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Leftover Weekend Nuggets…

…some random thoughts on recent events, once again, in no particular order:

*Do we even need to talk about the actual New England Patriot win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday night?

Not really.  But I will say a few things.

A little surprising on how easy the win was.  Isn’t Pittsburgh supposed to be a prime contender in the AFC this season?

The defense looked pretty damn good, and that was even playing without linebacker Kyle Van Noy.  There seems to be a lot of bodies out there that can contribute, that’s for sure.

The offense could have been crisper.  I mean, four field goals from Stephen Gostkowski is probably at least two too many.  Though I will take the fact that he made all of them.  He has been shaky at times recently.  And the new holder, punter Jake Bailey, hasn’t always inspired confidence thus far.

Sony Michel supposedly looked very good in training camp.  He did look very good in the very little he played in the preseason.  He did not look so hot in this game, however.  Let’s hope this changes.

But all of a sudden I am not worried about this receiving corps.  And that’s not because of the guy we will talk more about later.  I feel pretty good about Julian Edelman, of course.  I have this gut feeling that Josh Gordon will stay out of trouble this season.  If the team keeps Phillip Dorsett active, I actually feel ok about him.  I mean, I don’t think Dorsett is going for almost 100 yards and 2 TDs every game…let’s not be ridiculous.  But I think if the team doesn’t bury him now, he is trusted by Tom Brady and can be useful.  And Antoni…ok, let’s get back to him in a bit.

I think the team will miss Rob Gronkowski, don’t get me wrong.  But I am not as concerned about the tight end position as most.  There will just be a whole lot more blocking out of that group.  But I think Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse can make at least a few grabs in the passing game.

I would worry more about the offensive line.  But in reality, the Pats have such a soft schedule the first half of the season, I think by Game 7 or 8, Dante Scarnecchia and the boys will have something decent figured out.  Even if that means bringing in more bodies still.

Ok, that was more than a few things.  In the end, it was a good win.  But I am actually not going too crazy about it.  Pittsburgh may not actually be as good as we think.  Plus, I think we all thought that the Pats would be like 7-1 or 8-1 to start out the season…certainly no worse than 6-2.

It may not even be worth commenting more until we actually get some real games…especially the 19-0 talk.  It’s waaaaaaay too early for that nonsense.

*Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski got fired late Sunday night.

Questionable timing?  Perhaps.

But I think that is something else we all saw coming.  There has been some talk that maybe Dombrowski “asked for it” because he knew it too and wanted to get a jump on other opportunities that may be available in a few weeks.

I’m guessing the Sox just wanted to bury it, especially after ownership subsequently has refused to talk about it.  That last part is kind of bizarre.

Either way, is it the right move?  Most likely.  There are some moves to be made this offseason and Dombrowski may not be the right dude to be in charge of those.  Primarily because one of the moves COULD be trading Mookie Betts.  And a move of that nature will involve most likely getting a package of prospects…not exactly DD’s strong suit.  He’s better known for stripping down a farm system for major league talent.

And, by the way, I am not advocating trading Mookie.  So pipe down.  But the reality is that if he doesn’t want to sign an extension this upcoming offseason, you can’t lose a guy like that for nothing the following offseason.  So you HAVE to investigate trading him.  I’ve been pretty clear about this for quite some time now.  I’m not looking to run the guy out of town.  I hope he re-signs…even if it is for a gazillion dollars.  John Henry has the dough, after all.

In any event, how much blame does Dombrowski get for this year?  A piece for sure.  But I don’t think it is as much as people want to lay on him.

Not getting a closer has been beaten to death when pointing fingers at DD.  And that’s valid, for sure.  He didn’t have to re-sign Craig Kimbrel for a jillion dollars.  But getting SOMEONE that had ninth inning experience would have been nice.

But what else?

People like to point to re-signing Nathan Eovaldi to 17 mil per (4 years) and Steve Pearce for 6 mil this year.  And that hurt them acquiring more bullpen help.

I say that’s bogus.  Pearce was short money and he SHOULD have formed a nice platoon at first base with Mitch Moreland for this year.  Then they both go elsewhere next season.  It is a lot of money for Nate, who never stays healthy and doesn’t have a tremendous track record (other than the playoffs last year).  But someone was going to give him some dough.  And having some starting rotation depth is never a bad thing.

To top it all off, you hear more about those contracts now that both of those guys barely played this year.  Only a few naysayers on them when they were handed out.

The Chris Sale extension?  Stupid.  But I think most of us would have given him good money over 3 years (instead of the 5 he got) though, no?  And that extension starts next year, so it has nothing to do with his performance this season.  Plus…I think ownership may have had quite a bit of say in handing that one out.  My opinion.

The bullpen?  Kind of in shambles.  But doesn’t that describe the bullpen for many major league teams?  And isn’t that why these guys are in the bullpen in the first place?  They can’t start, they can’t close and they are inconsistent from year to year.

Matt Barnes is no closer, but he should be a capable bullpen arm.  So should be guys like Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and maybe even Steven Wright.  But Wright got hurt again and Hembree missed a chunk of time as well.  Relying on Ryan Brasier was probably foolish, but then you had guys like Marcus Walden, Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez pitch pretty well instead.  Typical of the year to year inconsistencies of most bullpen arms.

The point is, Dombrowski could have gotten more bullpen arms for sure.  But would they have even worked?

I suppose the fact that he did nothing at the trade deadline may have been one final straw.  I think he should have sold.  Others think he should have bought.  But in the end, he sat on his hands.  The consensus is probably that he should have picked one way or the other and made something happen.

But I don’t believe he should have the lions share of the blame.  Manager Alex Cora then?  Some to him as well.  He hasn’t been as good as last year, but how could he top that?  We need to realize that he is just a second year manager and will make some mistakes.  I think he has acknowledged a great deal of the mistakes he has made.  He will presumably get better the more experience he gets.  I’m not blaming him a ton either.

This all lies on the players.  Some of them are putting up gaudy numbers.  But SOMETHING has been missing all year.  There is plenty of talent on this team and it should have made the playoffs.  Injuries to Sale, Eovaldi and David Price, of course, did not help.  But this roster should still be a lot better.

And Dombrowski put together that roster.  So I guess it’s all his fault…

*So the Red Sox are 9 games out of the wild card with 17 games to go.

It’s over.  We know that.  We have known that for a while.

But you still have to compete until you are officially eliminated.  Use all your best players…even if you have to use 8-10 bullpen arms because that’s all you have.

Not sure why Xander Bogaerts wasn’t in the lineup last night, but whatever…

That being said, once the team is officially eliminated from the playoff race, since the team dumped Dombrowski early, maybe they can dump a few more dudes early too?

I mean, why are we bothering with guys like Gorkys Hernandez, Chris Owings and Josh A. Smith for?  They can also let Moreland and Rick Porcello walk soon for all I care.

Let guys like Darwinzon and Marco Hernandez, Travis Lakins, Sam Travis, Trevor Kelley, Mike Shawaryn and Bobby Poyner play more.  Call up some dudes that they have to add to the 40-man roster this offseason and give them a taste.  They may not even be overwhelmed since there are plenty of minor leaguers in the majors at this time of year.

And why no Rusney Castillo?  Gorkys, Rusney, what’s the difference?  Rusney’s salary won’t hurt the luxury tax at this time of year.  May as well see if you can get SOMETHING in return for that investment.

Even if it’s a couple of late September hits.

And…I’m fairly certain I am the only one thinking about this…

*Last, but certainly not least?  Antonio Brown!!

If I still have you after 1,500 plus words, thanks for being here!  If not, well then I guess I successfully “buried the lead”.  Or is it “buried the lede”?  Either way, I’m not sure “successfully” is the proper word either.  Let’s move on…

I’m actually not going to talk much about him here.  I mean, everyone else has been talking about him non-stop.  How much more can I really add?

In a football sense, I have decided that I am ALL IN with this dude.

Make no mistake, the guy is an arseclown.  The stuff he was pulling this summer up to and including this past weekend has certainly been juvenile.  You know the list of stuff he pulled in Oakland, so we don’t need to rehash it here.  He apparently has been doing that kind of stuff his whole career.  Including the videotaping stuff in the locker room.  And how last year ended in Pittsburgh…etc., etc., etc.

I don’t THINK  he will get away with that stuff here.  I mean, one never knows, but I would think before any kind of nonsense would get to Bill Belichick, guys like Brady, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Dont’a Hightower, etc. would squash most things.

The Pats paid Brown a lot of money, so he will get more than one chance.  It’s not a risk free move, as some have been saying, but for one year it is worth the gamble.  As fans, we just have to hope he keeps in line for this one year.

Listen, I’m never going to hold any athlete as a role model.  Most of these guys are total jackwagons.  Even Brady can act bizarre at times…you know, the concussion water, avocado ice cream, etc.

I make no apologies for adding great players.  None.  Just like I make no apologies for the Patriots winning ways the past couple of decades.  People forget (or don’t even know) the doormats they were their entire existence before then.

People also compare Brown to past Patriot “headaches” such as Randy Moss, Corey Dillion, Adalius Thomas, et al.  They forget that there is one dude on the roster right now that has the potential to be a loose cannon…Michael Bennett.  There’s probably more in that locker room as well.  They just aren’t a superstar like Brown.  And as good a player as Bennett is, he’s not at Brown’s level either…I don’t think anyway.

You’re gonna have some crazies in any locker room, no matter what team you are.

What’s one more?

UNLESS…the story that broke last night about Brown being accused of rape is true.

Sadly and unfortunately, I am skeptical of a lot of those stories, especially when they come out of the blue like this one did.  And I am hoping that the story is not true of course.

But what if it is?

Now we are talking Tyreek Hill territory.  And that’s not somewhere you want to be.

As I said above, Brown has done some juvenile things over the years that kind of makes him look like a jackass.  So he’s kind of an idiot.  But is any of the stuff that has gone public really all that harmful?  Probably not.  He’s just kind of immature and pretty much a tool.

But if these new allegations are true, that changes EVERYTHING.  And Brown should be in jail, not ever on the field at Gillette Stadium.

Also, unfortunately, we may not know the truth until Brown has already played his year in New England.  So at this point maybe the only thing we can do is accept him as a player on the field.  Or at least try to.  Until that truth comes out.

Won’t be the first time this is the case for an athlete.  Which is another sad state of affairs…

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Told Ya…

…a month ago.  The Boston Red Sox should have sold at the trading deadline.  Even spelled out specific names that should go.

That 5-2 run in that first half of the 14 game stretch against the Tampa Bay Rays & New York Yankees that wrapped around the deadline?  Had a lot of people jumping back on board.  Not me.  But I admit, I was teetering.  And I wrote about that too.  Based on the talent factor of this team, perhaps a few bullpen moves at the deadline would springboard this team going forward?

Listen, the Sox are my team.  As much as they had underachieved from the beginning of the season until the trade deadline, I truly did not want them to sell off parts and kind of give up on the season.  I mean, I want this team competing for a World Series every single year.  They have the resources (and allegedly the front office and coaching talent) to put together a great team every year.  And they actually SHOULD have a great team this year, closer or no closer.

Watching them play listlessly from April through June led me to believe the best business decision would be to sell at the deadline.  In my head, I still felt that was the best move at the end of July.  But my heart had me holding onto hope after that 5-2 run (of course this was right after losing 2 of 3 to the wretched Baltimore Orioles, so how rational was even I at that point?).

Boy were all the optimists wrong.  And the semi-optimists like myself were also wrong.  This team simply quit after the deadline.  0-7 in the last seven against the Rays and Yanks.  Even had trouble hanging on in the first game last night against the pathetic Kansas City Royals.

Popular opinion seems to be that the team has kind of quit because the front office kind of quit by not acquiring help at the deadline.

True, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski did zero on July 31st.  He only added Andrew Cashner beforehand.

But honestly, do you blame him??

Realistically, Dombrowski should have sold off the parts at the deadline.  Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Rick Porcello, perhaps even Brock Holt are going to be free agents after the season and I would say are unlikely to be back.  Jackie Bradley Jr. stinks but will still get over 10 mil in arbitration next year.  No one thinks Mookie Betts wants to be here after 2020, so perhaps he could get a haul.  J.D. Martinez may opt-out after 2019 (though his numbers are down and injuries are up, so maybe not?).  The minor league system is bare.  The bullpen is putrid, would an arm or two really help?

As bad as the bullpen has been, the gazillion dollar rotation has been just short of a disaster.  Chris Sale has been a colossal disappointment.  David Price had pitched well for most of the season, but ever since he went after announcer and former Red Sox Dennis Eckersley kind of needlessly, he has gone in the tank.  Nathan Eovaldi has been hurt and now is in the bullpen.  Porcello has been atrocious.  Eduardo Rodriguez has been pretty good for a while, but he also started out bad.

Maybe the bullpen would be better if the starters could go more than 4-5 innings a game?  And we wouldn’t have had to see Colton Brewer, Josh A. Smith, Ryan Weber, Mike Shawaryn, et al, as much as we have?

It’s hard to repeat.  And this team did not have “IT” this year for whatever reason.  Blame Cora and his approach this spring.  Blame Dombrowski for not getting a closer.  Blame the players’ attitudes.  Blame the schedule…no, not that…nor the umps.  And don’t blame John Henry, believe it or not.  He spent plenty of money on this team.  I don’t blame him for not wanting to go over the luxury tax either.  In other years, I may have blamed him.  Not this year.

Also, look at the landscape.  The Yankees have 100 guys on the DL, yet they still keep trucking along.  Need to look no further than Sunday night when they rolled out their AAA lineup and still pummeled Price and the Sox.  The Houston Astros are a juggernaut.  The Minnesota Twins are having a great year and Tampa and Oakland are up there as well.  People are waiting for all three to go away.  But they aren’t.  Not to mention the Cleveland Indians have heated up and are squarely in the mix.

Based on all of the above, if you were Henry or Dombrowski, would you have emptied the cupboard for an arm or two or some other “help”?

Dombrowski’s press conference may have rankled some fans.  But the more I thought about it, the more I was on board with him.

He said stuff like “if we were better in the standings, we would have been more aggressive”.  “We like the guys we have”.  “This team should be better”.  Paraphrasing, but I think we all got the gist.

The Sox are on target to play in the one game wild card tilt if of course they even get there.  When your starters have been so bad, what if they get to that game and one of them gets shelled and then the team is done?  Was it worth making trades at the deadline?

Most would say “yes”.  I may even say “yes” in most years.

But not this year.  It’s just a different feel.

I do understand completely also how the team didn’t sell off parts at the deadline as well.  Dombrowski and Henry would have been SKEWERED by the fans if they had done so.  Plus, this team should be in the mix as currently constructed, closer or no closer.

The offense has a ton of talent, even with Betts, J.D. and Andrew Benintendi slightly underachieving.  Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez have blossomed.  Brock Holt is capable at 2nd.  Michael Chavis has emerged.  You can live with Bradley if all these guys are going.

The rotation should be one of the better ones around.  Contrary to popular belief, there are a few useful arms in that bullpen.

This team should have still been able to make some noise, even without any additions at the deadline.

Dombrowski was in a little bit of a tough spot.

I know I wasn’t in love with the available closer options.  Does anyone think that journeyman Shane Greene is really any better than, say, Brandon Workman?  I personally don’t think so.  But emptying the farm for Greene or Kirby Yates or Kenny Giles?  I am ok with not doing that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe they should have re-signed Craig Kimbrel last offseason.  Even though he was shaky in the postseason, he’s still elite in the regular season.  His contract demands were insane though.  Of course, they could have spent other peoples money (Pearce, Eovaldi, others) on Kimbrel.  But then again, NO ONE gave Kimbrel what he wanted.  Initially anyway.  So who knows?

One thing we do know, the Sox will get hot again against some weaker competition in the next few weeks.  With this team, you can almost set your watch to it.

Does that mean they will be back in the race?  Well, they are only 5.5 games out of the wild card, so I guess we can’t rule that out.  There are 47 games left after all.

And yes, I do expect them to tease us once again.

But I am not expecting much more than that.  A tease.

I think it’s actually time to get ready for the “Dustin Pedroia Farewell Tour” when rosters expand in September.  Sad to say…not that I will be looking forward to it.  But Sox fans will eat that up, guaranteed…and it’s sure to sell some tickets anyway…

So What Do We Do Now?

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is a little more than 24 hours away.  What are the Boston Red Sox going to do?  Anything?

Or was Andrew Cashner their big (and only) move?

Welp, I really don’t know what they are going to do.  Does anyone?  Furthermore, would you believe that I am on the fence about actually doing ANYTHING?!

I know, I know, 28 days ago, I was clearly not on the fence.  I wanted to sell.  And you know what?  Part of me still wants to sell.  Even with the Sox a mere one game out of the wild card race.

I just don’t feel that this team has “it” this year.  Inconsistency all year long, can I ever really buy in?

That 5-2 mark on the first half of a killer stint against the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees was nice, real nice (although sweeping the Yanks would have been even nicer…thanks Chris Sale!).

But who is to say they don’t go 2-5 on the last half of that?  I mean, before the 5-2 run, they lost 2 of 3 against Baltimore, the worst team in the majors at the time (they are still bad, just second worst now).

I am not sold.  Truth be told, I am not sure I ever will be.,

Not unlike the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  I was NEVER sold on them, and then they went out and won the World Series.

The big difference?  This 2019 Sox team has more talent top to bottom.  I mean, is it even close?  Not really.  Besides the bullpen maybe…and DEFINITELY the 2013 closer, Koji Uehara, who was unhittable that year, as opposed to all the flotsam closing games for the Sox in 2019.

So we all really SHOULD have some confidence in this team, despite its ups and downs this season.  But again, I am not there yet.

But if President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski goes out and adds a closer and maybe another late inning bullpen arm?

Then you may get me on board.

Barely.

But I may be back on the ship.

Publicly, Dombrowski says they aren’t actively looking for help.  They don’t want to go over the luxury tax, blah, blah, blah…

But privately, one would have to believe that he is doing his job.  He HAS to be, no?

The most popular name connected to the Sox now is closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets.

How do I feel about Diaz?  Welp, he was very good for the Seattle Mariners his first three years in the majors, including being lights out in 2018.  But he has apparently been just a little bit better than atrocious for the Mets this season.  Harsh analysis probably, yeah.  But the numbers aren’t very good.

One thought that doesn’t escape my mind is that he was pitching in relative anonymity in Seattle.  Now he is pitching in the big city (yeah, albeit the Mets, not Yanks…but still…The Big Apple) and not pitching well.  In the relatively average National League East division.

Is there more to that story?

Not sure, but worth thinking about.  If Diaz is not going to hold up in the pressure cooker that is Boston, well, it would be good to know before the Sox overpay for him.  And if they get him, they no doubt will have to overpay.  Specifically, because he is cheap and under team control for several more years.

What does “overpay” mean?  Just saw something earlier that the Mets may ask for Andrew Benintendi because they want Major League guys in return.  Yikes!  Benny may never develop into an All-Star, but he should be a pretty good outfielder for years to come.  If it’s Benny for Diaz and others?  I suppose I wouldn’t rule that out.  There should be plenty of offense for the Sox to survive without Benny…even if Jackie Bradley Jr. plays every day and Sandy Leon plays more than he should.

Prospects?  All…Day…Long.  Prospects for “proven” Major League Players should be done 98% of the time.  Especially when the organization may not have any “no-doubters” as prospects.  Bobby Dalbec, a third baseman by trade with pop, is currently rated the Sox’ #2 prospect.  But he is 24 years old, this is his 6th year in the minors, is hitting .230 at AA Portland…and of course would be blocked by the blossoming Rafael Devers at third by the team that plays at Fenway Park.

Dalbec is one of the popular names being talked about, but would the Mets even want him?  Not so sure.  And he is the teams’ number TWO prospect!

Give them any pitching prospects…most I have never heard of.  But also they seem to get hurt anyway (see:  Kopech, Michael; Kelly, Casey; Espinoza, Anderson; Groome, Jay, etc.).

Tristan Casas seems to be an interesting name.  He is listed as the #1 prospect.  But who really knows about him?

Michael Chavis?  On the fence.  Once again.  Part of me thinks the same as what I was told by some jamoke yesterday (“I’d drive Chavis to wherever he gets traded to.  Once he gets popped for PEDs again, he’s done…”  I am paraphrasing, of course).  The PED thing is certainly real.  And he wasn’t good the first several years in the minors, has a breakout year, then gets popped for juicing.  Certainly curious.  But perhaps he “figured things out” and “grew into his body more”…and all that nonsense?  Can’t rule it out.  Wouldn’t be the first player ever to do that.

Make no mistake, if the Red Sox land Diaz (or any closer worth his salt), they WILL overpay.

Are there other options besides Diaz?  I suppose.  Two of the most popular names on the trade market in its entirety are Ken Giles and Kirby Yates.

Giles??  No thanks.  Wildly inconsistent in his career and now has a bum elbow.  For the price the Jays will want, absolutely not.

Yates??  Also, no thanks.  He was a journeyman for years, had a good 2017, a very good 2018 (both primarily in middle relief) and is lights out this year as a closer.  But…all in San Diego.  Talk about no pressure.  And the haul of players for him could be astronomical, based on the circumstances.  All things considered, I wouldn’t love the move.  My guess is that he would come to Boston and the clock would strike midnight.  My opinion anyway.

I’m sure there are other bullpen guys out there that we don’t know about…Will Smith from the Giants is another that would come at a cost.  Last I saw though San Francisco was thinking about not moving him.  But there will be others.  Less effective for sure.  But less costly.  And probably better options than some of the guys out in the Sox bullpen right now?  Goes without saying they should be able to get someone better than Ryan Weber or Mike Shawaryn or Josh A. Smith.  But if they buy, I’d like them to get a closer AND a guy better than Heath Hembree or Marcus Walden.

Too much to ask?  Probably.  The Sox may not have the assets to do so anyway.  And of course they will be crying about the luxury tax too.  Boo-hoo.

But if they want me back on board, this is what they need to do, at a minimum.  Nathan Eovaldi is not the answer in the ‘pen, though when he gets back on track he can’t hurt.  Keep him in the mix with the Matt Barnes’ and Brandon Workmans’ and maybe again the Ryan Brasiers’ (Brasier hasn’t been great this year, but he hasn’t been awful.  His demotion seemed a bit rash.  As a 6th/7th inning guy you could do a lot worse).

Because. let’s face it, there is no chance in hell the Boston Red Sox are going to sell.  As much as I was kind of hoping for it a month ago.

Your move Dave…

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