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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.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Managerial Decision Seemingly Made Up

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Did anyone think that the Boston Red Sox would take their time when hiring their new field manager? According to one report the team is moving rather quickly

According to one report, the team is moving rather quickly to the point where their minds are already made up.

“There is a 99.9 percent chance of [Cora] being named Red Sox leader,” a source told Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia. “They want him for the job. That post is for him. Alex is very beloved there. And he would love to run Boston. They want to make the fast decision.”

Cora is currently serving as the bench coach for the Houston Astros, a team that is battling it out with the New York Yankees for the chance to go to the World Series. Boston isn’t the only suitor for the former player however. Cora is set to meet with the New York Mets on Tuesday and is also expected to be of interest to other teams like the Philadelphia Phillies.

But the interest between Boston and Cora is mutual and a report from Puerto Rico confirms that. Cora played for the Red Sox during his career and was part of the 2007 Wolrd Series team. At the time he was considered an excellent leader on the team that had all the intangible qualities of one daying being an excellent coach. Since his playing days, he has served as an ESPN Analyst, GM of Puerto Rico national team, coach in Puerto Rico’s baseball league, and now a bench coach for Houston.

If the Red Sox are able to bring in Cora it would be seen as if they had been grooming him for years and that he is their guy. With other suitors in tow, it looks like an offer from the Boston Red Sox to Cora is going to come rather quickly. And quite frankly, this is the best decision for the team.

Acquiring Cora is far superior to a long time mediocre manager like Ron Gardenhire or a failed first coach stinter like Brad Ausmus. Cora is both young and has some prior experience to bring to the table. The one real question with him is if he will be too buddy-buddy with the players, a very real possibility.

Red Sox fans seem to be rather torn on this topic, many seem to like the idea of an old manager like Gardenhire, while others favor Cora who was a fan favorite as a player. In reality the true intentions or favorite of the Red Sox is unknown, but for the moment, Cora looks like the lock.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Manager Contestants Stepping Right Up

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Red Sox

On Wednesday the Boston Red Sox fired field manager John Farrell. With the departure of Farrell, the Red Sox must now conduct a full and wide search for their next manager. There are dozens of potential candidates for the job. The one choice that will have to be made is to either to go young or go old.

Fortunately for us, Dave Dombrowski gave a general outline of what he will be looking for in the next manager. In his post-firing presser, he mentioned that the candidate is unlikely to come from within.

That comment seemingly rules out a candidate like Chili Davis or Gary Ddisarcina.

In terms of experience, Dombrowski said “I think managerial experience helps. I don’t think it’s a 100% necessity.”. He also mentioned the importance of being in the dugout as experience. The last time Dombrowski hired a field manager he was in charge of the Detroit Tigers. The coach he hired at the time was Brad Asmus. So maybe that means he will go on the younger side.

If he goes young in terms of experience here is the list of potential candidates:

  • Brad Asmus: Asmus was let go by Detriot after having a rather shaky first tenure as a manager. He was hired by Dombrowski and has plenty of connections to New England. He will land somewhere this offseason.
  • Alex Cora: Direct connections to Boston and knows how the media is here. Well respected by players and has coached in Puerto Rico and is the bench coach for AJ Hinch’s Houston Astros.
  • Jason Varitek: Obvious connections here. But he has no actual experience as a coach in the dugout. He has helped with player development and scouting as a special assistant to the gm in Boston. But chances are he isn’t in the conversation.
  • Hensley Meulens: Speaks Spanish, English (and other languages), has extensive coaching experience and serves as the hitting coach for the Giants. Has coached the Netherlands in the WBC. There has been a rumor that Major League Baseball is encouraging the Red Sox to hire a coach of minority status. Meulens fits that bill.

In terms of an older/experiences option, there are a few. There is an opportunity here for Dombrowksi. That opportunity is to convince the well respected Jim Leyland to come out of retirement. Leyland though doesn’t seem interested in coaching again and decline to come to Boston a long time ago.

Below are few options for an experienced field manager:

  • Leyland
  • Torey Luvullo: Had a 93 win first season at the helm of Arizona. Could be convinced to leave to come back to Boston.
  • Joe Girardi: Could be on his way out of New York. Is a noted good in-game manager.
  • Ron Gardenhire: Former Twins manager and currently a bench coach for the Diamondbacks. This kind of smells to me though.

What way will Dombrowski go with is anyone’s guess. This process can take awhile with the team needing to lock down a list and start the interview process. According to Dombrowski he always has a list of people for every position he might have to hire for. So, in theory, this could happen fairly quickly.

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Fire John Farrell

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John Farrell

On Wednesday morning the Boston Red Sox have announced that they have parted ways with field manager John Farrell.

Farrell has been the manager since 2013 and during his tenure, he led the team to 3 AL East division titles and a World Series Victory. The other two seasons happened to be two straight last-place finishes.

Farrell has been constantly criticized for his below average in game management, but being able to win 93 games when your team had turmoil and underperformances all season was impressive. While personally, I am not a supporter of him. I feel as if he often fails to get the credit he deserves.

But when it comes down to it, he is not the future at the helm for the Boston Red Sox.

According to the team, the process to find the next field manager will start immediately with Dave Dombrowski addressing the situation shortly.

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