Bruins 14th pick, Charlie McAvoy. (Photo courtesy of causewaycrowd.com)

The Bruins went into the 2016 NHL draft with relatively high expectations. With the Celtics head-scratching draft the night before stealing much of the attention of casual Boston sports fans, the B’s entered the draft with uncertainty around who would be available for their first selection at 14, as well as the constant rumors that Don Sweeney would acquire defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk or Cam Fowler. Similar to the C’s draft night, it seemed there would be at least one big move that would change the landscape of the team and give the fan base something they’ve been pleading for. At this moment, it’s safe to say that didn’t happen. Continue reading Bruins Draft: Good But Not Great »

Tags: , , , , , ,

1. Celtics Draft:

* A disaster – the picks from New Jersey turn out to be the most overblow coup in local sports history (next to Rusney Castillo of course)

* NBA Draftnet.com had the Celtics #3 #16 #23 ranked respectively 9 / 29 / 16

* They at best have added three wins to their team for next year – without Durant (and why would he come here) they are at best five years away from making the finals

2. Red Sox stuff:

* Chicago coaches should be fired for allowing the league’s leading hitter to beat you with Deven Marrero on deck and 13 career hits Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Draft Disaster, Best Record Doesn’t Work, Red Sox Better be Careful with Gatorade »

Tags: ,

The NHL draft is Friday night in Buffalo. Photo courtesy of sabrenoise.com

The Bruins hold two picks in this years 2016 NHL Draft, the 14th and 29th overall selections, and will be looking to add premier talent to a squad that doesn’t have much to brag about as of late. Much like last years draft, this class of eligible players is highlighted by multiple elite names at the top, including presumptive number one selection Auston Matthews, as well as forwards Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi. By the time the B’s select at 14, there won’t be a franchise player like Matthews available, however there will be numerous players that could prove to be valuable assets in the near-future. Here are seven skaters that could end up donning the spoked-B Friday evening.

  1. Jake Bean (Defenseman): Arguably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the entire draft, Bean left nobody questioning his talent level after he recorded the most goals for a defenseman in the Western Hockey League this past season with 24. Bean’s smooth skating ability and wicked wrist-shot are his best attributes and is regarded as a pure offensive D-man, but his defensive ability is suspect. This has me wondering if he is the best option for the Bruins as they need a defenseman who can actually play defense, and not another Torey Krug-esque player on the back-end.
  2. Clayton Keller (Center): Keller, the Swansea, ILL native and former U.S National Team Development Program standout is one of a few forwards on the smaller side in this draft. At 5’10”, Keller does everything you want as a center but teams are concerned his small stature will hinder his NHL play. He had a tremendous season earning 107 overall points and is committed to Boston University next fall. While I would approve of this pick, the Bruins are stockpiled with centers, therefore he simply might not have a spot on the club.
  3. Dante Fabbro (Defenseman): Regarded as a natural leader and shutdown defender, Fabbro may be the safest pick available for the B’s. His keen offensive instincts combined with his impressive D-zone coverage skills make him a perfect target for the Bruins desperate for solid two-way defenseman. My only knock towards Fabbro is that the competition he faced these past couple years has been sub-par. Instead of playing major junior hockey he played a tier below in Jr. A. This might end up being a non-factor but it I wouldn’t overlook it too much.
  4. Logan Brown (Forward): Brown isn’t a popular name popping up regarding this pick, however I have a feeling the obsession with big, intimidating players B’s management has may make him an option here. Brown is a 6’6″ center who plays a heavy game and has great vision. He posted respectable numbers in the Ontario Hockey League netting 74 total points and projects to be an all-around center in the NHL. I would keep an eye-out on this guy being an out-of-the-box selection for the Bruins.
  5.  Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman): Another rearguard with high offensive capabilities, McAvoy completed his freshman season playing for the Terriers of B.U. and the 18 year old may not have to travel far after his college days are over. He didn’t have the eye-popping numbers like Bean did but he isn’t that far below Bean’s overall game either. Obviously, McAvoy’s local roots make him an automatic favorite as the B’s love drafting close to home, yet I’m not certain McAvoy has enough defensive responsibility in his game to make this a home-run selection.
  6. Kieffer Bellows (Forward): Keller’s teammate on the U.S Under-18 team, Bellows didn’t accumulate as many points as Keller, but he did rack up 50 goals and was a constant scoring threat for the American squad. Bellows has a bit more size at 6’1″ however he doesn’t have as complete of a game as Keller. Also committed to B.U, Bellows could be the best available player for the Bruins at 14 and I’d have a hard time passing on a 50 goal man in the middle of the first round, especially since the B’s are starved for goal scoring forwards.

Player to Watch = Alex DeBrincat (Forward): The small, speedy winger was at the top of draft boards last year but injuries and worries about his 5’7″ frame pushed his stock to the end of the first round. If the B’s keep their 29th pick and nobody takes the undersized scorer, the Bruins should jump all over this guy.

The draft begins Friday night at 7pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.

Tags: , , ,

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

Throughout the season, the Red Sox have been very inconsistent with the catching and left field positions. In the beginning of the season, Blake Swihart was the starting catcher. Not too long after that he started to lose time to Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez. Soon after Vazquez was thrown into the mix, Swihart was not seen again at the catching position and was dropped down to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.

For the majority of the season, Vazquez has been the everyday catcher with Hanigan catching a game or two here and there. But on June 5th Hanigan suffered a neck strain and was put on the 15 day DL. So most recently we have seen Vazquez sharing time at catcher with Sandy Leon, who is batting 10 for 16 (.625) on the season. Vazquez has seen significantly more time than any other catcher the Sox have had this year, but I question this. Christian is batting only .221 this year but is a pretty good defensive catcher with a strong arm. I just question why with a guy like Leon who has been hitting very well when he gets in, doesn’t see a little more playing time. I understand he’s only had 16 at bats, but when a guy is that hot coming into his first at bats of the season, you usually keep him in and see what he can do.

The biggest question the Sox face is who is going to be their left fielder. I feel like every time I watch them there’s someone different in left. The Sox started the season with Brock Holt as their starting left fielder. He played pretty much every day in left and performing at an average rate. But when he suffered a concussion on May 20th, he was put on the DL and hasn’t returned since. Holt is recovering from a concussion slower than normally but concussions are taken much more seriously now a days since we know so much more about the dangers of them. Holt is currently rehabbing with the Paw Sox and he is batting 3 for 6, with two doubles in two games. His return date to the Red Sox is uncertain but I can imagine when he get’s back he will be thrown right back into the lineup to see how he performs.

Meanwhile, when Holt was gone, left field saw action from mainly two different players; Chris Young and Blake Swihart. When Swihart was sent down to the minors, he decided that his best chance at playing for the Red Sox would be to switch to outfield and compete for the left field spot. Being the athletic and quick player he is, he transformed himself into a surprisingly well outfielder. Him and Chris Young would split time with each other in left. But Swihart was placed n the 15 day DL when he severely sprained his ankle running into a wall. So this leaves Chris Young alone, who has been playing left almost every day for the Sox and performing fairly well. He is batting .282 on the season and has had some big hits for the Sox this season. He has turned himself into a guy that we could see as an everyday player in the outfield.

But the thing is, when Holt finally comes back the Sox are going to put him back in left to compete with Young. Which is fair because he lost his starting spot due to injury. However it is not a given that Brock will just get his starting spot back because he was only batting .239 at the time of his injury, so it’s going to be a battle between the two. And when Swihart returns from his injury, who knows what’s going to happen because he was also hitting and playing fairly well in left.

Now the problem I have with all of this is that many teams don’t play well when there’s constant changes to the starting lineup. Most teams have the same guys at the same positions for the majority of the games. The Red Sox seem to have a different lineup every night. Whether its the catcher, the left fielder, the second baseman, or Ortiz has a day off; its always different. Having too many changes to a lineup too often can screw up the flow or momentum of a team. I blame a good amount of losses to this problem. John Farrell has made many Sox fans angry this year with his questionable choices in just about any decision he makes. As the season goes on, Farrell needs to make up his mind of who his every day players are because playing musical chairs with these guys all year just isn’t going to work.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

LeBron James: A performance for the ages

After the Cavs were blown off the floor in game four, I along with the rest of the country had pronounced them dead. I had begun to write LeBron’s eulogy, complete with a bevy of excuses and narcissistic one-liners that he would have loved. I popped “The Godfather” in the DVD player and was prepared to watch it six times in succession as a tribute to LBJ’s willpower and mental fortitude. I even sent flowers to LeBron’s mom and step-dad, Delonte West.

The series was all but over. You could see it in the body language of every Cavs player. They were ready to throw in the towel and fire up the old LeBron excuse train. But then, the King finally lived up to his name. Kyrie got the party started with a tremendous individual performance in game five, and LeBron finally woke up and remembered that he is the single most unguardable player in the history of basketball.

No one, not even Air Jordan himself, has ever had a performance quite like King James had in these finals. I mean the guy led both teams in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks for the series for christ’s sake.

He carried the Cavs and the city of Cleveland to their first title in 52 years, and he did it against a team that was destined to be one of, if not thee greatest team of all-time. Of course, the epic comeback would not have been possible without one of the biggest collapses in the history of modern athletics. The Warriors were completely out of sync down the stretch last night, hoisting up horrible shots and hoping that Steph or Klay (The Trash Bros) would bail them out with a late prayer. Their third best player in Draymond Green outplayed both Steph and Klay for most of the series, and that can’t be the case if you want to beat a player of Bron Bron’s caliber on the big stage.

As much as I hate to say it, if LeBron cracked under pressure like Steph did in this series, the media would be absolutely DESTROYING him right now. That’s the price you pay when you build yourself up as one of the biggest front runners of all-time. When you lose, the blame falls squarely on your broad, freakishly muscular shoulders. But when you win, and dominate the way that LeBron did in this series, then all of the praise and credit if yours and yours alone.

Whatever narrative you want to write about LeBron and his career is now open for debate. The comparisons between he and Jordan that seemed all but dead just a few short months ago are now back on the table. That’s how impressive LBJ’s finals were.

So where does LeBron go from here? He did what he set out to do and won a championship for his city, and he did so as the best player on the floor by  wide, wide margin. Why stay? Cleveland is a dump to begin with and I’ve got to imagine that it’s burned to the ground after last night’s celebrations. Whatever he does, his legacy is now set in stone.

I hate you LeBron James, and I always will. Your pompous, self-absorbed demeanor will never allow me to truly respect your greatness. But finally, I can say without sarcasm, that I truly, truly respect you.

PS- Someone check on J.R. Smith. Like right now.

Tags: , , , , , ,

1. Red Sox:

* Red Sox announcers have to call out Jackie Bradley for dogging it out of the batter’s box on his triple

* Rusney Castillo and Panda have a combined 14 at bats at $29mm

* Possible All Stars, Steven Wright, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Bogaerts make a combined $2.3mm

* Average by month – June .278 / May .305 / April .281

2. Red Sox stuff:

* George Scott and Mike Greenwell had 38 triples Continue reading Connelly’s Top Ten: Sox Comps / Lacrosse Rich / Cam Shows Jumbo Joe »

Tags: ,

Ramirez misses 24% of pitches he swings at. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Last summer, more than a few Red Sox fans were more worried about Hanley Ramirez’s lackluster season in left field than they were about his mediocre season at the plate. This year, Hanley looks as though he was born to play first base, relieving pressure that surrounded that decision at the end of spring training.

However, Ramirez is beginning to worry casual fans and fanatics alike due to his hitting woes. Multiple articles have been published highlighting his struggles, including one from Matt Collins from Over the Monster, who writes: “The defense has been great, but it doesn’t mean a ton if the offense continues to struggle like this…we may be seeing a new Hanley Ramirez, and it’s not one any of us wanted to see”.

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported on the seventh, three figures that may be the main factors behind Ramirez’s “decline”. As he puts it: “His 52.5 percent ground-ball rate represents a career worst. He’s striking out more than ever (20.7 percent), and when he does take the bat off his shoulder, he’s swinging and missing 24 percent of the time — a drastic increase for a player who has never had a rate in excess of 19 percent”.

Certainly, Hanley has no room to breathe in Boston, and if he wishes to win the affection of the media circus that surrounds his baseball team, then the production has to increase quickly. Ramirez did smash a home run against the Orioles this past week, snapping a long ball drought that was well over a month long, and upping his total to five on the season.

If hearing that Hanley Ramirez only has five home runs at this point in the year didn’t make you cringe a little, then I’m not sure what will.

Tags: