Brief Evaluation of Red Sox Trades before Deadline

First off let’s get the rough part out of the way. The Sox are in last place in the AL East and 11 games below .500. Through 110 games, they rank 26th in the MLB with Runs Scored and have a -56 differential. My guess as to the strategy going into the deadline was to get some run production. Queue Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig. Exit hometown favorite, John Lester, and seasoned veteran, John Lackey. Given some other major deals at the deadline, I think the Sox put themselves in the best position to cure some of the major ailments of the season thus far.

While it may appear on the surface that the rotation is in shambles (it is with Buchholz as the #1), I am looking for a big deal with a starter in the offseason. My biggest takeaway is that the offensive side of the game was severely struggling and moves were made to produce runs in the short and long term. It will be exciting to see how the rest of the season will pan out.

Back into the Swing of Things

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As many baseball players know, everyone experiences the frustration associated with being in a slump. Fortunately for the Red Sox, this 10 game losing streak has been put into the rear view. After tonight’s 7-1 victory against the Rays, the Sox are now on a 6 game winning streak as they climb up from the bottom of the AL East standings. They are 6 games back from Toronto and are 3 games below .500. Despite recent woes, the Red Sox are experiencing success from many of their younger contributors as they look to make some noise in the AL East.

After some minor controversy concerning David Price throwing at several batters, it appears that all the nerves were let out with a bench clearing scuffle last night. Tonight, the Sox were focused on the win. Rubby De La Rosa made his first major league start in nearly 3 years and looked as if it had been 3 weeks. He pitched 7 innings, allowing no runs off 4 hits.  Brock Holt (pictured above) hit his first major league home run in the 3rd to jump out to a 2-0 lead. That would be all De La Rosa and the rest of the staff would need. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a 2-run homer in the 5th, which made it 7-0. JBJ also collided into the Green Monster on a fly ball, which allowed an inside the park home run for the Rays.

On the whole, it was a successful night for the Sox with solid performances from some of their younger prospects. In addition to De La Rosa, Bradley, and Holt, Jonathan Herrera went 3-4 with 2 runs scored. The Red Sox finish up the series against the Rays on Sunday and after they will be traveling against the Indians, Tigers, and Orioles for the next week and a half.

First Home Game of the Season

After torrential snow, blistering wind gusts, and ice cold temperatures, I finally attended my first Red Sox home game of this season this past Sunday. With months of experiencing Winter’s harsh reality, I sat in the bleachers on a balmy 42 degree night to watch the Sox make an incredible comeback against the Orioles. Jake Peavy took the mound across from Ubaldo Jimenez on Sunday Night Baseball, Easter edition. The Red Sox came back from a 5-0 deficit going into the bottom of the 6th to win it in walk off fashion in the bottom of the 9th. Games like this, where nearly half of the stands had cleared by the 7th inning, remind me of why I am such an avid Red Sox and baseball fan. 

Walking into Gate C of Fenway Park for the first time in nearly a year brought chills and goosebumps as I approached the top of the steps to the bleachers. Pristine grass and a sea of fans in the seats never fails to amaze as a spectacular sight for any baseball fan. Despite this being one of many games I have attended, there is something special about the first of each season. After stuffing my face with steak and lamb for Easter dinner, I saved some room for an original Fenway Frank and an Italian sausage for good measure. Sitting next to one of my dear friends from my own team, I was in a blissful state watching the first pitch. However, after giving up 3 runs in the first, I began to feel some discouragement. 

Despite the lackluster start, I never lost the faith in my hometown team even as they went down 5 runs as the last place team in the AL East. The bats were as cold as the night air for the first 5 innings as the Red Sox only recorded two hits and Jimenez was looking like the All Star that he is. But finally, Johnny Gomes broke the shutout with a towering 3-run homer into left field over the green monster. Now it was a ball game. 

After some offseason acquisitions, the Red Sox bullpen was being put to the test in a tight ball game. Chris Capuano, Andrew Miller, Junichi Tazawa, and Edward Mujica pitched in stellar fashion to slam the door allowing only 2 hits on 0 runs in the final three innings. Two of the four were offseason pickups that appeared to payoff based on Sunday night’s performance. Capuano looked especially impressive with 1.2 innings pitched with 1 hit and 2 strikeouts. The Springfield, MA native from Duke demonstrated his revitalization with his pitching career.  

At the plate, Johnny Gomes was the star of the show. He went 2-4 with a home run, double, and 3 RBIs. He is hitting .225 with a .333 OBP and a .425 slugging percentage on the season. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz also had multi-hit nights including an RBI for Big Papi. Pedroia and Ortiz are hitting .260 and .254 respectively on the season. Brock Holt was another quality performer going 1 for 3 with a walk. The rookie is hitting .400 on the season with a .600 slugging percentage. 

All in all, it was a wonderful opening day for myself and my extended family. One can never complain about a come from behind victory, especially when it is in a walk off fashion. Seeing my favorite team and player (Pedroia) was a wonderful delight even if it meant enduring wintry weather in the process. Hopefully I will see a similar victory tomorrow night against the Evil Empire. 

An Opening Day Narrative Concerning Baseball

I am a baseball person. I am a diehard Red Sox fan, I play on the club team here at BC, and I even blog about it. I watch it, play it, and write about it. I think those are the three characteristics of a true fanatic, emphasis on the addict. Where I am today in regards to baseball is not indicative of the sequence of events that lead me to find this passion for the sport. There have been twist, turns, and even 15 car collisions along the way. While the road has been anything but smooth, the rough patches have helped foster my passion for this sport.

It all began with tee ball at the age of 6 years old. My dad was the coach of the team and we donned the black and silver jerseys of the Colorado Rockies. Mind you, this wasn’t your typical tee ball league since the coach of your team would pitch to you unless you struck out, and then you got a chance to hit off the tee. I remember this one time when my dad laid a pitch right into my wheelhouse. My eyes widened and I put every inch of my 4 foot nothing frame into the pitch and sent it directly up the middle, straight into my father’s testicles. Subconsciously I may have decided that I didn’t want a brother or sister so I proceeded to incapacitate any possible outcomes of that occurring.

Transitioning into little league, I was beginning to really fall in love with the sport. I’m not sure how it was for anyone else, but in my hometown, the majors were about as primetime as baseball got. I mean on the main field there were lights, nice fences, bullpens, and stands around home plate and the outfield. There were even trades of players and this “protection” system for younger kids for the major league teams where they had your playing rights for two years. Think of it as an indentured servitude for the best 9 year olds. Naturally, the Cardinals protected me when I was 9 and after paying my dues in the minors, yes there was a minor league farm system, I would be rocking the super fly red button down jersey with the stitched letters and numbers. But remember that whole rough patch part I mentioned earlier? I did not make the team that year. It’s incredible how vivid some memories are but I can perfectly recall the sinking feeling when I found out. It happened at the field literally right down the street from my house and I cried the entire walk home. I was not going to be a major league baseball player.

Now fast-forward about 6 years to when I am 15 years old. I had started playing in an inner city league that was sponsored by the Red Sox and was fortunate enough to make the all-star team to compete in a regional tournament in Jersey. After going undefeated, we played the regional championship in Yankee stadium. Yes, that Yankee stadium and playing whom else but the team sponsored by the Yankees. The Red Sox actually sent someone to deliver authentic spring training jerseys for us so that we could look the part against the timeless rivalry of Red Sox v. Yankees. I remember the pure excitement of warming up on the same field as the best players in the world and sitting in the same dugout as my favorite player, Dustin Pedroia, while also wearing his same number. For this brief moment in time, I was no different than a major league baseball player.

There are three types of people in this world and they can all be judged in the moment after striking out. There’s the guy who throws his bat and helmet after a swinging miss, the one who argues with the umpire over a called third strike, and the one who hustles back to the dugout to grab a hat and glove in preparation to take the field. In baseball, success is really only a minor victory. The failures along the way have truly helped me develop into the person I am today.

America’s Pastime in the Land Down Under

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During the very early morning of this past saturday (or late friday evening), the MLB season kicked off with the first pitch thrown by Arizona’s pitcher, Wade Miley, for the first time in the southern hemisphere. As part of a global expansion marketing campaign, the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers squared off at the Sydney, Australia Cricket grounds for the first matchup of the 2014 season with a 2 game series. The Dodgers swept the D-backs 3-1 and 7-5 respectively. Despite some lackluster comments leading up to the series, Clayton Kershaw was spectacular as usual recording the win with 7 strikeouts and 1 earned run in 6.2 innings pitched. Also, Scott Van Slyke, the 3rd year left fielder for the Dodgers, went 2-3 with a double off the top of the wall in left and a home run over the wall in right. More notably, the young star, Yasiel Puig, ended the first game going 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. He did rally in the second game with three hits but some base running mistakes to go along with it. With concerns over a sore back, Puig is listed as day to day with a potential need for an MRI. With the first pitch being thrown 10,000 miles away and the Red Sox’s opener over a week away, these two games were merely a light appetizer to a 54 course meal (162 games divided by 3 games = 54 series).

Although I typically do not follow the National League, it was interesting to see two of the better teams square off, even if it was only for 2 games. Even with the small sample size, I had a few pretty key takeaways from the Aussie series. The first was that the Dodger’s starting pitching staff exhibited pure domination against Arizona. Kershaw gave up 1 earned run in 6.2 innings and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a 5 inning shutout. Collectively that is a 0.79 ERA for the starting staff so far, which is an impressive stat even if it is only through 2 games. The Dodgers also have Zach Greinke coming off of a calf injury after pitching 5 scoreless innings a week ago against the Padres in Spring Training. Greinke has posted three straight seasons with at least 15 wins and a 3.31 ERA over that same timeframe. Their fourth starter is newly acquired Dan Haren, the 33 year old right-handed California native. He was previously an above average starter on the front end of a rotation but has not performed as well in the past few years. Over the course of the last three seasons, he has a 38-37 record with a 3.96 ERA with declining innings pitched each season. Lastly, there is Josh Beckett who is the former Red Sox starter and 2 time World Series champion. Currently, he has struggled statistically with a 7-19 record and 4.76 ERA over the past two seasons. Despite his past successes with the Sox and Marlins, Josh Beckett is currently the most overpaid 5th starter in the MLB.

On the topic of payroll, here is a brief analysis of the Dodgers’ total salaries. With a total payroll of $220 million, they are the highest paying team in the MLB by nearly $20 million to the Yankees (2nd overall) and $80 million to the Red Sox (5th overall). As previously analyzed in my first post, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league with a cost per win of $2.4 million and no World Series title to show for it. Their pitching staff alone will make $66 million over the course of this season. This totals more than 5 entire teams, including the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays. Each of these teams posted the same or more wins than the Dodgers during this past regular season.

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The other takeaway surrounded the anomaly that is Yasiel Puig. Last season, he had a stretch where he was hitting above .500 for a period of time with acrobatic catches and a cannon arm in right field. He finished the season with a .319 BA, .534 Slugging, and 19 HRs. Needless to say, he could not keep up the astronomical pace that he began his career with but he will be an interesting player to watch over the course of this season as he starts to face the same caliber of pitching over and over.

With the 2014 season officially underway, the hype of this Major League season could not be higher. After a successful campaign in Australia, the MLB teams will look to chase the Red Sox as reigning World Series Champions. The Red Sox/Yankee Rivalry should occur at an even higher magnitude as Jacoby Ellsbury transitioned over to the Dark Side and the Yankees bulked up on free agents this offseason as Derek Jeter will conclude his career this season. Some of the young guns of the Sox will have to step into some major roles this season as Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr appear to have starting roles at SS and RF respectively. Regardless of the outcome, I am looking forward to another season of major league baseball.

A discussion about baseball and life