Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: Red Sox Don’t Overvalue Prospects, But We Do Expect Too Much Right Away

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COMMENTARY

You’ve got questions! And I’ve got long-winded, milquetoast semi-answers! Dare I say it’s a perfect combo!

Mailbox, opened …

If the media is the one writing about Red Sox prospects and the media is the one putting prospects on a pedestal (talk of controlling Jackie Bradley Jr.’s service time in spring ’13 comes to mind), how is it that the Sox overrate their prospects? Isn’t it really the Boston media that is doing the overrating?
— Pedro45

Eh, I don’t think they overrate their prospects at all. They have an exponentially better and more informed read on them than anyone else, and certainly more than us media nitwits. But it’s not the media overrating prospects, either. It’s feeding the reader interest with information and, yes, comparisons that sometimes aren’t totally fair. Covering the farm system and prospects is one area of baseball reporting that has grown exponentially in recent years. The interest is enormous. And with that interest comes unreal expectations from the fans sometimes. If a 21-year old player is pegged for greatness, there’s too much of an expectation for that player to achieve such greatness instantly. The demand for instant gratification — and the overreaction to growing pains — is the real issue. I think all of us forget how difficult it is to succeed in the major leagues – and especially how difficult it is to succeed immediately. I don’t think there is any exaggeration whatsoever, for example, in reporting what scouts say and we report about Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart or even Yoan Moncada. It’s impossible not to be enthusiastic. But it’s such an inexact science, and it requires so much needs to go right for that promise to be fulfilled – confidence, talent, opportunity, health, patience – that maybe more reminders about giving even the most promising young players a long rope are necessary.

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Outside of Darrelle Revis, any players you coveted in free-agent market that got away from Pats last couple weeks?
— Oil Can

You know, I don’t think so. It got lost a little in the departure of Revis and some of the other moves such as cutting Brandon Browner, but they made a couple of moves that Patriots fans should feel really good about. Jabaal Sheard is the obvious one – those versatile outside linebacker/pass rushing end-types in the Willie McGinest mold are so scarce. He should be a great fit. And it’s going to be really fun to see Scott Chandler and Gronk on the field together – that’s 13 feet of targets at the tight-end position for Tom Brady. But to answer the actual question, I can’t think of anyone I’d hoped they’d sign that they lost out on. One reason for that is because the Patriots often pursue players who fit their system but who may not jump out at us as ideal targets, such as Brandon LaFell last year. And it’s really easy to get caught up in coveting name-recognition free agents such as Andre Johnson or Reggie Bush. It would have been cool to see either of them here because of what they’ve accomplished, but it’s better that the Patriots have a knack for finding lesser names who can do the job as well, if not better, and usually for less money.

So if the Celtics make the playoffs (or even if they don’t) how long before the we’ve-got-space-to-fill crowd start talking about Brad Stevens for every major college coaching vacancy?
–Guest

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It’s gonna happen. He’s arguably the best young coach in basketball, at any level. (Does Steve Kerr count as a young coach? I guess he does, but believe it or not, he turns 50 this year. He’s 12 years older than Stevens.) He got Butler to consecutive national title games, and doing it twice eliminated any cynicism about the first one being a fluke. Whenever a prime job opens up — or the Indiana job — his name will come up on merit. Every big-time program in the country will want him. Which is why I’m happy for the Celtics’ relative success this season. It’s evidence that the path Danny Ainge and Stevens are on is the right one. I should say don’t think there’s a single indication that he’s unhappy or longs for the college game. But the college game will long for him. And it should. He’s brilliant.

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It’s spring training, and David Ortiz is a future Hall of Famer. Who cares if he takes a few days off? Only “hot takers” on the radio who think they’re hilarious care about that. Ortiz gets such a bad rap for a guy who has been as charitable and generous in this community as anyone in a long time. Not sure where the hate for him is generated from, probably page views and ratings, but it’s extremely misguided. This guy should, and I think will, have a statue in this city.
— Mark

I’m standing and applauding you right now, Mark, like all of these dopes offended that Ortiz is taking a few days off during spring training stood and applauded for him in October 2004 … and 2007 … and 2013. It’s absurd, and just further evidence that spring training is too long.

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The other day when John Dennis returned, he thanked Glenn Ordway for filling in. And then talked about Ordway coming back, and how he was “hearing things” What do you think? Ordway replacing Mikey at night maybe? I would love that.
— Bill

Haven’t heard anything along those lines. If he comes back — if Entercom ever allows it, I should say — midday makes much more sense.

Speaking of skating, does it seem like Dwyane Wade is skating on this latest incident with Isaiah Thomas. Pretty hard foul coming from the other side of the lane. Looked like he was trying to put Thomas on his ass.
— rocket755

You know, if it were pretty much any other player in the league, I’d say it was an aggressive play and Thomas just happened to be in an awkward position. But because it’s Wade, a master at making a dirty play look incidental, hell, yes, I think it was deliberate. Is there a bigger cheap-shotting weasel than Wade? Wonderful player, dirtier than Darling Nikki. He’s the Little Lord Fauntleroy of this era. He would have fit perfectly on the late-’80s Pistons with the original Isiah Thomas. I wonder what nicknames Johnny Most would have for him.

Matt Bonner is in his 11th NBA season.
— Guest

And thanks to Marcus Smart, his voice is now at a higher octave than it’s been since he was a young fella keeping the scorebook in the phenomenal Concord men’s basketball league 20-something years ago. Amazing run he’s had, huh? And so well-deserved. I’d say he’s fortunate to have found the perfect situation — so many players never do — but the truth is he worked for every single success he has. Remember, when he got to Florida, the hot recruits were Brett Nelson and Donnell Harvey. He outworked better players to have the career few outside of the 603 area code ever imagined he would.

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Until next week, the mailbox is closed. Exit music, please:

Check out the Brad Stevens vertical at the 1 minute 45 second mark. Better springs than he looks like he’d have, no?

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