Five free minutes, five random thoughts:
- Tom Brady's Shoulder: Before we hit the panic button, this is the same shoulder that showed up on injury reports every week from 2003 to 2008? So I am assuming that 370 pounds of Albert Haynesworth (or, as the Redskins are paying him: $208,000 per pound) merely brought Tom's shoulder back to the effectiveness of 2007 when he set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes. OK, I can live with that. Brady is a gamer, and even if his arm is in a sling, he'll be able to throw the ball with more zip on it than Chad Pennington. Personally, my concerns focus more on Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis being able to (pardon the Keyshawn Johnson paraphrase here) catch the damned ball. These two look like the "butterfingers twins" so far after three weeks of preseason games and I'm going to be holding my breath every time a pass is thrown their way on third down for a while.
- Josh Beckett's Shoulder/Back/Arm/Head/Whatever: Three consecutive games, three consecutive Josh Beckett ala 2006 performances. Is this a mechanical problem? A mental problem? A health issue? All I know is that for three straight games Beckett's fastball is lacking movement and coming in on a "flat plain" without the downhill action that usually makes it so effective and keeps it from flying out of the park. He also hung a curveball to Rod Barajas that got jacked Friday night against the Blue Jays. Whatever the issue, it needs to be straightened out ASAP so that the Sox ace is ready for October like in 2007. At this point, skip him in the rotation (I want to see Michael Bowden given another start in the bigs) and let him rest his shoulder back, arm, head or whatever. Yes, the WEEIdiots will tar and feather Terry Francona and hang him in effigy, but fortunately I no longer will hear them since I can listen real sports talk on an FM station that comes in clearly and doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator.
- Roster Machinations: First, regarding the Patriots roster: Has there ever been a season with a team with so few battles in camp? Back-up center? One special-teams position? Long-snapper? The Patriots could have skipped training camp and set the roster back in June. A large class of rookies and a few free-agent pick-ups have basically locked-up 50 spots out of 53. The challenge for the Patriots is getting the potential practice-squad players through waivers. Just like the Indianapolis Colts the past few years, the Patriots suffer from a deep roster and multiple coaches with similar offensive and defensive philosophies in the league who have multiple roster needs and are waiting with baited breath for the cut downs to scoop up players who would be on the practice squad in NE or Indy and end-up starting or playing significant roles with another team. I guess that is a compliment to both teams, but surely makes keeping young players to develop a difficult proposition each season as they have to get through waivers to get to the practice squad.
- Stinky Old Penny Tossed Away: Oog, I really had high hopes for Brad Penny stepping up this past season and returning to form. Apparently, like John Smoltz, it was another example of a National League pitcher chewed-up and spit-out by the American League East. It certainly gives extra credence to work done by Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Andy Pettite, Mike Mussina, and Roy Halladay these past few years. I still cannot figure out what was wrong with Brad Penny. He has the tools to be effective and was in the past. I hate to think Larry Bowa was right about him all along. In retrospect, trading Penny back in June and at least getting a minor prospect in return would have been the way to go. Of course, he could have pitched effectively and potentially netted a compensatory draft pick in return as well, but his two month implosion effectively ended that. Actually, the Sox did him a huge favor releasing him prior to August 31st since if they held him another week he would be ineligible for the post-season this year if he latched on anywhere after September first. I'm going to let Christina Kahrl over at BaseballProspectus.com wrap-up the Brad Penny release since she did it so perfectly and eloquently on her Transaction Analysis Blog: "For all the talk of who might want to trade for him, let's face it, nobody did, and that was because nobody should."
- "Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles": Not to throw out too many "Fiddler on the Roof" references, but I almost gave my wife a heart attack last night when I jumped up off the couch and shouted., "What a play by...Holy #%$^&...VARITEK!". Yes, as one well known for disparaging the "intangibles" of Jason Varitek and other unnamed Yankees known for their "intangibles" and whose power numbers strangely spike-upwards after turning 35 (cough*HGH*cough), for me to praise Varitek almost resulted in a calamity. In fact, Tropical Storm Danny pelting the greater Boston area today is likely attributed to the disruption of harmonic universal patterns due to praising Varitek. All joking aside, Varitek made a text-book block of the plate right before the rain delay during the during the seventh inning. In fact, it was almost humorous watching young Travis Snider spin like a top after sliding into Varitek's left shin pad before he was tagged out by the Sox catcher. Because of the scarcity of catchers blocking the plate anymore, it was likely the first time Snider had slid into an impediment at home plate. In fact, my poor wife had recently had to sit through me haranguing about catchers not blocking the plate any longer. So, good work Varitek. There, I said it. It's in writing now. Of course, this still does nothing to dissuade my belief that Theo should turn his energy to signing or trading for any catcher named Molina this winter.