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Mookie!

FINALLY.  Mookie Betts has been traded.  Officially.

Leave it to Red Sox ownership.  Ask for two players they know are already injured in the initial Mookie Betts/David Price deal.  Then when they find out they are REALLY injured (one of them anyway), proceed to hold up all the teams involved in the deal by demanding more compensation.  And yes, I blame ownership and not Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.  The owners were the impetus for the deal, no two ways about it.

Actually, come to think of it, former GM Dave Dombrowski would have taken the injured players, even if they were more seriously injured than previously thought.  Then have the chance to back out, but say, “nah, we are good!”  Drew Pomeranz deal anyone?

It’s absolutely mind boggling how this ownership group, you know, the ones that oversaw a team that ended an 86 year World Series drought, then proceeded to win three more titles under their stewardship as well, can be so despised.  How’s that for a run-on sentence?!  The answer is:  cry poor mouth when you have more money than you know what to do with.

Listen, when one runs a business, you don’t want your costs spiraling out of control.  In this particular case, it’s paying an incredible amount of luxury tax.

But the Red Sox have the money.  They print their own money for Chrissakes.  Oh, and they charge an arm and TWO legs for EVERYTHING that revolves around the local nine.  Please buy a brick everyone!!

I cringe when I think of primary owner John Henry once calling the Sox a “small market team”.  Sigh…

The Sox could have gotten under the luxury tax by trading the useless Jackie Bradley Jr. and assorted other flotsam and jetsam.

But they chose their best player, and when all are healthy, their second best pitcher.  While eating half of that pitchers’ remaining salary.

For some fans, that is hard to swallow.

Me?

I actually don’t mind the deal.  Despite the fact that I too, feel like this ownership group is a bunch of arseclowns.  And that includes the spirit of Larry Lucchino, who was around for the early days.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  I was never trying to run Mookie Betts out of town.

All I know is that if I worked for the Sox and I felt that I could not re-sign Mookie before he hit free agency, I would explore all deals for him.  I do not want to lose him for a mere compensatory pick in return.

Betts was hell bent on getting to free agency.  And that is every bit his right to do so.  He presumably would be looking for the biggest contract.  Again, his right.  Only a handful of teams could pay him big dollars.  But there would be teams willing to do that, that much is for sure.

My feeling is that if Mookie got to free agency, he would not be coming back.  Even if the Sox ended up opening the vault, in the end, he would have been offended that they did not do so right from the get-go.  No doubt in my mind.  He would have felt disrespected.  That’s just what happens with athletes.

He was going.  And the Sox needed to get something in return.

As an aside, I am not giving out 12 year, 420 mil contracts to ANYONE, unless his name is “Mike Trout”.  And even then it’s a lot of commitment.  If I am in charge, no matter how much dough I have at my disposal, those deals are a little too long and risky for me.  In any sport.  Sorry.  But if I am running the business no way I do that.  Then again, no way I pay JBJ 11 mil this year either.  So, there’s that.

Could they have traded Betts at the deadline and gotten a bigger haul?  In my mind that was unlikely.  Not for a mere two months of service time.  Not to mention that if the Sox are in contention (which they should be EVERY YEAR), trading your best player at that time might not be received kindly by Red Sox Nation.

Poor Bloom.  He came into this sorry situation.  Once again ownership didn’t help by publicly announcing their desire (mandate?) to get under the luxury tax limit.  Tying Blooms’ hands a bit.  Then again, he didn’t have to take the job I guess.

But now he has to find a manager too.  Well, I guess he didn’t really have to look hard if they are just going to announce bench coach Ron Roenicke as the hire soon.  Nevermind…

The rest of the players involved?

I would have eaten 95.9 of Prices’ 96 mil remaining on his contract to get him the hell out of town.

Sorry.

This guy is a loser.  Good riddance.

Yeah, he won a couple of games in the 2018 World Series and should have been MVP.  Good for him.  The rest of his tenure other than the last two weeks of the 2018 playoffs (no one remembers he sucked early in those playoffs) was less than stellar.  Especially for 31 mil per.

Sure he had a great record in Boston.  And started out nice last season.  But the overall body of work was less than impressive…of course when you factor in what you would expect for 217 mil overall.

And the attitude?  Ugh.  Yeah, his teammates loved him.  But was that a good thing?  He got them all to gang up on former Sox pitcher and now broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.  All because Eck said he took too long in between pitches.  Or mildly criticized Eduardo Rodriguez in one of E-Rods’ starts.  Or so says Price anyway.

Please.  The subtraction of Price has me overjoyed.  I don’t care if I have to look at Ryan Weber and Hector Velasquez every five days.  I already have to look at Martin Perez every five days now.  Can Weber/Velasquez be worse?  Brian Johnson sure could be, so hopefully, he stays buried in Pawtucket.

The return?  Jury is out.

Alex Verdugo supposedly has talent.  We will see.  Just hope he doesn’t beat up a homeless guy outside Fenway after he goes 0-5 one night.  Ok, that was harsh.  But there is supposedly some “off field” stuff with him.  So we will see how all that goes.  Oh, and a back injury at 23 years old can’t be promising.

The other two guys I know zero about.  Jeter Downs may have some promise, but who knows?  This Wong dude can catch and play infield.  Nice.  But let’s see that in the majors.  By 2025 I would say.

And the “one that slipped away”?  Brusdar Graterol?

I don’t know much about him either.  Except he throws gas.  And is apparently on his way to 400 lbs.

The Twins had no problem dealing him, so maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about what he MIGHT do.

Until he goes 21-2, 2.34, 322 Ks in 2022 I guess…

Whoa…Trader Danny Is Back!

Ok, so I guess he was technically “back” when he gambled and traded the #1 overall pick in this past summer’s NBA draft.  Yes, I know Ainge wanted Jayson Tatum all along and may very well have drafted him #1 if the Celtics had stayed in that position.  And I know Danny was able to snag another potential high lottery pick due in 2018 or 2019 from the Sixers (or Lakers or Kings technically).  But since Markelle Fultz was apparently the consensus #1 pick across the league, if Fultz turns out to be a stud and Tatum turns out to be something less than that, well, there is your gamble.  We may not care that Ainge got the extra pick if Fultz is All-NBA every year.  Especially if that future pick turns into a couple of second rounders even further into the future, because of protections.  But…I am already digressing…

By now, everyone has heard of the blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers involving Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving.  It’s been about two days since the trade was consummated.  I have heard all the talking heads share their opinions.  But of course I have mine.  And at first blush…I like it a lot.

Now…I understand.  Isaiah had seemed to have found a home here in Boston.  Became a leader on the team.  Fans loved him.  Entire community loved him.  We know Danny has loved him for even longer than he has been here.  And of course put up ridiculous numbers on the court at the Gaaaaahhhden.  And on the road too, but you know what I mean.

I will always have fond memories of Isaiah in a Celtic uniform, especially from last season.  He was simply awesome.  And in my end of year column, I had decided (finally!) that I wanted him to stick around long-term and for the team to pay him, after much deliberation on what I would do when his contract expired after next season and he wanted max money.  I was always wary of giving him max dollars, but I felt had seen enough last year to convince myself he should get it.  I figured that they would add Gordon Hayward and other pieces, including whoever they drafted, continue to improve and eventually be true championship contenders once the Cleveland and Golden State “windows” passed.

But I didn’t see the Irving situation play out the way it did in Cleveland.  Of course no one did.

And then when that all went down, I figured that there was no way that Cleveland would trade Irving to its main rival in the East, despite all of the Celtics “assets” that presumably would be available.

Then it happened.  Probably more surprising than the deal itself was how quiet it went down.  Most of us heard about the potential deal around 6:00pm on Tuesday and before like 7:30pm it was all done.  How were the teams able to keep talks on the down low, especially in this day and age with social media and people always snooping around?  Threw me for a loop, I can tell you that much.

But now that I have “pre-rambled” on, let’s get to why I like this deal at the current time.  In my favorite bullet point fashion:

*Isaiah Thomas–Once again, I love IT.  But there are certain facts that you cannot dismiss.  In June, I was willing to overlook the facts to some degree, but partly because I didn’t see him getting fair value in any kind of trade.  I also felt Isaiah’s performance last season may have put the Celtics in a little bit of a bind.

The easiest facts to point at are age (29 in February), height (5’9″…or is it really 5’7″?) and injury (hip).  It’s probably not ideal to give a max contract to someone heading into their 30’s, with the beating that person takes on a nightly basis at that size…but the hip may scare me even more.  And the injury HAS to be taken into consideration here.

IT plays hard every play and certainly does take a beating every game, especially when he is firing through the lane regularly.  One would think that if there are any limitations whatsoever with that hip, it will limit Thomas’ effectiveness, perhaps severely.  Kind of obvious, I know.  But Isaiah is always jitterbugging around, stopping on a dime, contorting his body around and all that.  If the hip won’t allow him to do that, then well…and…he hasn’t had any surgery.  Maybe that is a good thing.  But maybe he is good for now and could quite possibly have to have surgery down the road anyway (a la David Price)?  We simply don’t know.

The way Thomas plays also is bound to wear him out quicker.  With Kyrie being 3 years younger and anywhere from 6-8 inches taller, there is more certainty there as well.  We don’t even have to comment on Thomas’ defense here.  Partly because I am not sure Kyrie plays much D either.  But just being that much taller is a step in the right direction anyway.

I don’t know Isaiah personally of course.  But from what I know about IT, he is most assuredly rehabbing fiercely and the hip won’t even be an issue…now or in the future.  But as I laid out a few months back, there are still a lot of questions and a lot of risk in giving Isaiah that max deal.  Now, the Celtics aren’t backed into that proverbial corner.  It’s Cleveland’s decision now.  Once LeBron takes off for the Lakers next offseason, does IT find himself on yet another team the following season?

That is another interesting angle…but one for Cavalier fans to worry about now.

*Jae Crowder–very good NBA player.  But not as great as everyone around here thinks he is.  More importantly, he is not as great as HE thinks he is.

Turned out to be a more than serviceable player after essentially being a throw-in in the Rajon Rondo to Dallas deal a few years back.  But what he really represented was kind of being a transition player in Boston.  Did anyone think he was going to be a starting small forward on a championship team in Boston down the road?  Well, I guess some people did.  I didn’t.

He would be a very useful 6th-9th man on a championship team.  But would he accept that here, after logging heavy minutes the last 2 years?  I’m not so sure.  Hayward plays his position, so there’s that.  Then there is also the fact that Jaylen Brown and Tatum also play his position.  Not enough minutes for everyone.  And the kids need to play at least a little bit to develop.

Some have said Jae could play the 4 and any of the other three could play the 2 (since Avery Bradley has also departed) at least some of the time to get everyone on the court.  Perhaps.  But to me the best course of action was to unload him.  Past playoff performances helped convince me of that as well.

Sure, Crowder has a very team-friendly contract.  But though Danny and other GMs may care about that for salary cap purposes, I don’t.  If other GM’s loved that contract as much as everyone says, when the C’s signed Hayward, why couldn’t they have gotten great value for trading Jae and maybe even hanging on to Bradley? No one seemed to be banging down the door for Crowder the player or Crowder the contract at any point…but…what do I know?

*Ante Zizic–I am not sure why they had to include Zizic in the deal.  I would think Thomas, Crowder and the Brooklyn pick should have sufficed.  That being said, I doubt he will be missed.  I have two friends, who really know their basketball, that swear Zizic is going to be something in the future.  And I heard some caller on talk radio yesterday laud him as well.  But those are the only 3 guys that are especially high on him from what I can tell.

Sure, I have seen the reports that if Ante went in the 2017 draft, he would have been a top-1o pick (he went 23rd in the 2016 draft).  But with every draft littered with top-10 busts, those reports mean nothing to me.

My take is that if he was THAT good, he would have been here last year over the likes of Tyler Zeller.  What would one more year in Europe (Turkey?!), dunking over guys at least 6 inches shorter, really accomplish?  Not sure how that would develop him more than playing some real NBA games, however limited his NBA action would have been.  Plus, if he was THAT good, shouldn’t they have taken him at #16 (where Guerschon Yabusele went) instead of waiting until #23?

We shall see…but now I will have to be rooting against him, instead of for him.

*2018 Brooklyn pick–Hated to give this up, but in an Irving deal, you probably couldn’t have avoided giving up one of the high picks.  Especially with Isaiah only having one year left on his deal and at least a little uncertainty with his hip, Crowder being really only a bench piece and the complete unknown of Zizic.  Had to give up something to get something.  I will say that there have been reports that executives around the league think Brooklyn won’t be as bad as people think and the pick won’t be as high as people think…but I am not buying into that at this juncture.  I expect the Nets to still be putrid, even if there are other teams in that mix as well.

In any event, hopefully the Lakers or Kings pick will still be a high one.  The team has Brown and Tatum developing as previous years’ #3 picks.  Irving and Hayward go forward as your two horses.  And Al Horford as the #3 for now anyway.  Maybe when his deal is done, there is an upgrade to be had there as well.  Or maybe by then, Tatum or Brown is that third dog.  There is no real reason for me to be, but I am convinced as of this second that Kyrie will sign a max deal in Boston when the time comes (ie:  when the timing is so he can make the most money).  Maybe I’m wrong.  But all that being said, I’m ok with losing the Nets pick here.

*Brad Stevens–The thing I like most about Stevens now is that I think he has the right rotation at this point.  Championship bound or not, he finally has a roster where he should pretty much only be playing 8-9 guys regular minutes…and not the 12-13 he always tries to do.

The way I see it, Horford, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes should soak up the majority of minutes at the 4/5, Hayward, Brown, Smart and Tatum at the 2/3 and Irving and Rozier at the 1.  If you want to sprinkle in a little Daniel Theis at the 4/5 for a few minutes a night to see what that’s all about, have at it.  Yabusele can redshirt this year, along with Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye.  You can break the glass in case of emergency for Shane Larkin to be a ballhandler as well.  Then the 15th spot can be Andrew White, Daniel Dixon or whoever…perhaps “Veteran Buyout player X” at the trade deadline…if that rule is still in place.  Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird, 2 of your 2nd rounders from the past draft, on two-way contracts in the G league at Maine…perfect.

Hopefully Stevens sees things in a similar manner.  No need to give guys like Gerald Green or Jonas Jerebko ANY minutes like he has in the past.  Shortening the rotation would be a great thing.  Now let’s see if he actually does it…

That about says it all.  Who predicted that of the 15 players on the roster at the end of a season where the Celtics had the #1 seed (however fraudulent that was) in the East and ended up in the Eastern Conference Finals would end up with 11 of them elsewhere a mere handful of months later?  Well, the Blowhard said anywhere from 7-9…and it was kind of obvious that at least half would go, but still…only 4 remain from last year?  Wow.  Only the fact that ANYONE gave Kelly Olynyk 4 years and 50 million may have surprised me more.

Can’t wait to get this thing rolling.  Was Kyrie only good because he played second fiddle to a legend in LeBron?  Was Isaiah only throwing in close to 30 a game because no one else was great around him?  Is Isaiah healthy?  Will the new Celtics gel quickly?  Did Danny take too big of a risk with both of his big trades?  Will Zizic be the next great Euro player?  Does Jaylen Brown take the next step?  Etc.  So many questions.  We will start to find out soon enough…

 

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