Monthly Archives: December, 2013

Possible Trade Replacements for Seidenberg

When we heard that Dennis Seidenberg was out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL today, I think that every serious Bruins fan started to wonder who the B’s could possibly trade for as a fill-in.

Here’s the thing: The Bruins are in a tough situation in many directions when it comes to who they can trade for.  While not all of these criterion are absolute, the Bruins are gonna have a hard time trading for anyone who doesn’t match these characteristics:

1) He has to be on an expiring contract.

Even after putting Marc Savard’s salary on LTIR, the Bruins will only have about $13.1 million in cap space next year, plus about $4.8 million in the bonus cushion (which is what they’re using to make Jarome Iginla’s salary work this year). And that’s with Iginla, Smith, Thornton, Fraser, Krug, Bartkowski, Warsofsky, Trotman, and Svedberg’s contracts all expiring. (Also expiring are guys like Caron, Nick Johnson, and Kevan Miller, but whatever. They’re important place fillers, but they’re not building blocks.) That’s not a terrible cap situation, but they are far from an abundance of space, also.  So it’s unlikely that the Bruins will add significant salary at defense next year, especially given that they’ll already have 7 capable guys in Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, McQuaid, and the three second year guys.

2) His salary fits.

Seidenberg makes $3.25 million this year, and the B’s have around $1-2 million in space given the bonuses that Iginla, Hamilton, and Krug are likely to earn and the fact that Savard’s contract is on LTIR (and also Kelly for the time being).  Realistically, that means that any guy the Bruins trade for would have to make less than $4.5 million.  This cuts out any high price rentals that I may or may not have had a few pipe dreams about.

3) He has to be good.

No sense in trading for a guy who isn’t even better than either Bartkowski or McQuaid, whoever the B’s 6th defenseman is.  Nothing else I can really say in terms of analysis here.

4) His team has to suck.

So that they’re actually willing to trade a good player to the Bruins.  No shit.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

A) Upcoming UFAs on bad teams (aka where the Bruins need to look almost extensively). I chose only guys who have at least 19 TOI/G, because, if they’re under that on a bad team, there’s no sense in the Bruins wanting them.

I’m essentially cherrypicking from Capgeek.com’s UFA finder page that lists defensemen available for rentals (http://capgeek.com/ufa-finder/?rentals=on&position_id=D).

Kris Russell, Tom Gilbert, Chris Phillips, Ron Hainsey, Stephane Robidas, Joe Corvo (just kidding)

Obviously, the question is whether or not any of these guys are better than Adam McQuaid, who should be the final defenseman for the B’s come playoff time.  My favorites are Hainsey and Gilbert, with Hainsey being the best bet IMO.  Gilbert has a corsi of about 5.5, corsirel of 7, corsi quality of competition/relative quality of competition of 1.3/.7.  This is all on a shitty Panthers team with near average 50.5% offensive zone faceoff starts.  The only problem is that he’s not good at PK – he’s 7th on the Panthers – but he can play a little PP, as he’s 3rd on the team.  The B’s might need that if Chara, Krug, Hamilton, and Boychuk, aka the capable PP guys, have to play more minutes with Seidenberg out.

Hainsey is more defensive minded, which would obviously be a more direct replacement of the German Monster.  His special team abilities are just about the opposite of Gilbert’s, as he’s 3rd on the Hurricanes in SH TOI but a distant, distant 4th on the PP.  His corsi, corsi rel, and QoC and QoCrel, respectively, are about 2/6/1.5/.6, which are a little below Gilbert’s, but he starts in the offensive zone just under 47% of the time.  He’s on a better team than Gilbert, which may help his stats a little more, but Gilbert was also amnestied by the Wild this past year, and I’d rather have the better defensive guy, so that’s why I’d say Hainsey would be better.  Although, Hainsey makes $2 million and Gilbert makes 900k, so that could be important if the Bruins are worried about going over the bonus overage and costing themselves cap space next year.  Hainsey also has improved his numbers a lot this year, which might be due to it being a contract year.  That could be the type of rental the Bruins need, but it might also mean that he’s just not that good.  Crap, I might be talking myself into Gilbert instead.  Either way, they’re both decent options.

Phillips could be a decent call, but I don’t know how much better than McQuaid.  Looking at his possession numbers (on behindthenet.ca, a great site), it seems that his numbers have only really gone up this year, and he might be a contract year fluke like Hainsey could be.

Russell’s stats leave me confused. His corsi is great relative to his teammates, but bad otherwise.  Considering he plays on the Flames, and my corsi stats might be half decent compared to my teammates, that could be a bad sign.  On the other hand, his overall corsi stats should be bad because the guys who are actually on the ice with him suck also, especially considering he plays hard minutes at a QoC/QoCrel of 1.5/.45… but he also starts in the offensive zone 55% of the time.  Hard to figure out, so I’d rather just go with one of the first two guys.

Robidas could be the dark horse of the group.  Across the board, his possession stats indicate that he plays hard minutes and always holds his own. His numbers are 1.2/.1/1.4/1.3, and they’ve been relatively the same for the past few years.  That’s at almost 54% off zone starts, but he’s usually been in the mid to high 40s.  The big problem here is his salary of $3.3 million, and the fact that he’s 36 and has played in Dallas for 10 years.  I have no idea how much he values playing in a familiar city vs. winning a cup, nor do I have any reason to judge him based on whatever his decision is.  But his familiarity with Dallas’ system and city as a whole, combined with his price tag that would eat up all of Seidenberg’s LTIR money could be a problem.

If Chiarelli can make the money work equally with any guy on the list, I’d rank them as Hainsey/Gilbert tied for first, depending on whether they want offense or defense more (I’d lean towards Hainsey’s defense), Robidas, Phillips, and then Russell.

B) Non-UFA guys with reasonable salaries (meaning that the Bruins would then have to move them or Boychuk after the year)

Mark Giordano, Grant Clitsome (yep, that’s his real name)

These guys are both very legit options.  Giordano, on the Flames, plays against ridiculously hard competition (typically the only time you see a corsi QoC over 2 is in the playoffs, much less at his 3.2) and his OZS (offensive zone starts) is at just 39%.  His corsi is a really bad -11, but his corsirel of almost 7 and the previous two numbers explain that.  He has two more years after this one at $4.02 million, but he also has a NMC.  And he’d know that the Bruins would have to trade him after the year, so I don’t see him OKing the move.  Clitsome (I’m finding it hard to type that without laughing) has a 4.1/6.8/1.7/.9 at 50% OZS. He is just 28 and has 2 years left at a reasonable $2.07 million.  There’s some hope with this one.  He’d be a solid fill in, and I’d be shocked if the Bruins couldn’t deal him for something half decent in the summer.

C) Guys who should fit into group B but are on the Rangers, Flyers, or Devils.  I’m grouping these guys together because there are so many options on these three teams alone, but all of the options for these guys would rely upon their team dropping out of playoff contention.  Considering how horrible the Metropolitan Division is, I don’t see anyone giving up playoff hopes without a monumental collapse:

Dan Girardi, Anton Stralman, Kimmo Timonen (all expiring, and the Flyers would have to retain some of Timonen’s $6 million salary to make it work), Braydon Coburn, Marc Staal, Andy Greene (non-expiring, and the Flyers might have to do the same with Coburn that they’d have to do with Timonen).

Given his salary and possession numbers, Stralman is probably the best bet here.  But all of them are crapshoots and very unlikely to happen.

Good luck Chiarelli.

 

Everyone Injured Again for the Bruins

So, I feel like an idiot for saying that it’s “hard to complain” after the Bruins 5-0 win last night.  The possible best defenseman in the world isn’t playing tonight (it hopefully and probably isn’t that serious), and, more importantly, the team’s second best defenseman is out for the year.  Dennis Seidenberg is a huge loss, and that can’t be understated.

Carl Soderberg is also out tonight, meaning that Nick Johnson, Ryan Spooner, and Matt Fraser can play together on the third line with the chemistry that they’ve already built from Providence.

Tuukka Rask is starting tonight because of the fact that Chara and Seids are out (along with Kelly and Eriksson of course, two great defensive forwards), as Niklas Svedberg was almost assuredly going to start tonight. He was sent back to Providence today, so you gotta feel bad for the kid there.

The next post will be about the possible replacements for Seidenberg at the trade deadline if there are any. Stay tuned.

Bruins win in a weird kind of blowout

Everything about the way the Bruins played tonight was great, as a whole. That being said, how often does a team win 5-0 after not having scored a goal through the first 16 minutes of the second period?  Literally any Bruins blowout that starts in the second period and becomes an all out assault in the third will remind me of Game 3 of the 2011 Cup Finals, but even that one saw the first goal of the game at only 13 seconds gone in the second period, and the Bruins had 4 at the end of the period.

Anyway, they still kicked ass.  Tuukka made every save he saw, and he saw a relatively high total for the Bruins.  But they still won the ever important shot differential battle by putting 42 shots on Robin Lehner.  Reilly Smith continues to be almost worth the Tyler Seguin trade by himself (only a slight exaggeration) by netting 2 more goals.  He’s up to 14/16/30 in 38 games, and he’ll actually make it a tough decision for Claude to decide whether or not to slide Eriksson back to his spot on the 2nd line.  #reillysmithforcanadianolympicteam

You gotta love how, when the Bruins’ 3rd line goes quiet after going apeshit Monday night, the B’s’ top 2 lines picks up the slack and accounts for 5 (one was on the power play, and one was shorthanded, but the forwards on the ice for those goals were only from the 1st or 2nd line).

That’s what will make the Bruins so hard to beat in a 7 game series, especially if Eriksson is back and clicking with his linemates.  The top 2 lines are going off like they did in that run at the end of the 2011 calendar year, and the 3rd can explode on any given night, especially if Smiddy replaces Matt Fraser when Eriksson is back.  The 4th line remains in hibernation, unfortunately, as they couldn’t do anything in Paille’s return.  Of course, they’re playing with Jordan Caron, which doesn’t help anyone.  We all saw what the Merlot Line can do against the Rangers last year, and, once Thornton is playing on the line or when they hopefully figure out how to work Spooner onto the line to match Paille’s speed, they should be one of the most dangerous 4th lines in the league again.

And, although +/- is a wildly overrated and almost useless stat, at least in the presence of more advanced measurements, it should be noted that Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Jason Spezza, and former “Norris Trophy Winner” Erik Karlsson were all -2 on the night. Sucks to suck.

Of course, there was one negative. Dennis Seidenberg went down with a lower-body injury again.  No word on what it is, but he won’t travel to Ottawa for Saturday’s game.  It’s good that it means more reps for young guys and McQuaid, who needs to knock off more rust, but it always blows to lose your 2nd defenseman.  The B’s shouldn’t bring him back until he’s more than ready.  Need him for the springtime.

Only other sour note is that James Neal scored an OT goal to give the Pens the win and get them 2 points. Screw that.

But, you know, 5-0. 42-33 in shots. Shutout for maybe the best goalie in the league. Marshmont is back.  Seventh straight game in which an individual Bruin had 2 goals. Hard to complain.

Rondo to Knicks is the Biggest Joke of all time

Different people have different opinions on Danny Ainge. (The truth is he’s well above average, at least now, but whatever.) Here’s one thing we know: He’s not downright stupid. Even his biggest haters would admit that he would never trade Rondo to the Knicks for whatever they can offer.

For this year, the Knicks can offer an amazing package of Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr…. and really nothing else.  They can’t offer draft picks in 2015 or 2017, because they’ve already given up their picks in 2014 and 2016, as the Stepian rule prohibits trading first rounders in consecutive drafts (the definition of the league having to save some idiot teams from themselves).  The Knicks don’t even have a sizable expiring contract to put into the trade with Shumpert and Hardaway in order to make the money work.

After this year, there are two scenarios: The first is that Carmelo opts out after this year and signs elsewhere, and, in that case, there’s no reason that Rondo would want to play there. No real need to analyze this.

If Carmelo opts back in and makes a run with the Knicks for one more year, and if the Knicks are still demanding that Rondo should demand something that will never happen, it’s important to remember that the Knicks will have the same shitty cap situation as this year.  At least Amare’s contract will be expiring, but, even if the Celtics saw that deal as a way to dump Gerald Wallace, it’s still not nearly enough.  Rondo is an easy All Star at his best, and he can’t be traded for Shumpert, Hardaway, and about $10 million in cap space a year early.  The Knicks could try to trade Amare’s expiring contract for some nice pieces that they could pass onto the Celtics, but HAHAHAHAHAHA NO.

That’s what happens when your team is owned by James Dolan. It sucks.

NBA Wheel Idea: Won’t work how it’s been proposed

On Grantland this week, Zach Lowe, an awesome basketball writer, wrote about how the league has been considering a lottery wheel, which would… well, you can read for yourself below. Lowe explains it the best.

http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/86940/the-nbas-possible-solution-for-tanking-good-bye-to-the-lottery-hello-to-the-wheel

Here’s the problem.  There is no way that the NBA will do anything that would guarantee them to only have 30 teams for the next 30 years.  Lowe does say that the system has accounted for possible changes in the number of teams but that the details are too boring for his quick explanation. That’s fine, but the caveat for expansion better be a big one.  The wheel couldn’t even go into effect for a few years, until every trade that involves future draft picks has been completed… and the NBA probably won’t be just 30 teams even by that date.

I need to see more details, but I’m skeptical.

#ReillySmithforCanadianOlympicTeam

The Bruins exploded for 6 goals tonight, getting 2 from Jarome Iginla and 1 each from Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser (first as a Bruin), Carl Soderberg, and Brad Marchand.  Ryan Spooner had 3 assists and played like an absolute beast along with Reilly, who is making everyone look at the Seguin trade very differently.

It was an all around great night for the Bruins, as none other than Patrice Bergeron was the only guy in the first three lines to not register a point.  (I guess that means he sucks.)  Tuukka stopped 32 of 34 for a SV% of .941, and he’s back on track after not looking absolutely elite for a grand total of maybe four games.  The B’s did get outshot 34-29, which usually doesn’t suggest a 6-2 blowout or anything close, but the fact remains that the Bruins took their opportunities and made the most of them, including going 3-3 on the power play.  Sure, that will regress a ton, but it’s a clear sign that this isn’t the 2011 team’s power play.

And Jack Edwards sang Christmas Carols on air.

Hell of a way to go into the Christmas break for the B’s.

Best Way to Sum Up Pats-Ravens? In the Words of Jack Edwards.

Near the end of the video, Jack Edwards sums it up the best.

Patriots stomp all over the Ravens

Best word to describe the Patriots’ 41-7 thrashing of the Ravens? Orgasmic.

Now, it’s only fair to point out that the game wasn’t that lopsided, and, if the Ravens had scored any points on either of the two drives when they were stopped on fourth down, or if Justin Tucker hadn’t missed his first kick since Obama took office (seemingly), we could have been looking at a 24-14 type game.

Either way… the Patriots just went into Baltimore to play their biggest rival of the past five seasons (the Jets are easily hated more, but at least the Ravens are a respectable franchise), and literally bitchslapped the entire team.  Logan Ryan had the game of his life, with two interceptions and a huge knock-down on fourth down that, if he was a little bit more selfish, could have been his third pick.

Julian Edelman is now 4 rec and 9 yards from 100  and 1000.  Read that again.

Brady didn’t even have to play that well because of how great the rest of the team did, in particular, his offensive line. They probably deserve the biggest spotlight from Sunday’s game, because every expert and his mother was predicting the Ravens’ fierce D-line to beat up the Pats’ hobbled O-line. And yet, they held up at a near miraculous level.  Brady was sacked only twice, and the Pats RBs ran for 142 yards on 34 carries for an average of 4.2 YPC.  Logan Mankins played ridiculously well on the outside, and Marcus Cannon did a great job in his return to the lineup.  An important side note about Mankins is to remember how catastrophic it would’ve been if the Pats and Kraft had taken the negotiations with him personally a few years ago.  He’s crucial, and, while it should never have taken the franchise that long to sign him in the first place, it’s great that they came to their senses at some point.

If the Pats win next week, they have a first round bye.  If Denver also loses, they have the 1 seed.  The problem is that the Pats really can’t lose, because they could easily fall all the way to the 4 seed behind Cincy and Indy.  Cincy would beat out the Pats because of head-to-head record, and Indy would beat out the Pats by conference record, assuming both teams win.  Cincy plays at home vs. the Ravens, who still control their own destiny thanks to a Dolphins loss, and Indy plays the Jags at home.

But the most important thing about the current seedings is that the Pats are in the driver’s seat for a bye, which they need.  First of all, at this rate, about 4 guys get injured every week, so not playing one weekend allows them not to add to that total.  Second, Devin McCourty went down with a concussion this week, and it looked bad enough that he definitely won’t play in Week 17.  Shane Vereen, now a huge option for Brady, sustained a groin injury that is really unclear in terms of how serious it is.  Beyond those two,  Solder, Thompkins, and Dennard would all love to rest their bodies in an extra week in January.

It’s also important to remember that, even though the Pats just beat a potential playoff team by 34 in December in their second straight game on the road, they’re still just 4-4 away from Foxboro and 7-0 at home. Take care of business and guarantee only having to leave Gilette for one game in the AFC Playoffs.

This is where I love rooting for a team coached by In Bill We Trust.  We can rejoice over a beat down and have just about zero worries of a trap game/lack of mental toughness next week.

#BelichickforCoachoftheYear

PS: Check this out and try not to laugh.

ravens patrs predictions

Have the Yankees Had a Good Offseason? Does it Matter?

**Note** This blog was originally posted on December 21, 2013.  Due to site upgrades, we had to repost this on December 23.

Would you trade Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera for Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran?

That’s what the Yankees just did. In fairness, Pettitte and Mo were already retiring, but I’m just trying to show all the additions and subtractions from the roster.  Also in fairness, they’ll also have Jeter, Teixeira, and Soriano for a full season.  Assuming A-Rod beats at least a part of his suspension, they’ll also have him for more of the season, but I don’t know whether to list that as a good or bad thing, because he could cost them so much in payroll flexibility that his presence could be downright terrible.  (There’s a reason I’m rooting for him to get only 50 games.)

So, did the Yankees get better this offseason?  They’ve swapped Granderson for Ellsbury, a stud, and Beltran, a probable stud who is one of the best studs ever in the playoffs (check is postseason stats, he’s up there with Babe Ruth and David Ortiz), and they decided they’d rather have a catcher who’s better than almost anyone at his position than a second baseman who’s better than anyone at the position.  Then there are the two lost pitchers.

Truthfully, I think they’ve improved a little, if for no other reason than a lot of their guys are coming back from injuries.  But it won’t matter unless they make significantly more moves this offseason.

The Yankees are old, and they’re not getting better.  Here are the ages for the Yankees’s biggest names for next season (as of July 1, 2014): Jeter 40, A-Rod 38, Teixeira 34, Soriano 38, Ellsbury 30, Ichiro 40, Vernon Wells 35, Beltran 37, Gardner 30.  Those are just the hitters.  As far as the pitchers go: Sabathia 33, Kuroda 39, Nova 27, David Phelps 27, Michael Pineda 25.  Only the Yankees final 3 starters are in their prime, and there’s already a pretty big dropoff between Sabathia and anyone else on the list.  Only Ellsbury and Gardner are even close to their primes among the hitters, and both of them might not be able to play at the same time, since they’re pretty close to the same player.

Unless Sonny and Fredo Steinbrenner are willing to eat more money than the Dodgers and outspend anybody, the Yankees won’t get much better.  As a diehard Sox fan, I’m not worried about the Yankees, and I don’t know the last time that I’ve been able to say that. It’s pretty awesome.

Brady MVP Talk: Legit?

**Note** This blog was originally posted on December 21, 2013.  Due to site upgrades, we had to repost this on December 23.

Of course it’s legit, to answer the question quickly and bluntly.  When a guy barely knows his receivers, only has Gronk for a few weeks, and leads as many clutch drives as he has, Brady has to be “in the conversation,” to steal a phrase that I generally hate.

As for whether or not he should actually win… it should come down to that ever-annoying question of how to define “most valuable.”  Put any other QB in Brady’s spot and they aren’t 10-4.  That’s not to say that Brady has been the best QB in the league this season, but, over the years, he’s shown maybe the best ability to adapt to having supbar receivers on the fly.  Manning has been a better QB this year, and so have Rivers and Brees. (Look at Football Outsiders’ rankings of QBs for a reference of how good each guy has been.  FO’s stats are usually enlightening… and downright awesome.)  But I really don’t know if any other QB would have done as well as Brady with the Patriots roster.  I could be forgetting that the hooded one is running everything and that makes any transition easier, but all I’m saying is that, if the heaviest emphasis that voters have is on the aspect of who could least afford to be replaced on his team, Brady is probably the guy.

That being said, I usually think that the overall best guy is the first set of criteria, and the replacement factor is a close second. By those standards, I’m going with Manning.  But there are still 2 games left, so this means nothing right now, and, even if I’d rather have the Broncos roster and (likely) better seeding heading into January, I’d rather have Brady leading the Patriots than Manning.