Friday, June 29, 2007

The Trade From Left Field

"I twisted it wrong just to make it right."

The NBA Draft has come and gone, and if your a Celtics fan, you have to appreciate what went down:

A. We got Ray Allen. Sure, he's coming off surgery on both his ankles, and yet I could care less. If this guy plays at 75%, he's a better pure shooter than anything the C's gave right now. Plus, Allen's rehab is going along as planned, meaning that he will be ready for training camp. Allen adds that scoring element the Celts were in desperate need of.

B. In terms of what we had to give up to get Allen, we made out pretty well. Wally never even got acclimated to his new team, and was a complete non-factor in the year and a half he played for the Green. Szczerbiak played only 32 games last year because guessed it, ankle problems. Jeff Green could turn out to be a nice role player, but he is nowhere close to being an All-Star anytime soon. The one piece the C's had to give up that was of any real value was Delonte West, because now you're officially handing the starting job to Rondo, and if he can't get the job done, there really isn't anyone else to come in and help out. West will be missed for that, and also, he was a guy who was totally unselfish and could do pretty much anything asked of him.

C. The trade was somewhat lob-sided to Seattle...that is before they also threw in the #35 overall pick in this year's draft. This was a nice little bonus that wasn't expected at all. So, with the #32 and #35 picks in a fairly deep draft, the Celts were able to draft two guys I had going in the first round. At 32, they get Gabe Pruitt, who likely will be Delonte's replacement in terms of a "combo" guard who can play both the point and two-guard. Pruitt comes out of Southern Cal as a junior, and in his final year, scored in double figures in 19 of 26 games he played, earning him a spot on the all Pac-10 team for the second year in a row. The biggest knock on him was that he may not be a pure point guard, which is fine considering he'll be asked to play both guard positions. At 35, the C's took Glen Davis from LSU. This is a very intriguing pick, because Davis has a ton of potential, but will his game translate to the NBA? Davis comes in at 6'9, 280 pounds...280. If there was a question that the Celts would draft a big guy in the draft, they were put to rest with that pick. Davis, along with Pruitt, was ranked in the top 25 of Chad Ford's final draft prospect rankings. In 2006, LSU made an incredible run to the Final Four that was spearheaded by Davis along with then-freshman Tyrus Thomas. Davis saw his minutes go up in each of his three years, and responded by averaging a double-double (17.7, 10.4) last year. Davis will be competing for minutes with Ryan Gomes, the incumbent power forward, and could also see some time at center.

D. With Ray Allen on the team, you now have one of the greatest name duos in the history of the sports. Ray Allen and Allan Ray on the same team...finally!

In all seriousness though, I am thrilled at what the Celts did last night. They get a veteran to compliment Pierce, they didn't have to give up too much, and were able to get two guys with first-round talent at the top of the second round. Also, they didn't draft Noah, so I can continue to root for this team. Did you see the kid's hair last night? I mean...are you serious? I'm sure David Stern, Mr. Dress Code, was loving that on the initial handshake. Anyway, judging from the reaction at the bar last night, there are going to be some folks who are skeptical about this trade, either because of their doubt in Allen or their desire to get Marion, or Garnett, or some other big name. All I can say is that I personally like it, and it's way too early to presume that Allen won't be effective. Let's just wait and see what happens when he's on the court with Pierce before we jump to any conclusions. Another telling sign was that this team is committed to Al Jefferson, which I personally applaud because Jefferson, at 22, has already shown he is a franchise guy, and once Paul Pierce moves on, this will be Jefferson's team. In every trade imaginable to get KG or Marion, it would involve the Celts giving up Big Al, and that was something they could not afford to do.

The Sox got swept up in Seattle, including losing two one-run games. This created some cause for concern. It's not bridge-jumping stuff, it's more eye-rolling stuff. First of all, why is Julio Lugo even playing? I mean what's the point? The guy needs a couple days off to just get away from everything, then see how he responds to that. I love how he threw a fit when he was pinch-hit for in the eleventh when the score was tied in the series finale. Where does he get off? The guy is hitting under .200, and with Cora, you have a guy who has been known to produce in clutch situations. Sure, Cora ended up grounding into a double play, but that was by far their best option at the time. I've been telling everyone all along that Lugo was not going to work, and now, we're three months into the year, and they need someone to pinch-hit for the guy because they have absolutely no confidence in Lugo's abilities. I know that they have been thinking that they Jed Lowrie, their shortstop prospect in AA, could potentially be trade bait in July, they had better think again, unless it involves getting another shortstop (Miguel Tejada anyone?). The other area of some concern has to be everyone outside Okajima and Papelbon in the bullpen. Timlin still cannot be trusted in games that are on the line, Piniero has been wildly inconsistent. Also, there are some definite question marks in terms of starting pitching. Schill is on the DL, and who knows if he'll be the same quality pitcher when he returns. Wakefield has been all over the place, and has given up more than three runs in six of his last eight starts. Then, there is the #5 starter saga. Kason Gabbard pitched well against the Braves, but followed that up with a horrific performance against Seattle, a game that the Sox valiantly fought back in, but were too far behind to complete the comeback. Six walks in 3 1/3 innings? In addition, Jon Lester had an awful start for Pawtucket, meaning his return to the rotation will probably be delayed again.

However, there is some good news, as Brendan Donnelly has been throwing long toss, and Manny Delcarmen has been the flame-thrower everyone envisioned him being. True, he did give up two runs against the M's, but hitters are only hitting .133 in his five appearances, and his fastball has hit 97 with movement. The sweep was tough to take, but consider the Sox have never done well in Seattle, and they return to Fenway to take on the lowly Rangers, so I'm expecting at least two of three there, while the Yanks are playing the A's at the Stadium over the weekend.

I was reading Sports Guy as I was writing this, and read over his Draft Diary. Apparently, I am in the minority that feels like this was a good trade for the Celts...oh well. I could be wrong, but I hope for my sake, and the sake of Celtic fans everywhere, that I'm not. Have a good weekend everyone. Peace.


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