So, About That Red Sox Outfield…

With reports new acquisition Hanley Ramirez will move to left field, here’s how the Red Sox depth chart as it currently stands. Note the Red Sox outfield. It’s hard to believe that only two out of a total nine were on the 2013 championship team roster.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.41.19 PMCherington sure has his work cut out for him in the coming months…. time to trade an outfielder or three for some quality starting pitching.

Hot stove coming in hot!

 

The Differences Between Habs Yahoos & Canadiens Fans

habs yahoos

The picture above encapsulates what a Habs “Yahoo” is. In case, you don’t know the definition:

Habs yahoo – noun informal: a rude, noisy, disrespectful or violent supporter of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club that doesn’t think his/her sh*t stinks and possess a holier than thou mentality even though he/she’s team has won NOTHING since 1993. 

 

canadiens fans

 

Canadiens fan - noun: a respectful, down to earth, hockey loving supporter of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club that can poke fun at themselves and carry on adult conversations/debates with the opposition’s fans without be hateful or accusing them of being racist.

Yes folks, Canadiens fans do indeed exist. They are not myths or legends like the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot. There are actually Montreal fans that can engage in friendly debates with Boston Bruins fans rather than mud slinging contests. They can take a joke and a ribbing without picking up their phones to call 9-1-1.

I know at least a half dozen Canadiens fans on Twitter that I would even consider friends. Know how your friends tease you? They say, “We make fun of you because we like you”. That is my relationship with these salt of the earth kind of people north of the border.  We NEVER take ourselves too seriously in this great and intense rivalry.

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Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers 11/22

Despite a couple of consecutive startling losses, the Bruins have weathered the storm without Zdeno Chara quite nicely over the last month or so. They are now…since losing their captain, including…over the last two weeks. Also during that time, one winger notched an offensive milestone, Toronto scored the most goals it has scored against Boston at home in 14 years and one Bruins leader had his worst individual game in over three years. This is Boston Bruins: Last Two Weeks By The Numbers.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

The Bruins celebrate a goal during a come-from-behind win in Columbus.

1: Somehow, Simon Gagne, Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg were each plus-1 in the 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 12 and no one was worse than minus-2.

1: Matt Fraser’s fight with Nathan Beaulieu of the Canadiens on Nov. 13 was his first penalty of the season in his 10th game.



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1: Matt Bartkowski recorded his first point of the season on Torey Krug’s Nov. 18 goal against the Blues though it was only his sixth game of 2014-15. Bartkowski, who still does not have a goal in 91 regular-season NHL games, notched his first point since April 3.

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B’s Beat: The Merlot Line Continues To Struggle

DL_0126_campbell_paille_Goal

The Boston Bruins’ Merlot Line has been a sparkplug for the team for the better part of the last four seasons. The B’s struggled to create the perfect fourth line for a few years with guys like Stephane Yelle, Steve Begin, and Glen Metropolit at center, before making a trade with the Panthers for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell in 2010.

Obviously Horton was the big piece in that deal, but Campbell was more than just a simple throw in. He immediately brought stability to the line that turned into the best fourth line in the game. It could actually be argued that the rest of the NHL followed suit with their fourth lines after watching the B’s roll all four lines en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years against Vancouver.

I am not being so overly dramatic as to say they changed the game, but teams definitely took notice.

Shawn Thornton provided the brawn and energy for that line, Campbell was an all-around defensive guy with the occasional offensive flair, and Daniel Paille was a speedster with the ability to keep opposing defensemen honest. They just had unreal chemistry that you can’t teach.

So what happened to them?

Well for starters, the NHL is starting to trend away from the enforcer type guys like Shawn Thornton. The Bruins cut ties with the 37 year old winger last season and he signed with the Florida Panthers in the offseason. His character and leadership will clearly be missed, but his play on the ice was definitely beginning to show signs of wear.

I understand that it may be difficult for Paille and Campbell to have to adjust to him moving on, but I don’t believe for a second that his departure is affecting them as much as it seems. They also have a new linemate in Simon Gagne who is coming off of a full season of no NHL action.

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Do the Red Sox Really Need Sandoval?

The past several weeks have put the Red Sox through the free agent rumor mill like we have not seen for quite some time. There are multiple sources that reported how the Red Sox are positioned to spend significant money on the free agent market this offseason, and they appear to have made offers to several big names on the market. One of their early targets is said to be former Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who could provide good defense and help balance the Red Sox’ righty-heavy lineup. However, when one takes a step back from all of the hype and excitement, they can objectively ask themselves: do the Red Sox really NEED Pablo Sandoval? The Red Sox are definitely a team that can afford to pay top-of-the-market rates for free agents, but Sandoval might not really be a legitimate need for the Red Sox.

Sandoval might be more of a luxury than a necessity

Sandoval might be more of a luxury than a necessity

The first question to ask is does Sandoval fit into the Red Sox’ culture and is he the kind of player that the organization values? The Red Sox are a team that openly values hitters who take a selective approach at the plate, take pitches, and work the count. This is significant because it is an area in which Sandoval struggles greatly. Over the course of his career, Sandoval has swung at 45.7% of the pitches he has seen outside of the strike zone, and at 58.3% of the pitches he saw overall. The top three Red Sox hitters, Dustin Pedroia (career 26.1 O-Swing%, 43.2 Swing%), David Ortiz (career 22.2 O-Swing%, 44.8 Swing%), and Mike Napoli (career 24.6 O-Swing%, 42 Swing%), swing far less often. These are the kinds of guys that the Red Sox want hitting in the middle of their lineup, and preferably over the rest of it too. While it is true that the Red Sox already have a similar player to Sandoval in Yoenis Cespedes (career 37.4 O-Swing%, 50.9 Swing%), his contract is up following the coming season and his stay in Boston is far from guaranteed. In addition, there are reports that Cespedes fell out of favor with Red Sox coaches due, at least in part, to his unwillingness to change his approach at the plate. The Red Sox do not value free-swinging players as much as advanced hitters who work the count, which is something that Sandoval absolutely does not do.

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Is Jonas Gray the Real Deal? Probably Not.

Being named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, and being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the same week means you’re having an amazing week. That’s the kind of week Patriots Running Back Jonas Gray is having. But can Gray keep doing what he did against Indianapolis last week?

Jonas Gray

A month after being on the practice squad, Gray rushed for 199 201 yards, and 4 touchdowns for the Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts. Gray and the Patriots absolutely dominated the line, and Gray made it look extremely easy to run through the Colts defense. He was simply unstoppable.

It’s seemed like forever since the Patriots had a decent running game, and in their defense, they haven’t needed much run support since they have Tom Brady throwing the football. Although it seems like forever ago since the Patriots had a running back that could run, the team has seen other players do similar things.

Just last season, LaGarrette Blount had an amazing week against the Buffalo Bills in week 17 in rainy Foxboro. After that one game, Patriots fan had thought they finally found a running back that was dependable. Blount had 2 touchdowns on 189 rushing yards, and accumulated 145 yards on 2 kick returns in the game. In fact just like Gray, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated that following week.

2 weeks later in the playoffs against the Colts he ran for another 166 yards and 4 touchdowns. 2 games in a row he seemed unstoppable. But now if we compare that to what Jonas Gray did last week maybe we can take into consideration that Bill Belichick knows how to game plan against the Colts and knew exactly how to get a running back through the line and down the field. It was the same team in which Blount rushed for 4 touchdowns.

The very next week in the AFC Championship game, he had just 6 yards on 5 carries. 6. Yards. Blount is now unemployed after being released by the Steelers this week.

In a September game against the Bills in 2012, Brandon Bolden had 137 rushing yards and 1 touchdown in a Patriots blowout, and although he’s a still a member of the Patriots, he hasn’t come close to reaching that mark again, and it would be surprising to see him do it again.

Just like every other Patriots fan, I hope Jonas Gray is the real deal. I would love to see him be a major factor for the Patriots down the stretch, but there’s no way we can call him the rushing savior. It was one game, against a team that Belichick and his staff knew how to run against.

This week the Patriots take on the Detroit Lions who are one of the best defenses in all of the NFL. The defense is only averaging giving up 15 points per game, and they’ve only allowed one team to rush for more than 100 yards total against them, which were the Jets in week 4. If Gray can get 40 yards against this defense it could be considered a success, but let’s not expect too much from him.

Come playoff time, we might forget Jonas Gray is even on this team.

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