Levine: A win-win situation

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Levine: A win-win situation

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

On Sunday, Tim Wakefield threw eight strong innings in the Red Sox 12-3 win over Milwaukee.

On Monday, we peeled off a number in the slowest countdown in baseball history:

Wakefields pursuit of the Sox all-time wins mark.

I think it officially began in the summer of 2009.

At the time, Wake was 11-3 and fresh off one of the best stretches of his career. He was 42, but also a first-time All-Star and only getting better.

It was about that time he also started to leave his mark on the franchise record books. On July 3, he broke Roger Clemens' record for starts in a career and, in the process, woke everyone up to the realities of Wake's marathon tenure with the team. He suddenly sat on top, or near the top of every major statistical category. Most notably: Wins.

At the 2009 All-Star break, Wake had 175 wins 17 behind Clemens and Cy Young (who were tied at 192). And while 193 wasnt automatic, it was certainly possible. For a knuckleballer, Wake was still a kid.

It was entirely plausible that Tim Wakefield would retire as the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history.

But then he got hurt.

After the stellar first half in 2009, Wakefield missed six weeks because of a sore back and didnt win another game for the rest of the season. His resurgence was busted. In the meantime, the race to 193 moved slower than Wakefield himself. It was the equivalent of a Dice-K start. It took a lot of time to go absolutely nowhere, and everyone was ready to give up.

And now, in the midst of yet another resurgence . . .

Sundays win was Wakes 183rd with the Sox, leaving him 10 away from the record. And in most cases, that probably cause to throw some champagne on ice. In most cases, youd see a guy 10 wins away from a major achievement and feel at least slightly optimistic about his chances.

And with Wake, I guess there's a chance.

The injury to Dice-K creates more opportunities. And with Buchholz hurting and Lackey no sure thing to stay healthy, Wakefield could get more starts than we ever imagined. And what if the Sox wrap things up early entirely possible and want to give their starters some rest? Yup, more starts. And you cant disregard the fact that, with this line-up, most every one of Wakefields starts will be accompanied by ridiculous run support. That helps the cause!

You know, now that I think about it, maybe he ca

No. I cant do it. He cant do it.

He only needs 10 wins? Well, Sunday marked only Wakes 10th win since June of 2009. Thats two years. He might not have another two months. You really think hes got 10 more wins in him?

No, probably not.

But you know what? Im okay with that.

I mean, of course it would be nice to see him do it. First of all, because I know he wants to. I think that whenever Wake walks away from the game hell do so proudly, but if he can do so with his name sitting above Clemens and Young in such a prestigious category, for one of the most storied franchises in baseball? That's really special.

Not to mention, it would be great to see a real member of the Sox holding down the fort on top of the all-time wins list.

Clemens is a jerk. You dont want to celebrate him. And Cy Young isnt even real. I cant knock his skills, but that eras so far removed from todays game that its not even worth comparing. I'm sorry, but any pitcher who threw more than 40 complete games in a season should have their own record book. It's a different world.

It would be cool to have someone in there who fans don't detest, and also someone they can relate to. And Wakefield fits that bill.

But when you think of Tim Wakefield, do you really think he's the greatest winner in Red Sox history? Do you really want to? For all that he is, and as great as he's been for so long, is Tim Wakefield really that guy? Does he really deserve that distinction? Does that best fit what he's meant to this team over the last 17 years?

I don't think so. So while I won't be upset if he gets there, there will be no injustice if he comes up short.

In the meantime, I'll just enjoy any and all wins he's has left.

Regardless of the final number, a few more like Sunday will be more than enough.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Hagg Bag: Breaking down storylines from Bruins camp

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Hagg Bag: Breaking down storylines from Bruins camp

The Bruins are now just about halfway through training camp and the World Cup of Hockey participants are finally on their way back to Boston to rejoin their NHL organization. 

Things are beginning to get back to a sense of normalcy for the Black and Gold after moving into a new practice facility and integrating some new faces into the mix at several different levels of the Original Six organization. 

So, with all of this going on and only a couple of weeks until the start of the regular season, it seemed like an appropriate time for a new training camp edition of the Hagg Bag mailbag.

As always these are real questions from real fans via emails to my jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com email account, tweets to my Twitter account with the #HaggBag hash tag and messages to my CSN Facebook page. Now, on to the bag:

 

Hey Joe

Not sure if you’re doing a HaggBag anytime soon, but here goes anyway.

I am all for the rebuild when a team is past its prime, but the World Cup just showed us we have two of the best players in the world. Add Krejci and Backes to that, and the Bruins can and should still compete in the playoffs. That is why it is so frustrating that we are returning the same AWFUL defense we had last year. You haven’t agreed there have been right shot defenseman moved in the last year or two that have been available. And now, a potential top pair defenseman in Trouba is available.

We need to go out, overpay if necessary and secure this guy. It should help us this year and in the future. This guy is a top-4 D right now.

There shouldn’t be ANY prospects off the table, including Charlie McAvoy, despite how excited I am about him. It’s not hurting you long term because Trouba is 22. I am sick of waiting for some team to hand us a player. We need to go out and get one.

--John D

JH: You picked the perfect time to send a missive to the Hagg Bag, John. I agree that Jacob Trouba might be the perfect bridge D-man to make the Bruins competitive now, and get them to a point two to three years from now when the young D-men prospects are ready to carry the team. But scouts are very mixed about how good he’s ever going to get, and some feel that he doesn’t make decisions on the ice quickly enough to really be a No. 1 defenseman, or even a top flight, top pairing guy.

That’s somebody that I’m willing to acquire if the price is right, but not somebody I’m willing to sell the entire Black and Gold farm for. There is no way I’m trading Charlie McAvoy under any circumstances. He could be a Drew Doughty Lite defenseman for the Bruins a couple of years down the road, and could potentially solve their No. 1 D-man problems from within. He is the future, and the Bruins aren’t going to mortgage the future for a player in Trouba that’s not going to make them a Cup contender.

Sorry, but a six-game tournament at the World Cup doesn’t convince me that the Bruins are only one player away from suddenly being capable of going on a long playoff run, regardless of how well Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand played. They’ve got some excellent high end forwards, they’ve got a No. 1 goaltender that should be motivated for a rebound year and they’ve got a blue line group that needs a lot of help. If the Bruins can trade Joe Morrow or Jakub Zboril along with a forward (it would have to be Ryan Spooner at this point) and a first round pick for Trouba they should do it, but the cost in trade assets and in contract terms after that might be too prohibitive at this point.

If I were keeping an eye on trades, I’d keep watching an Anaheim team that needs to shed some salary cap before they sign some of their restricted free agents. That might very well be where the D-man comes from that the B’s are seeking out right now.

Joe,

Jacob Trouba requested a trade out of Winny, perfect chance for Sweeney to redeem himself after one full season and offseason not being able to get ANY help on D. This is his chance, but I'm not holding my breath, give them what they want and get this kid!!!!

--Christopher Foley (Message from Facebook)

JH: There’s another vote for Trouba if Don Sweeney is reading this today.

 
I hope tuukka is ready to try and earn his money with the d men on the bruins

--Matthew Wilson (@mattframingham)

JH: I hope you’re right because I think the goalies for the Bruins are going to have to be really, really, really good based on the defense playing in front of them.

 

Haggs:

I know Zachary Senyshyn will miss most of camp, but is returning to juniors the only option the B's have with him? Could he play in Providence instead?

--Mike Ierardi (Message from Facebook)

JH: As we have seen, Zach Senyshyn was able to come back and be a part of camp and even picked up an assist in Friday night’s overtime preseason win over the Red Wings. But I still think the 19-year-old will end up not making the NHL roster and will end up back in junior hockey with the Soo Greyhounds.

So here’s the breakdown: Senyshyn based on his age cannot play in the AHL for the balance of this upcoming season. That’s the same situation that Jakub Zboril and Jesse Gabrielle are in as well as younger players. All three of them will need to return to junior hockey if they don’t make the NHL. Brandon Carlo and Jake DeBrusk can both play for Providence this season based on their age and experience, so they will be a part of the B’s organization where or not they crack the NHL roster next month.

 

Is the Bruins PTO signing of Ehrhoff a sign they are not in on Trouba?

--John Hersey (@Neely82010)

JH: I think it’s a sign they want to get a free look at a defenseman that was still a top-four guy just a couple of years ago. I’m thinking Claude Julien must have liked the way he was playing during the World Cup of Hockey and it’s a no-brainer for Ehrhoff given the B’s back end situation and the openings that might be there for the right performer. Certainly the Bruins are going to utilize every outlet to try and improve their defense, and this is just another one of those avenues to purse.

Joe,

I see a legitimate shot of three rookies that could and probably should make the team Czarnik, Heinen, and Carlo.

I'm not in any rush for Carlo as more ice time in Providence will probably go a long way for his development. If the Bruins move Spooner to the left wing to play with Krejci and Pastrnak, what do you think of a 3rd and 4th lines looking like this: Beleskey-Moore- Hayes Heinen -Czarnik-Nash with Acciari as the team’s extra forward.

Thanks, Stu (Message from Facebook)

JH: I don’t think a Spooner-Krejci-Pastrnak line would make it very long with Julien simply based on the defensive responsibilities. There’s not enough heaviness and nobody on that line that will be winning any battles along the boards, and that’s just a statement of fact.

I do agree that Heinen and Carlo are probably the lead prospect-type players that could win NHL roster spots, and both are off to very good starts in training camp. Heinen has two goals in two games, and Carlo has played 20 minutes in both of his preseason games with very little damage taking place during his shifts.

Czarnik is interesting because he just keeps making plays, and his versatility could end up helping him crack the final roster. But I don’t think Dominic Moore is somebody I really want as a third line center because there’s just not enough offense on a forward line that needs to be able to provide secondary scoring behind the top two lines. Here’s my final roster based on what we know right now:

Marchand-Bergeron-Heinen

Hayes-Krejci-Pastrnak

Beleskey-Spooner-Backes

Czarnik-Moore/Acciari-Nash

 
Chara-C. Miller

Krug-K. Miller

Liles-McQuaid

Morrow

Rask

Khudobin

 

Hey Joe,

What do you think about the Bruins trading for someone like right-handed D man David Savard? Columbus is looking to shed some salary and with other young defenseman coming up (Werenski, Harrington, Heatherington, etc.) they could be looking to trade a D-man. With this trade, the Bruins could then look to expose K. Miller and/or McQuaid in the expansion draft or deal one for a late pick. Let me know what you think!

Cheers, Adam

JH: I suppose it’s a possibility, Adam, but I think Brandon Carlo could make that kind of a deal a moot point if he keeps playing at his current level in training camp. If that happens then either Kevan Miller or Adam McQuaid could eventually become expendable, but I think it immediately makes Joe Morrow a player who’s roster spot might in jeopardy. That’s not even counting Christian Ehrhoff, who could easily become the seventh defenseman on the roster if he shows more than he did in Los Angeles or Chicago last season.

If it’s a trade for a defenseman, my senses tell me that it’s going to be a bigger name than David Savard that the Bruins are chasing after. But who knows? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: nothing will surprise me with the Bruins anymore after some of the stuff that I’ve seen go down over the past couple of years.

 

Backes, Pastrnak make their Bruins preseason debut tonight in Philly

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Backes, Pastrnak make their Bruins preseason debut tonight in Philly

The Bruins have announced their lineup for Saturday night’s preseason road game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center and it will include the exhibition schedule debuts of World Cup players David Backes and David Pastrnak.

Both forwards have been skating with the training camp group since Wednesday and will ramp things up after taking a couple of days to recharge following the tournament in Toronto.

Those two veterans, one of the older and one of the extremely younger variety, will mix in with the B’s group that’s been in camp for the past 10 days working out together and gaining chemistry on forward lines working together for two practice sessions each day at Warrior Ice Arena.

A number of B’s players will be back in the lineup on Saturday night after skating in Friday night’s 2-1 overtime win against the Red Wings including: Colby Cave, Seth Griffith, Danton Heinen, Joe Morrow and Riley Nash. 

Here’s the full Black and Gold lineup against the Broad Street Bullies with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre getting the call in Philly with one of them most likely to get the entire game between the pipes a la Anton Khudobin in Detroit on Friday night: Backes, Chris Casto, Colby Cave, Tommy Cross, Austin Czarnik, Jake DeBrusk, Jesse Gabrielle, Seth Griffith, Jimmy Hayes, Danton Heinen, Zane McIntyre, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Joe Morrow, Peter Mueller, Riley Nash, Rob O’Gara, David Pastrnak, Tyler Randell, Malcolm Subban and Jakub Zboril.