…whatever comes to mind…
*Not much writing about the Boston Celtics thus far this season. Tough to do when the Boston Red Sox had their World Series run. Not to mention all of the New England Patriots drama, before and during the season. Plus, you know, they are winning games per usual, despite the whole different feel of this season.
The Celts started off slow, to the tune of 10-10. A number of reasons for that. But I would say it was mainly because they had a full complement of players and they were all still feeling out their roles. Gordon Hayward was back after missing the whole season. Kyrie Irving missed the playoffs and now he was back. Everyone else important returned. Unless you count Greg Monroe, Shane Larkin or Abdel Nader as “important”. That’s up to you.
So now the C’s are 18-11. Are they hitting their stride? Not entirely sure.
I’ve always thought this season that if everyone on the roster is healthy and playing, there are simply “too many mouths to feed”. During this recent 8 game win streak, coach Brad Stevens hasn’t had all of the guys healthy. Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes and Gordon Hayward have missed time with various maladies.
This has always made Brad’s job “easier”. He has been able to juggle guys in and out when the rotation is smaller. This has been one of his biggest strengths. Also his ability to “coach up” players.
When all the established players are healthy? Who knows? My view is that it remains to be seen if now they are ready to roll.
Hayward and Brown have seemingly accepted coming off the bench…for now. But it appears that guys like Terry Rozier and Brown have been chirping about playing time. At least that’s what the rumors have been telling us. Can’t believe every rumor. But where there is smoke there is fire. Those two (plus Jayson Tatum), in particular, led the charge in the playoffs last season with Kyrie and Gordo out. So their egos were inflated in turn.
Many people do not like Marcus Smart…or his game really…or his offense to be more specific. But since adding him and Marcus Morris to the starting lineup, things have worked out pretty well. They are nice complements to the other starters. Morris is a guy that I thought would be a problem…chirping about playing time and/or coming off the bench. But he seems to have been a model citizen this year.
If all of these guys just suck it up and play together and accept their roles, the sky could be the limit. I’m not sure I buy that they will all season though. Long way to go. Let’s see what happens.
*The Boston Bruins have also been neglected in this space. We should probably give them some props for where they are in the standings despite all the injuries.
The team has used 12 defensemen in 32 games this year. That’s…a lot.
Combine that with goalie Tuukka Rask’s poor start, that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Actually, Tuuks has played better since he has been back from whatever his personal issues were. Which is timely, since Jaroslav Halak has cooled off a bit from his hot start. But combine all this with an offense that has just one line that works (when everyone is healthy) and a bunch of underachieving (not as talented as we thought?) kids…and how are they even in the playoff mix?
The fact of the matter is though that there needs to be more offense. Hard to believe I am even saying this when coach Bruce Cassidy’s forwards threw up some pretty good numbers last season.
But players like Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, JFK (I don’t feel like typing his full name) and even Jake DeBrusk just haven’t gotten it done this year. Jake has 10 goals, but they seem like a quiet 10 goals.
These guys in particular really need to step it up. The rest of the dudes (besides the one top line) are made up of 4th line types…Noel Acciari, Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner and yes, David Backes. We’ve seen entirely too much of Colby Cave.
David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron make up an explosive line. But they are going to need some help at some point. And by “help”, I don’t just mean “David Krejci playing to the level of his contract” help.
*Joe Kelly 3 for $25?? Yikes! He made himself 10-15 million for a few weeks in October. Good for him. But I bet he was looking at something like 2/10 or 2/12 without that great run.
Kelly was wildly inconsistent during his time in Boston. I’ve said it a gazillion times: He’s the only guy I know that throws 100 mph and never missed bats…until the playoffs, that is.
Thanks for the ride last fall Machine Gun. But I won’t miss you. We can find someone exactly like you for a lot less money. Wait, we already have Heath Hembree!!
*Craig Kimbrel wants 6 years and 100 mil. Good luck man!
Kimbrel had a fine career in Boston, do not get me wrong. He was unhittable in 2017 and good enough in 2016 and 2018. But he was not good in the 2018 playoffs. And that’s kinda important.
So feel free to move on bud.
But make no mistake, no matter what Dave Dombrowski or Alex Cora say, the Sox will not enter Spring Training with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier as the closer candidates. Those guys ain’t closing. There will be more arms added, including at the very least a Brad Boxberger or Fernando Rodney-type guy that has had success in the big leagues closing games. For better or worse.
Add in an all of a sudden hyped up prospect Travis Lakins and there will be other options.
But thanks for the memories Craig…and more importantly, Machine Gun…
…you may think this piece is about the New England Patriots debacle Sunday against the Miami Dolphins? No. No. No. Well, the word used for this title does fit, but that’s a story for the next column involving NFL picks.
There was another travesty that happened on Sunday. Different sport.
We are still a few weeks away from my annual Baseball Hall of Fame column. But I felt the need to comment based on what happened over the weekend.
The “Today’s Game Era Committee” voted Harold Baines and Lee Smith into Cooperstown on Sunday. Yup, these guys are now Baseball Hall of Famers. Immortals. Amazing. Simply amazing.
Wait, who the hell is the “Today’s Game Era Committee”? Welp, this is part of the old Veterans Committee. “Part”? Yup. “Today’s Era” covers players 1988 to present. The “Modern Era Committee” covers 1970-1987. The “Golden Days” covers 1950-1969. Lastly, “Early Baseball” covers 1887-1949. I guess if you were good before 1887 you are out of luck. But I digress…
Either way, these separate committees apparently have different years they can vote on guys and this year was the “Today’s” turn. But also apparently, these committees are just as useless as the old Veterans Committee.
For starters, the Modern Committee elected Jack Morris and Alan Trammell last year. Also…not Hall of Famers.
I believe that part of the reason the Veterans Committee was revamped was to stop guys from voting in players that shouldn’t be in the Hall.
Oops…looks like that isn’t working.
Listen, Baines and Smith (and Morris and Trammell) were very good players. They were for a very long time. But this has become the problem with Cooperstown. It is becoming the “Hall of Very Good”, instead of the Hall of Fame. Too many “decent” players are getting in now. The place is totally getting watered down.
Add in the fact that there are legitimate Hall of Famers on the outside looking in. Yes, based mostly on the whole steroid thing. But still. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are no-brainer Hall members, with or without the ‘roids. Manny Ramirez too. And in my eyes, Pete Rose belongs for all his issues. Rafael Palmeiro probably also.
That’s just for starters. My point is if guys like Baines and the most recent “committee” guys are in, don’t players like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Dale Murphy get in automatically? May as well put Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Al Oliver and Bernie Williams in too. And those are only the hitters. I didn’t mention Edgar Martinez, because he likely gets in this year anyway. I don’t love it, but others do, so that’s ok. But guys like Todd Helton are eligible this year for the first time too. To me, Helton isn’t a Hall guy, but maybe based on these current circumstances, he is?
As for pitchers, guys like Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina now should be locks. And for the hell of it, let’s just add Jim Kaat, Denny Martinez and Luis Tiant. John Franco? Billy Wagner? Ron Guidry? Tommy John pitched until he was 87 years old, won 288 games and had a surgery named after him. Why the hell doesn’t that get him in??
You get my point. Absolutely silly. Simple as that. Let’s just let everyone in. That will solve everything…well, I guess it will keep a lot of people happy anyway…
So I know this is generally a football pick column…and it will be eventually…but we would be remiss if we didn’t give some comments on the Boston Red Sox re-signing of Nathan Eovaldi earlier this week.
For a quick refresher, this is what we wrote about a month ago:
“…The way Major League Baseball is trending, with “bullpen games”, the Sox technically don’t have to do anything here next year. WHAAAAAAAT???!! WHAT ABOUT EOVALDI??!! Nate Eovaldi has a special place in my heart for the way he pitched in the postseason this year. He always will. Especially that relief appearance in Game 3 of the World Series…in a game they actually lost. What an effort though. A guy with past arm trouble and free agency looming could have easily begged out of that game at any point…even at the beginning, seeing he had pitched in relief the first two games. He didn’t and became somewhat of a legend.
But give him 15-20 mil a year for 4-5 years? I’m not so sure about that. Seems like a risk. Past arm problems. But more importantly, past mediocrity. 44-53, 4.16 career heading into his age-29 season. Love the guy to death. But I think I am passing…”
Has my opinion changed? Actually, no. All around. Still will love the guy, no question. But not backing up the Brinks truck for him. Above all, he just hasn’t taken the ball enough in his career.
Turns out ol’ Nate got right about in the middle of what we had mentioned, about 17 per. A lot of dough seemingly just to reward someone for one postseason.
On the surface, this must slot Eovaldi into the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation for 2019. Chris Sale and David Price go 1-2, Eovaldi and Rick Porcello go 3-4 and Eduardo Rodriguez would be 5. Steven Wright, Hector Velasquez and Brian Johnson give you 6-8 depth. Can’t complain about that staff on paper certainly.
The salaries? Listen, the Sox can spend whatever they want. We know this. John Henry ain’t hurting for funds. BUT…Price 31, Porcello 21 plus, Nate 17, Sale 15…heavy. E-Rod probably gets a nice bump in arbitration as well…because…everyone always does in that process.
Some have speculated that maybe Eovaldi may close this season, what with the likely departure of Craig Kimbrel. Unlikely. Good closers may approach the 17 mil per. But we don’t even know if Nate can be a good closer…he’s never done it. And with his injury history, not sure the Sox should even consider it. Despite his bullpen efforts in the postseason last season.
One thing it does tell me? Either Sale or Porcello will be allowed to walk after the 2019 season. And you heard it here first: The Blowhard believes that there is a greater likelihood that Porcello will be back in 2020 than Sale. Sale is clearly the better pitcher. By far. But with his health history, will they shell out probably over 25 million per for that uncertainty? Heading into his age-31 season? Not so sure. The team babied him more than ever last year. And he threw a mere 158 innings.
As mediocre as Porcello can be, he takes the ball every turn. He will also be heading into his age-31 season. The Sox may be willing to give him another 20 plus for a few years than 25-30 plus for Sale over likely more seasons.
Sounds silly, but let’s see how it plays out.
In summary, we obviously don’t love the Eovaldi deal. Just a little too much risk for me. But it’s not my money. And after dissecting things a little more, it may not be completely insane.
Again, let’s see how all this plays out in 2019.
And if they win another World Series, I guess who gives a rat’s ass?
As for football:
Carolina (-1.5) at Cleveland
Carolina has lost 4 in a row and is 1-5 on the road. I really want to pick the Browns here. But…I can’t…
Carolina 23, Cleveland 20.
New York Jets at Buffalo (-3.5)
Buffalo 17, New York Jets 13.
New York Giants at Washington (-1.5)
Mark Sanchez. And Josh Johnson.
I know, Odell Beckham Jr. is not playing. But it shouldn’t matter. Let’s also talk for a second about Colin Kaepernick. Washington is taking a lot of heat for signing those aforementioned stiffs over Kaep. Welp, I can see both sides. First off, a team would really have to change a great deal of their offense to sign and play Colin. And with a mere four games left, is it worth it? Johnson may be the literal definition of “journeyman”. But he has a history with Redskins coach Jay Gruden. That does matter, unfortunately.
One thing people fail to consider is the fact that Kaepernick is actually not very good. And now he hasn’t played since 2016, where he “led” the Niners to a 1-10 record in his appearances. Sure, there are so many bad backup QB’s in the league, he probably deserves a job somewhere. But we have also heard, and maybe inaccurately, that he has had opportunities to sign…and they weren’t for enough money to his liking so he passed. Yeah, this last point could be bogus. But I’m not ruling anything out with this guy.
Bottom line, Kaep still stinks and hasn’t played in two years. He’s probably good enough to hold a clipboard on some team…if he wants to. But would it really make a difference in Washington? That’s for everyone else to decide, not me…
New York Giants 20, Washington 13.
Atlanta at Green Bay (-5.5)
Let’s now see if it was Mike McCarthy or Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay 38, Atlanta 24.
New Orleans (-8.5) at Tampa Bay
After that dud last Thursday against the Cowboys and the early season loss to the Bucs at home, this feels like some kind of hurtin’ is about to be put on.
New Orleans 45, Tampa Bay 20.
Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5)
Are the Ravens someone to worry about as we head toward the playoffs?
Baltimore 37, Kansas City 34.
New England (-8.5) at Miami
New England 30, Miami 24.
Indianapolis at Houston (-4.5)
If you asked me last week, I would have picked the Colts here to end Houston’s 9 game winning streak. But not after that putridness against the Jags a week ago.
Houston 34, Indianapolis 28
Denver (-5.5) at San Francisco
The Broncos are still in the mix…amazingly enough. Losing Manny Sanders will hurt. But not this week.
Denver 27, San Francisco 17.
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Chargers (-14.5)
The Bungles are cratering. Seems like too many points here though, even for the Chargers at home.
Los Angeles Chargers 34, Cincinnati 20.
Detroit (-2.5) at Arizona
I read something Saturday about Matt Patricia’s “father-son” relationship with Chandler Jones. I was moved. Really. But maybe it’s because I read it right after I smoked some synthetic weed and ran shirtless to the local police station. Oh wait…
Detroit 24, Arizona 14.
Philadelphia at Dallas (-4.5)
Winner of this one takes the NFC East in my opinion. Although…maybe not. Before I looked at the remaining schedules, I had a feeling that the Eagles were ready to make a run. Then I saw they play at LA Rams and then at home against the Texans after the Cowboys (finishing against the Redskins in Washington). While the Cowboys play the Colts, Bucs and G-Men. Advantage: Dallas.
Dallas 27, Philadelphia 24.
Pittsburgh (-11.5) at Oakland
The Steelers should win this game pretty handily. But the way they are playing, who the hell knows?
Pittsburgh 38, Oakland 31.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Chicago
Can’t say I’m completely on the Bears’ bandwagon. Whatever.
Los Angeles Rams 34, Chicago 24.
Minnesota at Seattle (-3.5)
The Seahawks will be rolling into the playoffs. The Vikes aren’t impressing anyone. ‘Hawks are at home. We are all pumped and jacked!!
Seattle 31, Minnesota 20.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 103-90
Season (straight up): 122-71