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Red Sox: Same Team Different Faces

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Why should we be so excited over the Red Sox winning the AL East for the second year in a row? After all, we won it in 2016 and we still got trounced by the Cleveland Indians in the first round, without making a whimper of resistance. Same team; different faces. Right?

Hey, at least we’re not in that Wild Card Game skirmish like the Yankees!

The Sox will be taking on the Houston Astros in game 1 of the 2017 ALDS, on Thursday night. They’ll endeavor to defeat one of the best teams in the MLB, in a 3 game series, without the invaluable leadership of Big Papi. This is the season subsequent to David Ortiz’s departure from both the Sox and baseball, so it’s understandable that foreboding and defeatism abounds. Boston has not been in this territory, without Ortiz at the helm, for well over a decade now.

But where we have lost our beloved iteration of “Mr. October” we’ve gained something that many would consider to be more integral to any solid postseason team, something that we really didn’t have in 2016: Starting pitching.

This new component is greatly polished by the talents of ace Chris Sale and his trusty sidekick Drew Pomeranz. Taking sort of a myopic, yet calculated, look at Boston’s path in the 2017 postseason, it’s evident that we should be able to get off to a strong start against the Astros – much stronger than the start that we got off to last year.  

The Hand You’re Dealt

Okay so Houston may have lead the MLB in runs per game in 2017, at 5.33. And sure, they hit about 1.5 HR’s per game, where the Sox barely averaged 1. But believe it or not, this is quite a favorable matchup for Boston. According to the aggregate statistics, we have the Astros’ number. The flare of Houston’s hitting has been historically extinguished by the current members of the Sox starting rotation, namely by southpaws Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz.

Collectively Houston batters have a .227 BA, against the dynamic-duo of Sale and Pomeranz. That stat is derived from a considerable sample size of 217 AB’s. Including sluggers like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the Astros have a measly team OPS of .624 against the Sox frontmen. Bear in mind that this is practically .200 lower than their overall 2017 OPS of .823. It’s clear that the Red Sox have an inherent advantage here.

Chris Sale has the more impressive record of the two lefties. He’ll be bolstering an opponent BA of .205 and an OPS of .535, going up against Houston in the first postseason start of his career.

Sale has been scrupulously tested in the regular season. But, as we all know, October is a singular contest.

Getting the Ball Rolling

An impassioned competitor, Sale will be pitching in Game 1 on 7-days rest – a full week. Hopefully, his yearning to win will have festered him to the point of athletic belligerence when it comes time for him to toe the rubber on Thursday. We’ve heard from Sale strong asseverations concerning the postseason, such as “this is what I’m here for”. Well, it’s now or never.

If Chris Sale could secure for the Red Sox a pivotal opening victory, it would inoculate this young team with the confidence that they need to go on a serious postseason run. Such a streak would help to separate Boston from the haunting shadow of Big Papi’s absence.

This is an absolutely enthralling time to be a fan of the Sox. Finally, David Ortiz alone is not the barometer for our potential success in October. We got here without him, and come Thursday night, we should see how we can win without him.

Columnist operating out of Manchester, NH. Retired pitcher (unprofessional not amateur). Voracious consumer of all things Celtics and Red Sox. Sometimes I produce content as well.

Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Rumor: Jackie Bradley Jr. Being Shopped For Trade

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Red Sox

With the Boston Red Sox looking to acquire a power bat this offseason to keep up with the Yankees they are reportedly shopping a core member of their current team.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today the player Boston is shopping is center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. One potential destination for Bradley is the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has been connected to Boston with slugger Kyle Schwarber potentially being available.

Schwarber has mashing power but has had issues at the plate having a .211 average last season that caused the Cubs to send the home run hitter back to the minors last June.

Bradley who hit 26 home runs two seasons ago fell back to 17 home runs this past season with a .245 batting average. His fielding ability though makes up for any shortcomings he has at the plate and his contract status could be very appealing in the trade market. Bradley Jr. has three years of arbitration remaining on his contract.

If Boston moves on from Bradley the likely scenario of outfield positioning would be moving Andrew Benintendi over to center field keeping Mookie Betts out in right field.

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Boston Red Sox

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Stanton in Pinstripes Edition

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MLB Home Run Derby

The snow is now cascading down upon us with indifferent wrath. Today, Boston saw the first real Winter Storm of the impending season. And while you were outside futilely efforting to resist nature, with your shovels and snowblowers, the World of Baseball fractured entirely.

If you haven’t heard by now, you live under the most obscure rock in existence. The New York Yankees have purportedly acquired Giancarlo Stanton from Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. 

Stanton is currently going through the formality of physicals and medical checkups – as if there’s going to be anything physically wrong with this inhuman behemoth.

The Winter Meetings commence tomorrow. It is expected that the trade will be officially announced soon after.

Reports suggest that the Yankees have agreed to eat $265 million of Stanton’s contract, while sending Starlin Castro to Miami along with a couple of low-level pitching prospects.

This was our White Whale, Boston – this one got away and we still ended up dying in the end.

Dave Dombrowski looks like an absolute fool for having let this chiseled new-school Bambino slip through his hands. He immolated the entire pitching crop, down on the farm. So it’s inconceivable that Dombrowski didn’t offer the kitchen sink, in his pursuit of Stanton.

Conversely, underneath the surface, Giancarlo’s mind might have been irrevocably made up, before talks even started. He’s a city-slicker. Miami nightlife translates better to Big Apple nightlife than it does to the half-revelry of the Boston Commonwealth.

The Yankees obtain Giancarlo Stanton, presupposing the implications for the Red Sox and fans alike. It’s with a heavy heart that I unfortunately welcome you to a familiar and antique era of Red Sox Baseball. It’s the late 90’s all over again…

But, you know what? Let’s try to make light of this nonplussing news! Yeah, we don’t need Giancarlo Stanton and those Damn Yankees still won’t win the World Series! It’s time for another installment of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Do Not Need To Get A Big Bat

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Red Sox

Many have stated their wishes that the Boston Red Sox will go out and get a big-time bat for the heart of their order. A bat that they seemingly need to help protect the likes of Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez in the lineup. One of the bigger names connected to the team is Giancarlo Stanton, but reports show that idea as a longshot with Stanton not looking at Boston as a possibility.

Another name, Jose Abreu, is also reportedly out of the running with Ken Rosenthal reporting that the White Sox will not trade their slugger before the start of the season. With the potential list shortening with JD Martinez and Eric Hosmer leading the running, maybe Boston should sit still this offseason.

That is sort of a controversial take, but the notion of Hosmer or Martinez doesn’t get the juices flowing, and ultimately will cost the Red Sox more then they are worth.

So what is the answer, Boston still needs a first basemen for next season. A position that could be filled with Sam Travis and Hanley Ramirez given the idea that Dustin Pedroia will find some time at the DH spot next season with Eduardo Nunez getting some quality time at second base. Another possibility is Rafael Devers not panning out at third base and needing to move to first base or DH at times.

Also in the cards is prospect Michael Chavis who should find himself in AAA Pawtucket at some point next season and maybe in Boston at third base or first. Then comes the possibility of Blake Swihart or my favorite, Bryce Brentz. Both were getting trained at first base with Pawtucket last season and could see reps at first base if Dave Dombrowski opts to not sign a big-time bat.

Of course, these solutions are not as flashy and will not present an immediate threat for Boston in the heart of their order. But betting on the current roster to bounce back at the plate and see an emergence of another young player might be a route to take.

Worse case scenario they get the same amount of production and end up right around 90 wins like they were this past season. But the upside of keeping the financial flexibility going forward while trying out prospects might be the best thing for Boston to do instead of overreacting to fan pressure.

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