Xander Bogaerts Sinks Rays By Himself

On the night the Red Sox finally got to honor David Ortiz in front of the Fenway Faithful for hitting 500 home runs, it wasn’t David Ortiz providing the heroics—it was Xander Bogaerts. One of the team’s young guns, Xander Bogaerts provided the fireworks on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bogaerts provided an 8th inning grand slam last night, which gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead and proved to be the game-winning hit. Bogaerts ended up with 5 RBI’s in a victory that moved the Red Sox into 4th place in the AL East ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Say what you will about the team’s struggles as a whole, but Xander Bogaerts has beenXander Bogaerts one of the most consistent players this season, with a .323 average on the season, 7 home runs and 78 RBI’s this season. He also has a chance at 200 hits if he finishes this year strong. Currently, Xander sits at 182 hits with 13 games left in the season, so it’s very doable if he continues to hit like he has been. Will he do it? Who knows, but again, Bogaerts has been one of the most consistent players on the team this season. He also should have been an All-Star, but that’s a whole other rant for another time.

More importantly, Xander Bogaerts’ heroics last night lifted the team out of last place by a half game for the first time in what feels like forever. They currently are a half game ahead of the Rays with 3 more games at Fenway to look forward to before hosting the Orioles for 3 at home to close out their final home stand of the season. They will cap off their sseason on the road with 3 against the New York Yankees followed by 4 against the Cleveland Indians to wrap up the 2015 season.

While 2015 is a lost cause, and has been for some time, Xander Bogaerts and the rest of the team’s young core, are giving fans plenty to look forward to next season. It seems that this team is a few good pieces away from being legit contenders in 2016, thanks to the young guys. The team needs to get an ace or 2 and reinforce the bullpen, but that’s about it. They’ve got some good weapons on offense at the moment, but their pitching has been the Achilles heel all year.

Make no mistake, though: The team is so close to being a contender, and it’s thanks in large part to their rising star, Xander Bogaerts.

Rick Porcello Out-Pitches Chris Sale in 3-0 win

Rick Porcello pitched 7 strong innings in a rare good start that pleasantly surprised me. The Red Sox righty out-dueled one of baseball’s best young talents last night in Chris Sale behind his strong outing and some late help from Travis Shaw, who hit a 2-run home run in the 8th inning to seal the deal. Porcello struck out 5, while walking none in his 7 innings on Wednesday, thus earning his first win since July.

As to where this performance came from, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe Rick Rick PorcelloPorcello missing time helped him work through his kinks, or maybe it was just the familiarity of pitching at US Cellular Field as a member of the Detroit Tigers that made it easier for him to settle for in. Personally, I hope it’s the former, because it means Rick Porcello has turned a corner during his disappointing first season with the team. That would be ideal after the Red Sox traded for him last off-season, then signed him to a 4-year/$82 million extension in April before he even threw a pitch.

When the news came out that the team extended him, I was initially a fan of the deal, but ate my words after he posted a 5-11 record and an ERA up near 6 before he was sidelined these past few weeks.

Maybe he’ll end up emulating John Lackey, who was very disappointing for the first 2 seasons of the team, was sidelined for all of 2012 after Tommy John surgery before bouncing back in 2013 and 2014 and becoming the guy we thought we signed in 2010. At least until he was traded at the 2014 trade deadline last season. I hope Porcello is going to follow a similar path, albeit a little faster than Lackey, because Porcello is better than he’s shown in a Red Sox uniform. This season is far from being all on him, but he has certainly played his part in the struggles of the 2015 Red Sox.

Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I really want Porcello to succeed here and go back to the guy he was in Detroit. He’s got a ways to go, but it starts with a single step, and he took that step last night.

Rick Porcello Gives Up 3 Runs in Rehab Start With PawSox

In what has been a wildly unsuccessful first season with the Red Sox, Rick Porcello completed what should be his final rehab outing with the Pawtucket Red Sox on Friday night before returning to the Red Sox rotation for the last five weeks of the season. Porcello will likely replace Matt Barnes in the rotation, unless the team finally decides that Joe Kelly should get an audition in the bullpen.

After a shaky first inning in which Porcello gave up two runs while hitting a batter and Rick Porcelloallowing three stolen bases, Porcello calmed down to allow just one run in the remaining 4.2 innings he went. Overall he went 5.2 while allowing 3 hits, 3 earned runs, striking out 6 including 4 of the last 5 batters he faced and walking none. Obviously the main focus for Porcello is keeping the ball down, especially his fastball which has been hammered this season when it has been left up in the strike zone. He is a sinker ball pitcher, but seems to rely on his fastball too much and looks like he over throws at times. It’s okay Rick if you can’t throw 99—the Red Sox already have Joe Kelly over throwing as it is.

The next month of the season for Porcello will be a big test as he looks to right the ship on what has been a rough start to his Red Sox career. After being acquired from the Tigers in a winter trade, Porcello signed a 4 year extension with the team paying him over $80 million before he even threw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform.

Obviously that contract is a lot to live up to, but Red Sox fans should remember that John Lackey’s first few years with the Red Sox weren’t great either and he went on to help them win a World Series in 2013. Time is on Porcello’s side to prove he is a better pitcher than he has looked this season. However, to expect him to live up to that contract may be farfetched.

Dave Dombrowski, recently named President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, is the man who drafted Porcello, but also the man who traded him, so we will soon find out how he really feels about Porcello. Obviously his results this season will not make it easy to move him, but maybe if he is counted on less, he will be a much better pitcher next season.

John Farrell Calls Out Pablo Sandoval’s Weight

The 2015 Red Sox cannot be summed up in just a sentence of phrase. The frustration from the fan base and players has now a visible effect on manager John Farrell. Farrell is usually a stay the course, the players will figure it out, type manager but over the last week he has not shied away from holding his players accountable.

David Ortiz did not run out a ground ball last week and Farrell went out of his way to Pablo Sandovalmention it. You can now see Farrell has grown frustrated with the pitching staff he was handed as well. Rick Porcello who continues to trot out to the rubber every fifth day and continues to not get out of the fifth inning almost every start. John Farrell has floated out the idea that Brian Johnson and Henry Owens will get a look in the rotation and soon. Farrell seemed to float out the idea of roster moves coming as well, although that is necessary when your starter only goes two innings.

The main frustration that was picked up from John Farrell’s press conference last night was Pablo Sandoval’s weight problem. Sandoval left the game due to dehydration and Farrell said his weight needs “addressing”. The Red Sox knew what they were getting into Sandoval this off-season, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was a continued critic of Sandoval’s weight during his time in San Francisco. He would continue to show up to spring training over the weight the Giants wanted him at, but he would continue to perform in October so they took the good with the bad.

This year Sandoval has not looked like a $19 million player because he is not a $19 million player. It made sense for the Red Sox to sign Sandoval, but to expect him to be a middle of the order force was wrong, he is simply not that player. His career high in home runs is 25, and has been in the teens in home runs the last three years.

There is no question Sandoval’s weight is a problem but the elephant in the room, no pun intended, has rarely been brought up this season. If you watched the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN commentator Curt Schilling brought up the fact that Sandoval has definitely gained weight this season. Maybe motivation is a problem, with the team losing. He is said to be with his friends Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz, so that should help him no?

The Red Sox need to figure out Sandoval’s weight problem before the end of this season. It will be on the minds of many this off-season. What will Sandoval look like come spring training? Will he be moving to first base? Those questions need to be answered soon and Sandoval needs to react the to comments of John Farrell.

Red Sox Acquire Ryan Cook from A’s

The Red Sox had a quiet trade deadline not dealing any of the veterans many of us expected them to. Mike Napoli and Alejandro De Aza were still in the lineup for Friday nights game with the Rays, while many Sox fans feel the Sox need to look elsewhere and give the younger players a shot.

The Sox did make one small move in acquiring A’s pitcher Ryan Cook. Cook, now 28, was the A’s former closer, who was an All-Star in 2012.Ryan Cook It is expected Cook will be activated tomorrow and supply some help in the Red Sox depleted bullpen. Cook was pitching in Triple-A Nashville, but did appear in 4 games with the A’s this season allowing 5 runs. He also was once traded for now teammate Craig Breslow, when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cook had a 4.05 ERA in 30 appearances with the Nashville Sounds this season, so the Red Sox seem to be taking a flier on a player they expect to rebound while controlling him for two additional years. Cook does come cheap, as the Sox will either surrender a player to be named later or cash in the deal. Cook spent two stints on the disabled list last season but this year has been working to get his effectiveness back, as he sometimes has trouble find the plate.

Obviously the Red Sox did not seem to find a taker for any bad contracts they have signed in recent years and did not want to deal of of their prospects with many of the top prospects in the lower levels. The Red Sox bowed out of the Cole Hamels sweepstakes after Hamels had listed the Red Sox on his no trade list but I feel if they offered to pick up his option for 2020 he would likely have approved the deal. Tyson Ross’ name was tossed around Friday as well who were looking for a shortstop of the future but apparently Deven Marrero was not the shortstop they were looking for.

The Red Sox can still make moves until August 31 but the player needs to pass through waivers to be dealt. Mike Napoli and his salary would likely pass through waivers but the Pirates who were rumored to have interest in Napoli, acquired Michael Morse on Friday so they seem to have a right handed hitter to platoon as first.

Shane Victorino Traded to Angels

The Red Sox have made their first move of the deadline week, trading Shane Victorino and cash considerations to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge on Monday, according to the Boston Globe.

Josh Rutledge is a career .259 hitter in 266 career games, and previously spent 3 years in Shane VictorinoColorado with the Rockies before coming to the Angels according to the Boston Globe. He’s listed as a 2nd baseman, but plays shortstop and also has limited experience at 3rd base as well (5 career games at 3rd).

This move isn’t bad, considering Victorino’s injury history. While the Red Sox have Brock Holt at 2nd base right now filling in for Dustin Pedroia, a little extra depth never went amiss given Rutledge’s versatility. Plus the move clears space in that overcrowded outfield for the likes of Rusney Castillo, who got called up after the deal and will hit 7th tonight.

Looking back at Shane’s time with Boston, people will remember the injuries of the past couple of years, but they’ll also remember what he did for the Red Sox and the city of Boston during that magical 2013 season. Remember the grand slam in game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, or the 4 RBI game in game 6 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals? While the past couple of years have been filled with injuries for Shane Victorino, he was a solid addition to the roster, at least for that one unforgettable 2013 season.

This move seemed inevitable in a way. With both Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. down in Pawtucket, the Red Sox needed to do something to clear space for them to return, and this was part of that. Both of them should be with the big league ball club. I think it’s about time Castillo got a long, hard look in the major league, after signing that $72 million deal late last summer. Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to have turned a corner, has played better in the minors and needs a better shot to showcase what he can do.

So long, Shane, and thanks for 2013. Hopefully, he gets another shot at the playoffs with LA.