Which Active Red Sox Player Has the Best Chance at Cooperstown?

Cooperstown, New York remains as baseball’s hallowed grounds. It is there whereCooperstown past legends are forever remembered within the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year, the Boston Red Sox are off to a historic start. Their roster is filled with many talented players. But which of those players has the best chance at going to Cooperstown and joining these hallowed few?

 

 

Craig Kimbrel

Earlier this month, Kimbrel became the youngest closer ever to reach 300 saves. He was also the NL leader in saves from 2011-2014 before joining the Red Sox in 2016. Throughout his entire career as a closer, he has recorded at least 30 saves in each season. In 2011, he was the NL Rookie of the Year and is a six-time all-star, including last season in which he had a 1.43 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. The only active closers with more saves are Huston Street, Fernando Rodney, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of which are significantly older than Kimbrel. When all is said and done, I believe Craig Kimbrel will join Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Dennis Eckersley as the best to ever close.

Mookie Betts

Of any player on the Red Sox in the last decade, Betts has the highest ceiling. The combination of his power, speed, and defensive prowess have put him in the upper echelon of players in today’s game as well as team history. This season he is currently tied for first in home runs, second in average, second in doubles, first in slugging, and first in OPS league-wide. At age 25, Betts likely still has at least ten years of highly-productive seasons left. At the end of his career, Betts will have a good shot at making it to the Hall.

Chris Sale

Few left-handed pitchers have been as dominant in their early careers as Chris Sale.  Among active pitchers, he trails only Clayton Kershaw in career ERA, opponent average, and WHIP. That being said, Kershaw has 29 more career starts than Sale and is slightly older. His win-loss record is 95-59, which is lower than his contemporaries, however he was a part of some poor Chicago White Sox teams. While not even 30, I believe Sale still has the ability for 3-5 more dominant years and 7-9 more strong seasons. To make his way to Cooperstown, he’ll need to avoid serious injury and stay on competitive teams.

Dustin Pedroia

Of any Red Sox, Pedroia is the most intriguing to talk about in terms of Hall of Fame prospects. There is no question that he has remained the heart and soul of this franchise throughout his career, no matter the circumstance. However, he has begun to show signs of physical wearing down via frequent injuries, especially in the second half of his career. That being said, he has never batted lower than .278 in a season and has never committed more than six errors in a season. He is a 4-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time All-Star, a 2008 MVP, and the only Red Sox player other than Kimbrel to win Rookie of the Year. He will forever be remembered as the catalyst for the team in this era.

Cooperstown Breakdown

So who has the best chance of these four? The easy answer is that it depends. I think the best way of looking at Hall of Fame prospects is three-pronged. The first is did they win during their careers; was their impact big enough to yield pennants and championships. Between the four, only Pedroia has a World Series ring. However, all four have been a part of winning teams, even though they’re all in different parts of their careers.

The second, and most obvious, is their career numbers and stats. Frankly, I would not have written this article if it weren’t apparent that these guys had the accolades to be in the conversation.

That leads me to the last and most intriguing factor: their era and its comparables. In other words, what was the climate of baseball at their respective position in terms of character, performance, and competition? For Sale, he’s had Kershaw and Madison Baumgarner, as well as Justin Verlander. For Kimbrel, he entered the league as Rivera and Hoffman were leaving. Betts will always have the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper comparison on his back. Pedroia’s main counterpart throughout his career was Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler never really won anything. His other main comparison was always Robbie Cano, but Cano’s latest PED scandal will likely dampen his reputation a bit.

Given all these variables, I believe that Kimbrel has the best chance because there are few closers in his era to compare him to besides Aroldis Chapman, who has character problems of his own. If Betts and Sale can continue dominating and avoid the pitfalls of free agency, they could make it there too. Should Pedroia finish strong like I expect, he’ll always have my support too.

Show me your thoughts!

I ran a Twitter with a similar question last week, and this is what I gathered. Feel free to tweet with your thoughts or leave comments below. 

15 Red Sox Who Could Be Called Up in September

With August nearly half over and the Sox in the heat of the pennant race, it’s almost time to start thinking about which players could be called up in September.

called up in september

This list does not include big-league players like David Price, Blaine Boyer, and Carson Smith who have been injured, but rather a combination of minor league players and fringe system players who have yet to make a contribution this season.

Deven Marrero – INF

Marrero is pretty much a lock to get called up because he’s already spent significant time at the big league level. His infield flexibility and defensive ability are among the best in the organization.

Austin Maddox – RHP

In emergency situations, Maddox has been the one to get the call to Boston this summer. The big righty has a .190 BAA in Portland and Pawtucket this year.

Robby Scott – LHP

Like Maddox, Scott has spent time in the Sox bullpen already this season. John Farrell likes using him against lefties, especially in the absence of Robbie Ross Jr. I’d be shocked if he isn’t called up again.

Sam Travis – 1B

The Red Sox have never come out and said this, but Sam Travis seems like a guy whose spot could be on the bubble next spring, despite his good performance. Part of me wonders if the team has plans to extend Moreland or go after someone like Eric Hosmer in free agency. That all being said, Travis has hit .279 when he’s been with Boston and could be valuable off the bench this fall.

Tzu-Wei Lin – Util.

Lin has proved to be a versatile player throughout his short career. Likewise, he is a sound fundamental and very coachable player with tremendous upside. His ability to play multiple positions could also be valuable in September so I expect him to get the call.

Noe Ramirez – RHP

While Ramirez has never really spent significant time at the big league level, he’s on the 40-man roster and the team has held on to him there for quite some time now. He was added to the way back in July 2015 and has a 2.96 ERA in 31 games in Triple-A.

Blake Swihart – C/1B/OF

Assuming he’s healthy, you have to think that the Red Sox will give Swihart some action. He hasn’t sniffed the big leagues in just about a calendar year despite being a blue-chip prospect a few short years ago. While many of that is injury related, Swihart hasn’t hit well this season in Pawtucket. Never the less, he could be the backup catcher next season if Sandy Leon isn’t resigned.

Rusney Castillo – OF

Rusney has been raking with the PawSox this season, hitting .308 with 13 home runs in 81 games. The 3-year-old’s time may be ticking, so I’d like to see him get a few more cracks at the big leagues.

Ben Taylor – RHP

Taylor started the season on the active roster and has made a few stints since. Meanwhile, he has a 2.92 ERA in the minors so far in 2017.

Bryce Brentz – OF/DH

Once a can’t miss prospect, Brentz has had a renaissance in Pawtucket this year, hitting .281 with 26 home runs. In close games, he could offer some bench power for the Red Sox during the pennant race and possibly October. Tough to see what the future holds for Brentz in his eighth season in the organization.

Hector Velazquez – RHP

After making a few spot starts for the big club, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Velazquez called up again for depth purposes. He’s 7-3 with a 1.93 ERA in Pawtucket.

Justin Haley – RHP

Haley was returned to the Red Sox via the Rule 5 draft after spending most of the season in the Twins organization. He’s familiar with the organization and has a 2.70 ERA in 9 starts in the minors.

Brian Johnson – LHP

Johnson has made a few starts for the big club this year and has impressed in almost all of them, going 2-0 with a 4.33 ERA and one complete game shutout. However, considering the Red Sox already have a plethora of starters and are expecting David Price back, it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll pitch.

Jalen Beeks – LHP

The college teammate of Andrew Benintendi has dominated this season when it comes to striking batters out. In 117.1 IP, Beeks has 128 K’s and an ERA of 2.76 between Portland and Pawtucket. He’s also Rule 5 Draft eligible in December, so the sooner he is added to the 40-man roster, the better. Given his stuff and delivery, he could profile as a good middle inning guy this September.

Danny Mars – OF

Like Beeks, Mars could be called up in September as well based on his roster status. He’ll become Rule 5 eligible in December too, meaning a team could claim him if he’s not on Boston’s 40-man roster. In Portland this season, Mars is hitting .311 with 19 doubles. He also possesses the capability to make plays with his speed.

After Deadline, Red Sox and Yankees Duel for East

A month ago, the Red Sox were the clear favorites to win the AL East after surging through June. But as July comes to a close, the Yankees and Rays have made major strides to tighten the race. As it stands today, New York leads the division by half a game, with the Red Sox second and the Rays three behind Boston. Clearly, the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are in this for the long haul.

Red Sox and Yankees

But that could all change – either for the better or for worse. Though, here’s a quick recap.

  • On July 18, the White Sox traded Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnleto the Yankees for Blake Rutherford, Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo.
  • Last Sunday, the Red Sox called up top infield prospect Rafael Devers – but later traded for utility player Eduardo Nunez.
  • Thursday, the Rays traded minor league pitcher Drew Smith for Mets first baseman and left-handed hitter Lucas Duda. Further, the Rays also acquired relief pitcher Steve Cishek and Sergio Romo. This came after the Rays had also added Peter Bourjos and Trevor Plouffe earlier in the summer.
  • Monday morning, the Red Sox finalized a deal for Mets setup pitcher Addison Reed.
  • Monday afternoon, the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian. The night before, they traded for Twins pitcher Jaime Garcia and cash.

Trade Implications for Rays, Red Sox and Yankees

There is no question that the Yankees come out of July with the best chance on paper to win the division. Since having a dismal stretch in late June, New York has added three bona fide relievers, a middle of the order bat, and a proven regular right-handed starter. All of those moves filled significant holes on their roster and happened without giving up blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres.

From a pure roster standpoint, Tampa improved more than Boston did from where they stood two weeks ago. The core of the Red Sox has underperformed, but if the Sox can’t solve their offensive woes, then Tampa Bay could steal some games, especially considering their boosted bullpen and a slew of versatile position players.

Addison Reed clearly fills a major hole in the Red Sox bullpen. Matt Barnes and Robby Scott let yesterday’s game against Kansas City get away, much like they did weeks ago. And with the injuries to Joe Kelly, Carson Smith, and Tyler Thornburg, it was time for a change.

Breakdown

While the Yankees may have added more depth to their bullpen, the Red Sox have just as good of an 8/9th inning combo in Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Likewise, the Sox believe Devers and Nunez are just as much of an upgrade as Todd Frazier would have been.

Bottom line: The Sox may have slightly improved their team, but all of it hinges on the production of “pre-existing” players on the team. Meanwhile, the Rays and Yankees made significant upgrades. This ensures that this division won’t be decided in early August. The Red Sox and Yankees rivalry may, in fact, be back.

Devers, Nunez Look to Solve Red Sox Depth Problem

There is no question that the offense is struggling, partly because of the Red Sox depthproblem. As of 7/25, Mitch Moreland was batting .067, Benintendi .145, Bogaerts .164, and Jackie Bradley.114.

Woof.

Red Sox Depth Problem

In the last 18, the Red Sox are 7-11, and averaging only 3.3 runs per game.

 

Woof again.

Despite this, they’re still in the thick of the AL East division race and only a half game out of first. And with the Yankees seemingly getting better with the additions of David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Todd Frazier, there was only one solution in their minds to stay ahead.

Calling up 20-year-old infield prospect Rafael Devers.

In 86 minor league games this season, Devers hit .311 with 20 home runs and 60 RBI. But his bat was never in question, for it was his defense that drew criticism from some advanced analysts and scouts. Though from what I’ve seen personally, watching Devers in the majority of home games in Portland, he has the physical and mental makeup to succeed in the big leagues. He also hit a bomb to center field for his first MLB hit.

So based on that, seems like he’d be the sole answer this season, right?

Wrong.

Tuesday, the Red Sox acquired Eduardo Nunez for minor league pitchers Gregory Santos and Shaun Anderson. Nunez was previously a member of the San Francisco Giants and Minnesota Twins. Based on his current .308 average, I’m not surprised San Fran’ was selling on him, but I would’ve thought the Red Sox would stand pat unless they were able to get a bona fide middle-of-the-order bat. No disrespect to Nunez, but he is basically here for depth.

A Red Sox Depth Problem

A lot of their infield depth is either injured or underperforming. Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge haven’t played at all since summer began. Tzu-Wei Lin was productive in late June and early July, but was sent back to the minors. Deven Marrero is a great defender, but can’t seem to hit consistently. He was sent down Friday. And if the top of the order is already struggling, the Sox cannot withstand that either.

To keep up with such deficiencies, Boston has added Devers and Nunez to the roster on this road trip. The latter of which will join the team Friday.

Whether this will solve the Red Sox on the field problems remains to be seen. But with the Yankees and Rays closely behind, something needed to be done.

And in fact, Dombrowski could still be trying to make a deal up until Monday’s deadline.

Portland Beats Hartford, Slugs Five Home Runs

Portland, Maine – The Sea Dogs (44-50) were propelled by a season-high five home runs, as Portland beats Hartford (44-51) 12-6 in the series opener on Thursday night at Hadlock Field. 

portland beats hartford
The win ended the Sea Dogs’ five-game losing streak and also ended the Yard Goats’ six-game win streak.
 
Hartford got off two a hot start on a solo homer by Max White on the second pitch of the game by Elih Villanueva. Two batters later Drew Weeks homered to make it 2-0 ‘Goats.
 
Portland quickly responded in the bottom of the first on a two-run home run by Chad De La Guerra off of Parker French.
 
Jordan Procyshen hit an opposite-field three-run homer in the second to extend the ‘Dogs lead to 5-2, then Portland brought all nine to the plate in a six-run third.  Mike Olt hit a three-run homer, Procyshen pulled a RBI double down the right field line, then Danny Mars hit a two-run blast to make it 11-2.
 
Parker French (7-8) went 2.2 innings and allowed 11 runs on nine hits.  In two starts against Portland this year, French has allowed eight home runs.
 
Hartford started to climb back, adding a run in the fourth and three more on a home run by Stephen Cardullo in the fifth to cut the deficit to 11-6.
 
Villanueva (4-3) allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings while walking one and striking out five in the victory.  Josh Smith (three innings) and Jake Cosart (one inning) combined to pitch the final four innings and did not allow a hit.
 
Jeremy Barfield hit a solo homer in the sixth off of Troy Nieman to make it a 12-6 ballgame.
 
All nine Sea Dogs had at least one hit.  Olt finished a triple shy of the cycle while De La Guerra, Barfield, and Procyshen each had two hits apiece.

The Road Ahead

 Portland and Hartford play a doubleheader Friday at Hadlock Field, first pitch in game one is scheduled for 5:00 PM.
Radio coverage on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network begins at 4:45 PM. MiLB.TV starts at 4:55 PM.

PawSox Relievers Help Extend Streak to Eight Wins

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Three days after the Red Sox played a 16-inning marathon at Fenway Park, the ripple effects extended to McCoy Stadium, where a wave of PawSox relievers combined on a five-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Toledo Mud Hens on Tuesday.

“I’ll tell you what, this bullpen what they did tonight [was great], because we had some moves, some guys go to the big leagues,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said.

PawSox Relievers

With Brian Johnson and Héctor Velázquez promoted to Boston earlier in the day, the PawSox bullpen stepped up to stifle the Mud Hens and power Pawtucket (50-44) to an eighth consecutive win and a 10th victory in the last 11 games. The PawSox notched their 14th shutout win of the season, the most in the International League.

On a bullpen day, PawSox reliever Chandler Shepherd made the spot start and tossed two shutout innings with a strikeout. Ty Buttrey (W, 1-1), who was sent to Double-A Portland over the weekend and returned to Pawtucket on Tuesday, fanned four in three scoreless stanzas of one-hit ball. Jamie Callahan punched out three in two strong frames of his own, and left-hander Robby Scott, who had spent all of the season with the Red Sox until his option Tuesday, got the next four outs before righty Noe Ramirez nabbed the final two.

PawSox right fielder Bryce Brentz (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) lofted his 20th home run of the season, tied for second-most in the International League, and designated hitter Rafael Devers went 2-for-4 with a line drive single up the middle and a hard grounder through the right side. Left fielder Ryan Court (1-for-3, BB) extended his hitting streak to 16 games, tied for the longest by a Pawtucket player this season.

Rehabbing Tigers starter Daniel Norris (L) logged three innings and surrendered five runs (four earned) on three hits and a pair of walks to go along with four strikeouts.

Pawtucket placed the first two aboard to begin the bottom of the first and, with two outs, third baseman Matt Dominguez yanked a two-run double down the left-field line and then scored himself on a throwing error to make it 3-0.

In the third, Brentz skied a towering two-run homer to the right-center bleachers to stretch the lead to 5-0. Five innings later, he made it 6-0 when he drilled an RBI double off the wall in straightaway center.

The Road Ahead

The PawSox continue their series with the Toledo Mud Hens on Wednesday at 11:05 a.m. at McCoy Stadium. PawSox right-hander Kyle Kendrick (3-6, 6.84) is scheduled to oppose Mud Hens righty Drew VerHagen (6-7, 4.95). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 10:35 a.m.

The seven-game homestand runs through Sunday. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.