Mookie Betts on the Trade Block?

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I find it weird that this even a question, but here we are! Multiple reports have come out over the last few days about the Red Sox entertaining the idea about trading one of the game’s premier players, Mookie Betts. When I first heard this, I thought the notion of the Red Sox even considering putting Betts on the trade block was absolutely bananas. Why would you trade the face of the franchise, who is just about to hit his prime and is already one of the best players in baseball?

Well, you have to ask yourself, how the heck did we get here?trade block

Earlier this year Mookie Betts turned down an 8 year $200 million contract to stay in Boston. If you’re Mookie it makes sense considering you saw Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado get huge pay increases with their new contracts. Mookie isn’t stupid. He knows he’s better than Machado and Harper and is nipping at the heels of Mike Trout in terms of production. I’m sure if the Red Sox offered something north of $300 million Mookie might have considered giving in and agreeing to that sort of deal.

 

However, that is where the next issue lies, payroll. The Red Sox have the highest payroll in baseball and, if you haven’t noticed, are a bit strapped for cash. I guess making upgrades to the bullpen in the offseason is tough when you’re allocating almost $19 million to Pablo Sandoval for literally just existing at this point. It also doesn’t help that they owe Dustin Pedroia (who only has one functioning knee) almost $30 million over the next two years. David Price isn’t getting any younger either and is owed roughly $90 million over the next three years. In addition to these poorly managed and dead money contracts, the Red Sox used some additional payroll flexibility to sign Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts to long term deals.

I know I’m playing captain hindsight right now, but the less frivolous spending would have given the Red Sox a bit more flexibility to lock in one of the best players in baseball. Now, by trading Betts, I can only imagine they could use the assets to bolster a depleted farm system and maybe add some depth to their pitching staff.

Keeping Mookie Long Term? Or Is The Trade Block In His Future?

If the Red Sox somehow sign Betts to a massive contract, I don’t know where else they will be able to improve the rest of the team? The Red Sox can print money all they want, but being at the top of the payroll in baseball means you are subject to a high luxury tax. Now, if you want to pay that type of luxury tax, fine, but make sure you actually stay competitive and not pretend like everything’s okay (I’m looking at you, Dombrowski).

Let’s just hope both sides figure things out and are able to come to a common ground to benefit the team and the player. I want Mookie Betts to retire in a Red Sox uniform and have number 50 retired with the likes of Ortiz, Martinez, Williams, Fisk, Yaz, Boggs, etc. However, I also want this team to be competitive in the future.

Andrew Benintendi Continues to Stay Hot

Although the Red Sox couldn’t cap off a sweep to finish off what was a very successful series against the Yankees, there was a ton of encouraging signs by this Red Sox team. One of which came from Andrew Benintendi, who looks like he might have turned a corner. As Benintendi continues his hot streak, the Red Sox will likely do so as well.

Benintendi’s July has been encouraging (he currently is batting just under .300 for thebenintendi continues month) but it was this past 4-game series, which helped solidify in my mind that his bat isn’t done cooling off.

Overall, Benenitendi finished 10 for 18 (.555 AVG), with 2 home runs, 6 RBI’s, and 8 scored runs. This is when Andrew Benenintedi is truly at his best. He doesn’t need to be the powerhouse of the lineup. Bringing a consistent night of offensive production is what is needed to keep this lineup continuing to operating like the efficient machine that it is.  Benintendi continues to become a consistent offensive contributor in each game, especially against the Yankees this past weekend.

Benintendi Continues His Tear

You can make the case that Benintendi’s production this past weekend was due to the Yankees atrocious starting pitching (good point). Or it was the fact that almost every positional player on the Red Sox had a great weekend (also, good point). It’s hard not to get excited though when someone as inconsistent as Benentindi has been, shows up and provides quality at-bats with offensive production. With the trade deadline only days away this could be one of the better additions to Red Sox could make to their starting lineup. Not that any are really in need of any offensive additions. A productive Benintendi for the dog days of August and the stretch run in September could be an offensive boost that fans have sought. Let us hope that this wasn’t a fluke month or series. Benintendi’s bat is here to stay for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs.

2019 MLB Top Five First Basemen

Historically, the best first basemen around the league bat in the middle of the lineup. In the past two decades, players such as Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira have not only been the best hitters on their respective teams, but the best hitters in baseball. In Pujols’s eleven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, he made the All-Star team nine times, averaged 40 home runs, 120 RBI, a .328 batting average and a 1.037 OPS. He also won Rookie of the Year, three MVPs, and two World Series titles. Though Teixeira’s first seven seasons were split between four teams (TEX, ATL, LAA, NYY), he remained a pitcher’s nightmare, averaging 34 homers, 114 RBI, and a .921 OPS. Both Pujols and Teixeira were, at one point in their prime, Top Five First Basemen.

This season, there were four clear-cut players that made the list. Finding number-five wasTop Five First Basemen difficult. One may have favored Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, who has averaged a .869 OPS in five seasons since being signed as an international free agent out of Cuba. Other candidates were Eric Hosmer (San Diego Padres) and Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians). The selection, however, goes to up-and-coming star Rhys Hoskins, who slugged an .850 OPS in his first full season in 2018.

Top Five First Basemen – 5 – Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies)

Hoskins’s 38 doubles and 34 home runs last season were no fluke. He made his MLB debut in August 2017, and in 50 games, hit 18 home runs, knocked in 48 runs, and posted an OPS of 1.014. Back in 2016, Hoskins spent a full season playing at Double-A Reading. He hit 38 homers and 116 RBI. In 2017, at Triple-A, he played 115 games and set the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs franchise-record in HRs with 29. After eclipsing the 30 home-run-mark in 2018, look for Hoskins to hit closer to 40 this season, if not more.

Top Five First Basemen – 4 – Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis Cardinals)

Goldschmidt has been an All-Star in each of the past six seasons. His most notable strength is that he is a master at reaching base, averaging a .406 clip since 2013. He is one of the very few at his position to add speed on the base paths (17 per season). Goldy has finished top-3 in the MVP voting three times. He joins a new team in the Cardinals this year after spending his entire career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cardinals rewarded him with a 5-year contract extension on March 21st. The D-Backs never won a division title in the Goldschmidt era.

Top Five First Basemen – 3 – Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)

The 2010 NL MVP turns 36 in September and has put together a spectacular career. Besides Pujols and Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, JV is the only other active 1B to win a MVP award. In terms of reaching base, no one else comes close. His career OBP clip is an astounding .427. He has led the league in walks five times and OBP seven times. His slugging percentage, however, took a big dip last year (.419). The three years prior he had averaged .556. That decline, combined with the fact the Reds have won just 2 games in Votto’s career, puts him at 2019 first baseman number-three.

Top Five First Basemen – 2 – Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs)

The only first baseman to put together four straight 100 RBI seasons is Rizzo. He won his second Gold Glove in the past three years in 2018 and was a major contributor to the Cubs 2016 World Series championship. Rizzo is extremely durable, at least 616 plate appearances in each season, and has led Chicago to four straight playoff appearances.

Top Five First Basemen – 1 – Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)

Freeman led all first basemen in hits, doubles, and batting average last year. In his last three seasons he has averaged a slash line of .306/.397/.949. Freeman’s Braves won the NL East in 2018. He won his first Gold Glove last year and enters 2019 as the most feared first baseman.

All You Need to Know For Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend

The National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is coming up quickly. Six former players will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 29th: Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Whether you’re a regular attendee or a first timer, here’s a few things you should know about visiting Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend.

Hotels and Parking During Hall of Fame Weekend

First thing’s first. If you haven’t booked a hotel room by now then you’re not going to get afame weekend room anywhere within a fifty mile radius of Cooperstown. At this point your best bet is either Utica, or Albany, NY. Hotels sell out months in advance, usually the month after the induction weekend, for the following year. Keep in mind there’s only 1,800 people in Cooperstown so hotels are limited. Since 40,000-50,000 people show up for the inductions it’s no wonder the hotels sell out fast. If you’re coming from out of town just for the day you can find parking along most side streets. Residents usually rent out their lawns for parking at $10-20 a day depending on how far away the events are. Be mindful though of where you can and can’t park as the town won’t hesitate to tow you!

Getting Autographs During Hall of Fame Weekend

Tons of Hall of Famers and former All-Stars come to Cooperstown each summer to see their former teammates get inducted, and celebrate the weekend. Many of them participate in autograph shows taking place throughout Cooperstown. The biggest autograph show is at Tunnicliff Inn on Pioneer Street. You can find a full lineup of who will be signing when and how much they charge at this website. Players like Ozzie Smith and Lou Whitaker will be at Seventh Inning Stretch on Main Street. You can find their information here. Then there’s Jack Berke Sports. He usually gets players like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage (Jack is also a good guy!) You can find his information here. Of course, you can get lucky and run into former players throughout the town but in many cases they’ll be too busy to sign.

The ones you really should try and seek out are the former Negro League players, as well as the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional League (A League of Their Own). They usually show up too and charge very little for their autograph. You can find them set up along Main Street. They’re also a part of history that’s quickly disappearing, so make a point to talk to them!

Food and Attractions During Hall of Fame Weekend

You’ll have a lot of options for places to eat in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend.  Doubleday Cafe on Main Street is a great place to get a burger and their desserts are amazing (and huge!). Sal’s Pizzeria in Main Street is also good, and so is “Hey Getcha Hot Dog” on Pioneer Street. If you pop in to one of these places you won’t be disappointed, but keep in mind they’re busy and want to get people in and out. Don’t loiter in there, and don’t use their bathrooms without buying something. That’s just rude. If you like whiskey then check out Cooperstown Distillery on Main Street. If you love books as much as I do then you’re not only probably single like me, but you’ll love checking out Willis Monie Books on Main Street. They have a great assortment of baseball books. Finally, shoot on over to Milford and drink a few at Cooperstown Brewery!

Hall of Fame Inductions!

50-60 Hall of Famers show up to Cooperstown for the inductions each year. On Saturday night around 6 pm there’s a parade down Main Street in Cooperstown that includes most of Hall of Famers. Here you’ll get to see Frank Robinson, Greg Maddux, Rickey Henderson, and Cal Ripken Jr. You can waive to them and take their picture! As for the actual inductions, the Baseball Hall of Fame website states that “The Class of 2018 will be formally inducted and deliver speeches during the event beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 29 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.”

I’ve seen many fans go out to Clark Sports Center on the Friday before the inductions and place lawn chairs on the grass to mark their spots. It sounds strange, but it’s an honor system that seems to work! So if you feel brave enough, take your lawn chairs out to the Clark Sports Center and leave it as close as you can to the stage where the speeches take. Trust me when I say it fills up VERY quickly. If you wait too long you’ll be almost a mile away from the stage and you won’t see much.

Have fun!

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.

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.