What a day yesterday, eh? The biggest story is clearly the release of Lawyer Milloy, and it seems pretty clear the boys in the press aren’t thinking this was such a wise move. Ron Borges takes a moment to gloat a bit, in effect saying “see…I was right when I said the Patriots were trying trade Milloy in the spring”…it’s ok Ron, you’re entitled. Borges adds:
Much will be made in some corners about Milloy having no sacks, no interceptions, no forced fumbles, and no fumble recoveries last season. Some will argue this was a sign of slippage and that he is no longer the player he once was. Much the same was said about Drew Bledsoe before he went to Buffalo and returned to the Pro Bowl while leading a team with no defense to within one game of the AFC East title in his first season there.
Jim Donaldson, who had made that exact argument about a month ago, sticks by it as the reason for the move. Borges often makes the statement that he goes by what he sees. His comments today seem to fly in the face of that claim. Kevin Mannix says this leaves a huge void for the Patriots. He adds that the clues that this was coming were there:
Earlier this week, in discussions with a media regular around Gillette Stadium, the coach was asked if newly signed veteran running back Larry Centers had lost a step. Belichick said that he hadn't, but then volunteered that there was another veteran who had slowed down considerably. He said later that he was referring to Milloy.
He goes on a paragraph later to add:
Meanwhile, another media regular, friendly with front-office folks, knew Milloy was on shaky ground a couple of days ago, predicting the strong safety would be among the cuts when the team got to the 53-man limit. Clearly Milloy was in the team's financial sights.
Tom Curran says the team allowed business to get in the way of the on field product. He does say, in contrast to Borges, that Belichick and the team really thought they could get something done with Milloy, right up until the end. Borges says the Patriots knew this was coming and merely hung on in the hopes they could trade him for something…anything. Curran says there is (or was) warmth between Belichick and Milloy, and the team really thought they could get it done. Alan Greenberg takes a more vanilla look at the situation. Nick Cafardo calls Drew Bledsoe to get his thoughts on the situation. Michael Parente says that “it’s clear that the cap was somehow mismanaged this season.” Gerry Callahan’s pay column contains the headline “Thanks a lot, now get out: Disloyal Patriots are just idiotic.” Whether Callahan made up that headline or not, that’s a bit harsh. The article itself is a tribute to Milloy and what he’s accomplished and meant to the franchise The idiot comment comes from Rodney Harrison, who says you’d have to be one to think this team is better without Milloy. Well, I don’t think anyone thinks the team is better off on the field without Milloy, including Belichick and the rest of management. Dan Pires looks at the impact of the move on the team. Mannix also gets locker room reaction to the move. Curran reports on the thinking behind the move and the career of Milloy. Christopher Price reports on the release. Joe Burris looks at the possible (on field) replacements for Milloy. Michael Felger says that the Patriots haven’t tried to shop Ty Law around the league, something that has been rumored. Cafardo has part of a one-on-one interview with Rodney Harrison for the Globe Sportsplus. Cafardo also gets reaction from ex-teammates Tom Brady, Ty Law and Tebucky Jones. Curran also gets reaction from some other members of the Patriots.
My take? I try not to fall into the knee-jerk reaction that many people seem to have when something like this happens. Milloy was my favorite Patriot. I had been exuberant in looking forward to Sunday’s game in Buffalo. That enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat. I’ve got faith that Patriots management knows what they’re doing, however. I believe they’re looking to have a contender every year and to avoid the salary cap hell that has doomed other teams in the league. This was something that they felt needed to be done for the long term benefit of the franchise. Perhaps it allows them to get the Rosevelt Colvin of next spring’s free agent class. As for Milloy’s leadership, yes, his fire and attitude is going to be missed. It’s been said in some circles however, that Colvin has already emerged as a leader of this defense. Same can be said about Harrison. Ted Washington is also said to be a great locker room leader. I think the team on the field will be fine this year. This Sunday could be a challenge, especially if Milloy is on the other sideline. Once they get past this week, however, I think things will straighten out. I think Aric Morris might be the one who eventually becomes the starter. He’s been a starter on a very good defense for the Titans, and is in many ways a similar player to Milloy (and Harrison) a hard hitting, emotional player. I think he has a little more speed than those guys as well. He’s not the second coming, but I think he can be plugged in and be serviceable. Harris may start Sunday and the first couple weeks, simply because he’s been here a couple years and knows what’s going on. Steve DeOssie also made the point on WEEI yesterday that with the improved pass rush, the secondary doesn’t have as much pressure on it. I agree with that.
Manny sits again, this time at the decision of the manager. Bob Ryan lauds the move by Grady. Turns out that thanks to John Burkett, the Sox didn’t need him last night, as his replacement, Gabe Kapler hit the game winning home run. Michael Silverman reports on Burkett outdueling Bartolo Colon. Bob Hohler looks at the amazing performance by Burkett. Sean McAdam lauds the effort of the club last night. Paul Doyle looks at how two hits were enough to beat Colon. Karen Guregian writes about the effort of Burkett. Phillip C. Naslund looks at a strong outing by the bullpen, as well.Gordon Edes looks at the decision by Grady to sit Manny and notes that Manny might be better off elsewhere. McAdam also looks at the Manny situation. He makes no mention of something he said on the radio last night, namely that in the off-season the Sox should try to trade Manny for pretty much whatever they can get for him, even if that is pennies on the dollar. That’s an absurd notion and very surprising coming from McAdam. Manny is not Carl Everett. He’s worth working with and trying to save. You can’t ignore his production. To dump him for someone like Darren Oliver (what the Sox got for Everett) would be just plain stupid. Steve Britt says get rid of Manny, let the Yankees have him, even. Good plan. Jason Giambi and Manny back to back in the lineup at Yankee Stadium. Kevin Gray takes a look at a number of Manny incidents, some amusing, some not so. Steve Buckley’s pay column says none of this should be at all shocking. Sox knew what they were getting when they signed him. He sums up Manny thusly:
Ramirez always presents himself as a very nice man, charming to say hello to, a guy with a ready smile who ambles through the clubhouse as though it were Saturday night at the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes. Clubhouse kids like Manny. Even the evil sportswriters, always on the lookout for negativity, find Manny to be pleasant, albeit unavailable for interviews.
But airheads come in all sizes, shapes and temperaments, and our airhead, our Manny, is big, strong and pleasant. And that's fine.
He goes on to add that nothing is ever going to change Manny. This is what you get. Other articles above seem to have even David Ortiz knocking Manny, but in Doyle’s article on the matter, Ortiz calls Grady’s sitting of Manny “Crazy stuff”. Also:
"He's my boy, you know," Ortiz said. "I talk to him. But if he's not ready, he's not ready. And it doesn't matter what I say. It doesn't matter what anybody else says. He knows."
Doyle says that “Ortiz did not know Ramirez refused to pinch hit Sunday.” Alex Speier talks with Manny’s old GM, John Hart, who give us some hope:
"With all that greatness, I think Manny always has another gear," Hart said. "Maybe a [controversy] like that, he can go to that other gear."
Edes looks at Manny’s replacement, Gabe Kapler and his all out style. Mike Giardi is sick of second guessers. Hohler’s notebook has a different look at Ortiz’s comments from above. Silverman’s notebook says the players are focusing on the game, not Manny. McAdam’s notebook looks at a key defensive play by Todd Walker, of all people.
NESN has Red Sox/White Sox at 7:00. (ESPN2 Nationally) ESPN2 has Dodgers/Astros at 10:00. USA has the US Open at 7:00.