Friday, March 20, 2015

NCAA Tournament Picks

Sweet 16

Kentucky
Maryland
Notre Dame
Wichita State

Wisconsin
Arkansas
Ole Miss
Arizona

Villanova
Louisville
Providence
Virginia

Duke
Stephen F Austin
Iowa State
Gonzaga

Elite 8

Kentucky
Notre Dame

Arkansas
Arizona

Louisville
Virginia

Duke
Gonzaga

Final 4

Kentucky
Arizona

Louisville
Gonzaga

Championship Game

Kentucky over Louisville

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Red Sox Opening Day Roster Prediction (Version 1)

The Red Sox open the 2015 season just 18 days from now in Philadelphia.

While Cole Hamels might end up wearing a Boston uniform at some point this year he will be wearing the home white's that day.  Who will be wearing a Red Sox uniform that Monday?  Let's take a guess.

Starting Rotation (4)

Clay Buchholz
Rick Porcello
Wade Miley
Justin Masterson

Note: Joe Kelly's arm soreness does not seem like cause for concern yet but with the Red Sox not needing a fifth starter until their ninth game on Wednesday, April 15, they can afford to be cautious and start him on the disabled list.

Bullpen (8)

Koji Uehara (closer), Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright

Note: Wright gets the nod as the additional reliever to start the season in place of Kelly.

Designated Hitter (1)

David Ortiz

Note: There's no one better than Big Papi and with the depth added to the lineup this winter, he will have added protection which should lead to another season of 30 home runs and 100 RBI.

Catcher (2)

Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan

Note: Start the countdown for Blake Swihart now.

Infielders (5)

Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt

Note: Holt offers tremendous positional depth for John Farrell's team as he can play all four infield positions as well as being able to fill-in as an emergency corner outfielder.

Outfielders (5)

Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava

Notes: Betts has quickly emerged in the last year from potential prospect to emerging franchise cornerstone but I'm curious to see if he can establish himself as a consistent contributor on a contender.  Victorino is a free agent after 2015 and with Craig, Nava, and Rusney Castillo pushing for playing time, he could be moved.  I expect Castillo to use an early season trip to Pawtucket to get warmed up before providing the team with a boost for the second half of the season.  Craig should be used as the team's super utility man considering his positional versaility - he can play both corner infield spots, both corner outfield spots - and his offensive potential.  Nava could be another player not long for Boston as a team searching for a cheap outfielder and/or first base option would find him attractive.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft (Version 1)

Welcome to the initial NFL Mock Draft from TheBostonInsider.

Projections are based off team needs following the first few days of free agency.

No trades are being projected at this time but that will change in subsequent editions of the mock draft.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DL, Southern California

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

5. Washington Redskins: Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

6. New York Jets: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

7. Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

8. Atlanta Falcons: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

9. New York Giants: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

10. St. Louis Rams: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

12. Cleveland Browns: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

13. New Orleans Saints: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

14. Miami Dolphins: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

15. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

16. Houston Texans: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

17. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

19. Cleveland Browns: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State

20. Philadelphia Eagles:  Landon Collins, S, Alabama

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jalen Collins, CB, Louisiana State

23. Detroit Lions: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas

24. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

25. Carolina Panthers: La'El Collins, OT, Louisiana State

26. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

27. Dallas Cowboys: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

28. Denver Broncos: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

29. Indianapolis Colts: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

30. Green Bay Packers: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa

31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle Seahawks): Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

32. New England Patriots: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Random Thoughts (March 12, 2015)

Wow, you take a month off to rest and relax after Malcolm Butler sealed the fourth Super Bowl title of the Brady-Belichick era and you end up missing a few things.  I guess it's time to catch up.

***

Under the premise of first things first, let's discuss Darrelle Revis' departure for the Jets.

Revis is many things.  An All-Pro cornerback, a shrewd negotiator, and a passionate believer in the New York Jets.

The Patriots lost Revis to the Jets on Tuesday after their divisional rivals ponied up $39-million in guaranteed money.  While the Patriots certainly would have welcomed Revis back - his addition in 2014 provided Belichick with a shut down corner that helped lead the team to its first championship since 2004 - the money was too rich for their blood so they passed.

This move has led to an outcry among Patriots fans who, if sports radio is to be believed, connect the loss of Revis to the expected end of dominance for the Pats.

For those that believe a 3-13 season is on the brink with Revis back wearing green, it's time to pump the breaks.  The Patriots last losing season occurred when Bill Clinton was President, Belichick will figure this thing out.

While the loss of Revis should not be over looked, his return in no way guaranteed another championship and the financial constraints would have possibly prevented the team from adding players to bolster the roster or from offering contract extensions to young stars like Dont'a Hightower or Jamie Collins who will likely be the future leaders of the team as Brady's career winds to its end.

Also, it sounds like Revis wanted the Jets no matter what and the Patriots were aware of that. Sometimes the possibility of multiple championships and a winning environment cannot trump the allure of playing for a team that has not won a championship since Lyndon Johnson was President.

It's time to move on and watch Belichick build yet another team that will win 12 or 13 games on the way to the division title and will have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

***

Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Joe Kelly will emerge as top of the rotation starting pitchers and the Red Sox offense will score runs in bunches as the team completes the rare "worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first" achievement and they will face off with the Nationals in a phenomenal World Series that will be decided in extra innings of Game 7.

***

The Red Sox pitching staff will cycle through 17 different starters due to injuries and ineffectiveness and injuries will sideline David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Mike Napoli for long stretches of time as they limp to a last place finish and the search for a new manager when John Farrell is let go in August.

***

As you can tell, I'm not sure how the 2015 season will play out for the Red Sox.

***

The Bruins are showing signs of life in their chase for an Eastern Conference playoff spot but I'm worried that a potentially short playoff run is being emphasized over the development of some of the better young players.

This Bruins team is not a Stanley Cup contender.  With Zdeno Chara less than a week away from turning 38 and contract decisions on several players - including Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg - looming, this is a franchise that has to accept that it is in transition.

This is the time to put young talent such as David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, and Brian Ferlin in critical spots of important games to provide them with valuable experience. If this team was legitimately chasing a Stanley Cup I would be more cautious but this situation lends itself to development and the opportunity to provide experience in a playoff chase should be seized.

***

Brad Stevens, NBA Coach of the Year.

Stevens has a team filled with inexperience and lacking for talent yet has them on the verge of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  I know that the East is a weak compared to the mighty Western Conference but that should not be used against Stevens considering what he has already accomplished through 63 games.

The Celtics were not built to be a playoff team in 2015 and expectations were this would be another building year.  Danny Ainge has accumulated a stockpile of draft picks and young players and the franchise's vision seemed to be set on the future.

What Stevens has done is take a young team that has constantly been changing and created a team that competes and is learning how to win.  Not many coaches in the NBA coaches could have achieved what Stevens has with the hand he has been dealt.

Now, will a coach with a sub-.500 record take home the Red Auerbach award?  Doubtful.  But Celtics fans should be optimistic that they have a coach in place who has what it takes to succeed. Ainge just needs to put the necessary talent on the roster to take advantage of Stevens' abilities.

***

NFL Mock Draft season will be kicking off in the space soon.  Yeah, I can tell you're excited.

***

Finally, best of luck to Brian Fontas' Acton-Boxboro Girls Hockey team and Kristen McDonnell's Braintree Girls Basketball team in their quest to win Massachusetts Division One State Championships this weekend.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Bowl Pick

Patriots (-1) over Seahawks

After two weeks of non-stop talk about "Deflate-Gate", what Marshawn Lynch was not saying, and a little bit of actual game preview, it's finally time for the Super Bowl.

You already know I'm taking the Patriots. Obviously I'm blinded by optimism and homerism but it's not just my heart saying the Patriots will win, it's also my head.

Seattle is an excellent team.  They are well coached by Pete Carroll, have a punishing defense led by a handful of Pro Bowlers in the secondary, and have clutch offensive stars Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.  The Seahawks are a rival to the 2001 St. Louis Rams for the best opponent the Patriots have faced in the Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era.

The thing is the Patriots are just better.  Belichick is a better coach than Carroll.  The Patriots defense does not get the publicity that their NFC counterparts do but features enough stars to make life miserable for Seattle tonight.  And on offense, Tom Brady has more weapons at his disposal than Wilson.

All of those factors, plus a burning desire to silence the critics from around the country who have called them cheaters for the past fortnight, will conclude with Roger Goodell sheepishly handing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots tonight.

The heart says 41-20.  The brain says 26-16.  Either way, it's a Patriot victory.

Last Week: 2-0
Playoffs: 5-5
Overall: 121-138-5