The Patriots are a week into training camp and the reports are all positive from Foxboro. It looks like Bill Belichick has a defense he can be aggressive with and an offense that will score enough points to win most weeks.
Here is the second projection at the Patriots 53-man roster. Players added from the initial projection are in bold.
Quarterback (3) - Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo The reports about Garoppolo have not been good but there's not much to worry about there because he is not going to be a factor in 2014. This training camp is intended to get him up to speed with the NFL and start his preparations for (possibly) taking over for Brady down the road. Running Back (5) - Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White, Brandon Bolden, James Develin Bolden's role on special teams and his ability to be a "power" option in this group get him a spot on my projection this time around. Develin is a hybrid Fullback/H-Back/Tight End and special teamer who gives Belichick the flexibility he craves on his roster. Wide Receiver (7) - Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater Dobson still has not started practicing following off-season foot surgery so there is a possibility that he starts the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list in order to open a spot for another player in the first few weeks. Tight End (2) - Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui With Develin making the cut in this projection, this position group loses a body. Expect Justin Jones and/or Asa Watson to make the practice squad. Tackle (3) - Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Cameron Fleming
Guard (4) - Logan Mankins, Marcus Cannon, Jon Halapio, Josh Kline Cannon's ability to swing to tackle provides excellent flexibility. Dan Connolly might save his job if rookie Bryan Stork's injury ends up being serious enough to threaten his season. Center (2) - Ryan Wendell, Bryan Stork Stork's injury could save Connolly's job. If Stork is healthy and wins the starting job, Connolly could still beat out Wendell due to his proven ability to play guard as well. Connolly will probably have to renegotiate his contract to stay no matter what scenario plays out to keep him with the team. Defensive Line (9) - Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith, Dominique Easley, Chris Jones, Michael Buchanan, Sealver Siliga Siliga is added to provide more depth on the inside. Sixth round draft pick Zach Moore could make it as well but I think he'll end up on the practice squad for now.
Linebacker (6) - Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, James Anderson, Chris White, Steve Beauharnais Ninkovich could slide back to linebacker if needed.
Cornerback (5) - Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler I've added Butler over Green to start the season with the caveat that Brandon Browner will be back after a four game suspension to take a spot. Safety (4) - Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson Wilson jumps Thomas in this projection due to his good play in camp and Thomas' injury related absence. Patrick Chung could also win that last spot. Kicker (1) - Stephen Gostkowski
The Red Sox have traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.
I'm not happy that they traded Lester but if the team had come to the determination that they could not (or would not) meet Lester's asking price when he became a free agent, they did well to add a talent like Cespedes.
At a time in which power hitters are hard to find in baseball, Cespedes is a true masher. The 28-year-old Cuban hit 23 home runs as a rookie in 2012, 26 last season, and has 17 so far in 2014. Keep in mind that hitting in Oakland's spacious O.com Coliseum, Cespedes' home run totals are probably lower than what they could potentially be when he's playing half of his games at Fenway Park. He's also the two-time defending home run derby champion at the All-Star Game.
Assuming no more major trades are made today that impact the Red Sox lineup, here is the probable Red Sox lineup going forward:
Adding Cespedes' big bat is the silver lining for the rain cloud of dealing Lester. Losing a home grown All-Star pitcher who has professed a desire to stay in Boston is not a good move for the Red Sox but adding a young impact hitter for the heart of their lineup does keep this from being a total loss.
Next up for the Red Sox seems to be trades of John Lackey - another move I'm not in favor of - and any of their relief pitchers, with Andrew Miller likely to bring back the best return.
Jon Lester, ace of the Red Sox rotation and a two-time World Series champion in Boston, is likely going to be traded in the next 36 hours.
This is not just rumor created by baseball reporters or some guy living in his great aunt's basement posting on his personal blog (no, I'm not self-identifying).
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced after last night's loss to the Blue Jays that the team was scratching Lester from his scheduled start tonight due to the "uncertainty surrounding" the pitcher that led his team to the World Series title just 10 months ago.
Let that sink in for a second. A pitcher that the Red Sox drafted in 2002, developed in their own system, and who then became a champion and All-Star is about to be dealt away before he hits free agency at the age of 30.
The one glimmer of hope for Red Sox fans is that Lester and the Red Sox will part ways now but will come to an agreement on a long-term contract this winter. That hope comes from Lester's comments to the Boston media that he would be open to re-signing with the Red Sox if he is traded before the end of the season. I don't know Jon Lester and obviously have no inside knowledge of the discussions between his agents and Red Sox management but I cannot envision him coming back if he is traded.
The more likely scenario is that the Red Sox are about to trade Lester in exchange for a package of prospects. There are a handful of teams rumored to be seriously interested in acquiring Lester including the Pirates, Blue Jays, Athletics, Cardinals, Orioles, and Dodgers. Despite an earlier rumor that the Red Sox were working on a trade of Lester to the Dodgers for outfielder Matt Kemp, it looks as if they are more interested in acquiring prospects.
Adding multiple prospects in a trade now is a better scenario than picking up the one draft pick they would get if they held on to him for the rest of the season but lost him in free agency. From that perspective, trading Lester today or tomorrow makes sense to maximize the return on him.
The problem is that the Red Sox, a team worth over a billion dollars, is not willing to pay for one of the best pitchers in the game at the point of his career in which he's hitting his prime.