The MVP Race In the American League

It is mid August, usually around now we are talking about the division races. However, this season it looks like in the American League, the Red Sox, Indians and Astros will win their respected divisions easily. With the second wild card the only A.L. race. The big question this season, the historic competition of the potential American League MVP battle.

We have a potential triple-crown winner in J.D. Martinez and he isn’t even the favoriteMVP on his own team. Most experts alike would say that the Red Sox favorite is Mookie Betts. Betts leads the league in average, hovering around that .350 mark, while playing gold-glove defense in the outfield. Cleveland Indians Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, can easily make a viable case for the award as well. As they have anchored the juggernaut Indians infield with their gloves and bat. Those two dynamic tandems could actually cancel out votes and give way to the perennial MVP favorite Mike Trout. There is a stigma around Trout that suggests he shouldn’t be MVP because the Angels never truly become a playoff threat. However, his statistics with the modern day WAR stat, wins-above-replacement, have him again a potential choice.

The MVP Case For Red Sox’

As of August 12th, the Red Sox record is an absolute absurd 50 games over .500. This could very well be the greatest Red Sox team in history, as it could contend to break the 116 win mark last held by the Seattle Mariners in 2001. The leaders of this Red Sox team are certainly Betts and free-agent acquisition J.D. Martinez. Martinez now stands at .333, 37 home-runs, and 104 RBI. And again, it is August 12th! Meanwhile, Betts, the everyday center/right-fielder, who even has played a game at second base, is setting the tone atop the A.L., with a .350 average, 26 home-runs and 99 runs scored. Betts leads the A.L. in overall WAR at 8.1, due to his five-tool play. He also just recently hit for the cycle against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The MVP Case For Indians’

There is not a better left-side of the infield in baseball than Cleveland’s Ramirez and Lindor. They have been staples on Terry Francona’s team now for the last four seasons. The Indians have been dominant in the central for three years now and lead the division by 12 games. Along with a tremendous pitching staff led by Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, it is Lindor and Ramirez who set the pace for the offense and defense. Lindor is hitting .292, 29, 74, while Ramirez’ line sits at an impressive .298, 34, 84. Ramirez also is fourth in the league in WAR. Their sub .300 averages, could hinder the Indian’s chances.

The MVP Case For Trout

Ahh the wonderful stat of wins-above-replacement. This should be considered the “Mike Trout statistic” as it always seems to help his MVP case. The Angels made headlines early in the season, as this looked like their year to cause havoc in the West, especially with the two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. Well that has since faltered, as it looks like another season where LA will miss the playoffs. Trout usually gets consideration, even when the team does not make playoffs, when other playoff team’s players aren’t having incredible statistical years.  That’s not the case this season. However, Trout still has a league leading offensive WAR of 7.2, while hitting .309, 30, 60.

The baseball purists usually tend to the best overall player on the best team. While the modern statistic experts tend to favor the wins-above-replacement stat. Right now, you have to like Betts’ chances.

Leadershipof Fenster Extends Beyond the Baseball Field

PORTLAND, ME – This season, the Boston Red Sox promoted Darren Fenster to manage their Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. Fenster had been the manager of the Low-A Greenville Drive since 2014. Before that, he was a hitting instructor throughout the organization. In 2017, with Fenster at the helm, the Drive finished with the best overall record in the South Atlantic League (79–60) and as winnerFensters of the first-half championship qualified for the playoffs. The team then won its first overall SAL championship in franchise history, defeating Kannapolis in the finals, three games to one. Later, he managed the Peoria franchise of the Arizona Fall League to their championship.

At 39 years-old, he is still younger than a lot of his counterparts across the game. However, the former Rutgers All-American has a plethora of coaching experience that extends beyond the pro ranks and into college and summer ball. These various positions have given him a chance to mentor hundreds of young players.

Likewise, many of Portland’s current players already know Fenster from their previous seasons in the Red Sox system. During his introduction back in the winter, he displayed excitement about reconnecting with some of them and coaching them in a different part of their careers.

And while the season isn’t going as well as hoped on the field, Fenster is still finding additional ways to mentor baseball youth. This time, through his growing social media following and through his own organization, Coaching Your Kids, LLC.

Social Media Influence

The Sea Dogs skipper can be read giving knowledgeable advice to past, current, and future players. These tweets include facets like reliability, coachability, team-building, and skill enhancement. Recently, a tweet about certain team rules nearly went viral.

Similarly, on the day of the MLB Draft, Fenster opined on the importance of hard work and dedication. Saying:

“Today marks day one of the @MLBDraft. To all those who will hear their name called, congratulations. Now it’s up to you to prove your club right. To all those who won’t hear their name called, you now have the opportunity to prove all 30 clubs wrong. Take advantage of it.”

Beyond social media, Fenster also founded a coaching and baseball education organization for young players called Coaching Your Kids. Their mission is to not only to coach, but in a bigger picture, to spread their passion for and knowledge of the game to the next generations of players, coaches, and fans. In his words, “Today’s players are tomorrow’s coaches.”

So despite the Dogs’ tough sledding on the diamond thus far, there is no question that both Portland and the Red Sox organization have found a true leader in their minor league system, a baseball lifer who truly cares about motivating and mentoring the future of the game. And for Fenster, it is clear that he has a found a cause to which he is passionate about and one that can surely make a difference in players’ lives.

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.

Steve Selsky Rejoins Reds After Released By Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have released outfielder Steve Selsky before the start of the season. Now the outfielder has returned to the Cincinnati Reds organization on a minor league contract.

Selsky made the Red Sox’s Opening Day roster last season, mainly to fill a space left open due to injuries. He went 1-for-9 with a double and five strikeouts in eight games during the first month of the season.

He was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on April 28, 2017, where he spent the rest of the season. The 28-year-old hit .215/.270/.360 with 11 home runs in 322 plate appearances.

A Look Back At Steve Selsky’s Career

The Colorado Rockies were the first team to draft him in 2010. He chose to remain in college. The Cincinnati Reds drafted him out of the University of Arizona in the 33rd round in 2011 after an injury-plagued season with the Wildcats.

Selsky moved up the ladder of the Reds organization and reached Triple-A Louisville in his fourth pro season. 2015 was looking to be the year he was supposed to make his MLB debut, but an injury ended his season early.

Selsky got the big league call-up to Cincinnati on May 20, 2016, in a season where he batted .284 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in 85 games for the Louisville Bats. He batted .314 over 24 games (16-for-51) with the Reds.

The Reds designated Selsky for assignment after the 2016 season to make room on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox claimed him on waivers soon after.

Selsky was known as someone who can hit for average. His highest minor league batting average was .348 over 69 games with the Bakersfield Blaze in 2014. We can all agree that was a nice season.

Unfortunately for Selsky, he wasn’t able to hit for average in Pawtucket. He elected for free agency after the 2017 season but opted to return. There’s a good chance another organization will bring him in. He can certainly help out a Triple-A team.

 

Red Sox Prospect Preview: Chad De La Guerra

There are 12 baseball players from Grand Canyon University to have made their MLB debuts. The most famous and successful of them all is longtime Los Angeles Angels outfielder Tim Salmon. The next Lope to add his name to the list may just be Chad De La Guerra.

Chad De La GuerraThe infielder is the Boston Red Sox’s No. 25th ranked prospect by hitting a career-high slash line of .283/.361/.437. He was eligible for four straight MLB Drafts from 2011-14; first as a high school senior in California, as a Junior College freshman, then as a sophomore in College of the Canyons (also in Calif.) and finally as a junior in the Phoenix-based GCU, but went unselected each year.

At GCU, De La Guerra won the Western Athletic Conference batting title with a .373 average in 2014. He went on a 24-game hitting streak during his senior season in 2015. He finally got the respect he was looking for and was rewarded by the Red Sox with a $5,000 signing bonus and a 17th round selection.

De La Guerra struggled during his first two seasons in pro ball, hitting only .265 for the Lowell Spinners in 2015 and .250 for the Greenville Drive in 2016. Fracturing his lower leg that season didn’t help much either. After a career year between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, there’s hope for more this season.

Is De La Guerra The Next Brock Holt?

De la Guerra spent most of last season at shortstop as a way to expand towards a utility role. He also saw action at third base in the Arizona Fall League. He has demonstrated to be a capable and steady defender with sure hands but an average arm.

De la Guerra is clearly working towards a niche as the next Eduardo Nunez, a utility infielder who can land a starting role if he can hit for high average. If he ever learned to play in the outfield, he could also become the next Brock Holt. Holt was an All-Star in 2015 and could hit for average no matter where he played on the diamond. So that would be a good place to strive for.

De la Guerra will be starting the season in Triple-A Pawtucket, along with Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin.

Red Sox Top Prospect Michael Chavis Suspended 80 Games

MLB has announced that Boston Red Sox top prospect Michael Chavis has suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a prohibited performance-enhancing substance, dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.Michael Chavis

Chavis was coming off a career-high 31 home runs last season split between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Before 2017, his career total for home runs was 25, which spanned over three seasons.

An oblique injury kept Chavis from showcasing his ability against Major League pitching in spring training. He is still on the disabled list. Once he returns from his suspension, he is expected to start in Portland and finish in Pawtucket.

Michael Chavis Was Expected To Become The Next Rafael Devers

Rafael Devers started last season in Portland and finished at the hot corner for the Red Sox in the ALDS. Since then, wondering eyes have shifted towards the Sea Dogs expecting another prospect to emerge as a rookie phenom. Chavis has positioned himself to be the Devers of this year after hitting more home runs than any other Red Sox minor leaguer.

Chavis can generate a lot of bat speed through his natural strength. What makes him special is he doesn’t have to use his full power to launch balls over the fence. He has also been able to hit for average once he stopped trying to pull everything out for a homer.

With third base blocked by Devers, Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland taking up first base and J.D. Martinez locking up the DH spot, the plan this season might be to move Chavis to second base.  At that position, he could develop into a Jedd Gyorko/Dan Uggla type.

It wouldn’t be a new experience for Chavis, who was a shortstop in high school before making the switch to third base at the beginning of his pro career. As a high school senior in Marietta, GA, Chavis paved his path to the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft with power. by winning the home run derby at the 2013 Perfect Game All-American Classic and by batting .580 with 13 homers in 28 games.