Brain dumping from the past few days:
*Did anyone see John Lackey’s pitching line from this past weekend? 5 innings, 13 hits, 9 earned runs, 2 walks, 3 K’s, 3 bombs. No one laughed harder than me. Couldn’t happen to a better guy. Hope it happens again. Repeatedly. The guy is a clown. And I was in favor of paying him several years ago! Thought you can never have enough pitching. He’s a decent pitcher, #3, maybe a #2. Pitched in big games. Figured he’d be able to handle Boston. Yes, they overpaid quite a bit. But they were going to spend it one way or the other. Wakefield, Dice-K, even Beckett and Buchholz…didn’t know what you would get from each of them.
He pitched ok his first year. Nothing spectacular, ERA was about a half a run higher than usual. But decent enough. Then he completely sucked in 2011. Blamed injury. Of course. And it turned out he was hurt. But why pitch if you are hurt that bad? To prove “toughness”? Stupid. Came back and obviously contributed to a World Series winner last year.
But all his actions spoke volumes. Always making faces on the mound. Showing up teammates when they didn’t make a play he thought they should (although his teammates always inexplicably backed him). Surly with the press when they asked relevant questions. Etc. Then this year making noise about retiring instead of playing for the 500k HE SIGNED for. Then saying he would in St. Louis right off the bat. Enough of that joker. Good riddance.
*Glad to see Carl Crawford still whining about his Boston experience. Hey Carl, no one forced you to take that ridiculous contract. You could have said “no”. I know the chances of that were slim and none, since the money was just stupid. But he could have. Something tells me his Dodger experience isn’t much better…well, I guess they don’t care out there similar to Tampa. But he’s atrocious out there too. Just shut up.
*Great to see John Farrell still managing like he is in the World Series. Or that he has a chance this year still. The Sox bring up guys, he is afraid to use them. Corey Brown has been on the roster for over a week and he can’t even hit for the pitcher in any game. Probably only played Dan Butler because Christian Vazquez played 19 innings the night before. Jackie Bradley Jr. is glued to the bench. Will Middlebrooks has not played much recently, until Farrell decided to essentially bench JBJ and moved Brock Holt to CF. Daniel Nava is playing just about every day. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara are still overworked.
Listen, I understand Farrell (and the team) want to win games. But even though JBJ is 0 for his last million, he should be playing every day the rest of the year. And even though I am just about off the bandwagon on Will, he needs to play every day too. Play Butler more to see if he can play even a smidge. Throw some young pitchers in 8th and 9th inning situations to see if they can cut it. You know what you have in Nava. Let other guys play and develop. Or not develop. But let’s keep them out there.
*It’s been several days since the Patriots’ first exhibition game. Needed this much time to digest that atrocity. I think we’ve all heard Ryan Mallett being torn to shreds on the radio and in print. Some of it is well deserved. He has been here for now 4 exhibition seasons and he never looks like he gets better. Granted, he never gets game reps. But still. Thought they may have had a steal when they drafted him in the 3rd round. Looks doubtful now. We shall see what happens this week.
I thought Jimmy Garoppolo certainly sparked the team. But let’s not go overboard. It was the 2nd half of the first exhibition game against scrubs, one of whom may or may not be at my door in 2 or 3 weeks delivering my Chinese food. I can tell you that I can’t wait to see more though.
Thankfully, most of the starters took the night off. Not so thankfully, the reserves looked like crap. Hope they go on the upswing.
There’s really no point in analyzing that particular game anymore. Long way to go. Jeez, they cut 3 guys the other day and signed 3 tight ends. None of those 3 are going to make the roster I imagine. Just trying to cover the position until the regular season. And block enough so the QB doesn’t get killed. They also made two (very) minor trades today. Roster will continue to be in flux until even after Week One, when vets can be signed and not have to guarantee their salaries.
Up next? Part II. Some unexpected topics. I can promise you that…
…since everyone else is doing it. Kinda early for me though really. Since I haven’t seen any practices or any preseason games (yes, I watch them!), I don’t know the difference between Cameron Fleming and Darius Fleming or who the hell guys like Wilson Van Hooser or L.T. Tuipulotu are. Plus there are always are a couple of undrafted guys that come out of nowhere (see Kenbrell Thompkins), guys that are highly touted for what they do on the practice field but are stiffs (see Zach Sudfeld) or guys that get cut from other teams at the end of camp being added (perhaps Benjarvus Green-Ellis coming back this year?). Among other circumstances, including 4 games worth of injuries to factor into. But here goes anyway…the players marked with (L) I would consider a lock at this point:
QB: Tom Brady (L), Jimmy Garoppolo (L), Ryan Mallett:
Billy B has cut high picks before, but as bad as the reports about Jimmy have been, doubtful it will be him this year. I’m hesitant to make Mallett a lock for a couple of reasons. First, the Patriots rarely carry 3 QB’s. Second, I still feel like they could make a trade involving him at some point during the preseason…if he shows well.
RB: Stevan Ridley (L), Shane Vereen (L), James White (L), Brandon Bolden:
People that think Ridley is going to get cut are delusional. He still can’t catch, but he remains the best back on the roster. If he doesn’t fumble (BIG “if”, I know), he could have another year like 2012. There is no “big” back likely to make the roster either. Maybe Bolden, but he is not a threat for main back duties. Bolden makes it here because of special teams and he has some RB ability. But if someone like Green-Ellis becomes available, I wonder if Bolden is gone. Also if one of the undrafted kids (Roy Finch, Stephen Houston or 1st year player Jonas Gray) shows well. There is a lot of love for James White, but I am not going to get too excited yet. We’ve been there before. Vereen will play a ton, but he will also get hurt. You can pretty much count on that.
WR: Julian Edelman (L), Danny Amendola (L), Kenbrell Thompkins (L), Josh Boyce (L), Matthew Slater (L), Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson:
Yup, there is room for all 7. Especially since Slater doesn’t really count. Have to put him somewhere though. Don’t have Dobson as a lock for the simple reason that I would not be shocked to see him start the year on the PUP list. Would allow them some more room for another body. Plus, if I’m not mistaken, he had his surgery later than expected and would give him more recovery time. Amendola will get one more chance to prove dependable. I believe he can be cut after this season with no salary cap implications, so this is kind of make or break for him. One of the reasons Boyce sticks too. Hard to believe they would axe him after a year too. Don’t know which way to go on LaFell. They gave him a big bonus, but you have to wonder why a team with no WRs (Carolina) would let him walk. Jeremy Gallon was drafted, but he likely ends up staying on PUP or the practice squad.
TE: Rob Gronkowski (L), Michael Hoomanawanui (L), James Develin:
Hoo-man is dinged up I guess, but he really is the only other suitable choice behind Gronk. Feel like Develin makes it as TE/FB combo. But there are a couple of young TE’s in Asa Watson and Justin Jones that have some promise…they say anyway. If the Pats feel like they cannot sneak these guys onto the practice squad, maybe one of them takes Develin’s spot. DJ Williams is also lurking, but feel like they could re-sign him quickly if needed. Hasn’t been a lot of demand for his services.
OL: Nate Solder (L), Logan Mankins (L), Ryan Wendell (L), Dan Connolly (L), Sebastian Vollmer (L), Marcus Cannon (L), Cameron Fleming (L), Jon Halapio (L), Joe Kline (L), Bryan Stork (L):
Again, room for all 10 exists. No one knows what’s wrong with Stork, but he is injured and has missed some practices. People are quick to write off Wendell and Connolly, but these guys have been around and have positional flexibility. There is room under the cap for them. The 3 draftees (Stork, Fleming, Halapio) may have promise, but probably aren’t ready. Cannon has impressed at times and Kline showed well last year. But I feel like Wendell and Connolly both stick, especially now that Stork is “behind”. Chris Barker was carried for all 16 games last year and if they want to make a spot for him, then maybe one of them goes. But my sense is that if Barker showed them anything last year, they wouldn’t have drafted 3 linemen this year. With injuries though, all 11 could stick somehow.
Defense and specialists to follow…
Continuing on from the last post…filling out the defense, special teams and the various “lists”:
- C. Jones–L
* No one has seen anything at all from Bequette yet. But even though Bill has no problem cutting high draft choices, he may get one more year to prove himself. Feel like he gets a spot because of that. There’s a depth issue here too, as no one knows what to expect out of Benard or Francis, though the Pats seem to be high on the both. Hoping that Chandler takes the next step up.
*Thin. That’s an understatement. Makes you wonder why they let Love and Deaderick go so easily a long time ago. I know they expected Armstead to make some noise here, but who knows if he would? Vellano is the 4th DT, but there were really no other choices. Unless you count Cunningham, who played a little in that spot last year. But he’s been MIA and I’m guessing he ends up on IR. Not a big loss anyway. So Vellano started last night, guess that gives him a leg up. There will be some action here in the next week or so.
*Another somewhat thin group, but the way I see it, Ninkovich and Benard can play a LB-type role as well, so there is some depth there. Guys like Koutouvides and Rivera could likely be signed later (especially after Week 1, where some contract guarantees go out the window). Possibly even Tarpinian, who never went anywhere last year when released and was able to land back on the practice squad. The same will probably happen this year. At least the upper end talent seems to be strong here.
*Not sure how completely healthy Dennard is, or what the status is going forward about his overall availability. But feel like he will still factor into the mix, even though Arrington apparently will go back to starting in the regular defense…at least for now. I really wanted to cut Dowling. But based on the fact that he is still around (though apparently still injured…surprise!), I really feel like they will keep him active and give him one more shot. Wanted to cut Cole too, but with the uncertainty around Dennard and Dowling, and for his special teams value, felt he will find a way onto the roster…at least until there was a better option available.
- A. Wilson
- T. Wilson
*People keep trying to get rid of Gregory, but he is clearly the 2nd best option back there now…scary as that sounds. Harmon is no great shakes it appears, but he is a 3rd rounder this year, so he sticks. I have some questions about Adrian Wilson however. I think he makes it, but I think the impact that he will have will be much less than what fans expected…or at least hoped for. Tavon Wilson seems like a 2nd round bust from a year ago. It was said at some point last year that he could surprise people. But I have heard nothing but negative things about him this year. He should get one more year, simply because again, there are really no options behind him. But he is far from safe.
- Gostkowski (K)–L
- Mesko (P)–L
- D. Aiken (LS)–L
*Gostkowski has had some trouble it appears this preseason. But that could be partly due to the whole operation (snapper/holder) and not just him. Most teams bring in another kicker in camp, to ease the burden at the very least. But the Pats did not. He is secure. Mesko is in the final year of his contract and Ryan Allen is/will be much cheaper. Plus Allen is an accomplished college punter. But if there was a true competition in the preseason, Mesko still won. Plus, Mesko has experience as a holder, Allen does not. I think they like Allen, but not enough to give him the job…yet. I think they try and put him on the practice squad. Yes, a punter on the practice squad. I believe the Pats have done it before. They have another LS in camp (Zupancic), not sure why in this case though.
*Cunningham hasn’t been around and I am not sure if they would just release him instead. But I suppose if the option is there to put him on IR, they would. Ebner hasn’t been around either and this could conveniently be a “redshirt” year for him too, since he hasn’t played much football in the past. He has some ability and would be worth keeping around. Grissom left the game the other night and went right to the locker room. Which doesn’t seem good. Don’t know much about him, but one scribe had him making the 53 before the last game, so it appears he would be worth stashing on IR.
*I believe the rules for this list are the same as the PUP, where these guys would be on the shelf for 6 weeks, then be eligible to practice and then a decision would be made on whether to activate them, put them on season-ending IR, or release them. Armstead signed for decent dough, so putting him here is a no-brainer. Harrison they say has decent tools, but a checkered past. No harm in leaving him here as well.
Physically Unable to Perform-(1):
*Always a chance he makes the 53 and plays in something like Week 4. I have to believe the Pats proceed cautiously here. Bill always likes to keep his options open as well, as far as keeping control of as many players as he possibly can for as long as he can. Gronk may be a different case however, since he is a difference-maker (while in the past, they have used the PUP list for depth-type guys, it has seemed). But I think they play it safe to start.
- Buchanan (DE)
- Beauharnais (LB)
- K. Aiken (WR)
- Tarpinian (LB)
- R. Allen (P)
- Winn (RB)
- Reserve OL #1 (Kline, McDonald, Patterson, Schwab, Stankiewitch)
- Reserve OL #2 (Kline, McDonald, Patterson, Schwab, Stankiewitch)
*There is always the chance the top 2 make the 53, at the expense of someone like Bequette, T. Wilson, Cole or someone of that nature. But since they were low picks, maybe they feel they can sneak them through the the practice squad. They seem to have some affinity for Aiken, and he can play special teams, but there is no room at WR for him now. He missed the last game, so there is also the possibility he lands on IR. Tarpinian was here last year, so it is likely they could keep him here if they want. I think they’d like Allen to be here, but there is always a chance he gets claimed. The last 3 are total guesses. The reality is, they will probably have 4 guys from the current camp make it down to the squad and getting the 4 others from the rest of the leagues’ cuts.
Just for fun, here are the 9 guys I don’t think will make it to the next game. Total crapshoot, we shall see how many I can get right:
- Bartholomew (FB)
- Davis (S)
- Haggerty (WR)
- Landi (TE)
- Lewis (CB)
- White (DT)
- Winn (RB)
- Zupancic (LS)
- Grissom to IR
*I didn’t remember seeing many of these guys even during extreme scrub time the other night, so it seems convenient to pick them. White was out there, and they may opt to keep a guy like him just so guys like Wilfork and Kelly don’t have to play against the Giants. That’s why I see all of the 5 reserve offensive lineman sticking through this cut. And corners like Justin Green and Brandon Jones too. At this stage of the roster shaping, Grissom may have to pass through waivers to land on IR (like Mattes, Moe & Tyronne Green did, who are already on IR), so the Pats may opt to pick someone else instead in order to not risk losing him. And if a veteran like Edelman, Blount or Adrian Wilson truly is not going to make the team, they may opt to show them respect and cut them now, to give them a better chance of sticking somewhere else. But to me that is doubtful and it is probably too late for the “respect” angle anyway.