McAdam: Sanchez impacted Sox' approach


McAdam: Sanchez impacted Sox' approach

When the Red Sox signed Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal worth 26.5 million, a lot of fans rolled their eyes or vocally condemned the move as an overly-generous package.

Sean McAdam says the Red Sox approach was dictated by players like Anibel Sanchez, who just agreed to a five-year deal with the Tigers worth 80 million.

The Red Sox got the impression that Sanchez was looking for four or five years in his next contract and the team just wasn't willing to go that high. With Dempster willing to go two years, the Sox saw him as the top pitcher in a very limited pool of pitchers who were willing to take a short-term contract. With their extra spending money, they decided it was worth the extra money to lock up a pitcher who wouldn't require a long-term deal.

Now that Dempster is on board, giving the Red Sox the reliable veteran arm they've been looking for, McAdam doesn't see the Sox doing anything flashy for the rest of the off-season unless something comes up on the trade market for Jacoby Ellsbury. McAdam says the return in an Ellsbury trade would need to be significant - along the lines of the Cliff Lee offer that floated around recently.

So what's left to do?

McAdam identifies a few depth options the Sox should address:
- A first baseman, preferably left-handed
- Someone who can push Jose Iglesias at shortstop
- One or two starting pitchers who offer depth - the kind of players who could be stashed at Triple-A until an injury pops up

A word of caution: This outlook for the remainder of the off-season is contingent on the Mike Napoli deal being completed. If that deal falls through, the Red Sox will have a lot more they need to accomplish before spring training starts.

With Andrews out, who's next man up for the Patriots at center?


With Andrews out, who's next man up for the Patriots at center?

Continuity along the offensive line was one of the reasons the Patriots were able to have the season they had in 2016. They tossed aside the early-season experiementation that Bill Belichick favored at times in order to establish a starting five that could be relied upon, if healthy, start to finish. 

They attacked 2017 with the same approach, but because of injury the consistency simply has not been the same. Both starting tackles, Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon, have missed time injured this season, and Cannon will sit out again on Sunday as he continues to deal with an ankle injury. 


The interior of the line has remained largely in place until this week when center David Andrews came down with an illness, missed two practices, and was ruled out. 

On a line where familiarity is key, where the center is the one making the calls, the one in constant communication with Tom Brady, what now?

The Patriots will likely turn to second-year man Ted Karras, who has the ability to play both guard spots and also backed up Andrews for the vast majority of training camp. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder was released at the end of camp, quickly signed to the Patriots practice squad, and then he re-signed to the active roster in Week 1 when Malcolm Mitchell was placed on injured reserve.

Karras, drafted in the sixth round in 2016 out of Illinois, was named a practice player of the week earlier this year and he earned some praise from Belichick before the Patriots took off for Mexico City.

"Ted works hard," Belichick said. "He loves football. He gets there early, stays late."

Belichick noted that Karras (nine snaps, all against the Broncos) hasn't played much this season, but he did see plenty of work early last season when he filled in for an injured Shaq Mason. He was the Week 1 starter at right guard in a win ver the Cardinals and he played 41 snaps in Week 2 against the Dolphins. 

The Patriots offensive line could also potentially turn to Joe Thuney at center. He's practiced there before and got some experience at the position during his time at NC State. This seems like the less likely move since the Patriots would then have to deal with two new players at different spots -- center and left guard (whether the player replacing Thuney would be Karras or rookie Cole Croston) -- which could have a domino effect on the rest of the line. 

However the Patriots choose to handle it, they'll face an interesting test south of the border. The Raiders feature a pair of talented pass-rushers in Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack, who Belichick says play all over the offensive line, yet Oakland is tied for last in the league in sacks. 


Bill Belichick takes time to admire yet another opposing punter


Bill Belichick takes time to admire yet another opposing punter

If the Patriots are about to go up against one of the more talented punters in the league, one way or another, you're bound to hear about it from Bill Belichick.

Sometimes Belichick will go into great detail on opposing punters in one of his weekly press conferences. Sometimes he'll go out of his way to highlight a punter during one of his "breakdowns" on 

He went the latter route this week, gushing over Raiders punter Marquette King.

"We usually don't have the punters on the highlights here, but King's a very athletic punter," Belichick said. "He runs a lot of fakes, a guy you have to really be conscious of as a both holder on field goals and punts on fakes."

King is the No. 2 punter in the league when it comes to net punting (45.5 yards), and he's tenth in the league in terms of the number of punts dropped inside the 20-yard line. 

"King is an athletic guy," Belichick reiterated, "and he can change field-position big time."

Add him to the list of big-legged punters -- "weapons," if you will -- Belichick has praised in the past.