Red Sox Winning Streak Reflects New Focus

The Red Sox winning streak of six games is debunking the idea that the team is still struggling from David Ortiz’s absence. Not only has the Price/Eckersley hoopla finally died down, but their rookies are coming alive too. This Red Sox winning streak is a sign that Boston will surely contend for the World Series title come October.

Rookies Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

The Red Sox struggled after the All-Star break and briefly relinquished first place to theRed Sox winning Yankees. Then a sweep of the Indians and White Sox not only moved them back into first place, but it also gave its rookie stars the attention they deserve. Between August 1st and 8th, Andrew Benintendi hit .462 with a home run effectively breaking out of his slump. Raphael Devers is hitting .349 in 49 plate appearances with three home runs as of August 7th. That comes after hitting 20 home runs in 86 games in AA and AAA this year.

Veterans Also Contributing To Red Sox Winning Streak

MLB veterans like Chris Young and Eduardo Nunez also showed Red Sox Nation that they still have plenty of steam left to help win. Young slammed two home runs, including a tie-breaking shot in addition to driving in five ribbies against the White Sox on Sunday. Nunez, a late season addition to the Red Sox, has 4 home runs with a .400 batting average in the nine games he’s played with Boston so far. These two play with a zeal that clearly reflects their love for the game.

The Red Sox rookies and veterans are playing baseball like kids on sandlot do. They’re eager to contribute. They play to win. And they know they can reach the World Series. Some say the remaining problem lies with its other veterans. Hanley Ramirez hits for power but not average. Dustin Pedroia landed on the DL again, as did David Price. If these three can capture some of the same enthusiasm as their younger and older teammates, the Red Sox will be unstoppable come October.

David Price Needs To Stay Quiet Or Apologize

Most everyone in Red Sox Nation knows about the spat between Dennis Eckersley and David Price. Eckersley called Price out on his failure to backup first base. Then Eckersley referred to one of Eduardo Rodriguez’s rehab starts as “yuck.” Apparently Price didn’t appreciate it and confronted Eckersley about it. Everyone has a right to take issue with criticism. For now though, David Price needs to stop commenting on the incident and focus on pitching.

This incident has turned into one big mess. Price swore at a Hall of Famer in front of theDavid Price Needs team. The Red Sox sort of shrugged it off. Lacking a backbone, John Farrell did little to address the issue. In typical flip flop style, Dustin Pedrioa allegedly applauded Price while he swore at Eckersley. Then he said he didn’t and decided to be a leader by talking to Price about the incident. Some media sources say one thing. Other media sources say another. To be fair, this isn’t entirely Price’s fault. The Boston media shares some of this blame. They waited a while to drudge this up long after it was all over. That’s like disciplining your dog three days after it crapped on the carpet.

David Price Needs To Focus On The Game

Here’s what really burns me about this whole incident. Price is acting like a diva. His $217 million salary is going to his head, he’s can’t stay off the DL, and he’s going around talking smack. For a hot minute it looked like Price realized the error of his ways. According to ESPN, Price admitted he could have handled the incident “probably in a different way” but that’s not where it ended. Speaking to reporters for the first time since we went on the DL again, Price told reporters, “If Eck was around, he’d know who we are. He’s never in the clubhouse,” Price said. “He’s the one guy I’ve seen in my career that never shows his face in the clubhouse.”

Price messed up big here. He messed up big a month ago when he initially slammed Eckersley. But now he’s adding fuel to the fire. What’s even worse is that this incident is distracting him from the game. David Price needs to stop talking about how tough he is, and needs to focus on getting back into the game.

Price Is As Much Of A Diva As Pedrioa

The other issue I have with this entire incident is that both Price and Pedrioa are acting like self-centered and arrogant jerks. They’re not only making themselves look bad, but they’re setting a horrible example for the youth of America. In this day in age, people are less likely to take responsibility, and more likely to blame others. Instead of recognizing their faults, they own up to it in a pathetic way. They don’t think before they speak. As a teacher, I see this often, especially in student athletes. They’re popular and think they can get away with disrespecting others. Then they throw a fit when they’re confronted.

Prince thinks he can disrespect a Hall of Famer with more experience on the mound than Price will ever have. Pedrioa only encourages it because he likes Price and wants to look good sticking up for him. Pedrioa won’t do that for every teammate though. If he and Price really have an issue with Eckersley, they can seek him out instead of Price saying “Just show your face.”

Price started this. It’s up to him to finish it and retain some of his dignity.

Diva Pedroia Is Not The Red Sox Leader

I used to think that Dustin Pedroia was the heart and soul of the Red Sox. He hustles and he focuses on the game. He used to lead his team. His recent comments, however, have made me think twice about him. I’m seeing Pedroia less as a Red Sox leader and more of a diva.

Almost everyone in Red Sox Nation knows what transpired between David Price andred sox leader Dennis Eckersley. It’s old news now. But for those who don’t know, Price took issue with Eckersley’s constructive criticism. Price confronted the Hall of Famer and 1992 MVP on an airplane and, using expletives, tore into him. It’s bad enough that Price thought he could drop his composure and tear down a Hall of Famer. It’s even worse that Pedrioa reportedly applauded Price’s confrontation.

A real leader would have pulled Price aside, told him to bite his tongue, and wait for the right opportunity to confront his critic. A real leader wouldn’t have let someone like Price tear into a legend like Eckersley. Pedroia’s applauding of Price’s confrontation isn’t the characteristic of a good leader. It’s the characteristic of an arrogant and pompous diva.

A Red Sox Leader Keeps The Peace and The Team Focused

Unfortunately, the Red Sox are struggling right now. In fact, the team took a nose dive right around the time the drama between Price and Eckersley began. If that wasn’t bad enough, Pedroia took issue with the Boston media for their views on the incident and the idea that there is no Red Sox leader: “For whatever people say from the outside, ‘Oh, we don’t have a leader.’ I’m standing right here, been here for a long time,” Pedroia was quoted in the Boston Globe. “We’re in first place. So that’s it. Write what you guys want. Here I am. You don’t see anybody else standing up here do you? Nope.”

First of all, Pedroia is not a leader. He threw Matt Barnes under the bus last April when he tried to take Manny Macho’s head off. He didn’t stand up for Barnes, or anyone other than himself. Yes, Barnes shouldn’t have thrown at Machado, but instead of coming to Barnes’ defense, he separated himself from him. Now Pedroia wants to step up and look like a leader with the whole Price/Eckersley thing. It seems like Pedroia waits for others to act, and then uses those opportunities to look like a leader. He won’t pull the trigger, but he’ll take credit for the shot. He just doesn’t take credit when it’s not due, he acts like he earned it outright. He’s like a student who puts in little effort and still expects an A.

A Red Sox Leader Inspires

Son of Massachusetts and the 6th President of the US John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Pedroia’s actions aren’t inspiring. They’re self-centered, narcissistic, and void of any real meaning. I’m also not seeing the Red Sox doing more. What I am seeing are players who are failing to carry the team consistently. They’re making the rookies do all the heavy lifting, and they’re not carrying their own weight. As a result, the Red Sox relinquished first place to the Yankees over the weekend. It was theirs to lose.

Pedroia is an amazing player. He’s an MVP, an All-Star, and he is partly responsible for their last two World Series wins. That doesn’t mean he can pick and choose when to be a leader though. Either be a leader or shut up.

Red Sox Management of Players is Lacking

With more details about the confrontation between Dennis Eckersley and David Price emerging, some are wondering who’s in charge in the front office. The Red Sox management is suffering from a credibility problem. Reports about the lack of respect John Farrell gets have circulated for months. It didn’t seem like anyone could control Pablo Sandoval at all. Sandoval did want he wanted when he wanted.

With new details about the Eckersley and Price confrontation comes questions aboutred sox management where Red Sox management was in all this? Anyone Red Sox fan worth his salt knows who Dennis Eckersley is. A former Cy Young Winner, MVP, and Baseball Hall of Famer, Eckersley currently works as a broadcaster with the Red Sox. Eckersley recently made comments about Price’s pitching in a game a few weeks back and Price took issue. Using taunts and “F” bombs, Price slammed Eckersley.

First of all, who does Price think he is? Eckersley called him out for not covering first base in a game a few weeks back and he was absolutely right to do so. Price messed up and Eckersley called him out for it. So instead of learning a lesson, he decided to insult a Hall of Famer because he thought that’s how he’d retain his dignity.

Classy.

By the way, Dennis Eckersley is also a recovering alcoholic who has endured more pain in his life than most ballplayers have. Price probably knows this, and still acted like a self-entitled jerk towards him. But what about Red Sox management? Why’d they let Price get away with this?

Red Sox Management Could Learn A Few Things About Leadership

Years ago I was teaching at an all-boys military school down in Virginia. Veterans of the Marines, Army, and other branches of the military taught there. One day during lunch a former solider told me a story about what it means to command. He was telling me about a video that went viral showing a man dressed in a Sergeant Major’s dress uniform attending a funeral. He clearly wasn’t in the Army, but he was pretending to be for attention. In the video, three real Army soldiers asked the impersonating Sergeant Major where he’d served and what medals he’d earned. The soldiers wanted to make an example of the impersonator. The poorly groomed uniform, or the way the impersonator stood, wasn’t what gave it away though.

What gave him away was the way the impersonator handled the questions. “A real Sergeant Major would NEVER put up with that kind of questioning. If he had been real, he would have reamed out those soldiers for even questioning him.” In other words, a real leader doesn’t let subordinates push him around.

But that’s exactly what’s happening to Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell. David Price confronts a Hall of Famer and nothing’s really done about it. Why didn’t Farrell confront Price immediately and demand he apologize to Eckersley? Yes, it’s childish, but that’s exactly how Price acted.

Dombrowski and Farrell need to step up their aggressive leadership. They’re getting pushed around and the rest of the team is suffering for it.

Pitchers Taking Too Long Slows The Game Down

Major League Baseball has a big problem right now with its pace. Games are way too long. In the 1950s baseball games lasted about 2.5 hours tops. Now you’re lucky if you’re out in three hours. Some say all the gimmicks and commercials between innings slow down the game.  But it’s the pitchers taking too long that slows it to a crawl. Pitchers are taking more time than ever to focus, wind up, meet with infielders on the mound, and calculate their next pitch.

Part of this issue includes the time lapse between pitches. The Red Sox David Price tookpitchers slowing 25.8 seconds between pitches in 2013 and 26.6 seconds in 2014. Oddly enough, Price did better when he worked faster. His ERA dipped below 3 when he spent 24 seconds or less between pitches. It jumped to almost 3.50 when he approached 27 seconds. But when runners get on base and the score tightens, managers and pitchers take more time to huddle up. Walking out to the mound, chatting with the infield, and mentally preparing for the next batter might be okay for the super die-hard fans, but it’s doing absolutely nothing to keep the younger fan base engaged. In anything, it’s driving them away.

A Solution For Pitchers Taking Their Time

The Atlantic League found a way cut down on this problem. Starting in 2014, coaches can visits the mound only thee times during the course of one game when they are not making a pitching change. They get 45 seconds to talk. If they go over then a ball is charged to the next batter. This approach would not only speed up ballgames, but it would cut down on the amount of time pitchers spend thinking about each pitch. In fact, pitchers could learn from Carl Yastrzemski’s words of wisdom, “The only time I don’t think about [baseball] is when I’m playing it.”

Pitchers Taking Their Time Slows Everything Down

Last February I spent a few hours with former Red Sox infielder Ted Lepcio. He played for Boston in the 1950s and recalled how uncommon it was for the entire infield to come to the mound for meetings. “The whole infield didn’t come in to meet. I don’t get why they do that today.” So why so many more meetings nowadays?

Some say it’s a psychological move. Meet as an infield and you make the opposing batter nervous. Walk off the mound right before a wind up breaks the other team’s momentum. Bringing in reliever and reliever keeps the opposing team guessing. But is all this necessary? Is it making the games more insightful or just plain boring?

Real fans want to see pitching duels. Fans want to see hit and runs. They want to see steals. They don’t want to get wrapped up in a play only for their own excitement to get killed off because the Yankees Joe Girardi wants to bring in another reliever. Purists can say that new rules aren’t meant to be all they want. But if the game is going to remain a spectator sport it’s going to have to come up with new and innovative ways to stay interesting.

What if Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career Continued?

The Prologue

In 2014, Boston was at a crossroads with their franchise pitcher. Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career was in question due to his then upcoming free agency. He had claimed to be willing to take a “hometown discount” so he could stay in Boston. But when Red Sox brass reportedly offered him a 4-year/$70-million-dollar contract, the two sides never reached an agreement. Jon Lester's Red Sox Career

Lester stayed with the Sox for the beginning of the 2014 season and made the All-Star Game. However, the team was seemingly out of it at the trade deadline, and Lester was shipped to Oakland as a rental with Jonny Gomes in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes.

At the end of the season, Cespedes was traded to Detroit for Rick Porcello. Meanwhile, Lester still became a free agent. The Red Sox were in talks to re-sign him but faced huge competition from the Chicago Cubs. Thus, Jon Lester’s Red Sox career was in jeopardy.

Eventually, the Cubs won the bidding and signed Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal with a vesting option for a seventh year at $15 million. The move reunited him with both David Ross and Theo Epstein. John Lackey, who was also traded in July 2014, would join the club the following year.

What if Jon Lester’s Red Sox Career Continued??

But what if John Henry and Co. had signed Lester to a big deal of their own? Let’s say at around the same price the Cubs paid, or more.

Well for starters, David Price would either be a Yankee, a Cub, or a Cardinal.

Rick Porcello may or may not be on the roster. Depends on how comfortable they would’ve been with Lester, Clay Buchholz, and prospects like Rubby de la Rosa, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo.

Only one of those guys (Workman) remains on the 40-man roster today. Eduardo Rodriguez, though still very young then, could have been another compliment.

Both Justin Masterson and Wade Miley wouldn’t have been acquired. Obviously, they were only placeholders until Price came along. But, of course, with Lester who needs Price?

Additionally, David Ross would’ve stayed with Boston for the remainder of his career. He and David Ortiz would’ve retired at the same time.

Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t have been hired because the Ben Cherington would’ve had less pressure to succeed if he had kept Epstein’s guys, like Lester, around to help. Likewise, I believe the Sox would’ve won more games in 2015 with one ace as opposed to five #4 starters.

So would the Cubs win the World Series in 2016 without Lester? Nope.

Instead, I bet Theo would’ve chased Price or Zack Greinke in the 2015 offseason. Especially if Lester had slipped away and the team failed to reach the NLCS. The ’16 Cubs would then, of course, have a similar campaign and reach the postseason. Only to lose Game 5 of the NLDS to the Giants with David Price on the mound.

The Giants would’ve made the World Series and played the young and exciting Red Sox (of course). Jon Lester would pitch Game 7 against Madison Bumgarner in an epic duel. Almost as good as the Cubs-Indians duel.

It’s a shame that the team who drafted, developed, and gave him everything didn’t resign him. Jon Lester is a hero to many – and his resilience through cancer, dominance on the mound, and consistent sportsmanship is legendary.

We may never know.