The Yankees are in town. The defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots have started training camp. The MLB Trade Deadline looms and Tom Brady remains unsigned beyond this season. With so much to cover I’m going to use this space to serve up a little bit about all of it. So here we go ...
Red Sox vs. Yankees
It took nearly four months for the Yankees to come to Fenway this season but the time has finally arrived. How do you feel? Me? Meh. I’m having trouble getting overly excited about this series to be frank. Sox vs. Yanks is always great and must-watch, but the stakes that have driven the rivalry so intensely for so long just don’t feel as high this year. At least not yet. The stakes are far greater for the hometown Red Sox which adds some desperately needed urgency, but let’s be honest, the division was wrapped up in the spring. Advantage Pinstripes. Since day one of the season the Red Sox have been chasing in the standings, chasing for the second wildcard position to be specific. Winning the AL East Division is a pipe dream and has been for months. What actually is at stake for the Red Sox in this series is the need to keep pace for the second wildcard, which is their realistic 2019 regular season prize. Should the Sox manage a split against the superior New York Yankees that should keep the recent progress they have gained level and that itself would be a win. Starting the series with Rick Porcello and Andrew Cashner makes the goal of gaining a split even more appealing as the likelihood suggests that the Sox hit the weekend down 0-2. It’s a big weekend for Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez, two guys the Red Sox will need to get the most out of to keep pace in their race for the second wildcard.
The State of Sale
Stats can be deceiving. If I could only give you two stats this season to use as a career comparison for Chris Sale I could tell you a couple of very different stories. If I showed you strikeouts (182) and WHIP (1.08) you would think he was having his typical All-Star year. Clearly, he is not. The truth lies with the ERA which is down to 4.00 after two solid starts over the last seven days and with his record, 5-9. Very un-Sale-like to say the least. His ERA is over a run higher than his career 2.98 ERA and as I mentioned above, that’s coming off of two of his best games of the season. If you are a consistent reader of mine then you know of my admiration and respect for Sale. I think he’s the real deal. Dominant when he’s right. Accountable, always. He can be inspirational to watch pitch and to watch lead his teammates. He is also inspirational to listen to and his head is firmly planted on his rather delicate shoulders. However, despite the recent success, I’m concerned. Do I believe in Sale? Yes. Did he deserve the contract he received? Yes. Was it the right move? Unsure. The fate of the 2019 Red Sox will lean heavily on the wiry lefty’s questionable left shoulder. In the longer term, I wonder about his future. Last October I wrote the attached article expressing my opinion that Sale’s future belongs in the bullpen. https://weei.radio.com/articles/column/hackett-chris-sale-stomach-virus-...
I believe it more than ever now and with him signed for the next several years here in Boston, the organization should be thinking of how to preserve and maximize this very special asset. It has been an odd season for Sale in terms of performance, but given what we have seen with the annual maintenance of his shoulder, I can’t say I’m surprised. In fact, I’m doubling down. Sale’s future is as a late-inning reliever, it’s just a matter of when.
This isn’t a victory lap, I want him to pitch well. However, as has always been the case with my takes on Price, I am tough but fair. He’s 0-2 since mouthing off last week. Watching him for a few years now, I’m convinced it’s no coincidence. Yesterday’s six-inning, three-run performance was better, but just good enough to lose, a trait I thought that was permanently overcome last season. Karma rears its head again. I’m certain that time will heal this recent losing pattern, it may reverse itself by his next start, but the recent results just underscores what an unnecessary rip job that was last week and the negative impact it can have.
Sox at the Deadline
The MLB Trade Deadline is less than a week away and guess what, there still isn’t enough clarity to rule any scenario out. Instinctually, I think the Red Sox are legitimately in the race for the second wildcard, regardless of what happens this weekend against the Yankees. So I say buy. However, there are conditions. No rentals that are unsigned beyond this year, please. The Red Sox haven’t proven to be good enough this season to divest more of their lacking farm system for players they can’t use or move next season. If there’s immediate bullpen help and perhaps a fourth outfielder to be had that is signed through next year then go for it. However, no two-month rentals, please. I just don’t think they can go deep enough this season to merit that kind of deal given their performance to date. If you can fortify the roster for the stretch run and for next season while your young championship core is intact, then do it, but be smart.
Pats Training Camp
It’s been a quite a while that I’ve been this excited to watch and scout the Patriots defense. They have playmakers all over the field. The secondary could be lethal and has some deep competition featuring good young depth including Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson, Joejuan Williams and Jonathan Jones. On the offense, there are a couple of sleeper type guys I’ve got my eyes on. At Wide Receiver, Maurice Harris could be a sneaky pickup and someone to watch for a roster spot. He had a couple of showings in a lackluster Redskins passing game last season and has that Belichick-knows-something-you-don’t-knowfeel to him. So I’ve got my eyes on his progress. The other is a bit of a deep sleeper and that is Tight End, Matt LaCosse. He’s big, 6-foot-6, pretty fast sporting a 4.6 40 and can catch the ball. I realize that they just signed Lance Kendricks, but I wouldn’t write off LaCosse, he’s got some tools. Just some deep sleepers to keep an eye on.
Get Brady signed
The sub-headline says it all. If they overpay for a two-year extension, do the bull dance. If they overpay for a three-year extension bite down and do it anyway. It’s not time to mess around.
Scott Fish Bowl 9
Being in the Fantasy Football community I’ve been fortunate to participate in the annual Scott Fish Bowl each of the last three years. The Fish Bowl is big in the Fantasy Football community. There are 1,200 teams across the nation in a March Madness like bracketed tournament featuring 100 12 team leagues. The league features some of the biggest names, pundits and experts in Fantasy Football throughout the country. The best part is that in the first eight years, the league and its participants have raised over $43,000 for Toys for Tots and its growing. Shout out the founder Scott Fish, who was the Athletics’ 2018 Man of the Year for creating and growing this remarkable effort. The altruistic nature of the Fish Bowl and that of all who play in it, is its soul, but the draft is great too. It takes 7-14 days to draft depending upon how your division flows and new friends are made each year during that time. If you are on Twitter you can check out the action, ongoings and donate by checking out #SFB9.
The Fantasy Football Hour
Short and sweet. Pete Davidson and I are back with the Fantasy Football Hour live on WEEI this Sunday at 8 am. I hope you will join us.