Bruin’s Trade Deadline thoughts

Overall reaction?  Well, it was what I expected.  I last wrote that I didn’t think Peter Chiarelli and the organization would do much for potentially a few reasons (still up against the cap, had more holes than expected and couldn’t fill them all, did they really want to extend for a team that didn’t project to go deep in the playoffs at this point, etc.).  They apparently did end up putting David Krejci on Long-Term Injured Reserve.  At least that is what I heard earlier today.  I haven’t bothered to confirm that simply because they really didn’t spend his money.  Doesn’t appear they did anyway.  So I’m not surprised.

In reality, the damage to this year was already inflicted long ago, in my mind.  So today’s activity didn’t really affect me either way.

Taken individually:

*A pair of second round picks for Brett Connolly.  Don’t know much about the dude, but he was taken #6 overall in 2010…otherwise known as the Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin draft.  And a ton of other great players came out of it as well…but that actually doesn’t include Connolly unfortunately.  I guess Pete figured he had #2, traded him away and is taking a beating for it, so why not go get #6 and see if that settles people down a bit?  Ok, maybe not.

I don’t mind the gamble that he may develop eventually though.  With Chiarelli’s putrid (and that is being kind) track record of drafting, those picks would probably be useless anyway.  I heard a stat today, courtesy of 98.5 The Sports Hub in town, that in Pete’s tenure he has drafted 48 guys.  Only 4 of them have played FIFTY games or more in the NHL:  Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, Joe Colborne (zero for B’s) & Jordan Caron (yikes!).  Ouch!!  I didn’t bother confirming this stat either, because it just sounds right.  But Connolly is still just 22 years old, so maybe something will come of it.

*Jordan Caron and a 6th round pick for Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey.  If the 2nd round picks are going to be useless in Pete’s hands, just imagine what the 6th rounder will be.  And most of New England is happy just to see Caron go away.  No 4th line type has gotten the chances that Caron has gotten here under Claude.  He has never, ever produced…or added basically anything to the mix.  He has actually cleared waivers earlier in the year here, when others recently have not (see more below on Craig Cunningham and Matt Fraser).  These may be addition by subtraction.

Talbot’s been around for a while.  I suppose he is better on the 4th line than Caron.  May be a decent pickup.  Maybe he will actually provide something worthwhile.  I don’t hate it.  I don’t love his salary at 1.8 mil for next year though.  I suppose we can worry about that next year though.  Plus Pete said that the Avs picked up some of the dough.  So we will see how that plays out.  Carey was born in Boston and went to BC, so I guess he’s got that going for him.  I just found that out because I just had to look him up.  Other than that, he is 26 years old and has 1 assist in 22 career NHL games.  I’m not hoping for much here.

I’d say that the B’s “won” this trade.  But it ain’t getting them a Cup, that’s for sure.

*Jared Knight for Zack Phillips.  A good old-fashioned AHL trade!  Knight was a 2nd round pick in that aforementioned 2010 draft.  Kept hearing his name as one of the next big things to come up.  Not so much.  He has done less than very little at Providence.  Phillips was a first round pick a year later.  I’m told by a person who knows some hockey that he may have some upside.  I’m not counting on it though.  Seems like a “change of scenery” trade here.  I doubt I am even going to keep it on my radar actually.

*Waived Craig Cunningham, who was subsequently claimed by Arizona.  This was obviously not a trade.  And he was waived a couple of days ago.  But I thought it was worth noting, as mentioned above.  This part isn’t really about Cunningham being some great player or anything.  It’s about losing an “asset” for absolutely nothing.  Jeez, they got something for Caron, who as I said above, actually cleared waivers a few months back.  Why couldn’t they get something for Cunningham this weekend?  Same goes for the waiving of Matt Fraser a couple months ago too.

Fraser and Cunningham could turn out to be complete stiffs going forward.  But they have certain parts of their game that are positives.  Cunningham played 32 games for Boston this year.  4th line guy, but killed some penalties.  They even had him on the first line for a stretch (before David Pastrnak came up for good and as they were searching for SOMEONE to play there, but it still counts!).  Julien usually sticks with a kid on the 4th line for like 3 games and if he isn’t getting it done, he goes and gets someone else from Providence.  But CC was up here for 32 games straight.  Must have been doing something right.

It just irks me about losing players that have some value for nothing, that’s all.  However little that value may be.  Couldn’t get a late round pick for either?  I know, I just called all the B’s draft picks likely useless, but still…

*No defensemen involved in today’s activity.  Thought this was worth pointing out as well.  You could argue the teams’ biggest hole is second pairing D-man.  The defense in general has been suspect, but the big hole is 2nd pairing, making the Boychuk trade more infuriating.  Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg aren’t the same, for whatever reasons.  Hamilton has been good, from all reports, but that is largely it.  Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevin Miller, Zach Trotman, Matt Bartkowski, etc. are probably no better than 3rd pairing D-men.  Surprising there wasn’t a trade to bring another one in.  Do they really believe that Bart has “settled” into that role perhaps?  Ugh.

In summary, I can’t really get all hot and bothered about Pete’s moves at the deadline, because I didn’t expect any.  My expectations for the team as a whole have diminished as the season has gone on.  So I am ok with them not trading a Subban or other REAL prospect (whoever that may be) or even one of the “core” for a rental the rest of the year.  I just don’t expect them to go deep in the playoffs with the team as is and I didn’t see a “quick fix” to change those thoughts.

What I am hoping for is some sort of roster overhaul in the summer.  It’s time to mix things up and it will probably be easier to do in the offseason.  Better cap management is a must.  Better drafting too…goes without saying.  Will that include Pete and Claude?  Not sure.  Wouldn’t shock me either way, though I don’t expect ownership to eat Claude’s 3 year extension.  We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  In the meantime…just hope for the best.  There isn’t anyone else coming now…

 

B’s Trade Deadline Primer…Pete, you awake?

Nothing…

Silence…

Crickets, maybe…

Because that is all I expect to hear.

Disconcerting?  Probably.  Mostly, actually.  Ever since Johnny Boychuk got traded for a couple of second round picks before the season…and even before that, when the Bruins could not re-sign Jarome Iginla, or work out a deal with someone comparable…I have been waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”.  In no way did I think they’d go 75%+ of the season with no real first line right wing, or the likes of Adam McQuaid playing the role of 4th D-man.  Neither did anyone else.  GM Peter Chiarelli even said as much when explaining the Boychuk move…something about “making moves now, so you can make moves in the future” type of garbage.

Listen, we all know they were up against the salary cap at the beginning of the year and had to make moves to be cap compliant.  We’ve all talked all season about why they couldn’t instead use a combination of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski and/or others to shave some dough off the roster.  Paille and Campbell have historically been nice players and it helps that they can play well shorthanded.  But 4th liners are fungible, my friends.  Caron is useless…how many more chances is he going to get?  Bartkowski has not fulfilled his promise and with Kevan Miller capable of being on the 3rd D pairing and other 7th D-men available such as Zach Trotman, David Warsofsky and Joe Morrow around, what was the need to hand him 1.2 mil?  Actually, if Boychuk stayed, Miller and McQuaid would have been 6/7 (or 7/6) and the other names would have been #8, but who’s counting?

And Pete has responded by doing nothing.  NOTHING!  Wait, he signed Simon Gagne to help at RW…maybe even at some point the plan was to play him on the first line consistently…once he got his legs back from sitting out all of last year.  Oh, and he has also rotated guys like Seth Griffith, Matt Fraser, even Craig Cunningham on that line.  A murderer’s row.  David Pastrnak has played mostly there recently, but as much as many love his talent, is the 18 year old really ready for that kind of responsibility?  In reality, Pete should have let “Soup” and Paisy go and not signed Gagne and rotated these guys on the 4th line…in addition to other dudes like Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Matt Lindblad and Brian Ferlin.

But we know all this.

So what is next?

Again, I say nothing.  The Bruins are still up against the cap.  And now seem to have more holes than we thought.  One solution is to put David Krejci on Long-Term Injured Reserve.  Then use his money to go get someone.  Reports I have seen on what “his money” is appears to be close to 6 million.  Kevan Miller is out for the year as well.  He has to be around 1 mil, right?  7 mil or so I suppose could be available.  NHL rules apparently dictate that the B’s can put Krejci on LTIR, use his money for acquiring players and have the new guy(s) not count against the cap, then bring Krejci back for the playoffs and his salary still would not count against the cap.  Perfect, right?!  But in a radio interview yesterday, Cam Neely seemed to indicate that this is not a direction they would pursue.  Seemed to imply that the B’s would be manipulating the rules by doing that.  WHAT?!  It’s LEGAL!  And Krejci’s injury is real, not a phantom back injury or something.  Didn’t stop Chicago from placing Patrick Kane on LTIR immediately after his injury.  Granted, his injury timeline is longer, but still.  They still didn’t waste any time in making that an option for their team.

Here’s a few things I have been thinking about as well.  What if Krejci’s injury is more serious than they are telling us?  And in combination with the stuff he was dealing with early in the year, he really is not going to be back at all.  And if he is, he will be at far less than full-strength?  Throw this in with the fact that I believe Zdeno Chara has not fully recovered from his injury.  Or maybe he is just old.  Or worn out because Claude plays him 25 minutes a game in spots he doesn’t need to.  Also, Dennis Seidenberg seems to be a lesser guy this year, maybe he is not all the way back?  Most of the rest of the roster may be healthy, but most of those guys have underperformed.  The defense has not been a typical “Claude Julien” defense overall.  Have the players tuned Claude out?  Has Cam decided already to move on from Chiarelli, barring some miraculous finish?  Throw in the salary cap issues and WHAT IF…the Bruins don’t WANT to spend the money (and leave them more hamstrung against the cap going forward), just do the best they can with what they have and then in the offseason there is a sort of housecleaning?  Face it, without Krejci and with Chara and Seids at less than full strength and the remaining underachieving roster…what are their chances in the playoffs anyway?  So why go spend more money with only 20 some-odd games left for no reason?

May be a little far-fetched to some.  But you have to admit, it is plausible.

The most radical move would be to can Claude at the end of the year, specifically after giving him that 3 year extension a few months back.  But if the players don’t listen to him anymore, what choice do they have?  Players often need a new voice.  It happened to Doc Rivers and the Celtics, Terry Francona and the Red Sox, even nationally to guys like Joe Torre of the Yankees.  Sometimes it is just time for change.  Some may argue then why it hasn’t happened to Bill Belichick with the Patriots?  My short answer is that there are way more players on a football team and that there is often great turnover from year to year, even within the core, so that his voice has the ability to stay “fresh”.  Just an opinion…

But everything else seems reasonable.  Especially when you see trades happening all over the league recently, well in advance of the deadline.  Especially when you hear that Pete was “in” on guys before they were traded (although he loses out on guys every year, so I guess that is not so outrageous).

I expect Pete to do nothing more than get another Corey Potter or Andrej Meszaros, like last year.  All year long I’ve been hearing about Chris Stewart.  Do you really want to give up a prospect and a pick for that guy?  Is he a game changer?  Doesn’t seem to be.  Honestly, I don’t know who else I would use Krejci’s money on.  I don’t know who is available.  Hell, I don’t even know half the guys that have been traded over the last week or so.  I blame the fact that I don’t play Sega NHL Hockey ’92, ’93 or ’94 24/7 anymore to know all the players in the league (or rather PlayStation or Xbox ’13, ’14, ’15…but let’s not split hairs).  But I just don’t see them making a big splash, regardless what the reason ends up being.

The Panthers landed Jaromir Jagr today.  Damn, looks like that option is out…I’m sure Pete would have parted with a first rounder or two…

 

Cubans for everyone!

Cigars, of course.  In celebration of the Yoan Moncada signing with the Red Sox today.  If you are celebrating the signing, that is.  Couple of brief thoughts on this and another recent Red Sox related matter:

*Moncada.  Hey, it’s not my money.  The Sox apparently shelled out 31.5 mil to the player.  They also handed Major League Baseball a matching 31.5 mil as a luxury tax for signing him.  Hey…what the hell is 31.5 million right?

I personally have no problem when my team spends money on good players, even if it is perceived to be an overpayment.  All indications are that this kid is a good player.  Potentially great.  The Sox always have money to burn, despite what they always try to tell you.  So why not?

Sure the tax hurts.  But will that preclude them from making other major moves?  It shouldn’t.  And it probably won’t.  Although, as I wrote previously, I don’t believe they will make any major moves anytime soon, I do believe one or even two will come at some point this year.  I mean, they HAVE to get a stud pitcher, again, despite what they tell you.

This move should help.  Adds another prospect to the mix.  Of course they won’t trade Moncada.  But it frees up another prospect on the list to be traded to get that ace.

As for worrying about where the kid plays when (if?) he gets to the majors…no need to be concerned about this now.  The kid is 19.  He still has some growing to do.  Although reports are he looks like a fullback.  So maybe not.  But his body will change as he gets older, and also as he gets adjusted to “American” training.  Something different in the water in Cuba.  Especially when you don’t play games for a year and apparently just trained, as Moncada supposedly did…and was similar to what Rusney Castillo did the year before he joined the Sox.  Ummmm…let’s leave it at that.

Just hoping the investment is more worthwhile than the exorbitant investment in Dice-K…

*John Farrell.  The contract extension through 2017 with a club option for 2018.

Was it necessary?

I say no.  He had this year and an option year next year.  If the goal was to eliminate “lame duck” status, couldn’t they have just picked up the option?  Granted, Farrell won a World Series in his first year here.  But promptly followed that up with a last place finish.

Go ahead and blame Ben Cherington for not upgrading the roster for 2014 after the improbable Series win.  And various injuries.  And Ben selling off many pieces of the team by the trading deadline, including 4/5’s of the Opening Day rotation.

But Last Place?!  Doesn’t seem right for a World Series defender.  Not to mention an organization with plenty of resources.  And some talent, if not necessarily “repeat World Series winner” talent.  Though the San Francisco Giants have won 3 out of the last 5 World Series without the best talent in the world.

Throw in the two mediocre Toronto years, where he seemed to lose the clubhouse at the end of the second year, and 3 of his 4 years managing are less than stellar.  Does winning the World Series one year overrule three other bad years?  I guess it does in this case.

Listen, I am not a John Farrell basher by any means.  I don’t mind the guy.  Some of his in-game decisions leave me scratching my head.  But I suppose I could say that about probably all of the managers that have rolled through Boston.  I’m just saying it really wasn’t necessary to re-up him right now.  What if the team goes out there this year with this re-tooled roster that should be a contender and falls flat on its face again?

That would be a real indictment on Farrell.  The lineup should be infinitely better, despite Panda’s weight, Papi’s age, Hanley’s fragility, etc.  So they definitely should be competitive there.  It will come down to pitching.  Farrell made his bones as a pitching coach.  And he claims they have “five #1 starters”.  I know, what is he supposed to say, that they have 5 stiffs?  But you know what I mean.  That’s kind of an asinine statement, even for a manager to say to support “his guys”.

If the lineup produces as expected and the pitchers are subpar, doesn’t that reflect even more poorly on Farrell?  I know Juan Nieves is technically the pitching coach.  But you can’t tell me Farrell has no input.  You know, since he was a pitcher in the majors and again, came up as a pitching coach.

Furthermore, what if the remaining young pitchers don’t develop under Farrell?  He is on record as saying the “6th starter” will come from a group including Eduardo Escobar, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright.  All who are young ‘uns, other than the knuckleballer Wright.

Factoring in the relative failure of the “kids” who came up last year (Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, you may even add Rubby de la Rosa…who I did like, but they didn’t think enough of him to keep him around obviously), this could be a real black mark against Farrell if none of them develop.

Granted, all of the kid pitchers will not blossom into aces.  Just not conceivable.  Some of them will be merely bullpen fodder and bounce around as journeymen.  But if NONE of them develop, isn’t that saying something?  Something to consider…

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