Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Posted on: December 22, 2008 2:08 pm
 

The NFL hates the New England Patriots...

I honestly do not believe that the NFL has it out of the Patriots, but the schedule change they made earlier today, flexing the Dolphins vs. Jets game from 1:00 to 4:00, really hurts New England.

The thing that bothers me is that there had to have been someone involved with this move that said, "If we make this schedule change and the Patriots win at 1:00, then the Jets are eliminated and could just lie down and let the Dolphins win, but if we leave the game at 1:00 then all three teams will have something to play for" and therefore someone more important simply said, "whatever".

I'm trying to follow the advice so often given by Bill Belichick and only worry about what the Patriots can do, but it is so hard. These two ideas keep bouncing back and forth inside my head:

1) The Jets lie down and let the Dolphins cruise to victory. My first thought when I hear this is "Yep, that could happen". The Jets despise the Patriots and they would like nothing more than to bring New England down with them. Mangini and Belichick aren't exactly best buds and the Jets could get away with it because they have played so awfully recently that anyone could say that they gave it their all.

2) The Jets come out, play well, and win. I know if the Patriots win then the Jets have "nothing to play for", but I hate that line. You always have something to play for, even if you can't make the playoffs. Every single player on that team is fighting for a job, a bigger contract, or even tv time, and the only way to get those things is to play well. If Mangini goes out and loses his last four games, even if the last game was "meaningless", he could definitely be on the way out the door. I just don't see how the Jets players/coach could throw this game away.

I just hope after everything is said and done a flex-schedule change isn't what ultimately decides who goes to the playoffs in a winable AFC.

Posted on: December 18, 2008 3:22 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: 'Win out' for the Holidays

      

On December 8th during the producation of Pardon the Interuption, when Wilbon and Kornheiser were playing the percentages game, Tony Reali asked the two hosts what percent chance the Celtics had of making it to Christmas without losing a game. Wilbon said 40% and Kornheiser 60%, but both explained that the tough stretch for Boston would come when during a three game streak they faced the Hornets and Jazz at home and then went on the road to Atlanta. They added that If the C's could get by those teams successfully, then they would have a 100% chance of winning their next three games against Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

According to the PTI crew, chalk the Celtics up as 27-2.

Although the upcoming three games won't challenge Boston as much as the previos trio, they shouldn't necissarily be a cake walk either. Yes all three are at home against teams that currently have a losing record, but here's what we're looking at for matchups:

12-19 vs. Chicago: The Bulls, for the second straight year are underachieving. Two years ago they were seen as a positive example of what patience and player development could do; draft well, don't spend on big-time stars, and you'll be successful. Well, it's not working so well anymore. Yes, the Celtics should win this game, but if Ben Gordon shoots out of his mind (which he is capable of doing), Derrick Rose controls the offense, and Tyrus Thomas can somehow contain KG (unlikely, but who knows) the Bulls can make a game of it.

12-21 vs. New York: This is a totally different team than the Celtics saw a month ago in Madison Square Garden. The additions of Al Harrington and Tim Thomas give the Knicks a legitimate inside game that can match up with Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnet, not to mention that Chris Duhon has become well adjusted to the Knicks offense and is thriving. The name of the game is going to be score early and often. New York has 8 players (7 discounting the retired Cutino Mobley) who average double figures in scoring and the boys from the Big Apple were close to out dueling the Lakers two nights ago (losing 114-116). Don't be surprised if the Knicks make it close in a shootout.

12-23 vs. Philadelphia: After signing Elton Brand in the offseason to compliment Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, The now 11-14 76ers were supposed to give the C's a run for their money in the Atlantic Division. With Philly already 12.5 games back and Brand sidelined with a dislocated shoulder the Sixers are fading fast. Boston beat the 76ers soundly in Philly 102-78 in November, now, playing at home in a tune-up game for a Christmas day matchup with the Lakers, and with the Sixers' best player wearing street clothes with his arm in a sling, I would expect the Celts to take this one by at least 20. What could make this a close game is if Boston uncharacteristically looks past the struggling Sixers to LA and somehow get caught with their pants down. Far fetched, but I've heard of stranger things.

While the Celtics don't have to go on the road and play in a brutal atmosphere like Atlanta (PA announcer starting all the cheers was really tacky), or go up against the NBA's best pointguard like New Orleans, the three upcoming Eastern Conference matchups shouldn't be complete blowouts. Hopefully Boston can give their fans a 20 game win streak for Christmas.

Posted on: December 15, 2008 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 3:38 pm
 

GM for a Day:Diamonds in the "non-tendered" rough

                                        

Friday marked the date when teams sent a load of non-tendered players packing to join the already crowded free agent pool. Of those players, a large amount of whom are bottom-of-the-barrel type athletes, there are to be found a few possible sleepers:

Ty Wigginton - Probably the most sought-after non-tendered player on the market. Wigginton was let go by the Astros after signing a deal with them only a year ago. The now former Houston third baseman hit .285 last season with 23 homers in just 386 ABs. Wigginton is just 31 years old and is very consistant, hitting at least .275 with 22 HRs in each of his last three seasons, not to mention that he is versitile (having played second base for Tampa Bay two years ago) and can be picked up relatively cheaply at around $3.5 million a year. Apparently the Giants, Indians, Pirates, and Reds have all already shown interest.

Chris Capuano - After undergoing his second career Tommy John surgery Capuano didn't play at all during the 2008 season and was subsiquently not offered a contract by the Milwakee Brewers. In 29 starts in 2007 the lefty posted a 5-12 record, 5.10 ERA, and 132Ks. While those numbers are far from impressive, in his previous two seasons, which took place after his first Tommy John surgery, Capuano went 29-24 with a 3.99 ERA and pitched at least 220 innings both years. He might have to start the year on the DL, but the 30 year old is capable of keeping the ball around the plate (3:1 career K:BB ratio), and, if healthy, eating up some innings. For a couple million, this guy could be a steal for teams who are contenders but still have holes in their starting rotations like the Blue Jays, Twins, Cardinals, or even the Brewers.

Daniel Cabrera - The Orioles parted ways with this 5 year veteran on Friday after the hurler failed to post a winning record in any of the last four seasons. The 27 year old fireballer ended last year with an 8-10 mark and a 5.25 ERA. While Cabrera's final statistics are by no means head-turning, the fact that through through July first in 2008 he was able to compile a 5-1 record, 3.60 ERA and 10 straight quality starts, is what will land him a spot somewhere next year. Because he has a reputation (well deserved) of being unbelievably inconsistant, he will not be signing with any immediate contenders, but there are teams like the Padres (if they keep Peavy), Athletics, and Braves who have an outside shot at making a run at the playoffs and could afford to take a chance at around 2 million per. I could even see the Red Sox taking at a look at him and turing him into the long relief guy out of the pen, much like they did with Kyle Snyder a few year ago (very similar build and control issues).

Takashi Saito - The belief that the Dodgers are going to make a hard push for Trevor Hoffman has been confirmed by the team not offering 39 year old Takashi Saito a contract. Saito had a productive, but injury plagued 2008 campaign (4-4, 2.49, 60Ks in 47 IP) leading many teams to think his days as a quality bullpen arm are numbered. While not expected to sign anywhere as a closer, the Japanese born right hander could make his way to a legitimate team in need of an 8th inning type arm like the Diamondbacks, Giants, White Sox, or possibly even the Yankees.

Other notable non-tendered free agents include Joey Gathright (KC), Jonny Gomes (TB), Willy Taveras (COL), and Chuck James (ATL).

Posted on: December 13, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2008 12:28 pm
 

Celtics Weekly: The new "Big Baby" is Chris Paul

                                                         

After watching the Celtics win their 22nd game of the season last night against the New Orleans Hornets three things became very obvious to me:

1) Paul Pierce is at his best in big games. During the four games prior to Friday night Pierce was shooting a sub-par 33% from the field, connected on only 3 three pointers, and averaged over 3 turnovers per game. But then the Hornets came to town. Against a team that is the best the Celtics have faced all month, a team which was a pre-season favorite to go to the NBA championship from the Western Conference, and on national television Paul Pierce dropped 28 points (9-17 from the field hitting 2 from downtown) while also contributing 6 boards and 6 assists as well as only 2 turnovers. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both future hall of famers, but when the game is on the line, I want the ball in the hands of Paul Pierce.

2) Chris Paul is still the same old cry baby. Last season when the Hornets visited Boston in late March they got whacked by the Celts 112-92. During the beginning of the fourth quarter Chris Paul walked around the court like he was lost. Byron Scott eventually sat him down and everyone watched as Paul sat quietly on the bench with a towel over his head and defeated look on him face. The same exact thing happened last night in the fourth. Paul started committing stupid fouls and throwing up prays down the stretch instead of acting like a leader. Could you ever see KG, Pierce, or Allen pulling something like that? Paul has a little work in front of him before he is able to lead his team to a title.

3) Rajon Rondo still has a ways to go. Rondo has no doubt played at an all-star calibur so far this season. Last night, playing arguably the best pointguard in the league in Chris Paul, Rondo struggled mightily. Rondo can afford to shoot poorly from time to time (4-12 last night), but when that happens he needs to revert to being a point, dishing balls out, playing tough D, and energizing his team. His 2 assist, 2 turnover, 1 steal performance last night wasn't getting the job done. While I have high hopes for Rondo, I think "Rondomania" may have swept Celtics nation a little prematurely. He has to learn how to be composed in big games if he is to reach elite PG status.

While last night was an big win for the C's, I'm not convinced they have it all over the Hornets. Yes, they did hold New Orleans to 35% shooting from the floor, but that was without center Tyson Chandler in the lineup. When Boston travels down South in February I think we'll all get a better idea of how these two squads will matchup come (dare I say it?) championship time.

Posted on: December 11, 2008 3:58 pm
 

GM for a Day: Smoltz + Red Sox = Perfect Couple

Throw a Sox hat on this guy      

For the first time since his successful shoulder surgery in June, righty John Smoltz climbed to the top of a pitching mound earlier this week. Not only did he snap off his full repertoire of pitches, but he turned some heads as well.

One of those heads sat on the shoulders of Theo Epstein.

Smoltz, who is a free agent and on record as saying Boston is one of a very few places he would be willing to sign, is favored to land back in Atlanta where he has spent all 20 years of his career. The Tigers, who are of special significance since Smoltz is a Michigan native, are also interested in the future hall of famer.

Despite his allegiance to Atlanta or reveries of a heart-warming homecoming in Detroit, Boston is the best place for Smoltz.

In my estimation, by stating that he only wants to return to the Braves if they have a realistic chance of winning a World Championship is another way of saying, "Sorry Atlanta, but you are rebuilding and I'm gonna work the market and play for a winner". And who better to fit that bill than the Red Sox who came within one game of returning to their 3rd world series in 5 years?

One selling point is that the Sox have a specific void which needs to be filled: the fourth spot in their rotation. At 41 years of age (42 in May) Smoltz would be asked to be the ace in both Atlanta and Detroit. Putting that kind of presure on a surgically repaired arm can't be healthy...but Boston offers a low-risk option. Even if Smoltz doesn't return to Cy Young form, which is likely the case, he would be considered a success in Beantown if he went 14-8 with a 4.00 ERA...with those numbers he would be considered a flop elsewhere.

The Red Sox also have to think of the future of their rotation. Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are supposedly still a little ways away from starting the season in the big leagues, but are both penciled in to be in the 2010 rotation. So where can Boston find a decent arm willing to sign only a one year deal? Tah-dah! John Smoltz, because of his recent arm problems, is only looking for a single year deal.

But Smoltz is a former Cy Young winner, isn't it going to cost an arm and a leg to sign this guy? Not so. Where as other 2nd tier hurlers like Oliver Perez (5 years $75 mil), Andy Pettitte (extended contract, $15 mil per year), and Ben Sheets (upwards of $14 mil) are all looking for around $15 million per season, Smoltz is testing the waters at $10 million! That has "steal" written all over it.

Just close your eyes for a minute and picture a playoff rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, and Smoltz....beautiful, isn't it? And unlike all the Peavy go-getters out there, this is actually realistic!

This deal makes perfect sense for both next year and the future...not to mention that fans will go nuts with such a big name signing. Don't expect Smoltz to be a 20 game winner, but he would, hands down, be the best number 4 starter in the league.

Posted on: December 6, 2008 2:03 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2008 12:21 am
 

Celtics Weekly: Getting lax after big leads

When the Trail Blazers came to Boston Friday night they were supposed to give the Celtics a game. Portland was "faster" and "more athletic" which would lead to a bunch of transition points and easy baskets. The team that was ranked 4th in CBS's NBA power rankings didn't give the C's any sort of trouble. In fact, it was Boston that took advantage of what seemed to be a very lethargic Blazer defense to outscore Portland on the fast break and beat them at their own game.

It has become rather redundant to praise Boston for their continued success, but since they are playing so well it is difficult (and honestly rather tedious) to find something that the Celtics have done poorly recently. But I have done it! The last two games the Celts have had large leads in the third quarter (over 20) and have managed to somewhat waste them away. Yes, the lead last night never dropped below 11 after the half, but there was a point where the Celtics bench went on a cold streak which resulted in a 16-3 Portland run.

So my one criticism of the Celtics is perhaps they should work on their closing skills. Putting the nail in the coffin. Twisting the daggar. Telling the other team to start warming up the bus.

When the bench has entered the last few games, their body language tells me that they think they are the mop up crew. They are given such large leads that they don't play strong defense, march down the court, and take the first mediocre shot they find. The fact that they lose leads impacts the team because it forces the starters to play unnecissary minutes that they could be resting. Rivers has said time and again that keeping the five core guys fresh plays a major role in the success the Celts will be able to have down the stretch and with Pierce and Allen being forced to play 37 minutes last night, the bench isn't getting the job done.

The Celtics biggest challenger, Cleveland, has been able to sit LeBron James for the entire fourth quarter in 5 of their last 7 games in order to keep him rested. The last things you want to see is King James at 100% in a seven game series where Paul Pierce is tired due to over playing him.

I know the playoffs are far in the distance, and the Celtics at 19-2 are far from in trouble, but like I said, I'm just grasping at straws here, If they continue to play the way they are Boston will be fine, if maybe just a little more worn down.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 1:44 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2008 1:49 pm
 

GM for a day: Lowell/Teixeira "Not about money"

I know that Major League Baseball is a business, but I also know that sometimes the game and the players in it have more at stake than just the bottom line.

I love the thought of having Mark Teixeira in the Red Sox lineup next year and with the winter meets right around the corner that might very well become a reality very soon. But at what cost?

When I say cost, I'm not referring to a dollar amount, but I'm speaking about the way the organization will be remembered for years to come. With the signing of Teixeira the Red Sox will most likely be shipping Mike Lowell off elsewhere as Youk makes the move to third. This is the same Mike Lowell who was the MVP of the 2007 World Series and signed with the Sox for $10 million less than he could have elsewhere.

Are we so fickle that we are willing to turn our back and end a relationship with a person who was our hero only a year ago and threw away $10 million to maintain this relationship? He said he stayed because of the teammates, the fans, and the town. He stayed because we are supposedly the best fans and organization in baseball, and if we want to prove that and earn the respect of players around the league so they might do the same as Lowell did, we shouldn't settle for throwing Lowell out the door.

Signing the best free agent out there doesn't make us a good team, having the right mix of guys that complete their roles perfectly is the formula for success, and Lowell is one of the pieces that helps the Red Sox succeed. Keeping that in mind, I'll leave you with Lowell's words from a year ago when he signed his 3 year $37 million deal with Boston:

"I have financial security so I'd like to believe I'm not all about money," Lowell said. "I feel like I'm more of a baseball player than a businessman. I kind of weighed where I felt comfortable, where I thought I could produce the best with the team that has a chance to win a world championship, and it was Boston. On top of that, we just won and I think I played with a set of teammates that are unparalleled and with a manager the same way and with a fan base that's unbelievable.

"I think all of those came into play. I really don't believe that everything should be about money. I've had teammates in the past that have gone to other places and sometimes they have second thoughts because they took more money elsewhere. I just didn't think my happiness should just be bought by dollars."

Doesn't that sound like a guy you want playing for your team?

Posted on: December 2, 2008 3:14 pm
 

Jim Rice Hall of Fame bound?

Perhaps I'm merely biased and simply love the idea of another Red Sox star being inshrined into baseball's holyland, but when faced with the question as to whether or not Jim Rice should be voted into the Hall of Fame this year my answer is a resounding Y-E-S!

The voting writers claim that in order to be considered as a candidate for Cooperstown you must be a "dominating" player of your generation. Here are several reasons why Jim Rice was just that:

Career Prime: During the 12 years of Jim Rice's prime (1975-86), he hit at a .303 clip while averaging over 30 HRs and 107 RBI a season. He hit over .315 4 times, 4 times had more than 120 RBI, and also hit 39 or more homeruns 4 times. That is outstanding.

All-star teams: Jim Rice was selected to 8 All star teams during those 12 years in his prime. The four years he wasn't selected were 1975: finished 3rd in MVP voting and 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting; 1976: common Sophomore slump (still hit 25 HRs); 1981: injured, only accumulated 451 ABs; and 1982: WON THE MVP.

MVP Caliber: In addition to winning the MVP in '78, he earned a top-5 spot in the MVP voting 5 other times as well as votes in 2 other years (13th and 19th place).

Other honors: Rice twice won the silver slugger award for best hitter at his position and in his only World Series appearance against the Mets in 1986 hit .333 with 6 walk, 6 runs, a double, and a triple in 27 ABs.

15 years has been a long time to wait, but a 1st ballot Hall of Famer and 15th ballot inductee are both inshrined together. Let the anxiety begin.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com