Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Red Sox vs Tigers Live Chat 7-31-12 7:00pm!

Hello Red Sox fans! Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat! Come join in below:

7/31 Trade Deadline Day

The 2012 non-waiver trade deadline day is here and it is Ben Cherington's first as the GM of the Boston Red Sox.  I'm not sure anyone could have written a more challenging script for Ben's first season, but he has handled it well so far.  He's had to deal with everything from a loose lipped manager who wasn't his choice to an unbelievable amount of players on the disabled list and everything in between.  This is also the first season in a long time that the Red Sox weren't clear buyers at the trade deadline.  How would you like your first season as GM be the one when you sell off some trade chips? Although, I don't believe that the Sox will be true sellers at the deadline today.  It does seem that the Sox roster will not undergo major changes today, but I would be stunned if they made no deals at all.

Check out Cousin Jason's Cooler post for information on the latest trade talk, but check back here for updates throughout the day.  Also keep an eye on our twitter box for up to the minute updates from those who cover the Boston Red Sox.  Here is a look at a few of the topics surrounding the trade deadline:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of July 30th

Welcome to our second edition of the Cooler, this week we are putting it on wheels as Cousin Jason will be making the pilgrammage to Fenway on Tuesday night. So let's open it up and ice down this weeks thoughts:
Random Shooter's
-I said last week that Twitter was excellent for following all of the trade deadline action but as a sports fan it is phenomenal in general. Unless of course you are hoping to watch Olympic coverage on NBC via tape delay. Also for some reason in the 10th inning last night Twitter was actually faster than ESPN. However, I am loving me some Twitter these days. Good thing I don't have an iPhone or I really would be in trouble.
-Little Cousin Jason aka my oldest son Cole will be making his first trip to Fenway Tuesday night. Looking forward to it although being 6 I'm sure he'll be ready to leave in the top of the 3rd.
-No love for our friends Downeast from Dave O'Brien on the radio tonight as he referred to the Blueberry Festival in Machias twice and both times got the pronunciation wrong, although Ma-chee-as was closer than his first attempt of Ma-chee-sca.

Sox Pack
1. Really nice to see Clay Buchholz turn his season around. Remember back in late April when Red Sox Nation was ready to run Buch out of town because he was so awful? Me neither, Buch has been fantastic since his bout with esophagitis and appears to be the pitcher he was in 2010. Which is a damn good thing since our supposed pair of aces are looking more like a pair of deuces. Let's send Lester and Beckett to the hospital and then to a charity event at a casino and see if that gets them going as well. I think it is interesting to note that Buchholz pitching style seems to be more conducive to success than Lester. Buch pitches to contact whereas Lester is a nibbler. Now if we can get Lester and Beckett going along with Buch and Doubie maybe a deep run is in the cards for the 2012 Sox.

2+3. Tomorrow at 4pm is the MLB Trade Deadline. Some thoughts on this, first I have been singing Twitter's praises in regards to keeping up on deals and of course the day it will all go down I will be traveling and in Boston away from the Internet and my trade updates. Secondly, as we mentioned in our Sunday night live chat we at RSM long for the the days of our youth (and the Deacon's 30s) when the trade deadline was at midnight, watching Baseball Tonight right up to the deadline to see what would happen with the Sox and since it was the 1990's probably more so our fantasy lineups. Lastly, after 3 straight wins to get the Sox back over .500 what will Ben Cherington and the rest of the front office do? It is my belief that there will be minimal change for this organization at this time. I think the thought process is that when healthy we have the lineup necessary to win, and cross your fingers it appears that lineup might take the field this coming weekend against the Twins. I could see the Sox moving Shoppach, whom the Rangers are somewhat interested in, Sweeney or Nava because of the glut of OFers, although given Crawford and Ellsbury's 2012 I might hang on to those guys, and also a bullpen arm or two (Albers, Miller, Padilla). As the Deacon pointed out in our chat on Sunday night (good stuff in those things, check one out!) the Sox could replace those parts from within the organization and not miss much with guys like Lavarnway, Bard, and even Mark Prior. Those of you wanting to see this whole thing blown up may have to wait until the offseason. If only the trade deadline was in the middle of August which I have seen mentioned as a better time given the new Wildcard scenario. Either way it should be interesting to be at Fenway tomorrow night.

4. Anyone else got Pedro Ciriaco fever? Apparently not Stuart Scott as he referred to him as Pedro Ciriano on SportsCenter Sunday night. I am loving what this kid is bringing to the table. He is a Yankees killer, he makes things happen with his bat, glove and legs. What a grat play at SS last night in these hole to get the Sox out of an inning. Could this open the door to trade Mike Aviles? Doubtful but I hope the "new" Pedro is not shipped out when Ortiz returns from the DL. At the very least he could take Nick Punto's roster spot couldn't he? Wonder what we could get for Punto?

5. Does anyone know for sure if Carl Crawford needs surgery on his throwing elbow? Apparently not the Sox medical staff or at the very least the manager. According to reports Bobby V stated that he has not been told Crawford needs surgery. How hard is it for the Sox to get competent medical people? This appears to be an ongoing, for a few years, issue. Granted I am not a doctor, however I will stay at a Holiday Inn Express tomorrow night so I might be on Wednesday and I am married to a nurse, but it sure looks like Crawford's elbow hurts badly.

6. How about the mini-firestorm set off in the Boston media over Terry Francona's visit to the Sox clubhouse on Saturday? So what the former manager and current analyst for the next night's broadcast spent sometime catching up with former players and staff? I got to say whatever Tito did it apparently worked as the Sox have run off 3 straight. It's not like the chemistry is great for the Sox, especially amongst the coaching staff. Pete Abe wrote that Tito and Gary Tuck talked for 30 minutes in the runway, which is about 30 minutes more than Tuck and Bobby V have talked all season. Also Bob McClure made his presence felt Sunday night with couple of mound visits, including the comical visit with Aceves in the 10th where Fettucine basically told him to sit his ass back down. Even our coaching staff is dysfunctional, how the hell are we still in the wild card race?

Chaser
- Since I am going to Fenway during our Sunday chat I dug out all of my old Sox ticket stubs. Barry though this might be a great new addition to the cooler, so for our chaser I am going to reminisce about one of my excursions to America's Most Beloved Ballpark.
Before Tuesday night my last trip to Fenway occurred July 1, 2007. My lovely wife and I went to Boston for our 2nd anniversary. The Sox took on the Texas Rangers, seeing as this was my wife's first trip to Fenway we went early for the Sunday day game and took in a tour of the park. After picking up some warmer garb on Yawkey Way, as it was particularly breezy that day, we Tom our seats in the RF Roof Box near the Budweiser Pavilion. Not only did we have a good view of the game but also a good view of NESN taping an episode of "Sox Appeal." The days pitching matchup say Julian Tavarez take the mound for the Sox against Kaneron Loe for the Rangers, I was fully expecting a Sox rout. Instead we got a pitchers duel with the Rangers pulling out the 2-1 win scoring on a JD Drew error and a Brad Wilkerson double, Youk drove in the lone Sox run. The most memorable part of the game was that then Rangers closer Eric Gagne would enter with 2 outs in the 8th after Akinori Osuka got hurt. The memorable part was that Gagne threw in the pen for several minutes after being summonsed. The Fenway Faithful rained down jeers on Gagne and the 2nd base umpire had to go out to mid RF to emphatically wave Gagne in. Little did we know that a month later Gagne would become a Sox and get even louder jeers for his shitty pitching. Of course in spite of Gagne the Sox would go on to win the World Series.

Hope you enjoy this weeks cooler, bottoms up!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sox and Yanks Live Chat 7-29-12

Hello Red Sox fans! COme chat with us during tonight's Sox/Yanks game on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball!

Is Market for Beckett Improving?

Despite the claims in some quarters that Josh Beckett is nearly untradeable, due to contact and off the field issues, is the opportunity to move Josh increasing for Ben Cherington?

Starting pitching is always a hot commodity at the July 31st trade deadline, and this year is no different. And with a majority of MLB teams in both leagues still in at least the wild card hunts there are lots of buyers and fewer sellers of starting pitching.

A number of the most oft rumored SP trade candidates are off the market all ready due to several reasons.  Cole Hamels, considered the crown jewel of trade options ( especially to Texas) has re-signed a mega deal with the Phils and is off the market.The second highest rated option was Zack Greinke and he has all ready been dealt to the Angels.  Other starters all ready traded include Anabil Sanchez, Wandy Rodriquez, Francisco Liriano, Brett Meyers ( a bullpen guy now, but could start), and to a lesser level Jeremy Guthrie and Jonthan Sanchez.

Two guys Theo and the Cubs were trying hard to move are all but off the open market.  Matt Garza has been dinged up with minor injuries, and will not pitch again until early August, making his trade before July 31 all but undoable.  And Theo's other chip, Ryan Dempster, seems determined to force a deal to only the Dodgers, potentially taking him off the table for any other team.

That leaves two other pitchers rumored heavily to be available: Josh Johnson of the Marlins and James Shields of the Rays.  But according to numerous reports both of these pitchers are in the same boat, their teams would need to be bowled over with a multi player, top level talent packages to move either guy.  The Angels were supposedly the team most willing to jump on Shields, but they spent their chips on Greinke.  The one team with the prospects and the need for Johnson is Texas.  But there is another problem with giving up 2-3 top line talents for Josh Johnson, that is his health concerns.  He has missed considerable time in each of the last two seasons, and his shoulder woes from last year have never been completely explained.  It is very likely neither Johnson or Shields go anywhere.

Another pitcher who would be coveted but is not going anywhere is Jon Lester, so that brings us back to his teammate, Josh Beckett.  Does he have baggage, sure.  But he is a veteran guy, not that  old ( 32), with a ton of positive post season experience. With several teams still shopping: Texas, Braves, Dodgers, Orioles, and likely others, a market could develop.  The Red Sox likely would need to eat some money, but one of the riddles on Beckett: is it a good thing or bad that he has two more years on his deal?  On one hand you hear teams not wanting a rental ( a FA after this year), but also not wanting to be saddled with a lot of contract cash.

I still think it comes down to mostly Texas.  Beckett does have 10/5 rights meaning he has to approve any deal, and this could sour some deals.  But you have to believe he would jump at a chance to pitch at home in Texas.  The Rangers needed a starter all along, and now have lost out on Hamels and Greinke ( to their divsional rival), and maybe gun shy on Johnson.  In addition, Neftali Feliz has had a setback in his injury rehab.  Nolan Ryan has to think if he can kick Josh Hamilton's ass publicly, he can whip Beckett into shape for his Rangers.  The Sox will not get the top of the line Rangers' prospects but their system is loaded, a mid level guy or two, plus moving Beckett would do the trick from Boston's perspective.

If not Texas, I think the next two mostly likely trade options are the Dodgers if they do not get Dempster, and Dan Duquette is a wild card entrant to grab Beckett ( maybe even taking his whole contract) if the Sox are willing to ship Beckett in to the AL East.  Lesser options include the Braves ( if THEY do not get Dempster) or maybe the Jays and John Farrell take a crack at it.

As this is written, there a just minutes over 48 hours to go until the deadline.  The Sox will make moves, but can Beckett be one of them??

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ruminations on a Trip to Fenway

Here is a collection of thoughts recorded via my cellphone and pictures via camera during our trip into Fenway park last Thursday night, July 19, with comments added.  Think of it as a retro diary without the time stamps.  It should be noted that we went to Jerry Remy’s Grill on the Waterfront before the game:

 and strolled into our seats in the second row a paper-airplane flight away from Pesky’s Pole.  They were probably the second-best seats I had ever sat at in Fenway before, behind the time I went as a little kid and we sat in the first row along the third-base line in a game against the Indians:
  

Here’s what transpired:

“As you walk into Fenway Park, there is an assault of noise, smell, and visuals”

  • I haven’t been to many parks around the country, but Fenway is special in that it generates an actual buzz in the ballpark - an electricity, if you will.  There is a collection of fired-up-ness amongst fans that creates an infectuous energy in the park.  You want to yell and jump and skip merrily.  You want to eat sausages and drink cold Bud Light that costs about $20 per trip for two.
“Players can clearly hear the fans and they get on the players for every little thing.  Home field advantage.”
  • This is a phenomenon that is somewhat unique to baseball.  Basketball players can also clearly hear fans during a game, but they are in motion.  Baseball players have to stand still out in the outfield and pretend that they don’t hear a word of what’s being said.  So it becomes a contest to see if a fan can come up with something interesting or funny (or sometimes, deplorably, hurtful) to get the fielder to acknowledge them, maybe even throw the player of their game a little bit.  Fan/crowd influence of baseball is fun.  It’s a combination of a slowburn pestering of an outfielder, rising to your feet for big moments late in games or with two strikes and the bases loaded, and wild celebrations.
Will Middlebrooks is the biggest dude on the field”
  • Now, I never saw him standing next to Gonzalez because they play across from each other in the infield, but he was much bigger than anyone else.  I am legitimately excited about the future of the Middlebrooks era.  This kid is for realsies, as the kids say.
“Willie Middle and Ross have the sickest walk-up music”
“Bullpen personnel stand up on the fence”
  • We’re not sure who they were, whether it was the bullpen coach, catcher, etc. or whether they were members of the bullpen pitching staff.  Either way, they were up on the fence, dialed in, and cheering throughout the game.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of July 23rd

Going to try and right the ship for the Sox and the ole RSM. The Olde Towne team is scuffling along at .500 and with the beautiful weather along with vacations the Red Sox Maineiacs site has also been scuffling along in the month of July.

The summer weather also brings out "cooler" opportunities for our fellow Maineiacs and Cousin Jason, as has been documented in the RSM Podcasts, loves his opportunities to partake. So I'm going to start a weekly article titled Cousin Jason's Cooler, with some random thoughts about the Sox and anything else that comes to mind. So let's reach in and see what is on ice this week:

Sox Pack
1. It appears that Barry was correct in his opinion that moving Adrian Gonzalez back to 1B full-time would bring his bat back to life, as Gonzo was named the AL Player of the Week yesterday. I also saw a Tweet from Pete Abe that Gonzo leads MLB at a .411 clip with runners in scoring position. It is nice to see our slugging 1B finally driving the ball out of the park rather than just being the singles hitter we have seen for most of the season. Speaking of singles hitters, nice to see Ichiro traded to the Yankees where he he can hit 15 HR's down the stretch seeing as it's 175 to right field in the Bronx. Seriously though it has been talked about by those around baseball that Ichiro puts on a show in BP so I am going on record that Ichiro will hit at least 10 HR's the remainder of the season.

2. In the wake of Jon Lester's demise there were a couple of excellent reads, one by Pete Abe and the other by Rob Bradford. First off, there is no debating that Lester has stunk this year. However, he is still only 28 has a solid career track record and is under team control. I am sure that no one wants the Lester of old to return more than Lester himself but, it's time like these that playing in Boston sucks as his struggles are magnified by last year and the teams' own ineptitude. I think a trip to the DL could be the solution as Lester like Daniel Bard needs to get his head straight.

3. Speaking of Daniel Bard it appears that he has started to have some success at Pawtucket of late. The voice of the Paw Sox Aaron Goldsmith tweeted last night that Bard had a 1-2-3 inning ending it with a 95 mph fastball and throwing 8 strikes in his 11 pitches. Also saw via Goldsmith that Chris Carpenter is pitching again for the Paw Sox and hit 100 on the "reliable" gun in Louisville.

4. With the trading deadline a week away, should be interesting at Fenway next Tuesday night (I'll be there!), lots of chatter out there for not only the Sox but all of MLB. FYI Twitter has been great for keeping up with all of the action. Several articles written in the last 48 hours about what the Sox should do. Including the following: CSNNE's Rich Levine and Sean McAdam
Projo's Brian Mac
The Globe's Nick Cafardo
All seem to be in agreement that the Sox should stand pat. WEEI's Alex Speier's in addition to discussing potential Sox moves on the Sox radio pre-game show also joined the online article party. Although he discussed on the pre-game the potential to trade off some surplus parts such as OFers (and I'd add Kelly Shoppach). I concur with the analysis of these writers, the Sox are treading water at best right now and the idea that a "bold" move is needed to help this team make the post-season is silly. The talent is here to make the playoffs already it just needs to get healthy and play to it's potential. However, if a bold move can be made to improve this team for the future that is a different story. However, none of the players currently being linked to the Sox fit that bill (Garza, Johnson, Ramirez). I do however believe this off season is the time to shake up this team and make the "bold" move(s) that Larry Lucchino referred to last week on Dennis & Callahan.

5. How exciting was the Cody Ross walk off last Thursday night? The highlight of the 2012 campaign? I got to say it appears to be the clubhouse leader, if only RSM had someone (or two) at that game to fill us in? Looking at you guys, Barry and Brandon.

6. The return of Andrew Bailey appears to be coming in the near future. According to Bobby Valentine on the radio pre-game show tonight, Bailey will throw BP tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what the Sox do with the bullpen once Bailey does return. This late in the season, does it make sense to return Bailey to the closers role or let him set-up and keep Fettucine in the closers spot.

Random Shooters
- Trying to figure out the Ryan Dempster situation, go to a playoff contender or stay with a last place club? Given his decision, got to think in addition to the fact he is an average career NL pitcher, not too many contenders want to bark up that tree.
- The Pirates are going for it, trading tonight for Wandy Rodriguez. Nice to see, I really liked the Buccos in the early 90's (especially playing RBI Baseball on the Nintendo)
- Visited Panera Bread for lunch last Friday with the family in Augusta. First of all the place was mobbed and secondly, I just don't get the thrill of the place. They serve sandwiches just like hundreds of other places, except they give their breads fancy names like artisan so they can charge a higher price. Good thing for Panera Bread that my wife loves the place otherwise this Maineiac would never set foot in the place.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brief Red Sox Update 7/20

So in typical Red Sox fashion, they follow up an euphoric win with a lackluster loss.  Two of the Maineiacs were in the house for Thursday night's walk-off homer and ensuing madhouse.  More on that story in the coming days with a retro diary post of our trip to Boston.

As for the Sox, they continue to tread water.  They are in the thick of the race for the AL wildcard, but they can't seem to put a run together.  Buchholz looked good last night in person and can be a top of the rotation guy the rest of the way.  Beckett was clearly disappointing tonight, getting booed at Fenway for the first time in a while.  This team, somewhat unfortunately, relies on the arms and heads of Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz down the stretch.  It was nice to see the Fenway crowd appreciate our expected lineup, finally.  This just in, Carl Crawford is good.  He could still have a big impact along with Ellsbury atop the Red Sox lineup the rest of the way.

The Sox look to bounce back tomorrow night against the Jays at Fenway Park.  Aaron Cook takes the mound at Fenway where he has pitched well, other than post-cleat-to-the-kneecap.  Look for a Maineiacs presence for tomorrow night's game as well as a full write up of our trip to Beantown for the Ross Walkoff as well as pictures.  Go Sox!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 7:00!

Hello Sox fans! Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!

Youk and Crawford Return to Fenway

The Red Sox (45-44) welcome Kevin Youkilis back to Fenway tonight as a member of the Chicago White Sox (49-39).  In an ironic twist of fate Brett Lillibridge will not get to face his former team tonight as the Red Sox designated him for assignment to create a roster spot for Carl Crawford.  Lillibridge is one of the players the  Red Sox received from the White Sox in the Youkilis trade.  If Youkilis goes 8 for 13 with 2 homers and 6 rbi in the next four games Ben Cherington will need to borrow Theo Epstein's gorilla suit to get around town safely.  Carl Crawford will play in his first game of the season tonight after missing the first 89 games.  He is in the lineup playing LF and batting second.

Tonight's pitching matchup features Aaron Cook (2-2, 4.37) for the Red Sox.  The sinkerballer will look to keep strong string of second half starts going for the Red Sox 6 man rotation.  For the White Sox Dylan Axelrod (1-2, 6.16).  Here is the lineup that Axelrod will face:

Ellsbury CF
Crawford LF
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez 1B
Ross RF
Salty C
Middlebrooks 3B
Aviles SS
Ciriaco 2B

Cook SP

The Maineiacs look to get back in the swing of things tonight after long dry spell.  The 4th of July vacation and the All Star break have lead to a long lay off.  Tonight's big night at Fenway is a fitting time to get things rolling again.  Also, the Maineiacs will be going into the center of the storm of Youkilis' return on Thursday. Hopefully we will be witness to the return of Pedroia and we will see those two former teammates and friends square off for the first time in the major leagues. Two of the Maineiacs will be attending Thursday night's game so look for some coverage of that game and of the overall road trip.  Tonight we will be hosting our first live chat of the second half of the season.  Feel free to leave comments below and tune in to tonight's live chat.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Deacon's Trivia--All Star game

Baseball is enjoying a break from the pennant races, and getting ready to see which league will have home field advantage in the World Series.  While taking the break, try these Red Sox All Star Game questions.

1. Who was the last Red Sox pitcher to start the All Star Game?

2. Ted Williams hit 4 All Star Game home runs in his career, holding the Red Sox record.  Which Red Sox batter is second to Ted in ASG homers as a Red Sox?

3. Who was the last Red Sox batter to hit a home run in the All Star Game?

4. Who was the only Red Sox batter to hit a pinch hit home run in an All Star Game?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Last game of the first"half"

Tonight, before the usual ESPN Sunday Night Baseball audience for any Red Sox- Yankee Sunday game, the two teams finish the pre All Star Game portion of the schedule.  The Red Sox at 43-42 need the win to enter the break above .500, which it seems they have been battling to do all season.

The Red Sox lineup for tonight is:

Nava, LF
Ciriaco, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Ross, RF
Salty, C
Sweeney, CF
Gomez, 3B
Aviles, SS
Lester, P

For all of you out there you had the Red Sox lineup including Nava, Ciriaco, and Mauro Gomez (at third base, no less) in the Sox starting lineup going into the All Star break tip back another cold one.  And based on last night game, there is no reason not to be optimistic for all three guys to help the Sox to a win.

In other notes, Vincente Padilla continues to respond to Mrs. ( oops, Mark) Teixeira's blasting of him after Friday night's game.  Among the better comments from Padilla include " He ( Teixeira) is afraid to hit against me" and telling Teixeira to "go play a woman's game".  Hopefully Padilla will get a chance to face the Yankee fraud baseman tonight.

In a fair exchange since yesterday the Red Sox used three International League All Stars( Justin Germano, Ciriaco, and Gomez), today's Pawtucket lineup included Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway,and Daniel Bard in relief.  Buchholz started and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.  He gave up one hit and a pair of walks, while fanning three.  He very well could rejoin the rotation after the break.  Jacoby had one hit and is planning to workout at Fenway this week, and then a plan for his return will be finalized, perhaps on Friday.  Bard also pitched a scoreless inning.

Before the Sox-Yankee game the annual Futures game is being played showcasing all of the top prospects in the game at 5.  It has a World vs. USA format.  The top two prospects in the latest RSM poll are both playing.  Xander Bogaerts is playing for the World team, and Matt Barnes is on the USA team.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Welcome to Groundhog Day

Is it just me or does this season keep repeating itself? We suck then we play well, then we suck again (Sort of like the SCLSU Mud Dogs in "The Waterboy"). To top that all off our star players keep dropping like flies, as Dustin Pedroia will now apparently go on the disabled list with a thumb injury. On the upside, Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury should be ready after the all-star break. In the meantime, our offense has reverted to the team I wrote about in my Just Hit the Effin Ball post. 2-5 on the West Coast trip with a team ERA of 2.44, absolutely unacceptable from this lineup. I'm not sure that this week could get much worse for Sox fans, especially when you throw in the fact that Daniel Bard cannot throw a strike except a very hittable one at AAA and Darnell McDonald signed with the Yankees just as the hated rivals role into town. Good thing I am about to go on vacation to Pennsylvania and the Sox minus Big Papi will get 3 days off over the all-star break.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

RSM Top 12 Prospects- July Update

Another month means another round of rankings by the Maineiacs of the Red Sox farm system prospects.  First we have a new name at #1 since the June rankings.  This is largely due to the the removal of two names from our list.  They are Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Kalish.  They are now being considered as full fledged major league players,  Middlebrooks due to the trade of Kevin Youkilis and his own strong play is unlikely to see AAA again.  Kalish may end up back in Pawtucket due to the outfield roster crunch to come soon in Boston, but he has shown enough at the major league level in 2010 and again this year to elevate him.

There was a fierce three way battle to replace Middlebrooks at the pole position by three players who until a week or so ago were teammates at Salem.  So with no further ado here is the July RSM Top 12 also known as :

The Killer B's

1. Xander Bogaerts  {2} The winner of the fierce battle for first.  Xander as we have mentioned each month is a 19 year old playing in the Carolina League populated by mostly 21-23 year olds.  Bogaerts was all ready holding his own in this atmosphere, and then June came along.  In June Xander put up the following stats:

8 HRs tied for first in league for June

.337 BA  2nd in CL

.433 OBP 5th in CL

.624 Slugging Ave.  3rd in league

1.057 OPS 2nd in league

The only reason for Bogaerts not to be promoted to Portland soon would be the Red Sox reticence to send a 19 year old to AA.  He is the only prospect with a legitimate shot a being a franchise player. He is #1 on the list by a nose.

2. Matt Barnes {3} Barnes continues to dominate upper A Salem as he did low A Greenville.  He did finally have a poor start his last time out to prove he is in fact human.  He finished June with an overall record for the year so far at 7-1 with an ERA of 1.86 ( it had been 1.53 before the clunker in his last start) with a 98/15 K /BB total.  He has definitely become the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox system.

3. Jackie Bradley, Jr. {7} As Bradley continues to move up our list, he has also moved up in the Red Sox system, as he is now playing for the Portland Sea Dogs having been promoted from Salem.  Bradley, an outstanding defensive centerfield prospect, put up an ungodly OBP at Salem flirting with .500 his whole time there.  And his start at Portland is more of the same, in 9 games and 40 ABs his OBP is .447 with a .350 BA.  He also has 4 doubles and has stole a couple of bags.  If Jacoby Ellsbury is to leave Boston as a free agent after 2013, Jackie has pushed himself right to the top of candidates to move in to CF at Fenway Park.

4. Bryce Brentz {9} Brentz has moved the list by 5 places for two reasons.  First, he is still the OF closest to the big leagues for Boston who is a right handed power bat.  For a number of years now the Sox seem to develop and acquire lefty hitting OFers only.  Brentz also has a plus throwing arm meaning he could play RF in the bigs, which could be the only opening in Boston if Crawford and Ellsbury continue to man left and center.  The second reason for Brentz' rush up the rankings is the strong stats he is putting up at Portland.  In June alone he hit 4 HRs with 19 RBI with a BA of .279 and an OBP of .385, pushing his numbers overall for the year to 10-37-.298-.367.  He may get a taste of AAA before 2012 ends.

5. Ryan Lavarnway {6} As Ryan continues to polish his defense behind the dish, his bat came to life in June to the tune of 4 HR- 18RBI- .405 BA- .469 OBP.  These numbers are more in line with his 2011 performance and Kelly Shoppach should be listening to his footsteps as the July trade deadline nears.

6. Jose Iglesias  {4} Jose missed nearly all of June due to injury after beginning to show life at the plate in May. And consistent life at the plate is all that is keeping Iglesias from shortstop in Boston. With the Red Sox drafting a college SS this year, Iglesias' claim to Red Sox shortstop of the future may have competition.  He will need to hit to win that competition.

7. Anthony Ranaudo {5}  After missing the early season with a groin injury, Ranaudo reported to the Sea Dogs and to this point has not produced as expected.  He has a W/L record of 1-2 with and ERA of 6.23 and has struck out and walked nearly the same amount of men ( 27K/26BB).  He was skipped for one start in June to work on mechanics and his most recent start was better.  Ranaudo's stuff and resume are too good not to rank him as a top prospect, but he needs to use the rest of the Eastern League season to get back on track.

8. Blake Swihart {8} Another youngster playing in a league above his age, Swihart continues to improve each month.  The first rounder from 2011 hit 1-10-.326-.353 in June while continuing to play behind the plate.  Blake is such an outstanding offensive player that since his high school days in New Mexico it has been speculated that he may need to move to 3B or the OF.  This is because to wait for his pro catching skills to develop may needlessly delay getting his plus bat to the majors.

9. Garin Cecchini {11} The young infielder from Louisiana continues to develop his highly regarded offensive skills at  third base for Greenville. Overall for the year to date he has hit 3-37-.298-.378 just two years removed from high school.

10. Deven Marrero {UR} The first newcomer to our list is a newcomer to the system as the Red Sox first pick in this year's draft.  A shortstop from Arizona State, a year ago after his sophomore season, he was considered a lock as a top ten pick.  He struggled this year and he dropped in the draft to the Red Sox.  There are mixed opinions on his offensive ability ( less so a year ago, though), but he is said to have plus range with an above average arm.  Because of this he is expected to stay at shortstop in the pros and will not need to move to second or third.  As referenced above Marrero ( who has 2 brothers all ready in pro ball) and Iglesias may battle for the crown of Sox shortstop of the future.

11. Brandon Workman {UR} The second newcomer to the list.  This right handed starting pitcher, drafted in the 2010 draft from UTexas in the second round,  has skyrocketed up the list due to his strong 2012 season to date.  Pitching at Salem, where so many on this list have played in 2012. he has put up a line of 5-4W/L- 3.06 ERA ( which had been under 3 all year until his most recent outing) and K/BB of 62/15.  His fastball sits at 91-93 with  a 95 once in awhile. With his big time college experience at Texas, Workman has an outstanding chance to advance to Boston at least as a late game bullpen guy, if not a starter in 2 or 3 years.

12. Brandon Jacobs {UR} Jacobs returns to the top 12 for the first time since his April #10 ranking.  Jacobs has put decent numbers this year of 6-33-.270-.322.  But his return to the Top 12 is based more on his profile ( like Bryce Brentz) as a righty power hitting outfielder.  Unlike Brentz, Jacobs defensively projects as a left fielder only. The highly regarded college football  running back recruit out of high school ( the Sox signed him away from Auburn) is still learning the finer points of baseball.

{The number in bracket after the names is June's ranking}

The rest of the contenders for the Top 12

Henry Owens
Lars Anderson
Junichi Tazawa
Alex Wilson
Travis Shaw
Drake Britton
Sean Coyle
Alex Hassan

Next month it is possible some of Deven Marrero's draft mates from this year may join our list.

One last Red Sox prospect to feature for the benefit of the Maineiacs ourselves.  It is a  first baseman for the Lowell Spinners named David Chester.  He was drafted a year ago by the Sox as a senior at Pitt, in the 33rd round.  He led the Big East in home runs that senior season.  Chester, a 6'5" 270 pound slugger, has started his year for Lowell with 2 homers and 7 RBIs while hitting .311 with an OBP of .367. We will watch his progression in the Red Sox system fondly.