Pretty good Wednesday. The Bruins closed out the Hurricanes, 2-1, to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Celtics spanked the Sixers, 128-101, to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. And the lowly Red Sox snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 6-3 win at home against the Phillies.
Some picked up pieces from three games in front of the flat screen . . .
▪ Mookie Betts. Now Xander Bogaerts? Say it ain’t so, Red Sox.
The estimable Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic floated the trade rumor this week, noting that the period between now and Aug. 31 represents Boston’s last chance to move Bogaerts without the shortstop’s approval. Bogaerts will reach seven years of service Sept. 6, which means he can veto any deal after this trading deadline passes.
Bogaerts is signed to a team-friendly six-year, $120 million contract, but has an opt-out after 2022. If things don’t improve on Jersey Street, abandoning the Red Sox might be an attractive alternative to any good player who’s still here in 2022.
Sox CEO Sam Kennedy and baseball boss Chaim Bloom say no Sox player is untouchable. Kennedy is quick to remind us of the Nomar Garciaparra bombshell from 2004.
Bloom faced the Zoom firing squad before Wednesday’s Red Sox-Phillies matinee and worked around the question carefully. He allowed that Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are core players, and said, “We’re hopeful they’re going to be part of our next championship,” but acknowledged, “To say that somebody is truly untouchable, you’re probably lying to yourself and lying to a player if you say that.
“I think you have to be realistic that in theory there could always be something that could happen with anybody. We’re not doing our jobs if we’re not going to be open to opportunities.”
I don’t think the Sox will trade Bogaerts, but nothing is off the table with these guys. Rosenthal is a solid reporter and the Sox are not above using national media sources to float trial balloons.
▪ Philly’s Joel Embiid looks exhausted as he tries to carry the Sixers all by himself against the Celtics. And Brett Brown is getting pantsed by Brad Stevens.
▪ Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal with 3.5 seconds remaining in the second period proved to be the game-winner in the Bruins’ series-clinching victory over the Hurricanes. Watching the goal over and over, all I could think of was Larry Bird. Bergeron was behind the net, but had the good sense to fire the puck into crease traffic and it ricocheted off goalie Petr Mrazek’s left skate and back into the net.
▪ Christian Vazquez’s remarkable lack of urgency gave the Phillies an extra first-inning run Wednesday. With the bases loaded and one out, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s throw home on a fly to center clearly beat Philadelphia base runner Rhys Hoskins, but Vazquez’s late and lazy tag put a run on the board for the visitors.
▪ Is Playoff Krejci anything like Playoff Rondo?
▪ Why does Nate Eovaldi get so much love from Red Sox Nation? Yes, he was great in that six-inning relief stint against the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. Yes, he throws 100 miler per hour and seems like a nice young man. But folks around here talk about him like he’s Don Drysdale when he’s been more like John Wasdin since the Sox acquired him two years ago.
I keep hearing that Eovaldi is the one sure thing in Boston’s minor league stable of starters. He is not.
Eovaldi is 47-56 lifetime. He is 6-6 over three seasons since he came to the Red Sox. In the sugar-high days after the 2018 World Series, the Sox gave Eovaldi a four-year, $68 million contract.
Since then, he is 3-3 with a 6.32 ERA. He is 30 years old and has had two major arm surgeries. He starts Thursday against the Orioles.
▪ Who needs Tuukka Rask?
▪ Alex Verdugo has plate skills perfectly suited for Fenway Park. He has a 10-game hitting streak and extra-base hits in seven straight. Looks like a young Yaz on the basepaths, which is not necessarily a good thing.
▪ Tzu-Wei Lin looks like he’s out to stop the US Postal crisis with his airmail throws from short.
▪ Hope the Bruins get the Tampa Bay Lightning in the next round. Boston’s penalty-free Game 7 vs. the Lightning in the 2011 conference finals remains one of the greatest hockey games ever played at the old or new Garden.
▪ Maybe J.D. Martinez misses J.T. Watkins.
▪ Thirty-five-year old LeBron James, who has already played four full seasons longer than Larry Bird, went for 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists in the Lakers’ first playoff game.
▪ Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer is wearing “Free Joe Kelly” shoes. Weird how Kelly — who played for the cheating Red Sox in 2017 and 2018, and who never has to get in the batter’s box — has become a hero for those who want revenge against the Houston Astros. Worthy cause. Wrong hero.
▪ I cannot get into a lather about Fernando Tatis Jr. hitting a grand slam on a 3-and-0 pitch, but it certainly provides ample programming for radio talkers who hate baseball.
▪ Who needs Gordon Hayward?
▪ Great day in Florida court for local Freedom Fighter Bob Kraft.
▪ Sorry to hear about the passing of Winchester legend Bob Bigelow at the age of 66. A 6-foot-7-inch forward, Bigelow starred at Penn, then was selected with the 13th overall pick by the Kansas City Kings in the 1975 NBA draft.
He played four NBA seasons, including four games with the 1977-78 Celtics.
In 2001, Bigelow published “Just Let The Kids Play — How to Stop Other Adults from Ruining Your Child’s Fun and Success in Youth Sports.‘'