Tag Archives: RED SOX

IT’S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

As Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s Deja Vu all over again ‘ this time in Boston and it started on August 14 and continued through last night and for how long no one knows at this point.

This time around, Mookie Betts grabbed the wall, just after making another one of the most spectacular catches of the year, and kept himself from falling into the bullpen with the ball and robbed Chris Davis of his 41st home run.

This time around, Rich Hill, who as a reliever in the Sox system pitched a total of 37 innings in the Major Leagues between 2010 and 2012, has started three games, pitched 23 innings, struck out 30 batters and given up just three runs for a 1.17 ERA. By the way, the Sox won all three of the games he started, he got the win in two of them, including last night’s complete game, two hit shutout of the Orioles. In the game he didn’t get the win in, he went seven scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, and the Sox got two in the top of the ninth to win 2-0.

This time around, David Ortiz, who was hitting .231 with 15 homers before the All Star break and now is hitting .284 with 36 homers, had three doubles, three RBI’s and two runs scored in the 7-0 win.

This time around, Xander Bogaerts, who was hitting .304 at the All Star Break and is now hitting .325, had three more hits including a double, an RBI and two runs scored.

If you watched the Red Sox come off the field after Betts’ circus catch, Hill’s magnificent performance and Ortiz’s and Bogaerts’ heroics you saw a team made up of mostly young, extremely talented players who are having a hell of a time for themselves. Call it deja vu, call it chemistry, call it anything you want, whatever happened in Boston on August 14 was nothing less than magical .

Can they sustain it and carry this enthusiasm and success over to next year? Only time will tell but I’ll tell you one thing, even this Yankee Fan is excited about this team and, as they have said in Boston for years, I can’t ‘Wait Until Next Year.’

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THE RED SOX NEW KILLER BEES

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.

THE MIRACLE OF YAWKEY WAY!!

I call it the Miracle of Yawkey Way. On August 13, the Red Sox were in last place, 13 games out of first with a record of 50 wins and 64 losses. Today they are still in last place, and now 14 games out of first but their record is 64 wins and 72 losses.

How is that a miracle? They are a game further behind than they were on August 13. Do the math!! Since August 13, they have won 14 and lost just 8, a .636 won loss percentage. The only team in baseball with a won loss percentage better than that for the season is the St. Louis Cardinals.

On August 14, Torey Lovullo took over as Red Sox interim Manager and the world, at least the Red Sox portion of it, turned! Since then, some amazing things have happened.

Jackie Bradley’s average went from .174 to .292 as he had 28 hits in 68 at bats, a .412 average. The starting pitchers, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez had a combined ERA of 2.13. Blake Swihart hit .477 with 21 hits in 44 at bats. Mookie Betts hit .348, Xander Bogaerts hit .348 and raised his average for the year to .320 third best in the league. Brock Holt’s average went from .276 to .282, Betts from .266 to .282, Swihart’s from .243 to .288, Rusney Castillo from .268 to .279.

During this period, Joe Kelly, whose ERA was 5.96 on August 13, had an ERA of 1.68, Rick Porcello, whose ERA was 5.83 on August 13, had a .60 ERA, Eduardo Rodriguez, whose ERA was 4.83 on August 13, had an ERA of 1.73 and Wade Miley, whose ERA was 4.68 on August 13, had an ERA of 3.50.

The bullpen does not seem to have been affected by the Miracle of Yawkey Way, posting a 4.01 ERA in this period but I’m sure the new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski will work some miracle there.

Something happened in Boston that made an absolutely terrible team into a very good team at least for this short period of time. What will happen the rest of the season remains to be seen but Torey Lovullo has brought out the best in his young players.

With only 26 games left the Sox are certainly not going to make the playoffs. They have, however, shown that the young talent that they already have can be the foundation for a winning team.

As you may know, I am a Yankee fan who recently published a book ‘From Beer To Beards, Boston Baseball’s 2011-2013 Roller Coaster Ride’. If I were to write a new book about the Red Sox today the title would be ‘Red Sox Fans Can’t Wait Until Next Year’.

IS RICK PORCELLO REALLY BACK?

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.

SOX DON’T GET WHAT THEY PAY FOR !!

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.

CHANGES IN BOSTON!!

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 YOUTH IN RED SOX FUTURE

THE YOUTH IN RED SOX FUTURE

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.