Second Half Questions For the Red Sox

Can you believe it? It’s already Independence day. As I was sitting at my friends’ barbecue, I looked up at the television and saw the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. As I couldn’t help but watch Joey Chestnut impressively devour another record 74 hot dogs in just 10 minutes, a different kind of record peaked my attention. The Red Sox record at the season halfway point of 59-29. A whopping 30 games over .500. It truly is impressive what Alex Cora and this team have done thus far. However, as the day went on and I was baking in the heat, waiting for the fireworks and having a good holiday, I couldn’t help but think of a few questions for the second half of this potential record Red Sox season.

Can J.D. Martinez Continue This Record First Season Pace For the Red Sox?

I have not witnessed such a great Red Sox signing in my lifetime since Manny Ramirez.Red Sox J.D. is often compared to the eccentric Red Sox great, because of his hitting ability, opposite field power, and high annual salary. Martinez seems like the same player just with a lesser personality/more game devoted approach. J.D. is currently hitting .327, with 26 dingers and 71 RBI. If he continues on the pace, he can eclipse the production of Manny Ramirez in his inaugural Red Sox season. Manny finished the 2001 debut campaign batting .306, with 41 home runs and 125 RBI. J.D. is notoriously known as a second-half player. That notion should terrorize opposing pitchers this second half. In fact, no one since the 2017 All-Star break has hit more balls out of the park than Martinez. It will be a fun summer watching J.D. continue to demolish balls at Fenway Park.

When will Dustin Pedroia Be Back In A Red Sox Uniform?

The veteran former MVP Dustin Pedroia is still sidelined. The career .300 hitter has only had 11 official at-bats this year. The Red Sox let go of Hanley Ramirez to bring back Pedroia in late May. However, his knee caused him to head right back to the disabled list in less than a week. Pedroia is, and always has been, the heart and soul of this ball club since his rookie 2007 year. He is the grit, the hustle, and the self-proclaimed laser-show that this team could use, as it chases its third straight division title. Sure these “killer B’s”, Devers, and Martinez have been terrific, but second base has been a carousel of inconsistency. The Red Sox need number 15 back healthy, sooner rather than later.

How Will the Red Sox Approach the Trade Deadline?

The Red Sox have a couple burning holes that need to be addressed. Right handed hitting as well as bullpen relief. The Red Sox already got their right-handed hitter. Last week, Dave Dombrowski acquired Steve Pearce from the rival Toronto Blue Jays. Dombrowski got some right-handed assurance early. That will help the corner infield and corner outfield depth. The other hole is still a question mark. Dombrowski loves to get bullpen help at the deadline, as he got Brad Ziegler two seasons ago and Addison Reed last year. Tyler Thornburg is now back in the majors, after missing a season and a half. We don’t know if he can return to his 2016 Brewers dominant form. Since we don’t know if Thornburg can return to form, I think Dombrowski will most likely get another arm and make yet another deadline splash.

 

 

 

David Price Is Key To Red Sox Success

For better or for worse, it seems David Price is always in the spotlight. That tends to happen to someone making 30 million annually. Last year, it was the blow up with the reporters and frequent injuries that left fans wanting more. He returned late in ’17 and after a dominant playoff series against the Astros in relief, fans were excited to see what 2018 would have in store for the southpaw. So far, David Price is earning that money.

The Red Sox need Price. They need him healthy and consistent if they want to keep upPrice with Houston and Cleveland’s rotations. They need him if they want to combat that intimidating Yankee lineup. The X-factor to the Red Sox championship hopes is indeed the starting five. The offense has been there all season. Betts and Martinez continue to wreak havoc in the minds of opposing pitching. Pitching is still key though. The Red Sox were division winners the last two seasons. However, they were outpitched by the Indians in 2016 and the Astros in 2017. In order to have any chance this year they need Sale, Porcello, and Price in peak form.

The Red Sox Need Consistency From Price

Price had a rough start to the year. He missed a start against the Yankees because of a “tingling sensation” in his fingers. The tingling sensation was determined to be a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. The reasoning for this was because of Price’s love for video games, particularly ‘Fortnite’. The stress the game put on his fingers and his excessive play progressed the tingling. Fans and the media ridiculed this development extensively. After acknowledging the injury, as well as saying he will tone down playing video games, he has since been lights out dominant.

In David Price’s last six outings he has not allowed more than three earned runs, averaging six-plus innings and keeping hitters under seven hits a game. He is earning that hefty paycheck. The Red Sox need him to be the innings horse he was in 2016. With Sale’s dominance, Rodriguez consistency and Porcello’s confidence, the sky is the limit for that quartet.

Benintendi, JBJ Suspected of Witchcraft After Thursday’s Game

God fearing people of Boston! Break out the pitch forks! Light your torches! Ban together! We have witches among us! In a clear display of their magical powers of witchcraft, Andrew Benintendi and JBJ defied logic, gravity, and probability Thursday night through their astonishing defensive plays. With Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr, aka, JBJ suspected of witchcraft, the Boston Red Sox’s adversaries should take heed and pray for deliverance from the devilry that is the Red Sox defensive outfield.

In the first inning JBJ caught Justin Upton’s line drive to deep center that wouldJBJ suspected surely have been at least a double. That’s when JBJ used his powers of witchcraft to transform the ball into a magnetic force that forcefully gravitated into his glove as he used the magic of flight to reach it.

In a dramatic display of acrobatics that only a witch could summon, Benintendi caught a 89.9 mph flyball in the eighth inning off the Angels’ David Fletcher. Normally such a catch wouldn’t summon any extra attention. However, Benintendi used his ability as a witch to fly and he caught the ball. Puritans sitting in Grandstand Section 32 (the alcohol-free zone) immediately suspected witchcraft. When pressed for clarification, the Puritans fled Fenway Park crying out for forgiveness for committing the sin of having fun. They fled back to Old Salem on horseback and reported their suspicions to Chief Magistrate William Stoughton, who once presided over the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Benintendi, JBJ Suspected of Witchcraft, May Stand Trial Before Salem Court

“Thy abundant displays of witchcraft clearly demonstrate the return of witchcraft to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” stated Chief Magistrate Stoughton. “It be witchcraft that afford them the power to make such catches.”

Chief Magistrate Stoughton added that a special tribunal would be called in Salem Village before the week end. Despite Benintendi and JBJ suspected of witchcraft, neither could be reached for comment.

Adversaries Should Take Heed, Witchcraft Is No Laughing Matter

There’s two ways for the Red Sox’s opponents to stave off Benintendi and JBJ ‘s spells. The first is to take a lock of Babe Ruth’s hair. Then tie it to Mookie Wilson’s bat. Finally, gripping the bat with Bob Gibson’s glove, slowly but firmly approach the two with the bat as they warm up before the game. If both cowl in fear the way a vampire does upon seeing a crucifix then you’ll know it’s working. The power of such a cacophony is the only thing that will break their spells. The safer and more sure way approach is for opposing players to just sit out the game.

The Boston Red Sox are taking on the New York Yankees this weekend. There they are battling a monstrous giant by the name of Aaron Judge. Will Judge’s giant statue be a match for Benintendi’s magic? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Yankee fans living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be wise to arm themselves with garlic, horseshoes, and salt as a means of protecting themselves. If the Red Sox lose the series this weekend Benintendi and JBJ will fly around the Commonwealth on their Louisville Sluggers looking to feast on their souls!

The Red Sox Need to be Active at the Trade Deadline

As the Red Sox grow closer to the halfway point, and the trade deadline, in the 2018 regular season, they have given us all a pretty good idea of what’s working, and what isn’t. Back on June 11, the Sox went on a nice four-game win streak which included a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. They went on to lose four of their next five, splitting a series with the Seattle Mariners and falling to the Minnesota Twins on consecutive nights. They salvaged their third contest against the Twins and then took two of three from the Mariners.

At 34-40, the Twins are not a team the Red Sox should be losing a series to. Meanwhile, theTrade Deadline Mariners, at 48-31, are within reach of the Houston Astros (52-28) atop the AL West standings. Boston’s recent inconsistency and their ongoing grapple with the Yankees atop the division leave this team in need of action at the trade deadline.

Trade Deadline Action: Relief Pitcher

I’ve lost track of how many games this bullpen has lost. At this point, this should be a no-brainer for Dave Dombrowski. The woes in Boston’s bullpen have been no secret this season. Carson Smith recently had season-ending surgery after throwing his glove. Tyler Thornburg is still trying to get healthy, and still hasn’t taken the mound in a Red Sox uniform. Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson, both with ERAs north of 3.80, have simply not pitched well at all. And to top it off, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly will both hit the free agent market at the end of this season. Kimbrel and Kelly, along with Matt Barnes and Hector Velazquez, have emerged as the only serviceable arms in Boston’s bullpen.

So what are Boston’s options at the trade deadline? The most popular name in circulation is the Orioles’ left-hander Zach Britton. Baltimore looks to be in a complete and total rebuild at 23-54 on the year, so they are as viable a trade partner as they come. Britton underwent Achilles surgery this past offseason and has only appeared in seven contests this year. However, he is just two years removed from consecutive All-Star appearances and a fourth-place finish in CY Young voting. As it stands, Brian Johnson is the only southpaw in Boston’s bullpen, so Britton would be a massive addition. His contract expires after this year, so it would make sense for the Orioles to get some value out of him while they can.

Baltimore has another relief pitcher set to enter free agency. Brad Brach, a right-hander, has appeared in 32 contests this year with ten saves. Britton is the much more attractive option and is linked to several other teams as the trade deadline approaches.

Trade Deadline Action: Right-Handed Hitting

Since the Red Sox designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment on May 25, Boston’s lineup has been missing some pop. Ramirez hit .330 in April but fell into a major slump in May before his departure. While Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have shouldered much of the offensive workload, the Yankees have as much firepower, if not more.

The Sox have a few different options in terms of what position to go after to fulfill this. They have shown some interest in Adrian Beltre, the veteran third-basemen currently employed by the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are in the AL West basement and are another legitimate trade partner. Beltre’s hitting .309 with 25 runs batted with Texas so far this year and won a Gold Glove in 2016. He would be warmly welcomed back for a second stint in Boston as an alternative to the streaky Rafael Devers at third base. Manny Machado is another popular name on the rumor mill, but his financial demands and lofty asking price make it a long shot.

They could also look to the outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to struggle at the plate and having outfield depth that can swing the bat come October could be instrumental for a playoff run. The Orioles’ Adam Jones is an obvious candidate, given his expiring contract and the situation in Baltimore. Mark Canha of the Oakland Athletics is on Boston’s radar as well. Canha is batting .253 with 27 RBI and 10 home runs on the year.

The 2018 trade deadline is July 31. The Red Sox continue their back-and-forth with the Yankees in the division, and the right move or two could go a long way in their quest for another AL East crown and World Series run.

Red Sox Gaining In American League

Seeing the Boston Red Sox gaining in the American League comes as welcomed news to Red Sox Nation. While the Red Sox continue to battle it out with the Yankees in the American League East, they’re slaying other adversaries. I stated in my June 15th article that if the Red Sox won four out of seven against the Mariners they’d stand a good chance of getting ahead of the Yankees. The Red Sox are .5 game behind the Yankees as of June 25th. So while the Red Sox haven’t overcome the Yankees yet, they’re closer to taking back first place than they have been in recent weeks.

The Red Sox take on the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series between June 26-red sox gaining28th. The Angels’ pitching staff isn’t the strongest. However, the Angles have Mike Trout, who’s currently hitting .325 with 23 home runs. They also have Justin Upton and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Trout and Pujols were both Rookies of the Year, and they won the AL MVP award three and two times, respectively. So while the Red Sox have a strong chance of combating their pitching rotation, the Angels’ lineup will be more difficult to overcome.

With the Red Sox Gaining, the Houston Astros Remain a Threat

The Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions, remain the biggest threat to the Red Sox. They have the third-best winning percentage in the American League behind the Red Sox and Yankees.

Don’t get me wrong. The Yankees remain a viable threat. But their performance in the ALCS last year showed that they can freeze up under pressure. Another thing to consider is that both the Red Sox and Yankees have new managers at their helm. The Yankees’ Aaron Boone played in one World Series in 2003. That’s when he was with the Yankees and they lost to the Florida Marlins. Alex Cora has played in four postseasons, compared to Boone’s one. While that might not be the deciding factor, it reflects how little experience Boone has to personally work with verses Cora, who won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007.

The Yankees will be hard to beat in the postseason but they’ll fall apart. The Astros, however, will be tougher. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Red Sox, with new momentum propelled by Alex Cora, can’t overcome them.

Steven Wright Needs A Permanent Rotation Spot

The Boston Red Sox are in a tight battle with the New York Yankees for superiority in the AL East, and that won’t change anytime soon. It’s time to stop letting Drew Pomeranz take the mound and give Steven Wright, one of the league’s only knuckleballers, a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

Steven Wright joined the Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2013. After acquiring the Steven Wrightknuckleballer from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Lars Anderson, the Sox only used Wright in ten contests over his first two seasons with the club. Wright found a niche in 2015 as a reliever, going 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 appearances. After a last-place finish in the AL East that year, the Red Sox entered 2016 with a revamped starting rotation. Wright was a part of this makeover, and he capitalized on his first season as a full-time starter. In 24 starts, he went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA, 127 strikeouts, and four complete games. Wright’s breakout 2016 season also landed him a spot on the American League All-Star Team.

After consecutive last-place finishes, the Red Sox went 93-69 in 2016 and looked to have mended their rotation with the signing of David Price, the CY Young season of Rick Porcello, and the rise of Boston’s newest knuckleballer. Wright’s reign was short-lived, however. The following May, he underwent surgery to restore cartilage in his left knee and missed the remainder of 2017.

His problems followed him into the 2018 season. In March, the league suspended Wright for 15 games for violating the MLB’s personal conduct policy. Having completed his suspension on May 14,  Wright returned to his ballclub, but without a starting job. The culprit? Drew Pomeranz, who became a starter in Wright’s absence in 2017.

I will give credit where credit is due. In 2017, Drew Pomeranz looked every bit deserving of a spot in the Red Sox rotation. He went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 174 punchouts and was a key cog in helping the Sox replicate their 2016 record of 93-69. And to begin this season, there was no justifiable reason to demote Pomeranz. He pitched as well as Wright did in his All-Star season, if not better.

Steven Wright Got His Groove Back

But now, over 60 games into the year, Steven Wright needs his spot back. Drew Pomeranz has allowed at least two earned runs in every single one of his starts this season. In eight starts, he is 1-3 with a staggering 6.81 ERA. And most recently, the team placed Pomeranz on the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left bicep. Steven Wright made his first start of 2018 on June 5th against the Detroit Tigers. Throwing seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and just two hits, he reminded everyone what they’d been missing out on. On June 11th, Wright followed it up with another scoreless start against the Baltimore Orioles, surrendering just four hits in six innings of work. The knuckleballer has not allowed a run in 22 consecutive innings, and his ERA is down to 1.21 on the season.

The numbers alone are compelling enough. The knuckleball is a rare commodity in today’s MLB, and Wright’s superior numbers and novelty pitch make him all the more worthy of a starting job for this team.