Sonny Gray is the Missing Piece to the Red Sox Rotation

The Boston Red Sox are on a historic pace offensively. However, some nights even the offense is incapable of bailing out the runs given up by the starting rotation. With Price rounding into form to go along with the solid seasons put together by Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, the Sox are two starting pitchers away from being serious World Series contenders. One of those starters is Eduardo Rodriguez who is nearing a return in theSonny Gray rotation. The other starter should be Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray, a guy the Sox must target at the 2016 MLB trade deadline.

Gray has had his struggles this season after posting a 2.73 ERA last season. The Sox
offense recently lit him up for seven earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. However, the talent is there and the resume is there with Gray. He’s had two consecutive seasons with over 200 innings pitched and has been a reliable arm for the Athletics. He comes at a reasonable price for the Sox as well.

Gray is under team control through 2020. The Sox would likely have to ship out one of the top prospects in our farm system. The guy I would ship out would be Andrew Benintendi, the outfielder who was just recently promoted to Double A Portland. Benintendi would provide Oakland with a centerfielder to build an offense around. While it would be tough seeing Benintendi go, the Sox have the guys in place to deal him away. After all, starting pitching is essential to winning a world series.

Without a strong starting rotation, it is very tough to win it all, even with an offense as potent as the Red Sox. With Gray and Price, the Sox would have a solid one-two punch at the front end of their rotation, something the Sox have lacked for years. Acquiring him would also slide Porcello into the third spot in the rotation, a much more comfortable place for him to pitch. Porcello would be followed by Rodriguez and Wright in a very improved starting rotation. The pieces are there to pull it off, the question is whether or not Dave Dombrowski will do it.

Will Ortiz Actually Retire?

There’s no doubt that David Ortiz is having one of the best seasons of his career. With 9 home runs, 29 RBIs, and a batting average over .320 in the wake of a three game series against the Oakland Athletics, many in the Red Sox nation are asking: Will Ortiz actually retire at the end of the season?

“No, I’m retiring,” Ortiz told ESPN in a tone suggesting that he’s dead set on making his season his last. While he’s onWill Ortiz Actually Retire track to post great numbers this season, probably with an all-star appearance thrown in for good measure, Ortiz wouldn’t be the first Red Sox player to finish his career on a good note. In 1960, at the age of 41, Ted Williams finished the final season of his career in Boston with a .316 batting average and 29 home runs, including a home run in his last at-bat. Even Babe Ruth left Boston with high numbers in 1919 by leading the American League in runs, home runs, and RBIs before going to the New York Yankees. Yes, leaving Boston on a high note seems to be a tradition for seasoned Sox players.

Many who believe that Ortiz is retiring after this season point to the idea that he most likely wants to finish his career on a high note. After all, many players in the Baseball Hall of Fame played a few years too long and their career batting averages took a hit as a result.  On top of wanting to leave on a high note, there’s also the idea that there’s really nothing left for David Ortiz to accomplish. Of course, he could stay on and break Ted William’s team home run record of 521, but that would be a drop in the bucket compared to the accolades he’s already accumulated in his career. Ortiz has three World Series rings, he’s in the 500 Home Run Club, he’ll be a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021, and his status as a Red Sox legend is already etched in stone.

So when people ask me, “Will Ortiz actually retire?” I’ll say yes, because the man has done his job for Boston and it’s time for him to move on to other things in his life.

Fenway Park Netting a Necessary Eye Sore

Officials at Fenway Park extended the safety netting down the first and third base lines before the season began in an effort to keeps fans safer from broken bats and foul balls. While the Fenway Park netting is definitely an eye sore (for a short while), I think it’s also important for the sake of the fans.

Grumbling about the netting has been loud and clear from the Red Sox Nation. HorrorFenway Park netting writer Stephen King, a Maine native and season ticket holder, wrote an opinion piece for the Boston Globe about the netting: “There are questions inherent in the decision to net…Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?” While King makes a solid point about whose responsibility it is to stay safe at a game, last season saw a few injuries that show there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself of flying objects.

In a game against the Oakland Athletics last June, Oakland’s Brett Lawrie’s bat shattered on a groundout to second. Pieces of the bat flew into the third baseline seats, severely injuring a fan who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The woman sustained cuts to her face and forehead causing severe bleeding. The following month saw another woman get hurt, this time by a speeding foul ball during a game against the New York Yankees. Thankfully, both fans recovered.

Fenway Park Netting Isn’t So Bad

There’s some cases where there’s only so much a fan can do to protect him or herself from flying projectiles.  Sometimes you’re just in the line of fire and with limited mobility can be hard to get out of the way. More than once I’ve seen fans try and catch foul balls going over 100 mph with their bare hands, only to leave the game with an icepack covering their palms. This is why I always bring a baseball glove (no foul balls caught yet). But then there are those who are constantly on their cellphones taking stupid selfies and posting pictures of their $9 hot dogs to Instagram. Those are the people who really need to pay attention because they’re the ones who are most susceptible to getting knocked out by a foul like Drew Barrymore’s character in Fever Pitch.

I’ve sat behind the Fenway Park netting once or twice this season and honestly, you don’t really notice it after the first ten minutes. I’ve taken some amazing photos through the netting that hardly shows up on the photos; it’s not that thick. So while purists can yell all the want about how it takes away from the game, they should focus their anger on those who come to games only to spend the entire time taking selfies of their stupid faces for four hours.

Grading the Jon Lester, Yoenis Cespedes Deal for the Boston Red Sox

Jon LesterThe Boston Red Sox started looking toward the 2015 season with four trades at the deadline after completing two other deals earlier in the week.

The first deal of the day came Thursday morning in which Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were sent to the Oakland Athletics for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. The deal also included cash considerations sent from the Red Sox and a competitive balance draft pick from Oakland.

For the Red Sox, losing Lester is the biggest loss of the trade deadline. He was the accomplished ace of the staff—with two World Series’ under his belt as well as a 6-4 record with a 2.11 ERA in the postseason, and a 3-0 mark with  0.46 ERA in the World Series. The 30-year-old compiled 110 wins over parts of nine seasons while ranking fourth in starts and strikeouts in team history.

Both Lester and Gomes helped win the World Series in 2013 with clutch performances and both are free agents at the end of the season.

The three-time All-Star will be missed, but the Red Sox knew they could get something of value for the ace, and they did.

Cespedes has 17 home runs in 2014, which is three more than the current Red Sox outfielders combined. The Cuban slugger has 23 or more home runs his previous two seasons and is under contract until after the 2015 season due to options in his contract to avoid arbitration. If the Red Sox can strike a deal to keep the right-hander in Boston long-term, then this deal could really benefit the team in the long run.

The Red Sox were going to trade Lester due to the last place play through the first 108 games, and getting a proven power bat was great for Ben Cherington and Co. If the Red Sox can sign Lester in the offseason, while also hanging on to Cespedes, then this trade will be an A+ all the way.

Grade: A-