…moving on from the Celtics to the Red Sox, as we still struggle with accepting the Bruins’ Game 7 Stanley Cup Final loss. We will at some point and of course have plenty to say when we get there.
But for now, let’s start a running tally of random Sox thoughts that have been bouncing around the old noggin’ for a few weeks now. Some of them are perhaps outdated. But so be it. Again, in no particular order.
*I’m still OUT. Exactly halfway through the season, the Red Sox lie at 44-37. Third place in the American League East, 8 games behind their archrival, the New York Yankees, but still in the wild card mix.
Sure, a season after winning the World Series should we really complain?
Damn right we should! From a team with the highest payroll and full of All-Stars? Absolutely.
Most of the guys look fairly uninterested. Maybe it’s me. But it sure seems like it. We will talk more about specific players later. But we will also look at the manager. I wouldn’t say Alex Cora is disinterested. But there are more head-scratchers this year than last, I can tell you that much.
In any event, I certainly didn’t get excited about the team recently taking 2 out of 3 from the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins. Because they then lost 2 out of 3 to the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays. And haven’t exactly put away the very average Chicago White Sox over the last 2 games.
So the question is, when will I buy in? I would guess it won’t be on or about 8/4. The Sox play 14 games in 15 days. ONLY against the Yankees (8) and the Tampa Bay Rays (6). The trading deadline is right in the middle of that, on July 31st.
Ask me where I stand on August 5th.
*Speaking of the Rays, Major League Baseball has given the organization permission to investigate playing some of their home games in future seasons in Tampa and some in…Montreal?
What kind of nonsense is this?
No one goes to games in Tampa…besides opposing teams’ fans, that is. And baseball left Montreal in 2004 because of, well, they couldn’t build a new ballpark in the city, for one. But after revisiting the specifics of that whole fiasco, there were all sorts of other stuff going on…too much to recount here.
But one thing we did not remember was in the last couple of years, the Expos played some games in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So that worked out well, no?
Seems like the Montreal/Tampa Bay thing should too, right?
*Don’t even get me started on the Sox and Yanks actually traveling to play in London this weekend.
Honestly, what is the point? To satisfy owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group? Ugh…
*Crickets on the David Ortiz “investigation” these days, eh?
It sucks that Big Papi got shot, no doubt about it. How can this happen to a legend in his own country? Well, I suppose it can happen anywhere.
It would suck even more if Ortiz was actually involved in some nefarious activities. It doesn’t sound like he was, just some bad judgment if you believe the rumors.
But the legal process? Certainly laughable. First, it was an assassination attempt. Then it was mistaken identity? I don’t think so.
Payoffs are happening for sure. What if Ortiz is part of that machine, covering up whatever he needs to be covering up to save his reputation?
Far fetched? Perhaps. But how can we rule anything out? Especially when it doesn’t seem anyone is really chasing the truth…in the Dominican…or the United States.
*As opposed to the silence on Ortiz, I think we can all be thankful about the recent silence surrounding Dustin Pedroia. The day to day updates on Pedey trying to come back from his knee injury. The continuous setbacks. Basically, everyone dancing around the fact that he is done. Including Pedroia himself.
If the knee problems truly started when he was slid into by Manny Machado a few years back, then sure, that isn’t great. But let’s face it, Pedroia had that kind of frame where he was bound to flame out quickly as he got older. While his “leadership” left a lot to be desired (except for when you ask him and other Red Sox apologists), he did play the game with reckless abandon. There was a pretty good chance he was going to break down a lot earlier than other players.
So Pedroia has stepped away from the club to ponder his future. You would have to think that he knows this is the end of the line. He always played hard, so I will celebrate his play on the field when the time officially comes. I’ll try to forget some of the ridiculous words and actions that came from him over the past few years as well.
I will also guarantee you this: He will be activated in September when rosters expand. Probably DH once or twice (or however long it takes him to say goodbye with a hit). Hell, the Sox may be out of it then, so they can do that for sure. Will he be eating up a 40-man roster spot in place of someone else that could be useful for a playoff push? Or a young kid they need to keep but isn’t ready for the majors? Unlikely, as I can list of about 8-10 guys on the 40-man that are borderline useless now.
So he will get one more MLB at-bat, maybe more, to get that last hit. Probably in a home game. Then he can get pinch run for and leave the field to a standing O.
I can live with that.
*The Yankees picked up slugger Edwin Encarnacion recently for…nothing? Just what they need, another big bat. Sure, their starting pitching has been questionable. But who doesn’t think that they make a huge move for a starter or two before the trade deadline? They have plenty of young talent. They have plenty of money…well, they always have plenty of money, but their payroll is even more flexible these days.
Get ready for that to happen. And then any moves they make there will probably put the division out of reach. Guess that’s why you play the games though…
To be continued…
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!!
We’ve covered the pitching, let’s move on to the rest of the roster. I promise, this one will be a lot shorter!
Here: Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez
None of these guys hit a lick this past season. I think Swihart can hit a little, but it’s unlikely he will ever get enough at-bats here to prove it. Leon was particularly putrid this year. .177 average with a .511 OPS. Wow. That’s hard to do. In almost 300 plate appearances no less.
But you know what? I completely expect Vazquez and Leon to be the catching tandem next season. They are good defensively, the pitchers love them, the manager loves them and with this overall lineup, the catchers do not really have to hit.
Swihart will most assuredly be dangled in trade talks once again. But also once again there will likely be tepid interest. I’m not sure the Sox will keep trying to groom him on the “super utility role”. I suppose we will find out this winter. If they want to truly make him that versatile, wouldn’t he play winter ball and play all over the diamond? That would make too much sense though.
Here: Xander Bogaerts (SS), Rafael Devers (3B), Marco Hernandez (UT), Brock Holt (UT), Tzu-Wei Lin (UT), Mitch Moreland (1B), Eduardo Nunez (UT), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Sam Travis (1B/LF)
Free agents: Ian Kinsler (2B), Steve Pearce (1B), Brandon Phillips (2B)
Minors: Tony Renda (UT)
The last of the World Series “heroes” to talk about? Steve Pearce. Love what he did. But he’s Steve Pearce. There are 1,000 guys that could play his role next year. If he wants a one year deal for short money to match the one year left on Moreland’s contract, I would do it. Then in 2020 maybe the team can get a real first baseman that can play every day instead of this platoon nonsense.
Who really thinks Dustin Pedroia will be ready to go Opening Day 2019? Besides Dustin Pedroia, that is. Pedey, you may be done. That knee injury is supposed to be no joke. He’s 35 years old. At this point, I’d cut him loose. But with 41 mil and 3 years left on his deal, that ain’t happening. Not to mention that the manager loves him. And he has some sort of untouchable status in the organization for whatever reason. So he’s here…unless he really cannot play. We will see. At least Holt will be here to back him up, for whatever that is worth.
Hopefully Devers takes another step forward next year, especially defensively. Nunez locked in his 5 mil player option, so he ain’t going anywhere and will likely take at-bats away from Raffy at third.
Marco missed the whole year and hopefully, he has minor league options so that he can get himself back up to speed and be organizational depth, along with Lin. I can’t imagine Kinsler will be back, but congrats to him on the Gold Glove! His career could be done, along with Phillips’. I think we’ve seen the last of Sammy Travis. Still only 25 years old, but had a poor year at AAA and his prospect days are essentially over. Renda? He was on the roster a few days this summer, scored the winning run as a pinch runner in a Sunday Night game against the Yankees as his only major league action this season. And got himself a ring because of it. Not bad. But all of this and then being outrighted to the minors after the World Series does not bode well for any future major league prospects in Boston.
I’d say that a right-handed bat for first base, either Pearce or someone else, would be the only thing the Sox address this offseason.
Here’s another thing to consider as well: Bogaerts is a free agent after the 2019 season. He is coming off his best season. 26 years old, right in his prime. He is going to want to get paid, Several other Red Sox will want to get paid. Scott Boras is his agent, so that means X will want to be unreasonably paid.
Would it shock anyone if Bogaerts is dangled in trade talks?
Here: Andrew Benintendi (LF), Mookie Betts (RF), Jackie Bradley (CF), J.D. Martinez (OF/DH)
Speaking of guys that want to get paid, J.D. can opt out after 2019 and Mookie is a free agent after 2020. So you have these two, Bogaerts, Sale and I suppose Porcello all looking for big money within the next two years. Again, the Sox can pay them all if they want. But they won’t. So are there some trade talks this offseason? I think there might be.
And out of all these guys, I’d start with…Bradley. Jackie has two arbitration years left before free agency. He will be looking for over 10 mil in arbitration this year for sure. I’d try to snow some dumb teams into overvaluing the Gold Glove and the ALCS MVP. If you don’t want to play Benny or Betts in center on a regular basis, you can find some other guy that can’t hit and play a decent center field for a fraction of the cost.
Sure, if we want the Sox to spend 500 mil on their payroll, we keep JBJ. And everyone else. But you know that just isn’t happening.
Good thing that they did win the World Series this year. Because there’s going to be some tough decisions made over the next couple of years whether they have the money to spend or not or whether we like it or not. Be ready for some of those decisions to be made as soon as this winter. And when you have a barren farm system, letting some good players go at the major league level because of money and contracts…well, that might not be a good combination.
Rest assured, the Sox will remain competitive, maybe even for championships. As noted previously, they have plenty of money to spend and will spend a great deal of it. But there could be more bodies going out the door over the next few years than we care to accept…