Red Sox’ Injuries Plague Team into Bad Stretch

It seems that the Red Sox can not catch a break when it comes to staying healthy. Drew Red Sox' InjuriesPomeranz left his most recent game after experiencing left-forearm tightness, while Marco Hernandez banged up his shoulder just the other day. This is a team that is looking to turn things around after losing consecutive series to Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. If it weren’t for a late Mookie Betts home-run on Thursday, we would have been swept by Travis Shaw’s Brewers. The Red Sox’ injuries have been coming fast and furious so far, and hopefully can come to an end soon.

Are the Red Sox’ Injuries to blame for hitting rough patch?

Pomeranz, Hernandez, Stephen Wright, Pablo Sandoval (surprisingly), Brock Holt, and Hanley Ramirez have all faced injuries this season. Meanwhile, David Price, Roenis Elias, Tyler Thornburg, and Carson Smith have not appeared in a game yet this year. Going into this season, arguably every one of those names were ones that were going to make a huge impact this year. Sure, there is still plenty of time for some of these guys to contribute. Dave Dombrowski is going to have to make a decision soon, though. The inconsistencies in the lineup, bullpen, and back-end of the starting rotation all start with the injuries.

Red Sox’ Injuries or Red Sox’ Slump?

With a lack of depth in the roster due to injuries, several players have hit their own cold spells. Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr have slumped in their respective roles because they have so much pressure on them to succeed. Last year, Porcello went under the radar for a decent amount of the year before ultimately winning the Cy Young. Bradley was able to alleviate stressful situations last season because there were more guys in the lineup who could get RBI. Are these guys slumping because of the added pressure that injuries bring, or because they simply are struggling? The same question can be asked about Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi, who started the year off hot, but have cooled down tremendously, (as the injuries have rolled in). Only time will tell if the Sox will break their rut, but a little more luck with health wouldn’t hurt either.

Which Red Sox Player Has The Most Swag?

At this point, we’ve all seen the #WinDanceRepeat routine. We’ve all seen the Salt Bae’s Red Sox playerand the cool hairdos. But which Red Sox player has the most swag?

Is it Benintendi with his flow and boyish good looks? Or is it Mookie and his Jumpman cleats? Maybe JBJ and his janitor throw and sexy walk-up songs? The possibilities are endless, especially in the outfield.

Part of me wants to say Hanley is the Red Sox player with the most Swag because of the ease by which he hits and his obvious enjoyment of life. But I’m also partial to Xander Bogaerts and his plethora of arm sleeves and other baseball gear.

What about the pitchers? I see Chris Sale and his ultimate “I’m in charge” attitude as being a keystone of Red Sox player swagger. Although David Price, when healthy, can also walk to the mound like no one will stop him.

Perhaps the best way to settle this is by letter grading the current lineup.

Red Sox Player Swag Grades

Dustin Pedroia: It’s hard to have the grit he does and also nonchalant swag, but he can still make everything look cool and easy. Swag Grade: B

Andrew Benintendi: His hair and schoolboy demeanor bode well with his social media presence and dance moves. Swag Grade: A

Mookie Betts: The way he snarls, bowls, and throws the salt bae leaves little to be desired. Add that to his hot bat and Jordan brand apparel. Swag Grade: A+

Hanley Ramirez: The guy has sweet braids, baggy pants, and a whole lot of power. Swag Grade: B+

Mitch Moreland: Other than a cool nickname, not much there. Swag Grade: C-

Jackie Bradley Jr: A strong arm mixed with great athletic instincts yields little complaints. Swag Grade: B+

Pablo Sandoval and Marco Hernandez: No. Swag Grade: D

Brock Holt: Yes. Yes. Yes. Brock Star for life. Flow bro to Benintendi. Swag Grade: A-

Christian Vazquez: Another strong arm, good music taste. Swag Grade: C+

Sandy Leon: The Venezuelan Santa Claus is everything you want in a mythical figure. Swag Grade: B

Chris Sale: Don’t interrupt him and don’t give him the wrong clothes. For that reason. Swag Grade: A-

David Price: Cool dog, Tennesee accent, nice shoes. Swag Grade: A

Overall Consensus: The Red Sox player with the most swag is probably Mookie Betts. Maybe a future award will be called MSFP (Most Swag-Filled Player)

Good luck there, Mike Trout.

The Red Sox Need A Consistent Lineup

Minutes after I finished musing about manager John Farrell’s strengths, I realized that the Red Sox lineup is very inconsistent. One minute I look up and Dustin Pedroia is hitting sixth. Then I look up again and he’s leading off.

red sox lineup

Likewise, I feel like I’ve seen a different outfield combination every night. Granted there’s been a lot of injuries, but it’s still not helping the team’s lack of hitting. There needs to be a change. One of the reasons why the Red Sox lineup succeeded so much in 2016 is because it was consistent. Sure, you had a platoon in left field and an occasional off day, but it was predictable. Now, I look up and I see seemingly a different catcher and third baseman every night. Not to mention left field/center field.

For a team that is already missing the offensive production of David Ortiz, a solid and cohesive lineup is essential for success. Let alone the impact on defense. Here are my suggestions.

Red Sox Lineup Suggestions

  1. Keep Pedroia and Betts near the top of the lineup. Preferably leadoff and third respectively.
  2. Continue to bat Benintendi second, as he seems to be handling the pressure well, batting .327.
  3. Hanley stays in the clean-up spot. The guy hits bombs and is the only real power threat on the team other than maybe Betts.
  4. Put Mitch Moreland fifth because he can slap the ball the other way to drive in runs.
  5. Bogaerts needs to stay in the six hole, even though he’s one of the best hitters on the team. I think it suits him well to hit after Moreland matchup wise as well as RBI wise.
  6. Whether the third baseman is Sandoval, Hernandez, Holt, or whoever, they should bat seventh, again mainly based on match-ups.
  7. Jackie Bradley, who’s been struggling offensively this year, should bat eighth unless Leon is catching, then Bradley should bat ninth.
  8. Should Vazquez be catching, he should bat ninth.

Top Ten Current Red Sox Players: Part 2

In part two of this series, I will continue to look at the top ten Red Sox players on the roster in all positions. The rankings are based mainly on performances from 2016 and early 2017.

Top Ten Red Sox Players

  1. Craig Kimbrel.

 He joined the Red Sox as part of a blockbuster trade in November 2015. Since then Craigred sox players Kimbrel has had an immediate impact on the club’s late-game success. Some may be quick to point out the walks or the non-save situations. But he converted 31 out of 33 save opportunities in 2016 and has a career ERA of 1.86. So far in 2017, he has seven saves in the Red Sox total 11 wins.

  1. Xander Bogaerts

            There is no doubt that the Aruban shortstop will be a stud for years. Bogaerts has become a solid defender in recently. This season, Bogaerts is second on the team in average and is set to drive up the RBI total because of where he bats in the lineup. The only question that remains is how likely the Red Sox are to resign him. Bogaerts is a Scott Boras client.    

  1. Andrew Benintendi

            Almost every scout in baseball agreed that Benintendi was the number one prospect entering the year. Maybe it is premature to slate him as the third best player on the Red Sox, but with the maturity and poise he has, it’s deserving. Although he has struggled in some clutch situations, the 22-year-old outfielder is batting .361 on the season with 26 hits in 18 games. Recently against the Orioles, he had a five-hit game.

  1. Chris Sale

            Considering the price spent to acquire Sale and his tremendous track record, Red Sox fans should keep having high hopes for the tall lefty. In four starts, Sale has an ERA under one and 42 strikeouts. That is 19 higher than any other teammate. This is an average of 10.5 K’s per start. If he can get some more run support from the offense and benefit from the return of Price, then we’re looking at another Cy Young Award run in Boston.

  1. Mookie Betts

Personally, I was appalled that Betts did not win the American League MVP in 2016 because he led the league or was ranked in so many categories, including runs, batting average, doubles, and RBI. Not to mention his repeated multi-home run games. So because of his ability to change the game at the plate and his acrobatic defense, Betts is the best player on the Red Sox.

Red Sox Rally To Beat Pirates In Makeup Game

The Boston Red Sox played an exciting make-up game against the Pittsburg Pirates Thursday afternoon. It started off rough for starter Eduardo Rodriguez. The southpaw surrendered a home run to Andrew McClutchen in the first inning to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. The thin and dejected crowd at Fenway Park settled into their seats to watch what they thought would be another loss. But a Red Sox rally in the bottom of the 8th changed all that. This important victory represented so much more though. The offensive and defensive strategies used in this game are exactly what the Sox need to use from now on. It’s exactly what will help dig them out of holes.

Down 3-1 going into the 8th, Hanley Ramirez’s double drove home the winning run. A replay,red sox rally however, showed that the Pirates catcher tagged Mookie Betts before he could touch home plate. So instead of Betts representing the winning run, he was out and the score remained tied. After the Pirates intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogarts hit a go-ahead single to right allowing Ramirez, who had advanced to third, to score the winning run.

The Red Sox Nation erupted in cheers.

This victory was unique in that it didn’t turn into another lazy loss. More often than not fans have seen the Red Sox fall behind, and stay there. Rallies late in the game often come up short. John Farrell would have untested players pinch hit only to see them fail to get on base. Pitchers couldn’t retire the side and had to come out. At times, watching the Sox fall behind was like getting caught in quicksand. The more they struggled, the deeper they sank. So it was good to see that change, even if it was only for an afternoon.

Red Sox Rally Possible In Part to Christian Vazquez’s Defensive Skills

The Red Sox offensive wasn’t the only thing on fire yesterday. Christian Vazquez displayed a level of skill behind the plate that was a show in its own. Vazquez threw out Starling Marte at second in the 6th. What made Vazquez’s cannonball throw to second all the more impressive was that Marte stole 47 bases last year with an 80% success rate. Vazquez did it again in the top of the 9th, this time against Adam Frazier. Vazquez has thrown out 46% attempted base runners, definitely not a number to ignore.

Red Sox Nation saw the kind of solid offense and defense needed to win games. While Eduardo Rodriguez stumbled out of the gate in the 1st, he and the subsequent relievers managed to get it together long enough for Craig Kimbrel to save the game. And while opposing teams will now have a better idea of the team’s strengths and weaknesses, the Red Sox can also use this opportunity to reassess what works when they’re trying to rally.

The team has been on the receiving end of criticism about their inability to bounce back later in games. The Red Sox rally over Pittsburg showed that may no longer be the case.

No One Will Ever Replace Ortiz

Who will replace David Ortiz? It’s a burning question fans in Red Sox Nation have been asking since “Big Papi” officially retired last October. Ortiz gave so much to the Red Sox over the course of his career, including three World Series Championships. Perhaps more importantly, he gave the city hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Since the early 2000s, Ortiz was a staple in the Red Sox lineup. But it’s time for those who are searching for his replacement to face facts: No one is going to replace Ortiz.

It is true that the Red Sox now have a tremendous amount of young potential. Mookiereplace ortiz Betts nabbed himself a Gold Glove. Xander Bogaerts proved himself as an offensive and defensive asset. Jackie Bradley Jr. finally found his stride at the plate. Andrew Benintendi is poised to take over left field, a position once held by Red Sox legend Ted Williams. There’s no doubt they will soon be a part of another World Series team. None of these players, however, will replace Ortiz.

Ortiz’s love for Boston is what makes him so famous and beloved. Ortiz is not pompous. He never let his teammates slack off. He is a source of pride for all of Boston. Many Hall of Famers can’t claim that status. In fact, Ortiz stands alongside Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski not only as Red Sox legends, but as legends of the game. They weren’t just players who hit .300, accumulated home runs, and led their own teams to the World Series. Like these men, Ortiz came through in clutch situations to win. Who can forget the 2013 ALCS when he smacked that home run into the bullpen?

When Ortiz stood before the Fenway faithful and declared “This is out f–king city!” in the wake of the marathon bombings, he became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance in a time of uncertainty. Ortiz’s words gave Bostonians, as well as Americans, the shot in the arm that it needed in the wake of such tragedy.

Like Williams and Yastrzemski Before Him, No One Will Replace Ortiz

I spoke to former Red Sox second baseman Rico Petrocelli last month for an article I’m writing about Carl Yastrzemski. He discussed the pressure Yastrzemski faced when he took Ted Williams’ place in left field. Despite this task, Yaz went on to have a distinguished career of his own. Yaz carved out his own legendary place in Red Sox history and no one can replace him. The same principle applies to David Ortiz.

So stop looking at the upcoming trade deadlines for Ortiz’s replacement. He’s not coming. Like Williams and Yastrzemski before him, no one can replace Ortiz.