Thursday, April 14, 2005

CONSULTING THE MAGIC EIGHT BALL:

The Red Sox have legitimate questions about their future in various positions and the pitching staff. Today I want to look at what the future potentially holds for the infield:

Shortstop: Edgar Renteria should have the position secured until 2009. He is a legitimate all-star. Unless the Sox management plans to move him to third base in a few years to let Hanley Ramirez take over, the position is his.

Second Base: Mark Bellhorn is either loved or hated. There is no in-between. He strikes out way too much, yes that is well documented. Yes, his OBP is far above average and he certainly makes the pitcher work to get him out. However, Bellhorn cannot be long at second base with Renteria at shortstop and Hanley Ramirez should eventually take over for him at second base.

Third Base: Bill Mueller, god bless him, is not going to play third base forever. Kevin Youkilis is the heir apparent and as soon as next season could be the regular at the hot corner. Youkilis, AKA the Greek God of Walks, is a patient hitter like Mueller, not much more power, and not as smooth a fielder yet. But not only is he good and young, Youkilis comes cheap. More money for a slugging first baseman!

First Base: Well, maybe they will re-sign Kevin Millar. Other than that prospect, there is little in the minor leagues as an option. Keeping Mueller at third for another year or two and moving Youkilis to first base is about the only other option. Well, signing a free agent is always an option. Who knows, maybe the Twins will release another power hitting first baseman like Big Papi for us to scoop up.

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YANKEE OVERLOAD:

OK, enough already. I admit it. Looking back over the blogs for the past week or so, I have a serious case of Yankee overload. I have seen too much, read too much, and listened to too much Yankees related material. I can recite the deficiencies of their bullpen (inconsistent, lacking power pitchers, too much emphasis on Quantrill and Gordon), their starting pitching (untested in the big market, gave up too early on Vasquez, Leiber, and Loaiza, Wright is a chump, Mussina is over-the-hill, where is El Duque?), defense (top SS at 3B, CF with knees declared clinically dead, LF plays too deep, SS has no range, Giambi at first equals YIKES), and their line-up (top RBI man batting second, too many question marks like Giambi and Bernie, is Posada losing bat speed, why is Womack hitting in the nine hole instead of lead-off?). It is sick. Is it that after finally watching the Sox defeat the Yankees that the obsession with their team is even stronger? Enough of the Yankees, more on the Red Sox, please.

CONTACT:

The Celtics were not pretty against the 76ers. They did not hit the glass particularly well, nor did they move the ball enough on offense. They were sloppy on defense, but they made a few plays when they needed to. Mark Blount was still on the court for reasons that elude me. How can that chump take minutes from Kendrick The Real Deal Perkins or Big Al? (I have officially anointed Kendrick Perkins as The Real Deal. Someone alert Tommy Heinsohn. The more I watch him play, the more I like Perkins. He has size, he is maniac on the boards, and he likes to play rough underneath the basket. True centers like that are few and far between.)

What the Celtics did throughout the game to stay in the game and at end of the game (I will conveniently forget that the middle of the fourth quarter even happened where they could have put away Philly and instead fired threes and watched Philly run past them) was to create contact by driving to the basket and getting to the line or being able to find someone open for an uncontested mid-range jumper. Paul Pierce is at his best driving to the hoop and getting to the line. Antoine Walker, as it has been well established, should be nailed down in the paint and not allowed to stray past fifteen feet from the hoop while on offense.

Finally, he did not get mentioned at all in the papers recapping of the game, and his stat line was barely noticeable, but Marcus Banks submitted another solid effort last night at point guard. He played good defense, moved the ball well, and hit a big basket at the end of the game. Nothing spectacular, but a solid, steady performance, which for someone as inconsistent as Banks is a huge step-up.

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DRAFT IS A PROSPECT:

Apparently the Globe and Herald have discontinued coverage of all things Patriots that do not directly involve Tedy Bruschi. I know I am hungry for any and all Patriots news available, especially less than two weeks before the draft. Fortunately, Mike Reiss of the MetroWest Daily News is still reporting, and with his inside contacts with the Patriots media relations department he consistently reports on and breaks Patriots news throughout the off-season. His latest bit of linebacker-related news is that between entertaining draft prospects, the Patriots brought in another free agent linebacker, Chris Draft formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, for a visit. Draft, though not a star, has played in the 3-4 and 4-3 and could join Monty! as another cheap veteran to help fill in the gap in the middle of the defense with Bruschi likely out for the season.

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