Red Sox Retire Wade Boggs’ Number

On Thursday, May 26th, the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ jersey number 26 during a ceremony at Fenway Park. Boggs played for the Boston Red Sox from 1982 to 1992 before departing for the New York Yankees in 1993. During his time in Boston, Boggs won six Silver Slugger Awards (eight overall), was on seven all-star teams (12 overall). Boggs also played on the 1986 American League championship team that lost the World Series after a devastating error made in Game 6, leading the New York Mets to win Game 7 and the series. As the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number, another legend is honored for his accomplishments.

Some aren’t happy that Boggs’ number is being retired for several reasons. First, BoggsRed Sox Retire Wade Boggs didn’t finish his career in Boston. In order to have your number retired by the Red Sox, you have to meet certain requirements, but in recent years those requirements have been ignored. The requirements include playing ten years for the Red Sox, be a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and retire from baseball as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Several players whose numbers are retired by the Red Sox do not meet those requirements. Pedro Martinez did not play for Boston for ten years, nor did he finish his career in Boston. Carlton Fisk finished his career in Chicago with the White Sox. Johnny Pesky isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. If these are rules that former players have to follow, then why are they suddenly being discarded? Perhaps it’s time to discard the rules altogether and examine likely candidates on a case by case basis. That would make it much easier for Dwight Evans‘ number to also be retired.

Others are mad at Boggs because he played for the New York Yankees, our longtime rivals. Honestly, one can’t blame Boggs for leaving. Like any player in his position, Boggs wanted a World Series ring and frankly, the Boston Red Sox weren’t showing a level of skill that was going to get them to a World Series. Not to mention the Red Sox weren’t willing to give Boggs the contract he deserved to resign with the team in 1993. Boggs had many good years left in him, which he proved when he joined the Yankees, but the Red Sox refused to honor that, with Boggs being one of many good players the team has lost in years past. Let’s hope that lesson is something Dave Dombrowski keeps in mind when Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt’s contracts end.

Another legend will join the ranks of Boston greats when the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ number on May 26th! The ceremony will start shortly before the 7:05 game against the Colorado Rockies.

Boston Breaks Out Bats in Clean Sweep

The Red Sox offense has been on fire lately, torching the Oakland A’s for 40 runs in a clean sweep this past week and racking up 17 more in the first two games of this weekend’s four-game set against the Houston Astros. Boston now leads all of baseball in runs, hits, doubles, slugging, total bases, and OPS while hitting .296 as a team, looking like the murderer’s row that made three straight playoff appearances from 2003-2005.

Boston Breaks Out Bats in Clean Sweep

Monday marked the unofficial start of spring in Boston as temperatures in the city pushedClean Sweep 70 degrees, which, along with a return to Fenway’s cozy confines, seemed to help the Olde Towne Team break out of their mini-slump. After scoring just nine runs in their Mother’s Day weekend series at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox kicked off their home stand in grand fashion, pummeling the A’s 14-7.

That set the tone for the rest of the series, which saw Boston batter Oakland for 13 runs and 16 hits in the middle game, followed by 13 more runs and 17 hits in the series finale as they put the finishing touches on their clean sweep.

Though every Red Sox player contributed in some form or fashion, Jackie Bradley, Jr. was the star of the series with a pair of six-RBI games, continuing his recent breakthrough at the plate.

New Opponent, Similar Results

Boston’s bats didn’t cool off when Oakland left town. The Red Sox greeted the Houston Astros with another offensive outburst on Thursday, pounding last year’s AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel for eight runs on 10 hits in six innings. They later added three more runs to their ledger against Houston’s bullpen, breaking double digits for the fourth night in a row. Every Sox starter notched at least one hit, which had been the case the previous night as well.

Boston’s streak finally came to an end Friday night, as the Sox lost (there will be no clean sweep of Houston) after scoring “only” six runs on 11 hits. It looked like they might reach double digits again after getting halfway there in the second inning, but they scored only once more the rest of the way. Perhaps the evening’s rain dampened their bats as well as the field.

But with warm weather and plenty of sunshine forecast for the weekend, Boston looks to finish its home stand with a flourish. With thumpers such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Colby Rasmus, and Carlos Gomez, among others, the Astros have a thunderous lineup that rivals Boston’s, so the Sox will need to keep up the pace to continue winning. Seeing as how Houston’s pitching staff ranks last in the AL in hits allowed and second-to-last in runs allowed, that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Jackie Bradley Improving Offensively

Jackie Bradley improving offensively has been a very positive sign as the Boston Red Sox enter the second month of the 2016 season. Bradley has been susceptible to criticism surrounding his offensive game throughout his young career. In 2014, he hit below the Mendoza line, with a .198 batting average in 423 at bats. 2015 was a career year for Bradley, finishing with a .249 batting average. One typically wouldn’t consider that Jackie Bradley improvinga career season, but for Bradley, it certainly was. Coming into the 2016 season there were still question marks surrounding Bradley’s offensive production. Was his 2015 season just a fluke or was it his coming out party?

After the first month of the 2016 season, the answer to that question reflects the latter. In fact, he seems to be getting even better as he sees more at bats and his true coming out party may still be ahead. Bradley hit .272 in the first month of the year, including a clutch game tying double off the monster against Masahiro Tanaka this past weekend in a series that the Sox swept against the New York Yankees.

Jackie Bradley Improving: What’s next?

Bradley’s walk rate has been inconsistent. He has been above the major league average in walk rating two of the past three seasons and is below the major league average so far this season, walking just 6.5 percent of the time. Hitting out of the nine spot in the order, drawing walks is ultra important to set up lead off man Mookie Betts with a favorable position at the plate. If Bradley draws more walks, he will set up more run scoring opportunities for one of the game’s best young hitters in Betts. Betts provides more power than Bradley, offering some of the quickest hands in the game today. While Betts has shown more power than Bradley up to this point in their careers, last year’s interim manager and Red Sox bench coach, Torey Luvullo, believes Bradley can turn into a 20-30 homer guy at the big league level.

When interviewed by the Boston Globe’s Jason Mastrodonato last season, Luvollo said “What Jackie’s showing us right now tells me he can hit 20 to 30 home runs. Mookie’s right at 15 to 20. Rusney with a full season could hit 15 to 20, as well. For me, it’s about the production and their ability to produce runs and create runs. The home runs are a product of good swings, and they’re thrown, not hit — taking advantage of mistakes.” Those are some very high expectations for a player that hit just .198 two years ago. I see Bradley as a guy who will hit .270 with 15 homers and 70 RBI’s at his peak. Clearly the belief is there in the clubhouse for Bradley becoming a force at this level. Will he fulfill their belief? These next couple seasons will answer that. 

Still just 26 years of age, Bradley is entering his prime years as a baseball player. These improvements have been a welcoming sign for both the team and Bradley’s future as a major league player. The question with Bradley is no longer whether or not he can hit major league pitching, but rather how much better he can get at doing so. This year will be a big year for Bradley as he is eligible for arbitration next season. An impressive season will enable him to demand more money from the team in the off-season. Bradley has earned the respect defensively and it is time for fans to start respecting him offensively as well. However, don’t be expecting 30 homers from this guy anytime soon.

The 2016 Red Sox are Slowly Taking Shape

Dave Dombrowski has been in power on Yawkey Way for less than two weeks, but key pieces of the Red Sox’ future are already falling into place on his watch. Perhaps more by luck than judgment, Boston seems to have stumbled across solutions at first base and in the outfield for 2016, providing some much-needed clarity and enabling the front office to concentrate on the elite pitching that is so desperately desired.

2016 Red Sox

Hanley Ramirez, the enigma wrapped in a conundrum, worked out at first base prior to Tuesday’s game in Chicago, with David Ortiz and coach Brian Butterfield teaching fundamental aspects of the position, such as footwork. The plan is for Ramirez to have a “crash course” in first base play as 2015 winds down, and perhaps entering some Major League games at the position, with a view to the slugger becoming the full-time first-sacker in 2016.

This is a logical move by Dombrowski and the Red Sox. Ramirez transitioned to left field from shortstop after signing a four-year, $88m contract with Boston last winter, but the experiment has been a total disaster, with almost every advanced metric ranking the Dominican as by far the worst fielder in all of baseball this year. Even from a fan’s viewpoint, watching Ramirez play left field has been excruciating; his lack of range and agility plain for the world to see. Moving forward, first base, a less demanding though still complex position, would appear to better suit Ramirez, who won’t hurt the team as much in an area requiring less range.

Similarly, moving Hanley to first allows the Red Sox to go with a dynamic arrangement of Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo in the outfield, which should excite fans immensely. We’ve seen fleeting glimpses of this trio playing together, and the result have been fantastic.

Castillo has looked like a very good Major League player on his latest tour of duty, hitting .391/.426/.625 in August, while Betts continues to blaze a trail with phenomenal Red Soxproduction. Meanwhile, Bradley Jr. finally looks to have discovered the formula for hitting at the big league level, with a .344/.427/.734 slash line in August complimenting his sensational defense, which, replacing Hanley’s incompetence, will turn a current weakness into a standout strength for the Red Sox.

This move will also make the roster more nimble and sustainable. Bradley Jr., Betts and Castillo have a combined age of 25, meaning the Red Sox could have an outfield stocked with five-tool players about to enter their prime years together. When coupled with Blake Swihart at catcher and Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation, Boston appears to have a strong core of cost-controlled, homegrown stars.

Thus, despite an awful win-loss record and perhaps another last-place finish for the Red Sox, Dombrowski has inherited a neat framework around which to add external upgrades. Throughout his illustrious career, the new President of Baseball Operations has always excelled at acquiring elite, veteran talent, and he will probably look to do the same here in Boston.

Who he pursues, and through what means, is obviously unclear right now. A bonafide ace has to be the top priority, as Dombrowski has already hinted, but Red Sox fans can rest assured that, finally, after a torturous journey, the young core seems to be ready. Moreover, an attempt at solving the Hanley Ramirez problem is underway, as Boston primes itself for a genuine revival, rather than another false dawn, in 2016 and beyond.

Give Jackie Bradley Jr. a Chance

I’ve changed my tune on Jackie Bradley Jr. in the past few weeks.  Last season, and even into the start of this year, I was not particularly high on him because he was like me when I played baseball: Good in the field, but terrible at the plate. At the start of this year, I would have been happy with Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo as the starters in the outfield, with guys like Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava, as well as Brock Holt, filling in as needed.

But that was before Hanley Ramirez proved to be terrible defensively and Rusney Castillo Jackie Bradley Jr.started down the most expensive minor leaguer path. Shane Victorino’s injury problems are no surprise – it was the same story last year, but it looks like he may be back soon.

My change of heart on Jackie Bradley Jr. mainly started with the first 2 guys, though – Ramirez and Castillo. Both guys are massively underperforming, given what they are getting paid. Ramirez can’t play defense to save his life, and Castillo can’t seem to adjust to Boston at all. As I said earlier, he could be on track to be the most expensive minor league player in history.

Right now, I say give him a fair chance. The only other time he was up, he didn’t get a hit, but he only had 11 at bats and 3 of those at bats came against Felix Hernandez. It’s hard for a lot of guys to get hits off of Hernandez, so it’s hard to fault him there. I would say give him a fair chance this time around, because he can only be an improvement for the Red Sox at the moment. It would be pretty hard for the Red Sox to get any worse than they have been, and at the minimum, his glove will help. But I think it will end up being more than that. He has been looking more comfortable at the plate already, so I say see where it goes.

Because when you’re all the way down, the team can only go up, right?

Jackie Bradley Jr. In Pawtucket, But Not For Long

jackie bradley jrOn Monday, the Boston Red Sox made a tough decision and sent center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to AAA Pawtucket. In response, they called-up rookie Mookie Betts. Although Bradley is now in the Minor Leagues, that is not where he belongs and he will not be there for long.

In 112 games for the Red Sox this year, Bradley has slashed .216/.288/.290 so far on the year. Also, 29.33% of his hits have been for extra bases while he has swiped eight bags on eight attempts. He is by far the best defensive outfielder in the league however, as he has yet to boot a ball in 927 innings in the outfield while he leads all of Major League Baseball in assists with 13 which is unheard of for a center fielder. Numbers like these in the field scream Gold Glove. Defense, of course, is not the reason why Bradley was sent down — it hardly ever is the reason why a player is demoted.
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The most logical answer of why Bradley was sent down is because of his bat. He recently overcame an 0-for-35 slump at the plate which seems to be the most likely cause of his demotion. Take out that stretch and he is hitting .228 which is not great, but much better than .216. Since then he was 5-for-16 at the plate in the past week good for a .313 average. Although that is a small sample size, it indicated that his bat was starting to come back around at least a little bit. Now he has the chance to continue his momentum at the plate in a low-pressure environment.
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Although the front office must not be too happy with the way he has been hitting lately, he is not out of the picture entirely. Most likely, he will be called back up to the big club on September 1st once rosters expand and include upwards of 40-men at the big league level although teams hardly ever go this high. Essentially, Bradley has about two weeks in the minors before he is back up playing center field for the Boston Red Sox.