Red Sox Post All-Star Break Review

The Boston Red Sox entered the All-Star break at 68-30. That was the best record in Major League Baseball, and they’ve kept a firm grasp on that honor. Back on July 2nd, Rick Porcello and the Sox took down the Washington Nationals 4-3. You may remember Porcello driving a shot into the gap and clearing the bases off a pitch from reigning NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer to put Boston ahead. They went on to win the next nine contests. In the series opener against the Blue Jays, you may remember Mookie Betts’ at-bat heard around the world when he launched a grand slam over the Green Monster on the 13th pitch he saw. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

Boston’s next loss came eleven days later, on Friday the 13th no less, in their second All Star breakgame against the Blue Jays. The bad luck didn’t last long, however. The following game, the Sox and Jays headed to extra innings knotted at 2 when Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. One run was all Boston needed, but Bogaerts went ahead and sent one over the fence in dead center instead, walking the game off in glorious fashion. It was Boston’s first walk-off grand slam since the year 2000.

Just a year after not hitting a single grand slam, the Sox, with nine at the break, are in striking distance of the franchise record for grand slams in a season (11), and the MLB record (14). The Red Sox concluded the first half winning 12 of their last 13 contests and 17 of their last 20. Now, as Boston’s dominant pace continues, let’s take a look back on the first half for the winningest team in Major League Baseball.

Starting Pitching

For the first time in Red Sox history, Boston entered the break with four pitchers with ten or more wins. Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have eleven, while Chris Sale and David Price, each with ten, are just behind.

Rodriguez continues to progress in Boston, with his 11-3 record, 3.44 ERA, and 110 strikeouts on pace to be career-highs. He was just placed on the ten-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain and is still sidelined to this day. While Porcello hasn’t returned to his Cy Young form from two years ago, he remains a respectable arm in the middle of the rotation. However, Porcello looked like Cy Young himself in his recent start against the Yankees, where he tossed a complete, one-hit gem of a game that aided the Sox in their relentless sweep of New York, comfortably in second place in the AL East.

Price continues to be a wild card with his injury hiccups and apparent inability to pitch against the Yankees. At 10-6 with an ERA north of four, there is certainly room for improvement from Boston’s 217-million-dollar southpaw. While we’re on the subject, Price looked to find some sort of groove against the Yankees in their last series. He wasn’t dominant, but it was a significant step in the right direction. Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz will likely return to health soon after the break, and the claim for the fifth rotation spot is something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Sale, with an AL-best 2.23 ERA and MLB-best 188 strikeouts, is throwing as well as anyone in the MLB and is a front-runner for the American League Cy Young. I’ve paid my respects to him already.

Relief Pitching

In a word, unimpressive. We all know about Carson Smith by now. Joe Kelly has enjoyed a successful year as Boston’s setup man, but his ERA had ballooned to 4.31 recently after a stretch of shaky outings. Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson haven’t been anything special, and Tyler Thornburg had only appeared in four games. Craig Kimbrel had 30 saves at the break and continues to look like one of the best closers in baseball. But unfortunately, he can’t do it all.

Offense

The main reason for the best first half in franchise history? This right here. Mookie Betts led Major League Baseball with a .359 batting average and is gunning for MVP honors. J.D. Martinez, who batted .328, is third, and his 29 home runs and 80 runs batted in led the league at the break. The influence of Martinez on this lineup has been nothing short of incredible. He continues to make his case for one of the best free agent acquisitions the Red Sox have ever made. Expect his name right next to Mookie’s on the MVP ballot.

At the turning point in the season, Xander Bogaerts had already surpassed his 2017 home run total and matched his RBI total. Mitch Moreland played his way to his first career All-Star game in his second season in Beantown. Andrew Benintendi was flat out robbed of an All-Star appearance. He is on pace for career-highs in batting average, stolen bases, home runs, doubles, and RBI. The struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. subsided as the first half wound down and he looks to have found some sort of groove at the plate. Newly acquired Steve Pearce is fitting in nicely so far. Through nine games, he’s batting .458 and is another cog in the stacked Red Sox lineup. Oh, and he absolutely torched the Yankees in the series sweep, hitting four dingers and driving in eight runs.

Review of the Red Sox After the All-Star Break

The Red Sox entered the break with a 4.5 game lead on the Yankees in the AL East, and it has skyrocketed since then. Betts, Martinez, Moreland, Sale, and Kimbrel all secured a trip to the All-Star Game. The Sox were the only team in the American League with multiple starters in the All-Star Game (Betts, Martinez).

Looking back, the Red Sox started the year 17-2 on their way to the best start in franchise history. And they hit the All-Star break after going 17-3 over their last 20. The Boston Red Sox are statistically the best team in Major League Baseball. If their historic first half is any indication, this ballclub will be a force to be reckoned with come October.

Does Barry Bonds Deserve Hall of Fame Induction?

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions took place over the last weekend in July in Cooperstown, NY. These inductions often spark debate over who continues to be left out. Names like Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds often come up. Bonds is struggling to get inducted despite being the home run king, as he holds the season and career home run records. Despite his connections to PED usage, and his reputation as a moody guy, does Barry Bonds deserve induction into the Hall of Fame?

This writer says no for reasons that I’ll expand on later in this article. First, though, IBonds deserves recognize the fact that Bonds is the home run king. With or without PEDs, it takes a high level of skill to make contact with a 90+ MPH fastball. As of today, Bonds is only one of three players ever to hit more than 700 home runs in his career. He’s one of two players to ever hit 70 home runs in a season. On top of that, he accumulated multiple MVP awards, batting titles, and Gold Gloves. So no one can say he’s not qualified for the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean he belongs there though.

Does Bonds Deserve More Consideration? His Past Says No.

Here’s my beef with Bonds. While it’s quite the feat that he hit 762 home runs in his career, the question I keep asking is “So what?” Were his home runs more significant than Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron’s? Ruth’s home runs brought people back to the ballpark in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Aaron showed a tremendous amount of perseverance in the fact of racial adversity while he chased Ruth’s record. What did Bonds’ home run chase do? You can argue that he broke Aaron’s record in the face of mounting criticism of his used of PEDs, but Bonds brought that criticism on himself. In my opinion, numbers aside, the inability to answer that question leaves a gaping hole in the argument to induct Bonds into the Hall of Fame.

The other issue I have with Bonds is his inability to be a team player. According to ESPN, during his time on the baseball team at Arizona State, Bonds was so despised by his teammates that all but two voted to kick him off the team after numerous altercations. Then there’s the arrogance Bonds displayed during his years with the Pittsburg Pirates and San Francisco Giants where fans, media, and even his teammates harbored a strong dislike for him. In my view, it reflects his inability to appreciate all those who contribute to the game. For Bonds, it was all about him.

Does Bonds Deserve To Be In The Hall? No, But Not Because Of PEDs

Bonds’ alleged PED use doesn’t turn me off to Bonds. In fact, last year I wrote an article arguing that Roger Clemens should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As many know, Clemens allegedly used PEDs. Clemens was a fierce competitor too.

It is the idea that Bonds played in a world separate from one that contributes significance and meaning to the game that makes me argue against his induction. In Bonds’ world, all he cared about was accumulating as many homers as possible. It’s as if he cared about nothing other than personal gain. And for what? It’s clear he didn’t care about being a team player. So what was Bonds trying to accomplish?

For me, Bonds’ numbers aren’t enough to merit induction. To me, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about how the numbers impacted and contributed to the game. In my view, Bonds’ numbers were nothing more than self-serving efforts to quell his inner demons.

Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are worth their weight in gold. In my view, Bonds is worth his weight in monopoly money. Bonds might have the numbers, but it’s not enough to buy his way into the Hall.

Red Sox Dominated 2018 All-Star Lineup

Five members of the Boston Red Sox played in the 2018 American League All-Star team this week. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel represented Boston. As the Red Sox dominated the All-Star lineup this year, they got a taste of what they’ll be up against if and when they reach the World Series this season.

These Red Sox players brought a lot of history to Nationals Park this year. Chrisred sox dominate Sale started the All-Star game marking only the third time in history that a pitcher has started three straight All-Star games. The other two are Robin Roberts, and Lefty Gomez. Mookie Betts was named leadoff hitter for the American League team. Sale and Craig Kimbrel, Boston’s premier closer, now both have seven All-Star appearances. Surprisingly enough, this was only J.D. Martinez’s second All-Star game. He hit 45 home runs last year but didn’t make an All-Star appearance. SO what does all this mean? To Red Sox Nation, it’s a sign of what’s to come this fall. These All-Stars, a few of who are carrying Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, will carry the Red Sox to the post-season this year.

Red Sox Dominated All-Star Line-Up, And Possibly the National League Come October

The All-Star game itself saw its fair share of home runs. Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Jean Segura hit homers for the American League. Wilson Contreras, Christian Yelich, Scooter Gennett, Joey Votto, and Trevor Story hit home runs of their own for the National League. Overall there were ten home runs hit in this year’s All-Star game, breaking the 1971 record by four. This year’s All-Star game also saw 25 strikeouts. The American League went on to win their sixth straight All-Star game 8-6 in 10 innings.

The Red Sox have the best record in baseball right now. They’re 68-30 at the All-Star break. That’s slightly better than the World Series-defending champs Houston Astros. With four of their pitchers (Sale, Price, Rodriguez, and Porcello) projected to win 17 or more games this season, it’s clear the Red Sox have the pitching and the hitting to make it to the Fall Classic.

The Underappreciated Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland is an all-star. Yep, that is right. Whether that says more about the lack of first-base production in the A.L., or not, you can’t discredit what Mitch has done for the Red Sox thus far. Moreland’s numbers aren’t ungodly by any means, but he is incredibly consistent. Moreland currently sits at a very respectable .282, with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in. Looking around the league, he more than deserves to be wearing that American League jersey next week.

Time and time again, when Boston needs a clutch hit, its often “Mitchy 2bags” thatMoreland delivers. While batting 4th, Alex Cora can count on him to drive in runs routinely and expect him to have game-altering at-bats. Moreland also is a great team leader, very durable and plays gold-glove defense, somewhat anchoring the infield with his almost non-existent errors.

Players and coaches acknowledge Moreland’s humble, yet steady baseball approach and awarded him with his first appearance. Around the league, Moreland has always been just a decent hitter with a stellar gold-glove. Now playing every day, he is putting up the numbers he is capable of. He will back up White Sox first-baseball Jose Abreu for the American League next week in the summer classic.

Mitch Moreland Is More Than Earning His Paycheck

This winter, Moreland became a free agent. Many thought that Dave Dombrowski would stay away from offering him a contract considering Hanley Ramirez was slated for first-base. Additionally, the inevitable mega J.D. Martinez contract was looming. Dombrowski acted quickly, however, and signed Mitch to a two-year 13 million dollar contract. Considering the lack of first base production around the league, the fact that Hanley was cut from Boston and his ability to be an underrated cleanup hitter for this potent offensive club, that contract is an absolute steal.

Moreland is making 6.5 million a year. When 2017 free agency opened, it seemed nobody had him in the same upper echelon of free agents in the likes of say Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana. San Diego shelled out an immense 144 million dollar contract to Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting .253 this year, that seems underwhelming for that deal. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has to pay Santana 20 million annually for the next 3 years. Santana is currently hitting .214  I would have to say that the Red Sox like their underappreciated first-baseman just fine.

Can David Price Find A Stronger Groove?

Lasting only 4.2 innings, David Price gave up six hits and four earned runs, including a homer against Kansas City Friday night. But he stuck out nine in those four innings. That game flashed instances of greatness and weakness for Price. It’s almost like he’s another Steve Dalkowski. It was the second game in a row though that Price struggled in. So can David Price find his groove again?

The 2012 Cy Young Award winner got demolished in last week’s game against the Newdavid price find York Yankees. The eight earned runs he gave up in three innings not only temporarily surrendered first place to the Yankees in the AL East, but I had to listen to my mom, a Yankee fan, boast about it for an hour the next day. But it wasn’t just a bad outing for Price. It was a disaster, a CATASTROPHE! That’s why so many in Red Sox Nation are showing a little panic about Price’s recent performances.

Price not only gave up eight runs in 3.1 innings of work against the Yankees, he gave up FIVE home runs in three innings! Giving up five home runs in three innings is like a pigeon crapping on your shoulder five times during a three-minute walk. Many people chalked it up to Price’s history of poor pitching at Yankee Stadium. Price had a 2-4 record with a 6.15 ERA at Yankee Stadium BEFORE this season. Last week’s outing against the Yankees only went to show that he just doesn’t do well there.

Can David Price Find Better Success This Season?

Of course. It’s not like he’s washed up or anything. But according to ESPN, Price has a 17.18 ERA against the Rangers this year, who he almost faced this week. In the one game Price started against the Rangers this year, he gave up nine runs, seven of them earned, in only 3.2 innings. It’s hard to imagine that this didn’t give Alex Cora second thoughts about giving Price the game ball this week against Texas.

Regardless, Price has more than a few obstacles to overcome this season.

Where Did The Collins and Yawkey Plaques Go?

The Boston Red Sox made headlines last spring when they successfully lobbied the City of Boston to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street. Boston initially changed it to Yawkey Way in honor of the Red Sox’s longtime owner Tom Yawkey, who died in 1976. The Boston Red Sox’s long and turbulent history with race relations under Yawkey partially prompted the name change request. However, many fans have noticed that the commemorative plaques honoring Eddie Collins and Tom Yawkey that once hung outside Fenway Parka are also gone. So where did the Collins and Yawkey plaques go?

The Boston Red Sox were the last team to integrate in 1959 when Pumpsie Green madeyawkey plaques his debut. In preceding years the Red Sox had a chance to sign future Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, but for one reason or another, decided to pass. This reluctance to sign these legends contributed to the Red Sox’s turbulent history with race relations.

Collins and Yawkey Plaques Are Still A Reminder Of A Bad Past

Despite earlier claims, I now believe that changing Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street was a smart idea. I initially didn’t think it was fair to remove Yawkey’s name since there’s no evidence that he was personally racist. However, he was the sole owner for many years. Yawkey could have easily integrated the team, but he chose not to. Furthermore, we’re living in a time now where nationalism is fueling an increase in white supremacist activity throughout the United States, so I get why the Red Sox would want to distance themselves as far away as possible from Yawkey’s legacy. No matter how you look at it, it’s not a good look. With that said, I’m not necessarily sorry to see the plaques go. Keeping the plaques there would be awkward as the Red Sox push for more diversity in sports. But where did the plaques go?

Where Did The Collins and Yawkey Plaques Go?

The plaques just sort of disappeared. Numerous inquiries by reporters to the Red Sox have yielded no answers as to the plaques’ whereabouts. According to a Boston Globe article, The Yawkey Foundations, which strongly protested the name change, requested both the street signs and plaques hanging inside the stadium that honor Tom and Jean Yawkey.

Jack Sullivan, a reporter for CommonWealth Magazine who wrote about the missing plaques, told me via email that “My understanding is the Yawkey Foundation got his plaque and the Eddie Collins plaque is in storage at Fenway.”

Was it a good idea to get rid of the Collins and Yawkey plaques?

Probably. It only makes sense to stay consistent, especially when the plaques were on what is now Jersey Street. But I am concerned that the Red Sox aren’t being considerate of Yawkey’s legacy as a philanthropist. His foundations have given more than $450 million to various charities since 1977. This fact makes me feel as though the Red Sox are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.