It’s time for Patriots’ Moss to earn money

Posted Dec. 14, 2009, at 10:17 p.m.

So now, on top of everything else, the New England Patriots have a disinterested superstar.

Future Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Randy Moss made one catch in the Pats’ lethargic 20-10 win over Carolina on Sunday and then fumbled it away.

The Patriots won’t make the playoffs if Moss disappears.

Teams will double-team Wes Welker and that will limit Tom Brady’s options.

You’d think Moss would be embarrassed watching the diminutive but fearless Welker keep making catch after catch over the middle and then get buried by linebackers, corners and safeties.

Meanwhile, Moss is pursuing balls halfheartedly and tiptoeing across the middle as if he is allergic to contact.

Welker has caught 105 balls and is one of the primary reasons the Patriots lead the AFC East.

But the presence of Moss helps Welker get open.

If Moss was playing with passion, the critical interception in the end zone by the Miami Dolphins’ Vontae Davis a week ago never would have occurred.

All Moss had to do was reach over and bat the ball out of Davis’ hands to keep the drive alive. Davis was juggling the ball.

If the Pats had scored on that drive, they probably would have won that game.

And the AFC East title would be a foregone conclusion.

It’s time for Moss to earn his money. If he was pouting over being sent home by coach Bill Belichick for being late to a meeting, too bad. Rules are rules.

I’m sure he is frustrated by double-coverage, but that’s nothing new.

He has to realize he is letting down the entire franchise.

As strange as this may sound, especially pertaining to a team that hasn’t won a game in an opponent’s stadium, the Patriots can still be a threat in the playoffs if they get in.

If Brady can continue looking for his tight ends and Moss returns to form, their offense will move the ball on anyone and could be even more proficient in the red zone.

Remember, they had at least three chances to make a game-clinching play, either on offense or defense, in three of their five losses and failed to execute.

— LARRY MAHONEY

Winter meetings pass minus Red Sox punch

Whew. It’s a good thing this column comes out on Tuesdays. I needed the last three days just to take in the sheer volume and dizzying array of impact deals, signings and moves made by the Boston Red Sox at least week’s winter meetings.

Who would have thought the Milwaukee Brewers would make more of a splash in Indianapolis than the Red Sox?

Call me a cynic, but signing Marco Scutaro to a free-agent contract lacks the punch and pizzazz of previous winter meeting signings. That’s the best Theo Epstein could do?

Scott Atchison? Fabio Castro? Really?

Instead of causing confusion with two Gonzalezes, Boston opted for the bewilderment of having two Ramirezes on the roster…. Two Ramon Ramirezes.… Two Ramon Ramirezes who are righthanded pitchers. Oh, and if that’s not enough, they weigh the same, too (190 pounds).

Yikes.

Yes, it takes at least two to make a trade and the New York Yankees needed a third partner to pull off the Curtis Granderson deal, but what were the Sox brass doing, who were they talking to and who did they have in their sights?

The best Boston could do was send Chris Province to Minnesota for starting pitcher Boof Bonser. Meanwhile, they still need a left fielder, a third baseman if Lowell rides off into the sunset to the Rangers, and more pitching depth.

The latest buzz has pitcher John Lackey signing with the Sox. Not bad, but is he really worth that money and aren’t there more pressing needs?

It doesn’t help that the only time the Sox do make a deal lately, they have to throw in some money. Heck, they’re ostensibly paying four players (Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Mark Kotsay and Manny Ramirez) to play for other teams at a combined cost of about $32 million. And now they’re talking about paying another $9 mil-lion for the Rangers to take Mike Lowell in trade?

For that money alone, the Sox could have a premier pitcher.

When did the Red Sox become the Yankees in a bad way, and when did the Yankees suddenly become financially flexible and able to trade prospects other teams actually want? You’ve heard the school of thought: The Yankees are A) getting older, B) financially inflexible with all the expensive, long-term contracts they’re stuck with, and C) traded their best prospects and lost the draft picks to replace them with all the Type A free-agent signings. So much for that theory.

It’s just sad when the biggest news the Sox could manage to generate out of the winter meetings was principal owner John Henry’s complaints about the Yankees’ competitive disadvantage and a call to overhaul Major League Baseball’s revenue-sharing system.

If the biggest splash the Sox can make at the winter meetings is a trade for Boof, their playoff hopes may already have gone poof.

— ANDREW NEFF

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