Monthly Archives: November 2013

C’s back on track, thankfully…

…with losing.  I know, I’m one of THOSE people.  I admit it.  But I think the Celtics had no choice after last year to “blow it up”.  I also think they need to tank this year to get a high draft pick.  If we are to believe all the talk about there being several franchise/All-Star type players available in the 2014 draft, that is.  I can’t say I watch a lot of college hoops until February or so, so what do I know?  For all we know, the 2014 draft could be like the 2013 draft.  Of course we won’t know the true value of the 2013 draft for several years.  But we do know a fat kid with asthma went #1…and everyone was shocked when he was chosen.  And at #10 a kid from Lehigh was taken…Lehigh?  Top 10?  Regardless of whether the kid has talent, seems a bit of a stretch.  Would seem to qualify as an “off year” for prospects.  But again, we shall see.

The 2012-13 Celtics were built with some promise.  Make one last run at a championship with the aging core.  Add a few pieces to put them in the mix.  But some guys didn’t work (Lee, Terry, Melo), were hurt for large chunks of the season (Rondo, Bradley, Sullinger), regressed (Bass) or showed their age more as the season went along (Pierce, KG).  Keeping the aging core together again and adding yet other pieces (if they even could, since there were some hefty contracts on the books) for 2013-14 just didn’t make much sense to me…or a lot of people, including Danny Ainge.  Doc didn’t want to be here either.  As much as I hate to see Pierce in another uniform, this had to happen.

Once the trades were made and draft picks and assorted other flotsam and jetsam were acquired before the season, the question then became how far do they take it?  Only they know…and they may actually still be trying to figure it out.  If there are truly a number of “difference-makers” available in the next draft, they don’t need the #1 pick.  So they may not need an all out tank.  The season started out as if they were obviously trying to lose.  Blew a 22 point lead in one game.  Were in every game, but lost in the end.  One of the games saw like 3 consecutive bad turnovers to turn a 2 point deficit to double digits in no time.  But then they won 4 in a row, including an inexplicable road win against Miami.  (Side note:  I do want them to lose, but that win was actually enjoyable).  Now you hear clowns calling talk radio saying that things like they “love the way these guys play” and “maybe the chemistry will be similar to the Red Sox and they can win a championship with these guys” and “wait until Rondo comes back…”, etc.

But let’s look at things rationally.  If you take my totally unscientific idea of the way a true contenders’ roster should be built.  There are up to 15 guys on every roster.  I’m thinking those spots should come out something like this:

1-Superstar
2-Superstar/All-Star
3-Above average starter
4-5-Serviceable starter
6-Top bench guy
7-9-Contributing bench player
10-Bench player with one discernible skill
11-13-Active roster filler
14-15-Developmental guys/washed up vets

Let’s see how I feel the current Celtics roster stacks up, again, completely unscientific:

Bass-Maybe 5 or 6
Bogans-11-15, probably closer to 15
Bradley-5 or 6?
Brooks-10, only because they say he can score
Crawford-Anywhere from 6-9
Faverani-10 for now, with upside
Green-Want to say 3, but 4 may be more appropriate
Humphries-Probably 7-9
Lee-Ditto
Olynyk-7-9 for now, with upside
Pressey-11-15, maybe closer to 11
Rondo-2, but obviously out for a while
Sullinger-6-9 for now, with upside
Wallace-Maybe 5 or 6

A lot of guys with numbers toward the higher end.  Need more 1-6, not 7-15.  Sure, the chances of Faverani, Olynyk and Sullinger improving from where they are now are pretty good.  But will they develop into a “1 to 3” type player, based on my scale?  Doubtful.  4 or 5 is probably the ceiling with those guys.  The rest of the roster is what it is.  I think we know what Bradley is at this point.  Good D, can’t handle ball, not great offensively.  I keep hoping Green will take that next step, but it appears that he won’t.  He will dominate some games and disappear in others.  Humphries can rebound, Lee can shoot a little, Wallace can help, Bass can do a few things, but nothing special with them.  Crawford’s playing well at the point now, but does anyone expect that to last?  Kind of wish they would play Brooks more to get a good look at him in game action.  But the fact that they are burying him on this team and also didn’t pick up his option next year probably tells us what we need to know.

The summary is that, although these guys may play hard and try, they ain’t winning a championship anytime soon folks.  Need more infusion of talent.  And since marquis free agents historically do not want to sign here, the way to do it is the draft.  Again, if the next draft is all it’s cracked up to be, then they really have to shoot for it.  I was convinced over the summer that the C’s would try and trade Rondo once he proves healthy.  Kind of skeptical of that now.  Seems to have hit it off with Stevens.  Seems to be a little bit of a coach now.  Maybe they are just making him happy before they entertain offers and he sees his name in trade rumors.  But maybe they plan to build with him, the 2014 draft picks, and guys like Faverani, Olynyk and Sullinger (Bradley?  Green?).  Hard to tell right now.  I have to believe that Danny is trying to find trade value for Lee, Bass, Humphries, Wallace, etc.  Not sure there is much, especially with their contracts.  But maybe a contender will bite nearer the deadline.  Although Humphries is making 12 mil this year (12 mil?)…so maybe not.  Here’s hoping…in the meantime, enjoy the guys playing hard.  Enjoy the coach that seems to be competent.  But root for them to lose this year.  Just this year.  Take one step back to move two (or more) steps forward.  It’s the NBA…it’s FAAAAAAN-tastic!

So I was wrong…just like everyone else…

I picked the Red Sox to win 82 games.  They won 97 and another 11 in the playoffs to take the World Series.  Nice job.  But I wasn’t alone, so I guess I feel a little better.  I’ve gone back through and compared the individual players’ final statistics to my projections made in April.  OK, projections can be kind of silly, especially in baseball, where over the course of 162 games many things can happen that make the projections even more irrelevant than they are in the first place.  Injuries, trades, call-ups not forseen, etc.  But they are fun to do…for some people anyway.  I didn’t really compare them in a lot of detail, but I actually hit some numbers pretty close.  Napoli’s HR’s, right on the nose at 23, though shy by 21 on his RBI’s and 75 (!!) on his K’s.  Carp’s dingers I had 11 and he hit 9, though I had him at .244, when he actually hit .296.  Ellsbury I had at .294 (hit .298), Pedroia .304 (hit .301).  Gomes 48 runs (he had 49).  Drew 9 HR’s, .257 (actually 13, .253).  Lackey 10-12, 4.55 (was 10-13…but 3.52…oops).  Lester 16-10, 3.59 (was 15-8. 3.75).  OK enough…but good to see I had some numbers in the ballpark!  My complete misses were the durability of Koji (had low #’s for him, didn’t think he would hold up).  Had similar AB numbers for Iglesias, but while he hit .330 for the Sox, I had him at .203…nice…

Anyway, now that I’ve bored anyone who may have been actually reading this, I am still pretty much in disbelief about the 2013 Sox team.  On paper, most thought they were no more than a few games over .500, maybe somewhat in the mix for the last wild card spot, if everything broke right.  Sure, they were a bunch of “great guys”, who “loved to play the game” and liked each other immensely it appears.  But I am sure there have been plenty of other teams like that over time that haven’t won squat.  I’ve always been skeptical on the whole chemistry thing.  I have a good friend who played ball at a high level back in the day and he swears by it.  And I played ball at nowhere near a high level back in any day, so who am I to argue?  I still think overall that winning creates chemistry.  The more you win, the more everyone is happy with their personal situation, their surroundings and all that.  But talent can also win as well, with little chemistry.  I have no idea how the chemistry was on some World Series teams over the years, but it is easy to spot the ones who have tremendous talent.  There are plenty of cases on both sides, I am sure.  But this Sox team was certainly unique any way you slice it.  And it was a heck of a ride.

Not much more to say about this past years team that hasn’t been already been said by everyone else at this point.  Here’s a few thoughts for the offseason.

*Need some turnover:  A lot of people around here want to bring the whole band back next year.  No changes, regardless of cost.  No way.  Changes have to be made for many reasons.  But especially bringing guys in who have some hunger still.  Not that these guys are satisfied with winning the World Series, so now they will sit back and count their money.  But we should have learned this lesson firsthand from the 2011 Cup winning Bruins.  They brought something like 17 out of 20 guys back the next year and were dumped in the first round.  Heard excuses like “2012 seemed like one big long year, with the Cup run, short summer, etc.”.  Lines like that are unacceptable to me, not sure how the B’s accepted stuff like that either.  But regardless, their hunger was somewhat gone, intentional or not.  Need to integrate new blood every year.

*Free agents:  Damn, they outrighted Quintin Berry and Brandon Snyder the other day.  John McDonald and Joel Hanrahan weren’t qualified.  Matt Thornton’s option was declined.  We NEED these guys back!  Ok, total joke, though stashing Berry at AAA and having Thornton at the back end of the bullpen wouldn’t be the worst thing.  But the key here is the “Big 4”.  Not surprised they qualified Ellsbury and Napoli of course.  Kind of surprised they qualified Drew.  Kind of surprised they didn’t qualify Salty.

Regardless, goodbye Jacoby.  Thanks for your service.  Thanks for staying relatively healthy this year and helping us win a Series.  But go get your dough somewhere else.  Not that the Sox don’t have the dough to pay him.  Or that I think Jackie Bradley Jr. is ready to step in.  But to give a 31 year-old OF with little power and knowing his speed will probably decline as he ages 20 mil a year for several years?  No thanks.  Remember Carl Crawford?  I would love to have Nap back.  But I am not sure I would overspend for him either.  I was opposed to the original 3 year, 39 mil contract last offseason and was very happy with the 1 year, 5 mil (with incentives) that it ended up being.  At this point, I’d probably give him the 2 for 26 back.  I think he will want more though.  And he may still be pissed about getting screwed last offseason.

Under no circumstances do I want Drew back.  None.  I want Bogaerts at SS for years to come.  And I am not totally ready to give up on Middlebrooks.  As I said, I was surprised at the offer for 14.1 mil.  But then I thought that maybe Boras and the Sox had some sort of agreement that he wouldn’t accept it.  Kind of like, you hook me up with Dice-K and we’ll hook your client JD Drew up (what?!  shhhhhhh…).  But now the rumblings of him coming back to the Sox in a multi-year deal?  Please God, NO!!!  14.1 is at least double what Salty is worth.  But I might have done it, if he would only go one year.  Someone will probably offer him multiple years though, so it makes you wonder why the Sox didn’t take the plunge, getting draft pick compensation when he left.  Maybe other teams watched the playoffs though, and will be scared away.  With the Sox young catchers a ways away, me not wanting to spend 5 years, 80 mil on Brian McCann, Ross still around, the Sox’ apparent fear of Lavarnway actually catching in the big leagues, etc. would have me maybe doing it.  Even better if we could lock him up for 2 for 14-16 or something.  Not that it couldn’t still happen.

*See if there is any trade value with the veteran the starting pitching:  Lackey is 35, came off a good year, pitched well in the playoffs and has a reasonable contract now, with 2 years left and the 2nd year being like 500k.  What better time to deal him?  Peavy was atrocious in the playoffs and obviously isn’t the same guy as he once was.  Thanks for helping the Sox get home field, but will an NL team take him if the Sox eat some dough?  If the young kids are the real deal, did Doubront increase his value in the WS?  Are we done with Buchholz’ lack of durability and also could they get full value for his actual ability?  Worth exploring all options.

*Young guns:  As far as the aforementioned kids go, Workman, Britton, de la Rosa and Webster all pitched on the big league level to varied success levels.  They are technically all starters.  As are guys like Ranaudo, Barnes & Owens.  If the vets don’t get dealt, these guys all need to start getting integrated into the big leagues in middle relief I would say.  Or be trade bait.  Can the Sox get a power bat for a combination of these pitchers and assorted other prospects/young players (Middlebrooks?  Lavarnway?  Mookie Betts?)?  The popular name is Giancarlo Stanton.  He would be nice, but I am sure there are other big bats available on the teams that don’t want to pay for them going forward.  At some point, these guys won’t be “prospects” any more, so let’s see what is out there.

The World Series just ended a little over a week ago.  But most of the other teams have been in “offseason” mode for about a month.  Never too early to think about building next years team.

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