Jake Peavy will presumably take the mound for the first time in Boston on Saturday
Late last night, the Boston Red Sox completed a blockbuster deal with the Chicago White Sox for starter Jake Peavy that culminated rather quickly. More than s few eyebrows were raised when Jose Iglesias was pulled from the game for a defensive replacement, as he is already one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Speculation quickly spread like wildfire when Jackie Bradley Jr. was pulled from his game in Pawtucket in the 6th, but that was just because of arm soreness.
However, news came that Iglesias would be headed to the Detroit Tigers in a 3-team deal that ultimately netted Peavy for the Sox. Peavy brings a bulldog mindset to Boston that should quickly endear him to his coaches, teammates, and fans. He may not be the 2007 Cy Young award winner that he once was, but he still has good stuff, and has a thirst for postseason competition. Although this move creates a potential logjam in the rotation if/when Clay Buchholz comes back, I like the move.
I know yesterday I wrote that the Red Sox should just focus on minor deals to improve the team at the deadline, but any deal should always be considered depending on the asking price. I think Boston paid a fair price for Peavy, and Iglesias will not be missed for long. Yes, his fielding ability has been compared numerous times to 11-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel, but his hitting is nowhere close to that level. If Iglesias could come in and field the way we all know he can and be a .275 hitter then that would be acceptable, but I don't see that happening. I know is currently hitting .330 and his average was much higher earlier in the season, but he is a career .260 hitter in the minors, and is hovering near the Mendoza line this month (.205). I just don't see how Iglesias could have maintained an average over .250-.260 over the course of an entire season.
Plus, every notion says that Xander Bogaerts will arrive in Boston at some point this year and he is the shortstop of the future, with or without Iglesias. The 20-year-old has skyrocketed through the minor leagues and is still tearing it up in AAA. He has a rare combination of power, average, and speed and could finally be the long-term shortstop Boston has so desperately looked for since dealing Nomar.
As for how Boston's outlook is for the rest of this year, I would say it's pretty promising. They needed another arm in the rotation to compete with the Ray's stellar staff, and Peavy brings a great pedigree with him to Boston. Him, along with Lackey, Lester, and hopefully Buchholz could be a formidable postseason lineup for games 1-4 in a series. I can't wait to see Peavy take the mound in a Red Sox uniform for the first time.
Cliff Lee is a stud, but should Boston pay the steep price for him?
There has been speculation for weeks as to what the Red Sox will or won't do on the trading deadline, and that all culminates tomorrow. Baseball's trade deadline is unlike any other sports aside from maybe soccer's transfer deadline day. Contending teams scramble to find deals to help their teams win a pennate while cellar dwellers look to unload money or their lone stars for a load of prospects.
This year, the Red Sox look like they will be in the thick of things along with Tampa Bay right to the end of the season. Unlike last year where Boston famously unloaded the massive contracts of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez in a rebuilding effort, this year they should be looking for some pieces to help solidify their status as a legitimate contender in the American League. Various names have been connected to Boston in possible deals including Jake Peavy, Cliff Lee, Michael Young and even (while highly unlikely) Giancarlo Stanton.
Although I would like to see many of those players in a Boston uniform, they will all come at a certain price, some of which will be steeper than others. Young would come the cheapest and would help add depth to the left side of the infield especially if Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias continue to struggle, or if Stephen Drew gets re-injured. Peavy and Lee would both give Boston a strong rotation, but both will cost a hefty amount of solid contracts, and I am completely against the Sox dealing Xander Bogaerts who will likely be a star sooner rather than later. The Marlins say they will not deal Stanton, but if they do sources say the Red Sox and Rangers will be the early front runners.
All speculation aside, Boston should look for only minor deals tonight and tomorrow. Their farm system is as loaded as it has been in years, and I don't think they should dip into their resources for anyone who is available at this time. When Clay Buchholz comes back they will have a solid stretch run rotation with a revitalized John Lackey, steady Jon Lester, and emerging Felix Doubront. Although Lee or Peavy would tremendously bolster the staff, I don't quite think either is worth the prospects and money that will be necessary to pry them from their respective teams.
If Boston can trade for a reliable option out of the bullpen in order to solidify the back end in case of another injury, it will be a step in the right direction. They could also use some SS/3B depth, and that could be from Michael Young, another trade option, or possibly an early Bogaerts call up. A power right-handed bat could also be something on the Sox radar, but that is probably the least likely of any possible deal. With those small, but necessary moves, the Red Sox would put themselves in a position succeed in a battle with the Rays that will likely be close all year for the AL East crown.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will have numerous decisions to make regarding their receiving corps this season
At this point in the offseason, everyone knows the Patriots have questions at the receiver position. The departures of Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez have been well documented. Those three guys played a major role when they were on the field last season, and their skills and production will obviously will be missed.
However what some people do not know is that the Patriots could be without their top 7 (SEVEN!!!!) pass catchers from last year. In addition to the aforementioned trio, Tom Brady will also be without Danny Woodhead and past favorite target Deion Branch. Also, if the prognosis' of Julien Edelman and Rob Gronkowski do not improve, then Brady could be without all of those above players Week 1 against the Bills.
For some perspective, Brady completed 401 passes last year. The above 7 guys were on the receiving end of a combined 375 of those balls. Thats 93.5% of Brady's completions potentially gone for the start of the year. To say the receiver position is going through some overhaul is an understatement.
That is where the development of the rookie wide receivers is key. The Patriots currently have three who are all making a push to be on the roster come the end of camp. I'm going to take a look at each one individually and give my thoughts on each.
Aaron Dobson (2nd round, 59th overall): The draft was deep in wide receivers this year, and the Patriots traded down multiple times until they found their guy at 59 in Dobson. Dobson is well known for his spectacular catches while at Marshall, and the 6' 3" 203 pound is expected to be an outside threat for the Patriots this year. He is being lauded for his hands in training camp and made a great grab on a Brady pass over Aqib Talib over the weekend. The track record for the Patriots and rookie receivers has not been great over the past decade, but Dobson's football IQ is one reason why New England took him in the second round. I am told he reminds many of the last great pass catcher to come out of Marshall, Randy Moss. If he ends up anything like Moss I'm sure Brady will develop a chemistry with him quickly. This year Dobson should end up being the top target on the outside for Brady, as Danny Amendola and Gronk tend to work the middle of the field. Hopefully Dobson can develop into the stretch the field receiver the Pats have so desperately needed in recent seasons.
Josh Boyce (4th round, 102nd overall): Boyce does not have the size that Dobson has, but he does have blazing speed. He ran a 4.34 40 yard dash at the combine and that was with a broken toe. With a full training camp to get healthy and acclimated to the system, Boyce could become a factor in the offense early. With that speed he could also see time returning kicks and punts which he did at TCU for some time. Boyce is expected to compete for the number 3 wide receiver sport in camp, and could win that job with a strong preseason.
Kenbrell Thompkins (Undrafted Free Agent): Thompkins is the guy on this list that most people probably haven't heard of, but he could become a familiar name if his performance continues the way it has so far in the offseason. The 6' 1" rookie out of Cincinnati has made quite the impression on the coaching staff so far. He is supposedly "catching everything thrown his way" and his development was one of the reasons why the Patriots felt comfortable releasing Donald Jones before a snap was even taken in training camp. If his strong play continues he could also challenge Boyce and veteran Michael Jenkins for the number 3 spot on the depth chart.