Red Sox Seized 1st Place for First Time This Season

On Tuesday, June 20th the New York Yankees lost their seventh straight game. After a dominating win over the Houston Astros, the Red Sox pulled ahead of their long-time rivals to take first place. The AL East is heating up as the Red Sox seized first place, albeit temporarily. This is only the beginning of a battle for first place with the Orioles not too far behind with a dog of their own in the fight.

But oh how the mighty have fallen…

The Yankees held an at-times commanding lead in the AL East before their bullpen fellred sox seized apart. Manager Joe Girardi has 100% faith in reliever Aroldis Chapman right now but that’s about it. All their other relievers couldn’t save a file on a Macbook. Girardi also can’t quite plug the hole at first base either. The Red Sox took advantage of their rival’s deficiencies and managed to pull ahead. But that only lasted a day after losing two out of three to Kansas City.

Red Sox Seized First Place By Default

The Red Sox didn’t pull ahead of the Yankees because they started playing better. John Farrell didn’t suddenly find a magic lineup. The Red Sox managed to gain first place because the Yankees started playing badly. So in a way you could argue that the Red Sox seized first place by default. This is why it’s the perfect time to shake things up.

Now Is Their Chance To Hold Onto First

The Red Sox have had plenty of time to figure out what does and doesn’t work. At this point they should focus less on platooning and more on consistency. Keep Josh Rutledge at third base. Keep Christian Vazquez behind the plate. He’s got a killer arm and his batting average is steadily climbing. Keep Sam Travis in Boston and send Matt Barnes down to Pawtucket, or just trade him.

As the last few seasons have proven, first place in the AL East is anyone’s for grab. Well except for Tampa Bay, they haven’t been contenders for years. But with Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore having made the playoffs in the last few years, and now the Yankees vying for a spot, the Red Sox can’t afford to lose anymore ground. This is their time to go with what works and dump what doesn’t.

What is Pablo Sandoval’s Role Here?

The Pablo Sandoval experiment in Boston has been a bigger mess than anything we’ve ever seen from this franchise. There have been some bad signings, but this one is the worst. Like a scene from the movie “Office Space” I must ask: What is Pablo Sandoval’s role here?

Let me be very clear: Pablo Sandoval has played his last game with the Boston Red Sox. Pablo Sandoval's RoleWhen you break down his game to the basics, it becomes very simple. He can’t hit and he can’t play the field. He’s a liability at third base and he can’t DH because he doesn’t even deserve to be called a hitter. He’s a switch hitter who can’t hit right-handed and he can’t pinch run. He is just a blob of mass with a Red Sox cap on.

His last moment with the Red Sox was as fitting as they come. John Farrell pinch-hit for him in a crucial point in the game because there was a 0% chance Sandoval would keep the rally going. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well, the Red Sox had no infielders left. Farrell put Christian Vazquez at third base for the ninth in one of my favorite moves he’s ever made. A guy who hadn’t played third since rookie ball was a better option than Sandoval.

For all the criticism I have for Farrell, I can no longer fault him for the Sandoval fiasco. This is all Dave Dombrowski’s crap at this point. This is all about Dombrowski’s reputation and not trying to burn up the $50 million he owes Sandoval this year. Farrell has been rendered completely helpless with his third baseman. There was no competition this spring training, handing Sandoval the job from day one. Oh how well that has worked out.

Pablo Sandoval’s Role Has Been Hurting the Red Sox

In 2017, Sandoval has graced Boston with a .212 average and has as many doubles as DL stints (2). He has an atrocious .269 OBP, a WAR of -0.9 and can’t hit lefties. In the field, he has five errors this year. That may not seem awful but those are only the plays he can actually waddle over to touch the ball. That doesn’t even cover the complete ineptness he has at third base. He’s an automatic out at the plate and anything but in the field.

Dombrowski has put Farrell in a really tough position, which brings us to Sandoval’s current status. He was put on the DL this week with an ear infection. Yes, an ear infection. Dave O’Brien tried passionately to convince us on the NESN broadcast that it was a real injury but come on. He’s one of the worst players in the league and he has a cough so it works perfectly. This is the phoniest injury of all phony injuries. Unfortunately, that’s all the Red Sox can afford to do right now.

So what is Pablo Sandoval’s role right now? Well realistically, he is the pawn for media fodder. As far as a baseball field, he shouldn’t be allowed on one anymore. He is the biggest waste of space the Red Sox have had this decade, maybe ever. His last hooray mixed with the broken belt incident are the two lasting memories we will have for him. The quicker the Red Sox dump him, the better I will feel about this season. So long Pablo, don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out, even though it’s nearly impossible to miss.

Red Sox Prepare To Retire Ortiz’s No. 34

Festivities to honor David Ortiz are already underway as the Red Sox prepare to honor Big Papi by retiring his number 34 before Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. For only the eleventh time in their history, the Red Sox will retire the number of one of its greats. What makes this retirement ceremony unique is that it has only been eight months since Ortiz played his last game.

Retiring Ortiz’s number so soon reflects a deep love and appreciation for Big Papi. OrtizRed Sox Prepare wasn’t just a great hitter who played most of his career in Boston. Ortiz was a symbol of hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. His words, “This is our f–king city!” became a rallying cry for discouraged Bostonians. Later that fall his home run against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS staved off defeat and allowed the Red Sox to advance to the World Series. In a time when Hall of Fame-caliber players are few and far in between, Ortiz’s heroics not only made the Red Sox great, but made baseball even greater.

Qualifications Have Waned in Recent Years As Red Sox Prepare For Jersey Retirement

The Red Sox used to have very strict requirements when it came to retiring a jersey number. The strict set of requirements allowed a select few to see their numbers retired. First, the player had to have played for the Red Sox for ten years. Second, he has to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Third, he had to have retired with the Red Sox. While those rules stood for many years, one by one, the Red Sox accommodate other greats who didn’t meet the requirements.

Carlton Fisk, the greatest catcher in Red Sox history, finished his career with the Chicago White Sox. Pedro Martinez didn’t play ten years with the Red Sox, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Johnny Pesky isn’t a Hall of Famer, but his service to the team over the course of sixty years earned him a spot among the retired.

While Ortiz didn’t have to wait for induction into the Hall of Fame to see his number retired, his induction will happen. Some say Ortiz won’t be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Allegations surrounding his use of PEDs have haunted him for years. Those allegations should have little to no impact on the BBWAA when Ortiz becomes eligible. One this is for sure though. Bostonians will pack the small town of Cooperstown when it comes time to induct Ortiz.

The Red Sox Dead Weight Needs To Go

The Red Sox are within a game or two of capturing first place. It’s miracle in its own right if you consider the Red Sox dead weight. Pablo Sandoval isn’t panning out. Sandy Leon’s flash in the pan hitting last year isn’t carrying into this season. Rick Porcello leads the league in losses at 9. If the Red Sox are going to capture first place they need to cut some of their dead weight and they need to do it yesterday.

Red Sox Dead Weight

The Red Sox are playing great baseball. Josh Rutledge is holding his own at third. Andrew Benintendi is a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award. Mookie Betts is leading the Red Sox with 12 homers. Chris Sale is as masterful as ever. But with the Red Sox dead weight that consists of Sandoval, Porcello, and Leon, it’s hard for the team to play better, and they certainly can.

The Red Sox Are Winning the Late-Inning Games

The Red Sox were among the league leaders last year with runners left on base and runners left in scoring position. It seemed like the Red Sox gave up once they fell behind. We’re not seeing that attitude this season. Back-to-back walk-off wins against Philadelphia last week proved that the Red Sox can play under pressure. What’s even better is that players like Benintendi are the ones coming through in the clutch.

Red Sox Dead Weight Is Dragging The Team Down

It’s not always easy to cut dead weight. Players like Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello have such big contracts that it’s hard to find another team that’ll pick them up. In other instances no one wants them. But the Red Sox should just rip off the band-aid and shed these players before the All-Star break. Keeping them around is like putting raisins in oatmeal cookies. They just get in the way.

There’s a great scene in the film Moneyball where Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt, goes against expert advice and cuts a number of players, including Jeremy Giambi. These players weren’t panning out. They were dead weight on the field and a distraction in the clubhouse. While the plot of Moneyball and the reality of the Red Sox are completely different, it’s a lesson that the Red Sox could learn something from. The front office needs to stop coming up with excuses and make some difficult decisions.

Fans See a Discombobulated Red Sox Team

I love to bake but I’m not very good at it. That’s my sister Mary’s expertise. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Mary gives me her recipes and I follow them precisely. Despite my attention to detail, my creations often come out of the oven on fire. Needless to say that’s frustrating. The Red Sox front office and management must feel the same way about the lineup they assembled this season. After all, they have all the ingredients for a

Discombobulated Red Sox

championship team but no matter how careful they are they can’t catch first place. In some cases, like my cookies, they game catches fire, and not in a good way. Their offensive is inconsistent, and so is their pitching. Unlike recent years where the Red Sox were just bad, fans are watching a discombobulated Red Sox struggle on the mound and the plate.

First and foremost I will reiterate that the Red Sox need to break up with John Farrell. He knows how to rally the troops when his job is on the line, but then they become complacent and start losing again. But replacing Farrell isn’t the only thing the Sox need to focus on.

Porcello Can’t Get It Together

Rick Porcello ran away with the Cy Young Award last year after going 22-4 last season. That’s an .846 winning percentage. So it was only natural fans and management alike expected Porcello to do the same, of not better, this year. But as of June 16th Porcello is 3-8 and leading the league in losses. Seven of his eight losses came as a result of a lack of run support. Red Sox hitters didn’t score more than four runs in any of those losses. But it doesn’t help with Porcello gives up a lot of runs either. If Porcello can find a consistently reliable pitch then we’ll start seeing more wins out of him. But for now he’s part of the reason we’re seeing a discombobulated Red Sox team on the field.

Hitters Aren’t In Their Prime Yet

It’s exciting to see Jackie Bradley Jr. blast a home run 450 feet. But don’t forget he’s only hitting .232 so far this season. Everyone loves Andrew Benintendi but he’s just a rookie and has a long ways to go before he reaches his prime. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are strong hitters but still struggle to maintain consistency throughout the season. It’s going to be another season or two before these hitters are an ever-present threat to opposing pitchers. When they enter their prime though they’ll catch fire. Hopefully David Price stays healthy, Porcello shakes his slump, and Sale becomes better than ever.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 457 Foot Home Run

Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a home run last Friday against Detroit that I thought would break Ted Williams’ distance record. Bradley Jr.’s homer off Alex Wilson in the 8th put the Sox ahead for good. But few seem to notice that the ball traveled over 457 feet. That’s 45 feet short of Ted Williams’ 502 foot record. A 457 foot home run is nothing to ignore. It’s Bradley Jr.’s longest homer of the season. While the distance of the homer doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, it reflects the sheer strength and speed of Bradley Jr.’s swing.

The ball may have traveled even farther than that. Last April in Baltimore, Bradley Jr. hit a457 foot home run homer off of the Orioles’ Jayson Aquino that, according to ESPN Home Run Tracker, measured 407 feet (against the wind). After the game I walked around the area in Camden Yards where the ball landed and another fan pointed to where it landed. Not two feet away was a mini-plaque marking the place where another home run landed in 2008. On July 1, 2008 the Royals’ Alex Gordon’s home run landed approximately in the same spot and measured at 425 feet. Most home runs barely make it over the wall, which is about 370 feet or so (give or take 20 feet). Each park is different. But Bradley Jr.’s home runs could clear the wall in any park.

Bradley Jr.’s 457 Foot Home Run Should Get More Recognition

Ted Williams hit that 502 foot homer in 1946 but that was before so many tall buildings went up around Fenway Park. These buildings cut down on the wind that often carries a ball out of the park. Some say that officials exaggerated Williams’ home run record. David Ortiz used to joke about the red seat marking the spot where it landed. “They moved it back a little more,” he’d allegedly say about the seat at the start of each new season. But it’s still an official record on the books.

Bradley Jr. hasn’t hit the longest home run of the season (yet). That honor goes to the Yankess’ Aaron Judge after he hit a 496 blast on June 11th at Yankee Stadium. But the thing is that Bradley Jr. is consistently hitting long homers. Bradley Jr.’s home run on June 9th marked the fifth time since April 22nd that one of his long balls traveled over 400 feet.

It won’t surprise me if Bradley Jr. comes within a few feet of Williams before the season is over. So while we should celebrate his homers, we should also pay attention where they’re landing.