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Week Ten…

Fantastic game Thursday night believe it or not.  Raiders/Chargers…couple of mediocre teams.  Of course it was a good game, right?

The Chargers really should have won the game.  But they let the Raiders march right down the field in the final minutes.  Plus, Philip Rivers threw three picks…and had two others negated by penalties.  Can’t win much that way.

That’s all I really have to say about that.  On to Sunday’s games:

Detroit at Chicago (-2.5)

Your guess is as good as mine with this pile of mediocrity.

Chicago 20, Detroit 17.  

Baltimore (-9.5) at Cincinnati

Welcome to the NFL Ryan Finley!!

Baltimore 41, Cincinnati 10.  Lock of the week.

Arizona at Tampa Bay (-4.5)

The combined record is 5-11-1, but this could be a fun game to watch.

Tampa Bay 38, Arizona 33.

Kansas City (-3.5) at Tennessee

Did you know that KC is under .500 at home and 4-0 on the road?  Me neither.  I’d feel better about this pick if Patrick Mahomes is definitely back.  But I feel pretty good about it even if Matt Moore is still at the helm.

Kansas City 31, Tennessee 20.  

Buffalo at Cleveland (-2.5)

The Browns have to start winning games with all that talent, don’t they??  And the Bills aren’t really a .750 team, are they??

Cleveland 24, Buffalo 17.  

New York Giants (-2.5) “at” New York Jets 

3-14 combined record for the NY teams.  Ouch.  Well, at least it’s a home game for both teams…even though it can’t be on the schedule.  Darnold vs. Jones!  But that’s where any intrigue ends.  I’m picking here based on who I think is worse and will lose, instead of doing what I usually do and pick who I think is going to win.  The Giants ain’t great, but the J-E-T-S are putrid.

New York Giants 3, New York Jets 0.  

Atlanta at New Orleans (-12.5) 

I cannot believe Arthur Blank has kept Dan Quinn this long.  At this point, I guess Quinn just gets gassed after the season.  Matt Ryan is supposed to be back, but does that even matter?

New Orleans 34, Atlanta 13.  

Miami at Indianapolis (-10.5)

Nice win for the Dolphins last week.  But…the Jets.  Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, the ghost of Andrew Luck…doesn’t matter.  Though Fitzmagic is just spunky enough that the ‘Phins may actually cover.  It won’t hurt if 86 year old Adam Vinatieri keeps missing kicks.

Indianapolis 20, Miami 13.  

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Pittsburgh

Is Mason Rudolph the new “Captain Checkdown”?  Alex Smith better get healthy for the 2020 season to try and regain that title.  The Rams are coming off a bye.  That pretty much seals it for me.

Los Angeles Rams 34, Pittsburgh 17.

Carolina at Green Bay (-4.5)

Thinking that embarrassment against the Chargers last Sunday wakes up the Pack a bit.  The Panthers have played surprisingly well under the stewardship of Kyle Allen.  But let’s not forget that they got pasted at San Fran two weeks ago.

Green Bay 30, Carolina 23.  

Minnesota at Dallas (-2.5)

I’m not sure how I feel about either of these teams.  I mean, they are 11-6 combined.  But my sense is they could be even better if that makes any sense.  I could say that this pick is a hunch, but I like Mike Zimmer as a coach over Jason Garrett and that is the difference here in the end.

Minnesota 30, Dallas 27.

Seattle at San Francisco (-6.5)

The ‘hawks are actually only 3-2 at home and 4-0 on the road.  That’s unusual for them.  In any event, the Niners are the last undefeated team and will have 10 days to prepare for this one.  Seattle barely beat the Bucs last Sunday.  You know what that means.

Seattle 27, San Francisco 24.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  4-5

Season (against the spread):  68-68

Season (straight up):  90-46

Time To Fire Farrell?

Of course!  But I’ve been saying that for a couple of years now.

Funny thing is, the Boston Red Sox mediocre start this season may have little to do with John Farrell’s managing prowess.  Or lack thereof…

Sure, there is always some blame that the manager will have to absorb when a team underachieves.  Farrell still sucks as an in-game manager.  That hasn’t changed.  Lack of leadership on more than a few occasions hasn’t helped him either.  All that nonsense with Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado and all the other characters involved with firing baseballs all over the place.  Hanley Ramirez making up injuries so he doesn’t have to play first base.  And no one pushing him.  Those are two notable cases of a leadership void.

Farrell also doesn’t help himself with his explanations of subluxations and arm angles and all that crap.

But that doesn’t make him primarily responsible for this mess the Red Sox have created.  This actually pains me to say.

You may say, “mess”?  They are only 4 games out, no one will run away with the division and there are 125 games left in the season!  I will say, take a look at this roster, and Pawtucket’s roster and, better yet, the injury report.  And you may have a clearer picture of where this team stands.

Where do we start?  Third base is one place.  6 players have manned the position in 37 games.  Pablo Sandoval and Marco Hernandez primarily, though Josh Rutledge is catching up.  Brock Holt, Deven Marrero and…Steve Selsky have played there as well.  Looks like 13 errors, with Marco’s 6 and Fat Panda’s 4 leading the way.  Atrocious.  It’s gotten to the point where Marrero is earning more time because of his glove, his .243 career minor league average (.198 last year and .169 this year, by the way) be damned.

Is help on the way?  Not from Pawtucket, it would appear.  Looks like there are 5 or 6 minor league veterans playing 3B down there…without a ton of success.  I doubt we will see 20 year-old Rafael Devers in the majors this year.  Though he does currently have a .984 OPS in AA.  He’s supposedly the “next big thing”, so I doubt they will rush him.  Hopefully they won’t trade him either, what with the prospect cupboard stripped down a little bit from trades during the Dave Dombrowski regime.

I think we are stuck with the above motley crew for the time being.  Wait, didn’t Allen Craig used to play 3rd early in his career?  Maybe the Sox can salvage some of that contract?  Ok, nevermind.  He’s hitting .197 in Pawtucket with a .550 OPS.  Seems content to just collect his fat paycheck these days…

First base may be the next issue on the offensive side.  Mitch Moreland is a nice player and can fill a role.  That role should not require him to be the only player on the team to play in every single game this year however.  Especially when he looks pretty lost against lefties.

But part of this problem is that Hanley Ramirez has no interest in playing first, as noted above.  And no one is forcing the issue because they are afraid they will “lose” him.  What a joke.  Raise your hand if you saw this coming (Blowhard’s hand fully extended to the sky), at least in part because of the fact there is no David Ortiz in the clubhouse anymore to help keep him in line.  Make him play first, suspend him if he refuses.  And if he makes up injuries and you can’t tell if he is faking…well, you know his history, so you know he is faking.  I know, easier said than done.  There will be grievances and the player quitting and all that.  But management needs to figure something out and they should be smart enough to do so.

Raise your hand if you also saw Jackie Bradley Jr. reverting into, well…Jackie Bradley Jr.  (Blowhard again, arm straight up).  A mid .200’s hitter at best with a great glove.  But not an All-Star as he was last year.  I would have moved him last offseason for maximum value.  Then played Andrew Benintendi in center, Mookie Betts remaining in right.  Then perhaps a platoon of Chris Young and anyone else in left.  That ship has sailed.  On a positive note, there is plenty of time for Jackie to heat up and salvage his slow start.  But I’m afraid last year was an aberration, my friends.

Elsewhere on the diamond, I suppose I can live with the bodies there…unless Xander Bogaerts keeps up his alarming lack of production.  I don’t care if he is hitting .340.  No homers and 11 RBI in his 33 games is flat-out unacceptable.  And stop blaming Ortiz leaving for being the reason the lineup has underperformed.  There’s enough talent there to not use that crutch.

The big problem is the pitching staff.  Starting with the alarming lack of starting pitching depth on a “big-market” team.  Now, this is in no way saying I advocated for Clay Buchholz to remain here as part of what would have been 7 veteran big league starters.  I said “veteran”, not necessarily meaning “good”.  Good riddance Clay.

The other six?  Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz & Steven Wright.  Sale is rock solid, but has had a tendency to fade down the stretch in recent years for whatever reason.  Before his injury, I think we all could have counted on Price taking almost every turn…and hopefully be better than last year.  And even though Porcello was unlikely to be in the Cy Young mix again, I think we expected him to still be a suitable #3 guy anyway.

But the last three?  E-Rod is presumably still developing.  Having a pretty good year too, though he usually has thrown about 215 pitches every start to even get through the 5th.  It seems that way anyway.  Pomeranz and Wright were huge question marks.  Pomeranz just hasn’t proven durability in his career and Wright is a knuckleballer, so who knows which version will show up?

Lot’s of question marks.  Even with good health.  Then Price goes down.  Apparently Wright was never healthy from the start and pitched through his injury…and poorly.  Pomeranz expects to make his next start, but whatever he was babying in the spring is back.  Ugh.  And your next in line is Kyle Kendrick, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson.  Double ugh.

There aren’t better veteran options kicking around even now?  Dougie Fister, where are you?!

And…why did we ever consider Owens and Johnson “can’t miss” prospects?  They throw about as hard as Wright.  But I digress…

If you think the rotation is suspect, then don’t even look at the bullpen.  Disaster area.  Craig Kimbrel has been lights out.  Robby Scott has done his job…one lefty batter at a time.

The rest?  I can’t even talk about them.  Makes me sick to my stomach.  Makes me pine for some Noe Ramirez.  That should tell you about all you need to know.

This bullpen includes (theoretically) 2 guys who haven’t thrown a pitch in 2017:  Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith.  Smith threw very few pitches last year for the team.  But they are supposed to be at the back-end of the bullpen.

This leads me to the upcoming conclusion.  Although the Blowhard has not been a fan of Farrell for quite some time now, the finger points more to the construction of the team this year more than the manager’s performance.  Right at Dave Dombrowski.

You can’t control injuries (or illness).  But there is enough talent on this team to win.  There have been enough red flags on some of the guys acquired by DD that were worth noting.  He seemed to not only ignore them, he seemed to also overpay to get them.

Most of the trades involved prospects.  I would usually move prospects for proven guys any day of the week.  But did he need to move 4 of them for a closer in Kimbrel last year?  Send the top pitching prospect straight up for Pomeranz?  Send 3 prospects AND Travis Shaw for a middle reliever?  I’m no huge Shaw cheerleader.  But the Sox sure could use him now…at first or third.

For the record, I’ll give up the prospects for Sale.  But that’s different from the deals above.

Now, what does Dombrowski have to trade?  Couple of top prospects are left if he wanted, for sure.  But when MLB.com lists a 27-year-old lefty specialist (Scott) as your 29th best prospect across all minor league levels, that’s not a good sign.  That’s like a small market team.  Again, I’d trade prospects for proven guys every day.  Just seems as if, other than Sale, these prospects are being used for the wrong guys…and too many of the prospects are being dealt in each of those deals.

There is definitely plenty of time this season to right the ship.  But I’m not sure how long Price lasts when he comes back.  I don’t believe Thornburg throws a pitch for the team this year.  Who knows about Smith?  Sandoval will come back at some point, but to me, he is a lost cause.  3B will be an issue all year, offensively and defensively.  Just saw that Hector Velasquez is starting Thursday night.  Who?  Exactly.

This season is on Dombrowski thus far and not Farrell.  So to answer the question posed, Farrell probably does not deserve to lose his job based on the results this season…but as they say, you can’t fire 25 players…

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