Designating Hanley Ramirez for Assignment Was Necessary

Red Sox fans were shocked to find out last Friday that fan favorite Hanley Ramirez had been designated for assignment. For those who don’t know what that is, it means that the player’s current team no longer wants him on the 40-man roster. He’s then either traded or released within seven days. While many are sad to see him go, designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment was the right move by the Red Sox front office.

Ramirez still has $15 million left on his contract. However, he’s due to receive another $22designating hanley ramirez million in 2019. First though, Ramirez had to accumulate 497 plate appearances this year. Since he was already at 177 plate appearances, the Red Sox knew if they didn’t let him go now they’d have to pay him that $22 million next year.

Why’s that a bad thing? To be frank, Ramirez wasn’t doing that well this year at all. He was only hitting .254 this year with six home runs and 29 RBIs. Those are low numbers for someone of his caliber. In May alone he;s only had 13 hits out of 80 at-bats for a .163 batting average. That’s close to a 200 point drop from last month when he hit .341.

Designating Hanley Ramirez for Assignment Makes More Room for Others

Dustin Pedroia recently rejoined the Red Sox after a long stint on the disabled list. The Red Sox are trying to figure out what to do with Blake Swiart. Overall, the Red Sox have too many players who can play both good offense and defense. Ramirez wasn’t one of those players though. Remember when Ramirez played left field? He played like someone stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch. Hanley was good as a first baseman but that was about it. He did well as a DH last season but Alex Cora would be nuts to put him back in that role now.

The fact of the matter remains that Ramirez wasn’t working out anymore. Instead of seeing if he’d improve the Red Sox just cut him loose. I don’t blame them. How long did the front office wait for John Farrell to improve? Too long. Designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment was a smart move on their part because it’ll allow Cora to utilize better players.

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.

It’s Time to Trade Jackie Bradley Jr.

As much as I love the man, it’s time the Red Sox trade Jackie Bradley Jr. away. For years, I’ve been saying that Bradley Jr. only needed a few more years to develop his swing and improve his batting average. But he’s only hitting .173 as of May 8th. He’s also not hitting the home runs he used to hit. With over 500 games played and 1800 at-bats, his career average is only .235. While he’ll always have one of the best gloves in the American League, it’s clear Bradley Jr. is becoming a detriment rather than an asset to the Red Sox.

Last night’s game against the Yankees only solidified this notion. He went 0-3 against thetrade jackie bradley Yankees in a crucial 3-2 loss. In the month of May alone, Bradley Jr. has only two hits in twenty-three at-bats. According to ESPN, “Bradley’s .173 batting average and .528 OPS are better than only three qualified hitters in baseball.” So when does Dave Dombrowski say enough’s enough?

It’s not like the Red Sox need him anyway. J.D. Martinez could easily take his place, and he has one of the hottest bats in the American League right now. Bradley Jr.’s current WAR is -0.3 whereas Martinez’s is 1.6. Bradley Jr. has a .173 batting average vs. Martinez’s .346 as of May 9th. Martinez has eight home runs compared to Bradley Jr.’s two. If the math doesn’t make it clear who’s more valuable, that what can?

Trade Jackie Bradley Jr. for the Benefit of the Team

Trading Bradley Jr. would allow for stronger players to get more playing time and solidify the Red Sox’s lead in the AL East. Alex Cora could replace Bradley Jr. with J.D. Martinez in the outfield. Hanley Ramirez could become the designated hitter again, a role he thrived in. Cora could then replace Ramirez at first base with Gold Glove-winner Mitch Moreland.

Cora and Dombrowski can no longer keep giving Bradley Jr. more chances to improve his hitting. After so many seasons, it’s clear he’s never going to be a .300 hitter. If anything, his lack of offense is now a liability. If the Red Sox were to trade Jackie Bradley Jr., stronger players like Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland would get more playing time, and they have great offensive numbers.

I love Jackie Bradley Jr., especially his glove, but if Dombrowski wants to win a third straight AL East title and go to the World Series, it’ll have to be without him.

Red Sox Comeback Against Rays

In the 118 years of the program’s existence, the Boston Red Sox never started 8-1, until now. On Sunday, down 7-2 in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox scored six straight runs. This Red Sox comeback included five runs coming with two outs. Since falling to the Rays on Opening Day, the Red Sox have won eight straight and started this season better than any other team in franchise history.Red Sox Comeback

While the Sox have largely relied on their pitching through the first eight contests, it was the offense’s turn to carry the team in this one. The Rays got to starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez early on, as the lefty gave up five hits and three runs, all earned, in only 3.2 innings of work. Manager Alex Cora had to get creative with his bullpen in this one. He trotted out four different middle relievers before handing the ball to Carson Smith in the 8th and Craig Kimbrel in the 9th. In their lone innings of scoreless work, Smith (1-1) took home the win while Kimbrel secured his third save of the young season.

Red Sox Comeback Best Start in Program History

Down 7-2 in the eighth inning, Mitch Moreland got things started with his first double of the season, driving in Hanley Ramirez. He crossed the plate soon after on a double by Rafael Devers, his fourth of the season. RBI singles by Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts tied the game at 7.

Andrew Benintendi has struggled to begin the 2018 campaign, batting only .154 with 6 hits. Stepping up to the plate in a game knotted at 7, with two outs and the go-ahead run on second base, he had a chance to turn the page on his rocky start.

Turn the page he did, as Benintendi knocked his first double of the year to center field, scoring Mookie Betts and putting an exclamation point on Boston’s explosive eighth inning.

Even with all of the positive takeaway’s from Sunday’s game, the Red Sox experienced a scare in the seventh inning when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was helped off the field with a  left ankle injury. After a J.D. Martinez throw from the outfield bounced away, Bogaerts slid into the stairwell of the Rays’ dugout, unsuccessfully trying to corral the ball and save the run.

Bogaerts has been the undisputed sparkplug of the Red Sox offense so far this season. Through nine games, Xander Bogaerts has hit .368 with two home runs, including a grand slam in his 6-RBI performance on Saturday. He added one hit on Sunday before Brock Holt replaced him in the seventh inning.

Injuries Can’t Cloud Red Sox Comeback

Manager Alex Cora has said that Xander Bogaerts will be further evaluated on Monday. Not only has Bogaerts put this offense on his back, but Boston’s middle infield is already undermanned with Dustin Pedroia still recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Should Bogaerts miss any time, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt will likely man the middle infield for the time being. While solid defensive options, their bats are undoubtedly a downgrade from Boston’s hottest hitter, especially in an offense reliant on baserunners and contact. The status of Xander Bogaerts should be followed closely, as Boston’s middle infield can’t afford any more setbacks.

The streaking Red Sox, after nine games against the Rays and Marlins, will go for their ninth straight victory in their first true test on Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

 

Alex Cora Needs Red Sox Nation’s Support

Many in Red Sox Nation were quick to slam Alex Cora when the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in their first game of the season. Cora pulled Chris Sale after six innings after giving up only one hit and striking out nine. This move led many to wonder why Cora didn’t let Sale continue his dominance. The criticism intensified after Joe Kelly and Carson Smith blew the Red Sox’s lead. It’s convenient to blame him for pulling Sale. However, Alex Cora needs patience and support from Red Sox Nation.

There’s a lot of pressure on Cora and the Red Sox this season. The team won back-to-alex cora needsback American League Eastern Division titles in 2016 and 2017, but fell in the first round. The front office finally lost patience with John Farrell who, despite bringing a World Series Championship to Boston in 2013, had become more of a detriment than an asset in recent seasons. His termination came as welcomed news, but that also meant his replacement would face tremendous scrutiny early into the 2018 season.

I’m not excusing Cora’s decision making in the team’s first game of the season. Many fans were left baffled by Cora’s decision to pull Sale after six innings. Sale wasn’t in trouble. The team had a 4-0 lead. It was entirely possible Sale could have thrown a one-hit shutout to start off the season. That’s not how it panned out though. Boston lost 6-4, and Red Sox Nation started criticizing Cora before the team had the chance to walk off the field.

Alex Cora Needs Support, But He Has a Lot to Learn

This season is Cora’s first as a manager. He’s going to need the first several weeks of the season to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to blame him if he was thinking that he didn’t want to overextend Chris Sale so early in the season. In that case, pulling him after six innings makes sense. It’s hard to blame him for bringing Joe Kelly in too. In fact, Kelly took responsibility for his poor outing. “It was pretty pathetic what I did out there,” Kelly said in a Boston.com article.

Cora has a lot to learn about being a manager, especially in Boston where fans aren’t as forgiving as they are in other cities. But Cora isn’t John Farrell. It’s not fair to hold him to the standard Red Sox Nation held Farrell to last season. That doesn’t mean that Cora will get a pass in his first season though. Nor should he. While Cora might have a steep learning curve ahead of him, at the end of the day he’s still the manager. He’s going to have to learn to pick his battles, and figure out how key moves might play out before he tries them. So while Alex Cora needs Red Sox Nation’s support and patience, Alex Cora also needs to realize that patience and support doesn’t last as long in Boston as he did in Houston.

Let’s hope for the best for Alex Cora this season. But let’s also let him know that our patience and support isn’t infinite.

What to Expect from Rusney Castillo

rusney castillo

Last August when when of the top Cuban defectors became available on the free agency market, teams pounced on the opportunity to sign center fielder Rusney Castillo. He showed off the raw tools that scouts drool over— power, speed and bat speed. Without ever playing in a big league game, Castillo got the Boston Red Sox to shell out $72.5 million in order to obtain his services for seven seasons (including 2014).
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Already playing in ten big league games, Castillo hit .333 for Boston, but for many it is still unclear what type of a player he will be when the sample size increases.

Former Boston Red Sox utility man and 2007 World Series champion Alex Cora, who coached Rusney Castillo in the Puerto Rican Winter League, has nothing but high praise for the Cuban defector.
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“I don’t think he’s a middle of the order guy,” Alex Cora told NESN. “I think he’s going to berusney castillo a game-changer at the top of the lineup, or one of those guys that can hit seventh and pick up the slack with whoever is up there running the bases, he can drive them in.”

In the Puerto Rican Winter League, Castillo impressed all when he hit .407 in 37 at-bats with a homer and two steals. Although the sample size is limited, he has impressed everywhere fans outside of Cuba have been able to see him play.
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While it appears as though speed might just be his biggest, it might take him awhile to get used to stealing bases because he has not played against much live competition in the past few years.

Giving Castillo high praise is FanGraphs whose Steamer projections project that he hits .262 in 122 games with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases for the Red Sox this year. The Fans prediction on the site shows him hitting 16 homes in 137 games with 26 stolen bases while hitting .278 and posting an impressive .339 OBP.
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If either of those are accurate, he will be a major contributor to the Red Sox next season.