Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rosevelt Colvin done for the season.

Rosevelt Colvin was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a foot injury against the Eagles which will keep him out for the remainder of the season. See you next year and please collect your ring at the end of the season.

The Patriots still have an excellent group of linebackers, but may cause some depth issues as Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau had been splitting time due to their advanced ages. The loss of Colvin is reminiscent of his previous season-ending injury to his hip he sustained against the Eagles a few years prior.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eagles downgrade the Patriots from "Juggernaut" to "Almost Beatable"

I give the Eagles alot of credit for the game plan they played. Even with Donovan McNabb the Eagles were outmatched by the Patriots. So, the Eagles decided the only way to win this game was to gamble. All night long backup QB AJ Feeley attempted to thread the needle by hitting receivers in the middle and throwing into coverage. He was burned by his cavalier passes when the Patriots caught 3 Interceptions, including a pick-six from Asante Samuel and James Sanders catching another to put the game away. This style was also exemplified through some of the plays called. The Eagles chose to go with a surprise onsides kick, the most desperate of desperation manuevers, in the second quarter with a 14-14 tie. The Eagles played this whole game as though they were in the 4th Quarter and down by two touchdowns and with a little luck they actually managed to give the Patriots a scare. They tried everything but a fake field goal.

The Patriots on the other hand had an odd day. Brady's production numbers were acceptable, but short of the "video-game on easy mode" type of numbers he has put up this year. Randy Moss was aggressively covered all day long and bobbled a long bomb that hit him in the hands and later robbed of a touchdown by a phantom offensive pass interference call (I immediately had flashback to the Indy game where a similar inexplicable offensive pass interference call occurred in the end zone). Laurence Maroney did not even take a snap in the first half and when he did get the ball in the second half he didn't do much with it: ten carries for 31 yards and a Touchdown. With the Eagles distracted by Randy Moss, Wes Welker quietly cleaned up with 13 catches for 149 yards. Despite some solid receiving numbers, Brady had a number of poorly thrown and dropped passes.

The Patriots did manage to stick it out and come away with a tough win. It might be good for the Pats to get a little scare at this point in the season to shake them out of their complacency after beating up on almost every team on their schedule. A nice serving of humble pie, a wake up call to shake them out of their post-Thanksgiving stupor. After this game it will be hard for the Patriots to overlook the Jets and the Dolphins who both took the fight to Pittsburgh in the past two weeks.

With the Bills loss to the Jaguars Sunday afternoon the Patriots officially clinched the AFC East title and a playoff spot. The Magic number for both the bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs is 3.

Draft Pick Watch:
The 'Niners were able to slog out a 37-31 win against the Arizona Cardinals to improve to 3-8, they are now in a 3-way tie for 4th worst record in the league with the Raiders and Falcons. This week's scheme for what to do should the Patriots get the 49ers top 5 draft pick: Arkansas' Darren McFadden. Although just a Junior McFadden is being considered for the Heisman and looked strong as the Razorbacks knocked LSU out of the national title race. I have never been that impressed with either Sammy Morris or Laurence Maroney. With a deadly passing game keeping guys away from the line Maroney should be tearing it up, but week after week his performance is mediocre at best. A really strong talent like McFadden could bring the Patriots offense to yet another level.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Free Agent Roundup

The most important news is Mike Lowell working out an agreement with the Red Sox. The exact terms of the deal are still up in the air, but it's something to the tune of 3 years for $37.5 Million dollars. Mike probably could've gotten better money or another year elsewhere and I respect the fact that he decided to stick with the Sox.

I've been pretty clear about my stance on the 3rd Base situation. I wanted to see Ortiz, Ramirez and Rodriguez all in the same lineup. I thought the Yankees were out of the bidding and A-Rod would be available for pickup on the cheap. Overpaying Mike Lowell isn't a terrible backup plan though. I expect Mike's numbers to drop off due to the fact that he set a number of career highs this year, his advancing age and the fact that he's no longer in a contract year; but he still will benefit from hitting balls off the Green Monster in Fenway, is a golden glove caliber defensive 3rd Baseman and brings an intangible veteran presence to the clubhouse.

A few more pieces of the Yankee puzzle have come back together now that Mariano Rivera has agreed to resign with the Yankees for 3 years and $45 million dollars. Normally I bash the Yankees for overpaying for over the hill talent like this, but I think when you spend the money on consistent performers like Rivera and A-Rod it's money well spent. I'll be interested to see if the Yankees can buy a halfway decent starting rotation in time for next spring.

You remember that stuff I said about the Bills maybe giving the Patriots a game....yeah....nevermind that...

I really thought the Bills would give the Patriots a game. Yeah, they didn't have Marshawn Lynch anymore, but they seemed to have gotten so much better since the brutal beating they got early in the season. They had even worked their way back to a winning record!

The Patriots are just too good this year. They destroyed the Bills on Sunday night, I don't even think the score accurately reflects how sound of a beating this was. The only TD for the Bills was also really lucky with JP Losman losing the ball on an earlier drive, recovering his own fumble, then scrambling and making a one handed throw, that looked to be a throw away at first glance, which a receiver caught and ran for the first down. The throw down field for the TD was also an aberration against a Patriots defense that usually does such a good job of preventing big pass plays like that one. Once again the game was over at the half. The Patriots magic number to win the AFC East is 1.

Elsewhere around the League:
The Colts just got away with a win over the Chiefs. Adam "Sleeper Agent" Vinatieri had another terrible day at 2/4, but hit the game winning field goal to save face. Not exactly an impressive performance for the Colts at home.

The Steelers were the biggest surprise losing to the Jets. THE JETS!! This gives the Patriots even more breathing room as their magic number for the bye and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs is 4.

BC on their way to the ACC title game

BC can book their tickets for Jacksonville for the ACC title game after beating the Clemson Tigers at home.

I admit, I had a pretty bad feeling about this game. BC has faded out late in the season year after year. Now they were going up against a hot Clemson team, In Clemson, On a 2 game losing streak, With the ACC Atlantic division on the line, it seemed like the perfect recipe for bad momentum. But I was wrong.

(Random Observation: If you saw the immediate pre-game for this, did you see the Clemson team coming out onto the field? They had this really funny bit where they were all lined up in the tunnel with about 3 guys looking like they're killing themselves to hold these guys back. I just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. I started saying things like "OH NO THEY'RE SO PSYCHED UP THESE 3 CHUBBY GUYS IN POLO SHIRTS NEED TO HOLD THEM BACK!" and "OH BOY, BETTER NOT LET THE TIGER OUT OF IT'S CAGE!". Eventually one of them did push past, at which point he stepped back behind them again and started pushing forward again)

The Eagles got off to a slow start and my fears seemed to be coming to light, but I remember a specific turning point. When Eagles LB Kevin Akins made that interception against Cullen Harper that's when I felt like the tides had turned. Harper had only thrown 4 Interceptions in his college career, so when he threw that pick I could sense that something was amiss. Of course the game remained tight right up until the last minute. When the commentator said something to the extent of "All Harper has to do here is try and get a few extra yards
and not get sacked" It was like the football gods themselves had given the commentator some sort of inverse divination. After watching him get sacked a few moments later I jumped off my couch and did my own version of the sack dance. Clemson kicker Mark "I'm not Clay" Buchholz had a rough day as the potential tying kick fell short, a few yards short, like the number of yards lost due to that sack.

BC only moved up slightly in the rankings, which I felt was disproportionate given that they played a tough conference opponent on the road and came back from behind to give themselves a shot at a BCS bowl. Apparently Matt Ryan has played his way back to the fringe of Heisman contention with a little help from Oregon's QB Dennis Dixon, who is now out for the season. BC will play a home game against Miami with nothing on the line before heading down to Jacksonville to take on the winner of Virginia Tech-Virginia for the Orange Bowl bid.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Patriots v. Bills Preview

With the Colts losing this weekend the Patriots now have some breathing room with regards to the Bye/Homefield advantage. Dwight Freeney is done for the season and was a huge part of the Indianapolis defense. The Colts are definitely reeling right now. Now the primary threat to the Patriots bye/homefield advantage/16-0 is the Steelers. If the Steelers run the table and the Patriots lose to the Steelers and another game as well the Steelers will get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Magic number for the bye is 5 (Colts) and the Magic number for homefield advantage throughout is 6 (Steelers).

The Patriots have an excellent chance to put the nail in the coffin for the AFC East with a win over the Bills on Sunday night. The magic number for the Patriots in the AFC East is currently 4, but if the Patriots win this game it will actually bring the magic number down to 1. Subtract one for the Patriots win, subtract one more for the Bills loss and subtract one more for clinching the head to head tie breaks with the Bills. A Patriots win Sunday night means that the Patriots would have to lose every game and the Bills would have to win all their remaining games for the Bills to overtake the Patriots in the AFC East, not a very likely scenario given the lofty goals for the Patriots this season.

There are some advantages and disadvantages going into this game. Buffalo has been better at home this year. The Bills are actually only 3-2 at home, but look at the two losses. They gave the Cowboys quite a scare on Monday night prior to the "Duel in Dallas" where some crucial mistakes late in the game cost the Bills what should have been a win as the last second field goal sailed through the uprights to give the Cowboys the win. Allowing Tony Romo to come back after throwing 5 interceptions was embarrassing. This was easily Dallas' luckiest win. The other loss at home was just as close with a last second 42-yard kick by Jason Elam as time expired giving the Broncos the 15-14 win. Both of these games could easily have been wins for the Bills if Elam and Folk hadn't been so clutch from long distances.

The big loss for the Bills will be that RB Marshawn Lynch will most likely not be playing in this game and is currently listed as doubtful. Lynch has been looked over with all the fireworks Minnesota's Adrian Peterson has been setting off, but Lynch has been very impressive all year and provided a spark to an otherwise lackluster offense. This may force the Bills to throw, something that has not been their strong suit this year.

Boston College v. Clemson preview

There's really no great insight here or talk about where this game might lead. The Eagles have shot themselves in the foot by losing two consecutive ACC games to lose their national title hopes and put their ACC championship in jeopardy. Now it comes down to this game. If the Eagles win this game they win the Atlantic Division of the ACC and will be going to play the coastal division champion (The winner of the final game of the season between Virginia Tech and Virginia) in the ACC Championship game. If they lose, Clemson will go instead and BC can look forward to another irrelevant non-BCS bowl where they'll likely be passed over for worse teams with more reputable programs like Miami and Florida State.

Matty Ice has successfully played himself well out of Heisman contention. When he came back after a terrible game to win in Virginia Tech he was scrappy. When he just played badly against Maryland and Florida State he was just bad. That's three bad games in a row for Ryan, it might be a gambler's fallacy, but I think he's due to get his act together.

BC's defense has been equally lackluster after being impressive all year. They allowed more points to Maryland this week than the Terps had scored against any opponent this year with 42. By comparison, the Terps scored only 31 against I-AA Villanova and 26 against Florida International, the team with the longest losing streak in I-A football and currently 0-9 this season. The Terps were also on a losing streak in which they scored under 20 points in 3 consecutive games and lost to the UNC Tarheels. Maryland QB Chris "Goldilocks" Turner had a career game to put Maryland over the top.

Clemson, on the other hand, is currently on a four game winning streak and is now actually ranked above Boston College in the rankings at #15. Clemson QB Cullen Harper has put up some strong numbers this year. BC will have to find the winning formula and remember how to get temporary amnesia in order to beat the Tigers and earn the right to represent the Atlantic Division.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A-Rod comes crawling back to the Yankees

When A-Rod decided to opt out of his contract and had what appeared to be a massive falling out with the Yankee front office I figured there would be no chance of A-Rod wearing pinstripes next spring. I figured that to screw the Yankees out of that much money from the Rangers in his contract would be unforgivable. I figured A-Rod saw the writing on the wall, that the Yankees were due to get into a rebuilding year and clear out some of their dusty old talent and start working towards the future and that A-Rod wanted to be part of a winner, like the Red Sox.

I missed the boat on this one. Apparently A-Rod/Scott Bora$$ grossly misjudged what clubs without pockets as deep as the Bronx Bombers were willing to pay, realized their mistake and A-Rod without his money grubbing agent in tow went crawling back to the Steinbrenner brothers begging to be a Yankee again and even willing to take a pay cut for costing the Yankees such a large chunk of Ranger money. This situation clearly didn't pan out as I would have liked. We can all get back to hoping A-Rod gets hit by a bus now.

The good news is that the Yankees may have to curb their offers towards Mike Lowell somewhat now and it should make it easier for the Red Sox to work out a reasonable deal with Mike. I stand by my belief that Mike's numbers will drop off when he's no longer having a contract year, but he still hits well in Fenway and is a solid defensive infielder and a positive influence in the clubhouse.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Manning, Dungy and Vinatieri combine their efforts to blow it against the Chargers

The Germans actually have a word for this:

scha·den·freu·de n. Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

This is exactly what I was experiencing after Adam Vinatieri's last minute field goal sailed wide to give the Chargers a slim 23-21 victory at home. This loss wasn't just on the shoulders of our once beloved, now turncoat place kicker, oh no, there was plenty of blame to go around. Peyton Manning set a Colts franchise record, but not the good kind of records like he usually sets, this time it was six interceptions in one game. Even Colts RB Joseph Addai looked lackluster with 56 yards on 22 carries against a Chargers defense that allowed Adrian Peterson to run up the highest yardage total by a running back in a single game just a week prior. Coach Tony Dungy stupidly decided to waste a crucial time out to argue with the referees about a false start penalty against his team. Oh, and three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney hurt his left foot in the fourth quarter and left the game. Freeney's status is questionable and the Colts have claimed Simeon Rice off waivers after he was released by the Denver Broncos last Friday. Then Jesus Christ himself came down from heaven wearing a Tom Brady jersey and smote Peyton Manning for his arrogance.....ok, maybe not that last bit, but it was still pretty bad.

This really opens things up for the Steelers. If they can beat the Patriots in Gillette on December 9th and run the tables and the Patriots lose another game they'll get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Otherwise, the Patriots are poised to wrap up the division, the bye and home field advantage in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mike Lowell can't come to a deal with the Red Sox before exclusive period ends

Nick Cafardo's Extra Bases blog is reporting that the Red Sox couldn't come to a deal with Mike Lowell.

My guess as to how this will pan out? Mike Lowell will get his desired 4th year and probably more money to play for the Yankees. Then he'll revert closer to his career numbers without the Green Monster helping out his average and his numbers will get lower as he ages, like most of the Yankees that have been picked up coming off of their primes. I think the Sox will then be able to open up the purse strings to sign Alex Rodriguez without getting severe backlash from the Fenway Faithful for not resigning Mike Lowell.

News Writing Class Assignment: BC beats FAU 68-62

I submitted this for my News Writing class assignment. We were all brought to the game, allowed to relax in the Media Room and then sit on press row for the game. The assignment was to write a recap between when the game ended ~9 PM and the deadline at midnight. This is what I wrote, don't think it's half bad. BC played a terrible game and were lucky to get hot down the stretch to beat FAU.

NEWTON - The Boston College men’s basketball team made a comeback late in the second half to beat the Florida-Atlantic Owls 68-62 in Chestnut Hill Monday night.

The Eagles trailed by as much as 8 points with time winding down in the second half, but were sparked by a 20-3 run with Junior Guard Tyrese Rice and Sophomore Forward Shamari Spears contributing 16 of the points. Complaining from Florida-Atlantic coach Rex Walters prompted a technical foul that further assisted the Eagles in their comeback. Soon the Eagles would put the game out of reach and would improve to 2-0 on the season.

Rice lead the Eagles in scoring with 21 points. Rice shot 5 of 13 from the field and 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, but was 9 for 10 from the free throw line and had a team high nine assists.

Spears also had a productive night. Spears posted 18 points, shot 7 of 10 from the field, sunk 4 of 5 free throws and lead the Eagles with 8 rebounds.

Both Rice and Spears missed Saturday’s season opening game against New Hampshire after violating NCAA rules by participating in a non-NCAA certified contest last July. Both players made their season debuts tonight. The Eagles received significant contributions from Freshmen Biko Paris and Rakim Sanders to post a 67-57 win against New Hampshire.

The Eagles will prepare to take on Mercer Bears next Sunday in Chestnut Hill. On Saturday Mercer posted a 96-81 upset win over the #18 USC Trojans.

My Second Article

BC caps season with ACC title - Sports

This was actually a fun game to watch, unfortunately it was freezing cold that night which somewhat dampened the experience for me. The soccer coach was a nice fellow, but really only gave me one usable quote, the fact that I didn't have a recorder made me even more reluctant to use verbatim quotes from my hand written notes of the post game interview. I think this was an improvement over my swimming piece.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Too much pitching? A good problem to have...

With the pick up of Schilling, the exercising of options for Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez there are now 7 potential starters for the Boston Red Sox: Beckett, Schilling, DiceK,Wakefield, Bucholz, Lester and Tavarez. What are we going to do with the extra two you ask? Obviously Julian Tavarez can be moved to the bullpen. What about the other 6? The other night I was talking with my co-workers about the option of possibly having a 6-man rotation. Turns out I might not be as crazy as I thought, this was from Nick Cafardo in today's Boston Globe:

"Epstein was asked about going to a six-man rotation and did not close the door on the idea. In fact, he said, it had been and would be up for discussion. Matsuzaka and Schilling likely would benefit by an extra day's rest."

The idea of having a 6 man rotation is somewhat odd. With Josh Beckett's youth and dominant pitching we wouldn't want to reduce his starts, but it would seem to make perfect sense for the rest of the rotation. Matsuzaka has pitched his entire career on a six man rotation, the transition to a 5 man rotation certainly took it's toll on Daisuke and he seemed to have some fatigue issues later in the year. Schilling is aging and seemed to benefit from working on an additional days rest. Tim Wakefield is also aging, although this is less of a factor due to the fact that he is a knuckleballer, given the injuries he incurred this year I'm inclined to believe it couldn't hurt for him to spread out his starts a bit more. Clay Bucholz has never pitched a full season in the majors and had to be shut down by the Red Sox before the playoff for fatigue issues, having extra rest between starts might help him transition to the grind of the majors. Jon Lester has also never had a full year at the big leagues, who's to say how he'll react to his first full season? This would still leave Julian Tavarez as the insurance man in the bullpen should their be an injury to one of the starters.

If the Sox don't choose to do this then I'm at a loss for who's going to be the odd man out. Beckett, Schilling and Daisuke are the untouchables. Wakefield has been a bullpen guy in the past, but he won 17 games last year as a starter. I don't think there would be any benefit to keeping Lester and Bucholz in the minors, they're both ready for the big leagues and would be going to waste in Pawtucket.

Isn't it great that with the current lack of starting pitchers on the free agent market this year we have more quality starters than we know what to do with? Big supply, strong demand, sounds like the formula for a favorable off season trade market for the Red Sox.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kevin Youkilis wins Golden Glove

Kevin Youkilis was named the winner of the American League Gold Glove for his outstanding fielding at first base all year long for the Red Sox. Now I can refer to his fielding prowess by saying he has won a golden glove rather than saying his fielding is golden glove caliber.

Curt takes the home town discount to sign with the Sox

Curt Schilling is reporting on his blog that he has agreed to a one year deal with the Red Sox.
From Curt's blog
"The deal looks like this.

$8 million in guaranteed base salary

$2 million in bonuses for 6 seperate weigh ins.

I inserted the weigh in clause in the 2nd round of offers, counter offers. Given the mistakes I made last winter and into Spring Training I needed to show them I recognized that, and understood the importance of it. Being overweight and out of shape are two different things. I also was completely broad sided by the fact that your body doesn’t act/react the same way as you get older. Even after being told that for the first 39 years of my life. Now I can’t get on Dougie anymore, which sucks, and I am sure the clause will add 15-100 more jokes to Tito’s Schilling joke book.

$3 million in IP incentives based on IP totals.

$1 million for receiving a Cy Young vote, any vote."

I salute Curt for making this deal. He definitely could have gone elsewhere to get more money or another year, but he took the hometown discount instead. Regardless of how this year turns out for Curt I'll be grateful for the concessions he made to stay in Boston. The Red Sox now have all of their starting rotation from last year as well as Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester.

Curt Schilling reports that he is coming close to a one year deal with the Red Sox.

From Curt Schilling's Blog
"Talks with the Red Sox are moving. Theo and I have spoken multiple times daily over the past week and given the current situation I am feeling very confident that we will be able to finalize a 1 year contract to allow us a chance to finish our career as members of the Red Sox organization.

There are some things to iron out and details that must be finalized for both sides but barring something unforseen (sic) or outrageously odd happening I feel very comfortable that I will finish my career here."

The Red Sox front office has verified that this is currently the situation.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Patriots come back in 4th Quarter to beat Colts.

The Colts and some terrible officiating gave the Patriots their first, and possibly only, scare of the year. The Patriots refused to lose and scored two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter to grab the lead for good as the defense shut down Peyton Manning, capping things off with a hit on Manning that resulted in a fumble that Roosevelt Colvin caught. A few runs, a third down pass to Wes Welker for a fresh set of downs and a couple of kneel downs later and this game was over.

I'm not going to harp on it, but the officiating in this game was terrible and, in the post-Donaghy world of officiating, refereeing and umpiring, suspiciously lopsided in the Colts favor. The few calls that went against Indianapolis (4 penalties, 25 yards) were 2 unquestionable false start calls a fairly obvious defensive holding call and a blatant offensive holding call. The one pass interference call that went against the Patriots the flag was thrown well after Randy Moss had secured the pass and hit the turf and the penalty was declined. Later Randy was called for an offensive pass interference call that had even the broadcasters scratching their heads. The Colts were also placed deep into the red zone on defensive pass interference calls against the Patriots. The second call against Ellis Hobbs on a deep throw to Reggie Wayne made no sense whatsoever as Hobbs made very little contact with Wayne, got past Wayne and was going for the ball when Wayne fell on Hobbs to draw the penalty. This game set a franchise record for penalties for the Patriots. I think it is also worth noting that the Colts did manage to cover the spread in this game.

Joseph Addai had a much better game than Peyton Manning did as Peyton's number were unspectacular and included an interception and a lost fumble. Tom Brady had a relatively bad day throwing two picks, including one in the red zone, which doubles his interception total for the year. Otherwise his numbers were solid with 3 TD passes and a good completion percentage.

Most people now feel confident that the Patriots will finish with a perfect season and see the Colts again in the AFC Championship game in Foxboro. This is the most likely scenario, but there's still some meat on the schedule for the remaining 7 games. The Bills have picked themselves up and won their last 3 games, the Eagles are capable of having a big day from time to time and they'll need to play the 4-3 Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. These are some solid trap games. The real tough games left on the schedule include the Steelers in week 14. The Patriots could also be caught sleeping with the bye and home field advantage wrapped up in the final week of the season against the Giants in Giants stadium. At that point in the season the Giants could also be fighting with the Cowboys and the Redskins for the NFC East title or, even worse, a wild card playoff berth.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's over, FedEx Orange Bowl here we come!

In typical BC fashion, they blew it. Goodbye national title game, goodbye #2 Ranking and goodbye Matty Heisman.

This game was almost identical to the Virginia Tech game, except instead of a last minute touchdown pass, Matt Ryan threw right into coverage for a pick 6 to end the game for all intents and purposes. Matt Ryan had an atrocious night. It's hard to win games when you throw three interceptions, it honestly could have been more as he was constantly throwing into coverage. The Eagles defense was similarly lackluster. They caused no turnovers whatsoever, mediocre quarterback Drew Weatherford tore up a highly touted Eagles secondary and was given far too much time in the pocket. It also seemed like they let the 'Noles off the hook too many times on third down. BC got outplayed and deserved to lose this game.

So that's it, the pollsters are way too fond of their golden boys like LSU and Oklahoma for BC to ever get back into the national title hunt as a one loss team. The best we can hope for now? With a loss by Wake Forest to Virginia this weekend it's down to Clemson and BC for the Atlantic Division of the ACC. If Clemson beats Wake Forest and BC at home, they'll win the atlantic division of the ACC and go to the ACC Championship for a chance at the Orange Bowl, most likely facing either Virginia or Virginia Tech from the coastal division. That said, the Eagles are still masters of their own destiny, if they beat Clemson and either Maryland or Miami in the remaining 3 games they will clinch the division. If they don't manage at least a BCS bowl this will be a tremendous waste of a good season by the Eagles.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Wakefield and Tavarez to return for another year with the Red Sox

The Associated Press is reporting that the Red Sox have exercised options to return SP/RP Julian Tavarez and SP Tim Wakefield to the Red Sox for another year. I strongly support this decision as both are cheap and versatile, veteran pitchers that can contribute in the starting rotation or the bullpen. Tavarez will likely be placed as a long reliever who will occasionally make spot starts if necessary.

This could be an indication that the Red Sox do not intend to re-sign Curt Schilling as these options provide the Red Sox with a good 5 man rotation of Beckett, DiceK, Bucholz, Lester and Wakefield with Tavarez as an insurance policy.

Curt had this to say on his blog
"I also wanted to mention something else. For anyone interested please just assume things are happening with Boston without me mentioning it. Theo and I have spoken more than once but there will be no details or updates of these discussions. I am in contact with the Sox and talking."

This would suggest that the Red Sox and Curt have yet to come to a solid decision on Curt's contract.

Friday, November 2, 2007

BC v. FSU Preview

In case you haven't been keeping up with college football this year, this isn't your older brother's Bobby Bowden dynasty Florida State Seminoles. The 'Noles are a respectable 5-3 this year and will likely gain bowl eligibility in their remaining schedule, but at 2-3 in the Atlantic division of the ACC their chances to win the Atlantic division are slim at best and a loss to the Eagles at Chestnut Hill will eliminate them as contenders. The 'Noles received a generous pre-season ranking, which speaks highly of their talent pool, but clearly something has been lacking in their execution. They immediately lost this ranking with a loss to an underrated Clemson team to begin the year. They had back to back ACC losses in weeks 6 and 7 against an underrated Wake Forest and inconsistent Miami team. Their only win of relevance is a win over former Dolphins coach Nick Saban's #22 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-2), the Crimson have since climbed back up to #17 in the rankings. Wins over Duke (1-7), UAB (2-6), Colorado (5-4) and NC State (3-5) lacks the same prestige. Boston College is a well earned #2 in the country, 8-0 and 4-0 ACC. In all likelihood, this game should be another ACC win for the Eagles against a winning program.

That said, FSU is a talented team that's in "wounded animal backed into a corner" mode. A win over the Eagles on the road would bring their program back to prominence, make them bowl eligible and help salvage a season that many in Tallahassee already consider to be a failure. There's a very big bullseye on the Eagles and the Seminoles are just the kind of team with the talent to surprise you. This is a classic trap game.

National Title Game Chase:

#3 LSU has it's last big test of the season on it's schedule against #17 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. LSU is threatening to leapfrog the Eagles in the rankings even if the Eagles finish undefeated and LSU finishes with 1 loss due to the Tigers strength of schedule and the Eagles weakness of schedule.

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes take on the #21 Wisconsin Badgers in Columbus. The Buckeyes are also undefeated at 9-0, but will need to win this game as well as win against the resurgent Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor to run the tables.

In what should be a great Pac-10 matchup, the undefeated #4 Arizona Sun Devils take on the #5 Oregon Ducks (7-1). The Sun Devils need this game for a legitimacy win. They beat Cal, which at the time was ranked #21, but Cal has since been dropped from the rankings after reaching rankings as high as #2 at one point this year. The Ducks are the real deal with a Heisman candidate at QB with Dennis Dixon and will provide the toughest test of the year for the Sun Devils. The Ducks are a 1-loss team, but could also be fringe national title contenders. They are coming off of a big win at home against USC and would be in a position to win the Pac-10 championship if they win this game.

ACC Roundup:

The Clemson Tigers should stay in ACC title contention for another week by steamrolling 1-7 Duke. Maybe the Blue Devils will surprise me, but I doubt it.

#24 Wake Forest and #23 Virginia will slug it out in Charlottesville, VA. Virginia needs to win in order to hold off Virginia Tech in the ACC Coastal division and Wake Forest needs to win to stay on BC's heels in the Atlantic Division. I'll be pulling for Virginia, but I think Wake Forest is a much better team.

Maryland will take on the UNC Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. Maryland's Atlantic Division chances are hanging on by a thread as it is, but I would like the 'Terps to be out of contention when BC heads down to College Park next week. UNC isn't likely to come through at 2-6, but they did surprise Miami in a 33-27 win in Chapel Hill a few weeks back. A win here would also put the 'Terps one win away from bowl eligibility.

The Miami Hurricanes will take on Tom O'Brien's NC State wolfpack in Miami. Miami needs this win to stay in the ACC title chase as they'll be taking on both of the teams on top of their division in the following two weeks. If they run the tables they would quite possibly be in a situation where they would need to beat BC in Chestnut Hill in order to win the Coastal division on the last week of the season. NC State isn't likely to stop them at 3-5, but one of those 3 was a huge upset win over #15 Virginia last week and Miami has shown a tendency to underestimate opponents based on it's losses to UNC and Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks. This win would make the 'Canes bowl eligible and is the last easy game on their schedule as they will have Virginia next week before trying to beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and BC in Chestnut Hill to fnish out the season.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Decisions, Decisions....

The season is over, there's a fresh World Series trophy in Boston and the celebration is over and the talk of dynasty is ready to begin. The Red Sox face some really tough decisions with regards to their approach to free agency this year. Some people will be moving on, some will be actively shopped around until they find a home elsewhere and some currently have nothing but question marks.

Let's start with the easy one:

Tim Wakefield: There's some controversy surrounding Tim Wakefield and whether or not the Red Sox will pick up the option on his contract for another year. This is almost a foregone conclusion in my mind. Regardless of what else happens, Tim Wakefield is just too good a bargain to pass up. He's the longest tenured Red Sox player on the roster by a wide margin, he can be a starter or help out in the bullpen and the fact that he's a knuckleballer makes his age/health minor considerations. Regardless of what happens with other pitchers on the staff, Tim Wakefield is an excellent insurance policy and will contribute.

Curt Schilling: I initially believed Curt would be staying in Boston and finish out his career with the Red Sox, but some recent news gives me good reason to doubt that this will be the case. News outlets are reporting anonymous sources within the organization think resigning Schilling to another year is unlikely, Curt has filed for free agency and has reported a number of teams he'd be interested in pitching for and Curt has written goodbye letters to a number of his teammates.

What do I think about Curt Schilling's situation? Putting aside the sentimental value of seeing Curt wrap up his career in a Boston uniform, I could easily go either way. Pro: Curt has only asked for one more year and has expressed no interest in a long term deal. Con: Curt wants the same salary for what is admittedly not the same product the sox wanted when they initially signed him. Pro: There is a real lack of quality pitching on the free agent market. Con: The Red Sox can sign Tim Wakefield and have a pretty good rotation of Beckett, DiceK, Bucholz, Lester and Wakefield; Schilling might get in the way of some promising prospects. Pro: Schilling showed some flashes of brilliance from his old self with the near no-hitter in Oakland and some dominating performances in the playoffs. Con: Schilling had a mediocre regular season at best and took a DL stint, at his age durability is a real concern.

Either way, I'm infinitely grateful that Curt seems to have no interest in playing for the Yankees. Seeing him finish his career in pinstripes would be a slap in the face to the Boston fan base that loves him, and he knows and acknowledges this.

Mike Lowell v Alex Rodriguez: Two weeks ago I would have been strongly in favor of signing Mike Lowell, but some things have changes since then. Alex Rodriguez basically gave the Yankees front office the finger by opting out of his contract and getting Texas off the hook for a large portion of the subsidy they promised the Yankees when they picked up A-Rod's contract. Now, the Yankees need a quality 3rd baseman and are unwilling to talk to Alex Rodriguez. What this does: Drives up the price of Mike Lowell and brings down the price of Alex Rodriguez. There are a very limited number of clubs that can afford A-Rod's services and still field a competitive team. I also think Rodriguez's decision to leave New York is the result of the transition they'll be going through with a new manager and likely losing some key members of the team to free agency. I think A-Rod wants to play for a serious title contender, the Yankees aren't likely to be able to offer this next year. This narrows down the list of potential homes for A-Rod considerably. My guess: Boston or the Angels. So, to summarize, Alex Rodriguez is young, just won the MVP award and will probably have to take less money than the Yankees would have paid him.

Mike Lowell, on the other hand, is coming off of an unprecedentedly good season. He had never hit above .300 in his entire career and this season he hit .324. His highest RBI total prior to this season was 105, this season he hit 120. This year was clearly a late career renaissance for him while in a contract year. I don't expect him to maintain these numbers once he's settled into what will likely be his last contract at age 33. If Mike Lowell is going to be in a Red Sox uniform again it's not going to be cheap, and it probably won't be worth it.

I hate to say it, but you might actually get more bang for your buck with Alex Rodriguez. The X factor? Clubhouse chemistry. When asked about A-Rod v. Mike Lowell Jason Varitek refused to comment, essentially saying that he felt that he wasn't the person to ask, but pointed out that he knows Mike Lowell is a big part of their clubhouse chemistry.

Coco Crisp: This guy needs to be moved, he was a good center fielder, but not good enough to let Jacoby Ellsbury rot in the minor leagues for another year.

Julian Tavarez: Julian Tavarez is very similar to Tim Wakefield. He's cheap and has great versatility and durability. Should Curt Schilling move on I think Julian would make an excellent 6th starter/long reliever in the event somebody in the starting rotation gets hurt.

Bobby Kielty: We could use a 4th outfielder, not sure this is necessarily the way to go though. I hear there are some solid prospects in the Red Sox minor leagues that could provide as a solid 4th outfielder.

Julio Lugo: The dream scenario in my mind actually involves Julio Lugo being sold off to another team with the Red Sox eating about a third of the money for his contract and bringing in Alex Rodriguez to play his original position at shortstop. This is farfetched and extremely speculative though. In all likelihood we're stuck with Julio Lugo next year. If it's any consolation, Lugo's batting numbers were almost all below his career average, I could see him bouncing back nicely in his second year.

Doug Mirabelli: We tried getting rid of Dougie before, but then we realized that nobody else could catch Tim Wakefield and a million passed balls per game wasn't good for business. This time we do have Kevin Cash, who caught Wakefield effectively during Doug Mirabelli's DL stint. I'd prefer to see Cash playing rather than Mirabelli. Of course if Wakefield isn't coming back then there's no need for Dougie whatsoever.

Should be interesting to see what the Red Sox front office puts on the field for 2008.