Tuesday, February 08, 2005

February 8, 2005

PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES:

For the record, I usually work on the blog when I’m riding the marvelous Middleboro 5:14 commuter rail train home. Unfortunately, on days like yesterday when the train is short a car and they’re all single-deckers instead of double-deckers, yours truly was unable to whip out the laptop and get down to business. The most important part of writing is routine and persistence, so I apologize for no update yesterday. But, by the time I was done celebrating the Year of the Rooster & David’s birthday, I was content to collapse in bed to watch some basketball and dream about Donovan McNabb physically and emotionally exhausted and spent at the end of Super Bowl (what a chump!).

DARE TO BLEED GREEN:

Ended up watching the Celtics-Clippers game last night. No, I wasn’t in purgatory, but thanks for asking.

Delonte West got some real minutes at point guard during crunch time and looked fantastic. (Hello, Marcus “Money” Banks? Yeah, your plane ticket to wherever washout first round picks like Jerome Moiso go to play is waiting for you.) West’s problem has been being healthy. But as long as he’s healthy, he should fill-in as back-up point guard behind Gary Payton until the trading deadlines. I expect the Boston braintrust wishes to take a good hard look at West before deciding to trade Payton at the deadline.

Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer regarding trading Payton. He’s gone at the end of the season. He’s made no bones about it in the press, and he’s not playing for a legitimate championship contender. There’s got to be a team in the Western Conference with underachiever at point guard whose team is built to make a run this year. (Hello, Mr. Ainge? Your former teammate and current Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager Kevin McHale is holding on line two with a first round pick.)

Doc Rivers made the point in his post-game press conference (I was too tired to change the channel. Yeah that’s what it was.) that if you looked at the box score of the game, you wouldn’t think much of what West did on the floor. But he was a sparkplug out there. When he was on the court with Tony Allen there was aggressive defense and the players were running. Yes, I know, it sounds incredulous, but there were players running down the court at a NBA game.

West and Tony Allen: The Backcourt of the Future. Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, and, since the Green have no inclination to trade him, Paul Pierce: The Frontcourt of the Future.

I’d just like to say for the record that I am officially on the 2006-2007 World Champion Boston Celtics bandwagon.

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED:

You know who I really feel bad for in this whole McNabb fiasco? Chunky Soup. Progresso should be running around like mad in the background trying to get Tom Brady or Rodney Harrison to endorse their soup. I can see the commercial now:

Rodney Harrison: “Progresso Soups aren’t like the other soups on the market. It gives you the strength you need throughout the whole game. So even at the end of the game, I have the energy to finish like a champion.”

* * *

RED SOX PITCHING PART TWO – IT ONLY IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY:

Part two of my Red Sox pitching preview focuses on who’s left from last season in the starting rotation. Basically, we’re looking at the venerable Tim Wakefield, guitar-wielding Bronson Arroyo, and the Bloody Red Sock himself, Curt Schilling.

With BostonLegendForAll-Time Curt Schilling (he and Tom Brady may as well make that their first name), after last season anything else is gravy. At least his appearance on the Celebrity Poker show a couple of weeks back shows us two things: 1) He still doesn’t tolerate idiots, be it Ray Romano or A-Rod; and 2) He is a fierce competitor. He didn’t win whatever it is the celebrities win (I think it’s a donation to their charity of choice), but he didn’t play stupid and he played smart. Sometimes it’s in the cards; sometimes it’s not.

I can’t see the Red Sox braintrust doing anything foolish to rush Schilling out to pitch against the before he’s ready in order to have him face the Yankees in April. Once he’s fully recovered, he’ll be fine. Pencil him in for 15 wins, 180 innings, and 175 strikeouts.

Can a knuckleball pitcher step it up in a contract year? I assume Wakefield will be in great shape for the season, but as far as how he’ll pitch, I can’t even begin to fathom how the knuckleball will flutter. He’ll either win 15 games or win 5. He may pitch 200 innings or pitch 80 as the primary middle reliever. He may lose his starting job to Wade Miller/Bronson Arroyo. I don’t think anyone can say with any degree of certainty just what to expect from him.

Finally, the last holdover from last season’s rotation is Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo got his first major bump in salary this off-season to more along the lines of his value. Arroyo was arguably the best #5 starter in baseball last year. In fact, by the playoffs I’d say he was the #3 starter behind Schilling and Pedro as far as productiveness, consistency, and quality.

Arroyo seems to have barely scratched the surface of his potential. He could develop into a consistent #3 starter capable of winning 15 games or so a season and eating 200 innings. Of course, he could hurt his arm, lose his confidence, stink up the yard for a few years, and then have a great post-season swan song and watch the Dodgers throw $9 million a year at him (Sorry, couldn’t resist a little jab at D-Lowe.).

All Content By Hal Bent Copyright 2005

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