Category Archives : Opinion


Mount Rushmore for the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are one of the most historic professional baseball teams in the history of the sport. With over 115 years of history, it can be pretty difficult to name the 4 best players for the team. Here is a look at what a potential Mount Rushmore would look like.

Ted Williams

This seems to be a pretty unanimous decision, as Williams is often labeled as the most talented player to ever suit up for the Boston Red Sox. He would have been loved by people in daily fantasy baseball because of his ability to be one of the best pure hitters this game has ever seen. He spent his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, and he represented the team all the way up to his death.

Pedro Martinez

In the middle of the performance enhancing drugs era in baseball, one pitcher was able to dominate more than anyone else. Pedro Martinez put up some outstanding numbers for the Boston Red Sox, and he solidified his position as one of the best ever to play for the franchise when he was able to help snap the World Series drought. Not only was he talented, but he really embraced the rivalry with the New York Yankees and became a huge fan favorite.

Carl Yastrzemski

Compared to Ted Williams, Yastrzemski might not look that impressive. However, he was an elite outfielder during his time, and he was another one who was able to really define an era of the Boston Red Sox. He never won a World Series, but statistically he did just about everything for the team during his time.

Cy Young

Realistically, there are about 7 or 8 players who could make a case that they belong on Mount Rushmore for Boston. However, it is hard to argue against a guy who has a pitching award named after him. No one alive can remember seeing Cy Young in his prime, but he was statistically a dominant force on the mound. Not including him would be a disservice to the history of the franchise.


Red Sox Outfield Quandary – The Most Fascinating Aspect of Spring Training

More often than not, if you’re a baseball team coming off a last place finish, the problems you have carry over with you into next year’s Spring Training aren’t likely to be deemed as positive. Due to a variety of mid-season and off-season transactions, however, the Red Sox have entered 2015 with one very positive problem in particular: an immense amount of talent and depth in their outfield. With seemingly seven major league caliber outfielders battling it out for four, maybe five roster spots, the level of competition proves to be friendly, but fierce. These players, of course, are “newcomer” Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Each player, what tools he brings to the table, and his likely future with the team are profiled below.

Hanley Ramirez: A true prodigal son story indeed, as the former top prospect returns to the organization that developed him before dealing him to the Marlins for Josh Beckett. The former shortstop is moving to left field, as has been confirmed by both General Manager Ben Cherington and Manager John Farrell. However, while his job is secure, there is no doubt that his defense in left could be shaky, especially early in his transition to left. The impact that this could have on games definitely bears watching, regardless of how much his bat helps what was a putrid lineup in 2014. Prediction: Starting LF for all of 2015 season (not really going out on a limb there)

Mookie Betts: One of the most fascinating stories in an otherwise disappointing 2014 season was the meteoric rise of Betts from Single-A ball to the big leagues. The converted infielder hit and got on base at a phenomenal clip at every level he played at in 2014, and even made the transition to the outfield smoothly as well. After bulking up in the offseason, his spring has gotten off to a fantastic start as well, to the point where many prognosticators believe he should be the team’s opening day center fielder. The fact that Betts has minor league options does help the Red Sox in the event that they cannot move more established players off the roster, but his performance (at least so far) dictates that he should play every day. Betts profiles as a leadoff hitter better than almost anyone on the roster as of right now, which will ultimately play in his favor. Prediction: Starting CF to start the season (in RF by the end)

Rusney Castillo: A big name International Free Agent signing last summer and part of the Red Sox’ concerted efforts to tap into the Cuban talent pool, Castillo figures to be a big part of the Red Sox’ present and future. This spring, he has been slowed by an oblique injury, and his recovery time could be a factor in how the roster shakes out as the Red Sox break camp. His relatively large contract might be a reason why he starts on the big club in 2015 for the PR-conscious Red Sox, but there is a chance they use his minor league eligibility as a chance to keep him in Pawtucket for the first couple weeks of the season, depending on how quickly he can get back into spring training games. There is no question that he will be playing every day at some point in 2015, however, as well as going forward. Prediction: On the Opening Day roster (splitting time with Betts/Victorino until one of them is moved off the roster)

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Jackie Bradley Should Have Started In Pawtucket

The title of this piece is going to make a lot of Red Sox fans upset.  As a passionate Sox fan myself, it isn’t exactly fun to write.  The subject is being debated everywhere but the conclusion is often wrong.  Much as we may not like it starting Jackie Bradley Jr. in Pawtucket would have been the right thing to do.

If he was sent down, it wasn’t going to be a permanent banishment to Pawtucket; he would have missed 9 games out of 162. He would miss a measly 5.5% of the 2013 season in exchange for his team control for 100% of the 2019 season.  Even as tight of division race as everyone is predicting the AL East to be this year, what’s the impact of one hitter out of nine in the lineup over a sample size of nine games?  That’s the question that, if quantifiable, answers the debate of what to do with Bradley.  As a GM, Ben Cherington should be making the best BASEBALL decisions, not the best political decisions for these Sox.  Stick around after the jump, and you’ll see just how little impact the Sox lose without Bradley for 9 games.

 

Jackie Bradley the Paw Sock, or Jackie Bradley the Red Sox? Which has a better ring to it?

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What Kind of Difference Will Farrell Make? 2

Just in case you were wondering how things would be different with John Farrell at the helm, we have this: the first cuts of Spring Training include Drake Britton. Britton’s demotion is not much of a surprise in and of itself. He was a 100:1 shot to make the big league club at best. However, being one of the first cuts on a list of relative no-names and also rans might be considered a slight.

But now there’s news of Britton getting arrested for DUI over the weekend… and then sent to the minor league camp the same weekend. Bryce Brentz was a surprise non-invitee to the major league camp given the hot stove chatter that he was a dark horse candidate as the fourth or fifth outfielder. But Brentz misfired during the offseason, literally and figuratively, and he was given a clear and direct message about what the Red Sox think about him playing with guns.  Alfredo Aceves tested Farrell in the first week of camp, lobbing batting practice pitches rather than working on his arsenal, and he was met with both instant correction from Juan Nieves as well as a “discussion” with Farrell after his session.

This seems to be a pattern and a good one at that.

Farrell is direct about his expectations and deals with issues decisively. Rather than hang his players out to dry in the court of public opinion, he uses reasonable measures to communicate when expectations and conduct have fallen short. It remains to be seen how this style translates to game results but it seems reasonable to assume that the players will respond well to being like adults with both clear expectations and clear rewards/punishments guiding their conduct.


Mike Napoli agrees to 3 year deal with Red Sox

ESPN

According to ESPN, Mike Napoli has agreed to a 3 year deal worth $39 million with the Red Sox, pending a physical. Napoli turned 31 in October and will be and he will be 33 in his last year of the contract, so the Red Sox won’t have to deal with a large drop off in production with him.

He is expected to primarily play 1st base for the Red Sox, though he will catch part-time. The most games he has ever caught in a season is 96 and it’s very likely he’ll only catch a small amount of games, depending on what the Red Sox do with Ryan Lavarnway/Jarrod Saltalamacchia this off-season  Should Salty be traded, the Sox might have him play a bigger role behind the plate.

In 19 games (and 62 ABs) at Fenway park in his career, Napoli has hit at a .306/.397/.710 slash with 7 home runs and 4 doubles. Not to mention an amazing .404 isolated slugging percentage. While this isn’t exactly a large sample size, it’s clear that he has a swing tailor-made for Fenway (just like Cody Ross) and he should put up eye popping numbers at home.

And while his defense has been far from stellar at 1st base and at catcher throughout his career (career -2.6 UZR at 1st and -25 defensive runs saved behind the plate), having a great fielding 1st baseman isn’t all that important.

All in all it seems like a great move by the Red Sox front office as they filled a large void left by Adrian Gonzalez without surrendering any prospects whatsoever and without making a long term commitment to a player.

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World Series vs. WSOP

By: Daniel Smith

The Major League Baseball season has often been described as a grind.  A season of 162 games is enough to wear not only physically, but also mentally on any team and any player on a team.  Another game is very similar to baseball in certain aspects, and that is poker.

First, the game of poker is very much considered to be a grind.  Poker players must play hand after hand and sometimes fold hand after hand for what sometimes equates to hours before end before being able to make a big play.  This is similar to a baseball game where both teams are unable to get anything going and then one squad suddenly breaks loose for  a big inning.

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So now what?

With the firing of Bobby Valentine, Red Sox fans have gotten what they wanted (at least what they wanted short of Larry Lucchino moving on).  The answer seemed so obvious to everyone… except it wasn’t the answer, it was just the first domino in a long line to fall this off season.

So now what?

The presumptive choice to manage the Red Sox next season is John Farrell.  The only sports lust that could be greater than the current front office’s desire for Farrell was Brandon Lloyd’s longing to line up alongside Tom Brady.  Farrell, however, is anything but an obvious choice.  Blue Jay fans will tell you that he did fairly well with a young team full of prospects.  Consider:

  • Omar Vizquel criticized Farrell for not being forceful in addressing on field play (to which Farrell hinted that Vizquel was not around when it took place).  It might just be a disagreement of perspectives but it’s also quite possible that Farrell simply does not have the eye for field play that he does for pitching.
  • Yunnel Escobar.  Need we really say more about the perception that Farrell will be tough with respect to discipline?
  • Rickey Romero.  Two years ago he was an emerging front line pitcher that had baseball people drooling.  This year he was giving John Lackey a confidence boost.

Truth be told Farrell did not turn a young, talented group of youngsters into a well run machine capable of winning 90+ games.  They regressed each season he managed.  Before you get that “yeah, but we’re the Red Sox” feeling in your gut, think about what the 2013 Red Sox will look like.  First base is currently open and third base is likely to be filled by Will Middlebrooks who has roughly a third of a season of experience.  Although Mike Aviles handled shortstop adequately it’s possible that the Sox will choose to shop him and go with Jose Iglesias at short and Ivan DeJesus handling the utility role.  Ryan Kalish appears to be a favorite for at least one outfield spot.  Ryan Lavarnway appears to be slotted for a catching spot.  That’s a lot of youngsters with less than two full seasons… and more than what Farrell had in Toronto.  Why is the front office seemingly so convinced that Farrell will have more success in Boston?  Why will he turn out to be one of the very few former pitchers who fail as a manager?

There’s also one more reason to consider other candidates than roll the dice with John Farrell: compensation.  No team could be more required to pay compensation to free a manager from the final year of his contract than the Red Sox.  It has been suggested that the compensation could be along the lines of Drake Britton and Keury De La Cruz, a pitcher and outfielder respectively from the Red Sox top 20 prospects.  It doesn’t matter what the compensation would be; John Farrell is not going to be the equivalent of a an ace on their pitching staff, adding 20+ wins to an embarrassing 2012 campaign.  The organization as a whole is better served holding and developing its prospects than using them to bait a hook for a manager.

So who else is there?  Here are a few more names we hope the Red Sox consider.  If any of them stand a chance of equalling the success of John Farrell the Red Sox should think long and hard about sending compensation for the object of their affection.

Tim Bogar
An easy candidate given that he spent the 2012 campaign with the Sox, Bogar recently interviewed for the Astros opening and has been considered as an upcoming managerial candidate the past two years.  That Valentine considered him to be the one who undermined his tenure in Boston should be a plus in the mind of many Sox fans.

DeMarlo Hale
The Orioles third base coach was well regarded while serving alongside Terry Francona in Boston.  Hale has frequently come up in managerial discussions.  Like Bogar, he would already have an internal sense of what it’s like to manage in the fishbowl at Fenway.  Seeing the color barrier finally break in the manager’s office would not be the worst thing that the image-conscious front office could do.

Brad Mills
So you think it was rough watching the Pawtucket Red Sox play in MLB during the month of September?  Try managing a team that started the season looking like that roster and still tried to sell off pieces.  That’s what Brad Mills has done for the last two years as skipper of the Astros.  Without a single hitter topping 110 OPS+ or a single pitcher with double-digit wins it’s no wonder that the Astros put up back-to-back mid-50s wins seasons.  Mills managed to keep the boys together despite no real hope of success and is still well regarded in baseball circles.  Unlike Hale and Bogar, Mills’ history with the organization is not tainted by the 9/11 collapse. Mills is considered a strong candidate to serve as the Indians’ bench coach under recently-hired Terry Francona so the Sox should not drag their feet.

Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Speaking of Terry Francona, his hiring in Cleveland over the weekend makes interim manager and one-time Blue Jays managerial candidate Sandy Alomar, Jr. available.  Alomar has made the usual progression through the coaching ranks but has not held a manager’s position at any level in any organization for any length of time (6 games as interim doesn’t really count) so his selection would not be without risk.  He would seem to have a similar leadership style to Terry Francona which could free the youngsters on the roster to go out and play while he absorbs some of the heat from the media and fan base.

Dave Martinez
A forceful presence, Martinez has served as bench coach to Joe Maddon for the past four years.  That kind of  tutelage has landed Martinez several managerial interviews. He is also perceived to be a strong disciplinarian yet young enough to relate to the many prospects likely to fill out the roster.  Having served alongside Maddon as a talented group of prospects transformed into a perennial playoff contender would serve him well as the Red Sox seem poised for a similar journey.

Tim Wallach
Another highly respected outsider, Wallach has managed at the minor league level and was part of the surprising turnaround that left the Dodgers a few games shy of the playoffs this season after the Frank McCourt disaster.  The 1979 Golden Spikes award winner was the 2009 PCL manager of the year after leading his club to a franchise record in wins and his MLB tenure at 3B could lead to some interesting teaching for the youngsters on the left side of the Sox infield.

Ryne Sandberg
Speaking of PCL managers of the year, Sandberg received the honor after leading the Cubs AAA affiliate to an 82-62 record.  Sandberg began his managerial career by taking his first club (Cubs A-level affiliate) to the championship game and he was promoted two seasons in a row with success at each level.  Sandberg returned to the Phillies organization (yes, they drafted and developed him) after being passed over for the big league club’s manager’s position and led the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs to the International League title in 2011.  The effort earned him Baseball America’s minor league manager of the year award.  He currently serves as third base coach and infield instructor… again a nice combination for an organization brimming with infield prospects.

WWBSD?
What would the BloodySox do? Well, there’s admittedly a sense that John Farrell seems inevitable despite his so-so record and the acquisition cost.  Notwithstanding, the overwhelming consensus pick here is Ryne Sandberg.  His stellar career that included stops around the infield should help the Sox budding young stars manning similar positions in 2013.  Likewise, his stellar offensive record as a second baseman and dirt-dog attitude should connect him well with the heart-and-soul leaders of the team like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.  Perhaps most impressive is his managerial record that includes three teams playing in championship series in six minor league seasons.  He’s proven, more than any other candidate out there, that he can focus talent into a productive, winning machine.  Why look for anything less?


Checking in on Old Friends; Looking Back on Recent Trades

On October 29, 2007, at 12:06 in the morning, the Red Sox capped of an easy 4 game sweep of the Colorado Rockies to win their 7th World Series in team history and their second in three years. As a Red Sox fan, things could not seem any better. The team finally had a competent GM and ownership combination. The team had a manager that was loved by the team’s players and fans. The farm system was ripe with talent with the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Lars Anderson,  Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden and Jed Lowrie as well as the recently graduated trio of Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon. The youth was plentiful, and other key long-term fixtures like Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Josh Becket and even Daisuke Matsuzaka seemingly meant that the team’s success at that time was potentially sustainable for a long time.

And for a while, that is exactly what happened. The next two years the team won exactly 95 games. In 2008 the Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS in game 7. In 2009 the team was swept by the Angels in the ALDS. However, since then, the Red Sox have finished no better than 3rd in the AL East, have not won over 90 games, and are now staring their third consecutive season without making the playoffs. For all the excitement that surrounded this roster, things surely never quite panned out like I’m sure we all hoped.

Jonathan Papelbon celebrates the final out of the 2007 World Series

So what happened? Well, that’s a complex question and isn’t what I am seeking to answer. There are numerous upon numerous things that went wrong. There were injuries. There were bad contracts handed out. There were underachieving players. There was bad luck. There were just flat out better teams that outplayed the Sox in a strong AL and an even stronger AL East.

I recently read a post on Bleacher Report talking about how it was poor trading from Theo Epstein that are most to blame for the Red Sox current woes. While I do think Theo made some pretty obvious mistakes, scapegoating him, specifically for his trades, didn’t quite settle easily with me. Since it was a silly Bleacher Report article from a silly Bleacher Report author, I feel no desire to link to it and increase his page hits. I just didn’t agree with it, and sought out to delve a bit into it.

Maybe he had a point, despite posting no specific evidence to support his claim. Maybe the Red Sox got too gung-ho in their desires to achieve immediate success, and thus made risky trades that ultimately backfired. There is an easy way to figure this out though and that’s to look at the trades.

What role did trades play into it? Specifically, did the Red Sox make any huge errors in their desire to continually contend rather than focus on the future?

By my count, since Papelbon struck out Seth Smith for the final out in 2007, the Red Sox have made just over 60 player trades. The vast majority of them were the exchanging of low level prospects that will never pan out and journeymen players that never really had any impact.

Perhaps none will have more of an impact than the blockbuster just pulled off with the Dodgers, but only time will tell who really won that trade.

The first major trade that happened after the Red Sox last World Series win was right before the non-waiver trade deadline the year after.

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July 31, 2008: The Dodgers sent Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche to the Pirates. The Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. The Red Sox sent Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates. The Pirates sent Jason Bay to the Red Sox.

 

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Looking Forward to the Off-Season, 2013 and Beyond

According Cots Contracts and Baseball Prospectus, the Red Sox have four players signed to guaranteed deals next season: John Lackey, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz. Combined, the four of them will make about $42 million. The four players traded to the Dodgers were set to make just over $60 million next year alone.

Here is a list of signed players, free agents and players eligible for arbitration this off-season. 

Entering this season, if the Red Sox were to stand pat, they would have had $107,852,000 in contracts for the 2013 season before arbitration. That number now stands at $42 million. That’s a tremendous amount of savings that gives the Red Sox a tremendous amount of financial flexibility in the near future.

It’s hard to project what exactly the Red Sox roster will look like next season, especially because of all the new found spending money the team has, but since the future now is the focus, it’s not too early to start to look at it.

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Rounding the Bases: Reaction to the Blockbuster Trade

The nine-player trade between the Red Sox and the Dodgers that took place on Saturday is unlike any trade the sport has ever seen. Over $250 million in contracts were traded between two teams, and for the first time ever, two players signed to $100 million deals were traded in the same deal. It was a trade that was impossible to predict a few weeks ago, and seemed to hit the baseball world by complete surprise. While many fans felt that a major shakeup of the roster needed to take place, no one could have imagined the Red Sox to take part in the biggest salary dump of all time. It’s hard to completely process it all and let set in – especially because of its unprecedented nature – but it’s clear that a major change in direction has just taken place for this Red Sox team.

The ramifications of this trade will become more apparent as time goes on. The trade represents such a significant change in culture and ideology that it’s hard to really comprehend. Here at BloodySox.com, we attempted to collect our respective emotions, feelings and reactions to the deal. There was certainly a mix of pessimism and optimism among us, though it seemed to tip significantly towards a feeling of excitement and eagerness to start a new chapter.

I asked four questions related to this trade to four of the site’s contributors – including myself – in an attempt to gauge the overall feeling of what just happened, and what we can expect to see happen in the near future.

1. What was your initial reaction to the trade once the news broke?

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