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.

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.

Carson Smith’s “Fatigue” Excuse Is Worse Than His Injury

It’s crazy how the Red Sox are one of the best teams in the league again this year and yet, it feels like everything about them stinks right now. The bad news keeps on coming, as hard-throwing reliever Carson Smith sustained a “subluxation” of his right shoulder on Monday night after throwing his glove in the dugout. The worst part is that he says this injury was caused by “fatigue” from pitching too much. What a boneheaded move and excuse by a player that already frustrates Red Sox fans.

Smith came in to a tight game against the A’s on Monday night, and allowed an eighthfatigue inning homer to Oakland slugger Khris Davis. Frustrated with his performance, he chucked his glove once he got back into the dugout. Not a smart move, as now he’s got a shoulder injury because of stupidity.

To make matters worse for the righty, he came out and blamed his injury on being tired. “I think fatigue played a factor,” Smith said. “My shoulder just couldn’t handle it. I think my shoulder is tired in general just from pitching. I’ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”

Dude, you cannot be serious. You’ve thrown all of 14.1 innings this season after spending basically the first two years of your Boston career on the disabled list. How are you possibly out of gas!? I can’t fathom what some of these guys say sometimes. They don’t understand that what is coming out of their mouthes is worse than what the actual situation is. Smith is just the latest example of a guy that doesn’t get it and probably never will.

Fatigue? The manager disagrees.

Alex Cora didn’t seem to appreciate Smith’s comments either. He spoke to the media and said that he didn’t agree with what Smith had said regarding fatigue. “On a daily basis we talk to pitchers and see how they feel,” he started. “If they don’t think they can pitch that day, we stay away from them. It caught me be surprise. If he felt that way, he should’ve told it to us or he should’ve mentioned it.”

Cora added that he will address Smith’s comments with him at some point. I sure hope he does, because Smith will only offer a “no comment” to the media. This man pitched just as much as any reliever the Sox have and yet won’t take any responsibility for his actions.

A disappointing Red Sox tenure thus far

My high hopes for Smith are no more. Wasn’t he good in Seattle? Well, so far this season he has been very mediocre. He was pitching to a 3.77 ERA with 18 strikeouts which is certainly not the numbers you are looking for. Even so, the Boston bullpen is so bad that I was thinking it was time to give him a go in the eighth inning. Instead, he’ll be hitting the 10-day disabled list.

Let me guess, you’re saying something like “freak injuries happen” and “at least he’ll only be out 10 days.” Well, he’s actually going to be out for longer than that according to Dave Dombrowski. There is no timetable for his return and it could be a “major injury” according to the Red Sox president of baseball operations. Smith is concerned with the severity as well, and noted that a shoulder injury is “something you don’t mess with.” Well Carson, it may have been a good idea to think that one through before you went and decided to throw a temper tantrum.

Mookie Betts Is Looking Every Bit Like the AL MVP

Since his first appearance on the MVP ballot three years ago, the question has notMookie Betts been if, but when Mookie Betts will take home one of the most coveted honors in Major League Baseball. Betts’ sophomore campaign in 2015 yielded a .291 batting average, 18 home runs, 77 runs batted in, and lots of optimism for this promising young outfielder.

In the following season, Mookie started turning heads and looked as deserving of the MVP as any. He drastically improved his numbers and played his way into his first All-Star Game as a starting outfielder. He also took home a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and finished as the runner-up for American League MVP, falling just 45 points short of Mike Trout. His numbers regressed slightly in 2017 after batting a career-best .318 in 2016, but still returned to the All-Star Game and finished 6th in MVP voting. His play to begin the 2018 campaign has Mookie Betts emerging as a favorite to take home MVP honors at last.

Mookie Betts 2018 MVP?

Over the first eight games of the season, the Boston Red Sox were working on the best start in the history of the franchise. Mookie Betts’ bat, however, was nowhere to be found. After recording only one RBI on a lone solo home run in that eight-game span, Betts has since flipped the script entirely. In 31 games, the 25-year-old right fielder has swung his way into the league-lead for home runs (13), batting average (.360), runs (36), and slugging percentage (.825). This power surge has fueled Boston’s offense and helped the Red Sox maintain their top-two 25-10 record. It has also landed Mookie Betts in the history books.

On May 2nd, Betts returned to the starting lineup after hamstring tightness held him out for two games. Boston’s red-hot leadoff hitter picked up right where he left off. Betts hit three home runs for the second time this season, this time on a trio of solo dingers. The Red Sox’ 5-4 win against the Kansas City Royals was Betts’ fourth 3-HR game in his career, passing Ted Williams (3) for the most in franchise history.

No Signs of Mookie Monster Slowing Down

Just days after rejoining the lineup, Betts exited Sunday’s game when a throw from first base struck his right shoulder as he was heading to second base. This latest setback did not slow him down either, as he reprised his leadoff role in Boston’s next game on Tuesday. And he didn’t just return, he notched two hits against Yankee ace Luis Severino, including a clutch RBI triple that tied the game before the Yankees went back up for good.

Mookie Betts is on pace to hit over 60 home runs and drive in over 130 runs, out of the leadoff spot no less. He also leads the league in extra-base hits (26) and total bases (94). And with a spotless fielding percentage to top off his exceptional start to the season, he continues to prove himself as one of the most complete 5-tool players in Major League Baseball, and the early leader in the clubhouse for the American League MVP.

MLB in London? Focus on U.S First!

A few weeks ago, it was reported that Major League Baseball is finalizing an agreement that will bring baseball to London. Yes, you read that correctly— the MLB in London! If agreed upon, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would play a two-game series at London’s Olympic Stadium on June 29-30 in 2019. The games would be the first regular season contests that the MLB has played in Europe. Clearly, this is being done in an effort to grow the game on that continent.MLB in London

Personally, I think the MLB needs to think about this for a second. It’s not an awful idea, but I think the priority should be growing the game at home in the United States first. Baseball has been losing popularity in the states for a long time now, especially along the younger generation. I feel like a weirdo when I tell friends that I like to sit down and watch a baseball game. That’s not a good thing.

Forget MLB in London, For Now

Instead of taking care of that problem and finding some way to fix baseball here, Rob Manfred and company want to move on to something they aren’t ready for. They are just following in the NFL’s footsteps by forcing London games down everyone’s throats and that’s barely even working for football, which is insanely popular.

My last issue with this is the fact that they are sending the Red Sox and Yankees. I get that they want to send a good product. You do not want to do what Roger Goodell does to the good people of London by subjecting them to crappy teams. This is not the right two to send, however. Baseball’s popularity is down largely because of pace of play and everyone’s short attention spans. That means we should not introduce the game to London by sending them these two teams. They notoriously play the longest games against each other. If you want to send the Yankees or the Sox, send them against someone else. Otherwise, we’ll be getting shots of the fans there filing out in the sixth inning after three hours.

2018 Red Sox: Best and Worst Case Scenarios

Opening Day has finally come, so it’s time to stop speculating on what may or may not happen in the 2018 MLB season. Before we do so however, I wanted to touch on what a best case or worst case scenario looks like for the 2018 Boston Red Sox. There is definitely a wide range of outcomes with this club. While I think they’ll be on the higher end of them, you never know. Let’s take a look at how things would play out perfectly, or disastrously.

The Best Case Scenario for the 2018 Red Sox

All of the success and good vibes from spring training carry over into April and the teamRed Sox 2018 Best and Worst keeps riding that wave. Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello form a three-head monster at the top of the rotation and the only problem is that they’ll probably all split votes in the Cy Young Award race. Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez come back from the DL and remain healthy while finally realizing their immense potentials and solidifying the back of the pitching staff. The team releases Steven Wright.

Craig Kimbrel pitches like he did in 2017 while Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith are healthy, super setup men. The rest of the bullpen falls in line and with all of the rest they get due to great performances by the starters, they excel.

JD Martinez provides the power the Sox have been missing. Mookie Betts gets back to an MVP-caliber player. Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers continue to thrive despite their inexperience. Dustin Pedroia turns back the clock to when he was actually good. JBJ and Christian Vazquez make strides at the plate to compliment their defense and Xander Bogaerts bounces back to re-join the “best shortstop in the league” conversation. The TB12 Method works wonders for Hanley Ramirez as he has his best season in Boston.

The bench guys play like starters and form one of the best units in the league to give the Sox amazing depth. Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez get back to how they were when they were healthy for Boston in 2017. Blake Swihart’s wild journey ends well as he becomes a valuable utility player and Brock Holt gets back to being an “All Star”. Alex Cora wins manager of the year after he changes the culture in the Sox clubhouse and on the field. The Sox run away with the AL East over the Yankees. They then get through Houston and New York before facing Washington in the World Series. Devers comes up with big blasts to win World Series MVP as Boston takes home the title in 6 games.

Worst Case Scenario

The Sox groove from spring training is cut off and they start the season slow. Chris Sale and David Price either get hurt or stink. The fans start to lose it. Porcello continues to serve up long balls while Pomeranz and Rodriguez can’t stay healthy. The rotation ends up looking like a Triple A squad. The bullpen implodes every time they actually get a lead.

Pressure mounts as the leadership and clubhouse issues persist. Dustin Pedroia still feuds with the media and refuses to do anything but ground out to second base. Xander Bogaerts can’t seem to find his swing and is dangled in trade talks. Benintendi and Devers growing pains become real issues and we wonder whether they will actually pan out like we’d hoped. JBJ can’t hit a breaking pitch and Christian Vazquez becomes an automatic out. Mookie Betts cracks under the pressure of being a leader and an All Star while a divide forms between him and the front office. JD Martinez turns into David Price 2.0 in that he just can’t hack it in Boston and starts lashing out. Hanley Ramirez goes fully in the tank and his attitude gets him shipped out of town for pennies on the dollar.

The bench becomes a total hole as Blake Swihart’s value dips and we figure out that Brock Holt has overstayed his welcome. Nunez does not stay healthy and soon the team is made up of minor leaguers trying to fill in the gaps.

As the summer goes on, we find out that Cora wasn’t ready to be a manager at all. He gets into bad habits and stays stubborn about them with anyone who questions him. The team misses the postseason despite all the talent and the big payroll. The looming offseason is full of uncertainty.

Back to Reality

In truth, it’s not likely either of these things happen. The Sox won’t be perfect all year on their way to a championship. They won’t totally go down the tubes either. Well, at least I hope not. They’ll likely be an improved club that wins ballgames but still has some glaring issues. I like them to ultimately be the last squad standing, but it won’t be without some hiccups along the way. Manage your expectations, Sox fans and enjoy the season. We’re finally ready for the real thing!