Celtics

McAdam: Sox saving their money

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McAdam: Sox saving their money

Some 30 years ago, an oil filter company had a TV spot, the tag line to which was: "You can pay me now . . . or pay me later.''

If you put that choice to the Red Sox in 2012, they would opt for the latter.

Despite a report Tuesday which suggested that they were "closing in" on a short-term deal with free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda -- a report denied by multiple industry sources -- the Sox are not likely to spend much more on their payroll before the start of the regular season.

Look at the nature of their recent signings: Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook and Justin Germano. Each is a small move, with little in the way of guaranteed money on the major-league payroll.

With a rotation that boasts Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz and, for the time being, Daniel Bard, the Red Sox think they already have four quality starters.

To find a fifth, they're willing to have a spring competition between a handful of in-house candidates (Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, Alfredo Aceves) and some of the low-cost minor-league free agents added in the last 10 days (Silva, Cook, Germano).

If they're fortunate, one will emerge as the Red Sox' version of either Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia, two veterans who helped the New York Yankees last season when the Yanks were in a similar cost-conscious mode.

With some off-days in the mix, the Red Sox need to get 15 or so starts from a fifth starter by the All-Star break.

Should they spend their money now, the Sox will give themselves little flexibility to make any in-season moves.

As such, the Red Sox have posed this question: Is it more likely that A) we can find a suitable back-end starter now and not need help in July, or is it more likely we can B) cobble together some fifth-starter solution for the first half of the year then have some available resources should we need to re-assess and make a move at the deadline?

The answer, of course, is "B.''

If the All-Star break arrives and the team needs pitching reinforcements -- either because of injuries or performance issues or both -- the Sox will have some flexibility for the final two months of the season and beyond.

What's more, their chances of convincing ownership that the addition outlay of salary in July will be better then than it is now.

When you factor in upcoming salary increases through arbitration, the remainder of the 40-man roster and the cost of benefits, the Sox are already projected to be over the luxury tax threshold of 178 million.
Signing an expensive veteran such as Kuroda or Roy Oswalt now would send them well over that figure, with no guarantee that either pitcher would hold up physically.
If the Sox put some money aside, find some cheaper in-house solutions and remain in contention, they will give themselves additional options. Remember, taking on salary at the July 31 deadline means taking on almost exactly one-third of someone's yearly pay.

So, should, Silva, Miller and Cook get them through the first 3 12 months of the schedule, the Sox will have saved their financial bullets to allow them to make a bigger impact at the deadline.

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

Kyrie Irving: Sitting out with shoulder injury 'just precautionary'

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving has long since understood the balancing act he must walk between embracing the moment while being mindful of the big picture. 

That’s why the decision to sit out Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia was one that, while certainly didn’t do Boston any favors against the Sixers on Thursday, it does provide him some much-needed downtime to rest his sore left shoulder.

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The good news is that tests taken on the shoulder show no structural damage. And with the way the schedule is shaping up now, Irving will have plenty of time to rest and be ready to play when the Celtics return to the floor on Sunday to host the Orlando Magic. 

“Just precautionary stuff, making sure everything's alright from a strength perspective,” was how Irving described the injury. “Obviously a few days will put me where I need to be. And we'll just see what goes on for Sunday's game, but you know it's nothing too crazy, just giving me a little discomfort over the last few weeks and I've just been playing through it doing what's best in terms of preparing best for every single game. I thought it was best just to get a few tests and make sure everything's alright so, everything's cool.”

Irving said the tests came back negative which is a huge positive for the Celtics and Irving who was selected as an NBA all-star starter for next month’s game. 

As far as how it happened, Irving said there was no specific event or play in which he suffered a blow to the shoulder or anything like that. 

“Gradual soreness” is how Irving described the injury.  “You know, kinda going into my shot, driving left, just not feeling as confident as I would like to be and just thought it would be best just to take a day or two to get it evaluated, meet with our medical staff, meet with our strength conditioning coach and strengthen it up and then hopefully go on Sunday.”

The Celtics (34-12) have now lost two of the three games they played this season without Irving. It is a small sample size, but there’s no denying the impact that a healthy Irving has on this roster when it comes to impacting winning. 

“First off, I just had to make sure some of the major parts of my shoulder just weren't damaged,” said Irving who added, “And then at this point it's just a strength program and doing what's best with that.” 

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Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

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Bruins take down Islanders, extend point streak to 15 games

GOLD STAR: Who else but Patrice Bergeron? The Bruins center finishes with three goals and his second hat trick in a span of six games, and now has 11 goals scored in his last 11 games during a wicked goal-scoring spree. Bergeron clearly wasn’t just about the goals as he also finished with four shots on net and won 12-of-18 face-offs in his 15:39 of ice time, but it’s amazing how he’s been able to get into so many great scoring positions while always facing the other team’s best defensive players. It speaks to just how good he is when he gets those chances in the slot, and how good both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are at getting the puck to him in the spots where he can do his offensive damage. Bergeron now has 19 goals on the season and continues to roll out some serious offensive numbers for a Bruins team that’s just destroying their opponents. Bergeron is the first Bruins player to score two hat tricks in the span of six games since Rick Tocchet did it in five games back in 1996 for the Black and Gold.  

BLACK EYE: The Barclays Center shouldn’t be housing NHL hockey games, and thankfully won’t be in the near future when the Isles move out of Brooklyn. That being said, it had to demoralize whatever fans have made the move to Brooklyn to see so many Bruins hats get tossed on the ice from Boston fans after Bergeron scored his third goal of the game. The Islanders games have always felt like de facto home games for the Black and Gold given the huge contingent of B’s fans that make the trip to New York for these games. But it’s all the more of a gut punch when it turns into those road warrior Bruins fans loudly and animatedly celebrating goals, wins and hat tricks in front of the Islanders players and coaches. That’s a tough spot for them to be in during what’s supposed to be a strong home ice presence, but that’s life at a Barclays Center that makes me pine for Nassau Coliseum. 

TURNING POINT: The Bruins gave up the first goal of the game on a bad Brandon Carlo turnover in the D-zone, and it could have gone against them in the second night of a back-to-back on the road. But the Bruins dug in, reversed the momentum and instead found the Bergeron line to lead the way with their first goal scored in the game. After that they just continued to pour on the hard work, the offense and the Bergeron goals as he scored three overall and the Bruins rode the momentum wave into five goals and a strong finish in the third period. In two straight games the Bruins have given up the first goal, and it doesn’t even cause them to bat an eyelash. 

HONORABLE MENTION: On the second  night of a back-to-back game Zdeno Chara logged 25:32 of ice time, blocked four shots including a couple during a penalty kill that left him shaking his right hand in pain on the bench and threw three hits while holding the high-powered Islanders to just a couple of goals in the game. It wasn’t a particularly dazzling night of work for the 6-foot-9 defenseman, but the Isles really had limited offensive looks thanks to Chara playing big, strong and powerful in the defensive zone. The big ice time number is perhaps most impressive of all coming after Chara also played a big role in Boston’s win over the Habs at the Garden on Wednesday night. We’re still a long way away from Chara proving he can do this kind of thing night after night in the playoffs as a 40-year-old, but he showed a little something on Thursday night. 

BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – the number of consecutive games with a point for the Bruins as they’ve posted an 11-0-4 record over those games, and matched a 15-game point streak from the 2011-12 season in the year after they won the Cup. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I like the way we closed out the game in the third period. In a back-to-back there were issues at the beginning and ending of the game, and we fought through it and didn’t let the game get away from us. In the third period in their building they were going to make a push, and I thought we were really, really good in terms of generating the offense and keeping the puck away from the front of the net. I was proud of the guys for that. That was a good, strong finish.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN postgame about what we liked most in the 5-2 win over the Isles. 

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