On to the second season…
…if the Big Papi tributes ever end, that is. Hey, don’t get me wrong, David Ortiz has made a tremendous impact on the Boston sports scene over his career. Big part of the Red Sox’ three World Series Championships…and hopefully soon a fourth. Tremendous in the community. Goodwill ambassador for the game. And all that. Can’t possibly say enough positive things about the man (“The Man”?). I just hate “farewell tours”, that’s all. My apologies. This applies to everyone, in any sport. It was silly to see these pregame charades going on in opposing cities during the season. Especially in cities Papi barely played in (San Diego? San Francisco? Please). Ortiz should absolutely be honored. And it should be huge. But do it some other time. And then do it again when he gets in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s really just be thankful that Jeremy Giambi was, well, Jeremy Giambi and that Ortiz got a chance to be in the lineup every day. Remember, the genius Theo Epstein loved him some Jeremy. Most of the “Theo” apologists had forgotten this long ago though.
While we are at it, you know what’s worse than farewell tours for players? Honoring broadcasters. Holy Vin Scully! Sure, Vin may have been great as what he did. But he is an ANNOUNCER! It’s not like he ever split the atom or cured cancer. He didn’t even make a difference on the field in any of the games he covered. Enough already. I’m sure he did a lot of great things for the community as well and is generally a good man. But he is just relaying what he sees on the field. Maybe throwing some cute anecdotes or something in there as well. Awesome. Hopefully the 48-year-old Scully was better than the 88-year-old Scully I heard on ESPN doing the 4th inning of a game a week or so ago. Wow. Mistakes and non-stop rambling. Kind of like all of the announcers who stay on too long…which is about every one of them actually. Jealousy? Maybe. And I sure hope to be as active as Vin at 88. But just how I feel.
I’ll definitely give the radio guys more props than the TV guys. Radio voices have to paint a sort of picture for the listener. Tougher job than just seeing what transpires on the field directly from the television set, where the viewer can already see the action. But still…
I’ll also give some props to some of the classic calls, such as Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in Miracles?!” Though nowadays when those calls are made they seem previously prepared and then when delivered therefore sound somewhat forced. Especially Jack Edwards’ ridiculous flow of words after a Boston Bruin’s victory. Half the time no one knows what the hell he is talking about.
Sssssssooooo…now that I have gone waaaaay off topic and likely pissed a lot of people off…let’s get to the upcoming matchup!
The Boston Red Sox will be playing the Cleveland Indians in one of the AL Division Series. Will Terry Francona come back and haunt his former team? One he won 2 World Series with? He might. And in reality a lot of people would love to see that due to how the team’s head honchos ran Tito out-of-town. Thanks Tito for the 2 rings…but a bad month with some chicken, beer and pain killers…and possibly a rendezvous or two with Hazel Mae (& others?)…so get the hell out? In truth, Tito had been here for 8 years and sometimes it is just time to move on. But his departure did leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. They would love to see Tito stick it to John Henry and Tom Werner. Too bad Larry Lucchino technically isn’t involved here anymore. Because when you throw in the fact Uncle Larry essentially picked Francona’s successor doesn’t help. Most people haven’t forgiven any of the brass for the Bobby Valentine disaster.
On to the matchups on the field:
John Farrell can say what he wants about not knowing who is going Game 1 or Game 2. But with Rick Porcello going yesterday and David Price tomorrow…it’s pretty obvious. Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and Corey Kluber in Game 2. Conventional wisdom says Sox win Game 1 and the Tribe Game 2. Trevor Bauer in Game 1??? Yikes!! Kluber is a possible Cy Young winner (again) and Price is 2-7, 5.12 career in the playoffs. BUT…Kluber hasn’t pitched since straining his quad a week or so ago and maybe Price finally finds postseason success with his 31 mil? Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m guessing Clay Buchholz in Game 3 (another Yikes!!) and Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 4. Looks like Josh Tomlin in Game 3 and no idea Game 4. Mike Clevinger? Ryan Merritt? Bauer? The Tribe suffers a lot here without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. If those 2 guys were healthy, the Indians roll. Then again, the Sox have a history of making no-names look like household names. Wouldn’t surprise me if someone like Merritt blanks them. Steven Wright is a no-go for the Sox and Drew Pomeranz is unlikely as well. Despite Wright’s All-Star first half, these 2 guys don’t compare to the 2 injured Indian starters. Any way you look at it, the pitchers available for this matchup look like a wash to me.
I would say the Sox carry 7 arms here for the first round. One less than the regular season. Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Joe Kelly (over Heath Hembree) and Robby Scott (over Fernando Abad) would seem the logical choices. Though it would not shock me in the least if Farrell thought it was 2013 and kept Junichi Tazawa either as the 12th or at the expense of one of the above. Scott is unproven, but lefty. And since Abad has pitched only once since September 16th, looks like he is out. Kelly still stinks. But they do still like him…better than Hembree anyway.
I’m not going to pretend I know a ton about the Indian bullpen. But what I do know is that Andrew Miller is better than anyone the Sox have. And they aren’t even using him as closer. 2 walks and 43 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings since joining the team. 9/120 in 72 2/3 IP overall. Wow. From a guy that used to never be able to find the plate earlier in his career. Compare him to Kimbrel, who this week has come in throwing gasoline on the fire and throwing the ball anywhere BUT over the plate. Just lost the game again tonight. Not encouraging.
Cody Allen is the closer. Not a lot of fanfare nationally it appears. But seems to be having a solid season. After all, they kept him at closer after the arrival of Miller. Koji has been getting the job done since his return from the DL. But hasn’t necessarily been untouchable. Farrell seems afraid to use Ziegler as much as he should. I like the Indian late inning guys a whole hell of a lot better than ours.
The rest of the Tribe bullpen? Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister…possibly Salazar. Looks like a pretty decent edge to the Indians here.
We know the Sox lineup has put up some runs this year. Looks like Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi will be the primary 3B and LF, respectively. Don’t need to say anything about Mookie Betts, Papi, Hanley and Dustin Pedroia. JBJ had a surprisingly nice year of course. Xander Bogaerts disappointed in the second half, but still needs to be considered a factor. Sandy Leon rounds it out…in the middle of a .216 September.
Cleveland has some pop in Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli (34 homers and 101 RBI for Nap? Wasn’t he DONE last year?). Some speed and a little pop in Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Tremendous speed in Rajai Davis. A couple of serviceable players in Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin. And a catcher worse than the Sox’ (Roberto Perez). Yan Gomes is usually their catcher. But he just came back from injury and was atrocious this year anyway. Looks like it will be Perez.
The Red Sox SHOULD have a decided advantage here. What with them scoring over a hundred more runs than Cleveland. Just listing the opposing names really kind of covers the analysis here. But, as noted, the Indians do have a little power and can impact some games with their legs. Even Napoli and Santana have 5 stolen bases! If the Sox can jump out early, they should be able to keep the Tribe at bay. But any close games could result in Cleveland “stealing” games. Get it! Haha…I’m here all week…
Chris Young, Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw are the main dudes. Young and Hill specifically will play left and third, respectively, against lefties. But only Merritt is a (potential) lefty starter in this series. Backup catcher? I’d take Christian Vazquez. But guessing Farrell takes Bryan Holaday. As long as it’s not Ryan Hanigan. None of them really matter actually. 25th guy? A perfect pinch runner would be Yoan Moncada. But since he is nowhere near ready for the major leagues and made some baserunning mistakes when he did play in the final month to boot, I’m guessing Marco Hernandez takes this spot. Not to mention that I just found out they shipped Moncada back to minor league camp yesterday anyway. For what? I don’t know. I would’ve kept him along for the ride. Along with Bryce Brentz. But you already knew that.
Indians bench? Gomes or Chris Giminez at catcher. Brandon Guyer, Coco Crisp, Michael Martinez, Abraham Almonte, whoever. Uninspiring.
I’d give the edge to the Sox here. But if anyone makes any kind of contribution here on either side this series, with the possible exception of Young, I’d be a little surprised. Hill may get into games late, but hasn’t done a whole lot in the AL. Shaw has completely fallen off the map and out of the “rotation” altogether. It’s possible the Indian’s bench makes some impact with their legs, but not likely their bats. But who knows with postseason heroes coming from nowhere often.
As we speak, Cleveland has a half game lead for home field. They have one of the best home records in the majors so you may think this is a concern. The Sox have the 2nd best road record in the majors though, so it may not be. Not liking the way the Sox are choking games down the stretch, especially Kimbrel. But Farrell has been lifting Ortiz, batting Xander 6th, pitching Kelly in a save situation, etc. So he may not be that concerned about it. But speaking of Farrell, it is no secret that I don’t love him. Seems as if the Sox should have a few more wins under their belt this year. He could cost them a game in this series. The Tribe will really be hurt by not having a healthy Carrasco and Salazar, not to mention Michael Brantley. Though Brantley essentially hasn’t been there all year, so maybe his injury is irrelevant for these purposes. Indian speed could cause problems. And the bullpens could play a huge role. If Kluber can’t go or is far less than 100%? Not good.
That all being said, I’ll take the Sox in 5. Praying that Farrell keeps the bonehead moves to a minimum…
Posted on October 2, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged AL Division Series, Big Papi, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber, Cy Young, David Ortiz, David Price, Dustin Pedroia, Francisco Lindor, John Farrell, Major League Playoffs, Mike Napoli, Mookie Betts, Rick Porcello, Terry Francona, Tito, Vin Scully, World Series, Xander Bogaerts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.