J.D. Martinez is Turning Into One of Boston’s Best Signings Ever

In November of 2015, David Ortiz announced that the 2016 season would be his last. The long and treasured career of Boston’s beloved designated hitter will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Red Sox Nation, and his retirement left the Red Sox in a very unfamiliar position. For the first time since Ortiz joined the lineup in the 2003 season, the Sox were without a trusted power bat. The 2017 season gave us no answers, with Boston finishing 27th in home runs and 26th in slugging percentage. Now, a little over a quarter of the way through 2018, I think we have an answer. His name is J.D. Martinez, signed to a five-year, $110 million contract this past offseason. Not only has he answered this question, but J.D. Martinez has emerged as one of the best free agent signings in Red Sox history.

I know it’s still early. Martinez is not even halfway through his first season with the Red J.D. MartinezSox, and this could be premature. But I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. In 46 games, Martinez ranks second in the MLB in home runs (15), runs batted in (41), slugging percentage (.674), and OPS (1.073). He would lead the American League in batting average, slugging percentage, and home runs if it weren’t for teammate Mookie Betts.

J.D. Martinez In Comparison

Looking back on Boston’s major free agent signings, the track record is less than ideal. And failing to produce or live up to expectations in Boston is a proven formula for failure. Names like Pablo Sandoval, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez come to mind.

I don’t need to go into detail on Sandoval, as that disaster is still fresh in the minds of this city. You may have managed to erase Carl Crawford from your memory by now. But let’s not forget his 7-year, $142 million monster of a contract that gave Boston fans so much hope after years of dealing with him in Tampa Bay. And now? Among the biggest busts in the history of the Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez actually played well in his one full season with the Red Sox, but never quite fulfilled the expectations surrounding him. The list goes on and on. John Lackey, Rusney Castillo, and Josh Beckett join the list of players that never quite lived up to their price tag. Quick note of appreciation to the Los Angeles Dodgers for liberating us from Crawford, Gonzalez, and Beckett.

But now it’s time to forget all of that and relish in the present. J.D. Martinez is hitting as well as anyone in the MLB, and is currently on pace to break his home run record for a season. Paired with fellow slugger Mookie Betts atop the Red Sox order, Martinez has found, and embraced, his role in this lineup. And he’s earning every bit of his paycheck.

The formula to succeed as a Boston athlete has become pretty simple over the years. Just do your job. And Martinez is doing it as well as anyone.

Without Ortiz, Red Sox Lost Without a Leader

It’s been nine months since David Ortiz retired from the Red Sox. Since then, his former teammates have done their best to make up for his loss. The Red Sox currently hold first place and might run away with the AL East. But it’s clear to everyone that it’s not the same without Big Papi. Seeing the Red Sox lost without a leader hurts the team. If a clear leader doesn’t emerge soon the Red Sox will be like a battleship without a rudder.

There isn’t anyone on the Red Sox right now who has the qualities of a leader. HanleyRed Sox lost Ramirez can’t lead. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are too young. Chris Sale is too much of a loose cannon. Dustin Pedrioa, despite his leadership qualities,  doesn’t have what he needs to rally his teammates. Pedrioa comes off as being too strict, not knowing when to relax and have fun. Additionally, his response to the post-slide Manny Machado incident in Baltimore last April didn’t win him any friends.

Red Sox Lost Without Ortiz, But How Do You Replace Him?

You don’t.

David Ortiz delivered on and off the field in ways that would intimidate most other ballplayers. He was a clutch hitter who knew how to drive in runs. He knew exactly what words to say in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Plus Ortiz knew how to handle himself with grace and agility. Even if Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley Jr. hit 60 homers and won a bunch of MVPs, they’d still stand in Ortiz’s shadow. They haven’t had the chance to experience what Ortiz endured throughout his career

Red Sox aren’t leaderless. It’s that Ortiz left such a enormous void that no one will fill it for  a long time. The problem is that nothing is collectively taking its place. Fans and players alike notice the vacuum Ortiz’s absence has created and while the standings don’t show it, the lack of enthusiasm at Fenway this season is overwhelming. Red Sox fans are happy to root for the team, but there’s no one who can bring us together like Ortiz could.

The Red Sox Owe Jim Rice More Respect

Jim Rice played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. He was an 8-time All-Star and American League MVP in 1978. After years of waiting, Rice finally received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 in his final year of eligibility. Some argue that Rice isn’t a Hall of Famer because his numbers fall just below the unofficial standard. Others argue Rice’s induction took too long and his numbers prove his worth. Regardless of what you might think, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice more respect, especially after retiring so many other numbers in the last three years.

The Red Sox used to have three rules to retire a number. 1) Play ten years with the RedRed Sox Owe Jim Rice Sox. 2) Retire as a Red Sox player. 3) Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim Rice is one of the few players who actually fulfilled all three requirements. In fact, he was the last to fulfill all those requirements. Since then they’ve retired Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz’s jersey numbers. None of those three players fulfilled the requirements.

I’m not saying that there’s a retired number that doesn’t belong up there. But why did Jim Rice have to wait so long while other players got ushered to the front of the line? Few other players hustled harder than Rice did. It’s easy to look at his numbers and say that they’re good but not great. But it’s impossible to quantify Rice’s contributions to the game. He helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975 (an injury kept him out of play) and also in 1986. Additionally, Rice is one of only two players to lead the American League in both triples and home runs in one season. On top of that, he is still the only player who has ever led the majors in triples, home runs and RBIs in the same season.

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice An Apology

The fact that Jim Rice waited so long to see his number retired while others didn’t is becoming the white elephant in the room. While you can argue that players like Ted Williams and Joe Cronin waited too, the Red Sox didn’t actually start retiring numbers until 1984, and their numbers were among the first to get retired.

Jim Rice paid his dues. He waited patiently not only to see his number retired, but to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox insulted the man by making him jump hoops. They took those hoops away though from Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz. Boggs jumped ship to the Evil Empire. He even had the nerve to wear his Yankee World Series ring to his ceremony!

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice A Statue Too

At the very least, the Red Sox could erect a statue for Jim Rice. Or they could name something in Fenway after him. No matter what, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice something to make up for the way they shafted him. He stayed loyal to Boston when he could have left for more money.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Jersey Numbers Too Soon?

Red Sox Nation saw David Ortiz’s number 34 retired during a pre-game ceremony Friday night. His number retirement came eight months after his actual retirement. It also marked the third time the Red Sox retired a number in as many years. So are the Red Sox retiring jersey numbers too soon?

Three years ago I thought it was strange that the Red Sox hadn’t retired many numbersred sox retired with its long and rich history. In fact, they only started the practice in the early 1980s. Before 2015 the Red Sox had only seven retired numbers. Since 2015 they’ve retired three. In fact, the Red Sox broke their own jersey retirement rules to induct the last three. So what does this mean? Are they trying to play catch up, or are they trying to make up lost revenue?

Is Attendance A Factor In The Decision To Retire Numbers?

According to Baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox averaged 3,008,355 fans per season between 2007 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2016 the Red Sox averaged 2,930,739 fans each season. That’s a drop off of 77,616 over three years. According to an April 2016 article on Fortune.com titled “Here’s How Much a Baseball Game Will Cost You This Year,” it costs a fan about $78.50 to attend a game at Fenway Park in 2016. That includes tickets, food, beverages, and parking. So let’s say for argument’s sake that the 77,616 drop in attendance equates to a loss of $78.50 per fan. That comes to a loss of $6,092,856 over three years. Of course, it’s easy to manipulate those numbers, but no matter how you crunch them it’s bad for the Red Sox.

Seeing The Red Sox Retiring Boggs’ Number Was A Little Awkward

It made sense to retire Pedro Martinez’s number. He helped carry the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004. But Wade Boggs? Yes, his time with the Red Sox made him a legend. But Boggs left Boston for New York where he won his only World Series Championship in 1998. In fact, he wore his Yankee World Series ring to his jersey retirement ceremony at Fenway Park much to the irk of many. While fans liked seeing the much-beloved Boggs’ number retired, it made other wonder why now? Why him? Was it an effort to bring older fans back to the ballgame so they could reignite their love for the game? Was it an effort to get its younger fanbase to tap into the rich history of the Red Sox? No matter how you dice it retiring Boggs’ number came off as awkward.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Numbers Too Soon?

So are the Red Sox retiring numbers too soon, or are they truly trying to honor their legends? Or are they trying to make up for lost revenue? The Red Sox have a staggering payroll and losing $6 million equates to about six or seven of their players making between $500-600,000 a year. No matter how you look at it, the frequency in retiring numbers does give true fans pause about how sincere the intentions are.

Red Sox Prepare To Retire Ortiz’s No. 34

Festivities to honor David Ortiz are already underway as the Red Sox prepare to honor Big Papi by retiring his number 34 before Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. For only the eleventh time in their history, the Red Sox will retire the number of one of its greats. What makes this retirement ceremony unique is that it has only been eight months since Ortiz played his last game.

Retiring Ortiz’s number so soon reflects a deep love and appreciation for Big Papi. OrtizRed Sox Prepare wasn’t just a great hitter who played most of his career in Boston. Ortiz was a symbol of hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. His words, “This is our f–king city!” became a rallying cry for discouraged Bostonians. Later that fall his home run against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS staved off defeat and allowed the Red Sox to advance to the World Series. In a time when Hall of Fame-caliber players are few and far in between, Ortiz’s heroics not only made the Red Sox great, but made baseball even greater.

Qualifications Have Waned in Recent Years As Red Sox Prepare For Jersey Retirement

The Red Sox used to have very strict requirements when it came to retiring a jersey number. The strict set of requirements allowed a select few to see their numbers retired. First, the player had to have played for the Red Sox for ten years. Second, he has to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Third, he had to have retired with the Red Sox. While those rules stood for many years, one by one, the Red Sox accommodate other greats who didn’t meet the requirements.

Carlton Fisk, the greatest catcher in Red Sox history, finished his career with the Chicago White Sox. Pedro Martinez didn’t play ten years with the Red Sox, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Johnny Pesky isn’t a Hall of Famer, but his service to the team over the course of sixty years earned him a spot among the retired.

While Ortiz didn’t have to wait for induction into the Hall of Fame to see his number retired, his induction will happen. Some say Ortiz won’t be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Allegations surrounding his use of PEDs have haunted him for years. Those allegations should have little to no impact on the BBWAA when Ortiz becomes eligible. One this is for sure though. Bostonians will pack the small town of Cooperstown when it comes time to induct Ortiz.

Is It Too Late For A Red Sox Recovery?

The Red Sox are struggling. Acquiring Chris Sale made many believe the Red Sox finally had the best rotation in the American League. But then David Price went on the DL. Rick Porcello stopped winning games. Another rash of injuries followed the Red Sox into the infield. Sprained legs, sore elbows, vertigo, and the flu wreaked havoc on the Red Sox. So is a Red Sox recovery possible?

We’re going into June and the Red Sox are stubbornly lodged in second place as of MayRed Sox Recovery 30th. While the Red Sox won the division last year, they suffered dismal seasons in 2014 and 2015. What’s even worse is that its not as much fun to watch the team this year. What’s driving this losing season and what needs to happen to stop it?

John Farrell Needs To Go

After he was pulled, Drew Pomeranz and John Farrell had a little blowup in the dugout a few weeks ago. Farrell pulled Pomeranz after only four innings, leading him to question his manager in an exchange caught on camera. Blowups between players and managers aren’t uncommon. But this isn’t the first time a pitcher openly questioned Farrell. Wade Miley and Farrell screamed it out in June of 2015 when Farrell pulled him after giving up five runs in four innings. Any good boss knows open insubordination signals a lack of respect. The fact that his players feel like they can do that is a sign that Farrell may not have as much control over his players as he should. Despite their recent success against Texas and Seattle, fans got to ask how long that insubordination will last.

Motivation (Or a Lack Thereof) is Hurting a Red Sox Recovery

The Boston Marathon bombing motivated the Red Sox to win the 2013 World Series. Since then, we’ve lost a lot of our A-Listers including David Ortiz. Now it seems like the Red Sox are like a ship without a rudder. They don’t have a sense of direction. It’s as if they don’t know what they’re doing or where they want to go.

Let Farrell go. Keeping him at this point is like dating someone you don’t like anymore. All you’re really doing is waiting for something to give. Then designate a new team captain. The team needs someone from within who can motivate the rest of the team.

It’s not too late to take first place and take the division. We’re not even at the All-Star break yet. So while a Red Sox recovery is possible, the team needs to cut the dead wood adrift.