Book Review: The Adventures of Fenway and Hooper At Fenway Park

I usually review more serious and substantial baseball books. I couldn’t help but love The Adventures of Fenway and Hooper At Fenway Park by Brian Kalfass so much that I had to write about it. It’s a children’s book about two Boston Terrier brothers named Fenway and Hooper that live in Boston. They spend a day at Fenway Park after Fenway (aptly named) chases a ball into the ballpark. Hooper, named after Red Sox star Harry Hooper, catches up to his little brother and takes him all throughout the ballpark, telling him about its history.

The adventures of fenway and hooperThis book, at 21 pages, doesn’t take long to get through. Readers though will want to spend a lot of time looking at it anyway because of all the wonderful history it includes about the Boston Red Sox. For example, as Fenway and Hooper walk around the park, Fenway asks Hooper about the “ten big red numbers on white circles and one blue number” he sees in right field. Hooper tells him how those are retired players’ numbers, and explains why teams retire jersey numbers. Readers learn so much about Fenway Park through the dialogue between Fenway and Hooper, which is complimented by colorful illustrations by Meaghan Arbital. Making it even more fun, Kalfass adds “Fenway Facts” on almost every page that provides insights and statistics about key Red Sox players. The “Fenway Facts” also include significant events that took place at Fenway Park throughout its history.

Proceeds From the Book Go Towards Cancer Research

At one time, Kalfass’ family faced pediatric cancer, which inspired him to write the children’s book. As Kalfass writes at the start of the book, their dogs, Fenway and Hooper, played a tremendous role in helping to relieve their stress and comforting the family faced during that difficult time.

Two dollars from each sale will go towards cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. You can learn more about Dana-Farber and how you can help by going to their website at www.dana-farber.org. You can also buy a copy at amazon.com.

Brock Holt Left a Lasting Impact in Boston

Over a week ago, fan-favorite Brock Holt traded in his red socks for the navy blue attire of the Milwaukee Brewers. Holt signed a 1-year deal worth $3.25 million to join the brew crew, as Sox management never really made an attempt to bring Holt back to the team. Nevertheless, Brock Holt left a lasting impact on Boston. One that will not be filled for a long time.

Fans all over New England were irate over the deal, as one of the most beloved players on the Sox was

brock holt left

now out of town for a contract that Boston could have easily offered. Regardless of what colors he wears this season, Brock Holt’s impact on the Red Sox and the city of Boston will never be forgotten by Sox fans. Brock Holt left his mark.

“The Utility Guy”

When Holt first came to Boston, no one really batted an eye at the guy. Of course, the Red Sox were in the middle of a championship season, and Brock seemed like just another ordinary guy. A player that would probably flip flop from the MLB and the minors and never find a real gig full time in the league. But after 2013, Holt’s game emerged onto the scene. Boston might have been playing poor baseball in those years, but it gave Holt a chance to shine. He stayed with the big league club for the whole season and even made the All-Star Game in 2015. What was appealing about Brock’s game is his versatility. He could play anywhere on the diamond and swung a pretty solid bat to go along with it. Suddenly, this utility guy from Pittsburgh looked to be a key piece of the rebuilding Red Sox.

Brock Holt Left an Impact Off the Field Too

As Holt’s impact started to become evident on the field, his impact off the field was just as strong. Brock was one of the regulars when it came to helping the community. Whether it was visiting kids in the hospital or helping out with charities like the Jimmy Fund, Holt quickly became immersed in the Boston community. Brock was also a clubhouse favorite, as it seemed there wasn’t even one player that he didn’t get along with. From being a new face in 2013 to a 2018 World Champion, he hadn’t let his success get to his head.

Iconic Moments

As Holt’s success began during the Sox down years, he finally got a chance to shine on the bigger stage with the Sox championship run in 2018. While the Sox lineup was stacked with talent, Brock still got a lot of at-bats and he made them count. Plenty of moments come to mind, but everyone knows which one is #1. Holt’s cycle against the Yankees in the ALDS made history as he completed the first cycle in playoff history. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Sox as that dominant Game 3 win propelled them to a series victory. His cycle, along with his clutch hits in the World Series, will be Red Sox moments that fans today won’t forget.

The situation of why Boston didn’t make an effort to bring Brock back will remain questioned. However, it will not take away from Holt’s time in a Sox uniform.

Thank you Brock, and good luck in Milwaukee.

Red Sox sign Outfielder Kevin Pillar

The Boston Red Sox recently signed outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year, $4.25 million deal. This Pillar signing comes following the loss of Red Sox superstar, Mookie Betts, in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While this acquisition definitely helps lessen the damage resulting from the Dodgers trade, it does cause a problem in the outfield.Kevin Pillar
In the Betts trade, the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, who had a very impressive rookie campaign with the Dodgers. This deal now leaves the Red Sox with five outfielders. (Martinez, Benintendi, Bradley, Pillar, Verdugo) Assuming Martinez is the designated hitter, where does that leave everyone else?

Managing Playing Time

Last season, Kevin Pillar had arguably his best offensive year, hitting .259 with 21 home runs. Where Pillar really shines, however, is defensively. He has been a finalist for Gold Glove in center field every year he has played in the majors. His defensive ability is arguably at the same caliber of Jackie Bradley Jr. For that reason, the Red Sox can balance playing time in center between the two. Pillar can start on days a left-handed pitcher is starting against them, and Bradley can start against right-handed pitchers. This same scenario could work with Verdugo instead of Bradley, as long a Pillar is comfortable in Fenway’s right field. Pillar is also a step above Bradley offensively, which makes him a good option to use as a pinch-hitter. However, I believe that, while this option is a good one, making a trade to free-up room for Pillar to play full time is a better option.

Trading Bradley now that we have Kevin Pillar

Trade rumors involving Jackie Bradley Jr. have been circulating this off-season. I believe that now, more than ever, Jackie Bradley Jr. should be traded. Bradley is still young, has loads of talent, and would be a good piece for any team that is looking to make a playoff push this season and needs help defensively. This move would create room for Pillar, who I believe is slightly better all-around than Bradley to become a full-time player. Verdugo would also become a full-time player, which is crucial for him in this stage of his career, as he is likely yet to reach his full potential in the big leagues. Not only that, but the Sox can finally try to get some decent pitching in return for Bradley. After getting nothing in terms of pitching in the Betts deal, it is crucial that the Sox pick-up at least one or two decent arms to strengthen our subpar pitching staff.

The signing of Kevin Pillar is something that Red Sox fans should be happy about during these dark days without Mookie Betts. However, if the organization doesn’t manage the outfield situation correctly, the team will not improve as much as it should.

The Blockbuster Trade Has Finally Happened

Last night, the Red Sox officially traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. This blockbuster trade also included the Minnesota Twins, which is quite interesting. Even though Red Sox Nation knew it was a matter of time before Betts left, however, this blockbuster trade was still shocking.

With Spring Training a little over a week away, the Red Sox have a lot of work to do. Weblockbuster trade still don’t have a manager, we’re down a started in the rotation, and there are still players in free agency. Plus, this trade will be lingering in everyone’s mind over the next few weeks. When the Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom this past October, he had big shoes to fill, and a mess to clean up that was left behind by Dave Dombrowski.

The Breakdown of the Blockbuster Trade

The day after truck day, the Red Sox finally pulled off the trade, sending Betts and Price to the Dodgers, and receiving Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers. The Minnesota Twins were also in on this deal, trading Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox, and receiving Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. While reports last week said that the third team was the Padres, the Twins came out of nowhere in this deal. They sent one of their top prospects to Boston, and got a reliever from Los Angeles.

Maeda wasn’t the only Dodger traded yesterday, however. The Dodgers pulled off another deal, trading outfielder Joc Pederson to the LA Angels for second baseman Luis Rengifo. This trade was a strange one. You would think that Pederson would have been traded to Boston for Betts. However, that wasn’t the case.

The Newest Members of the Red Sox

The Red Sox received Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol in the trade that sent Betts and Price to the Dodgers. For Red Sox fans, these names might not be familiar, however, they soon will be.

Verdugo played in 106 games for the Dodgers in 2019. The 23 year old outfielder hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI’s. He was drafted by the Dodgers in 2014 and made is MLB debut on September 1st 2017. He split time between AAA and the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018. In total, Verdugo has played in 158 MLB games, batting .282 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI’s.

Graterol, who is coming to Boston from Minnesota, is a 21 year old pitching prospect. He made his MLB debut with the Twins on September 1st 2019 against the Detroit Tigers. Graterol signed with the Twins in August 2014 as an international free agent. The right-handed relief pitcher from Venezuela pitched in 10 games in 2019, going 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA.

David Price Tribute

After pitching in Boston for four seasons, Price is heading to the Dodgers. The 34 year old starter is 150-80 with a 3.31 ERA. He will be playing for his fifth team this upcoming season. Price made his MLB debut with the Tampa Bay Rays and then was traded to the Tigers and Blue Jays. In the offseason prior to the 2016 season, he signed a seven year $217 million contract with the Red Sox. In his four seasons with Boston, Price was 46-24 with a 3.84.

Price was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2018. He won the Cy Young Award in 2012, was elected to five All Star Games, and won his first World Series in 2018. Price had his struggles throughout his career, particularly in the postseason. The way he pitched in 2018, especially in game 5 of the World Series was amazing. He pitched seven innings in game 5, earning the win. Now, he will be a member of the Dodgers following this blockbuster trade.

Thank You Mookie Betts

On June 29th 2014 against the New York Yankees, a young ballplayer made his MLB debut for the Boston Red Sox. For the past six seasons, Red Sox fans have seen Mookie Betts patrolling right field at Fenway Park. Betts has been a Red Sox favorite since he came to the big leagues. He has a career .301 batting average, with 139 home runs, and 470 RBI’s. He’s a four time All Star, has four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards. Mookie was the AL MVP back in 2018, where he not only had a great season, but led the Red Sox to their ninth World Series title. In 2019, he was selected to the All MLB Second Team.

Mookie will always be apart of Red Sox Nation. He will always be the four time All Star who patrolled Fenway’s outfield with excellence during his six years in Boston. Mookie did a lot during the 2018 season, including hitting for the cycle against Toronto at Rogers Centre. He also hit his 100th career home run before turning 26, becoming just the fourth Red Sox player to do it. The others – Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice and Ted Williams.

After months of rumors regarding Mookie Betts’ future in Boston, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he was traded. The past few weeks, teams like the Dodgers and Padres were mentioned to be landing spots for the All Star right fielder. Now, he is almost officially a member of the LA Dodgers. It’s going to be hard to see him wear Dodger blue.

From the crack of the bat, to the flash of the glove, Red Sox Nation will always remember Markus Lynn Betts in a Red Sox uniform. One can only hope that he will one day come back to Boston. Thank you, Mookie.

The Weekly Wrap Up And Truck Day

Another week has gone by in Red Sox Nation, and the pot is slowly turning. Also, the day Red Sox Nation looks forward to is almost here. Truck Day, Fenway Park’s yearly event kicks off tomorrow, as they get ready for Spring Training. The Red Sox brought back Mitch Moreland for his fourth season in Boston this past week, while Brock Holt still is a free agent. The Red Sox are also still looking for a new manager following the Alex Cora resignation.

The rumors of Mookie Betts being traded intensified this past week. Teams like the Padrestruck day and Dodgers were mentioned on more than one occasion, but so far, Mookie is still in Boston. It was reported that the Red Sox offered him a ten year contract, whereas Betts wants a twelve year one. With Betts hitting free agency after this season, only time can tell what will happen. But first, Truck Day.

Truck Day 2020 Is One Day Away

Like every year since 2003, the Red Sox will be celebrating Truck Day. The day in which the truck is loaded up with equipment to head to Fort Myers for Spring Training. The Red Sox stated on Friday that the Truck Day festivities will begin around 7am, and end around 12pm. While many may not understand Truck Day, for Red Sox fans, it’s the unofficial start to the baseball season.

Like in years past, Wally and Tessie will be around to take pictures with fans, and be accompanied by the Fenway Ambassadors. Fans also will most likely be able to sign the truck, which will provide great reading material to those who will drive alongside it. The truck, which will contain 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 20 cases of gum, and other equipment, will be making a stop at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket on Monday afternoon after departing Fenway.

Red Sox Bring Back Moreland

A Red Sox reunion occurred this past week. First baseman Mitch Moreland will be back with the Red Sox for his fourth season. Moreland agreed to a one year deal worth $3 million, and it comes with a club option for 2021. The veteran stated in an interview that Boston feels like home. One thing that the Red Sox look forward to is seeing him become a mentor to Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec.

The 34 year old will be entering his 11th MLB Season in 2020. His first seven were with the Texas Rangers before he signed with the Red Sox prior to the 2017 season. This past season, he was only limited to 91 games, in which he batted .252 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI’s.

Where Will Mookie Land?

Or will he stay? That’s been the ongoing conversation that will never end. The Red Sox and Betts agreed to a one year $27 million deal to avoid arbitration a few weeks ago. However, the notion that he will test free agency after the 2021 season. Many speculate that he is going to want a contract similar to Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado, who both signed huge contract extensions last offseason to stay with the Angels and Rockies respectively.

It was reported that the Red Sox offered Betts a 10 year $300 million contract after last season. However, Betts stated that he was looking for a 12 year $420 million dollar contract. Since then, neither side has spoken about contract extensions. This week, it was also reported that the San Diego Padres were looking to make a deal for Betts, as were the Los Angeles Dodgers. Those rumors, including one that involves all three teams, are just rumors at the moment. Going into the 2020 season, Mookie Betts is still Boston’s right fielder.

Book Review of Homegrown: How the Red Sox Built a Champion from the Ground Up

Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr. Ask any Red Sox fan who these guys are and they’ll tell you about some of the best ballplayers who ever donned a Red Sox uniform. But where did the Red Sox find these players? How long were they in the Red Sox farm system? The answers to those questions and more are found in Homegrown: How the Red Sox Built a Champion from the Ground Up by Boston Globe sportswriter Alex Speier. Speier’s book tells the story of how the Red Sox rebuilt themselves to win in 2018. It was a task that involved Dave Dombrowski’s guidance, Alex Cora’s managing skills, and Mookie Betts’ talent.

It was only a matter of time until someone wrote a book about the Boston Red Sox’sred sox built historic 2018 season. After amassing 108 regular season victories, the Red Sox went on to defeat the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in the post season. They then vanquished the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series in five games. But how did the Red Sox capture another World Series title just three years after finishing at the bottom of the standings two years in a row (2014-2015)? Careful planning, and thorough scouting, among other reasons.

The Red Sox Built a Championship Despite Individual and Team Setbacks

Speier discusses how the Red Sox front office took it one step at a time to groom who they thought would become future stars. The book discusses how some prospects didn’t work out, like Rusney Castillo. Castillo has lingered in the minors for years despite singing a $72.5 million contract in 2014. Then there were others like Yoan Moncada and Michael Kolpech. Despite promising performances, both were traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a deal to obtain Chris Sale. There’s Mookie Betts. The 2018 MVP almost quit his baseball career after an initial poor start to his professional season. One of the best parts of the book is how Speier discusses Jackie Bradley Jr.’s progression through the Red Sox organization. Anyone who has paid attention to the centerfielder knows JBJ doesn’t have the strongest bat in the American League. Sometimes he’s on fire at the plate but those times are few and far in between. Speier’s discussion of JBJ’s ups and downs throughout his career answered many questions I, and may other Sox fans, have about why the Red Sox have kept him around for so long. It is these stories that Speier successfully weaves together to tell the story of the 2018 season.

The Red Sox Built a Team By Meeting the Challenges of Picking Promising Prospects

Readers will notice how Homegrown: How the Red Sox Built a Champion from the Ground Up doesn’t flow the way books written by more established baseball writers do. That detail, however, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Speier takes a direct and clear approach to his writing where the reader is provided with complex information. This information involves how baseball drafts work, what goes into offering a big league contract, and how and why that prospect doesn’t always work out. Speier succeeds in clarifying these details in a readable way. He also discusses why teams like the Red Sox make risky moves when offering big money to teenage prospects with the hope they’ll pay off. At face value, those moves may seem reckless and impulsive. Speier, however, explains the thought process behind such moves with concise information that makes it easy for anyone to understand and appreciate the challenges that come with trying to build a winning team.

Homegrown is One of the Better Baseball Books of the Year

Homegrown: How the Red Sox Built a Champion from the Ground Up has received strong reviews from baseball writers and reviewers alike. In fact, it was recently listed as a Top Ten Finalist for the 2020 Casey Award. This award is ranked among the highest for the best baseball book of the year. While making the list is quite the honor, it’s unfortunate that the list also didn’t include a book about the 1969 New York Mets, whose own victory in the World Series was nothing short of a miracle. I mention this because listing Homegrown alongside a book about the 1969 Mets would have only enhanced the Red Sox’s story. Readers familiar with Mets history would appreciate the efforts that the Red Sox undertook. The 1969 Mets and 2018 Red Sox were quite different teams. They also share many similarities though that would make readers and baseball fans better appreciate the lengths to which the Red Sox went to for a World Championship. I suggest reading After the Miracle by Art Shamsky and Erik Sherman if you want a comparable book to read about successful baseball seasons that involve long term grooming of promising talent.