Monday, December 21, 2009


The trade between the Rangers and Red Sox, which would've sent Mike Lowell to Texas, along with $9 million, in return for a minor league catcher, has been cancelled. It turns out that Lowell needs surgery on his right thumb in order to repair a torn ligament.

And I'm not too disappointed. And I don't know why the Rangers would accept this deal, then nix it because of this. Lowell will miss 6-8 weeks due to the surgery, which isn't that bad. And the Rangers were only committed to paying 1/4 of his salary, or $3 million.

Wasn't the whole appeal of this transaction, at least for the Rangers, that they'd get an experienced but injury-prone bat for a modest price? Has something changed this notion?

Whatever. I'm not upset by this at all. The trade only made sense if the Sox acquired another corner infielder, which they haven't done yet. You don't dry clothes before you wash him, and you don't trade a guy then HOPE you'll find his necessary replacement.

Lowell and Kotchman can platoon in the lineup, with Youkilis and Martinez filling in at 3rd and 1st, respectively. Lowell can also DH, which is nice because David Ortiz is close to washed up in my book.

Boston Globe


The Bruins played a pair of road games this weekend. As to be expected, they looked like completely different teams from night to night.

On Friday, in Chicago, they stole a point in what eventually became a 5-4 shootout loss. The Blackhawks boast a pretty talented team this season, and had 21,717 fans supporting them Friday night. David Krejci had his 2nd career multi-goal game, the other also came on December 18, in 2008 when he registered a hat-trick against Toronto.

The Bruins allowed a staggering 44 shots on goal, and allowed Chicago's offense too much space and time. It wasn't the defense-in-depth that we've been accustomed to here since Julien took over. But a point in Chicago is a nice early Christmas gift.

Then Saturday night, it was just sad. Rask was decent, but allowed a silly goal to trickle between his legs. But the real horror show was the offense. Apart from breakaways, the Bruins hardly pressured Jonas Gustavsson, who made 25 saves on his way to his first career shutout.

The Bruins' offensive woes are caused by multiple things. Here are some that were evident Saturday night:

1) Too many stupid penalties:
Toronto had 6 power plays. And although they were 0 for 6, that's a significant chunk of the game spent in your own zone, not focusing on scoring goals. It's also a waste of potential offensive minutes for some of your key offensive players (Sturm, Savard, Wheeler, Chara, Krejci). Two Bruins' power plays were abbreviated by their own penalties. And these were really stupid penalties too.

2) No battles won along the boards:
You miss guys like Lucic in this area. Some players, like Bitz and Sobotka, can consistently go into a corner and come out with a puck. But with most of the Bruins, it's about a 50/50 bet. It gets to the point that you don't want to do it at all, because you don't want to give up possession so easily.

3) Too many shots into traffic:
How can this be a bad thing? Well, when the opposing defensive players are the traffic, your long-range shots become interceptions. Toronto blocked 21 shots (the B's got 25 to the net). Very frequently, those shots turned into breakaways for them, like the 3-on-2 that resulted in their 2nd goal. Morris, and now Chara, shoot too much from the points. They don't have shooting lanes, yet still let it fly.

In fact, the Bruins rarely shoot at the net, they shoot TOWARD the net, in the general direction of the net. That recent offensive drought seemed to convince them that it's impossible to shoot at the net and score. You have to shoot toward the net, hope for a deflection or rebound. And while there's nothing wrong with that, if 100% of your offense is slap-and-hope, you won't score as often as you should.

The Bruins are in Ottawa tonight. Think it's cold here? It'll be 11 degrees up there when the puck drops at 7:30.

Johnny Boychuck is now among the ranks of my favorite Bruins.


Photo Credits:
AP Photo


Three more picks for bowl games this week...

Tuesday 12/22 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Las Vegas Bowl - Las Vegas, NV
#18 Oregon St. Beavers @ #14 BYU Cougars
This is by far the most intriguing matchup of the early bowl season. Oregon State was 4 points shy of a Rose Bowl berth. BYU only lost to TCU and Florida State, and like most non-BCS teams, has a chip on its shoulder. But I think Oregon State will use its Pac-10 speed to run circles around BYU. OSU has just as much to prove as BYU, and they'll prevail.

Wednesday 12/23 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego, CA
#23 Utah Utes vs. California Golden Bears
Jahvid Best will determine this bowl game. If he shows up, Cal wins. If not, Utah wins. Pretty simple. But I say he shows up and Cal wins.

Thursday 12/24 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Hawaii Bowl - Honolulu, HA
Nevada Wolf Pack vs. SMU Mustangs
Apart from the BCS Bowls, this has to be the best bowl game to go to. Honestly, would you care if you won or lost? You get to spend December in Hawaii. Of course, it'd be nice to let cold weather teams come here more often, instead of teams from Reno and Dallas. Nevada wins this one because SMU sucks.

More previews Wednesday.


The Bills sent another gift-wrapped divisional win to the Patriots yet again. That's 13 straight Bills/Patriots games that have seen New England on top. And the good news filtered in from elsewhere that the Jets lost, and so did the Dolphins. The Patriots now have a stranglehold on the AFC East, and can clinch with a win next Sunday at home.

But how good is the AFC East? It's competitive, but I can make a strong case that it's one of the worst divisions in the NFL. Just look at its QBs apart from Brady, who hasn't been that stellar, by the by.

"Randy Moss is Back" will be the refrain of the week. And I'm not that surprised. Having TO on the opposing sideline motivates Randy Moss from sluggish scrub into Rocky Balboa.

It was an ugly win. And not like a good ugly win. Like five 1st downs in the 2nd half ugly. That's it for the Pats. Only five 1st downs. That works against Buffalo, it doesn't against Miami, New York, Indianapolis, and Denver. And we all know this inability to finish games is not a new phenomenon.

Jaguars @ Patriots Sunday at 1. A win clinches the AFC East. The Pats can still clinch with a loss if both New York and Miami lose.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo