Friday, April 24, 2015

I Can't Figure Out These Red Sox

This might be the most unpredictable Red Sox team I can remember.

Joe Kelly, the "number 5" starter currently leads the starting rotation with an ERA just above 4. He was doing quite well until the 6th inning of his last start. I don't believe that his performance was as bad as his stat line. Craig Breslow immediately gave up a hit to hang two more runs on Kelly, but when Kelly handed over a bases loaded, no outs situation most of the blame still lies with Kelly.

The next lowest ERA starter is "Ace" Clay Buchholz at 4.84. Buchholz has been a complete wild card. He could throw a no-hitter or he could have a compete meltdown in the first inning. Nothing would surprise me. His opening day start was a gem against the Phillies, then he melted down for 9 earned runs against the Yankees, he gave up 11 hits but just 2 runs in 6 innings against the Orioles and last night against the Rays he threw 6 innings for just 2 hits, 1 run and 3 walks; but he was already up to 104 pitches at that point.

Next up is "number 3" starter Justin Masterson checking in with a hefty 5.74 ERA. Masterson is 2-0, but he's been the beneficiary of 21 runs of support in 3 starts. Masterson has been as inconsistent as Buchholz, but with a bit more bad than good so far. A borderline quality start against the Phillies, a 7 run 5th inning meltdown that the bats bailed him out of and a good start against the Orioles; but he only managed to go 5 innings.

Wade Miley, the "number 4" starter is currently sitting with a 6.08 ERA. Ironically, Miley was portrayed as an "innings eater", but currently has the fewest innings pitched on the starting rotation with 13.1 in 3 starts. Two "meh" starts where he did fine but couldn't finish the 6th and a 3rd inning 7 run meltdown.

At the bottom of the team ERA is the recently extended Rick Porcello with a 6.63 ERA. Fun fact: Porcello is the only Red Sox starter to have a start go 8 innings. Two quality starts and a meltdown, pretty much par for the course for the Sox starters so far.

This rotation is bad. When they put this staff together I was expecting mediocrity, but they've been worse than that. It's not a big sample size, but every pitcher on this staff has already had a meltdown bad enough to single-handedly lose the game.

The bats are also hard to figure out. They walk a lot. They score a lot of unearned runs. They don't actually get that many hits. The team as a whole is batting .230. The only player above .300 is Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts is currently in a 1 for 15 slump. Brock Holt is hitting .414, but is not getting regular playing time. With this pitching staff the bats have to step up to compensate.

The bullpen has been solid. They've struggled with inherited runners, but otherwise the results haven't been bad. Tazawa, Breslow and Uehara have yet to be charged with an earned run. Breslow has let some inherited runners score and puts a bunch of guys on, but he's still working his way out of most jams. Uehara needs more work, but has looked good to start the season. Tazawa has been great.

Given all this, it's amazing that the Red Sox are still doing reasonably well at 9-7. They've slid into a 3-way tie for the AL East with the Yankees and Blue Jays. It's going to be an interesting season.
-Mike

Thursday, April 23, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: TOM BRADY SKIPS WHITE HOUSE VISIT!!!

Tom Brady isn't going to visit the White House with the Patriots today. It's unbelievable, unfathomable, unconscionable, unconsiderable. I'm not sure if that last one is a word, but I'm practically hyperventilating over how serious and earth-shattering this story is, so I don't have time to check.

And much like some media and fans reacting to this story, I also don't have any time to think.

Reports on this report reportedly report that Brady isn't going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because of a "prior family commitment." I'm not actually quoting anybody, certainly not Brady or anyone from the Patriots. But by putting quotes around those words, I can make it seem like it came directly from a reputable source.

If Tom Brady is missing this most important of off-season activities for a legitimate family reason, then fine. But if it's just to spend time with his kids, then it's way, WAY out of line. Visiting the President for a token photo op is much more important than trivial things like time with your kids. This is America! Our glorious and revered leaders are of higher importance than our families! That's what America was built on.

But if Brady is lying (even though it's a source saying this, and not Brady), and this was politically motivated, then God have mercy on his soul. And his legacy.

As 98.5 The Sports Hub's Jim Murray very correctly stated about this story: "If you don't go to the White House for political reasons, you're a bad teammate." (that's an actual quote, not a made up one like earlier)

And that's so very very true. After winning his fourth Super Bowl and third Super Bowl MVP, we were all considering Tom Brady to be one of the greatest of all time, if not THE greatest. However, this newly revealed bad teammate aspect of Brady has tarnished that legacy. Super Bowl wins aside, how can you be the greatest of all time if you aren't a good teammate? It's not possible.

What makes this the act of a bad teammate is that it will create a media firestorm, which will possibly be a distraction. And the Patriots have little to no experience dealing with media distractions. Apart from DeflateGate, SpyGate, Tim Tebow, and Aaron Hernandez.

It's completely Brady's fault if the media makes a huge deal over this. It's Brady's responsibility, as a teammate, to predict what the media will overblow as a story. It's also Brady's responsibility to not do what he feels is right. No, a good teammate and a good leader caves in to peer pressure, and goes against his own principles in order to appease and conform to the masses. That's what leadership is all about.

The important thing to remember is that Tom Brady's motivations behind skipping - I could be more accurate and say "not going," but "skipping" makes it sound like he's doing something wrong, and it's more important to use provocative language to enhance a story than it is to be truthful - anyway, his motivation for blowing off this White House visit is more indicative of him as a teammate than anything he's ever done on a football field.

Such a shame. I used to really like Brady. But now... I don't know.

I'm Pissed at Rajon


I don't know what the fuck is going on here, but I'm pissed at Rajon. I held him in high regards for years and defended him, his actions, etc. However, him being "out of the playoffs due to back" aka Carlisle hates him and doesn't want him on the team is so awkward. He hasn't been incredible in Dallas or showed his abilities in Dallas like he did in Boston and I just don't get it. He got traded to a contender, he plays with incredible talent there and there is no excuse for what has happened with him. Maybe he is just a malcontent that has a huge attitude problem and Doc and Brad deserve Saintly praise for dealing with him.

The thing with Rondo, is there was always Playoff Rondo and if you watched the 2 Maverick games, he hasn't been bringing that electricity that he did in Boston. He started last game and had an 8 second count and bad passes. It almost looks as if he is trying to get out of Dallas. So Rondo, you were my favorite player while in Boston, and I was excited to watch you in the playoffs this year, but I think I may need a time out. You need an image change real quick and chumming it up with the Lakers isn't a great way to do that.

Silver lining.... The deal that Danny Ainge got looks better by the minute. We got a couple 1sts and Crowder in it. Crowder may be the best defender against LeBron and the other 1st could be great tradable assets. (I know it was one first, but im pretty sure Brandon Wright got traded for a first too, not sure)

So once again, Danny Ainge won.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Roger Goodell Up To His Anti-Steeler ways


Goodell is clearly up to his old tricks again. First giving the best RB in the league Le'Veon Bell a 3 game suspension for smoking pot and a DUI which has NEVER been the case before, but putting them up against the *Patriots.

The Superbowl Champion Patriots* deserve to feel confident, they just won their 4th Superbowl* and have their opening game against one of their biggest threats in the AFC without one of their big 3. The Captain confidently proclaimed the Steelers have 0 chance and not only is that completely wrong, I'm willing to go as far as saying that the Patriots may not score a point against this newly refined Dick LeBeauless defense. Dick LeBeau had his success in the past winning 2 Superbowls and going to one more without spying or deflating balls, but Keith Butler will bring some fresh air into a team defense that needs it. Troy and ike were great and at least Troy was a surefire Hall of Famer, however, they will be better with a new fresh look.

Meanwhile on offense, Yes, not having Le'Veon will hurt the Steelers, but statistically last regular season, Ben had better stats than Tom Brady and played a much more difficult schedule. They have the best WR corp in the league with the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown, and he is flanked by Marcus Wheaton and rookie sensation Martivis Bryant. Also, the ageless Heath Miller comes up in big spots.

So Patriots, I will give you, your offseason to gloat... however, I would not be confident week 1.

Patriots to begin 2015 season with win over Steelers

The Patriots will host the Steelers to begin the 2015 NFL schedule on September 10th, a Thursday night, according to "leaks."

This is great. The Patriots are essentially 1-0 with this leaked announcement. The win is already in the bag, it's just a question of score. And the weather forecast will have more impact on that than anything the Steelers will try to do.

Although, without Troy Polamalu to toy with and trick, it might be slightly tougher for Brady against the Steelers defense.

Yes, I'm being cocky. Because the Patriots won the Super Bowl a few months ago. And I feel that with 4 Super Bowl rings, it's time for me to shed my "let's wait and see" approach to my Patriots fandom, and just go full out cocky prick. The Patriots are better than the Steelers. Belichick is ten times better than Tomlin, Brady is far superior to Roethlisberger, Gronk is better than any pass-catcher on the Steelers.

Furthermore, the Patriots just don't lose at Gillette Stadium. It's a rarity. It's like seeing Bigfoot humping the Loch Ness Monster.

One fun fact about this game is that both LeGarrette Blount and Le'Veon Bell will be serving suspensions for drugs. So I wonder if they'll watch the game together somewhere in the area, then after that spend a few hours at the Taco Bell in Walpole.

-The Captain

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What the Celtics can win in this series

The Celtics have essentially no chance to beat the Cavs in a 7-game series. Even winning a single game seems far-fetched. But there are some things the Celtics have a good chance to win in this series: the experience, an increase in the trade-value of current players, the solidifying of Brad Stevens' reputation as a quality coach, and an increase of the team's appeal to top talent in the league.

Playoff experience is priceless. And while the C's aren't contending for the 2015 NBA Championship, the postseason experience some of these players get in the next few weeks could help them in future playoff runs. If the Celtics can play just one reasonably close game in this series, it will be a fantastic learning experience.

Isaiah Thomas has no playoff experience, neither does Tyler Zeller, Marcus Smart (obviously), or Kelly Olynyk (happy birthday to him, by the way). Getting a playoff series under their belts can only help them improve. Think about it, when has playoff experience ever made any player in any sport worse? Has anyone ever said "Oh, Player X was an okay player, until he played that series against Milwaukee. Ever since he got that playoff experience, he just hasn't been the same."

This series can also increase the trade-value of some of these players. If Isaiah Thomas averages 20+ points, if Tyler Zeller gets a double-double, if anyone makes a big game-winning shot, they could become more valuable in a future trade. Players with good postseason performances on their resume often command a higher price on the market.

Brad Stevens makes his players better. That's a scientific hypothesis that's been repeatedly tested this season, and continually reaffirmed. If Stevens can coach his ragtag bunch of misfits to a win or two, or just a few close games, then his reputation as a great coach will grow stronger. Players want to play for a coach who puts them in position to play better. And that also puts the player in position to get paid better.

That's one way the Celtics can increase their appeal to the league's top talent. Right now, the Celtics aren't a big draw for prime time players. But being a playoff team makes them more appealing than a lottery team. And being a playoff team that has proven postseason performers and a coach who makes players better, is even more appealing.

And as that appeal draws good-but-not-great players, the team becomes an even more appealing destination. Then eventually maybe you land the big star that puts you back into championship contention.

So this series won't end with the Celtics winning. But it might be the start of the Celtics' winning.

-The Captain

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Red Sox have horrible pitching, and I don't mind one bit because they're entertaining

Wade Miley got knocked around for 7 runs Wednesday afternoon. He allowed 5 hits and 3 walks, and only got 5 outs. And I'm not upset about it. Nor am I upset that Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz were also recently roughed up. This rotation is shaky and unreliable, and I'm not bothered.

My surprising mellowness after a 10-5 defeat isn't because the Red Sox are 6-3. It isn't because the Sox have won all 3 of their series. And it isn't because they're in first place. The number responsible for the smile on my face is 56, as in the number of run the Sox have scored.

Because of the offense, this team is exponentially more entertaining than the 2014 Red Sox. They've scored 56 runs in 9 games (more than 6 per game). Through 9 games last year, the Sox had scored 33 runs (less than 4 per game). Last year it took the Sox 16 games to score 56 runs (3.5 per game).

So even when the pitching is awful, the team is still in the game. And even if it's 8-2, like it was at one point Wednesday, you still want to watch the Sox hit because they're capable of coming back. And even if they don't, they're not painful to watch as they were last year.

A healthy Dustin Pedroia is fun to watch at the plate, compared to what it was like watching an injured Pedroia struggle to hit. Mookie Betts is exciting at the plate, as opposed to the frustration that Jackie Bradley Jr. caused.

So the parade of poor pitching can continue, so long as the offense continues to keep the Sox in the game, so long as these at-bats aren't torturous to endure.

All I want from the 2015 Red Sox is to be entertained, and so far they have been entertaining.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Red Sox Grades: Nationals 10, Red Sox 5

Wade Miley had a meltdown and couldn't get out of the third inning. The Nationals weren't great, but they were slightly more competent in the field in this game. We've been through the starting rotation nearly twice now and I think the starting pitching could potentially be a serious problem. When they put together this rotation I expected consistent mediocrity, but they've been worse than that. The Red Sox have scored the 2nd most runs per game in the major leagues. They've also given up the second most runs per game in the major leagues. I guess that's worked out ok. 6-3 is a fine start to the season and they have a 1-game lead in the division, but Masterson, Buchholz and Miley all look like substantial liabilities at this point. Porcello has been solid and we'll see about Joe Kelly Friday night. It's too early to make judgments, but it has to be a serious point of concern.

Wade Miley had a 1-2-3 2nd inning, but otherwise he was awful. The bullpen did him no favors by allowing the inherited runner to score, but the difference between giving up 6 and 7 runs is marginal. He lost this game for the Red Sox.
Starting Pitching Grade: F

This is the second game in a row the starters have dumped inherited runners and a bunch of innings on the bullpen to clean up. They had to dip into their second tier of relievers and they didn't handle it as well. Varvaro let the inherited runner score as well as one of his own on back to back doubles. He pitched two scoreless innings after that, but the damage was done. Robbie Ross gave up two more runs in his two innings of work. Craig Breslow was good in the 8th and 9th, but the game was out of reach by that point. This bullpen was tapped out from eating 4+ innings the night before and in this game they were asked to eat 6.2 innings. I don't think 3 runs and an inherited runner scoring is a disaster.
Bullpen Grade: C+

The offense was fine. 5 runs will win you most games where the pitchers have done their job. In this game they didn't. Some signs of life from Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli as they both got on base a few times and scored some runs. Hanley continues to hit well with a 2-run home run in this game. That's 4 homers for Hanley in 9 games. Brock Holt was only 1 for 4 in this game, but of course his one hit was an RBI single. Xander Bogaerts didn't look sharp in his first game back from knee soreness going 0 for 4 with no walks. Bogaerts had been one of the hottest hitters on the team, hopefully this issue doesn't mess with that. Allen Craig was the other black hole in the lineup. Craig hasn't had a hit since the first game of the season.
Batting Grade: B

Game 10 Preview: Kelly v. Jiminez

The Red Sox welcome the Baltimore Orioles for a 4-game series at Fenway to finish out the homestand. They'll have a day to rest up their bullpen, so everybody should be available for this game despite the large number of innings the bullpen has been working recently. Both of these starters threw a gem in their first outing. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 7 shutout innings and gave up just 1 hit against the Blue Jays. Joe Kelly was nearly as impressive in his start against the Yankees. You may remember Jimenez as the starter for the Rockies in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. We've seen him more recently when he spent a few seasons in Cleveland and more since he moved into the AL East last season. Jimenez's best start against the Red Sox has been a borderline quality start and he's had a few meltdowns here or there as well. Hopefully, with the Red Sox lineup rested and revamped they'll be able to knock him around and force the Orioles to use up some bullpen arms.
-Mike

Red Sox Grades: Red Sox 8, Nationals 7

There were two pitching meltdowns from the starters in this game. The difference in this game is that after the meltdown inning the Red Sox stopped the bleeding where the Nationals defensive blunders cost them the game. It was a poor outing for the pitchers, but the Red Sox bats and the back end of the bullpen managed to get the job done.

Justin Masterson deserved to lose this game. He gave up 8 hits, 3 walks, hit 2 batters, made an error and gave up 7 earned runs in just 4.2 innings of work. The Red Sox spotted him a comfortable lead and he blew it. It's not like he was cruising before that meltdown. He was putting a lot of men on base. A piss poor outing where he got bailed out by the offense.
Pitching Grade: D-

Alexi Ogando didn't do Masterson any favors. He immediately gave up a 2-RBI triple to hang two more runs on Masterson and broke the 5-5 tie.He did retire the next 4 batters after that. Edward Mujica got the next 4 including 2 strikeouts. Junichi Tazawa preserved the slim Red Sox lead in the 8th and Koji closed it out with a 1-2-3 9th inning for the save. Koji nearly gave up the home run to tie the game, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. This is a tough one to judge for the bullpen. They had their work cut out for them with Masterson's short start and the inherited runners he left. Ogando screwed that up, but when you look at the whole body of work: 4.1 IP, 2 hits, 0 BB and 0 ER that's a good stat line.
Bullpen Grade: B-

Dustin Pedroia was the hero in this game going 3 for 4 with a solo home run and drew the only walk for the Red Sox in this game. Even Mookie Betts' mediocre games are good. His lone hit was an RBI single and he also stole a base. They need to figure out a way to get Brock Holt into this lineup every day, at least until he cools off a little bit. He's 8 for 15 with 2 doubles and 5 RBIs. As always, he's making the most of his opportunities. The Nationals forgetting how to baseball helped, but the bats are what won this game for the Red Sox.
Batting Grade: A-
-Mike

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Red Sox Grades: Red Sox 9, Nationals 4

This was a good win for the Red Sox on opening day. Jordan Zimmermann is an all-star pitcher and they managed to knock him out before he could get out of the third inning. It's always nice to start off a series this way to make them dip deep into their bullpen to get through the game. Rick Porcello wasn't lights out, but he was solid and worked efficiently enough to eat 8 innings while protecting a substantial lead to pick up his first win as a member of the Red Sox.

Rick Porcello ended up giving up 4 runs, but he did work 8 innings and one of them was an unearned run. He also had an 8-run lead when he gave up 2 in the 5th inning. I'm inclined to give him a "pitching for contact" pass in that situation. I think it was a solid improvement over his first start.
Pitching Grade: B+

3 strikeouts and a walk in the 9th for Junichi Tazawa. No drama here.
Bullpen Grade: A

The bats thrived in Friendly Fenway. 9 runs on 13 hits and 5 walks will do the trick for most games. The only no-show in the lineup was Shane Victorino going 0 for 4 with no walks and grounding into a double play. Betts' 3-run homer in the second was the first big blow in the quick KO of Jordan Zimmermann. David Ortiz scored the first and last for the Red Sox in this game with an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the 6th inning. Leon, Bogaerts and Sandoval all had multi-hit games. Dustin Pedroia was productive with a single, a walk and a sacrifice fly. Mike Napoli picked up a hit, but he's still ice cold to start the season. I could complain about the lack of runs scored against the Nationals bullpen, but I'm just nitpicking at this point.
Batting Grade: A

Game 8 Preview: Masterson v. Strasburg

Masterson will be looking to build on his strong start in Philly. Stephen Strasburg was the 1st overall pick in the 2009 draft. He's shown some flashes of brilliance, but has been hampered by injuries including Tommy John surgery. He still made it to the All-Star game in 2012 and lead the National League in strikeouts last year. Strasburg made his only trip to Fenway in that All-Star season where he picked up the win working 6 innings with 2 earned runs and 13 strikeouts. The only players from that game still on the team are Pedroia, Ortiz and Nava. Ortiz was 0 for 1 with a strikeout and 2 walks. Pedroia was 1 for 3 with a single and two strikeouts. Nava was 0 for 3 and struck out all 3 times. Hopefully they'll be able to improve on that this time around. Strasburg was touched up for 6 runs and took the loss in his first start against the Mets, but only 3 of those runs were earned runs.
-Mike

Monday, April 13, 2015

Celtics Officially In Playoffs


Last year, the Celtics finished 25-57...it was the third worst record in franchise history.

This year, they've finished 23-12. Which was the 3rd best record in the NBA in that stretch.

Unlike the other team that shares the building that could really have only backdoored into the playoffs, the Celtics went out and earned it. The Celtics also did it with incredible coaching and incredible GM'ing. Many non Basketball fans who didn't watch this team will be quick to point out the losing record and the fact the are more or less going to get smoked in the first round. But beyond all that, what this team has been able to do, is nothing short of incredible. They traded potentially the best PG in the league and a strong wing player mid season and somehow it worked. Now... do I think that Rondo and Green were some sort of problem here? no. Could this team have surged with them? sure. But that's not what happened, and Danny Ainge masterfully orchastrated the trade deadline and past deadlines and found a team that best suits Brad Steven's system.

Brad Stevens has vaulted himself into the top half of the league coaches with this year, and although he may not make players like LeBron say, "Hey, I want to play for Boston", he is certainly building a reputation. He has turned projects like Evan Turner, Jae Crowder and Tyler Zeller into very important players, while keeping the core of Smart, Thomas, Sully, Olynyk consistent and progressing.

Like I said, the Celtics may not get past a round in the playoffs, however, what these players have learned in experience can not be taught by tanking.

Just incredible.

Isaiah Thomas is a godsend and that trade was a savage steal by Danny Ainge.

Thank god for good GMs

Celtics In, Bruins Out

I suppose this title is a bit premature. The Celtics haven't clinched a playoff spot yet. Two Celtics losses combined with both the Pacers and the Nets winning their remaining games would push the Celtics out of the playoffs. I suppose it could happen. The Celtics are playing two higher playoff seeds, but I think it unlikely that the Celtics will miss it this year. They were lucky to catch the Cavs late in the season with nothing to play for and therefore resting a number of players. With their full lineup it might have been a different story. Regardless, the Celtics have been playing well in general lately. They're on a 4 game win streak and won 6 of their last 7 games. When the playoff push came, they stepped up and won games. Isaiah Thomas has been a nice addition to this team and I think they have been playing better with Thomas than they did with Rondo.

Speaking of Rondo, the Mavericks were 19-8(.704) when they acquired Rondo, since then they've gone 30-23(.566) and slid down to the 7 seed in the West. That record slides to 24-19(.558) when you only include the games where Rondo played over 5 minutes. I think now that the laundry has changed even DP can take off the emerald colored glasses and see Rondo for what he really is: an above average point guard with a superstar ego and an attitude problem.

I've come around on this team and the idea of them going to the playoffs. I don't think they'll win anything or get past the first round, but they've earned the right to try. I think a high percentage lottery pick would have been better for the future of the franchise, but I can see the silver lining of being able to sell this team to superstar free agents as a near contender. I think Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are doing fantastic work to get this team into a position to win and with a few big moves they can contend out of the East. The Cavs hardly look like the unstoppable force I expected when they put together Love, Lebron and Irving. They're good, but they look beatable. I like this team and I like the direction they're going in.

It's funny that a team that plays in the same building as the Celtics and finished in nearly the same place in the standings as the Celtics, but I have the polar opposite feelings towards them. I suppose it's all about expectations. The Bruins won the President's Trophy for the best regular season record in the NHL last year. The Celtics finished tied for the 4th worst record in the NBA last season and were hoping for some luck from the ping pong balls. Since then, the Celtics have taken a big step up into playoff contention despite selling off their two best players: Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. The Bruins have taken a huge step back with a disappointing 2nd round playoff loss to Montreal. Danny Ainge has an enormous stockpile of draft picks, trade chips and cap space. Peter Chiarelli has aging stars, difficult to move contracts and is stuck in cap hell. After this disaster of a season, both Chiarelli and Julien will be lucky to hang onto their jobs. Ainge and Stevens should be asking for a raise. When it came time for the playoff push for the Bruins they fell apart ending the season on a 3-game losing streak. When the shakeup happens with the front office I wouldn't be surprised to see a shakeup in the on-ice personnel as well.
-Mike

Red Sox Grades: Weekend Series Against the Yankees

Game 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 F/19


This was one of the longest games in the history of both of these venerable franchises. There are some positives and negatives to this game. It was nice to see the Red Sox willing to fight for a win. It was disappointing to see them blow multiple chances to win the game earlier.

Wade Miley's outing was short, but reasonably effective. 5.1 IP with 4 H, 2 BB and 2 ER is a fine stat line from your #4 starter. Given the way this game unfolded, it would have been nice to see him get deeper and preserve the bullpen a bit more.
Starting Pitching Grade: C+

It's hard to be overly judgmental of the relievers. They had to eat 13.2 IP in this game and only gave up 3 runs over that span. That's a game and a half worth of work and they only gave up 3 runs. With that said, if Edward Mujica hadn't blown the save in the 9th the game would have finished in regulation. If Steven Wright, the originally scheduled starter for game 5, hadn't blown two more chances to put the game away it would have finished the game earlier. How can you really flip out about Wright? He basically pitched as many innings and gave up as many runs as the starter did. It was an odd situation and they managed to put them in a position to win.
Bullpen Grade: B+

I suppose if you had to point fingers and be disappointed in this game it would have to fall to the bats. Six runs sounds pretty good, but when you consider that it came over the course of 19 innings against their 4th starter and the dregs of the Yankee bullpen it's less impressive. Again, position players get tired too so I find it hard to be really tough on them for the lack of production in this game.
Batting Grade: C-

Game 5: Red Sox 8, Yankees 4

It was pretty brutal turn around to go from a 19 inning all night marathon to a 1 PM Saturday afternoon game. This game was going to be more about the depth of these teams. The Red Sox benefited to having multiple relatively fresh players that are good enough to be starters on most teams. It was a chance for guys like Brock Holt and Allen Craig to shine. It also pushed up Joe Kelly into making his start. He had initially been expecting to make a minor league rehab start, but Steven Wright was called in to eat innings in the long game the night before.

Joe Kelly did some fantastic work. He went 7 strong giving up just 1 hit, 1 earned run and two walks; all of which came in the second inning. He went on cruise control and retired 17 Yankee batters in a row. Given that he was not scheduled to make this start and was coming off the DL this was a very encouraging sign from Kelly.
Starting Pitching Grade: A

Alexi Ogando stepped in to mop up in the 8th inning with a comfortable 8-1 lead. After getting the first two batters, Ogando gave up to singles and a home run to give the final tally of 8-4. Varvaro picked up the last 4 outs without too much drama. Giving up 3 runs in 2 innings of work isn't good, but I can understand that Ogando wanted to work efficiently and pitch for contact given the substantial lead and given that he had worked the night before I don't want to come down too hard on him.
Bullpen Grade: C-

This was an odd game for the Red Sox offense. They scored 8 runs, but just 4 of those runs were earned as the Yankees made a number of errors. It's probably not a coincidence that those errors come after such a quick turn around between the game the night before. Still, they capitalized on the mistakes and put the game out of reach. Brock Holt was a monster going 4 for 5 with a double and 3 RBIs. It's a shame that Holt has seen his role reduced by the trade deadline/free agent acquisitions through no fault of his own. He's earned a starting job in my eyes, but even as versatile as he is, it's tough to find at-bats for him. I had high hopes for a hot start for Mike Napoli with his recent surgery and impressive power numbers in spring training, but he extended his hitless streak to 0-17 in this game. Maybe a return to hitter-friendly Fenway will help him get going.
Batting Grade: A-

Game 6: Red Sox 4, Yankees 14

This game was over in the 1st inning. Clay Buchholz had a complete meltdown in the 1st and put the game out of reach. One start 7 inning shutout. Next start 7 run 1st inning meltdown. Pretty standard for Clay Buchholz.

He gave up a home run to Stephen Drew. Stephen. Drew. By the end he wasn't even covering bases. I hate that attitude.
Starting Pitching Grade: F

Clay Buchholz lost this game, but the bullpen made sure it stayed that way. They had their work cut out for them with 4.2 innings to eat, but they didn't handle them especially well. Tommy Layne struggled and gave up 3 runs in his 1 inning of work. Edward Mujica gave up another home run. That's two homers in 3 appearances. I'm glad to hear that Koji is going to be back for opening day at Fenway.
Bullpen Grade: D-

The bats weren't to blame for this, but they still had a mediocre day at the plate. Pedroia, Victorino and Hanigan were all 0 for 4 with no walks. Hanley, Sandoval, Bogaerts and Napoli did their part by getting hits and walks, but to overcome a defecit like this the whole lineup needed to be mashing.
Hitting Grade: C+

Game 7 Preview: Porcello v. Zimmermann

The Red Sox come back to Fenway for opening day. Despite the 2-4 record, I think the Nationals will be the strongest team the Red Sox will have seen so far this year. In the preseason polls the Nationals were #1 in the power rankings and the favorites to win the World Series in vegas. That is in part thanks to starter Jordan Zimmermann. He's coming off of back to back all-star seasons and off to a strong start to the 2015 campaign. He looked sharp against the Mets in his first start going 6 strong innings and giving up just 1 run. The Red Sox haven't seen Zimmermann since 2012. The only Red Sox players still with the team from that game are Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Pedroia was 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI single. Ortiz hit well against Zimmerman going 2 for 3 with a double and a home run. Porcello will be looking to improve on his losing effort against the Phillies.
-Mike

Friday, April 10, 2015

These are the playoffs for the Bruins, and they're losing

For the Bruins, the playoffs started Thursday night, because they're staring elimination in the face. If they didn't realize this before losing to the Panthers 4-2, they realize it now. The B's no longer control their own playoff fate. They need help or they're out. They could even be knocked out before they take the ice against the Lightning Saturday night.

Before this loss to Florida, the Bruins were standing next to the electric chair. By losing, they've sat down in it. Now they need a call from the Governor, or a last-minute power outage to escape.

It's a good thing Claude Julien gave so much rest to guys on Tuesday night in Washington. It's a good thing that Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell were given so much ice time Wednesday. Because the B's really looked sharp and energized in the 2nd and 3rd periods.

Speaking of Chris Kelly, the goalless streak extends to 26. And he had 12:26 of even-strength ice time in this game. David Pastrnak had 9:52.

You're playing back-to-back games. You have a 34-year old who hasn't scored since Valentine's Day. You have an 18-year old who has scored 10 goals since re-joining the team in January, and is +13 in that time. Which player will bring more energy? The 34-year old, or the 18-year old? Which will bring more offense and make more plays? The slumper or the scorer?

You have a coach who plays a man who hasn't scored in 25 games, over a man who has been scoring. Not just in Thursday night's game, but in the 3rd period of Wednesday night's 3-0 loss. In the 3rd period, down 3 goals, Julien gave Kelly 4:40 of even-strength ice time, and Pastrnak only 2:54.

Maybe Julien is planning on murdering someone, and he's trying to establish an insanity plea. He's certainly driving me crazy.

So here's the situation: The Senators have 97 points, the Penguins 96, the Bruins 95. The Sens and Penguins are in, the Bruins out. The Senators have 1 game left, the Penguins 2, the Bruins 1. If the Penguins win Friday night against the Islanders, they clinch their spot. If the Penguins lose in OT or a shootout, they can still clinch with 1 or 2 points on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, the Senators are in Philly. The Bruins need them to lose in regulation to take their spot. If Pittsburgh wins either of their games (or loses both in OT/shootout), and if Ottawa wins, the Bruins will be eliminated before their game against Tampa Bay at 7:30 Saturday night.

And even if they get help, the B's will need to help themselves against the Lightning.

The Bruins were once in the driver's seat of their playoff destiny. Now they're outside of the car, and they need either the Senators or Penguins to give up their seats, or they'll get run over.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: Robert Mayer/USA Today Sports

Red Sox Grades: Red Sox 6, Phillies 2

I think this was a game that wasn't so much a statement about the good points of the Boston Red Sox as much as it emphasized the bad points of the Philadelphia Phillies. That isn't to completely diminish the Red Sox part in this win. Good teams capitalize on mistakes of others and minimize their own mistakes. All the runs in this game for both teams were scored in the third inning with two outs, so it felt a bit shakier than the score line might make it seem. For those keeping score at home, that's 3 quality starts in 3 games for the Boston Red Sox. I think that this is what the Red Sox envisioned when they put together this starting rotation. A starter that keeps the game close and a batting order that can consistently turn that into a win.

Justin Masterson looked reasonably sharp in his Red Sox return. 2 earned runs, 3 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings of work. Two of those hits and both walks came in the bottom of the third where Masterson was sitting on a 6-run lead. He gave up 2 runs, but didn't get too rattled. He got out of the jam and was on cruise control for the rest of the game. The 7 strikeouts was a nice touch as he seemed to be getting batters to chase and miss pitches.
Pitching Grade: B

Craig Breslow, Tommy Lane and Edward Mujica combined for the 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. They had a comfortable lead to protect and they did. Breslow got himself into a 2 on 1 out jam in his inning of work, but managed to work around it. That's 8 scoreless innings for the Red Sox bullpen in this series. Not bad for a bullpen with it's closer on the DL.
Bullpen Grade: A-

The offense was the beneficiary of another Phillies pitching meltdown. The starter David Buchanan completely fell apart with two outs in the 3rd inning. He walked the bases loaded, he walked Ryan Hanigan to bring in a run and even Justin Masterson managed an RBI single off of him. This is what I was talking about when I said that this game was more about Phillies failures than Red Sox successes. When you're walking their #7 hitter to put in a run and giving up hits to their pitcher there is something seriously wrong. The Red Sox did their part as well. David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino all came through with infield singles in that inning. Xander Bogaerts' bases clearing triple broke the game wide open. If Jeff Francoeur had made the diving catch to end the inning the game might have unfolded differently, but that's not what happened. The Phillies bullpen provided 6 innings of scoreless work after Buchanan was pulled after 3 innings, but the damage was done. Xander Bogaerts was the hero going 3 for 4 with a walk and 3 RBIs. Dustin Pedroia was the black hole from the two spot going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. It feels odd to gripe so much about a game in which they scored 6 runs, but the 12 men left on base and 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position makes you feel like this should have been a double digit blow out.
Batting Grade: B+

Game 4 Preview: Miley v. Eovaldi

The Red Sox head to the Bronx where Wade Miley will make his Red Sox debut against Nathan Eovaldi in his Yankees debut. Eovaldi was 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA. Fun fact: Eovaldi gave up 223 hits, more hits than any other pitcher in the National League last year! I guess that's not as bad as it seems. You need to be good and healthy enough to hold onto a starting job to accumulate that many hits. So he was one of the worst pitchers not to lose his job as a starter last year. I suppose just looking at last year Wade Miley wasn't much better. He started the same number of games, went 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA, pitched about the same number of innings, gave up 16 fewer hits and gave up 32 more walks. I guess the difference is that Miley has had stronger seasons in the past where last season was more consistent with Eovaldi's career numbers. Anybody else think that Miley looks a lot like Kid Rock?

-Mike

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Couple Things



First, LeVeon Bell getting suspended for the first 3 games may be the worst thing that Goodell has ever done as a commissioner. He got a DUI and smoked pot. Big whoop, 3 games is unheard of. This is just another Anti-Steeler campaign he went on. I can't wait until they find nothing on deflategate and he is fired... or should be

Second thing. Isaiah Thomas is the best thing in the world. If you don't watch the Celtics, you are missing out and probably a racist.

3rd. What the fuck ESPN.com. You can't just go out and change your website on April 1 and not change it back. I have no fucking clue what is going on, I can't find anything, it sucks and I hate it. I'm seriously considering boycotting the site.

Everyone on Kentucky went pro... I hope the Celtics grab a majority of them

Now that Braden Holtby is the new Bruins owner, maybe he'll do something about Chris Kelly's ice time

Braden Holtby now officially owns the Bruins. Three games this season, 3 shutouts, 88 saves. With the playoffs starting I don't know how active Braden Holtby will be in operating the Bruins' day-to-day operations. But hopefully we'll soon have a new GM, maybe a new coach, fewer reality TV shows, and please for the love of everything holy, less Chris Kelly. The Braden Holtby era of Bruins ownership has begun!

Give an assist (a rare one) to Kelly for Holtby's ability to acquire the team. Kelly had another goalless game Wednesday night. That's 25 in a row. He hasn't scored since February 13th. He hasn't had an assist since March 5th. And yet for some reason last night, with the Bruins down 3-0 in the 3rd period, Kelly got more even-strength ice time in the 3rd than he had in the 2nd or 1st. What the fuck, Claude?

There's nobody on this roster less likely to score a goal or contribute to a goal, and yet Claude Julien put him on the ice for the same number of shifts (6) as he had in the 1st and 2nd periods.

Chris Kelly isn't the only problem the Bruins have, nor are the Bruins' difficulties as simple to solve as reducing a defensive specialist's ice time when you need to score. But this is just baffling.

Kelly has spent over 6 hours on the ice since his last goal (360:46).

Down 3 goals in the 3rd, Kelly got 4:40 of even-strength ice time. David Pastrnak, who's scored 5 goals and 14 assists since Kelly last scored, was on the ice for 2:45. Kelly 4:40, Pastrnak 2:45. Are you kidding me? How is this even possible? I'm looking at the time on ice report on NHL.com and I'm thinking that they must have made a number of mistakes, as this is simply ludicrous.

Kelly had more even-strength ice time in the 3rd than Pastrnak, Spooner, Connolly, Marchand, Krejci, Lucic, and Bergeron. That's right, Patrice fucking Bergeron. Why? How?

Those players have 99 combined goals this season. Kelly has 7. And only 3 in 2015. Those are guys getting paid millions because they can score, and they're playing less than a guy who hasn't scored in 25 games.

I can't even think about anything else today. You're down 3 goals. You have 20 minutes of hockey and you must score 3 goals in order to secure a valuable point. You have 12 forwards on your bench. Some of them have 20+ goals this season. Some have been carrying you the past few weeks with their offense. And so you send a guy riding a 25-game drought on the ice more than most of them.

So please, new Bruins owner Braden Holtby, tell Claude Julien that he either needs to change the way he plays favorites with the most offensively inept player on the team, or he needs to find a new team.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass

Red Sox Grades: Phillies 4, Red Sox 2

This was a frustrating loss for the Red Sox. The Sox lineup struggled to get anything going against Aaron Harang. Rick Porcello's solid outing was ruined by one mistake that Jeff Francoeur made him pay for. Pablo Sandoval's throwing error made things difficult on the bullpen and helped the Phillies put across an unearned run. Phillies reliever Ken Giles had a meltdown where he could not find the strike zone if somebody drew him a map and the Red Sox only managed to put up two runs. Hanley Ramirez hit what appeared to be a grand slam until it got knocked down by the wind and came up just a few feet short.

The first inclination might be to blame Rick Porcello for this loss. He gets a piece of the blame pie, but not a big one. His 6 IP and 3 ER is literally the definition of a quality start. He was working well up until the Francoeur 3-run home run. He was inducing a lot of ground balls, working around the occasional baserunner and not giving up too many free passes; pretty much exactly what you want from a guy like Porcello. He made a big mistake at the worst time and it cost the Red Sox the game. Even so, looking at his performance as a whole it was solid and gave the Red Sox the opportunity to win.
Starting Pitching Grade: B-

Robbie Ross and Alexi Ogando combined for 2 hitless innings of relief. The unearned run that scored on Ross' watch is completely on Pablo Sandoval for his throwing error that advanced the runner to third and allowed him to score on the sacrifice fly. Ross had to deal with a bonus batter thanks to Sandoval's error, but he managed to come through.
Bullpen Grade: A

If there's one area the Red Sox fell short in this game it was the hitting. After beating up on Cole Hamels just two days earlier, the Red Sox looked mystified by Aaron Harang. Harang cruised through the Red Sox lineup over 6.1 IP giving up just two hits, a walk and putting up 8 strikeouts. Their big chance came against Ken Giles in the 8th inning. He walked 3 batters and gave up a single to put across two runs and Jonathan Papelbon came in for the 4-out save with the bases loaded. Hanley's grand slam fell just short and the inning was over. They couldn't get anything going against Paps in the 9th and the game was over. This was a tough one to swallow. Aaron Harang is nothing special, but the Red Sox made him look like an ace. Ken Giles gift wrapped that 8th inning with 3 walks and 2 runs is not capitalizing enough on that. The only positive thing about the lineup in this game was Pablo Sandoval going 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI. The Red Sox had 3 total hits in this game and Sandoval was responsible for two of them.
Batting Grade: F

Game 3 Preview: Masterson v. Buchanan

Justin Masterson makes his Red Sox re-debut against David Buchanan. Masterson will be looking to improve on his disastrous 2014 season. Buchanan will be looking to continue from his strong rookie campaign last year. Buchanan came up from the minors when Cliff Lee had an elbow injury and did well over 20 starts last season going 6-8 with a 3.75 ERA.
-Mike

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Red Sox Extend Rick Porcello

Yesterday the Red Sox locked up an extension for Rick Porcello for 4 years/$82.5 Million.

There are a lot of mixed feelings about this deal. Some think it's smart to lock up a young pitcher entering the prime of his career. He is in somewhat of a unique position of having started 6 full seasons with Detroit while still being just 26 years old. In a previous article I made a note of how Porcello's numbers are almost identical to the numbers that Jon Lester was putting up at 25, it's not crazy to think that his trajectory might be the same as Lester. It's not like Porcello's numbers are deceiving. He put those up in the AL in a hitter friendly ballpark.

The other take on this is that Porcello still has something to prove. $20 Million/year isn't top of the market money, but it isn't far off. Jon Lester was a proven commodity here and he's making ~$26 Million/year with the Cubs. Part of the risk in finding the next big thing is that sometimes you're wrong. The Red Sox could be wrong about Porcello.

I like this deal. One of the perks of the Cespedes/Porcello deal was that Porcello might have been open to extending here where Cespedes made it clear that would not be happening. The deal is getting compared a lot to the John Lackey deal because the years/dollars matches up pretty well. I think the comparison ends there. Lackey was 31 when he first put on a Red Sox uniform. Porcello will be 30 when he finishes this contract. Porcello has been durable. In 6 MLB seasons he has never started fewer than 27 games or pitched fewer than 160 innings. He has shown consistent improvement as his ERA has shrunk each of the last 5 seasons. He had a breakout year last season, but he has a longer established trend of improvement. Although he's young, he has a remarkable amount of experience due to the fact that he was in the Tigers starting rotation at age 20. If the Red Sox new philosophy is to push for youth and players under 30, then Porcello is exactly the sort of player you'd want to overextend yourself a bit on.
-Mike


My Bold Predictions On The Sox


The Sox look to add onto their undefeated season and here are some bold predictions and thoughts:

The Rick Porcello deal... Well let's just say, I didn't see him getting 20 million a year for the next 4 years before pitching a pitch for the Sox. It will be incredibly hard for him to live up to a 20 million dollar a year pitcher and I have a feeling a lot of us will be like whatever when talking about this deal in 4 years. Much like John Lackey, except Porcello will be part of 2 World Series winning teams in that span.

Hanley Ramiez will hit 40 Homeruns, followed by Napoli and Ortiz tied with 32, then Pedroia at 20.

Hanley Ramirez will win the MVP.

Mookie Betts will finish 2nd in MVP voting.

Rusney Castillo will be up in a month, when Shane Victorino leaves with cramps

The Victorino contract will be the next ugly divorce from the Sox... Lots of "sources" will be leaked

Mujica not Koji will lead the Sox in saves

Wade Miley will lead the team in wins with 17, Porcello will have 15 and Buchholz will have 13.

Masterson and Kelly will be beyond unreliable and the first pitcher called up will be Brian Johnson.

We will not see Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens this year

Pablo Sandoval will be an issue and be on lists for bounce back candidate of the year in 2016

Red Sox outfield D will be incredible, same won't be said about their IF

Red Sox will win the AL East

Win the World Series

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Red Sox Grades: Red Sox 8, Phillies 0

The Red Sox started off their season with a decisive win over Cole Hamels and the Phillies. It's easy to place an overemphasis on the first game. It's the only thing you have to go on and it's an incredibly small sample size given the massive 162-game baseball season. Still, it's important to get off to a good start and set a positive tone early in the season.

This comes with some caveats. The Phillies were not a good team last year. They finished at the bottom of the division and near the bottom of the league in runs allowed and in runs scored.

Clay Buchholz put up an ace-like performance. Just 3 hits, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts in 7 shutout innings for Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had some starts like that last year, but they were few and far between. It's an encouraging sign for Buchholz, especially given his increased importance in the new rotation. Still, Buchholz has always shown flashes of brilliance and struggled with consistency. Outside of a fielding error and a little trouble in the 7th inning there isn't much to complain about here.
Starting Pitching: A

Junichi Tazawa came in to set up in the 8th inning to protect the 4-0 Red Sox lead. He put down the 9-1-2 batters in order. Hanley doubled the Red Sox lead and Tommy Layne took over mop up duty in the 9th. Layne gave up a walk in his 1 inning of work, but gave up no hits to the heart of the Phillies order. The bullpen combined for two no-hit innings. It's hard to ask for more than that.
Bullpen: A

The shutout the pitchers were throwing was overshadowed by the Red Sox bats. 4 solo home runs and a grand slam for 5 total home runs. I think this is more impressive given that the Red Sox were playing in a National League park and had Clay Buchholz taking 3 at bats. They were also hitting against Phillies Ace Cole Hamels. Dustin Pedroia started off early going yard in the first inning. He put up another in the 5th inning. It might just be a fluke, but I think this bodes incredibly well that Pedroia is finally healthy. His power has been missing for the last two seasons. He had just 7 home runs in 2014 and only 9 in 2013. Hanley started his Red Sox return with a bang, two actually. He put up a solo home run and then a grand slam to put the game completely out of reach. Mookie Betts' home run sort of gets lost in the shuffle with Pedroia and Hanley putting up 2, but it's a good start for his first opening day game. Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz were the no-shows in this game. They went a combined 0 for 9 with 6 strikeouts. It would be more frustrating if the rest of the lineup had not picked up the slack. Overall, a lot of runs, a lot of big hits and they managed to chase Hamels from the game after 5 innings and hung 4 runs on the ace. A great showing.
Hitting: A

Game 2 Preview: Porcello v. Harang

Rick Porcello makes his Red Sox debut in Philadelphia against Aaron Harang. Harang has bounced around the majors since 2002 spending most of that with the Cincinnati Reds. He spent last season with the Braves going 12-12 in 33 starts with them last season. He's coming off arguably his best season last year with a 3.57 ERA.
-Mike

Monday, April 6, 2015

All I want/expect from the 2015 Red Sox is to not suck

I'm a little sick of hearing how Opening Day is a day for optimism and not a day to allow yourself to be pissed that Clay Buchholz is your "Ace." This team finished in last place, then lost its best player at the most important position. So let's be optimistic, but also realistic.

And if you truly are optimistic that the Red Sox are within arm's reach of another World Series, then you should be angrier than I am that the Sox didn't employ the left arm of Jon Lester to reach for that ring.

Is this team good enough to win the 2015 World Series? No. Good enough to make the World Series? Highly doubtful. Good enough to win a playoff series? Maybe. Good enough to make the playoffs? Solid chance. Good enough to contend for a playoff spot? Probably. Good enough to be above .500? Definitely. Good enough to not finish last? It fucking better be.

I'm sick of long pointless summers of Red Sox baseball. I'm sick of games played poorly by overrated prospects. Only 2 AL teams were struck out more often than the Red Sox (1,337 times). I'm sick of that. I just want to once again feel like these games mean something. I want to watch players who can play. All I want from the 2015 Red Sox is to not suck. Be a legitimate, watchable, respectable team.

I don't think I'm asking for much. I don't mind a "bridge season," so long as the bridge isn't as painful to cross as the Bourne Bridge with one lane open the Friday before Memorial Day. The not-optimistic reality is that 2015 will be a bridge season.

The rotation has tremendous depth in the middle, with five strong candidates to fill the #3 slot. That's as optimistic as I can phrase my assessment of the pitchers.

I don't know why everyone thinks the lineup is amazing. Probably because last year's was so terrible. The offense will be good, but I'm not sold on it being as great as everyone thinks it will be. If Dustin Pedroia doesn't improve, that's a problem. Mookie Betts has fewer than 200 MLB at-bats, so how can we be sure what he'll do in the next 600 ABs? Pablo Sandoval's regular season production isn't great, he hasn't slugged above .450 or hit 20 HRs since 2011. Shane Victorino is your starting right-fielder, 'nuf said about that.

David Ortiz is 39. His average, OBP, and SLG have all decreased in each of the last 3 seasons. He hit 35 homeruns last year, and maybe he'll hit 35 more, and maybe all his offensive numbers will rebound. But he's also 39. At that age, the "no" side of maybe gets larger and the "yes" side gets smaller. I'm not being a Debbie Downer, I'm being a Pragmatic Pete and a Factual Frank. The core of the lineup is 39 years old. It's a fact. On May 19th, he'll be closer to his 40th birthday than his 39th.

It's a good lineup. It will be less painful to watch than the 2014 Sox. But it won't be the Murderer's Row that some in this town seem to think it will be.

Then there's the bullpen. The most positive thing I can say about them is that I have no idea what they'll do.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic on Opening Day. It's sunny out, the snow is almost all melted away, I'm excited for the game, and I haven't been excited to see this team play in over a year. The Sox have a team that can be entertaining and relevant. And I think I'm going to enjoy the 2015 season because my expectations and hopes are rational. I won't be disappointed when this team finishes 3rd, or loses the Wild Card playoff game because it has no Ace. And if the Sox pull off a miracle, I'll be just as happy as the rest of you.

Enjoy the bridge season.

-The Captain

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bruins once again turn it on when it matters most, which is starting to piss me off

You're down 2-0 on the road against a good puck possession team. You're not supposed to win. Yet that's what the Bruins did against the Red Wings Thursday night. And that win could have significant playoff ramifications, as it puts the B's in a virtual tie with the Wings, who have a game in hand.

If the unlikely comeback wasn't enough of a surprise for you, how about the identity of the man who scored the game-winner? Zach Trotman. His first career goal.

I'm pleased that the Bruins won. Pleased, but not happy. I was momentarily happy when Trotman scored, and when Soderberg and Eriksson scored before that. I was happy the moment time expired and the Bruins won. But looking at the 60 minute performance as a whole, there's not much to be happy about.

Actually, I'm pissed that this Bruins team has an on/off switch, and its default setting is off. I'm pissed that to turn the switch, it takes a 2-0 deficit in the 3rd. I'm pissed that they either give it their all, or they give in. It's either full speed ahead, or full reverse with this team. And with a lot of the players.

Brad Marchand, Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg. Depending on which games you see them in, they either look like superstars, or 4th liners. There's no middle ground. There's no Goldilocks "just right" with them, it's either burning hot, or bone-chilling cold.

So I'm glad to see the Bruins turned it on late against the Red Wings last night. I'm also pissed that for two periods I had to watch them suck. And that it took two periods of crappy hockey for them to wake up and do their jobs.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boston Sports Roundup

There hasn't been much to talk about lately with the Boston Sports scene. The Patriots have been relatively quiet in free agency. There has been no word on DeflateGate, the Jets tampering or the Jets counterclaim of tampering. The Red Sox are almost done with spring training. It's hard to take away much from those games. The Celtics and Bruins are both on the fringe of a playoff spot, but neither is considered a contender. A whole bunch of "meh".


We talked about losing Darrelle Revis. It's a significant setback for the Patriots secondary. With Revis out the door, keeping Brandon Browner around apparently made less sense from a scheme standpoint. We go back to relying on the Kyle Arrington/Logan Ryan/Alfonzo Dennard/Malcolm Butler secondary. I don't think that's atrocious, but certainly a significant downgrade. Vince Wilfork headed down to Houston to join former Patriots Bill O'Brien and Ryan Mallet. I'll always have a special place in my heart for Vince, but it was getting tough to justify his salary relative to his production. Run stuffing nose tackles aren't what they used to be. The acquisitions have been fairly low key. Jabaal Sheard has a lot of people excited with some analysts saying he could be the steal of free agency. The linebackers are a bit thin with Donta Hightower expected to miss next season. They also got TE Scott Chandler from the Bills. It should be interesting to see where he fits in with the offense. He'll have to compete with Gronk, Edelman and Brandon LaFell for targets and Tim Wright for snaps as the second Tight End.

Woody Johnson tampered with Darrelle Revis. What he said in his press conference is almost precisely the example they provide in the rulebook for tampering. This is sort of unprecedented. There have been tampering charges brought before, but not so specific, not so public, not on a player as high profile as Revis and the Jets actually signed him within 5 hours of his release. There's some sort of punishment coming down on this, but I don't know how severe it will be. The Jets filed a counterclaim against the Patriots for Robert Kraft's comments at the owner's meeting. It's basically just a PR stunt. Kraft was explicitly describing his interest in the past tense, Woody's expressed interest was ongoing. Whatever, trolling the Patriots wins Woody some points with the fanbase and he needs all the good PR he can get with the way his team has been playing lately.

DeflateGate has stalled out completely. Let me cut out the suspense for you. Here's how this ends.

In a few weeks Goodell holds a press conference to make a statement about the investigation. They went over all the footage from the game with a fine toothed comb. The on-field footage as well as the security footage inside Gillette stadium. There was no evidence of any tampering on the field and their is a clear video to establish the whereabouts of the balls from the time they were checked until they were rechecked at halftime, but the ballboy took the bags of balls into the bathroom on his way to the field. He was in there for about 90 seconds. They went over the video of all the other Patriots games this season to find signs of tampering and either came up with nothing or something inconclusive/circumstantial like they did in this case, but not enough to establish a distinct pattern. It turns out that the balls were deflated when they were rechecked at halftime, but they weren't as deflated as originally reported or fewer of the balls were underinflated as originally reported. The PSI readings weren't recorded from the pregame check or from the halftime check. The on field temperature was deemed adequate to bring down the pressure slightly to bring the ball below the minimum standard. The Patriots balls were submitted at the minimum standard, as is Tom Brady's stated preference, and the Colts balls were submitted on the higher end of the acceptable range, which is why they still fell within the acceptable range when checked at halftime. They had all this information available almost immediately after the story broke, but it seemed better to let the media and the fans wear themselves out about the whole thing and forget about it to focus on the Super Bowl. By the time this press conference happens most people are tired of hearing about it or no longer care.

The conclusion is a "not guilty" with no punishment, but at the same time doesn't fully exonerate the Patriots. Kraft restates his demand for an apology, but never gets one. The legions of Patriots haters have just enough doubt to cling onto and use it as a cheap way to attempt to devalue the Patriots dynasty and harp on it for the rest of their lives.

I don't really know what to expect from the Red Sox this season. The betting odds put them as favorites to win the AL this year at 10-to-1 odds to win the World Series. Some other oddsmakers put them in a dead heat with the Angels for the AL. I'm confident the hitting will be there, but I can't speak for the pitching staff. The starting rotation and the bullpen are currently big question marks in my eyes. I watched some Spring training games, but it seems like all I'm seeing is borderline major leaguers and prospects playing in those games. Whatever, season starts on Monday and we should get an idea of what we're working with.

I hate the NHL/NBA playoff structure. It's why I don't want them to expand the playoffs in the NFL or MLB. The lower seeds aren't realistically competing for a title and it cheapens the regular season. The lowest seed to win the NBA title was the 1995 Rockets at the 6th seed. Jordan was playing baseball between 3-peats. The Rockets had won the title in 1994. They had reigning MVP Hakeem Olajuwon and made a late season trade for Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler who had something left in the tank for the playoffs. The 1995 Devils were the lowest seed to win the Stanley Cup as a 5th seed. The 2012 LA Kings are the lowest seed to win the Stanley Cup as an 8th seed. It was a strike shortened season and they had Martin Brodeur Jonathan Quick. I don't think the Celtics or the Bruins have any of these strange circumstances in their case.

The Celtics might as well make the playoffs at this point. There aren't enough games left to get a decent shot at a top 5 pick (unless you're the Cavs of course) and at least if they limp into the playoffs and put up a good fight against a 1 or 2 seed it'll be good for confidence. It might be something you could sell a big name free agent on or get somebody to waive their no trade clause. "We're already a playoff team, imagine how good we could be with you to bring us to the next level!". Brad Stevens is a good coach, there are some good pieces currently on the team and there should be a steady supply of young talent from Danny's draft pick stockpile. If Danny can finally set off some of those fireworks we've been waiting for this team should be able to jump right back into the mix for a title.

The Captain summed up the Bruins pretty well in his article. They've taken a big step back from winning the President's Trophy last season to struggling for a playoff spot this season. Without a surprising playoff run coach Claude Julien, GM Peter Chiarelli and any number of players could be on the way out. They're currently in a playoff spot just 3 points ahead of the Senators in the standings with Ottawa having a game in hand.
-Mike