Craig Kimbrel’s Dominance is What Red Sox Traded For

One of Dave Dombrowski’s first moves as Red Sox President of Baseball Operations was trading for established closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel came from San Diego for a slew of prospects. At that point, he was one of the most accomplished closers in baseball, the fastest in major league history to reach 200 saves. It took a year, but we’re starting to see Craig Kimbrel’s dominance that made the trade such a bargain.

Kimbrel’s first season in Boston wasn’t exactly his best. By no means was it bad but theCraig Kimbrel's dominance back of his jersey could’ve aptly said “Cardiac Arrest” over his number 46. In his 53 innings of work, he surrendered 30 walks and four home runs and only recorded 31 saves. While that last statistic may not seem bad, he already has 17 saves this season not yet halfway through. Kimbrel’s defining moment of the 2016 season may be when he gave up a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira after the Red Sox had already clinched the division.

This season has been much like a typical Kimbrel one and then some. In a word, he has been dominant. Like ridiculously dominant. He is 17 of 18 in save opportunities and his WHIP is a minuscule 0.49. On top of leading the league in saves, he has struck out an astronomical 53 of the 96 batters he has faced.

Reasonably so with those numbers, he has been a lot more comfortable to watch as a fan. His fastball is once again living in the 97-99 MPH range and he has had no trouble locating his slider of curve ball. It was the lack of breaking ball control last year that attributed to all those walks. Now, however, batters can’t even touch the 29 year-old. Kimbrel’s performance this season is a big reason why the Red Sox have an outstanding record hen leading after seven innings.

Why Was Craig Kimbrel’s Dominance Missing in 2016?

The masterful work of the Red Sox closer this year brings up a lot of questions about his 2016 season. Personally, I don’t think Kimbrel was 100% healthy last year. He missed a few weeks in July with a knee injury but I think it was more than that. He had horrendous location for the first time in his career. Also, you have to take into account where they got him from. He was traded from the Padres, who sent damaged goods over in Drew Pomeranz without telling the Red Sox he was hurt. I think there’s a very real possibility they did the same with Kimbrel.

If Kimbrel can keep up this pace, it will be nothing but great news for the Red Sox. Like having a clutch, dependable kicker in football, having a top-notch closer is essential to a championship team. It changes how you manage late in a game. With the incompetence of John Farrell, a good closer can correct a lot of his mistakes. Honestly, If Kimbrel is half the closer he has been so far, the Red Sox are in good shape. Yes, he’s been that good.

Will Hunter Greene Be The Number One Draft Pick?

I would like to look ahead into the future of baseball with the 2017 MLB Draft fast Hunter Greene Draft Pickapproaching. With the first overall pick, the Minnesota Twins are expected to rather select HS RHP/SS Hunter Greene, 1B/LHP Brendan McKay (Louisville), or RHP Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt). The Twins’ selection will be followed by picks from the Reds’ and Padres’ organizations. Each of these organizations will be looking to select a franchise player. Since he seems to be the center of attention, we are going to take a look at the Notre Dame High School attending phenom, Hunter Greene.

Hunter Greene Is Not A Risky Draft Pick

Though there has never been a right-handed pitcher taken as the number-one overall selection before, Greene is a player that would thrive in doing so. The kid is just 17 years old, but is already on track to be baseball’s next superstar. Greene maxes his fastball out at a supposed 102 MPH, and hit a whopping .324 with 6 homers and 28 RBI. Greene posted a solid .75 ERA in 28 IP while striking out 43 before being shut down on the mound. The two-way sensation is committed to attend UCLA, but that won’t be a factor when he is drafted next week. This kid is a class act; he has been acknowledged for his community service efforts as well as his grades in school. Greene is a local role model for the young baseball players of his area.

Should the Twins Select Hunter Greene?

How many times have we seen it happen before as sports fans? The high-school phenom that was supposed to change the world of sports gets injured or burns out before their prime. Hunter is said to participate in yoga classes, and have a very good connection to his body, as well as his arm. The Twins are in a serious rebuilding stage, and they certainly do not want to mess this pick up. Some believe that the team should play it safe and select a player with college experience, while some think Greene is the right choice for the Twins moving forward. Personally, I think Hunter Greene has all the talent and potential that he needs to be selected number one. He also looks to have the demeanor and willingness to compete for a World Series title in the future. You hear that, Dave?

Angels Fan Returned 600th Home Run Ball to Pujos

Albert Pujols, the veteran infielder and DH for the Los Angeles Angels, hit his 600th career home run on June 3rd. An Angels fan named Scotty Steffel caught the ball and held it tight as his father pulled zealous fans off his son. Pujols’ 600th home run marked only the ninth time a played in the MLB has reached that plateau. Pujols also made history as the only player whose 600th home run was a grand slam. So it’s only natural that the fan who caught it would want something major in return for the ball. In some cases, fans demand tens of thousands of dollars for a significant piece of baseball memorabilia. But in a display of class and integrity, the Angels fan returned the ball to who he called its rightful owner.

“It’s not my ball, it’s his,” Steffel told CBS Los Angeles. “He deserves it. He’s one of theAngels Fan returned best baseball players right now. Of all time.” While many were quick to praise Steffel for giving up the ball without asking for anything in return, others were not so kind. “Of course you sell it,” someone wrote on the Facebook wall of the Institute for Baseball Studies. “One life so look out for yourself and your family. Opportunity comes so take it. So if that makes me greedy I’m fine with that.” Others were more blunt. “Oh yea, giving the Baseball back in 2017 for free………DUMBEST F*@&!#G THING I EVER DID IN MY LIFE!”

Angels Fan Returned the Baseball Out of Respect, Not Cash

Steffel allegedly could have gotten $100,00 for the baseball. But it’s not really like he walked away empty handed. He got his fifteen minutes of fame. He got to meet Pujols after the game. The newest member of the 600 home run club hugged Steffel and shook his hand. Steffel also got the chance to sit in the broadcast booth for a while. And not to mention the tremendous amount of press coverage he’ll get for weeks to come.

In a time when players’ inflated egos are causing unwarranted brawls, it’s refreshing to see someone like Steffel be so selfless. Hopefully his actions will serve as a model for others.

How Did Mike Greenwell Disappear?

I first became a Red Sox fan in 1988. My siblings attended college in Boston so I adopted the Red Sox as my favorite team despite being a New Yorker. While my brother rooted for the Mets, I rooted for Roger Clemens, Jim Rice, and Mike Greenwell. While the first two players are remembered, there are times when I often ask myself: How did Mike Greenwell disappear?

Greenwell was a great player during his days with Red Sox. He shouldered the pressure ofGreenwell Disappear playing left field where greats like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski once played. Greenwell never really had Hall of Fame numbers. They were good enough though to earn a Silver Slugger and two All-Star appearances. In fact, he holds a few distinct records. 1988 saw Greenwell set the American League record for most game-winning RBIs in a single season with 23. In 1996, Greenwell set another record by driving in all nine runs in a 9-8 win over Seattle. So while he was never a real MVP contender, his reliability cannot be denied.

Then in 1996, Greenwell retired. Where did Greenwell disappear to?

Greenwell Disappeared to Japan, Then Became a Race Car Driver

In 1997 Greenwell signed with the Harshen Tigers of Japan. It was a short-lived career with Greenwell retiring only a few months into the season after sustaining multiple playing injuries. After a few coaching stints in the Reds’ organization, Greenwell tried his hand at racing. Greenwell started racing model stock cars at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida where he won the 2000 Speedweeks track championship. He retired from racing in 2010. Greenwell now grows fruits and vegetables on his farm in Alva, Florida. He also owns and operates Mike Greenwell’s Bat-A-Ball & Family Fun Park.

While he didn’t have the longest career, Greenwell retired with a .303 average and 726 RBIs. On a larger level though, Greenwell represents that Red Sox nostalgia that made me fall in love with the team. From hanging his poster over my bed to watching him play back in the 1980s, Greenwell was a staple of Fenway Park for many years. I only wish he’d make more appearances at Fenway Park.

Pomeranz Emerges As Unlikely Ace

Despite a less-than-stellar beginning with the Red Sox last season, Drew Pomeranz has become an unlikely ace this season. Pomeranz emerges as a reliable pitcher in the wake of a string of lineup injuries this season. David Price is just now returning. Steve Wright had season-ending surgery a while back. Rick Porcello is struggling to meet this season’s expectations. Eduardo Rodriguez is back on the DL. So with the Red Sox struggling to climb to first, manager John Farrell seems to depend more on Pomeranz’s control. At 5-3 with 64 K’s for the year, Pomeranz is on his way to having a career year.

Part of Pomeranz’s success this season stems from his cutter. A cutter is a fastball thatPomeranz Emerges cuts away towards the pitcher’s glove as it crosses home plate. While it’s been around since the 50’s, Mariano Rivera perfected it when he rose to dominance as a reliever. Another reason behind Pomeranz’s success is that few paid attention to him when the season began so the expectations, and the pressure, were low. All eyes were on Chris Sale and David Price. On top of that, Pomeranz had a terrible 2016 season with the Red Sox. He went 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA after joining the Sox in a trade from San Diego where he’d been an All-Star. No one expected him to perform.

Pomeranz Emerges As A Dependable Pitcher

A sorely missed David Price returned to the Red Sox last week. While he dominated the Orioles in his first game back, he may still not be 100%. Rick Porcello continues to struggle on the mound. Eduardo Rodriguez is on the DL again. Chris Sale is as solid as always. But the Red Sox only benefit by having Pomeranz in their rotation as he continues to develop his artillery of pitches. His National League experience helps too.

Who knows whether the Red Sox will take first place and the division this year. But one thing is for sure. As Pomeranz emerges as an unlikely ace, he’ll benefit the Red Sox as Price and Porcello find their consistency. If all four pitchers can come together to dominate the American League, it’ll be in parr to Pomeranz’s developing abilities.

Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, Represent the Future at Third

Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers are not household names in Red Sox Nation yet, but they very well could be soon.

Michael Chavis

When the team traded Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada last offseason, they were ultimately committing to Pablo Sandoval to play third base. Especially considering it was their originally plan when they signed him to a five-year $90-million-dollar deal. Although with nagging injuries to both Sandoval and Marco Hernandez, Deven Marrero has had the most reps so far this season.

Despite upside in many or all of these players, none of them seem to be a long term plan. Rather, the Red Sox have two future options developing in the minors.

Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers have the potential to be All-Stars. But their young age means they’re a few years away from making a splash.

With Salem, Chavis is hitting .357 in 41 games with 12 home runs. His OPS is 1.130 as of May 31, a truly elite number for a minor leaguer. Chavis already has more RBI (41) in as many games with Salem than he did in 74 games with Greenville last year.

The following scouting report on his hitting mechanics says Chavis has “a short, compact swing. Wide base in stance. Starts slightly open and utilizes a toe-tap timing device. Quick hands and loose at the plate. Possesses plus bat speed. Tracks the ball well. Swing can get long, creating a hole on the inner half. Developing approach and pitch recognition skills. Potential solid-average to plus hit tool.”

His baseball IQ and coachability is also an upside.

However, Chavis hasn’t been promoted to Portland yet because the Sea Dogs have a superstar of their own. Rafael Devers is also and third baseman. And this season, he has been on fire as well.

As of May 19, Devers was hitting .325 – but has since cooled off a little to a humble .288 average. Regardless, he has been a driving force in the Portland offense, slashing .288/.348/.497 in 43 games.

Bottom Line

Both players are obviously too young to make an impact in Boston this season. It’s arguably better for their development to get at-bats in the minors. Some may make comparisons to Andrew Benintendi. But let’s not forget he also played two years of NCAA baseball in the SEC.

Chavis and Devers, on the other hand, turned pro at high schools ages. Therefore, they have needed extra minor league time to develop. If given the chance to mature properly and not be rushed, one or both of these players could occupy the hot corner at Fenway soon.