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Bruins Go All In At The Deadline

The Bruins this season have been overachievers. Coming into the season many believed this was a year for the kids to get acclimated to the NHL and see if they can hang with the big guns. They are currently sitting third in the Atlantic Division with an impressive record of 37-15-8. No one can deny the fact that under Cassidy the Bruins play an exciting fast pace game. The black and gold are the perfect mix of veterans and rookies, who feed off each other, and have been the story of the NHL, second to the success of the  Las Vegas Golden Knights. At the deadline the Bruins were busy adding depth at multiple positions for the playoff run. Let’s look at of the trades Don Sweeny has made to bulk up the Bruins as they look to have an extended stay in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs:

Bruins acquire Rick Nash from the New York Rangers for Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren, 2018 first pick and 2018 7th round pick
I’m a huge fan of this trade for many reasons. First off, the Bruins got a top six forward who has been a well-known goal scorer in the NHL for years. Nash has 18 goals and 10 assists this year. He is a big body that slots perfectly with David Krecji and Jake DeBrusk. Nash is the type of player that works best in front of the goal and with quick hands. He is also a physical presence that is much needed on that line. Now I like to be on the positive side, you must be thinking “wow a Boston writer that is not a negative Nancy all the time?”, but this trade some are calling a robbery by the Rangers. The Rangers receive Spooner, who was greatly overachieving this year. Spooner has 9 goals this year and 18 assists. He was the perfect set up guy for the line but is not a guy you can lean on for constant scoring and cannot take over a game, unlike Nash. The draft picks might be considered what put this deal over the top for a rental in Nash. However, the Bruins farm system is a spring of young talent like: JFK, Fitzgerald, Bjork, Agostino and you know the USA leading goal scorer in the Olympics Ryan Donato? Bruins draft pick. So, the Bruins could afford losing two picks and a solid defensive product in Ryan Lindgren. And good-bye to Matt Belesky, thanks for nothing. Before yesterday’s game Nash said, “I wanted to go to a place that wanted me and a place that had a great chance to win.” Well you’re in the right place. And for those nay Sayers, saying Nash is washed up. He is far from it. If you watch the games, you see that Nash barley misses opportunities to get on the score sheet and does the little things that help a team win.

Bruins acquire Nick Holden from the Rangers for Rob O’ Gara and 2018 third round pick
A depth move for the Bruins as it is no secret that the Bruins always want help on the blue line. I’m not sure if Holden will get consistent playing time. In New York he played on the  first line time with then Ranger teammate Ryan McDonagh. A solid player that can cover the defense if someone goes down with an injury. Hate that the Bruins gave up O’Gara. I watched a few games while he played at Yale and he could control the game from the blue line out.
Bruins trade Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers for a 2018 third round pick
Also hate to see the hometown kid go, but he was not going to get the playing time he needed. And the times he was in, he didn’t contribute because he is used to play consistent minutes. Might as well get something for him.
Bruins acquire Tommy Wingels from the Chicago Blackhawks for 2019 conditional fifth round pick
Another buy low, depth deal. Wingels has 7 goals and 5 assists in 57 games for the Hawks. Looks to be a solid third line winger, but once again do you want to sub in him for lines that have been working so far?

By: Nick Riley

Photo Credit: New York Daily News

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2018 Red Sox Bench Preview

One important battle for Red Sox fans to watch this spring will be the bench. Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland will be sharing first base duties. Eduardo Nunez will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns from injury and then become a super utility player. That leaves Brock Holt, Devin Marrero, and Blake Swihart battling for the last two bench spots. All three players have their strengths and weaknesses. Swihart finally looks healthy after battling injuries the past two years and has no options left. All three of these players will be looking to prove to the Sox why they should make the opening day roster.

Coming into 2018  Swihart is only three years removed from being the Red Sox top prospect. He made his debut in 2015 and did not disappoint. In 2015 he played in 84 games and hit .274 with five home runs. He was seen as the catcher of the future due to his offensive upside. In 2016 he played in only nineteen games before an ankle injury ended his season. In 2017 Christian Vazquez had a breakout season and Swihart only had five plate appearances. Swihart is no longer seen as the catcher of the future in Boston. As a result the Red Sox have used his athleticism to find him playing time and have turned him into a super utility player. So far this spring Swihart has returned healthy and looks to have regained his stroke. He had two home runs today against Baltimore reminding people that he is still dangerous with the bat. Swihart has no options left meaning if he does not make the opening day roster he would be placed on waivers and most likely be claimed by another team. The Sox value Swihart for his bat and if he can stay hot it will be hard to deny him a spot.

Devin Marrero like Swihart is out of options. Marrero does not have the offensive capability like Swihart but he is extremely good defensively. In seventy one games in the majors last year he hit .211. Marrero does offer some value with the bat as last year he hit .291 against lefthanders. In order to secure a spot he will have to prove he can hit right handed pitching as last year he hit .172 against righties. Marrero does not have the offensive upside like Swihart. He does have the defensive upside Swihart lacks and he can play multiple positions. In order to earn a spot he will have to show improvement with his bat.

Brock Holt unlike Swihart and Marrero has been a staple on the Sox roster since 2014. The Red Sox acquired Holt from Pittsburgh in 2014 in exchange for Mark Melancon. Holt instantly became a fan favorite with his all out effort in a forgettable 2014 season for the Red Sox. In 2015 he made his first All Star team and was viewed as an essential player to the Red Sox. Over the past two year’s Holt has struggled with numerous injuries. He’s failed to play in one hundred games the past two seasons and last year he hit a career low .200. Holt was once a lock to make the roster but this year that is not the case. Like Marrero he will have to show he can hit. He will also have to show that he can stay healthy and that he can be the player he once was. Holt was much more experience than Marrero and Swihart. If Holt shows he isn’t past his injuries then he may not have a spot on the roster.

All three of these players have something to prove. They will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this spring which will make Spring Training even better. Only two of these three will be on the Red Sox opening day roster. Red Sox fans will just have to wait and find out which two it is.

 

Astros Force Game Seven

Last night the Houston Astros offense came to alive as they defeated the New York Yankees 7-1. It looked as if the Astros were on the verge of losing the series after their bats went dead. The Astros won the first two games of the series and looked to be pulling away. The series changed however when the series shifted to New York as the Yankees won games 3-5. The Astros bats were held in check as before yesterday the most runs they scored in a game in this series was four. With their season on the brink of ending the Astros key players stepped up when needed the most.

 

At this year’s trade deadline, the Astros surprised many by trading for Tigers long time ace Justin Verlander. He has been nothing short of amazing in the playoffs. In the first game of this series Verlander pitched a complete game while only allowing one run. Last night when the Astros needed him the most he delivered. He went seven innings while only allowing one run and struck out eight. The Astros offense backed their ace as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Brian McCann all came up big.

Altuve who may win the AL MVP award had two hits including a homerun. Bregman who has been clutch for the Astros during the playoffs had two runs batted in including a double in the eight as the Astros pounded David Robertson. McCann who had been quiet in the series up to this point also had an RBI double in the eight off Robertson. During the regular season the Astros were known for their offense because of their deep lineup. In their first-round matchup against the Red Sox the Astros again displayed their potent offense. Against the Yankees their offense had been kept in check until last night. With their season on the line the Astros offense came alive behind the man on the mound has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tonight, the Astros place the ball and their season in the hands of Charlie Morton. Game seven is where legends are born and tonight for both these teams legends will be made.

Photo Credit: Marco Torres

#Astros

Why The Aldridge Extension Is A Good Thing

On Monday the San Antonio Spurs surprised people as they signed LaMarcus Aldridge to a three year extension worth $ 72.3 million. Aldridge had a $ 22.3 million option for the 2018-2019 season but the Spurs choose to extend him. Aldridge signed with the Spurs in free agency two years ago and has underperformed a bit in San Antonio. Aldridge spent the first nine years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and made five all star teams while averaging 19.4 points per game along with 8.4 rebounds a game. Things in San Antonio have not gone as well for the big man and there are a couple reasons why.

In Aldridge’s first two seasons in San Antonio some of his averages are down compared to his time in Portland. Aldridge is still a very productive player however over the last two years hes averaged 17.6 points per game while pulling down 7.9 rebounds a game. in San Antonio he has been the number two option behind franchise icon Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge’s decrease in numbers hasn’t been the only problem as at times the Spurs have been unhappy with him and he’s been unhappy with the franchise. The Spurs were disappointed with his conditioning however this year he came to camp in better shape and formed a better relationship with head coach, Gregg Popovich. Regardless of his struggles Aldridge has become more comfortbale with the Spurs and the franchise still wanted to keep him long-term.

The deal works out for both sides as Aldridge wouldn’t have received a bigger deal in free agency and the Spurs didn’t have any better options to replace him. Aldridge is also key for this team as they try to compete with the Warriors in the West. Surrounding Leonard with talent is the only way they can knock of the Warriors and even though Aldridge’s numbers have slightly dipped he’s still a player many teams would like to have and the Spurs will have him for the foreseeable future.

Photo Credit: Basketball Wiki, http://basketball.wikia.com/wiki/LaMarcus_Aldridge

David Price Proves His Critics Wrong

In December of 2015 the Red Sox signed David Price to a seven year contract worth 217 million dollars. The deal at the time was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. Since signing that deal Price has received heavy criticism and clashed with the media in Boston. He hasn’t put up the spectacular numbers he did prior to arriving in Boston and has continued to struggle in the postseason until this past week. This year Price has dealt with elbow problems which placed him on the disabled list for the majority of the second half of the season forcing the Red Sox to use him as a reliever for the playoffs. In the opening round against the Houston Astros Price is pitching like the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting. As a starter Price is 0-8 in the postseason and in his only  postseason start last year against the Cleveland Indians he did not pitch well. Yesterday Price changed the narrative and saved the Red Sox season.

So far in this series against the Astros the Red Sox starting pitching has gotten destroyed. That didn’t change yesterday as the Red Sox starter Doug Fister only lasted one inning. Price entered the game in the fourth inning after two scoreless innings of relief from Joe Kelly and stunned the Fenway faithful. Facing the most potent offense in baseball Price delivered four innings of scoreless relief. The Sox bats followed suit as they came alive for the first time of the series and scored ten runs. The offensive explosion included homeruns by Jackie Bradley  and rookie Rafael Devers. The Red Sox needed some sort of jolt and it came from Price.

Many people have been critical of the starter this year. He needed a defining moment in a Red Sox uniform and he got that yesterday. Price may never pitch again this series depending on if the Red Sox can complete a comeback and win this series. Regardless of how this series ends Price stepped up when the Sox needed him the most and finally began to justify the contract Boston gave him.

Photo Credit: Jason Miller/ Getty Images

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