McAdam: Sox saving their money

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McAdam: Sox saving their money

Some 30 years ago, an oil filter company had a TV spot, the tag line to which was: "You can pay me now . . . or pay me later.''

If you put that choice to the Red Sox in 2012, they would opt for the latter.

Despite a report Tuesday which suggested that they were "closing in" on a short-term deal with free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda -- a report denied by multiple industry sources -- the Sox are not likely to spend much more on their payroll before the start of the regular season.

Look at the nature of their recent signings: Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook and Justin Germano. Each is a small move, with little in the way of guaranteed money on the major-league payroll.

With a rotation that boasts Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz and, for the time being, Daniel Bard, the Red Sox think they already have four quality starters.

To find a fifth, they're willing to have a spring competition between a handful of in-house candidates (Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves) and some of the low-cost minor-league free agents added in the last 10 days (Silva, Cook, Germano).

If they're fortunate, one will emerge as the Red Sox' version of either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, two veterans who helped the New York Yankees last season when the Yanks were in a similar cost-conscious mode.

With some off-days in the mix, the Red Sox need to get 15 or so starts from a fifth starter by the All-Star break.

Should they spend their money now, the Sox will give themselves little flexibility to make any in-season moves.

As such, the Red Sox have posed this question: Is it more likely that A) we can find a suitable back-end starter now and not need help in July, or is it more likely we can B) cobble together some fifth-starter solution for the first half of the year then have some available resources should we need to re-assess and make a move at the deadline?

The answer, of course, is "B.''

If the All-Star break arrives and the team needs pitching reinforcements -- either because of injuries or performance issues or both -- the Sox will have some flexibility for the final two months of the season and beyond.

What's more, their chances of convincing ownership that the addition outlay of salary in July will be better then than it is now.

When you factor in upcoming salary increases through arbitration, the remainder of the 40-man roster and the cost of benefits, the Sox are already projected to be over the luxury tax threshold of 178 million.
Signing an expensive veteran such as Kuroda or Roy Oswalt now would send them well over that figure, with no guarantee that either pitcher would hold up physically.
If the Sox put some money aside, find some cheaper in-house solutions and remain in contention, they will give themselves additional options. Remember, taking on salary at the July 31 deadline means taking on almost exactly one-third of someone's yearly pay.

So, should, Silva, Miller and Cook get them through the first 3 12 months of the schedule, the Sox will have saved their financial bullets to allow them to make a bigger impact at the deadline.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Wizards shoot ridiculous 65 percent from field

After Boston’s last game against Portland – a loss – Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he was encouraged by some of the things his team did defensively.

It’s safe to say Stevens won’t be singing that tone if the Celtics continue along the path they’re on defensively right now as the Washington Wizards went into the half with a 66-59 lead.

Washington, donning all-black clothes when they arrived at the Verizon Center, were very much looking as though they were digging a basketball grave for the Boston Celtics who allowed the Wizards to shoot a ridiculous 65 percent from the field in the first half and 61.5 percent (8-for-13) from 3-point range.

The Wizards scored the first four points of the game and spent all of the first half playing with a lead.

But the Celtics showed some fight late in the second quarter, going on a 14-6 run to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with 3:39 to play in the quarter.

Boston would later have a chance to tie the game, but Marcus Smart’s 3-pointer was off the mark.

And the Wizards, as they had done all game, made the Celtics pay as Bradley Beal drained a jumper that made it a two-possession game.

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half.

 

STARS

Bradley Beal

It was his idea to go with the all-Black look, and he backed up his talk with a strong first half of play. He has a team-high 14 points at the half along with five assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Thomas delivered yet another all-star caliber scoring performance in the first half for Boston. He led all scorers with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with a game-high eight assists.  

John Wall

After scoring just nine points when these two met on Jan. 11, Wall has 13 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was an extremely efficient game offensively in the first half for Horford. He had 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists.

Markieff Morris

He’s one of four double-digit scorers in the first half for the Wizards. In addition to his 10 points, he also has five rebounds and three assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics defense

At this end of the floor, the Celtics were absolutely atrocious in the first half. The Wizards shot a ridiculously high 65 percent from the field, and were just as lethal (8-for-13, 61.5 percent) from 3-point land. They have no shot at competing let alone winning tonight’s game, if they don’t turn things around and do so soon!

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Beyond the numbers: 'Game is slowing down' for Isaiah Thomas

Just about every part of Isaiah Thomas’ game offensively has seen tremendous growth this season.

But what has really separated him from earlier versions of himself, has been his 3-point shooting.

He comes into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards shooting a career best 38.4 percent from 3-point range.

When asked about how he has elevated his game this season, the answer isn’t that simple.

“I don’t know” he told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “The game is slowing down for me. My teammates put me in position, my coach does … and I’m just knocking down shots.”

Because of his shot-making, Thomas has made it difficult for defenses to give him a steady diet of any style of play in trying to limit him.

And because they have to change things up with regularity, that has created more scoring opportunities.

“Sometimes they forget what they want to do (defensively) and leave me open for a three,” Thomas said. “Those are the the types of shots I need to knock down and I’m being aggressive.

He added, “I need to get to the free throw line, trying to make plays for my teammates. It’s one of those things where I’m in a really good zone now; a really good rhythm.”

A good rhythm?

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, Thomas is the first Celtic ever to make at least four 3-pointers in five straight games. Taking it a step further, he has made at least three 3-pointers in seven straight games which equaled Antoine Walker’s streak in 2001.

Thomas has also attempted 11 three-pointers in five straight games which is a franchise record. There have only been three longer streaks in NBA history - Golden State’s Stephen Curry (7 straight games, 2016); Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (7 straight games, 2005) and Dallas’ George McCloud (6 straight games, 2006).

He’s also averaging 3.1 made 3’s per game which would be a franchise record that’s currently held by Antoine Walker who averaged 2.7 during the 2001-2002 season.

And all those 3’s have added up to Thomas scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Celtic since Larry Bird had eight such games in March 1988 as well as the 1987-1988 season.