Search For New Red Sox Hitting Coach

Dave Magadan

Dave Magadan

Former Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn stepped down as hitting coach for health reasons after the 2014 season leaving the Red Sox with a void. The hitting coach candidates for the Red Sox are plentiful with the names including Dave Magadan, Rich Gedman, Bill Mueller, Chili Davis, Paul Sorrento, Tim Hyers. All come with former major league playing experience and either major or minor league coaching experience.

The search should begin with Dave Magadan, but he is technically under contract to the Texas Rangers for the 2015 season. He could come available when Texas hires a new manager. The new manager may want to bring in their own staff and start fresh with a new voice. Magadan is no stranger having served as the hitting coach for the Red Sox before starting in 2006 and was on the 2007 World Series team. Under his guidance in 2006, the team’s batting average increased from .269-.279, slugging percentage went up from 435-444, on base percentage went up .351-.362 and the team led A.L. in walks with 689. During the 2007 World Series, the team batting .333. In 2008 Boston was among league leaders in all batting categories such as having a .280 batting average, 845 runs, 353 doubles, 807 RBI, 2,503 total bases, and was 3rd with a .447 slugging percentage.

Rich Gedman is an intriguing and popular name having been the catcher from 1980-1990 with the Red Sox. The Worcester native played under the intense hitting coach Walter Hriniak where he made a big improvement of year two in the majors. Hriniak of course was instrumental later in his career in helping Frank Thomas in Chicago put up hall of fame numbers. Gedman was a two time all star in 1985 and 1986 and hit for the cycle in a game against Toronto in 1985. He has been the AA Portand hitting coach for the past four seasons. Portland had a .268 batting average this year and averaged 4.6 runs. He also has coached prospects such as Mookie Betts, Sean Coyle, Blake Swihart and other top prospects.

Bill Mueller is another familiar name to Red Sox nation having played third base on the 2004 World Series team. He was the 2003 batting champion with a .326 average having batted eighth most of the year. He was also a silver slugger award winner that year for third basemen. He recently was with the Chicago Cubs and is available after leaving the team.

Chili Davis is a former all star in the major leagues and serves as the Oakland A’s hitting coach. Oakland may consider a move for him to bench coach to try to entice him to stay. Davis also was a former hitting coach for Pawtucket AAA in 2011. Paul Sorrento, minor league hitting coordinator for the Los Angeles Angels, is a Sommerville native and shares a Cleveland Indian playing career in common with manager John Farrell. Tim Hyers is also a candidate who was the Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator and filled in at the big league level with Greg Colbrunn was out of action for health reasons.

Boston Red Sox Outfield Surplus

red sox outfield 2014With the recent addition of Rusney Castillo, that gives the  Red Sox eight legitimate candidates to compete for outfield jobs in the spring of 2015. Other than Castillo, the Sox have Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Brock Holt, Allen Craig and Daniel Nava. I didn’t even include minor league prospects such as Bryce Brentz and Alex Hassan in that mix.

To be realistic, the Sox will probably only carry four outfielders. Advantages to carrying Brock Holt is that he can play anywhere on the diamond except pitcher or catcher and Allen Craig who can also play first base. Some folks will need to go in order for the numbers to work. Rusney Castillo will be given every shot to win the center field job. You can probably lock in Yoenis Cespedes in left field,unless another major trade happens, and possibly Shane Victorino if he is healthy. Victorino went on record as saying he is planning on being the right fielder next year. That leaves room for one back up among the others.

If Victorino isn’t healthy, Jackie Bradley Jr. would then move into that spot as the Sox have said they like employing two center fielders in the outfield. Mookie Betts would likely start the year at AAA Pawtucket as would Bradley Jr. if Victorino is healthy and can regain his productivity. You would think that Allen Craig came here to start and play everyday and not just be a fourth outfielder. Another scenario could be moving him to first base and possibly trading Mike Napoli.

A case could also be made to keep Daniel Nava as he is the only left-handed bat among that group. I expect him to get traded though as early as now or September to a contender  that could use him as a push into the playoffs. He is playoff tested, after last season, and could draw interest from teams. The last guy in this equation is Brock Holt. He has done everything the Sox could ask for this season and then some.

Brock Holt has really bailed the Sox out with providing a legitimate lead off hitter to fill the void left by Jacoby Ellsbury. That was a spot that Grady Sizemore couldn’t handle nor could Jackie Bradley Jr. He is also a nice guy who plays hard and is a sort of throwback on all of the positions he could play. If not in the Red Sox outfield, he could be the back up utility infielder.

It should be an interesting final month of the year to keep an eye on how all these guys will fit in to the Red Sox outfield for the remainder of the season and in 2015.

Red Sox Need Another Lefty Pitcher

John Danks lefty pitcher

The trade of Jon Lester opened up a void of veteran leadership and a lefty in the starting rotation. The Red Sox have a kid with a bright future in Henry Owens, but he may need more seasoning next year down in AAA Pawtucket. An intriguing possibility for the Red Sox could be Chicago White Sox lefty John Danks.

Danks is currently 29-years-old and is signed to two more years after this season. The original deal he signed in 2011 was for five years worth a total of $65 million, making $8 million in 2012 and $14.25 per season each year after. The money is hefty, but the years are just where the Sox would like to be without a long-term risk.

Danks has had some health issues having had surgery on August 6, 2012. He came back last year to pitch and kind of reinvented himself under pitching Coach Don Cooper in Chicago to become “crafty”. He still can throw in the low 90’s, and mixes things up with an arsenal of a sharp cutter, a very good straight change, a big slow curve ball and a two- seam fastball; he has gotten stronger since his return.

His best year to date was in 2008, his first full year in the starting rotation, going 12-9 with a 3.32 ERA (fifth in the American League) and 1.23 WHIP in 33 starts. He finished just shy of the coveted 200 innings mark with 195. He pitched a one game playoff that year, defeating the Minnesota Twins 1-0 to clinch the American League Central Division, which was dubbed the “Black Out” game—all fans in Chicago wore black.

The White Sox were rumored to have been having talks with the Yankees at the trade deadline, but in the end nothing materialized. There were some sniffs by other teams, but GM Rick Hahn decided to stand pat as nothing made sense at the time to get better for the short or long-term benefit of the team. Some groundwork was laid for a future deal though with these discussions and if the Red Sox weren’t already in them, they may be in the future.

With the trade deadline passed, waiver deals are the next steps if any teams are looking to still make moves. (A player would have to clear waivers first which is always kind of risky.) The good news is the Red Sox have a worse record than the Yankees, so they would get a chance at him first if they act on him this year. If not, then I would expect them to talk in the off season.

John Danks is not Jon Lester talent wise, but is from Texas and is a grinder who has battled adversity and keeps on fighting.

Sox Must Master Off-Season

justin_masterson_autograph

After a frenzy of a trade deadline moving most of the pitching staff, the Sox must master off-season free agency. By mastering free agency, the target should be signing and bringing pitcher Justin Masterson back to Boston. He began his career with the Red Sox from 2006-2009. He was later traded away to Cleveland for Victor Martinez who was supposed to have been a big back the Sox needed at the time.

Re-living the trade deadline of 2009, teams were interested in a young fire balling Daniel Bard. The Sox felt he was untouchable at the time and unloaded Masterson. What a mistake that was looking back on it! Masterson did a fine job in Cleveland, most of the time being the staff ace while he was there, until being traded recently to St Louis. Masterson won’t be a tier one free agent pitcher as those will-be-Max-Scherzer and the since departed Jon Lester.

As much as Sox fans would like to think that Lester will come back in the off-season, that isn’t going to happen. He teased Red Sox fans by saying even if traded, he would welcome a return back. After hearing owner John Henry’s comments about not signing players to long-term contracts after a player hits 30, there is your proof he is not returning. If he was going to be here, the Sox would have already signed him.

Getting back to Masterson, he could work out as a veteran addition to the staff to help with the youngsters that are going to be here. He could potentially be the Mike Napoli or Shane Victorino free agent attraction the Sox are looking for—big money, short-term three-four year deal. Three is my guess of what they would top out for him.

This would only be the case if he doesn’t go on too much of a tear for the Cardinals and prices himself out of what the Red Sox would be willing to commit to him. The Cardinals did good for themselves getting him and John Lackey to join them for the stretch run. Masterson has played for John Farrell before during his first stint here and would be a good fit in the clubhouse.

The future of the staff appears to be Ruby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Brandon Workman at this time. Allen Webster hasn’t shown much yet, but he will continue to get more chances. The Sox still have, and are high on, Henry Owens who is still in the minors and could be here possibly in September for a cup of coffee. With the remaining games of the year, the Sox should get a good idea of whom will be ready for 2015 and what they will need to do in free agency.

Sox Fans Drinking The Kool Aid

Sox fans drinking the kool aid

Some Red Sox fans are drinking the Kool Aid after winning for the eighth time in nine games, as of July 21st, by clobbering the Toronto Blue Jays 14-1. The offense has come alive as of late, which hasn’t happened all season. The lowest point for this team was probably the sweep by the Theo Epstein led Cubs before the All-Star Break.

There are now currently four teams ahead of the Sox in the East, but at least they are out of last place. They climbed up to being seven games back in the division. At one point the Sox were 10.5 games out, so at this point Red Sox fans should be happier about things. Now before everyone says big frickin’ deal and that this win streak has come at the hands of some bad teams…HOLD ON! The Jays were the first place team for a while and currently sit 3.5 games back. When you look at things, this division is weak, so anything is possible.

As Red Sox fans hate to bring up 2011, look at the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals of that year. The Atlanta Braves were up on Wild Card lead by 10.5 games ahead of the Cardinals on August 24. Yes I said August 24th, and the Cardinals came all the way back to win the Wild Card and World Series that year! Now I am not saying this will happen to the Red Sox, but don’t count them out quite yet as we are still in July with a full August and September to go. Now if the Sox are seven games out in September, I will be writing a different story and singing a different tune.

Should the Sox be buyers or sellers at this point? They should be partial sellers, trading away Jake Peavy so Brandon Workman and Ruby De La Rosa can stick around full-time in the rotation. Keep playing the kids—such as Christian Vazquez who is going to be a star in this league one day. If some other trades make sense to get some young talent back, go ahead, but I wouldn’t strip the bullpen down as it may still come in handy down the stretch.

So bottoms up everyone!

Can’t Fall In Love With Red Sox Veterans

Lucchino Red Sox Veterans

The 2014 season for the Boston Red Sox has been very disappointing to say the least. It all goes back to a statement that President and CEO Larry Lucchino made last offseason at the DVD premier of the 2013 World Series. He said, “You can’t fall in love with veterans,” meaning of players on your ball club. That is exactly what one of the biggest mistakes is that happened with this team.

You see, there was Mike Napoli who was a free agent coming off a great season, but had the hip concerns and was only on a one year contract. He led the team with the longest beard, and started the beard theme that carried the team all year in 2013. The time came to re-sign him and all in New England would have been mad if he didn’t come back, right? WRONG!!!

There happened to be a young power hitting future All-Star first baseman from Cuba named Jose Abreu, or “The Canon” as broadcaster Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson calls him. He wound up going to the Chicago White Sox for a six-year contract worth a total of 68 million dollars. That deal looks like a bargain as he is now a franchise player for the White Sox. He had defected last August and was declared a free agent in October. The White Sox had a tough decision to make too, as they would have to wave goodbye to full-time play of their franchise favorite, first baseman Paul Konerko.

There were rumors the Red Sox had looked into him, but they wound up bringing Napoli back. It isn’t clear if the Red Sox made him a serious offer, and it would have taken huge grapefruits for the Red Sox to sign an unproven player and let Napoli go. Imagine what Abreu’s .287 batting average, 28 homers and 71 RBIs would have brought to the Red Sox line-up? David Ortiz isn’t getting younger and Abreu would have been the bridge to the future.

It’s hard to look back now, but as Lucchino said, “Can’t fall in love with veterans.”