Tag Archives: Red Sox

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. 

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Initial Evaluation of the World Series Champs’ Lineup

RSWS

As the end of February rolls around the the World Series hangover begins to fade, the Red Sox begin to report to spring training down in Fort Meyers as they awake from their winter hibernation. With Jacoby Ellsbury transferring over to the dark side with the Evil Empire, Stephen Drew seeking out another contract on the free agent market, and Salty taking his talents to South Beach with the Marlins, some may be alarmed as a cause for concern for the Sox this season. However, have to fear as John Farrell will undoubtedly produce a dense lineup with the help of GM Ben Cherington as the Red Sox look to defend their 3rd WS title in the past 10 years. David Ortiz returns as one of the most clutch playoff hitters baseball has ever seen. Dustin Pedroia, affectionately known as PD, holds down the middle of the infield aside the highly rated prospect Xander Bogaerts, who can apparently speak 5 languages fluently. Next comes Will Middlebrooks holding down the hot corner at third base and the heavily bearded Mike Napoli lining up opposite him at first base. The outfield is rounded out with another promising prospect holding down centerfield with Jackie Bradley Jr. Alongside him are veterans Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes, with Daniel Nava seeing plenty of playing time in the mix. Lastly, AJ Pierzynski will be taking over the duties as the second component of the battery after his more than colorful commentary in last year’s World Series.

Here is a look at the potential lineup with each player’s respective statistics for 2013. Overall, the Sox will produce a deadly offensive lineup after coming off a league leading amount of runs scored this past season. Notables include Ortiz, Pedroia, and Victorino as some of the staples of the lineup for the upcoming season.

NAME GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS OWAR
C A.J. Pierzynski 134 503 48 137 24 1 17 70 0.272 0.297 0.425 0.722 1.8
1B Mike Napoli 139 498 79 129 38 2 23 92 0.259 0.360 0.482 0.842 2.9
2B Dustin Pedroia 160 641 91 193 42 2 9 84 0.301 0.372 0.415 0.787 4.7
3B Will Middlebrooks 94 348 41 79 18 0 17 49 0.227 0.271 0.425 0.696 0.6
SS Xander Bogaerts 18 44 7 11 2 0 1 5 0.250 0.320 0.364 0.684 0.4
LF Daniel Nava 134 458 77 139 29 0 12 66 0.303 0.385 0.445 0.831 3.4
CF Jackie Bradley Jr. 37 95 18 18 5 0 3 10 0.189 0.280 0.337 0.617 0
RF Shane Victorino 122 477 82 140 26 2 15 61 0.294 0.351 0.451 0.801 3.5
DH David Ortiz 137 518 84 160 38 2 30 103 0.309 0.395 0.564 0.959 4.4
OF Jonny Gomes 116 312 49 77 17 0 13 52 0.247 0.344 0.426 0.771 1.1
1B Mike Carp 86 216 34 64 18 2 9 43 0.296 0.362 0.523 0.885 1.7

As the Sox look to push across another record setting amount of runs this season, they will also look to shut down the opposition in their quest to do so on the arms of the pitching staff. While Dempster is off on his sabbatical, the Sox will only suffer slightly on paper. However, he could prove to be quite valuable as a long reliever who can keep them in games where the starter drops the ball. Riding the arms of the usual suspects with Lester, Lackey, Buchholz, and newly acquired Peavy, the Sox have one of the best starting pitching staffs in the AL. However, the bullpen is a little bit more of a question mark, as they lacked as much consistency as New England weather. Tazawa will undoubtedly shut the door for Uehara in the 8th and 9th but the 7th inning seems to be much more of a toss up. Breslow was incredibly lackluster in the playoffs last year and Doubront and Workman will struggle against lefties. Picking up Edward Mujica will prove to be a valuable move for the season but the Sox are in desparate need of a southpaw reliever for close games against left handed heavy lineups.

Here is a look at the Sox’s pitching staff for the season with their 2013 stats. Notables include the starters listed above in Lester, Lackey, and Buchholz. Additionally, Tazawa and Uehara are typically safe bets when it comes to shutting down hitters late in the game. However, the middle relievers may dictate how the entire bullpen is viewed in their success in getting the ball to the Asian sensations in the 8th and 9th.

NAME GP GS W L SV HLD IP SO K/9 WHIP ERA
SP1 Jon Lester 33 33 15 8 0 0 213.1 177 7.47 1.29 3.75
SP2 John Lackey 29 29 10 13 0 0 189.1 161 7.65 1.16 3.52
SP3 Clay Buchholz 16 16 12 1 0 0 108.1 96 7.98 1.02 1.74
SP4 Jake Peavy† 23 23 12 5 0 0 144.2 121 7.55 1.15 4.17
SP5 Ryan Dempster 32 29 8 9 0 0 171.1 157 8.25 1.45 4.57
RP1 Junichi Tazawa 71 0 5 4 0 26 68.1 72 9.48 1.2 3.16
RP2 Craig Breslow 61 0 5 2 0 14 59.2 33 4.98 1.12 1.81
RP3 Felix Doubront 29 27 11 6 0 0 162.1 139 7.71 1.43 4.32
RP4 Brandon Workman 20 3 6 3 0 1 41.2 47 10.15 1.42 4.97
RP5 Edward Mujica 65 0 2 1 37 5 64.2 46 6.4 1.01 2.78
CL Koji Uehara 73 0 4 1 21 13 74.1 101 12.23 0.57 1.09

In conclusion, the Red Sox are hard pressed for another successful season coming off of their World Series title. Several key components have flocked to other teams and the front office has done decently well in filling in the holes with Free Agents and prospects. The bullpen (as usual) will remain a question mark along with the ability for veteran players to hold up and continue to perform as the lengthy 162 game season begins to take its toll. The Sox have not won back to back WS titles since 1915-16 and will look to repeat history for the first time in nearly 100 years.

~MTE

Boston Runs on Pedroia

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

5’8″, 165 pounds, and 100% heart, determination, and dedication. Of course I am mentioning the Rookie of the year, All Star, and MVP second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The Woodland, CA native was drafted in the second round and 65th overall as an undersized shortstop. In addition to his paramount success in the MLB at the plate and in the field, he is a class act off the field as well. In college, he gave up his last two years of scholarship in order to recruit a better pitching staff. Much to my delight, he also resigned with the Red Sox for another 7 years. Safe to say, he has been one of the vital components of the Red Sox for the past 6 years and will continue to be a major contributor on the diamond and in the locker room.

Let’s breakdown some of Pedroia’s stats over the course of his MLB career. He has hit above .300 in all but two years during his 6 full seasons including solid RBI numbers and OBP. Additionally, he has been averaging 20 stolen bases and scores at least 90-100 runs most seasons.

YEAR GP AB R H 2B HR RBI SB AVG OBP
2007 139 520 86 165 39 8 50 7 0.317 0.380
2008* 157 653 118 213 54 17 83 20 0.326 0.376
2009 154 626 115 185 48 15 72 20 0.296 0.371
2011 159 635 102 195 37 21 91 26 0.307 0.387
2012 141 563 81 163 39 15 65 20 0.290 0.347
2013 160 641 91 193 42 9 84 17 0.301 0.372

After winning Rookie of the Year in 2007, along with a World Series title, Pedroia came back to win the MVP award in 2008. During this season, he hit .326 with an OBP of .376, 17 HRs and 83 RBIs. Not to mention the countless incredible plays in the field that he made including a .992 fielding percentage which was his career high until this past season.

It’s hard to decide which is more enjoyable to watch. A moonshot home run over the green monster where Dustin gets every inch of his 5’8″ (more likely 5’6″-7″), 165 pound frame into a high and inside fastball that sails over the Sports Authority billboard in left field. Or a rocket line drive that skips past the pitcher up the middle destined for a base hit only to be met by the diving #15 who bounces up, turns and throws before the hitter can even believe that his average somehow just declined. I will leave that up to you based off of these 2013 highlights.

Whichever you found to be more enjoyable I think everyone can agree that PD is one of the best players in the MLB but for different reason. As an undersized middle infielder, discounted as just another average prospect in college, and riddled with minor nagging injuries thus far, it’s safe to say he is somewhat of an underdog despite his two WS championships, ROY, and MVP awards. Seeing as we share the same birthday, Pedroia will always go down as my favorite childhood baseball player and role model.

~MTE

A Payroll Recap of the 2013 MLB Season

BStrong

The 2013 season turned out to be a drastic turnaround and fairy tale ending for the World Champion Red Sox. After a 69-93 record and finishing last in the AL east in 2012, former pitching coach John Farrell lead the team to its third post season title in the last 10 years. Per the usual insane postseason performance from David Ortiz hitting .353 with 5 HRs and 13 RBIs and some inspirational words concerning the Marathon tragedy the Red Sox were back on the map as a serious contender in Major League Baseball.

Following some of the logic written in Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” here is an analysis of the regular season when compared to payroll and wins. No surprise to see the A’s ranking amongst the best in the cost per win category after reading the depiction of Billy Beane’s philosophy during the early 2000s.

Payroll Wins Cost per Win
Tampa Bay Rays $57,505,272 92 $625,057.30
Oakland Athletics $60,372,500 96 $628,880.21
Washington Nationals $114,194,270 86 $1,327,840.35
Boston Red Sox $140,657,500 97 $1,450,077.32
Philadelphia Phillies $170,760,689 73 $2,339,187.52
New York Yankees $203,445,586 85 $2,393,477.48
Los Angeles Dodgers $220,395,196 92 $2,395,599.96

Here are a few surprises that I noticed when compiling this list. First, the Dodgers ranked among the worst in the league in this cost per win category despite having a successful regular season with 92 wins and winning the NL West by 11 games. However, they had the highest payroll in the MLB by nearly $17 million above the Yankees (more to come on them later). Much of this payroll spike came from a blockbuster deal in August of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox after their abysmal finish to end the 2012 season. As a Sox fan, I was a little discouraged to see Gonzalez sent away after such a good year statistically. Now I am eating my words naturally but now I am beginning to question what the Dodger’s GM was thinking at the time.

First, you have Josh Beckett a clear veteran on the pitching staff and 2 time World Series champion and WS MVP with the Marlins in 2003. That being said, at the time of the deal, he is approaching the end of his prime and had a 5.23 ERA with Boston up until that point. Not to mention, his contract is quite the price to pay because of his veteran status. I do not fault the idea of bringing a senior starting pitcher to a championship contender but I do question the $17 million they paid him in 2013 only to make 8 starts on the season.

Then there’s Carl Crawford. From 2005 to 2010 with the Rays, he hit above .300 in all but one season with 40+ stolen bases most years and 100+ runs twice over that span. But here comes the catch. After being acquired by the Red Sox, he hit .255 and had an OBP of .289, both career lows. In addition, he battled an injury all of the 2012 season. Even with the bounce back during 2013, I question the $20 million he was paid after some pretty horrendous results the previous two season.

Finally, Adrian Gonzalez who had to have been the only reason the Dodgers even considered this deal. Great first baseman at the plate and in the field coming off of 6 straight seasons of either 100+ RBIs, BA of .300+ or BOTH! Fun fact is that I saw him play in AA when he was with the Rangers and I still have the splintered Louisville Slugger he gave me after the game. But in the context of this trade, he was really the only upside the Dodgers had and while they had a successful regular season, credit the World Series hardware to the Red Sox.

Naturally since I am a diehard Sox fan, here comes the expected gloating in the face of Yankee fans. A $200 million payroll, steroid-using third baseman, and a new stadium with a shortened right centerfield cannot buy you a championship. But all rivalries aside, it was a dismal season for the Bronx bombers in 2013. A third place finish in the AL East (tie with Baltimore actually), 85-77 record, and a negative run differential are all some pretty troubling signs for the Evil Empire. That being said, GM Brian Cashman has spent no time sitting around and has acquired CF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Brian McCann, and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the best rivalries between the Sox and Yanks.

Lastly, here’s some praise for small budget teams’ success in the regular season. I will stick to the Rays since it is no new phenomenon that the A’s continue to compete with the big boys on a tight budget (credit to Billy Beane once again). First, let’s focus on Evan Longoria easily one of the best third baseman in the MLB and someone who values their organization over their paycheck (Robinson Cano have fun in Seattle). Longoria agreed to a contract extension for six years with the Rays for much less than he could have received on the open market. Through 6 seasons he has an OBP of .357 and 544 RBIs. However, he is one of the best defensive corner infielders in baseball and makes highlight reel plays appear to be routine. Along with David Price leading the pitching rotation and Ben Zobrist as one of the best offensive second basemen, the AL East should continue to be one of the most competitive divisions in the MLB next season.

~MTE