Recapping Sale, Bogaerts Extensions

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The Red Sox have started off their 2019 regular season with a huge off field splash. Boston began the season by signing their star pitcher, Chris Sale, to a five year extension worth 145 million dollars. However, Boston’s general manager, Dave Dombrowski did not stop there, news broke late yesterday that the team had agreed on a contract extension with former all-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The Bogaerts extension totals 120 million dollars over the next six years and features a player opt out after 2022. Both extensions do not take effect until after the 2019 season, which means Bogaerts will be on the books this year for his 12 million base salary and Sale will account for a 15 million dollar base salary.

I love these contract extensions from a business perspective as well as from a fan perspective for the Red Sox. The Bogaerts deal is an amazing steal for Boston considering the 10 year 300 million dollar contract fellow shortstop Manny Machado got this past offseason. While Bogaerts has been somewhat inconsistent during his time in Boston, much of that has to do with injury and coaching. Last season, Bogaerts flourished under new manager Alex Cora finishing with the most home runs of his career and winning his second World Series title. In addition to great production last season, Bogaerts has always been a great clubhouse guy and leader for the team. Signing Bogaerts to a deal that will pay him 10 million fewer dollars on an average yearly basis than Machado, is amazing value for the Red Sox as they continue to keep their young core of stars together.

Like Bogaerts, ace Chris Sale signed a similar extension that will take effect in 2020 and will pay him around 30 million dollars per season (average value for a player of his talent). Admittedly, signing Sale to a five year extension is a bit of a risk for the Red Sox as Sale is already 30 years old. In addition to his age, Sale has a strong history of fading late in the season and is coming off a somewhat significant shoulder injury that caused him to miss almost all of last August and limited him throughout the postseason. However, when healthy, Sale is a Cy Young candidate and arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Production is a huge reason why Boston extended their ace, but I also credit Sale’s mentality as a reason for his extension. Sale is an absolute madman when it comes to competition and his toughness as well as attitude sets a precedent for the entire team. As a fan, I will always remember the seventh inning of Game 4 during last year’s World Series when we all saw Sale screaming at the entire dugout while Boston was down 4-0. The scene sparked a Red Sox rally and Boston came back to win the game with a final score of 9-6. An example of Sale’s toughness was on display last postseason when Sale gutted through a bad shoulder injury and refused to sit out during any stretch of Boston’s title run. Sale is clearly the top dog and main leader of the Red Sox clubhouse and I have absolutely no issue with over extending a player that means as much as he does to the Red Sox team attitude.

As I said earlier, I love both of these extensions for the Red Sox and have no issue with either deal. However, both extensions make me wonder about Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. While Boston will have some big contracts coming off the books after 2019 such as Rick Porcello (21.12 million) and Pablo Sandoval (18.445 million) the Red Sox may still face financial issues if they try to bring both Betts and Martinez back. Martinez has a player option after this season and if he has another season like he did last year, he will certainly opt out in hopes of signing a bigger deal worth more than his current 23.750 million base salary. Betts has one more season of arbitration until he hits free agency and thus far he has been unwilling to sign a long term extension with Boston. Betts likely is waiting for a deal that would pay him around 39 million per year and rival Trout’s contract that he signed this offseason. The Red Sox would not be able to pay Betts that amount of money without letting several role players and maybe a star or two, walk away. Given Boston’s lack of prospects to fill those roles, signing Betts to a Trout level deal likely is not an option. If Betts and Boston are unable to workout a reasonable contract for both sides, I fully expect Dave Dombrowski to workout a trade that would deal Betts away to replenish their farm system. The harsh reality of this situation looks to be coming to a one or the other choice between Betts and Martinez that the Red Sox will be forced to make in the next year.

 

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Fat, Barbados Bill, Signs Crew Of Jabronis

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I need to start off this blog by clearly stating the facts. Through two days of NFL free agency, the Patriots have made absolutely no effort to improve their biggest offensive needs. As of today, New England’s wide receiver depth chart includes Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, Bruce Ellington, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Matt Slater, Maurice Harris, Damon Patterson and possibly Josh Gordon. This lineup disgusts me, the fact that Belichick has thus far built this team to have a starting receiver lineup of Edelman and Dorsett on the outside while likely having Harris and Berrios split time in the slot is a very arrogant plan. Aside from Edelman, the entire receiver depth chart is filled with scrubs, an unreliable drug addict and a player in Dorsett that for some reason has been unable to work his way into the famous “Brady circle of trust.” To make matters that much worse, according to multiple reports, the Patriots went after as well as struck out on Golden Tate, Adam Humphries and Cole Beasley. Possibly the most embarrassing of the three situations was how Bill and the Patriots got completely debagged while attempting to sign Adam Humphries. It was initially reported that the Tennessee Titans, who Humphries ultamately signed with, simply outbid the Patriots for the slot receiver. However, today reports came out that New England was in fact outbid, but were late to the entire process of attempting to sign Humphries. The Patriots began negotiations by offering Humphries a low deal and were outbid by the Titans. New England then later swooped in with an offer that would have paid Humphries around ten million dollars a year rather than nine, but it was too late. Humphries basically confirmed these reports today in his introductory press conference when he said “He was a man of his word” and would honor the verbal agreement he made with Tennessee before the Patriots’ final contract offer. This situation makes the Patriots look cheap, lazy and frankly, like an organization who has not won six Super Bowls. Belichick and his team of personnel executives better plan to use some of their draft capital to make a trade for some sort of talented receiver in the coming months because this squad of misfit, NFL rejects simply will not get the job done for New England’s offense. Especially if Rob Gronkowski decides to step away from football.

Defensively, I actually do not mind some of the Patriots’ acquisitions and retentions. They re-signed defensive end John Simon and cornerback Jason McCourty. Simon’s deal is a two year contract that will pay him a little over three million per season and McCourty signed another two year deal that will pay him five million per season. I love the Simon contract and the Patriots managed to get huge value out of the mid season pick up. He is now here on short money and should see a good amount of impactful playing time. McCourty proved himself to be a good number two corner last season and while I think this contract is a bit of an overpay given his age, McCourty is a versatile, smart football player that works well within New England’s defense. Along with keeping some of their own, the Patriots brought in defensive lineman Mike Pennel, defensive lineman Michael Bennett via trade, safety Terrence Brooks, running back Brandon Bolden and tight end Matt LaCosse. Personally, Pennel is the only free agent signing I really think may have a chance at making an impact this coming season. Pennel is listed at 6’4 while weighing 332 pounds and is a prototypical Belichick run stuffing defensive tackle. Pennel will help with the loss of Malcom Brown and Pro Football Focus ranked Pennel as the second best interior defensive lineman among AFC East players behind only Patriots’ defender Lawrence Guy. The Bennett trade is a great move as the Patriots got him for nearly nothing and  he will offer a lot of versatility and quality play as the team tries to replace Trey Flowers.

As for some of the other players the Patriots signed today, I am sick of this team wasting cap dollars on “core special teamers.” Both Brooks as well as Bolden were signed with the intention of helping boost New England’s special teams play. Part of the Patriots’ lack of cap space this year has a lot to do with overpaying special teams players instead of drafting scrubs in the later draft rounds to fill the role. One example of this, safety Nate Ebner, who by the way should not be classified as a positional player as he almost never steps foot onto the field unless there is a kick, has a cap hit this season of about 2.8 million dollars. A 6th round rookie could fill Ebner’s role while having a cap hit of around half a million dollars.

The bottom line is this, yes I realize how successful Bill’s system has been for going on twenty years, but that does not mean he is immune to criticism. New England scored a mere 13 points in last season’s Super Bowl and anyone who does not recognize the fact that this team needs more talented receivers as well as likely another competent tight end, is stupid and a complete homer. Bill is not God, the greatest coach in NFL history he may be, but his General Manager skills leave a lot to be desired. Lets not forget that since 2014, Bill has drafted worse than the Cleveland Browns and created a huge cap problem within the Patriots organization. However, I also can not forget the fact that since 2014, New England has been to four Super Bowls and won three. Of course, Belichick will likely again cover up his poor personnel decisions with his historic coaching ability and lead the Patriots back to the playoffs this upcoming season. Nonetheless, while the rest of you pleasure yourselves to the “brilliance of Belichick” I will remind you of how Belichick often creates these situations on his own and is the man at fault for why New England even has roster issues to coach around to begin with.  

Teams Should Second Guess D.K. Metcalf

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Last weekend, Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf lit up social media with his performance at the NFL combine. Metcalf posted huge numbers in the 40 yard dash (4.33), vertical leap (40.5”) and broad jump (134”) drills. Metcalf is, without a doubt, one of the most explosive athletes the combine has ever seen and people instantly fell in love with the 6’3 228 pound prospect. However, while every twitter junkie and casual football fan had dubbed Metcalf as the next Julio Jones, I am calling bullshit on those projections.

The most important combine test that nearly no one is talking about is the 3 cone drill or “L drill.” The 3 cone is designed to measure the agility, quickness, flexibility, change of direction and body control of an athlete. This drill is especially important for receivers and many scouts put strong emphasis on this drill due to how well it correlates with route running ability. Despite Metcalf having a phenomenal 40 yard dash time, Metcalf had a terrible 3 cone time of 7.38. For context, Tom Brady ran a 7.2 second 3 cone and beat out Metcalf by a significant margin. In addition, all of the NFL’s top tier receivers boast good, if not great, 3 cone times.

Receiver 3 Cone Time (Seconds)
Julio Jones 6.66
Tyreek Hill 6.53
Amari Cooper 6.71
Michael Thomas 6.80
JuJu Smith Schuster 6.93
Adam Thielen 6.77
Odell Beckham Jr. 6.69
Antonio Brown 6.98
Brandin Cooks 6.76
Deandre Hopkins 6.83

In addition to this chart, this season’s Super Bowl MVP, wideout Julian Edelman, posted a fantastic 3 cone time of 6.62 and is perhaps one of the best route runners as well as one of the toughest receivers to cover in football. The simple fact is this, every good and great receiver in the NFL has amazing agility, body control and quickness that shows up in their 3 cone time. The drill does not lie, Metcalf struggles in these areas and fails to run crisp routes and have fluid movement throughout a route. Unless Metcalf develops an ability to run tight routes, he will get eaten alive by NFL caliber corners and defensive schemes.

Patriots Primed For Blockbuster Trade

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It is no secret that the New England Patriots are going to have a need at receiver this offseason. Quite frankly, they have had a need at receiver since trading away Brandin Cooks last offseason. As it stands right now, Julian Edelman is the only notable Patriots receiver under contract for the 2019 season. While re-signing a player like Josh Gordon may be a cost effective option, New England will certainly let Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett test the open market.

News surfaced yesterday that the Patriots had “serious talks” with the New York Giants last season about star wideout, Odell Beckham Jr. It was reported that the deal was extremely close to getting done but was called off at the last minute due to the Giants having second thoughts. However, the fact that New England was even in on a player like OBJ is highly encouraging for this offseason. Reports of OBJ still being on the trade block have been floated around as well as reports of star wideout, Antonio Brown demanding a trade from the Steelers. Given the fact that this year’s free agent receiver class is not the greatest, perhaps New England will consider bolstering their receiver depth via trade.

Odell Beckham Jr, New York Giants: This player should yet again be on the top of New England’s trade targets this offseason. Beckham is 26 years old and is signed through the 2023 season with an average cap hit of just under nineteen million per season. In addition to his high cap number, the Patriots will have to pay a premium price for arguably a top three receiver in the game. The price would likely be this season’s first round pick as well as additional second or third round picks both in this and next year’s draft. Some people are sour on this player due to his reputation for being a locker room problem. However, I believe Beckham is only an issue with the Giants because of his passion to win. The Giants have been awful for the majority of Beckham’s professional career and I believe that if he were put in the winning culture of New England, then he would fall in line and flourish. The issue with this trade, is there certainly is a hefty price to pay and the Patriots would likely need assurances from Beckham that he would be willing to rework his deal and take a paycut. Either way, I think the Patriots should make this  deal as they are in the business of winning now before Tom Brady finally retires. Beckham is a generationally talented receiver and would bring an entirely new element to the Patriots’ offense that they have not had since Randy Moss.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: Personally, I think Brown is the best receiver in the league and the fact that the Steelers have mishandled the situation around Brown is both embarrassing and head scratching. Brown requested a trade from the team and despite having meetings with team executives and the owner, Brown is sticking by his request. Brown is 30 years old and is signed through the 2021 season with an average cap hit of just over twenty million per season. The price for Brown would certainly be less than the price Odell Beckham Jr. would command given Brown’s age, contract and burning desire to get out of Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers will still be seeking at least a first rounder in a deal for Brown. Despite my acknowledgement of Brown’s talent, I would not be in favor of making a deal to bring Brown to New England. While both Beckham and Brown have reputations of being diva receivers, Brown has been a locker room cancer while still being on a winning team and that fact makes me believe that he is a more selfish and tougher player to deal with. In addition to attitude, Brown is four years older than Beckham and likely has only a couple dominant seasons remaining.

Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings: Treadwell is a plan B or plan C option for New England. Treadwell was a first round pick in 2015 and he has been very underwhelming since. The receiver has struggled with injury issues as well as some locker room issues, but he has improved each of the last three seasons. Treadwell is a big body, possession receiver who reminds me a bit of Brandon Lafell before he signed with New England as a free agent. Listed at 6’3 215 pounds, Treadwell has the ability to work the short middle of the field with slants and short ins and could fill the roll that Josh Gordon had for ten games this season. The real benefit with Treadwell is he would be a cheap option. The wideout is under contract for one more season with a cap hit of about three million dollars and would likely only command a late round draft pick in a trade. In addition to the affordability for the player, if New England likes how Tredwell looks, they have the option to pick up his fifth year option which would bring him back to New England for an additional year at about ten million against the cap.

New England certainly needs help at receiver and they will likely sign or bring back some wideouts during free agency. In addition to their free agent acquisitions, the Patriots should invest in the trade market this offseason in order to bolster their depth at receiver.

Boston Bruins Deadline Needs

Carolina Hurricanes Vs Boston Bruins At TD Garden
 (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, the Boston Bruins are expected to be active at this season’s deadline, especially given the fact that all star winger David Pastrnak is now out with a significant thumb injury. The Bruins’ needs have not drastically changed over the past couple seasons and their biggest need still remains at the wing position. The Bruins need a strong winger to play and help take pressure off Bergeron, Marchand and when healthy, Pastrnak. Personally, I am only interested in the Bruins making one of two possible trades at this seasons’ deadline.

The first trade being, for Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds has long been rumored to be on the Bruins’ trade radar and it seems this could be the year that both sides finally pull the trigger on a deal. Simmonds is 30 years old on the last year of his current contract and the Flyers are not having the best season. Currently, the Flyers are ranked sixth in the Metropolitan Division and most likely will miss the playoffs. This benefits the Bruins because they will not have to give up a ton for the player. Simmonds plays a tough, physical style of hockey with a capability to score goals, and the Bruins should consider offering up a combination of mid round picks or a veteran like David Backes.

The second trade the Bruins should consider making is one that would make them a Stanley Cup contender. Trade rumors around Columbus winger Artemi Panarin have blown up the past couple weeks and the Bruins have the trade ammunition to acquire him. Panarin has the talent to play on both the first and second lines and would fill a huge need for Boston. However, there is risk in trading for Panarin. The reason the star 27 year old is even on the market right now is because he has told Columbus that he will not re-sign with the team this offseason. Boston would need to come up with a golden trade package for Columbus and even if the deal got done, Panarin is no guarantee to re-sign this offseason. Despite this fact, the Bruins need to pull the trigger on this deal. Boston would likely need to give at least one of these three young players, center Ryan Donato, center Danton Heinen or winger Jake DeBrusk. In addition to at least on of these three, Boston may need to give up a talented prospect from Providence to fully complete the deal. The only player of those three I would not trade for anyone is winger Jake Debrusk and the only prospect I would not give up is defenseman Uhro Vaakanainen. Both Vaakanaineh and DeBrusk have shown too much potential for me to include them in any trade at this point in their careers and I need to see them develop further. However, any other prospect or young player that Columbus may want for Panarin, I would give up. Acquiring Panarin would finally fill the depth winger piece that the Bruins have been searching for and he would push them into Stanley Cup contention this season.

Should Edelman Be In HOF?

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Photo Credits: Mark Rebilas, USA Today Sports

There has been a recent debate on whether or not Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman should be inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame when he retires. The debate sparked up after Edelman’s Super Bowl MVP performance last Sunday where he caught 10 balls for 141 yards and was a huge part of the Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl victory.

Personally, I believe Edelman should not be in the Hall of Fame. While I have loved Edelman ever since he became a big part of New England’s offense, he simply has not been dominant for a long enough period of time. There are a total of 27 wide receivers in the Hall of Fame and Edelman has fewer receiving yards than all of them. The closest the Patriots’ receiver is to a current Hall of Fame receiver is Tom Fears. Fears played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1948 through 1956. During his career, Fears totaled 400 receptions that went for 5,397 yards and 38 touchdowns. Edelman has comparable numbers, with 499 receptions totaling 5,390 yards and 30 touchdowns. However, considering the fact that Fears played in an era where passing the football was not popular, Fears’ numbers are far more impressive. In addition to lackluster numbers, Edelman has never been a Pro Bowl or All Pro selection during his entire nine year NFL career. Edelman surely will boost his numbers before he retires and may even make a Pro Bowl, but seeing as he is already 32 years of age, he will definitely not boost his numbers to the level of other passing era Hall of Fame receivers.

The real argument to be made for the Patriots’ wideout is this, his postseason numbers are amazing. Edelman ranks second all time in postseason receiving yards behind only Jerry Rice. Edelman is, without a doubt, one of the clutchest receivers in NFL history and his postseason performances back that up. Edelman also plays with a rare combination of toughness and heart that is hard to root against even if you hate the Patriots. However, his regular season career numbers simply are not good enough to justify a Hall of Fame induction. For example, while Edelman is second behind Rice in postseason receiving yards, his regular season career total receiving yardage comes nowhere close to Rice’s 22,895 career receiving yardage.

The NFL has never inducted a player into the Hall of Fame for just having heart and the clutch gene. Hall of Fame players must have godly statistical numbers and dominance over a significant period of time in order to receive a gold jacket. Edelman simply does not, and never will, fit the voters’ criteria. Despite not having the career to land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I do believe Edelman deserves to be in the Patriots’ team Hall of Fame. Edelman has been the backbone of New England’s offense for multiple seasons and has now won three Super Bowls with the team. Edelman deserves a spot Patriots’ history as well as in fans’ memories.

MLB Proposed Rule Changes

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Yesterday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, reported that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are working towards some major rule changes. Two of the proposed rule changes are, the designated hitter position will become universal throughout baseball, and that pitchers will have a three hitter minimum before being taken out of the game.

Currently, the designated hitter position only exists in the American League while the National League still requires pitchers to have at bats. Personally, I am a strong believer in the universal DH rule and that the way the National League requires pitchers to hit is extremely barbaric. In today’s baseball, pitchers are strictly pitchers and not dual talents like they were in baseball’s early days. Now, pitchers are almost a guaranteed out at the plate. On the rare occasion they do manage to get on base, pitchers treat the experience with extreme caution due to a fear of pulling a hamstring, tweaking a knee or coming down with some other injury while running the bases. The DH makes the game of baseball better as well as creates a more entertaining product for fans to consume. The DH is often one of the better hitters on the team and almost always generates more offense which leads to better games. In addition to stronger hitting and better offensive competition, the DH saves pitchers from unnecessary injury. An example of this, in 2015, then starting ace Adam Wainwright popped his achilles tendon while running out of the batter’s box. The injury ended Wainwright’s season early. Star pitcher Max Scherzer even called out the MLB in 2015 demanding the DH come to the National League after a sprained thumb injury he suffered during an at bat. The idea of making the DH universal has been an obvious needed rule change for years and the MLB needs to make the correct decision this season in implementing the rule.

As much as I am in favor of the universal DH as I am, I am more in favor of a three batter minimum for pitchers. Currently, managers are allowed to bring in relief pitchers for just one batter if that is what they desire. The practice is at its peak during the postseason where we often see managers bring in one reliever at a time to face certain hitters. Managers are far more willing to empty their bullpen in the postseason. While some call this practice smart, strategic baseball, I call it annoying. The practice takes far too long and slows the game down. Everytime a manager brings in a reliever, the game halts to a stop while the pitcher throws his warm up pitches before play resumes. This proves to be an absolutely vicious cycle when managers burn through multiple relievers in a two inning span. This rule would require every reliever to face at least three batters before being removed from the game and would make managers think twice before bringing in a new pitcher to face just one batter. I believe the rule would strongly influence the pace of play and benefit the game.

Baseball is a dying sport in America and there are several aspects of the game that need to be talked about and improved. As a baseball fan, I enjoy seeing players and league executives recognize this fact and take steps to address the issues of baseball.