With a quarter of the 2017 MLB season in the books the Boston Red Sox find themselves in third place in the AL East 23-21- 512 and 4.5 games out of first. For a lot of clubs that would be encouraging but not for Red Sox nation who won the AL East last year. The first order of business is to get starter David Price back healthy. Price is currently on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket and should be back in a week to ten days. Secondly the Sox and their fans need to get over the retirement of David Ortiz. Naturally production has fallen way off the Sox have a league low 38 homers and 166 runs batted in.but have a respectable team batting average of 266. First baseman Hanley Ramirez has filled in and has done a respectable job with 5 homers and 17 runs batted in. If the Sox are going to make a run outfielder Jackie Bradley needs to get going. Bradley had a great year last year but is hitting just over 200 with 4 homers and 11 runs batted in. So far the pitching has been fair. Newly acquired Chris Sale has been sensational. Sale is going for his ninth straight games with ten strikeouts or more. Sale recently tied a club record of eight straight games held by Pedro Martinez. Relief wise the bullpen has been sub par .Relievers Robby Scott, Heath Hembree , Matt Barnes and Fernando Abad been criticized by the fans for being overused by manager John Farrell. Closer Craig Kimbrell has been brilliant. Kimbrell has a nifty ERA of 0.96 a 4-2 record with 12 saves . The last area of concern has been third base. Opening day 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval has gone down with an injury. Sandoval out most of last year had a fantastic spring and earned his job back. Sandoval should be back within in week. Since his injury third base has been a committee. Utility men Josh Rutledge, Marco Hernandez and Deven Marrero. Out of the three Marrero has shined playing solid defense. If the Sox are going to be serious contenders they need to make a move now. Other than Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez the Sox need quality starts from the fourth and fifth spots .Starter Steven Wright has gone down with an injury. Fifth starter Drew Pomeranz has been awful. If the Sox start falling farther and farther back then manager John Farrell’s job could be in jeopardy in the off season. The Sox may need to thick about trading for another starter or arm to survive the summer The only problem is GM Dave Dombrowski has already traded away most of the organizations top prospects. Only time will tell.
The Celtics and Wizards continue their round two play off match up to night against the Wizards. So far the series has been pretty equal with the Celtics taking the first two games by scores of 123-111 and a 129-119 overtime win. Game three was won by the Wizards in a blowout 116-89. What has been the difference maker? For the Celtics it’s been Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was deadly in game two putting up 53 after getting a tooth knocked out in game one. For the Wizards John Wall’s 40 point performance only went down in defeat. The difference maker in game three was Otto Porter. Porter had one of the biggest games of his career pouring in 34 and dishing out 14 assist. So what are the keys needed in order to capture the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Championship? i would say it’s a combination of two things one bench and two obviously defense. This is where the Celtics have the edge. Bostons bench of Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson have it over Brandon Jennings, Ian Mahinmi and Bogdanovic aren’t as good as the Celtics. Defensively the Celtics need big games from Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Both are shutdown guards on defense. Smart on the other hand needs to keep his cool and not commit so many turnovers as he did in game three. Basically this series can go either way. Which ever team plays Smart and doesn’t commit turnovers will win. If either team flares up like in game three it could cost suspensions as in the case of Wizards Kelly Oubre. Oubre got into a shoving match with Boston’s Kelly Olynyk and this could be an edge for the Celtics Sunday night. So I give the edge to the Celtics with the scoring punch Of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. Offensively the Wizards led by John Wall Monkrieff Morris, and Bradley Beal aren’t as good as Boston. Basically their’s no stopping Isaiah Thomas. Also the Celtics have another edge over the Bullets. That’s none other than head coach Brad Stevens. Stevens has done a great job in molding this team together with his rotations and strategies. Look for the Celtics to win in seven. .
The Celtics have had an exciting twenty four hours after capturing the Semi Final East round against the Wizards 115.105. It only gets better as GM Danny Ainge and his brain trust gather to see what number they fall in this years NBA draft. The Celtics have two first round picks via a trade with the Nets. The obvious pick is to improve the teams field goal percentage. The problem is they’re well stocked at point guard. So who do they draft or sign over the summer? If the Celtics fall in the top three look for the C’s to draft either Kansas’es Josh Jackson or NC States Justin Jackson.Jackson a senior totaled 1626 points in his Jay hawk career with a field goal percentage 45 percent. Jackson is one of the top small forwards in the draft. Freshman Josh Jackson is one of the most intriguing players in the draft. Only a freshman Jackson finished his freshman season with 522 points averaging 16 points per game and has one of the best shooting percentages in the country at 51 percent. Kris Jenkins of Villanova is another dark horse player. Jenkins has perfect small forward size 6’6 inches 235 lbs Jenkins had an impressive college career totaling 146 games 1383 total points averaging 9.5 points per game. If the Celtics decide to select a point guard the best shooter in the draft is Markelle Fultz of Wasington. Fultz only a freshman had 579 total points averaging over 23 points per game and a pretty solid 41 percent from the field. Other interesting candidates to keep an eye on are UCLA’S Lonzo Ball A freshman who finished up his career at 36 games totaling 524 points. Ball is not quite as good as Fultz but has a bright future ahead of him. Kentucky’s Malik Monk is another possibility . Monk a freshman shooting guard had an impressive freshman season totaling 754 points and averaging 19.8 points per game. A player who could step right in and help the Celtics would be Iowa State senior guard Monte Morris. Morris has a reputation of not turning the ball over rather than lose it he’ll hold onto til the play is finished. Morris played a total of 140 games with a total of 1708 points . A very sound player who can step right in and help a team out. Another top prospect to keep an eye is Florida States Johnathan Issac. Issac a freshman led the Seminoles to the final eight in this years March Madness tourney.. A strong leader he played in 32 total games with an impressive 50 percent field goal percentage totaling 383 points. c Would be a quality NBA forward within time. If the Celtics decide to go big Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen would be a great fit for Boston. A 7 footer Markannen a freshman totaled 576 total points in 37 games for Arizona. He would be a nice compliment along with current Celtic big man Kelly Olynyk. No matter how the balls drop tonight the Celtics have plenty of options. They could trade this years lottery pick and be in the same position next because they the Clippers number one 2018 pick plus three second rounders. They own the 37th,53rd and 56th picks in this years draft. No matter what direction they go in it should be an exciting six or seven weeks. It only gets better the Celtics will have agood idea of where they stand after to nights lottery drop. Stay tuned.
Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books let’s examine the four Pat’s picks and see if any of these for can measure up to be Patriots. This draft unlike other Pat’s draft only came away with four picks due to off season signings or trades. Unlike other years where Belichick has drafted the likes of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edleman Devon McCourty just to name a few. This year Belichick came away with Youngstown State linebacker Derek Rivers, Troy offensive lineman Antonio Garcia, UCLA OT Connor McDermott and Arkansas DL Dietrich Wise. Starting with Rivers, Rivers was a two time All American for the Penguins. Rivers played a total of 49 games making 37 starts in his four years at Youngstown. Rivers registered 173 total tackles and 119 were solos. Look for Rivers to take the place of departed Chandler Jones at outside linebacker. Offensive tackle Antonio Garcia drafted with the second third round pick out of Troy University. Garcia is massive 6ft 5 291 pounds with exceptional long arms. Very productive starting in 37 games over four years at Troy. In that span Garcia just gave up an impressive 55 sacks. Good competition facing Clemson, Ohio State, Mississippi State and Wisconsin.A project player but look for him to eventually replace Nate Solder injury prone at left tackle within time. Dietrich Wise Wise the Pats 4th pick from the Razorbacks has unusual long arms.Wises length is 35 inch arms. Uses his length well and is very poised as a pass rusher.Also has very quick hands. Didn’t become a starter till his senior year. As a senior he had 119 stops for a total of 55 yards lost.Coming off the bench he was very productive averaging thirteen tackles and two sacks as a sophomore and junior. Will spell relief for Alan Branch and Malcom Butler . Connor McDermott OT UCLA. McDermott had a very solid career at UCLA. Gave up 14 sacks in a game during the 2015 season second lowest in school history. Started in 24 games over his junior and senior year. Also very versatile can play tight end . Something that Belichick relishes. Basically the Patriots traded a 1st,2nd,5th and seventh for off season acquisitions Kony Ealy DE, TE DeWayne Allen Colts, TE James O’Shaughnessy/KC running back Mike Gillislee Bills, Rex Burkhead running back / Bengals.They had a free agent blockbuster signing in signing Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore signed a four year deal with 40 million guaranteed. The team also came to terms with holdout corner Malcom Butler. Also they Also they acquired linebacker Kyle Van Noy from the Browns Van Noy was very productive for the Pat’s appearing in 14 games in 16 plus 3 playoff games. Overall give the Patriots a Dminus for this years draft. Its alot better to draft a player and have under team control for four or five years.By giving up all those picks for guys like Ealy and De Wayne Allen you still risk the chance of losing them in a year or two. Players like ex Patriot cornerback Logan Ryan cornerback Justin Coleman and safety Duron Harmon are examples of this. Players who take time to develop but eventually become quality NFL players.
The Boston Celtics are riding a six game winning streak over the Wasington Wizards thanks to Isaiah Thomas’es 53 point night Isaiah still suffering emotionally from the loss of his sister in a car crash last week as thus far been the MVP of the series. The Celtics however can’t count on Thomas to deliver 30 plus points every night. If they want to keep winning in post season they’ll have to get from everyone. Forward Al Horford is coming around and playing like the player he should be after signing with Boston as a free agent last summer. Both him and Avery Bradley need to play up to their potential and take some pressure off of Thomas . Horford has been playing well both offensively and defensively . Horford had a big game Sunday scoring 20 and snagging 10 rebounds. With Bradley’s defense and shooting the Celtics have enjoyed a six game winning streak. Compared to the first series against Chicago in which the Celtics won in six the Celtics have outshot the Wizards and have dominated on the boards. Rebounding is where the Celtics were weak against Chicago. In order to win they need to dominate the boards. Also they need to get out in front early where in Chicago the Bulls dominated the first quarter and half way into the second before a Celtics comeback from behind victories. Against the Wizards the Wizards have been shooting at a respectable 56%. But the Wizards have been getting most of their scoring from Bradley Beal and John Wall. Starter Moncrieff Morris has been hurt. The Celtics have been getting big games from forward Gerald Green, Kelly Olynyk and guard Terry Rozier. Forward Jae Crowder has come up big to playing solid defense and making critical shots. If the Celtics are to continue their post season success they’ll need from all twelve bodies. Thomas can’t be expected to keep pouring 30 plus night in and night out.They’ll have to get physical contributions from from their big men and shut down defense from Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley in order to keep up their winning ways . Head coach Brad Stevens has done a masterful job in three seasons as the Celtics head coach. Despite being knovcked out the first year against Atlanta and last year against the Cavs Stevens has guided his young team to a 53 win season and a very impressive post season. Banner number 18 is not far away.