Bobby V gets serious


Bobby V gets serious

After last night's loss to the Twins (Oh no, the Mayor's Cup!), Bobby Valentine was very clearly unhappy with certain members of his team.

You knew this because, as is the style, Bobby V. held nothing back with the media.

Of Felix Doubront's performance, Valentine said: "I wished for a little more."

Of reliever Mark Melancon, the manager sarcastically said: "I thought he backed up bases pretty well. He had that down.

And of the bullpen in general, Valentine said: "Im not really happy with any of the relief.

As we move forward with the spring training, and eventually the regular season, the major question surrounding the Sox will continue to be: How long until Valentine's act runs thin?

Everyone wants to know.

But for now, I'm not sure how anyone can offer a legitimate guess.

Valentine's antics have worked with some teams, with others they've been a disaster. Of course, with the Sox history and high-priced attitude, it might be fair to assume there will be a problem, but we never know. Ultimately, it just comes down to winning.

If the team's doing well, everyone's happy. If not, everyone will find reasons to bitch and moan about something, regardless of whether that something is at the root of the problem.

It's really that easy. Valentine's openness with the media may not be an issue at all.

But in some cases I think it undoubtedly does some good. Take for instance, Jose Iglesias, who spurned Valentine's ire after missing a sign in last night's game.

He missed a sign, Valentine revealed to reporters after the game. It was a tough sign to get, but I told him Id take him out of the game if he ever missed a sign again.

No one has a problem with this, right?

I mean, what better way to have him learn?

One on hand, I'm sure Iglesias didn't enjoy hearing himself called out, but I guarantee this gets his ass in gear. I bet he takes an extra few minutes or hours this Spring to finally learn every last sign in the Sox repetroire.

And if he doesn't, if that kind of criticism over something as learning signs, is enough to throw Iglesias off track, then that tells you a lot about the kind of player he is. You know he's not your guy. I don't think that's the case, I'm just using him as example.

Then again, it's one thing when you're dealing with 22-year-old rookie, quite another when the target of Bobby V's frustration is a vet making almost 22M.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils


Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.

'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons


'Forgotten man' David Harris plays key role in win over Falcons

For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.

At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers. 

So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time. 

1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.

2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots. 

3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."