Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cassell/Vrabel Trade Analysis

...And now we learn that for Cassell and Vrabel came "only" a second round pick. Upon first glance that seems a little light. But think about it a second before you have cause to flip out.

1) You know that Belichek scoured the trade landscape and deemed that a) this was probably the best they could get and b) that he absolutely could not risk being "stuck" with Cassell after the draft and free agent period. The insurance plan is great, but for $30mil total at the QB position? Yikes.

2) The idea that they could move him in training camp once Brady proved to be okay is a little far-fetched seeing as it is very tough for any QB to just hop right into another team's system and seemlessly fit himself in. Look at what happened with Favre in New York last year. Favre never seemed totally at ease in that system and the coaching staff never seemed totally at ease with him. In this case it was in both parties best interest to make a deal sooner rather than later.

3) Even though a first round pick would have seemed worlds more exciting than a second round pick, the fact is that they have a VERY early second round pick now and the talent drop-off from somewhere in the late teens or 20's to 34 should not be massive. What makes this all the more appealing to Belichek I am sure is that he feels he can get what he perceives to be first round talent at the cost of a second rounder.

4) Speaking of that, do you realize that if they got the Chiefs first round pick, the cap hit and salary that they would need to take on with that draft pick would be pretty close to the cap hit they would take with Cassell? Last year, the third pick in the draft, Matt Ryan received a 6 year $72M contract with almost $35M gauaranteed. Figuring that that number would go up some this year, the difference in salaries would be almost a wash. Conversely, Devin Thomas, the 34th pick in the draft signed a 4 year, roughly $5M contract. Yes, Thomas has been a bust to date (a little used WR for the Redskins) but first off there is never a gaurantee with early first rounders either and secondly you can always find talent in the second round. Last year a few second round standouts included the Bears Matt Forte and Philly's Desean Jackson, both drafted in the 40's. All of this is a long way of saying that the Pats give themselves tons more financial freedom by gaining a second rounder instead of a high first.

5) With the motherload of first day picks the Pats have (currently 1 first, 3 seconds, and 1 and probably two thirds when the Asante compensation pick is awarded) isn't it possible that they need to keep a little extra cap room on hand to sign all these guys and a few more free agents? Don't you think there could be another free agent maneuver up their sleeve? I've heard the Julius Peppers rumors which I don't buy, but with the Cassell/Vrabel move they did clear about $19M from their cap. Hmmmmm.....

In conclusion, it may seem like kind of a weak haul to only get an early second rounder for Vrabel and Cassell, but in the end I truly think that this will work out for the best both with the pick they received in return and the financial flexibility which they have now granted themselves. Read more!

Now it makes sense

So everyone was trying to figure out why the Patriots traded Mike Vrabel. Well, we just found out. Several outlets are reporting that Matt Cassell has just been traded to the Chiefs as well. This is really new information, so noone knows what the Patriots got in return just yet. I would guess it has to be a first rounder for Cassell, and probably a third rounder for Vrabel.

Does this make sense? Yes it does. From the Chiefs standpoint, the got a veteran leader for their defense and they got a franchise quarterback that is far more of a sure thing than Sanchez which was really their only option in the draft.

For the Patriots, they did what they do, gather picks. They moved out a guy in Vrabel whom they were not going to sign next year and had a cap number in the 4 million range, and they got some value for him. With Cassell, well, they had to trade him, and hopefully we are looking at a first rounder. Two picks in the first round...the possibilities.

As for Cassell, he should just be thanking the god of skinny punks that he did not end up in Detroit.
Read more!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Vrabel Deal

Ironic how things work as on the same day a notorious malcontent who has never won anything in his life officially inks with one team, another team ships out a popular, team first guy who played a major part in three championships and a fourth near championship. As far as perception goes, you could not get more diametrically opposed than Stephon Marbury and Mike Vrabel. I hate to play the card, but it's almost like today was designed to give the old white guard of the mainstream Boston sports media a collective head explosion. How do you really expect the Dan Shaugnessey's of the world (and for the record I LIKE Shaugnessey's stuff unlike many) to grapple with the concept of bringing in a troubled and controversial black athlete, while a classy, beloved, and good white one gets sent away? I really wonder about this. I'm not calling anybody racist, but it will be interesting to monitor the reactions. Although to be fair, I think the combination of the recent "the goal is to win rings" dictums by all three major ownership groups in town and the successes of the Dillon and Moss experiences have calmed everybody from the "oh the humanity!" clamorings that came after the Moss trade. Now, we all kind of expect this stuff from all of our teams and assume it will work.

As for me, well I'm already on record as being pro-Starbury and even before knowing the return they get for Vrabel, I am going to hop on the pro-Vrabel trade bandwagon too. They NEED to get younger at linebacker and by jettisoning Vrabel they are forcing their own hands. Next stop is to convince Teddy Bruschi that maybe the corporate speaker circuit is his best bet and oh yeah, he always is a more than welcome presence around Foxboro. This isn't a dog on either Vrabel or Bruschi, two of my favorite Patriots of the Championship years. Bruschi's man-strip of Edge James in the 2005 AFC Championship Game is still one of the most badass plays I have EVER seen. And we all know about Vrabel's key contributions to the goalline offense in addition to the D. These are two great players that should be celebrated, but as fans who want to see the team best positioned to win Super Bowl #4 I think we all need to acknowledge it's best for both parties to just move on. Youth is what the D needs at this moment and this move certainly forces this issue.

Regarding the matter of compensation (right now it's an undisclosed draft choice) I think if they can get a first day pick (3rd I see as best case scenario) in exchange for him then super. Even a 4th would not be the end of the world. Plus they clear cap space, another bonus. Thing is though, I am one of the people who thinks that this trade is just step one in a multi-step deal which will land Cassell in KC. Seems like the skids are somehow getting greased here and if that is the case then I see this getting a whole lot more interesting. Read more!

Vrabel a Chief???

The Boston Globe is reporting that Mike Vrabel is in Kansas City taking a physical that would complete a trade...Not sure what we would get in return. I hope that it is either Larry Johnson or Tony Gonzales. I would imagine that one of them would have to be included in the deal because they both want out of KC, and I don't see Vrabel fetching a high draft pick. I can see why KC would want Vrabel, he could be THE leader of that defense, and bring some of the Patriots work ethic to KC, which you know that Pioli wants to instill there. I am just not sure I see why the Patriots would want to trade him. He is still playing hard, and is productive, and never complains.

Interesting development for sure.....

More to come

-Ben Read more!

Freddie T and Manny

Three very quick thoughts for Friday morning....

1) I love the Fred Taylor imminent signing by the Pats. Love it! And this is coming from a guy who has said about 185 times over the past few months that their sole focuses in free agency and the draft should be defense, defense, defense. So why the love for Taylor?

Assuming the money is right (ie relatively low cost and a deal where they can basically go year-to-year with him) you get a former Pro Bowl caliber player with something left in the tank to work into the RB platoon. Yes he is coming off of a career low in yards-per-carry (3.9) but last year the entire Jags running game was a mess. The two years prior to that he averaged 5.0 and 5.4 YPC respectively. My guess is that next year he falls somewhere in the 4.5 YPC range which I will take anytime.

So, where does he fit in in the Maroney/Faulk/Morris/Jordan group? I am not sure. To me it's a no-brainer that they keep Faulk around and I'd imagine Maroney is safe too. That seems kind of odd given his somewhat checkered injury/production past, but he was a first round pick and he has shown flashes so it probably behooves the team to give him one more shot at proving his NFL worth. That leaves Morris, Jordan, or maybe both as the likely victims here. If I had to guess, I'd honestly say it would be Sammy Morris because as much as I like what he has done in his tenure here (when he's been healthy), he too has had trouble staying on the field and his game is more of a match towards Taylor's. This is to say that both Taylor and Morris are more traditional running backs while Lamont Jordan is more of the bruiser who is adept in the passing game. Because of that, I say Morris is the one to go even if other logic and maybe even popular opinion will reside in begrudgingly cutting Jordan or maybe even casting off Maroney.

2) Your first reaction to the news that Manny just nixed the Dodgers 2 year/$45M offer with the second year, a player option at $20M is that Manny is an idiot because nobody else is bidding on him. But then you actually look at HOW the Dodgers were going to pay him (only $10M of that actually coming next year, the rest deferred) and I guess it makes a bit more sense. And then your brain really starts churning and you begin to buy in more and more to those outside thoughts that everybody has, which say the Yankees are going to swoop in and sign him to a massive one or two year deal and that is why he said no.

Right now, who knows the real reason he passed, but if sometime on Saturday you see an ESPNEWS flash claiming that Manny just inked a 1 year, $30M offer with the Yankees, you would not be that shocked would you?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Manny played 130 games in 2006 and 133 games in 2007, which were the last two years he was NOT playing for a contract. This is important to me simply because if you sign a soon to be 37 year old Manny to any type of contract this year, chances are you are getting more of the 130 or so game a year player as opposed to the 153 game a year player he was last year. This is not really a knock on Manny, people are going to be more injury prone as they age now that they can't just shoot themselves up with HGH so I offer this as something substantial that must be thought on when considering tossing heaps of cash at Mr. Manny.

ps.....Love the new logo Read more!


So it is Friday, I haven't really written much this week my nights have been taken up by some meetings that I had to go to and family coming over for dinner, and of course me working on the lovely new logo at the top of the page. I thought after a year it was time for us to switch it up a bit, if all goes as plan hopefully we will also have a new website design soon to but that is still in it's planning stages.

- Why did the Redskins pay $100 million dollars for Albert Haynesworth? He is injury prone, he is a little bit crazy, and has only played well the last two years when he had a contract on the line. Once again the Skins are going to overspend and will not win.

- The Bruins have seemingly broken out of there slump at this point. Two wins in the last two games, 12 goals, and only 1 goals against. Hopefully they can keep playing strong until we get to the post season.

- The games portion of spring training has started for the Sox, I have watched a couple innings so far. It was so nice on Wednesday to not have to here Jerry Remy's voice while watching NESN. I don't know where he was but as long as they dont replace him with Ken Macha I would be thrilled if he was gone forever.

- Tom Brady finally got married. I really don't care, call me when he is throwing the ball in mini camp.

-Finally, how stupid is Manny? There is no one else who wants him, he shoudl have signed on the dotted line otherwise he is going to spend the year wondering around with nothing to do. Read more!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The All-Inclusive AL East Preview

In lieu of a big baseball preview like I did last year, I am going to do it in parts this year. Today, I'm going to take a look at the AL East because I am guessing that is what you will be most interested in. From there, I'll do some other quick previews of non-AL East/Red Sox stuff. For now though, we keep it local.

AL East

The Bottom Tier

From where I sit, Baltimore is clearly the worst team in this division. "Worst" is a relative term however because I really don't think they are that bad. Yes, their pitching will probably be pretty bad as is bound to happen when Jeremy Guthrie looks like your opening day starter, but on the flip side their offense should again be pretty good. Did you realize that their offense scored just seven fewer runs than the Yankees did last year and eight more than the AL Champion Rays? Exactly. They are a good offensive squad. Maybe Aubrey Huff won't post another .912 OPS this year, but they still house a great top of the order hitter/speedster in Brian Roberts and also probably the AL's most underrated hitter in Nick Markakis.

Markakis is just 25 years old and has seen both his OBP and slugging percentage increase each year since he arrived to the majors in 2006. Fantasy nerds already are well aware of him, but for the rest of you, don't be surprised by a .320/.420/25/110 year from him. In other words, he is what JD Drew could be if he stayed healthy and consistent from April through October.

One other little thing I want to point out with the Orioles is Adam Jones. Jones was the centerpiece of the Erik Bedard trade which occurred before last season. Last year he got off to a slow start and then picked up in the middle of the season before being slowed again with an injury in August. When he went well though, he went really, really well and a 20/20 season from him should not be out of the question. So, in short the Orioles have a good amount of talent on offense, but nothing in the pitching department meaning they will be one of those teams that can beat any team in any series at any time or could be a candidate to get swept and blown out if their bats go silent. Think of the Tigers last year and pencil them in for 75 wins or so and some late season friskiness.

The other bottom tier team in the division has to be Blue Jays. I use the "bottom tier" team loosely as I fully expect the Blue Jays to win about 85 games or so and give the Red Sox all kinds of fits. With that being said, the Blue Jays could very well take a major step back and supplant the Orioles as the division's fifth place team. Why?

For starters, it's their starters. You know Roy Halladay will be a horse, win around 20 with an ERA in the low 3s and be close to the top in the AL in innings pitched. After him there are a ton of questions. Their best returning pitcher Dustin McGowan could miss the season. Their second best returning pitcher, Shaun Marcum is in the same boat. And lest we forget, they lost AJ Burnett. What this all means is that the potential for some sort of an abyss after Roy Halladay is quite strong.

Their offense meanwhile won't be anything special either. Yes they have a budding star in Alex Rios but after him you really only need to worry about Vernon Wells, and he seemingly only shows up to play the Sox. Therefore, with the Jays I say I think they can win 85 or so because they always seem to (they've averaged 81 wins/year over the last 5 years and 85 over the past 3) but by the same token if they fall back to the 70 or so win range I really would not be too shocked either.

Final on the Record Prediction:

5. Orioles (74-88)

4. Blue Jays (83-79)

The Big Boys

Without really stopping and devoting a ton of thought to the matter, you would probably rate the Big Three in the AL East as New York, Boston, Tampa Bay. If I were to ask you for a reason, you may say something like, "well the Yankees signed every free agent under the sun this winter, the Red Sox are the Red Sox, and the Rays were probably a bit of a fluke last year". I would respond to you, "fair enough, but I'd actually flip your order and use that as mine".

3) Yankees

Biggest Strength

Rotation. Say what you will about AJ Burnett and how he could be Jaret Wright 2.0 or how CC Sabathia is vying to be the first pitcher in history that outweighs an average NFL offensive lineman but Burnett struck out more than a batter an inning last year in 221.1 IP and CC is just one season removed from winning an AL Cy Young. Oh, and Chien Mien Wang averaged 210 innings and 19 wins in 2006-07 before getting hurt in a fluke injury last year. Add in the high upside young guy (Joba) and the old stalwart (Pettitte) and you have pretty nice looking front 5. The only real question here however is can they do it in October. Sabathia and Wang both have awful postseason track records and Burnett has never thrown a postseason inning. This could be a great rotation from April through September but if it falters in October, will anybody remember a few great starts in July or August? Not in New York.

Biggest Weakness

Their defense, especially up the middle figures to be pretty bad. Jeter's lack of range has been well documented, Cano is known as an adventure at second, and it still remains to be seen if Posada can actually throw from behind the plate to second. Their outfield defense might be average, but if teams can run rampant on Posada and are able to eek out a few extra hits thanks to the Jeter/Cano tag-team it could turn into a semi-big problem. Remember that the 2004 Sox did not really take off until they replaced Nomar with the OC and a big reason for that - beyond the clubhouse issues - was that Nomar was just brutal with the glove. Never underestimate how much bad defense can submarine a good team.

Hidden Weakness

Last year the Yankees finished 7th in the AL in runs scored. This year, while they added Mark Teixeira they did lose Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. Those two combined for a little over 1200 plate appearances and hit 52 home runs with a .363 OBP. Yes, Teixeira will make up a chunk of that, but not all of it. The rest will fall on the shoulders of Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. Maybe they are up to the task and maybe they are not, but even with a huge ticket addition, getting back to the top 3 or so in the AL in runs scored may be a tougher task than it seems.

Final Thoughts

The Yankees could probably win 100. They could also win a bit less than that. Like the Red Sox, they are an aging/veteran team with few "upside" guys AKA guys who potentially could perform better than anticipated. Of course the flip side to that is that they have a ton of really good players so even without a lot of upside, they still are looking pretty good. In the end though, my main reason for placing them in the three hole of this group is that I feel their defensive limitations plus an offense that may not be as good as anticipated are the largest of the aggregate concerns of this group of three. That being said, if everything goes right and they do find some upside guys, they could definitely take the division and maybe do it with relative ease.

2) Red Sox

I'm going to motor through this because I have already said countless times my thoughts on them.

Biggest Strength

The rotation and bullpen are loaded. Their three top starters are all under 30, they have a good fifth starter type in Wakefield, and it seems as if they could receive good to great contributions from the Penny/Smoltz combo. Sure it would be nice if Dice learned how to throw at least six innings a start, but that kind of is what it is. There is nothing worse than watching a Dice-K start (...and doesn't that just suck, wasn't one of the main attractions of bringing him on board how FUN it would be to watch him work??) and that probably won't change.

What else excites me about the staff is that not only do they have the established veterans mentioned above, they also have Michael Bowden, Clay Bucholz, and maybe even Justin Masterson (if they shift him from the pen). This entire group can potentially contribute in a pleasantly surprising type of way assuming the inevitable missed starts of all the starters at some point or another during the season. This is a huge advantage to have and as fun as it may have been, this means we don't have to worry about the David Pauleys of the world getting thrust into a few meaningful games down the road.

Oh yeah, and yes I think the bullpen should be good as well. Manny Delcarmen is still a major enigma but between Ramon Ramirez, Saito, Masterson, Okajima, and of course Papelbon I think things from the seventh inning on should be in good hands. Never underestimate the power of a good to great bullpen because if you can essentially play six or seven inning games with good starters at the front end, that is a HUGE advantage.

On a more minor note, the defense is shaping up to be pretty good and that should by no means be underrated.

Biggest Weakness

They are still a bat short. This has not changed. Right now, you know roughly what you are going to get from Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, and that is about it. Beyond that you could have some pleasant surprises (bounce back year from Papi, emergence of Ellsbury and Lowrie, 145 good games from JD Drew, a 20/100 campaign from Mike Lowell, mediocre production from the catcher position) or you could have a lot of awful surprises (pretty much the exact opposite of everything previously stated). Logic dictates that it will probably end up in the middle somewhere, but it is still always a bit nerve-wracking going into a season with that many Peter Gammons specials AKA, "IF.....can do....., and IF....can do....., THEN they can win the World Series".

Final Thoughts

I put the Sox number two here under the impression that their staff will be as good as anticipated and their lineup will be slightly better than I think it will be. If either of these do not live up to that billing then they easily drop to third and probably win "only" 88 games or so.

1) Rays

Biggest Strength

Let's see, their best offensive players (Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Carlos Pena, and Evan Longoria) all either missed sizable time due to or played through injuries during good chunks of the year. Probably their most talented pitcher, Scott Kazmir also battled injuries and it took future Josh Beckett, Matt Garza a couple of months to figure out how good he really was. Oh, and they did not have phenom David Price until September. Long story short, there is actually a TON of room for improvement for the team who won the division last year.

And did I mention that they acquired via free agency and trade, Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce to fill their biggest offensive weak spot (DH/RF). Last year, Joyce and Burrell combined for 45 home runs and a .360 OBP in 911 plate appearances. If you figure 1,100 plate appearances for them that equates to 54 homers for this year. Last year they had a platoon of Eric Hinske, Gabe Kross, and Cliff Floyd for these spots who in 1,044 plate appearances posted a .333 OBP with 44 home runs. Obviously, the Burrell/Joyce combo is a marked improvement making the Rays offensive ceiling for this year all the higher.

Biggest Weakness

On paper, this is their bullpen. Yes, they had a shutdown bullpen last year, but in 2007 it was awful. As so happens with bullpens, one year a 'pen can be great and the next it can be awful. If that sounds totally trivial well that is because it is. Bullpens fluctuate like crazy so assuming that a bullpen that was awful one year then good again the next will continue to be good is a risky proposition. And that doesn't even mention the attrition rate in relievers who always seem to blow out their elbows. Bottom line, I think the Rays are about as balanced a squad as you will find in baseball as we head into the season and if they potentially have one slight armor chink, it's the bullpen.

And then there are these two side thoughts:

1) How do they play with expectations? It's a lot tougher when you are supposed to be good then when you come up from the bottom. Excuses that may have worked in the past will not work in the present. Still, this seems like a pretty solid bunch and I doubt that this will be an issue. You never know though.

2) Starting in 2000, only 4 times has a team that played in the World Series the year before made it back even as far as it's league's Championship Series the following year. That is win or lose in the WS folks. Pretty crazy isn't it. In case you are wondering, those teams were the 2001 Yankees (previous WS winner, lost in WS), 2004 Yankees (previous WS loser, lost in ALCS), 2005 Cardinals (previous WS loser, lost in NLCS), and 2008 Red Sox (previous WS winner, lost in ALCS). Anyway, the odds are stacked highly against them in this regard, mainly because playing 180 or so games over 7 months can wreak havoc on a pitching staff. If any team can overcome this, I'd think it would be a young bunch like the Rays, but it certainly will not be easy.

Final Thoughts

I think this is the best team in baseball. In any other division I would be predicting triple-digit victories for them. In the AL East, I say 98 and the division crown.

So that is that. This turned out to be way longer than I planned - not to mention that it took me way longer to put it together - so I hope you at least found it interesting and informative.

Read more!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


So, the Knicks and Starbury reached a buyout agreement. Is it next stop Boston for him? Right now, people seem to think yes. What do I think?

Well, he's not the world's best teammate but he is coming onto a team with a clear pecking order where he will be forced to fall in line behind KG and Paul Pierce. The other thing that I think will help is that he will be the clear-cut number five guy on the team and coming off the bench. By virtue of that last sentence it tells you immediately that Stephon cannot come into town thinking he is the man and that his teammates should act accordingly.

If he does act a fool then the C's dump him. And that my friends is the beauty of having a championship caliber, veteran laden team, with a clear-cut leadership structure in place from both a player a coach perspective. The Patriots do this stuff all the time and it works great for them. I'm not saying that the Celtics are quite at that level yet but as far as basketball teams go I think the only other team in the NBA that could bring on Marbury in a similar situation would be the Spurs. That my friends says a lot - of good things - about the Celtics and if there is any NBA company you want to keep, it is the company of the Spurs.

So now basketball, what does it mean?

Worst Case Scenario

Sam Cassell version 2.0. Plain and simple. It would astonish me if it turned out that poorly. Astonish me. Nobody inspired vitriol around these parts like Sam Cassell circa May 2008 and I would prefer to not see that matched nor have my patience tested in that regard again.

Best Case Scenario

Nick Van Exel from the Mavericks circa 2003. These were the Mavs teams back when they still had Steve Nash and Michael Finley to go along with Dirk and could put up 130 seemingly at will. ALL these guys did was score. And for this this team, Van Exel was the A Number 1 offensive weapon off the bench. Really his only job was to come in the game and create offense. Pretty much he was a rich man's Eddie House. That is no offense to Eddie either. Van Exel - dating back to his Cincinnati days in college - was just one of those guys I always loved to watch play and if Marbury can provide some semblance of what Van Exel provided to that Mavs team from the bench then I say the C's have done VERY well for themselves.

Good character or not, the C's need bench help so if you want to see them repeat without getting on your moral high-horse then embrace this move with open arms.


Do you realize that in that aforementioned postseason, 2003, Van Exel averaged almost 20 points per game and had three games of 35+ points all from the bench. Pretty good right? Read more!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wow what a boring weekend

This is going to be short, do you know why? Because next to nothing happened this weekend, I am really looking forward to the exhibition games for the Red Sox starting, its really not Spring training until the Red Sox play a split squad game against the the full squad Pirates and show that they are still better with half of there good players. Anyway here are some notes from the weekend.

- I hate Cube Gooding Jr. Last night he was one of the presenters for the Best Supporting Oscar, that of course went to Heath Ledger. Why does he have to be a jackass? I mean seriously the guy won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire and now can only get screen time in classics like Daddy Day Camp, and Snow Dogs. He should just be happy to be on the stage no reason to yell.

- Rajon Rondo is fantastic. Yesterday on his birthday he absolutely tore up the Phoenix Suns. I still cannot believe he was not on the all star team.

- Bruins lost, cars went in circles, I have work to do that is all for now. Read more!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Celtic Thoughts for Friday Afternoon

1) Will KG's injury - even if he just misses three games as reported - cost the C's the one seed in the East? Honestly, I say yes.

2) Thank you Tyson Chandler for having turf toe and thank you Oklahoma City for inexplicably nixing the trade on account of it. That made absolutely no sense to me. OKC is one of the worst teams in the NBA this year with no shot at making the playoffs. They do however have a good young nucleus which Chandler would have fit well into moving forward. So he may miss a few games this year. Who cares?! As long as he is healthy in the future when the team may actually be good is all that matters. Anyway, I'm not sure why I am apparently complaining about this as it opens up the door for a potential Joe Smith buyout and signing with the C's. Now THAT would be freakin' awesome. As I've said for the past few months, Smith is exactly what the Celtics need.

3) I guess it is because he has a sizable contract, but seriously why else on earth would the C's have let the deal for Andres Nocioni die? Yeah, yeah, yeah they would have had to give up half their bench to make it work, but in actuality the only guy in the outgoing mail section of that trade that will get PT moving forward is Big Baby now that Tony Allen is (luckily) hurt. And Big Baby sucks. Maybe I am just biased because I really enjoyed Noc when the Bulls were good a few years back, but I feel like there is always room on the bench for a relatively young (30), 6' 7" swingman that can rebound and hit threes. I know the contract is a bit on the brutal side (5 years and about $30M remaining) but there is no way I can be swayed that not pulling the trigger on this deal would have been a bad thing. Read more!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Raja Bell?

So I saw a rumor on that the C's are interested in Raja Bell. Let me tell you something right now. That move would be freaking awesome.

Here is why:

1) He'd bring the same toughness/experience/professionalism to the backcourt this year that PJ Brown brought to the frontcourt last year.

2) While he is not quite tall enough to provide the D against Lebron James like Posey did, he is still big enough (6' 5") to handle bigger guards. Plus Kobe hates him which is always a plus in my book.

3) What else that size could do would be to allow him to play alongside Eddie House with the second unit and handle the ball which we all know is not exactly Eddie's strong suit. Plus, I really see no reason why Tony Allen (if he gets back from his surgery by playoff time) would ever get any meaningful minutes over Bell in crunch time. Amazingly, the deal could be both addition by subtraction AND addition by addition assuming that Bell would mean bye-bye for Tony Allen.

4) You just know that Raja Bell will knock down a big shot or two in the playoffs. You just know it! Keep in mind that this is a guy who played about 36 minutes a game for all those great Suns teams from a few years back. It's not like he is a scrub.

And that is it. I really see no downside to a potential Raja Bell addition. The name came kind of out of nowhere but count me as 100% on board with this. Read more!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Few Tuesday Thoughts...

1) OK, kind of big news as it pertains to the Celtics on the periphery with Tyson Chandler getting traded to the Oklahoma City team for Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith. I've been very vocal about my desires to get Joe Smith on board here and now it looks like it definitively will not happen.

2) Speaking of the C's if you read between the lines of the Sam Cassell "trade" then it seems like they are clearing out a roster spot to acquire somebody else. Because they have no assets for trade, it seems all but certain that there is either a deal in the works for Starbury or PJ Brown. I guess there could be a wild card in there, but that is how I read it. Honestly, at this point the bench needs definite help and I'll take that help where ever it can come from.

3) This A-Rod stuff seriously needs to go away. It's example 1,284 of a story being completely pushed by the media. The way it's being covered you would think that that is all anybody is talking about in the world of sports, but I can tell you that beyond initial reactions the day the story broke I have not discussed it once with anybody. I just don't care and wish it would go away and furthermore I think that is how most people feel.

4) You want a fantasy baseball tip from me for this year? Here you go:

If you are drafting anywhere from 7 on and he is still available, draft Miguel Cabrera. In my opinion the only guys that should get drafted ahead of him are Hanley Ramirez, A-Rod, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, and Grady Sizemore. Something tells me, Cabrera will drop as people become obsessed with guys like Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton, or Mark Teixeira, but I promise you that if you draft Cabrera he will not let you down. Why? Because other than Manny Ramirez he is the only guy who enters just about every year as a legitimate threat to compete for a triple crown. Pujols could do it, but he has no protection in the St. Louis order and gets walked too much. Cabrera, despite havin Big Baby's conditioning habits is still turning just 26(!!!!) in April and is totally capable of a .335/.420/35/130 season with 110 runs scored. That's a beast season folks. Don't let it pass you by because you think Josh Hamilton will drive in almost 100 runs again before the All Star break. Go with the guy with the track record, even if that guy is a bit more Jessica Simpson than Fiona Apple. Read more!

I hope you had a nice long weekend

It was a nice long weekend, I got some painting done, finally finished my detox from caffine, and played some NCAA 2009 on the xbox. Overall a good time, I am now just in a holding pattern until MLB 2K9 comes out. March 3rd for all those who were wondering. So some notes from my long weekend.

- I napped through the Daytona 500, it was a good nap

- I watched the slam dunk contest on Saturday night and was fairly impressed. I still think that Rudy Fernandez got completely hosed, granted it took him 9 tries but his dunk off the backboard was the best. He would have gotten it sooner if Pau Gasol hadnt been a douche and tried to go behind his back.

- Spring training is in full swing it would appear to me that most of the players have reported at this point even though the position players get a couple more days. David Ortiz soudned awfully confident in his rant baout Steroids, there can be no way in hell his name is on that list.

- If you want a good read about position battles, then check out this article by Jerry Crasnick. I always enjoy his stuff plus his brother works in the same department as I do so that makes him a little cooler.

- You want proof that steroids can't make you an all star unless you already are one? Meet Larry Izzo.

- I don't know if you heard but Alex Rodriguez did Steroids.

- Finally I would like to say goodbye to the Celtics funny little Alien Sam Cassell who will be making his way back to California in a trade we made if to do nothing else but open up a roster spot. Thanks for the memories Sam, it was great when you would ruin the tempo in the playoffs last year, or when you held the ball last year after the Celtics won and acted like you actually had something to do with it. Read more!

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Proof That Mark Teixeira is a Douche

As I've said a few times over the past couple of months, A-Rod bashing is soooo 2005. Time to move onto a new target, a Mr. Mark-Leigh Teixeira. What's my latest ammo for this? Well check out this photo of him from Yahoo's Fantasy Baseball main page and try and tell me you don't want to just boot this smug a-hole in the nuts. Read more!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two Quick Sunday Night Thoughts

1) Soooooooo....JD Drew's back is still sore. Shocker. Once again, I ask why the Red Sox are going into the season seemingly banking on 150+ games from David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, and JD Drew. That is one third of their lineup fronting as major question marks for any more than 120+ games. Couple that with little to no contribution from the catcher spot and question marks at center and short and that leaves me to currently ponder the fact that right now I only count Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Bay as guys who can reasonably be expected to perform on a consistent basis from April through October. Sorry, long sentence, but I think it was important
2) Wow, the three point contest sucked d*ck on Saturday night. I LOVE the three point contest. Call me a helpless white boy, but whatever. I got hooked back in the day when Larry Bird, Dale Ellis, and Craig Hodges would do their thing and I have been a sucker ever since. And that brings me to last night.

Can you please explain to me why Daquean Cook was even in a position to win? Watching him and Rashard Lewis heave bricks in the "finals" was enough to make me want to change the channel to a Desperate Housewives marathon. As one of the TNT guys said last night, where in the F were Ray Allen and Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, I think Eddie House would have been great too but I cannot complain about seeing Daquean Cook out there while calling for Eddie House without seeming a little hypocritical. After all, Cook could very well be Miami's version of House. I just would not care enough to know. Regardless, if you are holding a competition to showcase the best in the NBA at one very important and eloquent basketball skill (long range jump shooting) then the best and purest in the game should be represented every year regardless. To me that means take Dirk, Ray, and Peja Stojakovic every year until they retire and fill in the blanks later. Shoot, get Reggie Miller to shed his TNT suit and fire away for all I care. Just please don't make me watch a finals between Rashard Lewis and Daquean Cook ever, ever again.

Thanks and I am out. More from me after this enjoyable long weekend. Read more!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Five for Friday

1) Wow, huge win for the C's last night. Back to back road wins in New Orleans and Dallas is pretty big time and one of the toughest two-game stretches of their schedule they just aced.

Kind of funny, but you realize that they only have 27 games left to play in the regular season right? Seems crazy doesn't it. As they sit now at 44-11, I really think in order to lock down the top seed in the East they need to win 67 games. Nuts, but true the way Cleveland looks. That means they must close the year at 23-4 clip. Hard? Yes. Doable? Of course. This is a team that started 27-2, has won 19 in a row, 12, in a row, and is in the midst of an 8 game road winning streak. Yes they still have to play at Utah, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Denver - all VERY tough road tests out west - but beyond that their schedule is relatively favorable. If they can split those games or even take 3 of four, they will be in great shape moving forward. The biggest of the biggies is still the April game at Cleveland but if we can just hope for 67 wins, I think we will be all good. Of course everybody thought 11 would be the Pats magic number and that did not exactly work out. At least here though we are talking about a 2 seed worst case scenario and not missing the playoffs all together.

2) You have to read Keith Law's take on the Nats signing of Adam Dunn from his blog. It is almost laugh out loud funny and sums up the Nationals in a nutshell. As for the other end of the spectrum, check out Rick Snider's take. He is a longtime DC area sportswriter who clearly must be on the Lerners payroll. He really thinks that people are going to show up in August to watch a team 15 games out of first place on the off chance that Adam Dunn will hit a home run or two as opposed to a mighty 0-4 with 4 Ks? I'm not sure about that. Hold on one second while I grab that red challenge flag out of my sock to throw at Snider.

3) Here would be my perfect world breakdown - and what I really think will need to happen for them to win their division - of number of starts by each group of Red Sox starters for the season:

Beckett/Lester/Dice-K - 96 (32 a person)

Wakefield/Bucholz/Bowdin - 36

Brad Penny/John Smoltz - 30 starts

It is kind of aggressive, but you know the Sox are probably banking on something like this from their rotation. Obviously you hope the Penny/Smoltz number there is on the low end and the Wake/Buch/Bowdin is on the high end, but if you want to think realistically, above is what you have to go for.

4) I don't mean to pump myself up or anything but I do mean to pump up RBB when I say that for the second time this winter, an idea posted by RBB (well, me) is starting to gain some steam in local and national media. First, I lead the charge on why the Sox should look at signing Bobby Abreu and now it appears that I was way out in front in putting forth the idea/prediction that Richard Seymour would be cut by the Patriots. Again, this serves as notice not that I am smarter than everybody else but rather that RBB puts out content that really is original and sometimes off the standard path but also logical. We don't need to echo what all the other Boston media hounds are screaming about and we don't try to do that either.

5) I worry about the Celtics in the longrun mainly because they have absolutely no tradeable commodities and they need to improve. Really the only way they will be able to add a meaningful player to their team would be to re-drag PJ Brown out of retirement or hope for a buyout of Stephon Marbury or maybe Joe Smith. I played with's Trade Machine a few weeks ago and figured out that the Celtics could acquire Joe Smith for Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen, but why on earth would Oklahoma City do that? Sure, Smith serves no purpose to them but at least his salary is off the books at the end of the year. Scalabrine and Tony Allen on the other hand would be tied to for a few years moving forward and why would they want that?

Read more!

Some notes before the weekend

It is Friday afternoon, the day before a long weekend, my boss left at noon, my head hurts a little bit and I think I may have had one to many free dark chocolate hearts that appeared in the kitchen at work but I thought I would write a quick post. Some random thoughts to start your weekend.

- The Daytona 500 is on Sunday I think, I do not care there is something about spending hours watching cars go around in a circle that just does not appeal to me. I am part of a fantasy racing league though so I at least pay attention to the results. I thought I would link to this article from Marty Smith about 3 time champion Jimmie Johnson. Good article, but it seems to me almost that they try way to hard to make him sound like a normal guy.

- All star weekend. It maybe the only all star game in professional sports where the players actually consider it a big deal to go and represent the best of the best. In football they go just for the free trip to Hawaii which is no over, and in baseball players seem to come down with mysterious ailments right before the game, but in basketball it takes something like a torn MCL to keep a guy away and thats what makes interesting.

- No news from Fort Myers, that is a good thing everyone showed up and things are looking good.

That is about it I cannot wait until actual games are played down in Florida or in the WBC. Read more!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What to Blog On?

I hate not blogging. It drives me nuts. By this site's standards I have been relatively active lately but by my own not. Anyway, why is this? Well, what is there to write about?

I have said fifteen times my thoughts/reservations on the Sox and ditto the Celtics. With the Pats, there is not much to say about them until post draft and free agency so that won't be for another couple of months either. So what do we talk about now? I have no freaking clue! I'll get you an MLB preview soon, and hopefully there will be some exciting news about the Celtics around the deadline with them making a move to bolster their front court but beyond that, I don't know where the news is going to come from. I could write about A-Rod and Manny everyday like the rest of the media but I think I'll pass there. So that is what is going on here. As stuff comes up I'll post on it but right now there aint much out there. As I said before, it hurts me a lot more than it hurts you. Fear not though, I can never leave the blog for more than two days at a time. Read more!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sorry ESPN, but This is Not a Coors Lite Six Pack of Thoughts...Just a Regular Six Pack of Thoughts

OK, I took Tuesday off from the blogging world but I'm back today with a few thoughts...

1) You may have missed some good news for the Celtics last night. What happened? Cleveland lost to Indiana when Lebron fouled Danny Granger with .01 second left on an alley-oop play in a one point game. Granger knocked down the free throws giving Indiana the upset win. Why is this important? Well it's going to be a dog fight until the end for the top seed in the East and with that loss, Cleveland is now even in the loss column with the C's at 11. In the Celtics favor is that they have played 3 more games than Cleveland pacing them slightly ahead of the Cavs. Regardless of anything that happens now though it seems to be an all but certainty that home court in the East will really get decided on the third to last game of the season when the Celtics travel to Cleveland. With that game looming so large potentially it really is important for them to win as many games as possible in these next two months leading up to that April 12th showdown.

2) The Celtics losses to the Lakers and Spurs on Thursday and Sunday were each incredibly frustrating. Each probably could have been wins. If KG does not foul out on Thursday and if his jumper does not rim out on Sunday (the one that preceded Roger Mason's game swinging 3) then both games are Ws. So it goes though with close games. As Pricing Boy pointed out, the C's were gassed on Sunday as the Spurs had not played since the following Tuesday and in that Tuesday game Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker all sat out to rest. Therefore their starters were coming off almost a weeks worth of rest while the C's were at the tail end of a three game in four nights. While frustrating, neither game discourages me because one play, bounce, or call going the Celtics way instead of their opponents and they win both. Still, it's always tough to stomach two last minute losses to elite teams at home.

3) So I guess Brett Favre retired now for the 15th time. Who gives an F really? Please just go away. I do think however the up-tick to this whole thing now is that he is probably 100% done. Unless the Vikings or Bears or somebody else make a move for him. And then it will be on again. Ugh. Please don't let that happen.

4) Like Pricing Boy, I too am quite pumped for Spring Training to start. Still, my fears for the team remain the same as I think they are a hitter short. Adding one more hitter would turn the team I think into a close clone of the 2005, World Series winning Chicago White Sox. I loved how that team was built as they were reliant on no real superstars in their lineup or on the mound but instead put a bunch of really good players out there on a day to day basis and could beat you with any of them. That team featured 7 guys with 15+ home runs (Paul Konerko was the high man with 40) and 4 pitchers with 14+ wins and ERAs in the 3s. How about that for balance? Isn't that kind of the road this Sox team is heading down? I really think so and I am happy with that. Now, let's just get that extra bat.

5) I have to say, the best site of all the Sox who reported early for Spring Training is Josh Beckett actually looking in shape. No need to rehash the gut photo from last year but let's just say that the combination of Josh Beckett being in shape + wanting to prove that last year was a fluke + playing for a contract extension (Sox have a no-brainer option year for next year to pickup and then he is a free agent) should hopefully equal around 20 wins, an ERA in the low 3s, 200+ strikeouts, and 220 innings pitched. I'll take that because even if the offense lags some if Beckett can bounceback to 2007 form and Lester can build off of or even match last year's output then the Sox will be really, really tough to beat and have probably the best 1-2 punch in baseball at the top of their rotation.

6) You may have seen that Mel Kiper Jr. went on record as saying that Matt Cassell was a better and safer bet than the two top of the draft QBs this year, Mathew Stafford and Mark Sanchez. This seems inconsequential, but in reality people put way too much stock in what Mel Kiper Jr. says and this probably increases the value of Matt Cassell in a trade. Remember that a lot of yahoos last year were pining for the Pats to TRADE UP to draft Vernon Ghoulston instead of staying in place to take Jerod Mayo. The only reason for that was because Ghoulston was a Mike Mamula like combine special and got the Mel Kiper Jr. Hype Machine behind him. Obviously the Pats are smarter than that and clearly made the right decision. I'm just saying, don't spend too much time listening to pre-draft hype because often times it's way off base. Luckily people put a ton of stock in it though and this year it could help out the Pats immensely. Read more!

Wednesday Notes

So a slow night in Boston sports, but there are some things to look forward to.

1. Pitchers and Catchers report tomorrow, which is just FANTASTIC. Lester, Smoltz, and Youk have already been spotted.

2. The Patriots are going to have to trade Cassel at some point soon I can't wait for some more draft picks that could help out our aging defense.

3. The Celtics are on the road for next 2 and half weeks, why you may ask? Because Disney on Ice is in town of course.

Anyway here are some links for today.

- The Bruins lost last night, I was all set to try and watch the game, then I forgot that it was on and then I remembered and couldn't find it on NESN and finally found Vs. and it was the break after the third period. It was then that the wheels cam off of for the Bruins I watched the Sharks score two goals and then I turned it off. Fluto Shinzawa(great name) has an article on about the Bruins playing it to safe and getting burned.

- So as I mentioned the Sox are starting up Spring Training tomorrow and I don't know about you but I am pumped. I was checking out which much to my chagrin has become one of the better place to get Boston Sports News, and Alex Speier has a good review of the Red Sox offseason.

- So we get a little bit of the Patriots today as well. Did you realize that Vince Wilforks contract is up after this year? He is still on his original six year rookie contract and the time to sign him is now, Wilfork is saying that he has not heard from the Patriots front office since last year about a contract. He needs to be signed up, we are going to get rid of Seymour at some point soon and we need to keep some of that line.

That's all for today I hope that you find some of these links interesting. Read more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Notes

Things are busy at work today but Iw anted to get a couple of links out there for you guys(all 12 of you).

- So BU won another Beanpot last night at the Garden. I have always wanted to get tickets and go but no matter my income I have never actually followed through with it. BU won again for the 29th time. Thing is the beanpot is nothing for BU this year they are looking for a national championship.

- I am not discussing the Arod thing, it is getting beaten to death everywhere, and we all know the list of 104 is going to come out at some point and some Red Sox players are going to be on it. I still remember the terror I felt when Ben text messaged me while I was checking into the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World to tell me that Tek was on the Mitchell Report. Which ended up being false but still I still remember that feeling.

- If I cared about Hockey I would be excited for tonight when Big Joe Thorton comes back to town with the West leading San Jose Sharks. I am always amazed when I look at the NHL standings an the Bruins are number one in the league by 6 points. Now I don't know what points are worth anymore since they have changed it about 20 times since 1990 but that has to be pretty good right?

- I missed posting it a couple of days ago but the Sox released the list of the non roster invitees to Spring Training. No really surprising names on the list, while you know they will not make the roster it will be good to see what Daniel Bard can do against major league batters, and Lars Anderson against pitching.

So that is all I have for now. Read more!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend in Review

So it was a pretty slow weekend around these parts, but here are some highlights.

- The truck left for Fort Myers, which is great, it has been cold and miserable around here lately, and there is only so much Sportscenter and Jon and Kate Plus 8(my wifes favorite show) that one person can watch. I can't wait till spring when I can sit back and watch the Red Sox in HD on my 42 inch Plasma. The truck leaving is a silly thing to recognize, but with the Pats out of it and the Bruins and Celtics playoff locks there really isnt a whole lot else that we can pay attention to.

- R&B writer Ben celebrated a birthday this weekend. My gift to him was a signed Mark Belhorn ball. I will not tell you how much it cost but I will tell you this the ball by itself was more expensive than the signature. Ben and I agreed when we sued to work together that we would try and collect signatures of evey lesser known player from the 2004 Red Sox championship team. So far we now both have Cesar Crespo sign balls, and Ben has a Bellhorn. Only 25 more to go.

- The Celtics managed to leave the weekend 1-1. The beat the Knicks after coming off a tough loss to the Lakers and then they lost in the closing minutes to the Spurs. It was a tough stretch of games for them, they looked tired against the Spurs, they had played three games since the last time the Spurs had played one so the Spurs looked well rested.

- I don't know what the Bruins did I think they may have lost in OT but dont quote me on that.

- I put up a shelf in my living room to display my sports memorabilia. On the shelf right now is a signed Bobby Doerr Mini Helmet, a signed Johnny Pesky Baseball, a signed Matt Ryan Mini Helmet, and as soon as my wife can locate it a signed Randy Moss Helmet will join them. It is the only sports related thing that I was allowed to put up in our very large living room.

- So as many of you know I collect baseball cards, this weekend I purchased a box of 2009 Topps. It is the first release of the new season and I was excited to see the design. I was satisfied with my box fo cards. I got a couple of nice hits, a Pat Neshak autograph, a piece of Carl Crawfords Jersey, and the letter E meant to represent Nolan Ryan, if I was rich or an idiot I would then attempt to collect all of the letters to spell "The Ryan Express" I am all set.

- Finally we are looking for another writer to compliment our already kick butt team. We have had a couple of people try but they jsut couldn't cut it. So if you are out there and think "Wow, I would really like to write for a blog that was recognized as one of the top 5 sports blogs in boston" Then drop me a line and we will give you an audition. Email me at Read more!

Quick Post On A-Rod

You're probably sick of it already - I think I am just about there - but I quickly wanted to go on record with my take of the A-Rod, Steroids Saga.

In short, I agree with what the Boston guys like Tony Mazz and Eric Wilbur are saying, which is lets not pilfer A-Rod because chances are a Red Sox hero or two is included on that list of 104 and furthermore, chances are that said heroes helped them win a World Series or two. I could be wrong, but it would be naive to say that because no major post 2001 Red Sox have seen their name appear on any of these lists that no major Red Sox actually took steroids.

And here is some more food for thought, is using HGH to recover from injuries faster than usual really that bad? If HGH did not stand for "human growth hormone" but instead was known as something like RRS for "rapid recovery supplement" would it still be seen in the same light? I don't know. I guess I agree with lumping steroids users into the "cheaters" bin but HGH I think is kind of a different animal. From all I've read on it, it just does not seem to be that awful of a thing. If Tom Brady took some HGH to ensure himself a 100% chance of being the Pats starter in Week 1, would we crush him for that? I don't think I would. After all, you wouldn't kill a pitcher for getting Tommy John surgery to pitch again and that is not the world's most natural procedure. Yes, I understand the diceyness with HGH comes from being unsure of the side-effects/health risks (a huge deal admittedly) but if we all take a deep breath and think about what that stuff really does, I think the outrage on that end should be toned down some.

That's my take anyway. Let's not all jump on the crushing A-Rod for Steroids Bandwagon which has kind of become a national past time unto itself because it just looks very unseemly. Remember how mad we all got when the San Diego Whiney Bitches (I mean Chargers) piled on the Pats for "cheating" with Spygate stuff while they willingly employed Luis Castillo and Shawne Merriman, two players who failed drug tests. Now, with that being said if we all want to continue to crush A-Rod for his great ability to turn 7-2 games into 9-2 games and choke in the postseason then I am all for that. One caveat there too though, I will now be directing all my scorn previously reserved to A-Rod for the Teixeira Family. I really thought that guy could not have come off like anymore of a douche during his free agency saga so he is now my Public Enemy #1 on the Yankees. Crushing A-Rod is so 2008, make your way into the second decade of the 2000s by piling on Mark Teixeira. You'll feel awesome because you'll be ahead of the curve! Read more!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Whopping 9 Thoughts on the C's/Lakers Game

1) Not to over-react, but let's just say that the Celtics end up with the two seed in the East. That is of course not the greatest scenario considering that they would be guaranteed without home court advantage in potential Conference and NBA Finals matchups against Cleveland and LA respectively. Kind of a big deal. But I'll throw the silver lining at you.

Consider that the two seed's second round matchup will most likely come against the 3 seed and the 3 seed will probably be the Magic. I certainly like that matchup for the C's more than I like the one against 4/5 winner which would be Detroit or Atlanta. I'm still not so sure the C's can take Cleveland in the Conference Finals without home court advantage, but I do think their road there could be slightly easier as the two if that is any consolation. Not really, but trying to put a positive spin on it.

2) Loved Bob Ryan's piece today where he pretty much threw down a "WTF?!" to the NBA for sending scrub officials out to work Thursday's game. Personally, I believe that the no-call on Ray Allen was the correct call independent of anything else, but in a physical game where KG fouled out on some ticky-tack calls, the call on Derek Fisher had to be made. Personally, I don't think he fouled Ray Allen on the shot but he was mauling him prior to getting there and while dribbling to set the shot up therefore Allen should have had two shots from the line to potentially win the game for the C's.

3) Pau Gasol for the second time this season just destroyed the Celtics. I watch what that guy does on the post and also how he rebounds and passes and wonder why he is not one of the ten best guys in the NBA. He's got all the moves, he shoots 56% from the floor and 79% from the field so it just floors me that he is not a 25 and 10 guy year in and year out.

4) When 60% free throw shooter, notorious choker, pre-Michael Phelps most famous bong smoker in sports, and pride of URI (or is that Cuttino Mobely?), Lamar Odom hits two clutch free throws to put your opponent ahead with 16 seconds left, chances are it is not your night.

5) If last night's game proved anything, it is that if the Celtics do not acquire a big man for the bench that can consistently knock down open jump shots a la PJ Brown then they can just punch their tickets for an L in the Eastern Conference Finals. Granted the one he did hit last night was a biggie, but Big Baby going 1/8 from the field just can't be a situation that will present itself down the road. You just can't expect to win deep in the playoffs with Big Baby playing at crunch time. It's not like that issue won't consistently present itself down the road either because of Perk's tendency to get into foul trouble. In short, we've been saying it for a long time but the C's absolutely MUST find a tough big man to knock down shots in order to have any chance at a repeat.

6) One of the TNT guys said this last night late in the 4th when the Celtics had a lineup of Rondo/Pierce/Allen/Perk/Baby out there that they should sub in Eddie House for Rondo. Reason being that on the floor at the time were really only two offensive players in Pierce and Allen. I wholeheartedly agreed at the time and I still think I wholeheartedly agree. Yes it was a back and forth, one possession game so they did not necessarily "need" Eddie House's bombs but at the same time the reason Big Baby took all those shots down the stretch is because the Lakers were pretty much ignoring him on the offensive end. Yes, with House in you lose Rondo's penetration, but Pierce is good enough at attacking the basket, drawing the D, and then kicking out that he could have served that purpose just fine. With that lineup the C's then would have two knockdown shooters out there (hello Mark Jackson, your favorite term!), a jack of all trades scorer, and two bigs to cleanup the mess if need be and provide their presence on D. I love Rajon as much as the next guy but against the Lakers both in Thursday's game and the Finals last year the Celtics were often best served with Eddie House on the floor instead of him.

Funny thing is, Rajon had a great game too, nearly recording a triple-double going for 16/8/12 but if you look at his +/- (kind of a dicey stat for basketball I know) he was a -1 while Eddie House was a +6. That says something doesn't it? And Big Baby for the record was -13 while KG was +9. You want to know why they lost, I think that last split tells a lot of the story doesn't it.

7) I know he came on in the second half, but my lord was Bad Rondo out on display in full force during the first half. Not so much turnovers or bad passes or anything else like that, but how many layups did he miss? Isn't it a fair question to ask how much better Rajon Rondo could be if he could find out a way to convert 80% or so of his layups? It is his most maddening feature.

8) I will say that I loved Rajon jawing at Kobe in the fourth quarter. That was awesome. It made me picture Kobe challenging him to a one-on-one game after the game was over to show Rajon who was boss and then Rajon frustrating the crap out of Kobe by doing all sorts of trick shots and goofy moves while laughing the whole time as Kobe got angrier and angrier before eventually destroying Rondo in the game. After however Rondo would leave knowing he had the satisfaction of getting under Kobe's skin and also knowing that he did give him a pretty good game. That whole process really did go through my mind.

9) All told, and as frustrating as the game was I really do not feel too bad about it. For starters it was a pretty ugly game and secondly, we only hope, assume, and pray that Big Baby will not be getting or taking those crunch time shots in the future. Finally, the whole team missed a bunch of makeable shots throughout the game and that too should not happen again. Yes the loss was frustrating and could have some serious long term ramifications but it in no way makes me worry about the team as a whole. They could have won the game but some flukey things did not go their way. Such is life in an 82 game NBA regular season. Sure it would have been much nicer had they won, but they did not and I think all will be fine with the Celtics as long as they can get that aforementioned big man for their bench. And of course assuming they don't go into a similar tailspin following this Lakers loss as they did following the first. Tonight at MSG is going to be a tough one.

Read more!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

4 Thursday

1) I think the NBA needs to make it a league rule that for as long as Kobe is on the Lakers and Lebron is on the Cavs, whenever the Lakers make their annual trip to MSG a Cavs game must come immediately before or after their game. I mean how cool is it that Kobe drops 61 on Monday and then Lebron answers two nights later with a 52/11/10 triple double? The idea of the NBA's two premier players trying to one up each-other on basketball's largest stage and premier venue is just awesome and something that needs to be duplicated as much as possible.

2) The biggest flaw the Red Sox had last year was an inability to hit good pitching. While I think they have had a subtly very good offseason I still worry that this somewhat major issue has not been addressed. Because they absolutely should not count on getting 150 games from Ortiz, Lowell, and Drew they need some slightly more enticing bench options than Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay to fill in for those guys when they are out. Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn are still out there and they can now definitely be had on the relative cheap. Why not be proactive instead of reactive?

3) When reading something by Mike Reiss the other day, he mentioned how the Pats were first in the AFC in yards after catch and third in the NFL. He brought this up when mentioning how other teams may value Matt Cassell and how they'd need to make sure he would fit well in their system. For a point of reference I decided to compare Matt Cassell's 2008 YAC% to Brady's 2007. What I learned was that in 2008 about 57% of Cassell's passing yards came in YAC yardage whereas in 2007, only 42% of Brady's yardage came from that. What does this mean to me?

First off, the Pats passing attack, specifically many of the plays for Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk are designed to get big yards after the reception. Whomever the quarterback, that is not going to change. Where I see the biggest difference however is in the plays down the field to Randy Moss. Those plays often won't get a ton of YAC - either because he catches the ball near or in the end zone or is pushed out of bounds on a sideline play - and that I think makes up the big difference. Now to be fair to Cassell, he had an inordinate amount of big drops from Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney this year that hurt him and the team considerably but I don't think anybody would argue with me that the Patriots were not able to execute the big pass play as much with Cassell as with Brady.

So that is one place where I think this stat shows the discrepancy between the two quarterbacks. The other is a bit more opaque and I don't have numbers to back it up, but rather a hypothetical:

When the Patriots face third and long situations or are in need of some quick strikes, isn't it better to have the quarterback less reliant on YAC and more reliant on the yards in the air the ball actually travels? Isn't it better to be able to consistently throw to the first down marker or 25 yards down the field than to throw the ball a few yards and hope the receiver does the rest? I say yes. Of course the counter-argument to this point is that the more mobile quarterback who can buy time to create plays and scramble is equally as valuable as the more stationary but shifty and accurate pocket passer. A tough call I guess, but I bring all this up as more food for thought when having the old Cassell versus Brady debate.

And one more for the record, Tom Brady really did not start to consistently be able to hit the deep ball until his third season and I still believe that Matt Cassell in his first year was better than Brady in his first year. Cassell however was 26 to Brady's 24 for whatever that is worth. Also, for what it is worth, Bledsoe was 29 when Brady supplanted him while Brady is coming up on 32. Joe Montana meanwhile was 34 when he played his last season for the 49ers and 36 by the time the 49ers actually would have had to make a Young vs. Montana decision as he missed nearly 2 full seasons to injury. So I don't think bringing up the Young/Montana thing is really pertinent. What does shock me however is how young Bledsoe was in the 2001 season. I would have thought he was at least 32 but obviously not.

4) I'll probably bang out my baseball preview in a few weeks. Once again I'll do positive/negative surprise teams and all the other stuff I did last year. As you may recall I pretty much nailed the team segment of my predictions calling good years for the Twins and Marlins and bad years for the Rockies and Tigers. With that standard in mind, I really want to follow that success up with equal or greater success this year. The problem is, I am not sure which way to go. The natural bandwagon "sleeper" team for the NL is the Marlins which therefore excludes them from my "positive surprise" list. They were the team I originally had pegged but it's cheesy to take the same team twice in a row, and as I said they are trendy sleeper pick now. With that said, I think that at this moment I am leaning towards the Giants. The AL West is going to be awful and they will possibly have the best staff in the division with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, and The Man Known Only to Fantasy Geeks AKA Jonathan Sanchez. Sure their offense will be pretty bad, but when playing almost 40 games against the set to suck Rockies and Padres I think they'll be able to make up a ton of ground there. So now you heard it here first, the Giants will be the surprise team of the NL, win 82 games, and finish second in the West.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday News and notes

I hope you caught the Celtics game last night, with out KG it was a tough game but they were able to pull it out with an amazing last second shot by Ray Allen. It is great to see the Celtics win 12 in a row well anyway here are some news and notes form the Boston area.

- So as I mentioned the Celtics won last night, and I hoping that with Jameer Nelsons injury that Ray Allen will find his way onto the All Star squad where he belongs. The latest is that Nelson has torn his labrum and will most likely miss the rest of the season. Here is an article from Robert Lee in the ProJo that talks about Ray Allens Chances. If your not watching the Celtics, WATCH THEM!!!

- Great article on today about Carl Yaztrzemski and how he is working with his grandson Mike who seems like a pretty good prospect. You don't see a lot of prospects coming out of this area but this would be the second decent prospect from St. John's Prep. For those of you who don't remember Matt Antonelli, he was drafted 17th in 2006 by the Padres. He made a brief appearance las tyear and will most likely spend most of the year in Triple A.

- Final thing I just wanted to get out there for all of you who are debating the whole Matt Cassel Franchise Tag issue. By Franchising him you not only control him for 2009 but you also control him for 2010, as long as the collective bargaining agreement remains as is, 2010 will be a capless year, and players will go from having to have 4 years of service to 6 years of service in order to be a free agent. It makes him more attractive in a trade as well.

All I have for you now, I am still working on my Red Sox Prospect preview for spring training, we still have a couple of days until the Truck leaves so I will try and get on that. Read more!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know About...Brad Wilkerson?

The Red Sox just signed Brad Wilkerson, I have three thoughts/notes on this:

1) When the Expos moved to DC and became the Nationals back in 2005, the Nationals decided to make Brad Wilkerson the "face" of the franchise. No, you aren't missing anything on Brad Wilkerson, but that does say a lot about the Nationals doesn't it? Sure he was coming off a 32 home run campaign, but the fact of the matter is that if Brad Wilkerson is the face of your franchise, your team probably sucks.

The post-script to the above is that ironically 2005 was the best year the Nationals have had since their arrival, winning 81 games.

2) Brad Wilkerson was the centerpiece of the trade from the Rangers standpoint that sent Alfonso Soriano to the Nationals after the 2005 season. Ironically again, at the time it was the RANGERS that were seen to have gotten the best of this deal. Of course Alfonso Soriano then went out and posted a 40/40 campaign in a contract year for the Nats before fleeing to the Cubs while Wilkerson played in 95 games and hit .222.

3) I can't say I totally understand this signing. From where I sit, it seems like Wilkerson is just a poor man's Mark Kotsay. I understand the need for another bat off the bench to fill out the roster but it just seems like they could have done a little better than Brad Wilkerson. Maybe I will be proven wrong, but this seems like another one of those "Theo signing a guy he has always been bizarrely infatuated with for no apparent reason" moves, even if it is only a minor league deal. Read more!

Monday, February 2, 2009

14 Things About the Super Bowl

I too will echo Pricing Boy's thoughts on what an exciting game it was. Yes, it was incredibly sloppy with all the penalties - and many stupid ones at that - but just when you thought the Cardinals were done with about 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Warner found that groove and everything carried from there.

Now, a few other notes:

1) I missed Jeremy Shockey in the Super Bowl this year. Huh? Let me refresh your memory.

Last year during the Super Bowl you probably remember that because Jeremy Shockey had a broken leg he did not play and was forced to watch the game from the owner's box. During one cutaway they showed Shockey sitting up in said box drinking a Bud Lite can. I loved this for many reasons, but mainly because while everybody else in the box was PC, drinking bottled water or diet soda, Shockey is there with a can of Bud Lite. He couldn't even class it up with one of those 16 oz. plastic, stadium bottles they have. He had to go can. While I can't smile about much from last year's Super Bowl, I can always chuckle about this.

2) The fact that Mike Tomlin is a dead-ringer for Omar Epps has been beaten into the ground. However, one thing that I never knew before last night is that James Harrison is equally as much a replica to Sgt. Dokes from Dexter as Tomlin is to Epps.

3) I am positive that I am not the only one who saw the Cardinals get the go-ahead score with about 2:30 left and think immediately back to the Super Bowl from last year. If you give a decent offense two and a half minutes and two timeouts to score a touchdown against a shaky defense, it seems like the offense will prevail every time.

4) My father-in-law brought up kind of a cool point yesterday; if the Cardinals had won then the Super Bowl winning quarterback would have been older than the head coach he defeated. When will that have a chance to ever happen again? Next year maybe if some veteran NFC quarterback takes his team against the Broncos I guess. Still, I thought it was pretty cool.

5) Larry Fitzgerald is an absolute freak of nature. If you want to know what actually impressed me more than his big touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead, it was the TD he caught before that where Warner lobbed a jump-ball to the back corner of the end zone and he was able to grab it with a DB hanging all over and trying to tackle him. When Warner threw that ball I thought it had no chance.

6) This pains me because I do not like him, but what Ben Roethlisberger can do in keeping plays alive is really impressive and that is how he wins games for his team. In a way, if you want a comp for Matt Cassell, wouldn't it be Roethlisberger over anybody else? Isn't that the ceiling for Cassell? That's a pretty good ceiling BTW, but I think if you want to see what you could potentially have down the road in the guy, look no further than Ben Roethlisberger. Me, I'll still take Brady. Not a bad Plan B though. Roethlisberger REALLY impressed me last night.

7) This has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, but I continue to see fans in message boards and such clamoring for the Pats to go after another big name WR in free agency or draft a running back early. This drives me nuts. First of all, if the Pats draft or go after offense in the offseason it should be on the line or at tight end. They do not need a running back. Not only did they win two Super Bowls with Antowain Smith at running back, they finished sixth in the league in rushing last year with an RB by committee approach. Furthermore, even if Laurence Maroney really isn't the answer, he still looked pretty good down the stretch in 2007 and is worth one last chance. And if he fails, they know they can plug the holes some how, some way with Lamont Jordan, Sammy Morris or another BenJarvus Green-Ellis of the world. Not ideal, but running back is so far down on the list of Patriots needs that I think everybody needs to chill a bit. Skill positions have not let the Pats down the past few years, it has been the D and the offensive line at times. Of course it is fun in the offseason to see the Pats load up on guys you'd take in your fantasy draft but the reality is, that is not what they need to win another Super Bowl.

8) I'm not sure about all this "Greatest Super Bowl Ever!!!!" talk. Look, it was a great game no doubt about it. But, as I recall, the day after the Super Bowl we have heard the same thing maybe 4 other times in the past 10 years. I am thinking, similar sentiments were expressed for Rams over Titans in 2000, Pats over Rams in 2002, Pats over Panthers in 2004, and Giants over Pats in 2008. Maybe we should just ease up on the hyperbole some huh?

9) So I kind of called it. Didn't that late barrage of points remind you of the 2004 game between the Pats and Panthers. More or less the same result too.

10) While not as flukey as the helmet catch, the Arizona defensive back slipping on the big Santonio Holmes run after catch which brought Pittsburgh deep into the red zone and set up the final score has to be remembered as a key break that Pittsburgh caught. You need things like that to win though. Remember when John Kasay put his kickoff out of bounds to setup the Patriots final drive in the Super Bowl against the Panthers? Or what about Donovan McNabb taking his merry old time to drive the Eagles down the field in the fourth quarter the following year. Don't tell me luck has nothing to do with winning Super Bowls, it is almost as important as skill and competency.

11) If Ben Watson played for the Cardinals, would they have won the game? Again, huh? Well, considering that his lone football skill seems to be running down defensive players en route to bringing an interception back for a touchdown, doesn't it seem possible that he could have chased down James Harrison? We'll never know how the game plays out if it is 10-7 at the half instead of 17-7, but it's worth at least throwing out there right?

12) And while we are on the topic, isn't throwing a ball to the front of the end zone, close to the sideline when your starting position is inside the opponent's three the most dangerous pass you can throw in football? I've never thought about this, but considering that sideline passes are always going to be risky for INT run-backs, one thrown in a short yardage "and goal" situation has to be the most risky because the defender has the added bonus of only needing a few steps to get behind the offense. Is there anyway he brings that back if Arizona was starting from the 10 instead of the 2? I honestly doubt it. More fun stuff to chew on. And by the way, I bring this up more as thinking out loud than anything else. It is not intended to diminish what Harrison did. Rather it's just to wonder why that does not happen more and how risky of a pass it was that Kurt Warner threw.

13) OK, I'll admit it. I was REALLY pulling for the Cardinals. I mean REALLY!!! And yes, I was really bummed when Santonio Holmes caught that pass. But do you know what else? After the initial emotion passed me, I got up, turned the TV off, went into another room and read a bit before bed. I then went to bed and slept like a rock. Why do I bring this up? Because it was fun to watch an incredibly exciting Super Bowl with no real vested interest and then have your team lose, but be able to bounce back after about five minutes. The way the past two Pats seasons ended absolutely destroyed me so I must say, this was a nice change of pace. I could not have handled another soul-crushing defeat to end my season. Instead I worked through all those emotions back in September when Brady went down.

14) Last point and a biggy:

Why the F did the officials not give a legitimate review to that last fumble? I mean come on! You have to do that! Personally, I think it was a forward pass, and you mean to tell me that Arizona could not have scored on one play from Pittsburgh's 29? With Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin??? Would have been interesting right?

Oh, and that roughing the passer call against Roethlisberger in the 4th was BS. An almost exact replica of the hit on Roethlisberger happened on Warner in the first half to no-call. And for the record, "no-call" was the right call the first time around.

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WOW!! Great Game

I do not really have a whole lot to say about the game, I am pretty disappointed that the Cardinals lost. I will say though that it was a great game despite all the penalties. Here are a few thoughts about the game.

- So they are making a big deal that Jennifer Hudson lip synched the national anthem. Really? they are surprised, I would imagine this happens quite a bit, the echo and delay of the sound in a big game like this almost makes this necessary.

- Poor start for the Cardinals, it looked like after the James Harrison Touchdown return that it was going to be a boring game, thankfully Warner found his rythem and also found Larry Fitzgerald and it got interesting.

- The commercials were ok, I enjoyed the Comcast one where the Slowskis jumped on the empty DSL bandwagon. The 3D commercial was cool, we had picked up the glasses at the grocery store. Other than that I enjoyed the, Firestone, and the Bulu commercial with Alec Baldwin.

- I still hate the Steelers, the fact there are people comparing Big Ben to Tom Brady makes me want to puke.

- Bruce Springsteen was great at half time. I think he was on some pretty heavy drugs as he was flying around the stage like a mad man. He stuck to the classics which was good.

- Great ending, I am still nto sure how Santonio Holmes got his feet down and controled the ball. Read more!