Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Less is Mohr

A few things about the Red Sox roster...

It's too bad that Dustan Mohr is getting stuck in a numbers game with the Red Sox. He's hit well, and played decent defense too. Most likely, they'll hold onto Adam Stern since he was a rule 5 draftee.

Tony Graffanino's ability to play all four infield positions will be missed, especially if Mike Lowell struggles at third and J.T. Snow's bat doesn't come around.

Lastly, Julian Tavarez's recent tantrum aside, the Red Sox bullpen has struggled this spring. Papelbon may help, but until Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen are ready this will remain a question mark. I found it interesting that Delcarmen will close for Pawtucket, while Hansen wil focus on working on his slider.

Monday, March 27, 2006 

Lost Weekend

The Celtics meltdown in the fourth quarter yesterday against Chicago reminded me of a lot of games from the first half of this season, when they lost several close games with poor play down the stretch. Not only did the Celtics fail to gain ground on the free-falling 76ers (who lost again to stay 5 ahead of Boston), but they are now 3 games behind the Bulls in the loss column. Philadelphia and Chicago each have 13 games to play, while Boston has just 11 left. Time is running out... at least the Celtics play the Bulls again in Chicago later this week and have another chance to gain ground.

What made yesterday even harder to take was that the Celtics led the whole way until the fourth quarter. But they were unable to stretch their lead in the third, which foreshadowed their doom. I was flipping back-and-forth between the end of the George Mason-UConn game, but I couldn't understand why Doc Rivers went so small at the end of the game, playing Ryan Gomes essentially at center against Tyson Chandler.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Fall Guy

Harry Sinden and the Bruins waved the white flag yesterday, firing GM Mike O'Connell. While I agree that it is better to let O'Connell go now instead of letting him continue to sign players to long-term deals, it was a strange signal to send to the team just a few hours before last night's game against Buffalo.

Sinden appeared to be emotional at the 6pm press conference, describing O'Connell as a "good friend". O'Connell had been with the Bruins organization in various roles for 21 seasons, and was elevated to GM on November 1, 2000 after an apprenticeship as assistant GM under Sinden.

Now O'Connell's assistant, Jeff Gorton, takes the reins on an interim basis. Sinden said that Gorton would be one of many candidates considered for the permanent job.

What's troubling is that Mike O'Connell didn't dream up the Bruins plan for the lockout on his own. I find it hard to believe that Sinden and Jacobs didn't have to endorse the decision to only have 3 players under contract heading into the work stoppage. While O'Connell made a lot of bad decisions on how to spend to the cap, plus some shaky trades, the basic plan itself was flawed. But only O'Connell gets shown the door. Will Jacobs be willing to hire someone and give them both the GM and president's titles, bumping Sinden further upstairs? It would be the best move he could make.

Friday, March 24, 2006 


The Patriots are keeping Troy Brown in the fold, and have inquired about Eric Moulds and Keyshawn Johnson, which are all positive signs as they try to rebuild their receiver corps. Brown is clearly slowing down, but provides Tom Brady an important safety net. He's certainly more reliable than Reche Caldwell. Now we'll see if they can get Moulds or Johnson to fill the number 2 spot.

Mike Vanderjagt is off the market, signing with Dallas in a move that makes a lot of sense. He gets to kick on turf in a partially enclosed stadium in a warm climate. The Cowboys get to escape the kicking nightmares of the past few seasons. With Atlanta making a hard push to re-sign Todd Peterson, the Patriots might be forced to sign Paul Edinger, or roll the dice and hope they get lucky in the draft or that another veteran gets cut on June 1.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Bucking the System

Adam Vinatieri agreed to terms with the Colts yesterday, and Patriots nation is getting nervous. This is the first major defection of the Belichick era, and give Colts GM Bill Polian credit for upgrading his kicker position while sticking it to his arch-rivals at the same time.

I have mixed emotions about the move. Now I know how Red Sox fans when Carlton Fisk bolted for the White Sox. Vinatieri will always be a legend in Boston, but if he kicks a game-winner against the Patriots in the playoffs that image could take a beating. He'll spend the next two years kicking in the RCA Dome, then the Colts move to a new retractable dome stadium in 2008, ensuring Vinatieri of good home field conditions as he tries to add to his hall of fame resume.

It's easy to understand why the Colts valued Vinatieri so highly. He's the anti-Mike Vanderjagt. Vinatieri has always been known as a good teammate who raises his game in the clutch. In baseball terms, he's Mr. October, while Vanderjagt is Mr. May.

I'd like to think the Patriots considered Vinatieri's age, his (relatively) sub-par 2005 season and his history of back trouble while deciding not to franchise him or make him a substantial offer. But part of me wonders if the Patriots past success is working against them, and making them arrogant enough to think they can name their price regardless of the player. Maybe Paul Edinger or (gulp) Vanderjagt will come in and do a great job next season, but every missed field goal from here on is going to be blamed as much on Belichick and Pioli as on Vinatieri's replacement.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Mo Power

The Red Sox trade of Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena is yet another sign that Theo is building for the future, not 2006. Arroyo may have peaked the last two seasons, and was never going to win 17-20 games, but he would have been valuable as a long reliever and insurance behind an old starting rotation. Now it looks like Matt Clement will be sticking around and Lenny DiNardo will fill the long relief slot.

Pena is just 24, but has been in pro ball since he was 16 and in the majors for parts of the last 4 seasons. You can see his stats here. In 302 games he's struck out 288 times while compiling only a .302 OBP. He does have power, having connected for 19 HR last season in 99 games. In the short-term, Pena becomes a fourth outfielder; he's played nearly as many games in center (97) as in right (116). It also gives the Red Sox some insurance against an injury to Manny or David Ortiz by adding another power hitter. But by 2007 he could be starting in RF if Nixon is not re-signed.

The bottom line is that the Red Sox have more pitching prospects than power hitting prospects, so trading a pitcher for some young power made sense. But if the pitching staff falls apart by July and Pena is piling up the strikeouts, it could be a long year for the newest member of the Red Sox.

Monday, March 20, 2006 

Let the kids play

Nice win by the Celtics yesterday. The Pacers are decimated by injuries, but it looked like they gave up in the fourth quarter, as the Celtics outscored them 31-17 to turn a close 72-71 game into a 103-88 rout. Doc Rivers missed the game due to the death of his father-in-law, and assistant Tony Brown filled in well. Brown took a chance at the start of the fourth quarter, keeping all of his starters on the bench to start the period. It paid off, as youngsters Tony Allen, Orien Greene, and Gerald Green all made important contributions to extending the Celtics lead.

Unfortunately, the Celtics reward is to host the Lakers tonight. Kobe Bryant missed a potential game-winning shot yesterday against the Caviliers, so he should be fired up for this one.

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