Who Will Be the Red Sox Rivals This Year?

Everyone in Red Sox Nation took a collective sigh when the New York Yankees signed Giancarlo Stanton. As much as Sox fans hate to admit it, the Yankees are now an offensive threat to all other American League teams. Along with Stanton, the Yankees also have 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, as well as Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner, all 20+ season HR winners. But is it time for another team to replace the Yankees? If the Red Sox rivals aren’t the Yankees anymore, then who?

The Baltimore Orioles Could Be The New Red Sox Rivals

The Red Sox rival this season could be the Baltimore Orioles. Bad blood erupted betweenred sox rivalry the two teams last season when the O’s Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia in a mid-April game. While it didn’t look intentional, it sparked a string of near-brawls. The following day Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes almost hit Manny Machado in the head. A few weeks later, the Baltimore Orioles travelled to Fenway Park where outfielder Adam Jones became the target of bigots who allegedly shouted racial epithets at him. While Red Sox Nation showed respect by giving him a standing ovation at his first at-bat the following game, it did little to quell the intensity.

It Could Also Be The Rays

The Boston Red Sox fell to the Rays in their first game of the season 6-4 despite a masterful pitching performance by Chris Sale. Many in Red Sox Nation, including me, have often taken the Tampa Bay Rays for granted given that they haven’t been real playoff contenders for a while. The Red Sox pulled off a win in their home opener on April 5th, but it was a 13-inning nail biter that probably shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Think about it for a minute. Every time the Rays come to Boston, or the team goes to Tampa Bay, it ends up being a tougher series to win than anyone initially thought. So the Rays could potentially be the Red Sox rivals in secret. (This rivalry isn’t likely anymore though after Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam in during the second inning of the April 7th game at Fenway Park).

Regardless, the 2018 season is shaping up to be one of the best for the Red Sox. They’re on a hot streak, and this could potentially be a World Series year for them.

Red Sox Comeback Against Rays

In the 118 years of the program’s existence, the Boston Red Sox never started 8-1, until now. On Sunday, down 7-2 in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox scored six straight runs. This Red Sox comeback included five runs coming with two outs. Since falling to the Rays on Opening Day, the Red Sox have won eight straight and started this season better than any other team in franchise history.Red Sox Comeback

While the Sox have largely relied on their pitching through the first eight contests, it was the offense’s turn to carry the team in this one. The Rays got to starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez early on, as the lefty gave up five hits and three runs, all earned, in only 3.2 innings of work. Manager Alex Cora had to get creative with his bullpen in this one. He trotted out four different middle relievers before handing the ball to Carson Smith in the 8th and Craig Kimbrel in the 9th. In their lone innings of scoreless work, Smith (1-1) took home the win while Kimbrel secured his third save of the young season.

Red Sox Comeback Best Start in Program History

Down 7-2 in the eighth inning, Mitch Moreland got things started with his first double of the season, driving in Hanley Ramirez. He crossed the plate soon after on a double by Rafael Devers, his fourth of the season. RBI singles by Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts tied the game at 7.

Andrew Benintendi has struggled to begin the 2018 campaign, batting only .154 with 6 hits. Stepping up to the plate in a game knotted at 7, with two outs and the go-ahead run on second base, he had a chance to turn the page on his rocky start.

Turn the page he did, as Benintendi knocked his first double of the year to center field, scoring Mookie Betts and putting an exclamation point on Boston’s explosive eighth inning.

Even with all of the positive takeaway’s from Sunday’s game, the Red Sox experienced a scare in the seventh inning when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was helped off the field with a  left ankle injury. After a J.D. Martinez throw from the outfield bounced away, Bogaerts slid into the stairwell of the Rays’ dugout, unsuccessfully trying to corral the ball and save the run.

Bogaerts has been the undisputed sparkplug of the Red Sox offense so far this season. Through nine games, Xander Bogaerts has hit .368 with two home runs, including a grand slam in his 6-RBI performance on Saturday. He added one hit on Sunday before Brock Holt replaced him in the seventh inning.

Injuries Can’t Cloud Red Sox Comeback

Manager Alex Cora has said that Xander Bogaerts will be further evaluated on Monday. Not only has Bogaerts put this offense on his back, but Boston’s middle infield is already undermanned with Dustin Pedroia still recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Should Bogaerts miss any time, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt will likely man the middle infield for the time being. While solid defensive options, their bats are undoubtedly a downgrade from Boston’s hottest hitter, especially in an offense reliant on baserunners and contact. The status of Xander Bogaerts should be followed closely, as Boston’s middle infield can’t afford any more setbacks.

The streaking Red Sox, after nine games against the Rays and Marlins, will go for their ninth straight victory in their first true test on Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

 

The Xander Bogaerts Comeback Tour is in Full Swing

Since Xander Bogaerts burst onto the scene with his 2013 rookie year playoff performance, his time with the Red Sox has had its fair share of ups and downs. Having only played 18 regular season games in 2013, Bogaerts came alive in Boston’s World Series run. Batting .296 with 2 RBI, giving Red Sox Nation a reason to be excited for this young shortstop.

Xander Bogaerts

His role increased dramatically in 2014 and thereafter; he hasn’t played in less than 140 games since the 2013 season. The shortstop position for the Red Sox has been a carousel since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra in 2004, and Xander Bogaerts looked to be the man to fill the void and finally afford the Red Sox some stability at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Xander Bogaerts: Red Sox Shortstop

In 2014, Bogaerts’ first season as full-time shortstop, the 21-year-old left Red Sox Nation underwhelmed and wanting more, posting only a .240 batting average with 46 RBI in nearly 600 plate appearances.

Over the next two seasons, Bogaerts finally validated the excitement surrounding his rookie year with two consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. His batting average skyrocketed to .320 in 2015 and his RBI total nearly doubled. He showed even more improvement in 2016, driving in a career-high 89 runs and playing his way onto the American League All-Star Team for the first and only time in his young career.

Then 2017 happened. Bogaerts, battling a hand injury in the second half of the year, swung his way right back into Red Sox Nation’s doghouse, batting only .273 with a meager 62 RBI, despite playing in only 9 fewer games than his All-Star 2016 season.

The Future of Xander Bogaerts

With Boston’s significant grocery list of contractual obligations, Bogaerts’ future with the Red Sox after 2017 was uncertain. But through six games, it looks as if “X” is returning to his All-Star form.

Xander Bogaerts currently leads the team in batting average (.357), hits (10), and doubles (5). He joins Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Eduardo Nunez as the team’s home run leaders with one so far.

Statistics aside, the eye-test alone is promising enough. Bogaerts is simply hitting the ball harder than last year, despite the small sample-size. While that may just be a result of his healthy hand, it also suggests that he may have figured out his swing after his first few seasons were plagued with inconsistency.

Will he be the Red Sox shortstop for years to come? Only time will tell, as this team is no stranger to instability at his position. His explosive start to the 2018 campaign is very promising, not only for his future, but for a Red Sox offense trying to find its rhythm and compete with the firepower of the Yankees.

The Sox have their first test against their rivals this Tuesday when the Yankees visit Fenway Park at 7:10pm.

Boston Red Sox Finally Sign JD Martinez

The Boston Red Sox finally closed a deal to sign JD Martinez. After weeks of speculation and negotiation, Martinez signed a $110 million 5-year deal starting in 2018. The question now is what position will Martinez take and what will his role be with the Red Sox?

Martinez previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers primarily as asign JD martinez designated hitter. Many are assuming Martinez will take the DH role for the 2018 season, which will free up Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox suffered from a string of injuries from last season while John Farrell’s lackluster performance as manager didn’t strike confidence in the team either. Red Sox Nation is hoping Martinez’s bat will add much needed runs to the scoreboard.

Martinez hit .303 season average with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs last season, numbers that the Sox sorely need. While batters like Andrew Benintendi did well at the plate, others like Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez struggled. Steven Wright and David Price didn’t get much time on the mound either because of injuries. This combination of injuries and setbacks limited the Red Sox chances of making it to the World Series last season. But with Farrell gone, and Wright and Price healthier now, Martinez’s added bat will certainly increase their chances of winning another AL East title.

The Red Sox Sign JD Martinez, But Will It Be Worth The Price?

The Red Sox are dropping some serious money on Martinez. This amount is making some questions whether Martinez is a good investment, especially after David Price’s underwhelming performance over the last two seasons. The Red Sox signed Price two years ago for $217 million over seven years but his performance on and off the mound though has been less than stellar. While on the DL, Price made unprofessional comments about Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley after Eckersley criticized her performance during a game. But Price recently commented that “I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely. But I didn’t, and I’ve moved on.”

Red Sox Fire Farrell, Varitek Reportedly Interested

The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell today after a five-year stint with red sox firethe team. Seeing the Red Sox fire Farrell comes with mixed emotions from Red Sox Nation.Some fans credit him with the three AL East Divisions the Red Sox win during his tenure. Others, however, point to his last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015. Then there were the early exits from the playoffs this and last year. While Red Sox Nation reacted with mixed emotions to Farrell’s departure, those same fans rejoiced when they learned Jason Varitek reportedly wants to come aboard as the new manager.

 

 

 

According to NESN.com, Varitek has expressed his interest in managing the Red Sox. “Having been a part of the front office and having the ability to still get on the field everywhere that I go, I know I have more impact on the field,” Varitek was quoted as saying in the article. It goes without saying that hiring him would come as a very welcoming move. Varitek, a Red Sox Hall of Famer, was a tenacious Red Sox catcher and on-field leader. His spar with Alex Rodriguez in 2004 is immortalized throughout Boston. He is widely popular throughout New England. In fact, hiring Varitek would be enough to erase the frustrations most fans have in the wake of Farrell’s termination.

The Red Sox Fire Farrell After Five Rollercoaster Seasons

The Red Sox almost fired Farrell in 2015 but his cancer diagnosis likely kept the team from doing so. Regardless, while the Red Sox went on to win the AL East Division in 2016 and 2017, many in Red Sox Nation noticed that the team didn’t play with the zeal seen during the 2013 season. Many of the players have questioned Farrell’s leadership ability in recent months. Other fans have often wondered what Farrell was thinking when he’d start a weak pitcher, or send in an inexperienced hitter to pinch hit. These issues culminated in Farrell’s eventual termination. Personally, I think it’s a smart move. The Red Sox have been a boring team to watch for the last few years, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that the players aren’t playing with the same enthusiasm that players in Chicago, LA, and Washington play with. Farrell wasn’t an inspiring manager.

Seeing the Red Sox fire Farrell opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for his replacement. Some say Hall of Famer Tony Larussa might come out of retirement and take over. Others say the Red Sox might take a chance on Brad Ausmus, who was recently fired by the Detroit Tigers. But Varitek? Most in Red Sox Nation wouldn’t have a problem with that. He’s fierce, competitive, and he certainly would make watching the Red Sox a lot more interesting.

I say go for it!

Sam Kennedy Leading Efforts To Rename Yawkey Way

The Boston Red Sox announced in August that they wanted Yawkey Way renamed. Their concern stems from a racist legacy left in the wake of Tom Yawkey’s ownership. As of today, a Boston Red Sox-themed Instagram page titled “bostonstrong_34” with a following of over 91,000 users posted that Red Sox President Sam Kennedy confirmed the team’s efforts to eventually change the street name. With Sam Kennedy leading the efforts to rename Yawkey Way, it’s clear that this change could come sooner than later.

In a book coming out on Yawkey titled Tom Yawkey: Patriarch of the Boston Red Sox,sam kennedy leading author Bill Nowlin explores the man that very few know or understand. In an article published by prosportsdaily.com, Nowlin stated that “I never once found any evidence that Yawkey was personally racist. Nor did interviews with several dozen Sox players, including Pumpsie Green and Reggie Smith, turn up any such a suggestion. I looked for a smoking gun, and couldn’t find one.” That doesn’t mean he was without flaws. In an e-mail message to me, Nowlin elaborated, “He owned 100% of the team, and on 24 hours’ notice he could have ensured the Red Sox had an African American ballplayer. The facts show that the team was institutionally racist up until at least 1959 – though it’s also only fair to note that so was every newspaper in Boston, and many other institutions as well.”

I recently discussed this topic in an earlier post. I wrote that the Yawkey Way name should stay in place. While Tom Yawkey owned the Red Sox when they became the last team to integrate, I don’t believe Yawkey himself was a true racist. Of course, this does not excuse him from any blame or responsibility for the team’s legacy under his ownership. While Tom Yawkey wasn’t exactly a Civil Rights Leader, he wasn’t a racist. So while Yawkey bears the responsibility for the team’s racist history during his tenure as owner, it’s difficult to place him at the same level as the KKK as many are insinuating. With Sam Kennedy leading the charge on this move, I am disappointed because I don’t think he thought about this idea very thoroughly at all.

Sam Kennedy Leading A Dishonest And Very Flawed Effort

Yawkey wasn’t perfect; far from it. But he was also a very generous man who didn’t collect on loans he gave to his players, both black and white. To me, this suggests that he may have evolved in his views on race for the better.

To rename Yawkey Way is to suggest that people can’t change. What’s the point of educating others about the dangers of bigotry if we don’t recognize the effect it has? Do we continue to call someone a racist even if they eventually changed their views? What do the stories about how generous Yawkey was towards players say about him? It certainly doesn’t excuse him from any responsibility regarding the team’s stance on integration before 1959. But it’s also not a good excuse to rename Yawkey Way.

Kennedy wants to rename Yawkey Way for the wrong reasons. He wants a scapegoat that he thinks will alleviate the focus on the Red Sox messy record on integration. He is also exploiting a very serious issue in America. He’s trying to make the team look like they care about combating bigotry in America. While I don’t doubt his sincerity, I feel he would have made this move years ago if he felt this way.