As the Red Sox enter the second month of the season, I thought it appropriate to recognize the role played by a native Mainer in their success.

Before the season started, people had questions about the ability of the pitching staff, both starting and relief, and whether it would perform better than last year with the additions of David Price, Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith.

The next big questions Sox fans had revolved around Hanley Ramirez, who the Red Sox had paid a small fortune to and turned into the worst left fielder in baseball last year and were planning to make a first baseman out of this year and what would happen at third base now that Pablo Sandoval, who had also gotten a small fortune to play third base, and had turned out to be a flop last year and showed up at Spring Training out of shape and bigger than ever.

Nobody thought that one month into the season, Ramirez would be playing first base like he’d been there all his life and that, before Sandoval went on the disabled list with an injured shoulder and/or pride, that young first baseman Travis Shaw would be playing third base like a veteran and hitting the cover off the ball.

Ramirez, who couldn’t be bothered to try to learn to play left field last year, worked every day in Spring Training to develop the skills to allow him to play a position which, according to Baseball Reference, he had never played at any level in the minors or majors.

Shaw had started a total of just 59 games at third base in his five year minor league career while starting 335 at first base. Last year, after coming up to the Sox late in the season, he played only eight games at third, 55 at first and one in left field.

What is the one thing that these two, who have been important cogs in the Red Sox defense so far, have in common? The answer is Brian Butterfield, the Red Sox, 58 year old third base coach, who also doubles as the infield instructor and base running coach. Butterfield is one of the most respected infield coaches in all of baseball. He has worked tirelessly with Ramirez since he arrived at Spring Training hitting literally thousands of ground balls and imparting his special brand of wisdom.

Butterfield was an infielder himself, a second baseman who played five seasons in the minor leagues in the Yankees system but never made the big leagues. He started at Oneonta in the New York/Pennsylvania League in low A ball in 1979 and worked his way up to AAA with the Nashville Sound in the International League in 1982, where he hit .238 in 71 games. The next year, he was back with Miami in the Class A Florida League and that was the end of his playing career.

Butter, as he is affectionately known around baseball, was born in Bangor, Maine, on March 9, 1958. His father, Jack, was the University of Maine baseball coach from 1957 to 1974 and also served as Vice President for Player Development and Scouting for the New York Yankees from 1977-1979.

After attending Maine briefly, Butterfield got his B. A. from Florida Southern in 1980 while playing in the minors and filling in as an Assistant Coach at Southern and then at Eckerd College.

After his playing career, he served in various positions in the Yankee system including as roving infield instructor at different levels throughout the organization. In 1988, he was named Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year after leading his Sarasota team to the league title.

He managed at different levels in the minors and in 1994 and 1995 he was Buck Showalter’s first base coach with the Yankees and, coincidentally, a player who turned out to be a pretty good infielder, Derek Jeter, came up with the Yankees at that time.

He left the Yankees to go to the new franchise Arizona Cardinals in 1996 and helped get the franchise ready to begin play in 1998 when he became third base coach. He managed the Tampa Bay Yankees in the Florida State League to a share of that league’s title in 2001 and started the following season as the Manager of the Columbus Clippers in the AAA International League. After a bad start, he was fired on May 6 and, less than a month later, was hired as third base coach with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He was with Toronto until 2013, serving as Bench Coach in 2008 and 2009 and going back to third base coach in 2010. In 2010, when Toronto hired John Farrell as Manager, Butterfield had been a finalist for that position. When Farrell left to go to Boston as Manager in 2013, Butterfield was again a finalist for the position but when John Gibbons was hired for the job, Butter went to Boston with Farrell as third base coach and infield instructor.

He is in his 37th year in professional baseball and his 20th as a Coach at the Major League level. He was elected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

If the Red Sox should go all the way this year, much of the credit should go to this Maine native who solved their corner infield problems and may very well have saved Hanley Ramirez’s career in baseball. Whatever happens with the Red Sox team, watching the Red Sox defense, particularly the corner infielders, from the dug out this year must be providing some of Butterfield’s proudest moments in a long and productive career.


In the nineties and into the early part of this century, the lowly Houston Astros had a trio of players called the Killer Bees, all players whose surname began with a B. Most people can name the first two and most prominent of the three, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, but have trouble with the third.

There were a number of players whose name began with a B in this era. The first was Derek Bell, who played with the Astros from 1995 to 1999. He was an outfielder and the first of the number three Killer Bees. The most prominent and the player most thought of when thinking of the Killer Bees is Lance Berkman.

From 1999 until 2005, these three played together on the Astros. Biggio who came up as a catcher in 1988, mostly played the outfield and second base and was elected to the Hall of Fame this year. He had a career batting average of .281 in his 20 year career with the Astros and accumulated 3,060 hits.

Bagwell, a first baseman for his entire career, played with the Astros from 1991-2005. He had a career batting average of .298 and hit 449 home runs, had 1,529 RBI’s and 2,314 hits for Houston.

Unlike the other two, Berkman did not play his entire career with the Astros. He was an Astro from 1999-2010 and hit .296 with them with 326 homers and 1,090 RBI’s. He went on to play with the Yankees, Rangers and Cardinals hitting an additional 40 homers to total 366 for his career.

In case you were wondering why their fans affectionately called them the Killer Bees, the three of them hit a grand total of 1,066 home runs for the Astros and drove in 3,794 runs.

Those Killer Bees are long gone but there is a new group of Killer Bees making their presence felt in the Major Leagues. Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley are quickly becoming the Red Sox version of the Killer Bees.

If you haven’t looked lately, Betts just hit in his 16th consecutive game last night and has raised his average to .285 with 14 homers and an impressive 70 RBI’s out of the lead off slot. Bogaerts got three more hits last night and raised his average to .321, second highest in the American League, with 169 hits, also second in the league. Bradley, who was hitting .174 on August 14, is now hitting .293 after going 32 for 81 since then, for a .395 average.

The three are all locked in long term to the Sox with Bogaerts and Bradley not becoming eligible for Free Agency until 2020 and Betts until 2021. These are not the only young Sox who make the future look bright for the Boston Red Sox but these new Killer Bees could form the nucleus of many successful Red Sox teams for the near future.


Red Sox pitcher, Rick Porcello, was placed on the Disabled List with a right triceps strain on August 2. At the time, Porcello, who had been signed as a Free Agent and was being paid $12.5 million this year and $82.5 million over the next four years, had a record of 5-11 with an Earned Run Average of 5.81.

On August 15, he was sent to the Lowell Spinners, the Red Sox A affiliate in the New York/Penn League on a rehab assignment. While there, he started one game, pitching 3 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and no runs. On August 21, he was then sent to the Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket where he started one game, pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on three hits.

He was activated on August 26, by the Red Sox and pitched seven innings against the White Sox in Chicago, holding them scoreless on five hits, while striking out five, as the Sox won, 3-0. On September 1, against the Yankees at Fenway Park, he went eight innings, giving up just one earned run, a homer by Brett Gardner in the eighth inning.

The Yankees had scored two unearned runs in the fifth when Travis Shaw misplayed a ground ball, that would have been the third out, and the Yankees got a two run scoring double by ex-Red Sox short stop, now Yankee second baseman, Stephen Drew. If Shaw had fielded that ball, Porcello would have left with the score tied 1-1 after eight. As it was it was 3-1 which was the final score and he got the loss.

What happened in Porcello’s 9 1/3 innings of pitching in the minors that brought him back to the Red Sox a different pitcher? Before the rehab, he had averaged 5 2/3 innings and 4.6 strikeouts per start. Since coming back he has averaged 7 ½ innings per start and nine strikeouts and has given up just one run in 15 innings pitched.

More importantly, does this small sampling indicate that the Rick Porcello the Red Sox signed and expected to be an effective starter has solved his problems and will perform as they expected him to for the remainder of his contract?

In the four weeks he was off the Red Sox roster, Porcello worked on what they call his ‘command and control’. Command and control is just the way people on the ‘IN’ refer to being able to throw the ball where you want to, when you want to. Kind of like calling the kid behind the fast food counter who takes your money and does what the register tells him to do a ‘Customer Service Representative’.

Whatever he did during that period, I hope the long term effect is as good as the short term has been. Rick Porcello has been a part of the problem so far this year. If he can maintain the form we saw in his last two outings, he’ll be a part of Dave Dombrowski’s solution for the 2016 Red Sox.


With the Red Sox in last place, 13 ½ games out of first place, despite winning eight of their last 13 games under interim Manager Torey Lovullo, I thought I’d take a look at the salaries of this year’s team compared with teams in the past few years.

The Sox players’ payroll on Opening Day of what I like to call the Season From Hell, was $187,407,202., according to stevetheump.com. (Steve’s figures seem to be as accurate as most services providing this info and what’s a few million dollars here or there when you’re dealing with hundreds of millions.)

This figure makes the Red Sox the third highest paid team in baseball behind the Los Angeles Dodgers whose payroll was almost $273. million and the New York Yankees with a payroll of over $219. million. Since 2010, the Sox have been in the top two to four in baseball salaries every year and have managed to finish first once, third twice, last twice and are well on their way to a third last place finish in their division.

This year’s figure is the highest in Red Sox history and they are on track for 74 wins at the rate they have won so far. The only times they won less games than they are projected to win this year since John Henry’s crew took over was in 2014 when they won only 71 under John Farrell and 2012 when they won just 69 under the infamous Bobby Valentine.

When they won 69 in 2012, their payroll was over $173. million, the second highest total in their history and, when they won 71 in 2014, their payroll was almost $163. million, the third highest in their history. In the ‘Henry Era’, apparently, there is an inverse relationship between pay and performance. The three highest paid teams have finished last.

On the other hand, the team that won the pennant and the World Series in 2013, had the lowest payroll of the six teams since 2010 at just under $151. million.

It would seem that, at least from this admittedly small sample, the solution to the Red Sox problems may be to cut payroll. It certainly makes more sense than getting rid of a popular broadcaster whose ratings have gone down because the team on the field has failed to earn its pay.


If you saw the Red Sox play the Kansas City Royals last weekend, you may have noticed that Ben Zobrist batted second in each of the four games. What you may not have noticed was that he started two of those games in left field and one each at third base and second base. The reason you may not have noticed is because of the smoothness and efficiency that he brings to every position he plays.

Zobrist is the ultimate utility player. In his ten year career, he has played every position on the field except pitch and catch and has batted in every position from first to ninth. He has played over 100 Major League games each at second base, shortstop, left field, center field and right field.

He is not a high average or power hitter, his career batting average is just
.264 and he has hit only 124 homers and batted in 557 runs.

After being drafted by Houston in the sixth round of the 2004 Amateur Draft, he spent two seasons and part of a third working his way through the minors, hitting over .300 at every stop. He was traded to Tampa Bay in 2006 and made his debut with the Rays on August 1 of that year.

He was with the Rays until January of this year when he was traded with Yunel Escobar to the Oakland Athletics. He played 67 games with the A’s, batting .268 with six homers and 33 RBI’s. In his 67 games he played every outfield position and second base.

On July 28, he was traded to the Royals for cash and two players. When he played his first game for the Royals on July 30, the Royals were in first place, nine games up. He has hit .342 in his 21 games with the Royals with four homers and thirteen RBI’s and the Royals have moved to 13 games ahead in that period. He has played third base, second base and left field so far as a Royal.

In his career, he has handled 4,037 chances at seven different positions and made just 68 errors for a .983 fielding percentage. There is no loss of defense no matter where he plays.

Joe Maddon, his Manager in Tampa Bay for nine years, made good use of his talents. Of course, he was the perfect fit for Madden’s style of play. Maddon loves ballplayers who can play multiple positions and moves his players like chess pieces.

Zobrist is a Free Agent at the end of this season. Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon are building the Chicago Cubs into a powerhouse in the National League Central Division. Don’t be surprised if 34 year old Ben Zobrist is the last piece of the puzzle that is that powerhouse.


The Boston Red Sox continue to look like a different team since Torey Lovullo replaced the ailing John Farrell at the helm last Friday. In their latest installment, the Sox made it two in a row over the Kansas City Royals with an impressive 7-2 victory. After winning the series opener on Thursday night, 4-1, the Sox got a great start from 23 year old Henry Owens in his fourth Major League appearance.

Owens went eight innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits for his second victory. After walking the lead off batter in the first innings, he didn’t give up another walk as he stifled the potent Kansas City offense.

As has generally been the case, the offense was led by the younger players. The bottom third of the order, right fielder Rusney Castillo, catcher Blake Swihart and second baseman Josh Rutledge got eight hits in 12 at bats, including two doubles, a triple and a homer, driving in five runs and scoring six. The veteran trio of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, left fielder Hanley Ramirez and DH David Ortiz, meanwhile, went a collective 1-13 at the plate. In the two wins against the Royals, they are 2-24 with Sandoval having the two hits.

The starting and relief pitching has been vastly improved during this brief period. Wade Miley gave up just one run in 7 1/3 innings to the Royals on Thursday night. Junichi Tazawa, installed as Closer after the loss of Koji Uehara, got his second save in two nights in that game, after blowing his first six save tries this year before Lovullo took over.

The Sox are now 6-2 in their first eight days under Interim Manager Lovullo. The release of Justin Masterson coupled with Ben Cherrington’s exit this week and the hiring of Dave Dombrowski may have sent a message that the Red Sox ownership has had enough of this horrendous season and intends to right the ship.

It remains to be seen if this is just a Honeymoon Period or if the Sox players are ready to begin to perform like the highly paid professionals they are supposed to be.



The Red Sox are in last place in the American League East, 12 ½ games behind the Yankees. This weekend, they scored 45 runs and had 60 base hits in three games against the disappointing Seattle Mariners who were expected to contend for the Western Division Title this year but instead are mired in fourth place, with a 55-63 record, 9 games behind the surprising Houston Astros.

After winning the first two games 15-1 and 22-10, the Sox lost the third game of the series, 10-8, despite scoring 8 runs on 13 hits and coming from behind 7-0 to force the Mariners to twelve innings before they got beaten.

It is pretty obvious by now, with a record of 52-65, that they are not going to be in the playoffs. The best that they can hope for is to rebuild their pitching staff over the winter and develop the young talent that they have available to them into a contender.

With Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval out of the lineup with minor injuries yesterday, the Sox started Mookie Betts in center, Brock Holt at third, Xander Bogaerts at short, Rusney Castillo in right, Travis Shaw at first base, Blake Swihart behind the plate, Josh Rutledge at second , Jackie Bradley in left and Henry Owens on the mound. The only starter over 28 years old was designated hitter David Ortiz.

The average age of these starters, not counting Ortiz, was 24.5 years. At this point, the Sox could do worse than start these youngsters the rest of the way to give them experience, to be able to evaluate their potential for the future and perhaps even to enhance their value as trade bait for the future.

With 25 year old Christian Vasquez coming back from elbow surgery next year and Dustin Pedroia returning to play second, they will have some excess talent available that might help them trade for pitching. You have to assume that Owens, 22 year old Eduardo Rodriguez and 24 year old Brian Johnson are a part of their starting pitching plans for the future so they may not need a lot of starting pitching help.

This may be a lost year for the Red Sox but the future can look bright if they work on developing the talent they have and filling the holes they have through smart trades.

There should be no reason for Ben Cherrington, if he is still there after this season, to throw away more money on the Free Agent Market when the talent is there to rebuild with. At this point another Blockbuster trade that would allow them to dump Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in exchange for a quality starting pitcher might be the answer to their prayers.



After Thursdays day off, the Red Sox came home from a 3-5 road trip to host the Seattle Mariners in a three game set starting Friday night. Prior to the Friday game, Manager John Farrell held a press conference at which he announced that he had Stage one cancer of the lymphatic system which had been discovered in hernia surgery in Detroit on Monday of this week. He said the doctors had removed a lump during surgery and that the cancer was localized and ‘highly curable’. He said he will undergo chemotherapy and will be out on medical leave for the rest of the season.

Bench Coach Torey Lovullo was named to manage the team in Farrell’s absence. In his first game as Manager, the Sox scored 15 runs on 21 hits and beat Seattle 15-1. Joe Kelly started and went six innings, giving up just one run, on four hits, one a solo homer to Kyle Seager in the second, while striking out six. Saturday, the Sox scored 22 runs on 26 hits, beating Seattle 22-10 and Wade Miley gave them a second quality start in a row, pitching seven innings and giving up just two runs on four hits and striking out eight.

The Sox had scored 37 runs on 47 hits in two games under their new Manager and had gotten quality starts out of two pitchers while doing so. People were asking, ‘ Who is this Torey Lovullo? ‘

Lovullo had been Farrell’s Bench Coach since Farrell took over as Manager in Boston in 2013. Prior to that he had been First Base Coach under Farrell at Toronto in 2011 and 2012. He had previously managed in the Minor Leagues, winning the Manager of the Year Award while managing Kingston in the Carolina League in 2004 and Akron in the Eastern League in 2005.

He had had an undistinguished Major League career as a player after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the 1987 draft. He is fifty years old and made his Major League debut as a player with the Tigers on September 10, 1988.

He played eight years in the Major leagues for seven different teams. He was an infielder who played in 303 games and had a career batting average of
.224 and played every infield position in his eight years.

After these two blowouts, the Sox are still 52-64, 12 ½ games back, in last place in the Eastern Division. Whatever caused the Red Sox bats to explode as they did and their starting pitching to do so well in Lovullo’s first two games is a mystery. One thing is certain, it can’t last but it was a fun ride while it happened for Red Sox fans.


The charging Toronto Blue Jays won their eleventh game in a row last night, beating the Oakland Athletics 4-2 to maintain their half game lead over the Yankees in first place in the American League East. The Jays became the first team in baseball to record two winning streaks of 11 games in the same season since the Cleveland Indians did so in 1954.

On July 28, Toronto was 50-51, in fourth place, eight games behind. Today they are 64-52. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki played his first game with the Blue Jays on July 29 after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies. In his first game with Toronto, he went 3-5 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and two RBI’s.

He has not kept up that pace at the plate but has handled 120 chances in the field without an error. At the plate, since joining the Jays, he is 12-52 with three homers and six RBI’s but, since he was activated and played his first game on July 29, the Jays have won 14 and lost 1.

David Price, acquired by Toronto from the Detroit Tigers on July 30, has had his part in the streak as well. In his two starts since coming over, he went eight innings against the Twins on August 3, giving up just one run on three hits and striking out 11 and, on August 8, shut out the Yankees for seven innings on just three hits and struck out seven. His ERA for two starts with the Jays is 0.60 and he has two wins. He was 9-4 with Detroit with a 2.53 ERA.

The Yankees are coming to Toronto tonight for a three game series. It will be interesting to see if Toronto can continue its winning ways. In Game 1, Price will face Ivan Nova, 4-4. Game 2 will see Marco Estrada, 10-6, against Masahiro Tanaka, 8-5, and Game 3 will pit Drew Hutchison, 11-2, against Yankee rookie, 21 year old, Luis Severino, 0-1, in his third start with a 2.45 ERA.

Toronto looks to have the pitching advantage and a sweep would put them
3 ½ games up.


In their latest move to dump some of the deadwood they have acquired over the last three years and free up money to rebuild the team that won the World Series just two years ago, the Red Sox designated right handed pitcher, Justin Masterson, for assignment yesterday.

Masterson will probably be placed on waivers in the next few days. Under MLB rules, once a player is designated for assignment, the team has ten days to either trade him, release him, place him on waivers or return him to the 40 man roster. If they don’t find a trade partner right away and that is unlikely, the Sox will place him on waivers hoping some other team will claim him and relieve them of his $9.5 million dollar salary.

He has been ineffective as both a starter and reliever with the Sox this year after being signed as a Free Agent in December of 2014. He has had control problems and appeared in 18 games, nine as a starter, giving up 27 walks and 37 earned runs in just 59 1/3 innings for a 5.61 ERA.

He was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2006 draft and made his debut with them in 2008 before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2009. He split last year between Cleveland and the St. Louis Cardinals. He made nine appearances and was 3-3 with a 7.04 ERA with St. Louis before being granted Free Agency by the Cards and signed by Boston.

With the performance of Eduardo Rodriguez and the emergence of Henry Owens, who gave the Sox 10 innings of quality pitching in his first two Major League starts, the Sox apparently decided that they had had enough of Masterson and his erratic production. In his career, he has been in 258 games, has won only 64 while losing 74, has given up 491 walks in 1201 innings, has a 4.31 ERA and opponents hit .259 against him.

With a record of 50 wins and 62 losses, in last place in the American League East, 12 games out of first, with only 50 games to play, you can look for the Sox to continue to clean house while they try to get ready to rebuild for next year.