The Xander Bogaerts Comeback Tour is in Full Swing

Since Xander Bogaerts burst onto the scene with his 2013 rookie year playoff performance, his time with the Red Sox has had its fair share of ups and downs. Having only played 18 regular season games in 2013, Bogaerts came alive in Boston’s World Series run. Batting .296 with 2 RBI, giving Red Sox Nation a reason to be excited for this young shortstop.

Xander Bogaerts

His role increased dramatically in 2014 and thereafter; he hasn’t played in less than 140 games since the 2013 season. The shortstop position for the Red Sox has been a carousel since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra in 2004, and Xander Bogaerts looked to be the man to fill the void and finally afford the Red Sox some stability at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Xander Bogaerts: Red Sox Shortstop

In 2014, Bogaerts’ first season as full-time shortstop, the 21-year-old left Red Sox Nation underwhelmed and wanting more, posting only a .240 batting average with 46 RBI in nearly 600 plate appearances.

Over the next two seasons, Bogaerts finally validated the excitement surrounding his rookie year with two consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. His batting average skyrocketed to .320 in 2015 and his RBI total nearly doubled. He showed even more improvement in 2016, driving in a career-high 89 runs and playing his way onto the American League All-Star Team for the first and only time in his young career.

Then 2017 happened. Bogaerts, battling a hand injury in the second half of the year, swung his way right back into Red Sox Nation’s doghouse, batting only .273 with a meager 62 RBI, despite playing in only 9 fewer games than his All-Star 2016 season.

The Future of Xander Bogaerts

With Boston’s significant grocery list of contractual obligations, Bogaerts’ future with the Red Sox after 2017 was uncertain. But through six games, it looks as if “X” is returning to his All-Star form.

Xander Bogaerts currently leads the team in batting average (.357), hits (10), and doubles (5). He joins Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Eduardo Nunez as the team’s home run leaders with one so far.

Statistics aside, the eye-test alone is promising enough. Bogaerts is simply hitting the ball harder than last year, despite the small sample-size. While that may just be a result of his healthy hand, it also suggests that he may have figured out his swing after his first few seasons were plagued with inconsistency.

Will he be the Red Sox shortstop for years to come? Only time will tell, as this team is no stranger to instability at his position. His explosive start to the 2018 campaign is very promising, not only for his future, but for a Red Sox offense trying to find its rhythm and compete with the firepower of the Yankees.

The Sox have their first test against their rivals this Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

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.

Sox Pitching Shows Glimpse Of How Good It Can Be

We are just five games into the 2018 season, but right now things look good for the Red Sox. We’ve seen one turn through the starting rotation so far and although it doesn’t mean much, there is reason for optimism. The pitching so far has shown us a glimpse of just how good it could be. In five games, the Red Sox have given up a total of 12 runs. Half of those runs came in thePitching first game alone when Joe Kelly and Carson Smith melted down to ruin Chris Sale’s gem. Out of the 12 runs, only three have been given up by the starters. Making it even more impressive is that the two men at the back end are not the usual guys. Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson did their jobs to come in and be not just effective, but very good, in spot-starts.

At the front end of the rotation, we saw Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello form a three-headed monster in consecutive starts for the first time since they’ve been together. Again, it’s too early to get excited but things have certainly looked encouraging.

The one thing you can come back and challenge about this is the fact that they are facing anemic lineups. The Rays and Marlins both look like Triple-A clubs, which may have something to do with the lack of offense. If you want to look at it that way, that’s perfectly fine and consistent with being a Boston sports fan. However, all you can ask is for the Sox to take care of business against whomever the opponent is. That is what they have done thus far.

The next go-round for the rotation will be similar as Sale will get the Marlins tomorrow to kick it off. After that it’ll be Price, Porcello and Velazquez going against Tampa Bay in the opening series at Fenway. Finally, Brian Johnson will face a test against the New York Yankees next week. That’s when we’ll start to get a gauge on how things are going to go on the mound.

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!

 

Stephen Wright Gets A Suspension, But Was It Enough?

Steven Wright will serve a suspension to start the 2018 season. The MLB commissioner’s office decided that Wright deserved a 15-game penalty for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. In my estimation, this is not enough.

Wright was arrested on December 8th after an altercation with his wife. We don’t know allWright of the details but the situation escalated to the point that his wife felt threatened and that’s obviously enough for me to say that this was extremely out of bounds. Police took the pitcher into custody at the couples’ Tennessee home. The charges were misdemeanor domestic assault and preventing a 911 call. He was released from jail the following day on $2,500 bond and the Williamson County Court retired his case. The court will drop the case if he does not commit additional offenses within the next year.

Sure, Wright cooperated with the league office as they investigated the situation. He’s showing remorse and apparently is going through counseling with his wife. He continues to maintain that he did not make any physical contact with his wife, and he’s taking full responsibility for what transpired. This still should not be okay.

Domestic violence is a problem far too often in our world and in sports, it seems to get a pass. When an athlete makes a mistake, too many people back them. The MLB and the Red Sox have stated their disappointment in Wright, but who cares? Fifteen games without pay is a slap on the wrist for something of this magnitude. Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game ban, which is still way too light.

I’m a big believer in second chances and I know people make mistakes, but I think Wright should have to deal with a team releasing him over this. He should have to sit for a while and focus on the important things before getting back to baseball. At the very least he should get a more hefty punishment than this. It’s extremely disappointing and frankly, I don’t want to have to root for the guy all summer long. Let’s just hope he makes the right changes and moves on to be a better person.

Red Sox Players’ WBC Performances

The 2017 World Baseball Classic was one that will go down in history. The combination ofWBC Performances flare for dramatics, swag, and genuinely good baseball will make sure of that. The best players in the world getting to represent their country is always a special event. For the fans, their favorite players from their favorite teams don a new jersey. Following Team USA’s exciting victory over Puerto Rico, it officially became time for Red Sox baseball. The team has been playing in spring training games and tuning the roster up for Opening Day. The participants who are also Red Sox players missed time with the team to play for their home country. Let’s see what their WBC performances consisted of.

Xander Bogaerts’ WBC Performance

The Netherlands were a team that did not have much big league talent. Regardless, the team made a push in the tournament to reach the semifinal. They were defeated by Puerto RIco by a score of 4-3 in 11 innings. The team’s best hitter was a man named Wladimir Balentine, who hit a whopping .615 in the tournament. Xander Bogaerts ultimately went 5-22 (.227) in 17 games, scored 5 runs, and drove in 2 runs. He has always been a “put the ball in play” type of hitter, and managed to only strike out once all tourney long. Bogey had a OBP of .419.

Red Sox Players’ WBC Performances

Fernando Abad threw 2 & 1/3 innings for the DOminican Republic in the WBC. He got a win for one of the most exciting teams in the tournament. Abad was 1-0, had an ERA of 0.00, stuck out 1 while walking 1, and gave up 2 hits. We’ll have to wait and see if he finds a spot back in the Red Sox bullpen this year.

It certainly would have been interesting to see what Hanley Ramirez could have done in the WBC for the Dominican Republic. Ramirez decided to not partake in the event due to a lingering shoulder soreness. He plans on returning to playing the field for Boston by the end of spring training.

The same goes for Eduardo Rodriguez. E-Rod has been pitching for the Red Sox during spring training, and was on the Venezuelan roster as one of the pitchers they could pick up later in the tournament. The team requested Rodriguez, but he denied the request. The Red Sox will continue to monitor Rodriguez’s situation with his knee, as well as simply watch the young man progress.

No Red Sox players emerged as heroes in the World Baseball Classic like some thought they would. The leadership and determination of Xander Bogaerts had to have played a role in the Netherlands semifinal run. Fernando Abad pitched in one game, while Hanley Ramirez and Eduardo Rodriguez simply did not partake. Now that the WBC is over, it is time for Red Sox baseball.