Monthly Archives: October, 2014

Red Sox Resign Koji Uehara for 2 Years, $18 million

What a steal.  I don’t care that the average free agent gets about $6-6.5 million per WAR nowadays, and that Koji had 1.4 last year.  And I don’t care that closers are largely overrated because of a leaguewide managerial fetish for saves.  Koji is a beast, and spending $9 million per year on a dude who we’ve already seen can be one of the most important members of a World Series run is good by any MLB standard nowadays.

A year ago, Joe Nathan got 2 years and $20 million, and he was coming off a year that was comparable, but not as good, as Koji’s 2013.  But I think even the Tigers, and even without the benefit of hindsight, would rather have Koji after 2014 than Nathan after 2013.  And the Sox paid $2 million less.

The second year concerns me a little bit, but it’s not like the Sox were gonna get away with just 1 year for $9 million.  The 2nd year is the price of getting the first, and that’s fine, because $9 million isn’t that much, and neither is 2 years.

Shrewd move by Cherrington.  Didn’t spend too much on Koji, leaving him more room for Jon Lester’s next deal.

Bruins Beat Sabres in OT, Thoruoghly Outplay Them

The Bruins Outshot the Sabres 37-15 on Thursday night, and yet it took 2 Brad Marchand goals (finally!) between the 3rd period and overtime to beat the Sabres.  It’s only fair to mention that The B’s outshot the Sabres 16-4 in the 3rd, and teams are usually supposed to have a lot more shots when they’re down 1 late in the game, but 21-11 in the 1st, 2nd, and OT still says a lot.

If you were to guess which Bruins defenseman played 24:09 and which played 22:19, Seidenberg or Hamilton, a lot of Bruins fans would mistakenly guess Seidenberg.  (That would mean that they didn’t watch a ton of hockey since the start of last year, but whatever.)  Dougie is the best blueliner, and I’m thrilled that Claude realizes it.  Even if this might sound narrative-y, it says a lot that a 21 year old can be the anchor of a defensive corp that consists of a player coming back from an ACL tear, 3 guys with barely any experience (Warsofsky, Trotman, and Morrow), and Adam McQuaid.

Also, another point defensively:  Matt Bartkowski has gotta go.  And I don’t say that to destroy Bart, because I think Claude helped to ruin him.  Amalie Benjamin noted that Bartkowski is having a “crisis of confidence,” which can’t exactly be helped by the fact that Julien said that he was half a player from a year ago.  I’m all for directness, but was saying that necessary?

Bartkowski was almost traded (albeit for Jarome Iginla), then was passed over for Torey Krug during the 2013 playoffs when Seidenberg and Ference returned from injury (not too much of a slap in the face, but I’m guessing it didn’t help, and he was the more reliable of the pair when they played in the same games), and then got blamed for a ton of stuff last year, while the media and team seemed to like Kevan Miller more because he does really important stuff like fight once every 12-15 games.  Bartkowski was better than Miller last year, but Miller was consistently selected over Bart, and that remained true at the beginning of this season.  Bart has gotta go, and I say that more for him than anyone else.  The minute he plays well, try to trade him for anything, even if it’s another 7th defenseman.  Aka, do what every fan has been wanting the B’s to do with Jordan Caron for 2.5 years.

Back to Buffalo on Thursday night.  The line switching was very interesting, as especially because the one that stayed normal was the one with a guy with fewer than 10 games under his belt (Griffith with Krejci and Lucic).  Putting Reilly with Campbell and Paille was intriguing, even if it makes Campbell look so much worse with a right wing who’s actually really good.  Kelly, Bergeron and Gagne was also interesting, as those are 3 defensive, smart veterans.  I would call that the “No Mistake Line.”  The only problem is that just 1 of the guys can consistently do a lot of stuff other than not make mistakes.  And Soderberg-Eriksson-Marchand makes sense as well, especially because Claude wanted to keep Soderberg and Eriksson together with their already awesome chemistry, which is why Eriksson hasn’t moved to Krejci’s line yet.

Good win.  A necessary win.  And the kind of shot differential that gives you confidence.  Get well soon, Zdeno.

RIP Oscar Taveras

The first thing I thought of was “Wow, the Cardinals lost a great young outfielder.”  Then I realized that a 22 year old died, and that’s far more important, and I had to check myself.

Oscar Taveras, outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, died tonight in a car crash.

People might think of Taveras as a baseball player first and foremost in this situation, which was a mistake I made, but we need to remember that this kid just lost his life at the age when most people in this country are trying to get their first real job, or when their life “really starts” according to so many.  This is a tragedy any way you slice it, and, it would only be right that MLB honor him immediately at the 7th inning stretch of tonight’s game. (As I write this, the game is in the Bottom 5th.)

Why Do Fans Keep Falling for this Crap?

Sorry for the hiatus recently.  Life has gotten in the way, but we’re back with a vengeance.

By now, you’ve probably heard that there was a locker room rift with the Seattle Seahawks surrounding Russell Wilson.

But actually, there wasn’t.  The earlier rumors that Percy Harvin was traded because he was a big part in a pro/anti Russell Wilson divide in the locker room were found to be unsubstantiated, which should shock no one with an IQ above 50.  Today, Chris Mortensen reported that Marshawn Lynch will likely not be back with the team next year, as they are growing tired of his antics.  However, he also showed that not only were the rumors false, but Wilson tried to push management to keep Harvin on the roster.  That shows you a lot.

What I don’t get is, why are people stupid enough to buy into this stuff?  I get being a huge sports fan, of course, and I get wanting to know what’s going on behind the scenes.  That’s why shows like NHL 24/7 are so awesome.  But aren’t stories like the original one about the Seahawks divide so blatantly an example of the media trying to create storylines that may or may not be there?

Remember when the Patriots and Tom Brady had tension, according to a different Chris Mortensen report?  Doesn’t that feel stupid now, and, looking back, can’t we tell that part of that was just the media wanting to stir the pot?

I guess I just don’t understand how everyone in the country can claim about how much the media sucks (The Daily Show, for example, is beloved by everyone and their mother), everyone in Boston knows that our sports media has an, uh… rough history, and yet everyone buys into a lot of crap that journalists spin.  I’d rather get caught up in what Seattle’s chances are to reclaim the division from the Cardinals instead of whether or not other players in the Seahawks locker room would like to have some of Russell Wilson’s endorsements.  (Hint: They all would.)

 

Bruins Sign Simon Gagne

First of all, I’m not too sure why this took so long. Maybe the Bruins wanted to give Bobby Robins a shot, or maybe they actually believe that Jordan Caron is good at hockey. Either way, there was no reason for Simon Gagne not to be singed to the Bruins roster, and now he is.
All that matters from a salary cap standpoint is that Gagne is signed for less than the $925,000 mark at which the Bruins would have to pay in order to bury him. (Check out Capgeek’s explanation of buried contracts.) So even if this doesn’t work out, the Bruins could just send him to Providence, waive him, or do whatever they want without him costing them anything on the salary cap. And he makes exactly as much as Caron, so there is no cap damage here.
Maybe the most important thing is that Gagne can play right wing, despite usually playing left wing with his left hand shot throughout most of his career. I really like the line that he’ll play on, with Daniel Paille and Ryan Spooner. With Gagne’s speed, however diminished at 34, and Spooner’s scoring ability and Paille’s relative scoring ability for a 4th line, that’ll be an interesting combination until Gregory Campbell comes back.
It’s very important to note, however, that it’s extremely unlikely that Gagne is one of the top 12 forwards come April. For one, he might be as injury prone as Danny Amendola. Since the 2008 season and through the lockout season, here are the number of games he’s played: 25, 79, 58, 63, 34, 38 (out of 48). Also, the Bruins definitely have to trade for some forward, as well as a defenseman, of course. And we’re not even taking into account that Gregory Campbell should be back, or that David Pastrnak could get called up simply because the Bruins suck at scoring right now.
Gagne is a placeholder. But for that role, he’s fine. Definitely worth the same amount of money as Jordan Caron, and even more deserving of Caron’s roster spot.

3 NHL Offseason Moves that Should Have Happened this Summer

Now that the offseason is finally over, it’s time to say that NHL general managers did something wrong yet again!  Here are a few moves that should have happened this offseason for both teams involved.

1) The Bruins should have traded Chris Kelly.

Fine, I’ll let this one go, it’s becoming a broken record.  That’s just cheating at this point.

1) The Winnipeg Jets should have traded for James Reimer.

I will not pretend to be anything close to the only guy saying this, and so many others have proposed the idea because it’s so damn obvious.  Ondrej Pavelec is awful, and James Reimer is from Winnipeg… and also doesn’t have a starting job with the Maple Leafs.  The relationship with Randy Carlyle could border on toxic, and there’s really no reason for Remier to still play in Toronto.  He resigned a 2 year extension, which means he won’t be a UFA until 2016.  But even with that extension or while he was still a RFA, why not send him to Winnipeg and get something for a guy that will probably leave in 2 years and is just a backup at this point?

2) The Minnesota Wild should have signed Anton Stralman

Really, you could say this about any playoff team with a good deal of cap space, including the Blue Jackets, Ducks, Senators, and even the Sharks, who have $4.18 million in cap space.   But I’m going with the Wild first because of the youth of their defensive corps, meaning they could use a veteran like Stralman.  After Ryan Suter, the Wild’s defensemen get pretty thin, and Stralman is underrated, making his $4.5 million completely worth it for a team like the Wild, especially as the cap rises.  Suter on the left and Stralman on the right late in games in the playoffs would be a pretty nice pairing, to say the least.

3) The Buffalo Sabres should have traded for Patrick Kane

First, I know this sounds insane.  Second, know this this comes under 2 conditions, both of which might be 2 sides of the same coin.  The first is that the Sabres would trade a ton to the Hawks for Kane, and the second is that new Sabres GM Tim Murray would actually make a move that’s partly based around marketing, even though he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would.

But if they would, this would be a great move for the team.  While the cap-strapped Blackhawks would miss Kane, they would love to get back the cap space with the money that he’s about to get, and this team has shown a willingness to strip down their core to rebuild, which is exactly what they did after 2010, and look how well that worked.  While Kane is electrifying and a beast of a player, he will probably be overpaid next year at $10.5 million.  The salary makes sense over 8 years because the cap will rise a ton, but not for 2015-2016.  They’ll likely have to trade Patrick Sharp or goalie Corey Crawford and settle for a cheaper replacement, like what the did with Crawford over Niemi in 2010.  But say the Sabres came in with an offer of Sam Reinhart, Cody Hodgson, who would help fill the current void left by Kane’s absence on a decent contract, and a ton of draft picks.  The Hawks also wouldn’t have to trade Nick Leddy, and while Leddy is no Kane by any means, keeping him would mitigate some of the damage left by Kane leaving.

This trade would be a good one in part because people think that Patrick Kane is as good as Jonathan Toews, but he isn’t.  Sure, by “people,” I mean only the most casual of casual fans, but those people buy jerseys, too.  Without his marketability, Kane wouldn’t have gotten $10.5 million a year from the Hawks, and they’re not the kind of team that needs to pay someone for marketability.  It should be good enough to play in the conference finals every year.

In Buffalo, Patrick Kane would become absolutely everything.  The hometown kid could help lead his team to their first Stanley Cup, and what might be most important for Kane on the Sabres in the next few years would be his ability to draw other free agents to the team.  Paying, say, $10.5 million for Kane would be an overpay for the Sabres, but the overpay would be worth it in their situation.

While trading Patrick Kane would be tough on any contending team like the Hawks, it would simply be worth it because they might get a king’s ransom from the Sabres, and he probably isn’t worth that.  I know the trade seems crazy, but it would actually be worth it for both teams.  Or maybe I just am crazy.

Bruins Roster Set: Spooner, Fraser, Robins Make Team

After months of speculation, it appears that the Bruins made the moves that we all wanted: Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner will be on the opening night roster. Peter Chiarelli announced today that the B’s will put the now former Providence teammates on the roster together, finally ending the question of whether or not the Bruins would forgo their concerns about having too many centers and simply decide that talent should win out.

The decision seemed to be far easier with Fraser, as it should have been. They need more wings, and Fraser was the best 3rd line left wing in the playoffs last year, performing better than both Jordan Caron and Justin Florek. He’s already 24, so they should get him on the roster sooner rather than later, and he can play on both the left and right.

Spooner would be an easy call for just about any other team. Hell, there’s a chance that he could be the second line center for the Blackhawks if they hadn’t signed Richards. (I’m not saying that he’s better than Andrew Shaw or Marcus Kruger, but his speed might match better with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.) But Peter Chiarelli made the right move here by making sure that Spooner and all his talent makes the roster, because the only place that someone like Spoons will really grow is at the NHL level.

Another piece news today is that Bobby Robins will make the roster, because the Bruins simply must have a over 30s guy who can’t skate but can fight at the 4RW spot. Despite that last sentence, I don’t hate that move – until Gregory Campbell is back. Because the final man on the roster is clearly just a placeholder, I have no problem having a guy who won’t be a locker room concern and with whom you don’t have to worry about chemistry or rustiness. Frankly, as long as Robins is serviceable, who cares if he isn’t anything more than that?

Finally, David Patstrnak will play in the AHL this year down in Providence, and it seems like he may have chosen to play in Rhode Island over Sweden. Good news all around. He shouldn’t be on the opening night roster by any means, but he’ll get seasoning in an American professional league as opposed to killing it in juniors for another year like he already has anyway.

So, what to do with the lines. Well, let’s start with the fact that David Krejci might miss the first game or 2, although it doesn’t seem to be serious. And since Campbell’s out, the B’s are down to 4 centers, which might be part of the reason that Spooner made the team. For the first night, I’d slide Soderberg up to the first line, put him with Eriksson because they excelled together last year, and then make sure that Spooner and Fraser play together. Here would be my lines against the Flyers tomorrow:
17-34-21
63-37-18
25-51-38
20-23-64 (Robins)
When Krejci and Campbell are back, here’s what I’d do
17-46-21
63-37-18
51-34-25
20-23-11
The B’s could also decide to stack the 3rd line and make the 4th a lot worse, kind of like what they did when Paille replaced Fraser at some points in the playoffs last year.
First 2 lines the same
20-34-23
25-51-11, or Campbell and Spooner could be swapped.
The point is, the Bruins have options. That’s what tends to happen when you have 6 capable centers. And let’s be happy that Chiarelli made the right moves with the forwards, even if he didn’t on defense with Boychuk. Well, there’s always the trade deadline.

Top 5 Dumbest Rules in Sports

After Jamie Collins picked up AJ Green’s fumble that Darrelle Revis caused on Sunday night, he coughed it right back up. It fell into Fonzie Dennard’s hands, who kept running from the 25 yard line to the 3. Except, because it was under 2 minutes, and the NFL presumably wants to make sure that a last ditch attempt to lateral the ball all the way to a touchdown doesn’t get filed with 10 fumbles, the play was blown dead at the 25.
Think that rule is dumb? Of course it is. I tweeted that it’s right up there with the Tuck Rule, which Patriots fans will refer to as the “Greatest dumb rule of all time,” in terms of stupidity. Let’s do a quick power rankings of the dumbest rules in the 4 big professional sports, as well as the biggest sports worldwide.

Honorable Mention: The Tuck Rule
You’re supposed to put honorable mentions at the end.  But I couldn’t hold back.  The Tuck Rule is gone as of a few years ago, but the Pats a Super Bowl Based off of this one.  HAHAHAHA.

1) NHL – The Intent to Blow, aka the “Dead in the Head” Rule.
This one gets the top spot, simply because it’s amazing that this rule exists. Whenever there’s a pileup at the net and a player finally knocks the puck in (legally), we still can’t be sure that it’s a goal. There’s a chance that the refs can claim that they had the intent to blow the whistle, meaning the play was dead when the ref should have called it. Here’s a better idea, refs. If you want to blow the whistle… blow it. At that point, the refs should have the whistles in their mouths already (Seems like I’m getting dangerously close to making a sexual joke, but I don’t do it.), so they should be able to do it pretty quickly without thinking.

2) NFL – The fact that the NFL still has kickoffs, but from the 35 yard line.
Now that every kicker is expected to get a touchback on every single kickoff and that players are usually tackled at about the 17 yard line when they take the ball out of the end zone, there is no point for kickoffs. Either go back to the good old days when Devin Hester could be one of the most important players in the entire league when kickoffs were from the 30, or ban kickoffs altogether. There’s no reason for them, and it just means that we get a touchdown with an automatic review that occasionally takes a few more seconds, an extra point (also completely unnecessary in 2014), a commercial, a meaningless kickoff, and then another commercial. The NFL hedged with kickoffs, and this is exactly the kind of rule on which you should not hedge at all.

3) Soccer – The lack of any punishment for diving.
I’m not saying that David Stern’s idea of fining players $5k for flopping works perfectly. I’m pretty sure that LeBron would gladly sacrifice $5000 in order to cost the opposition a possession late in an NBA Finals game. But at least it’s something, and soccer is the sport that most needs “something.” A huge reason that Americans can’t get into soccer is that the players are flopping like fishes. And as much as it feels weird for an American and a casual soccer fan to criticize the fact that many Europeans and Central/South Americans view the diving in soccer as part of the game or maybe even an art, well… they’re wrong. Athletes should decide the outcome of a game by doing actual athletic things.

4) NHL – The enforcer in hockey.
I debated making this one the top overall, but I do actually see where the thinking from this one originated. If you’re teammate beats the snot out of someone, then you could be energized a little, right? Well, when you think about it for a little longer, no, it’s not true, and that’s why the rule belongs on this list. If Shawn Thornton (so long, what a beast you were) beats the crap out of, say, Dale Weise (what a wuss), it’s not going to make Milan Lucic, the kind of guy who actually does useful things for his team, play better. What might help Lucic play better is if Lucic himself beats up a guy, maybe increasing his confidence and decreasing the confidence of the guys who are actually on the ice against him. This is why I don’t want fighting outlawed entirely, but the enforcer needs to be gone. Make a maximum of 8 fights a year per player for the regular season and 10 total for the regular season and playoffs.

5) MLB – The Catwalk rule in Tampa Bay.
Sure, this one barely happens, which is why it’s ranked number 5. But it’s indefensibly stupid. Do I even have to explain why? I’m gonna guess not.

Suck It, Haters

43-17.

43-17.

Forty-three to fucking seventeen.

The Patriots destroyed what was the best team in football last night, and it was orgasmic.  Nobody played badly from what I can remember, although, to be fair, the Pats didn’t play as well as everyone will remember.  Brady still missed about 4 easy throws to Gronk, and the defense gave up a few long plays after looking like they had either forced a bad throw or blown up a run play in the backfield.

But fuck it, it was still a damn good game.  Tom Brady was Tom Brady again, and it was so fun to watch him have so much fun.

Here’s a tidbit that I was too afraid to post last week.  In the amazing Football Outsiders’ Week 4 DVOA rankings, things were looking horrible for the Pats as they were about to face Cincinnati.  Cincy was ranked #1 overall, and had had the 8th hardest schedule so far.  The Pats were ranked 23rd, and had the 30th hardest schedule.  Cincy’s estimated wins was 3.0 out of 3 games (the 4.0 stat is surely a misprint), while the Pats’ was 1.5.  I can’t even remember a time where the numbers would even suggest that the Pats deserved 1.5 wins in the first quarter of a season.  Even in 2004, when they started off 2-2 and Week 1 was a 31-0 embarrassment by the Bills, they probably would have wound up higher than 1.5/4.  And the Bengals were coming off a bye.  This was supposed to be a shitshow.

And it was, but the other way around.  Gronk and Tim Wright look like they could provide the fearsome tight end combo that the Pats have been missing ever since Aaron Hernandez, well, ya know.  Darrelle Revis was Darrelle Revis, and his hamstring seems just fine.

How lucky are we to root for the Pats?

But let’s not savor this too much.  We’re onto Buffalo.

But before Buffalo, Tom Brady has some words for the haters:

TOM-BRADY-FUCK-YOU-BITCHES

Don’t Get Scared about the Chris Mortensen Article

Odds are that you’ve already read this Chris Mortensen article that was put on ESPN just before 1:30 today, because it’s the kind of thing that could scare any Pats fan.  I, for one, am not putting much thought into it.

Unless it’s about Brett Favre, I’m not gonna put all my trust in Chris Mortensen when he’s citing pretty unclear sources.  In fact, let’s break down where these sources seem to be coming from, because that might convince everyone that this just does not matter.

“Tension exists between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ coaching staff, and multiple sources told ESPN that they believe it could influence whether the quarterback finishes his career with the team that he has led to three Super Bowl titles.”

Sounds promising.

“Two sources told ESPN that former rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted as Brady’s successor…”

No fucking shit he was.  If you were under the impression that Garoppolo was drafted just to hold a clipboard, then you should thank ESPN for clearing that up for you.  Also, you should turn 6 years old.

“One team source told ESPN that a conservative approach is necessary and said everyone needs to be patient to allow the team and staff to get on the same page. Brady’s declining performance also has been cited internally, a source told ESPN.”

Now here’s a source that sounds legitimate.  A source that’s actually within the Patriots organization, and what does someone within the Patriots organization, an employee for Bill Belichick say?  Absolutely nothing, of course.  “Remain patient.”  Sounds like the Pats.  “We’re on to Cincinnati.”

“Brady has stated publicly he wants to play another four or five years, at least. Sources close to the quarterback told ESPN that remains true but acknowledge that his career may end with another franchise unless Patriots owner Robert Kraft intercedes.”

Here’s where you have to remember that Tom Brady is a player.  Granted, he’s by far the most important player in franchise history, but he’s not making the decisions.  The only way that any tension from Brady’s point of view, if this is all true and remains true into future offseasons, is if he rejects a contract restructuring or something like that. And just some tension over what has happened to the offense likely won’t change that Tom Brady still is a maniacal competitor who wants to win more than anything.

Sure, Brady might not finish his career here, and it’s true that the worse he plays, and the worse the rest of the offense plays, increases the chances of that frightening reality.  But this Chris Mortensen piece means nothing.  It isn’t a sign of impending doom.  It’s just noise.  And you know how the Patriots feel about that shit:

ignore the noise