Vazquez is a rock behind the plate
The Red Sox find themselves in an enviable position this offseason; for the first time in several years they can honestly say that their catching situation is already taken care of. Christian Vazquez is the clear starter and workhorse behind the plate, and he also leads very respectable organizational depth at the position. Aside from the decision of whether or not to bring back David Ross to backup Vazquez, there is very little consideration the Red Sox need to give their catching corp this offseason.
There is really no argument to be made against Vazquez getting the vast majority of the playing time behind the dish in 2015. Even though he only managed a .277 wOBA and a 71 wRC+ in 55 major league games in 2014, Vazquez showed why he was considered an elite prospect for so many years: he can seriously flash the leather. In that relatively limited sample size, he allowed only 8 passed balls and caught 52% of runners attempting to steal off of him. Add in his penchant for throwing to bases in an attempt to pick off runners, and he was worth 7.8 wins above the average major league catcher from his defense alone. Vazquez reminds the Red Sox and their fans of the days when Jason Varitek controlled the game from behind the plate, which is a welcome comparison for all.
Will Badenhop return to lockdown the middle innings?
The Red Sox bullpen was somewhat mysterious in 2014, not a major strength but not a catastrophic weakness. There were pitchers that excelled (Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop), and pitchers who could have been better (Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, and to some extent Koji Uehara). The sum of these conflicting performances led to a roughly average bullpen for the Red Sox (12th in baseball with a 3.33 ERA), and leaves room for improvement heading into the offseason. GM Ben Cherington has several decisions to make on in-house free agents like Badenhop and Uehara, and could potentially look to bring Miller back into the fold after his brief stint in Baltimore. As with the starting rotation, options abound for the Red Sox to address their bullpen over the coming offseason.
The first item on Cherington’s list should be to decide who will be closing games come Opening Day. Uehara will be a free agent, and there is legitimate reason to wonder if he should be brought back in 2015. Koji showed that he cannot physically handle a heavy workload at this stage of his career, so it would probably be unwise to place high expectations on Uehara going forward. That being said, he could potentially be a valuable setup piece if handled correctly, and could provide quality innings in the middle of games. Badenhop excelled in this role in 2014, becoming a dependable weapon for John Farrell to use in a crucial point of the game. As stated above, Badenhop will be a free agent, and the Red Sox might end up being more comfortable letting some other team overpay for him, rather than lock themselves into a long-term commitment for a middle reliever. Each free agent could be an excellent middle relief candidate for the Red Sox in 2015.
The departures of Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton in the offseason, and the injury to Gregory Campbell to start the year; left room open for a few young Bruins’ prospects to grab a hold of an NHL job.
Guys like Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Bobby Robins (technically not a youngster), Alex Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith, Justin Florek, Craig Cunningham, and Matt Lindblad all had the chance to battle for a spot and run with it.
Let’s run through how each of them faired with the opportunity. I should warn you, it’s depressing.
Let’s start with Bobby Robins; Robins won a job out of training camp after he showed tremendous heart and determination. I have never really thought much of him as a player, but even I couldn’t deny that he had earned himself a spot.
Robins rewarded his own efforts with three scoreless games and 14 penalty minutes, including two spirited bouts, and a kneeing penalty against the Washington Capitals, which all but killed any chances of the team winning that game. If a star takes a penalty, it can be easier to swallow given their status and contributions to the team. If a role player like Robins takes a bad penalty, it hits twice as hard given their lack of contributions to the team. Robbins is currently on waivers for designation to Providence.
To be fair; it really isn’t all his fault. The game has passed players like him by. The goon age is at an end.
During a Twitter Q&A on Tuesday night, Rajon Rondo was asked what his favorite NFL team was. He didn’t answer with the Patriots, but instead said the Bruins.
Its a bit surprising he didn’t know the Bruins played hockey considering they play in the same building the Celtics do, but in his defense, the Bruins could probably win more games than the Jaguars! Just give Patrice Bergeron the pigskin, and I’m sure he could find the end zone!
The Boston Bruins have announced today the signing of veteran forward Simon Gagne to a one year $600,000 contract. This deal comes on the heels of another disappointing loss where the offense failed to get on track for the third straight game. It is also a necessity given the lack of production from any of the young forwards who have made the club out of camp.
Guys like Matt Fraser and Ryan Spooner had solid training camps which earned them NHL jobs, but have not been able to provide the secondary scoring the team needs right now as guys like Milan Lucic and David Krejci recover from lingering injuries.
Simon Gagne isn’t necessarily going to solve the B’s offensive woes, not by a long shot really, and I’m not really sure when he will play, but he will be a good veteran option in place of the above named youngsters. He will also be helpful on the team’s piss poor powerplay.
I imagine that when he starts he will see time on the B’s fourth line and slowly work his way up. I would ultimately like to see him slot in with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly, perhaps in an attempt to finally let Loui Eriksson mesh with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Gagne has 288 goals, 309 assists, and a +129 in 799 NHL games. He is making his return to the NHL after sitting out all of last season.
In other news; the Bruins has also put Bobby Robins on waivers for designation to the Providence Bruins, and sent Jordan Caron down. It would appear as if both players’ NHL dreams are in jeopardy.
You can follow me on Twitter here: @Mattjacob64
There were lots of positives to be taken from the Patriots 37-22 victory over the Bills on Sunday. However, that big win came with a huge price tag, as both Stevan Ridley, and Jerod Mayo were injured during the game.
After further tests were performed today, it is being reported that both will miss the rest of the season.
For Ridley, it was a torn ACL and MCL that he suffered during one of his 10 rushes in the win, and its disappointing to see since it looked like he was finding his stride this year along with the other running backs on the Patriots. Known for his amount of fumbles, its should be noted he didn’t have 1 fumble in his 6 games this year.
Jerod Mayo will be placed on the Injured Reserve almost a day to the year since he was last year, when he got injured versus the New Orleans Saints in week 6 last year. Mayo loss was felt by the defense last year, and there’s no question it will be felt this year instead.
For the next 10 weeks, the Patriots will need other guys to step up and fill the holes left by both Mayo, and Ridley.