What Boston did on its summer vacation

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What Boston did on its summer vacation

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

I realize that there are a lot of people out there who love the fall.

They love everything about it the cooler air, the warmer clothes, the foliage. In fact, the only thing these people love more than fall is talking about how much they love it. Seriously, at least 37 of my Facebook friends have declared their affection for fall since I started typing this sentence.

I get it. Everyone loves fall.

Everyone but me, that is. For me, the end of summer only means one thing winter's right around the corner. It means that before we know it the sidewalks will be slush, the traffic will suck (even more), and I'll look out my window at 4:30 p.m. to the glare of headlights. Get ready. Here it comes.

And here we are. The end of summer; the first day of fall. I think the only person in Boston more depressed than I am right now is the dude who wears the big Scal face to the Garden.

But as much as I hate the change, I won't mind turning the page on what was a uninspiring summer for Boston sports.

Sure, there were highlights. The Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin. David Ortiz won the Derby. Clay Buchholz figured it out. Wes Welker defied modern medicine. The Celtics brought back Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and signed Shaquille O'Neal. I mean, this isn't Cleveland, we were bound to have some good news. But for the most part, the summer was subpar at best.

We had the Red Sox disintegrate right before our eyes, and they didn't even get a fair fight, thanks to a rash of debilitating injuries that you wouldn't wish upon the Jets (OK, you would). The Sox spent the summer slowly dying. They toyed with our emotions, consistently showing just enough life to stop us from pulling the plug, and despite all the glaring clues that this wasn't the year, we kept giving them second, third and fourth chances to make something of the season. We looked at the schedule and saw opportunity. We continued to hope that John Lackey or Josh Beckett, or God forbid, both would show up down the stretch. We married ourselves to the "Hey, who knows? Anything can happen" mentality and convinced ourselves they had a chance. But without Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis or Jacoby Ellsbury, not to mention the real Beckett and Lackey, they never did.

By the middle of summer, the Ellsbury saga became a dark cloud over an already overcast season. I still can't believe how that all played out. Really, could you have ever imagined that collision with Adrian Beltre would create such a domino effect of disaster? Ellsbury was one of the most likable, and certainly the most exciting player on that team. This was the year he made the leap. He should have been an All-Star. Instead he became a distraction. He pissed off his teammates. He pissed off the organization. He was pissed at the organization. He played in a total of 18 games!

It was a lost season for Ellsbury; a lost season for the Sox. And without them, the Boston summer can't reach its full potential.

But that wasn't all we dealt with.

There was Rajon Rondo's divorce from Team USA, which in the long run won't be a bad thing, but was an unsettling story from start to finish.

Was it really his choice to leave? If not, why didn't he make the team? Was it his ability or his attitude? A combination?

I don't think many Celtics fans have a problem with Rondo not playing in Turkey. There's no question that he'll be fresher for the start of the season than he would've been after three extra weeks overseas. But, at the same time, once Rondo made the commitment to play, don't you wish he could've just gotten along with everyone?

That's not to say he should've gone, become best friends with all the guys and then spent next season playing kissy face on the court. That's not the case at all. The no-nonsense approach Rondo takes to his life in the NBA is one of his greatest attributes. None of that should change.

But still, it would have been nice to see Rondo fit in with Team USA. To have him go over, play his ass off, be a great teammate, learn from Chauncey Billups or even Kevin Durant, and then listen to Coach K and Jerry Colangelo gush over him all year. But it never clicked. For one reason or another it wasn't meant to be.

There's no doubt that Rondo's maturity has sky-rocketed over the past four years, but this summer showed us that whether it's his game, his attitude or a combination he still has some work to do. I'm not judging that on the scale of your average NBA player. I'm talking about for an NBA star. That's the expectation now.

In other basketball news, the Miami Heat picked up LeBron James and Chris Bosh. That still hurts to type.

We spent the entire summer dealing with rumors about Tom Brady's less-than-cordial contract negotiations, and then Brady was nearly run over on Comm. Ave.

Subject: Brady car accident. Holy @

That's not an e-mail you ever want to wake up to. (Unless you enjoy having to change your sheets.)

Yeah, the contract eventually got done, and that's obviously the most important thing to remember. They figured it out, and Brady's here for another four years. But from far, far away, those negotiations felt off. It was strange to see Brady passive-aggressively voice his displeasure with the way everything was going. There was genuine emotion behind what he was saying. He was clearly upset.

We'd never really seen that before, and that weird tension played out for all of training camppreseason. At no point over the summer did you truly believe that Brady would leave, but for the first time, you could envision a day when he might leave. It's ridiculous to worry about that now, but it's still interesting. There was a time when you'd have bet your life that Tom Brady retires as a Patriot. I don't think you'd make that bet today.

Anyway, Brady's contract was followed by Moss' tirade, giving up on Maroney and the Jets game.

Oh, and did I mention that we spent the whole summer getting familiar with the impending NBA and NFL lockouts? Is that wearing on your conscious at all? It should be. And yesterday, summer bowed out quietly, by delivering the news that Kevin Faulk tore his ACL, Marc Savard might be out for the season and Brian Scalabrine's headed to Chicago.

It was one, or I guess, three swift gut punches from a season that never really panned out in Boston. And now it's finally dead.

The summer of 2010 is gone, and I can't believe I'm saying this thank God fall's finally here.

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

A farewell to the many prospects Dave Dombrowski traded Tuesday

A farewell to the many prospects Dave Dombrowski traded Tuesday

A baseball lesson: There’s trading a top prospect because you know he’s not as good as everyone thinks (a la the Atlanta Braves back in the day with Andy Marte) and then there’s straight-up dumping out the treasure chest because you’re Dave GD Dombrowski and you’ll be damned if “promise” is going to get in the way of you making a zillion trades… a la Dave Dombrowski.  

Since the start of the 2016 season, Dombrowski has traded four of his top 10 prospects by Baseball America’s rankings, and three of his top five. The group is led by Yoan Moncada, who was considered the team’s best prospect before he was shipped to Chicago in Tuesday’s blockbuster trade for Chris Sale. 

All in all, the Sox sent out six prospects in two trades Tuesday, and they’ll join the likes of Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot and others with whom Dombrowski has willingly parted since taking over as Boston’s president of baseball operations. 

Here’s a look at the players the Sox gave up Tuesday: 

YOAN MONCADA, 2B 
Baseball America Red Sox ranking: 1
MLB.com Red Sox ranking: 1

Moncada’s eight games in the Major Leagues to this point haven’t been impressive, but using that as rationale (as some may have when the Sox traded a young Hanley Ramirez in the Josh Beckett trade) is likely wishful thinking. 

The Cuban infielder was ranked the No. 1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America last season. The outlet projects him as a five-tool player whose potential to hit for average and power will outweigh strikeout concerns. 

From August: 

Built like a running back at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Moncada is an explosive athlete with true five-tool potential. A switch-hitter, Moncada has electric bat speed, which combined with his strength allows him to smash hard line drives all over the field. He has at least plus raw power, with that power starting to translate more in games thanks to mechanical adjustments he’s worked on this season.  

MICHAEL KOPECH, RHP
Baseball America Red Sox ranking: 5
MLB.com Red Sox ranking: 5

A first-round pick of the Sox in the 2014 draft, Kopech has yet to reach Double A, but, per two radar guns, has reached 105 miles an hour with his fastball. If that number is accurate, it ranks just one tenth of a mile-per-hour behind Arolis Chapman’s 2010 fastball for the fastest pitch recorded. 

Regardless of the pitch’s exact speed, it does damage. Pitching in High-A Salem last season, Kopech struck out a whopping 82 batters in 52 innings. 

LUIS ALEXANDER BASABE, OF 
Baseball America Red Sox ranking: 9 
MLB.com Red Sox ranking: 8

The switch-hitting outfielder spent most of last season in Single-A Greenville, hitting .258/.325/.447 in 105 games with 12 homers and 52 RBI. The Venezuela native is considered a decent fielder with a very good arm. 

If his name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same first and last name as twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe. Perhaps not surprisingly, Dombrowski also traded him over the last year when he shipped the second baseman to Arizona in the Brad Ziegler trade. 

MAURICIO DUBON, SS/2B
(Not ranked among Baseball America’s top 10 Red Sox prospects) 
MLB.com Red Sox ranking: 17

Maybe the kind of guy you want to keep on the same day you trade Yoan Moncada. 

Dubon is considered a very solid infield prospect, so much so that The Boston Globe noted Tuesday that “teams were absolutely drooling over Dubon’s defense and his offensive potential.” He finished the season at Double-A Portland, hitting .339/.371/.538 with six homers, six triples and 40 RBI. 

VICTOR DIAZ, RHP
(Not ranked among Baseball America’s top 10 Red Sox prospects) 
 MLB.com Red Sox ranking: 28

The hard-throwing righty reportedly hit triple digits with his fastball this season and, like Kopech, used his fastball to his advantage. He struck out 63 batters in 60.1 innings for Single-A Greenville

JOSH PENNINGTON, RHP 
(Not ranked among Baseball America’s top 10 Red Sox prospects) 
MLB.com Red Sox ranking: N/A

This is an interesting one. He was drafted as a project in the 2014 draft after learning that he would need Tommy John Surgery. He was starting to make good on his potential this past season, posting a 2.86 ERA and striking out 49 batters in 56.2 innings for Short-Season A Lowell. 

McAdam: For Dombrowski and Red Sox, the future is now

McAdam: For Dombrowski and Red Sox, the future is now

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Dave Dombrowski has jumped in. All in. With both feet.

MORE ON THE TRADE

For an executive with a reputation for making bold moves, Dombrowski may have made his boldest one yet Tueday by shipping arguably the organization's best position player prospect (Yoan Moncada) and its best pitching prospect (Michael Kopech), along with two others, to the Chicago White Sox for lefty ace Chris Sale.

Adding Sale to a rotation that already includes reigning Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello and David Price gives the Red Sox the American League's best rotation and makes the Sox the team to beat in the A.L.

Hired 17 months ago with a mandate to make the Red Sox winners again after three last-place finishes in the span of four seasons, Dombrowski has acted aggressively and decisively.

Since then, he's obtained Price, Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg and Sale. That translates into three lefty starters and three back-end power arms in the bullpen.

Of course, all those moves have come at a significant cost. Dombrowski has gone through the Red Sox' minor-league system and shredded it, sacrificing Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, and now, Moncada and Kopech.

The pitching, in particular, has been stripped bare, with Espinoza and Kopech representing the two best arms in the system. And in Moncada, the Sox gave up on arguably the single most talented propsect in the entire sport.

At a time when teams protect their best young players as though their existence depends on them, Dombrowski has demonstrated a willingess to move them for a chance to win now.

In exchange, the Sox have now built a super rotation, with three front-line starters, augmented by two other lefties (Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez) along with Steven Wright and Clay Buchholz.

It's a virtual certainty that the Sox will move one of those arms now, in a market where there's virtually no quality free-agent starters available.

Buchholz, who stands to earn $13.5 million in 2017, would give them payroll relief, while Rodriguez, because of his youth and upside, might give the team its biggest return.

Dombrowski's moves create a window for the Red Sox. Sale's deal runs through 2019, while Price has an opt-out in his deal after 2018.

That creates some urgency for the Red Sox to capitalize on the strength of their rotation and a nucleus of young position players -- Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi -- and win multiple titles in the next few seasons.

Anything less will be considered a failure.

It's championship-or-bust time at Fenway.