by: John Tomase on Mon, 03/20/2017 - 1:20pm

Robert Kraft has a long relationship with president Donald Trump. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)Random thoughts while secretly hoping the Russians help me win the K&C A-Hole bracket . . .

Let's just get the political stuff out of the way first. If Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants to fly on Air Force One and be photographed disembarking from Marine One alongside a disheveled Steve Bannon, as he was on Sunday, that's his prerogative.

But he should also recognize it's a look plenty of his fans won't like, and I'm not just talking about Susan from Lincoln.

Trump's travel ban clearly discriminates against Muslims. His ludicrous border wall is offensive not only to Mexicans, but Latinos. His proposed budget cuts impact the poor. His lies about voter fraud further disenfranchise African-Americans. His stance on abortion would deny a woman her right to choose.

Not every Patriots fan is a well-off white man. Muslims, Mexicans, African-Americans, women, the poor – they like the Pats, too. Kraft can make the case he's simply supporting a friend who was there for him in times of need, but optics matter, and every time Kraft pals around with Trump, he effectively tells his followers he supports the president's policies.

Plenty of fans are fine with that, for sure. But others, given our liberal little corner of the country, not so much. I'm guessing they grimaced and shared the same reaction: "Why?" . . .

Spare me this revisionist history on Clay Buchholz. When the Red Sox traded the right-hander to the Phillies over the winter, he ranked seventh on the depth chart, behind Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz.

The Red Sox can afford many luxuries, but a $13.5 million seventh starter isn't one of them. They dealt Buchholz to ensure they stay below the luxury tax threshold, thus avoiding a number of penalties in the draft and international markets which could hamstring their ability to rebuild a depleted farm system.

They had no way of knowing that David Price's magic elbow would suddenly seize. They probably should've known better on Drew Pomeranz, but what's done is done. As long as the other four starters stay healthy, they can survive without Buchholz.

There are more cost-effective ways to plug their rotation in the event of catastrophic injuries. Kyle Kendrick, for one, will cost the team nothing, and he can probably give the Red Sox a 5.00 ERA, as Buchholz did for five months last year before four good starts in September.

Maybe a minor-league depth option like Brian Johnson or Roenis Elias or Henry Owens will step forward. Maybe they'll have to sign someone off the street.

Whatever they do, it won't cost them $13.5 million, and there's a good chance it will approximate Buchholz's inconsistent production. . . . 

I want to favor Lonzo Ball over Markelle Fultz in the race for the No. 1 overall pick, but after talking to Kevin O'Connor of the Ringer on Saturday's Trenni & Tomase, I'm conflicted.

Ball might be the best pure passer to enter the league since Rajon Rondo more than a decade ago. But concerns over his unorthodox cross-body jumper, as well as his inability to score off the dribble, make Fultz the higher-upside choice. I blame Ball's dad.

Fultz regrettably chose to to sign with Washington, which surrounded him with zero talent, went 9-22, and isn't playing this postseason. If Fultz is an All-Star in five years, no one will care, but for right now, isn't it a red flag that the consensus best player in the country couldn't even beat Yale? . . .

The hockey intelligentsia came out in force to denounce know-nothings like me after the Bruins finally pulled the plug on Claude Julien last month. I applauded the move, because how many consecutive playoff berths must one coach miss before a change is justified?

I was informed that Claude was actually the best coach in the league, and advanced stats proved it, and puck possession and CORSI and shot density and phrenology and Bruins management is a bunch of idiots, blah blah blah. Sixteen games later, can we acknowledge Cam Neely and Co. made the right call?

The B's are 12-4 under Bruce Cassidy, boast the league's No. 3 scorer in Brad Marchand, and are cruising toward a playoff berth. That wasn't happening under Claude. Sorry.