Boston Red Sox

Former Bruins D-man Mottau to sign one-year deal with Leafs


Former Bruins D-man Mottau to sign one-year deal with Leafs

After skating for most of the NHL lockout around Boston with other regulars like Shawn Thornton and then getting into game shape during a month-long stint with the AHLs San Antonio Rampage, a source indicated to that former Bruins defenseman Mike Mottau will ink a one-year, two-way deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs as soon as the new CBA is in effect.

The 34-year-old Mottau had some offers to play in Europe over the summer if he committed to the entire season, but the veteran defenseman held out hope on a couple of things: the NHL work stoppage wouldnt be a long one and that perhaps there would be a chance for the South Shore native to re-sign with his hometown Bruins.

Neither of those things happened as the lockout didnt get solved until January, and Mottau finally signed a veteran tryout agreement with San Antonio in December. The former Boston College Hobey Baker Award winner had a training camp invitation lined up with the Florida Panthers this week, but upgraded to the one-year contract with the Leafs when the offer presented itself.

The free agent deal with Toronto closes the book on his time in Boston after finishing last season with a pair of assists and a minus-11 rating in 36 games for both the Isles and Bruins. There was a thought that perhaps Mottau would be invited back with Adam McQuaid a physical question mark to begin the season, but instead one of Bostons Northeast Division rivals took a shot on the heady defenseman.

Mottau was caught in a tough spot by the timing of the NHL lockout, but its good that a very competent sixthseventh defenseman that still has plenty to offer will get a chance to reestablish himself in Toronto. Expect a flood of two-way deals and short term veteran signings like the Mottau deal to be announced by all of the NHL clubs once the NHL CBA memorandum of understanding is signed by both sides as soon as Saturday night.

Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently


Eduardo Rodriguez's delivery wasn't the same after knee injury, until recently

BALTIMORE — If you suspected Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee created a residual effect with his mechanics as he struggled in the second half, you were correct. 

It was here in Baltimore on June 1 that Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his right knee, suffering another subluxation, which he’s prone to. Once he came back — a month and a half later, after the All-Star Break — his performances didn’t match the competency he’d shown pre-injury.

Through the first nine starts back, Rodriguez had a 5.47 ERA. He appeared clearly outside of the playoff rotation picture.

The last three outings have left a different impression, and are a product of improved mechanics. The Red Sox feel Rodriguez is lifting  right leg, his lead leg, higher now.

“I think Eddy’s regained more confidence physically over his last three starts,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We’ve seen a better delivery. Really since he had come back the injury here, a little bit of abbreviated leg lift. He finally got a little more confidence in picking that knee up and getting a little more drive from his lower half. I think that’s made a huge difference. He’s using his changeup more which is also a huge difference, but I think that lower half has allowed him to do that.”

Rodriguez has a 2.55 September ERA. He has strikeout ability that could be appealing in a postseason setting, but he’s young and inexperienced compared to Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The fact he’s had confidence issues with his delivery could factor into how the Sox decide their playoff rotation, but his upside and strikeout potential are undeniable.

Rodriguez had a knee subluxation in 2016 that affected his mechanics for a time as well.

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"


Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.