Monthly Archives: July 2018
Moving right on to the defense…
Locks: Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise
In: Adrian Clayborn
Out: Keionta Davis, Eric Lee
Way Out: Frank Herron
Comments: I’m putting Flowers in the Shaq Mason category. Trey is in the last year of his deal and may command big money next year. Money I don’t think the Pats will pay. Now, he may not command “Chandler Jones money”. He hasn’t had the start to his career that Chandler had. But he may still be too expensive for Bill’s taste. I think if a trade made sense, Bill may do it. I probably wouldn’t, as you can see the depth is a little thin at this position. But I’m not ruling out the possibility.
Hopefully Wise can build on a decent rookie year and that Rivers can show something after missing last year due to injury. Clayborn is probably a lock due to the contract…a surprising one at that…with like 2/3 of his sacks coming in a single game last year. But again, every year there is a long-time veteran that just doesn’t fit in the Patriots’ system. For some reason, I think it may be him. Just a hunch. It’s probably wrong though.
Lee flashed after being claimed on waivers last year…in the regular season anyway. So he probably has a chance. Davis always seems to be around when I write these projections, but not sure he is any type of answer. I’ve never heard of Herron, so he will need to make some noise in camp for me to take him seriously.
Locks: Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton
In: Adam Butler, Vincent Valentine
Way Out: John Atkins, Trent Harris
Comments: One more guy I put in the “possible trade” category is Brown. His contract is up after this season. And he may require an investment. The acquisition of Shelton could grease the skids for that…though Shelton’s contract is up after the year too. Seeing that they just made the trade to get Shelton, a trade of him seems unlikely. But maybe with the other guys around, Brown can be shopped. Again, I do not think this will happen, but I am not overlooking the possibility. Guy has his fat contract and played well enough last year I guess, so he’s in.
We had Butler as “way out” in the initial projection last year. Smart. But of course, he was someone we never heard of and he needed to catch the eye to improve his standing. And he certainly did it appears. I think with a year of development, he sticks again. Valentine missed all of last year. But if he is healthy, he stays. Because he is also young and cheap. And Bill likes his fat guys.
This years’ “never heard of dudes” in this category are Atkins and Harris. So we will follow their camp progress…or lack thereof.
Locks: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy
In: Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley
Out: Harvey Langhi, Christian Sam
Way Out: None
Comments: Once again, an absolutely putrid group here, especially if Dont’a can’t stay on the field…which is bound to happen. A stud when healthy, unfortunately, that almost is never the case. They love Van Noy and gave him a ton of dough…still trying to figure that one out. Flowers and Roberts stink, simple as that. But who else is there? And the team likes these guys too. Bentley makes my team because some of the draft picks have to make it, don’t they?? (My team has the three first and second rounders and fifth rounder Bentley making it and the five sixth and seventh rounders on the outside looking in). Sam, as a sixth rounder, may sneak on, who knows? And Langhi showed some promise last year as an undrafted free agent, made the team, played sparingly, then had that horrific car accident. Who knows how well he has recovered? If he has fully, he will get his shot, since again, this is a sad linebacking corps.
Locks: Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson
Out: Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis, Keion Crossen, J.C. Jackson
Way Out: Jomal Wiltz
Comments: Gilmore is the clear #1 now, but who plays the other spots and in what order is anyone’s guess right now. The staff seems to like Rowe. And also Jonathan Jones, who got more time at corner as the year went on before he went down with an injury late. Some people think Jason McCourty may not be quite the lock some think he is. We’ll see, but that’s where I’m leaving him now. Dawson clearly makes it as a second round pick, but how much he plays is up for debate.
Lewis had some buzz in the spring and was on the practice squad most, if not all, of last year. But then the team signed McCourty and drafted Dawson. So much for that. Crossen was a seventh rounder and I’m not sure who Jackson or Wiltz are, so let’s leave them where they are for now.
Cyrus Jones? Interesting case. Is he worth keeping around and trying to salvage? Perhaps. He looked a little better in the preseason last year before being lost for the year with injury. But a ton better? I don’t think so. I don’t think he fumbled on returns anyway. Has Bill given up on second rounders before? Yup. Bill actually has taken several bad second round picks during his tenure. But he will get some kind of shot this summer, I will bet you that. Perhaps Cyrus or one of the others can play safety? They could also try to trade him, but what the heck are you going to get for him with how his career has gone thus far? It will be interesting to watch, since I have a feeling he may stick around.
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
In: Jordan Richards
Out: Damarius Travis, A.J. Moore
Way Out: Eddie Pleasant
Released: David Jones
Comments: Locks are easy…then we get to Richards. Another dude who I think is atrocious. But another dude I think the staff loves for some reason. I don’t know if one of the corners can convert to safety and knock him off. Or one of these other safety characters can do it either. Jones spent last year the practice squad and was then dumped before camp. Travis was around on the practice squad last year too, but no one is chatting him up now. Moore? No idea. I do know they signed Pleasant the other day, so that seemingly leaves him out of the mix, barring a miracle. Right now, looks like Richards will be around. Sad to say.
Locks: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Nicholas Grigsby (ST)
In: Ryan Allen (P)
Out: Corey Bojorquez (P), Geneo Grissom (ST)
Way Out: None
Comments: It’s amazing that with Gostkowski’s inconsistency the past few years the team has not brought someone in to at least challenge him a little bit. It just doesn’t make much sense. But with Stephen and Cardona facing no competition, they are locked in. The fact that another punter is in camp this year means Allen’s job is not safe. He probably holds the kid off, but we shall see on that.
The rest of the locks basically do not play another position, so they are listed here. And since Bill loves his core special teamers, they all stick with the exception of Grissom. But Geneo will be back. He’s a guy they can bounce on and off the roster and no one else wants him. So he will always be available. And perhaps even break camp with the squad as well.
That’s about the size of it. I’ll wait until later in camp to project the practice squad and IR/PUP/NFI and other lists. Looks like Slater, Ebner, Britt, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones are starting on the preseason PUP list. Bolden is on the non-football illness list apparently as well. Some of these dudes starting on the regular season PUP list will open up roster spots for others. Let’s see how that all goes.
Training camp opened up this week for the New England Patriots. Led off by another informative Bill Belichick press conference…not. He’s never telling us why he didn’t play Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl last year. But I don’t mind people still asking.
I will also tell ya…this whole thing about badmouthing the taskmaster Belichick is laughable. Sure, he isn’t perfect. Butler, trading Jimmy Garoppolo for 25 cents on the dollar and we could list several more probably. You’re bound to make some mistakes over 18 years. Have we forgotten all the good he has done too?
Even more, he had Jimmy Football set up to lead the Pats for the next decade or so…once Tommy Boy finally decides to decline, that is. And at 41, it may come sooner than people, or even he, is ready to accept.
Sure, the thought of trading Brady is hard to stomach. But the end will come. And at his age, there is a very good chance it could come quick. So what’s wrong with having someone good ready to go next? Tommy Boy didn’t like it though. And got owner Robert Kraft to side with him. But why is Bill the bad guy here?
Same with the Rob Gronkowski trade rumors. Gronk may be the best tight end of all-time. But he’s hinting at retirement and gets hurt a ton. So why wouldn’t Belichick try to get some value for the guy in a trade while he can? Certainly can investigate it. I would. I may not actually do it. But, based on the circumstances, it’s smart to see what was out there. So why was Bill the bad guy here too?
In any event, even if none of these zipperheads get along, with the players not going to voluntary workouts and all that nonsense that people were flipping out about this summer, I am not sure it will matter in the end. Unless Brady pulls a Brett Favre in his age-41 season with the Vikings.
Moving on, the team has 90 players in camp, so let’s get to why we are here. The Pats made a few roster moves this week, so I included them…since I already had the players lined up. The first roster projection of the year, right here:
Locks: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
Out: Danny Etling
Way Out: None
Comments: Unless you think the seventh-rounder Etling is the 2018 version of the 2000 Brady that was drafted in the sixth round and you want to put him on the team. I don’t. I see practice squad written all over him. Plus Bill usually keeps only 2 quarterbacks anyway. Hoyer is a safe backup. It would be hard to believe Etling could beat him out this summer to take the backup job. I don’t see it anyway. But who saw Brady take the backup job back in 2001? I suppose at least he had a full year in the system, something Etling obviously doesn’t have.
Locks: Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, James Develin
Out: Mike Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, Ralph Webb
Way Out: None
Comments: Burkhead signed a decent sized three-year deal, so it looks like he heads in as the lead back. Until Michel replaces him. Likely due to injury. White is the third down guy. The team loves Develin. The locks are pretty easy.
A pretty solid fall for Gillislee. He was the man last year early and didn’t take advantage of his opportunities. Lost the job to Dion Lewis and now it looks like he will lose his entire fat paycheck this year. Hill is nice to take a flyer on. But as a 4th back…you can find those anywhere. Unless someone gets hurt, I expect him to be gone, with the team going with more depth at other positions. I’d normally have Webb as ‘Way Out”, but I think they gave him a nice signing bonus as an undrafted free agent. Has to count for something I guess.
Locks: Chris Hogan
In: Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson
Out: Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron
Way Out: Devin Lucien
Suspended: Julian Edelman
PUP/IR/Traded/Released: Malcolm Mitchell
Released: Cody Hollister
Comments: Welp, this is one fine mess! Hogan is the only lock, with Edelman suspended the first four games for PED use. Matthews would seem to be the closest to another lock. But he could be one of those guys that never find a rapport with Brady, despite having success elsewhere. Patterson will be kept for kick returns and gadget plays. Dorsett would seem to be buoyed by having a full year in the system, and a full training camp this year. Remember, Jacoby Brissett was traded for Dorsett like 5 days before the season last year. I have no idea if he can actually play, but he would seem to have a leg up on others this year now based on the above. And…people that watch film said he got open a ton last year, just Brady never threw to him, for whatever that’s worth. I wasn’t bullish on Britt initially. But I read something recently that the team likes him as the #3 guy during Jules’ suspension. Guess that means he is on the team.
Berrios may have a chance. But I see the practice squad in his future. Speaking of the practice squad, McCarron was on it for all of last year I believe. And there was some buzz about him in the spring too. Then the Pats signed Matthews, traded for Patterson and drafted Berrios. So much for that buzz. Lucien spent some time on the practice squad last year, I think maybe the whole year too, after getting drafted in the seventh round in 2017. But they thought so much of him that they let him walk, only to re-sign him like two days ago. Hollister was another long-term practice squad dude from last year. But he had some sort of “non-football” injury I guess and they just dumped him.
Mitchell is kind of a sad story. Football one anyway. We all know he was at like a fourth-grade reading level in college and then took action to improve and is now an author. But he can’t stay on the field in the sport. Too bad. He showed promise in 2016. But then missed all of 2017. And now may miss all of 2018. The talk is they are trying to trade him, but good luck with that. Who knows what will happen, but the end result is that he won’t be on the roster this year any way you slice it.
Locks: Rob Gronkowski
In: Dwayne Allen
Out: Jacob Hollister, Troy Niklas, Will Tye, Ryan Izzo
Way Out: Shane Wimann
Comments: Gronk…of course. But I battled with the rest. Allen’s salary and production would seem to make him a natural cut. But he stuck around all last year. So will he again? Someone still has to beat him out. Maybe Hollister takes a step up? Maybe Niklas lives up to his draft position of several years back? It won’t be Tye or Izzo. Izzo seems like a practice squad guy as a seventh rounder this year. Tye seems fungible. It sure as hell won’t be Wimann, who I’ve never heard of…and I expect you haven’t either. Maybe they keep three TE’s too. I don’t know how many people really pay attention to backup TE battles. But if you do, this could be a good one. It’s Allen for now, until further notice.
Locks: Trent Brown (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT), Isaiah Wynn (T/G)
In: LaAdrian Waddle (T), Matt Tobin (T), Luke Bowanko (C/G)
Out: Ted Karras (G/C), James Ferentz (C), Cole Croston (T), Jason King (G), Ulrick John (T)
Way Out: Nate Theaker (G)
Retired: Andrew Jelks (T)
Comments: Seems like Big Trent is going to get first crack at replacing the overrated and overpaid (especially now) Nate Solder. But they may cycle through a few guys in camp before it’s over. Waddle is back. Tobin and John were brought in to presumably battle. Some people insist that first rounder Wynn can play tackle. And then there is Croston, who spent all of last year on the active roster and barely played. So there may be some drama here yet. The “ins and outs” may change weekly, or even daily, at that position.
Karras has seemed to be a capable backup along the interior. But then again, he was cut last year out of camp. And then they brought in Bowanko this offseason. Karras’ time may be officially up now. Ferentz and King seem to be fringe players. No one has ever heard of Theaker. Jelks was getting some buzz in the spring…even though he had missed 3 straight years of football. So much for that buzz. But he probably made the right decision by retiring.
Going back to the starters, other than left tackle, the line appears set. But I think we should watch out for one thing. A Shaq Mason trade. What? Yup. We know Bill ain’t paying Shaq big money next year. The market for guards went up with a huge contract or two this past offseason. Does Bill preemptive strike and unload him for value in camp? Maybe. What it would also do is open a spot for Wynn at guard, where most think he will end up anyway. Something to consider. I think there may be a few candidates for trade on defense as well. But we will get to that in due time.
Next: Defense and Specialists
As promised, the NL squad is below. 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. Similar to the AL, 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the NL this year, but the reasoning is different. The Blowhard, in all seriousness, had problems coming up with the 32 players needed for the NL team. Each team is represented, as we know. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. But there was one NL team that truly had ZERO real candidates. You’ll find that out soon enough. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Mia (S), Francisco Cervelli, Pit
There were surprisingly several candidates at this position in the National League. But I’m sticking with my 2 catcher maximum. After Realmuto was a victim of taking only two catchers in the two previous years, he is the clear-cut starter this season. After that? HAD to go with Cervelli to back up. The Pittsburgh Pirates really do not have any candidates at all. Cervelli has missed some time with a concussion but has a .876 OPS when he has played. The only other Pirate player worth considering was their closer, Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves are great. But a 3.47 ERA and a WHIP of almost 1.35 is not. As for other dudes…Yadier Molina could have a case. Buster Posey always has a case. But Posey’s numbers are down from previous years.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atl (S), Jesus Aguilar, Mil, Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Joey Votto, Cin
Aguilar is a nice story, but I’m going Freeman to start. Goldy started slow but is on fire recently. Votto’s power is down, but he’s still having a nice year. If you wanted Brandon Belt instead, fine. Jose Martinez? Sure. I won’t argue about the last slot. Take whoever you want. Except for Eric Hosmer. Wow, that was a dumb contract the Padres gave him. And he ain’t doing much to earn it.
2B: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Scooter Gennett, Cin, Ozzie Albies, Atl, Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM
Baez by a slim margin over Gennett to start. Guess Gennett’s 2017 season was not a fluke, huh? Albies had a strong first half. Asdrubal? Yup. Deserved. If you wanted to take a fifth first baseman over him, I wouldn’t complain. But I’m keeping him on my squad. And no, he isn’t the only Met, if you can believe that.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col
This is it for third base in the NL. And this year Arenado is NOT being penalized for playing in Colorado. Suarez’ overall numbers are simply better. And Max Muncy’s 20 dingers in 196 at-bats are nice. But not sure that gets him on.
SS: Brandon Crawford, SF (S), Trevor Story, Col
And…this is it for shortstop in the NL. Story is being penalized for playing in Colorado. Trea Turner? Not this year.
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (S), Nick Markakis, Atl (S), David Peralta, AZ (S), Rhys Hoskins, Phi, Bryce Harper, Was
Matt Kemp? Nick Markakis? What year is this? Actually, even though these guys have been around forever, Kemp has actually made only two All-Star teams and Markakis…ZERO. So good for them with what they are doing this season. Peralta? Yikes! But he was really the best option for the last starting spot. I had actually originally picked Odubel Herrera instead of Hoskins…then I realized Hoskins was now pretty much an outfielder and doesn’t play much first base anymore. So I swapped them. Plus, I wanted to say that I picked Odubel, Aaron Altherr and Hoskins as All-Stars from the Phillie outfield in consecutive years. That seems a little crazy, no? Bryce…hmmm, I know. Tough call. .218 average would knock just about everyone else out of it. But power is there and OPS is too. So I said what the hell? Plus…Brandon Nimmo? Kyle Schwarber? Anyone from above I left off? I don’t think so.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Jacob deGrom, NYM, Aaron Nola, Phi, Jon Lester, ChC, Miles Mikolas, StL, Patrick Corbin, AZ, Sean Newcomb, Atl, Mike Foltynewicz, Atl, Kyle Freeland, Col, Josh Hader, Mil, Sean Doolittle, Was, Brad Hand, SD, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Ouch. And…ouch…again. Take a look at the names on this list again. Max gets the start since the game is in his home park. But you could seriously give deGrom the ball. I don’t think a lot of people know what kind of season he is having because his team sucks so bad. Nola has had a nice first half as well. The rest? Ok. But most of the names are certainly underwhelming. It’s almost like I had to take Freeland because he is a starting pitcher from Colorado and with his numbers (8-6, 3.18), you have to take that into consideration. Newcomb has backslid a bit. Mikolas is the Cards rep. Folty has fewer innings than most starters. Corbin and Lester have been solid. But who’s next, Ross Stripling? Nope.
Hader was the only middle man taken on both teams. But he did close when the Brewers regular closer, Corey Knebel, was out. And you can’t scoff at 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. In fact, there is another middle guy on his team that probably deserves consideration in Jeremy Jeffress. Hand is the Padres rep. People have been on the Kirby Yates bandwagon. Not me. Doolittle belongs. Jansen isn’t quite as dominant as he has been in previous years, but he’s still the guy to close it out if it gets to that point. Kyle Barraclough and Adam Ottavino probably deserve consideration as middle guys as well. But I’m not doing that. Maybe Raisel Iglesias as another closer. But I’m going with these guys.
Aaaaaah…feels good to be on time…for once!