A lot to address from the last week or so. What follows here will be mostly incoherent babbling, in no particular order:
*The Boston Bruins could be done in the next several hours. Sure, we expected a close series and even a possible Toronto Maple Leaf victory. But even though the series is technically “close” at 3 games to 2, the series really hasn’t been…close. Game Two was the Bruins’ best game…and even though they won Game Four, it felt like the Leafs totally controlled the play.
The Bruin defense has been more than suspect. And although Tuukka Rask has been decent, he is still, of course, prone to the soft goal. Usually one a game or so. That simply cannot happen in the playoffs.
But the forwards have been subpar as well. Especially in their defensive zone. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it has seemed that the Leafs have lived in the Bruins zone. That’s not a way to win a series, my friends.
So what’s the problem? Well, Toronto is actually a good team, so there’s that.
Otherwise? I have a sense that guys are playing more hurt than we know.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that sounds like an excuse. I guess it could be. But there are some dudes out there that clearly aren’t the same players. Yes, the Bruins have a “healthy” roster now that Sean Kuraly just came back…other than Kevan Miller. And can you say maybe Connor Clifton? Maybe not.
But take a closer look. Torey Krug has been abysmal. To me anyway. Missed time with a concussion a month or so ago and then whacked his head on the boards early in the series. Could be a factor. Jake DeBrusk is another. Took that two-hander to the face and he has been borderline invisible. Patrice Bergeron? Does something ail him? Perhaps. He hasn’t had his best series.
Toronto has been the better team thus far. No excuses. But let’s see what comes out after elimination…today or otherwise.
*On the other hand, the Boston Celtics could be done today…with the first round. This Indiana Pacer team is absolutely brutal. Worse than I thought when I was putting together the preview. I pretty much don’t want to waste any more time on them. We will chat more in Round Two
*Tiger Woods won the Masters. This is actually news nowadays.
I used to root against Tiger with regularity. Not because I ever hated him. Because he always won. He was just TOO good. So I always rooted for the underdog…even though pretty much they never beat him.
But isn’t Tiger NOW the underdog?
It is unfortunate that a talent like that has gone through what he has gone through the previous decade or so. And no, I am not talking about his personal “problems”. Like Robert Kraft, I could care less what these dudes do on their own time.
All the back surgeries and physical ailments he has endured. Now those are real issues. And now here he is, a major winner yet again.
I guess I can say that I am happy for him? Sounds weird.
*Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson, Joey Galloway, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker…Demaryius Thomas?
It’s entirely possible.
But I still take the chance. This wide receiver group for the New England Patriots is embarrassing.
*Yes, the Bruins are in trouble. But if we are all paying attention, Tampa Bay and Calgary are already out. And they were both ahead of the Bruins in the overall standings. Pittsburgh is out as well, and they always scare me in the playoffs. That’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year. Anyone can win. Even though the locals may be hurt by that very aspect.
*Yoan Moncada is .321/.361/.628. 6 homers and 18 RBI in 19 games.
Was I wrong?
The way he handled himself at the plate…I never thought he would figure it out. And no, I’m not taking back the Chris Sale trade. Do that every day of the week. EVERY day.
I’m just saying that Moncada actually may be a player. Ok, it’s still April so we will give it some more time.
*Dustin Pedroia. Please retire.
You’re done. As the immortal Terry Glenn once said, D-U-N…DUN!!
Can you please admit that Little Leader?
Better yet, we really need the Red Sox to admit it. They have bent over backward to accommodate Pedroia, despite the fact that no one has ever come back from what he has.
Did the Sox really expect him to play about 120 games this season? Silly.
And now they are stuck with some sort of combination of Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, Tzu Wei Lin…and Christian Vazquez? Michael Chavis?
Or…until Pedroia gives it another shot in May. Since now he thinks his latest setback was “minor”…
*Blake Swihart. Good luck in Arizona. May you actually get a chance to play. Hopefully, you flourish. You probably won’t. But after the Sox jerked you around for the last few years, I am rooting for you. If you care anyway.
*Sandy Leon. The Red Sox starters won’t magically get better because Leon is back on the team. They will get better because they ARE better than they have shown. Period.
*Last but not least, let’s talk about the Red Sox management. Yeah, they just came off a World Series. Should we even be complaining?
The team has gotten off to a rocky start, despite wins the last two days over the first place Rays. Sure, they will likely turn it around and be in the mix. But this start is inexcusable.
Everyone shares in the blame. The front office? Dave Dombrowski brought back essentially the same team as last year. On paper, it sounds awesome. But in theory, it may not be. Look at the Bruins the year after they won the Cup. They brought 17 of 20 players back and got dumped in the first round. Players were complaining they were tired, and it was a long Cup run and all that. Perhaps that’s a valid reason if one were to insist. So that’s why you have more turnover from year to year. Although no one wants to hear the excuses of the players for sure.
The manager? Alex Cora has repeatedly defended the slow start by saying that “we did the same thing last year…” Enough already. The players were not ready to play for whatever reason.
Sure, the coaches prepared the starting pitchers like they did last year. But each year is a different entity. Each season needs to be treated differently. Didn’t Cora learn anything from Bill Belichick?
The starters being babied during the spring played a part in the slow start. I would also hazard a guess that the players weren’t as hungry as last year after winning the World Series. Human nature. Again, another reason for some turnover. Long season last year taking its toll? Perhaps. But there should have been plenty of time to rest in the offseason. So I am not sure I can buy that one. I personally never bought it for that Bruins scenario above either.
No time for panic. It’s only April 21st. But it doesn’t mean we have to like where they are right now.
Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!!
More bullet points!
*I know the Sox have the best record in baseball. And maybe this alone gives Manager Alex Cora some leeway to “experiment”, if you will. Because don’t you get the feeling he is doing that sometimes?
Well, other than with Blake Swihart…but we will chat about him in more detail later.
A couple of recent examples here. Robby Scott has been buried in the minors all year. He had options remaining. But he isn’t very good either. Cora brought him into a tie game last week in the eighth inning…when the rest of the “good” relievers were rested and available. Scott promptly hit a guy and walked another. Next thing you know, the game is lost.
Xander Bogaerts hurts a finger and for depth (and since the Sox were carrying 13 pitchers and only 12 position players), the team brings up Tzu-Wei Lin from Pawtucket. Cora sticks Lin in the leadoff spot and Tzu-Wei promptly goes 0-4 with 2 K’s. Oh, and Lin didn’t hit in his first go around here this year. And…wait, he was at .299 in the minors? A couple of weeks ago he was around .214. Ok, so maybe he got hot. But that doesn’t always translate to the majors of course. Leadoff?!
I don’t know, sometimes it seems Cora is pulling stuff out of his arse like this often. Like Brock Holt batting fifth in the same game as Lin hitting leadoff. Just hope it doesn’t cost the team a game and then they lose the division by that game and as a result have to play in the Wild Card game.
*That all being said, I can’t say I have too many complaints about Cora overall this season. Seems to be doing a pretty good job. Of course, the league stinks. But still…
*If there is anyone in the organization to complain about, it may be Dave Dombrowski. The cupboard is bare in the minor leagues. How are they going to get reinforcements for this stretch run?
Listen, I know guys like Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel are here because prospects were dealt to get them. I also know that a proven major league player is better than a random prospect. Many of these much-ballyhooed Red Sox prospects over the years end up being garbage. Some are dealt before they become that. Unfortunately, many have stayed in the Sox’ system too long and become garbage before they are moved. But I’ll take a proven stud over a question mark most days of the week.
But damn, there appears to be less than zero left! Their two best prospects are Jay Groome and Michael Chavis. Groome had Tommy John surgery and Chavis got popped for PEDs.
So who is next? Rusney Castillo? Ugh…you just don’t hear any names for real prospects in the Sox’ system. Does anyone have value?
I imagine we will find out over the next month or so leading up to the trading deadline.
*As for Castillo, I agree with some of the local talk radio hosts…Rusney deserves another chance in the bigs. Well, “deserve” may be a strong word. But have you seen the OPS’s in this lineup?
Jackie Bradley Jr., .581, Eduardo Nunez, .634, Christian Vazquez, .538…and on and on.
Can Rusney be worse? And they are paying him like 11 mil this year anyway. Bring him up and see what happens.
I don’t care if Bradley had three hits Sunday and Tuesday. He has been abysmal. And apparently has options remaining. Yeah, the team has been winning and he plays great defense. But enough is enough already. Send him down to find his swing. If he can. I’ve said it before and will say it again: He should have been dealt after his “All-Star” season in 2016. Didn’t we know that’s the best we were going to get? And that he is so damn streaky, it could only go downhill from there? I did. Sorry. I did.
*If the Sox won’t bring up Castillo because they don’t want his contract to count against the luxury tax, which is what some believe, then do something else. I say that something else is to play Blake Swihart every day for 3-4 weeks and give him a chance to get going. Sure, his OPS of .388 is worse than everyone. But I suppose that can happen when you are given a mere 80 plate appearances in 79 games up to this point. While also being asked to play positions you’ve rarely played before.
I have no idea if this kid can play in the major leagues. I have no idea why I seem to like him and really want him to play. Perhaps because the Sox have kind of ruined his career by jerking him around? Specifically in 2016, when he is the Opening Day catcher, drops a couple of foul balls in like the first 8 games, then they panic and dispatch him to Pawtucket (while also bringing up Vazquez, who missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery and clearly wasn’t ready to be back in the bigs at that point). Then bring him back up later in the year and shoehorn him in the outfield and he busts his ankle in the summer.
This year, Cora says he wants Blake to be like Marwin Gonzalez…play all over the diamond and get close to 500 AB’s. Yup…hasn’t happened. In fact, Cora started him at catcher in one game then kind of blamed him for the pitch selection after the game. Yup, that’s why Jalen Beeks got hammered. Maybe he shouldn’t have given Blake the start behind the plate for the first time this year with a kid making his major league debut on the mound?
Or maybe my affinity for Blake is not to become another highly touted Sox prospect that has stayed in the organization too long and is eventually exposed and found to have no value. Like…
*Brian Johnson! His ship has sailed now that he is 27 years of age. The last guy on the staff. On top of that, clearly does not pitch well as a bullpen guy. Maybe he wouldn’t as a regular rotation guy either. But why bother? Let him go to another team.
*And…Henry Owens! Did you know Owens was completely out of baseball for a couple of weeks in May? Me neither. This guy was once “can’t miss”. Boy did he miss…
*We covered Hanley a while back. I was happy he was gone and that hasn’t changed. But now with all this stuff coming out about him allegedly having major drug connections and all that, he has returned as a popular topic on the airwaves. “With the Sox looking for a right-handed bat that can hit lefties, if this proves to be nothing, why wouldn’t they just re-sign him?” and “I don’t like the Sox releasing someone because of the money (if he got enough at-bats to vest his 2019 option)”…blah, blah, blah.
Hanley has not been good for most of his career here. And not the greatest guy to have around, drug connections or no drug connections. So please stop it! They should have done everything they could to make sure that option didn’t vest. It was stupid to play him every day right at the beginning of the season.
Let’s not all pretend we loved Hanley and NEED his bat. For most of his tenure here it was “what bat?”.
*Joe Castiglione…we love you, man. You’ve had a nice career. But…I don’t know. Sometimes I just can’t listen anymore. Last week against the Twins, he was pointing out a fact that the Twins catchers had 17 RBI’s for the year. And was seemingly surprised that the number could be so low. Ummmmm, at the time, the Sox catchers had combined for 19 RBI’s on the year. Just sayin’…
*I leave you with this: With the Sox having some key contracts expire after 2018 & 2019, as well as some of their younger players due for big raises through the arbitration process. Not to mention that barren farm system again. My question is this: Is it time to start taking offers on one Xander Bogaerts? One more year of arbitration, then free agency after 2019. Scott Boras as his agent. A career that hasn’t taken off as many expected.
X has been decent. But does the team break the bank to keep him under the circumstances? Especially with the pitching staff in total flux over the next few years and no one coming from the farm? And Mookie being due after 2020 on top of that?
I’m investigating this. Are you?
…this prolonged period of silence to rejoice in the fact that HANLEY IS GONE!!!! I know, the Celtics just lost Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, a truly impressive run; the Bruins are a few weeks removed from a fairly successful season of their own; the Red Sox currently have the best record in baseball and Tom Brady (plus Rob Gronkowski) is being a colossal baby.
But THIS is what brings the Blowhard out of hibernation?? Sure does! It’s some of the better news we have gotten recently, as silly as this sounds. But we feel the need to write something about it, no matter. And we promise to cover the other stuff soon as well.
HANLEY IS GONE!!! I’m sorry, that just felt good to say again.
Now, Hanley is not entirely gone yet. Since being designated for assignment last Friday, he is still kind of in limbo. I suppose there is always a chance Hanley could end up in Pawtucket, if he agrees to it, that is. That would seem to be unlikely, however. He will definitely clear waivers if he hasn’t already…no one is picking up that contract. He could well be traded for a bag of baseballs and some batting practice pitcher screens. But even though the club that acquires him would only be responsible for the major league minimum salary, this may not happen either.
In a few days, Ramirez will likely be released. Ending a stint that gave the Sox .260/.326/.450 for a .776 OPS over 431 games over parts of 5 seasons with the team. 5 seasons? Yup, Hanley had 2 AB’s (2 K’s) as a 21-year-old in 2005, the year before he was dealt as part of a trade for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and I think other flotsam. Who remembered that?! Not me…thank you Baseball-Reference.com!
Ok, so it’s really the 4 years, 88 mil that Hanley stole from the Sox from 2015-2018 that is the problem. Sure, 2016 had some highlights. But other than a few then, a colossal waste.
Left field was a disaster in 2015, and although we can’t entirely blame Ramirez because he shouldn’t have been stuck there, we CAN blame him for a complete lack of effort in trying to get better out there. Jeez, guys like Mike Greenwell, Jim Rice and even Manny Ramirez became at least serviceable out there during there careers…for the 81 games in the small left field in Fenway anyway. Hanley didn’t even try.
Hanley WAS serviceable at first base in 2016. However, 2017 came and he basically refused to play there again. There was some bogus shoulder injury or something. Then in 2018 he comes in all ready to play first and was chirping about a 30/30 season or some nonsense along those lines.
I don’t think anyone who follows the team, specifically principal owner John Henry, wanted to see Hanley rack up the 497 plate appearances during the 2018 season, that would vest the 22 million dollar option for 2019. Yet here he was in the lineup every day, middle of the order, and actually having a strong April. Whoops.
Then Friday happened. Did anyone see this one coming? I think not. The little leader in Dustin Pedroia was to be activated and I think everyone believed (former) prospect Blake Swihart would be the casualty. I think the Sox took huge advantage of Hanley being 0 for his last 20 and down to .254/.313/.395 to make this move. What if he was still hitting over .300? Perfect timing. I’d also call that “dodging a bullet”.
By giving Ramirez all of that playing time early on, they were playing with fire on that 2019 option. What if he kept the hot April going and later in the year started approaching those 30/30 predictions? Hanley looked to be in decent shape, seemed to be playing a good first base, appeared to have had a better attitude this year and all that. You never know…especially when there is a carrot worth 22 million dangling in front of him.
The Sox lucked out that Hanley cooled off. Simple as that.
Now, would losing Swihart have been the end of the world? Most assuredly not. He just would have gone on that long list of especially recent “hot prospects” that the Sox hung onto too long before everyone realized that…they weren’t really prospects after all. So they haven’t even been able (or willing?) to trade high on them before they all flamed out. Brian Johnson is one currently on the team. But you know, Will Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Henry Owens, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Ryan Lavarnway…the list is endless. You can probably also throw in their top 2 2018 prospects in Jason Groome (Tommy John surgery recently) and Michael Chavis (80 game PED suspension)…but I digress…
Something about Blake I like though…but I could be wrong…since he is still being buried now. We’ll see.
Ok, this looks like about 800 plus words and it was supposed to be just a few words to get back into the swing of things. So Hanley Ramirez is gone and I am clearly happy. But this Sox team still has a lot of the same unlikeable characters from last year. This may explain why I am still not in love with the team despite their success thus far this year. A story for a different day perhaps.
But if they could DFA David Price, Dustin Pedroia and Jackie Bradley Jr. also, that may help me a little bit…