Red Sox Fans Now Chicago Cubs Fans

For one month, and one month only,  much of Red Sox Nation has jumped on the Chicago Cubs bandwagon. Why? Because the Cubs have suffered longer than Red Sox fans, going 107 years without a championship. After the Red Sox waited 86 years in between championships, most of Red Sox Nation can empathize with the Cubs, and were quick to jump on their bandwagon.

And when you look at the Chicago Cubs, it’s not hard to find reasons to root for them. For Chicago Cubsstarters, ex-Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, part of 2 championships, and ex-GM Theo Epstein, who built the team who broke the “Curse of the Bambino,” are both with the Cubs now. Not to mention Manny Ramirez, who won the World Series MVP in 2004, and David Ross, who was one of the leaders of the beard movement in 2013. Second, the Cubs are loaded with young talent, notably Jake Arrieta and Kris Bryant. Those are just a couple of the things the Cubs have going for them.

But the main thing? Empathy. For 86 years, the Red Sox were in the same boat as the Cubs. While our curse involved a questionable trade, being unlucky in the World Series, a missed ground ball, and a few ill-timed home runs by the New York Yankees, we eventually broke it after 86 years. The Cubs are cursed in a different way; theirs involving a goat, a tavern, and an unfortunate case of fan interference back in 2003 in the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. So, the Red Sox and Cubs are similar in that they were both cursed for long periods of time.

Personally, I really hope the Cubs finish the job. They need to break their curse, since they’re the only team left with a “curse”, and they need to win it all. They’ll face the New York Mets in the NLCS. Go Cubs.

Red Sox Unlikely to Make Major Moves

This past season has been a massive disappointment for most of Red Sox Nation, to the point where one fan was caught on camera barfing from the right field deck during Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. But the most disappointing thing so far? Probably the fact that the team has yet to even attempt to make a major move this year. At least at this time last year, they were trying to make moves and trying to make the team better.

The return for dealing Jon Lester and John Lackey was a bad return on investment, to sayRed Sox the least, as none of the pieces they ultimately received has made much of an impact, but at least they made some kind of effort last year. This year is a different story, though. The front office hasn’t made much of an effort to even build for the future before the deadline this year, and barring something dramatic, that won’t happen this time around.

Mind you, something dramatic could still happen, but it seems unlikely that the Red Sox make a major move. Rumors are still out there that they could go after Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel on the San Diego Padres, but with the deadline this afternoon, it seems like a long shot.

I’m thinking this trade deadline will pass without the team making any major moves, which would be the worst possible outcome for the tea, but the good news is that they at least have a couple pieces to build around in the off-season, namely guys like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, but it would have been nice to see the Red Sox go out and get a veteran starter or bullpen help to make it easier, but the Red Sox would need a miracle at this point for that to happen.

The best we can hope for is that they can get someone in free agency, but that might be too much to expect at the moment.

Who Gets the Ax for the Red Sox?

The Red Sox are well on their way to a second straight losing season— the 3rd in 4 years—and Red Sox Nation is not happy. After winning 10 of 15 before the All-Star break, the Red Sox have picked up where they left off before that brief spark of hope. Rattling off 6 straight losses against the LA Angels and Houston Astros , both of which they were thoroughly outplayed.

So, who is responsible? Is it the players who have been vastly under performing? John Red SoxFarrell who can’t seem to get a grip on things? Or maybe Ben Cherington who sold off our best assets, namely Jon Lester and John Lackey, and got very little in return? Or, as I believe, a combination of all 3?

In my mind, everyone from the top down to the players has to be held accountable for the past season and a half. Let’s start with the players. The players have been vastly under performing for the most part since the start of 2014, notably guys like Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and new guys Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Those last 3 guys especially have been under the microscope given what the Red Sox paid to get them here.

While Hanley has hit 17 home runs, he has shown that he is incapable of playing left field effectively. Pablo Sandoval has been exceedingly average given that the Red Sox gave him almost $100 million. Those 2 have been so sub-par that there have been calls for them to be removed, primarily from the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley.

Castillo is on track to be the most expensive minor league player in history. When the Red Sox gave him a 7-year, $72 million contract last season, I assumed that they saw something in him that would justify that kind of money, but I was wrong. He’s hit .230 in the majors in 26 games, and spent the rest of the time in Pawtucket.

Then there’s Ben Cherington who signed them to these deals, although he clearly didn’t foresee that they would under-achieve the way they have so far. My issue with Cherington is the way he blew up our pitching rotation last year, especially with regards to Jon Lester. I, and most of Red Sox Nation, would have loved to see Lester back in a Red Sox uniform. Sure it would have been tough to achieve after the initial 4-year/$70 million offer was made, but then  Cherington pulled a deal that sent Lester to Oakland and probably killed any chance of Lester coming back!

Lastly, there’s John Farrell who can’t seem to keep any sort of grip on the clubhouse at the moment. Yes, the players are the ones who play the game, but the manager’s job is to push the right buttons and put the best possible lineup out which Farrell hasn’t been doing. He hasn’t been helped by injuries, but he hasn’t been good enough as Red Sox manager. In his first season, 2013, everything fell into place and he didn’t have to do much, but that hasn’t worked since.

So, who will get the ax at the end of the season? If the Red Sox finish last again, then the cries for heads of management will be greater than they are right now. The Red Sox better at least try and dig their way out of last—that’s all they can do at the moment.

Should The Red Sox Have Brought Back Andrew Miller?

Andrew Miller

There is no question last season the Red Sox were in sell mode and, with Andrew Miller set to be a free agent, the Red Sox wanted to get something of value for the pitcher who would command a lot on the open market. With the trade to the Orioles on July 31st, Andrew Miller stepped in and was a part of the Orioles team that won the American League East behind their lefty closer Zach Britton.

Fast forward to this past week at Fenway Park and Andrew Miller is now the closer of the division rival—first place Yankees.Andrew Miller Miller has been paired with Dellin Betances to form one of the more dominant 1-2 punches thus far in the major leagues when it comes to shutting down teams in the late innings.

The Red Sox acquired Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles in the Miller trade and he has looked great since coming over from Baltimore. Rodriguez started the year in AAA Pawtucket, but could prove to be valuable down the stretch should the Sox need a starter. With this pitching staff so far, we may be seeing Rodriguez sooner rather than later.

Obviously the Red Sox are happy they got Rodriguez for Miller, but could they have both of them? In the off-season Miller was being heavily pursued as a set-up man and closer for some teams; the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Orioles were all in the running. Miller turned down the Astros offer, who then signed Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. The Orioles were cutting payroll so, Miller likely was not returning to the Orioles in the first place. The Yankees gave Miller $36 million over 4 years and the Red Sox were left in the dust. The thought of trading Lester and then re-signing him in the off-season was made into a huge deal, but re-signing Miller should have been a big deal, in my opinion, as well.

The biggest deal in this is that Miller is still only 29 so, he still has a while to pitch and pitch well. The Red Sox bullpen so far has been over used, but they have not been impressive either. Koji Uehara, who missed the first week, has seen his velocity go down substantially and Edward Mujica has been relegated to mop up duty. Junichi Tazawa, who has been the best pitcher on the staff as a whole, is still owned by the Blue Jays and, as we saw this weekend, Alex Rodriguez. The Red Sox bullpen would look a lot better with Andrew Miller in it.

Miller now is tied for the league lead in saves with 10, two of which he got this weekend at Fenway, with a whopping 23 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. The Red Sox are the team that moved Miller to the bullpen, which he became successful in doing after some struggling years as a starter. Why shouldn’t they be reaping the rewards with a decision they made? Instead he is on the team you hate to lose to and collecting up saves and strikeouts left and right.

Red Sox Fans Watched Jon Lester Struggle Sunday Night

Jon Lester

As Red Sox fans woke up on Easter Sunday morning, they had to be excited that Spring Training games were finally over and their hometown team was opening the season on Monday afternoon in Philadelphia. Before Clay Buccholz and Sox took on Cole Hamels and the Phillies, the season opening game, on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball featured a match-up between NL Central rivals. Jon Lester took the mound for the first time with the Cubs against the Cardinals in prime time.

First off, the choice of teams was a bit of a head scratcher. The Cardinals have been one of the best teams this century, but the Cubs? Jon LesterThe Cubs have been in the basement since Steve Bartman. Why doesn’t Major League Baseball start off the season like the NFL. Have their champion open the season against a rival or a team they beat on their way to a championship? The Patriots will open the NFL season, so the Giants should have opened the MLB season.

As baseball fans tuned into Sunday’s game, some Red Sox fans may still have a sour taste in their mouth. Lester won two World Series’ with the Sox, and many fans felt as if they were teased into thinking he was coming back after a trade deadline deal with Oakland. I felt the trade to Oakland only meant that it would be easier for him not to return, after experiencing another clubhouse, and thinking, “maybe I could play somewhere else.” Lester went on to sign a six year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. The Red Sox came in with an offer substantially lower, so he walked to Theo Epstein and the Cubs, which many felt made the sour taste in their mouth that much more bitter.

The start for Lester did not go as planned. He did not get out of the fifth inning— tossing 4 1/3, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs. The Cubs continue to be the Cubs right? Obviously the Cubs have more talent than they have had in the past decade, so Lester will have better outings this season. With the report of Lester having “dead arm” this spring, one has to think the Cubs will keep an eye on Lester’s pitch count until he is comfortable, but some Cubs fans are holding their breath already while Red Sox fans should be more open-minded about not bringing Lester back.

Many fans have still not let the signing of Lester go, saying the Red Sox need an ace. Ben Cherington will find a top of the rotation starter this season. The Red Sox decided not to pay a pitcher in his 30’s premium money, a move I support. The Yankees are going through a tough time with C.C. Sabathia, as are the Phillies with Cliff Lee. Jon Lester will have some great years in the Chicago but he will also likely not be worth the money in the long run.

Why the Red Sox Need an Ace

need an ace

The Red Sox’ lack of a discernible ace has been one of the most hotly-discussed issues this spring. Whilst some fans have shown considerable frustration, a disproportionate amount have tried to glorify what is, essentially, the messy result of blowing negotiations with Jon Lester, crediting the front office for concocting a genius master plan that somehow wound up with Clay Buchholz likely taking the mound on Opening Day. Ultimately, if the Red Sox are serious about making, never mind lasting deep into, the postseason, I believe they need an ace. Right now, they don’t have one, which is a major problem.

John Farrell doesn’t see it that way. The manager has typically been very vocal in need an acebranding his rotation ‘underrated’ and expressing pleasure at his new found ability to send a proven Major League starter to the mound every day. Similarly, the media has, by and large, defended the Sox’ decision not to acquire an ace, pointing to the recent success of the ace-less Orioles and reminding people that none of the past 26 Cy Young Award winners have led their team to a World Series championship in the same year.

I understand that view. I respect that view. I just do not agree. Yes, specialized, hard-throwing bullpens and depleted offenses have diminished the need for elite starting pitching, but that need hasn’t entirely disappeared. In my opinion, every team still needs that one reliable warrior; that one defiant horse; that one true stopper anchoring the rotation. Right now, the Red Sox simply don’t have that guy.

With a 4.30 career ERA and a 1.359 career WHIP, Rick Porcello is the quintessential third or fourth starter. Wade Miley will eat innings, but his 4.34 ERA and 1.401 WHIP last year are less than inspiring. As for Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson? Well, nobody truly knows what to expect. They could be great; they could be horrible. There’s no way to tell.

What we do know is that none of those guys will overwhelm a rival lineup; none of them will throw the ball past opposing batters with consistent regularity; and none of them are likely to have an ERA below 3.00. In short, none of those guys is an ace befitting the Boston Red Sox.

I know we live in a highly analytical age, where an opinion unsubstantiated by sabermetric proof is scoffed at by the masses, but, quite frankly, I still believe there is a lot of value in the tangible, human, element of the game. Without doubt, there is value in having at least one starting pitcher everybody else is petrified of; one pitcher who opposing teams hope to avoid when they roll into town for a four-game series. Every great Red Sox team has had that scary warrior, that fire-breathing ace, from Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, to Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and, most recently, Lester. Essentially, this current crop just isn’t in the same class, which is a sad departure from tradition.

All of the aforementioned legends were extremely adept at stopping regular season losing streaks, and each wrote a brilliant legacy in the postseason, when the value of an ace becomes truly apparent. We saw it last October, when Madison Bumgarner, a thoroughbred leader, put the Giants on his back and carried them to a third World Series title in five years. After watching such an incredible display, every baseball fan asked “who can do that for us?” With the season less than two weeks away, the Red Sox are still to provide an answer.