Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens


Spikes looks to improve upon 'worst game' vs. Ravens

FOXBORO - Brandon Spikes tried to own up to his self-proclaimed poor performance against the Ravens in Week 3.

But it was hard to speak over his fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo, who was doing his best to get Spikes to crack on camera.

"Honestly, me personally, I felt like I had played my worst game of the season, and I definitely want to come out-"

"True!" Mayo yelled from his locker, as the corner of the room erupted in laughter, Spikes included.

"-I definitely want to come out and do a lot better than I did in Week 3," Spikes finished saying.

The light moment was a representation of the overall feel of New England's locker room on Thursday. There was a kind of easiness to it, a comfortableness that you might not expect from a team on the verge of either going to the Super Bowl, or going home.

Deion Branch joked with Aaron Hernandez. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty were getting into it as usual with teammates who walked by their lockers over on the secondary's side of the room.

And it appeared that just about every player left the facility with a brand new pair of Beats by Dre headphones and portable speakers.

Must be nice.

"Last year really don't matter," Spikes said. "It's a whole new year, whole new team, different chemistry and stuff like that. We just want to come out and play to our strengths. Whatever the Ravens have, I'm pretty sure we'll be prepared all the way around."

That type of confidence - not cockiness - seems to ooze out of the Patriots this week as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the sixth time since 2002.

"Honestly I feel like we're a whole different defense than Week 3," Spikes said.

But that certainly isn't to say that Spikes and the Patriots aren't taking Baltimore seriously. Like anybody else who's watched the Ravens over the last two weeks, and really, throughout many games over the regular season, Spikes sees what they're doing well on offense.

"From just watching film they look pretty good," he said. "They definitely demand the physical presence up front, and I just think that they get off on that front five. If they're firing off the ball and Ray Rice is doing what he does, we'll have a big problem if we don't come out do our job just all the way around the board, everybody has got to be hitting on all cylinders."

With the Ravens' deep ball on display against the Broncos, it appears as though Ray Rice, the team's biggest offensive threat, has gone through the radar somewhat. Spikes is the team's best run stuffer, and will play a big role in limiting Rice, who ranks second in the NFL this postseason in rush yards at 199.

"I think he's just an all-around player," Spikes said of Rice. "He can catch it in the backfield, make plays - explosive plays - and we got to do whatever we can to contain a guy like that. And I have the utmost respect for a guy like that. He's been in the league doing it, playing at a high level, very productive, and we got to just key him and try to do what we can to contain him."

Rice rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown, and caught five balls for 49 yards in Week 3. Spikes had just four tackles on the day.

"I just don't think I wasn't prepared and I just made mistakes that I normally don't make, and stuff like that," he said of his Week 3 performance. "I watched the game, and it wasn't the Brandon Spikes that I know. I definitely want to come out and capitalize off of a game like that and do whatever I can and get whatever edge I can get to try to better myself."

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.


Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz is helping out Dave Dombrowski’s balance sheet in Boston.

The Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades have been awesome — beyond awesome, even. The Tyler Thornburg deal looks like a disaster that, maybe someday, Dombrowski will acknowledge rather than sidestep. The Carson Smith deal has produced, if nothing else, no gain. The Fernando Abad deal has not hurt the Sox, and he’s had some decent moments.

But the Pomeranz trade with the Padres, for just top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, stood as the most controversial of Dealer Dave’s moves until the past couple months. Now, the Cult of Travis Shaw has slowly made folks forget about Espinoza and the complicated set of circumstances that surrounded that trade.

“Rescind” is something you’re hearing less and less. 

It’s remarkable what a 2.70 ERA in a 40-inning, seven-start stretch can do. Pomeranz is looking like a lot shinier these days, particularly after Tuesday night, when he came back out despite a rain delay of more than an hour in a 9-2 win over the Twins.

From the day that 40-inning stretch began, May 25, through Tuesday, only four qualified starters posted a better ERA in the American League: Corey Kluber (1.29), Jason Vargas (2.27), Jordan Montgomery (2.52) and Mike Pelfrey (2.64).

For comparison: Chris Sale is 10th in that stretch, at 3.54. Rick Porcello has 6.08 ERA in the same time.

Realistically, where the Sox stood last season, they needed Pomeranz. He was healthy enough to throw. That’s the reality everyone who wanted the deal undone always undersold: the back of the rotation was crumbling. 

But that was just one layer of the deal.

The Padres did not provide as much medical information as they should have, and the Sox stuck with Pomeranz despite the opportunity to look elsewhere.

Espinoza hasn’t pitched for a Padres minor league affiliate yet this season. He’s playing catch from flat ground as he comes back from a forearm injury, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently. 

Trades, to this observer, are typically best evaluated by reviewing the process behind them — which is to say, by looking back at the information was available at the time the deal was made. And at the time, it was known that the Sox were paying for Pomeranz beyond just last season's second half. They were paying for a controllable arm who could help out the rotation this year too.

Dombrowski may well have acquired Pomeranz at his peak value, which is unsurprising. But what mattered most was whether the team believed Pomeranz could contribute effectively beyond 2016. That, once they had all the health information, whether they properly evaluated what it would mean for his future.

It looked bad when Pomeranz started the season on the disabled list. He had a stem-cell injection in his forearm in the winter, too. There wasn’t much to hang your hat on at the start of April. 

Realistically, Pomeranz probably isn’t 100 percent right now. Even within the relative world of pro baseball — where no one is ever 100 percent — Pomeranz is probably further from it than most. 

But he's powered through. Pomeranz’s attitude might actually fit Boston better than most realize. He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

How Pomeranz holds up is to be seen. But the team’s judgment that he would have value beyond last season, a value worth surrendering Espinoza for, is looking better and better.