Is Manny Machado the Missing Piece?

Red Sox fans know that July 31st is always an important date on the baseball calendar. It is the non-waiver trade deadline. The big prize this year will presumably be Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. Machado is having his usual MVP caliber year hitting over .300, with more than 50 runs batted in at the halfway point. He will be a free agent this offseason and will inevitably demand a big payday. The Orioles are already 29.5 games back and will likely look to get assets for their current star this summer.

Orioles general manager Dan Duquette wants a current promising major leaguer in anyMachado package. Usually, the Red Sox have a lot of assets and clout at their disposal during this time of year, enough to make a generous offer for such a player. However, most of those prospects have been either promoted or traded. Top prospects Michael Chavis, unfortunately, is suspended for PEDs and Jason Groome is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the main pieces in any deal would probably be from the big league club.

With young star players such as Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi seemingly off the table, the logical name becomes Red Sox third baseman, Rafael Devers. Devers gives the Orioles some young pop, the talent now and for the future. Meanwhile, Machado, who has third base experience, could slide to the hot corner and not only improve the offense, but the defense. He’s a gold-glover at that position, meanwhile, Devers currently leads the position in errors.

Manny Machado Could Be the Missing Championship Piece

The problem with Machado is the impending free agency. Devers is under team control and the Red Sox will be risking taking on the free-agent to be and him not signing long-term with the team. However, that risk may be worth it considering how much he would improve the team this season. Dombrowski would want to have an initial talk with Machado about a framework of an extension, before dealing Devers. Devers is too good to let go for a rental.

The other caveat, of course, is Machado’s recent disdain for the Red Sox organization. Last year he was involved in the Red Sox-Orioles second base, year-long confrontation with Pedroia. This could be an issue. Many thought Machado went in too strong at second and Pedroia wasn’t happy. That caused a back and forth between the teams, with pitchers throwing at different batters, causing Machado to say “I’ve lost respect for that organization”. Now that seems to be a distant memory. The Orioles are almost irrelevant and Machado probably wants a shot at playing for a title. Also, Alex Cora is now at the helm for the Red Sox, not John Farrell. This could change Machado’s thoughts on the franchise.

Who On the Red Sox Is All-Star Worthy?

Summer is almost here which means it is almost time to start talking about the MLB All-Star Game. This season the game will be held in Nationals Park, in Washington D.C. Each year, fans can cast their ballots and vote for whoever they want to see start in the game. However, the rules state each team must be represented in some way. Players, coaches and a final fan vote determine the rest of the rosters. Major League Baseball gives weekly updates all June on the voting. The first installment is very Red Sox friendly. So who might be representing the Red Sox in the All-Star Game?

Boston outfielder Mookie Betts leads all vote-getters with roughly 100 thousand moreAll-Star votes than second place Angels’ Mike Trout. J.D. Martinez leads all potential designated hitters. J.D. currently holds the DH lead in front of New York’s Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, both Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi remain in the running

It’s easy to pencil in Martinez and Betts as Red Sox all-stars. Betts is hitting a gaudy .350 while approaching 20 home runs and 40 RBI. He is doing so all while missing two weeks earlier this month, for “backside tightness”. Martinez looks like an early favorite for MVP, as he has already eclipsed the 20 home-run mark and looks destined to have one of the best statistical seasons of all-time for a Red Sox player.

Are Red Sox Fans Getting the All-Star Vote Right?

Xander Bogaerts not being shown in the all-star vote of top 5 of shortstops is puzzling to me. Xander has changed his approach at the plate. Under new hitting coach Tim Hyers, Bogaerts already has nine home-runs. He had a total of 10 in 2017. Hyers has preached launch angle and “hard contact”. The results of that new approach are not going unnoticed. Xander looks primed to have one of the best offensive seasons for shortstops in the American League this season. The problem for Bogaerts is the competition at that position. Star names like Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor are currently the one and two leading vote-getters, respectively, at the position. Star power is certainly going to hinder Bogaerts’ chance to win the all-star starting nod.

First-base seems to be an anomaly this year. There are less ‘big name stars’ occupying the current top 5 spots. First base is annually very tough competition for any player due to the production and name value at that position. Cabrera and Pujols are some of the usual suspects of all-star names thrown around for first base. However, they are both aging, their skills are noticeably regressing and Cabrera is injured. That is opening the door for guys like Moreland to get the nod. Currently, Moreland ranks second in votes to White Sox’s Jose Abreu. Moreland started the year on the bench because of Hanley Ramirez. Now Mitch is hitting cleanup for the Boston lineup. He already has double-digits in the home run column and has hovered around a .300 average all year.

We will keep an eye on the All-Star Game voting updates for sure. Get your all-star votes in Red Sox fans!

 

Steven Wright Needs A Permanent Rotation Spot

The Boston Red Sox are in a tight battle with the New York Yankees for superiority in the AL East, and that won’t change anytime soon. It’s time to stop letting Drew Pomeranz take the mound and give Steven Wright, one of the league’s only knuckleballers, a permanent spot in the starting rotation.

Steven Wright joined the Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2013. After acquiring the Steven Wrightknuckleballer from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Lars Anderson, the Sox only used Wright in ten contests over his first two seasons with the club. Wright found a niche in 2015 as a reliever, going 5-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 appearances. After a last-place finish in the AL East that year, the Red Sox entered 2016 with a revamped starting rotation. Wright was a part of this makeover, and he capitalized on his first season as a full-time starter. In 24 starts, he went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA, 127 strikeouts, and four complete games. Wright’s breakout 2016 season also landed him a spot on the American League All-Star Team.

After consecutive last-place finishes, the Red Sox went 93-69 in 2016 and looked to have mended their rotation with the signing of David Price, the CY Young season of Rick Porcello, and the rise of Boston’s newest knuckleballer. Wright’s reign was short-lived, however. The following May, he underwent surgery to restore cartilage in his left knee and missed the remainder of 2017.

His problems followed him into the 2018 season. In March, the league suspended Wright for 15 games for violating the MLB’s personal conduct policy. Having completed his suspension on May 14,  Wright returned to his ballclub, but without a starting job. The culprit? Drew Pomeranz, who became a starter in Wright’s absence in 2017.

I will give credit where credit is due. In 2017, Drew Pomeranz looked every bit deserving of a spot in the Red Sox rotation. He went 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 174 punchouts and was a key cog in helping the Sox replicate their 2016 record of 93-69. And to begin this season, there was no justifiable reason to demote Pomeranz. He pitched as well as Wright did in his All-Star season, if not better.

Steven Wright Got His Groove Back

But now, over 60 games into the year, Steven Wright needs his spot back. Drew Pomeranz has allowed at least two earned runs in every single one of his starts this season. In eight starts, he is 1-3 with a staggering 6.81 ERA. And most recently, the team placed Pomeranz on the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left bicep. Steven Wright made his first start of 2018 on June 5th against the Detroit Tigers. Throwing seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and just two hits, he reminded everyone what they’d been missing out on. On June 11th, Wright followed it up with another scoreless start against the Baltimore Orioles, surrendering just four hits in six innings of work. The knuckleballer has not allowed a run in 22 consecutive innings, and his ERA is down to 1.21 on the season.

The numbers alone are compelling enough. The knuckleball is a rare commodity in today’s MLB, and Wright’s superior numbers and novelty pitch make him all the more worthy of a starting job for this team.

Who Will Be The Red Sox All-Stars This Year?

The 2018 All-Star game is still over a month and a half away but speculation about who the Red Sox All-Stars will be is already heating up. Let’s take a look at a few likely candidates for the Red Sox 2018 All-Star team.

2x Red Sox All-Star Mookie Betts

It’s a safe bet that Mookie Betts will make the 2018 All-Star team. He’s hitting .359 with ared sox all league-leading 52 runs as well as 17 home runs. Betts is also in the running for the American League MVP (if he can stay healthy). As someone who sportswriters compare to Mike Trout, Betts will not only make the All-Star team, but he’ll become a Red Sox legend in years to come.

1x Red Sox All-Star J.D. Martinez

Anyone who says Martinez won’t make the All-Star team doesn’t know baseball. He’s leading the league in home runs (20) and RBIs (52) and has a .317 batting average as of June 6th. A modern-day Johnny Mize, Martinez knows how to hit the long ball, and he’s already fitting in better in Boston than Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval ever did.

Andrew Benintendi

If Aaron Judge hadn’t made his debut last year Andrew Benintendi would have been the American League Rookie of the Year. He hit 20 home runs last year and already has 10 this year as of June 6th. He’s a fan favorite in Boston and it’ll be a surprise to Red Sox Nation.

6x All-Star Chris Sale

While some are concerned about Chris Sale’s performance so far this season, he still has 110 strikeouts for the season. Many are speculating that Alex Cora is pacing Sale this season, hence why we’re not seeing him repeat last year’s numbers. Regardless, he’s an All-Star.

Red Sox All-Star Honorable Mentions

The Red Sox are such a good team this year, which makes it hard to pick more than just a few. But some honorable mentions that are worthy of an All-Star team include Xander Bogaerts, Craig Kimbrel, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello. Bogaerts is hitting below .300 but he’s still a solid hitter. Kimbrel is always good for a save. Mitch Moreland would surely make the All-Star team if he got more playing time. With Hanley Ramirez gone that might happen. Rick Porcello’s performance is reflecting his 2016 numbers. Regardless, the Red Sox seem to finally be playing with the determination and energy we saw back in 2013. That’s the year they won the World Series.

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.