Red Sox Set To Take On First Place Mariners

The Seattle Mariners haven’t been in first place since August of 2003. That was over fifteen years ago. I was a junior in college at the time. America had just invaded Iraq a few months earlier. Pluto was still a planet. The Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in 85 years. That’s a long time. With the Red Sox set to take on the Mariners starting on Thursday, June 14th, baseball fans will have a chance to see how the two first place teams will fare against each other. Like the Houston Astros before them, the Mariners, who have never been in a World Series before, have a real shot at winning the Fall Classic this year. That would mean defeating the Red Sox in the playoffs though. While October is months away, fans will get a glimpse of what that showdown could look like when the Red Sox travel to Seattle for the four-game series.

The Red Sox went 3-3 in six games against the Mariners last year. Rickred sox set Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez lost two of those games. But Porcello had his worst season of his career last year, and Rodriguez didn’t do much better. Both pitchers are dominating this season though. Porcello is pitching like his 2016 Cy Young Award year, and Rodrugiez is 8-1, leading the league with a .889 winning percentage. With that said, there’s a good chance the Red Sox could sweep the Mariners. While that’s not the most solid logic, it’s easy to argue that the Mariners will have a hard time against the Red Sox pitching rotation.

Red Sox Set To Show Which AL Division is Stronger

The Red Sox are currently in second place in the AL East, but are one game ahead of the New York Yankees, which is sort of confusing. The Yankees have a better winning percentage, but the Red Sox have more wins, so technically the Yankees are behind. Regardless of the standings, it’s a tangle that the Red Sox would like to free themselves from.

The Red Sox will play the Mariners seven out of their next ten games between June 14th and June 24th. If the Red Sox can take at least four of those seven games from the Mariners then they’ll stand a good chance of getting ahead of the Yankees. While the Mariners will play the Red Sox in seven of the next ten games, those three games they won’t face against the Red Sox will be against the Yankees. So between now and June 24th baseball fans could very well see a clear frontrunner emerge in the American League.

Mookie Betts is back in the lineup. The Red Sox have a dominant pitching staff. With that said, it’s very possible that the Red Sox will advance past both the Yankees and Mariners. If not though, well, there’s still the rest of the season!

This article was written a few hours before the first game in the series between Seattle and Boston on Thursday, June 14th. 

Red Sox Can’t Afford to Lose Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox felt Mookie Betts’ absence while he was on the disabled list. While the Red Sox were 9-5 while Mookie Betts was out, the Red Sox fell behind in the standings. The Red Sox could have one at least three of those five losses if Mookie had been healthy. Then the Red Sox dropped two out of three to the White Sox last weekend. If there’s one thing for sure it’s that the Red Sox can’t afford to lose Mookie Betts again this season.

There’s not many players like Mookie Betts in the majors. Players like Betts, along withlose rookie Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper, are superstars above your common all-stars today. They’re for-sure Hall of Famers as long as they continue to play the way they do. But history is full of players whose careers were cut short by injuries. As a result, they didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame. Don Mattingly is one example. He was a six-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove Winner, and the 1985 American League MVP. But injuries he sustained towards the end of his career cut his chances for induction short. Both Mattingly and Betts are already legendary in their respective communities. But the difference between the both will be whether Betts can stay healthy for years to come.

To Lose Mookie Betts Would Mean Losing Out on a World Series Championship

According to ESPN, Betts is projected to hit a career high 41 home runs and hit .354 for the season. There’s not too many Red Sox legends who’ve accumulated those numbers in their careers. Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, and Ted Williams had better numbers. Each of those three players led the Red Sox to the World Series. Ortiz achieved three championships for Boston during his tenure. Betts will be no different. But he’s got to stay healthy if he’s going to take Boston to the World Series.

Drew Pomeranz Should Not Be Starting

It is getting painful to watch Drew Pomeranz pitch every fifth day. Playing the Astros this weekend, it is easy to see the major difference for Houston between this year and last. It’s the Astros dominant rotation. With the addition of Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander now in the fold for the entire season, both of whom seem like early contenders for the Cy-Young award, there isn’t a weak link in their starting 5. For the Red Sox, it is clearly Pomeranz.

Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello all posses Cy-Young award caliber potential.Drew Pomeranz When those three are pitching at their peaks, it is hard to find a better trio in the league. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez seems to be staying healthy, continuously turning in quality starts and now has a 6-1 record. Pomeranz has not had that same reliability.

Last season, Drew Pomeranz looked like the all-star type of pitcher Dave Dombrowski thought he had acquired a year prior when he obtained the lefty from the San Diego Padres in exchange for the promising pitching prospect, Anderson Espinosa. Drew won 17 games for the Red Sox in 2017, as he was the consistent staple in the Boston rotation, along with Cy-Young runner-up Chris Sale. Pomeranz earned the nickname “Big Smooth” as he seemed confident and easy going in pressure situations. His ’12 to 6′ curveball baffled hitters, especially Yankees, as he amassed 174 strikeouts for the year. Ex Boston manager John Farrell, saw enough poise and success from the south-paw he decided to name him the “number 2” starter for the playoffs. Since that postseason start, he has fallen off tremendously.

Drew Pomeranz  is Replaceable

This offseason, the oft-injured Drew Pomeranz again didn’t make his season debut until late April. When he returned, his fastball was noticeably down in velocity. After averaging close to 92 on the radar gun with the pitch last season, it has since dipped to the 88 mph mark. His curveball didn’t have the same prototype bite to it. That late movement to the breaking ball we as fans were accustomed to seeing. Now after eight games started, it is easy to see last season may be an anomaly. Wright should be in the bullpen.

The knuckleballer Wright has been fantastic this season. He has only allowed four runs in 16.0 innings pitched from the pen. The knuckleball seems to regularly find the strike-zone. Alex Cora has leaned on him as the “innings eater” all year. Before Wright went down with an injury in 2016, he earned an all-star nod and was on his way to a dominant season. Wright often has had to pitch in long-relief this year. He routinely comes in as early as the third or fourth innings to replace the struggling Pomeranz. If Wright joins the rotation, then he wouldn’t be in mop-up duty, fewer runs would be given up early and Boston would have a better chance to win.

Designating Hanley Ramirez for Assignment Was Necessary

Red Sox fans were shocked to find out last Friday that fan favorite Hanley Ramirez had been designated for assignment. For those who don’t know what that is, it means that the player’s current team no longer wants him on the 40-man roster. He’s then either traded or released within seven days. While many are sad to see him go, designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment was the right move by the Red Sox front office.

Ramirez still has $15 million left on his contract. However, he’s due to receive another $22designating hanley ramirez million in 2019. First though, Ramirez had to accumulate 497 plate appearances this year. Since he was already at 177 plate appearances, the Red Sox knew if they didn’t let him go now they’d have to pay him that $22 million next year.

Why’s that a bad thing? To be frank, Ramirez wasn’t doing that well this year at all. He was only hitting .254 this year with six home runs and 29 RBIs. Those are low numbers for someone of his caliber. In May alone he;s only had 13 hits out of 80 at-bats for a .163 batting average. That’s close to a 200 point drop from last month when he hit .341.

Designating Hanley Ramirez for Assignment Makes More Room for Others

Dustin Pedroia recently rejoined the Red Sox after a long stint on the disabled list. The Red Sox are trying to figure out what to do with Blake Swiart. Overall, the Red Sox have too many players who can play both good offense and defense. Ramirez wasn’t one of those players though. Remember when Ramirez played left field? He played like someone stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch. Hanley was good as a first baseman but that was about it. He did well as a DH last season but Alex Cora would be nuts to put him back in that role now.

The fact of the matter remains that Ramirez wasn’t working out anymore. Instead of seeing if he’d improve the Red Sox just cut him loose. I don’t blame them. How long did the front office wait for John Farrell to improve? Too long. Designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment was a smart move on their part because it’ll allow Cora to utilize better players.

Where Is The American League Competition?

As the calendar turns to June, a third of the baseball season will have been played. Looking at the standings, it might as well end now. The American League’s best two teams may play in the east division. Those teams of course are the Red Sox and Yankees, as their historic rivalry has been renewed. The consensus other two potential A.L. World Series threats, Astros and Indians, seemingly already have their divisions locked up. Where is the rest of the A.L. competition?

The central division Indians are one game above .500 but have a 6.5 game lead on the Leaguesecond place Twins. The east division third place Rays, are already double digit games behind the Yankees and Red Sox. The lone somewhat competitive division is the west. Although it does seem to already be a lock that the Astros will win another division title, thanks in large part to their dominant pitching staff, at least the Angels and Mariners remain competitive.

The Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, and Astros, are going to run away with the American League.

Shohei Ohtani and his “Babe Ruthian” like play has sent shockwaves to the west division. Ohtani has given the Angels a much needed facelift. He has also been someone to take pressure off Mike Trout, as they try and keep up with the Astros. The Mariners and Angels look like they are going to be fighting all season for the final wild card spot. That seems to be the only playoff race.

Part of what has made baseball so great, especially recently in the last decade, has been the parody throughout the league. Low market teams such as the Kansas City Royals or Tampa Bay Rays, have reigned supreme in the A.L., both getting to the World Series in the last decade. Other sports such as the NBA seem very predictable. Fans, media members and experts, even from as early as the preseason, can pretty much pencil the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals, due to the league’s collection of top end talent.

The American League Seems To Be Top Heavy.

The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the best in sports, but while they continue to thrive and deliver an impressive payroll, other low end markets such as the Chicago White Sox, are forced to “rebuild”. In other words, forced to trade their established stars for prospects. This way teams can have more team control on promising players for longer and pay them less. The Chicago White Sox are currently in the process of this rebuild. They currently have just 15 wins almost a third of the season through. Obviously with less wins, come less fans. It seems that these lower market teams, like Chicago, have completely empty ballparks and declining intrigue.

Teams who do not have money due to lack of revenue, can not spend on established stars, therefore can’t keep up with the stalwarts of the top markets. This is leading towards a top heavy league.

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It’s Time to Start Playing Sandy Leon More Often

After defeating the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Boston Red Sox improved to 38-17. That is the best record in Major League Baseball, and good for a 2.5 game lead in the AL East. The offense continues to flourish, and this team is giving fans every reason to be excited. Lost in all this excitement is an issue at the catcher position. Specifically, the lopsided playing time between Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon.

In 2015, Vazquez underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. This isSandy Leon when the Sox brought in Sandy Leon from the Washington Nationals. It was not until 2016 when Vazquez and Leon began their timeshare behind the plate. Leon appeared in 78 games to Vazquez’ 57. And for good reason. Leon batted .310 with 78 hits that year and provided solid production from the catcher position. His average regressed to .225 in 85 games the next year. Vazquez capitalized, notching 99 starts and batting .290, both career-highs. The timeshare worked with success, as neither emerged as the true alpha catcher.

And now, 55 games deep into the 2018 season, Christian Vazquez has logged 39 starts to Sandy Leon’s 22. But the results are not at all a reflection of 2017. Vazquez is only batting .188 with 6 RBIs and no home runs. That average comes out to a meager 26 hits in 138 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Leon is batting .254 with more RBIs (8) and home runs (2) than his counterpart.

Granted, Vazquez has proven to be more valuable behind the plate than next to it. However, aside from steals, the numbers are nearly negligible. Vazquez is 5-12 on steal attempts with a .992 fielding percentage and three errors. In comparison, Leon is 0-8 with a .995 fielding percentage and only one error.

With very similar defensive skills, the Red Sox must look at who can contribute more to the team as a whole. With Hanley Ramirez designated for assignment last week, the team must do something to sustain the offensive production that has got them to this point. That point being the best team in Major League Baseball. Sandy Leon’s ability to hit for power, past success at the plate, and relatively superior numbers this year make him every bit worthy of more playing time.

Then there’s always Blake Swihart, but that’s a different, and much more complicated, situation.