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Posted on: June 22, 2009 5:26 pm
 

The Grass is Green-er with Lugo on the Bench

Nick Green has been a nice surprise this season with the injury to Jed Lowrie and the consistent subpar performance of Julio Lugo. Nick Green, a utility type player who is having what looks to be a career year for the Red Sox. I think it is possible that Green might have a hold on the job even when it is time for Lowrie to return. I have seen enough of Green to make me believe that he doesn’t hurt the team in the field and he can come up with big hits in key situations.

As for Julio Lugo, once Lowrie returns to the team he has to be taken off the roster somehow. It is hard to see where he will fit into the equation once Lowrie returns. So ultimately he must go. He is certainly not worth what he is being paid. And from what I see, It’s hard to see what the front office ever saw in him that made him a viable option. Watching him play is so agonizing, He is so mechanical in his fielding which makes it look like he has to think everything out as he does it. Lowrie and Green don’t seem to have that problem; they look much more natural when they field.

Nick Green’s walk-off versus the Braves yesterday seems like a seal on Lugo’s fate, albeit a symbolic seal. Green has been better than Lugo and has taken over the shortstop job. I hope he gets a legitimate shot against Lowrie too. I recall that in the spring reports from Ft. Myers said that Lugo and Lowrie were neck in neck for the starting job so where does that now put Green? In the Mix, that’s where.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 19, 2009 7:44 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2009 7:48 pm
 

The Matsuzaka Migraine: Hard to find relief

The Red Sox are in a great position heading into the All-Star break this year. They have an abundance of pitching both in the Bullpen and in the Starting rotation. That abundance has created a bit of a log jam however which has forced the Red Sox to go to a six man rotation. Depending on the effectiveness of John Smoltz upon his return, the Red Sox may have to make a trade or move someone out of the rotation. Most people seem to think that Brad Penny will be the one to depart via trade but I think that could be a mistake.

Watching Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch borders on nauseating, The man has to nibble and pick at the corners instead of challenging hitters. In prior seasons that tactic has been useful for him even if his starts only last five innings. This season however the numbers he is posting don’t favor that method of attacking hitters. I think it is really catching up with him after his first to campaigns which were relatively successful. Some will argue that those numbers are deceiving and they are but he still earned those wins and stats.

This season has been complicated by the World Baseball Classic which I feel may be a scapegoat for his subpar performance. I believe that Matsuzaka is overmatched in Major League Baseball, especially in the American league. In Japan and in World Baseball Classic competition, Daisuke is a masterful pitcher who is dominate because of the inferior level of competition he has to face. In MLB, he does not have that luxury. The hitters in MLB are the best in the world because if you can hit the scouts will find you. They are the best of the best and Daisuke cannot seem to handle it.


It is clear that nibbling is his best course of action after seeing him go after hitters in his past couple of starts. Those starts have established a pattern that if continued may lead to his removal from the starting rotation. That creates a problem because the Red Sox don’t have a ton of options when it comes to Daisuke. They can’t send him to the minors because it says they can’t in his contract. He has little trade value right now and he is too high of an investment to just give up on. He would be terrible out of the pen except in mop-up duty which doesn’t seem to happen a lot with the Red Sox unless they jump out to a huge lead.

Ideally, a five-man rotation is the way to go. And it is said that these things usually work themselves out but in this case not fast enough. The only possible way that I can see Daisuke coming out of the rotation is a disabled list stint. The team would have to convince him to go down to the minors or extended spring training to get right again. He has upside still and don’t expect the Red Sox to just give up on him. Penny may have a history of disappointing second halves of seasons but can it really be worse than the trend Daisuke is currently on. I would say: NO.

In a way I feel bad for Daisuke because the expectations were set way to high when he came here. I don’t know if it was the team, the media or the fans who generated all the hype. He is just a middle of the rotation pitcher and that might be all he can be. The media and the fans expect way too much from him but now he isn’t even fulfilling half the expectations set for him. It is hard to believe that he was fourth in Cy Young voting in 2008.

Time is running out for Daisuke Matsuzaka this season especially if Smoltz pitches well and if Buchholz is still applying pressure all the way from Pawtucket.

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 17, 2009 12:42 am
 

Making an immediate impact: '09 Rookies

Everyone knows that rookies can either be instant impact players, develop into impact players over time, or just be busts. Many say that you can only judge a draft after three years which I think is a good way to look at the drafting proccess. However, I think the following prospects will make an impact this season:

At Running Back there are three prospects that I believe will get a good oppurtunity for playing time and I think that two of the three have a chance to start immediatly. First, Knowshon Moreno is going to have a chance to step in and shoulder the load, at least he should. Denver has created a large stable of backs but he should be considered the favorite in my opinion or else selecting him so high might not have been worth it. The second Back is Chris Wells. The way I read the situation is that the Cardinals have a open oppurtunity in their backfield with the release of James and second year back Tim Hightower returning. And finally, LeSean McCoy has a chance to make an impact. His oppurtunity hinges on the health of Brian Westbrook, if the versatile back can't stay on the field McCoy may have the chance he needs to make a major contribution.

At Wide Reciever there are three recievers that will thrive this season, and Michael Crabtree isn't one of them because of the uncertainty at the 49er's QB position. I like Percy Harvin here because of his versatility and since the Vikings aren't strong at QB they must tap into that versatility via wildcat type formations. Also Jeremy Maclin is a position to get serious playing time since he is another weapon in the Philly offense to pair with DeSean Jackson. And finally the depth success is going to go to Hakeem Nicks because he will have to be put in because there simply aren't enough quality players in that recieving corps. I don't expect the one-catch-wonder, David Tyree (who still haunts me), to make any impact.

At Quarterback there are no prospects I see that will make an impact this coming season. I think there is one first round QB that will be very good eventually and that is Mark Sanchez. He will most likely be thrown to the wolves in his first season but he has a decent team around him so eventually I think he will start producing just not this season. Stafford will be a servicable QB but I think Sanchez will be better.

On defense there are several prospects who I think will succeed but rather than explain why I think Brian Orakpo, Aaron Curry, Malcolm Jenkins, Alphonso Smith and Rey Maualuga will succeed I'm going to let the homer in me out.

Two players who I think will have a great shot at major contributions this season for the Patriots are Patrick Chung and Darius Butler. Depth at saftey was a weakness with the retirement of Rodney Harrison but by drafting Patrick Chung they have a smart physical player who will fill part of the void left by Harrison. If he works his way into the starting lineup, I think he stays there. Butler's raw athletic ability will allow him to compete a possibly win a starting role in camp. Sure, he might not have the insticnts of a Samuel or a Law but he has the ability to make a great impact by the end of the season. I hope he starts this year considering he is the future at the position. However, that is the optimism of a Homer.

Category: NFL
Tags: Patriots, Rookies
 
Posted on: June 14, 2009 6:03 pm
 

The Great Debate: What happens to Vick?

The history concerning Michael Vick is clear and fresh in the minds of most NFL fans. And now since he is offically out of jail and has been given his release by the Falcons, he is free to find a new team pending his reinstatement into the NFL. Coming back to the league may be the biggest challenge to overcome for Vick since Roger Goodell has put a focus on player's personal conduct. Goodell will have to remain consistent in his rulings which means he will have to eventually allow Vick back into the league.

The real question is will anyone take the risk on Vick? 

It is true that he has paid his debt to society by serving his sentence so he should be given a chance to play in the NFL provided a team would take the risk. He will be a public relations nightmare for any team that is willing to take the chance on him. They have to deal with PETA and some fan backlash if they do indeed take the chance. Is he worth the aggrevation, in my opinion, no. A team that has a need for Vick will be getting a phenominal athelete but a subpar quarterback. Vick has also expressed that he wants to have a chance to start when he returns. Inserting Vick as a starter at this point in the offseason would be stupid and would set that particular team up for failure. In my estimation the only possible way he could succeed in the upcoming campaign would be as a wildcat threat/wide reciever/running back.

People are starting to patch together possible landing spots for Vick, mostly speculation. A rumor that seems to be getting the rounds is that Vick will be on his way to the Patriots. If he was a Patriot he would be utilized in a variety of ways that would take advantaged of his spectacular athletic ability. However, I don't see him ever suiting up for the Pats because there are several major roadblocks in the way. First, Vick wants to start which means that New England would be a last resort because he would have no shot at becoming the started. Second, Vick needs money and the Patriots wouldn't shell out the big bucks for him, if he plays in New England it would likely be for the Veteran minimum. And he probably would be better suited to look for work in the new USFL where he might cash in. Third, many have started to compare Vick to other troubled veterans that the Patriots have brought in but he really isn't the same. Corey Dillon and Randy Moss were talented players who had some issues with the law and were disgruntled with their situations with the teams they played for prior to joining the Patriots. Vick was also talented but he went to jail for killing innocent animals for no reason at all, he killed them as part of a sick and twisted hobby. Moss and Dillon could be considered punks and to some maybe even criminals (especially Dillon), but are they at the Vick level? I would say no.

Even if coach Belichick was seriously interested he would have to convince the Krafts to allow him to join the team. Remember these are the same owners who released Christian Peter because of the criminal background he had, only a month after drafting him. It is believed that Myra Kraft (Robert Kraft's wife) was the one who strongly objected to Peter being on the team. That raises the question: Will ownership allow a player, Vick, with such a history of cruelty to play for New England?
Category: NFL
Posted on: June 9, 2009 4:59 pm
 

Pats O-line- The Very Good Below Average Line

When it comes to the Patriots offensive line the analysis is varied and at times unfair to the reality that they are a decent line that looks better based on who they are blocking for.

Ever since the Super Bowl versus the Giants they have been considered a bad line which isn't entirely true. The Giants had a gameplan (which some call a "blueprint") to put enough pressure on the line to overwhelm them and eventually win the game. Yes, the line looked like a revolving door in that game. Until they proove otherwise they are going to continue to face the same criticism.

Then on the other hand prior to that game they were considered to be a very good line with All-Pros and Pro-Bowlers on it. I personally believe that some of those accolades were not deserved but they are a good group who is made better by playing with Tom Brady. Haters might say that he got injured so how good can they be? But they need to realize it was a RB who did not finish his block, not a lineman.

Brady's ability makes the line a good line because of his ability to slide in the pocket. Okay, in the Super Bowl that didn't happen but judging a player or group of players on one game is crazy. People need to look at the larger body of work. 

Some experts and fans call the Patriots offensive line a weakness but it really isn't a fatal flaw for the team. When it comes to this line they either are underrated or overrated there are seldom in between evaluations anymore. Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, and Nick Kazcur are a decent group. With the only potential major weakness being Kaczur. They have draft several lineman who they intend to develop for the future. I would give them a B grade. 
Posted on: June 9, 2009 2:58 pm
 

Twitter Changing the Way the Game is Covered

The current time we live in is a time of constant change when it comes to how we gather information. Twitter is relativly new and it seems to have really caught on and even pro sports is getting heavily involved with this new network. Twitter is loaded with fake pro-athele accounts but the ones that are real allow the everyday fan to get info instantly directly from the source. Is this continuing the death of the print media in this country? Yes, now even famous reporters and beat writers are covering teams via twitter. Even teams are taking advantage of twitter and streaming news directly to the fan base.

For example, The Patriots used their official twitter page to tweet directly from the draft room. The tweets often beat the official announcement in New York. Details on the Ellis Hobbs trade were accessible to fans long before the networks covering the draft had the info availible.

Even agents have twitter pages where they can report on their clients, I learned of Dan Morgan's retirement from twitter.

And even the entertainment from atheletes like Shaq provide a closer tie for fans to their favorite stars. 

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 7, 2009 2:17 am
 

Rajon Rondo and the Next Boston Massacre

I was a bit distressed to hear the rumor that the Celtics might be willing to trade Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to Phoenix. Thankfully multiple sources have said that is out of the question but it got me thinking. What if they were willing to trade Rondo? I think it would cause a fan revolt.

I can understand if the team would listen to offers for Ray Allen or actively seek a trade since he is in the final year of his deal. Rondo, however, is a completley different case. He is a young player who is still developing and is turning into a potetial superstar. He certainly steps up against elite point guards and rose to a new level in the playoffs. He was close to averaging a triple double in the playoffs. In addition, the offense is much different when he is in the game because of his up tempo style of play. I consider him the candidate to slide into the big 3 once Ray Allen leaves.

I was actually hoping that Ray Allen would re-sign after his deal is up at a discount because he has stated that he wants to end his career in Boston. If he wants to play past his current contract he would have to take a pay reduction anyway. This team can only get better if he comes back after his deal expires.

Plus, I think Danny Ainge realizes that if he traded Rondo, he would have an angry mob hunting him down. You can't just move a potential superstar who is a fan favorite and expect no backlash.
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:43 pm
 

Top Ten Patriots of all Time

I was watching NFL Network the other day and saw that their Top Ten show ran down the top ten Dallas Cowboys of all-time. Being a Patriots fan I realize that the NFL Network probably won't be running to do a Patriots Top ten anytime soon. Let's face it the Cowboys have had a ton of elite players and are one of the more historic franchises. The Patriots are in the Beginning stages of being historic and they have had their fair share of good players. So without further delay here are the top ten patriots of all time in my personal view. Coaches/Owners may be included.

10. Adam Vinatieri
9. Steve Grogan 
8. Troy Brown 
7. Tedy Bruschi
6. Robert Kraft
5. Gino Cappelletti
4. Andre Tippett
3. John Hannah
2. Bill Belichick
1. Tom Brady

Best of the Rest- Drew Bledsoe, Nick Buoniconti, Ben Coates, Stanley Morgan, Steve Nelson, and Ty Law.
Category: NFL
Tags: Patriots
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com