ Bogans…

Rondo = Chump

Full disclosure:  I’ve been on the “trade Rajon Rondo” bandwagon for several years now.  He is a good player, sometimes great, but not a superstar.  Anyone who you can’t trust with the ball at the end of games can’t possibly be someone that leads your team.  Not that he can’t handle the ball of course, but because he can’t hit a jump shot or a free throw.  Am I giving him the ball to win the game?  Nope.  He does step up most of the time when the bright lights are on, I will give him that.  The game against Miami in the playoffs when he was hurt.  Triple doubles routinely in the playoffs.  But also plays down to the level of competition most times.  Disappears some nights.  And when he doesn’t get his way, he is a colossal baby.  Throwing the ball at the ref a couple years back.  The end of his assist streak last year, when people strongly believe that he got thrown out on purpose for engaging Kris Humphries after Humphries “tussled” with KG.  It was almost halftime, he didn’t have many assists, so let’s just exit.  The moodiness.  Blah, blah, blah.

The latest is the whole birthday party thing.  I usually could give a rat’s arse what players do in their spare time.  But this kind of wasn’t “spare time”.  Especially for the Captain of the Boston Celtics.  The Celtics may suck majorly this year, but they are still a prestigious franchise.  They have had very few captains in their history.  If Rondo is the Captain, he needs to do and say the right things.  Goes with the territory.  So even though Rondo and coach Brad Stevens seemed to have bonded through the first part of the year and even though Rondo has apparently gone to most, if not all, games this year, this recent behavior is concerning.

Judging by comments made by Stevens and Danny Ainge, Rondo did not have permission to skip the Sacramento game, even though he wasn’t playing.  So Rondo needed to be with the team.  He chose differently.  Because he needed to be at his birthday party.  Because birthday parties as an adult are a huge thing.  Please.  He could have flown his family anywhere and they could have celebrated his birthday at some other time.  Great leadership.  When I saw him with the “C’ on the uniform in the game he returned in this year I asked, to no one in particular, “Who the hell made this guy the Captain?  He is not a leader!”  And then he proved it yet again when reporters asked him about this incident when he got back in Boston.  Instead of taking responsibility, he said all of them were “making up anything they want to make up”.  Awesome.

There has been speculation that this incident is somewhat of a response to hearing his name in trade rumors recently.  Maybe.  But he’s a professional, shouldn’t matter.  He knows this team is in transition.  He should absolutely expect his name to be talked about, since he still is probably the most marketable guy on this current collection of stiffs.  Especially since he has already said he will test the free agent market after 2015 and a lot pf people don’t think he will re-sign in Boston.  He thinks he is a max-contract guy.  Almost no one else does, including the Celtics.  That will be the main issue with him re-signing here.  But it will also be a main issue in getting maximum value in a trade with another team.  So we will see how it all plays out.

But this new incident is just another reason to get this clown out of town, as far as I am concerned.

A few post-trade deadline thoughts:

I was initially a little upset that the C’s did not make a trade at the deadline.  Since I am in favor of tanking (this year only, remember), I wanted them to unload anyone with any sort of value.  And of course they did not.  But then I started thinking about their roster and each individual situation:

*No one was taking Gerald Wallace’s contract

*They were not going to trade Sullinger, Olynyk and likely Faverani because they are young and could have potential (to varying degrees of course).

*They weren’t likely to trade Humphries or Bogans because of their expiring contracts.

*No one wanted Pressey or Johnson, plus they are cheap for the C’s to keep and evaluate.  And no one wanted Joel Anthony because, well, he is awful.

*I’m guessing that if they wanted to trade Bradley, his injuries, inconsistency and upcoming restricted free agency contract demands may have scared teams away.

*I’m also guessing that they wanted to keep Bayless as a young, cheap, better than Pressey point guard insurance for whatever happens to Rondo in the upcoming year-plus.  Reports were that Ainge has liked him and has tried to get him in the past too.

That left the names that everyone heard:  Rondo, Green and Bass.  You know how I feel about Rondo.  But I don’t want to trade him for a bag of balls either.  I truly believe Danny dangled him.  They must have not gotten any good offers.  They may get better ones in the offseason.  Same goes for Green.  I have to believe that no one was going to give up squat for him.  Maybe in offseason.  In the end, the only guy I am really upset that they didn’t trade, under the circumstances, was Bass.  No one was giving up a first rounder for him anytime soon.  But maybe they could have gotten a first rounder well down the road for him.  That would have been worth it I would say.  He has to have some value as a bench guy on a contender.  Reasonable contract.  I thought they would have no problem dealing him.  Guess I was wrong.

Give Danny credit for the deals he made in January.  I thought Courtney Lee really underachieved here.  Maybe it was just the inconsistent playing time, as he is getting minutes in Memphis and performing.  But the contract was awful and Ainge was able to unload it.  Jordan Crawford is a joke, as is apparenly MarShon Brooks, but Crawford played well here for a few months and they were able to unload him and Brooks for something.  Despite how well Crawford played here, they really weren’t getting much more for him, no doubt.

I also believe that they can still lose plenty of games going forward.  Wallace is now out for the year.  They are seriously babying Sullinger and Olynyk.  Faverani may be out for a while, though that hardly matters I guess.  Who knows if Bradley can ever stay healthy?  They will still rest Rondo strategically.  Bass and Green will still play a lot and contribute, but they can be invisible often as well.  It will be tough to catch Milwaukee.  And Philly made some trades to spiral to the bottom.  And Orlando is putrid as well.  But #4 is reachable.  And that hopefully means a top 5 pick.

I know draft picks aren’t everything.  There are plenty of busts.  And the kids coming out may not be all that they are hyped up to be.  But if the C’s can get a top 5 pick, all it takes is one other team to believe in this draft talent.  Then Danny could possibly package this with a lot of the “assets” he has accumulated and make something happen.  I wasn’t excited about the non-moves at the deadline.  But I am not giving up yet…

Cooperstown

So the Baseball Hall of Fame results come down tomorrow.  Nope, I don’t have a vote, but I’m going to tell you who I would vote for anyway.  Like it or not.

Right off the the bat I am going to tell you that I am not going to discriminate against steroid guys…or “perceived” steroid guys.  For all we know, 80% of the players were using at some point.  At least that is what I believe.  But who am I to decide which ones I THINK were using and possibly unfairly penalize them?  I read today that one jackass writer did not vote for ANY steroid era players, because he “didn’t know who did use and who didn’t”.  He only voted for Jack Morris because “he believes” that Morris’ career fell “in his opinion” before the steroid era.  WHAT??!  Because HE BELIEVES?  Who made him the expert?  Some may applaud him for making a stand, but that is totally asinine.   In MY opinion, that dude should lose his vote and be fired from wherever he works.  You can’t just blindly blanket the whole era.  Stupid.

Anyway, some guys also were apparently on some 2003 list that was supposed to remain confidential as well.  Not going to hold that against anyone either.  The steroid era is what it is, we have to deal with it.  There was the dead ball era.  The juiced ball year.  The amphetamine era.  Guys are in the Hall of Fame that admittedly cheated…see Perry, Gaylord.  There are drug abusers, racists and random other thugs in the Hall of Fame.  For decades, baseball had a separate Negro League that undoubtedly had potential Hall of Famers that were barred from playing in the Major Leagues.  Et cetera.  The steroid era is just another time period in the history of the game.  It is what it is…

One quick note to start.  Three managers were already elected.  One was Joe Torre.  Of his 5 managing jobs, 4 were average at best and sometimes putrid.  But he manages a bunch of Hall of Famers, borderline Hall of Famers and perennial All-Stars on the Yankees, wins regularly (yeah, 4 World Series, I know), and now he is a Hall of Fame manager?  Please.  Let’s just put Terry Francona in down the road if he wins 2,000 games overall.  Torre’s skill was managing a clubhouse full of multi-millionaire egos, not managing baseball games.  There is something to be said for that, but I am not sure it means Hall of Fame.  The Yanks would have likely won about the same with the corpse of Billy Martin managing those squads.

Anyway, enough of the preamble.  There are 36 names on the ballot.  I added a write-in vote.   Out of 37, I elected 6.  I don’t like to be one of these guys who changes their mind on guys down the road (why do we need 15 years to determine whether a dude is a Hall of Famer?).  But I reserve the right to change course on a guy or two with more information and thought.  I’ve considered each player carefully and read many opinions of each over the years.  But always am willing to hear more arguments.

Elected:

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens-put on the same line for obvious reasons.  I personally despise both these guys.  But they are no-doubt Hall of Famers, it’s as simple as that.  They were on that track before everything blew up.  They even were acquitted in court proceedings trying to nail them post-career.  How can you keep them out?

Greg Maddux-355 wins in an era where 200 is a feat.  Horse.  Control.  Has all the hardware.  Not much explanation needed here.

Frank Thomas-tailed off a bit after age 32, but no arguing the numbers racked up in his 20′s.

Mike Piazza-being a catcher puts him over the top.  Mind you, he was not a great defensive catcher by any stretch of the imagination.  But to have those responsibilities and still hit like he did counts for a lot.

Pete Rose-ok, here’s the nice, controversial one.  Yes, he gambled on baseball and his team.  I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.  Yes, he lied about it.  Again, surely not the only one.  Yes, he is a scumbag.  But see above, no matter to me.  To the best of my knowledge, the gambling thing was focused on what he did when he was a manager.  I’m not voting for him as a manager.  Can’t refute what he did as a player.  And that’s what it comes down to for me.

Nice careers, but not Hall of Famers to me:

Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire-600 home runs is 600 home runs for Sosa.  But half of the damage was done in a 5 year span.  Same basically for McGwire.  One third of McGwires’ hits were dingers.  Averages were low.  And I think back during that time, people were more focused on them “bringing the game back” from the strike days and all that.  That probably made their baseball ability seem more legendary than it really was.

Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff-Again, 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits.  And 500 homers is 500 homers (or 493 for the Crime Dog).  But although these guys were excellent players for a long time, they were really never dominant.  People are overrating Biggio’s positional flexibility.  He only caught for essentially 3 years, so that is a non-factor for me.  Palmeiro is never going to be helped by the fact that he actually did get caught and suspended for using a banned substance either.

Tom Glavine-this is a tough one.  Has 300 plus wins, though we know that statistic can be overrated.  Higher career ERA than you would expect, pitching exclusively in the National League.  I could be talked into a change in the future.  But for now, no.  Bet the Billerica folks won’t be happy with me for this one.

Jeff Bagwell-I don’t understand how he is one of the few that DON’T seem get linked to steroids.  Either way, don’t think he did enough, especially considering the era.

Larry Walker-played too many of his games in Colorado.  ‘Nuff said.

Jack Morris, Curt Schilling-people seem to gravitate toward postseason exploits for these two.  That should only be icing on the cake to me.  Morris’ 3.90 career ERA is simply a deal breaker for me.  There are some dominant years for Schill, but too many ups and downs over his whole career.

Tim Raines, Alan Trammell-somewhat hard to completely analyze these guys.  Not only was their playing career a little bit back (their “heydays” at least).  But their value isn’t really measured in strict numbers.  But what I remember is that Trammell was a very good player, but it’s not like I planned my schedule to make sure I saw him play.  Raines was pretty elite early in his career, but was it long enough?

Lee Smith-just because you get a lot of saves and retire as the all-time leader, doesn’t mean you were dominant and unhittable and a legend.

Edgar Martinez-Lot of support for him.  Great hitter, better numbers than I remembered.  I have no biases against DH’s.  But I believe he falls a bit short.

Mike Mussina-AL East his whole career.  Makes the higher ERA easier to take I suppose.  But, think he falls a bit short as well.

Don Mattingly-Why are we still talking about him.  Peak way too short.  No, no, no.

Jeff Kent-position will help him.  But I don’t think so.

I can tell my kids I was on an actual Hall of Fame ballot:

Kenny Rogers, Luis Gonzalez, Moises Alou, Ray Durham, Hideo Nomo, Richie Sexson, Paul LoDuca, Armando Benitez, Mike Timlin, Sean Casey, Jacque Jones, Eric Gagne, J.T. Snow, Todd Jones-LoDuca and Jacque Jones?  Funny…as are most of these guys.

I could talk more about each candidate…but…that’s enough…