Posted on: January 21, 2010 1:34 am
Edited on: January 23, 2010 6:27 pm
 

Patriots Off-Season Wish List

"You go from having great defensive leaders like Harrison, Bruschi, Seymour, and Vrabel to bringing in a rodeo clown to run the defense?!" – Michael Felger                         

The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins

In the wake of an embarrassing first round playoff exit at Gillette Stadium, we take a look forward to what the New England Patriots must do to be better in 2010. It’s time to stop lamenting the past and look forward to how the franchise can return to a championship level. Tony and Michael discuss the possible changes the Patriots will undergo this off-season.

Felger: "There were times in that game where guys like Mayo, Guyton, Meriweather, and McGowan were just brutal this year. The playoff game included Tony. I can’t tell you how many times guys would fly though the line of scrimmage and have a chance to tackle Ray Rice for little to no gain, and just completely whiff on the tackle. The very first play from scrimmage when Rice took it to the house there were two ghastly plays in the Patriots defensive backfield. One was Mayo completely not being able to get off his block to slow Rice down. The other was Meriweather not being able to get hand on him even when he wasn’t blocked. He even had the angle on Rice down the sideline and was unable to catch up to the guy. There’s a lot for this team and this front office to work on and the worst part for them is now their going to have to spend some actual real money to fix this team. In order to get the locker room to buy in, they need to spend some money to show a commitment to winning now or else nobody’s going to buy in."

Mazz: "This team got its face shoved in the mud in that playoff game Mike. I mean they got hit in the mouth right away and they never responded physically to what the Ravens were doing to them. Patriot teams of old used to fight back from adversity and be able to not only fight back into games, but pull games out of the fire. That clearly wasn’t going to happen from the start with this team. I think Brady said it best after the Miami game that the Patriots really needed to learn how to fight. Simply put, this team had no idea how to respond or how to fight back. During the whole year it seemed Brady questioned the toughness and leadership of his team. That’s something that needs to be addressed by the front office. They need to get back to bringing in football players and spending money on guys who buy into the way business is done around here. They need to focus again on guys who have a will to win like the Vrabel’s and so forth of the past. Because if a team actually showed up against these guys this year, and showed resistance to what the Patriots wanted to do, they acted like they wanted none of it. They just turned the other way and gave up. This year’s team never had the pride or the guts to punch back and to fight when they were pushed."

The Collin-tary: When creating a wish list for the Patriots this off-season it’s difficult finding a place to begin. It can be difficult placing priority on one of the team’s many deficiencies. To better understand the challenges facing the Patriots this winter, I have broken down the roster and selected five key areas for improvement. They are ranked 1-5 with #1 serving as the most pressing issue facing the team in 2010.

#5 Better Front Office / Coaching Decisions
      Firstly, the Patriots front office has to resign Vince Wilfork. He is the heart and soul of the Patriots defense. Big Vince occupies two and sometimes three pass blockers allowing room for others to make plays. Simply put he is what makes the Patriots defense go. He plays through injury, plays hard, is always productive, is a locker room leader, and quite frankly has paid his dues to the organization. The man deserves to get paid. 
      Secondly, we turn our attention to the head coach. It began with fourth and two in Indianapolis, continued with not kicking the field goal in Miami (could have used those three points), carried over to Houston where it was clear there was no personnel preservation plan (were they trying to win or lose?), and then culminated with the lack of creativity during the Baltimore blowout. The Ravens debacle was the worst, most uninspired football played by a Patriots team under Bill Belichick.
      Not only was the team not prepared to play, but there were times when the Pats could have got back into it with a little creativity. They had two possessions beginning around midfield in the second quarter where they could have made it a two possession game before halftime. Later in the game, after making the score 27-14 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, Belichick had a golden opportunity to catch the Ravens by surprise with an onside kick. The Patriots had five men to the kicker’s right and Baltimore only three. However, Belichick failed to pull the trigger even after it was obvious the Ravens special teams unit was weak. Back in October, they fumbled away the game's opening kickoff against the Patriots and had already muffed a punt in this game. 
      Next, the Pats need to get an offensive coordinator! It’s clear that Bill O’Brien can’t call the plays for this team so Belichick and company need to find someone who can and give him the actual title this time.
      Last but not least in this category comes replacing Dean Pees at defensive coordinator. Pees did the most with what he had personnel wise this season and the Patriots are now in a search for his successor.

#4 Find a Serviceable Left Corner
      Jonathan Wilhite just isn’t cutting it. In his two full seasons with the Patriots he has tallied only three interceptions and ranked 49th in completions against in 2009. Receivers Wilhite defended caught 42 of 72 pass attempts for a 58.3% completion rate. While he may serve as a possibility in nickel coverage, he is not a reliable corner.

#3 Bring in a Dominant Edge Pass Rusher
      Adalius Thomas has been a complete and utter disaster. Not only did he muster a measly three sacks last year, but his attitude stunk. He always seemed to have an excuse for everything. Don’t let the door hit out on the way out Adalius. As for Derrick Burgess and his whopping five sacks. He’s not the answer here friends, even if you can teach him to drive the snow.

#2 An Explosive Second Receiver and Reliable Third Receiver
      The reality of Wes Welker’s situation is that he will likely miss at least half of the 2010 season. Even if he is to return for a portion of the season, who knows if he will be anywhere near as productive as he once was. The injury he sustained was much like that of Tom Brady, but Welker’s knee is a lot more important to his game being a wide receiver.
      The Patriots need to find a playmaking wide receiver to line up on the opposite side of Randy Moss as well as a sure handed third wide receiver. Julian Edelman did an admirable job filling in for Welker, but is not a long term solution. He can likely be a solid third or fourth wide out, especially lining up in the slot. He is very adept at running bubble screens as well as short option routes, but is not a game changing force. The Pats need to find at least two other weapons for Brady.

#1 Addressing the Need at Linebacker
      The Patriots were extremely thin at linebacker this season. Not only were they lacking in talent, but they were just plain old. In the 4-3 defense, the defense the Patriots have become famous for under Belichick, the most important position is linebacker. It had always been a lynchpin of the great Patriot defenses. Think of names like McGinest, Slade, Bruschi, and Vrabel then look at the roster now. There are no names that jump off the page at you aside from Junior Seau and he’s 40 years old!
      Aside from Jerod Mayo I don’t feel comfortable starting any of the current Patriot linebackers next season. Even Mayo is questionable after his sub par second season in the NFL. Could it have been the sophomore slump? Could it have been the nagging knee injury that sidelined him the first half of the season? Who knows, but Mayo has at least shown flashes. He is a young, talented, aggressive force in the middle for the Pats and hopefully has a bright future ahead of him. A guy like Gary Guyton can also be serviceable in nickel packages especially in pass coverage with his speed, but other than that the Pats have squat.
      They need to bring in real football players to play linebacker. Men who aren’t afraid to get their nose dirty and who will blow up a 350 pound nose tackle from time to time. Opposing wide outs should be scared once again to run crossing routes over the middle for fear of being decapitated. To put it plainly, the Patriots need to find backers with some stones. The best way to address this fatal flaw is by using some of their draft picks to select young linebackers. If they are able to draft quality not only will they get better right away, but they will get younger at their most important defensive position.

 

What is the most important need the Patriots must address this off-season? Who are some possible draft selections for the team come April? Can the Patriots return to championship form next season?

Posted on: January 12, 2010 11:55 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2010 12:03 am
 

Pats Players and Fans in Need of a Wake Up Call

"It was a comprehensive system wide collapse. It was embarrassing and humiliating for everyone involved." - Tony Massarotti on the Patriots first round playoff exit

The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins                                                                         

The Patriots season came to an abrupt end Sunday at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. The 33-14 embarrassment is the second home playoff defeat in franchise history, the last coming in 1978. Sunday also marked the first home playoff loss at Gillette Stadium, and the first of its kind since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. The Patriots had been 11-0 in playoff games played in Foxboro the past 16 years. It was a rare occasion in which the finger of blame could justly be pointed at the Patriots quarterback. Tom Brady was unbeaten in his last 23 home games prior to Sunday's debacle. Michael and Tony dissect what went wrong and discuss what the Patriots need to do moving forward this off-season.

Felger: "Let's begin with some adjectives to describe what we saw this Sunday in Foxboro. This was a horrific, embarrassing, agonizing beat down. This loss was absolutely brutal. It looked like men against boys out there on that field at Gillette Stadium. I'm stunned that they got run on and that they were so ill prepared to play this game that they got embarrassed the way they did. The tone and messages in this Patriots locker room were unbelievable. This was by far Bill Belichick's worst locker room. This team had the worst work ethic and they had an excuse for everything! Not to mention talent wise this was probably Belichick's worst team. Something stunk from the start Tony with this team. They traded one of their best defensive players in Mike Vrabel for nothing! Not even a bag of balls. He was the leader of the defense and part of the heart and soul of this team and you get nothing for him?! Not to mention he was a Players Union representative and this was a contract year for the player’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Then you deal another stalwart of your defense in Richard Seymour who is probably your second best defensive player for nothing. I mean, what they got in return for Seymour wasn't going to help this year. It isn't going to help them next year. What kind of message is that to your team right before the start of a season? It says ok guys your on your own. Not only are we failing to bring in talent because we don’t want to pay, but we're going to going to deal our best players for things that aren't going to help us win in the short term. So why would these guys in this Patriots locker room buy in this season under Belichick with that kind of message. This was rotten from the beginning starting at the top with ownership and the coaching staff. Something stunk right from day one of the season."

Mazz: "Starting in the first quarter this game was a runaway train. There was however one critical point where the Patriots had a shot to get back into it. Early in the second quarter with the botched punt that should have been challenged by the Ravens gave the Patriots some momentum. I still have no idea why they didn't challenge that play because it most definitely would have been overturned. The Patriots got an easy touchdown off of that turnover and seized momentum but lost it at the end of the half when the Ravens converted three straight third and short yardage situations to bleed the clock. The Ravens had third and two on two different occasions and then a third and one and converted all three very easily by running right through the Patriots. The ironic thing is your right Mike. They miss Richard Seymour because the Ravens ran to their left, the Patriots defensive right every time they needed to pick up a third down. They ran right at the spot Richard Seymour used to occupy. So coming out of the half what did the Patriots do? They put Mike Wright in the game at nose tackle and moved their best defensive lineman, Vince Wilfork to right end to help try to stem the tide. When your coach is calling the plays, making the decisions, and also is responsible for the personnel decisions of the team it's hard to not begin the blame game with him. Where else would you start? They brought this on themselves. It has to begin with Belichick. But listen, you can't blame the coach for everything that happened Sunday because ultimately the players have to play with some sort of pride. They got completely run over and had their faces pushed in the ground. It was a comprehensive system wide collapse and it was embarrassing and humiliating for everyone involved."

The Collin-tary: If before Sunday's game I told you that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would finish the game 4-10 for 34 yards with one interception and no touchdowns how would you feel about their chances? Undoubtedly you would think the Patriots would win in a laugher. How is it possible to have a road team beat you with a quarterback who finishes a playoff game with a rating of 10.0? Lucky for us, the Patriots were able to answer this question.
      Sunday's 33-14 beat down at the hands of the Ravens was an embarrassment not only for the players and coaches, but for the patrons as well. As I sat in Gillette Stadium with my father prior to kickoff Sunday, he pointed out the obvious. "This doesn't have the look and feel of a playoff game," he said to me as we watched Stephen Gostkowski place the ball on the tee. We discussed how quiet the crowd was during the pre-game introductions and how most of the fans were still outside trying to battle the security lines." The place is half empty," he continued. "Heck there is nobody in our entire row, and the game is about to start!"
      I then overheard a group of fans who had made the 8 hour drive from Baltimore discussing how quiet the stadium was. "At this time during our home games you can hear the roars from 10 blocks away," a Ravens fan said to me. "When our guys come out of that helmet we are all behind them in our seats ready to rock." The group of 15 or so fans had left their homes in Baltimore at midnight, arrived in Foxboro at 8:30am Sunday morning, eaten breakfast, tailgated, and arrived in their seats an hour prior to game time.
      As Ray Rice finished his 83-yard touchdown run on the game's first play from scrimmage I really couldn't help but notice the stadium being half empty. The events that ensued beginning with the strip sack of Tom Brady and culminating with Ray Rice's 1-yard TD run, putting the Ravens up 21-0, were viewed by no more than half the patrons at Gillette Stadium.
      I would refer to them as fans, but real fans with vested interest in their team would arrive early. I'm not saying an hour early, but at least before the team came tearing out of that glorious inflatable Pats helmet. What good does it do a team to come running out of your locker room with pyrotechnics shimmering, fireworks shooting into the sky, and Ozzy's "Crazy Train" blaring over the PA if there's nobody in the stands? How are players supposed to feed off the crowd in that situation?
      The people who feel there is no such thing as home field advantage don't know sports. The players will tell you themselves. Players interact with the crowd to fire them up. They want noise. They want hostility. They want support. The interaction between the crowd and the players can often times give a team the boost it needs to overcome adversity. The energy transferred from the crowd to the field can lead to massive momentum swings and often times be the difference between a win and a loss.
      There was a time when the Patriots fed off their fans. It was as if the players were addicted to the noise and energy people brought with them to the game. Like an addict receiving a quick fix, the intensity of the crowd sent players and coaches alike into a frenzy. It was a graphic, a song, or just knowledgeable football fans knowing when to make noise that helped build the most successful football franchise of the decade.
      Sure, the Patriots front office has a lot of work ahead of them this off-season. There are many difficult personnel decisions to be made and hopefully a few welcome additions to the roster. However, the first step in bringing back the Patriots begins in the stands. The people of the town of Foxboro, the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts, and the whole New England region mustn’t forget how we got here.
      This blue collar franchise was built before our eyes. The men wearing the Patriots colors weren’t always the best players, but they were football players. Guys like Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, and Mike Vrabel brought it every singe day. When I think back to these names, or think of current names like Vince Wilfork and Wes Welker, I think football player. All these men were smart, talented, selfless, and possessed tireless work ethics. These are blue collar, cornerstone players that championship teams are built upon. It's time the people of this area remember how the three banners hanging in Gillette Stadium were earned. Sure it was mostly the players doing, but if you ask any of them they will tell you they couldn’t have done it alone.
      We all need to remember that just because the playoffs are a regular occurrence it doesn't give us an excuse to take the opportunity for granted. The Brady and Belichick days are quickly coming to an end, and Patriots supporters would be wise to not waste what little window of opportunity there is left. New England fans have been in desperate need of a wake up call for some time now. It's truely unfortunate that a home playoff embarassment must serve as an alarm clock. The Patriots organization stresses accountability from its players, coaches and front office. It’s time the fans around here be held accountable too.

Has the lack of crowd noise at Gillette Stadium finally caught up with the Patriots? What are the biggest needs for the Patriots this off-season? Who are some possible draft choices for the team in April?

Posted on: January 5, 2010 11:57 pm
 

Win one for Wes

"That was sickening yesterday. It was one of those moments that just breaks your heart. You're literally sitting there in your living room screaming NO!" - Michael Felger on Wes Welker

The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins                                                    

Sunday's 34-27 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans was one of the most painful defeats the Patriots have had in recent memory. The game's score seemed trivial midway through the team's first offensive possession when Pro Bowl wide out Wes Welker left the game with a serious knee injury. According to team sources Welker tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. It is the same injury Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered at the beginning of last season and will likely sideline Welker for 10-12 months.

Felger: "That was sickening yesterday. It was one of those moments that just breaks your heart. You're literally sitting there in your living room screaming NO! With all the replays, the different angles of Welker's knee buckling, and his limp body falling to the turf while he grasps his leg in agony. It was just sickening. Then the shot of him trying to get off the field on his own and limping over the bench only to sit with a towel over his head in tears. He knew right away. He knew his season, and likely the majority of next season was over for him. Those shots of him in tears on the bench with his teammates surrounding him just break your heart. To think back to all the big hits this guy has taken over the years, he's always bounced right back up. Now this freak injury happens to him without any contact. Welker being out of the playoffs this year isn't even the worst thing to me. It's the fact he will likely miss most of next year too. With all this team has been through Tony, this just makes me sick."

Mazz: "Welker is one of those guys everyone likes. His teammates, the coaches, the media all like the guy. Welker has been a classic underdog story where he's been an overachiever in the NFL. This guy works his ass off every day. Wes Welker has easily been the Patriots MVP this season. I mean what's not to like about him? Really? What's not to like? The crushing thing about this injury to a guy like Welker is he will probably never be the same again. You know he's going to work his tail off in rehab to try to be the best player he can be when he comes back, but only so much is possible. Brady had a very similar injury and came back the next season, but it's different for quarterbacks. Sharp, quick, decisive cuts are how this guy makes his money. He already had very little room for error with his size and the amount of hits he takes. To do what he's been doing at the level he's been performing is just unlikely from here on out. What a blow this is for him not only this year, but for his career. He has easily been the Patriots MVP this season. It's just a real shame Mike."

The Collin-tary: The Patriots have suffered several gut wrenching defeats this season. However, blowing fourth quarter leads in Denver, Indianapolis, and Miami aren't close to as painful as the loss suffered at Reliant Stadium last Sunday. On the fourth offensive play from scrimmage, the Patriots lost the heart and soul of their football team.
      As Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker clutched his left leg in agony, millions of New Englanders were begging and pleading their TV screens for him to pop up. After all, we had seen this 185-pound dynamo peel himself off the turf after some of the most violent collisions in all of professional sports. Surely a slight skid on a bad piece of turf couldn't be enough to sideline the Patriots version of superman? Could it?
      Unfortunately the answer is yes. The Patriots have now lost their emotional leader, and likely the team MVP in 2009. For all the Julian Edelman believers out there, I admire your faith, but let's be realistic for a moment. Edelman is no Wes Welker. There is not one player on the Patriots roster capable of filling the cleats of #83.
      Think back to the Carolina game for a moment. It was 7-7 midway through the third quarter. The Patriots offense was floundering, pinned back at its own 4-yard line, and in desperate need of a spark. Welker caught a pass for six yards on 2nd and 8 and took a violent hit from Panthers corner Charles Godfrey. The gasps from the Gillette Stadium crowd following the collision immediately turned to applause as Welker sprung to his feet pounding his chest. Godfrey seemed stunned as before he could finish his celebratory dance, Welker had popped up off the turf to greet him. Suddenly, the crowd was into the game as Welker began demonstratively encouraging his teammates in the offensive huddle. He went on to catch 5 passes for 64 yards during the Patriots 13 play, 96 yard drive in which they seized control of the game. The drive took 7:20 off the clock and gave the Pats a 14-7 advantage late in the third quarter. A lead they would not relinquish thanks to the wake-up call from Wes. If it weren't for his emotional leadership, intensity, and downright refusal to be knocked down who knows what the outcome of the game might have been.
      The 2009 football season has been filled with turmoil for the New England Patriots. This Sunday at Gillette Stadium the Patriots will stare down adversity once again. This time it will come in the form of Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, and the Baltimore Ravens. There have been numerous occasions over the past few seasons where Wes Welker picked his team up. Now, it's their turn to pick him up. The organizational philosophy in Foxboro has always been one game at a time. The Patriot way has been to focus on going 1-0 each week during the playoffs. That will remain the same. However, this post season, each week the team is fortunate enough to suit up for battle, they will be set on winning one for Wes.

How far will the Patriots advance in the playoffs without Wes Welker? Who is likely to step up in his absence? Do the Pats need to change their offensive philosophy without Welker? Can they contend for a Super Bowl?

Posted on: December 29, 2009 5:25 pm
 

All Aboard!

"I trust Tom Brady. I believe in the coach. I trust a guy like Vince Wilfork. The problem is that with the exception of a handful of guys this team hasn't done anything and honestly I don't trust them. “- Tony Massarotti on the Patriots


The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins                                                                            

Sunday's 35-7 thumping of Jacksonville has many Patriots fans wondering how far the team can go in the postseason. The victory marks the seventh time in nine seasons the team has won the AFC East. Despite dismantling a mediocre Jaguars team, and earning at least one home playoff game, Tony feels the Patriots still have much to improve upon in order to make a deep playoff run.

Mazz: "If you look at the past month, aside from the Jacksonville game, teams may take the Patriots lightly once the playoffs begin. They lose to a mediocre Miami team, beat a bad Carolina team with no quarterback, and then get their first road win by only a touchdown against a really bad Buffalo team. Then this week they beat up on a mediocre Jacksonville team at home. The Patriots really haven't done anything to earn respect around the league here this December. Now, if they win their first round playoff game at home by beating a playoff caliber team and then travel to San Diego or Indianapolis and win again and end up in the conference championship game then it's a different story. They will have beaten two quality teams and won on the road against a legitimate playoff team. I think that would open everyone's eyes and people would start to think of them as the Patriots team of old. But, currently the guys on this team have nothing to do with the three championships of the past and the 16-0 season and all of that Patriot mystique that once was. Most of these guys weren't even on the team for the accomplishments of past. I'm not saying that these players aren't capable, but they haven't given us reason to believe they can do it. I trust Tom Brady. I believe in the coach. I trust a guy like Vince Wilfork. The problem is that with the exception of a handful of guys this team hasn't done anything. Honestly, I don't trust them. They haven't shown or given us the hope that they can win against a quality playoff opponent on the road."

The Collin-tary: It's that time of year again. The Patriots bandwagon is taking on any and all stragglers before it departs for Houston this weekend. Remember the patrons bashing the quarterback, bashing the coach, bashing ownership, and declaring the season legally dead after a week 12 beat down in New Orleans? Well those same folks are quickly boarding the "crazy train" once again as it steamrolls toward a Wild Card weekend at Gillette Stadium.
      Tony is correct to a degree in saying the Patriots have not proven they can defeat quality playoff teams on the road. However, if you examine the team's losses in New York, Denver, Indianapolis, and Miami you will find the Patriots lost by a combined 12 points (3 point average margin of defeat). These four road defeats were against playoff caliber teams in games decided by no more than a touchdown. Not only did the Patriots have a chance to win each game, but the difference between winning and losing came down to a single play.
      Looking ahead to the Patriots first round playoff matchup, there is no reason to think they won't advance to play either Indy or San Diego. Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Patriots are 11-0 at home in the postseason. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 the franchise has a 59-12 record at home, the best in the NFL. The Patriots have a perfect 8-0 home record this season, and Tom Brady has won his last 23 starts in Foxboro. The defense is improving every week, the offense is beginning to hit stride, and most importantly the team is beginning to get its swagger back. The Patriots will get out of the first round. Where they go from there is entirely up to them.
       


Category: NFL
Posted on: December 17, 2009 4:58 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2009 5:28 pm
 

So Long Jacoby Ellsbury?

If Jacoby Ellsbury is what it took to get this deal done then I'd drive him to the airport! Or maybe I'm overstating it here. Maybe I'd just get him a cab. Either way I would trade him in a second." - Tony Massarotti


The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins                                                                                      

Over the past several days trade talks between the Red Sox and Padres have heated up involving first basemen Adrian Gonzalez. A possible deal would likely include some combination of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and additional prospects (Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson, Ryan Westmoreland etc...) from the Red Sox organization. The possibility of Ellsbury leaving town has most of Red Sox Nation up in arms, but Tony explains why it would be in the team's best interest.

Felger:
"I don't love this trade, but I would do it. It's not that Ellsbury is fast or flashy or fun to watch. Those aren’t reasons to not trade a guy. Who comes into the league and is a good on base guy? It just doesn't work like that it takes time. He needs to prove to pitchers that he can drive the ball and hurt them. If he doesn't do that then pitchers are just going to pound the strike zone on him because they won't fear him. Especially on the inner half the plate he is seeing hard inside strikes that are hard pitches to handle. He's not going to walk because he has to protect the plate against pitchers pounding the strike zone. Once he proves to the league that he can drive the ball and turn on an inside fastball then those pitchers have that in the back of their mind. They begin to nibble which then leads to more walks and him becoming a more selective, complete, on base oriented leadoff hitter."

Mazz:
"I just believe that the 40 homer guy is worth Ellsbury. Do you realize that Adrian Gonzalez has hit basically two thirds of his home runs on the road? Do you realize what he would do in this ballpark? As far as the pressure of Boston, they don't need him to hit third or fourth. The Red Sox are fortunate enough to have guys who can hit third or fourth. The Red Sox just need him to hit fifth. If Jacoby Ellsbury is what it took to get this deal done then I'd drive him to the airport! Or maybe I'm overstating it here. Maybe I'd just get him a cab. Either way I would trade him in a second. I don't feel strongly about Ellsbury. In the major leagues I think he's a dime a dozen type guy. I will trade speed for power any day of the week. You’re going to have to give up two budding major league players not prospects to get Gonzalez. The Red Sox aren't stupid. They know they are going to have to give up two guys like Buchholz and Ellsbury to get their man."

The Collin-tary: In order to get Adrian Gonzalez a possible Red Sox package would likely have to include Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. I would like to see Theo Epstein try to work with his former assistant GM Jed Hoyer to formulate a deal with Buccholz as its centerpiece. Perhaps the deal would have to wait until July's trade deadline or maybe Epstein would have to include three or more prospects along with Buchholz to get the deal done. If the Red Sox were to lose Ellsbury they would be losing arguably their best outfielder in an already weakened outfield without Jason Bay. Furthermore, 37 year old Mike Cameron would be the everyday centerfielder for the team over the next two seasons.
      It's safe to say Cameron has lost two or three steps defensively due to age, and he is a lifetime .250 hitter. Cameron also strikes out 159 times per season on average (more than one K per game). If the Red Sox were to qualify for the playoffs, as they tend to do these days, Cameron is a career .174 hitter in the post season. He also has a whopping one home run and 29 strikeouts in 27 career playoff games. In case Red Sox fans have forgotten, Ellsbury hit .360 in the 07' playoffs and was an important part of the team winning the World Series. 
      If Ellsbury is traded the Red Sox would lose gold glove defense in center, speed on the base paths (70 SB in 09'), a lifetime .297 hitter, and their leadoff man. All of these things can't instantly be replaced within the organization. It's not that Ellsbury is too good a player to trade. It's that there is no way for the Red Sox to replace him in the outfield or at the top of the lineup. 


How far will the Patriots go in the playoffs? What team would be the best first round matchup for the Patriots?





Posted on: December 11, 2009 4:55 pm
 

Pay Bay?

"No thank you. I don’t care if this guy is free and doesn’t cost the Red Sox a dime I still wouldn’t want him." - Michael Felger on Adrian Beltre


The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins  
                                                                                  

The Red Sox and free agent Jason Bay are still far apart on reaching a contractual agreement for the 2010 season and beyond. Can the Red Sox afford to lose arguably the most coveted player in this year’s free agent class? The reality is Jason Bay may be more valuable than you think.

Felger:
"There are only two quality players in this market I would want on my team and they just so happen to play the same position. Jason Bay and Matt Holliday are clearly the class of this free agent year. The possibility of Adrian Beltre in this lineup along with the addition of Marco Scutaro is supposed to excite me? I just don’t see how this is going to come together if that’s the only thing Theo Epstein is going to do this offseason. I mean we don’t even know how old Beltre is do we? He’s listed at age 30 but he could be 34 or 35 easily. You know how those Dominican players tend to be older. This guy went from 48 home runs five years ago to eight last season?! And he goes down to the Dominican and trains with Angel Presinal who is notorious for providing big leaguers with steroids. No thank you. I don’t care if this guy is free and doesn’t cost the Red Sox a dime I still wouldn’t want him."

Mazz: "There are only two guys on the free agent market that I would give long term deals to and they are two left fielders. Jason Bay and Matt Holiday and that's it. The rest of the guys in this free agent class are a dime a dozen and shouldn't be given deals beyond two years at the maximum. You’re exactly right Mike. The market is horrible right now. There was talent last year and there will be a lot of talent next year, but this season it just so happens to be slim pickings out there. I never was excited by Beltre as a player. He was never my guy that I would bring in for an extender period of time and sign to a major deal. But if the Red Sox were able to agree upon a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of two years for $20 million I think it could be a possibility the Red Sox bring him in. They need to start by signing one of these two players, Holliday or Bay. If they don't get one of these two in this free agent class then they are in serious trouble. It won’t even matter how they plug the rest of the holes on this team."

The Collin-tary: As much as I would like to think Jason Bay is expendable, I've come to terms with the fact that if the Red Sox want to be competitive in 2010 they must resign their left fielder. Despite Bay’s quiet demeanor and batting average (.267 in ’09), there is no way the Red Sox could replace him. Even the great Matt Holliday would not suffice unless Red Sox fans are satisfied having a left fielder even weaker defensively than Manny Ramirez. Let’s take a closer look at Mr. Bay’s resume.

    Most Seasons 35+ HR, 100+ RBI, 100+ Runs, 10+ SB

Red Sox History                              

                                          Season(s)

Carl Yastrzemski         1967, '70

Jimmie Foxx                  1936-37

Jason Bay                      2009

Nomar Garciaparra      1998

Most Seasons 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, 100+ Runs

Active OF

Ken Griffey Jr.           6

Vladimir Guerrero    6

Manny Ramirez        6

Gary Sheffield          6

Jason Bay                4 <<

Andruw Jones         4

>> All since 2005 

Jason Bay vs Manny Ramirez, Since July 2008 Trade              

                     Bay     Ramirez

Games           200       157

Hits                 196       176

BA                  .274      .327

HR                   45         36

RBI                 156       116

OPS               .915      1.047 

Should the Red Sox sign Jason Bay to a long term contract? Can the Red Sox compete with the Yankees in 2010 without him? If the Red Sox were to lose Bay, would you give up hope for next season?














Posted on: December 3, 2009 1:28 pm
 

The Cat's Out of the Bag

"If I had asked you five days ago to name the squeakiest, cleanest, but most dominant athlete in all of sports you would have said Tiger Woods wouldn’t you?" – Michael Felger

 

The Felger and Mazz Collin-tary with Kevin Collins                                                                       

Felger: "This is why it’s gone to the next level. We have the audio. We have the visual in the form of all these text messages. What makes a story newsworthy is having video or audio to show the public something. They have copies of the text messages from Tiger to hoe bag number two. That’s great stuff! That’s salacious good stuff. When you can hear it, and when you can see it, it’s over. This has gone to the next level. By making this public statement and apology he is admitting that the media has caught him, so how much of a surprise is it from now on when other cocktail waitresses come forward? It’s not going to be a surprise now. Tiger’s taken that element of "Got you!" away from the media. If he had admitted this from day one, the release of this voicemail and the text messages wouldn’t have been nearly as damaging. No audiotape, no hard evidence, he’s not releasing this public statement. So he’s still a weasel. Didn’t you think the last guy this would happen too would be Tiger Woods? Isn’t he the last guy? I always thought he was so insulated. You’re leaving a voicemail on your side action’s voicemail? What do you have an agent for?! Go have him call Ms. Grubbs and have him tell her to erase her name from her voicemail!"

The Collin-tary: It was September 3rd, 2007. A beautiful New England Labor Day weekend was coming to a close on a sun splashed Monday at TPC Boston. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson walked side by side in the final group for 18 of the most exciting holes played on the PGA Tour that season. Never more than 20 yards from Woods for all 67 of his shots, I was amazed at his poise, passion, and intensity. As a 21-year-old sports reporter, I was in awe walking alongside the greatest golfer who ever lived.
      Sure, Mickelson’s 66 was good enough for a two-stroke win over Woods that Monday. However, walking to the 18th green I felt as if I was leading the tournament. I remember picking up my gape to keep up with the two legends as they marched up the fairway. The roars coming from the bleachers filled beyond capacity, the gallery ten rows deep, the children balancing on Fathers shoulders, and the fans hanging from tree limbs was enough to send shivers down my spine. The enormous grin on my face was clearly visible to the cameras of NBC, much to the delight of my family and friends watching from home. It was truly an electric moment, and a memory I will treasure for a lifetime.
      While Mickelson collected his hardware and supplied the masses with interviews, I desperately searched for Woods in the chaos outside the scoring trailer. Despite his second place finish, I wanted to say I met the greatest golfer ever to walk the face of the earth. After a few frantic moments, I found Tiger signing autographs for hundreds of kids patiently waiting outside the clubhouse.
      Knowing I needed quotes from the winner, I raced back to the 18th green to be part of Mickelson’s meeting with the local media. I heard phrases from established Boston media personnel a likening the atmosphere we had witnessed to that of the Patriots in the Super Bowl, or Red Sox in the World Series. Thinking I had missed my chance with Tiger, I disappointedly returned to the clubhouse 20 minutes later only to find Woods still signing away. In fact, the autograph session lasted nearly an hour following his bitter defeat at the hands of his closest rival.
      After the crowd subsided, it felt as if I was the only child left, patiently waiting, just hoping for a chance to experience true greatness. Tiger graciously asked if I was seeking an autograph. Somehow I stuttered and stumbled through some sort of sentence identifying myself as a member of the media seeking a brief interview. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sure buddy". Knowing I was in over my head, I felt as if I had just asked the best looking girl in high school to the prom. BUT THIS TIME HE SAID YES!
      If it weren’t for my notepad and voice recorder I wouldn’t be able to tell you what questions I asked Woods, or for that matter what his responses were. All I can tell you is that brief time I spent with Tiger, and the handshake that ensured, will forever be etched in my mind as one of the most exhilarating, humbling, and surreal experiences of my life.
      Listen, I’m not trying to defend Tiger Woods cheating on his wife. In no way are all his actions becoming of a man possessing the values he constantly preaches. However, Woods has already admitted to his sins and will undoubtedly handle this "scandal" with the poise and class he has displayed when faced with every adverse situation in his life. Sure, Tiger doesn’t deserve the privacy and respect the media once granted him as a squeaky clean superstar. But he and his family are still entitled to the basic freedoms afforded all Americans including personal privacy to work through these trying times. He’s also entitled to be innocent until proven guilty. The coming days will no doubt bring charges from gold diggers everywhere trying to make a quick buck by proclaiming they too have slept with the world’s number one golfer.
      All I’m trying to do is state the simple truth that nobody’s perfect. Even the great athletes, and great people of this world are going to make mistakes. It’s not like Tiger took steroids, sneakily improved his lie in a tournament when the cameras weren’t looking, used illegal equipment, or committed some sort of crime. He did nothing to disgrace the game of golf or break the law. All he’s guilty of is being human.
      I would hate to see millions of golf fans, and more importantly a future generation of golfers, never look at Tiger the same. They are entitled to experience the same feeling I had in the pit of my stomach while watching arguably, the greatest athlete ever dominate the sport of golf. Let’s not forget that while Tiger may deserve most of what’s coming to him, we are fortunate to bear witness to his greatness. There are no do-overs in life, but even legends deserve a mulligan.

Posted on: November 20, 2009 3:32 pm
 

Tony Massarotti Loves The Yankees




Tony Massarotti believes that the Red Sox are motivated by the Yankees' 27th World Series title. He has gone overboard rooting for them.
Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com