Andy Kirkaldy: Forecast mixed for Boston pro sports teams
The untimely, but given the circumstances, to be honest, not unexpected end of the New England Patriots’ season a couple weeks back makes this a good time to look at the four major-sports Massachusetts pro teams.
So, yes, you New York fans can move along, or stick around and do some threat assessment of the competition — or offer some snark, if you prefer.
I will say the Yankees can be good if most of the following don’t happen: Teixeira, Rodriguez and Beltran don’t all fall off the cliff at the same time, Ellsbury doesn’t miss six to eight weeks with a hangnail, Tanaka’s elbow doesn’t spontaneously combust, and Sabathia’s arm doesn’t simply fall off. They’ll be good defensively in the infield, and if they lead after six innings they will win at least 90 percent of the time. All other teams also have questions marks, so why not?
Speaking of question marks, the Red Sox.
Plenty of experts seem to feel that adding David Price to the top of the rotation, Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith to the back end of the bullpen, and lefty-mashing Chris Young to the outfield mix has made the Sox the favorite in the AL East.
Well, maybe. Like the Yankees, the Sox have a rotation full of possibilities. Rick Porcello stunk for three months last year, and then pitched well for six weeks. Ditto for Joe Kelly. Eduardo Rodriguez won 10 games with decent other numbers as a rookie last year. Did I mention he was a rookie last year? Clay Buchholz could miss eight to 10 weeks with a hangnail. After setting the world on fire for two months.
The young catching looks good. Xander Bogaerts and Pedroia up the middle of the infield are as good a combo as anybody. Mookie Betts in right field is a star in the making.
But the rest of the outfield, Rusney Castillo in left and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, while excellent defensively, are no sure bets to hit. And the third and first basemen, respectively, are Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Buffet restaurants lock their doors when they see Sandoval coming, and his numbers have worsened yearly.
Ramirez, the worst defender in baseball after moving from short to left field in 2015, will try his hand at another new job this summer. I am more optimistic than most, but … well, no sure bet.
Either the Sox or the Yankees could win the division, or finish near the bottom. Yes, that’s wishy-washy, but both teams are rolling a lot of dice.
In basketball, the Celtics are predictably inconsistent. It’s a young team of role players that needs a great player, maybe two, to get over the top. The Cs own the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick, which if the season ended right now would be the third pick in the draft, with something like a 15 percent chance of being the top pick via the lottery.
But the team doesn’t really need more youth. Keep an eye on the trade deadline — GM Danny Ainge would love to trade that pick (a potential star), another pick or two, plus a role player or two for an established star. It might be a tough sell. Be happy you aren’t paying his phone bills.
The Bruins seem to get just a little bit worse every year, don’t they? That’s what happens when you trade a dollar (Tyler Seguin) for a quarter (Loui Eriksson) and a couple dimes, let Johnny Boychuk go because you’ve mismanaged the salary cap so badly, and then trade Doug Hamilton for a No. 15 draft pick that you spend on a player (Zach Senyshyn) projected to be a second-rounder that you could have had with your No. 45 pick.
It’s still a joy to watch Patrice Bergeron lace them up, but this team needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat somehow to be a legitimate cup contender.
Ah, back to the Patriots. Really, they are the AFC favorites for the next Super Bowl right now, and would still be playing if not for a rash of injuries, the most costly to left tackle Nate Solder.
Their defense is good enough right now. Add some offensive linemen, No. 1, and a wide receiver with both hands and speed, No. 2, and — barring another set of catastrophic injuries, always possible in American football — in early 2017 we’ll get the matchup many really wanted to see this Sunday: Brady vs. Newton.