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Posted on: July 14, 2010 2:29 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 2:31 pm
 

Red Sox Midseason Report

It's a little past the midway point of the season, but with the All-Star break here, I thought this would be a good time to look at how the Red Sox have fared over the first few months of the season and what the Sox and their fans can look forward to.

Overview: All things considered, I think that the Red Sox and their fans have to be fairly pleased with where the red sox are, considering the way the season has gone thus far, with all the injuries to the Red Sox. Boston sits in the 3rd place in the AL East, 5 games back of the Yankees for first, and 3 games back of the Rays for the wild card spot. It is impossible to assess the Red Sox this season without focusing on the injuries that have befallen them - it borders on ridiculous how many players have been injured for the Sox. Jon Lester has been the only healthy consistent starter for Boston, and Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz have had to carry the offensive load for the Sox.

Josh Beckett was useless in the first half, but hopefully he can come back and make a difference soon. Last week, he had an encouraging start for AAA Pawtucket in which he pitched 4 innings, allowed 2 hits, 1 run, and struck out 4. If he can come back and be consistently good, that would be a huge boost for the Sox. The same can also be said for Clay Buchholz, who was excllent before getting injured. Buchholz strained his hamstring several weeks ago and will be making a rehab start at Pawtucket on Friday. If all goes well, he could be back with the Sox in a week or so.

Jacoby Ellsbury has been out of comission for the vast majority of the season, and his prognosis doesn't look as good as Beckett's or Buchholz's. He has rejoined the Sox, but it seems that he is nowhere close to playing. His return would be a boost, but it's not one that the Sox should plan on for at least a month, and maybe more. It's also concerning that he and the Red Sox appear to be at odds over treating and identifying his injury.

Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez are also out for the Sox, but both are expected to return fairly soon, within the next week or two for Pedroia, and a little longer for V-Mart. Pedroia will probably have to make a few rehab starts, but it seems like he's doing well. Martinez is having issues with swelling in his thumb, and while there isn't a timetable for his return, it seems that he may be back in the lineup in a few weeks.

It hasn't been all bad for the Red Sox though; Adrian Beltre has been a great surprise, and David Ortiz has picked it up after an awful start to become a force once again. Kevin Youkilis has been his solid self, and Terry Francona has done a masterful job managing the Sox through all their injuries. Overall, considering all the injuries, the Red Sox can't be unhappy with where they are. If Beckett and Buchholz comes back and can be effective, the Sox will be much, much better, and should push the Yankees and Rays.

The Red Sox also have to be very grateful for the way that relative unkowns like Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald have stepped in and made a real difference. Also contributing have been (former) reserves Eric Patterson and Bill Hall, who have helped to weather the injury storm for the Red Sox. Hopefully they can keep contributing, especially Nava, who has been a great find for the desperate Sox.

New Guys?: With all the injuries to the Sox, there has been much talk of adding players before the trading deadline, mainly a bullpen arm and/or another outfielder. The Blue Jays have made three relievers available - Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, and Scott Downs. It seems the Red Sox would do well to try and get at least one, if not two of those arms, especially Gregg and/or Downs. Also discussed is Pittsburgh Pirates' reliever Evan Meek who has appeared in 40 games and has an ERA of 1.11 this season. Another possibility is the Atheltics' Craig Breslow, a lefty reliever who would provide a great deal of help for the Sox' bullpen. Keep your eye on Kerry Wood and the Orioles' Will Ohman as well.

Daniel Bard has been the only consistently good reliever for the Red Sox this year, but he has been overworked, and getting another arm would be great. Other possibilities include putting Michael Bowden in the bullpen, and Felix Doubront too. It appears that the Sox might already be thinking this way, having put Bowden in the bullpen in Pawtucket, where he has allowed only one hit in 3 relief appearances.

As for an outfield bat, there have been rumors about the Royals' David DeJesus and the Phillies' Jayson Werth. Both would provide some help for an outfield that has been relying on Eric Patterson, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava among others. However, given the job Nava and Co. have done, getting another bat seems secondary in importance to getting a bullpen arm.

5 Guys Important the Sox' Playoff Hopes: These are 5 players that I think are important if the Sox are going to make a playoff run.
  - John Lackey: Lackey has been thoroughly unimpressive for the Sox this season. He is 9-5, but a 4.78 ERA and K/BB ratio of 1.4/1 (compared to nearly 3/1 from Jon Lester) is not what the Red Sox were looking for from him. If he can go from average to very good, such as what he was for the Angels last year, that would be a big lift for the Sox and could push them closer to a playoff berth.
  - Adrian Beltre: Beltre has been somewhat of a savior for the Sox this year, batting .330 with 13 home runs and 55 rbi. However, he has been declining somewhat of late, and that could spell trouble for the Sox. If Pedroia and Martinez can come back healthy, the Sox won't need him to be a .330 guy for the rest of the season, but staying above .300 would keep the Red Sox offense near the top of the league, and help them stay in the playoff hunt
  - Josh Beckett: Beckett has done absolutely nothing for Boston this season, and the Sox are still in contention near the top of the league. So what if Beckett was healthy and producing like he has for the past few seasons for the Sox? That would most certainly propel the Sox to a playoff spot if everyone else performed the same way. The Sox and their fans can only hope for this.
  - David Ortiz: After a sickeningly bad start, Ortiz has rebounded to give the Sox another legitimate power threat that they very much needed. He was batting .149 with three home runs on May 4, but has been excellent since. If the Red Sox are to push for a playoff spot, they need him to continue this performance.
  - Clay Buchholz: Before injuring his hamstring while running the bases in late June, Buchholz was becoming the pitcher that everyone has been waiting for since he threw a no-hitter against Baltimore. At 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA, Buchholz has been pitching very well this year. If he can come back and be just as effective for the pitching-starved Sox, it will be a major lift.

The Bottom Line: If the Red Sox are going to catch the Yankees/Rays for a playoff spot, it all comes down to pitching. The Sox offense, which was in doubt coming into the season has been fine. More than fine actually. They are 3rd in the MLB in batting average, 1st in total bases, 1st in slugging percentage (by a whopping 23 points), 1st in runs scored, and 2nd in home runs. Like I said, they're doing just fine in the hitting department.

However, pitching has been a different story. They are 22nd in team ERA, and are middle of the road in batting average against and OBP against. As I said above, some of the most important players for the Sox in the 2nd half are pitchers. If they are going to succeed, they need Beckett, Buchholz, and Lackey to perform, and for Lester to stay at his current high level. They also need bullpen help in the worst way. If the Sox are going to succeed, these things need to happen.

It comes down to this for Boston: If they improve their pitching, they will be playing in October. If they don't improve their pitching, they will be playing golf. Let's hope that they can get it together.

Posted on: June 22, 2010 11:20 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2010 11:22 pm
 

Celtics Draft Preview

With the NBA draft coming up on Thursday, I thought I'd do a draft preview for my team, the Celtics.

I think that this draft is very important for the Celtics; their run to the NBA Finals was probably the furthest that they're going to get for another several years (although you never know), due to the aging of the Big 3. If the Celtics draft well in this draft, they can not only prolong the careers of the Big 3 by getting quality depth that can give them good minutes, but they can set up well for the future after the Big 3. The last couple of years, the Celtics really haven't drafted very well at all. Let's take a look at recent draft picks:

  • 2009 - They didn't have a first round pick because of the KG trade, but with their second round pick, they selected Lester Hudson, a combo guard who was waived this past season
  • 2008 - The Celtics used their first round draft pick on J.R. Giddens, and their second round draft pick on Turkish big man Semih Erden. J.R. Giddens rode the bench before being traded in the Nate Robinson trade, and Erden has never joined the Celtics. They also traded for Bill Walker, who was also traded in the Nate Robinson trade, and showed a bit of promise for the Knicks.
  • 2007 - The Celtics drafted Jeff Green, but he was immediately traded to the Sonics as part of the deal for Ray Allen. In the second round, they drafted Gabe Pruitt a combo guard out of USC who rode the bench for two years before being waived. It is worth noting that as part of the Ray Allen trade, the Celtics also received Glen Davis.
  • 2006 - The Celtics trade their first round pick for Phoenix's first round pick, which was Rajon Rondo. They then acquired Leon Powe in the second round from Denver.
So looking back, Danny Ainge and co. haven't really done a great job of picking out players from the draft. With the very notable exception of Rajon Rondo, and Glen Davis as well, nobody who they have drafted in the past 4 years has really made a great contribution. The Celtics did use the draft well as a way to make trades for Allen and KG, but their evaluations of prospective players appears to have been off the mark recently. If the Celtics are to stay contenders, this draft needs to yield at least one solid contributor, and hopefully two.

I am going into this draft with the assumption that the Celtics will pick one big man, probably to be the heir to KG, and one wing player to back up Pierce and/or Allen.

Who the Celtics pick largely depends on whether Ray Allen remains with the Celtics. If he does stay, or if he leaves and the Celtics get a starting SG via free agency, then I believe that they should use their first round pick on a big man, and their second round pick on a wing player.

If they were to draft a big man in the first round, here are some of the possibilities:
  • Daniel Orton, PF/C - This 6'10" big man spent just one year at Kentucky, where he didn't do a whole lot. He would be drafted largely on potential and promise. He has long arms, soft hands, and shows a good scoring touch inside. He's a good shot blocker, but often gets into foul trouble. He apparently has a great work ethic and is a true team player, which bodes well for the Celtics, especially as he is very talented, but very raw.
  • Hassan Whiteside, C - Whiteside is a 7'0" shot-blocking monster, averaging 5.5 blocks per game his freshman year for Marshall. Like Orton, he is very big, very talented, and very raw. He doesn't have a great offensive game, and would be a major project in the NBA. With his great athleticism and size, he has all the tools, but needs to develop.
  • Solomon Alabi, C - From Florida State, Alabi is much like Whiteside. He is 7'1" and a very good defender, and his offensive game has been improving, as he averaged almost 12 points on 53% shooting as a junior last year, and showed a good mid-range shot. Again, he is a project, and from Nigeria, he unpleasantly brings to mind recent African big men like Hasheem Thabeet and Saer Sene who have not done well in the NBA.
  • Larry Sanders, PF - Out of Virginia Commonwealth, Sanders is an 6'10" power forward with incredible length (a 7'7" wingspan) and great physical tools. He crashes the boards often, and is good at it, thanks to incredible leaping ability. He has shown some offensive promise, but isn't a great jump shooter, and would need to bulk up from his current 225 pounds to bang with NBA big men. Of the prospective big men for the Celts, he and Orton have the greatest offensive promise.
Of these big men, Sanders and Orton strike me as the best picks for the Celtics. Orton can play either PF or C and has great potential. It does make me nervous that he has played so little though. Sanders would inject some much-needed athleticism into the lineup and I feel could be a great addition. The Celtics already have Kendrick Perkins, who is a great defensive center with little offensive game, and that's pretty much what Whiteside and Alabi are.

Now, if the Celtics were to draft a wing player in the first round, here are some of the possibilites:
  • James Anderson, SG - Anderson is a 6'6" SG out of Oklahoma State and knows how to score the ball. He scored over 22 points per game last year, good for 6th in the country. He can shoot from outside with a quick release, as well as slash to the rim and finish. He's also very good at drawing contact, as evidenced by his 209 made free throws last year, 3rd best in OSU history. He's also a great leaper with good quickness and above average strength. He would be able to contribute right away.
  • Damion James, SF - James is a 6'7"/6'8" wing man out of Texas who can play all over the floor. He's a good shooter, making over 50% of his shots from the field, including 38% from 3 point range. His 7'1" wingspan and 37" vertical allow him to a force on defense and on the boards, where he is excellent.
  • Gordon Hayward, SF - There doesn't seem to be a real consensus as to where he will go, but I doubt he'll go much past the 19th pick (the Celtics') if at all. Hayward is well known because of Butler's tourney run. He's a 6'8" small forward who is very adept at handling the ball and creating his own shot, as well as passing, and controlling the game. He's a decent shooter, but needs to bulk up to play in the NBA
  • Lance Stephenson, SG - Stephenson, a 6'5" shooting guard came out after his freshman year at Cincinatti. He's a good athlete, and a good finisher around the rim. He has a good mid-range game, but his perimeter shooting needs major work. He can create his own shot, which nobody on the Celtics can do consistently apart from Pierce.
Other names I've heard include Avery Bradley from Texas, and Luke Babbit from Nevada. I just don't see it with Bradley - he's a shooting guard who's too small to play SG in the NBA and would need to play PG a lot, which the Celtics don't need help at. Babbit seems more probable as a 6'8" SF out of Nevada who is an excellent shooter. He's not all that athletic, but he's a good ball-handler and can shoot the ball with anyone in the whole draft.

Personally, I think that the best options in the first round are Daniel Orton, Larry Sanders, and James Anderson. With Rasheed Wallace retiring, the Celts can use some front court depth. Anderson could contribute instantly at either the SG or SF positions and provides scoring and athleticism.

In the second round, the picture is less clear cut, but the Celtics will probably choose a wing player or big man; whichever they didn't choose in the first round. Here are some possible picks:
  • Manny Harris, SG - Harris, at 6'5" is a talented shooting guard from Michigan. He is a good scorer, and can also create for others, and can handle the ball in a pinch. He's good around the rim and mid-range, but could use some work on his 3 point shooting
  • Derrick Caracter, PF - Caracter is a 6'9" PF from UTEP who left Louisville after troubles and found success at UTEP. He's a decent scorer down low and would provide good depth in the frontcourt.
  • Mikhail Torrance, SG - Torrance is a 6'5" 2 guard from Alabama who can be an explosive scorer. He's also a good passer, having averaged over 5 assists per game for the Crimson Tide last year.
  • Jon Scheyer, SG - Scheyer is well known as a deadly shooter from Duke. Scheyer would play shooting guard in the NBA and would rely on his shot to score. He won't be a star, but he could be a solid contributor.
  • Charles Garcia, PF - Garcia is an interesting story - he transferred from Riverside Community College to Seattle University where he spent last year, scoring 19 points a game and grabbing 8 rebounds. At 6'9", he's a PF, but he also has the skills to play outside at the 3 spot. A very versatile and interesting prospect.
Hopefully, whoever the Celtics do pick performs well and can help the Celtics to stay a top team. We'll see on Thursday.
Posted on: May 30, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Celtics-Lakers Preview

So I thought I'd do an analysis of the upcoming Celtics-Lakers Finals series, comparing players, strengths, weaknesses. Hope you find it enjoyable.

Player Comparison:

PG - Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo: Derek Fisher is a solid veteran point guard who can hit shots and handle the ball, but he can't compare to Rondo. Rondo has elevated his game to a new level, both this season, and this postseason. He has become one of the best point guards in the NBA, adept at slashing to the basket and creating for his teammates. Because of his small size, he always takes a beating, but always gets back up. The only thing currently lacking in his game is a reliable jump shot. Fisher can't compare to Rondo athletically, or as a creator, but he is a good shooter and has a tendency to come up big in the clutch. He doesn't need to be a big creator with Kobe on the floor, and does a good job stretching the floor with his shooting and making smart plays. However, all his aggressiveness and intensity on defense cannot hide the fact that he probably won't be able to stay in front of Rondo, who is far quicker than him. Moderate edge - Rondo.

SG - Ray Allen vs. Kobe Bryant: Allen is a great veteran shooter who has really stepped up his game in the playoffs, but unfortunately for the Celtics, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant. Kobe is probably the most complete offensive player in the entire NBA, and a lethal crunch time scorer. He can beat you off the dribble, on the pullup, spotting up from deep, basically any way you can imagine. His athleticism isn't what it once was, but it's still better than most, and his offensive repertoire is unrivaled. Allen is a good shooter, and is aging nicely. He has done a nice job hitting some big shots these playoffs and curling off screens and such. He's still a good player, and the Celtics will do well if he can perform well. That said, Kobe will be the best player in this series. Moderate edge - Kobe.

SF - Ron Artest vs. Paul Pierce - Ron Artest was supposed to be the difference maker for this Lakers team this year, a guy who could shut down opposing wing scorers, inject toughness into the team, and be a good third scoring option. He has been good at times, but hasn't quite been all that the Lakers have hoped for. However, his 25 point effort in Game 6 was certainly encouraging for the Lakers. However, he will most likely be scoring around 12-15 per game this series. Pierce, along with Rondo, has really elevated his game this postseason. He displayed that with a 31 point, 13 rebound, 5 assist effort in the clinching Game 6 for the Celtics. He has been playing very well against Orlando after using up most of his energy in defending LeBron in the Cleveland series. If he can continue to play at a high level against the Lakers, the Celtics will have a much better chance of winning this series. However, if he is forced to defend Kobe, might we see a repeat of what happened in Cleveland, where he used up most of his energy on defense and couldn't get his offense going. Defending Kobe isn't as physically demanding as defending LeBron, but it will be interesting to see. Slight edge - Pierce.

PF - Pau Gasol vs. Kevin Garnett
- Gasol has emerged as a top-flight post scorer, while Garnett has managed to rejuvenate his aging body this postseason. Garnett gives his team invaluable help as a defensive leader, and his intensity helps spur on the other players, even when he's not playing well. As I said, Gasol has become a very good scorer, and is a dangerous second option for the Lakers, although he put up a real stinker in Game 6. Garnett has been scoring better this postseason than he did in the regular season, which has really helped the Celtics. It's also worth noting that Gasol has become a much better rebounder and a much tougher player in the past few years, which helps the Lakers a lot. This is a really tough one to call for me. Gasol's scoring gives him the edge for now, but if the Celtics can shut him down, this matchup could swing the other way. I think this is an important matchup. Slight edge - Gasol.

C - Kendrick Perkins vs. Andrew Bynum
- Bynum is a good young center, but has a tendency to disappear at times, and seems to be a litte soft sometimes. Perkins is well known for being a tough post player, and an excellent one-on-one defender, which is his biggest asset. This is wasted somewhat on Bynum, who is decent scorer, but nothing special. Perhaps the Celtics will consider switching Perkins to Gasol in order to take advantage of his defensive skills? We'll see. In the end, I think Perkins is more important to the Celtics than Bynum is to the Lakers and Perkins just makes a bigger difference when he's in the game. Slight edge - Perkins.

Notes:

-As I mentioned, I think the Gasol-Garnett matchup is vital. Whoever can gain the upper hand in that matchup will give his team a huge boost.
- Related to that, if Gasol gets going offensively, the Celts should consider putting Perkins on him to shut him down. Perkins is thicker and stronger than Gasol, and just as tall. I don't think Gasol could take him off the dribble, and Perkins could bother him in the post. A potential drawback is if the Lakers use Gasol in a pick-and-roll, Perkins will be stuck out on the perimeter, which could be bad.
- In regards to defending Kobe, I think the Celtics should use a 3-man rotation of Pierce, Ray Allen, and Tony Allen. Pierce and Tony Allen would be the most effective, because Pierce can bother Kobe physically, and Allen is a tough, atheltic defender. Allen has shown that while he's not shut-down, he can be serviceable, and can be used for small periods of time. Using Pierce all the time on Kobe might tire him out too much, and I really think the Celts need him on offense. Another potential option is Marquis Daniels. He hasn't gotten much playing time, and he did get that concussion, but he's 6'7", rangy, and a good defender. I feel like he could really bother Kobe. Just something to thnk about.
-Lamar Odom could be a big turning point in this series. The Celtics don't really have anyone to defend him, except for maybe Garnett, who could be taken advantage of out on the perimeter. If Odom can channel his talent into big games, that could spell trouble for the Celts.
-The Celts' bench really needs to step up if they're going to win. Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Odom (as well as Luke Walton) give the Lakers an excellent bench, and if the Celtics are going to win, their bench will need to play well. Hopefully Nate Robinson can provide some quality minutes in this series after a breakthrough game of sorts in Game 6.

Verdict: These two teams are very evenly matched, and it's a tough series to call. These same Celtics beat essentially this same Lakers team in 2008, minus Ron Artest. The Big 3 are older, but with long rests in between games in the playoffs, they look much more youthful. Rajon Rondo is also so much better than 2008, which could give the Celts an edge. These factors, combined with the fact that this Celtics team has never fit together better and is really on a roll has me calling the Celtics in 7. I'd like to think that's an unbiased opinion, but I could be subcounciously biased because I'm a Celtics fan. That said, I will be very surprised if this series doesn't go at least 6, and likely 7 games. I'm sticking with my call - Celtics in 7 games.

Posted on: April 25, 2010 10:27 pm
 

AAU Basketball

Just this weekend, I went to a local high school, and there was a massive AAU basketball tournament going on. I live in Rhode Island, but there were teams from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maine, and a number of other places, so there was some high level talent. Supposedly, none of the players were over 16, but there were a number of players that made me feel small, and I'm 6'3"/6'4" and nearly 200 pounds. These were players well on their way to playing college ball in the D-2 and D-1 ranks and perhaps a few of them will go on to the NBA. This brings me to my greater point: While watching these guys, I felt as if I was watching everything that was wrong with NBA and, moreso, college ball. These players were nearly men, and were playing around the rim, and could run and jump far better than I can, but their fundamentals were horrific.

Few of the players could shoot well, few could pass well, and almost none could play defense well. Perhaps I'm spoiled a bit, because when I was in high school, (a very short time ago I might add) I had an excellent coach who taught me all the little things about basketball - certain angles, what to do when the play was away from me, how to adjust for the fact that I wasn't that athletic, etc.

However, these AAU tournaments seemed to have turned into nothing but glorified showcases for scouts and such. Rare was the player who knew how to play basket-line defense, how to angle the pick exactly right so the defender couldn't get by and always knew exactly where he was on the floor.

I feel like I'm coming off a bit as a grumpy old guy, which I shouldn't be, because I guarantee I'm younger than the vast majority of the users on this site. However, I couldn't get over the fact that these incredibly gifted athletes had almost no clue how to use their gifts to their advantage. This isn't so relavent at the NBA level because the coaching is so good, but I fell like so many kids come out of college ball not knowing these little things about basketball that could make them so much better, and it's truly a shame.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: April 24, 2010 7:53 pm
 

Patriots' Draft Review

My take on the Pats' draft choices:

Devin McCourty, CB - I was a little bit surprised that they chose to take McCourty, a cornerback over Jerry Hughes or Sergio Kindle, who would have been pass rushers for the Pats' 3-4 defense. However, the Pats' pass defense was not great last year, and McCourty gives them a solid young corner to develop besides Darius Butler and Jonathan Wilhite. In a related note, this may mean the Terence Wheatley, the former 2nd round draft pick will not be seeing much playing time, seeing as he was behind both Butler and Wilhite last year. Overall, this was a surprising pick, but ultimately a fine one.

Rob Gronkowski, TE - Great pick for the Pats. They have very little depth at tight end, and their only known commidity, Alge Crumpler is an aging blocking tight end. Gronkowski can catch and block, and will benefit from having a veteran like Crumpler on the team. I think he will contribute immediately and be a weapon, especially since the Pats don't have Wes Welker as a security option this year. A very nice pick.

Jermaine Cunningham, DE/OLB - Cunningham was a DE for Florida in college, but projects as a outtside rush linebacker for the Pats. He's a big man (6'4" and 266 lbs.), but good explosion and agility suggest that he should be able to make the transition to OLB. The Pats badly need a good pass rusher, and hopefully he can be the answer.

Brandon Spikes, ILB - Spikes out of Florida has good talent, but his stock slipped after he ran a 4.9 40 yard dash. However, in college, he showed good game speed, moving well laterally and being fast in short bursts. Besides that, he is an excellent tackler, and has very good instincts. He won't be a sideline to sideline defender like Jerod Mayo, but he is excellent between the tackles and can be a valuable player for the Patriots. I think this is a very good pick for the Pats.

Taylor Price, WR - With Wes Welker out, and Randy Moss nearing the end of his contract, Price could be an important pickup for the Pats. At 6'1", 200 lbs, Price has good size, and ran a 4.4 40, indicating very good speed. With this in mind, he can be another outside receiver for the Pats, and hopefully could eventually take over for Randy Moss in a few years. Without Welker, Price may be looked to as a contributor sooner rather than later, and if he can take on the challenge, the Pats offense will be much improved.

Aaron Hernandez, TE - This was the other pick, besides McCourty that really surprised me, especially considering that they had taken Gronkowski in the 2nd round. Hernandez, out of Florida, is more of a receiver than a blocker. Because they drafted him as well as Gronkowski, I wonder if the Pats might go to more double TE sets, especially with Welker out, depleting the WR corps. Another option could be to use him like Dallas Clark and split him out in addition to having him line up in the traditional TE spot. This was a surprising and interesting pick, and I'll be curious to see how the Pats work him into the offense next year.

Zoltan Mesko, P - Mesko was the best punter in the draft, but still, it was a little bit of a surprise to see the Patriots take him in the 5th round. However, as Shane Lechler and Brian Moorman have proven, a good punter can be a valuable weapon. He will most likely start for the Pats this season.

Ted Larsen, C - This is really just a depth pick. Dan Koppen is a good starter, and is only 31, so he should be around a little longer, so Larsen probably won't see much playing time. With Stephen Neal getting older, a guard may have been a better pick.

Thomas Welch, OT - A big boy, Welch has good potential, and will provide depth and could possibly contribute quite a bit in a few years.

Brandon Deaderick, DT/DE - I really like this pick. Deaderick was a DT in college, but would probably move to DE to be a run stuffer in the Pats' 3-4 like Ty Warren or Richard Seymour. With Seymour and Jarvis Green gone, the DE position is fairly open. Mike Wright will be the starter, but if Deaderick impresses, he could see some time. I think that this is a very good pick, and Deaderick will make the team and make some noise.

Kade Weston, DT/DE - Very similar to Deaderick, but I don't think he'll be as good. He's big, but I just don't think he'll do much for the Pats.

Zac Robinson, QB - Robinson will provide depth for the Pats behind Brady and Brian Hoyer. However, he is a talented player, and could move past Hoyer on the depth chart. His good athleticism also opens up the possibility of the Pats using him as a specialty package player, or maybe trying him at WR. I think he'll make the team, and I'll be interested to see how he does.


Overall, this was a good draft for the Pats. However, Belichick will have to prove that he was smart in taking Cunningham as his only pass rusher, and in the 2nd round at that. He needs to hope that McCourty and/or Cunningham comes through big this season to prove him right. They did get some O-Line depth, but a little later than I thought they might. A big thing though is that they did not take a running back. Perhaps this means that they have more faith in Maroney than we thought? Either way, this was a good, solid draft for the Pats, and they filled some big holes (LB, TE) and improved their team. I'll be looking forward to next year.
Posted on: April 5, 2010 9:02 am
Edited on: April 5, 2010 9:06 am
 

Thoughts on the Red Sox' win.

<p>The Red Sox have gotten off to a fine start to the season, thanks to Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Damaso Marte. I'll be the first to admit, I was in the dumps when they went down 5-1, but then they came back 5-2, and the hope was still alive. Coming back from 5-1 and 7-5 is a great sign for the Sox, indicating that offense might not be as big an issue as some suggested. Of course, the flip side is that they had to come back because Beckett was considerably less than stellar. In all fairness though, he was not helped by the Sox supposedly new and improved defense. They were no glaring mistakes other than Victor Martniez's bone-headed decision to try and throw out Derek Jeter at second when Brett Gardner was at third, but there were plays that could have been made that were not. There was Robinson Cano's double in the 4th inning I believe that Ellsbury had a chance at but couldn't get. Hopefull that will come in time as Ellsbury gets more used to left field. There was also a play where Marco Scutaro couldn't get to a grounder up the middle that scored at least one run. It was not an easy play by any means but if Scutaro could have made it, it would have been a completely different game. Other thoughts:</p>

<ul>

<li>-Youkilis and Pedroia were excellent, and if they can carry this team, the offense might be better than expected.</li>

<li>-The newcomers were very good, with Beltre and Scutaro getting some big hits. Hopefully they can continue to be excellent.</li>

<li>-Josh Beckett was obviously not great, but I think that he will be able to rebound. He's a very good pitcher, and should be fine. If troubles continue over the next few games, then it might be time to start worrying.</li>

<li>-David Ortiz started this season just like last season - poorly. If the offense is going to be good, he needs to contribute at least some of the time.</li>

<li>-Daniel Bard looked miles better than last season. Last year, he was throwing 98 mph in a straight line and players caught on pretty quickly. Last night though, his pitches had a lot of movement on them, and it looked like he was throwing a cutter or something. IF he can develop into a quality 8th inning guy, that would be huge for the Sox</li>

<li>-Papelbon looked great for the Sox - he was good, but not great last year, and if he can be a total shutdown closer, the Sox will be much, much better.</li>

</ul>

<p>Overall, a good beginning for the Sox. If they can continue this, it'll be a good year. Obviously though, this is just one game, and we all know that the Sox started 8-0 against the Yankees last season. Obviously that didn't turn out so great. So I think the appropriate sentiment is cautious optimism. It looks good for the Sox, but too early to tell anything for sure.</p>

Posted on: April 5, 2010 8:44 am
 

Celitcs over Cavs

After watching the Celtics win over the Caveliers, I see it as two parts encouraging and one part discouraging. For three quarters, they absolutely dominated the Cavs in every aspect of the game. Paul Pierce shut down LeBron James and the Celts were rolling. Then there was that pesky fourth quarter. The Celts completely blew their 22 point lead and fell behind 108-107. However, they showed excellent resilience in coming back and pulling out the win. So they blowout was encouraging, blowing the lead was discouraging and regaining it was encouraging.

However, it must be noted that the Cavs were without Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Verajao. J.J. Hickson did put up  14 points and 11 rebounds which is better than Shaq and Verajao have been doing all season, meaning that the Celtics still had to deal with a solid player inside. Or does it mean that Shaq and Verajao would have put up even bigger numbers? I don't know, but I think that people are making too big a deal out of the absence of those two. The Celtics were dominating those first three quarters, and they would have been winning regardles of whether Shaq and Verajao had been playing.

I think that if these teams meet in the playoffs, it will definitely be a good, long series. Some Cavs fools are saying it would be a sweep, or 5 games at most. The series would almost certainly go 6 or 7 games, and the Celtics would have a decent chance of coming out on top. If Ray Allen can continue to shoot well, Garnett doesn't play sore and the team executes, they can make a deep run.

Posted on: March 30, 2010 11:56 pm
 

End of the road for URI

Well, it was a good season for URI, but what a heartbreaking way to end the season, with a last second overtime lost to UNC in the NIT semifinals. I couldn't watch the game, but I listened to it on the radio, and from what I heard, there were two questionable calls that went against URI in the final seconds, the first being an out of bounds call in favor of UNC that gave them the ball with 41 seconds to go, and the second being a no call as Lamonte Ulmer tripped trying to bring the ball up in the last seconds of the game. What a shame.

Either way, this would've been avoidable had URI not gone 1-6 from the line down the stretch of regulation. Those two misses by Delroy James with the game tied in the final minute hurt particularly badly. URI will be back next year with Delroy James, Marquis Jones, Akeem Richmond, Will Martell and others, but we say goodbye to two terrific seniors in Lamonte Ulmer and Keith Cothran. Congrats to the Rams on a good season, and hopefully we will be back and running next year.
 
 
 
 
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