Saturday, December 09, 2006

Inexplicable Things

"This isn't Russia is it?..."

So I feel bad about the last post, the playoff predictions. Obviously, that's something I should have written all of it at once. But anyway, let's move right along...

Ok, the Sox have made it official with the signings of Drew and Lugo. Again, this is shaping up to be one of the worst offseasons in the history of the Sox. Letting a guy like Trot walk away and then signing a primadonna for five years, and $70 million. That's inexplicable. That's going to be the hot word of this post...inexplicable. Anyway, so they sign Drew, then they sign Lugo for four years and a cool $36 million. $9 million a year for Lugo. Insert hot word here. It's simply baffling how the Sox continue to drive their team to being made purely due to "sabermetrics" and not character. When are they gonna learn? I'm thinking after we only get to 85 wins again this year, then maybe, just maybe, Theo and his nerd pals will figure out that championship teams are not made purely on stats and on payroll, they are made through connections in the clubhouse and played as a team. Then, they apparently are going to pass on Eric Gagne because they aren't willing to pay him $5 million guaranteed. Are you serious? Does anyone realize how much we paid Jason Johnson last year? ($3.5 million). What the hell are we doing? We have a team that seems to care very little about how much they spend, they need a closer, and this guy won the Cy Young three years ago. So he hasn't pitched in a while. They've taken much bigger risks before. Look at the Josh Beckett trade. Here was a guy who had never reached more than 200 innings in one season, and they were willing to part with the current Rookie of the Year and a promising pitcher, who threw a no-hitter this year, and also, were willing to eat Mike Lowell's monsterous contract. Interesting note about Lowell: He had a clause in his contract with the Marlins that stated that if a new stadium for the Marlins failed, he would have the right to file for free agency or exercise a player option worth $14 million, but, in order to waive this, the Marlins guaranteed his contract through the 2007 season. So, Lowell will be owed $9 million this year, and this is thankfully his last year under contract. So, anyway, back to Gagne. Although there is not a lot of proof to say that he is the pitcher he once was, he, nevertheless, has tremendous upside, and if you can get him at 80%, he's still a very effective closer, and $6 million, in this day in age, doesn't appear to be that much. So now it appears he will either be going to Cleveland or Texas. Cleveland has done a great job stabilizing its bullpen already by adding Joe Borowski, so, if they are able to get Gagne, they will have a very formidable one-two punch at the back-end of the 'pen.

So now the Sox will be looking at trade possibilities for a closer. Chad Cordero has been a name thrown out there. Apparently, Bowden has some fascination with Wily Mo Pena from their days in Cincinnati, but it remains to be seen if Wily Mo will be enough to land Cordero, who has been extremely underrated due to the fact he has played with the lowly Expos/Nationals franchise. Bowden has also made a lot of interesting moves in both his tenures (Griffey comes to mind, then again, you couldn't have possibly seen that coming). If the Sox do get Cordero, they will once again have a solid bullpen, with the young dogs now one year older and wiser. Look for Craig Hansen to be molded into the 8th inning man, as Mike Timlin is most likely in his final year in baseball. Manny Declarmen will be a force this year. Also, watch out for Okajima. No one really knows about this guy, but all things coming out of Japan have been positive, and if this is the case, the Sox got a pretty good bargain at $1.25 million a year.

Pats have a huge game this week against the Dolphins, who have riding pretty good as of late. Funny how Daunte Culpepper is basically destined for obscurity after the Vikings traded Moss, and then later, traded Culpepper himself to the 'Fins. Miami was excited that they were getting Culpepper at nearly full health for just a second round pick. That trade is now a laugher for the Vikings. Culpepper was miserable his first couple of games before being sidelined indefinitely after a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 4. Moss has also not been the same since his relocation to Oakland, as the Raiders have been struggling mightily with their passing game ever since, gulp, Rich Gannon was at the helm. Meanwhile, the Vikings are playoff contenders, and the other two, well, not so much. Back to the Dolphins. Joey Harrington has injected some new blood into the Miami offense, getting four straight wins until their loss last week to Jacksonville. A lot of credit has to be given to the Dolphin defense, who have played phenomenally. With the mainstays like Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor playing at their usual all-pro level, and the emergence of Channing Crowder, along with Vonnie Holliday, who is having a breakthrough year, they have been able to record the 6th best defense in the league. The key to the game, as it seemingly is for every game, is turnover margin, which has plagued the Pats this year. Although they come into this game with a +4 margin, they have been very shaky against quality defenses so far (Denver especially). Look for Brady to have no more than around 30 pass attempts, as I feel like the Pats will be looking to challenge the front seven and keep the ball on the ground. However, if Maroney is unable to go for them, you can throw that strategy right out the window. They must establish the run to set up the little screen passes that will exploit an over-anxious defense. Their secondary, for the most part, is weak. So if the Pats can get a ground game going, they will be able to put up a lot of points on the defense. Also, the Pats have got to blitz Harrington. They will be playing without Ronnie Brown, so look for a lot of zone blitzing and safety blitzes to try and confuse Harrington. In the end, they should win this game going away, but they have to execute, which, at times this year, has been anything but easy.

And now, my weekly feature. Houston Texans, this is your life:

Mario: 2 tackles, 1 pass deflection
Reggie: 10 rushes, 37 yards, 3TDs; 9 receptions, 131 yards, TD; 1 punt return, 4 yards...

I could be really mean and throw in Vince Young, but I think the Texans are facing the facts that they ended their franchise's chance of winning...well, anything by executing the "Sam Bowie" pick of my generation...dumb.

Bruins caught fire, and now, well, not so much. And that's all I have to say about that.

Celts are struggling big time...real big. AI has just demanded a trade from Philly, but will the Celts attempt to make a move? Nope. Unless they move Telfair and Delonte West in the deal, they will have way too many guards on the team. Hopefully we don't become the Boston Knicks. Perk is sidelined for up to four weeks with Plantar fasciaitis (???), and that means that Big Al will be playing in the 5-hole. This is a big step for him, as he has not been reliable in the past when playing in the post. The Celts need a big man real bad, so if they do pull an Iverson trade, it may lead to some success in the short-run, but you have to be worried about the long-term of this team. Ever since losing the Tim Duncan lottery, they have not been able to find anyone to take over down low, and it has been that way since the Chief retired. For a team that won a lot of championships with some outstanding big men (Russell, Cowens, Parish), this has not been a good look for the Celts. Way too small to be competing in this league.

So that's it for now. Enjoy your weekend everyone. Peace.


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