Author Archives: PeterSanto29

Tiger Woods Inks Equipment Deal with TaylorMade Golf

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Nike Golf made one of the biggest headlines in 2016 when they announced that they would no longer make golf clubs and balls, therefore making two of the game’s biggest stars free agents.

After Rory Mcilroy announced last week he was going to play Callaway woods and irons at the start of 2017, Tiger Woods has also changed equipment, signing a deal with TaylorMade Golf.

Woods has not purchased a majority stake in the company, as was initially reported. Woods has instead inked a deal to play TaylorMade woods, irons, and wedges.

Woods will make his 2017 PGA Tour debut in the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday alongside Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. Pretty good for TaylorMade to have their top three athletes playing together.

The equipment contract is not for the full bag. Woods will continue using the Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter that won 13 majors and Bridgestone B330S golf ball. His bag will feature Monster Energy logos while his apparel will remain branded with Nike and his TW brand.

While Woods has a 13 club contract, he will not use TaylorMade irons and wedges this week.

“For irons and wedges, I’m going to work closely with the team at TaylorMade,” Tiger said in an email distributed by TaylorMade. “For my irons, we will be developing a new custom set. Over the coming months, we will take you along the development journey, from the initial design concepts all the way through the process until they make it into my bag. Finally, the new MG Wedge is absolutely beautiful, and we’re working to dial in the exact grind for me. There’s no doubt it’s fun to have some new weapons, and the confidence I have in my new TaylorMade equipment makes me excited for the season.” (quote taken from Golfwrx.com)

Full specs on Tiger’s new woods (also from golfwrx.com):

Driver: TaylorMade 2016 M2 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 70TX
Specs: 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight

3 Wood: TaylorMade 2017 M2 Tour (13 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 90TX
Specs: 42.5 inches, D4 swing weight

5 Wood: TaylorMade 2017 M1 Tour (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Pro White 90TX
Specs: 41.5 inches, D4 swing weight

Australian Open Madness: Federer Survives, Kerber and Murray Exit

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

The middle weekend is typically one of the most exciting parts of grand slams, and day 7 of the 2017 Australian Open was no different.

Roger Federer’s round of 16 match against Kei Nishikori marked the Swiss’ second straight huge test. The 35 year old followed up a straight set romp of No. 10 Tomas Berdych by winning a five set battle over No. 5 Nishikori 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.

Entering the tournament as the number 17 seed following a long layoff due to a knee injury, Federer was going to face a much tougher draw this year. But the greatest player of all time didn’t let it faze him, turning in a vintage performance to reach the quarterfinals.

Up next for Federer will be Mischa Zverev, who advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating No. 1 seed Andy Murray. Zverev set tennis back about 30 years in his victory, controlling the net by playing a whopping 119 serve and volley points.

Coming forward is the way to beat a baseliner like Murray, who will outlast everyone from the back of the court. But in modern tennis, not a lot of players had the confidence to keep coming forward. Zverev did, and it paid huge dividends.

Serve and volley is never taught anymore, modern players very rarely approach the net. Zverev brought back serve and volley as a viable strategy, and got the biggest win of his career.

The United States is continually searching for the heir to the Williams’ sisters throne. There is certainly no shortage of promising young players, but no one has emerged as the next Williams.

Saturday night it was big hitting Coco Vandeweghe who took center stage, using her massive groundstrokes to essentially blow Angelique Kerber off the court. Kerber has used finesse and precision to rise to number one in the world, but it was pure power that knocked her out of the Australian Open.

The exit of the top seeds on both the men’s and women’s sides certainly opens up the draw for the field, and time will tell if an aging great like Federer or Nadal or Serena will emerge, or possibly an upstart like Zverev.

The Red Sox Traded Clay Buchholz for Nothing

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

The Red Sox traded Clay Buchholz to the Philadelphia Phillies today in exchange for second base prospect Josh Tobias, so basically nothing.

I understand why the Red Sox made this deal, it was essentially a salary dump to avoid luxury tax penalties. With the addition of Chris Sale, Buchholz and his $13.5 million salary became expendable. Sox fans were hoping that Buchholz’s excellent second half would help net something in return, but in the end this was just a salary dump.

Though I understand it, I don’t love this deal, you’re the Red Sox, you’re supposed to have one of the highest payrolls, you’re trying to win games, I don’t care if you have to go into the luxury tax to win, that’s what it takes sometimes.

Buchholz has proven over the years that he can be at least an average starter when healthy, and has shown flashes of brilliance plenty of times. I know he was essentially your sixth or even seventh starter, but every year someone gets hurt and you need another starter. Sean O’Sullivan started games last year for Boston, I’d rather have Buchholz pitching then Sean O’Sullivan.

Additionally, Buchholz was excellent out of the bullpen last season, and could’ve contributed out of the pen again in 2017.

I know everyone in Boston hates Buchholz, he never lived up to his potential and was considered soft, which we hate. But I don’t hate Buchholz, sure he aggravates me at times, but him and Jon Lester were two of the Red Sox’ best homegrown pitchers in the last 15 years.

Clay was injury prone, but never soft. In fact, in the 2013 World Series he took the mound on the road with a dead arm, he couldn’t even hit 90 on the gun, and gave you 4 innings of one run ball in a game you had to have down 2-1 to St. Louis. He even set he would’ve taken the mound in a potential game 7 if called upon. That’s not soft, that takes guts.

I knew this would happen once the Red Sox landed Chris Sale, that Buchholz would be traded to a National League team for nothing. Buchholz will be in a good situation in Philadelphia, he will be the veteran in a very young up and coming pitching staff and will go against weaker lineups in the NL.

I predict Buchholz wins at least 12 games for the Phillies next season. I think this could be a move the Red Sox later regret.

Farewell, Claydro.

Sorry Washington, Kirk Cousins is a Mediocre Quarterback

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

The Washington Redskins thought they had found their QB of the future when they drafted Robert Griffin III 2nd overall in 2012, little did they know their actual future quarterback, Kirk Cousins, would be drafted three rounds later.

Cousins is a decent NFL quarterback, he would be a starter on a lot of teams, but he’s going to get a Brock Osweiler type deal (probably more honestly) from someone, probably the Redskins, this offseason. He’s just not worth it, and last night showed why.

Cousins is one of the highest paid quarterbacks in football this season by virtue of his $19.9 million franchise tag, and contract negotiations have begun with figures around the $24 million mark. That would make Cousins the third highest paid quarterback in football behind Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. Does anyone think Cousins is the third best quarterback in football?

It’s pretty simple, good quarterbacks put up numbers, great quarterbacks win games. Cousins has put up great numbers this season, he’s thrown for 4,350 yards (Second in NFL) with 23 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions.

But when his team needed him most, he couldn’t even beat the lowly Carolina Panthers. This was Kirk Cousin’s chance to prove himself, a must win home game in primetime against a bad team, and he couldn’t do it. Cam Newton wasn’t spectacular, but he did enough to win the game, that’s what great quarterbacks do.

The numbers were decent last night for Cousins, as they usually are, 32-47 for 315 yards, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass and the Redskins lost 26-15.

A loss to the 6-8 mess that is the 2016 Carolina Panthers is just unacceptable for a team in the thick of the playoff race, and unacceptable for a quarterback trying to take that next step.

Cousins is going to get paid, there simply isn’t a better option, but he hasn’t showed me anything to make him deserving, he’s going to get paid by default. Cousins strikes me as another Matt Stafford, a good quarterback with a big arm who has no chance to win anything ever.

Lions fans will argue about all the comebacks Stafford has made in his career, how he’s an excellent fourth quarter quarterback, but Stafford couldn’t even win a playoff game with the best wide receiver of this generation.

Cousins has weapons, DeSean Jackson can still get it done and Jordan Reed is an excellent tight end when healthy, but you need intangibles to win in the NFL Playoffs, and Cousins just doesn’t have it.

Redskins fans go ahead and argue with me, but Kirk Cousins is simply mediocre, and he proved it last night.

Patriots Survive a Wild One in Primetime

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Well a win is a win I guess. The Patriots defeated the Ravens 30-23 on Monday night, but this one should’ve been a blowout. New England came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, special teams and defense led to an early safety, and Tom Brady and the offense was rolling.

Mr. Checkdown Joe Flacco refused to throw the ball more than ten yards downfield in the first half as the Patriots cruised to a 16-3 halftime lead. It should’ve been about 30-3 at halftime, but referee Ed Hochuli took away a Trey Flowers strip sack and a Devin McCourty INT return.

But it all came unraveled for New England when Cyrus Jones muffed a punt which led to a Ravens’ score, followed by Matthew Slater fumbling the ensuing kickoff leading to yet another Baltimore touchdown.

Just when it looked like it was going to be a New England blowout, Flacco had his troops ready to upset Brady and Belichick again.

But that’s why Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings and Flacco has been stuck on neutral ever since his one Super Bowl. Brady looked off one of the best safeties in the league in Eric Weddle and found Chris Hogan down the seam for the dagger touchdown, putting the Patriots up 30-20 with 6 minutes left.

This was a big win for the Patriots, you expect Brady and Belichick to win games at home against decent quarterbacks in December, and that’s what they did. They’ve yet to show me that this team is Super Bowl caliber, there are lots of issues to address, but there’s still time.

There were lots of positives from this game, Brady was flawless apart from one play. When Brady found Martellus Bennett on a fade route in the end zone on the first possession of the second half the game appeared over at 23-3. The Patriots were blowing out a good team in primetime.

But the special teams issues were paramount, and for New England it starts with Cyrus Jones. Jones had a rough night, not just returning punts, but he also let up a long pass to Breshad Perriman. He was replaced in coverage by Jonathan Jones, an undrafted rookie out of Auburn, and Jones looked better in limited action.

There were people on Twitter calling for Cyrus Jones to be cut last night, and that’s crazy. The Patriots aren’t going to give up on their second round pick just yet. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve probably seen the last of Cyrus Jones returning punts this season, but Belichick can still use him in coverage.

It was a big win, but this team still has a long way to go.

 

 

 

Is the Sale Trade Part of a Troubling Trend?

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Dave Dombrowski is the most aggressive executive in Major League Baseball that is for certain. When Dombrowski became the Red Sox President of Baseball Operations on August 18, 2015 he inherited a last place team, but one with a budding farm system thanks to 15 years of building by former GMs Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington.

Now here we are on December 8, 2016, and almost all of that farm system has been torn down. 15 years of drafting and building traded away in less than 18 months.

Red Sox fans, myself included, will love the Chris Sale trade, as they should. Sale has been the best pitcher in baseball not named Clayton Kershaw over the past five seasons. He’s a stud.

But there’s another side to this equation, to get Sale the Red Sox had to part ways with their two best prospects, Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

In the last 18 months, Dombrowski has traded Moncada, Kopech, Anderson Espinoza, Travis Shaw, Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, Pat Light, Mauricio Dubon, the Basabe brothers, Victor Diaz, Wendell Rijo, and others I’m probably forgetting to acquire Sale, Kimbrel, Brad Ziegler, Aaron Hill, Drew Pomeranz, and Fernando Abad.

I can defend the Sale deal, I have to defend the Sale deal. You got a stud pitcher who’s pitching for about a third of what he’s worth salary wise. Additionally, Moncada looked lost in his brief stint in the Big Leagues in 2016, he was terrible in the field and couldn’t hit a curveball to save his life. No problem moving him.

But trading Anderson Espinoza, a guy the best pitcher in Red Sox history Pedro Martinez compared to himself, for Drew Pomeranz. I can’t defend that one. Even the Padres knew they were stealing Espinoza or they wouldn’t have hid Pomeranz’s medical records and gotten their GM suspended. I don’t know what’s worse, Dombrowski making the trade or Dombrowski not reversing the trade when he had the chance.

You traded one of your best pitching prospects for a guy who had a fluke three months who is now likely on his way to the bullpen or out of town. Dombrowski certainly won’t be getting Espinoza back for Pomeranz now.

I even have a hard time defending the Kimbrel trade. Kimbrel was one of the best closers in the game when he was traded from San Diego to Boston in exchange for four minor leaguers. Given how frequently stud closers emerge from out of nowhere (see Koji Uehara), did you really need to give up four of your best prospects for Kimbrel? Let’s hope that Kimbrel’s poor performance in 2016 was due to that knee injury and that a healthy Kimbrel will mean a dominant Kimbrel in 2017.

It’s okay to trade prospects for proven stars, that’s part of the reason you develop prospects in the first place. One can argue the Cherington regime went too far the other way, refusing to trade Blake Swihart for Cole Hamels for example.

But trading solid prospects for guys like Brad Ziegler, Aaron Hill, and Fernando Abad. Fernando is abad pitcher. That move was ridiculous.

Of course everything I’m saying will be rendered moot if you win a World Series before Dombrowski inevitably leaves in the next five years or so. But if you don’t, guess what, then you’re the Tigers, and you don’t want to be the Tigers.

Dombrowski did the same thing when he arrived in Detroit. He took one of the worst teams baseball had ever seen in 2004, a team that lost 119 (!!!) games, and had them in the World Series two years later.

Just like his Red Sox tenure so far, there were highlights. The lopsided trades for Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer stick out. They went for it every single year, reaching the ALCS three straight years from 2011-13, but never won a championship. But what looked like a team poised to make a run each and every year is a shell of its former self now. Scherzer left as a free agent and Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Victor Martinez are now in their mid 30s and declining.

By the time Dombrowski left the Tigers had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Dombrowski decimated the farm system in the hope of building a dynasty in Detroit, and he failed miserably. With Verlander and Cabrera aging quickly, and the Tigers trying to get rid of Martinez, things will get worse before they get better in Detroit.

It’s clear Dombrowski didn’t learn anything from his time in the Motor City, as he’s doing the exact same thing in Boston. If Dombrowki had been in charge three years ago, Mookie Betts would’ve had his MVP caliber 2016 season somewhere else. Maybe the Sox would’ve had Max Scherzer or Cole Hamels, but I’ll take the young outfielder.

Cherington and Epstein built a Red Sox team that could win now and combined it with a farm system that would’ve allowed the Sox to compete for the next decade. In just 18 months Dombrowski has turned that 10 year window into a 3-4 year window.

This is why Epstein is the greatest GM of all time and Dombrowski is simply mediocre. Epstein had a five year plan with the Cubs, and in five years he ended a 108 year World Series drought and built a team that can win championships for the next 15 years.

Dombrowski better hope his team delivers quickly, or he better call and ask Epstein if he can borrow his gorilla costume.

 

Late Night Baseball News: Yankees Land Chapman, Cubs Snag Wade Davis

By Peter Santo

Editor-In-Chief

Aroldis Chapman has had quite a year in 2016. It all began last offseason when the flame throwing lefty was traded to the New York Yankees from the Cincinnati Reds. Chapman was then suspended for the first 30 games of the regular season before pitching for the Yankees for a few months. Then he was traded to the Chicago Cubs where he helped them win a World Series for the first time in 108 years. Now, with the Cubs out of the market for his services, he’s headed back to New York on a five year, $86 million deal.

The contract shatters the record for a closer that was set by Mark Melancon when he signed with the San Francisco Giants just a few days ago. It’s not quite the big three of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Chapman that the Yankees had at the start of last season, but having two of the three is still pretty great.

I can’t get over the contract however. We all saw how important relievers are in the postseason, so you knew someone was going to overpay for a closer, but this is insane. The Yankees are paying $86 million for a guy who pitched 58 innings last year, and 66 in 2015.

Meanwhile the Red Sox are paying $38 million for Chris Sale, who pitched 208 and 226 innings the past two seasons. It’s a ton of money for a guy who doesn’t see the field all that often.

Well with Chapman gone, you’re probably wondering who the Cubs will replace him with. And if you’re Theo Epstein, it only makes sense to go get one of the few guys who was better than Chapman in 2016. The Cubs traded fourth outfielder Jorge Soler to the Royals in exchange for closer Wade Davis.

This trade makes a lot of sense for both teams, the Royals have a lot of veteran players who will be free agents next offseason and will likely sign for big money, so they needed a guy under team control. Soler is signed through 2020 at just $3 million per year, a bargain considering his potential.

The Cubs meanwhile, they needed a closer, and they got a good one. Davis has been flat out filthy the past three seasons, posting a 1.00, 0.94, and 1.87 ERA respectively, while adding 47 saves in that span.

The Cubs are going to be the favorites to win the World Series again in 2017, and the trade for Davis only solidifies that status.

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