It's gut-check time.
We would all like to be prescient and take the guesswork out of life's decisions and situations, but absent that ability sometimes you just have to follow your gut. From time to time I'll share what my instincts -- and a little bit of insight -- are telling me about a few sports topics. Here are 10 gut-feelings.
1. The Bruins will come out of the NHL Draft weekend with another defenseman: By now we know the Tyler Seguin era begins tonight. But there is still a need for another defenseman, now and for the future, even after the Bruins re-signed Dennis Seidenberg and re-upped Johnny Boychuk. Zdeno Chara is entering the final year of his monster free-agent deal and will be 34 at season's end. How about a swap of Marc Savard for Edmonton's Sheldon Souray? Or the Bruins braintrust can entice teams with its collection of 2010 and 2011 draft picks to try to acquire another top 10 pick and take one of the ballyhooed baby blueliners -- Erik Gudbranson, Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley.
2. Jonathan Papelbon won't blow more than three saves the rest of the year: There is a lot of agita right now regarding Papelbon as the Sox' closer. He reached a low point the last two days in the Mile High city, blowing a pair of saves against the Rockies, the first time in his career he'd blown saves on back-to-back days. Papelbon, who now has as many blown saves (three) as all of last season, is not the same automatic ender we're accustomed to seeing. However, he's not Heathcliff Slocumb either, and he's still a top-five closer. You have to factor in the Coors Field effect. Humidor or not, the place remains a hitters' park, just ask Dustin Pedroia.
3. Paul Pierce will opt-out: Yes, $21.5 million is a lot of money to pass up, but this could be Pierce's last chance to gain leverage for a larger, long-term deal. Kobe Bryant got an extension from the Lakers (three years, $90 million) that takes him to age 35. Pierce, who turns 33 in October, probably wants similar security. Opting out also allows him to be part of the Summer of LeBron and see what direction the Celtics are heading in -- rebuilding mode or a keep-the-core-together mindset. If Pierce doesn't opt out and he or the Celtics look over the hill next season then his expiring contract would become a key chip in an overhaul.
4. Ray Allen will return to the Celtics: Allen wants to be here and the Celtics want him. The selection last night of Avery Bradley, who is more shooting guard than point guard, doesn't change that. Ainge said on WEEI-AM Wednesday that he believes Allen still has a lot of basketball left in him. The soon-to-be 35-year-old sharpshooter is smart enough to understand that he's not going to get $19 million a year from any of his suitors and that Boston provides the best medical care for his son Walker, who has diabetes. A two-year $18-$20 million deal should get it done.
5. Mike Cameron will not make it through the entire season: You have to admire Cameron for gutting his way through a lower abdominal strain. Ninety-five percent of players would have opted for surgery. The Sox have done a great job of managing the 37-year-old outfielder, but Cameron is destined for the DL. He has played on three consecutive days just once since coming back and then had to sit out five straight. After hitting 20 or more home runs each of the past four seasons he is homerless so far. That leads me to...
6. David DeJesus will be traded to the Sox: With the uncertainty surrounding Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox need another outfielder, and DeJesus, who can play all three outfield spots, makes perfect sense. Nick Cafardo mentioned the connection the Sox have with assistant to the general manager Allard Baird, who was the Royals GM when Kansas City selected DeJesus in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. DeJesus is batting .325 this year, but is hitting right-handed pitching at a .346 clip. He's making $4.6 million with a $6 million salary next season, but a tidy $500,000 buyout. That makes him an ideal rental.
7. Ellsbury will return and have a strong second half: Ellsbury hasn't played a game in a month and has been questioned and ridiculed for not playing through the pain of fractured ribs, even though he did return and got re-injured. Ellsbury is going to come back, and he's going to bring fresh legs and a .300 bat. The Red Sox have gotten a .276 average, .335 on-base percentage and just three steals out of the leadoff spot. Whether you think he's tough or not, Ellsbury can improve upon that.
8. The US team will still be playing at the World Cup after July 4th: The semifinals of the World Cup are set for July 6 in South Africa, and the US will be in them for the first time since the inaugural cup in 1930. The US side of the draw is quite manageable with a second-round matchup with Ghana and then a potential quarterfinal bout with the Uruguay-South Korea winner.
9. Taylor Price will have a bigger impact than Brandon Tate for the Patriots: There has been a lot of talk about the potential of Tate, a third-round pick in 2009, but I think this year's third-round pick, Price, is going to end up being the breakout wide receiver. The Ohio University wideout reminds me of another receiver from the Mid-American Conference (MAC), Green Bay Packers playmaker Greg Jennings (Western Michigan). In 2006, the Patriots moved up to No. 36 to take Chad Jackson, passing on Jennings, who was taken by the Pack with the pick the Pats swapped. Consider Price redemption.
10. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who?: Isner and Mahut's marathon Wimbledon tennis match (three days, 11 hours, 5 minutes), finally won by Isner yesterday, was one for the ages. However, a month from now people will be as likely to recall the names of the participants in the never-ending match as they are the winners of this year's Boston Marathon.
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.