Week Eleven…

…no comments necessary to start:

Jacksonville (-7.5) at Cleveland

The Jags have beaten up on bad teams this year for the most part.  Cleveland is a bad team.

Jacksonville 27, Cleveland 13.

Tampa Bay at Miami (-2.5)

Tampa has certainly underachieved this year, but I am not sure how Miami can be favored against anyone.

Tampa Bay 23, Miami 17.

Arizona (-1.5) at Houston

Blaine Gabbert versus Tom Savage.  Ugh…

Houston 17, Arizona 14.

Washington at New Orleans (-7.5)

Spread initially seemed a little high to me, but then again the ‘Skins gave up 38 to Case Keenum last week and now have to face the explosive Saints in their dome at home.  Then the number made more sense.

New Orleans 42, Washington 24.

Kansas City (-10.5) at New York Giants

The G-Men got blasted by the previously winless 49ers last week.  It’s over…

Kansas City 37, New York Giants 10.

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota (-2.5)  

The Rams are 7-2 and are putting up a ton of points.  Great story.  But the schedule hasn’t actually been loaded with quality opponents either.  The Vikings are 7-2 as well…and are a quality opponent.

Minnesota 27, Los Angeles Rams 24.

Baltimore (-2.5) at Green Bay

A few years ago, this would have been a marquee matchup.  Sunday?  Not so much.

Baltimore 21, Green Bay 16.

Detroit (-2.5) at Chicago 

Could be a better game than we think.  Then again, could be a snoozer too.

Detroit 27, Chicago 20.

Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) 

Sean McDermott didn’t come to Buffalo to be 5-4.  What?!!  5-4 is AWESOME for Buffalo these days!  Tyrod Taylor is no Hall of Famer, but the switch to some dude named Nathan Peterman at this point in the season appears to be a head scratcher.

Los Angeles Chargers 20, Buffalo 10.

Cincinnati at Denver (-2.5)

I normally would have no problem picking Denver here as I would be convinced that they would turn it around and get back on track.  But 5 losses in a row and 92 points given up the last two weeks are hard to ignore.  They may be quitting on their coach on top of everything else.  But then I notice the Broncos are playing the Bengals.  Such a dilemma.

Denver 27, Cincinnati 21.  

New England (-6.5) “at” Oakland

In Mexico City.  The Pats may be hitting their stride.  I don’t know what Oakland is doing.

New England 38, Oakland 24.

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Dallas

Dallas got pasted by the Falcons last week.  The Eagles are absolutely rolling right now.  This pick won’t make any sense to anyone.  I’m still trying to figure it out.  Total gut feeling.

Dallas 31, Philadelphia 27.  

Atlanta at Seattle (-2.5)

Seattle has some injuries in their secondary.  But despite the Falcons big win at home against Dallas last week, still not buying in.

Seattle 30, Atlanta 24.

Week (against the spread):  1-0

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread): 72-75

Season (straight up): 94-53

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Red Sox Offseason Primer-Conclusion

We’ve covered the pitching, let’s move on to the rest of the roster:

Catchers (3):

Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez

No need to rock the boat here.  Other than having Vazquez take more playing time away from Leon, that is.  Last year, they essentially split time and hopefully that will be adjusted a smidge in the upcoming year.  It would appear that these two will be the tandem again.   I can live with that.  Defensively, they are a solid duo.  They threw out about 40% of base stealers, an impressive number in this era.  Swihart at one point was a “can’t miss” prospect.  Think that one missed.  He will be 26 in April and catchers supposedly do develop late.  But he has been injured in recent years and also jerked around by the team position-wise.  His bat was his primary asset as a potential pretty good offensive catcher, but .190 in almost 200 at-bats in Pawtucket last year does not inspire confidence.  I’m not sure if he has options left.  If he does, he will likely go back to Pawtucket.  If not, it wouldn’t surprise me if he played a ton in the spring to try to pump up his value and then shipped elsewhere before the season starts.  Too bad.

Infielders (9):

Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Marco Hernandez (UT), Brock Holt (UT), Tzu-Wei Lin (UT), Deven Marrero (UT), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Hanley Ramirez (1B), Sam Travis (1B)

This is where some work needs to be done.  Based on what the rest of the 25-man roster would look like all around at this very point in time, it would appear 7 of these 9 would have to make the squad.  With Pedroia out injured until around June, that would seemingly leave everyone else but Lin on the major league roster.  Not ideal.  Bogaerts and Devers obviously set on the left side of the infield.  Ramirez, in this scenario, remains the designated hitter.  That puts Travis full-time at first.  And a combination of Hernandez, Holt and Marrero holding the fort at second until Pedroia comes back.  Ugh…

Dave Dombrowski insists that Hanley will be ready to play first base next spring.  That may well be true in a physical sense.  But does anyone really think that Hanley will be up for that plan?  Travis looks like he may be able to hit a little.  But I’m not sure he is the full-time solution.  I don’t think the Sox think he is either.  And that is a positive, because it would seem to spur the team on to make a major move involving a 1B or DH.  Or an outfielder, but we will cover that in a second.

Speaking of second, I can even live with that combination of stiffs at second base for 60 games or so until Pedroia comes back.  Does it really makes sense to go out and (re)sign a guy like Eduardo Nunez to a decent sized deal when you are locked into Dustin for like 14 per until 2021?  I think not.  I’d personally try to move Pedroia, but the knees, age, contract and 10/5 veto rights pretty much make that impossible.  Dombrowski has been talking up Marco recently.  But maybe that’s for trade purposes, who knows?

The move to be made at 1B/DH?  Could be Eric Hosmer.  But I’m not sure I want to spend a ton of dough on a good glove but someone who (other than batting average) may not even be a better hitter than what you had there last year in Mitch Moreland.  Carlos Santana?  Meh.  Again, would seem to be too much money for not much of an upgrade.  I don’t care how many home runs Logan Morrison had last year, he’s probably the last guy I want them to sign.  Lucas Duda?  Surely, you jest.

Hopefully there are some big bats that may be available that we don’t know about.  Because I can’t say I totally love the names being thrown out there now.

Oh, and Xander?  Part of me (actually, most of me at the present time) wants to unload him now.  Underachievement for the last year and a half.  Frustrating.  But the rest of me tells me they have to keep him.  25-year-old shortstop that presumably has his best years ahead of him.  Push comes to shove, I’d probably deal him in the right situation.  But it has to be EXTREMELY right.  I’m not giving him away.  Though I really wanted to last year…

Outfielders (4):

Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley (CF), Bryce Brentz (LF/RF)

On the surface, Benintendi-Bradley-Betts left to right would seem to suffice, right?  But when teams are searching for a power bat, that bat may be in the outfield.  Which would necessitate some sort of adjustment to this outfield alignment.

And no, even though Brentz hit 31 homers in Pawtucket last year, he is not the “power bat” that the Sox are looking to add.  Or he shouldn’t be anyway.  It’s a nice story, since Brentz was designated for assignment last summer and anyone could have claimed him for nothing.  But a nice story is all it is.  Dombrowski has been talking Brentz up as the 4th outfielder too.  But I’m not even buying that at this time.

Obviously, newly minted National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton is the hot name out there for the power bat.  All sorts of reports on him this past week…he wants to play on the West Coast and won’t approve of a trade to the Sox; that his reps are trying to get him to Boston because they think it will be the best fit, on and off the field; the Marlins want the world for him, even though he has almost 300 million left on his contract and on and on.

Stanton is the easy answer.  He plays right field though.  Right field in Fenway?  I suppose if that’s what he wants.  You could move Mookie back to center and keep Benny in left.  Maybe Stanton would agree to play left and then you would move Benny to center.  Giancarlo could of course DH, but he may not be ready to do that.  Either way, if he comes here, those “problems” will likely work themselves out.

I’m all for Giancarlo, even if the price is somewhat high.  I suppose it depends what “high” is, but the Sox should explore all options to get this done.  J.D. Martinez?  Ok…it’s only money for him I suppose.  And the Sox print money.  If it’s a fallback option, I guess you could do worse.  Other names?  Haven’t heard much.  Again, you never know who may be available, so maybe it’s a name we haven’t heard yet.

Any way you slice it, a big bat is absolutely imperative.  The Sox never really replaced David Ortiz last year.  Huge hole there, to state the obvious.  Where that bat comes in positionally, it doesn’t really matter.  Things could be maneuvered to make it work.  Bradley is one way things can be maneuvered.  I’d look to move him.  His ceiling has been reached.  Especially offensively.  His glove is nice, but can Mookie or Benintendi do at least 90% of that?  I think so.  And that should work out fine.  There has been rumored interest in JBJ.  If that is truly the case, I would strike while the iron is hot.

I’d actually like two bats, even if one is a little inferior to the other.  Can’t have enough power.  But, all in all, this may be the only move the Sox have to make.  Some tweaks to the pitching staff, sure.  But the big bat should be the one move the Sox should be all in on.  Anything else after that should be gravy, no?

Oh So Close…

…to getting back to .500 and/or over…oh well, we will take a crack at it again this week…

I’d usually talk a little here about last week’s New England Patriots game against the Denver Broncos.  But no sense in that.  No one wants to hear any more about Brock Osweiler or Vance Joseph.  Or the fact that the Broncos may actually be quitting on the season.  Or how the coaching staff for the Broncos thought it was a good idea to send Von Miller into coverage even once.  Or all the rest…

So let’s just jump in on the Thursday Night Football game:

Tennessee at Pittsburgh (-6.5)

The Steelers haven’t exactly smoked people this year.  Neither have the Titans.  On paper, this looks like a close one.  So I should be taking Tennessee and the points right?  Yeah…but upon further review, the Titans have played four road games.  They have scored less than 14 points in three of them.  Against Houston, Miami and Cleveland.  The 37 scored at Jacksonville in Week 2 seems like a distant memory.

The Steelers have only played 3 home games thus far.  Beating the Vikings by 17 and Bengals by 15…while also getting smoked by the Jags.  So I guess the Jags are the outlier for both teams.  Either way, I feel like the Steelers will enjoy the home cooking this week.  Nothing more than that really.

Pittsburgh 31, Tennessee 17.

Week (against the spread):  6-8

Week (straight up):  9-5

Season (against the spread): 71-75

Season (straight up): 93-53

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