After Deadline, Red Sox and Yankees Duel for East

A month ago, the Red Sox were the clear favorites to win the AL East after surging through June. But as July comes to a close, the Yankees and Rays have made major strides to tighten the race. As it stands today, New York leads the division by half a game, with the Red Sox second and the Rays three behind Boston. Clearly, the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are in this for the long haul.

Red Sox and Yankees

But that could all change – either for the better or for worse. Though, here’s a quick recap.

  • On July 18, the White Sox traded Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnleto the Yankees for Blake Rutherford, Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin, and Tito Polo.
  • Last Sunday, the Red Sox called up top infield prospect Rafael Devers – but later traded for utility player Eduardo Nunez.
  • Thursday, the Rays traded minor league pitcher Drew Smith for Mets first baseman and left-handed hitter Lucas Duda. Further, the Rays also acquired relief pitcher Steve Cishek and Sergio Romo. This came after the Rays had also added Peter Bourjos and Trevor Plouffe earlier in the summer.
  • Monday morning, the Red Sox finalized a deal for Mets setup pitcher Addison Reed.
  • Monday afternoon, the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian. The night before, they traded for Twins pitcher Jaime Garcia and cash.

Trade Implications for Rays, Red Sox and Yankees

There is no question that the Yankees come out of July with the best chance on paper to win the division. Since having a dismal stretch in late June, New York has added three bona fide relievers, a middle of the order bat, and a proven regular right-handed starter. All of those moves filled significant holes on their roster and happened without giving up blue chip prospects like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres.

From a pure roster standpoint, Tampa improved more than Boston did from where they stood two weeks ago. The core of the Red Sox has underperformed, but if the Sox can’t solve their offensive woes, then Tampa Bay could steal some games, especially considering their boosted bullpen and a slew of versatile position players.

Addison Reed clearly fills a major hole in the Red Sox bullpen. Matt Barnes and Robby Scott let yesterday’s game against Kansas City get away, much like they did weeks ago. And with the injuries to Joe Kelly, Carson Smith, and Tyler Thornburg, it was time for a change.

Breakdown

While the Yankees may have added more depth to their bullpen, the Red Sox have just as good of an 8/9th inning combo in Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Likewise, the Sox believe Devers and Nunez are just as much of an upgrade as Todd Frazier would have been.

Bottom line: The Sox may have slightly improved their team, but all of it hinges on the production of “pre-existing” players on the team. Meanwhile, the Rays and Yankees made significant upgrades. This ensures that this division won’t be decided in early August. The Red Sox and Yankees rivalry may, in fact, be back.

Red Sox Fans Really Like Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel is having a truly dominant season for the Red Sox. In just his second year Craig Kimbrelwith Boston he has posted a 1.23 ERA to go with just 5 earned-runs all season. He also has a league-leading 23 saves already. What exactly is it that makes Kimbrel so unhittable? Is it the pre-pitch death-stare? The blazing fastball that blows guys away? Or is it the absolutely filthy knuckle-curve that he spins with 2-strikes to make professional-hitters look totally foolish? “Gas Masterson” can strike you out in a multitude of ways. If you can find a way to not strike out, that still does not mean you’re getting on base. The 6-time MLB All-Star has done nothing but great things for the Sox since he joined the squad, and looks to continue that trend in the second half.

Craig Kimbrel Is Not Slowing Down

The only way Craig Kimbrel is going to stop getting hitters out is if John Farrell doesn’t bring him in. The guy is a stud; simple as that. Hitters just do not want to see Kimbrell jogging in from the Red Sox bullpen in the ninth. Kimbrel’s blazing fastball is consistently pumping 99 mph, while his knuckle-curve could be considered “disgusting” by opposing hitters. He’s in the prime of his career at 29 years-old and is hungry for a World Series title. Kimbrel wants the ball in the last-inning of Game 7, and he wants to shut the door. Sure, he might find a way to make it interesting. When it’s over, we’ll all think back and say “Man, I knew he had it the whole time!” just like every time before.

How To Retain Craig Kimbrel

Though Red Sox fans do not have to worry about it quite yet, Craig Kimbrel’s contract does expire at the end of the 2018 season. He will become an unrestricted free-agent after making $13,000,000 that season. To retain Kimbrel, Boston will have to prove to him that their organization is where he belongs. Also, they will need to assure him that the deal he is offered from the Red Sox (assuming they do make him an offer) is the best one available to him. Keeping Craig Kimbrel on a long-term deal is something the Red Sox should definitely look at if they plan to compete four or five years from now.

Red Sox Walkoff In Back to Back Games Over Phillies

The Sox are coming off of a two-game stretch against the Philadelphia Phillies in which the Red Sox Walkoffteam took home back to back walkoff wins. Fenway Park was buzzing on Monday and Tuesday night when Boston came away victorious in a couple of extra-inning affairs. The hero on Monday night was Dustin Pedroia, while the clutch hitter of the night on Tuesday was Andrew Benintendi. These wins are more than just a W in the column. Walkoffs not only raise confidence, but also team chemistry and usually performance catches a boost as well. The Red Sox walkoff wins should do just that.

Red Sox Walkoff Against Phillies Monday Night

On Monday night, the Red Sox trailed 4-0 after the first inning. Rick Porcello has unfortunately continued to struggle in finding a rhythm this season. The Sox did manage to battle back though, as Mookie Betts went for 3 doubles on the night and Benintendi had 3 hits. In the eleventh inning, the stage was set as Dustin Pedroia lined a ball past the second baseman Howie Kendrick. Devin Marrero score the game winning run on a head-first slide, and the celebration ensued.

Red Sox Walkoff Again on Tuesday

Fast forward to Tuesday night where Boston and Philladelphia played very evenly, matching each other with a 3-3 score in the 6th. That score would stay the same until the 12th until Andrew Benintendi came to the plate. The young Red Sox outfielding phenom ripped the ball down the right field line, scoring Xander Bogaerts and walking off for the second night in a row. Xander led the way with three hits while Mitch Moreland hit his ninth home run of the season.

What Do the Red Sox Walkoff Wins Mean?

I’m not sure why this team likes to give the fans so much stress sometimes, but a win is still a win. No matter how good we look on paper, this is still baseball where anyone can win on any day. In a league where the Cubs can lose three out of four to the Rockies, anything can happen. As long as the Sox get the win, that is really all that matters. They just have to make sure they compete against the great teams in our league, as well as the bad.

The Drew Pomeranz Deal Was A Mistake

Let’s just get down to it; the Drew Pomeranz deal has been a disaster so far. Since Pomeranz joined the club, his stats have done the talking. He has a 6-8 record with an Drew Pomeranz DealERA of 4.82 in 21 games pitched. In those 21 games (20 starts), he has given up 21 home runs and has walked 38 hitters. Pomeranz has been dealing with injuries ever since he showed up in Boston. In his last start he was pulled in the third inning with left-forearm tightness.

The Drew Pomeranz Deal Was Risky To Begin With

Whether Pomeranz is involved in a World Series run or not, the Sox still traded away a valuable prospect for him. Anderson Espinoza was ranked as a top 25 prospect by Baseball America, MLB, and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2017 season. He’s a guy whose fastball is already 94-97 mph. The Sox were desperate for starting pitching last year, which ultimately was the deciding factor in the deal. When news broke that San Diego GM AJ Preller disclosed information on Pomeranz’s health concerns, Boston was given opportunity to rescind the trade. They declined the offer, which may have been the worst decision so far. Dealing a valuable prospect in Espinoza was already risky. Doing it for an injured Pomeranz who still has not proved himself in the big leagues yet? That’s a real risk.

The Drew Pomeranz Deal Still Has Time to Correct Itself

Drew Pomeranz is under contract for this season, and will be arbitration-eligible next year. In 2019, he will be a free-agent. If a trade were to be made, the Sox would still have an opportunity to benefit from making the Pomeranz deal in the first place. To this point, he has been one of the least reliable pitchers in the organization. Maybe he has been bothered by injury ever since he was traded here, but regardless, we need production. The Red Sox starting pitching has taken on too may injuries to allow Pomeranz to be this bad. Trying to pitch in Boston is tough for any pitcher, and it doesn’t always work out. This could just be one of those cases.

The Idleness of Clemens’ Number 21

As I cover college baseball games this weekend in Waco, Texas, my attention is drawn Roger Clemensaway from the 10 players on the field. The Texas Longhorns are in town, which means, for the only time all season, I am more focused on the parents section. I’m looking for a certain number 21.

Penciled in the Longhorn lineup at both DH and First Base is a familiar name: Clemens. With the potential to meet their dad, Roger, this weekend, it got me thinking about one of the most tumultuous careers in baseball history. Roger Clemens will always go down as a Red Sox legend, but would you guess that his number is retired?

No, you wouldn’t. Nestled on the facade in Fenway Park’s right field lies 10 retired numbers, but not number 21. What you might not know, however, is that 30 Red Sox wore that number before the Rocket, but none since. Are the Red Sox hiding behind their own tradition?

For over a decade, Clemens was revered in Boston. From 1984-1996, the Rocket racked up 192 wins, tying him for the franchise record. Whom is he tied with? A guy by the name of Cy Young—you may have heard of him. Clemens knows him well, winning the Cy Young award three times in Boston as well as an American League MVP award in 1986. He was the unequivocal ace who led the Red Sox to the World Series that year as well. Before he came to Boston, no one had struck out 20 batters in a game. By the time he left, he had done it twice. It wasn’t Clemens’ time in Boston that made him a villain, it was his time away.

After Dan Duquette’s prognostication of his demise, Clemens went to division rival Toronto. It was his time north of the border where things became fishy. After injuries wore down his final few sub-par years in Boston, Clemens began to defy logic. Even as he aged, he was recovering even faster from these injuries and was pitching as well as ever. In two seasons with Toronto, he won the Cy Young Award both years and earned the elusive pitching Triple Crown each season.

To further push the buttons of Red Sox fans, Clemens traded in his Jays uniform for pinstripes. As a Yankee, he won four AL Pennants, two World Series titles, and the Cy Young yet again in 2001. After a combined record of 27-18 in his first two seasons in New York, he went 20-3 in 2001. Coincidentally enough, it was revealed his trainer Brian McNamee was injecting him with anabolic steroids at the time. Now, it’s no wonder Clemens was always butt hurt.

Why The Fans Don’t Want To See The Number 21

The final middle finger to Red Sox Nation came in the winter of 2005. Upon Curt Schilling’s endorsement, the Red Sox were in the sweepstakes to sign Clemens as a free agent. In a little-known attempt to bring him back, a third grade class in Rockland, MA, made a video for the Clemens family. In it, the kids begged him to “come home, Roger”, apparently bringing his wife to tears. At the end of the video, a number 21 was glowing on that right field facade, if the Rocket were to re-enter Boston’s atmosphere. Instead, Clemens re-signed with Houston and in 2007, ended his career with a return to New York.

Once revered in Boston, Clemens is now reviled. His number 21 is retired only at Disch-Faulk Field at the University of Texas. While there, Clemens was the ace for their 1983 National Championship team. No, I think it’s gonna be a long, long time till we see Clemens’ number up there with Williams and Yastrzemski. It won’t take touchdown to bring us round again to find he most certainly is the man he is at home. Sir Elton John will not be doing any serenading over the Fenway speakers any time soon. For all the things Clemens has done to Boston fans on and off the field has certainly made the Rocket public enemy number 21.

 

Is David Price Paying Off for the Red Sox?

David Price’s 7-year $217 million contract thrilled Red Sox Nation. After all, five All-Star appearances and the 2012 Cy Young Award is more than enough to prove one’s worth. Not to mention John Farrell can depend on him to have 200+ strikeouts a season. But people in Boston are all asking the same question: Is David Price paying off for Boston?

Price had a strong debut year with the Red Sox. He led the American LeagueDavid Price paying off in game starts, innings pitched, and batters faced. These numbers are a testament to his longevity and ability to go deep. His 17 wins didn’t hurt either. But there were a few games where Price’s performance made some question his abilities. There was the May 7th game against the Yankees where Price gave up six earned runs in 4.2 innings that ended in an 8-2 loss for Boston. Then there was the June 29th game against the Rays where Price gave up four earned runs in six innings. Losing those games to teams at the bottom of the standings was more than disconcerting.

Then there’s the issue with his injury. Best case scenario, Price will be ready to pitch by May. Worse case scenario though is he’ll need Tommy John surgery, which will put him out of action for a year. In that case, we might see him come back in mid-2018. When you’re injured it’s important not to come back too soon. Eduardo Rodriguez is a perfect example. Then again, Rodriguez isn’t getting the money Price is. After Pablo Sandova’s dismal 2016 season, another player Boston paid big bucks for, the front office is likely more than worried about David Price paying off their investment in him.

Don’t Write Off Price Just Yet

Every pitcher has a bad day and Price certainly has had his fair share. A few of his losses in 2016 ended in one-run defeats. One in particular ended with a 3-2 loss to Baltimore, in which Price struck out eleven in 8.1 innings. So it’s clear that when Price is effective when he’s healthy, except for the occasional bad game. But given the growing concern with his injury it’s understandable why the front office might have its own concerns.

Time will tell.