Red Sox Errors Are Inexcusable

The June 20th game against the Chicago White Sox highlighted a comedy of errors that exposed the Red Sox weaknesses. Travis Shaw and Steve Wright made sloppy errors in the first inning; Shaw fumbled the ball at third, and Wright made a wild throw trying to pick off a runner at second base. What exacerbated these errors was John Farrell’s decision to field and pinch hit inexperienced players who haven’t seen much action all season. With the Red Sox battling for first place, this isn’t the time to be substituting regulars for untested players. In a word, Red Sox errors at this point in the season are inexcusable.

I’ve been concerned about Travis Shaw lately. His batting average has dropped off andRed Sox Errors he’s made nine errors at first base for a less than respectable .945 fielding average. The White Sox shouldn’t have scored in the first inning but between Shaw’s error and Wright’s wild throw the Red Sox found themselves behind for a majority of the game. You can’t put 100% of the blame on Steven Wright for his error last night though. If Dustin Pedroia had been at second instead of Marco Hernandez, who by the way has only a .238 batting average in 21 at-bats this season, the White Sox wouldn’t have scored in the first inning, and Christian Vasquez’s RBI would have won the game. That wasn’t the worst of the Red Sox errors though.

Red Sox Errors Made Worse by Strong White Sox Pitching

Some might call it good pitching by the White Sox, but it seriously takes effort to blow a chance to win when it’s the bottom of the ninth inning with no outs and runners in scoring position. Dustin Pedroia, pinch hitting for Travis Shaw, put up quite the fight against Chicago’s Zach Duke before striking out, but it was the unwise choice of having Ryan LaMarre pinch hit that took the prize for worst decision of the game. Ryan LaMarre hasn’t batted all season! What was Farrell thinking putting LaMarre in against an experienced southpaw who had already bested Pedroia? There were plenty of other more experienced batters on the Red Sox bench that Farrell could have inserted.

As I left Fenway Park last night after watching the Sox blow the game 3-1, all I could think about was William Hurt’s line from the movie A History of Violence, “How do you f–k that up!?” In other words, last night’s Red Sox errors were inexcusable.

Yoan Moncada Should Be Untouchable at Trade Deadline

Red Sox top minor league prospect, second basemen Yoan Moncada, is the one prospect that should be untouchable. Moncada, 21 years old, has shown great potential and will only get better. Elite offense at second base is very hard to come by and dealing Moncada would be a major mistake. He is also the ideal candidate to replace Dustin Pedroia at second base when Pedroia retires.

When people think of elite offense production, the outfield spots and the corner infieldYoan Moncada spots are what comes to mind. When a team gets offense from the shortstop, second base and catching position, that is seen as a luxury. Pedroia has given the Sox that luxury as a career .299 hitter to go along with his four time gold glove defense. With Pedroia signed through the 2021 season, some may question how Moncada will wait in the minor leagues that long. Moncada would be 25 years old if that were the case. Him waiting in the minor leagues that long will not happen and should not happen. So where does he fit in the makeup of the Red Sox? There are two likely scenarios I see for Moncada in a Sox uniform. One of those is to trade away Travis Shaw and stick Moncada at third base until Pedroia’s contract ends. Another option is to trade away Pedroia if his production goes down.

What Is Moncada’s Future With The Red Sox?

Shaw has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox and at 26 years old many teams would want him as he is entering his prime. Shaw is under team control until the 2019 season and if Moncada is ready before then, the team could get a nice return for Shaw while not losing much of the production if any from Shaw. Trading away Pedroia when his production goes down is the less likely and less ideal situation. The Sox would have to eat a lot of Pedroia’s contract in this case, something the Sox seem to do enough with aging players. Even if neither of these options are the route Dombrowski decides to take, Moncada will not be traded and doing so would turn out to be a huge mistake for the Sox.

Moncada is a .284 hitter in the minor leagues up to this point in his career with 11 homers in 479 at bats. He has drawn comparisons to former Yankee and current Mariner, Robinson Cano. Moncada has the switch hitting dimension to his game, something Cano does not have. If Moncada continues to grow, seeing him come close to Cano’s numbers would not be a big surprise. His power is there and he has a great eye at the plate, showing that with his .424 OBP this season.

Sox fans have a lot to look forward to this season and in future seasons. Having a Bogaerts and Moncada middle infield would be special and if Dombrowski is as smart as I believe he is, he knows not to trade Moncada unless he is blown away and offered a trade involving a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw or even Chris Sale.

Travis Shaw Close to Being Best at Third Base

Coming into the 2016 season, Travis Shaw was the fan favorite for the starting third base job. The reason for this was because Pablo Sandoval came in overweight, showing a lack of commitment in the off-season. Since winning the third base job after a strong spring, Shaw has looked strong and Sandoval is now out for the season due to a shoulder injury, resulting in Shaw having the job sealed. Shaw has been very successful offensively atTravis Shaw home and has done a better job defensively than expected at the hot corner.

Since debuting last season at the big league level, Shaw has been one of the best hitters at Fenway Park. Last season, he hit a cool .329 at home in 119 at bats. This season, the success has continued, hitting at a .387 clip in 62 at bats. Shaw has shown the ability to spray the ball to all fields and looks like a guy who is here to stay.

Shaw has been playing corner infield positions throughout his life, spending time at both first base and third base. However, he has spent less time at third base, only having five starts there last season. Coming into this season, Shaw’s defense was something to watch. With 4 errors on the season through 28 starts, the numbers do not help Shaw’s case. Sometimes numbers are deceiving and in this case they are. He has showed good range and good decision making thus far and as long as he continues hitting, the defense will be an afterthought. With the offense clicking and the better than expected defense, Shaw seems to have it all figured out right?

The answer to that is no. While Shaw has impressed me and made Sandoval an afterthought, he still has areas of his game to work on. On offense, Shaw has to show that he can hit on the road and hit lefties. He has crushed right-handers to a .376 clip but has only hit .143 against lefties. Both of these can be fixed and Shaw should be able to do just that. Last season he hit lefties better than righties. He had a .329 average against lefties last season compared to a .243 against righties. On defense, he just needs more starts and to continue adjusting to the other side of the diamond. He is not a defensive liability but he also is below average this season regarding third base defense, ranking 22nd in baseball in defensive fielding percentage.

Shaw has been a pleasant surprise and the potential is there to be even better, scary for opposing teams. If he figures out left-handers again and improves his play on the road, Shaw is on track to being an elite offensive third baseman in baseball.

Josh Rutledge is Becoming a Luxury for the Red Sox

Boston Red Sox bench player, Josh Rutledge, has been a bright spot for the team this season as a reliable option off the bench. With the Sox struggling to hit left handed pitchers this season, Rutledge’s ability to do so is invaluable to this team.

The Sox as a team this season have struggled mightily against left handed pitchers, hittingJosh Rutledge just .226 as a team with a meager three home runs in 186 at bats. Rutledge has provided the team with a reliable bat against lefties this season, hitting .625 thus far, albeit in a small sample size, just eight at bats. He has shown improvement against left handers throughout his young career. In his first two seasons, he hit just .247 as a rookie and then .196 against them in his second year. The last two years have provided a different story as Josh Rutledge has come around picking up pitches from lefties, hitting .321 in 2014 followed by .318 last season and now off to the strong start this year. Coming off the bench primarily, Rutledge is the preferred option when a left handed specialist comes into the game.

In Friday night’s game, Josh Rutledge was called upon to pinch hit for catcher Christian Vazquez against New York Yankees left handed relief pitcher, Andrew Miller. Miller is one of the best all around relievers in the business and Rutledge furthered the notion that he has figured out lefties by ripping a single up the middle off of Miler to start the ninth inning. If Rutledge continues hitting like this, he might find himself starting at third base when the team is facing a southpaw. Sox starting third baseman Travis Shaw is hitting just .083 against lefties and is a big part of the team’s struggles against them. John Farrell should consider inserting Rutledge in the starting lineup at third base for Shaw against left handers. However, until Farrell realizes that this is the right move, Rutledge will continue to provide the team with offense off of the bench as a pinch hitter.

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career

Pablo Sandoval was probably pretty disappointed when he found out he was going to need season-ending shoulder surgery. Nobody wants to be told they’re done for the year when it’s only just begun. If there’s a silver lining, however, it’s that surgery could save Sandoval’s career.

Let’s face it; 2016 was shaping up to be another lost season for Boston’s maligned third basemanSurgery Could Save Sandoval's Career. Coming off the worst year of his career, he arrived at spring training overweight (again), failed to bat said weight and wound up losing his starting job to a player making $17 million less than him. Sandoval rode the pine in April, appearing in just three games as Shaw and the Red Sox got off to torrid starts.

Sandoval was stuck. His team had little use for him while his contract and recent performance made him untradeable. So he wasted away on the bench, watching Shaw’s success systematically destroy whatever shot he had at redemption in 2016.

Now, with Sandoval out for the rest of the year, he’ll have to wait until 2017 to get back in Boston’s good graces. That gives him loads of time to get in the best shape of his life and prove he’s serious about his conditioning. It also gives him time to fix whatever broke in his swing last year and work on his defense.

Sandoval has nothing but time. The question is: will he use it effectively?

Surgery Could Save Sandoval’s Career, or Finish it

A year off could do Sandoval wonders. It certainly did for John Lackey, another West Coast star who initially struggled upon signing a big contract with the Red Sox. After pitching at a historically awful level in 2011, Lackey missed all of ’12 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It was a turning point in his career, as a slimmed-down Lackey returned to form in 2013 and is still going strong as he enters his late 30s.

Surgery could save Sandoval’s career, too..It’s not hard to imagine him having a similar renaissance next year, given that he’ll only be 30. He’ll also be extra motivated to win his job back after everything that’s happened this spring.

On the other hand, going under the knife may only hasten Sandoval’s decline. Adrian Gonzalez fell off significantly as a hitter following the same procedure, which doesn’t bode well for Sandoval. He may also find that taking a whole year off severely disrupts his timing, which could prevent him from having the kind of start he needs to secure regular playing time again.

How the rest of Sandoval’s career plays out will likely be decided by what he does over the next calendar year. If he buckles down and sheds some pounds, he may yet find his way back into Boston’s lineup. But if he sits around and lets his skills continue to erode, he better get used to watching Travis Shaw at the hot corner.

Sandoval Breaks Belt and Fans’ Hopes

“Sandoval Breaks Belt.” Words that want to make you cry.

Ladies and gentlemen of Red Sox Nation, I owe you an apology. My first article for Sandoval breaks beltYawkey Way Report defended Pablo Sandoval against the critics who focused on his weight after he arrived at spring training this year. I even bit my tongue when John Farrell decided to bench him in favor of Travis Shaw, which I wasn’t too happy about at first. I thought Farrell wasn’t giving Sandoval a fair chance. But, after taking a closer look at his mediocre pre-season, I quickly realized that it was necessary, especially if the Sox want to be post-season contenders this year. Still, I held onto hope that Sandoval would get off to a strong start to this season and redeem himself.

That hope was destroyed after I saw the headline “Sandoval Breaks Belt” and watched the footage. Watching his belt break as he swung at a pitch from the Toronto Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey was enough for me. It was beyond embarrassing to the Red Sox. On second thought, I take that back. It was unacceptable. How bad does your weight have to get before you realize you have a problem?

Watching Sandoval break his belt is the latest in a series of embarrassing moments for the benched third baseman. When pre-season began, I defended Sandoval’s weight by arguing that his body fat was at an acceptable level. I originally said that Sandoval needed support and encouragement from Red Sox Nation, not ridicule. But his belt malfunction has left me convinced that Sandoval’s doing little, if anything at all, to control over his weight problem.

Sandoval Breaks Belt is All Fans Will Remember

I hate to talk about this topic. No one likes it when someone points out how overweight they are. I’ve struggled with weight issues myself all my life and know how upsetting it can be. But I took control over it. I started going to the gym, I started running, and I put myself on a strict diet. I was tired of hearing people call me fat and I didn’t want to wait until I had a heart attack to realize that I should have started taking care of myself sooner. But Sandoval is supposed to be a professional athlete! There’s absolutely no excuse for him to be that big. For the money he’s getting paid, at the VERY LEAST, he has an obligation to be fit.

I can’t defend Pablo Sandoval anymore. If he was working his butt off to lose weight and take the game more seriously then I’d respect him a little more. But I can’t help but feel he just has a bad attitude about Boston. Whether the negative attention Sandoval is getting is fair or not is beside the point now. The media sees him as an unmotivated player still licking his wounds from last season even though he has had perfectly good chances to redeem himself. Now, “Sandoval Breaks Belt” is the only thing people are going to remember about him for a while.

Hanley Ramirez is playing well so far this season. Brock Holt hit his first career Grand Slam against Toronto last week. The rest of the Red Sox are showing signs of the team they were back in 2004 and 2007. The chance for Sandoval to improve is right there, but he’s gotta manage his weight if wants to avoid seeing any more “Sandoval Breaks Belt” headlines.