What took so long?

To relieve Peter Chiarelli of his duties, that is.

Based on the press conference the other day, it sounded like Cam Neely basically fired him at the trade deadline.  Neely admitted that he told Pete not to “trade any assets” at the deadline.  Wait, Jordan Caron wasn’t an asset??  That’s news to me!  But seriously though, talk about having your hands tied.  I’m not sure Pete could have actually done much, based on their salary cap situation.  But it sounds like it wasn’t his decision anyway.  And if you are seemingly getting your power stripped there, then…that’s not a good sign.

By the way, are press conferences mostly useless?  In sports anyway.  When does someone give actual information you can use during one?  At least around here.  We all know about Bill Belichick’s press conferences.  As well as all the others.  What did Neely and Charlie Jacobs say of value the other day?  Not much from what I heard.  I guess the other point is that, other than the part where Steve Buckley pressed for some answers (and got none), the rest of the local media tossed up some nice softballs.

Don’t get me going on the local sports media though.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know these guys have to be somewhat like they are…complimentary of the team and everything surrounding it.  If they aren’t, players won’t talk to them, team sources won’t give them info…and they usually work for an outlet that is owned by the team.  But do they have to go overboard, as they ALWAYS do?  I mean sometimes…wow.  Like some of the stuff I am reading now about Chiarelli being the fall guy.  Ummmmm, no.  3 other people got fired as well.  And there will be more to come, including some players.  “Fall guy”?  I think not.

Chiarelli had a nice run here.  Very successful.  Give credit where credit is due.  But it was time for a change, simple as that.  It’s no secret he messed up the salary cap.  Some writers have said it was because he was “going all out in 2013-14″.  Ummmm, wrong again.  This has accumulated over his tenure.  Primarily because he has drafted poorly over the years and does not have cheap (and good) labor to take over spots where someone becomes too expensive.  And also because he consistently paid guys too much and too early and for too many years.  Not because of going “all out” for one year.  Do the math.

In reality, Cam has probably wanted to shake things up for years.  He got the Prez gig in June, 2010.  Pete had been on board for 4 years already and Claude for 3.  If you recall, Cam wasn’t exactly a fan of Claude’s style early on.  It was no secret, as Cam made some very thinly veiled comments at the time.  He was likely ready to overhaul in 2011 if they were ousted early…as they almost were, before the Game 7 OT goal against Montreal.  If they lose that game, the Bruins look a lot different the next season.  But then they go and win the Stanley Cup!  How can Cam do some sacking then?  Then there was a grace period, then they went to the Cup Finals in 2013.  Again, how can he make a move?

Timing was right for this move.  Missed playoffs, cap is a problem, not many decent young players have been developed…or are on track to be developed, players seem to be comfortable, etc.  I suppose they want the new GM to ditch Claude at some point.  But I waffle on that every day.  What if the new GM is Donnie Sweeney, the assistant GM now?  Also, they signed Claude to a 3 year extension last season, do they want to eat that dough already?  Is he willing to change up his style a bit, be more flexible and forgiving of young players for one?  There is plenty of time, but the longer he stays, the more I feel like he will stay long-term.  At least another year.  But I think it’s time for a change there as well.  I believe the players have tuned him out and need a new voice.

As with Chiarelli, Julien has had a nice run here.  I hated his style at first, then adapted of course when they won the Cup.  I still am not a huge fan, but how can you argue with his overall success?  But again, I believe most players have become too comfortable under him.  I don’t think he’s as much of a hard-arse as he was when he first got here.  He relies too much on useless vets on the last lines and just doesn’t trust any young players.  I am ok with him rolling those 4th liners in the first and second periods.  But not down a goal with less than three minutes left in the game.  That happens far too often.

This wasn’t to single out Claude and Pete at all.  EVERYONE is to blame for missing the playoffs.  Cam, Charlie Jacobs, the players, just everyone.  There was enough talent on this roster to make the playoffs, simple as that.  And in the end, the players underachieved, absolutely no question about it.  It’s been a nice run for everyone, to be quite honest.  But all good things must come to and end.  Let a new era begin.  Get away from complacency.  Fresh voices.  Younger players.  New system.  There is usually more than one way to do things right, let’s try a different way now.  Thanks for your service Pete, but you go find some new challenges yourself.  I’d like to be saying the same to Claude soon as well…

 

Massive (brain) dump…this is it…

Part III…and we’ve had some clamoring from the masses for some Celtics talk.  Well, at least one reader.  Let’s do it:

*Wow, Jared Sullinger is suiting up tonight.  This came out of nowhere.  But let’s give the dude some credit.  Shortly after they ruled him out for the year, reports came out that he was over 3 bills and not working hard at conditioning, to say the least.  He was taking some hits…and not saying he didn’t deserve them.  But now he will be back on the floor tonight.  Give him his due for not folding up shop and getting fatter in preparation for next season.

*The C’s are enjoyable to watch again, yes.  But let’s also please not fall in love with this team.  I’ve been hearing some chatter on sports radio this week where people think that if they sneak into the playoffs, they have a decent chance of beating Atlanta.  Hold your horses, folks.  Atlanta historically has proven to be kind of a dog team.  But maybe not this year.  I’m not counting on it anyway.  Just doesn’t seem realistic.

*But the real reason not to fall in love with this team is because they just don’t have the horses for the long-term.  Sure, they have a bunch of good players…I would actually prefer the term “useful” than good.  A lot of the guys on the team are certainly people to like and are absolutely worth rooting for.  But are they championship level?  Not a chance.

Let’s break down the roster:

Who are their best players?  If you just took the best 5, regardless of position, you would probably choose Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, right?

Not a superstar in the group.  And a team absolutely need 1-2 superstars at a minimum in the NBA…just the way it is.  Even if Sully gets and keeps in shape, he is not that guy.  Maybe an ideal 4th option?  Bradley may be in the “4th option” category as well.  He has unbelievable nights, followed up by many average ones.  There is something I like about Turner.  He seems to have some good all-around game.  But a top tier guy?  Nope.  Smart is young and if his offense improves, can he get there?  Maybe.  But I’m not counting on that.  On this team, there always seems to be someone else on the floor with him who can handle the ball as well.  Maybe that’s just taking some pressure off the rookie for now.  Who knows?  Let’s hope he continues to play fierce D though.  After watching Rajon Rondo not care about D after he tore up the league early in his career and watching Bradley’s D also seemingly decline over the years, if Smart decides not to play D anymore a few years down the road it wouldn’t surprise me.  Thomas was a nice sparkplug when he first got here.  But he has bounced around a little, is shooting 38% from the field and Brad Stevens only plays him 26 minutes a game.  If he was a stud, he’d be out there more.  I’ll take him as my 6th man when the C’s get all the pieces though.

The 2nd tier is probably comprised of Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Tyler Zeller & I suppose Jonas Jerebko if you were so inclined. I’d love to include James Young in this group.  I think that even though they are fighting for a playoff spot, Young should’ve been playing big minutes.  Let’s see what we’ve got!  The fact that he is getting no time at all is a little concerning for me.  Bass is a nice player.  But more of a bench guy on a good team.  You could say the same about Olynyk, Crowder and Zeller.  Those guys have some good games.  But from what I have seen, it looks to me like they are no more than bench guys for when the C’s finally are championship timber.  I suppose it’s better than what I thought of Crowder when he came in the Rondo trade.  I thought he was a throw in.  Turns out he has some value.  He does shoot way too much for my liking though.  Jerebko?  Maybe.  Not really enough sample size.  But he looks like a decent bench guy to me too.

The rest of the roster:  Shavlik Randolph is mostly useless.  Phil Pressey is a nice 13th man.  If you have to play him more than 8 minutes a game, it’s probably not a good sign.  Luigi Datome?  Who the hell knows?  Stevens says he loves him, but he never plays him.  He may argue that there are too many bodies in front of him.  But I would argue that maybe he can shoot but he can’t do anything else.  Whatever.  Gerald Wallace?  Totally washed up.  But if he inexplicably keeps his great attitude and supposed leadership qualities around this team and doesn’t really care about playing (but actually does ok when they throw him out there), I will take him.  Of course it helps that he is pocketing over 10 mil a year to barely break a sweat.  So, I guess I would probably do what he is doing too.

In summary, Danny Ainge needs to take some of these useful guys, package them with any of the abundance of picks he has, maybe a trade exception or two and get even better players.  See if they can somehow woo a top tier free agent to town as well…as unlikely as that is to happen.  Let them shoot for the playoffs this year, it’s too late to “tank”.  But then do something like…

*…this team somewhat reminds me of the 2006-7 Celtics.  But that team at least had Paul Pierce in place.  This team does not have that kind of player.  Doc Rivers was in his 3rd year as coach (record worse every year…amazing how you are all of a sudden a great coach when you have great players…oops, I digress).  The rest of the roster had a bunch of useful guys as well, you can judge the varying degree of usefulness if you want.  Big Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo, Gerald Green, Kendrick Perkins. Leon Powe, Delonte West…and you can add Wally Szczerbiak and Sebastian Telfair there if you want…plus Michael Olowoka…nope, nevermind him.  Doc couldn’t figure out who to play, so he varied minutes wildly.  The best thing that happened to Doc was the KG and Ray Allen trades.  He had like 6-7 guys who could actually play, shortened his bench…and the rest is history.  Danny has to make lightning strike twice…or else the Boston Celtics may be stuck in purgatory.  Otherwise known as “middle of the pack” in the NBA.

*Couple of non-basketball thoughts:

*I used to love “homer” announcers growing up, like Johnny Most.  He didn’t necessarily rip his own team, but he let you know when they were not playing to their level of expectation.  But guys like him used to hammer opposing players.  “McFilthy and McNasty” (Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland).  Bill Laimbeer is a criminal and all that enjoyable stuff.  Got you pretty fired up listening to the game.

Now?  You either get Tommy Heinsohn blaming the referees for everything.  Saying there is a foul on every play.  Or you get guys like Jack Edwards.  Someone said that Patrice Bergeron is overrated recently.  He is a little overrated, though I love him as a player.  Then one game he scores less than a minute after puck drop (in a game they eventually lost) and Jack goes nuts.  “Overrate this!!” he says.  Really?  You are attacking a random person (reporter or something, don’t remember who said it…not sure I even knew who it was actually), for their opinion?  Why, because you feel the need to back the guy up?  Ridiculous…

Or you get the guys who don’t say anything critical of anybody at any time.

Problem is, they stations the announcers work for, radio and television, are all owned by the teams now.  I get, to some degree, why they are what they are.  But do they need to be over the top with praise instead, even when it is totally undeserving?  Kissing everyone associated with the teams’ arse?

Just diminishes the whole experience, if you ask me.

*Scott Boras.  What a total fraud.  Here he is openly ripping the demotion of Kris Bryant by the Cubs to anyone who will listen.  Why?  Because if the Cubs ship him out for 12 days, they have seven years of control, as opposed to six.  No brainer to me, even for a big money team like the Cubs.  IT’S LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!  Doubtful it will impact the season.  And if I am running a business, I’m doing the same thing.

He must have forgotten that the players have agreed to that type of stuff in probably most previous Collective Bargaining Agreements.  He also must have forgotten that guys like Mike Trout routinely come up a month or two into the season and then are there to stay…and no worse for the wear.

Most of all, he forgot that he ALWAYS tightens the screws on the teams, squeezing every extra penny he can get out of them on EVERY contract.  But the teams can’t do something like that to him?  Joke.

Maybe it is unfortunate for Bryant, as he should probably be on the Opening Day roster.  But he will survive, I am sure.  I guess as long as he doesn’t blow his knee out in the next two weeks…

 

Massive (brain) dump…Part II…

Continuing on from a few days ago…

*The Revs scored some goals…and won a game!  I feel better…really…

Ok, back to real sports (sorry Barry…and Guy…and Keo…and…!!!)…slew of Red Sox comments/concerns to catch up on, as well as other baseball notes:

*Christian Vazquez is going to see Dr. James Andrews.  Uh oh.  Elbow problems for the young catcher.  And the MRI showed “something”.  A trip to Andrews is not usually a good thing.  Especially for a catcher that probably won’t ever hit much and will be in the big leagues for years solely on his defense.  Good luck to him.

In the meantime, where does that leave the team?  Last year at one point, they had 5 on the 40-man roster, which seemed high to me.  AJ Pierzynski, Vazquez, David Ross, Ryan Lavarnway and Dan Butler.  Ok, labeling some of these guys “catchers” may be pushing it.  But now?  Just Ryan Hanigan and an unproven Blake Swihart behind Vasky.  Luke Montz, Matt Spring and Humberto Quintero are non-roster invitees this spring, but…ugh.

If Vazquez’ injury turns out to be a short term thing, I see Hanigan obviously getting the bulk of the reps.  But I also see Swihart getting an early cup of coffee.  Not ideal, but I don’t see any obvious 40-man roster cuts at this point to consider adding one of the vets above.  Too early to start cutting roster depth.  If it’s long term, Vasky will likely go on the 60 day DL and that would open up a spot for I would assume Quintero out of the above group.

I guess we shouldn’t really worry about the 9th spot in the lineup though.  As long as any of those dudes performs satisfactorily on defense, they should be ok.

*You think John Farrell may start to be worried about his “5 aces”?  If he isn’t, he should be.  This group still scares the bejesus out of me.  Hasn’t been a great spring.  Clay Buchholz gave up 12 hits and 4 runs in 5 innings plus the other day.  Nice.  I normally don’t pay much attention to spring training stats.  But as it comes to a close I like to see guys pretty much in mid-season form.  Clay certainly isn’t…and no one else seems to be either.

Joe Kelly will likely start the year on the DL.  Masterson and Miley have been up and down.  Scouts have not written good things about any of the starters’ performances this spring.  In addition, it seems as if the team is still auditioning guys.  Steven Wright went yesterday.  Brian Johnson goes today.  Etc.  I am not sure you can depend on any of these guys in the first place.  One guy I haven’t mentioned is Rick Porcello.  I actually don’t mind him and am more confident in him performing ok than any of the others.  But if he is your #1?  Ouch.

I’m still not overpaying for Cole Hamels though.

*Who else is tired of hearing Big Papi open his mouth?  If it’s not one thing, it’s another.  Contract, scoring decisions, pace of play rules…just play ball!  What was the purpose of bringing up steroids again this spring?  And do you really feel the need to tout your Hall of Fame candidacy while you are still playing?  For once, I just wish he would just play and not be sour about seemingly everything.  To me, he’s a Hall of Famer.  But we can debate about that when he’s done.

*Speaking of the Hall of Fame, you know who else belongs there?  Pete Rose.  So what if he is a scumbag?  How many others in the Hall are?  Probably most.  You may argue he bet on baseball games and that is a different type of infraction that should keep him out.  I argue that the case against him was while he was managing…and I am not putting him in the Hall for his managerial abilities.  You may deduce that he was betting on baseball when he was playing too.  Well, how many other players were doing that too?  How many guys were doing some sort of performance enhancing drug while they were playing and weren’t caught?  How many cheated in other ways on the field and were never caught?  I could go on.  There are people I know with strong opinions that he should never get in.  I think otherwise.  So be it…

*I have absolutely no sympathy for Brady Aiken.  He was the #1 pick overall last year, to the Houston Astros.  They apparently agreed on a contract that included a $6.5 million signing bonus.  The Astros conducted a physical and it showed something like a UCL being smaller than normal.  They balked and cut the bonus in about half.  They eventually upped it back to $5 mil.  Aiken balked and did not sign.  Then he had Tommy John surgery the other day.

Aiken doesn’t sound too upset about any of this.  And look, he is still just 18 years old.  Tommy John surgery has actually made pitchers come back better on average over recent years.  So he may still get his money.  But if I’m 18, I’m taking the 5 mil and setting myself up for life.  So many things can happen as a kid that could jeopardize future earnings.  On top of that, he may not even develop as planned.  On top of that, it’s not like he went to college instead (he had a scholarship to UCLA, but chose to go to go to some sort of training school, IMG Academy).

Then again, Jeff Allison came out of high school and signed as a first round pick.  Then he apparently spent all that dough on truckloads of heroin.  18 year olds with tons of dough can be easily influenced, we know.  See also, Hamilton, Josh.  So maybe Aiken made the right choice…

*Lastly, for today, Shane Victorino.

In my opinion, this whole thing with him is completely overblown.  For those who missed it, he essentially said he would trade prospects for Cole Hamels in a heartbeat.  He played with Hamels, Hamels is good, why wouldn’t you of course?

The problem people are having here is that the players mentioned most in trade rumors are Mookie Betts, Swihart and Henry Owens.  Betts in particular is the rub here, since technically, Betts and Vic are competing for playing time in the Sox outfield.  People are interpreting this as Vic wanting to trade Betts, therefore kind of guaranteeing him his spot.  And people are asking why Vic would be so open to trading any of these guys, when he knows who is being talked about and he has to share a locker room with these players.

I say…who cares?  Of course Vic wants to play.  But he won a World Series here and I am sure he wants to win as well.  Adding ace (or close to ace) pitchers cannot hurt.  Especially since he played with Hamels, as noted above, and knows what he can bring to a staff/team.  What if Xander Bogaerts was the one regularly mentioned instead of Betts, does that change perception now that it’s not a guy specifically competing with Vic?  What if Vic said he would trade prospects for Chris Sale or Clayton Kershaw or King Felix?  Would people be as upset?  Who doesn’t want to add quality, proven major league players to their team?

Then Vic felt the need to defend himself and probably didn’t do himself any favors in the process.

Big Papi can speak out about anything and the media fawns over him most of the time.  But Victorino can’t?  Just seems stupid.

That being said, I think Vic is close to done and probably should be the odd guy out in the outfield.  I want to see Betts and Rusney Castillo play.  I’d like to see if Allen Craig can regain his value.  He was once pretty good and I’d hate to give him away for nothing.  Daniel Nava has his uses.

But if Castillo is truly ok about going to the minors to start the year (and with his 10 mil, why wouldn’t he…as long as it’s temporary?), this will all work itself out anyway.  Vic and Hanley Ramirez will likely get hurt.  Craig may be dealt anyway, but also play some first and DH.  Everyone will get at-bats.

Just another reason why Spring Training is too long…people making stories out of really nothing at all…

 

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