In an interview with Mut & Merloni Wednesday, Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci said he believes the Red Sox are the third-best team in the American League East going into the season.
“Boston to me is third, because I don't like the shortstop situation,” Verducci said. “It's too important of a position to try to move people around, and certainly to force people in when they are not ready. In terms of [Jose] Iglesias, I don't like that situation. And they're going to need 90 starts from [Clay] Buchholz, [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett. Anything less than that and they are going to be really in trouble and be less than a 90-win team.”
With so many storylines percolating around the Red Sox, Verducci said Carl Crawford's comments about last season and his place in the batting order showed a lack of closure from his disappointing 2011 campaign.
“I just don't know if [Crawford's] comfortable yet,” Verducci said. “I haven't heard the kind of comments. [He should] put the last year behind him and not even address those issues. I'd rather see him just move on, and take the new year for what it is -- a new opportunity.”
Although Verducci's predictions didn't suggest a trip to the World Series, he said Bobby Valentine is the right manager to help restore order in the Red Sox clubhouse, and also that former skipper Terry Francona would become a candidate elsewhere -- possibly as soon as this summer.
“In 2012, I think Valentine is the right guy,” he said. “Especially to get them out from beyond the garbage of last September. I like both guys. Terry is going to be a great candidate for somebody, at some point -- maybe as early as July this year. He'll be that Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden guy who is sitting up in the booth waiting for the next job on everybody's list. And he'll be better for it. I do think there needs to be attention to detail and things cleaned up around the Red Sox, and that's what Bobby does really, really well.
Looking at baseball's big national story, Verducci said he thought Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun shouldn't have taken an aggressive stance in his press conference following the victory of his appeal on a drug test that showed high testosterone levels.
“He went too far,” Verducci said. “All he needed to say was, 'Listen, I've been cleared by the arbitrator. The case was found not have any merit. I've said from the beginning I'm innocent. The arbitrator agreed with me. It's time to move on.' Leave it at that. Just don't throw out innuendos that something nefarious was going on here or we found some things out about the collector himself that makes us suspicious. There was no need to go down that path. And that turns out that it has come back to blow back on him.”
Verducci said even though he is told MLB will not pursue any legal action against Braun, its response to the ordeal illuminated how it felt about the 2011 MVP's acquittal.
“Major League Baseball left it clear that they believe Ryan Braun was a doper and got caught,” he said. “And he got off on a technicality. I think they made their position really clear, and that is unusual in this case.”
The league's vote to have a second wild card team is supposed to be held by March 1. Verducci said he feels the change is imminent, and the reaction from most has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The thing [general managers and players] really like about it is that it really puts a premium on 162 games and winning your division,” Verducci said. “That's where you really separate who the best team is. Now teams are going to play it out down the stretch to make sure they win the division and not finish second.”
We check in with Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater on a Patriots Monday as the Patriots prepare for their fourth pre-season game, and are 10 days away from opening the 2015 season.
We check in with the head coach of the Patriots on a Pats Monday to get his take on the win over Carolina, pre-season game number four, and the numerous cuts to the team's roster he must make in the upcoming weeks.
Danny Amendola joined the show to talk about the addition of Reggie Wayne to the receiving group, the offensive tempo in game 3 of the preseason, and who is the most stylish in the locker room.
Jay King of Masslive.com joins the show to break down the performance of the Celtics during the NBA Summer League. Then Ben and Sam discuss the exciting possibility of a Space Jam sequel.
Michael joins Ben and Sam to discuss the wild NBA Free Agency period and the upcoming Celtics season.
How long will this rebuild take? How much money will it take to keep Bae Crowder? Are Draft Picks even worth anything? With the Danny Ainge not landing any big names in the draft, and unable to lure any big names in free agency, Sam and Ben discussed if the Celtics are doomed moving forward.
We check in for our weekly visit with the interim Sox manager.
Joe Castiglione & Lou Merloni talked to the Sox outfielder, who had three hits and threw out a runner at home in the win over the Yankees.
Butch and John are talking Red Sox on the Sunday Sports Roundtable. They get into the current state of the rotation and how things have improved as of late. Joe Kelly has been on fire, but is he a trade asset? The guys discuss the starting pitchers that will be free agents this year and if any are good fits in Boston. Then they move on to the decision to let Orsillo go in favor of Dave O'Brien - Tomase has an interesting perspective on this topic.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Schilling emailed Awful Announcing.
Florio gave us the latest on Brady vs Goodell.
The top stories of the day.
Deflategate news aside, there are some reports that Tom and Giselle are having some trouble in paradise. Lou, Christian and Gary discuss the validity of the reports, and Christian gives some advice to Tom.
Jerod Mayo dropped by the studio to talk with Lou, Christian, and Gary about the stress that some guys go through on "cut-down" day. He also made fun of Christian for his focus on fashion, and how exaggerated he thought HBO's "Ballers" was.
Lou, Christian and Gary (and the rest of us) are all patiently waiting for Judge Berman to decide Tom Brady's future. The guys wonder.... What is he waiting for?
We discuss Bob McNair's now infamous quotes about the Patriots, and how his comments, uniformed as they may be, are probably representative of other NFL owners, and thus the reason Roger Goodell can push forward with this situation without worrying about blowback from the owners.
Dale, Michael and Jerry check in with Red Sox interim manager Torey Luvollo.
Michael Holley is back and he has thoughts on what he's missed while he was gone... including Don Orsillo and NESN.
Mikey Adams and Lenny Megliola discuss Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, and who should play where. Also, the current outfield in context with Sox history.
Mikey Adams and Lenny Megliola discuss the state of the Red Sox after a 13-8 loss to the Yankees. Pablo Sandoval and other notable fat ballplayers are discussed, in addition to some of the positives with the team
Chris Mortensen went on a sports radio station in Arizona today and talked about his deflate gate reporting, and said that the Krafts called him to apologize over the whole situation. Only thing is there's a report tonight from D&C saying their sources at the Patriots are saying that did not happen, could Mort be, dare I say, wrong?
With the transfer window coming to a close, Ben, Russ & Alex hand out transfer grades for each Premier League team. They also discuss the Revs recent surge and debate if it will continue this weekend.
Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable are joined this week by special guests Jim Callis of MLB.com and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com to discuss what new GM Dave Dombrowski will do with his new prospect system. Also, do the Sox really have the best Farm system in baseball? Finally, Ken travels to Lowell to chat with Spinners' catcher Austin Rei and manager Joe Oliver.
It’s peek draft season so Jim Hackett and Pete Davidson are back with today’s Fantasy Football Podcast on Draft Strategy. Pete Davidson’s article at Rotobahn.com “The 2015 Draft Plan” fuels a deep conversation on how to approach the draft at all the key positions Quarterback, Runningback, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Defense. Get prepared and Happy Drafting!
Dave Portnoy gave us the latest from the Brady Goodell hearing.More from this show
McCann gave us his thoughts on yesterday's proceedings.More from this show
Chris Mortensen, ESPN, reports on Twitter that the "NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources." He went on SportsCenter to talk about his report. Mut and his callers reacted to the breaking newsMore from this show