Monthly Archives: August, 2015

Where to Take Patriots Players in Your Fantasy Draft

This is not going to be a fantasy sports column.  There are already enough guys making predictions with much better crunched numbers than I have for something that ultimately is still a crapshoot.  But if you’re like me, you try to draft the best fantasy team in the most rational way possible… but you still want to have a few of the Pats on your team.

I got to thinking about this because I was at a fantasy draft last night with a bunch of guys who had watched football forever but not played fantasy all that much, so the draft was going a in many different directions, as you might expect.  Kickers and defenses were drafted as early as the 6th round, and a guy took Reggie Bush in the 8th round because “He’s Reggie Bush.”  But the most interesting thing was that QBs were flying off the board in the first 2.5 rounds.  After Aaron Rodgers went 10th (understandably), that opened the floodgates, and Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck went 12th, 14th, and 15th respectively.  That Manning and especially Brees went before Luck tells you something about the league.  But then it got even more crazy with the signal callers.  Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, and Matt freakin Ryan went 17, 21, and 22.

At this point, I knew I had to get a QBs, and all of the great ones and some of the good ones were gone.  So what did I do? Draft Tom Brady 25th, of course.  i have no regrets.  He may have been ranked 116th overall according to ESPN, but the way I look at it, since the league isn’t too serious, I can put loyalty over rationality and then still try to win the league.

Oh, and I had taken Gronk 5th overall.  Forgot to mention that.

So let me break down where should draft the Patriots in a fantasy draft and what you can expect from them this season.  I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible, but I’m not sure how well that will work. (I’m assuming standard settings 10 team ESPN league.)

Rob Gronkowski: Ranking: 12

Gronk represents the hardest prediction other than Brady.  I drafted Gronk 5th overall partly because I’m a homer, but partly because I had actual reasoning.  The way I look at it, Gronk would be ranked higher if not for the injury risk that is a definite factor.  But if he does get injured for a huge chunk of the season, aren’t you screwed anyway?  In that case, why not draft him where you would assming 16 games of full health?

Gronk had 1124 yards and 12 receiving TDs last year, and he might even be able to improve on the yards.  He had 1327 in 2011, and while that might be a little high, remember that he and Brady weren’t on the same page for the first 4 games last year.  In fact, Gronk’s best stretch of those first 4 may have been with Jimmy Garopppolo in the blowout of the Chiefs game nightmare.  So I wouldn’t worry too much about Gronk with Jimmy if Judge Berman sides with Team Evil in court, and Brady and Gronk will be on the same page whenever they first play together this season, since Gronk isn’t coming off 2 injury riddled seasons like he was last year, decreasing his snap count a ton.  Gronk is easily worthy of a Top 10 pick if you think about him and his injury risk the way that I do, but I totally understand if you don’t.

Julian Edelman: Ranking: 35

I love Jules, but this one might be too high.  Edelman is probably going to have 90+ catches yet again for right around 100 yards for the 3rd season in a row, but it’s hard to see him going much beyond that.  If Edelman is your 2nd WR and you need a safe guy to go with a stud like Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, or Odell Beckham Jr., then I get it, but most people won’t be drafting their 2nd WR in the 4th round anyway.  I’d rather wait on Golden Tate if you want a different safe play, or Sammy Watkins or Davante Adams if you want to take more of a risk, which would be my play.  Watkins is a stud who’s only going to get better, and even though Tyrod Taylor is the QB, the Bills defense and LeSean McCoy should put the team in the red zone enough to have TD potential.  And anyone who plays WR in Green Bay produces, and Adams will get more looks with Jordy Nelson out.  Edelman around 35 isn’t bad, but I’d probably pass unless it’s in the 40s and you really need a receiver.

LeGarrette Blount: Ranking: 64

Blount is another understandable pick at his spot, but I’d probably pass simply because trying to predict how Bill Belichick will use his running backs each week is a worthless exercise.  The 64th spot is in the 7th round, and you’re probably looking for a flex or maybe your first bench player here, but I’d be far more comfortable with Blount as a bye week fill in than a normal starter.  At this spot, I’d rather take former Patriot Shane Vereen who’s going about a round lower and will probably provide about the same value.

Brandon LaFell: Ranking: Ambiguious for now, doesn’t matter

Stay away until we know more about his injury.  Maybe take him in the final few rounds of the draft just to have him, but it might be a better idea just to let him go.  There’s a chance he misses 6 games on the PUP list, and he’s not good enough otherwise to justify waiting for that.

Tom Brady: Ranking: 116

DRAFT.  First of all, I think that Brady will beat the suspension, and that instantly shoots him way higher than 116.  Even if he doesn’t, you can fill in those 4 games with someone else.  Quarterback is so deep in fantasy this year, which is part of the reason that you should wait for Brady.  I took Philip Rivers in my league, whom I highly recommend because his bye week is after Week 5 (Brady with the suspension won’t play until Week 6 because of the Week 4 bye) and becasue his early schedule is so easy.  i also considered Matt Stafford or Colin Kaepernick, but they have harder schedules.  Tony Romo is another good option, and you should definitely make sure you get another good, capable QB with Brady if you take him, and Rivers and Romo are my guys.  Cam Newton is also a good one, but his bye week is 5, so you’d have to find some stiff to play for a week and hope to get lucky with matchups.

But Brady is gonna light the NFL on fire this year because of how pissed he’ll be about the suspension, and he was already the 8th best fantasy QB last year after the Chiefs debacle.  Even if he’s just 8th for 12 games this year, that’s worth drafting in the 7th of 8th round of the draft.

Jonas Gray, Jimmy Garoppolo, Scott Chandler, Danny Amendola

Only draft in really deep leagues.  Gray will be in the same boat as Blount, I don’t trust Garoppolo more than a guy like Rivers or Romo or even Kaepernick for those first 4 games except for the inevitable Jacksonville walkover in Week 3, Chandler might get some touchdowns like Tim Wright, but they’ll be too hard to predict, and Amendola is Amendola.  At least he can apparently perform in the playoffs.

Patriots defense:

Defenses are a crapshoot.  Anyone who doesn’t just play the matchup game with defenses is kidding themselves, unless they reach for a defense like the Seahawks, in which case they’ve reached for a defense.  Draft the Pats defense because it will make you happy.

Stephen Gostkowski:

He’s often the 1st kicker off the board, and you shouldn’t be the one to take him unless it’s the final 2-3 rounds of the draft and you have no one else in mind.  Sure, he’s a sure thing, but he’s still a kicker, and those guys don’t win you fantasy leagues.

Again, draft Tom Brady.  That’s the point of this post.

#FreeBrady

Judge Berman to Issue Deflategate Ruling This Week, Maybe Today

Finally, the day of reckoning is about to arrive.  Judge Berman finally realized that there’s no way the two sides can reach a settlement, as the NFL still wants Brady to admit he’s guilty and Brady says the most important thing is him not having to admit any guilt.  When those are the starting positions, there’s no common ground to find.

The fact that the hearing is in NYC and not Minnesota or Massachusetts may still loom large, because Judge Berman, as opposed to judges that come from a much more pro union background,  Berman may not view this all as a neutral arbitration, thereby saying that the NFL had reason to act in the way it did, regardless of how fair it was.  He may also look at it as an arbitration or simply decide that no matter what it was, the NFL violated federal law in what they did.

The last thing I am is a legal expert, but I’m expecting Brady to win the ruling just because all the quotes from Berman that I’ve heard leaked indicate that he had no respect for how the NFL went about this in any way.

Of course, The NFL may win because of legal jargon and politics that are gonna make us want to pull out hair out.  But the NFLPA did agree to the rules that made Roger Goodell the judge and jury in these cases, and that’s their fault.  Hopefully The NFL screwed this up enough that Brady can win, and judging by what happened in the Bountygate, Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson situations, that’s a possibility that I think is more than likely.

How Much More Would Deflategate Hurt if the Patriots Had Lost Super Bowl 49?

The real hero of Deflategate isn’t Tom Brady, Tom Brady’s million dollar smile and billion dolllar suit when walking into court, Jeffrey Kessler, or Judge Berman — even if he sides with Team Good, not Team Goodell.  The real hero of Deflategate is Malcolm Butler.

Lemme ask you a scary hypothetical: How much more would Deflategate hurt if The Seattle Seahawks had won the Super Bowl?

I can’t fathom the pain in that scenario, given how serious this ordeal already feels to all of us Boston sports fans.  The rest of the country can’t understand why this is such a big deal to us, especially when everyone knows in their hearts that the Pats will be in the playoffs again with a pissed off Brady ripping his opponents to shreds.  Even players like Darrelle Revis think that Brady should just take the punishment.  But in New England, we can’t understand why the rest of the country doesn’t get why this is such a big deal. We can’t understand why our friends from other places are still saying things like, “But Brady destroyed his cell phone” or “11 out of 12 being deflated definitely means something”  We respond with, “Brady just changed his cell phone from a Samsung Galaxy to an iPhone just like almost everyone else in America, and the idea that he destroyed his cell phone is pure NFL spin,” and we respond with “Haven’t you been following at all??? Chris Mortensen’s original report was deemed false and now he’s still in the process of burying his career by defending himself when there’s nothing to defend.”  This feels personal to us, and we don’t get why the rest of America isn’t as knowledgeable of the facts as we are.

So that’s how serious this is for us… so imagine if it felt all the more daunting because the Patriots had just lost their third straight Super Bowl because of a final drive that involved a miraculous deep catch that never should happen.

For 9 seasons after the 2004 season, we were always thinking, “Damn, should have been ours, but whatever, they have a great chance next year.”  By the time the 2010s rolled around, it was getting harder to think that.  After Brady had gone down with a torn ACL and then the 2009 team was the least mentally tough Belichick Pats team ever, Brady was a 33 year old QB in 2010, and the team was full of scrubs that we all knew deep down couldn’t play NFL football like Jonathan Wilhite, Darius Butler, Jermaine Cunningham, and James Ihedigbo.  Then Brady lit the world on fire in 2010 and the offense looked like it did in 2007, only to be upset by the lowly Jets in Foxboro.  Two straight playoff losses in Foxboro when that had never happened before.  Then 2011, the Giants… I wasn’t even mad over that one.. . it just hurt.  It just hurt that it was the exact same team during the Pats’ chance for redemption.  In 2012, the BB restructured Brady’s contract to save over $6 million in 2012 and push it later, which suggested that the team was going for it all in 2012.  And it was all about to break right, until the Ravens upset the Patriots, who probably would have beaten the 49ers in the Super Bowl 2 weeks later, for the 3rd postseason loss in Foxboro in the last 6 January games played in the House That Brady Built.  Then 2013: injuries were too much for a Pats team that was only a contender because of Grit and Balls, much like the 2012 Celtics team.

Then 2014 came around, and the Pats somehow stole the man who once called Bill Belichick a “jerk,” and Randy Moss a “Slouch,” the best cornerback in the league, because he wanted to win for less money.  Brandon Browner also came along, and Gronk appeared to be healthy.  Instantly, 2014 became The Patriots team that was supposed to win the Super Bowl — the team with the best chance since the 2007 team.  And we all know about the rough start that had idiots proclaiming that Brady might be done, but the team righted the ship and looked like the Patriots that we were expecting in the Springtime.  There was one major bump on the road to Arizona, the two 14 point deficits to Baltimore, but Brady and co. overcame them with a clutch playoff performance that reminded us of the Super Bowl years more than any game since then.  On to the Valley of the Sun.

Brady led the team back from a 10 point deficit to give them the lead with 2:02 to go, but here came the Seahawks.  Bill Belichick had coached this unheard of rookie perfectly, and Malcolm Butler deflected away a 33 yard pass from Jermaine Kearse.  But then it fell into his hands because the football gods just don’t want Brady and Belichick to get another one.  We were watching it all slip away.  There were so many free agents upcoming — we knew the Pats were about to lose Revis, probably Vereen after his Super Bowl performance, maybe Ridley, maybe McCourty, and maybe Browner if his option wasn’t picked up (it wasn’t).  This was the team that was supposed to do it, and it was being ripped away from our hearts yet again.  On top of all that, the best coach ever wasn’t calling a timeout for some reason, essentially taking away the last hope for a Super Bowl 49 win from the best quarterback of all time, who could have had about 50 seconds and 1 timeout to get a field goal.  Brady wasn’t getting the chance that he needed, and he may have never had a chance to win another Super Bowl again.

How scary is that picture?  And when you put yourself in that mindset, how much would Deflategate have hurt with that Super Bowl loss as the backdrop?  We would feel that yet another stupid, unfair outside force had ripped away the Pats’ chances at that coveted 4th ring.  Maybe the worst commissioner of all time decided to take out the Pats for no reason.

See, now we think of Deflategate, even if Brady’s suspension is upheld, as a dumb and incredibly unfair hindrance to the season.  It might cost the Pats the 1 seed to the Colts, but it’ll also make it easier for the Pats to be pissed off going to Indianapolis in January en route to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.  I don’t think we could view it like that if Malcolm Butler hadn’t jumped the route.  The hangover of that loss would have been devastating, and even if the Patriots are the most mentally tough team ever and way tougher than the fans are, some of that hangover easily could have affected the team too.  Deflategate would have beaten them down a little bit as well and put more of a dent in their already dented confidence that the team could finally win a 4th.  Now, it’s a rallying cry.  Then, it would have been a mental obstacle.

Malcolm Butler is the real hero of Deflategate, because he picked off a ball that he had no right to pick off.  Pete Carroll went after him the same way that Brady went after Tharold Simon all night, but the Pats’ depth CB delivered while the Seahawks’ depth CB got lit up like a Christmas tree.  And yes, I know I’m oversimplifying a ton by saying that Butler was the hero when all 53 guys and all the coaches were a part of it, but the point of all this is that it came down to one play, and that one play dramatically altered the way we view the witch hunt that is Deflategate.

NESN Pushed Don Orsillo Out… WHY???

How out of touch can the NESN and the Red Sox be sometimes?  The only thing that has been awesome about this season is Remy and Don in the booth, other than Ortiz’s home run chase.

Firing Jenny Dell was one thing.  She was awesome at her job, and tons of people really enjoyed looking at her every game, which doesn’t hurt to say the least.  It seemed a little ridiculous that she was canned because of dating Will “Remember Spring of 2012?” Middlebrooks because she always seemed to be fair and didn’t let it affect her job, but she did break a rule, so there was reason there.

But why get rid of Orsillo?  There is nothing wrong with Orsillo’s announcing, except maybe the fact that he can’t stop incessantly laughing every once in awhile, but I think most Red Sox fans have grown to love that.  I know I have.  He was damn good at his job.

I like to check what Jared Carrabis at Barstoolsports says about this, as he usually has his finger on the pulse of what diehard but smart Red Sox fans think, and he has his own connections inside the Sox front office.  He (and others) reported that Joseph Marr, NESN’s VP of Programming was never a fan of Orsillo’s and made the decision to get him out.

Well, this guy is now pretty high on the Public Enemy list of Boston, and rightfully so.  You can’t blame Orsillo for the tanking Red Sox ratings, not when the team finishes in last place for 3 out of 4 years and fans are getting tired of not only the last place finishes, but high priced signings like Sandoval, Hanley, and Carl Crawford not panning out when they were supposed to be the guys that drew in more attention.

I can’t offer an explanation here, and I don’t know if anyone can.  Dave O’Brien will be good, but he won’t be Orsillo.

Don Orsillo is Leaving NESN After the Year

I’m gonna miss Don Orsillo.  Orsillo has all the exact tools that you want from a local play by play guy: Clearly rooting for the Red Sox yet remains very fair, still treats a play that the opposing team made like a big play and doesn’t pooh-pooh it, works brilliantly with Remy or Eckersly or whoever, talks just the right amount, and can make horrible games for a horrible team watchable, as we’ve especially seen in 2015.

I really hope that Orsillo is leaving on his own, because I couldn’t imagine the Red Sox front office, who runs NESN, getting rid of Don.  Either way, sad to see him go, and I’ll both update when we find out the reasons why he’s leaving and I’ll do a farewell post to honor him.

Credit to WEEI Dennis and Callahan for breaking the story.

Why Are We Listening to Curt Schilling?

My headline seems like a pretty simple question and maybe even a stupid one.  Curt Schilling’s comments on evolution in the past and his recent comments on Muslims and Nazis show a level of stupidity that we never saw from the wise, sage ballplayer that we saw during press conferences and interviews from 2004-2008 in Boston.  (You’ll notice that I didn’t link to either of those set of comments, because it’d be incredibly hypocritical for me to encourage people to read them, given what this post is about.)

It seems obvious that we should just ignore an idiot who takes their opinions on the world around us way too seriously just because they know a lot about baseball and have a huge ego, but then why do I keep seeing people up and down my Twitter timeline posting about how much they hate Schilling or whatever else?  Just ignore a moron like that.  I get that the media will cover stupid comments — because Americans love to read about stupidity and either laugh at it (which is acceptable… after all, I just tweeted about the Lakers possibly signing Metta World Peace again HAHAHA) or to take the comments seriously and criticize them, which is counterproductive.  If consumers didn’t eat up this stuff, the media wouldn’t cover it, and then you wouldn’t have to get annoyed over Schilling saying questioning whether the problems going on in Islam today are comparable to those of the Nazis 80 years ago.

We know that there are stupid people out there, and even more specifically, we know that there are many people who are very smart in one field (Schilling is an above average baseball analyst, IMO), but Brick Tambland in Anchorman level of stupid in every other aspect of life.  So why buy into those opinions.  Schilling can only convince himself that his opinions actually matter to people if they make headlines, so let’s stop caring enough about what he says in order to cause those headlines to be made.

Addicted to ESPN, Just Like NFL

How many times have you heard someone say that they feel guilty for liking the NFL?  If you spend time with sports fans who have any grasp of the real world, you’ve inevitably heard it often.  I say all the time that loving the NFL makes me feel guilty.  My friends say it.  Sports radio callers say it.  Bill Simmons says it often, when he’s not being suspended or letting his contract run out.  Even Jon Stewart says it.  (On another note, I miss Jon Stewart already.). But what we all have in common is an inability to break away from the NFL because the product is so damn amazing.  They have us by the balls, and they know it.  That’s why the owners keep employing Roger Goodell for $45ish million a year — no matter how badly he screws up, as long as he keeps taking the hits and making the league money, they’re happy to keep paying him, because they know that no serious screw up will actually cut into their profit margins.

But you already knew that.  But what we often don’t think about is the NFL’s biggest water carrier of an organization: ESPN.  Deflategate and they way they’ve handled it has been the best proof of ESPN not actually being based on journalism or fairness, but just bowing down to whoever makes them money.  Chris Mortensen was used by the NFL and never corrected his original report or removed the original tweet about 11 of 12 Patriots balls being underinflated, then explained it by saying “Twitter, I’m still trying to figure it out,” even though he has tweeted almost 20,000 times.  Then, a week ago, ESPN had Bill Polian and Mortensen on Sportscenter spewing lies about the Pats taping the Rams walkthrough in February 2002, which was an outright lie and got John Tomase in a lot of trouble, irreparably damaging his career.  ESPN apologized for that in the middle of the night on their late Sportscenter.  The Worldwide leader also swiftly reported that Brady had destroyed his phone, when in reality, based on everything else that we’ve seen and the way Brady defended that claim, I highly doubt that was the truth.

And just because us Pats fans have felt personally offended by DeflateGate, we can’t judge an organization solely based off of how they’ve acted in this case.  But with ESPN, there are so, so many more examples of their lack of professionalism in an NFL-esque way.  The best source for this information is James Andrew Miller’s book These Guys Have All the Fun. An ESPN worker also stated that one of her female higher-ups told her: “If I had a dollar for every time I was sexually harassed at ESPN, I’d be a millionaire.”  Read this Deadspin post for more details.

Believe me, I could go on, but I want to get to the point.  Do any small amount of research on your own and you will find tons of examples of ESPN’s ways that strikingly resemble the way the NFL acts, given the holier-than-thou way that both organizations act in so many ways and how strong of a stand they take against certain issues.  People may remember Stephen A. Smith’s stupid choice of words regarding a woman’s “responsibility” not to get beaten, but I prefer to remember how ESPN waited for the public reaction to decide whether to suspend him, which is the exact same thing that Roger Goodell does.

And ESPN has us by the balls just like the NFL does.  Sure, Fox Sports and NBC Sports and others are competitors… but not really.  There’s no network that could match ESPN’s reach into wall to wall coverage and analysis of all sports.  And we all know that, because we keep consuming their product.  If I need to quickly know what’s going on in the world of sports, I check ESPN’s homepage for a few minutes.  I’m guessing you do too.

Am I presenting a solution to this problem?  Well, maybe a little, but not much.  Just like everyone who says that the NFL has them hooked but they can’t do anything about it, it’s hard to do anything about ESPN having us on the line.  There are competitors to ESPN in a way that there aren’t to the NFL in terms of pro football, but are we really gonna stop consuming ESPN’s products?  I doubt it.  It just sucks that ESPN carries the NFL’s water, and we all know that the latter organization is run without the morals that they should have, but now we have to realize that the former one does as well.

Looking Back on Ben Cherington’s Time as Red Sox GM

After that disastrous September 2011 that was filled with stories of fried chicken, beer, and a terrible clubhouse atmosphere, Ben Cherington stepped into a situation that would seem so enviable to some – a big market team with lots of dollars to spend and a love of advanced stats – but subpar to others because of the long tenured contracts that the Sox had and the aforementioned culture problems.

Let’s look year by year at his important transactions, starting with the winter before the 2012 season and any moves made during the year.

2012:

  • Hired Bobby Valentine
  • Traded Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland for Mark Melancon (more on this in the 2013 section)
  • Traded Josh Reddick and others for Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey
  • Signed Cody Ross
  • Traded 2011 overachiever Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik for Craig Breslow
  • Executed the humongous trade with the Dodgers that sent Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett (and Nick Punto, haha) out west for Ruby de la Rosa, Allan Webster, and others.

I’m ok with these results, mainly because of the Dodgers trade of course.  Cherington realized that the team had to move away from guys like Crawford and Beckett, and the clubhouse needed some fresh blood.  John Henry and co. weren’t gonna let Cherington spend an unlimited amount.  We all know that trade was great, and signing Cody Ross and getting Craig Breslow worked out well also.  But the Reddick trade definitely misfired, although he couldn’t have predicted an injury to Bailey, and the Bobby Valentine signing deserves to be on Cherington’s record forever, even if Valentine wasn’t the first choice.

2013

  • Signed Ryan Depmster (I started off with him to get the bad one out of the way early), Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew and David Ross.
  • Made a small trade for Mike Carp — I still have no idea who he traded for Carp and honestly it doesn’t matter enough for me to look it up
  • Traded Mike Aviles and others for John Farrell
  • Traded Mark Melancon and others to Pittsburgh for Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt as a throw in.

A++++++++++.  Nothing else needs to be said. Even the Melancon trade, which looked horrible in 2013 because they had sold low on Melancon and bought high on Hanrahan, has worked out because of Brock Holt.

2014:

  • Didn’t offer Saltalamacchia the $14.3 million qualifying offer and replaced him with AJ Pierzynski.
  • Let Ellsbury walk to the Bronx for an obscene price.
  • Botched the Lester negotiations in Spring Training, offering him $70 million over 4 years.
  • Then traded Lester and Gomes for Yeonis Cespedes once the team was done by July.
  • Traded John Lackey for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.
  • Traded Andrew Miller, who was an upcoming free agent just like Lester, for E Rod.
  • Signed Rusney Castillo for 6 years $72 million.

2015:

  • Signed Hanley and Pablo to huge contracts that have… um… not worked out so far.
  • Traded Cespedes for Porcello
  • Signed Justin Masterson and traded De la Rosa and Webster for Wade Miley.

And this is where it really makes sense that he’s gone.  Technically, he chose to not be GM anymore, but DOmbrowski was given more control of the actual baseball decisions and Cherington didn’t want a reduced role, which he seemed to deserve after these moves.  What I don’t get is how much emphasis the Red Sox put on guys who really wanted to play in Boston and really wanted to be part of a great team culture, which Cherington admitted the team tried to do in 2013, only to go against it in the following seasons.  Sign a bunch of buy low guys who loved playing here and cared a ton about the clubhouse environment and win a World Series because of it?  Great, now sign free agents who might not fit either in the clubhouse or on the field in terms of position, as with Hanley.

And Cherington should get wayyyy more blame than he does for the Lester signing.  I’d much rather have Lester than Pocello anyway.  Even when you get past age, team control, and cost, the Red Sox screwed up their dealings with lester massively, not once but twice.  Lester was willing to listen a year and a half ago to extension offers, but hung up the phone when they lowballed him right after coming off an amazing postseason performance from their ace.  Error 1.

And according to what Dustin Pedroia, Lester himself, and others have said, part of Lester’s decision to sign with the Cubs this offseason was about the fact that he had already played for another team.  Lester wanted to be the kind of guy who stayed with one franchise through thick and thin and only had 1 team on the back of his baseball card when he was done.  When they traded him, that lure was all gone, making it much easier for him to leave.  That’s been said, Pedrioa saying it the most explicitly in a few different mediums, which I can find for anyone who wants to see the proof.  (I remember Pedey saying it in an interview, and he was one of Lester’s closest friends, I just can’t remember exactly where.  But I’m more sure about it than I am sure that I hate the Yankees.) So Lester left because they traded him instead of riding out the season and re-signing him, indicating they didn’t know how their ace’s mind worked.  Error 2.

A few times, especially with Lester, it seemed like Cheringotn was trying to outsmart himself.  That’s the main negative that I’ll remember from his tenure.

But of course, that stretch in the 2013 offseason where he got so many useful guys who stepped up all season long, as well as manager John Farrell, deserves to be at the top of his legacy here in Boston.  Professional sports are about championships after all, and those moves he made brought us one.  So thanks for the memories, Ben Cherington.  I’m ok with it being time for you to go, but you brought us a title for which I’ll always be grateful.

Red Sox Are Cleaning House in the Front Office, Cherington’s Gone

After Lucchino was out, I can’t say I’m surprised by this, but the Red Sox have fired GM Ben Cherington and put in Dave Dombrowski as president.

John Henry, for all of his quirks, does understand that we don’t want occasional winners in Boston; we want perennial winners.  I give him credit for realizing that only 2 years after the team won the World Series, when so many front office execs or owners would still feel they were in a grace period.  He’s smart enough to realize that the team only has been a playoff team once in the last 6 seasons, and they got everything to break right for them in 2013 en route to a World Series.  If David Ortiz never hits that amazing grand slam and then the Sox lose in 5 or 6 to the Tigers, wouldn’t we have been hearing Ben Cherington’s and Larry Lucchino’s name on a much hotter hot seat for the past few months?  Regardless of what you think of this move, you have to respect John Henry for realizing that he can’t rest on the team’s successes, and doesn’t just say “3 World Series in 13 years” with Lucchino and keep him in place for that reason.

What I find really interesting is that Ben Cherington declined the offer from Dombrowski to stay as General Manager.  Maybe I’m assuming too much (I’m not), but it suggests that Cherington isn’t on the same page with how Henry is running the team now.

I’m gonna go into Cherington and Dombrowski more in depth when I have had time to look back at their moves with more detail, but for now, my gut reaction is that i’m ok with the move.  Dombrowski built the Tigers into a consistent winner, and I could never really follow Cherington’s moves since the magical 2013 season.  The Sox were way more about culture during that season and it worked perfectly, and then he went away from it, especially this past offseason.  I’m not enough of an idiot to believe that “clubhouse culture” makes a huge difference, but results do matter, and the results in any season other than 2013 have been subpar.  Maybe Lucchino or Henry were really pulling the strings with these moves that Cherington made that seemed to confuse me, but either way, they’ve cleaned house and there’s a new guy who deserves our respect out of the gate.

Belichick Has Made Some Peculiar Moves this Offseason

It’s blogs like these where I am very, very grateful that I am a fan of a team coached by Bill Belichick, because I don’t have to seriously doubt anything he does, even if the moves don’t make perfect sense to me. There are no incredibly dumb moves with BB. There’s no instance of hitting Brandon Workman in the 9th inning of a tied World Series game or playing Gregory Campbell 15 minutes when he can’t skate anymore. Every move Belichick makes, even with the ones that don’t work out like the Adalius Thomas signing or trading up for Chad Jackson, has logic behind it. Even when he inexplicably doesn’t call a timeout in the final minute of the Super Bowl to give the greatest QB ever a chance to tie the game, it turns out that he was playing chess while the rest of us were playing checkers.

And that all comforts me during an offseason like this one, or at least during parts of it. I’m not talking about letting Darrelle Revis go, because a team with no players and a ton of cap space (Jets) could simply pay way more than a team with a lot of players and a little cap space (Patriots), so that’s why he’s gone. No debate there, too bad Revis wouldn’t take a discount for the 2nd year in a row, whatever. But there are other moves in the secondary especially that make me question what Belichick has done. Not doubt. I’d never doubt what that man does with my favorite football team. But I do have some questions.

First, cutting Brandon Browner only a year after signing his contract seemed strange to me. It’s important to note that there’s no dead money now, which is key, but Browner signed a 3 year $16.8 million deal last year, and he would be making $5.5 mil on the cap this season. Belichick declined a $2M roster bonus before free agency, making him a free agent.

In a year when you lose Revis and every other corner left on the roster doesn’t have great size (to put it lightly), why cut the one guy who has size and can cover someone like Chris Matthews in the Super Bowl. Now, if the Pats’ cornerbacks are outmatched physically like they were in the desert in February, there’s no answer in the form of a much bigger DB.

And compounding the Browner move, Belichick cut Kyle Arrington, which wouldn’t have confused me at all save for the Browner move that he had already made. Part of the rationale for releasing Browner may be that the Pats are moving away from more man coverage and more into zone and nickel coverages. Makes sense, and it would explain cutting Browner for that reason. But then why cut the one guy on the roster who’s specifically a nickel corner?

I would not call myself a Kyle Arrington fan by any means, but as a nickel only, I like him. Any time he’s either on the outside of the opposing offense can force him to cover on the outside either before the snap or running wheel/deep routes, he’s done, as evidenced by Chris Matthews going HAM on him in the Super Bowl. But why not keep him as a nickel for another year?

Specifically, keeping Arrington for another year would make a lot more sense, in my opinion. Belichick only saved $1.375 million on the 2015 cap by cutting Arrington this summer, while he would have saved $3.5 million on the 2016 cap by cutting him next year. Combined with Browner move, I’m surprised that Belichick would cut Arrington, given that he could help with the defenses that the Pats are probably gonna use more often this year.

And last question, although this one is much lighter since we know even fewer details than with the Arrington or Browner situations, why let Dan Connolly just walk away and retire? Connolly was looking for a contract to keep playing, but the 33 year old decided to retire when he couldn’t get a deal from anyone, including the Pats. Maybe BB was willing to give him a minimum deal but Connolly wouldn’t come back for anything that low, but I’m just surprised we didn’t hear more about at least some effort on Belichick’s part to keep him, given that Connolly was a solid part of an offensive line that struggled mightily at times last year but was very good when it was solidified.

All in all though, these moves don’t really worry me, because our team’s coach is Bill Belichick. He knows how to coach each and every position and system in a time where most coaches are centered on only a few coaching skills, and he’s an accounting genius when it comes to the salary cap and the financial value of his players. So I’m not doubting him, only questioning moves that don’t make sense to me but probably make perfect sense to him. The only time I’ve doubted him in the past year was not calling a timeout before Malcolm Butler’s interception, and I learned my lesson.