Inevitably, the Patriots have ripped off the band-aid at last and released third-year wideout Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell missed all of the 2017-18 season with a knee ailment, missing most of New England’s practices this offseason as well, never being able to fully practice with his teammates.
Mitchell’s knee woes were an issue for him in college, too, thus why a player of his caliber dropped all the way to the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He originally tore his ACL in 2013 at Georgia and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his knee just before the start of the 2014 season. Soon enough, these issues arose again in a Patriots uniform, starting off by him missing the regular season finale against Miami in his rookie year and also the divisional round game against Houston in those playoffs. Then, following Super Bowl 51 in August, he suffered yet another knee injury in the preseason that landed him on Injured Reserve, essentially never to be seen again.
He wasn’t able to fully participate in OTAs and training camp this year with the rest of the team, working with trainers and doing his own thing to lighten the load on his knee. On July 23rd, it was reported that Mitchell underwent a non-surgical procedure to scope out what was going on with his knee. Time had finally run its course and New England released him on August 6th. On July 30th, Bill Belichick even called Mitchell “day-to-day” when meeting with the media after practice. That day never came.
One thing to note, though, the Patriots did not waive Malcolm Mitchell with an injury designation when they released him. This essentially means that he passed a physical. If he clears waivers, he will not end up on New England’s IR and will instead become a free agent. So, Mitchell is physically able to step foot on a football field, his time with the Patriots is simply up. That’s life.
Mitchell’s rookie season was quite the memorable one. It all began in the first preseason game of 2016. You may remember that he dislocated his elbow (I will spare you from the photograph because we do not need to go down that road again), and he only missed the standard four weeks, back just in time for the regular season opener against Arizona. We all collectively knew that he was something special when he basically magically recovered from a *dislocated* *elbow*.
Mitchell racked in 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season, most of that production coming in the second half of the season, when it mattered most, of course. He scored all four of his touchdowns in the final six games of the regular season. The most important game of his short career came on none other than February 5th, 2017 against the Atlanta Falcons. As I mentioned earlier, Mitchell missed the regular season finale and the first game of the playoffs due to his knee injury, so prior to the Super Bowl, he had only played in the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh. I recall not expecting him to have a role in the biggest game of the season after he only caught one pass just two weeks before.
Well, Mitchell went down in New England Patriots lore that magical night. In just one quarter, he caught five passes for 63 yards, totaling six receptions for 70 yards at the end of the evening. Mitchell had a string of highly important plays that lead to big things in crunch time. He first accounted for 40 yards over a five-snap span to set up Gostkowski’s field goal. Again, Mitchell was there on New England’s next drive, moving the chains on a third-and-11, which eventually led to a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola and a James White two-point conversion. The final pass he caught from Tom Brady came with 2:34 left in regulation. Mitchell got tripped up by his own feet on the route, but eventually set himself up just in time to catch Brady’s pass for 11 yards, reaching and turning up the left sideline, when the Patriots needed 10 yards. The rest is history.
To put a long story short, there’s no way in hell New England makes that comeback and wins without Malcolm Mitchell. He came up big in not only the regular season, but in the second half of the season and in the most important and biggest game on the biggest stage in all of sports. He was clutch. No wonder why he fit in so well in Foxborough.
All of his teammates and coaches, even Tom Brady, had and have extremely high praise for the player. At the start of this year’s training camp, safety Devin McCourty had this to say about Mitchell:
“That’s my guy. Younger guy that obviously you see a lot of him working his butt off trying to get back out there. It’s just sometimes he’s kind of battled through injuries and being out there. But he’s been a good player when he’s been out there, very effective for us. I think the good thing about him is his spirits are always high. He’s always continuing to work like he’s not discouraged at all. He continues to put in the work and try to get out there to do what he has to do. So, keep encouraging him, keep him going. But if you guys have talked to Malcolm, you can tell he’s got a good head on his shoulders and knows what he’s doing.”
Head coach Bill Belichick said of Mitchell:
“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out, but I don’t know how he could have put any more into it than he did.’’
One of my favorite quotes came from Tom Brady. This one came just days after Super Bowl 51 when he sat down with Sports Illustrated, offering insight into the player and his work ethic:
“ Malcolm has done a great job all season long, really driving off the ball and then creating separation when he plants. I think he had earned that trust of everybody based on the route that was called and the coverage that we were getting, so he wasn’t a guy that you are going to have out there that say ‘look, everything, in the world tells you to throw it here but don’t throw it because he can’t come up with a play in those spots’, and everybody had confidence to put Malcolm in those spots if he got it so, you know, he proved everybody right because he came up with the plays.”
I absolutely love that quote; I mean, you hear Brady singing praise daily in regards to his receivers and teammates in general, but nothing like that. The way he talks about him feels unique to me, it feels passionate.
Malcolm Mitchell is yet another example of how ruthless life as an NFL player can be. You take a risk when you put on pads and step foot onto the field every single day, and sometimes that risk can be fatal to your body and your career. Injuries are inevitable in every single sport, but few are as catastrophic as they are in professional football. Mitchell is unfortunately a prime example of that. He had a stellar career at Georgia, slipped to an organization like the Patriots and quickly became a fan favorite simply by putting the work in both mentally and physically. He was, dare I say, a perfect Patriot. He at least had everything it took to be a perfect Patriot. His attitude, dedication, speed, you name it.
He went from a star on the rise to an ex-Patriot in virtually one season. Yet another “what if” to add to the list. He had potential and hell, he still does. I hope he can make a full recovery down the road and make a name for himself and become an impact player on a good team. He doesn’t come off as a person who will give up no matter what life throws at him; I fully expect him to do everything in his power to make that happen.
As much as myself and every other Patriots fan on the planet would have loved to keep him, the team simply could not continue playing the waiting game with him any longer. He had missed an entire season, spilling into this offseason, unable to practice with everyone else. The Patriots need guys who can actually play, as does any team at any level especially as we’re in the month of August now with preseason games about to start, not to mention the lack of receiver depth on the team as is. It’s a brutal reality but, nonetheless, the kid has a place in everyone’s little Patriots fan hearts forever. The kid was flashy, quick, smart, athletic, dedicated to his craft, an overall joy to watch and, once again, helped bring home that fifth trophy. There’s not much more you could ask for from a guy who’s been pushing through gruesome knee injuries his entire professional career.
The Celtics have agreed to sign 6 ft., 7 inch combo guard P.J. Dozier to a two-way contract for the 2018-19 NBA season. Many of you are probably unfamiliar with this name, as Dozier has yet to make his mark at the highest level.
P.J. Dozier is a former five star recruit and McDonald’s All American, who committed to play for Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2015. Being a South Carolina fan myself, I have had the privilege of watching Dozier in his two years as a member of the Garnet and Black. During his tenure in college, Dozier came in with high expectations and struggled with his jump shot. He was seen as a big point guard, who had great play-making skills. He could get to the rim with ease and find his teammates all over the floor. With a 7 ft. wingspan, Dozier was an elite defender and helped South Carolina to their first Final Four in school history. After the 2017 Final Four run, many expected Dozier to stay for his junior year. He did not do that and ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers as an undrafted free agent. Obviously, someone got into Dozier‘s head and told him that he would’ve been drafted. Dozier averaged 14.6/2.9/4.7/1.9 in his 2017 Sophomore campaign. The biggest improvement he made was his three point shot, which went up to 39.4% from 21.3% in his Freshman season.
Last year as a 21 year old, Dozier played in 43 games with the Thunder affiliate G League team, where he averaged 12.9/5.6/2.7/1.3.
Overall, I think this is a talented player, who is definitely worthy of a two-way roster spot. This isn’t some journeyman player who is on his age 29 season. I think he has the upside of becoming a quality backup point guard in the NBA. The biggest obstacle is whether or not Dozier can find a consistent jump-shot. We’ll see if Brad Stevens can help this young man grow into the player he is capable of becoming.
Here is a clip of Dozier in the G League Last year.
And of course I’m going to drop a clip of his South Carolina highlights
Last night, after a thrilling extra inning game in which David Price looked like the David Price of old, Dave Dombrowski was able to complete a trade for All Star gold glover Ian Kinsler. Kinsler, 36, will be a free agent at the end of the season but provides excellent insurance as a sure-handed infielder that can also swing the bat a little bit. For the season, Kinsler is hitting .239 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI, but he has really started to turn it on as of late. According to Boston Sports Inf., since July 13, Kinsler has a slash line of .395/.480/.651/1.131 with two home runs, six RBI, and seven extra base hits.
In return for Kinsler, the Angels received minor league RHP Ty Buttrey and minor league LHP Williams Jerez. Furthermore, the two sides decided to split the remainder of Kinsler's contract, which will come out to roughly $1.83 million for each side. This could help the Red Sox in regard to staying under that $237 million luxury tax threshold, but we will see how that turns out. As always, these moves come down to the price. The Red Sox gave up two prospects that were not highly ranked in a very poor farm system, meaning they have a very outside shot of ever sniffing a major league roster.
Buttrey is a 25-year-old reliever that is currently lurking in Triple-A. He was ranked as the #19 prospect in the Red Sox system. For the 2018 season, he had a 2.25 ERA, and a 1.136 WHIP with an impressive 13.1 K/9, a 2.9 BB/9 and a 7.4 H/9. These are almost all career numbers, which means the Red Sox chose to sell high on a guy that they do not believe in. For his career, Buttrey has an ERA close to 4 and almost half the number of strikeouts per nine. Even lower on the rankings is Jerez. Previously ranked as the #23 prospect in the system, Jerez is a 26-year-old left handed reliever that is having a season that is pretty comparable to what he has done for his entire career. For the 2018 season, Jerez has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.383 WHIP with a 11.7 K/9, a 4.2 BB/9, and a 8.2 H/9. In short, the Red Sox gave up essentially nothing.
To me, this move signals a growing concern with the fearless little leader, Dustin Pedroia. In a whopping 11 at-bats this season, Pedroia is hitting .091 and does not look to be returning anytime soon from that lingering knee injury. The Red Sox have been pretty quiet on the status of Pedroia, but, at least in my opinion, this move tells me that they do not expect him to come back this season. There is a lot of concern, at least from me, that he will never come back, but that is another article for another day. Kinsler is a great defender at second base, just like Pedroia, has his moments offensively, like Pedroia, but can actually stay on the field to be a contributing member of a ball club.
Outside of the impact that this move has on Pedroia, it is also a move that can help this team immediately. With Rafael Devers going on the Disabled List with a hamstring issue, Eduardo Nunez can flip over to third base, where he is more comfortable, and Kinsler can play a much better second base from a defensive perspective. This also allows the Red Sox to not play Brock Holt as much, who can be exposed if he plays everyday.
All in all, I think this is a fantastic move for the Red Sox. They gave up essentially nothing for a player that still has a lot in the tank and can help this team towards their ultimate goal. It is clear that the Red Sox are making moves that will help them right now, which signals to me that they should still be in the market for a reliever. Unfortunately, Dombrowski said that he would not be surprised if the Red Sox do not make another move, which would be a huge mistake.
Check back in with BBS all day as we continue to give you coverage of the MLB Trade Deadline!
Minutes ago, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays completed a trade for starter Nathan Eovaldi. In exchange for Eovaldi, the Red Sox gave up Jalen Beeks. While Beeks has had spots in which he came up to the big league club, he has been an international league pitcher this year, throwing 87.1 innings, where he struck out 117 batters. Don't let these numbers fool you, however. I do not see Beeks making a serious impact on a team like the Red Sox anytime soon. He will not get an opportunity to pitch at the highest level of this sport with the Rays.
While Eovaldi has had some elbow issues in the past, he is still a very solid pitcher and I am surprised the Red Sox were able to get him for essentially nothing. The 28-year-old righty has a 4.26 ERA and was lit up for eight runs against the Twins on July 13, but has allowed a total of 3 runs in his other 4 starts since June 26.
I like this move a lot. Probably more than I should, to be honest. Eovaldi is not going to be the next Roger Clemens but he is an extremely solid back-end guy that can help this team eat up innings.
This move makes a ton of sense for the Red Sox. They do not have a lot of depth in their starting rotation and should have been very concerned after seeing what Drew Pomeranz gave them last night in his first start back since going down with yet another injury. Simply put, the Red Sox could not afford to have both Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez making multiple starts for this team. Furthermore, I really like the idea of the Red Sox getting another right handed starter. Outside of Rick Porcello, the Red Sox have primarily used left handed pitchers for the majority of their starts this year. Against a team like the Yankees, where most, if not all, of their deadly hitters are right handed, it is important to mix it up against them and play the matchup game.
The Red Sox clearly still have moves to make. After the Yankees acquired Zach Britton last night, it became clear that the Red Sox needed to go out and get another reliever. They simply do not have the arms in their bullpen to win a World Series. Don't believe me? Look at what Joe Kelly has done in recent weeks. With that being said, by making this move, the Red Sox could essentially have two arms moved to the bullpen. They saved their better prospects in order to make that move for a good, if not great, reliever, while also perhaps adding Pomeranz to that same bullpen. In his short appearances in the bullpen, Pomeranz has been much better than he has been as a starter.
Be sure to tune back in to BiasedBostonSports.com as we continue to monitor the MLB Trade Deadline. Next up, we will highlight what type of relievers the Red Sox may be interested in and how it could impact the team this offseason.
As we approach the Trade Deadline, it is clear that the top dogs in the American League are all looking to improve. The Cleveland Indians have already made their moves, choosing to jump into the market early in hopes of not overpaying. They were able to strike a deal with the San Diego Padres for All Star closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber in exchange for top catching prospect Francisco Mejia. This may have been a slight overpayment, given that Mejia was Cleveland's best prospect, but Hand has been one of the best closers this season and has multiple years of control moving forward. Cimber is no slouch either and the Indians desperately needed some help in their bullpen with Andrew Miller injured and Cody Allen struggling mightily.
Looking at the two other top teams in the American League, it is clear what the Astros and Yankees are after: Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. The Yankees are looking to get both a starter and a reliever, and rightfully so. Luis Severino has been awesome this season, although he has given up 11 runs in his past 10 innings (two starts) of work. Severino currently has a 2.63 ERA and just narrowly missed starting the All Star Game for the American League. After Severino, however, the Yankees are swimming in some murky water. CC Sabathia has had his check engine light on for a couple seasons now, Sonny Gray has underperformed since being acquired from the Oakland Athletics, and Masahiro Tanaka is a huge unknown. In my opinion, Tanaka is the wild card here. I do not think you can rely on Gray to be anything more than a #3 starter, but Tanaka could be an ace if his head is on straight. Unfortunately for the Yankees, given that this team has championship aspirations, they cannot wait to see what will happen. With one of the best farm systems in baseball, the Yankees need to act quickly in order to keep pace with the Red Sox.
Furthermore, the Yankees will also need to be in the market for a reliever. One would think that Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, David Robertson, and Dellin Betances would be enough, but it is clear that it is not. Chapman has been stellar this season, pitching to a 2.03 ERA with 26 saves in 40 innings, and the rest of the bullpen has not been that bad, either. Green and Betances boast ERAs under 3, with Robertson being just over at 3.05. One would think that would be good enough, but reports indicate that the Yankees are interested in Baltimore's lefty reliever Zach Britton. I am not sure if this is just the Yankees doing their duty in scouting a guy with Britton's caliber or perhaps they are trying to replace Tommy Kahnle, who was optioned to Triple-A after amassing a 7.00 ERA in the beginning of the season.
The other top team most mentioned in a deal for Britton is none other than the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. While the Astros have a 66-36 record, which is good enough for first place in the American League West by five games over the Seattle Mariners, they also have some issues at the back-end of their bullpen. After a confrontation with skipper AJ Hinch, as well as a poor season, the Astros decided to demote Ken Giles to Triple-A and roll essentially without a closer. Giles had a 4.99 ERA before heading to Albuquerque, but I doubt he is back in Houston anytime soon after showing up his manager. If the Astros are smart, they will move Giles to another team. Given what we know about this team, it is clear that Britton would look very good in an Astros uniform and they have the pieces in their farm system to make it happen. With three starting pitchers with an ERA under 3, the starting rotation is fine and their lineup is not going to change. If the Astros want to get back to the World Series and get past the best teams in the American League, they need a pitcher to come in for the ninth inning in a close ballgame and shut the opposing team down. If they can get Britton, watch out.
Now, lets get to the moment you have all been waiting for; it is time to talk about the Boston Red Sox. Sitting at 71-31, the Boston Red Sox are currently 40 games over .500 for the first time since 1949. They have the best record in all of baseball and have put some space in between them and the New York Yankees, who are now a surprising six games back in the American League East. For the Red Sox, the level of competition has been poor and they have simply won the games that they should be winning at an alarmingly steady rate. Chris Sale has been perhaps the best pitcher in the American League this season, boasting a 2.13 ERA with an incredible 197 strikeouts in 135 innings. JD Martinez and Mookie Betts have become serious MVP candidates, while Craig Kimbrel has been a little off with his command, but is still having a stellar season. So what do the Red Sox really need to do looking at the Trade Deadline coming in a couple weeks?
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. It feels like I already used that before? See, and that is where the problem lies. Teams like the Yankees, Astros, and even the Indians, although I don't think they will be much of an issue on the trade market for the Red Sox, have farm systems that will blow Boston's out of the water. Don't believe me? Lets get a concrete example: Zach Britton. This guy is being coveted by three of the top four teams in the American League. To be perfectly honest, one of these three teams is probably going to win the World Series. Almost instantly, the Red Sox are going to be decimated in any type of deal that involves Britton, taking away the fact that the Yankees and Astros can offer much more with less organizational shock because of their sheer depth. If the Red Sox deal for Britton, that is the only move they are making. They aren't getting a starter or another bat, they are getting a very good reliever and that is it.
Specifically with Britton, there is some legitimate hesitation to trade significant farm pieces if you're the Red Sox for a guy that could walk at the end of the season. The Red Sox are in a difficult position because they are a team that needs to win right now. They have a lot of guys that will be in for a huge payday in the next couple of seasons, so the time to win a World Series is now. Should the Red Sox do whatever it takes to get the necessary pieces to win? I would say so, but many would disagree with me.
As currently constituted, I do not think this team is good enough to win a championship. The Red Sox need another starter that can give the team innings. Whether that be Drew Pomeranz or Steven Wright, I need more of them and less of Brian Johnson. Furthermore, like I hinted at before with Boston's interest in Britton, they need another legitimate eighth inning guy to complement Kimbrel. Tyler Thornburg, Matt Barnes, and Joe Kelly simply do not have my trust yet.
It will be an interesting couple of weeks, as we see how these World Series contenders approach the Trade Deadline. As always, tune in to BiasedBostonSports.com for the most up to date Red Sox moves!