Archive for February, 2009

Pondering The Trade Of Cassel and Vrabel To Kansas City
February 28, 2009

Forgive me if I say something doesn’t seem right about the deal sending Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the 34th (second round) pick in April’s NFL Draft.

How can those two players, who were arguably two of the best on the team last year, be worth just a second round pick? Surely (sayeth the Pats fans), they were worth the #3 pick overall, right?

Here’s my theory. There is documented proof that many NBA and NHL teams are in dire financial straits (in fact, NBA teams couldn’t dump salaries fast enough at the trading deadline and many teams are taking loans from the league). Is it so far fetched, in this economy, to assume the NFL is immune? Maybe the Patriots just don’t feel the financial commitment to the 3rd pick is worth it right now.

But wait, you say… why not trade for that pick anyway – and then move it to another team in exchange for more picks later on? Because I’m not so sure the other teams want that pick either! That’s a lot of guaranteed money (during these times) to invest in one player from a less than stellar draft class who may never pan out.

Now, like I said, this is just a theory I devised while enjoying my wife’s wonderful banana bread this morning. It’s just as likely that there wasn’t a better deal on the table (don’t know if I believe that), or that Belichick did his buddy Scott Pioli a favor (somewhat likely), or that Belichick would rather have more of the so-called “value picks” in rounds 2,3, and 4 (most likely).

So now what? The defense is missing it’s anchor (as well as a suprise weapon on offense), and there’s little to no insurance if Tom Brady spends more time honeymooning than rehabbing. With so much salary cap spaced cleared, the most obvious answer is Ray Lewis… but Belichick has never been high on players like that. Of course, we said the same thing about Randy Moss, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

What do you think?

–SI

First Day Of School
February 28, 2009

More or less, for Stephon Marbury.

The mercurial (love that word) guard arrived in Boston at 5 AM, was at the Garden by 8:30, and spent most of the day finalizing his contract and taking a physical. He practiced with the team for about an hour before meeting the media before the game. During that pregame talk, he stressed that the past is the past, and he’s here to win a championship (good job Steph, PR 101).

The game itself was certainly interesting. Stephon entered the game with 19 seconds left in the 1st quarter and his first run lasted 5:08. His entry into the game was highlighted by a standing ovation from the crowd, which Marbury acknowledged by waving his arm and high fiving a young boy sitting courtside. Marbury ran the point, with Eddie House playing the off guard. Stephon hit a jump shot, but had a difficult time guarding Indiana’s Brandon Rush, a much taller player. When I talked to Stephon after the game, he told me he was definitely surprised (and pleased) by the warm reaction from the crowd. He said he simply got caught up in the excitement when he delivered the high five of a lifetime for that little boy (I’d be bragging if I were that kid, it was cute). We also talked about how he was going to have to get used to guarding bigger guards if he was going to play more shooting guard than point (which was weird, because Marbury played point guard, yet he was guarded by the Pacers’ 2 guards early – this changed later). He said he would rely on his quickness to keep up.

Marbury really got the crowd going when he re-entered the game in the fourth quarter. He scored 6 more points on a jumper and two layups that put the Celtics up for good, In the end, Marbury played about 12 minutes, scoring 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting. After the game, Stephon joked about how tired his legs felt, and how the only thing that mattered was that the team won. It was also funny to watch Big Baby squirm in his locker as the media swarmed around Stephon (their lockers are next to each other). Don’t worry Glen, we’ll thin out after a couple of games 🙂

For all of the concerns I have about this acquisition, it seems pretty obvious to me that Marbury knows if nothing else, he had better say all the right things, because for the short money he’s getting, the Celtics won’t hesitate to cut him if he becomes a problem. So for now, I say this is a move worth making, because the potential benefits are too much to pass up. Let’s hope the thrill of finally shedding his “loser” label is enough to convince Marbury to stick to his role and be a good sport. His quest for a big payday next year will be easy enough if he has a big championship ring on his finger.

–SI

Stephon Marbury at pregame press conference

Stephon Marbury at pregame press conference

Vrabel Traded to K-C
February 27, 2009

Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel has been traded to the Chiefs for a draft choice. Soon to be 34 years old, Vrabel was in the last year of his contract and has slowed down a little tho he was an integral part of all 3 Patriots Super Bowl Titles.

-MD

Marbury signing official, Pruitt Suspended
February 27, 2009

The Celtics have just made official what we 1st told you here in Tuesday, The signing of guard Stephon Marbury. He is undergoing a physical and will be at the Celtics walk thru practice at the garden at 5 pm. IT is still unsure if he will dress for tonight’s game but there is a roster spot available so he could dress for the game and just have a very good seat.

Also the Celtics have announced that back-up point guard Gabe Pruitt, who was arrested on Friday morning in Hollywood on suspicion of DUI, is suspended for 2 games. Ironically the signing of Marbury will mean a big decrease of playing time for Pruitt

MD

Pats add running back
February 27, 2009

The Patriots have made a splash on the very 1st day of the NFL Free Agency period by signing 11 year veteran running back Fred Taylor. Taylor, who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars is the 16th leading rusher in NFL history with over 11,000 yards and 60 touchdowns.

Now, Taylor is 33 years old and has carried the ball nearly 2500 times over his 11 year career. Last year he gained just 556 yards averaging 3.9 yards per carry but obviously Belichick thinks he has something left in the tank while not expecting him to carry the full load of a #1 back with Lawrence Maroney still around as well as Sammy Morris.

This signing follows the Patriots recent trend of signing veteran running backs, but unlike Corey Dillon, Taylor is known to be one of the nicest guys in the league. This signing certainly protects the Patriots from the injury plagued Maroney who over the past couple of years, the Pats had been counting on to be the teams #1 running back.

I like the signing mainly because this team must have some insurance for Maroney despite how well Morris played last year. The Pats have been a bit short handed at this position the past few years hoping Maroney would step up and holding their breath that Maroney would stay healthy which has not happened.

-MD

Marbury Coming To Garden
February 24, 2009

SportsCenter 5’s Mike Dowling has learned that the Knicks and disgruntled guard Stephon Marbury have reached an agreement to buy out Marbury’s contract, making him a free agent after he clears waivers.

League sources tell SportsCenter 5 that once he clears waivers (48 hour period), Marbury will sign a contract with the Boston Celtics, bolstering the team’s bench as it deals with several injuries.

At one time, Marbury was one of the premier guards in the NBA, and has averaged nearly 20 points and 8 assists per game for his career. He has yet to play this season due to conflicts with Knicks management. He did play with Kevin Garnett for three seasons in Minnesota.

Garnett out 2-3 weeks
February 21, 2009

The Celtics have decided to be ultra conservative putting Kevin Garnett on the shelf for 2-3 weeks as he has been preliminarily diagnosed with a posterior muscle strain behind his right knee. Garnett will be looked at on saturday by team physician Brian McKeon for a complete diagnosis.

Garnett being out 2 weeks is more accurate because the team will have a very difficult time keeping him out against the Cavaliers who the Celts play in 2 weeks.

Being out 2 weeks would mean Garnett would miss  the 3 remaining games on this western road swing against Phoenix, Denver and the Clippers as well as games against Indiana, Detroit and New Jersey. The next 2 Celtics games would be at home against the Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, teams with the best and 3rd best records in the east as the Celtics try to secure the best record in the east and home court advantage during the playoffs.

-MD

Garnett out for at least a week
February 20, 2009

Kevin Garnett is arriving in Boston Friday night to have an MRI on his injured right knee on saturday and get thoroughly checked out by team physician Brian McKeon.  Garnett will not rejoin the team for the rest of the western road trip. That trip includes 3 games in Phoenix Sunday, Denver Monday and LA Wednesday to play the Clippers before returning next Friday to face the Indiana Pacers at the Garden. A Celtics official told me that he is not that worried about the injury, which means that it should not affect their quest for a championship (which means that Garnett will be back in plenty of time for the playoffs in late April).

Worst case scenario is that the Celtics would find some loose or torn meniscus in Garnett’s right knee requiring minor arthroscopic surgery which would force Garnett to miss about a month.

Thursday night Celtics fans everywhere held their collective breath fearing the worst after Kevin Garnett limped off the court in Utah. Celtics fans were very releived when his injury was diagnosed as a starined knee.

The good news is that after the injury in the 1st half of Thursday night’s game, Garnett expressed a desire to play in the 2nd half  but after he warmed up and did not feel 100% the Celtics shut him down refusing to take any chances.

Garnett’s right knee has been bothering him for a few weeks and the Celtics will take no chances since having a healthy Garnett is the Celtics only chance to win it all.

Unlike the Patriots, the Celtics would have already told us if there is any major injury. It appears that their may be some cartilage damage which would put him out from a week to even a couple of weeks if minor arthroscopic surgery is required.

Again, the good news is that this injury to Kevin Garnett does not appear to be serious enough to force him to miss any of the playoffs which, ultimately this is all about.

-MD

“Live” from “The Fort”
February 19, 2009

Highlight of today’s workout was “live batting practice.” Pitchers throwing hard against hitters ( not a favorite of hitters.) Most impressive was Ramon Ramirez, picked up in the deal for Coco Crisp. Ramirez bears watching this spring.

Mike Lynch

Stopping Short
February 19, 2009

Another Chamber of Commerce day in Fort Myers. Spotted out on the diamond taking ground balls early was Jed Lowrie who is in the only “one on one” battle this camp. Lowrie took over at shortstop after Julio Lugo injured his quad and played errorless ball at the position. Lugo is healthy and wants his job back. Lowrie told me that it isn’t personal but he feels he is the best candidate and wants the job. When told of Lowrie’s remarks Lugo laughed and responded “ha ha, we’ll have to see.” When asked if he would seek a trade, Lugo said he’d wait until the end of spring training.
I don’t think it will come to that. Lugo is due $18 million over the next two years, hardly a marketable commodity. With Mike Lowell’s status for the opener in doubt, look for Lowrie to get plenty of time at third base this spring. He most likely will assume the role of Alex Cora (utility infielder)who joined the Mets this winter.

Mike Lynch