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!

Red Sox Unveil “Franchise Four”

Around the MLB, teams unveiled their “Franchise Four,” the 4 best players in franchise history as voted on by the fans. For the Red Sox, David Ortiz, Ted Williams, Pedro Martinez, and Carl Yastremski were chosen.

All of those guys have their merits, and all of them are legends in their own right, but the Red Soxone player that I would question is David Ortiz (no, this isn’t about him being sent home Sunday). We all know what he’s done with his bat, especially in the playoffs. He had a number of clutch hits in 2004, helping the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino.” In 2013, he was a one man wrecking crew in helping the Red Sox top the Cardinals in 6 games that year. This is all subjective, but I would question the wisdom of putting him ahead of guys like Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk and other such Red Sox legends. My main reservation is that he hardly ever played defense, but you could make the reverse argument for a Luis Tiant and a Pedro Martinez, who only pitched and hardly ever hit.

But, again, this kind of thing is always subjective and people will always have their own thoughts on this. Ultimately, David Ortiz’s impact on this team in the past decade plus is undeniable, and he does have a strong case to be up there. Without him, we don’t win 3 championships in a decade and break the Curse. He also is making a push for 500 home runs this season, which would be huge for him.

For me, the other guys are no brainers. Ted Williams was the only guy to hit over .400 in a season, Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history, and Yaz finished his 22 year career with the Sox with 452 home runs and a .285 career average. But, it is hard to narrow the Red Sox Mount Rushmore down to 4 guys, and everyone will have their own opinions on who should be up there, especially with so many guys to choose from.

Red Sox Keep Baseball All in the Family

baseball all in the family

Red Sox Nation keeps baseball all in the family. Whether in the stands with season tickets handed down from generation to generation, or family members following in the footsteps of former major leaguers, the game of baseball brings families together. It seems baseball’s influence on future generations is stronger than in any other sport. Although this may be shortsighted (and most definitely my opinion), there is something special about the game and the impact it has on families.

Examples of this can be found in Cal Ripken and Cal Ripken Jr., and Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. Today I caught two more current examples. In the space of a few hours I read a New York Times story about Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike, and a tweet that John Farrell’s son, Jeremy, plays baseball.

Yastrzemski’s grandson lost his father to a sudden heart attack at the age of 43. After that tragic event, the family grew closer, and so did Mike and his legendary grandfather. Yaz would train Mike often, helping him with his swing, something about which Yaz knew quite a bit, with 452 home runs and 3,419 hits to his name. Mike Yastrzemski is currently a senior at Vanderbilt, and though ball clubs wanted him last year, he decided to graduate because it is what his father would have wanted. During a recent slump, Mike called his grandfather and was able to get back on track thanks to his advice. Now he is batting .333.

Meanwhile Jeremy Farrell, 26, has been in the minors since 2008 and currently plays for single-A Winston-Salem. Prior to this year, he played at the single-A, double-A, and triple-A levels for a variety of teams. I wonder how father Farrell coaches his son, or if he coaches him at all.

What is it about the game that draws those young players? There is such a powerful attraction to this sport. I believe baseball is not forced upon future generations, but chosen. Baseball players are called, like those who choose to serve as priests or public servants. It is extraordinarily impressive and inexplicable at the same time.

Who got you interested in baseball? What is your family’s baseball history?