Defying the Odds – The Tale of Dustin Pedroia

From the moment he became a major league baseball player, Dustin Pedroia has been defying the odds. Many called him a bust. Many believed that due to his size, he could never cut it in the big leagues. Here we are fourteen years later. The long time second baseman for the Red Sox is taking a leave from the team. It was announced on Monday that Pedroia is going to take some time to figure things out.

Now, what does that mean? Have we seen the last of the Lasershow? Many fans believedefying the odds that he’s about to hang up his spikes and call it a career. Others think differently. It’s a tough situation for Pedroia, who has been the heart and soul of this team from the very beginning.

Defying the Odds Since Day One

Like many members of Red Sox Nation, we take notice when a new player gets called up to the big leagues. August 22nd 2006 was no different. Fans were wondering who this rookie infielder from Woodland, California was. All that they knew about him was that he was doing well enough in Pawtucket to get the call every player looks to get.

Pedroia isn’t your average infielder, but he won the heart of the Nation. He was a dirt dog on the field. Many dismissed him due to his size, but he made them think twice when he was at second base. From his sweet swing, to the flash of leather, Pedroia is the definition of dirt dog. There was something special about that kid from California. Since 2006, Red Sox Nation got to witness Dustin Pedroia’s career.

Pedroia never gave up the fight to be the best. From winning Rookie of the Year in 2007, to MVP in 2008, he was a complete player. A definite force in the clubhouse, Pedroia led the Red Sox to three World Series Championships. This last one, despite not being able to play, he was able to use his voice and lead. That is the reason why he is “Captain” material, and why he is respected in the clubhouse in Boston.

A Proven Leader In Boston

As mentioned, Pedroia is no doubt the heart and soul of the Red Sox. He has been part of this team for fourteen seasons. This also makes him the ultimate veteran player on the roster. Pedroia is one of the few that can say that they have been with the same organization throughout there career. Not many players can say that. Especially players who have been in the game as long as Pedroia has.

What Does the Future Hold For Pedroia?

“I’m at a point right now where I need some time.” – Dustin Pedroia.

Following the announcement that he is going to the 60 day injury list, the Red Sox held a press conference with Pedroia, Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora. Pedroia, sporting a black shirt and a Red Sox cap, answered questions from the media. You can tell that he was fighting back emotions as questions were being asked. For a guy like Pedroia, who lives to compete, it’s tough to face reality.

With this leave of absence, maybe Pedroia will retire. It’s up to him and his family to determine what comes next. It hasn’t been an easy road for the 35 year old the past few seasons. For young fans, seeing a player who you’ve grown up watching every day retire, it’s a strange feeling. I only hope that when he does officially retire, the number 15 ends up in the right field rafters. Nobody should ever wear that number again.

The Boston Blame Game

Right now, the Red Sox are hanging on for dear life near the bottom of the division. The only real bright spot is the sweep of the Rays in Tampa. Many fans were happy that the core group from last year is back. However, many are wondering if more could have been done. Thus begins the Boston blame game.

With the departures of Joe Kelly to the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel to the unknown, theboston blame Red Sox bullpen is a mystery. The same can be said for the rest of the roster. In the past, however, the bullpen in Boston has been a wildcard. You never know what is going to happen next.

Where Does the Boston Blame Lie?

There are so many things that have and can go wrong. There are also many things that can go right. However, for the Red Sox, not much has gone right for them. Where do we begin? How about the very quiet Boston offseason.

This past offseason following the World Series win was kind of quiet in Boston. While other teams were signing and trading, It seemed like not a lot was going on in the front office. The most that was done was the trade that brought relief pitcher, Colten Brewer to Boston. Brewer, who is entering his second season in the majors, played for the San Diego Padres last season.

Many teams were trading right off the bat. Teams such as the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays make some big moves to make their teams as successful as they are now. Probably the least shocking issues was the free agent market. With big names like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper not signing deals right away, it’s no surprise that many players are still waiting.

Still, even with most of the champs staying in Boston, it’s hard not to point fingers and blame the front office for not doing more. Dave Dombrowski basically stated that he didn’t want to do a whole lot. That was evident, especially with relievers going to other teams in free agency. I get it, you want the core team to stick together and keep winning. However, it’s almost May, and the Red Sox are falling behind.

Spring Training

It’s tough to not look at the Red Sox’s Spring Training record and question what could have gone differently. Alex Cora and company only allowed the core starters to pitch certain innings and games. This has led to a slow start for guys like Chris Sale and Rick Porcello. Both starters have been open with their struggles, and blame themselves for the lack of good pitching during their regular season starts.

The Bullpen

Anytime Red Sox Nation sees a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, we either get a good feeling, or a bad feeling. For example, in the game against the New York Yankees on April 17th, Nathan Eovaldi was pitching a good game, and was taken out in the 7th inning. Brandon Workman came in, and gave up a single, and walked two batters before being taken out with the bases loaded and one out in the inning. This led to Brett Gardner hitting the game winning grand slam off of Ryan Braiser.

As of right now, the bullpen consists of Workman, Braiser, Matt Barnes, Brewer, Heath Hembree, Travis Lakins, Tyler Thornburg and Marcus Walden. Many of these pitchers, with the exception of Lakins, have many years of major league experience. Lakins, who was called up and made his MLB debut on April 23rd against Detroit has an ERA of 3.38. He went 2.2 innings, striking out two in the loss to the Tigers.

The Future

The Red Sox have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. With many players on the injured list, the bright spot is seeing rookie Michael Chavis contributing to the club. The infielder made his Major League debut against Tampa Bay on April 20th. So far, he is batting .214, with one home run and two RBI’s. He has also transitioned to second base, after playing third and first in the minors.

Does Red Sox Nation still trust Cora? It’s tough to tell. The Red Sox haven’t been playing their best, and when they do, it’s only one or two games. There are many factors in the Boston blame game, however, some are more evident than others.

With May right around the corner, it’s a guess that the Red Sox will turn a corner. A corner in which it shows them heading to the top. After all, we are the defending World Series Champions.

Time to worry about the 2019 Boston Red Sox

The 2019 Boston Red Sox have officially instilled worry and concern in a city and region that have high hopes for a repeat championship season in Boston. After getting swept by their arch-rival New York Yankees last night in a 5-3 loss, the Red Sox have now fallen to 6-13, good for dead last in the American League East. The old proverbial baseball of “it’s still too early to panic” may ring true. However, the signs of improvement of this team have been far and in between so far this season.

What is wrong with the Red Sox?

In order to really assess what’s wrong with the Red Sox in 2019, one should look closely2019 Boston Red Sox at the root of the issue of this team. The overall attitude of this team entering Spring Training simply put was way too cavalier, dare I say too cocky/arrogant. To be brutally honest, the attitude and mindset of the team started with both Dave Dombrowski and Manager Alex Cora. Dombrowski was too casual and lackadaisical in not making improvements to the pitching staff, and now the pitching staff currently has the worst run differential in Major League Baseball.

Alex Cora is not free of blame in this at all. After all, he enforced the idea of the starting pitchers not having a heavy workload in Spring Training considering the workload the pitching staff had last October. That idea has backfired big time, none more than with Chris Sale as he is 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA. The bullpen has not fared any better, as they entered today ranked 22nd in Major League Baseball in bullpen ERA.

Red Sox’ mental errors are costing this team

One of the hallmarks of 2018 Boston Red Sox was their ability to do all of the little things right. However, in 2019 the Red Sox have committed some outrageous mental errors in the field that has cost them ballgames.

One example was when the Red Sox were on their season-opening 11 game road trip in Oakland, playing the Athletics on April 4th. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts are two Gold Glove-winning outfielders; which is part of what made this particular instance so maddening for Red Sox fans. Stephen Piscotty hits a 361-foot fly ball to right centerfield, Bradley Jr. and Betts were converging on the fly ball. Bradley Jr., being the centerfielder, should have called off Betts to make the catch. Instead, Bradley Jr. and Betts looked at each other as the ball drops in and hops over the wall for a ground rule double.

This one example is a microcosm of issues this team has had throughout this season. The hitters have not been as aggressive in their offensive approach at the plate. As a result, the team has is batting .229, which is 20th in Major League Baseball. They are struggling to reach base as they have a team On-Base Percentage of .300, which ranks 21st in Major League Baseball.

Can the 2019 Red Sox turn this season around?

The Red Sox have too much talent not to be able to turn their season around. Yes, the season is still young. Yes, the team is struggling in all facets of the game. It’s only 19 games into the season, yet it is hard not to be concerned with this team moving forward. This team can turn their season around, but they will need to do it now.

The Red Sox Need to be Active at the Trade Deadline

As the Red Sox grow closer to the halfway point, and the trade deadline, in the 2018 regular season, they have given us all a pretty good idea of what’s working, and what isn’t. Back on June 11, the Sox went on a nice four-game win streak which included a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles. They went on to lose four of their next five, splitting a series with the Seattle Mariners and falling to the Minnesota Twins on consecutive nights. They salvaged their third contest against the Twins and then took two of three from the Mariners.

At 34-40, the Twins are not a team the Red Sox should be losing a series to. Meanwhile, theTrade Deadline Mariners, at 48-31, are within reach of the Houston Astros (52-28) atop the AL West standings. Boston’s recent inconsistency and their ongoing grapple with the Yankees atop the division leave this team in need of action at the trade deadline.

Trade Deadline Action: Relief Pitcher

I’ve lost track of how many games this bullpen has lost. At this point, this should be a no-brainer for Dave Dombrowski. The woes in Boston’s bullpen have been no secret this season. Carson Smith recently had season-ending surgery after throwing his glove. Tyler Thornburg is still trying to get healthy, and still hasn’t taken the mound in a Red Sox uniform. Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson, both with ERAs north of 3.80, have simply not pitched well at all. And to top it off, Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly will both hit the free agent market at the end of this season. Kimbrel and Kelly, along with Matt Barnes and Hector Velazquez, have emerged as the only serviceable arms in Boston’s bullpen.

So what are Boston’s options at the trade deadline? The most popular name in circulation is the Orioles’ left-hander Zach Britton. Baltimore looks to be in a complete and total rebuild at 23-54 on the year, so they are as viable a trade partner as they come. Britton underwent Achilles surgery this past offseason and has only appeared in seven contests this year. However, he is just two years removed from consecutive All-Star appearances and a fourth-place finish in CY Young voting. As it stands, Brian Johnson is the only southpaw in Boston’s bullpen, so Britton would be a massive addition. His contract expires after this year, so it would make sense for the Orioles to get some value out of him while they can.

Baltimore has another relief pitcher set to enter free agency. Brad Brach, a right-hander, has appeared in 32 contests this year with ten saves. Britton is the much more attractive option and is linked to several other teams as the trade deadline approaches.

Trade Deadline Action: Right-Handed Hitting

Since the Red Sox designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment on May 25, Boston’s lineup has been missing some pop. Ramirez hit .330 in April but fell into a major slump in May before his departure. While Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez have shouldered much of the offensive workload, the Yankees have as much firepower, if not more.

The Sox have a few different options in terms of what position to go after to fulfill this. They have shown some interest in Adrian Beltre, the veteran third-basemen currently employed by the Texas Rangers. The Rangers are in the AL West basement and are another legitimate trade partner. Beltre’s hitting .309 with 25 runs batted with Texas so far this year and won a Gold Glove in 2016. He would be warmly welcomed back for a second stint in Boston as an alternative to the streaky Rafael Devers at third base. Manny Machado is another popular name on the rumor mill, but his financial demands and lofty asking price make it a long shot.

They could also look to the outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to struggle at the plate and having outfield depth that can swing the bat come October could be instrumental for a playoff run. The Orioles’ Adam Jones is an obvious candidate, given his expiring contract and the situation in Baltimore. Mark Canha of the Oakland Athletics is on Boston’s radar as well. Canha is batting .253 with 27 RBI and 10 home runs on the year.

The 2018 trade deadline is July 31. The Red Sox continue their back-and-forth with the Yankees in the division, and the right move or two could go a long way in their quest for another AL East crown and World Series run.

I’m Losing My Patience With David Price

On December 7, 2015, the Boston Red Sox inked David Price to a seven-year, $217 million dollar contract. And Red Sox Nation rejoiced, myself included. Was it justified? Of course it was. Price, a 3-time All-Star, and 2012 Cy Young Award recipient was one of the best starting pitchers on the free agent market at the time. Zack Greinke was the other, and recently hired general manager Dave Dombrowski had his sights set on bringing an ace to his new ballclub.

He did just that. Boston’s new GM, notorious for flashy transactions, signed the 29-year-David Priceold southpaw to the most lucrative deal for a starting pitcher in MLB history. David Price’s extravagant contract, with a $31 million annual salary, was also the largest deal in franchise history and seemed to fill Boston’s vacancy at Ace for years to come.

At the time, rolling out the Brinks truck for Price made sense. A lot of sense. The Sox were on the heels of two straight last-place finishes in the AL East, and the recent acquisitions of Dombrowski and closer Craig Kimbrel marked a new era of baseball in Beantown.

Now fast forward three years. Price, now 32 and in the third year of his contract, missed his last start after getting diagnosed with what the team called “a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome”. It wasn’t just any start though. It was game two in a road series against the Yankees with the division lead, and the MLB’s best record, at stake. And it wasn’t just any diagnosis either. There is significant speculation that it may be related to excessive time spent playing video games, namely Fortnite.

Price has since said that the setback is unrelated to his gaming habits and that he will stop playing Fortnite in the clubhouse. Manager Alex Cora showed his support by downplaying the notion as well, and they are likely correct from a medical standpoint. However, the speculation alone is frustrating enough. Video games should not be in conversations about $217 million dollar pitchers missing starts against division rivals.

David Price is a Repeat Offender

Now, if this was the first or even second blemish on Price’s tenure, it would be a different story. But that is far from the case. The tingling sensation in Price’s hands, which led to his recent diagnosis, also forced him out of a game in April. Which, coincidence or not, was also against the New York Yankees.

And we all know about his conflict with Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley last season, where he cursed at the Hall of Fame pitcher and refused to apologize in the aftermath. Price went on to go 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 2017 and finished the season in a relief role. He has started 2018 with a 2-4 record and a 5.11 ERA in seven starts. He threw a limited bullpen on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s start. Cora is hopeful that Price will be ready for his next scheduled start on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

David Price keeps finding ways to make headlines, but not for the right reasons. Frustration is growing towards Boston’s controversial pitcher, and patience is shrinking. It’s time for Price to start making headlines on the field and regain the form that the Red Sox paid $217 million dollars for.

 

It’s Time To Fire John Farrell

The Red Sox need do to something. Unfortunately, all they know how to do is lose right now. At this juncture, the Red Sox are a complete embarrassment. They have put a surprising boycott on winning games and have showed the attitude of a small child off the field. The move they need to make is not this Eduardo Nunez trade, it’s to fire John Farrell.

Being totally honest, I think Farrell was a much worse game manager last year than this Fire John Farrellyear. This year, I think Dave Dombrowski has put his manager in tough situations at points. With management forcing him to have Pablo Sandoval, that limited Farrell’s options. Sandoval, however, is gone. Gone forever.

The problem really hasn’t even been his on-field decision making. He’s had a excruciatingly hard time managing his bullpen, which has been fledgeling lately. The real problem is he has lost control of his team. Whining from their veteran second baseman, throwing teammates under the bus, and your $217 million pitcher calling out a Hall of Fame broadcaster are just the highlights of a season full of BS. All this could be glossed over if they would win, but they aren’t capable of that right now.

Let it not be lost that the players have been underwhelming. It’s not just one or two players, every non-pitcher has been underwhelming. I wish that was hyperbole, but it’s not. So yeah, the players are certainly at fault. To some extent, though, a good manager should have these guys turning things around before August. Now, it might be too late.

Luckily for him, the starting pitching has been excellent. Through no support, they’ve kept their team in games. The Red Sox are the luckiest first place team I’ve ever seen. They haven’t won a series since the Fourth of July and yet everyone else in the division continues to lose. Their standing in the division is a complete mirage. For a team that keeps saying they have yet to “hit their stride”, they are running out of time.

Fire John Farrell and Others

Obviously, the problem has been the offense. If nothing else, Chili Davis should definitely be fired. In fact, he shouldn’t even be on this upcoming home stand. If they aren’t the worst offense in the league, they’re certainly the most predictable. They refuse to swing at the first two strikes and never make any adjustments. How many times do we see Jackie Bradley strike out swinging on a low change-up? How many times do we see Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts whiff on a pitch way off outside part of the plate? What coach doesn’t correct that. This offense has been nothing short of a joke, and why Davis is still here is just silly.

This team has no idea what it’s doing right now. After seemingly abandoning the third base trade, they called up their top prospect Rafael Devers. Before he could even finish his first game, they traded for a third baseman. Tuesday, the organization said they are interested in acquiring a first baseman. A first baseman? They have two of those in the majors and Sam Travis in AAA. If Travis is going to be their first baseman next year, it’s time for him to play. Moreland sucks and Hanley Ramirez refuses to play the field (and God forbid his manager make him do that). So if that’s the case, bring up Travis and play him five days a week. Is that so much to ask for?

Currently, the Boston Red Sox are in complete disarray. So yeah, it’s not exactly ideal, but you should fire Farrell. Fire Chili Davis while you’re at it. Gary DiSarcina would obviously step in to manage. Hire anyone you want for the hitting coach, just show you give a damn.  Right now, it’s hard to believe they care. No apologies for Dennis Eckersley, no repercussions for the crying infant David Price, no feel for what direction they’re going in. It’s time to light a fire under these guys and at this point, this might be the only way to do that.