Ortiz Declines Ceremony in Tampa

As the regular season dwindles down, David Ortiz experiences his final stops in Major League cities. Each final go-around brings about a new ceremony for Big Papi; creative gifts and giant checks have come home with Ortiz seemingly every road trip. This Sunday, however, Ortiz chose to focus on a more serious matter in his final stop to Tropicana Field: his late friend Jose Fernández.

The baseball world was shaken Sunday morning with news of the death of one of its budding Ortiz declines ceremonyyoung stars, José Fernández of the Miami Marlins. Fernández was one of the best young pitchers in the game, winning the Rookie of the Year in 2013. His meteoric rise often drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, and Clayton Kershaw. The 24-year old Cuban defector had plenty of character outside of baseball, too. He was once imprisoned for trying to leave Cuba and, once he was able to leave, he saved his own mother from drowning on the voyage to America.

Fernández was killed in a boating accident around 3 AM along with two other friends. The news spread around the sports world, effecting not only the Marlins but Miami, as well as all of baseball. In the Red Sox clubhouse, no one was more likely effected than the retiring designated hitter.

Ortiz and Fernández were good friends; the young star idolized Big Papi growing up. Ortiz and Fernández’s friendship was on full display in this summer’s All-Star Game in San Diego. Fernández reportedly told him he’d “groove him” a pitch that he could hit, but instead walked him. The two exchanged laughs and Ortiz even tried to convince him to come to Boston in free agency.

Ortiz Defers The Day To Fernández

Of course Ortiz was stricken with grief as he prepared for his final game in Tampa Bay. Instead of an elaborate on-field ceremony, as has become customary, Ortiz said he’d rather accept his gifts privately, leaving the day to celebrate Fernández. To honor him, he put the initials “JF 16” on his hat. Every team held a moment of silence in memory and Ortiz got emotional in the Red Sox dugout.

As far as his gifts, Ortiz got an oil painting of his 500th home run which he hit in Tampa last September, and 34 handmade cigars. They were presented to him in the bowels of the Trop by Evan Longoria and Chris Archer of the Rays. So, say what you want about these retirement tours and David Ortiz, but he definitely let his class take over this time. For Big Papi, and so many around the MLB, Sunday was a shocking reminder of the fragility of life and he handled it in the classiest way he could have.

Kudos to you, Papi.

Will the Red Sox Pursue Jose Fernandez?

Let’s face it. The Red Sox pitching isn’t as bad as people think, but it needs work. The level of expectation placed on David Price wore him out. Price is among the league’s leaders in strikeouts and has racked up nine wins as of July 19th. His ERA over 4 and his seven losses, however, are more than people expected. Rick Porcello and Steven Wright are marching closer to becoming the team’s top two pitchers. If the Red Sox pursue Jose Fernandez, however, it would be the missing piece in the Red Sox rotation. The Red Sox Nation should pay attention to this potential move, especially since David Ortiz recently commented that this idea should become a reality.

Why Fernandez? There’s a few good reasons the Red Sox should pursue him. First, inRed Sox Pursue Jose Fernandez 3,685 starts, Miami Marlins’ pitchers have had only four games with 14 strikeouts. Fernandez, however, has pitched four games with 14 strikeouts in only 65 starts. Since his debut in 2013, Fernandez has accumulated a 33-13 win/loss record with a 2.44 ERA. Fernandez was Rookie of the Year in 2013 and is already a two-time All-Star. In four seasons, Fernandez has accumulated over 500 strikeouts. On top of all that, he’s one 23 years old. Fernandez hasn’t even entered the prime of his career yet. Put him in a rotation with Price, Porcello, Wright, and Eduardo Rodriguez, and you’d have a much stronger pitching staff.

Right now the best way for the Red Sox to pursue Fernandez is through a trade. The Red Sox minor league farm system is packed with both offensive and defensive talent. While I’d hate to see him go, Michael Kopech is a hot prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He can throw 105 MPH and has the potential to become an ace (If he can stay out of trouble). Yoan Moncada recently had his first multi-homer game with a total of seven in 21 games with AA Portland. He’s also a switch-hitter, a valuable skill any team would appreciate having. Offering both of these prospects to Miami would be a difficult deal to turn down.

Whatever happens, if the Red Sox pursue Jose Fernandez, they’d only be strengthening their own staff. Fernandez is a prime pitcher, and he’d make the team’s rotation a solid defensive powerhouse.

Yes, Ramirez Can Play First Base (For Now)

The 2016 season is still young but many in the Red Sox Nation are cautiously optimistic about Hanley Ramirez. Since moving to first base, Ramirez has shown consistency at the plate and in the field. As of April 22nd, Ramirez hasn’t committed an error. In fact, Ramirez is starting to re-establish himself as a superstar, one that fans in Boston may come to respect for years to come. So far, Ramirez can play first base!

“We have a player, I think, completely different than a year ago,” Red Sox manager FarrellRamirez can play first base told MLB.com’s Aaron Leibowitz. “He’s engaged, he’s having fun playing the game, [and] I think being back on the infield has been a big boost to that. He’s doing one heck of a job.” Ramirez had played third base and shortstop with the Miami Marlins, and Los Angeles Dodgers before signing a four-year $88 million contract with the Red Sox in November of 2014.

While Ramirez had a decent start to the 2015 season, his season went downhill after a May 4th game against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the top of the first inning, Ramirez crashed into the Green Monster trying to field a catch, spraining his left shoulder. By September, Ramirez was sporting the worst defensive rating in the league, leading then-interim manager Tory Lovullo to pull him from his outfield position (just another sign that Lovullo should replace Farrell sooner than later).

The Red Sox have been struggling recently, first against the Toronto Blue Jays, who managed to overcome setbacks in two of the four games between the two to split the series, and now with Tampa Bay, who took two wins out of three games in the series on April 21st. The Sox were held to one hit during the first of a three-game series against the Rays that started on April 19th, and lost in the 10th inning. The third game on April 21st saw Boston take an early lead before David Price gave up eight runs in 3 and 2/3 innings before Farrell yanked him from the game, which the Red Sox lost 8-5. While the Red Sox are starting to slip back into a familiar pattern from last season, one of the shining glimmers of hope the Red Sox Nation can look forward to is in Hanley Ramirez’s command of defending first base. He continues to show a strong and consistent ability to play first base, giving the Red Sox Nation something to pin their hopes on as the season progresses.

Latest on Dustin Pedroia

Amidst the Red Sox recent hot streak, one player is still conspicuously absent: de facto captain Dustin Pedroia. He’s eligible to return for this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees, but the question remains: Will he?

He was taking ground balls before Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins, and testingDustin Pedroia his hamstring with change-of-direction drills as well. That’s definitely a good sign, but I’m sure the Red Sox are thinking about not rushing him back with the All-Star Break coming up versus having him back in the lineup. Before he had gone on the DL, he had been hitting at .306 with 9 home runs, and had been swinging a pretty hot bat (.350 in the month of June until the injury).

So, what do they do? If it were me, I wouldn’t rush him—I would hold off until after the All Star Break, just to be sure. Yes, I want him back as well, but what if he comes back and does something else? He’s one of our most important pieces, and the last thing I want to see is him lost for 60 days, or the rest of the season. If the Red Sox aren’t teasing us, and this recent hot streak carries into the second half of the season, the last thing I want to see is the team captain injured for a long period while the Red Sox are trying to make a serious playoff push.

So, yes, I want him back in the lineup, but it could cost us a chance at the AL East title, or a Wild Card spot. In the meantime, I’m good with Brock Holt at second base for the time being. After all, he is an All Star. Take your time, Dustin. Personally, I would rather see you back at 100% before you make your return to the lineup.

Miami Marlins sign Michael Morse

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It looks like Allen Craig will not be taking his talents to South Beach anytime soon. The Miami Marlins were thought of as a team that might have been interested in Craig, but they got someone else for the job.
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In need of a versatile power bat, the Miami Marlins turned to free agent Michael Morse and agreed to terms with him on a two-year deal worth $16 million plus incentives.michael morse

Morse, who is set to turn 33 before opening day next season, plays both first base and left field and hit .279 with a .336 OBP in 131 games for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants this past season.
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What was really impressive about Morse last season was his power. Hitting 16 home runs in 131 games might not seem like a lot, but he also smacked 32 doubles and 3 triples, meaning that almost 42% of his hits were for extra bases.

With Christian Yelich projected to start in left field and Garret Jones projected to start at first base, expect Morse to see playing time at both positions (but primarily at first base) according to splits and performance.
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At first base especially, Garrett Jones does not face many left-handed pitchers because he struggles greatly against them.

In the outfield, it will be tougher for Morse to swing playing time, but he definitely will have his work cut out for him. In an outfield with Christian Yelich who posted a .361 OBP and swiped 21 bases this past season, Marcell Ozuna who smashed 23 home runs this past season and Giancarlo Stanton who might just be the best outfielder in all of baseball, Morse might just be the best fourth outfielder in all of baseball due to a lack of spots.
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Certainly Morse provides the Marlins with a great bat off the bench, and his signing shows that the Marlins plan to compete in the near future. He may not be serving a huge role until someone else is injured, but Morse is a big addition to the Marlins organization nonetheless.

Yasmani Tomas Works Out for Boston Red Sox

Yasmani TomasAccording to multiple sources, Cuban defect Yasmani Tomas worked out for the Red Sox Academy in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. This might not have ‘just happened’ because of the recent acquisitions of Rusney Castillo and Yoenis Cespedes; maybe the player and his agent were just in the neighborhood of the Red Sox facility and needed press to look at how he has been training since the World Baseball Classic.

Tomas was pretty solid in the WBC last year. In just six games played, he hit a robust .375 with two homers and five runs driven in. All three ranked in the top-5 for the Cuban national team.

The outfielder has shown some raw power and has been looking to sign a long-term deal this off season with any major league club that is looking for some help. The Philadelphia Phillies are supposedly the front runner for the 23-year-old.

If the Red Sox were to sign Tomas to a contract, it would be the second ever Cuban player the Red Sox have signed and only the second foreign baseball talent since the Daisuke Matsuzaka debacle.

Plus, the Red Sox could use this signing to see if the Miami Marlins would bite on a deal to send Giancarlo Stanton to the American League. The Marlins probably can’t afford the slugger for what the market will pay him, but the Red Sox have a ton of money to spend. If the Red Sox can sign Tomas to an affordable deal and can package him or maybe Castillo in a package deal for Stanton, then wouldn’t that be something?