Carson Smith (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

The Red Sox made headlines early in the offseason with their blockbuster acquisition of All-World closer Craig Kimbrel, who basically makes a ninth inning lead an automatic win. There is no question that Kimbrel immediately stabilized what was one of the worst relief corps in the Majors last season, but another trade for a reliever could be just as important for the Red Sox. Sending Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to Seattle for Carson Smith and Roenis Elias will likely be almost as beneficial to the Red Sox bullpen as acquiring Kimbrel in an effort to shorten games.

It might have been easy to miss Smith’s brilliance on the West Coast last season, but he dominated from wire to wire and ended up closing games for the Mariners. He only ended up saving 13 games, but every other statistic was outstanding for Smith: strikeout rate (11.83 K/9), walk rate (2.83 BB/9), homerun rate (0.26 HR/9), average against (.192), ground ball rate (64.8%), ERA (2.31), FIP (2.12), and xFIP (2.36). All of this success occurred without a blazing fastball (90.5 average fastball, 92.5 average sinker), which lessens his reliance on the strikeout to be effective. Further, those numbers were achieved without any help in luck-based stats like BABIP allowed (.292) or strand rate (78.5%). This suggests that Smith’s outstanding performance in 2015 is repeatable, and that he can be a versatile setup ace in front of Kimbrel and Koji Uehara.

Continue reading Carson Smith Reshapes Red Sox Bullpen »

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In Dave Dombrowski We Trust

December 9, 2015 at 7:49pm in Featured, Opinion, Red Sox, Top Story
dombrowski gammons daily

Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Dave Dombrowski is the only cook we need. He has proven he has the trust of the owners. He has the experience and the proven track record to boot. Most importantly, though, is the trust, something Ben Cherington most likely never really had.

As a Red Sox fan, I sat back and watched Cherington, time after time, not pull the trigger on a player. I ultimately came to the conclusion that a committee comprised of owners and front office staff made all trades and acquisitions.

More people mean more opinions. Too many cooks left us finishing dead last in back-to-back seasons. Continue reading In Dave Dombrowski We Trust »

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The blocked punt for a touchdown at the end of the first half gave the Eagles all the momentum they needed to upset the defending Super Bowl Champions. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Losing twice in a row is not something we are accustomed to as fans of the New England Patriots. Since Bill Belichick has been the coach of the team they’ve only lost two games in a row 11 times, including Sunday’s game. It’s a luxury most teams in the NFL have not been afforded. When it happens in New England it’s easy to expect doom and gloom from all the talk shows because something must be wrong, right? The good news about Sunday’s game is that it can easily be chalked up to an anomaly.

– Let’s start off with that absolutely stupid fake, drop kick that they made Nate Ebner attempt. I definitely understand trying to practice these trick plays in real game scenarios which is why I was 100% in agreement with the onside kick against the Redskins. Obviously it’s easy to look at the onside kick against Washington with positive eyes since the play worked. Even if that play failed they were firing with a loaded gun on offense with Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Dion Lewis all healthy and playing. If the onside kick fails and the Redskins score, the Patriots still had their full offense to gain the points back. On Sunday they were playing without Lewis, Edelman, Gronk, and Amendola has been hobbled with a bum knee. What is the point to trying that play in that situation? The only thing it did was anger the Eagles for “disrespecting” them and it gave life to a team that was down 14-0, on the road, and has already shown a track record for giving up in the middle of games.  Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 13: Patriots Embarrass Themselves at Home, Lose to Eagles 35-28 »

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Bringing Cliff Lee to Boston

December 6, 2015 at 11:32am in Featured, Opinion, Red Sox, Top Story
Cliff Lee (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

If it seems like everyone has been recently caught up in the Red Sox’ signing of David Price to a megadeal from the free agent market, it’s because they have been. Rightfully so, Price’s acquisition completely transforms the look of the Red Sox rotation, especially at the top. While they are at it, the Red Sox could have another opportunity to upgrade the top of the starting rotation, albeit at a much lower cost of acquisition. Reports have come out that former Phillies ace Cliff Lee is planning on taking the mound in 2016, giving many teams an opportunity to pick up a high quality starter for bargain rates, compared to what else is available on the free agent market.

Continue reading Bringing Cliff Lee to Boston »

Rob Gronkowski narrowly escaped another major knee injury in Sunday's loss to the Broncos. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Now that we’ve all had a full 24 hours to digest the frustrating monstrosity that was Sunday Night Football, we can rationally examine the remains. While it was fun to imagine this team really sticking it to the whole league and going 16-0 everyone knew just how hard that task would be. Every team in the league has to deal with injuries and atrocious officiating every single week, but Sunday night was the culmination of a season of that frustration for the previously undefeated Patriots. After losing key offensive weapons three consecutive weeks in Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola, they narrowly escaped another major knee injury to Rob Gronkowski. The NFL referees have been astonishingly awful all season for every team but they really showed up to play for prime time. Unfortunately they were playing for the Broncos.

– It’s easy to write me off as biased and a homer for claiming the refs weren’t doing the Patriots any favors. However all it takes is a small semblance of a brain to realize the penalties called late in the game were a huge reason Sunday went the way it did. With just under 12 minutes to go in the third quarter and the Patriots up 21-14 Brady hit KeShawn Martin with a 51-yard bomb that was called back for holding on Tre Jackson. With just under five minutes to go in the game Brady hit Gronk on 3rd-and-5 for a 10-yard completion which was of course called back on Gronk’s fifth offensive pass interference call of the season. The holding on Jackson was borderline and the defender initiated the contact with Gronk, who never even extended his arm.  Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 12: Patriots Lose 1st Game in Frustrating Fashion; Broncos Win in OT 30-24 »

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Tom Brady couldn't overcome the mounting injuries or the referees as the Patriots' undefeated season came to a halt against the Denver Broncos. (ESPN)

It was all a mirage.

All the talk about another undefeated season for the New England Patriots was nothing more than an illusion propped up by a zero in the loss column, at least until Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos officially put an end to what was all but an impossibility anyway with a 30-24 overtime win at Mile High Stadium.

Now that the undefeated season has been undone, the comparisons to the 2007 Patriots can be put to bed, and the world can finally see this Patriots team for what it truly is: a flawed squad whose Super Bowl aspirations may have finally come back to reality thanks to a seemingly insurmountable rash of injuries. Continue reading Undefeated Mirage Gives Way to Reality of Flawed Patriots Team in OT Loss to Broncos »

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Hanley Ramirez (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sometimes in sports there exists a gap between what fans or analysts might hope or want a team to do with its roster and what that team actually does. One example involves the Red Sox and Hanley Ramirez. About halfway through the 2015 season it became apparent that Hanley was/is not interested in making himself better, and is generally not worth a major league roster spot. Many fans (myself included) are hoping to find a Hanley trade under the tree this holiday season, which is why it was so exciting to see the reports that Dave Bombrowski is actively shopping Hanley to other teams around the league.

Unfortunately trading Hanley is much easier said than done; his attitude and salary make it more difficult to find a willing taker. The Red Sox will likely need to decide between straight dumping Hanley for the sake of getting rid of him, and including more cash and/or players to get something decent in return. It seems like including more money to offset his salary is the smart play here, but it remains to be seen if a trade partner would be willing to give up anything of value for Hanley. The report above cites the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Angels as speculative fits at the moment, so lets take a quick look at what a deal could look like with any of those clubs (disclaimer: Hanley is still owed $66 million over the next three seasons, plus a vesting option for the 2019 season).

Continue reading There’s Hope for a Hanley Trade »

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