3 Up, 3 Down: Season in review

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3 Up, 3 Down: Season in review

In the season review edition of 3 up, 3 down, Jessica Moran looks back at the 2012 Red Sox.

With the way this season played out, you can be sure it was easy three downs. The hard part was picking just three. So Jessica Moran found a way around that.

The first down goes to the starting pitchers who finished the season with a franchise-high 5.19 ERA. The Big Three of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett combined for a 22-33 record.

Next in line is Bobby Valentine who was fired after leading the Red Sox to a 69-93 record, their worst record since 1965. The team nosedived after the All-Star Break, limping to the finish with a 26-50 record in the second half of the season.

And finally, the ownership group. The franchise missed the playoffs for the third straight season and finished dead last in the A.L. East.

But there were some success stories hidden way WAY underneath all the ugly candy coating.

David Ortiz put together one of his best seasons before succumbing to injuries. In 90 games, Ortiz finished with a .318 average, 23 home runs and 60 RBI, putting up his best OPS since 2007.

Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks was a revelation with his power stroke before the injury bug prematurely ended his season as well.

In 75 games, Middlebrooks pounded 15 homers and the second best slugging percentage on the team.

And finally, Cody Ross, who finished third on the team with 22 home runs while tallying 81 RBI. He also crushed left-handed pitching, to the tune of a .636 slugging percentage.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.