Red Sox Looking At Carlos Beltran

A week after the Chicago Cubs finally ended their 108-year World Series drought, the other 29 teams are back to work. For the Red Sox, it is time to fill some holes in their lineup. With the departure of David Ortiz, the designated hitter position is finally back on their radar. While Edwin Encarnacion has been the hot name, Carlos Beltran is the newest player rumored to come to Boston.

This is not the first time the Red Sox have shown interest in Beltran. They were in theBeltran discussions for the 39-year old as recently as this year’s trade deadline. As a Yankee however, the asking price to trade within the division was too high. After an up-and-down second half with Texas, Beltran is again tied to Red Sox rumors. With Ortiz leaving a huge hole in the lineup, Beltran may be a cheap, short-term answer.

Even as a 39-year old, Beltran made his ninth All-Star game. Along the way, he hit .295 with 29 homers and 93 RBI with an .850 OPS. In the three seasons from 2013-2015, Beltran also hit .352 at Fenway Park. For his career, he has hit .281 with 421 home runs and 1,532 RBI. Although quietly, Beltran’s bat is certainly paving him a path towards Cooperstown based purely on his numbers.

Over his 19 major league seasons, Beltran has solidified himself as one of the all-time great switch hitters. Last year’s splits were consistently good from both sides of the plate. He hit a serviceable .279 against righties and a terrific .338 against lefties in 2016. Even with a lower average, most of his power comes batting left-handed with 20 of his 29 homers last year coming against righties. Beltran can also still play some outfield, where he had 242 at-bats last year.

His age, however, is still an issue. He will turn 40 in April, so a one-year deal with a second year option seems the most likely route. If the Red Sox have to overpay for a “rental” player like Beltran, that would take Encarnacion off the table. With the Yankees courting Encarnacion too, it could be 5-6 more years of playing against him in the division. A one-year deal could be the best thing for Beltran and the Red Sox. In the last full month with both of his teams last year, Beltran raked. In June with the Yankees, he hit .366, slugged .659 with a 1.081 OPS with seven home runs and 22 RBI. In the September stretch drive with the Rangers, he hit .304 with four homers and 18 RBI.

What I’m trying to say is, it seems there’s still something left in Carlos Beltran. If the Red Sox don’t want to offer five or six years for Edwin Encarnacion, this could be a short-term solution. A one-year deal where he DH’s and plays a little left field if need be could be a good fit for both sides. Whatever ounce this future Hall-of-Famer has left can really help the Red Sox next year.

Red Sox Secure 2016 Playoff Spot

The Boston Red Sox recently clinched a playoff spot after two dismal seasons. Along with the Texas Rangers, and most likely the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox will soon begin their march towards the World Series. This means that all eyes will now focus on the playoffs. So if the Red Sox secure victories from Texas, Cleveland, and/or the Wild Card victor, they will advance to the World Series.

During the season many thought the Red Sox would finish in the cellar again. Injuries, bad pitching,red sox secure and runners left on base kept them out of contention. The calls to fire John Farrell grew louder as the summer progressed. Careless plays frustrated fans to no end. Some said that’s just baseball. They said you can’t win them all. That’s true, but to some their victories came from a lack of trying. That’s obviously no longer true, but the thought still lingers for some.

To see the Red Sox secure a playoff spot tempts fans to think about what was once unthinkable: winning the World Series. Before 2004, the dangerous thought more often than not disappointed fans. But with championships in 2004, 2007, and 2013, fans feel safer hoping again.

As Red Sox Secure a Playoff Spot, We Look to Our Other Contenders

The road to the World Series won’t be an easy one. While the Red Sox held their own against Cleveland this season, Indians pitchers Danny Salazar and Corey Kluber still concern the Sox lineup. The Indians also know how to bat around Clay Buchholz. Despite his recent improvements, Buchholz can’t take Cleveland for granted. As for Texas, the Red Sox beat them three out of six games this season. So the good news is that the Red Sox have done fairly well against their possible playoff contenders. The bad news, however, is that the Red Sox haven’t played them as much as they’ve played other teams like Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

In order to beat back the other AL teams, the Red Sox will have to closely study each pitcher and hitter they face. CLOSELY study each and every one. The Cleveland Indians are hungry for a World Series of their own given they haven’t won one since 1948. The Texas Rangers haven’t won even one World Series. That quest for titles of their own will make them worthy contenders.

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Red Sox Erasing Doubt In A.L. East

For most of the summer, Red Sox fans were looking forward to the final series of the season. The three-game set at Fenway against Toronto was almost surely going to determine the winner of the A.L. East. However, the Red Sox were determined to make that series meaningless. Since a 1-0 loss to Baltimore on September 14th, the Red Sox have yet to lose a game. Along the way, they have put the division crown out of reach for everyone else.

Sunday was just another day at the office for the Boston Red Sox. In another low-scoring A.L. Eastgame at “the Trop” in Tampa, Boston outlasted the Rays 3-2 in ten innings. The win marked the third straight series sweep and 11th straight win for the division leaders. The day was marked by 22 strikeouts by Red Sox pitching, an unbelievable base-running play by Dustin Pedroia, and a gutsy bullpen effort by Joe Kelly.

The streak has put the Red Sox five and a half games up on second place Toronto and seven up on Baltimore. Excellent starting pitching and a virtually unhittable bullpen are propelling the Red Sox right now. Add that to the league’s best offense, and the Red Sox are far and away the hottest team in all of baseball. After the win Sunday, Boston’s magic number to clinch the A.L. East is down to two.

Beyond The A.L. East Title

Not to get ahead of ourselves, the Red Sox will have meaningful games next weekend. While they should have already clinched the division, a much more important title may be at stake. With a playoff spot in tact, the Red Sox now eye home field advantage. They are just one behind the Texas Rangers in the loss column. If they were to pass the Rangers, they would own the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

To think that the Red Sox could possibly have that title just a few weeks ago would have been absurd. With their best baseball of the season this month though, that’s where they find themselves. The Red Sox just surpassed Cleveland in the best-record race, meaning they would host the Indians in the ALDS if the season ended today. This offense is so good it really doesn’t matter where they play, but playing at Fenway would be a huge bonus. With that, the Red Sox could even find a way to slug themselves to the World Series. Luckily for the them, the pitching has been the brightest part if this September run.

Obviously, a run like this can not be expected in the playoffs. If they can keep up this pitching however, you can expect them to represent the American League in the World Series. As we all know, once you get there, anything can happen. Bottom line: don’t count out the Red Sox this October.

 

An Improving David Price Needs Run Support

There’s no doubt that David Price is struggling. He’s 9-7, which is not bad, but not great either. Rather than focus on an improving David Price, we’re too focused on a failing David Price. That’s not fair, especially if you look at the fact that he currently leads the league in game starts, innings pitched, and batters faced. Despite his flaws, I think he will only get better. Like ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst John Kruk said, “Price is a veteran and can figure things outs.” The larger problem lies in the infield defense, and the inability to get crucial hits and RBIs.

Since June 8th, Price has pitched four 10+ strikeout games. Five of his losses since then were byImproving David Price two runs or less. Instead of blaming Price, look at the lack of run support. This leads me to the bigger problem that David Price faces.

Why can’t the Red Sox get crucial hits? Why does it seem like they choke when it’s do-or-die? Let’s take a look at the July series against the Texas Rangers as an example. Price pitched eight innings and gave up three runs on the 5th. The day before, the Red Sox left 12 runners on base (even though we won). The team left another 13 runners on base in a 7-2 loss to Texas the next day. 25 runners left on base in two days? That’s inexcusable.

Hanley Ramirez has trouble throwing home. His error in the July 28th game against the Angels allowed Elvis Andrus to score the go-ahead run. Ramirez does well at first base most of the time, but it’s not the first time this season that he botched a throw to home. Yes, they’re more than half way through the season and players are getting tired. But now’s not the time to fall apart.

An Improving David Price Would Be More Improved By Better Hitting

The Red Sox hitting is not at fault. As of July 29th, they lead the league in batting average (.289), on-base percentage (.355), and slugging (.475). When it comes to leaving runners on base, however, they lead the American League with an average of 7.35 per game. An improving David Price will do better if batters focus on driving home more runners.

All Star Brock Holt Back in Sox Lineup

2015 All Star Brock Holt rejoined the Red Sox last week after taking time to recover from a concussion. The left fielder sustained his injury in early May after attempting to catch a line drive. Having Brock Holt back in the lineup couldn’t come at a more important time as Boston slips into third place. But what were his thoughts before rejoining Boston last week? I got to talk to Holt in late June in Pawtucket where I asked him how he felt.

“I’m feeling better,” Holt told me before a June 24th game against the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders. “It just feels good to be backBrock Holt back out here playing.” Like Holt, the Red Sox Nation has been eager to see the 2015 All Star get back in a uniform. But in recent years concussions like the one Holt sustained have been taken much more seriously. Recent studies show how much damage the brain sustains from concussions. These studies persuade doctors and trainers alike to be more cautious about rehab. This is why Holt took so long to get back to playing. Concussions can be scary for anyone, but not Holt.

“I wouldn’t say [it was] scary but it was just a weird thing to go through. Physically I felt fine. From the neck down I felt fine. From the neck up I didn’t. I knew something was wrong. It’s something you need to get right before you start playing again. You don’t want it to linger.”

Red Sox Have Brock Holt Back in the Lineup

As Holt begins to transition back into playing, he’s already thinking about getting back to left field. “I’ve played outfield for the last few years now. It was a challenge at first. We do a lot of practice taking balls off the wall (Green Monster). It’s difficult to play left because of the wall but there’s also not a lot of room to cover. You kinda learn it. If a ball hits high off the wall it’ll bounce. If it’s lower then you don’t know where it’s gonna go. Line drives bounce harder. We do a lot of pregame work but it’s a tough wall to play.”

Having Brock Holt back in the lineup is already paying off. He hit a homer in a July 4th game against the Texas Rangers. The home run was his fifth hit in three games. In addition to his home run, Holt threw a runner out at home from left field that ended the fourth inning for the visiting Texas Rangers.

Will having Brock Holt back be enough to overcome their deficit in the American League East? One thing is for sure. It won’t hurt!

David Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Players

Anyone who saw the Red Sox play in the mid 1970s can tell you about the violent clashes between catcher Carlton Fisk and New York Yankees’ catcher Thurmond Munson. It seemed like anytime the Yankees came to Fenway the two all-star catchers would fight, but they weren’t the only ones. Throughout the next thirty years or so, Fenway would see its fair share of brawls, particularly in 2003 when Pedro Martinez defended himself when Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer charged at the Red Sox ace only to be thrown to the Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Playersground. Brawls of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were epic; a symbol of defending one’s honor. But in an interview with NESN, David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players who he says are too serious and don’t know how to have fun playing baseball. Ortiz’s word reflect how brawls today start not to defend one’s honor but because players can’t control their emotions.

“Quite frankly, I think baseball wants to be too serious about what we do. Whenever we have any reaction within the game, people want to make it about, ‘Oh, he’s a showboat,’ you know? People need to realize that this is a game. OK, we get paid a lot of money. But it’s a game. You have to have fun.”

Brawls today seem to start because players are too sensitive. Many don’t like when an opponent does something like fist pump or cheer when he hits a home run, or strikes out the order. Take for instance the Jose Bautista feud with the Texas Rangers last fall. After hitting a home run, Jose Bautista flipped his bat as he started his run around the bases, incensing the Rangers players who accused him of showboating. It eventually led to revenge when Rougned Odor landed a punch to his face after Bautista made a questionable slide towards Odor’s legs at second base earlier this season. While most people love a good brawl, the fight between Bautista and Odor didn’t start for the right reasons. It started because the Rangers couldn’t take seeing a player better than them hit a home run. In other words, players like Odor and the Rangers don’t like seeing any kind of showboating, which in my opinion equates to whining.

Is Ortiz Right Or Does This Reflect Society?

“There are a lot of crying babies in baseball,” Ortiz told NESN. “There’s all the complaining and bitching about things. When you strike me out and pump your fist, I don’t care. That motivates me to go out and hit a homer the next at-bat. I don’t really mind. But whenever you hit a homer, and you do what you do, everyone starts complaining. For me, the reality is, I don’t pay attention to any of that crap.”

Some might say that this trend reflects today’s society where every kid gets a trophy, and people can’t say speak their minds because others get offended too quickly. On a larger level, what this trend reflects, whether it’s in baseball or just in America, is that people don’t know how to control their emotions. Thankfully for the Red Sox, players like David Ortiz can control his bat as well as his temper (most of the time). So the next time David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players, I’m going to see what led him to voice his opinion instead of choosing to get offended.