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.

Cole Hamels Traded to the Rangers

One more potential target for the Red Sox is now off the board. Cole Hamels, who had been mentioned for months as a possible target for the Red Sox dating back to when the Chicago Cubs signed Jon Lester, was traded to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday for 3 prospects from the Texas Rangers according to Fox Sports.

Whether you particularly wanted Cole Hamels in a Red Sox uniform or not (I know I didn’t), that makes 2 potential targets, Hamels and Johnny Cueto, that the Red Sox hadcole hamels traded been linked with in the media now in different uniforms. Cole Hamels is in Texas, while Johnny Cueto is now in Kansas City. While I stand by the fact that I didn’t want Hamels in Boston, the fact that the front office hasn’t been active enough when it comes to pitching makes me crazy. From all reports, it sounded like Ben Cherington wasn’t very active with either guy, which is worse than not actually getting the guys.

Whether the Red Sox buy or sell before Friday’s deadline is somewhat irrelavent. The worst thing they could do is stand pat with the guys they have on the roster. For the most part, the 2015 Red Sox have been largely disappointing, and they have to make major changes if they expect to get back into contention. That starts with getting at least one solid starter before the deadline. The Red Sox have also been linked with Sonny Gray, but that’s a pipe dream at this point and would take a miracle.

If I’m surprised by anything regarding the Cole Hamels deal, it’s that he ended up in Texas. The Texas Rangers have a tough task if they want to make the playoff – they share a division with the LA Angels and the Houston Astros, both of whom have been playing good baseball. If anything, I’m surprised a team in better shape to contend didn’t make more of a push. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who sit atop the NL West at the moment, were also rumored to be a frontrunner, but I guess they weren’t willing to pay the price in prospects and in terms of money.

Oh, well. Take notes, Ben. We need at least one more pitcher before the deadline. Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Red Sox Uncertain as Deadline Looms

With the MLB trade deadline fast approaching, the Red Sox still seem unclear on what direction they want to go in for remainder of 2015. For the second straight season, the Red Sox sit well out of playoff contention. While a 2014-esque fire sale seems unlikely because they have very few pieces of value, it seems like the focus will be more on 2016 then it will be on making the current squad better.

Looking at the Red Sox current team, it’s pretty clear that the Red Sox need to focus on Red Soxpitching. That became much tougher yesterday as ex-Reds ace, and possible target, Johnny Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals for 3 prospects. Cole Hamels is still out there, but it’s not a good idea to begin with and the LA Dodgers and Texas Rangers have emerged as the favorites to land Hamels according to an ESPN report.

A few guys will surely not be here come July 31st as well, and that can also make it tough on the clubhouse—especially if there are heavy rumors surrounding certain players. John Farrell acknowledged as much, but also said that he thinks they have enough veterans on the squad to stay focused on the game in hand through the rumors, according to NESN.

The deadline is in a few days, and hopefully the Red Sox roster will be at least a little different on August 1st. The worst thing the team can do is stand pat with a roster in disarray. The 25 guys on the roster have not gotten the job done and, while there have been a few bright spots, the Red Sox have to make at least a few moves before the deadline—whether they’re buyers or sellers.

Who comes and who goes is still unclear. Now, it’s just the waiting game.

Clay Buchholz Passed the Eye Test

I’ve seen Clay Buchholz pitch twice in person now. Once was back on May 21st against the Texas Rangers, when he threw 7.1 innings, struck out 4 and gave up 3 runs in a loss. A valiant effort, but a loss nonetheless. The Red Sox offense did nothing to pick him up that night, so Clay Buchholz couldn’t be blamed for everything on that particular night, as he did everything possible to keep the team in the game.

The 2nd time was last night, and it was a gem. His performance a couple of weeks ago Clay Buchholz was nothing like last night, though, when he shut down the Twins, scattering 3 hits over 8 innings and striking out 8 batters, while only walking 2.

Clay Buchholz was nothing short of perfect last night, and he needed to be, since the offense couldn’t do much of anything last night. That is, until Rusney Castillo drove in the lone run in the 7th last night with an RBI single. That was enough for Clay, as he didn’t need the extra help, at least on offense.

The only scare came in the 8th inning when Aaron Hicks drilled a ball to the right field wall, which Castillo made the play on thankfully. Other than that, the Twins never really looked like a threat offensively. They couldn’t put anything together, and that was thanks to Clay Buchholz’s brilliance on the mound.

The only thing stopping Clay from completing the shutout was that he wasn’t 100%, apparently. At least, that’s what Clay himself told the media after the game. Per the Boston Globe:

“Definitely didn’t feel 100 percent, but it wasn’t a reason for me to skip a start,” Buchholz said. “I told them I’d go out there, give them what I got, and fortunately I was able to give them eight innings. If it was any other day and I felt good and that’s how the game was going, I wouldn’t have let him take me out of the game. I was gassed. I’d rather give Koji a clean inning to work with rather than pull me in an inning with a runner on second base.”

If that’s the case, it makes Clay’s performance more impressive. He’s shown on more than one occasion this season that he’s capable of these types of performances. He just needs to do it a little more consistently.

Eduardo Rodriguez Shines in Debut

Eduardo Rodriguez made his major league debut, and it was exactly what the Red Sox needed from their young gun. Rodriguez pitched 7.2 strong innings, allowing 0 runs on just 3 hits and 7 strikeouts. So, how exactly was he able to do it?

According to NESN, he used 29 pitches the first time through the Texas Rangers lineup,Eduardo Rodriguez and of those 29 pitches, 24 were fastballs. And he had success with his fastball because he was able to locate his pitches extremely well. The 2nd time through the lineup, he mixed in his secondary pitches to great effect, throwing only 20 fastballs in 40 pitches through the 2nd time around, per NESN. The 3rd time around, he went back to the fastball and again, he located the ball extremely well. That was critical because once you start getting into the later innings, you get tired and your velocity isn’t as sharp, so location becomes even more important.

And, of course, NESN is quick to point out that some of the credit has to go to Blake Swihart, who looked like a veteran in calling the game last night, which I would agree with. But it ultimately came down to Rodriguez executing his pitches, which he did a fantastic job with all night long against a tough Texas Rangers lineup.

I sincerely hope the Red Sox keep this guy up and give him more of a chance to show his stuff. He doesn’t solve all the Red Sox problems, but one of the main concerns is the starting pitching right now, and he looks like he could fill in quite nicely as a big league starter. This is only one start, but if he keeps this up, he could well turn into a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher. He definitely has the stuff to accomplish that, should he keep this up. Of course, the reverse could happen and  he could struggle mightily in his next few starts, but I hope not. This kid has the stuff to be great.