clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CelticsBlog Roundtable: Who’s on first?

With training camp still six weeks away, the Celtics have taken a back seat in Boston to the pennant-chasing Red Sox. If the Sox need a player to shore up their depth, they don’t need to look too far from Fenway for a September call-up.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The Red Sox have been scuffling since mid-July, but in many ways they’ve found success this season with a formula similar to that which the Celtics have used heading into 2016-2017. Dave Dombrowski signed veteran David Price to be the ace of his staff, while Danny Ainge finally got his big free agent in Al Horford. The Celtics are hoping for marked improvement from their youngsters like Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown like the Sox have enjoyed the increased production from Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Both teams have also benefited from continuity over the last two years.

Tom Brady tried to help the Celtics when they courted Kevin Durant this summer. Could the Celtics lend a helping hand to the Red Sox when the roster expands to 40 on September 1st? Could Avery Bradley give Dustin Pedroia a day off at second? Would Kelly Olynyk’s shoulder hold up for a few innings of middle relief? Our CelticsBlog staff discusses.

C: Al Horford. I know the concept of a seven-foot catcher is a bit odd, but think through the role he'll be playing on this squad. He's the backstop for the defense, he's in charge of directing traffic, and he's going to mentor the "pitching staff" throughout the game and the season. - Jeff Clark

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

SP: Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk has a crafty offensive game on the court, so that should translate to the mound as well. But more importantly, he also looks the part. Olynyk is seven feet tall, has long hair, and spent some formative years in Canada. With that resume, he's one exploding bird away from being Randy Johnson. He's also a giant doppelgänger of Mitch Kramer, the freshman pitcher from Dazed and Confused. That combination has ace starting pitcher written all over it. - Jeff Nooney

1B: Tyler Zeller. With Jared Sullinger in Toronto, there aren't surer hands on the team than Zeller's. He had a few good games last season, but I remember TZ hooking up with Rondo on a couple of PnRs where I'd say, "I can't believe Rajon threw that pass. Whoa. I can't believe Zeller caught it and finished the play." He’s got the size and length for the stretch, too. - Bill Sy

2B: Avery Bradley. Remember that time Avery Bradley won Rookie of the Year and then MVP the next year? Oh wait...that was Dustin Pedroia. It's hard to tell the two apart, since they are the most reliable defender at the position where steadiness is both vital and overlooked. Although they don't have the offensive firepower to turn heads, their consistent execution on the aggregate leaves them as one of the most crucial cogs in their team. They play much bigger than they look and flash surprising athleticism when they need it most. While Bradley isn't an MVP-caliber player, he has always been the unsung hero for the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas is too easy a comparison to Pedroia since they're both overachieving little guys, but it's Bradley's dependability that makes him the best comparison. - Jared Weiss

SS: Isaiah Thomas. Isaiah Thomas has to be the shortstop, right? Short jokes aside, the position has it's name for a reason. We've seen plenty of examples of young shortstops that were forced to transition to a new infield position when they outgrew their primary spot, but there's no worry of that with the only player on the Celtics roster listed at under six feet. Thomas has the lateral quickness to be a slick fielding shortstop with good range. The position also requires the player to have a strong, accurate arm capable of making throws on the run. We've seen Thomas deliver pinpoint passes in transition, as well as while weaving through defenders in the paint. These traits that have helped him become an All-Star point guard on the parquet floor would also make him into a fine shortstop on the diamond. - Sean Penney

3B: Amir Johnson. Again, I’m going with the defensive motif. A third baseman's job is to react quickly when a screaming liner comes flying at his face from a dead pull hitter. Amir must feel like that when he sees Russell Westbrook charging down the lane at him. Sometimes the best you can do is put a mitt on him and knock him down. - Jeff Clark

I like Amir as the third baseman because his game is all about subtle positioning. He isn't very athletic, but he still makes athletic plays when he needs to. He reads the floor well and makes the small play whenever the situation requires. But when it's time for a big rebound or a crucial block, he is usually in position to contest. - Jared Weiss

LF: Jonas Jerebko. Boston has had seven different players start in left field this season, and it has become a position of utility for the Red Sox. Enter Mr. Utility, Jonas Jerebko. In the Celtics' first-round series against the Hawks, Brad Stevens inserted Jerebko into the starting lineup because of his defensive versatility and ability to shoot on the outside as a stretch four. Fenway's Green Monster can be intimidating, but imagine the six-foot-ten Jerebko scaling the scoreboard for an inning-ending catch. - Bill Sy

Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

CF: Marcus Smart. I'd definitely throw Marcus Smart in center field. Not only is he a stout defender with plus-athleticism, he is extremely versatile on the defensive side of things. That was never more apparent than during last year's playoffs, where he guarded anyone from Dennis Schroder to Kyle Korver to Paul Millsap. Center fielders need to have great range, and Marcus would have no problem making a play in the gaps of both right- and left-center field. In this case, Marcus's versatility is his range. - Tim MacLean

CL: Jae Crowder. Being a major-league closer is all about having untouchable stuff and, maybe more importantly, the attitude. That's Crowder. He's an accomplished defender that Stevens can throw at bigger forwards and smaller, quicker guards, but he also breathes fire on and off the court. He's given this young team a hard-nosed identity with his "we're one superstar" mantra, and he doesn't back down against the league's biggest and baddest. - Bill Sy

RF: Jaylen Brown. No, I'm not expecting a meteoric rise anywhere near what the Red Sox have seen from Mookie Betts, who is now an MVP candidate in only his second full season. However, Brown should be able to carve out a significant role in his rookie season, which is comparable to the youth movement that the Red Sox have deployed in their outfield. Betts has become the shining star of that group in a relatively short time, while the No. 3 overall pick could soon become the cream of the crop among the rookies and sophomores on this Celtics team. - Sean Penney

Special Bonus section:

Ball Boy: James Young

Utility infielder that we're going to miss: Evan Turner

AA prospect likely to be traded at the deadline: The 2018 Nets Pick - Jeff Clark

The Nets pick is an asset that compares nicely with Yoan Moncada. The top prospect in the Red Sox farm system is their most valuable trade chip and the asset every team asks for when Dave Dombrowski calls to inquire about prying away their ace pitcher. The Nets picks are the most valuable assets in Danny Ainge's treasure trove of assets, so teams are going to ask for those as part of any package to acquire the superstar the Celtics desire. Moncada and the Nets picks are both assets that fans are reluctant to trade away becomes of the potential upside, but we don't really know at this point what they will turn out to be. - Sean Penney

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog