Monthly Archives: April 2020

Gronk…and the NFL Draft…

…well, let’s get these thoughts out there quickly, as the draft is almost here.

First on Gronk.

Similar to former QB (wow, that still seems weird to say!) Tom Brady, the Blowhard really wasn’t losing a whole lot of sleep on Rob Gronkowski’s status.

I mean, this is not even considering the nonsense Gronk has been into since he “retired”.  Wrestling, “acting”, pimping CBD oil, disastrous Fox pregame appearances…ugh…off the field, I’ve been wanting him to go away for quite some time.

None of that matters at all at this point, now that he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

How do we feel about him returning to the field now?  And not back in a Patriot uniform?

Glad you asked!!

I don’t care.

I really don’t.

Listen, I LOVED Gronk when he was playing here.  Didn’t necessarily love some of his antics off the field when he was playing, similar to what he has done during his year off.  But while he was laying his body on the line, making huge plays and helping the Pats win games and ultimately Super Bowls, I just dealt with the silliness like everyone else.

Could he have helped presumptive new QB Jarrett Stidham this upcoming season?  Absolutely.  No question about it.

But let’s also face some facts.  He will be 31.  Seemingly not that old.  But he has taken an absolute beating over the years.  Amazing he has lasted this long, what with his back problems that started when he was in college and then the surgeries he has had as a pro.  Not to mention the other injuries he had, including the ones we probably never even knew about.

On a team that is retooling on the fly, with only one definitive other viable receiving option right now (a 34 year old, similarly banged up Julian Edelman), with Gronk once again facing double and triple teams (perhaps based on reputation as well), how enticing would a return to New England be for him?  And how effective would he be as a result?

In Tampa, he may be the third or fourth option.  More enticing for him for sure.  He also may be asked to not work as hard, as they have other capable tight ends on the roster.  Two for now, but at least one will be there in September.  The Pats have no other capable tight ends.  Hard to believe they will add anyone else there either.  A draft pick maybe.  But how reliable will that guy be this current season?

The beatings would continue if he came back here.

Let’s also face this:  Gronk was done with playing in New England.  And that’s ok.

Rumors have it that he was indeed dealt to Detroit for a first round pick before the 2018 season.  But threatened to retire.  So the deal never happened.

He only wanted to play with Brady.  So now he is unretiring to play with Brady.

And I am ok with that too.

I do wish, for the betterment of the team, that if Bill Belichick felt that trading Gronk for a first rounder was the best way to go, that it was allowed to happen.  But it wouldn’t have been the first time a higher up squashed something an underling wanted to do.  So be it.

I also don’t believe that Gronk is that unstoppable force anymore that he was throughout his career.  Injuries have taken their toll for sure.  Looked like throughout during the 2018 season anyway.  He will be an asset to the Bucs, no question.  And maybe win a game for them next season.  He will also most assuredly be better than any Patriot tight ends this year as well.  But it is hard to believe he will be an All-Pro again.  Time will tell.

Jason Witten took a year off and came back.  No great shakes in his return.  Yes, he is also much older than Gronk.  But I think we can draw some parallels.

I would have liked to have gotten more than a fourth round pick for him (while also trading a seventh rounder).  But he wasn’t playing for the Pats anyway.  Under any scenario.  And he could have unretired first, had his remaining salary go up against the cap to cause the Pats to have to frantically cut someone, trade someone or restructure one or more deals.

So there were a couple of sides to that story.

It seems to me that the end result made everyone happy.  We will just have to see how it plays out.  But I am not fretting the departure of Gronk.  Things will be ok.

Though I guess Bill would have taken that first rounder a couple of years ago over the fourth rounder now…

As for the draft, what will the Patriots do?

WHO THE HELL KNOWS?!

Haha…seriously though, what do I think?

Again, glad you asked!!

You’ve heard all the rumors:  Trade up for Tua, trade down for picks, trade picks into next year because the coronavirus will limit the offseason programs and perhaps even training camp itself, trade Joe Thuney, trade for O.J. Howard, take a quarterback high to compete for the job…etc.

Oh and “Bill never takes a running back in the first round”, then he takes Sony Michel in 2018.  And “Bill never takes a wide receiver in the first round”, then he takes N’Keal Harry in 2019.

We could go on all day.  The only thing that is certain is that Bill will take a guy that will really only be able to play special teams in the NFL in the 5th-6th round.  That doesn’t include the kicker that will likely be drafted in the middle rounds.

Nothing would surprise me.  Nothing.

Another hot take is that “releasing Cody Kessler is a real sign the Pats will definitely take a QB in the draft”.

It is??!

Why?

They have like 24 open roster spots.  They could go sign a Cam Newton or Jameis Winston eventually if they wanted to.  Or trade for Andy Dalton.  Or…gasp…re-sign Kessler eventually if nothing else materializes.  They could re-sign Kessler as a fourth arm, even if they do sign, trade or draft another dude.

But I don’t see them taking a QB as automatic.

If they take someone high, it may be an admission that the team does not believe that Stidham is the long term guy.  And what would that do for his confidence?

I could see them taking a QB late, a Danny Etling type.  Practice squad type guy to roll the dice on.  But I don’t see them trading up for anyone.  Or taking a guy relatively high.  Jake Fromm?  Perhaps.  But what is that, 4th-5th round?  Unlikely a threat to Stidham.

I really do think they are rolling with Stidham and Hoyer this season.  For better or for worse.

As for the actual picks, my opinion?  As it stands, the Patriots have 12 draft picks.  They will wheel and deal like they normally do.  Even with everyone drafting from home, fantasy football style.  Might not be as easy.  But I bet a lot of the legwork has been done already (e.g. the deal will likely happen only if a player is still available in that certain spot).

It will be fascinating to watch.  Mainly because it is the first “post-Tom Brady” draft.  Also because, well, there is nothing else going on in sports.

Specifics?  Best I can do is:

They WILL draft a kicker.

They MAY draft a QB, but mid to late rounds.

They WILL draft a lot of fat guys on the line, on both sides of it.

They MAY trade a pick or two into next years’ draft.

They WILL not trade up in the first round.

They MAY stand pat in the first round (instead of trading down) and take a non-skill position player.

They WILL entertain offers for G Joe Thuney, but won’t give him away.

They MAY make a real player deal or two (Howard?  Another veteran on the outs with another organization?)

That about sums it up.  About as an expert analysis as you will get East of Mel Kiper Jr.!

One last thing, there WILL be some technical difficulties during the draft.  May be minor, as the NFL did a trial run the other day to work out the kinks.

But seeing that this event is going to break television records apparently, would anyone be surprised if the hackers were heavily involved?  People are talking about coaches or team reps losing internet access, blue screens, miscommunications with Roger Goodell and issues along those lines.

Wouldn’t shock me to see a little porn being thrown up on the screen at some point during the telecast.

Just sayin’…

Boston Red Sox Roster Projection…Pt III…

…wrapping things up…

Bullpen:

The gasoline club:  Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, Austin Brice

DL:  None

Actual prospects that may contribute this season:  I’d normally say Bryan Mata (#4), perhaps with a cup of coffee to give him a brief taste, but with the state of the world, the uncertain status of the season and the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster at the current time, the chances are probably slim.  No other prospects will be up this year.  Even if you are rooting for Jay Groome (#7) to make it up.  Sorry.

Additional flotsam likely to make an appearance or twenty this season:  Check this list out:  Colten Brewer, Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, Josh Osich, Mike Shawaryn, Jeffrey Springs, Phillips Valdez, Trevor Hildenberger, Mike Kickham, Bobby Poyner…and just about anyone else off the scrap heap.  Luminaries.

Comments:  It would be one thing entering the season with a rotation like they are if they had a bunch of good bullpen arms.

But guess what?  No can do with that.

Who in the world expects Workman to duplicate last season?  Or even approach it?  Barnes is useful, especially if not overworked.  But what are the chances that doesn’t happen again with this motley crew?  Plus, he’s nowhere near a closer.  So if Workman returns to Earth, who’s next?  Brasier?  We’ve seen that movie before.  There’s simply no one else capable of closing on the staff.

Hernandez should be in the rotation, as referred to in the starters’ analysis, despite being fairly electric out of the ‘pen last season in his stint with the club.  Of course, he walked way too many guys, so there’s still some work to be done.  Perhaps he should be starting games in Pawtucket this year instead of pitching the 5th-6th inning once a week in Boston.  Maybe he can close?  But again…the walks…

Walden had a nice run until late last year.  There are reasons why guys like him and Brasier spend a decade in the minors.  We are likely to see why with Marcus this year.  And started to late last season.  Hembree is a great 4th-6th inning guy.  Taylor was a surprise and I’d like to see more.  But I said that about Travis Lakins too…and Lakins is long gone.  Brice?  Whatever.

The last group of names starting with Brewer?  Yuck.  But they will all pitch innings for the big club this year.  Provided there is some sort of length to the season.  Actually, even with a half a season they all should make an appearance.

That should excite no one.

This entire staff is kind of putrid.  And any kind of injury to one or two of the “better” arms would be an even bigger nightmare.  The team is not going to trade any prospects to get better arms, so forget about that.  Not sure I want them doing that anyway.

So what you see is what you will get.  Once again, brace yourself…

Outfield:

Unquestioned starters:  Andrew Benintendi (LF), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), Kevin Pillar (RF), J.D. Martinez (DH)

Bench:  None

DL:  Alex Verdugo (LF/CF/RF)

Actual prospects that may contribute this season:  Marcus Wilson (#21)

Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season:  None

Comments:  Yup, no Mookie Betts here…so I guess it is official.  I suppose it truly won’t be official until we see Pillar in his spot on Opening Day.  But still…and I guess by then it could still be Verdugo in right instead.  Methinks that with Alex’s back injury and he being young and a big part of the Mookie deal, that the Sox will be overly cautious with him, maybe even throughout the entire season.  Especially with MLB likely trying to stuff as many games as they can on the schedule.

My bigger hope is that we see Pillar in center and Verdugo in right on Opening Day, with Bradley being on a completely different team.  But that’s been my hope for several years now, the latter part anyway.  With any luck, he will start off hot, and at some point in the middle of that, before the trading deadline (whenever that will be), the Sox can pawn him off for something useful.  Probably wishful thinking there as well.  I’m still at the very least praying that the Sox let him leave when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.

Ok, enough about JBJ.

But speaking of the trading deadline, don’t be shocked if J.D. is moved then.  I don’t believe the Sox wanted him to opt-in to his contract this past offseason.  No one believes the team wanted him to opt-in.  And that’s even if they were “able to keep” Mookie by cutting Martinez’ costs.

I think the Sox wanted both of them gone.  For “payroll flexibility”.  Along with David Price.  And maybe even Nathan Eovaldi.

That’s how I see it anyway.

As for J.D., let’s hope he is able to start the year out well.  I mean, he made a big deal about not being able to see video between each at bat.  Does that really matter?  Can’t he watch tape AFTER every game to analyze?  Doesn’t matter if we think it matters.  HE thinks it matters.  So let’s just hope that this doesn’t get into his head and he sucks this year.  Don’t ever rule this kind of stuff out with the way professional athletes are so fragile these days.

As for the actual on field product, it’s not horrible.  Especially if Verdugo can pan out.  Not to mention if Benintendi can actually get back on the upward trajectory again.  Pillar was a great signing for the cost, positional flexibility, speed and defense.  JBJ has his moments.  And honestly, J.D should be fine.

Yeah, there will be no Mookie.  And none of these guys will be him either.  Nor will Marcus Wilson, if you were wondering.  Or any other prospects…this season anyway.

With all the salary paring, will this be the year Rusney Castillo makes it back to the majors?  Unlikely.  Unfortunately, while he made a ton of dough on the deal, he likely cost himself a major league career at the same time.

Sure, he gets to play baseball every day for a living, albeit in the minors.  But wouldn’t he have preferred to take a little less to actually see time in the majors?

Maybe he wasn’t good enough for the majors.  But with the amount of stiffs floating around the major leagues, my guess is that he could have been a 4th outfielder somewhere.  For some time anyway.  Maybe he gets a starting gig on a bad team.

But we will never know.  And for all we know, he is just counting his money and doesn’t give a rat’s arse.

There doesn’t appear to be anyone else that should see time in the outfield for the Sox this season, unless they come from outside the organization.

So if you were hoping to see #8 prospect Jarren Duran (Colby??!), you’ll have to wait at least another year or two.

Even without Mookie and with JBJ, I am not going to lose a whole lot of sleep over the outfield, or even the offense in general.  It’s the pitchers that scare the bejesus out of me.  Either way, here’s hoping the season will get off the ground in the first place…and soon!

Boston Red Sox Roster Projection…Pt II…

…continuing on.  Skipping the bullpen for now because I don’t want to be sick to my stomach.  Actually, it works better on the word count for each column related to the roster projection, but I prefer to ignore that fact here.  The bullpen is truly wretched.  And should (WILL?!) make many fans sick this upcoming season.

Catcher:

Unquestioned starter:  Christian Vazquez

Bench:  Kevin Plawecki

DL:  None

Actual prospects that may contribute this season:  None

Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season:  Jonathan Lucroy

Comments:  Speaking of players unlikely to duplicate their 2019 performance…here comes Vasky!!  10 homers in parts of 4 major league seasons prior to last, then he hits 23.  .246 career batting average, then .276 in 2019.  Etc.

Actually, I like Vazquez and certainly wanted him playing over Sandy Leon last season at all costs.  Just don’t expect any kind of repeat in 2020.

Plawecki. Leon, Lucroy…what’s the difference?  I guess if Vazquez is going to catch 85-90% of the games, there is none.

Infield:

Unquestioned starters:  Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B)

Questioned starters:  Mitch Moreland (1B), Jose Peraza (2B)

Bench:  Michael Chavis (1B/2B/3B), Tzu-Wei Lin (2B/SS/3B/OF), Jonathan Arauz (2B/SS/3B)

DL:  Dustin Pedroia (2B)

Actual prospects that may contribute this season:  Bobby Dalbec (#3, 3B/1B), C.J. Chatham (#13, SS/2B)

Additional flotsam possibly seeing major league time this season:  Marco Hernandez, Yairo Munoz

Comments:  Devers had a breakout season last year at age 22.  54 doubles, 32 dingers, 201 hits, led the MAJORS in total bases and perhaps more surprisingly, had a .311 batting average (.254 in his first two years).  Wow.  Is that an early peak, or can we expect more big things going forward?

I think we would all be happy with simply a duplicate season.  Devers has always been regarded as a great talent.  But to even expect a duplicate season may still be a stretch.

That being said, let’s also see where his head is at, seeing that the Sox brass decided to reward him for last season by renewing his contract for less than 700k.  No one asked the Sox to give him a fat long term extension.  But to lowball him like that cannot be good.  Just ask Mookie Betts how he liked it when the team did it to him.

I’d say Bogaerts had a breakout season as well.  But he seemed to be trending that way after his very good 2018.

No question though that he took another giant leap forward.  Then he actually signed a pretty team friendly long term extension himself.  Surprising, but maybe that was pretty good foresight if he wants to settle here, what with the state of the organization…and the world…these days.

Even if they come back to Earth a bit, I don’t think we will have to worry too much about X and Raffy.  Though the additional burden of trying to carry this team could pull them down a bit.  Make no mistake, these guys will be expected to be the big producers.  What about J.D. helping ease some of that burden, you ask?  More on that later.

There seems to be some feel good stories about Peraza coming out now.  I am not sure I care.  As long as he can play a little defense, I should be good with anyone at that position.  Well, except Pedroia, who still doesn’t know when it is time to retire.  My feelings on Pedey are well known.  So let’s move on…

Moreland was re-signed…and…I am actually ok with it.  I can’t believe I just wrote this either.  But for 2.5 mil and a 3 mil club option, really not a bad deal.  Especially now, with the shortened season likely.  He’s useful against right handed pitching, plays good defense, seems to be a good team/clubhouse guy and all that.

We don’t know what to expect from Chavis over a full season yet.  Chavis is probably going to spend some time at second and perhaps third base as well.  Dalbec is not likely ready this year, if ever.  We are at least a couple of years away from Triston Casas (#2 Sox prospect).  One more year of Mitch ain’t gonna kill anyone.

Lin makes the team because he is out of options and Arauz because he was a Rule V pick who needs to stay on the roster for the full season or be offered back to the club he was claimed from for half of the purchase price.  You really don’t need both, so the expanded rosters at the start of the season, plus some injuries should give the team enough time to decide on which one to keep.  Lin has been dabbling in the outfield the past year or so, so this may make him even more useful at the beginning of the season.

Hernandez has gotten some major league time and there is actually something about him I like.  No idea why.  But he was designated for assignment over the winter himself.  No team in the majors appeared to like him as much as I did, so he will be toiling in Pawtucket for the time being.  As will Munoz, a late spring signee after being dumped by the Cards.  Can’t blame the Cards for dumping him actually.  Yairo apparently felt that he wasn’t going to make the team (the first week of March he felt this) and just decided to fly back home to the Dominican Republic…without notifying anyone in the St. Louis organization.  That’s a pretty solid way for a fungible reserve to get released, I would say.

I’d say that based on the circumstances, we will not see any of #1 prospect and the supposed jewel of the Mookie trade, Jeter Downs, this season.  I am not sure we would have seen him anyway if this was a normal season.

And if you were hoping that Chad de la Guerra or Jantzen Witte were finally going to make it to the bigs, I’d say you’re bound to be disappointed as well.  Sorry for this news.

Next:  The conclusion…

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