Free agency is two weeks away. In my experience, the Patriots are habitually (and maniacally) secretive about what their plans are. But that won't slow speculation, which morphs to rumor and then metastasizes to fact. In anticipation of that reality, let's take a look at Mario Williams. In a blog entry by ESPN's Mike Sando on Tuesday, the possibility of the Patriots making a play for Williams was broached. Matt Williamson, who works for Scouts, Inc., said with an air of certainty that, when it comes to suitors for Mario Williams, "Jacksonville has a chance and New England will be really involved."I can't call BS on that because I don't know that it definitively is. But I do know the number of folksable to tell Williamson that with assuredness would fit in a sedan. Where does it make sense for the Patriots to make a run at Williams? He's a 27-year-old that checks in at 6-6, 285 pounds. He's a 4-3 defensive end that played outside linebacker for the Texans when they made the switch to 3-4. He's got 53 sacks in 82 career games. He's a solid character guy. When Julius Peppers -- the closest comp to Williams in the league -- was available as a free agent, New England got in on Peppers with a tepid offer that eventually got blown away by the Bears. Still, they did make inquiries. The Patriots' most impactful defender on their front is Vince Wilfork. He is closer to the end of his career than the beginning and -- while there's still a lot of good football left -- Williams would be a strong complement. Williams should help the entire defense which, in turn, would take pressure off the Patriots offense which has been their bread-and-butter for too long. It would reduce pressure on Tom Brady having to be so fine and change the identity of their team. Possibly. And why might the Patriots not be down with the idea of Mario Williams? Since the Patriots got burned with the Adalius Thomas signing they've been skittish about going in deep for free agents. Can't imagine Leigh Bodden's performance after getting paid makes them that much more anxious either. Williams has been hurt each of the past two seasons playing a total of 18 games. Given he will command a contract approaching the most lucrative in NFL history, is that something the Patriots want to risk? A big play for Williams in which they outbid everyone goes against their principals. Again, back to AD. The Patriots went off the board in signing him in 2007 and it worked out as poorly as it possibly could. Unless Williams is interested in signing for less, it's hard to imagine the Patriots being "really involved" as Williamson predicted.
Isaiah Thomas isn't a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. But A. Sherrod Blakely expects it to be more motivation for the Celtics point guard.
BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.
It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.
Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.
Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.
This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.
And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.
“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.