Celtics

How has Cherington fared so far?

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How has Cherington fared so far?

CHICAGO -- The interleague meeting between the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs this weekend has already brought with it an analysis of Theo Epstein's 10-year tenure as general manager of the Sox -- a period that began with such promise and ended in a far less satisfactory manner.
But with Epstein focused on revitalizing the last-place Cubs, perhaps this is also a good time to evaluate how his successor, Ben Cherington, has fared.
Cherington was hired last October, on the very same day that Epstein was introduced as president of the Cubs. That's fitting in a sense, given that the two will, for some time, be linked.
The 2012 Red Sox are, in large part, still Epstein's team. It was on his watch that the entire starting rotation was either signed, drafted or traded for. The same can be said of the starting infield, and much of the rest of the roster.
Cherington also took over at a time when a new austerity swept Yawkey Way, limiting his ability to makeover the roster with budget-busting signings or deals.
It's also Cherington's misfortune to have the club beset with a rash of injuries that decimated the roster. The Sox had projected their outfield to feature Carl Crawford in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and perhaps a platoon of Cody Ross and Ryan Kalish in center field.
Crawford and Kalish have yet to play a single game. Ellsbury played a week before suffering a shoulder injury during the home opener and by the time he returns from a broken boot in his foot, Ross will have missed nearly a month.
Andrew Bailey, perhaps Cherington's biggest acquisition in his first six months on the job, suffered a thumb injury in spring training and is weeks away from throwing his first regular season pitch in a Red Sox uniform.
Cherington's first draft took place earlier this month and it will be years before it can properly evaluated.
Here's a look a the moves he's made to date which can be judged -- The Good, The Bad and The Too Soon to Tell.

THE GOOD:
Cody RossRoss was signed to a 3 million deal for 2012, and at the time of his injury, was second on the team in homers and slugging percentage. Ross has proven to be an adventure defensively -- even in left field at Fenway, where the challenges aren't great.
But as an offensive player, he's got plenty of value, especially given his relatively modest salary. It's possible that Ross could be dealt in the second half of the season when Ellsbury, Crawford and Kalish return to full health.
If not, he's an affordable and productive free agent signing.

Mike AvilesNo, Cherington didn't trade for him, but he did advocate that Aviles be the team's starting shortstop at a time when manager Bobby Valentine was clearly pushing for Jose Iglesias to take over the job.
Cherington made the right call here, reasoning that Aviles was better than he was being given credit for. That's proved correct, with Aviles currently second on the team in RBI and first among major league shortstops.
Moreover, Aviles has done a nice job at short. He doesn't possess great range, but he's been relatively sure-handed and has done a nice job on double plays with second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Kelly ShoppachShoppach won't win any Mr. Congeniality awards, but he's hit .282.373.533 and though Shoppach is supposed to crush lefthanded pitching, he's actually hit better against righties this year.
Shoppach has thrown out a respectable 29 percent of opposing basestealers and his overall .905 OPS represents a bargain for a player signed to a modest one-year (1.14 million) deal.

David OrtizCherington wouldn't give Ortiz the long-term extension the slugger wanted, and while it can be argued that the 15 million is too much for a DH, there's no arguing Ortiz's production this year -- or the benefit of a one-year commitment.

THE BAD:
Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland for Mark MelanconIt can be misleading to judge trades this soon, but for now, the Sox got the short end of this deal.
Lowrie, who couldn't stay healthy in Boston, has played well as the Astros' everyday shortstop (.279.354.515) while displaying surprising power (12 homers). Weiland underwent shoulder surgery in early May after three poor outings.
Meanwhile, Melancon pitched himself back to the minors after just two weeks and only recently retutrned to the majors. In time, Melancon may develop into a reliable seventh- and eighth-inning reliever. But for now, this trade favors the Astros.

Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara for Andrew Bailey and Ryan SweeneyReddick has been a revelation for the A's, with 14 homers -- or, more than he had in parts of three seasons with the Red Sox. Perhaps more amazingly, he's done it in a big ballpark with virtually no protection in an otherwise feeble Oakland lineup.
Sweeney, too, has outstripped expectations, hitting .301 though, as expected, showing little power (zero homers in 175 plate appearances). With Ellsbury sidelined, Sweeney is the best Red Sox defender in the outfield, capable of playing bothcenter and right and even when the others return, he can be a useful role player off the bench.
It's Bailey, however, who was supposed to be the centerpiece of the deal, but there's nothing on which to evaluate him -- yet. Cherington had hoped to obtain an effective closer whom he could contractually control for a number of seasons. But to date, Bailey has merely been as injury-prone as he was in Oakland.

Nick PuntoOn the same day he dealt away Lowrie, Cherington signed the veteran utility player to a two-year deal. Punto went the entire month of May without a hit and is hitting just .209. He's hit better of late and has played a few infield positions without an issue. Still, the two-year commitment seemed a reach last winter and looks even more so after 2 12 months of the season. Daniel Bard as a starterThis was Bard's choice, but Cherington backed it fully, even when Valentine wanted Bard to go back to the bullpen during spring training. To date, to put it plainly, it's been an unmitigated disaster. Bard, demoted back to Triple A, looks lost on the mound.

TOO SOON TO TELL: Bob McClureCherington had his first manager foisted upon him by CEO Larry Lucchino, retained holdovers Tim Bogar, Gary Tuck and Dave Magadan and allowed Valentine to hire Jerry Royster as his third base coach. McClure, who had already been hired as a scoutminor league coordinator, was the choice for pitching coach, but with less than half a season, it's difficult to assess McClure's impact one way or another.

Scott PodsednikPodsednik has been a nice find off the scrapheap, obtained for virutally nothing from the Phillies' Triple A team. But 16 games does not a career renaissance make.

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

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Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

BOSTON -- These are tough, heart-tugging times for the Boston Celtics, who are less than 24 hours removed from the gruesome left-ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of their 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
 
Hayward is scheduled to have surgery today, and potentially could be out for the entire season.
 
As much as their hearts go out to Hayward and his family, the Celtics know they can’t spend too much time sulking. The nature of this business won’t allow them, evident by the fact the C's step back on the floor tonight to host the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
“You hurt for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s put in a lot of great work. I thought he had his most comfortable week as far as feeling like he was going to play really well. It’s a tough, tough deal but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
 
But in the same breath, Stevens is a realist.
 
He's been in the league long enough to know that grieving for a lost player won’t help that player in the short-term. Or the team, for that matter.

MORE ON GORDON HAYWARD

 
The best way the Celtics can help Hayward is to continue to compete in his absence.
 
We saw that in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers.
 
When Hayward was carted off the floor, the Celtics were ahead, 12-9. The lead disappeared and was eventually replaced by an 18-point deficit, only for Boston to chip away and eventually go ahead in the fourth quarter.
 
But down the stretch, too much LeBron James and Kevin Love would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.
 
While the loss was disappointing, it gave the team some insight into how to fight on now that one of its main guys will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
We saw Jaylen Brown emerge from being a second-year pro on the rise into a matchup problem who dropped a career-high 25 points on the Cavs.
 
And Jayson Tatum reminded us all that he’s a teenager in age only, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. The last rookie to tally a double-double for the Celtics in his opening night debut was Larry Bird in 1979, who had an identical 14-point, 10-rebound line.


 
But Bird didn’t have to play most of that game with one of the then top-three Celtics out for all but the game’s first five minutes.
 
When it comes to adversity, NBA players don’t have the luxury to pick which ones to handle and which ones to pass on. They either step up to the challenge or be consumed by it.
 
Under Stevens, Door Number One is the only option under consideration.
 
And since Stevens has been in Boston, his players have risen to the challenge.
 
That doesn’t mean they'll win every game, but they've shown the ability to at least be competitive. And in defeat, they'll refuse to use injury as an excuse.
 
That means younger players like Brown and Tatum will assume a larger role at both ends of the floor if Boston is to make it through these tough times relatively unscathed.
 
Veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Smart will be leaned upon more heavily to be leaders, both on and off the floor.
 
And Stevens, considered by many to be one of the better coaches in the NBA, will once again be tasked with making on-the-fly adjustments with his lineup and rotations under less-than-ideal conditions.
 
Nobody hurts more than Stevens when it comes to Hayward’s injury. Remember, he's known him longer than anyone associated with the Celtics, having recruited Hayward to play for Butler. It was the platform that launched both of their NBA careers.
 
Which is why the way he approaches not having Hayward is the example for all his players to follow.
 
Shortly after the loss to the Cavs, Stevens was asked about moving on while handling the emotional dynamics of losing Hayward for an extended period of time.
 
“We’ll be ready to play [tonight],” Stevens said with a heightened level of seriousness in his voice that spoke to how important it was to him and his players that they came out and performed at their best on Tuesday against Cleveland.

And that's the blueprint required for them going forward if they hope to be successful in handling adversity as it comes their way.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.