Monthly Archives: March 2015

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…

 

Massive (brain) dump…probably Part I…

Been a bit since I’ve posted.  So here is some general mishmash, in completely random order:

*Yup…starting with the New England Revolution…whoda thunk it??!  It’s cuz I can.  And it’s somewhat interesting to me.  The team has played 3 games (0-2-1).  They have zero goals.  ZERO!  How is that possible?  Didn’t this team make the MLS Finals last year?  In no way do I claim to remember their exact roster from December, but I just scanned the current one and it appears to have a lot of the same names I heard during the playoffs last year.  Mystifying to me anyway…

Note:  The Revs are waaaaaaaay down on the list of my concerns.  But since they are local…and oh for five in championships…it would be nice if they could win one someday.

*Big week at the owner’s meetings in the NFL.  (Wow…the second point is one that I normally don’t care about either!).  Apparently there were 23 rule changes to be discussed.  Due to complete lack of interest (both by any readers here and myself as well) I’m not going to comment on the majority.  But the Patriots’ three proposals are worth spending a second or two on anyway.

  1. Having the ability to challenge any call…or however it is defined…it would be increasing the amount of replays available regardless. Wouldn’t be excited about this at all…and apparently enough teams weren’t either, in order to change this rule.  Sure, there are probably more plays that should be reviewed.  But where do you draw the line?  EVERY play can be reviewed for some kind of reason.  So do you want 6 hour games?  I love football, but that is a little much.
  2. Having fixed cameras on boundary lines. This is an absolute no brainer and something William Belichick has championed for years.  Why wouldn’t you do this?  It would make so many replays shorter.  They say because owners do not want to foot the cost to set these up?  How ridiculous is that, coming from a bunch of billionaires?  Oh yeah, right.  These are the same dudes that penny-pinched the officials a couple years back and we had to suffer through replacement officials that were clearly in over there head.  Nevermind…
  3. Move the PAT to the 15 yard line. Not sure this will solve much, still a chip shot.  But better than where it is now, I suppose.  It is time for a change, no question in my mind anyway.  What was it, like 99.7% of these are made now?  Seems kind of outrageous that any kind of points are automatic.  I haven’t thought enough about it to have a solution, but something should be done.  Force a 2 point conversion play?  Make the 2 pt. conversion start at the 1 yard line to entice more teams to go for it?  Make the extra point at least 40 yards out?  Smarter minds than me hopefully will work this out in the near future.

*I’ve started to live with the fact that Darrelle Revis will not be here next year…even accepting it to some degree.  I know there are several contracts coming up soon and that they are still close to the cap, blah, blah, blah.  I get it.  But the cornerback depth chart right now?  Yikes!!  One projection had Malcolm Butler #1 and Bradley Fletcher #2 now.  Double Yikes!!  Butler seems to be able to play, but that is quite a big jump to expect him to take.  Maybe Fletcher gets some confidence back and is serviceable next year.  But another big “if” as well.  I won’t go through the rest.  Good thing it’s only March…

*But please, Bobby Kraft.  Don’t insult our intelligence by saying “we really TRIED hard to get Revis back”.  If you really wanted him back, the contract the Jets gave him was not prohibitive enough where you wouldn’t have been able to bring him back.  Sure, a couple of decent bodies would have to have been sacrificed.  And additional maneuvers necessary in future years.  But you really could have figured it out.  So please stop it.

*I’ve made a decision.  As painful as it is for me to say this, I do NOT want the Bruins to make the playoffs.  It’s time for change.  All around.  Major.  And missing the playoffs is the only way change will happen.

Starting with Peter Chiarelli.  He’s had a nice run as GM, no question about it.  But the bad contracts (either too long, too soon, too much money, or in some cases, all three), the bad drafts, being seemingly too satisfied some years (after blowing a 3-0 series lead in the second round against Philadelphia in 2010, he said “well, we are one of only 5 teams to make the second round of the playoffs the last 2 years”), the laissez-faire attitude towards the players some years (after getting bounced from the playoffs in the first round the year after winning the Cup, he said “well, the players came to me and said they felt like it was really just one long season and were tired…”.  I would have lit any player up had they told me that!).  Etc.  It’s time to go.

As much as I’ve changed my opinion on Claude Julien over the years and see him in a much more favorable light, it looks like it is time for a change there as well.  For one, the players seemed to have tuned him out…specifically the “core” guys.  There is a noticeable difference on the ice this year, as far as intensity and pride go it seems.  Talent too, I suppose.  But it’s just not the same.  Not saying it is all Claude’s fault.  But I’ve said it many times before, sometimes you just need a new voice.  He’s been here a long time and it has been a nice run.  But it happened to Doc Rivers.  It happened to Terry Francona.  It hasn’t happened to Belichick, probably because there is a lot more roster turnover year to year in football.  Not to mention the fact that with all the nonguaranteed contracts in the NFL, there is a way to rectify any player situation quickly by jettisoning him.  I just wonder if the three year contract extension given to him before the year will preclude Charlie Jacobs from doing anything here.  Then again, a new GM will want to pick his own coach…

The roster.  Complete overhaul, I say.  I will leave open the possibility that a new GM & coach may light a fire under some of these guys.  But here’s the list of players I WOULDN’T dangle in trades:

Dougie Hamilton, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron.

Yup, that’s it.  I’m not likely to deal David Krejci.  Or even Malcolm Subban.  But I am up for dealing anyone else.  For whatever that’s worth.  The team is full of third/fourth line types.  And third pairing defensemen.  There are not many quality bodies in Providence ready to step in and contribute.  Well, maybe there are.  But youngsters are usually stifled by this regime, so we may never know.  Time to find out, I say.

Enough for now…but still more to catch up on…

 

Trying to be patient…

…because the one thing that I wanted them to do in free agency, as well as what most other Patriots fans wanted them to do, was to re-sign Darrelle Revis.  Everything else would be gravy, right?

Of course they did not.  And it made me sick to my stomach initially.  Can’t say much has changed over the past couple of days.  Though I have TRIED to look a little more at the big picture.

So I would have kept Revis, of course that is clear.  Even in the worst case scenario, I would have picked up the option year.  Even though that option was exorbitant, not to mention the cap hit that came with it, it’s hard for me to believe that the Patriots couldn’t have maneuvered the cap to fit it in.  Restructuring a few players, cutting some dead weight, all that.  It could have been done.

But this is the New England Patriots.  We should have known there was no way they going to pay Revis.  No way that they were going to pick up that option.  ESPECIALLY after winning the Super Bowl.

Was it the right move?  Only time will tell.  Every year I am disappointed with the team at the start of the free agent process.  Every year, the team seems to shop in the bargain aisle.  And every year when the rosters are full and they are ready to start the regular season, it turns out things are not as bleak as everyone made it out to be in March.

In Bill We Trust?  Maybe.

But this one feels different.  As I stated in previous posts, the formula for winning a Super Bowl seemingly came down to keeping Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Revis healthy.  Everything else would work out.  Last year everything fell into place and the Pats were Super Bowl champions.  Prevailing wisdom would be to bring most of the band back together for at least one more run…before Brady’s “window” closes.  Made total sense.  Seemed that the team could work the cap to make this happen.  Then after next year?  Who knows?  But one more shot would’ve been nice.

This isn’t to say they won’t get another shot next season.  Still plenty of talent on the roster and plenty of time to acquire more.  The draft has yet to happen too.  None of the other free agents that have left this offseason will kill them.  Brandon Browner was nice, and yes, I wanted him back too.  His penalties frustrated the hell out of me, but the refs largely put their whistles away in the postseason, when it mattered.  But without Revis on the other side, is Browner truly a #1 now?  We will see how that one works out for the Saints.  Shane Vereen can be replaced, as can Big Vince Wilfork, sad to say.  The Pats weren’t going to pay guys like Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas like triple their worth.  Liked what I saw from Ayers actually, but he can be replaced…and apparently has already by Jabal Sheard.

But it goes without saying that Patriots Nation would have felt more comfortable with Darrelle back there.

I believe people are mistaken with the whole guaranteed money thing however.  The Jets gave him 39 million fully guaranteed.  The Patriots were said to have offered 35 mil guaranteed.  People have been ripping the Pats…how could they let him get away for only 4 million???!!  But was it FULLY guaranteed?  Doubtful.  Reports have not indicated the fully guaranteed dollars, from what I have seen.  So was the money really that close?  Again, doubtful.  Big difference between the two offers, it would appear.

I don’t think the Kraft family is cheap.  But they are hard core businessmen.  As is Bill Belichick.  It does bug me sometimes how they continue to look at the future more than “loading up” and trying to take advantage of Brady’s last couple of years.  But they have had a pretty good run and who can really argue with it?  As businessmen, I think they also see some things coming up after next year and didn’t want to lock up too much dough for Revis where it would preclude them from doing things with the players that are up.  Gronk has a huge bonus next offseason that will need to be addressed one way or another.  Nate Solder, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Ryan Wendell and of course the franchise tagged Stephen Gostkowski are up after next season.  Wendell may not be a key guy to keep, but right now there is not much guard depth on the team and he remains the backup center, so maybe he will be useful.  In any event, kind of a big deal to keep most of those guys.  Would they be able to if they locked Revis up?  Possibly, but who knows?

One other decision we may never know the answer to:  Why Devin McCourty and not Revis?  I’d have paid Revis first.  McCourty failed as a cornerback.  And it’s not like he’s Ed Reed out there at safety.  A good player, but many do not feel he is great.  I don’t anyway.  But I’m not in the NFL in any capacity, so I suppose it’s possible I am missing something.  For my money though, I am paying a franchise, shutdown cornerback over a decent, centerfield safety any day of the week.  It’s kind of shocking that Devin got 28.5 mil guaranteed.  Yes, maybe none of it is fully guaranteed, but still.  Just seems like a wild overpayment for a team that does not normally overpay in the slightest bit.  I have no explanation for this move.  Other than they knew they were losing Revis, (and maybe knew if they lost Revis, they were dumping Browner), so they sure as hell weren’t losing another starting member of the secondary.  But the whole thing is hard to fathom.

So as usual at this time of year, we just have to sit back and see how everything shakes out over the next couple of months or so.  See if Bill and Robert were right again.  I like the Sheard move mentioned above, but I am not sure it’s a game breaker.  And other than that, I have to say none of the other moves so far, free agent (Brandon Gibson, Kevin Dorsey, etc.) or re-signings (James Develin, Sealver Siliga, etc.), have raised my antennae too much.  Drafting #32 in the first round come May doesn’t really get me all fired up either.

Here’s hoping Chimdi Chekwa is the next Revis…hey, he supposedly runs a 4.3 40, it’s a nice start, no?

Ugh…

 

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