It’s only been 12 days since the Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs, and so it’s more than reasonable to assume some local fans are not quite jazzed about the Super Bowl. In that spirit, here’s a look at where the other local teams stand in an NFL-free blog post.
Red Sox – Don’t worry about David Ortiz’s contract. The current rules surrounding the qualifying offer being what they are, he will have a standing offer at $14M every offseason if he wants to take it. The market and value of DHs being what it is, he won’t receive a similar offer in free agency. Maybe he hashes out one of those Tim Wakefield lifetime contracts, but even that deal had to be changed at the end of Wakefield’s tenure. The real intrigue surrounds the free agency of Stephen Drew. Will they let him walk and take the compensation pick (likely to fall in the 30s) in the upcoming draft? Or will they use him to fill the hole on the left side of the infield. And yes, there is a hole. After what we saw from Will Middlebrooks for most of last season, you can’t blame Sox fans if they wanted him reassigned rather than NESN’s Jenny Dell. He’s a streaky, strikeout-prone, impatient hitter. He’ll likely get better – because that’s what young players mostly do, but it’s risky to pin your hopes on him. He’s not nearly as much of a sure thing as Xander Bogaerts. As it stands now, Jonathan Herrera would be the backup infielder, but he can be sent down to Pawtucket. If last year is any guide, that will be the move for Herrera as Cherington will maximize all of that flexibility at the start of the year. That leaves Drew as someone who could once again bolster the team’s depth. Is signing him worth giving up that pick and having to dump one of the starting pitchers in a trade to fit under the luxury tax? With ample pitching depth in the organization, perhaps that’s the best allocation of resources. An even better allocation might be letting Drew walk, gaining the pick and then trading a starter in a package for a soon-to-be free agent third baseman (Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez). Expect a solution in the next couple weeks.
Bruins – The NHL season seems even longer this year with all the games squeezed in around the Olympic break, but this Bruins’ team has a knack for following up some nice games with absolute stinkers—much like last night’s game against Montreal. Yet there’s no need to worry about just one game. This team kept its head above water while dealing with a slew of injuries early this season. In doing so, they got a chance to try out younger players and see who fits and who doesn’t. Now, most of those injured players—aside from Dennis Seidenberg—are expected back this season. So you’re eventually adding a guy like Adam McQuaid to a defensive corps that has a more-improved Matt Bartowski as well as Kevan Miller, who was unearthed from Providence. It’s hard to predict what happens in the playoffs when one bad bounce can knock you out of a series, but the Bruins will have a chance once again this year.
Celtics – Six weeks ago, the Celtics were atop the Atlantic Division, but now they sit at the bottom with the third-worst record in the league. The teams are so jumbled up at the bottom of the standings that it’s hard to say for certain that the Celtics will be assured of a Top 7 pick (this is a very deep draft, but most scouts have zeroed in on the Top 7 as all having max-contract upside). But if they do get a Top 7 pick, Danny Ainge will have a chance to go one of two ways. Keep the pick and trade Rajon Rondo (presumably for Detroit or Sacramento’s pick if it falls in the Top 7) or trade the pick as part of a package for a veteran All-Star to pair with Rondo. In the “Keep Rondo” scenario, a few other moves (in addition to getting an All-Star) such as perhaps a sign-and-trade for Gordon Hayward or a trade for Omer Asik would need to be made. In the “Trade Rondo” scenario, you’d hope to build your team around two of the young guys from this draft—say Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker. It would take longer to rebuild, but you might have a longer window for success since the players would be younger. On the downside, the success of two young players would be far less predictable than that of a Rondo-and-All-Star duo.
Patri … just checking to see if you were still paying attention. No NFL here today.
Revs – Yes, the Revs. They made their much-awaited return to the playoffs last season with an unanticipated run. Now, they’ll have Charlie Davies for a full season in the system, and the former national-team member should be a factor on the field after struggling during his brief time with the team last season.