Sox Rotation Looks Good to Go for Season

NEWS: The Red Sox optioned RHP Kyle Kendrick to minor league camp on TuesdaySox Rotation morning, (3/28/17). Kendrick is a 32 year old veteran starting pitcher who has spent most of his career with the Phillies so far. He went 3-0 this spring with an ERA of 2.17. Kendrick will look to make his way back to the big leagues (for the first time since 2015) if there are pitching-struggles along the road. With this move, the Sox rotation is looking set to start the 2017 campaign.

Red Sox Rotation as of Right Now

One of the most anticipated areas throughout the entire Sox organization this season is the starting rotation. After the team acquired LHP Chris Sale, Red Sox Nation rejoiced over our potential big-three. LHP David Price is now expected to miss some time to start the year, which means that trio will have to wait. Even though this is the case, the Sox rotation is looking better than ever. The staff is led by reigning Cy Young award-winner Rick Porcello, who went 2-0 in 3 starts in Spring Training. Chris Sale will then enter into the #2 spot in the rotation. Sale went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 26 K’s over 21.0 IP this spring. Sale will look to adjust to the American League East this season, coming originally from Chicago.

Back Half of Sox Pitching Rotation

Since David Price will not be in the rotation to start the year, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will fill in at #3. E-Rod will be looking to break out in his age 24 season after a successful spring. Rodriguez went 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA with 16 strikeouts. Though Rodriguez is still young, he is gaining valuable big league experience that will help him down the road in his career. The knuckleballer Steven Wright is expected to be in the 4-spot in the rotation come regular-season time. Wright missed time last year after injuring his shoulder while pinch running in a game last season. He will look to bounce back from his injury after pitching rather well in Spring Training. Wright did not allow an earned run in 9 &1/3 innings pitched this preseason.

The final spot in the rotation looks to be Drew Pomeranz’s to start off the season. Pomeranz is looking to make new impressions in Boston after having a disappointing second-half for the team. He spent some time in the bullpen, and it looks as if that is where he will spend some time this year once Price returns. Pomeranz was 0-1 this spring with an ERA of 9.0 in 8 IP.

No matter what, the Red Sox will have viable options throughout their organization to produce for them on the mound. The big-three will be fun to watch, but even if we can’t see that for a little while, the team should fare well enough without it.

For Red Sox Fans, There is Plenty to be Excited About

It’s still cold outside, but the Red Sox warmed Bostonian hearts on Opening Day, beating the Cleveland Indians 6-2. Naturally, we shouldn’t get carried away, as this team still has more question marks than exclamation points, but it was pleasant to watch the Red Sox dominate once again. It was fun to see this new-look team coalesce as one, behind a game plan that worked to perfection.

Red Sox

Most notably, there was David Price, the genuine ace for which Red Sox Nation has yearned. The imposing southpaw pitched six solid innings of two-run ball, allowing just five hits while striking out ten. Yet, aside from the numbers, there was also tangible excellence to Price’s pitching and a palpable excitement among those watching him. With pinpoint control, he hammered the mitt of Blake Swihart. A succession of pitchers blistered over the outside edge in almost unhittable locations, and plenty of Indians were caught looking incredulously at strike three. In terms of debut performances, Price could hardly have scripted it better, given the freezing conditions in Cleveland.

There was also the continued emergence of Mookie Betts as a true superstar. Mookie launched a laser two-run homer and made a dazzling defensive play in right field, leaping high to snare a knuckling liner over his head. Betts brings a phenomenal dynamism to this Red Sox team, which makes for truly compelling viewing.

Elsewhere, David Ortiz celebrated his final Opening Day by clouting a long home run, reminding us all why we love him and that sweet swing so much. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez collected two hits and looked comfortable at first base, and Travis Shaw weighed in with an RBI. Every Red Sox batter except Dustin Pedroia and Swihart had at least one hit, with five guys tallying more than one. Then closer Craig Kimbrel came in to shut the door with two strikeouts in the ninth. It was just a very promising day all around.

Of course, it was just one game in a marathon season, a mere raindrop in the ocean. But, without doubt, there is a different buzz and energy to this Red Sox team. There is an excitement that has been missing for some considerable time. The fascination surrounding Price’s starts may be reminiscent of that enjoyed by Pedro Martinez in his prime. Similarly, there’s a chance Ortiz could make history every time he steps to the plate, while the young core is totally enthralling.

Yes, the bubble of optimism could burst with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello up next in the starting rotation, but Red Sox fans should accentuate the positive. After so many years of struggle, at least they have hope now. They have a dominant ace. They have an elite closer. They have a legendary slugger chasing records and a group of rising stars ready to inherit his mantle.

They have a chance to be really, really good. And after so long in the basement, that has to feel good.

Predicting Mookie Betts’ Future Numbers

Mookie Betts

It’s often foolish to make predictions about young players with a paucity of big league experience, but anybody who has watched the opening salvo of Mookie Betts’ career knows just how much the kid makes you dream.

Barely sixty games into his enthralling Red Sox tenure, the 22-year old Betts has already left a significant footprint in Boston sports lore. For instance, last August, he became the youngest Red Sox player to hit a Grand Slam in 49 years. Similarly, just last week, he became the team’s youngest Opening Day lead off hitter since Rico Petrocelli in 1965, and its youngest Opening Day center fielder since Tony Conigliaro in 1964. Moreover, Betts’ bomb off of Cole Hamels made him the third-youngest player ever to homer for the Red Sox in a sMookie Bettseason opener. Quite simply, he’s doing things which very few people his age have ever done, setting the tone for the fabled Red Sox and garnering nationwide attention.

But, more than that, Mookie is chasing history, thanks to an awe-inspiring start that has the baseball universe wondering just how far this precociously talented starlet may go. Accordingly, it’s only appropriate that we have a little fun with the numbers, and try to project, moving forward, what records Betts may break, and where his career may wind up, in a historical context.

Right now, through the first 59 games of his Major League career, Mookie has a .281/.355/.446 slash line, with 63 hits, 14 doubles, 7 home runs, 26 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 24 walks and 38 runs scored. By extrapolating that performance to represent a typical 162-game season, we see that Betts will, on average, produce 173 hits, 38 doubles, 19 home runs, 71 RBI, 27 stolen bases, 66 walks and 104 runs scored per year, numbers which ought to garner him a smattering of MVP votes.

However, the real fun begins when we expand that baseline seasonal output to represent a 15-year career. For instance, if he played fifteen full seasons at the present rate, Mookie would wind up with 2,595 hits, 570 doubles, 285 home runs, 1,065 RBI, 405 stolen bases, 990 walks and 1,560 runs scored. Presuming he stayed with the Red Sox for life, those numbers would place him 3rd, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 1st, 5th and 3rd in franchise history in the aforementioned, respective categories.

Yet, due to his early arrival in the Major Leagues as a 21-year old, Betts figures to have a legitimate opportunity to play more than fifteen full seasons. Thus, for arguments sake, let’s extrapolate his average baseline numbers to encompass twenty full big league seasons. The results? A remarkable 3,460 hits, 760 doubles, 380 home runs, 1,470 RBI, 540 stolen bases, 1,320 walks and 2,080 runs scored. That’s more home runs than Joe DiMaggio, more RBI than Mark McGwire, more stolen bases than Ichiro Suzuki, and more hits than Honus Wagner, Willie Mays and Tony Gwynn.

Of course, I’m aware the math is more than a little flawed, and, yes, I know it’s highly unlikely that Betts’ career will follow such a linear track. But, just for a moment, as he blazes a trail through the American League, it’s tremendous fun to marvel at the numbers and daydream about the potential. According to the somewhat skewed, yet nonetheless entertaining, projected career stats, right now, in Mookie Betts, the Sox have a cornerstone player with Jeter’s stroke, Manny’s patience, Rice’s power, Bonds’ speed, and Vlad Guerrero’s clutch production, which begs one question: who on Earth would trade all that for Cole *Bleeping* Hamels?

Portland Sea Dogs Win Home Opener Over Fightin Phils 4-2

Portland Sea Dogs

Jonathan Aro pitched three shutout innings in relief of Luis Diaz to earn the win and Keury De La Cruz got the scoring started with a 3-run home run in the bottom of the first inning, propelling the Portland Sea Dogs to a 4-2 Opening Day victory on Saturday against the Reading Fightin Phils.

After guaranteeing baseball would be played at Hadlock Field for Opening Day Portland Sea Dogson Thursday, April 9, the Portland Sea Dogs were forced to push back their home opener two days because of inclement weather. Fans who had tickets for the April 9 contest will receive two tickets for future games.

Sea Dogs’ third baseman, Mike Miller, led off the bottom of the first with a single to center field, and second baseman, Carlos Asuaje, followed with a nine pitch walk. After Henry Ramos popped out to Phil’s third baseman, Gustavo Pierre, Keury De La Cruz drilled a hanging breaking ball to right field for a three-run home run off Reading’s starter and MLB.com’s 38th ranked prospect, Aaron Nola.

Portland would add their fourth and final run of the contest in the bottom of the second inning. After first baseman, Jantzen Witte, drilled a two-out double to left field, Mike Miller hit a line drive single to left field to drive him in.

Boston’s 28th top prospect, according to SoxProspects.com, Luis Diaz, who turned 23 years old on April 9, got the start for Portland and performed well pitching four innings while allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Jonathan Aro came out of the bullpen in relief and pitched three shutout innings, allowing a hit and a walk, while striking out one, en route to his first win of the season.

Due to the inclement weather postponing Thursday and Friday’s attempts to open the season, this game was played as part of a single admission double-header on Saturday, with both contests scheduled for seven innings. The Sea Dogs dropped the second game to Reading by a score of 9-0 to split the twinbill.

A Deep Red Sox Lineup is Farrell’s Biggest Weapon

Red Sox lineup

As Boston pounded Philadelphia on Opening Day, churning out eight runs on nine hits, baseball fans were reminded how, despite incessant worries of porous pitching and overcrowded outfields, the Red Sox have a stacked lineup this year that will be extremely difficult to navigate.

Red Sox LineupThree of the first four hitters, namely Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, combined for seven hits, five home runs and eight RBI, largely off Cole Hamels, one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball. Such a profound offensive barrage sent shock waves reverberating through the American League.

Meanwhile, David Ortiz, playing first base in a National League park, and newcomer Pablo Sandoval, making his Red Sox debut, went hitless and registered six strikeouts between them. The fact that the Sox hammered the Phillies despite two key guys struggling shows just how deep the Boston lineup is, and how frightening it will become when all of the aforementioned hitters, plus Mike Napoli, find their groove.

The hypothetical top six of Betts, Pedroia, Ortiz, Ramirez, Sandoval and Napoli is quite possibly the most fearsome in all of baseball. It forces a pitcher to deal with a wide array of threats, from the speed and dynamism of Mookie to the switch-hitting and raw power of Pablo; from the patience and hunger of Pedroia to the experience and production of Ortiz. Even Hamels, an elite ace, struggled out of the gate on Opening Day, when faced with the prospect of running Boston’s offensive gauntlet, causing many people to sit up and take notice.

This year, the Red Sox’ lineup will wear down a lot of pitchers and, judging by the early results, collect a lot of big hits. Following a dismal 2014 season, during which Boston lurked near the bottom of every offensive category, it will be a welcome relief for fans to finally have hitters to believe in and rely upon.

It must also be a pleasant change for manager John Farrell, who now has the luxurious ability to mix and match his lineup. For instance, if Ortiz struggles to hit for average, Ramirez could easily move up in the order, just as Pedroia could move down to be replaced in the two hole by Shane Victorino or Xander Bogaerts, further lengthening Boston’s attack.

Certainly, the Red Sox stand out as an offensive force in the American League East, and, if healthy and consistent, the string of prolific hitters atop their lineup could negate the lack of pitching depth to make Boston a serious contender, especially playing their home games at hitter-friendly Fenway.

Regardless of how the season ends, be it with celebrations or commiserations, Sox fans can rest assured that the start was explosive, exciting and entertaining. For the first time in a long while, Boston was back in the baseball spotlight, garnering positive attention for an offensive onslaught rather than negative criticism for hitting profligacy.

Quite frankly, Ben Cherington couldn’t have dreamed it up better.

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.