We’ve got a lot of diversity in this week’s d-bag mailbag. To wit:
Is Peter Chiarelli really good or kind of overrated? I’m not sure yet.
Is Jeff in Watertown becoming the most-hated talk show caller in Boston? That one’s starting to come into focus.
And, of course, who has got the best pro-sports ass in Phoenix? Do we even need to ask?
You’ll also notice that the chronics come out of the woodwork this week. Good to have you folks back. How’s Lobey doing?
Cue the Kings of Leon....
I know you are in love with the Jacobs family (yeah right; if they fell off the face of the earth and sold the B’s and the building to the green team I think you and the rest of us would jump for joy). The Chiarelli extension was a great move. The reason I say this has to do with the organization he left.
Since he departed the Senators they have fallen into shambles while the Bruins have basically righted the ship. It makes that two weeks and draft he ``wasn’t in charge of’’ for the Bruins and still working for the Sens that much more curious. Or am I just reading too much into it? What do you think? Or is this a question for Mr. pork chop himself? Either way, it’s definitely an interesting subject to think about and a weird dynamic as well.
PS, When will you set up a lunch for Jeff from Watertown and Buck and McAdam and record it for the baseball show, just to see if you could tell the three apart?
A: While the NHL made Chiarelli sit at the Ottawa table on draft day and didn’t let him join the Bruins until after free agency, it’s impossible for me to believe he wasn’t consulted heavily that offseason. Would that have violated the agreement the B’s had with the league at the time? Absolutely, and I would be disappointed if they didn’t violate it. But whether you believe Chiarelli or interim GM Jeff Gorton was the man pulling the strings at that time, the bottom line is that the 2006 offseason was a whopper. It basically set the stage for the Bruins recovery, with Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard coming on the first day of free agency and Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic coming in the first two rounds of the draft. And then during that regular season, with Chiarelli fully in charge, Aaron Ward, Dennis Wideman and Andrew Ference came via trade (more on Wideman in a second). That’s currently your top 4 D. Pretty productive, don’t you think?
P.S. You wouldn’t believe the amount of Jeff in Watertown hate mail I get. It’s almost more than I get for Mike in Attleboro.
I realize it’s your job to stir the pot. (Felger: Moi?) I also know how hard of a task it is due to your infinite number of shows. But to come down on 21-year-old Kessel is way off. He has not reached his peak at such a young age. Factor in cancer and mono, his shyness, etc. and you have a future scoring star. I saw LaFleur get knocked around pretty good in his early years. To this day, I still have not seen Selanne throw a check. The point is you need pure scorers to win. They are a key part of the team. If you look at consistent winning teams, they all have a pure gunner in their lineup. You put up with their deficiencies because of their goals.
A: Why don’t you save this argument for when Kessel becomes half the threat that Guy LaFleur or Teemu Selanne were? But I know I’m in the minority when it comes to this topic. Most of you like Kessel and think he should be part of the future. I think he’s overrated. As my friend Steve Burton would say -- we shall see on that one.
I just read your five points on Chiarelli and I couldn’t agree more. I hope last year wasn’t a mirage and that they continue to move forward. But why do I have these nagging doubts in my head about Julien, Thomas, Chiarelli, Savard, etc.? Time will tell, but let’s remember that they basically got smoked by the Canes in the playoffs. Four years for Tim Thomas? Not where my $$ would have gone. But that’s me. Keep writing about the B’s, they need the pub.
A: I have no nagging doubts about Savard. He’s a terrific offensive player who will let you down in your own end. That’s what he’s always been and what he’ll always be. Like Kessel, he’s soft. But unlike Kessel, you can count on his offensive production in the big games. Also unlike Kessel, he makes players around him better. You know how I feel about Thomas (good, not great). Julien? Do you all think he still has something to prove? I’m torn on that one.
I share most of your sentiments on Chiarelli. This off-season will be his hardest since coming to Boston, but up to this point he gets solid grades from me. Getting Kobasew and Ference for Brad Stuart was a great move considering EVERYONE knew there was no chance Stuart was going to re-sign here (thus having little to no leverage in trade talks). Giving big money to Chara and Savard were also terrific decisions. It’s easy to forget that neither of these guys were considered home run signings three years ago. Chara has brought leadership and a dominant physical presence. Savard has been playing at an All-Star level and has even added defense to his game. I disagree with you on the Thomas signing. I think it was a terrific move. If my research is correct he will be the 12th highest paid goalie in the NHL next year. That seems like GREAT value for the probable Vezina trophy winner. Even if four years is a long term for a player his age. It should also be noted that he’s a ferocious competitor. By all accounts he’s not the type of guy that will sit around and get fat after getting a big contract (see Fernandez, Manny). Most importantly it’s a move that HAD to be made. A team that is serious about winning a Cup does not go into a season with an unproven goalie. Period. If Rask were to come in and become a superstar, that’s great. Thomas could then be dangled to one of the dozen or so teams (not an exaggeration) that need a goaltender.
With all that being said Chiarelli will ultimately be judged on the moves made in the next two months. Even if these Heatley rumors are true – and let me be the first to volunteer to drive Mr. Kessel and Mr. Bergeron to Logan – there would still be a need for a solid defensemen. It’s going to be an anxious and intense off-season.
High Life Mike
A: Here are two moves by Chiarelli we haven’t spent any time on that I think deserve mention.
•In February of 2007, Chiarelli’s first season in Boston, he traded prospect Kris Versteeg to Chicago for Hawks winger Brandon Bochenski. Versteeg is up for the Calder Trophy on Thursday as the NHL’s top rookie after a 22-goal season for the conference finalist Blackhawks. Bochenski played 51 games for the B’s over two years and was soon gone. Not good.
•Later that same month, Chiarelli sent forward Brad Boyes to St. Louis for defenseman Dennis Wideman. Boyes has scored 43 and 33 goals, respectively, over the last two seasons for the Blues. Wideman is currently a Top 4 defenseman for the Bruins. Advantage: St. Louis (although not a huge one).
Just for the record.
You can never have too much pitching, and these things have a way of working themselves out. It’s easy to say these things when you don’t have a plethora of pitching and holes all over your organization to fill. This is the first time in a long time where this theory is being tested and we are finding out that it doesn’t mean what we thought it meant. You can never have too much pitching, but you CAN have too many starters to keep on your major league roster at once. Sometimes these things don’t actually work themselves out. Sometimes you have to work them out.
The confluence of contracts, clauses and performances are actually preventing them from working themselves out. Smoltz is ready to comeback and is owed cash for every day he spends not on the major league roster. Buchholtz is at the point that even the most skeptical fan has to accept we are past the tipping point. Any ``seasoning’’ he could possibly gain from remaining with the PawSox is negligible when weighed against his need to test his stuff against MLB teams. Wakefield is old and has a history of working out of the pen, but he has been arguably the most consistent starter this year. I think all would agree that Dice-K is the odd man out, but as luck would have it, his contract states that he doesn’t have to accept any minor league assignments he deems unnecessary. I don’t need a magic 8-ball to predict that Tito is not going to take a Lou Brown leak on the contract, so that is off the table as well.
These things work themselves out, generally means to me that if we do nothing, everything will be just fine. In other words someone will get hurt, or under perform or do something to take themselves out of the rotation. Unfortunately 5-of-5 starters fall into the category of, you can’t send them to Pawtucket. Four-of-five starters fall into the category of, you can’t have them pitch out of the bullpen. So unless Dice-K is going to go down with a case of the Drew-flu, or Wake is planning on getting a back-octomoy, then it looks like this is one of those times where this will work out when Theo and company work it out. The question is who goes?
The answer can really only be Penny, Smoltz or Buchholtz. The Sox would be Tommy Boy stupid to trade Buchholz unless its a blockbuster, but is it crazy to think if Smoltz comes up and pitches two pre-all-star break gems that he might be viewed as just as valuable as Penny to another team? I would think if they go to a six-man rotation for two-plus weeks and come out of it with two assets like Penny and Smoltz, then don’t they just put them both on the auction block and take the best offer out there?
That isn’t the ``problem’’ working itself out. It is Epstein and Co. working the organization into a position to either improve the team a little, or potentially improve the team a lot. I have a feeling the brothers Steinbrenner would love to be working out those kinds of "problems."
A: I would almost call this e-mail “thoughtful,” Jake. You feeling OK?
Thanks for attempting to point out some of the (many) problems with Buck and McAdam rallying to the defense of Ortiz, et al. My biggest issue with these guys is: Where were they??
While they shoot this point down out of hand by saying that nobody was going to name names, that’s not what was required or expected. Though baseball writers needn’t be Woodward & Bernstein, for them to sit by, up close and personal, while all of this was happening is a disgrace. And not being mentioned is how many perks these writers receive just by being in close proximity to the players. How many autographed balls for nephews and friends has Buckley received as a result of his covering the team? Not sure anyone has asked, but to me this environment made it more unlikely that any suspicions would be written about. Naming players wasn’t necessary; investigating suspicions was.
These guys failed miserably and let the fans and the game down (baseball is unique in that the writers that cover it help paint players a certain way). I think they enjoyed their proximity to the players and the resulting benefits so much that their judgment and will to report with diligence was tainted.
A: I don’t blame these guys for not “investigating suspicions.” And I don’t even blame them for keeping what should have been a healthy dose of skepticism to themselves. They do have to walk into that locker room every day, after all. I get that. I just don’t need to scolded for merely stating the obvious: the sport was/is filthy.
Dear Mr. Felgy,
I’ve figured out why JD Drew can’t catch a break in this town. It’s June and Drew is a walkin,’ talking,’ RBI-drivin,’ homerun-hammerin,’ fly ball-catchin,’ on-base-machine in June. Nonetheless, he’s a guy who still draws sarcastic cheers, and golf claps at Fenway.
I get it. The reason we all hate JD drew is that he peaked during his college career. He’s still getting paid for the things he accomplished before the turn of the millennium. He’s been over the hill since he was 23.
Here is an excerpt from Scott Boras’ propaganda folder (Wikipedia):
``At Florida State, Drew was the winner of the 1997 Dick Howser Trophy and the 1997 Golden Spikes Award, was named the 1997 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the 1997 Sporting News Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American (1997). He also was named the 1997 ACC Player of the Year. He was a 1996 member of Team USA. Drew was First Team in 1996, Freshman All-American in 1995 and was named to the College World Series All Tournament Team in 1995. He was the first player in college baseball history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. He set a Florida State record by batting .455 in 1997 while managing to become one of only three players in college baseball history to have 100 hits, 100 runs and 100 RBIs. During his college career, Drew broke 17 school and conference records. Prior to the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft, Drew’s swing and all-around talent level had some scouts comparing him to all-time greats like Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial.’’
He was quite the College phenom. He fancied himself so much, that he decided he would rather play for the St. Paul Saints than play in the Majors for less than 10 million dollars.
In conclusion, while I’ve no doubt that Drew will regain his 1997 form, it seems like he is going through some initial struggles at the major league level. He’s had some success defensively, but he seems to give up on some of his at-bats before even walking to the plate. The bright side, of course, is that he’s only 33-years-old. He’s barely had time to prove anything. I’m sure that an additional $6 or $7 million dollars per year would provide sufficient incentive for him to reach his potential.
Oops! Another weak ground ball to the 2nd baseman….Oh, well. Get ‘em next time.
I’m going to dive back into my bottle of performance enhancing scotch.
A: Is that bio unbelievable, or what? To me, what makes the “J.D. Drew story” so striking is that the guy is so freaking good. Or he could be. He’s truly a natural and a five-tool guy. But he’s just missing that component. If he wasn’t that talented, I don’t think he’d frustrate us as much.
Rex Grossman signed with the Texans last week. WTF? Why didn’t the Pats pick him up? He got league minimum, has actual experience (sure, most of it is bad) and his nickname is the Sex Cannon! What’s not to love?
A: Get with the program, Tom. I don’t start ranting about the Patriots backup quarterbacks until August.
I’m very interested to see how heavily Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand comes down on Donte Stallworth in light of his guilty plea for DUI manslaughter. MADD wasn’t really clamoring for his head with the same fervor that PETA was in Michael Vick’s case, and with Stallworth being a player of lesser stature than Vick was, the NFL really didn’t suffer the same kind of PR nightmare. However, I would argue that Stallworth’s admitted crime makes him the worst offender of the NFL’s personal conduct policy to date, even more than Pacman; an innocent human being’s life was needlessly taken. Do you think Goodell will hand down a penalty that reflects that? I would hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. Shame on the NFL if Stallworth ever sets foot on the field for another game.
A: The last time the NFL was faced with this situation, when St. Louis defensive lineman Leonard Little was convicted of manslaughter in a drunk driving accident in 1998. He got eight games from Paul Tagliabue. If this truly is a tougher NFL, then Stallworth would get double that. I still find it outrageous that people are more outraged over Vick than Stallworth/Little.
Speaking of which....
Subj: Read this, DOUCHE BAG!
Lucas the magnificent is now safe at Best Friends. The former grand champion of Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring is really a happy, goofy fellow.
A: Just wanted to let you know these are still coming in.
Felgy and Pit bull Lovers,
In Edmonton this week, a potbellied pig was put down by police Saturday night in the west end after it was severely mauled by its two housemates -- a pair of pit bulls that lived on the same property. ``It’s one of our most unusual cases, seeing two dogs attacking another animal, which happens to be a pig. And equally unusual is that the two dogs were attacking an animal within their own family,’’ said Art Becker, the city’s co-ordinator of animal control enforcement (Edmonton Sun).
Hey, pigs are people too. This is a disgrace. This is the last straw for me. All those kid attacks were one thing, but now house pigs? Geez!
Well, the story at least supports Felgy’s initial point of his article. Living with a pit bull is one thing, but then to add pigs to the picture? Definite imbeciles (and a little creepy too). What happened to the good old days where it was the Golden Retriever stealing bacon off the breakfast counter?
A: The pit bull crowd is always asking me to define exactly what a pit bull is. How about this definition: Any dog that would double-team a pig.
Why is a Rondo trade so hard to believe? Yes, Rondo is fast. He rebounds and distributes the ball. And at the same time, he can’t shoot. And many times, he plays wildly out of control. I’d much prefer a more traditional, controlled, consistent point guard.
A: Why is it so hard to believe? Because it was just a few months ago that people around here were telling me that Rondo was one of the best young players in the league and a key pillar of the future in Boston. He was either a Top 3 or Top 5 point guard, the emerging third member of the big three. And now he’s a chip? I just find that notable.
To: Dale and Holley
Subj: Felger is a sports talk GOD!!!
Holley, Rondo is a better point guard than Nash? Whatever your smoking you should sent some my way. Are you out of your freaking mind? Rondo can’t hit a jumper to save his life, and he plays with Allen, Garnet, and Pierce while Nash is dishing the ball to who? Amare? Then who, 85-year old grant hill? Please, Nash would dominate in the East which is weak at the point playing with the big three. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Doc hint at the fact that rondo is not coachable? Something about he knows what he needs to do to make himself better but loses sight of what he needs to do to make the team better. Trade Rondo now before the rest of the league realizes he’s overrated, get Nash, win another title and let his contract expire so you can get another superstar in 2010 to establish a dynasty. Felger, don’t let Holley sway you, Rondo is maybe, and that’s a big MAYBE, the sixth-best PG in the league. If you can get Nash for an overrated un-coachable player like Rondo, you do it all day long.
A: Actually, I don’t have an opinion on Rondo vs. Nash. I’m just channeling my inner Glenn Ordway and making it sound like I do. The only thing I feel strongly about is that it’s a fascinating story and that the NBA offseason is infinitely more interesting the actual season.
And, again, as Bill Murray once famously said, “I’m a God. I’m not THE God.”
To: Dale and Holley
Are you out of your freaking mind? Go on youtube and watch all the video of Rondo ABUSING Nash. I thought you covered Boston sports and basketball in particular? Now I know you are just full of (expletive), and even worse, make inflammatory comments just for the sake of it. (Felger: Moi?) Very disappointing. I actually thought you had substance. Silly me.
A: Buck? Is that you?
Subj: A phoenix thing
Nash or Fitzy?
A: Fitzy, Qubio. A thousand times Fitzy.
Why in the world would King James go to NJ or NY if all money is equal (Which it is, I assume, being a max contract) over coming to Boston to play with Garnett, Paul, and Perk? If he wants to win I cannot imagine why he would NOT come here. Or am I wrong about this?
A: I feel you are wrong about this, but I can’t tell you exactly why. Just a gut feeling. LeBron a Celtic? Really? Just seems hard to believe.
Felger You DB!
Was there anything more nauseating than seeing that freaking scumbag fraud Kobe Bryant get an NBA title handed to him? I don’t know who choked worse last week, Dwight Howard and the Magic or David Carradine. Hey Grasshopper, Confucius says practice your free throws.
As OSHA petitions to make the first five rows behind the hoop a hard hat zone during Howard free throws, we get to hear how great Kobe is. I’d rather suffer the head trauma. There was no escape to the Kobe idolatry in the Finals aftermath. Kobe’s a top ten all-time player. Kobe’s the best player in the league. Kobe’s a finisher. Kobe’s going to be better than MJ. Was there a free crack promotion the NBA ran that I missed out on? Kenny Smith must have gotten in line twice. Kobe is better than Hakeem Olajuwon?!? The Dream was responsible for your two rings, carried the Rockets for years and was maybe the most skilled low post scorer of all time. After a ludicrous verbal tongue bath like that there is no question Smith knows how Bryant’s ass tastes.
Personally I have trouble calling Kobe Bryant a top 5 all-time Laker, let alone top 10 all-time NBA player. Seriously, look at the three seasons post Shaq, pre Gasol. The Lakers were 121 and 125. In ‘04-05, the Lakers went 34-48. Conversely, look at LeBron, He has the supporting cast of a Sci-Fi channel original movie and he has already carried the Cavs to the finals once. If the Lakers had LeBron instead of Bryant the Lakers would have blown the Magic out in four games and Orlando wouldn’t have had to elevate the threat level for female hotel workers to orange while he was in town.
All time great players don’t cry about being traded and certainly don’t wish they had signed with the Clippers, they put their team on their back and carry them into the postseason. Rick Barry managed it, but the best Kobe could do was get bitch slapped by the Suns in the first round twice. And great players don’t let their team blow 24 point leads at home in the NBA finals and ride pine as their squad gets curb stomped by 39 in the deciding game.
I’m sorry, but you’ll catch me jogging on the infield of the Shady Acre’s 500 before I put Kobe in the same company as MJ, Bird, Magic and Wilt.
A: Now THAT’S a Kobe beat-down. Watch it, Mike. They’re going to put your ass on Sports Soup.
It’s interesting that in a supposedly Red Sox town, we have some pretty weak critical Red Sox observers on the scene with the exception of Shaugnessy-Ryan (they combine as one person because they do other stuff). The Patriots, on the other hand, have more judgmental and insightful voices: yourself, Borges, Guregian, Holley, Curran, Reiss, etc.
I think it’s because the Pats and Belichick make you guys work for everything you get. While covering the Red Sox must be like going to Disney Land. Everyone is so nice and helpful so you don’t speak bad about thos e nice folks at Pooh Corner. Oh look, there’s Eeyore-Larry Luchino, Christopher Robin-Theo and wise old Owl-Francona. It makes me sick.
It’s a small nation after all,
A: I don’t agree with your Belichick thing. He hasn’t made reporters work harder. He’s just made some of them bitter. Under John Henry, the Sox have made friends with the reporters, and on this point you’re right: It shows.
I’m a chronic, one of the originals. I still respect the Kendrick, I can recite your awkward first interaction with Doc Rivers, I can even recall, and relate to, you calling out gays on the Cape. Not because they were gay, but because they couldn’t be bothered renting hotel rooms to go be gay in. I mention all of this because I need you to understand that the scolding that follows comes from a good place. I expect more from you Michael.
In last week’s mailbag you were asked for a list of the best media people in town. Imagine my surprise when the bane of Green Teamers everywhere went to homer heaven for his answer. What a fine and dubious coincidence that all of the best, save Mike Reiss, whose competition at the Herald is the disgraced John Tomase, work at either the Herald or WEEI. Wow. Did Tanguay help you out with that?
That’s just the cake, however. The frosting, and boy am I frosted, is your statement that Gerry Callahan’s opinions are unpredictable. Really? So were you routinely surprised when the castaways did not get off Gilligan’s Island? When those cute kids finally hooked up on The Love Boat? When Rocky won? I can not only tell what Callahan is going to say (it’s the liberal’s fault) BUT HOW HE’S GOING TO SAY IT! Look, I don’t care that he and Dennis are partisans. I am, too, obviously. What I have a problem with is the fact that they don’t think.
The principle here at the grown ups table is collect facts (top flight pitching prospects are gold, the Red Sox are good at developing them, sluggers are the lowest risk free agent signings), develop a philosophy based on those facts (don’t trade pitching prospects for sluggers) and apply it to specific situations (do not trade Buchholz for Pujols?) -- while acknowledging that sometimes you will be wrong (as you are regarding Pujols). Callahan’s style is in direct opposition to this, and your praising him (because he is BMOC at WEEI, is simply one of yours, or because you are looking longingly at JD’s chair) is a contradiction to everything you are suppose to represent. Everything that made me a chronic.
Mike, I was with you down the dial for a reason. I felt abandoned when you left, but I’m a big boy and I understood. If a tree falls on 890, does it make a sound? My hope was that you would continue to be independent, and not become just another caricature. It is not looking good right now
Maybe I expect too much.
Paul (Listener 5-of-16)
A: Got tears in my eyes, Paul. That got me right where it counts. Give me a second here.....
OK, here’s what I meant to say: Callahan is unpredictable in his SPORTS opinions. I wasn’t talking about politics. And trust me, McAdam would have gotten a vote no matter where he was. But, overall you’re right. I should have said Dickerson over Glenn.
I’m a chronic from the 890 days (Felger: what is this, a reunion?), and even before that. I enjoy all your views, regardless whether I agree or not. You definitely know how to shake it up. Now on the Baseball Show I have to ask -- no, beg. Please, for the love of God, when you want to get rid of a caller, why do you announce, ``caller I’m going drop you.’’ It just doesn’t sound good watching or listening. Whoever is manning the board should know your style by now. You keep it fast paced, maybe a little too fast, and you HAVE to placate Buck and Sean with Jeff from Watertown. What a bore he is, just a snooze. At least he gets in and we don’t have to listen to him after that. So no big deal, but there has to be a better way of letting the board op know when to drop the call, just don’t air it. Thanks for listening, and you are one of the best in Town. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Take it slow,
A: Thanks for the e-mail, Mike, I’m going to drop you now....
Any chance that ``The Baseball Show’' becomes ``The Football Show’’ when Sox season ends?
A: Would we still have to take Jeff in Watertown first?
Felger can be seen on "Sports Sunday’’ on Comcast Sportsnet, Sunday nights at 10 p.m. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.