Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Here are the soon-to-be free agents currently on the Bruins roster:
Mark Recchi, RW
Steve Begin, C
Miroslav Satan, RW
Shawn Thornton, LW
Dennis Seidenberg, D
Johnny Boychuk, D
Blake Wheeler, RW
Daniel Paille, LW
Vladimir Sobotka, C
Mark Stuart, D
Hindsight is 20/20, but the Bruins only signed Boychuk to a 1 year deal after he won the Eddie Shore Award in AHL Providence. The B's seem to have a habit of re-signing guys at their peak (Thomas, Wideman, Krejci, Savard, Lucic). They struggle to buy low.
The B's are negotiating with Seidenberg, which I think is very wise. Not only is he German, but he's a very solid defenseman. He's only 29, he takes care of the puck, he blocks shots, he can play the power play and penalty kill. As a partner for Zdeno Chara, he's perfect.
Boychuck is another guy I really want the Bruins to keep. But his price might go too high. I'm sure he wants to stay in Boston, where defensive hockey is really important, and where he's allowed to get involved in the offensive game. He's got a great shot for a defenseman, although he frequently takes too many shots without an adequate shooting lane.
As much as his postseason exploits endeared him to Bruins fans, they also may have garnered the attentions of too many GMs. I think his price might prove to be too high. The Bruins have depth at this position, and don't need to overpay to keep Boychuk.
Miroslav Satan will turn 37 in October. He could score 20 goals (had 9 in 38 games with the Bruins), and he dazzled the fans in the playoffs. But he's not a complete player. His finish isn't good or consistent enough to pay him like a pure scorer. I'd rather get a grinding forward for a cheaper price. Then again, if he wants to play for $700,000 again, then he's worth it.
Recchi is old. And as much as I love him, can he endure a long postseason? I don't think so. He'll show sparks, but I think his age caught up to him at the end of the Philly series, when he disappeared from the checking game. Again, keep him only if he accepts a cheap contract.
Begin is a nice 4th line center. A grinder, a checker, a guy who can help keep the puck in the offensive zone. You can move him to the wings, though. Put him on a line with Sobotka and Thornton, and that's terrifying for the opposition to face. He's also an adept penalty killer.
You can retain Shawn Thornton for low money. He's not just a fighter. He's a good checker, and is capable of handling the puck with modest skill. Still, he's the team's fists, and was the only guy who showed in heart in the Matt Cooke game. Keep him as a 4th line winger getting less than 10 minutes of ice-time.
Blake Wheeler seems like a neverending project. He has no identity as a player. He doesn't have the puck skills or reflexes to be a scorer. He doesn't play with the size or moxy of a grinder. I think you could get the same kind of production from a much cheaper player.
Daniel Paille was an emergency acquisition last year, but he's completely useless on offense. Write a "thank you note," and cut him loose.
I wish the Bruins had given Mark Stuart a contract extension instead of Andrew Ference. Stuart gets crazy eyes, he gets involved on offense, and he's aggressive on defense. What happens with Seidenberg and Boychuk will determine what should happen to Stuart. If those two guys stay, Stuart is very expendable. If neither sign, he becomes indispensable.
Talk all you want about infield defense, UZR, and all that mumbo jumbo. What truly prevents runs is good pitching. And that's what the Red Sox have gotten the last few days. They've beaten two very good teams on the road because of excellent starts from everyone in their rotation except John Lackey, who'll pitch tonight.
Maybe the Rays aren't a .700 team. That's kind of obvious, as a .700 winning percentage would result in a 113 win season, and as good as Tampa Bay is, they're not 113 wins good. But the Rays haven't really played anyone. 6 games against Baltimore, 6 against Seattle, 5 against Oakland, 4 against KC, 3 against the White Sox, 3 against Houston, 3 against the Angels, 3 against Toronto.
I still don't think the Sox will catch the Rays in the East. But maybe they'll catch the Yankees? The Sox are still in 4th, but only 1.5 behind the 2nd place Yankees.
Willy Aybar hit a single in the 4th. That would be Tampa Bay's only hit off Lester or anyone else. Although Lester did walk 5, and needed 111 pitches to go 6 innings, you can't do much better than that. Delcarmen, Bard, and Papelbon completed the shutout.
This was Lester's 5th Quality Start in his last 6 outings. He's allowed 7 earned runs in his last 7 starts (49.2 IP, 1.27 ERA). He's 4-0 in May. He's the Ace of the Sox staff. Or at the very least, he's The Rock. The Cornerstone.
David Ortiz will get some deserved publicity for his reemergence as an offensive force. His double knocked in both Sox runs in the 3rd. He's hitting .361 in May, and slugging .787 with 9 HR and 19 RBI.
I'm not optimistic about the excellent starts continuing, as Lackey goes tonight against Garza. But taking 2 in Tampa is huge. The Sox have played their last 7 games against 1st place teams, and are 6-1 in that stretch. That's impressive.