Will The Stars Align For The Red Sox?

With the 2019 season underway, many eyes are on Alex Cora and the Red Sox. As they open this season, one of the things to wonder about is will the stars align for them come October? Most of the 2018 World Series Champions are on the Red Sox roster, and the question of repeating is on their minds. The last team to win back-to-back World Series titles was the New York Yankees from 1998 to 2000.

This past offseason, the front office brought back key members Nathan Eovaldi and Worldstars align Series MVP, Steve Pearce. With that, the Red Sox saw a few members of their bullpen leave. However, if you look back at past Red Sox offseasons following the World Series win, this wasn’t too bad.

 

Like many who have won the World Series before the 2018 team, the offseason was short, and Spring Training lagged on. Now, the regular season has begun, and onto the West Coast we go.

Opening Week on the West Coast

The Red Sox open the season on the West Coast, facing the Mariners, A’s and Diamondbacks. However, if you look at the rest of the American League East, they’re all playing either at home, or within the division. The Yankees are hosting the Orioles, and both the Blue Jays and Rays are at home. The Red Sox, however, won’t be back home until April 9th against the Blue Jays.

For many, that seems like a long time, and it honestly is. While Baltimore is also on the road, they get to be at home on April 4th.

You would think that since we just won the World Series, the Red Sox would have started at home, or close to home. However, Major League Baseball releases the schedule late in the season.

The Questions…

What will happen when Pedroia comes back? When will he come back? Who is our closer?

These are the questions that linger… Plus, there are more, I’m sure.

Pedroia is expected to be back shortly after the season begins. Who knows when exactly that will be, however, it’s more like what will he bring to the table. Last season, the Red Sox had Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez and Ian Kindler at second base. This season is still a mystery when it comes to second base.

The discussion as to who will be the closer has been going on since the offseason. As of now, it looks like Matt Barnes could be it for the Red Sox. As for the bullpen, that’s still a question mark, and has been for quite some time.

Coming Home

As mentioned before, the Red Sox won’t be back in Boston until April 9th. From there, the new banner will make its debut behind home plate, and the Fenway Faithful will be welcoming the team home. Also, there won’t be any 10pm games for quite sometime, as the Red Sox begin their quest to repeat against the American League East.

Chris Sale, the Red Sox Ace of the Future

On Opening Day, the Red Sox ace, Chris Sale, will be on the mound. For Sale, this is the second time that he is opening for Alex Cora and the Red Sox. He currently joins a select group of Red Sox pitchers who have started in Opening Day, from Babe Ruth, to Rick Porcello.

Nearing the end of Spring Training, more good news came for Chris Sale when he signedRed Sox ace a five year contract extension to stay with the Red Sox. Sale, who went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 158 innings last season, deserved this contract extension. So far in his career, he is 103-32 with a 2.89 ERA through 9 seasons.

Red Sox Ace, Chris Sale

The former Chicago White Sox ace has fit in nicely since being acquired by the Red Sox prior to the 2017 season. His resume keeps improving, and in his first season in Boston he started out with a bang. Sale struck out 10 or more batters in a row for eight consecutive games, which is tied for the major league record. He also led the majors with 308 strikeouts. His efforts on the mound have caught the eye of many over the years, and this was no different. Boston finally got its well deserved ace in Sale.

In Chicago, Chris Sale was known to wear the number 49. However, after being traded to Boston, he changed it to number 41, out of respect to former Red Sox pitcher, Tim Wakefield. For those who were fans of the knuckleballer, this was a great display of respect from Sale.

At the rate he is going, one can only wonder if #41 will be up in the rafters alongside other Red Sox greats, and the only other pitcher, Pedro Martinez.

Another Year, Another Sale Day

For those who follow the Boston Red Sox on social media, you’re well aware of the Sale Day hashtag. Now, we get to see it until the end of the 2024 season. The Condor, as he is known, is looking to continue to make history on the mound. Being able to play in Boston is part of that history.

In the 2018 postseason, his second in his career, Sale pitched in Game One of both the ALDS and the ALCS, as well as Game One of the World Series. Sale also did something else remarkable in the World Series as well – closing out Game 5 to seal the deal in LA. Who was the last pitcher to start Game 1 then close out the final game? Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series.

What will this season bring to those glorious Sale Days that we long live for? For many, it’s another chance to watch the strikeout machine at work. At 29 years old, the sky’s the limit for Sale. So far, he has been selected to 7 straight All-Star games, and has led the American League in strikeouts twice. in 2017, Sale became the fastest pitcher to record 1,500 strikeouts, and he is 211 away from 2,000.

Another goal for Red Sox ace Sale – To win another World Series in Boston…

Dustin Pedroia – The Next Comeback Player of the Year?

A certain second baseman is making a comeback for the 2019 campaign. This player is entering his fourteen major league season. He is also currently is the longest serving member of the Boston Red Sox.

Dustin Pedroia made his Major League debut on August 22nd, 2006 against the Loscomeback Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I doubt that Pedroia would think that a year later he would be on his way to not only win the Rookie of the Year award, but also win his first of many World Series championships.

The Man Who Wears #15…

When you look at second base, the player that is usually there wears the number 15. The man many fans know as Pedey, Laser Show and The Muddy Chicken, is making a comeback. When Pedroia came into Spring Training this year, he looked like a whole different person. Pedroia signed an eight year contract extension back on July 23rd 2013. This occurred about three months prior to the Red Sox winning another World Series championship, and about a week after playing in his fourth All Star game.

When you look at Pedroia, he’s not your typical second baseman, however, when he’s on the field, he gives everything he’s got. Many Red Sox fans know about his knee injury, and we also know about the slide seen around the world.

Since then, Pedroia underwent another knee surgery. Due to that, his time on the field in 2018 was limited to three games. One can only hope that this will be the year that Pedroia goes out and seeks revenge. If he does pull it off, he could ultimately win the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Can Pedroia Pull Off The Comeback?

The amount and time that he has given to coming back to play in the 2019 season is great, especially for someone as tough as Pedroia.

It was reported on March 18th that Pedroia will be continuing his rehab assignments, while the team is in Seattle for Opening Day. However, that is not stopping him from continuing to work hard and keep getting stronger. From the looks of it, the Pedroia of old arrived in camp back in February. The lingering question, of course, is how many games he will play once Cora puts him into the Red Sox lineup. Well, only time can really tell. That, and Pedroia, the man on a mission.

Can the 2019 Boston Red Sox Repeat as Champions?

The 2019 Major League Baseball regular season begins on March 28th with renewed hope, excitement, and expectations for the new season. There’s one club in particular that will be defending its World Series title with aspirations of repeating as champions. The last time any team repeated as champions was the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.

The Red Sox began Spring Training with key question marks surrounding the team in itsworld series champions quest to repeat as World Series Champions. This team certainly has the capability to pull off such a remarkable feat. However, the reality is that the 2019 Boston Red Sox  have concerns that will be a major factor in their ability (or lack thereof) to repeat as World Series Champions.

1. Red Sox Bullpen

Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski took a gamble at the July 31st trade deadline by not adding any high quality relievers to the bullpen. It paid off, thanks to key starting pitchers  David Price and Nathan Eovaldi who pitched out of the bullpen. However, the Red Sox lost two major pieces of the bullpen to free angency in closers Craig Kimbrel  and Joe Kelly. The Red Sox as of now are planning to potentially use relief pitcher Matt Barnes as an option to close the 9th inning for the Red Sox. It remains to be seen if the bullpen will be able to duplicate last October’s success for the 2019 season.

2. Red Sox Starting Rotation

The Red Sox starting rotation is  one of the best in Major League Baseball when fully healthy. In 2017 and 2018, Chris Sale’s performance dipped in the second half of both seasons. Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Nathan Eovaldi pitched a high amount of innings last season. All eyes will be on the rotation to watch for any potential dip in performance as a result of the heavy workload.

3. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez

When the Red Sox signed free agent slugger J.D. Martinez in February 2018, no one could have predicted the full impact that Martinez would bring to the entire lineup. No hitter benefited more than Mookie Betts, who won the 2018 American League Most Valuable Player with a career season batting .346 with 32 HR and 80 RBIs. Martinez had a Triple Crown caliber season batting .330 with 43 HRs and 130 RBIs. It will be worth watching to see if both Betts and Martinez can continue their offensive success in 2019.

The sky is the limit for the 2019 Boston Red Sox. However, a lot will have to fall into place if the Red Sox are to successfully defend their World Series crown. It will be fascinating to watch this team beginning on Opening Day in Seattle, as the Red Sox seek to become the first to repeat as champions in nearly 20 years.

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.