Sizing up the American League East: The Boston Red Sox

This is the second article in the series “meeting the AL East teams.”
This article will be focused on the Boston Red Sox. Unlike the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox are a solid team looking to build off a performance that saw them reach the ALCS in 2021. Let’s take a look at the project position player lineup, according to FanGraphs.

Infielders:
Christian Vazquez (Catcher)
Kevin Plawecki (Catcher)
Bobby Dalbec (First Baseman)
Enrique Hernandez (Second Baseman)
Xander Bogaerts (Shortstop)
Rafael Devers (Third Baseman)
Christian Arroyo (Utility)
Triston Casas (First Baseman)
While Vazquez doesn’t produce great offense, he finished 2021 with a 5 DRS and is a career 40 DRS catcher. Unlike Baltimore, the Orioles actually have an MLB catcher. In contrast, Plawecki had a DRS of -3, however had a slightly above average wRC+ of 102. In the shortened 2020 season, that wRC was 134, which is very good, albeit in a small sample size.
Bobby Dalbec is a serviceable 1B with quite a few holes in his game. The 26-year-old had a slash line of .240/.298/.792 with 25 home runs. However, Bobby had an incredibly high K% of 34.4%, which was actually down from his 42.4% in 2020. He’s a right hander with pop, which is perfect for Fenway, but he could realistically be upgraded.
The Red Sox received quite a few players in return for Mookie Betts, one of these players being 30-year-old Enrique Hernandez. The second baseman had a good 2021 owning a slash line of .250/.337/.786. He chipped in 20 home runs as a second baseman an …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

News from the Rink: Auston Matthews not ruled out ahead of Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

For the second straight day, Auston Matthews has missed Maple Leafs practice. Yesterday, Sheldon Keefe said the 24-year-old tested positive on his rapid test, but they’d find out more from his PCR test today.
Shortly after the Maple Leafs finished practice, Keefe confirmed that Matthews’ PCR test came back negative and isn’t ruled out of tomorrow’s game.

Sheldon Keefe said Auston Matthews’ PCR test came back negative. He was held out of practice today for precautionary reasons. He’s not been ruled out to play on Wednesday night.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) January 4, 2022

It’s a sigh of relief for the Maple Leafs, who are getting ready for a four-game road trip after their matchup vs. the Oilers on Wednesday. One of their games on the road is in Arizona, where Matthews grew up. It looks like, after testing negative, he’ll be able to play in that game.
There was, however, one positive test within the team today that came from Maple Leafs’ assistant coach, Dean Chynoweth.

Keefe says assistant coach Dean Chynoweth was confirmed positive for COVID-19.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 4, 2022

He missed Monday and Tuesday’s practices, similar to Matthews, and will be away from the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Matthews extends point streak to 10 games with two goal performance vs. McDavid

For the second time in less than two weeks, Auston Matthews has been in a head-to-head matchup with a young elite center many would say is better, and much like his hat trick performance against Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche, Matthews did it again with a two goal night against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.
While the Leafs overall play wasn’t consistent, the one thing that was consistent was that once the Leafs scored, the Oilers didn’t have much of a chance, especially with the play of Jack Campbell. The Leafs had a solid first period and were rewarded with a late power play, and a goal from Matthews. They were significantly worse in the second period, but Campbell held strong, and the Leafs somehow escaped it with two more goals and a 3-0 lead. The Oilers threatened a comeback early with a goal by Colton Sceviour (a goal that ended a lengthy drought for goals from the Oilers bottom six, because of course), but Morgan Rielly quickly shut that down with a goal of his own just over a minute later. And that was pretty much game, as the Leafs held steady since then, and even added …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look for quick rebound against Islanders

The Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Leafs their second loss in the month of November, and thankfully for Leafs Nation, we won’t have much time to get mad at it, as the Leafs get right back into action again tonight. It’s not going to be an easy one though, as they’ll be flying in to visit the Islanders for the first time in two years.
The Leafs have had their fair share of struggles against the Islanders since taking John Tavares from them, and it’s been well documented how hectic the Islanders home rink can be, especially against the Leafs. It’ll certainly be a challenge for the team on the second half of a back to back, but the Islanders aren’t currently playing like the Islanders we’ve gotten to known these past few years.
Now, it can’t all be blamed on the team itself, as the Islanders had a brutal schedule to start the season, playing all of their first 13 games on the road as construction finished up for their home arena. But the Islanders, usually known as a defensive juggernaut, have come up with middling results so far, sitting 18th in 5v5 …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: Top prospects called up but team keeps rolling

Welcome back to the second in-season Report from the Rock, the column of news and notes from the team at the top of the ECHL standings, the Newfoundland Growlers. I’m a day late on this one, so we’ll cover the stories that have come out of games 6-11 in this edition, let’s dive right in.
On Friday, the Toronto Marlies called goaltender and early-season MVP Keith Petruzzelli up to the AHL, I wrote about him and what the call-up means here, if you’re so inclined to check it out. Add that in to the recall of Noel Hoefenmayer last week and suddenly the team is without some of the bigger names in the prospect pool who have been honing their skills here in the ECHL.
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, both call-ups are extremely well-deserved, as both Hoefenmayer and Petruzzelli had vastly outplayed the competition in their games as Growlers. However, while Petruzzelli’s call-up was also made in necessity due to the injury in net for the Marlies, I’m not sure if the early season call-up is the best move for the development of these players. Is Hoefenmayer …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Precious Achiuwa’s inconsistency shows Toronto needs size

Raptors: Precious Achiuwa’s inconsistency shows Toronto needs size

For the second season in a row, the Toronto Raptors appear to have some questions about who they play the center position. Long gone are the disappointments that were Alex Len and Aron Baynes, as their presence on the roster has been replaced by veteran Canadian center Khem Birch and second-year big Precious Achiuwa. The […]
Raptors: Precious Achiuwa’s inconsistency shows Toronto needs size – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

There is no easy path to keeping Morgan Rielly beyond this season

The second Charlie McAvoy was signed today my mind went where any reasonable person’s mind should go, and that was to how it affects the Leafs. Contracts for Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse, Dougie Hamilton, and others already set the bar high for Morgan Rielly and should have essentially torched the idea of Rielly accepting a team friendly contract under the $7M mark. Now team friendly seems like $8M. The McAvoy contract makes that even harder…

Charlie McAvoy #NHLBruins8 yr, $76 mil$49.5m sal$26.5m sign bonus
22-23: $6m + $3.25m SB23-24: $7.75m + $3.25m SB24-25: $8.5m + $3m SB25-26: $8.5m + $3m SB26-27: $6m + $4m SB27-28: $3.75m + $4m SB28-29: $4.5m + $3m SB29-30: $4.5m + $3m SBFull NMC from 7/1/25 – 5/31/28
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 15, 2021

There is obviously a strong argument that McAvoy is better than Rielly. There’s a benefit to paying a younger defenseman throughout his entire prime rather than taking a chance on how the player will perform later in their career, but it doesn’t change that teams are paying legitimate number one defensemen over $9M, and Morgan Rielly falls into that category.
So the Leafs have the benefit of the salary cap possibly going up. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Let’s take a moment to appreciate Marcus Semien’s season, which was one of the best in Blue Jays history

Marcus Semien is a shortstop. Yes he played all season at second base, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he spent the previous 6 seasons playing short. This is not a bad thing, in fact, it’s a testament to how insane Marcus Semien was this past season.

18 million without giving up a pick has never looked so good. The phrases “Semien was good this season” or “Semien will get paid” are both understatements. While I won’t speculate on the figures he’ll make this upcoming off-season, I feel the need to write about just how damn good he was. Yes, even better than Vlad or Ray.
Slash line:
I like using slash lines as it’s a good basic statistic to use. If you look at Semien’s, it doesn’t particularly stand out. If I said a .265/.334/.873 player should receive MVP votes, you may look at me and say “why?”. To that, I say, the stats, while a nice tool, doesn’t actually show how valuable the player is.
It’s the same as basic statistics for defensive play like fielding percentage. It looks great on paper, but it can be incredibly misleading. However, there …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Late goal from Amadio gives the Leafs another preseason win in Ottawa

For the second game in a row, we got some preseason action from the Leafs’ “best of the rest”, as the highlights of the roster featured Justin Holl and Alexander Kerfoot, while all the players on the fringes battled it out for the remaining spots in the lineup.
Unlike last game, the competition wouldn’t be quite as easy, as they’d be up against most of the Ottawa Senators NHL lineup. I mean, it’s still pretty easy, just not as easy as their AHL lineup like last time.
Not surprisingly, this group managed to hold their own, never really finding themselves hemmed in by Ottawa, and keeping the score close despite lacking the obvious finishing talent. From a long term perspective, it’s not a bad thing to have practice with if the Leafs get a couple injuries from the big guns. They kept it close and competitive, and capitalized on their chances when they got them.
The scoring didn’t open until the second, when Pierre Engvall of all people got a power play goal with a really nice shot. He also managed to get another shot off like that later in the period, but no goal …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The NHL releases some key dates for next season/summer

Tonight is the second game of the preseason, and already the NHL is dumping some trade deadline, draft, and free agency news on us…

Key dates from the NHL’s 2021-22 calendar:
March 21: Trade deadlineMay 2: First day of Stanley Cup PlayoffsJune 30: Last possible day of Stanley Cup PlayoffsJuly 1: First buyout period opensJuly 7-8: NHL draftJuly 12: First buyout period endsJuly 13: Free agency opens
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 27, 2021

Those are certainly some important dates to remember, and even with the Olympic break the NHL seems to be moving up their schedule a couple of weeks compared to last season.
The March 21st trade deadline comes just one week (three games) after the Leafs outdoor game in Hamilton against the Sabres, and mercifully falls in the middle of three days off for the Leafs meaning plenty of time to make trades without worrying about players not being available for their next game and we might not see players held out for precautionary reasons. I’m the Leafs front office appreciates this scheduling.
The Leafs play 20 games after the trade deadline this season, so renting a player doesn’t seem like the colossal waste of resources like it’s been the past two seasons. Still, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation