Red Sox blow out White Sox, Ortiz to DL

Led by slugger Cody Ross’ two three-run home runs the Red Sox powered over the White Sox 10-1 Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Felix Doubront picked up his tenth win of the season, which is the same number as Jon Lester and Josh Beckett combined. Jacoby Ellsbury continued his strong play since his return as he went 3-for-4 with three runs scored.

After receiving a second opinion on his Achilles it was determined that designated hitter David Ortiz will go on the 15-day disabled list. The Red Sox will get Dustin Pedroia back Thursday, and will most likely use the DH spot to give a few guys a rest from playing the field, rather than having one player fill the shoes of Ortiz.

Around this time of year no rumor should be a surprise, but this one came out of no where. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, as well as USA Today reported the Red Sox have been engaged with trade talks involving Carl Crawford. One of the teams he mentioned was the Marlins and the deal would be the Red Sox sending Crawford and Jose Iglesais to the Marlins in exchange for former Red Sox Hanley Ramirez and closer Heath Bell. This really doesn’t make sense on so many levels, but during July this probably won’t be the last crazy rumor to get out there.

On top of the trade rumors, Crawford has had to deal with the aftermath of the racial slur directed at him during his rehab game with Portland in Manchester, NH. You really have to feel for the guy who has been outstanding in his first three games of the year having to deal with all of this, and to Crawford’s credit he has said all the right things.

Felix Doubront fulfills promise foreseen by Bobby Valentine– Scott Lauber looks at Doubront’s outing and how Valentine has believed in him since the first bullpen session he saw him throw.

Ross, Gonzalez step in for injured Ortiz– Danny Picard has players stepping up to try and make up for Ortiz’ absence in the lineup.

Cody Ross helps fill void– Joe McDonald also has Ross stepping up to make up for Ortiz’ production while he is on the DL.

Cody Ross validates decision to sign with Red Sox, showing swing suited for Fenway Park– Didier Morais looks at Ross’ swing being perfect for Fenway, and how he already has more home runs than all of last season.

Gonzalez headed in the right direction– Brian MacPherson has Adrian Gonzalez being locked in at the plate ever since the teams’ West Coast trip prior to the All-Star break.

The return of the real Adrian Gonzalez– Alex Speier looks deeper into Gonzalez’ recent hot streak at the plate.

Rondo NBA’s best point guard?– Interesting quotes from Rajon Rondo in an interview to a French newspaper while at a Nike Camp in France. This was supposedly translated from English to French, then back to English, so things could have gotten a little distorted. Rondo calls himself the best point guard in the league, and adds he has been “running” Celtic timeouts for the past two seasons.

Penn State should discuss ending football– Bob Ryan adds in his take on the Penn State scandal and the aftermath.


Pro Football Focus Interview With BSMW

Last winter, I had interviewed Neil Hornsby, founder of Pro Football Focus for a piece with Patriots Football Weekly. That column never ran. Here is the raw material from the session I did with Hornsby:

First, PFF has become really big in Boston. Just about all of the major outlets here have used statistics or analysis from PFF regularly this season. Is this indicative of all NFL markets, or has Boston been a little quicker to grab onto your information? Are you bigger in some markets than others?

Lots of people use our information but it is more used in certain areas. I would guess the other markets where we have better traction are New York, Chicago, Buffalo, Green Bay, Miami and Philadelphia. Boston is probably towards the top end of those areas.

What makes PFF different from other “statistic” sites, such as Football Outsiders and Cold Hard Football Facts? (Both Boston-area based, coincidentally)

I guess it’s the sheer amount of data we collect. We work with over a quarter of the NFL teams in one way shape or form and are usually flabbergasted by what we have. In summary:

  • Who was on the field – in 2010 this was 99.83% accurate but we didn’t double hand most games then – this year we do so I’m predicting well in excess of 99.9%
  • What position they played (at a level which allows us to provide formation as well as package information)
  • What they generically did (block, pass route, cover, pass rush etc.)
  • A measure of how well they achieved what they attempted to do (obviously we don’t know their assignments so this is what we use)

In addition we clean up a lot of the problems in the base data provided by the NFL; idiosyncrasies between different scorers and inaccuracies in terms of tackles, assists, hits, passes defensed etc.

Any aspirations of latching on with a major media company/outlet such as what those sites have done? Or do you prefer to stay independent?

We do sell information to the media outlets but we don’t write content specifically for them. It’s nothing we’d rule out but if it stopped us from working with the teams and player agents I don’t think it would happen.

How do you view all the games – an NFL Sunday Ticket sub with lots of DVRs, or do you use the GamePass – GameRewind?

We use Game Rewind. A number of people question how accurate we can be with this but I think 99.9% playtime accuracy pretty much obviates that criticism. In my own little world of innocence I still like to believe we are the reason the NFL changed it’s policy this year to allow teams to get playtime information directly after games (rather than having to wait to season’s end) but insiders tell me our work is more accurate on the first pass than the NFL’s before they clean it up later in the week.

One player question – Jerod Mayo, He’s got his critics in New England, who basically say he is all hype and no real contribution/production. Sure, he has a lot of tackles, but they’re all down the field. What do your stats say about this player?

Sam Monson has analyzed the most Patriots games so I asked him for his view on the next two questions. This was his response:

Before this season we might have agreed with you about Mayo.  Despite making a lot of tackles he was rarely a downhill, impact type of player and seemed more of a clean-up specialist than a linebacker really influencing the game.  In this regard he was not unlike the Jets’ David Harris.  This season though, the move to the 4-3 seems to have helped him be more of a downhill force.  He is making more of his tackles in the right area.  39 of his tackles have been defensive stops this season, a far better ratio than in previous seasons where he was aligned slightly further back from the line of scrimmage so that he could control both sides if necessary.  The hype for Mayo has always outweighed the real impact he has on the defense, but it would also be somewhat unfair to say that he does little of substance, as his contribution and reliability are not to be underestimated, and he does get involved in a lot of plays, even if it is almost always fewer than the generosity of the New England scorer would suggest.  The area where he still struggles the most is in coverage, where he has allowed 416 yards this season with 319 of them after the catch.  Only four other 4-3 OLBs have allowed more YAC than Mayo has this season and throwing into his coverage yields opposing QBs a 92.0 QB rating.

OK, I lied, second player question. Chad Ochocinco. Anything you can tell us about his lack of production/involvement in the offense? Is he doing things incorrectly? Is at least his blocking acceptable?

As for Chad Johnson the first thing to note is obviously what kind of small sample size we’re dealing with.  He has only played 331 snaps and been targeted just 31 times.  On those 31 passes he has obviously only been able to haul in 15 of them, which is a pretty poor catch rate.  He still runs some really good routes on occasions, but he doesn’t seem to have the sudden burst and change of direction that he once had.  Teams don’t fear his athleticism anymore the way they once had to, and he hasn’t really been able to get open consistently on the intermediate routes that the Patriots looked for him on.  You also still see a reasonable number of disconnects between him and Tom Brady regarding where he should ultimately end up on routes.  Part of what makes the Brady to Welker connection so great is that they are always on the same page when it comes to reading the coverage and adjusting the option route accordingly.  Ochocinco is still not where they would like him to be and you will still see Brady miss him because he didn’t make the adjustment to his route that Brady was expecting or wanted him to make.  There’s no reason why he can’t learn that going forwards if they keep him around, but it probably highlights the subtle complexities to the Patriots passing scheme that people don’t really appreciate.  As for his blocking, again we are talking small sample size, he has been on the field run blocking just 87 times, but he has certainly not disgraced himself and is a willing blocker if not exactly an accomplished one.  He at least deserves some credit for accidentally blocking two defenders in the Denver game on a pass that Aaron Hernandez was able to take for a big game because of Ochocinco getting in the way of the Broncos defenders.

An observation/question – it seems to me at times that there is a subjective angle placed on grades – I’ve seen cases where it seems like a better player gets graded tougher than an average player, is more expected of the star player? Or speculation about the player sneaks into the analysis “player X doesn’t seem right” – does that somehow finds its way into the grade?

No it doesn’t. The mantra is: grade the play, not the player and let the dice fall where they may. We have so many people still writing and saying “your grades must be wrong because  X is better than this” or “Y is worse than this” and we have to be able to provide an audit trail of our work – we have to be accurate and accountable. We might say (as I did earlier this week) “it was a shock Calais Campbell graded so poorly because he’s a had a great year but the grade stays and it’s that methodology that allows us to “discover” stars before anyone else; guys like Cameron Wake, Carl Nicks etc. Just because Evan Mathis isn’t a household name won’t stop us standing by the courage of our convictions and naming him our all Pro LG and if people want convincing we’ve got a whole database of plays explaining exactly why that’s the case.

Finally – you’ve got the individual statistics and grades down to a science, and I know you put them into cumulative team stats. Has there been thought or plans to trying to come up with more accurate team stats for offense and defense – we know that those units don’t always equal the sum of their parts?

First and foremost we are a player evaluation site and we are real sticklers for trying to completely nail something before we move on. We have an ethos of continuous improvement and I want to see maybe another year of getting better, talking to coaches, player personnel guys and the like to make sure we have our bread and butter down before we take on something new. That’s not to say I’m not proud of our information; it’s passed every test to date with flying colors and while new NFL teams come on board none have left.


Youkilis returns to Fenway, Ortiz injured

Monday was a busy day in the world of Boston sports, led by the return of Kevin Youkilis to Fenway Park. The Red Sox won the game 5-1 over the White Sox as a result of Adrian Gonzalez’ three-run home run in the eighth inning. The big story of the game was on the home run designated hitter David Ortiz appeared to injure his leg while rounding second base. Following the game manager Bobby Valentine said it was an achilles injury and he is expected to miss a few games. Ortiz said he would have an MRI Tuesday.

Ortiz injures achilles tendon– Nick Cafardo in his notebook has what a bizarre injury season it has been for the Red Sox.

Kevin Youkilis feels love at Fenway– Joe McDonald looks at the former Red Sox’ return to Fenway, a game in which he had three hits.

Kevin Youkilis feels comfortable with White Sox– Bob Ryan (subscription only) also has a look at Youkilis’ return to Fenway. It was Ryan’s last official Red Sox assignment with the Globe before he is set to retire after the Olympics. The media gave Ryan a standing ovation in the press box during the game.

Another solid outing from Aaron Cook– Maureen Mullen has another quality start from a Red Sox starter.

Crawford gets off to good start– Mullen also has a look at Carl Crawford’s first game back this season.

Ross can relate to Youk facing former team– Brian MacPherson and Tim Britton in their notebook have what Ross said it is like facing a former team.

In football news, Monday was the deadline for players who were franchised to reach long-term agreements with their respective teams. Otherwise the players will be forced to play the entire 2012 season under the franchise tag and cannot sign a long-term deal until the 2012 season is over. As expected the Patriots and Wes Welker did not reach a long-term deal.

What’s next for the Pats and Welker– Mike Reiss has the options the Patriots have Welker have regarding his next contract.

Wes Welker, Patriots, will wait– Jeff Howe has what the next off-season will look like for the Patriots and Welker.

In media news, came out with “2012 Talkers Heavy Hundred of Sports Talk”, ranking sports talk shows from 1-to-100. Boston was well-represened in the list as Dennis & Callahan came in at No. 7, followed closely by Toucher & Rich at No. 11. No. 21 was The Big Show and Felger & Mazz was No. 33. Rounding out Boston’s representation was Mut & Merloni at No. 73. Gresh & Zo were not on the list. Take this list for what it is worth.

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Will The Red Sox Surge or Melt In the Second Half? WEEI Responds To Ratings Claims

The Red Sox get back to work tonight as they begin a series in Tampa with the Rays. What will the second half of the season bring for the Red Sox? Can they pull it together and grab a playoff spot, or is a complete meltdown right around the corner?

Mismatched Sox wearing on Bobby? – Gordon Edes has today’s must-read column, with plenty of griping and back-biting going around the Red Sox clubhouse, most of it centered around manager Bobby Valentine.

Sox need to make a statement – Jon Couture tries to be optimistic about this team, but finds it increasingly hard to do so.

Adrian Gonzalez continues his quest to find the old Adrian Gonzalez – Rob Bradford has the first baseman trying hard to regain his power stroke.

Ciriaco takes chance and runs with it – Peter Abraham has the well-traveled 27-year-old giving the Red Sox a jolt of energy.


Mediocre Red Sox not hurting NESN’s ratings – Chad Finn looks at NESN’s strong ratings numbers, has more on WEEI, and weighs in on Matt Millen’s torturous ESPN appearance yesterday.

McDonough talks and plays a great game – John Molori talks to Sean McDonough about his work at ESPN and his love of golf.

Examining Gary Tanguay’s New Confrontational Style – What in the world is going on with Gary Tanguay? That’s the subject of my SB Nation Boston column this week.

In an email to BSMW, Entercom’s Jason Wolfe disputed the numbers from yesterday’s post, (A sure sign WEEI is doing better, Wolfe has emerged from his bunker.) discarding the standard Arbitron numbers that run from 3-7pm and sending over what he claims are the 2-6pm numbers for the month of June.

He also zinged me with this line:

I know you’re a 98.5 fan and not an EEI fan, that’s fine, you’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re numbers are wrong.

OK. Has he paid attention at all to what I’ve said about Felger and Mazz, either here or on Twitter? A 98.5 fan? Someone over at CBS Boston is getting a good chuckle out of that.

Someone from 98.5 emailed me recently and said:

Maybe we suck. Maybe we’re too negative. Or too loud. Or too whatever. You are entitled to whatever opinion you have.

I sure am glad all the radio people are allowing me to be entitled to my own opinion on things.

Anyway, here is what Wolfe sent me regarding the afternoon drive numbers:

Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 2-6 pm.

Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.9                8.4                7.0                 6.3                  WEEI
5.7                7.6                6.4                 5.7                  98.5

Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.

Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
3.3               2.7                3.1                 2.6                     WEEI
7.7              9.8                 9.6                 9.6                     98.5

Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 2-6 pm.

Week One  Week Two Week Three Week Four
6.1               6.6               5.8                  5.0                    WEEI
6.0               8.8              7.5                  7.0                    98.5

He also included the 35-54 age bracket, which really solidifies that older listeners prefer the Big Show, while the younger ones prefer Felger and Mazz.

Men 35-54, Mon-Fri, 2-6pm
Week One  Week Two Week Three Week Four
7.5                9.0             7.5                   7.4                   WEEI
4.6                6.9              5.5                   4.7                    98.5

The numbers from yesterday were taken directly off sheets with the Arbitron copyright on them. These numbers provided by Wolfe may well be accurate, but he’s also had a history of being, um, creative with how he comes up with ratings figures.

Yesterday, WEEI also sent over these figures, interestingly, the release contained the line “WEEI saw benefits of carrying both the Celtics and Red Sox game broadcasts.” Um, yeah. :

WEEI 93.7 Arbitron Ratings (rival station The Sport Hub compared in red):

M25-54                 June                                      Spring 12                              Winter 12

6a-mid                  6.8 #3    (BZ 5.5 #4)           7.1 #2    (BZ 6.0 #4)           5.7 #4 (BZ 8.5 #2)                                                                                           

6a-10a                   6.8 #4    (BZ 7.6 #2)           7.3 #3    (BZ 8.0 #2)           7.6 #3 (BZ 9.8 #2)

10a-2p                  5.5 #3T  (BZ 5.9 #2)           6.7 #3    (BZ 6.8 #2)           5.5 #4 (BZ 10.0 #2)

2p-6p                    7.1 #3    (BZ 6.3 #4)           7.9 #2    (BZ 6.9 #3)           6.2 #3 (BZ 9.8 #1)

6a-7p                     6.5 #3    (BZ 6.6 #2)           7.3 #2    (BZ 7.2 #3)           6.5 #3 (BZ 9.6 #2)

7p-mid                  11.0 #1  (BZ 4.6 #6)           9.5 #1    (BZ 5.5 #5)           4.0 #11 (BZ 6.5 #2)

Wknds                  5.8 #3    (BZ 2.6 #11)        5.6 #4    (BZ 3.2 #10)        3.7 #10 (BZ 5.6 #6)

Is your head spinning yet?

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Was It The Celtics, Or The Red Sox, That Killed Felger and Mazz?

Michael Felger trashed the Celtics all spring, and he then lost the ratings book for his entire station.

Fact, not opinion.

Well, it IS a fact, in the same way that Mike Felger states “facts” about the Celtics, Patriots, or whatever team/athlete/coach is in his crosshairs at the moment.

A statement that may be factually true, but actually inaccurate when you look deeper into it.

What about the opening statement of this post? Yes, it’s true that Felger did trash the Celtics all spring, and that yes, his ratings went down during this time period, actually so much so that while the morning and mid-day shows at 98.5 won their time slots, Felger and Massarotti dipped so far as to tip the entire scales in WEEI’s favor for the spring book.

But was it Felger’s trashing of the Celtics that caused this dip, or something else?

Let’s look at the month of June, week by week.

Keep in mind, that with the ratings periods, week four of June ended on June 20th. Even though the ratings show Mon-Fri, in reality they’re Thursday to Wednesday in this case. The spring book began on Thursday, March 29th.

So the ratings “Month of June” is actually this:

Week 1   May 24 to May 30

Week 2   June May 31 – June 6

Week 3   June 7-13

Week 4   June 14-20

So here is the breakdown:

Men 25-54, Mon-Fri 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two      Week Three    Week Four
6.6                    8.4                      6.7                     6.6                        WEEI
5.7                    8.4                      7.4                     5.9                        98.5

Men 18-34, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two     Week Three     Week Four
3.1                      3.6                      4.2                      4.4                     WEEI
7.9                     10.5                   10.7                   10.0                     98.5

Men 18-49, Mon-Fri, 3-7 pm.

Week One       Week Two   Week Three      Week Four
5.6                     7.0                     6.0                     5.7                       WEEI
5.9                     9.1                       8.5                    7.0                       98.5

So what do we see from these? It seems pretty clear that the younger audience was listening to Felger and Mazz. It’s not even close in the 18-34 demo.

We’ll concede the younger audience to 98.5 across the month. Let’s focus on 25-54 and why WEEI won this month, and this ratings period for the time slot of 3-7 pm.

WEEI won the month of June in the 25-54 demo 7.1 to 6.8.

You also see that in weeks 2 and 3 of that same demo, 98.5 tied and beat WEEI for the time period of May31st to June 13th. The Celtics/Heat series went on from May 28th to June 9th, and so Celtics discussion was at an all-time high during those two weeks.

But Felger and Mazz beat and tied The Big Show during the biggest two weeks of basketball talk. WEEI won the month by winning weeks one and four. So was Felger’s Celtics-bashing as big a turn-off as it might appear by looking at the entire month?

Did something different happen in weeks one and four?

Yes. Red Sox day games.

On May 28th, which was Memorial day, the Red Sox played a 1:35 game. Felger and Mazz were not on the air that day, but this still counts on their record. On June 15th, during week four, there was another Red Sox day game, against the Cubs, starting at 2:20 pm.

While that is only two days out of the month, it’s a trend that goes through the entire spring ratings book.

Nine times during the springs ratings book, WEEI had a Red Sox game on during the 3-7 pm time slot. Those games included the season opener (April 5th, 1:05pm), the home opener (April 13th, 2:05pm) and the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park (April 20th, 3:05pm). All big games.

Who is more likely to listen to a baseball game on the radio? Someone 18-34 or someone 25-54? Was the “old bastard” audience of 34-54 who listened to the Red Sox games on the radio enough to swing the ratings into WEEI’s favor?

I don’t have the week-by-weeks for April and May in front of me, but for the two months, the head-to-head ratings broke down like this:

The Big Show:

25-54: April 8.3, May 7.5
18-34: April 5.3, May 3.9
18-49: April 6.9, May 6.4

Felger and Mazz

25-54: April 7.5, May 6.6
18-34: April 10.0, May 7.9
18-49: April 8.0, May 6.9

Once again, 98.5 won with the younger crowd. The “old bastard” crowd saved WEEI. Or more accurately, having Red Sox day games scheduled which would appeal to the “older” crowd is what saved WEEI, and what ultimately, doomed 98.5.

Now, I’m sure that having Felger on the airwaves every afternoon just ripping the Celtics from limb to limb did not sit well with some listeners, and I’m sure a good number switched over to Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley during that time. I know I did.

But can we blame 98.5’s fall solely on Felger’s Celtics-bashing? Considering that his show beat the competition during the most intense period of basketball talk this spring, it seems prudent to at least consider other reasons for WEEI’s triumph.

This is in part, why having the broadcast rights to the Red Sox is such a valuable commodity for WEEI. Do they win this three-month ratings period without them? I have my doubts.

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Toucher and Rich Declare Spring Victory

Public ratings are out tomorrow, but Toucher and Rich are already celebrating. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the lineups do, considering how May went.

Update: Gresh and Zo are declaring victory over WEEI:


BREAKING: Red Sox Not Very Good

The brave and fearless Dan Shaughnessy informs us this morning that the Boston Red Sox are not a very good baseball team, and for this incredible insight, he is lauded on both morning shows today and on Twitter.

Thanks Dan, where would we be without that amazing insight?

Injuries or not, the entire Red Sox organization from ownership down is a joke. Somehow they’ve managed to erase the goodwill of two World Series championships and transport us back to 1992.

While the diehard Red Sox fans suffer through and try to hope for improvement, many in the region are counting the days until Patriots training camp, amusing themselves with videos of Bob Kraft (not gonna link it, trust me, it’s easy enough to find) or hoping Danny Ainge can make at least one impact move this summer.

Looking ahead to Boston’s second half – Tim Britton looks at what we might expect from the rest of the season.

Fellow pitchers pulling for Sox’ Daniel Bard – John Tomase has pitchers from around baseball wishing Bard the best, with some blaming the Red Sox for what’s happened to him.

Yesterday, Bob Ryan had written that we shouldn’t be bashing Ray Allen on his way out of town. I’m not bashing Ray for making the decision to go to Miami, play with the defending champs and enjoy the year-round weather, I’m just intrigued at how a guy painted as the consummate professional could have so many issues. This morning’s column from Gary Washburn (Plenty of blame to go around) meant to portray things more from Allen’s perspective doesn’t change my view at all of the situation. Apparently Ray was as pissed that he wasn’t traded to Memphis as he was that his name was in the trade talks.

Celtics’ Fab Melo lands on feet – Mark Murphy looks at the quick feet of the Celtics 7-foot rookie.

E’Twaun shooting for Moore action – Chris Forsberg has the second-year guard looking to make the most of his opportunity.

We’re in the slowest sports days of the year right now, so most of what is on sports radio is nonsensical filler, but how does that differ from the rest of the year, really.

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Will the Red Sox be buyers or sellers?

With the Red Sox sitting at .500, 43-43 and 9.5 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East standings at the All-Star break, the biggest question among fans is whether or not the team will be buyers or sellers at this month’s trade deadline.

Despite being 9.5 games out in the division, the team is only 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, but the issue is there are five teams ahead of them.

With all of the injured players scheduled to come back in the next few weeks the Red Sox could look at those as midseason acquisitions, or they could become sellers and trade some of their star players

Tony Massarotti believes that the Red Sox should be sellers, and look to trade one of their top pitchers.

Possessors of a 40-35 record roughly 10 days ago, the Red Sox limped into the All-Star break late Sunday night on the heels of a 7-3 defeat to the Yankees at Fenway Park. With loss, the Sox dropped to a perfectly mediocre 43-43. But before we make this too much of a big-picture issue, let’s focus on the two men who absolutely needed to step up in the weekend series against New York and who jointly fell on their faces.

Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

Massarotti wants the Red Sox to trade Beckett or Lester, but not both.

If Ben Cherington and the Red Sox are smart – and assuming they are not doing so already – they should be exploring any and all deals for either Beckett or Lester (but not both) as we approach the trading deadline set for the end of this month. Lester is obviously the more desirable to keep, but he would probably fetch more in return.

Massarotti brings up the dreadful numbers of the two starters this season, and also throws in a random line mentioning John Lackey.

Beckett and Lester also rank 28th and 30th among the same 41 pitchers in ERA, making it all the more curious that the Sox would allow chicken-fried running mate John Lackey to be joining the team on road trips despite the fact that he will not pitch for at least the majority of this season.

To me, I think the Red Sox will either be buyers, or do nothing — not be sellers. First of all, who could the Red Sox look to move?

Beckett would be extremely tough to deal because he has 10-5 rights, and who would the Red Sox look to get for Lester? Prospects? What good would prospects do for the Red Sox, who aren’t about rebuilding, rather look to win year in and year out. Very rarely at the deadline do you see starts being traded for stars.

With the number of injuries the Red Sox have had, especially in their outfield, it is presenting an issue when Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury return.

Daniel Nava has been outstanding filling in for Crawford. Ryan Kalish performed pretty well before being sent down to Pawtucket last week when Ryan Sweeney returned from the disabled list. Sweeney has played well when he’s been healthy, and Cody Ross is on pace to hit a career high home runs, despite missing a month with a fractured foot. Where are all of these players going to go? They are too good to be optioned to Triple-A.

The team could look to deal the likes of Nava and Kalish, but they need to think long-term. Ellsbury is set to become a free agent after next season, and all signs point to him not resigning. Crawford has battled injuries this entire season, so can he really be depended on? Thinking long-term the Red Sox cannot deal away their young outfielders.

With the recent news that Carl Crawford is contemplating Tommy John surgery following the season keeping him out 6-8 months that would take him a few months into next season. What is the sense of Crawford even playing this season?

He should have the surgery now, and not try and play when he really shouldn’t. He should call this season a wash, and direct his full attention to 2013.

The Red Sox’ hands are tied. They really cannot be sellers at the trade deadline. They are forced to go with the players that they have signed to contracts, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

With the amount of talent on the roster they can get hot and click at the right time to string together a number of wins to get right back into the playoff hunt. Despite the struggles of the front-end of the starting rotation they have all proven they can be “aces,” who is to say they cannot step up and perform like them in the second half.

But, with the difficult schedule that awaits the team following the All-Star break, they could dig themselves a hole that is too deep to dig out of.

For Ray, It Wasn’t Business, It Was Personal

I completely understand why Ray Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat.

He gets to go to a team that will contend for a championship every year for the rest of his career, his game is made easier for his aging legs as he’ll likely have many more open, spot-up jumpers with the Heat, and not running through multiple screens to get open. He’s going to Miami, where he can play golf year-round, and enjoy the weather and beaches for the final years of his Hall of Fame, lucrative NBA career.

Can’t argue with any of that. I don’t have any issue really, with his decision, other than the personal disappointment that he will now be with a team I can’t stand.

While I’m sure those items above were a big part of Allen’s decision to leave the Celtics and sign with the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons, it seems clear that the biggest factor in his decision was the chance to stick it to the Celtics.

I’m already tired of the “will Ray Allen get booed storyline” on sports talk radio and TV. At this point, I’m more interested in seeing what Danny Ainge does now to add to his backcourt. From a team standpoint, I’m not even all that broken up over losing him. The Celtics needed to move on at some point, and paying Ray Allen $12 million over the next two years seemed a bit too much. Hopefully Ainge can find a steal in the free agent market, someone who can contribute in ways that perhaps Ray couldn’t at this point in his career.

Ray Allen put in five very productive seasons for the Boston Celtics, and I appreciated him for it. All along though, I think we knew this was a guy who is wired a bit differently from certainly the rest of us, but even from most NBA players.

There were references to OCD, which given the strictness and thoroughness of his routines, was something that even Allen didn’t dismiss. I tend to think anyone who is wildly successful at what they do, especially if it is a specific skill has to be wired a bit differently from the rest of us, so it’s no reflection on character.

But what has been coming out since this news broke has been a series of alternately intriguing and head-scratching tales of  things that bothered Allen so much here in Boston that he chose to walk to the team that at the moment, is their biggest, and most hated rival for half of what the Celtics were offering to pay him.

Most of the material was provided by the peerless Adrian Wojnarowski, (Heat gave Ray Allen reason to again feel wanted) who wrote on Saturday about Allen:

He hated the way Ainge dangled him in trade talks, hated that the Celtics told him he was on his way to Memphis in a deal at the March deadline only to have Rivers later tell him the trade was dead. Allen hated that Rivers didn’t give him his starting job back after he returned from a late-season ankle injury, and hated that it always felt like he was the Celtics star made to sacrifice above the rest.

We had heard during the season that it was Ray’s idea that Avery Bradley start. Either it wasn’t true, or he changed his mind when he saw that Bradley could actually play and how that might impact his own future. Then there were the issues with Rondo.

The friction started in the 2009-10 season, after Rondo signed his five-year, $55 million extension, sources said. It wouldn’t be long until Allen started to hear his name in trade talks, and he began to make the correlation that Rondo’s salary played a part in the Celtics looking to trim payroll – starting with Allen.

Rondo’s contract is one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA, yet Allen begrudged him on it? As for the trade talks, I’ve heard a lot of “Well, the Celtics tried to trade him, why should he show any loyalty to them?” Yeah, I get that, but most NBA players have their names in trade talks at some point or another. Allen has been traded twice in his career already. It’s part of the business. Most players seem to understand that.

So besides Rondo’s contract, what were the personal issues?

“When it comes to basketball, Rondo is the smartest player on the team – one of the smartest players in the league,” one locker-room source said. “And Ray considers himself a smart guy. But at some point, it became hard for Ray to be corrected by a guy so much younger than him.”

Was Ray being corrected because he was wrong, or because Rondo just wanted things done his way? Wojnarowski acknowledges that they were also polar opposites in personality, and that was an issue. He says though, that Allen was discussing these issues with associates, to the point that Celtics management became concerned.

Was it just Rondo?

Within the Big Three, they teased Allen for his political nature. Whereas Rondo, Pierce and Garnett would speak in brutal, honest terms, Allen was forever measured, even.

He didn’t like to be teased by his teammates? Gary Washburn, in yesterday’s Globe had Doc Rivers revealing another nugget about Allen’s unhappiness:

Rivers hinted that perhaps the Celtics first courting Kevin Garnett to return may have irritated Allen, who may not have felt he was a priority.

“I thought we did [pursue him],” Rivers said. “[President of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point, and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled, then that’s probably too bad. We did everything that we’re supposed to do.

“[Allen] had his reasons. I think emotionally he probably got bent sideways a little bit by us courting Kevin, for some reason. I don’t know, honestly.

This is where it sort of gets silly. Of course KG was the Celtics number-one priority. For Allen to think he should’ve been seems ridiculous.

So because of all of these slights, and because the Heat laid out the red carpet for him, Allen decided to stick it to the Celtics, Wojnarowski writes:

Yet, it turns out Allen’s trip to South Beach made him feel so wanted, so inspired, and, truth be told, so eager to stick it to the Celtics. He could’ve broken Boston’s hearts and left for anywhere, but clearly there’s a part of Allen that wants to exact some kind of revenge on the Celtics. There was nowhere else to do that but Miami.

Ray Allen has always been portrayed as the ultimate professional. His preparation for his craft is beyond reproach. He was always available to the media, and willing to talk after a win or a loss.Interestingly, over the weekend, while this news was hot, NBATV was replaying the series The Association when it featured the Celtics in the 2010-2011 season.I had forgotten how prominent Ray Allen was in that series. He was the go-to guy for the camera. They followed him when he showed up four hours before every game, they went to his house for Christmas, and later he talked about the Perkins trade. He and KG and Pierce talked about their special bond and what it meant to play together and win together. Watching it, just hours after learning of Allen’s decision to sign with the Heat, was incredibly surreal.

This process has revealed another side of Ray Allen. A dark side. One that let jealousy and petty feuds consume him. One that was insecure, and overly sensitive. One that apparently had a lot of internal turmoil that he didn’t allow the media or public to see, but festered to the point where he wanted to stick it to the Boston Celtics and their fans in the worst possible way.

When he is introduced by the Heat later this week, I have no doubt that he will say the right things, and suggest that this decision was strictly about business. That he is doing what is best for the business of Ray Allen and his family.

On the surface, he can make that argument, and it is a plausible one. I’m not buying it. This wasn’t business for Ray Allen It was personal.

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The Yankees Are Coming! (Is Anyone Excited?)

The Red Sox return to Fenway Park after a dreadful road trip to finish out the first half of the season with a four game series with the AL East-leading New York Yankees. Boston currently sits 7.5 games behind the Yankees.

Red Sox need to get well soon – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox need to round into form quickly.

Dustin Pedroia down, out – Scott Lauber’s notebook has the Sox preparing to play this series without their sparkplug, who appears headed to the DL.

He’s working for tips – Alex Prewitt’s Minor League Notebook has Jackie Bradley Jr getting some tips from Carl Crawford during his rehab stint in AA Portland.

Buchholz’s esophagitis a common problem – Wait, what? I thought it could only be caused by the fact that Buchholz was an out-of-control binge drinker…at least that’s what sports radio told me…

Forget a raise, what about a pay cut? Why David Ortiz and the Red Sox could confront a challenging negotiation – Alex Speier looks at why Ortiz still may not get what he wants, despite how good a season he has this year.

Ortiz complained about the media coverage in Boston recently, but there is no faster way to generate anger on sports radio than to be a professional athlete whining about being humiliated with a $14.575 million dollar contract for 2012.

Brandon Bass in mix, agrees to three-year deal – Steve Bulpett was first with the news yesterday that the Celtics had worked out a new deal with the power forward. Jessica Camerato talked to Bass about staying in Boston.

Ray Allen makes Heat wave – Bulpett also had reported that the Celtics were a hard push on Allen, attempting to meet his concerns by offering a no-trade clause or trade kicker into his contract.

Most media seem to think Allen is gone, A Miami TV station even reported Allen had signed with the Heat, but it turned out they were fooled by a fake Twitter account. This was the same station which jumped the gun on Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, reporting it, and then retracting it. In that case, they were lucky it turned out to be true.

Media Roundup: Erin Andrews Moves On From ESPN To FOX Sports – My SB Nation Boston Media Column looks at Andrews’ career shift. I didn’t go quite in the same direction as Tom Hoffarth, who wrote perhaps the most scathing and critical column on Andrews you’re ever likely to read.