Red Sox Return to Baseball’s Fall Classic

Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Pennants and Playoffs: The Boston Red Sox have clinched the American League East division title for the first time since 2007 and will make their first post-season appearance since 2009. At 95-62 (as of September 23rd) the Red Sox continue to hold the M-L-B’s best overall record as well as a league leading home record of 53-28.

The Sox also top the majors in nearly every batting statistic. Boston is in first place in total runs with 812 and slugging percentage with a .443 average, meanwhile the Sox rank second in the league for batting average with a .275 and on-base-percentage with a .348.

On a pitching end, Boston’s staff remains rock solid ranking in the top ten or higher in two of the four major statistical categories. Currently the Sox hurlers rank third in the league in quality starts with 94, eighth in the majors with a batting average against of .246, 11th in ERA with a 3.72, and 13th in WHIP posting a 1.29.

With just a few games left in the 2013 regular season, Manager John Farrell has been hard at work finalizing the 25 man roster for October play, so let’s take a look at who will likely make the cut, and what’s in store for the bearded beasts of the east.

Picture Courtesy of ESPN.com

Fall Ball: Here’s a rundown of what the Red Sox 25 man roster should look like once the playoffs begin: (roster information is accurate as of September 23rd according to 25manrosters.com)

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

C David Ross

C Ryan Lavarnway

DH David Ortiz

IF Dustin Pedroia

IF Mike Napoli

IF Stephen Drew

IF Will Middlebrooks

IF John McDonald

IF Brock Holt

IF Xander Bogaerts

OF Jacoby Ellsbury

OF Sahne Victorino

OF Jonny Gomes 

OF Daniel Nava

OF Mike Carp

OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

OF Quintin Berry

P Clay Bucholz

P Jon Lester

P Ryan Dempster

P John Lackey

P Jake Peavy

P Koji Uehara

P Junichi Tazawa

P Brandon Workman

P Allen Webster

P Franklin Morales

P Craig Breslow

P Matt Thornton

P Steven Wright

P Felix Doubront

P Rubby De La Rosa

P Brayan Villareal

P Drake Britton

The list above contains 36 players, meaning 11 of them will not make the cut. The obvious choices of Ortiz, Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, Ellsbury, Victorino, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Nava, Ross, and Carp come as no surprise to anyone. However, with Farrell wishing to carry 11 pitchers in to the post-season, (according to ESPN.com/Boston) who he deems worthy of the final two position-player spots will be interesting.

With De La Rosa, Wright, Britton, Villareal, Webster, and Doubront all likely being left out of Farrell’ 11 man pitching posse, and Holt, Snyder, and Lavarnway missing the positon-player party, this leaves four players fighting for those final two spots: Bradley Jr. vs. Berry and McDonald vs. Bogaerts.

As far as who Farrell will choose, this has yet to be determined, but it’s really just a matter of choosing which type of role player the Red Sox will need.

In the Bradley Jr. vs. Berry case, it’s quite simple, Farrell will pick Bradley Jr. because of his defensive skills and potential plate presence to sure up the outfiled, or go with Berry becasue of his base speed and glove work. Either way the Sox will have a solid player added to the 25-man roster.

Then in the case of McDonald vs. Bogaerts, Farrell has the choice between the more seasoned McDonald, or the up-and-coming Bogaerts who has turned heads with his defensive work on the left-side of the field. Again, like with Bradley Jr. vs. Berry, either way Farrell goes, Boston will have a deep depth chart on the left side of the plate defensively.

Picture Courtesy of boards.sportslogos.net

Final Thoughts:

Given the surprise success the Red Sox have had this season, it would not be farfetched to say that this year’s squad has what it takes to storm into the World Series and walk away as the winter classic champions. While the A-L competition will be fierce with the likes of the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers standing in their way, history may repeat itself this post-season.

The last time the Boston Red Sox won the A-L East (2007) they went on to win the World Series Sweeping the surprising N-L Pennant winning Colorado Rockies. How far do you think Boston will go this October? Leave a comment below.

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New Look to the NBA Landscape

Picture Courtesy of ranklogos.com

Out with the Old in with the New: It’s hard to believe, but in just two years time the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and many more long-time NBA veterans, will all be gone from the game. Yes, some of the leagues brightest stars will soon burn out by way of retirement.

This means the NBA’s landscape will look a bit different moving forward, and just as Doc Rivers was the first domino to fall in the C’s rebuilding scheme, so to is Dwight Howard’s decision this Friday for re-shaping the scene of league. For now, it’s still unclear exactly how the league will look moving forward. However, next year’s NBA off-season will provide all the answers to the burning questions from basketball fans everywhere.

It’s July 1st, 2014…and NBA superstars, stars, and role players alike hit up the free agency market harder than little kids do the local ice cream truck in the summer time. General Managers salivate of these sultry stars, the way a wild animal would over a piece of fresh meat. All at once these players leave their teams faster than horses out of the gates at the Kentucky Derby; for bigger endorsement deals, fatter contracts, and the chance to win a championship.

Sounds like an absolute free-for-all brawl between any and every team with a winner takes all result, right? Not exactly.

Yes, the free-agent-frenzy that will be the summer of 2014 will be an exciting one. However, most of those role players will be re-signed before they ever have a chance to change teams, and some of those stars will continue to shine above the skylines of their respective cities. Nevertheless, there will still be more than a few big names that could send shockwaves down the spine of the new look NBA. Here’s a list of some of the free agents who could shake things up during the summer of 2014:

(Note this is NOT a complete list of the 2014 NBA free agents. Also these scenarios are solely based on what if scenarios, NOT actual salary cap or contract numbers. Furthermore, some of the veterans mentioned in the opening of this post are also free agents and will be accounted for in the following fictitious rosters)

LeBron James will head a deep 2014 Free Agency Pool. Picture Courtesy of nb.si.com

Future Free Agents:

Point Guards                                         Shooting Guards 

Kyrie Irving                                                 Dwyane Wade

John Wall                                                 Thabo Sefolosha

Eric Bledsoe                                              Klay Thompson

Damian Lillard                                           Iman Shumpert

Small Forwards                                      Power Forwards

LeBron James                                         Amar’e Stoudemire

Carmelo Anthony                                        Zach Randolph

Danny Granger                                             Dirk Nowitzki

Kawhi Leonard                                               Pau Gasol

                                     Centers      

Chris Bosh

DeMarcus Cousins

Anderson Varejao

It was hard to determine an appropriate amount of team rosters to re-arrange for this post, but I settled on six. The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers will all likely have both the cap space and room on their rosters to make major moves. Let’s take a look at what some of their lineups could look like starting with the Heat:

The Heat Re-Sign Everyone                         Heat Re-Sign Big 3 + Kyrie Irving

PG Mario Chalmers                                          PG Kyrie Irving

SG Dwyane Wade                                            SG Dwyane Wade

SF LeBron James                                             SF LeBron James

PF Udonis Haslem                                            PF Udonis Haslem

C Chris Bosh                                                      C Chris Bosh

As you can see there isn’t really much that the Heat absolutely needs. However, if they could steal Irving away from Cleveland (oh how Dan Gilberts blood would boil) that’s about as good as it gets in South Beach.

For Tony Parker and Co. time is ticking. Picture Courtesy of nj.com

San Antonio Spurs

 Big 3 Stay On + Leonard                      Big 3 Retire, Sign Z-Bo, Leonard, Lillard

 

SG Danny Green/ Manu Ginobli                     SG Danny Green

SF Kawhi Leonard                                          SF Kawhi Leonard

PF Tim Duncan                                               PF Zach Randolph

C Tiago Splitter                                                C Tiago Splitter

While it will be sad to see the trio of Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli go, the Spurs will have to invest during the summer of 2014 if they wish to stay competitive in the west. Landing the likes of Z-Bo and Lillard, plus resigning Leonard would be a great start.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Re-Sign Sefolosha Stay Put                              Sign Thompson to Switch it Up

PG Russell Westbrook                                               PG Russell Westbrook

SG Thabo Sefolosha                                                 SG Klay Thompson

SF Kevin Durant                                                         SF Kevin Durant

PF Serge Ilbaka                                                           PF Serge Ilbaka

C Kendric Perkins                                                        C Kendrick Perkins

Like the Heat, the Thunder don’t need to tinker too much with their roster. However, OKC may choose to move Perkins and opt for other players or draft picks to help sure up what should be a very bright future. A Perkins trade could lead to the Thunder being bold and shifting Ilbaka to center and signing Dirk Nowitzki to give them a seasoned vet to go along with great young talent. However, I foresee Dirk retiring in Dallas at the end of the day.

Los Angeles Clippers

Stay Put, Add Role Players                                 Go Crazy Add Anthony, Bledsoe

PG Chris Paul                                                         PG Chris Paul

SG J.J. Redick                                                        SG Eric Bledsoe

SF Matt Barnes                                                       SF Carmelo Anthony

PF Blake Griffin                                                       PF Blake Griffin

C DeAndre Jordan                                                   C DeAndre Jordan

The Los Angeles Clippers are a few pieces away from having a title team on their hands. Maybe they add the likes of Anderson Varejao or a Danny Granger as I doubt Anthony will be willing to pack up and head west. It may, however, not be a bad idea to bring back Bledsoe if they can.

New York Knicks

Keep Melo/Amar’e, Add Irving                        Keep Melo/Amar’e/Shumpert Add Wall

PG Kyrie Irving                                                          PG John Wall

SG Pablo Prigioni                                                     SG Iman Shumpert

SF Carmelo Anthony                                                SF Carmelo Anthony

PF Amar’e Stoudemire                                             PF Amar’e Stoudemire

C Tyson Chandler                                                    C Tyson Chandler

For the New York Knicks, keeping Melo and Amar’e while adding either Irving or Wall would give them something they haven’t had in quite some time, a “true” point guard. Of course whether or not they would have the cap space to land all of the above.

The Bad news for Kobe, he only has a one or two good seasons left. The Good news is that he probably won’t have to put up with Howard any longer. Picture Courtesy of nydailynews.com

Los Angeles Lakers

Keep Kobe, Pau, Howard Add Bledsoe      Keep Kobe, Pau, Add Bledsoe, Cousins

PG Eric Bledsoe                                               PG Eric Bledsoe

SG Kobe Bryant                                               SG Kobe Bryant

SF Metta World Peace                                    SF Metta World Peace

PF Pau Gasol                                                  PF Pau Gasol

C Dwight Howard                                             C DeMarcus Cousins

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to lose D12 by this Friday, and will be lucky to squeeze another season out of Bryant after next year is through. However, LA may be able to add a few key players next off-season in the form of Bledsoe and Cousins if they are available. If nothing else the Lakers could rebuild around those two and role players.

Final Thoughts: Of course all of this is just a rough idea of the change to come in the NBA. Nevertheless, a new era of basketball is upon us, and whatever happens, it’s going to be big.

The 2013 Boston Red Sox are For Real

Believe in Boston: The Boston Red Sox have been nothing short of the “Real Deal” this season. At 50-34 (as of July 1st) and in first place atop the American League East by two-and a half games, Boston has been both surprising and sensational to say the least. The Sox went 6-4 to close out the month of June and look poised to have a strong finish to the first half of the season. So, for those of you Sox fans still waiting for the wheels to fall off…you can stop worrying about those wheels, and start enjoying the wins.

Shane Victorino getting mobbed by Big Papi and Co. after a walk off win against Toronto recently. Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Boston currently owns the third best record in the MLB and ranks first in both total runs (431) and on-base-percentage (.349), as well as second in batting average (.274) and slugging percentage (.444). Those numbers at the plate puts the Red Sox first overall in the MLB for team batting. Another impressive batting statistic for Boston, the Sox also rank first in the MLB for RBI with 420.

From a pitching end the Red Sox starters and bullpen rank among the middle of the pack in the MLB at 14th overall with a team ERA of 3.91. On a positive pitching note though, the Sox rank second in the MLB for strikeouts with 710.

Seeing Stars: With a well deserved All-Star break two weeks away, there are a few team members from Boston who will likely be spending that break in the “Big Apple”. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all receiving a good volume of votes to play at Citi Field on July 16th in New York for the 2013 All-Star Game.

As of July 1st “Big Papi” appears to be a lock to play for the American League All-Stars as their designated hitter with 4,398,197  votes already cast for Ortiz. Meanwhile, Pedroia ranks second in the voting polls for second base with 2,838,129 votes. Pedroia is currently behind New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano who has 3,974,322 votes. Worst case scenario, he makes the ASG as a reserve for the AL.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have been a big part of Boston’s success. The powerful pair will likely see playing time in the 2013 All-Star Game on July 16th at Citi Field in New York. Picture Courtesy of http://www.metro.us

As for Ellsbury, he’ll need a little bit more help in the voting polls. Only six outfielders can make the ASG roster for the AL. Ellsbury currently ranks eighth in the voting results with 1,751, 022 votes, ranking him behind Baltimore Orioles OF Nate Mclouth with  2,169,772 votes, and Texas Rangers OF Nelson Cruz who has 2,258,797 votes.

Honorable Mention: Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has pitched beautifully for Boston so far this season. In 12 starts Buchholz has posted a 9-0 win-loss record, a sparkling 1.71 ERA with a mere 1.02 WHIP, and 81 strike outs. Unfortunately, he is still on Boston’s 15-day disabled list with a sore trapezius muscle in his neck, as well as an inflammation in his pitching shoulder according to ESPN.com. Meaning he will likely be left out of this year’s ASG.
A Promising Pen: Despite Joel Hanrahan not working out the way the Red Sox had hoped, and Andrew Baily being demoted from closer to reliever…again, Boston’s bullpen has also seen it’s share of success.

Koji Uehara seems to be embracing his new role as the teams closer, and has earned four saves on the season so far. In 34 innings of work, Uehara has a respectable 2.12 ERA with a microscopic WHIP of 0.82, and 49 strikeouts. Meanwhile Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa have combined to become a nice 1-2 punch combo coming out of the bullpen for Boston.

Koji Uehara appears to be comfortable in his new role as the Red Sox closer. He already has four saves to his credit. Picture Courtesy of bigstory.ap.org

In 37 innings pitched, Tazawa has posted a solid 2.92 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts to go along with 15 holds. While Miller has a 2.64 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts with six holds.

Final Thoughts: Though the Red Sox still have two weeks and the entire second half of the schedule still to play, it would appear the stench of 2012 has been successfully washed away. So for now, enjoy the wins, watch what happens, and who knows, we may just wind up in the World Series.

How do you think the second half will go for the Sox? Should Boston make any moves before the trade deadline? Leave a comment below.

Boston’s Building Blocks: Back to Square One

It’s been one week…since the blockbuster draft day trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, and a slew of future draft picks was made. While that trade may not technically be official until July 10th, the Boston Celtics are officially back at square one.

Picture Courtesy of backpagelead.com

With Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett gone, all that remains of that 2008 NBA Finals title team is point guard Rajon Rondo. Just like that, an era is over. As the new era of Celtics basketball begins, let’s take a quick look at what is in store for Boston in the 2013-2014 season:

Likely Lineup:

PG: Rajon Rondo

SG: Courtney Lee

SF: Jeff Green

PF: Gerald Wallace

C: Kris Humphries

Sixth Man: Avery Bradley/Brandon Bass

Role Players: Jared Sullinger/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

Depth Chart:

PG: Rondo/Bradley

SG: Courtney Lee/MarShon Brooks/Jordan Crawford

SF: Jeff Green/Keith Bogans/Kris Joseph

PF: Gerald Wallace/Brandon Bass/Shavlik Randolph/DJ White

C: Kris Humphries/Jared Sullinger/Fab Melo

Head Coach: TBA

(Have to wait and see if draft picks Kelly Olynyk and Colt Iverson survive summer leagues before an accurate roster can truly be drawn up. Depth chart info is courtesy of hoopsworld.com)

Now that you have an idea of how the 2013-2014 roster is going to look, let’s see what the pros and cons are for the Celtics going forward:

Picture Courtesy of kobebeefnba.com

Pros

The Celtics still have Rondo, Green, Lee, Bass, and Bradley. All of whom have played together and won together.

The Celtics have young developing players in the form of Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, MarShon Brooks, and Kris Joseph.

Boston will have a pair of NBA veterans in Wallace and Bogans to help bring some experience to what will be a younger C’s squad.

Boston will have two first round draft picks in each of the next three NBA drafts, and more draft picks to use as potential trade sweeteners down the road.

Cons

The Celtics will have obvious chemistry issues with new guys like Wallace, Humphries, Joseph, and Brooks coming in.

It’s still not clear if Danny Ainge wants to make Rondo the center piece of the Celtics or trade him away and completely start from scratch.

The Celtics will most likely be looking to dump the higher dollar contracts Wallace (3yrs at $30million), Lee (3yrs at $16.4million), and Bass (2yrs at $13.4million) to make room in the salary cap to sign a few future free agents. (contract figures courtesy of ESPNBoston.com)

The Celtics are going to be without a “true” head coach for at least a season or two.

Final Thoughts: Granted, Boston would appear to be gearing up for a 2007-esque regular season in 2013-2014. However, before you start believing the Celtics future is bleak, remember that the very next season (2008) the C’s made a splash in the free agency and captured a championship. Boston may be back to square one right now, but all it takes is one or two moves from the front office to be back in business.

How do you see the 2013-2014 season playing out in Boston? Is Rondo next on Ainge’s trading block? Leave a comment below.

2013 NBA Draft: Celtics Choices

Picture Courtesy of tsbsports.net

Draft Day: After shipping Doc Rivers out west and being uncertain about the futures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Danny Ainge  has some big decisions to make, and soon. The decision making process will begin today. This evening, the 2013 NBA Draft will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Celtics have only one draft pick this year at number 16, so they’ll have to make it count.

Seeing as Pierce and Garnett may be out of the picture sooner rather than later, and given the string of injuries last year (Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Leandro Barbosa, and the list goes on), Boston will be in a rebuilding mode for a little while before they can get back to business (chasing banner number 18). To make matters worse, C’s fans looking for a quick fix in this year’s draft…can keep looking elsewhere.

There won’t be any superstar potential left by the time the C’s are on the clock. Honestly, after the first few picks, the star power won’t be shining nearly as brightly as it has in recent draft years. Nevertheless, what there will be at pick number 16 are a few role players that could ultimately help provide some depth on the roster. So, let’s take a look at who could be donning Celtics green in 2013-2014:

Miami (FL) Point Guard Shane Larkin will likely be the best fit for the Boston Celtics according to draftexpress.com and hoopsworld.com Picture courtesy of mlb.mlb.com

Potential Picks:

Shane Larkin Point Guard Miami (FL): Larkin will likely be Boston’s best option tonight. Larkin, you may remember, helped lead a Hot Miami Hurricanes team into the NCAA tournament a few months ago in March. Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals a game in 2012-2013 for Miami. Larkin would provide depth at the PG position once Rondo returns and Bradley stays healthy at the shooting guard spot. A downside to Larkin though, he is undersized at 5’11″/171 pounds.

Kelly Olynyk Center Gonzaga: Olynyk would certainly be a solid choice for the Celtics if he’s still available at pick number 16. Like Olynyk’s 7’0″ frame though, that’s a pretty big “if”. He’ll likely go higher to the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder (picking 12th) or the Utah Jazz (picking 14th). The big guy from Gonzaga was a key cog in the Zags stellar season in 2012-2013 he averaged 18.6 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.

Mason Plumlee Center Duke: Should Shane Larkin not be arouns by the time Boston picks, Plumlee may not be a bad pick. At 6’11″/238 pounds, Plumlee certainly has the size and skills to at least survive in the NBA. In 2012-2013 Plumlee averaged 17.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game for the Blue Devils. If nothing else, he would provide depth at the center position, something the C’s will need after Garnett is gone.

Giannis Adetokunbo Small Forward out of Greece: Averaged 7.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 2012-2013. At age 18 and 6’9″/196 pounds, Adetokunbo has the time and the potential to prove himself in the league. With his 6’9″ frame, Giannis has the size and the right skill set to earn a spot on the C’s roster for the 2013-2014 season, should he be chosen.

Picture Courtesy of cdn.turner.com

Final Thoughts: While the Celtics may be coach-less, they are certainly not hopeless. Though it will take time to rebuild, Boston will be back in business before we know it. Remember, there are always big moves to be made in the NBA (See Celtics 2008 for example) and anything can happen…or in the words of Garnett “Anything is Possible!!!”

Who would you draft? Should the Celtics make a big move this off-season? Who will be Boston’s next bench boss? Leave a comment below.

The Post Paul Pierce/K-G Era

Picture Courtesy of setevintecinco.blogspot.com

It’s the Summer of 2014…Danny Ainge sits in his comfy office chair smoking a Cuban cigar, attempting to do his best Red Auerbach impression. Papers are scattered on his desk listing the players who need to be cut and the available free agents left on the market to pick up. His phone lines are ringing like crazy, on the other end waits a number of teams looking to trade for Rajon Rondo and draft picks. He just lets them go to voicemail. He puts out his cigar, sinks his head into his hands, and lets out a breathe of concern.

A Few Months Earlier: The Boston Celtics have been knocked out of the NBA Playoffs in the first round yet again. Celtics great Paul Pierce retires from the NBA a few days later at the age of 36. A few weeks before Pierce’s announcement, Kevin Garnett publicly states he is retiring after the C’s season is over. Doc Rivers, who was coerced to coach for Boston for one more season, calls it’s quits a few days after Pierce, and just like that…an era is over.

October 2014: The 2014-2015 regular season is about to get underway for the Boston Celtics, it’s opening night at the TD Garden, but the seats aren’t quite as full as they normally would be, the Celtics are about to be introduced by the PA announcer, but something’s missing. The announcer goes through the starting lineup, but there’s no mention of Pierce or Garnett, and instead of Rivers, someone else is on the sideline going through the game-plan with the team before tip-off.

The referee brings the ball out to the middle of the court, lobs it up for the tip, and without a second thought, the post-Paul Pierce/K-G era has begun.

Picture Courtesy of celticshub.com

The Truth Hurts: The paragraphs above are not something straight out of a science fiction novel, they are harsh realities that will come to light over the next two seasons, maybe even sooner depending on how this year’s off-season goes. The fact is, Pierce, Garnett, and even Doc Rivers will all be gone at some point, between now and the 2014-2015 regular season.

How the Celtics will prepare for this post-Paul Pierce/K-G era has yet to be seen. Replacing the likes of Pierce, Garnett, and Rivers will be nearly impossible from a character standpoint. Pierce has been everything Boston could have ever wanted out of a player since the C’s drafted him back in 1998. Garnett has been a key cog in the Celtics machine since 2008. Rivers has coached the Celtics through the best of times and the worst of times.

Boston can however, draft or add players who will provide the kind of production that Pierce and Garnett have for so many seasons. As for the next bench boss of the Celtics, only time can tell who will fit the bill for Boston.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what the Celtics roster will likely look like in 2014-2015 (minus draft picks, free agent signings, and trades) in comparison to their current roster.

Current Roster (when fully healthy)

C Kevin Garnett, Chris Wilcox, Fab Melo

PF Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, D.J. White, Shavlik Randolph

SF Paul Pierce, Jeff Green

SG Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Jordan Crawford, Terrance Williams

PG Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jason Terry

2014-2015 Roster (some of the players listed above were removed due to the likelihood of being cut, Terrence Williams, Shavlik Randolph,  or potential retirement, Jason Terry.)

C ?, Fab Melo, Chris Wilcox,

PF Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, D.J. White

SF Jeff Green, ?

SG ?, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford,

PG Rajon Rondo (if he hasn’t been traded away), Avery Bradley

(The question marks above resemble open spots on the roster that can be filled by draft picks or free agent acquisitions/trades)

Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

As you can see there will certainly be a few holes to plug up by the time the 2014-2015 rolls around. Upon review of that potential depth chart, some might say the Celtics need to prepare for the future right now. However, good things come to those who wait. So, before you decide that selling the farm by trading away either Pierce, Garnett or Rondo right now is a simple solution, consider some of these 2014 free agents:

Point Guards

Kyrie Irving

John Wall

Eric Bledsoe

Kemba Walker

Damian Lillard

Shooting Guards

Dwayne Wade

Jamal Crawford

Thabo Sefolosha

Klay Thompson

MarShon Brooks

Small Forwards

LeBron James

Carmelo Anthony

Paul George

Rudy Gay

Khawi Leonard

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Power Forwards

Zach Randolph

Dirk Nowitzki

Tristan Thompson

Greg Monroe

Kenneth Faried

Centers

Chris Bosh

Demarcus Cousins

Andrew Bogut

Andre Drummond

Now I’m not saying that LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh are all going to take their talents to Beantown, nor am I saying that Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving will leave their respective cities to play for Boston.

Because let’s face it, James, Wade, and Bosh are going to continue to shine in South Beach for at least another five seasons. Furthermore, Anthony will probably lure someone like Irving to play alongside himself and Amare Stoudemire, creating a “Big 3 in the Big Apple”

However, once you eliminate those top tier free agents, what your left with is a list of mid to high level guys who can help the Celtics compete for a championship well after Pierce and Garnett leave.

Final Thoughts: “The Truth” is, sooner than we would all care to admit, two “Big Ticket” names are both inching closer and closer to retirement. In a fantasy world the Celtics would have a roster consisting of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Paul Pierce, and a few more Celtics greats every year. This, however, is the real world, and even the greats have to go at some point. A new era of Celtics basketball is on the horizon, one can only hope those running the front office are ready for it.

What should the C’s do? Who should they pursue once Pierce and Garnett are gone? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Update

The Boston Red Sox celebrating one of their 20 wins this season.
Picture Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Sensational Sox- After an absolutely astounding start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were swept over the weekend by the red hot Texas Rangers. Boston finished the month of April at 19-8 with the best record in the big leagues.

In this month of May though, things have not been so merry for the Sox, as they are 2-3 in their last five games. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what’s brought Boston to a 20-11 overall record thus far:

Pitcher Perfect- Ok, so some of the Sox pitching hasn’t exactly been perfect, but Clay Buchholz’ certainly has. Take a look at his April numbers: W/L Record: 6-0 ERA: 1.01 WHIP: 0.96 SO: 47. Buchholz is pitching like a man possessed, more importantly, it would seem he has finally tapped into that potential the Red Sox clubhouse saw in him a few seasons ago.

Jon Lester has also been a monster on the mound this year with a 4-0 record, a respectable ERA of 3.30, a WHIP of 1.17, and 40 SO. Anchored by both Lester and Buccholz, the Sox rotation finds itself ranked in the top ten in the majors at eighth overall.

Boston starting pitcher Clay Buchholz has been on fire this year for the Sox.
Picture Courtesy of usatoday.com

The Red Sox have a solid team ERA of 3.60 and rank second in the MLB in strikeouts with 287. Boston also ranks fourth overall in batting average against with a .233. While those numbers are impressive, the back end of the rotation and the bullpen need to improve if the Sox want those stats to stick around.

Side Note: I claimed before the season started that Boston’s bullpen would be a strength. Boy was I wrong…dead wrong. However, that’s not to say the pen hasn’t had bright spots in the form of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, (say both their names five times fast) but improvement is important moving forward this May.

Breaking Out The Bats: The Sox have been simply slugging the baseball so far this season. Boston ranks in the top five or higher in the MLB with a .269 team average (5th), 149 runs (5th), a .347 OBP (3rd), and a .443 SLG (3rd) which lands them fifth overall in team batting.

Newcomer Mike Napoli has had a big impact on Boston’s lineup this year. Nap is currently batting .268 with six home runs and ranks third in the majors with 31 RBI. Meanwhile, the regulars: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury, have all been contributing as usual.

Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (Left) high-fiving C Mike Napoli (Right). Both have had big bats for Boston this season.
Picture Courtesy of sports.inquirer.net

Ortiz is batting for a .440 average with four home runs and 17 RBI in 13 games this season. Pedroia is putting in another fine season batting .294 with 12 RBI and a team high .396 OBP. Ellsbury is batting .279 with 12 RBI and leads the team in hits with 38.

Also, second year stud Will Middlebrooks continues to shine as he is tied with Napoli for a team high six home runs and has 12 RBI on the year. Middlebrooks batting average of .195 could see improvement, but with “great power comes great responsibility”. The young-gun thirdbaseman just needs better plate discipline.

Side Note: Even more surprising than the Sox stellar start to the season, is the at-bats by Daniel Nava. Nava has spent the majority of his time with Boston as a platoon-type player in the outfield.

This season though, he has been one of the better bats in the lineup. Nava has posted a .286 average, which ranks him second for team average behind Pedroia. He also has five home runs with 19 RBI, which ranks him second in team RBI, right behind Napoli.

Final Thoughts: Despite the recent sweep by the Rangers, Boston remains in first place in the American League East with a game and a half lead over the New York Yankees. More importantly, it would appear after an amazing April, the Red Sox have put the past (2012) behind them and are playing towards a bright future. How do you feel about the Sox start? Where do you see room for improvement? Can they keep this up all season? Leave a comment below.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. : More Than Just A Moneymaker

It’s May 4th around 8:45pm at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. Down a gritty and grimy hallway are doors to a locker room. Inside sits a boxer on a bench with his trunks and shoes on, with a warm towel draped over his shoulders to help relieve a neck ache from the night before.

A pair of Dr. Dre Beats headphones are suffocating his eardrums with entertaining lyrics, rhythms, and rhymes. He doesn’t hear the music though, instead there’s a boxing match going on inside his head between his conscience and his will power. All he can hear are the voices of critics, fans, and other boxers calling him a punk, a chump, and a downright bum.

His eyes are closed, as he tries to block out the loud vicious voices of doubt and discrimination. The music from the headphones starts to return as background noise now, he breathes in as his will power delivers a haymaker to his conscience to send him collapsing to the canvas once more. On the breathe out his eyes open, the music cuts off as he removes the head phones.

He rises from the bench, puts on his promotional gear, and makes his way out to the ring. As the introductions are concluded and the first bell is about to sound, he looks around one final time to see the same thing he always has. Hundreds of thousands of eyes all watching and waiting to witness something they have never seen. They are all anticipating him to lose.

The Man in the Ring: Is none other than Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.

One of Boxing’s Best: This Saturday May 4th at 9pm Floyd Mayweather Jr. will face Robert Guerrero for the Welterweight title belt in Las Vegas. “Money” Mayweather will once again put his perfect record on the line in front of millions via the Pay-Per-View event that is simply being called “MayDay”.

At 43-0 with 26 KO’s in 43 fights within five different weight classes earning five title belts in all, Mayweather has established himself as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all-time. In fact, he is arguably one of the best boxers this generation of fans has ever seen put on a pair of gloves.

Mayweather has beaten every opponent thrown his way and has reeled in more money than any major sports athlete could ever dream to collect. For Mayweather though, its not all about making money, its about making history. With each win, he’s etching himself further into the boxing history books as one of the best boxers to step into the ring.

However, there has always been one opponent Mayweather has never been able to beat…the critic. Whether it has been fans, boxing experts, or other boxers themselves, “Money” has always been shortchanged by nearly everyone around him. During almost every fight for as far back as I can remember, most of the fans are paying to see one thing…Pretty Boy Floyd finally fall. This is what most fans ultimately want, to see what would seem to be the impossible.

Granted, Mayweather has had a few low-points outside of the ring in his personal life. However, this article will solely focus on his professional career.

The Pressure of Perfection: Floyd Mayweather Jr. has fought 43 times and has never lost a bout. Let me type that out for you again, he has boxed 43 times and he has NEVER lost a fight. Now sit back for a second and truly think about that statistic by itself. After you’ve thought about that, consider this: In every other major sport almost EVERY team or individual has lost at some point in their season or career.

To give you a few examples: the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls lost 10 games in their 72 win season. The 2007 New England Patriots lost in the Super Bowl after going 16-0 in the regular season to finish the year at 18-1.

Even some of greatest boxers to ever grace the sport with their gloves have lost a few fights.

The Almighty Muhammad Ali lost five fights in his career, Sugar Ray Robinson has one of the best boxing win-loss records of all-time with 179 wins, but even he lost 19 times. Jack Johnson, one of the first legends of the sport, won 73 bouts losing 13 as well. Even Willie Pep, the man with boxing most impressive record of 229 wins, lost a total of 11 times in his epic career.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not comparing Mayweather to the aforementioned boxers above, because that would be like comparing apples to oranges. However, his career could wind up being spoken in the same breath as some of those gentleman,much the way Rocky Marciano’s has been. Marciano finished his boxing career with an impressive 49-0 record.

When you consider those numbers, what “Money” Mayweather has done in his career can’t be claimed as chump change.

Final Thoughts: I tried to avoid bringing up Manny Pacquiao in this piece, but realized I’d only be telling half the story if I chose to ignore one of the biggest criticisms Mayweather has faced in recent years.

For the past few years a mega-match has been on again and off again between these two top pound-for-pound fighters.

While there have been rumors and speculation surrounding this mythical match each time, it means little to Mayweather’s career.

It will not matter if Mayweather never fights Pacquiao, because like those boxing greats I mentioned earlier, “Pacman” has also lost his share of bouts, four to be exact. Of those four losses, two of them account for his last two fights. In one of those bouts he lost the World Boxing Organization Welterweight title to Timothy Bradley, in the other he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. Mayweather won by unanimous decision against Marquez to earn his 40th win for his career back in 2009.

The only thing that should matter to Mayweather, is his upcoming fight. Because few boxers can say in their career, they were the one man that simply couldn’t be beaten. However, this won’t change the fact that this Saturday (May 4th) everyone will be watching and waiting to see the other guy win.

In Conclusion: While most will never deem him as one of the greats, he has undoubtedly done more than enough to earn the credit he deserves.  Whether you loathe him or love him, Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. is without question one of the best boxers we’ve seen in quite some time.

UFC 159: Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

Tale of the Tape:

This Saturday (April 27th) at 10pm UFC 159 will feature Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Chael Sonnen at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

“Bones” Jones is simply the best in the business right now when it to the light heavyweight division. Jones will be looking to stay on top of the UFC world with a decisive win over Sonnen.

Sonnen meanwhile, will be looking to save his UFC career against Jones, after he suffered two defeats at the hands, more or less knees, of Anderson “Spider” Silva in past Pay-Per-View events. Here’s a rundown of the fighters and what to expect from the Octagon:

“Bones” Jones: Country: USA Age: 25 Height: 6’4″ Weight: 205lbs Reach: 84.5 inches MMA Record: 17-1 TKO: 8 Submissions:Strength: Wrestling Stance: Unorthodox Striking Accuracy: 52% Takedown Defense: 100% Title Defenses: 5 Last 5 Fights: 5-0

Jones has become one of the dominate fighters in the UFC in just a few years time. “Bones” began his ascension to the top after defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the Light Heavyweight title in UFC 128 back in March of 2011.

That same year (2011) Jones would successfully defend his title against the likes of Quentin “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida, both by way of submission. Then in 2012, Jones again defended his belt twice with wins against Rashad Evans by unanimous decision, and Vitor Belfort by way of submission.

Jones’ resume is no doubt impressive. When you combine his unmatched ground game and his hard hitting Muay Thai fighting style, Jones would appear to be an unstoppable force in the UFC.

Chael Sonnen: Country: USA Age: 36 Height: 6’1″ Weight: 205lbs Reach: 73.5 inches MMA Record: 27-12-1 TKO: 7 Submissions: 4 Strength: Vale tudo/Wrestling Stance: Southpaw Title Shots: 3 Title Results: 0-3 ( 0-2 UFC, 0-1 in the WEC) Last 5 Fights: 3-2

While Sonnen has had success in his MMA career, his shortcomings in two title bouts with Silva has left the fighters career a bit stale. Sonnen who is known for his brash comments towards opponents, has actually applauded Jones and believes he is the best fighter in the light heavyweight division.

Given Sonnen’ track record of trash talking and then taking a beating, he’s wise for respecting Jones. Also, Sonnen will have two major disadvantages playing against him in this championship bout. His age (36) and overall weight class experience, will pose problems for Sonnen. According to bleacherreport.com. This will be his first light heavyweight fight since 2005.

Octagon Outcome:

While Jon “Bones” Jones will be tested early by Chael Sonnen with a few hard jabs and combinations, ultimately Jones will overpower Sonnen and silence him with deadly spinning elbows and his overall ground game. I have “Bones” Jones winning this bout by way of TKO in the 3rd round, as he successfully defends his title for a sixth time.

Final Thoughts: This is going to be a heavy hitting fight and will be a lot of fun to watch. Also, this main event features a solid undercard. The middleweight bout between Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher, and the heavyweight fight featuring Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo will be sure to entertain fans before the main event. The event will take place this Saturday (April 27th) with fights beginning at 10pm.

Throwback Thursday: Patriots Draft Tom Brady

A Tribute to Tom Terrific: 13…the number of years that have passed since the New England Patriots drafted Michigan Quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round pick number 199.

It’s hard to believe now that Brady was chosen so late in the draft, when you consider his body of work:

Three time Super Bowl champion (2001, 2003, 2004).

Two time Super Bowl MVP (2001, 2003).

Two time NFL MVP (2007, 2010).

Eight time pro bowler (2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

125 regular season wins and 17 post-season wins (2001-2012).

Helped the Patriots go undefeated (16-0) and broke the single-season record for touchdown passes in the same season with 50 (2007).

But before all the accolades, records, playoff appearances, and Super Bowl trips Brady was at the bottom of the barrel on Bill Belichick’ roster. Let’s recap how Brady began and review who went before him in that 2000 NFL Draft:

Brady began the 2000 NFL season ranked fourth on the depth chart and would only play in one game completing a lone pass for six yards.

But in 2001 Brady rose to second on the depth chart behind then starter Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe would suffer internal bleeding in an injury from a week two contest against the New York Jets.

Brady took over the reigns and from there would lead New England to the post-season winning 11 of the 14 games in which he started.

The Pats would defeat the Oakland Raiders in the infamous “tuck rule” game, by way of an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Brady threw for 314 yards in the blistering cold and snow to bring New England back from a 10-point deficit.

Then New England would go on to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game and would be led once more by Brady on Super Bowl Sunday to defeat the St. Louis Rams.

Brady led the game winning drive and spiked the ball with seven seconds left on the clock to set up another clutch kick for Adam Vinatieri. Brady won SBMVP honors with 145 yards passing and one touchdown. At the time, Brady was the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. The rest is simply history.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the players who were chosen ahead of Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft:

Patriots Picks in 2000:

2nd round pick number 46 OT Adrian Klemm

3rd round pick number 76 RB J.R. Redmond

4th round pick number 127 OT Greg Robinson-Randall

5th round pick number 141 TE Dave Stachelski

5th round pick number 161 DT Jeff Marriot

6th round pick number 187 CB Antwan Harris

Can you recall how those guys panned out for the Pats? If so, you may want to apply for Mel Kiper’ job at ESPN whenever he retires.

QB’s taken higher than Brady:

1st round pick number 18 Chad Pennington

3rd round pick number 65 Giovanni Carmazzi

3rd round pick number 75 Chris Redman

5th round pick number 163 Tee Martin

6th round pick number 168 Marc Bulger

6th round pick number 183 Spergon Wynn

Of the six quarterbacks above only Pennington and Bulger went on to have semi-successful NFL careers. Pennington of course was plagued by re-occurring shoulder injuries, and Bulger failed to lead the rams anywhere in almost a decade.

Redman only played in 30 regular seasons games in an eight year NFL career. Then there’s Wynn (10 career games in 2000-2001) and Martin, whose careers were very, very short lived (three games from 2001-2003). As for Carmazzi, he never played a game in the NFL.

Notable Players taken ahead of Brady

1st round pick number two LB LaVar Arrington

1st round pick number five RB Jamal Lewis

1st round pick number seven RB Thomas Jones

1st round pick number nine LB Brian Urlacher

1st round pick number 12 DE Shaun Ellis

1st round pick number 13 DE John Abraham

1st round pick number 14 TE Bubba Franks

1st round pick number 15 CB Deltha O’Neal

1st round pick number 16 LB Julian Peterson

1st round pick number 17 K Sebastian Janikowski

1st round pick number 19 RB Sean Alexander

1st round pick number 30 LB Keith Bulluck

2nd round pick number 44 T Chad Clifton

3rd round pick number 76 WR Laveraneus Coles

5th round pick number 142 P Shane Lechler

5th round pick number 149 DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila

5th round pick number 153 WR Dante Hall

6th round pick number 169 K Neil Rackers

6th round pick number 186 LB Adalius Thomas

Among all of those notable NFL players, only Brian Urlacher and Jamal Lewis have came within Tom Brady’ range of success. Brady has been regarded by many experts as one of the greatest draft picks of all-time, and when you look at his career numbers it’s not hard to see why.

Brady by the Numbers:

Career Stats:

Passing Yards: 44,806 (9th all-time).

Passing Touchdowns: 334 (5th all-time).

Passer Rating: 96.6 (3rd all-time).

Passes Completed: 3,798 (8th all-time).

Completion Percentage: 63.7% (9th all-time).

(fun fact: Chad Pennington, 2000-2010, ranks 1st all-time in Career Completion Percentage at 66.0%)

Post-season:

Passing Yards: 5,949 (1st all-time).

Passing Touchdowns: 42 (3rd all-time).

Passer Rating: 87.4 (12th all-time).

Passes Completed: 553 (1st all-time).

Completion Percentage: 62.3% (24th all-time)

When you couple those numbers with his championships, Brady is one of the best NFL draft success stories of all-time.

Final Thoughts: Brady’ contract extension of three years will keep him in Foxborough for what will likely be the remainder of his career. Meaning Tom gets to finish what he started all those years ago, when he was just a back-up quarterback above suspicion. Brady’ time in New England has certainly been nothing short of terrific.