With New Red Sox Veteran Core, Prospects May Excel

red sox veteran

During the public autopsy on the disastrous 2014 Red Sox, plenty of theories were offered as to why the team just totally fell apart. Persistent injuries, under-performing coaches and World Series hangovers were all cited, but one important factor was often overlooked: Boston’s lack of a star veteran core.

Previous Red Sox teams always had a nucleus of superstars on which to rely for Red Sox Veteranleadership. In 2004, it was Schilling and Martinez. In 2007, Ortiz and Ramirez took center stage. In 2013, how about Pedroia and Lester? Traditionally, these Red Sox veteran players provided a cornerstone around which the front office could build; a bedrock in which fans could believe; and a framework to which rookies could adhere. In essence, they were the heartbeat of the Boston Red Sox.

However, once Lester was traded and Pedroia got hurt last year, The Olde Towne Team found itself short of bona fide stars for the first time in living memory. Yes, Big Papi was still around, launching homer after homer, but even the most ardent sentimentalist must admit he is no longer among the elite. Thus, the Sox found themselves in a bind.

The lack of star power not only hurt the team commercially, but also in philosophical and leadership sense. After years of consistently developing homegrown Major League stars, the system spluttered somewhat in 2014, with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks and Anthony Ranaudo all struggling to adjust to the big leagues. This, I believe, can be largely attributed to the lack of a robust veteran core in Boston for the first time since the 1990s.

Previously, raw rookies could venture to the Majors and blend into the background somewhat, growing acclimated while the established Red Sox veterans—stars—soaked up attention and carried the burden of production. For instance, when Pedroia was promoted, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were there to inform and advise, promote and protect. Similarly, Jacoby Ellsbury felt less pressure due to the presence of Jason Varitek, JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis. In both cases, the young guys weren’t expected to be immediate superstars, because the Sox already had that covered.

However, last year, who could Bogaerts learn from? Who could Bradley Jr. look to for advice and guidance? Aside from an increasingly surly Papi and an increasingly injured Pedroia, there was nobody to teach the neophytes, nobody to deflect the overbearing scrutiny, and nobody to lead a rudderless ship.

Thus, in 2014, the Sox had a galaxy of homegrown stars but, unlike years gone by, there was no sun about which it could orbit. Accordingly, the planet fizzled and died a horrid, 91-loss death.

Therefore, it was pleasing to see the Sox address their dire need for star power this winter, acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to effectively re-grow the Red Sox veteran core and erect a new frame of reference for the team’s philosophy. Now, with genuine superstars attracting much of the attention and doing a majority of the heavy lifting, perhaps Bogaerts, Betts and Swihart will be afforded a little more breathing room. Liberated from the instant need to provide leadership and create drama, perhaps they’ll finally flourish as prospects, becoming stars in their own time and fashion, just like Ellsbury and Pedroia before them.

Joe Thurston to Play and Coach for Sea Dogs

JOE THURSTON

After going hit less in eight at-bats for the Boston Red Sox in 2008, Joe Thurston is back in the organization. Recently signed to a Minor League deal, Thurston will be doing more than playing; his contract also has him in a coaching role as well.
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Currently, Thurston is listed on the Portland Sea Dogs roster as a player, so it is likely that he will stay there and mentor players this season. Currently, he is not listed on the coaching staff as one of the three coaches on the team, but it is clear that Boston did not bring him back for his playing abilities.

Last playing Major League Baseball in joe thurston2011 (one game for the Florida Marlins), Thurston is long gone from the big leagues, although having him in the organization could prove helpful for the Red Sox. In his big league career, he is a lifetime .226 hitter with a .305 OBP— playing the bulk of his time in the show with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.

He showed off all sores of versatility, manning second base and third base in addition to the outfield. In the minors, he also saw significant playing time at shortstop.

This past season, Thurston played for two teams in Mexico where he showed that he can still hit but then again, the pitching in Mexico is of a poor quality compared to Minor League Baseball in America.
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Since Thurston was such a versatile player back in the day and the Red Sox value versatility (as do most big league teams), perhaps they brought in Thurston to not only help players as they try to make it to the big leagues, but to help them improve their versatility— adding to their value.

As for still playing the game, he will most likely serve as a roster filler on the team, only playing when the Sea Dogs need a body in the field and in their lineup. Certainly, he must be getting paid more than he did back in his Minor League playing days.
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Eighteen years ago, the Red Sox picked him in the 45th round of the MLB draft, but he did not sign.

Manny Being…a Consultant?

manny ramirez

Manny Ramirez has joined the Chicago Cubs as a hitting consultant and will help mold the minds and skills of the young Cubs prospects. Team President Theo Epstein also hired another former member of the Boston Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis, to his staff as a scouting and player development consultant.

Theo must be stockpiling ex-Red Sox players and personnel.  Manny and Youk join General Manager Jed Hoyer, Director of Scouting Jason McLeod, and ex-players DarnellManny Ramirez McDonald and Ryan Dempster as former Red Sox personnel working in the team’s front office.

Then there are the half-dozen former Red Sox on the Cubs’ spring training roster, headlined by Jon Lester, as well as outfielder Ryan Sweeney, catcher David Ross, first baseman Anthony Rizzo (a one-time Sox prospect,) and pitchers Felix Doubront and Drake Britton. Let’s not forget Eric Hinske, who played parts of two seasons (2006-07) for the Sox and is now the Cubs’ first base coach.

It’s Manny, though, that is most intriguing. What advice will the twice-suspended slugger impart on the Cubs kids? Apparently one of the first things Manny did in the Cubs Mesa, AZ, spring training camp was meet with all of the minor leaguers and “shared all the things I went through so they don’t go through that” according to reports.

That must have been one lengthy meeting.  What was discussed first?  Being suspended not once, but twice for PED use? How to deal with 65 year old ball club employees with diplomacy, as opposed to assaulting them when your ticket requests aren’t to your liking? How not to be accused of quitting on your team, or will he profess how to force your way into being traded? Maybe he’ll share fashion tips, on how to make baggy pants look good at Wrigley Field.

We all know he could hit, and hit like nobody else.  Maybe, though, he’ll help the young outfielders in the ChiSox system deal with the lesser known facets of playing left field, such as where to take a leak during the game.  With no Green Monster to walk into in the Windy City, the ivy might be a logical target. Then of course, Manny can teach the kids how to make cut-off plays in the outfield when they aren’t needed.

Red Sox Start New Streak; Beckett Tosses No-No and Cubs Sign Manny

Josh Beckett

Was the Panic Button at the ready? Were we ready to push that panic button? Ten losses in a row. Worst slump in 20 years! Three straight series sweeps. Two veterans on the disabled list. Maybe the only good thing to come out of loss number ten is that there was a bench-clearing incident in Tampa, and maybe, just MAYBE, that can light a spark under this team.

To add salt to the wound, Josh Beckett spun his first career no-hitter. Beckett struck out six, walked three and didn’t come close to allowing a hit against a lineup that included two former NL MVPs and four former All-Stars, as he led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-0 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia today.

For a little more salt thrown in, Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein just signed Manny Ramirez as the new player-coach for the Triple A Iowa Cubs. In a statement issued by the Cubs, Epstein said “While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.”

“If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”

Can you imagine Manny imparting advice to the Cubs prospects? “Yo, listen, when you make the show and need some time off, tell Theo your grandmother died. It worked for me three times in Boston.”

But we digress. It’s a shame that punches weren’t thrown in Tampa Sunday. That could have shaken the Sox out of their slump perhaps. The incident took place after Yunel Escobar advanced to third base on the pitch following his two-run double that gave the Rays an 8-3 lead in the seventh inning. After he was awarded the base on defensive indifference, Escobar began pointing and shouting toward the Boston dugout.

When little Yunel got his wish and the Sox dugout responded, he couldn’t hide fast enough behind his third-base coach or the third base umpire. He also wanted NOTHING to do with Jonny Gomes, who bolted in from left field. As a matter of fact, Escobar probably ran a further distance from the Red Sox than he did going from home to third.

The bottom line is this, perhaps throttling little Yunel would have been the igniter this team needs, because these are not good times for the defending World Series Champions, but with two wins in a row over the Atlanta Braves, is the tide turning?

Manny Ramirez Leaves the Texas Rangers Minor’s System

manny ramirez

Manny on the move and sometimes in disguise.

I just can’t get enough Manny Ramirez news this season. Last week it was reported that the Texas Rangers minor league team released Ramirez after picking up Alex Rios on waivers from the Chicago White Sox. I would have written about this sooner, but I have been in a state of shock that this guy still thinks he can play professional baseball. Manny will just not give up. I love his perseverance (arrogance) in the face of adversity. I wish I had an ounce of whatever it is that makes Manny tick.

What will be the next move for Manny? Will he go back to Taiwan? He seemed to only serve as comic relief for the fair people of that island country. You remember the slide seen round the world. He didn’t quite make it to second. Would another U.S. team give him another shot? It seems unlikely. Clubs do not love drama. A little funny publicity and performance is one thing, but drama will not do.

I wish Manny well. He did a great job for the Red Sox in 2004. We can never take that away from him. I just think it is time to call it a career. I’m sure he could make good money through promotions. If he wants to stay around the game maybe he could sell Franklin bases? God knows, he certainly can’t tag them any longer.

As for Rios and the Rangers this appears to be a great opportunity for both parties. Rios’ name got batted about quite a bit  prior to the trade deadline, so it was clear he was on the move. The Sox took part in a three team trade with the White Sox and Detroit Tigers, so there was confusion over whether Rios would come to us, or go to the Tigers. I hope he can make a difference for the Rangers.

Manny Ramirez Blundered Base Running in Taiwan

manny ramirez

Courtesy of latino.foxnews.com

I just could not bear leaving this precious gem of Manny Ramirez to myself.  This is “must-see-TV” for baseball fans in Boston.  As some of you may know, Manny is currently playing for a Taiwanese team. This clip is from a televised baseball game. I wonder what the Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy of Taiwan were saying during this clip. (If anyone speaks Taiwanese please let us at Yawkey Way Report know what the commentators are saying.) There is so much to say about this dash to second. First off, it is not a dash. Ramirez is not digging this one out like Dustin Pedroia. It is Manny’s typical lumbering around the bases. Then, there is the pop-up slide gone horribly wrong. Any little leaguer could have judged the timing better on this than Ramirez did. He was just way too early to the party on this one. Plus, there seemed to be some confusion by the umpires as to whether he was tagged out, got the base, or just what happened. Finally, he arrives back to the dugout, a bewildered look on his face, while his teammate and him kind of shrug in indifference. “Manny being Manny”…and Red Sox nation is glad Manny no longer belongs to us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H64GyReeD3s&w=420&h=315