Red Sox Resemble Old Selves in D’Backs Sweep

It’s good to see the Red Sox resemble their old selves again after a few rough weeks. Several Red Sox hitters posted strong numbers as they swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three game series. Sweeping the D’Backs wasn’t just a team effort though. It resembled the way the Red Sox used to play, a style that often led them straight to the playoffs. I dare hope that this sweep will give the team the confidence it needs to start playing more consistently.

I’ll admit that beating Arizona isn’t the hardest thing to do nowadays. The Diamondbacks’sRed Sox Resemble pitching staff has an ERA hovering around 5 right now, putting them in 29th place in baseball. They also lead the National League in earned runs. So the Red Sox didn’t exactly sweep a pennant contender. But the numbers they posted during the three-game series are hard to ignore.

Home Runs Galore!

Hanley Ramirez hit two home runs Friday night, including a three-run shot that put the Red Sox ahead after David Price surrendered a two-run homer to Rickie Weeks Jr. in the first inning. David Ortiz joined Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski as the third Red Sox player ever to have 1,000 extra base hits. David Price won the game with eight strikeouts in what amounted to one of his weaker wins for the season.

The second game saw Brock Holt and Sandy Leon go the distance in a 6-3 win Saturday. Holt seems to have fully recovered from his injuries earlier in the season, while Leon’s batting average continues to defy logic. Reliever Brad Ziegler, a former Diamondback, struck out three straight to get out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning. Robbie Ross Jr. picked up the win while Craig Kimbrel, resembling his old self too, grabbed the save.

The third game saw Mookie Betts blast three home runs. He joins Ted Williams as the only other Red Sox hitter to have two three-home run games in a season. That marked eight RBIs in one game for Betts. Jackie Bradley Jr. added a home run of his own in the second inning.

Red Sox Resemble Old Selves In Bad Ways Too

David Price got the win in Friday’s game but not without a lot of help from the Red Sox offense. Surrendering a home run in the first seems to be a habit for the Red Sox pitching staff. Clay Buchholz allowed three hits and three earned runs in four innings Saturday night.

I’m not exactly sure what’s up with the pitching staff. If Dave Dombrowski really wants to see the Red Sox resemble their old selves then something has to be done about it. Price is very good but he’s not consistent. Steve Wright and Rick Porcello are on fire, but Buchholz continues to struggle badly. The bats give them plenty of run support, and the defense is strong too, but the pitching is still not coming together. If the pitching staff could find a groove like their hitters then the Red Sox could blast past the Blue Jays and Orioles to capture first place again. They’re only a few games behind so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Time, however, is running out.

Rico Petrocelli Remembers Famous Brawl in ’67

All Boston Red Sox fans know there’s always been bad blood between them and the New York Yankees. Tensions have been high since the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the first Fenway game in 1912. One story that isn’t often told though comes from a game in 1967 at Yankee Stadium. It is a game that the legendary former second baseman Rico Petrocelli remembers well.

1967 marked the Red Sox return to the World Series for the first time since 1946. JimRico Petrocelli remembers Lonborg pitched his way to a Cy Young Award. Carl Yastrzemski hit his way to a Triple Crown and a MVP award.Tony Conigliaro,
Boston’s chosen son, hit 20 home runs before getting beaned in the face by a pitch in the face that almost killed him. The New York Yankees, however, were nowhere near being legitimate contenders. They finished in 9th place that season, but not before exchanging blows on the night of June 21st.

It all started when Yankee pitcher Thad Tillotson hit Red Sox third baseman Joe Foy in the head. In retaliation, pitcher Jim Lonborg beaned Tillotson on the hand, who exchanged words with the Red Sox ace as he took his base. Foy came out of the dugout and shouted at Tillotson, “If you want to fight, fight me!” Upon hearing that, Yankees Joe Pepitone charged out of the dugout. Petrocelli did the same as both teams started brawling on the field.

Rico Petrocelli Remembers How His Brother Came To His Defense

While this story is well-known among Red Sox and Yankee fans, many don’t know that Petrocelli had a brother on the New York police force working security at the game that night.

“My brother charged the field yelling ‘Where’s my brother?!” Petrocelli told me during the Red Sox Season Ticket Holder Annual Cocktail Party. “Peptione yelled back, ‘I didn’t touch him!'” As I laughed, I asked him what happened to his brother after. “They stuck him in the upper deck after that night so he wouldn’t be so close to the field. He’s lucky he didn’t lose his job that night!”

The Red Sox went on to win the game 8-1 with Lonborg throwing a complete game. While the Red Sox lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall, the story of the famous brawl of 1967 lives on.

Top Prospects Must Stay With Red Sox

As the trade deadline approaches, talks loom about who the Red Sox will let go in exchange for a strong pitcher. The most recent news points to the White Sox scouting players like Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. According to ESPN, the White Sox sent scouts to watch Boston’s Double-A team on July 28th. Moncada and Benintendi play there now. Personally, I don’t think any pitcher in the MLB is quite worth giving up Moncada or Benintendi, especially Chris Sale. If Boston wants to make it to another World Series, then the Red Sox top prospects must stay in the farm system.

Yoan Moncada has already stolen 43 bases in stints at Single and Double-A this season.Red Sox Top Prospects Must Stay He’ll easily be a .300 average hitter in time. He can also hit for power. The fact that he can play infield, and serve as a designed hitter only adds to his value.

Andrew Benintendi is the next Carl Yastrzemski. He’s currently hitting over .300 with twelve triples between stints at Single and Double-A levels. You can attribute his triples to his developing strength and speed. Overall, he’s developing power, speed, and eye coordination, which will be both offensive and defensive assets. These factors signal that he’ll become a Boston superstar.

Let’s not forget about Michael Kopech. The guy is a wizard on the mound. Anyone his age that can throw 105 MPH is definitely worth keeping around. He pitched a immaculate inning a few weeks ago. He’s currently carrying an ERA of 1.35 in 26 innings this season. While that’s not a lot to bank on right now, it’s a VERY promising sign of what’s to come.

Experts like famed sportswriter Peter Gammons claim that all three of these prospects are “untouchable” and can’t be traded. According to ESPN, however, Dave Dombrowski said last week that “teams’ motivations tend to change as the deadline creeps closer.” Let’s hope that Gammons is right on this one.

Red Sox Top Prospects Must Stay To Create A New Dynasty

Seeing all three of these prospects on the field in Fenway Park in the near future would be riveting. They’ll be a throwback to the days of Yaz, Boggs, and Clemens. Players like Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Steven Wright, and Xander Bogaerts will be veterans by then. They can guide Moncada, Benintendi, and Kopech towards a dynasty that Boston hasn’t seen the likes of since the turn of the 20th century when the Red Sox won five World Series between 1903 and 1918. Moncada, Benintendi, Kopech, and other Red Sox top prospects must stay with the team if this dynasty is ever going to come to fruition.

Despite Brilliance, Yaz Beats Ortiz

On May 8th, David Ortiz passed Carl Yastrzemski to become second on the Red Sox all time home run list behind Ted Williams. In the last game of a three game series against the New York Yankees, Ortiz hit home runs 453 and 454 in a 5-1 victory over the hated rivals in the Bronx. While there’s no doubt that Ortiz is one of the greatest players in Red Sox history, to say that he’s the second best behind Ted Williams isn’t quite accurate. To Yaz Beats Ortizclarify, it’s widely accepted that Ted Williams is the greatest Red Sox player in history and anyone who disagrees should get a cat scan. But for now, Yaz Beats Ortiz, making him the second best Red Sox player ever.

Let’s look at the numbers. Yaz replaced The Splendid Splinter in left field where he brilliantly learned how to navigate the Green Monster. From there Yaz went on to be an 18-time All Star, won the American League MVP and Triple Crown in 1967 during the Red Sox Impossible Dream season, won three American League batting titles, and compiled an outstanding 7 Gold Glove Awards. Yaz collected 3,419 hits throughout his career too, making him number nine on the all time hit list. Yaz even had five seasons where he stole 10 or more bases, with a career-high of 23 in 1970. While it’s easy to look at numbers and say that one is better over the other, when it comes down to the bare bones of the subject, Yaz beats Ortiz as a much superior baseball player due to his all around abilities, especially since Ortiz isn’t known for his speed and was only a decent first baseman.

It’s No Contest: Yaz Beats Ortiz!

Of course, this isn’t to say that Ortiz isn’t good. Ortiz is outstanding and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who said he’s one of the top five Red Sox players ever. Ortiz helped lead the Red Sox to three World Series titles (four if they keep playing well this season). Ortiz is a clutch hitter who often delivers when we need it the most. Most importantly, Ortiz was a symbol of strength in the wake of the Boston Bombing by declaring that “This is our f—king city!”

Together, Yaz and Ortiz have beaten up the New York Yankees pretty badly in their careers. Ortiz tied Yaz Sunday night when he hit his 52nd home run against the Yankees, tying him with Yastrzemski. Both are only two of just six players in MLB history to hit 50 or more home runs against the Yankees, with Red Sox Hall of Famer Jimmie Fox holding the record with 70.

Regardless of whether you agree or not, it’s easy to say that both players rank in the top five (I’d put Carlton Fisk and Pedro Martinez behind Ortiz). David Ortiz is a symbol to Boston, a beacon of hope and inspiration and always will be. But after you examine the long and rich history of the Boston Red Sox, no matter what you say, I still say Yaz beats Ortiz as number two behind Ted Williams.

Replacing Castillo With Holt Makes Defense Weaker

Replacing Castillo with Holt in left field is leaving many in Red Sox Nation scratching their heads. While a quick glance at Rusney Castillo’s offensive numbers justifies manager John Farrell’s decision, it leaves a gaping hole in the Red Sox defense, a hole that Brock Holt isn’t qualified to fill.

Castillo hasn’t done well in spring training games this year. He was hitting only .189 as ofReplacing Castillo
March 31st, not exactly a reflection of the $72.5 million investment the Red Sox made when they signed him in 2014. But making Holt a left fielder and benching Castillo fixes a defensive problem that wasn’t quite broken to begin with. Castillo’s fielding isn’t the problem. He only made five errors as an outfielder (and none as a left fielder) in 80 games last season. It’s Castillo’s hitting that needs work.

Again, Castillo’s inconsistent hitting is definitely a problem. He hit .253 last season but this season’s spring training proves that he still has a lot of progress to make before he can reclaim a spot in the line up. Jackie Bradley Jr. had the same problem, but after tweaking his stance and swing, the Glove Glove-nominated outfielder found his stride in 2015 to finish the season with 31 extra base hits and a .249 batting average, up from the .198 he hit in 2014. Another important thing to keep in mind is Castillo’s $72.5 million contract. Stop and think about that for a second.  After taxes he’ll still have around $30 million or so. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year (which is ten times more than what most teachers make). How are Red Sox fans supposed to react to the fact that Castillo is now an eight figure salary back up player?

Replacing Castillo Is A Waste Of His Defense Experience

Obviously, Castillo’s poor hitting can’t be ignored. It’d be just as much of a waste if the Red Sox ignored his offensive numbers. But making Holt left fielder isn’t the answer. The only way Castillo is going to become a better hitter is if he gets more at-bats at the major league level where the experience he gains will help him. I hate to see a good left fielder replaced with someone who doesn’t know the Green Monster well. After all, it took Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice years to learn how to play off the wall. Replacing Castillo only dilutes the defensive experience he’s gained.

Could Ortiz Match Williams In His Final At-Bat?

Few Hall of Famers can say that their final Major League at-bat was a memorable one. Mickey Mantle popped out to Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocello in 1968, who by then was merely a shadow of the player he once was. Babe Ruth, playing his final year for the Boston Braves in 1935, grounded out, a less than stellar ending to a career that had all but turned into an embarrassment (A pinch runner often took Ruth’s place in his last season because he had become too heavy to run). Even our own Carl Yazstrezemski’s final at-bat was uninspiring as he popped out in the bottom of the seventh against the Indians in Ortiz Match Williams1983. Many in the Red Sox Nation are hoping that David Ortiz won’t go the way of Mantle, Ruth, and Yazstremski when he takes his last at bat this season. In fact, I’m hoping he’ll leave the game the same way Ted Williams did, but in the post-season instead  of the regular season.

Ted Williams, a.k.a. the Splendid Splinter, bid adieu to baseball on September 28th, 1960 when he hit a solo home run to center off of Baltimore’s Jack Fisher in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Sox the edge in a 5-4 win. No other Hall of Famer had ever homered in his last at-bat, and none to date have done it since (as far as I know). But that was in a year when the Red Sox weren’t playoff contenders (they finished 7th in the American League with a 65-89 record). So if the Red Sox make the playoffs this season after a two-year hiatus, Ortiz might not only leave the game in a memorable way of his own, but might do so at Fenway Park during the World Series, perhaps with a home run of his own.

Winning the World Series for Boston with a home run is a LONG shot for Ortiz, and many factors would have to align perfectly in order for there to even be a chance of that happening (If Ortiz pulled that off I’d push to have the Baseball Hall of Fame’s five-year waiting period waived so he could be inducted right away). But if the Sox reach the playoffs, then Ortiz will have a chance to reclaim his role as a clutch hitter (he did hit five home runs and batted .400 in fourteen playoff games in 2004, including a game-winning home run in Game 4 of the ALCS). So if Price and Bucholtz throw the heat, Bogaerts hits over .300, and Betts and Bradley Jr. keep playing like the Gold Glove winners that they are, then I think it will be safe to dream about what Big Papi will do in his final at-bat. Whether it will be with a home run or not remains to be seen. But when we’re talking about Big Papi, anything is possible!