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.”
Greg and Chris talk with Mike Reiss from ESPN Boston in hour 2 of NFL Sunday to discuss a variety of offseason happenings with the Pats and throughout the league. Greg and Chris also get into the NFL Draft and where Mariota and Winston will go.
Mike Reiss calls the guys to talk about the offseason news for the Pats. He talks about the Pats/Jets tampoering fiasco, free agency, where he sees Ridley and Connolly ending up, if the Patriots would be interested in Reggie Wayne and more.
In the first hour of the show, Greg and Chris discuss the news coming out of the owners' meetings this week and rule changes. Belichick's blow-up over the league not wanting to spend on endzone cameras was well documented and the guys react. They also talk about the Jets ridiculous tampering charges, free agents still lingering out there, where Stevan Ridley will land and the RB position in New England. Dickerson and Price briefly discuss the adventures of Tom Brady before being joined by WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia to talk all things Pats in the offseason.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Flannery joins Mut to break down the Isaiah Thomas trade to Boston and what it means for the Celtics this season and in the future. Paul also chats with Mut about the other deals that happened at the NBA's trading deadline
We talk to Chris Mannix from SI to break down the C's acquisition of Isaiah Thomas and the crazy trade deadline in the rest of the NBA.
Joe and Alex talked with the Sox AGM about the state of the team as Opening Day approaches.
Mut, Tomase, and Bradford kick things off talking about Shane Victorino taking offense to people reading into some comments he made about trading for Cole Hamels. They also discuss Blake Swihart and how soon he could be up if Christian Vazquez starts the season on the DL.
Joe Kelly joined the Hot Stove show where he talked about being ready for his next spring training start after a biceps ailment forced him out of his last outing, he talks about his NCAA brackets and how teammate Wade Miley has a perfect bracket still.
Peter Chiarelli joined the Sunday Skate crew to talk about the Bruins playoff push heading into the final handful of games of the regular season. Chiarelli talked about avoiding some of the overly negative feedback he gets while realizing that the team does have real issues. He discusses what went down at the trade deadline and if he was happy with the outcome, Lucic having a down year and underperforming, the salary cap and if he considers it as big of an issue as it's been made out to be and what the future holds for the team.
It's a big hour #2 for the Sunday Skate dudes - they talk about the B's defenseman and what the future looks like at that position, with both moves the team can make and younger guys in the AHL. They also get into the Bruins philosophy on bringing guys up and sending them back down and how players deal with that. Finally, the boys are joined by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli to discuss EVERYTHING.
The Sunday Skate crew gets the show going discussing the Bruins big, impressive victory over the NY Rangers yesterday. What can you take from that game? According to LB - Lyndon Byers - who called the guys from the road, not a lot. LB drops a dime on what was going on with the Rangers yesterday. DJ and Joe discuss Claude's lines and groupings and the importance of Ryan Spooner. They also get into Lucic, his contributions this year and if he can turn things around.
The latest feud between Shank and Papi was discussed.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.
John Farrell has named Clay Buchholz the starter for Tuesday's opener. Koji and Christian Vasquez are already ruled out. Vasquez on the 60 day DL.
Wrestlemania was a trial run for Super Bowl 50. More Christian dog stuff. Superintendent in Chief William Gross of the BPD deals with some idiotic protesters after the fatal shooting in Roxbury on Friday night.
Shawn Thornton is now a member of the Panthers, who come to town tomorrow night. Thornton spoke about Claude Julien's control of the Bruins locker room, and his own team playing his former team on Tuesday night.
As the testimony of Hernandez' fiancee wrapped up today, we checked in with attorney Michael McCann for all the latest developments and analysis.
We wrap up the day with the best in sound that you may have missed throughout the day.
We listen in on Adam Shefter's deflategate report on NFL Live on ESPN, and discuss when we can expect this whole mess to come to a head.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Mut opens his show talking about the New York Jets filing tampering charges on the Patriots
Mikey, Mut, and Lucy are talking about all things New England sports, the Red Sox spring training, more Darrelle Revis and Jets talk, and some Bruins mixed in.
Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Kirk's massage and crap all over Sausage.
Ben and Adam finish the odyssey that is the history of Wrestlemania. Wrestlemanias 21-30 are discussed and analyzed.
Mike Mulloy joins Chris in the studio to talk Raw and Wrestlemania.
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.More from this show
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.More from this show