Is Manny Machado the Missing Piece?

Red Sox fans know that July 31st is always an important date on the baseball calendar. It is the non-waiver trade deadline. The big prize this year will presumably be Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. Machado is having his usual MVP caliber year hitting over .300, with more than 50 runs batted in at the halfway point. He will be a free agent this offseason and will inevitably demand a big payday. The Orioles are already 29.5 games back and will likely look to get assets for their current star this summer.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette wants a current promising major leaguer in anyMachado package. Usually, the Red Sox have a lot of assets and clout at their disposal during this time of year, enough to make a generous offer for such a player. However, most of those prospects have been either promoted or traded. Top prospects Michael Chavis, unfortunately, is suspended for PEDs and Jason Groome is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the main pieces in any deal would probably be from the big league club.

With young star players such as Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi seemingly off the table, the logical name becomes Red Sox third baseman, Rafael Devers. Devers gives the Orioles some young pop, the talent now and for the future. Meanwhile, Machado, who has third base experience, could slide to the hot corner and not only improve the offense, but the defense. He’s a gold-glover at that position, meanwhile, Devers currently leads the position in errors.

Manny Machado Could Be the Missing Championship Piece

The problem with Machado is the impending free agency. Devers is under team control and the Red Sox will be risking taking on the free-agent to be and him not signing long-term with the team. However, that risk may be worth it considering how much he would improve the team this season. Dombrowski would want to have an initial talk with Machado about a framework of an extension, before dealing Devers. Devers is too good to let go for a rental.

The other caveat, of course, is Machado’s recent disdain for the Red Sox organization. Last year he was involved in the Red Sox-Orioles second base, year-long confrontation with Pedroia. This could be an issue. Many thought Machado went in too strong at second and Pedroia wasn’t happy. That caused a back and forth between the teams, with pitchers throwing at different batters, causing Machado to say “I’ve lost respect for that organization”. Now that seems to be a distant memory. The Orioles are almost irrelevant and Machado probably wants a shot at playing for a title. Also, Alex Cora is now at the helm for the Red Sox, not John Farrell. This could change Machado’s thoughts on the franchise.

Where Is The American League Competition?

As the calendar turns to June, a third of the baseball season will have been played. Looking at the standings, it might as well end now. The American League’s best two teams may play in the east division. Those teams of course are the Red Sox and Yankees, as their historic rivalry has been renewed. The consensus other two potential A.L. World Series threats, Astros and Indians, seemingly already have their divisions locked up. Where is the rest of the A.L. competition?

The central division Indians are one game above .500 but have a 6.5 game lead on the Leaguesecond place Twins. The east division third place Rays, are already double digit games behind the Yankees and Red Sox. The lone somewhat competitive division is the west. Although it does seem to already be a lock that the Astros will win another division title, thanks in large part to their dominant pitching staff, at least the Angels and Mariners remain competitive.

The Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Astros, are going to run away with the American League.

Shohei Ohtani and his “Babe Ruthian” like play has sent shockwaves to the west division. Ohtani has given the Angels a much needed facelift. He has also been someone to take pressure off Mike Trout, as they try and keep up with the Astros. The Mariners and Angels look like they are going to be fighting all season for the final wild card spot. That seems to be the only playoff race.

Part of what has made baseball so great, especially recently in the last decade, has been the parody throughout the league. Low market teams such as the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Rays, have reigned supreme in the A.L., both getting to the World Series in the last decade. Other sports such as the NBA seem very predictable. Fans, media members and experts, even from as early as the preseason, can pretty much pencil the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, due to the league’s collection of top end talent.

The American League Seems To Be Top Heavy.

The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the best in sports, but while they continue to thrive and deliver an impressive payroll, other low end markets such as the Chicago White Sox, are forced to “rebuild”. In other words, forced to trade their established stars for prospects. This way teams can have more team control on promising players for longer and pay them less. The Chicago White Sox are currently in the process of this rebuild. They currently have just 15 wins almost a third of the season through. Obviously with less wins, come less fans. It seems that these lower market teams, like Chicago, have completely empty ballparks and declining intrigue.

Teams who do not have money due to lack of revenue, can not spend on established stars, therefore can’t keep up with the stalwarts of the top markets. This is leading towards a top heavy league.

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Rays Not The Same Without Evan Longoria

The Boston Red Sox opened the 2018 season at Tampa Bay by taking 3-of-4 games against the Rays. While the Rays were paying tribute to the 1998 inaugural team, they were doing so without Evan Longoria.

The Rays were one franchise before Longoria and a completely different one during his decade long tenure at Tropicana Field. In Tampa Bay’s first 10 years in MLB, they were known as the Devil Rays and their lone highlight was Wade Boggs hitting a home runs for his 3,000 hit.

Longoria made his MLB debut in 2008. The Rays, dropped the “Devil” and clinched their first winning season, division title, and World Series appearance. The Rays were on the other side of the Red Sox’s 2011 “chicken and beer” collapse. Their last playoff appearance was a ALDS loss to the Red Sox in 2013 but they were close to returning last year.

Longoria is a career .270 hitter who led the Rays with 261 career home runs and 892 RBI. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Denard Span and a crop of prospects. Span hit a clutch 3-run RBI triple to cap off a 6-run eighth inning, leading the Rays to a 6-4, come from behind, Opening Day win.

The Rays also shed a lot of their power by trading Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh and letting Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda walk in free agency. They will once again look to rely on pitching and defense. The Rays lost three straight games against the Red Sox despite holding them to three runs or less each game.

Longoria, meanwhile, went hitless in his first series with the Giants. But that hardly makes the trade a big victory for Tampa Bay.

Red Sox-Rays Is An Underrated Rivalry

The Rays began in 1998 but it seemed like it didn’t take long for the franchise to choose Boston as their rival.

The two teams were initially linked when legendary third baseman Wade Boggs christened the franchise’s arrival to MLB in 1998 and capped his Hall of Fame career with a home run as his 3,000 career hit in 1999. He wears a Red Sox cap in his HOF plaque but originally wanted a Rays cap.

The battles truly began in 2000, when Pedro Martinez beaned Gerald Williams and started a brawl. The Rays were in the midst of their first winning season in 2008 and established themselves as a legit contender in a fight that had Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp dodge a punch thrown by Rays pitcher James Shields like he was in the Matrix. Their most recent scuffle came in 2014, when David Price was still the Tampa Bay ace. Price joined the Red Sox in 2016 and patched things up with David Ortiz.

The Rays and Red Sox will face off at the Boston home opener in Fenway Park this afternoon.

 

C. C. Sabathia’s Red Sox Criticism is Idiotic

C. C. Sabathia looks like he is limping to the finish line of his career, both literally and figuratively. Apparently, the former Cy Young winner doesn’t exactly like when teams exploit that. Sabathia’s Red Sox criticism came after a Thursday night win at Yankee Stadium. Is it warranted or just plain stupid? Well, that answer is pretty easy.

Sabathia was frustrated that the Red Sox tried to force him to field his position by bunting Sabathia's Red Sox Criticismon a regular basis. The strategy led to a throwing error by Sabathia in the first inning but not much else. He ended up going six innings while surrendering only a single run, ending his team’s losing streak. So, in the end, it really didn’t matter, did it? Apparently it did in the postgame.

Sabathia ripped the Red Sox for their bunting extravaganza. Supposedly it’s one of those many unwritten rules that nobody understands but is supposed to abide by. A similar situation happened a few years ago with an injured Matt Garza stating the same case. I can’t believe I have to explain this but I guess I do. If a guy can’t handle his position, you exploit that. Why do guys take an extra base off Jacoby Ellsbury? Because he throws like a little girl. Why did the Red Sox run all over Miguel Montero this week? Because he is physically unable to throw out a baserunner. It’s just what you do.

Sabathia’s Red Sox Criticism Reminiscent of 2004

I can’t help but be reminded of the Bloody Sock Game Six of the 2004 ALCS. A battered Curt Schilling was limping on and off the field to the Yankee Stadium mound. Schilling dominated the Yankees, only allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. New York was up in arms, pleading the Yankees to bunt. The next morning, the sports talk shows were flooded with that same question. Now, 13 years later, it’s a problem. When their guy gets exploited, it’s an issue.

If anything, Sabathia should be thanking the Red Sox. When he faces Boston, it’s like 2008 C. C. Sabathia all over again. In four starts against the Red Sox this year, he’s 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He should be thanking them for keeping his career alive at age 37.

So, Carsten (that’s what his friends call him): Get. Over. It. We should be used to the men in pinstripes whining and making excuses by now but it’s still frustrating. Just because you share pants with Vince Wilfork doesn’t mean teams can’t find a way to get on base against you. Take that crap somewhere else. Take some advice from Jim Rice and lose a few pounds if you don’t want teams to bunt on you.

So, short answer, his criticisms are absurdly idiotic. Then again, what else should we expect?

Red Sox Poised for a Huge Yankees Series

Alas, they have come. The two most agonizing days of the baseball season are upon us. While we await baseball after the All-Star break, the Red Sox will start their second half with a bang. Yes, it’s a Yankees series that waits in the wings, and it’s a crucial one.

Mookie Betts, Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel can enjoy their final mimosas iYankees seriesn Miami, but Friday marks their return. The trip will take them home to Boston and the business is to prove they really are the best team in the AL East. After losing a series in Tampa, four games in three days against the Yankees is going to be a great measuring stick for this team.

Personally, I think the Yankees have seen their best days already in 2017. They scuffled mightily in June going 13-15 and rode that wave into a 2-6 July. The lack of pitching has caught up to them and the holes are beginning to sink New York’s ship. The Yankees have drowned in fortune this year (Aaron Judge, for one) and are still only tied for second place with the upstart Rays.

Even though they are in something of a rebuild, albeit ahead of schedule, don’t be surprised if the Yankees make waves on the trade deadline. A starter like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole could very well be in pinstripes come August 1st. That, however, shouldn’t carry them over the Red Sox if Boston can handle their business like they should this month. Again, it starts with this series.

Red Sox-Yankees Series Will Start With Pitching

A red hot Drew Pomeranz will get the start Friday. Even though there’s no excuse for Chris Sale not to start and get off on the right foot, it will be Pomeranz. Although he can be frustrating to watch, Pomeranz seems to have returned to his All-Star form he had in 2016. Nonetheless, Sale will go Saturday and if the Yankees have a daddy, he wears #41 for the Red Sox. He OWNS them.

Furthermore, the Red Sox will need to get the offense back and hitting consistently. They mustered just four runs in their three losses in Tampa. They looked like a completely different team than the one we saw in Toronto the week before. It’s been all or nothing for the Red Sox offense this year. As a result ,the starter’s with the lowest ERA in the league is in danger of losing first place. It has been rare for the Red Sox to get the offense and pitching going at the same time the last two years. Obviously, they’ll need to correct that sooner rather than later to extend their lead.

So get ready to dive back head first into baseball Friday night. After that, you won’t be able to rid the sport until October so just make it to Friday people. If both these teams can continue to stay at each other’s necks this year, we could have what we’ve been waiting years for. We could have a rivalry again.

Is a Boston-Baltimore Rivalry Legit?

This week could bring plenty of fireworks to Fenway Park when the Baltimore Orioles strut into town. With all the drama caused by Manny Machado and Matt Barnes last series, suddenly this matchup is a heated one. Is it fair to say there is now a Boston-Baltimore rivalry, though?

Never in my life have I thought of the Baltimore Orioles as a rival. This reminds me a lot of Boston-Baltimore RivalryDuke vs. Maryland in basketball. Trust me, it’ll make sense. Duke’s major rival is North Carolina but they were always the biggest game on Maryland’s schedule, so they were treated as a rival. Orioles fans definitely get up for Red Sox series, but it isn’t Red Sox-Yankees.

When I heard Jerry Remy talk about how these teams had a mutual distaste, I was shocked. I mean, Manny Machado has had his disputes, but the Orioles don’t exactly have the villains. There’s no A-Rod or Johnny Damon or even someone like a Jorge Posada. But, apparently, there is hatred between the players.

Even though these two clubs have been in the same division for years, the lack of animosity is simple. First off, these teams have seldom been competitive at the same time. When one team is up, the other is usually down. Without high leverage games, it’s tough to keep an entertaining rivalry in baseball.

Why Isn’t There a Boston-Baltimore Rivalry?

Also, Baltimore is just a blip on the baseball map. We are used to Boston and New York as the epicenters of the game. That is not the case in Baltimore. They have a respectable fan base, a nice team and a nice ballpark. There’s nothing special about Baltimore in the world of baseball. Even with the run of success they had for nearly two decades between the 1960s and 1980s where they won five World Series titles, Baltimore doesn’t scream baseball history.

At the end of the day, Baltimore is a football town and the unequivocal hotbed of lacrosse. When you think of Baltimore, you don’t think baseball. Putting that against a titan of the sport like Boston and the Red Sox organization, it’s not a fair fight. Red Sox fans who remember a time before 2013 know it wasn’t long ago when Sox fans outnumbered Orioles supporters tenfold at Camden Yards.

A supposed AL East rivalry between the Orioles and the Red Sox leaves me with more questions than answers. Where’s the history? Who are the villains? Why isn’t Boston-Toronto a rivalry? Ok, that last one is a blog for another time. This series could certainly get the blood boiling again and could start a rivalry. For now, Red Sox fans can label the Orioles with the same moniker Duke has put on Maryland for years, the most disrespectful insult in sports: “not our rivals.”