Congrats and Thank You From the Yawkey Way Report

The staff of the Yawkey Way Report would like to congratulate the Boston Red Sox for winning the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers!

The staff of the Yawkey Way Report would also like to thank Red Sox Nation for its support during the 2018 season. Without you we wouldn’t have had the success we had this season.

We look forward to seeing what good fortune 2019 brings us and seeing the great fans of Red Sox Nation back in the spring!

And again, congratulations to the Boston Red Sox for defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series!

Red Sox Need Another Reliever

21-7 in April looks great. That record start had Red Sox fans dreaming of the duck boatsred sox reliever in November. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, starters look potent and manager Alex Cora is pushing all the right buttons. However, are they flawless? The Red Sox could target another reliever.

To start off May, Kimbrel blew a 3-2 save opportunity, after Royals’ Alex Gordon hammered a fastball into the stands. While that may certainly simply be a rare fluke by Kimbrel, what about the rest of the bullpen?

Red Sox Should Target Another Reliever

Matt Barnes has been reliable. He has posted a sub-three ERA in 12 games thus far. Cora seems to like him as his 8th inning guy and with each successful outing, confidence seems to grow for Barnes. Confidence and control have been issues in Barnes’ recent career though.

Velazquez has done well, posting 8 straight innings without allowing a run. But as the season goes on, Cora may rather keep him as a long relief option, or as the “6th guy” in case of an injury to the rotation. Other than that, the bullpen has been suspect. Joe Kelly has become a fan favorite after his altercation with Yankees’ Tyler Austin. Fans have seen all the “Joe Kelly fight club” tee-shirts, but his swing and miss production on his fastball must improve.

Could Tyler Thornburg be the guy?

In the 2016 off-season, Dombrowski dealt promising 1B/3B Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for their then dominant set up man Tyler Thornburg. Thornburg was supposed to be the 8th inning bridge to Kimbrel on paper. He, however, has yet to make his Red Sox debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season. Thornburg recently struck out the side in his AAA game, in Pawtucket and could be fast-tracked to the big leagues. However, it is tough to count on success after injury, even with prior dominance.

A Tip for Dombrowski

Last trade deadline, Dombrowski acquired Addison Reed from the Mets. Reed had the past success, durability and swing and miss stuff desired in a set-up man. Reed posted a 3.33 ERA in 29 games in the second half of the season for the Red Sox. He came up big before the playoffs and also was the guy to give Kimbrel some much needed rest in September.

I expect Dombrowski to do the same this deadline and acquire a Reed-like arm for their title run.

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.

Andrew Benintendi Looking to Take Next Step

Portland Sea Dogs outfielder Andrew Benintendi, one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system, has gotten off to a slow start in Portland. Benintendi is rated the 15th best prospect by Baseball America. This is his second year in minor league baseball following being the first round pick by the Sox out of the University of Arkansas in 2015.

In 198 at bats in 2015, Benintendi hit 11 homers with a .313 batting average. FollowingAndrew Benintendi this season, people were aware of what he could do. He showed decent speed as well with 10 steals, only being caught three times. With his strong first season, many expected him to build upon that in his second year.

Benintendi started this season at High A Salem. In 135 at bats, he hit .341 with one homer and stole 8 bases, only getting caught two times. Following his start at Salem, Benintendi received the promotion to Portland. While Triple A is the highest minor league baseball game, Double A always seems to be better baseball to watch because of the youth in the game rather than the career minor league players that you tend to see at Pawtucket. With the promotion, Benintendi was at a much improved level. Would he continue to grow and turn into an elite prospect?

So far at Portland, Benintendi is off to a slow start, batting just .214 in 42 at bats with no homers. He has also has stolen three bases but been caught stealing twice, showing the improvement in catching at this level. His struggles don’t necessarily suggest anything as it is still early but it is a cause for concern as he is likely a guy the Sox are considering trading at the deadline. Will Benintendi turn it around in time for the Sox to shop him as an elite prospect?

In these next few weeks, Benintendi will turn the corner. He has started to show flashes of doing so in his last three games, two of them multi hit games. As a groomed hitter coming from the college game and being 21 years old, his path to the major leagues will be much shorter than most prospects as he adjusts to the higher levels quickly. However, Sox fans should be hoping he’s wearing another uniform in return for quality starting pitching.

 

Red Sox Quarterly Review

If you can believe it, we’re already a quarter of the way through the baseball season. That means there’s still a lot of games left to be played, but there’s also a considerable amount already in the books–enough to draw somewhat meaningful conclusions from. With that in mind, it’s time for the Red Sox quarterly review.

Red Sox Quarterly Review: Mostly Good…

A great lineup can carry a team all the way to the championship, so it’s encouraging that people are already ranking Boston’s offense among the best of all-time (and that’s despite a disappointing start from Mookie Betts and next to nothing from Christian Vazquez)Red Sox Quarterly Review. The Sox currently lead the MLB in just about every hitting category under the sun, and after taking a quick look around the diamond it’s not hard to see why. Hanley Ramirez is productive again after injuries sabotaged his season last year, and Dustin Pedroia is hitting as well as he ever has. Xander Bogaerts continues to grow offensively, Travis Shaw has been a revelation at third, and Brock Holt is off to one of his patented hot starts in left.

Given all that firepower, it’s surprising that Boston’s two best hitters have been a 40-year-old DH and the team’s number-nine hitter. The former, David Ortiz, is having one of the best seasons ever for a player his age, making his decision to retire after this year look incredibly premature. Perhaps his wisdom is rubbing off on Jackie Bradley, Jr., who has finally learned how to hit at age 26, which is around the same age Ortiz emerged as a dominant force. Bradley’s hitting just as well as Ortiz, and while his breakout may not be sustainable, he doesn’t have to hit anywhere near this good to be valuable thanks to his stellar defense in center.

Boston’s also benefited from similarly unexpected breakthroughs in the  rotation. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has been the team’s best pitcher thus far, something nobody saw coming from  a 31-year-old with 11 career starts under his belt before this year. He’s had help from Rick Porcello, who remembered how to throw his sinker after over-relying on his fastball last year and is pitching like the number-two Ben Cherington signed him to be.

As expected, the bullpen’s been dynamite with Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel nailing down games. Just wait until Carson Smith gets back in the swing of things.

…But Some Bad

With Boston leading baseball in every conceivable offensive metric and mere percentage points out of first in the AL East, there’s not a whole lot of bad in this Red Sox quarterly review. But the Red Sox haven’t been perfect, otherwise they’d be 41-0 and I’d be writing about Joe Kelly’s Cy Young chances. But I’m not, because Kelly has been hurt and terrible. Clay Buchholz has also been terrible, but at least he’s not hurt (yet).

Boston’s biggest concern has to be its $31 million ace, who hasn’t pitched like one this year. David Price has been erratic, capable of overpowering opponents with his electric stuff but also struggling against weak lineups. His peripherals suggest he’s going to be fine, but the fact remains that he has not provided a good return on investment so far.

Neither has Boston’s $17 million third baseman, who won’t be manning the hot corner anytime soon after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in early May. Pablo Sandoval’s contract is looking like a sunk cost, but so did John Lackey’s before he righted the ship.

Red Sox Quarterly Review Grade: A

With a prolific offense, solid rotation and shutdown bullpen, Boston looks like postseason contenders.

Dwight Evans’ Number Should Be Retired Too

I was happy when the Boston Red Sox announced that they would retire Wade Boggs’ jersey number 26 this year. Boggs played in Boston for ten years but departed in 1993 for the  Yankees in New York before finally being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 with 91.9% of the vote on the first ballot. There’s no question as to whether Dwight EvansBoggs’ number should be retired, but it will only be the ninth number ever retired by the Red Sox (excluding Jackie Robinson’s number 42, whose number was universally retired across Major League Baseball in 1997). When you look at the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals have retired twelve numbers, and the New York Yankees have retired eighteen, it makes you wonder if the Red Sox are being too conservative in choosing whose numbers to retire, especially Dwight Evans’ number 24.

The Boston Red Sox have three requirements for a player’s number to be retired: be in the Hall of Fame, have played at least ten years in Boston, and finish their career with the Red Sox (though that rule has been relaxed in recent years). Only five of the current players whose numbers are retired meet these requirements; Johnny Pesky isn’t in the Hall of Fame, while Pedro Martinez didn’t play a full ten years in Boston and, along with Carlton Fisk, finished his career elsewhere. These exceptions should pave the way for Dwight Evans.

Dwight Evans By the Numbers

Let’s take a look at his numbers. While Dwight Evans isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame, his numbers reflect a career worthy of induction. He was a three-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner, led the league at least once in on-base percentage, runs, total bases, home runs, and walks. He ranks in the top 50 all time in games played (2,606), home runs (385), and walks (1,391). Evans also hit four home runs on opening days in his career, including one on the very first pitch of the season. What Evans might best be remembered for is the unbelievable catch he made in right field during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Evans robbed the Reds’ Joe Morgan of a possible home run, leading the stunned Cincinnati Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson to say, “It was an outstanding catch. The best catch I’ve ever seen.” Given his offensive numbers, his exceptional defensive skills, and his overall dependability, Evans’ number 24 should be retired alongside Boggs’.

The Red Sox should take a closer look at what numbers they are overlooking for retirement, starting with Dwight Evans. He played his heart out every day he wore a Red Sox uniform and the man deserves no less.