Martin says Patriots success starts with Kraft


Martin says Patriots success starts with Kraft

FOXBORO -- Curtis Martin hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since his playing days. Though a lot has changed since he officially retired in 2007, he said he's not surprised to see how successful the Patriots have been in that time because of the man at the top: Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Stopping by the press box before tonight's game against the San Francisco 49ers, Martin remembered fondly his days as a Patriot, especially the moments shared with Kraft early in his career.

"One of the first things I noticed when I got here was the type of leader and type of man that Mr. Kraft was," Martin said. "I can remember . . . him speaking to me, giving me words of advice. I could almost see and feel his competitiveness. I believe in the trickle down effect. I think that it was just a matter of time that it went from, one of the best owners in the league to one of the best coaching staffs, to one of the best quarterbacks in the league, to one of the best teams in the league. That's the trickle down effect."

Martin will be an honorary captain for tonight's game along with fellow Hall of Famers Andre Tippett and Mike Haynes to honor the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He said he would've liked to finish his career as a Patriot but that it just "wasn't in the cards," and that he was happy that Kraft and the organization have found so much success in the last 11 years.

Martin became a member of the Jets in 1998 after being drafted by the Patriots and coach Bill Parcells in 1995. He made two Pro Bowls and was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year while with the Patriots. He finished his career with 14,101 yards rushing and five Pro Bowl appearances. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Former Celtics and current Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is up to his old tricks, apparently.

The Bulls have suspended Rondo for Monday’s game due to conduct detrimental to the team, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical saying that the suspension is the result of a “heated exchange” the 30-year-old had with a Bulls assistant during or after the team’s 107-82 loss to the Mavericks Saturday. 

Rondo clashing with others is nothing new. He once shattered a television on which the Celtics were showing him game footage to critique him and had to be carried out kicking and screaming by Kevin Garnett. Chris Sheridan reported in 2013 that Doc Rivers had an “intense dislike” for Rondo and that the two almost fought.

After being traded out of Boston, Rondo was suspended for a game by the Mavericks after a shouting match with Rick Carlisle. Last December, he was suspended for calling referee Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur, leading to Kennedy coming out as gay. 

Interestingly enough, there's something of a pattern of Rondo's bigger infractions occuring in games against former teams. The Kennedy incident came in a game against the Celtics, while this recent one was against Dallas. 

This is the first season of a two-year, $28 million Rondo signed with the Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging 8.2 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds a night.