Red Sox Change Starting Lineup To Beat Cubs

To say that the Red Sox are struggling to score this season is an understatement. So it only made sense to see the Red Sox change the starting lineup before playing the Chicago Cubs. The Chicago Cubs’ visit to Fenway this week is only their third since 1918.Red Sox Change In a repeat of the 1918 World Series, the Red Sox beat Chicago 5-4 in the first of a three-game series. Seeing Boston beat the defending World Series champs was delightful. More importantly, it came as a relief to the fans of Red Sox Nation.

Last week the Red Sox dropped two to the Orioles followed by searing losses to the Yankees. In response, the Red Sox made changes to their startling lineup to stop the bleeding. In their first game with a new lineup, Dustin Pedrioa hit 6th for the first time ever. Xander Bogaerts hit leadoff followed by Andrew Benintendi hitting second. Whatever influenced the Red Sox to change to the starting lineup was effective. Despite giving up a home run to Kris Bryant, Drew Pomeranz kept the rest of the Cubs at bay until the Red Sox offense kicked in. He didn’t have to wait long.

In the bottom of the first, Benintendi hit a home run into the Red Sox bullpen to tie the game 1-1. By the end of the first inning, Boston was on top 5-1. Twitter and Facebook lit up with posts exclaiming “Good morning, bats!” It wasn’t just that the Red Sox change to the lineup was effective, it worked against reigning World Series Champs.

Pomeranz’s Domination Another Unexpected Red Sox Change

Drew Pomeranz was less than stellar last season. Despite making the 2016 National League All-Star team, Pomeranz struggled in Boston by going 3-5 with a 4.59 ERA in the second half of the season. But he’s 2-1 in four starts so far this season. While pitchers like Rick Porcello and Chris Sale struggle to get the run support they need, Pomeranz is learning how to hold his own.

Now that the Red Sox know that changes to their lineup can be effective, hopefully their pitching rotation can change too. Pitchers like Porcello and Steven Wright have a lot of adjusting to do, but looking at the way their teammates are adapting to change might give them a few ideas of their own. That might include skipping Wright and Porcello in favor for Eduardo Rodriguez or someone from AAA. That would given Porcello and Wright some time off to rethink their strategies.

Chicago Cubs Fans Truly Appreciate Series Win

When I saw the Chicago Cubs win the NLCS, I quickly looked up ticket and airline prices. My eyes almost fell out of my head when I saw that standing room only tickets started at $1500-2000. I kept looking though and eventually found a ticket I could afford. So on Saturday, October 29th, I flew to Chicago to see Game 4 of the 2016 World Series (albeit from a rooftop across the street from Wrigley). Although I’m not a Cubs fan, I had to be there. Only a Red Sox fan could appreciate the pain Chicago Cubs fans truly had endured for so long. Or so I thought.

Cubs fans stuffed the airplane to Chicago. Hats, jerseys, and t-shirts with the CubsChicago Cubs Fans truly emblem adorned fans. An airline attendant told me he could tell that most of them weren’t true fans because their apparel looked too new (Thank God I was wearing a well-worn Cubs hat). As I embarked into Chicago via the subway, I talked to hordes of Cubs fans from Arizona, North Carolina, and Louisiana. A man from South Carolina told me he was a diehard fan who flew in just for the day. “I’m not even going to the game,” he told me. “I’m just going to watch the game in a bar and fly out later tonight.” That’s true determination.

I arrived at a very crowded Wrigley Field at 10am that morning. Lines for bars surrounding 1060 West Addison stretched around the block. Those waiting seemed unfazed by the $100-200 cover charge. After spending most of my budget on a ticket and airfare, I declined to stand in line for 2-3 hours. I eventually found a bar two blocks away charging $10 to get in. I didn’t want to pay anything, but my need for cold beer and a bathroom overwhelmed my self-protest.

Being a Red Sox Fan Doesn’t Mean You Understand Chicago Cubs Fans

While I sipped on a Molson Canadian and talked to a group of fans from Nebraska I pondered something. Although I’m a Red Sox fan who understands the pain of waiting 80+ years for a World Series win, I don’t think I can understand what this means for Chicago. I went there thinking that I’d easily relate to them. To a certain degree, I do. But in talking to fans from around the nation, I saw they were different from Red Sox fans. The Red Sox came close to victory more than once. The Cubs, however, hadn’t seen a World Series since 1945. Red Sox fans grimace when they think about Bill Buckner, but Chicago will always wince when they think about Steve Bartman. Red Sox pain lasted 86 years. But Chicago Cubs fans truly understand that pain because it lasted well over a century.

Or Maybe Chicago Cubs Fans Truly Relate to Red Sox Fans

Tony Rossi, a Boston native living in Chicago, can’t get enough of the Cubs and baseball. “What I love about the Cubs is that they offer a baseball experience very similar to that of the Red Sox,” Rossi told me. “You catch a game and it’s all about baseball. Wrigley and Fenway keep it about baseball.”

One thing’s for sure. Cubs and Red Sox fans get along with each other pretty well because of the drought both fan bases experienced. For Red Sox fans like Rossi living in Chicago, home is only a block away. “Being a Red Sox fan in Chicago, I miss being able to go to Fenway as much as I used to. Living up the street from Wrigley Field has helped.”

What Would A Cubs v Red Sox Series Look Like?

The Chicago Cubs are on fire in the National League. Clinching their division earlier this month, the Cubs’ performance this season is leaving many wondering about their World Series opponent. Is there a chance fans might see a Cubs versus Red Sox World Series? For some, it would be a match made in Heaven. For others, it presents an ethical dilemma. So with that said, what would a Cubs v Red Sox series look like? More importantly, how would Red Sox fans react if the Cubs won?

The Red Sox and Cubs last met in a World Series in 1918. That series marked the lastCubs v Red Sox time the Red Sox would win a World Series until 2004. Within two years, Babe Ruth’s sale to the New York Yankees started an 86 year drought for the Red Sox known as the Curse of the Bambino. Many believe that drought was one of the most painful in sports history. However, few fans know that the City of Chicago is no stranger to droughts themselves. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Chicago White Sox broke their own run of 88 years without a World Series title. Before that, the last time the White Sox even played in a World Series was 1959. Unfortunately, the Cubs have had no such luck.

The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. Here’s some perspective on that. That’s a drought older than the following: instant coffee, bras, zippers, traffic signals, bubble gum, radios, velcro, and television, just to name a few. In 1908 the Athletics were still in Philadelphia. Fenway Park didn’t exist yet! Those facts represent why Sox fans wonder how they’d feel if the Cubs played, and beat, the Red Sox in a World Series.

A Cubs v Red Sox World Series Would Be the Series of the Century!

Obviously, you don’t want to “give” a World Series title to a team like Chicago. They must earn one! But if the Cubs beat the Sox, would Red Sox Nation applaud them? There are two ways to look at this dilemma.

First, the idea of a Cubs v Red Sox series alone excites both cities. Red Sox fans remembering how long their drought lasted might not mind if the Cubs won. After all, the Red Sox reversed the curse! On top of that, the Chicago Cubs are a very strong team this year. If they beat the Red Sox in a World Series, fans would find it difficult to condemn the Cubs (but it wouldn’t stop them from trying anyway).

On the other hand, this is Boston and we’re not known for our kindness. We’re not mean, but Bostonians don’t like losing either. Sure, we understand Chicago’s pain, but a 2016 World Series Championship banner would look great on Fenway Park! Sure, Chicago’s drought would continue, but hey, that’s baseball.

Regardless of who loses, baseball fans have to keep one thing in mind: THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

The Continued Greatness of Theo Epstein

While some hipsters may argue for Andrew Friedman and his Dodgers think tank, Theo Epstein is still by far the most talented executive working in baseball today. The former Red Sox general manager didn’t necessarily build this current Boston team, but he certainly laid the foundations with astute draft picks and legendary signings. Meanwhile, in Chicago, he’s constructed a juggernaut that looks set to dominate for many years to come, affirming his reputation.

Theo Epstein

Epstein’s achievements in Boston are meticulously documented, to the point where people tend to forget the magnificence of his everyday maneuvering. The overarching narrative is intoxicating. Theo’s expertise in statistics and scouting delivered the first Red Sox championship in eighty-six years. As if that wasn’t enough, the wonder kid then plotted a further title run in 2007. The Red Sox were transformed from streaky contenders to serial winners.

Of course, things didn’t end particularly well between the Red Sox and Theo Epstein. Epstein felt pressure from ownership to make extravagant free agent signings that helped television ratings but hindered his vision for a sustainable baseball machine. Nevertheless, despite receiving some unfair criticism in recent years, Epstein left a strong legacy that we still see on the field every single day at Fenway Park.

The Legacy of Theo Epstein

Dustin Pedroia, the heart of this team, was drafted by Theo. So was Clay Buchholz, but hey, you can’t have them all. Theo also signed David Ortiz and Junichi Tazawa, two key pieces on the 2016 Red Sox. However, what many people don’t acknowledge is that Theo also drafted Betts, Bradley Jr., Swihart, Vazquez, Owens and Shaw. As for Xander Bogaerts, that guy playing shortstop and leading the league in hitting? Well, Epstein signed him, too.

Obviously, a lot has happened since Theo left Boston for Chicago, and Ben Cherington and Dave Dombrowski have made worthy tweaks to this team. But facts must be respected, and one such fact is that the fingerprints of Theo Epstein are all over this Red Sox team. Though it may pain some bitter fans, he deserves greater recognition for that.

How the Cubs Were Built

While Boston is a fine offensive ball club, the Cubs are in a different universe right now. Chicago is 44-19, and has a legitimate shot at beating the all-time record of 116 regular season wins. As a team, the Cubs get on base at a .347 clip, second only to the Red Sox, but every starter has an ERA below 3.00 and the bullpen has been solid. Oh, and the Cubs also lead the league in several defensive stats, as if they weren’t dynamic enough.

Perhaps most impressively, this team was built from scratch by Theo and Jed Hoyer, his trusty lieutenant. They inherited a mess at Wrigley Field, and decided that the best way to get better was first to get worse. Short term pain for long term game was the mantra. Epstein was given the space, time and revenue to execute his Utopian plan for the ultimate baseball team.

First, a young core was established, mostly in the minor leagues, courtesy of trades and brilliant draft choices. Then, once it had matured, external free agents that made sense were signed to compliment the homegrown nucleus. That’s how the Cubs wound up with such a formidable team, with elite players such as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber primed to lead the North Side resurgence for perhaps a decade to come.

Theo’s Visions for Boston Carried Out in Chicago: What will the Future Hold?

Right now, we’re seeing at Wrigley Field what Theo Epstein once envisaged for Fenway Park and the Red Sox. Many people are quick to say that this fan base wouldn’t tolerate such an aggressive rebuild. Surely it was more purposeful than the general cellar-dwelling of recent times. Yes, the Red Sox won a World Series in 2013 while the Cubs tanked, but Chicago now has a window to win multiple rings while Boston’s future is very bright but far more uncertain.

Ultimately, Theo Epstein was the architect responsible for the two most potent offenses currently dominating Major League Baseball. While he certainly made mistakes in Boston, and developing pitching has always been an issue for his front offices, Red Sox fans must appreciate his continued influence on the team’s fortunes.

Perhaps the Sox and Cubs will meet in the World Series this year. After all, both teams are in strong positions. However, when the last generation of Theo players leaves the Red Sox, the true test will present itself. Can Dave Dombrowski match his forebear in creating a sustainable, organic winner? Only time will tell.

John Lackey Should Still Be With Boston

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey was a strong contributor to the 2013 World Series team and trading him was a big mistake. Lackey had a roller coaster ride in a Sox uniform as he struggled in his first two seasons before becoming a reliable arm every fifth day for the organization. When the 2014 team was scuffling and the trade deadline came around, former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington decided to part ways with John Lackey, trading him for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.

Craig was struggling and his career looked to be dwindling and Kelly had his struggles inJohn Lackey the National League which typically doesn’t lead to success in the more hitter friendly American League. Meanwhile, Lackey seemed to be gaining form and becoming who the Sox thought they were getting him when they signed him to a five year $82.5 million deal. That improvement has continued and John Lackey is pitching like an ace, often going unnoticed behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the best starting pitching rotation in baseball.

Last season in St. Louis, Lackey had a 2.77 ERA and this season he has a 2.63 ERA for the Cubs. At this point in his career he will not wow you with his stuff but he hits his spots and gets guys out, something many Sox pitchers struggle to do. Lackey seems to be blossoming late in his career as last season was his best season to date and he’s on track to improve on those numbers this year. With John Lackey pitching so great, the Sox return of Joe Kelly and Allen Craig in the trade has been a catastrophe.

John Lackey Belongs with Red Sox Nation

Kelly has not established himself in the Sox rotation and is not looking likely to do so. Kelly has good stuff to work with but he has yet to put it together and it seems like yesterday the 28 year old was still a promising prospect. Kelly is now in the minor leagues, joining the other piece in the trade, Craig. Craig has been a disaster as he has been a minor leaguer for most of his tenure with the Sox organization. A once promising offensive player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Craig has seen his career vanish quickly and likely has played his last inning in the major leagues.

The Sox let go of a pitcher that was big time in the postseason in 2013 in order to gamble on a pitcher with upside who hadn’t put it together and a bat that was on the downfall. As a result, this trade is one of the worst in recent memory and the Sox 4.22 ERA as a pitching staff would be much better if Ben Cherington had stayed with John Lackey.

There Is No Need To Worry About David Price

Boston Red Sox new starting pitcher, David Price, has drawn a fair amount of criticism following his first seven starts as the ace of the staff. Playing in Boston can be very tough for a new player, especially one of Price’s magnitude. With such lofty expectations from a fan base that always expects the best, Price has been a major disappointment so far. Price is the first true ace this team has had since former Sox starting pitcher Jon David PriceLester left for the Chicago Cubs. Adjusting to a change of scenery can be tough for a star player and Lester’s first season for the Cubs, a 3.34 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 205 innings, should be the measuring stick Sox fans are using for Price’s first season in Boston. However, Sox fans may not be aware of the start Lester had in a Cubs uniform. Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform were only a tad bit better than Price’s have been for the Sox.

Through Lester’s first seven starts in a Cubs uniform, he had a 4.10 ERA with 40
strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched. This performance certainly didn’t live up to the 6 year, $155 million contract he signed, and World Series hungry Chicago was also very concerned about their aging new ace. Similar to Lester, Price’s 6.75 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41.1 innings pitched have not lived up to the 7 year $217 million contract that he signed this offseason. Both pitchers stumbled out of the gate for their new teams and Lester’s turnaround last year should be the expectation Sox fans have for Price. Lester and Price are very similar pitchers as well.

Both Lester and Price feature four pitches, a fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup, relying primarily on the fastball and cutter, throwing them over 70% of the time, according to FanGraphs. The main difference between the two is with their off speed stuff, Price relies on his changeup more and Lester puts more trust in the curveball. Both pitchers throw around the same speed at this point in their respective careers, Price’s average fastball velocity is around 92 mph, while Lester’s fastball sits around the 90-93 range. Location of pitches is the key for both of these pitchers in the latter stages of their careers. Price’s inability to locate his pitches have been the reason for his struggles. Luckily for Sox fans, this can easily be fixed.

David Price: Location Issues Are The Reason For His Early Season Struggles

Although he has showed strong command, allowing just 12 walks, the issue has been more of where he’s leaving the ball in the strike zone, in places hitters can destroy a pitcher. For example, in his last start he threw a pitch down and inside to Carlos Beltran, a guy who has killed that pitch during his long career. As a result, Beltran doubled in two runs. Price has the experience to know that this is the real issue, not his velocity.

With the pedigree Price brings, Sox fans should not be concerned but rather have faith in Price turning it around and performing as the ace. The baseball season is long and to critique a pitcher of Price’s caliber just seven starts in is not justifiable. His strikeout rate and the limited walks are elite and when he figures out his location, everything else will be elite as well. This Thursday’s start against the strikeout prone Astros in front of the Fenway crowd will provide him with a great opportunity to show off his still great stuff and silence the early season criticism.