The Battle For Second Place Begins

After going 3-1 against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox will host the Tampa Bay Rays starting tonight. As the Rays roll into town, the battle for second place in the AL East officially begins. The Red Sox are a half game back of the Rays, who went 2-1 against Toronto this past weekend.

This is a pivotal series for Boston, as they look to continue the fight for October. Also, thesecond place trade deadline is tomorrow, and the rumors are still flying. For Boston, the battle for second place is an uphill one.

Game One

A rematch of last week’s showdown in Tampa Bay begins Tuesday night. Charlie Morton goes up against David Price in the first game. While Morton is looking for win number 13 of the season, Price is looking to win his eighth game of the season.

For Morton, he is looking to keep his team in second place. Price, however, has other plans. After a shaky outing on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, Price is not only looking to redeem himself, but push Boston into second place.

Game Two

The battle for second place in the AL East continues a few hours after the trade deadline is finished. Rick Porcello has the ball in this game against a Tampa Bay starter that has yet to be named.

Porcello is looking to continue his hot streak after his win on Thursday night against the Yankees. He went six innings allowing three runs off of six hits. It did help that the Red Sox scored seven runs in the first inning off of Masahiro Tanaka, led by Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Game Three

Boston begins August by having Andrew Cashner on the mound in what will be a very important game. After this game, Boston heads to New York to face the first place Yankees. Tampa Bay has yet to announce a starter for this game, but Kevin Cash will have a trick up his sleeve depending on how the first two games go.

Like Porcello, Cashner’s last game out was a masterpiece. The newest member of the Red Sox got his first taste of the rivalry, and did a great job. Cashner went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs off of ten hits, allowing him to get his first win in a Red Sox uniform. When Alex Cora took him out in the seventh, the Fenway Faithful gave him a well deserved standing ovation.

Can Boston win the Battle for Second Place in the AL East?

With the trade deadline in eyesight, both Boston and Tampa Bay have questions that need to be answered. For the Rays, it’s their rotation. For Boston, it’s the bullpen. This past weekend, Tampa Bay got to work, trading for Toronto’s Eric Sogard on Sunday. They also traded Hunter Wood and Christian Arroyo to Cleveland for prospect Ruben Cardenas.

As for Boston, rumors that they are in the process of getting either Edwin Diaz or Ken Giles are still out there. Both closers would be a good fit for Boston. Of course, what happens between now and then is up to Dave Dombrowski. Both this series and the next one are important for Boston. The defending World Series Champions need to stay hot if they went to get to October.

FSG’s Liverpool showcase their best business

Fenway Sports Group’s other professional sports franchise, Liverpool, came to town this past weekend. With an illustrious history and already a rabid fanbase in Boston, the decision to buy the club was easy for John Henry and company. While the two teams were in similar conditions when the group bought them, FSG’s Liverpool and the Red Sox are heading in two different directions.

Similar History Between the Cities and Teams

Liverpool, one of England’s most decorated clubs, was up for sale in 2010 and was in ruinliverpool both on and off the pitch. They were sunk by fellow American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Like Red Sox ownership in the 1990s, Hicks and Gillett flirted with the idea of moving the team from the hallowed Anfield Stadium. They did not deliver, however, on the promise of a state-of-the-art waterfront home for the club. Instead, John Henry, Tom Werner and FSG built and built until Anfield became state-of-the-art itself, while also keeping the illustrious history in tact. Sound familiar?

Like the task they had with the Red Sox in 2001, FSG needed to restore a winning tradition to Liverpool. The Reds were the class of European football in the 70s and 80s, with a dynastic run envied only by the Patriots of modern times. They won every trophy imaginable. By the time FSG bought the club in 2010, Liverpool had the most league titles with 18 (since broken) and five European Cups, the most by any British club. Sticking to club tradition, ownership quickly hired one of Liverpool’s most legendary figures, Sir (or King) Kenny Dalglish to manage the team.

It is no surprise that Liverpool was already arguably the most popular Premier League club in Boston before the purchase. LFC is one of the most popular clubs in Ireland and both Liverpool and Boston have a high concentration of Irish ex-pats. Liverpool is also a famous port city and was the hub of trade for England when ships were the primary transportation. Both are proud northern cities with unmistakable accents, although Scouse might need its own dictionary. Liverpool, like Boston’s beloved Red Sox, make up half of the most intense rivalry in the Premier League going against Manchester United, the team from another northern city and owner of the most league titles in history. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

Finally, the Phoenix Landing is packed with fans on matchdays. Some big games will sell out the small Irish pub hours before kick-off. The dedicated, card-carrying members of LFC Boston make the pub the second best place to be on matchday. If you can’t be at the stadium, it’s as close as you’ll get. They also give back to the community through a litany of charity work. They provide an amazing atmosphere and put community first, adding to an already pristine fan culture in Boston.

The Massive Business Discrepancy

The surprising contrast between these two teams under this same ownership, however, has been the way they’ve done their business. In the only two major sports in the world without salary caps, neither team has to worry about money too often. The Red Sox seemingly never run out of money but LFC was in financial trouble when FSG took over. In the first transfer window under new ownership, the club showed extreme business savvy.

They sold a disgruntled Fernando Torres for a British record for 50 million pounds. To replace him, they bought two strikers, one of which was Andy Carroll, a massive disappointment and a brutal signing. The other, however, was Luis Suarez. Now one of the best strikers in the world, the club sold him for nearly three times his own transfer fee in 2014. Just three months after those buys, FSG’s Red Sox extended Adrian Gonzalez for seven years and $154 million. Oh yeah, and they signed Carl Crawford that same year to a seven year, $142 million deal. Both were run out of town in 2012 and monumental wastes of money.

Where Liverpool have made sound business decisions recently, the Red Sox once again have not. In late 2017, one of Liverpool’s best players, Philippe Coutinho, was begging for a move. While Liverpool still needed him, his value had peaked. They sold him to Barcelona for the measly price of up to 142 million pounds, 133.5 million more than they bought him for. Using that cash, Liverpool began to fill their needs. They needed defensive help, so they set the world record fee for a defender by buying Virgil van Dijk for 75 million pounds. Van Dijk solidified the defense and led Liverpool to the 2018 Champions League Final, their first in 11 years. This past season, he won the PFA Player of the Year. No defender had won the award since 2005.

Liverpool lost that final, however, due to two massive goalkeeping mistakes. So, they used the rest of that Coutinho money to set the world record fee for a goalkeeper. They bought Alisson Becker from Roma for nearly 67 million pounds. He made the save that kept them from being eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League and then had a Man of the Match performance in the final, which Liverpool won 2-0. While Coutinho bolted to Barcelona to win the Champions League, all Liverpool did was make it to the final twice and win it for the sixth time. What’s Coutinho doing now? Well the Catalans have not taken keenly to his performances. Just over 18 months with the Blaugrana and both sides are looking for a move. The most rumored target destination for him? Liverpool.

Recent Red Sox Deals Have Been Failures

In contrast, the Red Sox came off a World Series title and spent a bit themselves. Extending Xander Bogaerts was wise considering the MVP-type performance he’s turned in recently. The other moves were not as promising. Chris Sale signed a $145 million extension with Boston and has won one home game in the last 53 weeks. He has also had multiple IL stints in his two previous seasons with the Red Sox. Sale has proven he can’t hold up for a full season. With his 4-9 record this year, fans might be hoping he can’t hold up much longer.

Speaking of not holding up, was extending Nathan Eovaldi a good idea? He pitched a gutsy seven innings in a World Series game, sure. Never has a loss gained a pitcher so much money, though. A four-year, $68 million contract was agreed upon and he’s been injured since April. Eovaldi has made a home on the IL throughout his career, hence why he hasn’t been able to hold a starting job anywhere else he’s been. Yet, FSG and the Red Sox through starter money at him. Steve Pearce caught lightning in a bottle last season to win World Series MVP. The Red Sox didn’t exactly overspend on him, but that’s whom they re-signed to be their starting first baseman. Through just 29 games this year, he is hitting .180. Need I say more?

FSG Is Still Building At Liverpool

For some reason, FSG seems to work better when their financial situation is tight. They took Liverpool from financial hell back to the promised land. The Reds won the biggest trophy in club football this year. They won 97 points to finish second in the Premier League looking for their first league title in 29 years. To put that into perspective, those 97 points weren’t just the club record but also would’ve been good enough to win the league 117 times out of the last 119. The only years it wouldn’t were this season and last with Manchester City tallying up 198 in that timespan.

Liverpool is by far the most popular and the most relatable Premier League club in Boston. While ownerships has its flaws, those have seemed to glare more stateside rather than Merseyside. While the Red Sox continue to dwindle out of the playoff picture, FSG will look to work their magic again and end another historic drought. Next season, Liverpool will go for their first league title in 30 years, and they have built the team that can make us dream again.

Dustin Pedroia – The Next Comeback Player of the Year?

A certain second baseman is making a comeback for the 2019 campaign. This player is entering his fourteen major league season. He is also currently is the longest serving member of the Boston Red Sox.

Dustin Pedroia made his Major League debut on August 22nd, 2006 against the Loscomeback Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I doubt that Pedroia would think that a year later he would be on his way to not only win the Rookie of the Year award, but also win his first of many World Series championships.

The Man Who Wears #15…

When you look at second base, the player that is usually there wears the number 15. The man many fans know as Pedey, Laser Show and The Muddy Chicken, is making a comeback. When Pedroia came into Spring Training this year, he looked like a whole different person. Pedroia signed an eight year contract extension back on July 23rd 2013. This occurred about three months prior to the Red Sox winning another World Series championship, and about a week after playing in his fourth All Star game.

When you look at Pedroia, he’s not your typical second baseman, however, when he’s on the field, he gives everything he’s got. Many Red Sox fans know about his knee injury, and we also know about the slide seen around the world.

Since then, Pedroia underwent another knee surgery. Due to that, his time on the field in 2018 was limited to three games. One can only hope that this will be the year that Pedroia goes out and seeks revenge. If he does pull it off, he could ultimately win the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Can Pedroia Pull Off The Comeback?

The amount and time that he has given to coming back to play in the 2019 season is great, especially for someone as tough as Pedroia.

It was reported on March 18th that Pedroia will be continuing his rehab assignments, while the team is in Seattle for Opening Day. However, that is not stopping him from continuing to work hard and keep getting stronger. From the looks of it, the Pedroia of old arrived in camp back in February. The lingering question, of course, is how many games he will play once Cora puts him into the Red Sox lineup. Well, only time can really tell. That, and Pedroia, the man on a mission.

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.