Too Much Pressure for Benintendi?

Andrew Benintendi broke in with the Red Sox late last season and quickly proved his worth. It was inevitable that he’d make it to Boston, but no one thought it would be so quick. The swiftness with which he rose through the minors concerned some whoBenintendi thought it was too fast. Fortunately, Benintendi proved them wrong. In 34 games in 2016 he hit .295 with fourteen extra base hits. He even hit a home run in the ALDS against Cleveland. While he is off to a strong start this season, some are asking the question, “Is Benintendi under too much pressure?”

It’s a valid question. After all, Benintendi is only 22-years old. He couldn’t even legally drink when he started his professional career. Playing everyday is a lot of pressure for anyone, let alone a rookie. Just ask Fred Lynn.

A few weeks ago I sat down with former Red Sox centerfielder Fred Lynn. As many of you remember, Lynn won the 1975 AL Rookie of the Year AND MVP awards, the only player ever to do so in the same year. He also won a Gold Glove and made an All-Star appearance, the first of nine. But he told me that he expected to do even better the following year. While he went on to collect a batting title in 1979, Lynn recalled some challenges that came along. “I was not a big guy and I thought maybe if I put on some weight or get some more muscle…,” Lynn told me. “But…the variable for me always was if I could stay healthy enough to do what I could do…that bar was set pretty high, and I didn’t mind that because I set my own bar pretty high.”

Benintendi set his own bar high too. Otherwise he wouldn’t be where he is today. However, that doesn’t mean that fans and writers alike aren’t setting it even higher.

With Benintendi Under Pressure, How’s He Adjusting?

Benintendi played the first and third games against Baltimore last weekend, but sat out the second. There was a southpaw on the mound in the second game, which didn’t bode well for Benintendi. But I think the other reason why John Farrell benched Benintendi was because Baltimore’s pitchers had figured out how to get him out. Twice Benintendi hit into a double play. While it happens to everyone, if you look at footage of Benintendi’s swing, he has a ways to go towards adjusting his swing to counter the way pitchers are going to throw to him. Pitchers and hitters trying to get the upper hand over each other is a never-ending battle. It’s even harder this day in age with all the access to footage players can review and study.

Seeing Benintendi under pressure is tough, but that’s baseball. If he’s smart, and I’m sure he is, he’ll learn how to adjust. Meanwhile, Farrell is smart to bench him against southpaws and insert someone like Josh Rutledge, who has his own potential.

 

Ding Dong City

Everyone in Red Sox Nation will remember were they where when Manager John Farrell announced that Rookie sensation Travis Shaw aka Mayor of Ding Dong City, would be the Opening Day third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.

“For right now to start the season this is what’s best for our team,” said Farrell.

The Mayor of Ding Dong City

It’s kind of hard to disagree with him, especially after the spring that Shaw had. This spring the Mayor has hit .333, 2 Home Runs, 10 RBI’s and an OPS of .886. Now for me, personally I’m a believer that spring stats don’t mean much in the sense of a preview of what’s to come. But, with that said I do believe that having a good spring CAN play you into the starting lineup, but in this case I think it’s because of something even bigger.

It’s no secret that Farrell is on the “hot seat”, so management HAS to put the best possible product on the field and that’s why we will all be seeing Shaw to open the season. Shaw came into camp hungry and ready to hit the ground running.

Who’s Hungry? Ding Dong City, is.

Sandoval came into camp hungry, hungry for snacks and the food spread and literally couldn’t hit the ground running even with his impressive 17% massive frame. So it’s almost a no-brainer to go with Shaw and see what he can give us in what could be the most important month of April in Farrell’s managerial career.

Do I think The Mayor of Ding Dong City will be the third baseman for the whole season? Hell No. Do I think this is only a temporary fix until Pablo can show some progression and improvement offensively and defensively? Yes. Shaw’s rise to the majors and his popularity in Boston is great to see for the game, but I’m not 100% ready to jump on the Shaw-mobile quite yet, especially when you have Sandoval and his “$17 million dollar salary and his 17% body fat” riding the pine to begin the season.

But for fun, lets say Sandoval doesn’t improve and just can’t cut the mustard and continues to be a bench guy going into June/July…

  • Do the Sox trade him? Doubtful, unless they swallow their pride and eat up a good chunk of money.
  • Do they release him? Very possible, but you’re still going to be on the hook for the remainder of his gut-sized $95 million dollar contract.

Bottom line, Red Sox Nation is ready for the Mayor to hit massive Ding Dong’s all around the league. But if he can’t we have to come to the realization that Pablo and his stash of Ding Dong Cakes will be waiting in the wings.

Rookie, Shaq Thompson is Ready for Some Football

shaq thompson

Courtesy of weei.com

I was flipping through WEEI.com, as I do every morning, disconcerted about the Red Sox players on the disabled list. I’m filled with concern over Red Sox injured players and want to know what to expect with the games ahead at Fenway.

Then I come across an article about, Shaq Thompson, a 2012 Red Sox draft pick, who wants to leave our rookie league in Florida to pursue professional football. In my head I hear that record-scratching-to a-halt-sound in my head. What? Why would a rookie outfielder, who the Red Sox gave money, want to walk away from a baseball career, and become a linebacker? No, you read that right.  A guy named Shaq, a baseball player, wants to play football, and he wants to be a linebacker. I wish I had that sense of entitlement. Nah, I don’t think I will go to work today, I would much rather find a lighthouse and write the next great American sports novel.

We have players in the system (and out) that would kill for his rookie spot in Florida. We have guys at all levels of the minors fighting for a chance to get the “big call” to Fenway Park. How ungrateful? What a waste of money? Not only that, who among us wouldn’t want to play our favorite sport for pay? I would love to be on the courts of Wimbledon right now.

Can you imagine putting all this work into becoming a professional athlete and then bailing on it? From what I understand, Thompson had to work pretty hard on his baseball skill set because it was clear he was not going to be the next Deion Sanders. He had to channel his energies into one sport. I suppose there are some of us that would be willing to quit our jobs to see our dream of opening our own business, or moving into an entry level position, but not without some security net.

I get it, but we are talking professional sports. These are tens of thousands of dollar decisions. Sometimes, in the most recent case of Trey Ball, million dollar decisions.  It takes those of us that work middle class jobs a year to amass this amount of money (or less).

Well, Shaq, I wish you nothing but the best whey protein shakes and lots of luck.