Curran: McDaniels move can't hurt

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Curran: McDaniels move can't hurt

Distraction? Yes. Will the benefit outweigh the distraction? We'll find out in the next few weeks. That Josh McDaniels will reportedly join the Patriots as soon as this week to serve as an offensive assistant is intriguing news with little obvious downside. Since leaving the Patriots after the 2008 season, the former Broncos head coach has only expanded his knowledge of coaching professional football despite the easy-to-target shortcomings in Denver (fired in 2009) and St. Louis (presiding over an offense that tanked in 2011).His relationship with quarterback Tom Brady was excellent, a real collaboration in which Brady had the most remarkable throwing season in NFL history in 2007. Furthermore, as offensive coordinator in St. Louis, McDaniels game-planned and called plays against the following teams this season: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, New Orleans, San Francisco, Green Bay and the Giants. The Rams managed just 97 points in those eight games (58 in two games) so it's not like he lit the world on fire. But McDaniels does know the personnel of each of these teams the Patriots could conceivably play in the postseason. The biggest malady the Patriots' offense has dealt with this season is slow starts. Conjecture coming: it's been such an issue that a second set of eyes on the early-game script and McDaniels viewing film of those games where the Pats came out flat could help unearth something that ends that trend. When it comes to game-planning right now, Brady is intimately involved in all of it. My hunch is that there will be no power struggle between McDaniels and current (soon-to-be-former OC) Bill O'Brien because it's a collaboration with Brady at the center of it anyway. O'Brien, who's been effusive in stating his gratitude to the Patriots, is not someone who will create any kind of rancor in getting a plan ready. It will be interesting to see where McDaniels is positioned during games - on the sidelines where O'Brien is or in the booth where he can watch personnel. My guess would be he will be in the booth. Up there, he can survey defensive personnel changes and avoid having too many voices on the sidelines in the heat of the game. With O'Brien in a spot where his attention is - like it or not - going to be diverted by his new position, having McDaniels there to make up for any brainpower O'Brien will forfeit is a boon for the Patriots. My guess? This will help far more than it hurts.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.