Celtics playoff preview

a8be677a7404e0ec1ca55da0c06e50fc.jpg

After an up and down season from the Celtics the playoffs are here. It took longer than expected for this group to mesh because of the uncommon circumstances by which this 2018-2019 roster took shape. It seems as though they may be playing at their best going into the playoffs.

 

Gordon Hayward seems to have finally cleared that last mental hurdle after coming back from multiple procedures on that gruesome injury, he’s finally comfortable driving to the basket for layups and dunks. His shooting percentages have gone up each month this season after a rough December. Being a vital part to the bench unit, Hayward is peaking this season at the right time. Same could be said for Aron Baynes, as he closed out the season playing very well in the starting lineup alongside Al Horford whose been playing well all year, especially post all-star break. The Pacers have some good, young and versatile big men. Baynes will probably continue to start to match up with Myles Turner while Horford gets Thaddeus Young.

untitled

With Marcus going down for this series and probably the next series if the Celtics move on, Jaylen Brown will probably shift into the starting lineup. He, among many, had a great playoff run last year and he’ll need to be locked in again this year. Him and Tatum will probably serve as the main defenders for Pacers scoring leader, Bojan Bogdanovic. If Jaylen can also continue to be aggressive offensively alongside Kyrie and Tatum it will be a huge boost for the Celtics.

The bench unit will be vital to the Celtics as the Pacers are also a deep team. After a disappointing season for Terry Rozier and a disappointing second half from Marcus Morris these two will be vital to providing the all-around spark off the bench alongside Hayward. Being able to keep ball movement a main priority with these two will be key because they tend to get the ball and want to shoot it without trying to get a better shot for a teammate.

Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers

Last but certainly not least is Kyrie Irving. After some stellar and clutch playoff runs with Cleveland, Kyrie is getting into his first playoff series with Boston and after a career year for Irving, more of the same seems to be in line. The Pacers have been a top defensive team, but Irving has still had some good nights as a scorer and a playmaker. He has also had an under the radar defensive season, making many hustle plays, putting his body on the line and getting steals. Irving prides himself on stepping up during the playoffs and in big moments, so he will be the key to the Celtics success.

It will probably be a battle between two well rounded teams, but the Celtics did win the season series 3 games to 1, almost a sweep if not for Pacers (now injured) star Victor Oladipo. So, maybe Brad Stevens sees something or knows something that we don’t, would surprise me. Stevens always manages to have the Celtics in competitive playoff games and playoff series, and I don’t expect anything different. Celtics win in 5 or 6 games.

 

The 2019 Red Sox are quite the confusing process

fenway17952

Offense? meh. Starting pitching? Trash. Bullpen? Throwing shutouts. Just as all 0 of us expected. Now that this road trip which basically lasted 2+ weeks, but felt like 2 months, is over hopefully the Sox will rebound, getting back to normal now that they’re back home. I’m going to try to do weekly updates but this one is a bit longer since I’m including opening weekend.

Chris Sale found his control in his second start and looked a lot better. I literally don’t care about his velocity; he knows what he’s doing and what the team expects of him. He is working his way up after a very short spring, where his missed his last start because he had his physical for his extension. If he was healthy enough to pass the physical and get that money, he is healthy enough to pitch. When you throw a frisbee slider like his, control is more important than velocity. Price has been meh, he’s had about 2 bad innings, 1 per start that have really skewed it for him but nonetheless he seems primed to fix things. Eduardo Rodriguez needs to learn how to pitch not just throw. He gets way to passive for guy with his strikeout potential. Eovaldi needs to find his control and Rick just needs to be better.

The bullpen has looked great so far. Barnes, Brasier and Workman have all looked great, having good control of their stuff. Barnes and Brasier have big fastballs that play to their advantage, but Workman uses his great curveball to create a perceived velocity spike with his fastball. Averaging about 12-13mph difference between a curveball and fastball can throw off hitters if its controlled but Workman’s control struggles seem to be left in 2018. Brewer, Hembree and Thornburg have had really just one hiccup but have looked good more so than not. Velazquez has also looked good, especially during his 3 innings against Arizona, the first Red Sox starter to have 3 straight shutout innings to open a game.

The offense has been a whole lot of JD Martinez, clutch master Mitch Moreland, and somewhat surprisingly Blake Swihart. We all knew Blake could hit but he’s been hot out of the gate and has looked better behind the plate than the Blake of old. Most guys have gotten off to inconsistent starts like Devers and Benintendi. Hopefully 2 days off in the next 3 days helps them refocus.

Boston Red Sox Victory Parade

There’s really not much to say besides they have struggled but have shown signs of shaking it off, especially recently. I would bet on a reenergized Red Sox club showing up for this homestand, getting their rings and closing the book on 2018 could be good for them to refocus and prove why they should be viewed as a favorite to repeat. The Yankees finally get a challenge with Houston and we get the last place Blue Jays and the Orioles who are only good against the Yankees. Time for the madness to end and for the fun to begin.

Winners, winners, World Series dinner

d84581b7-pelota

MLB rosters will undoubtedly change from now to October when the matchups are set. But I’m going to try to predict who will win the divisions, wild card, LCS’s and the World Series. This will undoubtedly be wrong but if it isn’t, I’m going to go try the lottery.

0827159001427937309_filepicker

AL east: Orioles. They exist. They’ll exist in last place for the 2019 season. The new look Blue Jays will probably settle into 4th place, with a top minor league system and some potential trade chips the Blue Jays future may be looking bright. The 2018 Tampa Bay Rays won 90 games and still missed the playoffs. They got better this offseason and still will probably settle into 3rd but they could make it to October this season led by a revamped offense and 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell. The Yankees made some moves this offseason and are predicted to be better than the Red Sox for the second straight year. I disagree for the second straight year. I am not high on James Paxton after a lackluster year in Seattle now moving to a little league sized ballpark. Ottavino wasn’t that much better than David Robertson. DJ LeMahieu will try to fill Didi’s offensive hole. They’ll make the playoffs but not by winning the division. The reigning champs boast on of the best starting pitching staffs and offenses, but it still has room to grow. The bullpen isn’t the best, but it’ll be better than expected and I wouldn’t cancel out a potential midseason move once teams have a good idea of how the rest of their season will go.

AL-Central-Predictions-MLB-Betting-Season-Preview

AL central: The Indians are still the clear-cut favorites in this division. With a great starting rotation and a capable offense, now featuring Hanley Ramirez the best Ramirez on the team. The Twins are the second-best team in the division. They revamped their offense with sluggers Nelson Cruz and CJ Cron then Jonathan Schoop and utility man Marwin Gonzalez. I am struggling to settle on who gets third and fourth between the White Sox and Tigers. Fulmer’s Tommy John surgery leaves them with even less pitching on what is set to be a scarce pitching team. I think Chicago finishes third, Detroit 4th and the Royals last. The royals will be really fun to watch with all the speed and base stealers on that team, but they really aren’t going to be winning a whole comparatively.

untitled

AL West: The Astros will probably win the division again losing Charlie Morton to Tampa and Lance McCullers to injury but adding Michael Brantley makes them close to net neutral, but the Athletics can definitely make some noise and make it hard on them. They may need to acquire another starter, but that offense and bullpen are great and can keep them a float in the wild card race. Mike Trout can only carry the Angels so far and until the rest of the roster steps it up I can’t believe otherwise. They have the pieces to make a push for the wild card assuming they can get/stay healthy, but they’ll probably settle into third. The Mariners sold off their top-tier parts this offseason (Edwin Diaz and Cano to the Mets, Paxton to the Yankees, Segura to Philly, and Zunino to the Rays) and are probably nowhere near done trading knowing Jerry Dipoto’s history. That said they should beat out the Rangers who’ll will finish last in the post Beltre era year one. I will tune into a few games to see if Joey Gallo can hit a ball to the moon or 500+ feet; either will suffice. But at least they’re getting a nice new stadium in 2020!

baseball-preview-nl-east

NL east: What an overhaul this division has had this offseason. The only one I will lock in is the Miami Marlins finishing in dead last. None of these teams will probably have the best record in the NL because the division got so strong, but this will be a great, competitive race. The Nationals lost Harper but look stronger by plugging holes elsewhere (signing Corbin, Dozier, Anibal Sanchez after a 2018 revival and Kurt Suzuki, trading for Yan Gomes, and promoting top prospect Victor Robles). The Phillies said they would spend stupid and oh boy did they improve. Signing David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen and that Bryce Harper guy. Trading for JT Realmuto and Jean Segura. The Phillies stumbled down the stretch last year and took themselves out of postseason contention but now are primed to make the season long push. The Braves bought low on a healthy Josh Donaldson and he’ll slide into a great Braves lineup. Their pitching injuries may get them off to a slow start but can definitely make a good push for the playoffs. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos and Jed Lowrie, they traded for the aforementioned Cano and Diaz and top prospects Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. The revamped offense and hopefully healthy pitching staff can lead the Mets back to the playoffs. Nationals in first followed by the Phillies, Braves and Mets (oh gosh that was hard).

NL-Central-Predictions-MLB-Betting-Season-Preview-600x360

NL Central: Oh my god this division is going to be absolutely crazy. The healthy Cubs look to reassert themselves after a disappointing end to their 2018 season. Healthy Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish, a full year of Cole Hamels and hopefully a more consistent Rizzo and Contreras hope to lead what is a very talented roster. The reigning division champion Brewers made a great signing in Yasmani Grandal, they get a full year of Mike Moustakas, and hopefully Jimmy Nelson is coming back healthy soon. With a great bullpen and stellar offense, they look primed to compete to repeat in the division. The Cardinal landed big fish, perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and now with a healthier Ozuna, a full year of Bader hope to lead what promises to be a great offense. The top two of Flaherty and Mikolas hope to lead a pitching staff with promise to get back to the playoffs. The Cincinnati Reds were as active as anyone this offseason. Acquiring Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood from the Dodgers, reunite Sonny Gray with his old pitching coach and lost the offensive black hole that was Billy Hamilton. Losing Gennett for 2ish months hurts but with Votto, Suarez, Peraza and the aforementioned Kemp and Puig the offense seems ready to keep this team afloat. Also, Michael Lorenzen becoming an outfield and pitcher is really fun. The Pirates have good pitching will Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams then Felipe Vazquez and Keona Kela in the back of the bullpen. The offense isn’t extremely promising especially with the offenses and pitching in the division. Brewers come out on top, Cubs then Cardinals followed by the Reds and Pirates.

NL-West

NL West: The Dodgers should continue to be the winners of this division going for what would be their 7th straight. Adding AJ Pollock and Joe Kelly, getting Corey Seager back soon and not losing too much from their 2018 NL champion team. The Colorado Rockies off back to back playoff appearances added Daniel Murphy to a good lineup and hope to continue to see pitching improvements. With a weakened Diamondbacks team maybe the Rockies can pick up some more wins but will probably have second place on lock. Speaking of Arizona, losing Pollock, Goldschmidt, and Corbin really hurts and the outfield isn’t looking great now that Steven Souza is down for the year. But they should hang around third. The Padres have Tatis Jr (screwed up an article I posted an hour before the announcement) Mejia and Paddack on the big-league roster which should help, Having Machado should really improve the lineup and the Padres have a chance to take the next step towards contention. May steal third but probably get 4th. The Giants have a good bullpen (which will probably see some pieces traded midyear to unofficially start new GM Farhan Zaidi’s rebuild) but an aging offensive (with no real satisfactory outfielders) and starting pitching core the Giants aren’t going to give Bruce Bochy the sendoff he probably deserves.

ct-nvs-cubs-trophy-naperville-st-1227-20161226.jpg

AL Playoff picture: I got the Red Sox, Indians, and Astros winning their respective divisions with the Yankees easily taking the first wild card spot and the Rays edge out Oakland and the Twins for the other wild card spot right now with the better starting pitching and no drastic difference between offenses and bullpens. The Red Sox barely get the top spot in the AL. We get a repeat of last years ALDS’s with Astros over Indians in 4 and Sox over wild card winning Yankees in 4 again. The Red Sox v Astros ALCS goes 6 or 7 this year with a similar result a bit of a slugfest but the Red Sox starter depth hold out.

NL playoff picture: The Dodgers, Brewers and Nationals take their divisions with the Phillies and Rockies taking to 1st and 2nd wildcard spots respectively. I think their will be a tie for at least one wildcard spot which will require some one game playoffs. The Dodgers get the top spot, so they face the wild card winner Phillies and I think the Dodgers outlast the Phillies in a 5-game slugfest. The Brewers and Nationals also go 5 but it’ll be a lower scoring series and the Brewers bullpen is the difference for the Brew Crew. Repeating the 2018 NLCS, it goes down to game 7 this year as well but the Brewers outlast the Dodgers.

World Series: What a World Series this would be. Two high octane offenses going head to head, but their pitching philosophies are seemingly polar opposites. The Red Sox will seemingly rely heavily on their starting pitching staff and the Brewers will go to the bullpen early and often and it worked last year, getting them within a game of the World Series. Maybe moves will be made midseason who knows, but this is how it seems right now. I think this would be a 6 or 7 game battle but Red Sox homefield advantage may be the tipping point. Repeat season.

 

Guess who’s back, baseball’s back.

d84581b7-pelota

Baseball is back and so am I, busy life and school got in the way, but I am back and ready to get back into this blog for real. As the Boston Red Sox look to repeat as World Series champions let’s dive into the awards races (and my Red Sox bold predictions) and the divisions races/playoff predictions tomorrow. In late October/early November we’ll look back and laugh at how I’ll probably be wrong a good amount of times.

AL MVP: I heard that this Mike Trout guy is good at baseball, so he’ll be in the running because he always is. While I think JD will have another amazing season, I think his value was clearly shown this past season and I don’t think he’ll have as good of a chance to take the award this year. Mookie Betts however could win back to back MVP’s. His defense, base stealing ability and offensive prowess make him so much more likely than JD because he is this complete of a player. If Mookie is healthier, he could put up better numbers. A healthy Aaron Judge can reassert himself into MVP conversation with his extreme power potential in the middle of a strong Yankees lineup. If Oakland gets back to the playoffs Matt Chapman and his incredible offensive and defensive abilities could be in the running. The Astros have a couple of candidates In Altuve and Bregman, whose 2018 seems to be somewhat underrated. They are both very complete players who will be at the forefront of the Astros race towards another potential division title and 100+ win season. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are both banged up and Lindor will miss the beginning of the season. As they lead the Indians to the most guaranteed division title in baseball (barring disaster) but they, Ramirez in particular, could put up another MVP type season. My pick is Mookie Betts going back to back. Trout in a close second.

NL MVP: The NL is wide open in terms of best teams and best player. Christian Yelich, is extremely important to the Brewers chances to repeat as division champs. Javier Baez, and the possible rebound of former MVP Kris Bryant could get the Cubs the division back. Paul Goldschmidt is a sleeper, especially if he can get the Cardinals back into the playoffs. Then out west Nolan Arenado will be as good as ever but what seems to be an extremely tight wildcard race (because the Dodgers probably win the west) Nolan may slip if the Rockies miss out. Maybe a healthy Justin Turner rebounds and leads the Dodgers to the best record in the NL and wins MVP. If the Padres somehow steal a wildcard spot, it will most likely be because of Manny Machado having an extremely good season. In the NL east, Bryce Harper could be out to prove he’s worth the money and want to lead the Phillies to the playoffs. If the Braves repeat as division champs Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna will be at the forefront of it for sure. Maybe even Anthony Rendon/Trea Turner or Juan Soto can lead the Nationals back to a division title. I’m picking Nolan for the third straight year.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale coming back healthy, put noticeable weight in muscle on around his shoulders (to me it’s noticeable) and got is new contract, he’s always in the running. My sleeper David Price, he changed up his approach the second half of last season and he was phenomenal from about July-October and a full year of this approach and with less pressure on him as he now holds all the cards. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer were highly in the running until they both were derailed by injury but they both showed they can be contenders for it. Blake Snell, the reigning winner, will also look to lead the Rays squad to the playoffs after a phenomenal breakout season. Severino will miss the beginning of the season and that could hurt his chances. Then Verlander and Cole will lead a somewhat shaky (for now) Astros rotation. I’m concerned about Verlander’s durability a bit because he’s pitched so much, so well for so long that father time will eventually catch up but for now he’s still phenomenal. Cole is in his last season before free agency and a cy young win or top 5+ finish could get him a really nice payday. I’m picking Sale again and don’t sleep on David Price.

NL Cy Young: Reigning winner Jacob DeGrom and teammate (and healthy) Noah Syndergaard are contenders, Max Scherzer also a perennial contender and a healthy Strasburg could sneak his way into the discussion. The third head of the three headed monster in Washington (Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin) that is Patrick Corbin can also get into the conversation after cashing in on a successful 2018. Aaron Nola is also looking to repeat his 2018 success and lead the Phillies to the playoffs. If Jack Flaherty or Miles Mikolas take the next step and help the Cardinals reach the playoffs the could sneak into the discussion. If Walker Buehler continues on his outstanding rookie season and takes the torch from Kershaw atop the Dodgers rotation he could win. Then guys like Kyle Freeland and German Marquez should get more credit for doing such good work in Colorado and if the repeat the work they did and lead the Rockies into the playoffs they could rise up the ranks. I’m picking Aaron Nola atop the Phillies rotation.

eloy-tristan-topper

AL rookie of the year: I really just take shots in the dark with the rookie of the year awards and somehow got both of the right last year. So, I have guys to highlight. Eloy Jimenez in Chicago seems ready to take the MLB by storm. His new extension seemingly guarantees he’ll break camp on the big-league squad. Amazing minor league hitter with great power can be a bright spot for the White Sox as they try to finish off their rebuild. Vlad Jr will start in the minors to recover from his injury and “improve his defense” aka the Blue Jays want that last year of club control before calling him up. Also, an amazing hitter in the minors but Jimenez may get a head start. Yusei Kikuchi fresh from Japan has potential for a good season being one of the building blocks for the Mariner’s future. Jesus Luzardo of the Athletics seems like a dynamic young pitcher but will miss time to injury. The Astros have young top pitcher Forrest Whitley and outfielder Kyle Tucker. Tucker has less of a chance because of a somewhat crowded outfield. I’m taking Eloy Jimenez.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals

NL rookie of the year: Victor Robles looks primed to have an impact for the Nationals this season with Bryce Harper’s hole looming large. Fernando Tatis Jr could make an impact for the Padres this year but seemingly starting in the minors he may have to wait a while for his chance. Chris Paddack followed up a good 2018 with a great spring training an made the Padres starting rotation to start the year. A third Padre, catcher Francisco Mejia had a great spring and can make a push to be their everyday catcher while providing good offense. Mets first baseman Dominic Smith and particularly Pete Alonso have a good chance to make the Mets opening day roster and have an impact as the Mets look to make the playoffs after an offseason full of good baseball moves. Touki Toussaint had an up and down 2018 for the Braves and will start in the minors, to mainly work on his pitch control but as the Braves currently deal with injuries in the starting rotation and Toussaint could be called upon to help the Braves chances at repeating as division champs. I’m taking Victor Robles and his all-around talent.

AL Manager of the year: I think Rocco Baldelli could have a great sleeper season with the Twins as they are in a subpar division and the biggest threat to the Indians. Kevin Cash should also be in the running as he tries to build off of his success with the Rays from 2018. If they can get over the hill into the playoffs cash should have a great chance at this award. On the off chance that the Angels put it all together this year and make a push for the playoffs maybe Brad Ausmus makes a push for this award. If the Athletics can maintain their 2018 success, then Melvin could win 2 in a row. Then there’s the big-time candidates in Aaron Boone, Alex Cora and AJ Hinch. I think Cash edges out Baldelli by a narrow margin.

NL manager of the year: If they Brewers and Rockies continue their success from 2018 then Craig Counsell or Bud Black could win the award. If the cardinals push to the playoffs in a competitive division and wild card race, then maybe Mike Shildt comes in for the award. Gabe Kapler’s new look Phillies could get him the award. Same for Dave Martinez’s Nationals as they look to rebound after a disappointing 2018. The new look Reds and potentially dangerous Padres could get David Bell or Andy Green, respectively, the award, especially if the Reds somehow come away with a playoff push. I think Kapler takes the manager of the year by edging out Dave Martinez.

I need somewhere to put my bold Red Sox takes so here we go! I already said David Price is a Cy Young sleeper. JBJ is about to breakout, his started changing his swing at the all-star break and it showed as he drastically improved over the second half and is having a great spring. This along with his elite exit velocity shows signs of a breakout season for JBJ. Devers is also on my watch list for a breakout. Lastly the Red Sox bullpen will be better than expected. Judging players off of the past and name recognition isn’t a fair assessment and a healthy Red Sox bullpen has great upside with such a phenomenal coaching staff.

During a relatively quiet spring training here are some Sox storylines

The road to the repeat begins now, in Fort Myers, Florida, the spring training site of the 2018 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. With no major acquisitions this offseason, unlike the 5+ years, the Sox head into camp with 23 out of the 25 players from last year’s team. While we don’t have big storylines like teams in the Harper race or teams who did make bigtime acquisitions there are still some questions that need to be answered.

Too many bullpen pieces? – I believe that this bullpen dilemma is being blown way out of proportion. Yes, the Yankees signed Ottavino, who wasn’t extremely better than David Robertson, and resigned Britton but these moves are not an extreme upgrade over what they had last year. Also due to the recognition of the names the Red Sox lost, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly, people are calling this bullpen potentially worst in the league. Yeah, not so fast. After what has been a lot of recovery time, both Steven Wright and Tyler Thornburg are healthy and ready to prove their worth. Wright pitched extremely well last year and has been confirmed to be a full-time reliever. Matt Barnes had a career year, carried that success into the postseason and has continued to get better in recent years. Ryan Brasier was a break out for the Red Sox with his big fastball and wicked slider. Brandon Workman had a bad spring but was effective in limited major league appearances, but he’s looked good early with his curve seeming more effective. Then Colton Brewer and my sleeper Erasmo Ramirez, Brewer has some great stuff but never clicked with the Padres, but the Red Sox think they’ve cracked the code by changing his mound positioning, something they had great success with, in respect to David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez last year. Ramirez was a bullpen/swing starter for the Mariners and brings a somewhat different look for the Red Sox. Cora has stated he wants to have a sixth starter to start the season because of the 11 games in 11 days the Red Sox have to start the season, on the west coast. He will have to compete with Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove himself. Not to mention some guys I left out so this isn’t even more of a giant section

sox

How does the roster shape out? – Assuming Dustin Pedroia and the aforementioned Wright and Thornburg are set for opening day, which seems to be the belief around the team, there aren’t too many spots up for grabs. The Red Sox only plan on keeping 2 catchers, so there’s a race there between Vazquez, Leon and Swihart (more on him later). The infield is on lock for now, Moreland and Pearce split time at first, Pedroia, and Bogaerts up the middle and Devers at the hot corner, with utility men Holt and Nunez. The best outfield in the majors returns with Benintendi, Bradley Jr and Betts and Martinez as the primary DH and part time outfielder (Holt and Nunez also both have corner outfield experience while Betts and Benintendi can both play centerfield). That’s 13 out of 25. Then the 5 starting pitchers are also locked down; Sale, Price, Eovaldi, Porcello and Rodriguez. That’s 18 out of 25. My bullpen projection is Wright, Workman, Barnes, Brasier, Thornburg, Brewer, Ramirez/Velazquez/Johnson. That would be 25. But there is one more possibility that I believe is on the horizon.

swihart

Trades? – I am firmly in the camp of believing Swihart will be traded, probably among others like a Johnson or Velazquez, for a quality reliever. Swihart is young, cheap, controllable, has offensive potential and is athletic enough to play many positions. He could be a dream for a rebuilding team, whether that be starting a rebuild or trying to finish it. Dombrowski has made it known that he doesn’t want to carry 3 catchers on opening day, why not trade Swihart while we have some young catchers developing and Vazquez signed his extension last offseason. One more quality bullpen arm wouldn’t hurt.

Prospect season – Another misconception, the Red Sox farm system is depleted. Maybe a bit at the top but not really no. They have young promising arms in Darwinzon Hernandez, Bryan Mata, and Durbin Feltman among others. Promising position players like Bobby Dalbec, Triston Casas and the only Red Sox prospect ranked in the MLB top 100 prospect list: Michael Chavis. These young players have the chance to prove themselves and get placed higher in the farm system, the double AA or triple AAA level. The thing I don’t understand is this Red Sox scouting and development team found all these prospects they had when they were a highly ranked farm system, some guys went in trades for Chris Sale for example, and some are impacting the major league club, Benintendi and Devers most recently. If they had a top farm system as recently as a few years ago why can’t they do it again? It’s not like they got lucky on a dozen or so prospects. If the players the Sox have can continue to impress and rise through the ranks, they could have an impact on the major league club this year and/or for years to come. With some free agents on the horizon.

Free agency looming: The Sox have decisions to make in the coming years, Bogaerts and Sale among others become free agents this offseason. Mookie has free agency on the horizon. Despite getting out from some bad pre Dombrowski contracts after this season they can’t afford everyone. There are discussions going one between Sale and the Sox on an extension and hopefully they can retain Bogaerts as well. JD Martinez can opt out next offseason, but it is very possible he doesn’t if he feels comfortable with his deal and doesn’t want to go back into this terribly slow free agent market.

NBA trade season aka 1/2 of Danny Ainge season

 

nba_trade_winners_losers_getty_ringer_5.1549572874

The busiest day in the NBA has come and gone and while we are all done being in awe of the knowledge of Woj, the NBA dust is settling on what promises to be a very intriguing road to the finals.

Some of the East’s top tier teams load up:

·       Nikola Mirotic traded to the Milwaukee Bucks: My goodness the Bucks are looking mighty scary. Adding a top tier shooting forward to a team that is already shooting the lights out is scary. Giannis gets another weapon as he tries to fortify his MVP case. Mirotic is a great fit alongside Giannis because he is an efficient 3-point shooter, but he can also rebound and play in the paint a little. If the defense bites on the pass out to Mirotic, Middleton or other shooters, Giannis is almost guaranteed a basket but if the defense collapses towards Giannis he can pass out to a bevy of shooters along the perimeter as the defense scrabbles back.

·       Marc Gasol traded to the Toronto Raptors: This move still confuses me. How much better can Gasol make the Raptors instead of Valanciunas? Gasol maybe the better defender and shooter but Valanciunas is just as good as if not better of a rebounder and post player. With Serge Ibaka’s ability to shoot the basketball I don’t really see a logjam in the paint. Valanciunas has always been a Celtics killer and Gasol is not so this is a welcomed sight to me.

·       Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic traded to the Philadelphia76ers: The 76ers acquire a shooting forward in Harris, a piece they think they can retain to become pat of a big 4 with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and fellow to be free agent Jimmy Butler. Boban gives them a back center at a ridiculous 7-foot 3-inches and he also happens to be Harris’s best friend, so good for morale I suppose. This move doesn’t scare me as much as Mirotic because Harris is a little more rounded offensively and he isn’t just a catch and shoot type player. Simmons needs the ball to be effective, Embiid can dominate with the ball in the low post and Butler also can make his own shots. If they can make it work, they could be dangerous down the stretch, but they did shed some bench pieces, so they aren’t as deep as Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee.

usa_today_11665861.0.jpg

76ers scrap the latest part of the process: In a shocking move the 76ers dumped second year point guard Markelle Fultz for Johnathon Simmons, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. The 76ers traded up in the draft the summer of 2017 for Fultz, with the Celtics who used the 76ers pick to select Jayson Tatum and the Celtics got another pick. He has been suffering from shoulder issues for most of his career and he has been criticized by the media non-stop for his strange shooting mechanics and disagreements with the 76ers organization. Simmons can help a depleted Philly bench, but he is having a down year offensively. Fultz gets a chance to start over in Orlando where the desperately needed a point guard, they can give him a chance to get physically and mentally healthy as they tank to acquire what could be the last piece in their rebuild.

gty-1126310196-e1549543008470

Mark Cuban’s biggest foreign investment to date: After supposedly only demanding a trade at most an hour before this happened Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in hopes of becoming part of a sensational young duo with a fellow European, Mavs rookie sensation Luka Doncic. Porzingis will miss the remainder of the year as he continues to recover from a torn ACL and has stated he will sign the qualifying offer this summer to forgo restricted free agency to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Where Mark Cuban will either a) throw him a boat load of money b) hand him a blank check for Porzingis to fill out or c) let him sign elsewhere if he doesn’t come back from his torn ACL effectively.

Oivhq8kj_400x400

Danny Ainge is a goddamn wizard (and not the Washington kind): Ainge was able to trade Jabari Bird and free up a roster spot. The Celtics can sign someone from the buyout market to a modest 2-year deal. I can hear you saying what’s so impressive about this? Well that player could then be used as salary filler in a potential Anthony Davis deal. Davis, the guy who doesn’t want to play in Boston? You may be saying, well first of all, read before you ask, and secondly yes that Anthony Davis. Ainge was successfully able to keep the Pelicans from trading Davis this deadline and now has secured himself the ability to make official offers to the Pelicans. Unable to trade for Davis because of the Rose rule, the Celtics had to wait until the summer when Kyrie gets a new or deal or leaves if you believe that pile of bullshit. So, by successfully stalling a trade Ainge has guaranteed he will get a chance to send the Pelicans some offers. Who and what will those offers consist of? Nobody knows not even Danny because he’s that unpredictable. But the Celtics would have to draft for the Pelicans if they were to trade some 2019 draft picks because offers can’t be made until July 1st, after the draft. I am not worried about the rumors that Davis won’t resign long term in Boston nor should you be, Kevin Garnett, yes that Kevin Garnett didn’t want to be traded to Boston, then he signed an extension to stay once eligible. Boston wasn’t a preferred destination for Kyrie either but there are more signs pointing towards him stay than leaving. Once in Boston, where fans are some of the most loyal and passionate, where you have new facilities, a great coaching staff, top tier ownership committed to winning and have a chance to become immersed in the rich basketball culture and tradition of excellence it is very possible to have your mind changed. All hail Lord Danny.       

Someone free up Tom’s other hand

462644188

Can we just take a minute and grasp the amazing careers Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have had so far? Bill Belichick has won 8 super bowls so far in his career, EIGHT, that is ridiculous he is closing in on Bill Russell levels of dominance and winning. Tom Brady has won 6 now and has been to 9. Excluding his rookie year which he didn’t play and 2008 when he tore his ACL week one, he has been to the Super Bowl for ½ of his career, 9 out of 18 years he has played in the Super Bowl. This is an era of unparalleled dominance for the Patriots this is basically 20 years of owning the NFL and letting teams fight for second place.

So the Super Bowl was basically the Patriots defense giving a big middle finger to all the haters this year and repaying Tom Brady for being terrible last year. Tom Brady threw for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns last year and the defense couldn’t stop anything. The redeemed themselves big time this year. Holding the second-best offense in the league this year to 3 points. One singular 47-yard field goal. Jared Goff was under duress all night by the Patriots front 7. Dont’a Hightower is entrenching himself in Super Bowl history, he had 2 sacks while getting constant pressure, after the notorious strip sack of Matt Ryan in Super Bowl 51 and game saving tackle of Marshawn Lynch in Super Bowl 49. Kyle Van Noy had a great game as well. Stephon Gilmore could’ve been MVP of this game. On a weekend where Ty Law was inducted into the hall of fame Gilmore honored the number 24 but putting up a Law like game. He had 5 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and 3 passes broken up.

RyanAllenPatriots

Belichick pays attention to all the small things, like harping on special teams plays 24/7. Ryan Allen and Matthew Slater had a phenomenal game as well. Multiple time Allen delivered a perfect punt and Slater downed it to pin the Rams deep in their own territory. Gostkowski, playing with a heavy heart after the passing of his grandfather came through with 2 field goals and many great kickoffs.

julian-edelman-super-bowl-jew-1549254691

If you’ve been paying close attention, I haven’t mentioned the offense yet, because they didn’t do much. Julian Edelman had a great game, reinforcing my theory that a great beard like that is a source of unlimited power. The running game played well, Sony Michel especially as he scored the only touchdown of the game to cap off his stellar playoff run. Tom Brady did face pressure most of the night as Wade Phillips was able to continue his success at game planning for Brady, he did a good job moving Suh and Donald all over the defensive line to confuse the Patriots offensive line at times.

Was the game boring? Yeah maybe a little at times but I’d say more tedious/irritating than anything. In an era of offensive explosion defenses reigned supreme in the Super Bowl. In a year shrouded in negativity from the outside for the Patriots they came closer as a group and pushed through to beat the top three DVOA ranked teams in the playoffs (DVOA compares a team’s season to the calculated average adjusted to the defenses they played so the Chiefs, Rams and Chargers were viewed as the top 3 teams in relation to this stat). At the end of the day there was no luck, perseverance, discipline and experience reigned supreme once again for the now 6 time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.