Red Sox acquire reliever Brad Ziegler from Arizona (Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Dave Dombrowski has been in search of bullpen help as the August trade deadline fast approaches. Last night (or early this morning) the Red Sox acquired 36 year old righty Brad Ziegler from Arizona for prospects Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe. Ziegler will immediately help to stabilize a bullpen that has been teetering on the brink of implosion for months. Koji Uehara, while certainly effective at various times throughout the year, has been something of a “choose your own adventure” on the bump this season. You never know if you’re getting the dominant Koji we remember from 2013 who helped lead the Sox to a World Series title, or if you’re getting the guy we saw last night, giving up monster yabos to a less-than-stellar Rays lineup and nearly blowing a game that the Sox seemed to have in the bag. Junichi Tazawa, who has been an extremely valuable bullpen piece for the Sox over the past several seasons, has completely fallen off the rails this year. His ERA has ballooned since a solid start to the season, and he simply can no longer be relied upon in high leverage situations. Add in the fact that Carson Smith was lost earlier this year to Tommy John, and you begin to see why this move was imminent.

Ziegler will help to spell Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who has been dealing with some knee soreness in recent weeks. While Kimbrel certainly hasn’t been the dominant closer we all expected coming over from Atlanta in the offseason, he’s still the best relief pitcher on this staff by a wide margin. Dave Dombrowski didn’t bring Brad Ziegler in to take Craig Kimbrel’s job. The move is more of an “insurance policy” of sorts. Ziegler does an excellent job of pitching to contact, and he is a veteran reliever who is comfortable pitching in almost any situation. One of the biggest knocks on Kimbrel this year has been his inability to perform in non-save situations. Ziegler should help to remedy that issue, in addition to taking over the eighth inning role for Koji.

What really gets me excited about the Sox recent acquisitions is the idea that Red Sox front office is gearing up for bigger, better moves as the trade deadline draws closer. Getting a guy like Aaron Hill, who has been a terrific hitter at Fenway throughout his career (.308) to play third against lefties and give Pedroia the occasional day off at second was the first of what feels like many moves on the horizon for Dave Dombrowski and the Sox. Then Ziegler today, instantly fills another void.

In order to make the “big splashes” on the trade market, a savvy GM  first must take care of the leaks and crevices. Getting a big name pitcher the likes of Jose Fernandez of Chris Sale is of no value to the Sox if their bullpen is just going to give up the lead in the 7th or 8th. It’s now clear that the Sox are in it for the long haul, and that Dave Dombrowski has a few more tricks up his sleeve before the August 1st deadline.

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Kimbrel was selected to the 2016 ASG. Leon Halip (Getty Images)

Six Red Sox players were recently named to the All-Star team, with Dustin Pedroia currently on the outside looking in. Starting for the Red Sox in San Diego will be David Ortiz (DH), Xander Bogaerts (SS), Mookie Betts (OF), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF). Pitchers selected from the Red Sox include Steven Wright and Craig Kimbrel.

Five of the aforementioned names should have almost been shoo-ins. Ortiz, at 40, is hitting at an unbelievable rate. Bogaerts is clearly the best shortstop in the AL. Betts and Bradley Jr. have been impeccable in the outfield, and both are exceeding all expectations at the plate. Steven Wright’s ERA is 2.68, second in the AL.

But then there is one more name: Craig Kimbrel, who was acquired by the Red Sox for four prospects in the offseason. San Diego rightly touted him as the best closer in baseball, and at that point in time, it certainly seemed he was. When Boston brought him in, he was portrayed as a bullpen stabilizer and lock-down pitcher in the media.

When Kimbrel is called upon, who shows up on the mound might be based upon the score. From Scott Lauber (ESPN): “In save situations this season, Kimbrel has allowed nine hits and three walks in 18 2/3 innings, with 27 strikeouts and a 1.45 ERA. But in non-save situations, he has allowed 12 hits and 10 walks in 13 1/3 innings, with 21 strikeouts and a 6.75 ERA”.

These stats never shined brighter when Kimbrel faced the Rangers this week with a 3-2 Red Sox deficit. Kimbrel got zero outs, and gave up four runs, turning a potentially winnable game into an unwinnable one for the Red Sox, who are in dire need of wins.

So, is Kimbrel All-Star worthy? Is he worth the four prospects? Maybe. Some would argue that his 17 saves in 19 opportunities is respectable enough for a nod. But not many.

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1. Red Sox:

* Christian Vazquez will be captain of this team within two years

* Any fan who was still at the game in the 9th on Saturday night supporting the Red Sox down 19 runs should lose their right to drive

* Mookie Betts has the quickest hands I’ve ever seen at the plate

* Heard Jackie Bradley say the All Stars was special because of all the adversity he faced in his life – son of a major leaguer who was a stud from Little League on up – he doesn’t know what adversity is

2. Theo Epstein All Star game:

Responsible for the following players… Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Theo, Bruins Old Timers, Hull High School »

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Al Horford is coming to Boston (nbatitlechase.com)

This is what we came for baby! It’s all happening! Everything is awesome! It’s not a stretch to say that yesterday was the biggest day in the Groesbeck/Ainge/Stevens era in Boston. Danny was finally able to close that elusive big-name free agent, and Wyc was able to make good on his promise of “fireworks” that the fan base has been waiting on for what feels like centuries. Sure, $113 million over four years seems like a pretty penny, but with the money being thrown around this offseason and the huge cap increase on the horizon next season, Horford’s deal is actually somewhat of a bargain.

Horford’s game will fit seamlessly within the Brad Stevens system. He provides a much needed presence at the rim, and gives the C’s the go-to fourth quarter scoring option that they were sorely missing in last year’s playoffs. I cannot WAIT to see Isaiah and Horford running the pick and pop down the throats of the entire Eastern Conference come October.

By no means is Al Horford a perfect player, as evidence by his lackluster performance in the playoffs last season against these Celtics. He struggles defensively at times, particularly on the perimeter defending the pick and roll. The C’s team approach to defense should help to conceal some of Horford’s defensive deficiencies over the course of the season.

Hot damn, the Celtics are officially back. They finally landed a big name free-agent for the first time in the history of the franchise, (Go ahead look it up, I’ll wait) and they got a guy who WANTS to play in Boston. KD or not, this signing was a huge step in the right direction for this franchise. If TB12, Big Papi, and Julian Edleman have anything to do with it, Kevin Durant will be donning Celtic green next season in the city of champions. What a time to be a Celtics fan. What a time to be alive.

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Yesterday the Celtics had a meeting with Kevin Durant in the Hamptons. Tom Brady, the GOAT, was in attendance at the meeting to help Danny Ainge in the recruitment of Durant. Also David Ortiz would have been there to help but he was busy nuking baseballs into the stands at Fenway.

Kevin Durant needs to come to Boston. The Celts just signed All-Star Al Horford to a four year 113 million dollar deal, Isaiah Thomas is our point guard, Brad Stevens is the head coach, and the team is only improving. If Durant signs with Boston, they immediately become a contender for the NBA Finals. This new big three of Thomas, Horford, and Durant would be absurd. Three legitimate elite players on the same team would do some damage next season so it only makes sense for Kevin to play for the Celtics and he has to know that.

One thing I hope Kevin understands is just how praised he will be in Boston. Players in the NBA know that Boston fans are different. We’re the most passionate fans out there and we are always there supporting our team through the good and the ugly. Al Horford told his Dad that part of the reason he signed with the Celtics is because of the fans. He knows that when he steps foot on the hardwood in the Garden wearing that green jersey, everyone is going to go nuts for him. If Kevin Durant does the same, he will become loved beyond belief in Boston and I know that for a fact. And hey it’s Boston…who doesn’t love it here?

I don’t know what was said in Durant’s meeting with the Celtics but I do know one thing. Ainge most definitely told Durant that if he comes to Boston, he will become a Celtic legend, just like he told Isaiah. So please Kevin, make the right and best decision of your life and play for the best basketball franchise ever.

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1. Most runs scored by a pair of Red Sox in a season:

* 262 in 2016 – Bogaerts and Betts (projected)

* 260 in 1938 – Foxx and Vosmik

* 252 in 1941 – Williams and DiMaggio

2. Lebron:

Lebron can’t crack the top five in basketball Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Happy Birthday Boots! »

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Tom Brady/AP Image

With seventy-two days to go until the NFL season kicks off in Denver, Patriots fans have a right to be excited. Is it not exciting to be a die hard fan of one of the most potent teams, year in and year out? In such a weak division, the playoffs are usually a lock, and this year will be no different.

The most exciting offseason move for the Patriots thus far was the acquisition of Martellus Bennett, who himself stated that he was excited to play the role of Robin, as Gronk is already Batman.

Combined with Bennett, the Patriots also signed Chris Long and Nate Washington. Three veteran players who are excited to join a winning franchise could add up to a hefty sum of money, but not if you’re Bill Belichick-all three players combine for a salary cap hit of less than ten million dollars.

Continue reading Grading the Patriots’ Offseason »

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