Saturday, April 27, 2013

Red Sox Digest

In honor of the old Red Sox pregame show Red Sox Digest.  We are going to digest a few Red Sox topics this morning.  The Red Sox are off to a 16-7 start and have a 2 game lead in the AL east over the Baltimore Orioles.  With three games left this month the Red Sox have a chance to set a new team record for wins in the month of April.  The record sits at 18 and the Red Sox can tie it if they sweep the Astros this weekend.  Which would set up a chance to break the record in Toronto on Tuesday.

In the weeks leading up to the season it was clear that the Red Sox needed to get off to a good start, in order to erase the bad memories of the last two seasons.  Red Sox fans everywhere were hoping that would happen, but most felt that it was just hope and not likely to become a reality.  Well, through 23 games the Red Sox have surpassed even the most optimistic fans wildest dreams for a good start.

Some will point out the fact that it's early and it's only 23 games and say we shouldn't get too excited.  They would be right, but for those who have been paying close attention there's more going on with this team than just a 16-7 record.  These guys are really confident right now.  They believe in each other and that's more important than whether anyone else believes in them or not.  One of the most encouraging signs is that there seems to be a different hero every night.  The team is getting key contributions from everyone right through the 25th man on the roster.

The question on my mind today is...what's going to happen next for the Red Sox? The first month is nearly at a close, but we should wait until Memorial Day or so to decide if the Red Sox are for real or not.  So let's digest a few crumbs about each positional group: C, IF, OF, SP, RP, Bench and try to decide if this team is going to continue to compete for a spot at the top of the standings.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Red Sox vs. Astros and NFL Draft Live Chat 4-25-13

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Red Sox vs Royals Game 2 Live Chat 4-21-13

The Red Sox Maineiacs are chatting live during game 2 of tonight's doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals!
 
Here are tonight's lineups:

Boston Red Sox (12-5)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mike Napoli 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia DH
Mike Carp LF
David Ross C
Pedro Ciriaco SS

Kansas City Royals (9-7)
Alex Gordon LF
Alcides Escobar SS
Billy Butler DH
Eric Hosmer 1B
Lorenzo Cain CF
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jeff Francoeur RF
George Kottaras C
Elliot Johnson 2B

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Red Sox Bring Much Needed Hot Start to Their F**K**G city

When the season began the Maineiacs posted some thoughts on how much the Red Sox must break quickly from the gate.  Mostly because they had not for years and also to begin to erase the image of the  Red Sox of recent years.

Today in an emotion filled day at Fenway Park, the Red Sox returned to play at home for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombing and after postponing last night's game due to the active manhunt for the second bomber.

The Sox won a close, tense game on the shoulders of Daniel Nava's three run 8th inning home run. 4-3 over Kansas City.  This is the seventh straight win for the Sox and gives them a 12-4 mark after 16 games.  With 9 more home games coming up next Boston has a chance to put the pedal to the metal on the AL East.  Obviously, 16 games is a very small sample size ( 1/10 of the season).  But two things stand out: pitching and the fact they are off to a hot start without everyone hitting their groove yet  ( Middlebrooks, Drew, Ortiz just arriving today).  They will not play .750 ball all year, but there is also no indication that this is a fluke.

Some random notes about today and the KC series:

First the very emotional opening ceremonies  honored the law enforcement officials and all the citizens of Greater Boston.  The fans, as at the TD Garden earlier in the week, sang the National Anthem on their own.  But then at the end of the ceremonies and first pitches as the field was clearing David Ortiz grabbed the mike to thank the mayor, governor, and all law officers.  Then in a moment that will live forever in not just Red Sox but all of Boston history, Big Papi proclaimed "This is our fucking city and no one will dictate our freedom.  Stay Strong."  And Fenway went wild.  Along with people at home saying "Did he just say what I think he said?" Yes he did.  It is very possible that David Ortiz will go down as the most iconic Red Sox player of all time.

Today featured another great start from Clay Buchholz.  Now certainly Jon Lester and Clay Bucchholz are not going to be undefeated all year.  But if they front this rotation in a manner they are capable of, this team can go a long way.

Neil Diamond made a personal appearance to perform Sweet Caroline live in the 8th inning.  Two Sweet Caroline notes: first there had been a growing number of critics saying the Sox should can the nightly singing of this song.  It was specifically suggested that now that the sellout streak had ended, Caroline could go to the exit with it.  And then came the bombings, and in a sign of solidarity with Boston the song was sung all over MLB parks earlier this week, even at Yankee Stadium.  After that Sweet Caroline is not leaving Fenway Park for  long, long, long time.  Secondly, as famously ( or infamously) as the Sox PR crew is known for productions, apparently they had no part in planning Neil Diamond's appearance.  Several sources are reporting he flew into Boston today at 12:30 and then called the Sox asking to come sing today.

One last note about the remaining KC series, it is being reported that Allen Webster is being recalled from AAA to pitch Sunday night's makeup game of Friday's postponement.  This will be an extremely interesting development, and if Webster pitches as well as he has in Pawtucket and in spring training, he could be a big part of the 2013 Red Sox.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Should the Red Sox retire Wade Boggs’ Number 26?

Yesterday, a story broke that Wade Boggs is waiting for/expecting the Red Sox to retire his #26 on the right field facade in Fenway Park.  There have been many great players through the years in Boston, but only seven have had their numbers retired (eight if you include Jackie Robinson, whose number 42 was retired by every major league team in 1997).  Here are the seven, with a little something about each one:

#1 Bobby Doerr - played 14 seasons, all with the Red Sox from 1937-1951 with two years off for World War II.  Hit .409 in the 1946 World Series to lead all Red Sox hitters,  Career .288 average, named The Sporting News AL Player of the Year in 1944

#4 Joe Cronin - With the Red Sox for 24 seasons as a player/manager, manager, and general manager, career .301 average in 20 MLB seasons, leads all Red Sox managers with 1,071 wins, played in six all-star games and managed/coached in six more, first modern-day player to become a league president

#6 Johnny Pesky - With the Red Sox for 21 seasons as a player, coach, and manager, career .307 average, known as “Mr. Red Sox”

#8 Carl Yastrzemski - Named to Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 with 95 percent of the vote (the 7th highest in history at that time), Won AL Triple Crown in 1967, Most lifetime games in the AL with 3,308, AL MVP in 1967, Only AL player with 400 home runs and 3,000 hits, Tied MLB record with 1.000 fielding percentage in 1977, .285 career batting average

#9 Ted Williams - AL MVP in 1946/1949, Won AL Triple Crown in 1942/1947, Led AL in batting six times, home runs four times, total bases five times, walks eight times, and slugging percentage nine times, voted Greatest Red Sox Player of All Time by fans, holds MLB record for most successive times reaching base safely (16) in 1957, .344 career batting average

#14 Jim Rice - Won AL Silver Slugger in 1984 and 1985, was named to eight All-Star teams, led AL in home runs in 1977, 1978, and 1983.

#27 Carlton Fisk - 11-year career with the Red Sox, first unanimous winner of AL Rookie of the Year Award, seven-time All-Star, all-time Red Sox leader in games caught with 990, waved his home run fair to beat the Reds in game 6 of the 1975 World Series

Looking at that list of seven players, a couple of things jump out at me.  First, they are all hitters.  Not a single pitcher in the history of the Red Sox deserved to have their uniform retired?  Will Pedro Martinez become the first pitcher to have his number retired once he gets elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?  Second, these players all seem to have either outstanding statistics (Yaz, Teddy Ballgame, Cronin, Rice) or seem to be exceedingly likable Red Sox connected to memorable moments in their history (Pesky, Fisk, Doerr).  Third, no Babe Ruth.  Apparently, if you violate the “likable” or “tied to Red Sox memorable moment” category, it doesn’t matter how great your stats are.

This led me to do a little research into the criteria used for consideration of having your number retired at Fenway Park.  According to the Red Sox website, there are only two:
  1. Must be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
  2. Must have played for the Red Sox for at least 10 years
There goes the Pedro Martinez number retirement.  Pedro only played for the Sox for seven seasons (and the Babe Ruth question as well, having only played for the Sox for six seasons, as well as Cy Young and Smoky Joe Wood).  And if Pedro doesn’t get his number retired, I don’t know which pitcher ever will (side note: while Boggs‘ #26 has been issued several times over the years, recently to Scott Podsednik and Brock Holt, Roger Clemens‘ #21 has never been re-issued since The Rocket left in 1996.  Makes you wonder if the Red Sox are holding out for Clemens to be elected to the Hall of Fame to retire his number.  If so, they’re going to be waiting a long time as this year’s HOF vote seems to indicate that he won’t get in in this lifetime).   Also, I seem to remember during a tour of Fenway Park a couple of years ago that there was another piece of criteria...that the player must have finished their career as a Boston Red Sox.  Apparently, that requirement was dropped so they could retire Fisk’s number.  This memory of mine is confirmed by Wade Boggs, who claims the team told him he had to retire as a member of the Red Sox to have his number retired.  

(Side rant: why are 10 seasons with the Red Sox and once upon a time retiring as a Red Sox criteria for this honor at all?  I suppose it lends some form of objectivity to the selection of numbers, instead of subjective criteria like, “was he a memorable/lovable Red Sox?” or “was he one of the best Red Sox players ever?”, or “did pitchers/hitters crap their pants a little when they had to face him?”.  If it were me, there would be a committee of Red Sox experts (including Deacon Art) who vote on these things.  Because making 10 years with the team and retiring with the team weights longevity over production or memorability...and which is more important? Being great, being beloved, being connected to Red Sox lore, or sticking around a long time?)

Which brings this post back to Boggs.  Where does he fit in?  Should his number 26 be retired?  First, full disclosure: Boggs played for the Red Sox from 1982-1992.  I was born in 1984.  I have only the faintest memories of watching Boggs play for the Sox, and so all I really have to go on are his stats and some stories I’ve read that make him out to be a petulant a-hole.  Nevertheless, let’s dive into some reasons for and against retiring #26:

Reasons the Red Sox should retire #26:
His statistics are eye-popping.  Especially now that OBP is valued even more than when he was playing.  Check out the following stats (with the Red Sox, not career stats) with place in Red Sox history in parentheses:
  • .338 batting average (second)
  • .428 OBP (third)
  • 2,098 hits (fifth)
  • 1,067 runs scored (sixth)
  • 1,625 games played (seventh)
  • .890 OPS (ninth)
  • 71.4 WAR (third)
  • During his peak from 1983-1988, he hit .356/.448/.489 (.448 OBP!!! The MLB leader in 2012 was Joe Mauer with a .416 mark. Boggs had a .415 OBP for his entire career even with .348 and .377 marks his last two years with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
  • 3,010 career hits
  • more career extra-base hits (757) than strikeouts (745)
  • How about the argument that Boggs left the Red Sox and played for the hated Yankees for five seasons?  According to Boggs, he had an agreement with Mrs. Yawkey in 1991 to sign a 7 year, $35 million contract which would have made him a career Red Sox player, but she slipped in her bathtub and died before the contract could be signed.
  • Look at the above criteria again.  Boggs was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.  He chose to wear a Red Sox hat into the Hall.  He played for the Red Sox for eleven seasons.  In other words, he meets the criteria.
  • If you were starting a baseball team and had the seven retirees plus Boggs to choose from, Boggs would probably go third, right?
Reasons why the Red Sox should not retire #26:
  • Wade Boggs is a prick
  • Wade Boggs seems to have always held a grudge against the Red Sox organization
  • Boggs isn’t really seen as one of the best players of his generation like Williams, Yaz, and Rice were (this might not be true, again, I was four when Boggs’ prime ended).  He seems to be remembered as a guy who hit a ton of singles, drew a ton of walks, never struck out, and was pretty average at everything else.  With today’s sabermetrics, he would have been better-appreciated.  In the mid to late 80’s?  I don’t know.  I was four.
  • Once again, Wade Boggs is a prick
The argument boils down to whether or not the Red Sox really mean it when they say they only have two criteria to have your number retired, or whether there is really an un-written third criterion: be a likable, fan-favorite player connected to Red Sox lore (like Fisk and Pesky).  

If you want my opinion, here it is: having your number retired for the Red Sox should come down to one question: “would the telling of the history of the Boston Red Sox be incomplete without mentioning this player?” You have to mention Yaz and Teddy Ballgame and Fisk and Pesky and Rice.  You have to mention Joe Cronin.  Bobby Doerr?  I don’t know.  Pedro? Absolutely.  Babe Ruth?  Of course.  Roger Clemens? Yup.  David Ortiz?  Yessir.  Wade Boggs?  Meh.  Not really.  And I guess that’s why his number is being issued to Brock Holt for spring training instead of hanging from the right field facade.

Do you think Wade Boggs’ number should be retired?  Do you think any of the other players I mentioned should have their numbers retired?  Do you think there are players I didn’t mention that should have their numbers retired?  Let’s discuss in the comments section below:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Red Sox vs. Orioles RSM Live Chat 4-10-13!

Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat! Join us tonight as we chat during the second game of the Red Sox/Orioles series and discuss the Red Sox topics of the day, including: Drew/Lackey/Iglesias/Wilson roster moves, starting rotation adjustments, the sellout streak ending, and more!
 
Here is tonight's starting lineup for the Red Sox:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mike Napoli 1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Daniel Nava DH
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Stephen Drew SS
Jackie Bradley LF

Ryan Dempster P

Cousin Jason's Baseball Bracket Finale

First, let me admit that this little project was rushed and thrown together at the last minute heading into the NCAA Tourney. We'll do better next year. Since the NCAA Tourney is over and the voting seems to be solely the Maineiacs and a few others, we are going to DVR the Bracket and hit the fast forward button. So this is the final post for the 2013 RSM March Madness.

Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight
In the Baseball Stats region, we had the top seed OPS taking down #12 Quality Starts in the Sweet Sixteen and Cinderella #15 On Base Pct. taking down #6 WAR to create the all on base regional final. In said final, #1 OPS routs the underdog to reach the Final Four, because hey On Base Pct. is nice but it is better when you add Slugging Pct.

In the Baseball Records region, two quality Sweet Sixteen match-ups with #4 Cy Young's 511 career Wins taking down #8 Ted Williams' .406 in 1941. No one will ever come close to Young's career wins while someone will probably one year hit over .400 again. In the other match-up, #2 Cal Ripken's 2,632 consecutive games streak tops #6 Chief Wilson's impressive 36 triples in 1912. In the regional final, Cy Young takes down Cal Ripken to reach the Final Four. Hey, the guy has a major award named for him.

In the Baseball Books region, two more quality match-ups in the Sweet Sixteen. In the All-Sox related match-up of #1 The Curse of the Bambino and #4 Now I Can Die in Peace, we have another #1 going down as Bill Simmons (a favorite of several Maineiacs) taking down Dan Shaughnessy. On the other side we have #3 Ball Four upsetting #2 Moneyball. In the regional final, #3 Ball Four gets it done and advances to Annie and Chester's driveway in beautiful Hermon, Maine for the Final Four.

In the Baseball Movies region, more quality as the magic for #5 The Bad News Bears runs out vs. #1 Major League. Apparently, Billy Bob Thornton stood in as Buttermaker. In the other contest, #2 Bull Durham outlasts #3 Field of Dreams, thanks largely to a motivational mound meeting.

In the regional final, the only #1 to advance to the driveway, Major League squeezes out the victory.

Final Four
In our first Final Four match-up, we have Baseball Stats Champion OPS taking on Baseball Records Champion Cy Young's 511 career wins. Stats are great, but accumulating them are better, so Cy Young takes down OPS to play for the title.

In our second Final Four match-up, we have Baseball Books Champion Ball Four taking on Baseball Movies Champion Major League. Without books there would be no movies, however it is the digital age so Major League advances to the finale.

Championship Game
In the Final, we have real-life baseball vs. fictional baseball. Since only perhaps the Deacon actually saw Cy Young play but, all of the Maineiacs have seen Major League. Our first champion is the fictional Indians and their skipper Lou Brown.
Thanks to all the voted and followed along with this endeavor. Go Sox!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Deacon Art's Red Sox Trivia- Opening Day/New Sox Edition

A new season brings some new batches of the Deacon's trivia.  Some of the questions were asked at 92.9 The Ticket's Opening Day celebration at the Ground Round. Some are debuted here.

Question #1  Jon Lester was the winning pitcher on Opening Day 2013 at Yankee Stadium.  Before this year, who was the last left handed Opening Day starter to be the winning pitcher for Boston?

A. David Wells
B. Bruce Hurst
C. Bill Lee
D. Gary Peters

Question #2  Jon Lester's Opening Day start this year was his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Sox.  Who is the only Red Sox left handed starter to make more Opening Day starts than Lester?

A. Babe Ruth
B. Lefty Grove
C. Mel Parnell
D. no one

Question #3  John Farrell made his Red Sox managerial debut last week at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day.  Who was the last manager to make his Red Sox debut in New York ( at old Yankee Stadium)?

A. Butch Hobson
B. Eddie Kasko
C. Grady Little
D. Terry Francona

Question #4  In June 2010 Daniel Nava began his big league career by hitting a memorable Grand Slam on the first pitch served to him in the major leagues.  Which new member of the Red Sox is the only other player on this year's team to hit a home run on his first at bat in the bigs?

A. Jonny Gomes
B. Shane Victorino
C. Mike Napoli
D. Ryan Dempster

Any and all answers ( guesses) can be left in the comment section, the correct answers will be revealed as the answers come in or perhaps during a upcoming RSM live chat.  Good Luck!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Headed Home at 4-2 and We Got Some Answers

Let me start off by clearly stating that we here at RSM fully understand that the baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint.  One week does not make or break a season.  With that being said starting off on the right foot is better than the alternative (0-6 anybody?).  So after taking 2 of 3 from the defending AL east champs and the 2013 AL east paper champions the Red Sox have answered a few early season question marks.  All that's left to do now is maintain this .667 winning percentage for the next 156 games (wink, wink)

Before the Toronto series we broke down a few of the questions that were already answered and some that still needed to be answered here.  We'll follow the same, what's real and what's a mirage format here.  Keep in mind that the key to any baseball season is how a team responds to challenges that come up during the course of the season, because they are bound to come up on nearly a daily basis (hello John Lackey injury).

Real:
  1. Jon Lester backed up a decent performance on opening day with an outstanding performance today.  Tomorrow is Clay Buchholz turn for the home opener.  We are still confident that Lester and Buchholz will thrive under Juan Nieves and John Farrell
  2. The Red Sox have still not committed an error on the season.  The defense seems to be a strong suit.  The question is will that continue to be an emphasis or will Jose Iglesias and Jackie Bradley Jr. be sent down by the end of April.  (JBJr is already starting to show signs of being overmatched) 
  3. The Red Sox continue to be aggressive on the basepaths.  I love the way they are rounding bases hard.  That will put them into a position to take advantage of any defensive miscues by the opponent.  
  4. The team chemistry is very real and getting more real by the game.  Never was that more apparent then when Koji Uehera came off the field on Friday night.  I'll let Obnoxious Boston Fan break it down for you
  5. The back end of the bullpen has been outstanding so far.  The long guys, Alfredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen have shown some cracks.  If Lackey goes on the DL and Aceves goes into the rotation it will be interesting to see who gets called into the bullpen.  Will it be Daniel Bard or Alex Wilson
  6. This coaching staff got the last laugh in Toronto this weekend but stay tuned...
  7. It is true that they miss Big Papi, but the idea that the line up doesn't have any pop without him got blown out of the water in Toronto today.  Will Middlebrooks hit 3 homers, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and Jacoby Ellsbury all homered as well.  The Red Sox also had numerous other flyballs to the warning track.  Plenty of pop today! 
  8. A 4-2 start isn't going to put an end to 1+ year of poor baseball. This team still has a lot to prove and plenty of motivation. 
  9. Jonny Gomes didn't play a lot this weekend, but the Millar comparison is a good one (that loud noise you hear is me patting myself on the back).  Gomes drew a pinch hit 8th inning walk on Friday night that lead to the go ahead run a la Kevin Millar in 2004 ALCS (minus the pinch hit part).  The real highlight of his weekend though was highlighted above by OBF (here it is again in case you missed it). The look on his face as Uehera came into the dugout was priceless.  He's going to do wonders for the Sox clubhouse just like Kevin Millar did. 
Let's see if any of our questions got answered over the weekend: I'll put a * next to any that I would move into the category above. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

RSM Top 12 Red Sox Prospects

As Red Sox Maineiacs did during the 2012 season, each month we will rate the Top 12 prospects in the Red Sox system. This list is the ranking as of the start of the season.  Players are bound to go up and down the list as the year goes on.  For example a year ago to begin the year, Anthony Ranaudo was #3 and Jackie Bradley, Jr. was out of the Top 12 at around 15.  Here is the 2013 list for the beginning of the year.

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS- Portland.  The unquestioned top prospect in the Sox system. And depending on which national rating service you read, Xander is around the fifth to twelfth best prospect in all of baseball. In 2012, Bogaerts split the season between Salem and Portland. His combined stats were 20-81-.307 (HR-RBI-BA) with an OBP at Salem of .378.  After his recall to AA, he hit 5 of his homers and had an OBP of .351.  Also, his defensive game improved greatly over 2011, to the point that many scouts now feel he can stay at shortstop in the bigs.  Get to Hadlock Field as soon as you can to see Xander before he heads for AAA and beyond.

2. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF- Boston,  By now every member of Red Sox Nation knows all there is to know about JBJr.  He did start the season with Boston, and has played acceptably well in the first 5 games.  After an entire spring of will he or won't he break camp with the varsity, the next question is will he stay after Ortiz returns from injury and beyond.  High OBP and outstanding defense are hallmarks of Jackie's game.  If JBJr sticks in Boston he may graduate from the list sooner rather than later, as did last year's #2 RSM season opening prospect, Will Middlebrooks.

3. Allen Webster, SP- Pawtucket.  The next three names on this list are all starting pitchers who are neck to neck to neck for the honor of top pitcher in the system.  With an outstanding showing in Red Sox big league camp, Allen Webster nosed his way into third.  One of two outstanding young pitchers acquired from the Dodgers in the Nick Punto trade last August, Webster will start 2013 with his first AAA experience.  Webster pitched the last 1 1/2 years at AA with a dozen wins and 190 K's in 212 innings.  Webster throws a fastball that reaches the upper 90's, and also has a lot of sink on his pitches.  Webster needs a half season at AAA, at least, and "by June" according to a Sox official, Webster could be helping the Sox rotation.

4. Matt Barnes, SP- Portland. Before the Dodger deal, Barnes was the top pitching prospect in the system (and he may still be), based on his complete domination of the South Atlantic League at the start of 2012. At Greenville, Barnes had 5 starts and went 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA along with 42/4 K/BB ratio. Then promoted to high A Salem Barnes still pitched excellently but faded as he completed his first full pro season. The UConn product will start this year at Portland, and if he masters AA, he could reach Pawtucket or even Boston before the year is out.

5. Rubby de la Rosa, SP-Pawtucket.  Here is the other jewel plucked from the Dodger's crown.  De la Rosa is another hard thrower, who has hit 100 on the gun.  He made his MLB debut in 2011, pitching 13 games, including 10 starts.  He was 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA.  But Rubby then underwent Tommy John surgery.  The Sox are being cautious with his innings pitched while he completes his TJ recovery.  His ceiling is a #1 starter, while others see him as a lights out closer in the bigs.  He is another arm who could help this year's Sox squad.

6. Bryce Brentz, OF- Pawtucket.  Due an unfortunate late off season accident, in which Brentz shot himself in the leg while cleaning his gun, he missed almost all of Red Sox training camp.  He did get into a few games, and Bryce went 3 for 9 with a home run.  Home runs are  big part of the Brentz package.  He is, with the possible exception of Bogaerts, the top power prospect in the system.. Brentz also has a strong throwing arm and profiles as a right fielder.  In 2012, Brentz had a strong AA season at Portland with a line of 17-76-.296-.355.  He was recalled to Pawtucket to play the last 5 games of the regular season uneventfully.  But when the Pawsox drove to the Governor's Cup Championship, Brentz helped pace the way with a 8 for 24 with 6 XBH( 2 HRs) performance.  With a fast start, Brentz could continue to follow the similar path through AA/AAA/MLB of Will Middlebrooks.

7. Henry Owens, SP- Salem.  Here is a candidate to push up towards the top of this list by year's end. The tall lefty pitched his first pro season at Greenville last year, one year removed from high school. Owens was 12-5 with 130 strikeouts in only 101 innings, with only 47 walks. While his ERA was 4.87, many of the runs were given up in the last inning of his 22 starts.  This fatigue factor can be expected to lessen in his second pro season and as he fills out his 6'6" 190 pound frame.  This spring Owens had the whole Sox camp and media buzzing over a five inning Florida start.  He fanned 13 of the 15 hitters he faced.  According to one observer he "looked like a big leaguer pitching to high schoolers". Although Owens will not turn 21 until late July, with a strong performance at Salem, he could reach Portland by that July 21st birthday.

8. Blake Swihart, C- Salem  Like Owens, Swihart only one year from high school, played his first full pro season at Grenville. Blake after a somewhat slow start. finished the year with a line of 7-53-.262-.307.  Considered an outstanding offensive prospect when drafted in 2011, Swihart's catching game also improved as 2012 went along.  Still many scouts feel a la Craig Biggio, that Swihart could end up as a second or third baseman in the majors.  The Sox will certainly give him every opportunity to stay a catcher, and you can expect Swihart to spend the entire year at Salem.

9. Garin Cecchini, 3B- Salem.  Cecchini is a player who has flown under the radar since the Red Sox drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.  After his high school junior season in Louisiana, he was considered a high first round pick the next year.  But he missed his entire senior season with injury, causing him to drop to where the Sox grabbed him.  His first pro season in Lowell also was cut short by injury.  But in 2012 at Greenville,  Garin broke out with a line of 4-62-.305-.394.    Cecchini also stole 51 bases, although he is not a fast runner.  He stole the bases with his very keen baseball instincts more than speed.  When the Sox future third base jam with Middlebrooks and Bogaerts is debated, Cecchini is not in the conversation.  With a strong 2013 Cecchini can begin to push into that discussion.

10. Deven Marrero, SS- Salem  Last year's first round draft pick has jumped from his pro debut in Lowell to high A ball with Salem.   He was expected to go in the top ten picks of the 2012 draft, but he fell to 24 where Boston happily grabbed him.  The Arizona State product batted 2-24-.268-.358 and also had 24 stolen bases.  Marrero is a very strong defensive shortstop, who all the scouts  feel will stay at SS in the bigs. With his major college experience, Deven could rise quickly in the Sox system, and insert himself into the all ready crowded shortstop equation ( Iglesias, Bogaerts, et al).

11. Jose Iglesias, SS -Boston ( Pawtucket?)  The enigma of the Red Sox system. Will he or won't he?  Of course that question refers to can Jose hit big league pitching?  Everyone knows by now that Iglesias is in the Ozzie Smith/Omar Vizquel class of defensive shortstop.  In other words, Iglesias could
be in the discussion for the greatest defensive shortstop of all time.  But he failed completely in a late season audition in Boston, hitting .118.  This spring however, after working out with Dustin Pedroia last winter, his hitting took a major step forward.  That is only spring training, and after beginning 2013 in Boston he hit over .500 in the first four games.  Small Sample Size Warning.  It seems Jose has been on the radar forever, but he is only 23( about 4 months older than JBJr, for example.)  Stephen Drew is the shortstop for now in Boston, but for no longer than this year.  If Iglesias goes to AAA and hits the way he has so far this spring, he will be the Boston shortstop sooner rather than later.  If not ?????

12. Ryan Lavarnway, C- Pawtucket After graduating Lavarnway off this list in late 2012, he returns due to his return to AAA.  2013 is likely a make or break year for Lavarnway. He began in the  Sox system in 2008 with a reputation of all hit no field.  And hit he did as he rose to AAA.  However last year, he was actually selected as the best defensive catcher in the International League.  But now he has stopped hitting.  After hitting 34 home runs at Portland/Pawtucket/Boston in 2011, Ryan had only 8 in AAA with 2 more for Bostonin 2012.  Also with 153 AB's in Boston Lavarnway only hit .157.  In 2013 he is back at Pawtucket and he must regain at least a portion of that power stroke or his days as a top Sox prospect will be over.

The following players are knocking on the door of the Top 12.

13. Brandon Workman, SP- Portland
14. Alex Wilson, RP- Pawtucket
15. Anthony Ranaudo, SP- Portland
16. Christian Vazquez, C- Portland
17. Brian Johnson, SP- Greenville
18. Brandon Jacobs, OF- Salem ( surprisingly did not start 2013 at Portland)
19. Drake Britton, SP- Portland
20. Brock Holt, INF- Pawtucket

We here at RSM celebrate the start of another Red Sox and minor league season.  Check in here to track the progress of some of these kids and future Sox.  And try to get out to a minor league game near you.


John Lackey Re-Injured??

While making his first start since Tommy John surgery, John Lackey has appeared to re-injure his pitching arm.  While pitching an outstanding game with 8 K's into the sixth inning, Lackey threw a pitch to Jose Reyes and his right arm immediately hung down as Lackey grabbed it.

If this is serious, and it appears it could be, this is a devastating blow to Lackey personally after so much hard work to get himself in great shape.  He seemed to be grabbing his bicep of the the right arm.

More on this as more news becomes available.

Friday, April 5, 2013

At 2-1 Are the Red Sox For Real?

After taking two out of three from the New York Yankees in the opening series of 2012 most Red Sox fans are optimistic heading into Toronto.  Like many Sox fans though I am constantly asking myself are they really going to be improved this season or are the Yankees just destined to stink and finish last?  So are the new look Sox for real? Or are we being deceived because we just beat the worst team in the AL east two out of three?

After three games here is what I think is real and what still remains to be seen.

Real:
  1. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz will thrive under Juan Nieves and John Farrell
  2. The Red Sox defense is greatly improve (but will that change when Jose Iglesias gets send down and if Jackie Bradley Jr. gets sent down?) Even if they do at least they have a catcher who can throw out runners and a RF who can do the same. 
  3. The Red Sox will be aggressive on the basepaths and be able to "create" more runs than year's past.
  4. This team's "chemistry" is real.  The work that Ben Cherington and his staff did to find player's who have great character is paying off and will continue to pay off. 
  5. The bullpen will be a strength, maybe even more than we thought, if that's possible. 
  6. This coaching staff is the best the Red Sox have had since 2007.  
  7. The Red Sox need to stay healthy and they need to get Big Papi back to 100%.  The line up is really lacking pop.  I think they will hit for more power once the weather warms up, but they miss David Ortiz's big left handed power bat.
  8. A lot of players, coaches and front office personnel around this team have a lot to "prove". This means we will see a motivated team all year long.  
  9. Jonny Gomes is going to be the next Kevin Millar
Remains to be seen:
  1. The starting pitchers besides Lester and Buchholz.  Dempster was Ok but not great last night.  He still has to prove he can pitch in the AL. Lackey needs to prove he's healthy and Doubront needs to avoid the sophomore slump. 
  2. The offense needs to show that they can make the other teams starting pitcher work and drive up their pitch count.  They were able to do that vs. Sabathia, but not against Pettite.  The potential is there, but there are also a lot of free swingers on this team.  
  3. The offense needs to show that they can avoid long slumps.  The last two years they have been prone to long droughts. 
  4. Will Middlebrooks still needs to prove that he can be a #5 hitter and not a #7 hitter.  
  5. Jacoby Ellsbury needs to stay healthy and he needs to be consistent.  He doesn't have to match 2011 power numbers but he needs to be an on base machine.  
  6. Will Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli produce enough to be able to fill the roles that they were signed to fill.  
  7. Jackie Bradley Jr. Such an interesting situation.  His defense alone has been worth putting him on the team, but so far his offense has been a much needed spark. Can he keep it up? Will he get sent down when Papi is healthy? Stay tuned.  
  8. Will Jose Iglesias continue to hit like he has in the first 3 games? Whether he is with Boston or Pawtucket he needs to show that he can maintain this approach for a whole season.  Obviously he'll still have his slumps, but if he continues to make solid contact and mix in some small ball.  He will be the starting SS sooner rather than later.  
We will continue to learn more about this team with each game and with all these story lines I for one can't wait to see the answers.  This first Toronto series will go a long way in determining if New York is really awful or if Boston really has improved.  If they come home with a 5-1 or 4-2 record that will be very encouraging.  3-3 is acceptable, but if they come home 2-4 we will still have a lot of questions unanswered.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Live Chat - Red Sox @ Yankees 7:00pm 4-3-13

Welcome to the first Red Sox Maineiacs live chat of 2013!  Tonight we will chat live during the Red Sox-Yankees game.  Come and join in the fun!
Here is tonight's starting lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mike Napoli 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Shane Victorino RF
Jackie Bradley Jr LF
Jose Iglesias SS

Clay Buchholz P

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Brandon's 2013 MLB Predictions

I’m a couple days late with these, but here we go:

AL East
  1. Tampa Bay - With a full season of Evan Longoria, the addition of Wil Myers, and a pitching staff full of young studs David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and eventually Chris Archer, they are the best in the AL East.
  2. Toronto - Chemistry will be an issue, as will their bullpen and the puzzling re-hire of John Gibbons.  However, they have amassed such a plethora of talent they can’t help but win 88-90 games.  Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion are the two biggest keys to contention.
  3. Boston - Fueled by a pitching staff that eats innings, keeps games close, and nails down leads, the Sox contend for the playoffs all year long before coming up just short at the end.  Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr, Jose Iglesias, and Allen Webster lead a youthful, energetic, fun team to watch.
  4. New York Yankees - Despite all the age and injuries, they still have a lot of talent on this roster.  Problem is, they won’t get to assemble it until June.  I think they start slow and pick up steam late in the year, but can’t climb above 4th in the loaded AL East.
  5. Baltimore - I don’t completely buy the “they got insanely lucky last year so they’ll go back to being bad this year” argument, but I also don’t buy that they’ll be the second-best team in this division again.  They may win 80 games and still finish last.
AL Central
  1. Detroit - the best hitter alive, the best pitcher alive, the best first baseman in the AL and the best butt-smoking manager alive.  Hint: they’re good.
  2. * Kansas City - I’m buying the hype.  I’m drinking the Kool-Aid.  I’m pushing my chips into the middle.  Shields will be good and the kids all produce.  Playoff baseball in Kansas City!
  3. Chicago - They always seem to win more games than they are projected to.  Guys like Konerko, Rios, and Ramirez seem like they should stop being good, but never do.
  4. Cleveland - The Tribe makes some strides and with Tito and Swish on board they have the loosest clubhouse in the majors, but with that craptastic pitching staff it doesn’t matter.
  5. Minnesota - Their lineup is sneaky good.  Their pitching staff is pretty good...if they were a high school team.
AL West
  1. LA Angels - Mike “Trouser” Trout, Pujols, Hamilton, and an underrated pitching staff leads to an AL West victory by a comfortable margin
  2. *Oakland - A solid rotation, the continued emergence of Yoenis, and playing Houston leads to back-to-back playoff appearances
  3. Seattle - A bit of a surprise team in the AL stays in the wildcard hunt until the end.  They’ve added enough offense to be taken seriously.
  4. Texas - The Rangers backslide in a big way.  They lost too many guys and replaced them with too many question marks.
  5. Houston - Yikes.
AL Playoffs
Kansas City over Oakland in wildcard round

Detroit over Kansas City
Tampa Bay over Anaheim

Tampa Bay over Detroit in 6

AL MVP - Miguel Cabrera
AL Cy Young - David Price
AL Manager of the Year - Jim Leyland

NL East
  1. Atlanta - The Braves out-perform the darlings of every MLB prediction page I saw (see below) and win the NL East behind the Uptons (when are they going to acquire Kate to complete the Upton trifecta?), Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, and a better than average pitching rotation.
  2. *Washington - The Nationals are everybody’s pick to win the NL East, and most people’s pick to win the World Series.  I say they hit a few road bumps that keep them from winning their division, but they get into the playoffs by easily capturing the first wild card.  Harper, Strausburg, and company are too good to keep out of the postseason.
  3. Philadelphia - The aging Phillies make one more run at the post-season, but come up just short of a wild card after being in the race all year.  The front office then laments not blowing the team up at the trade deadline.
  4. NY Mets - The Mets’ starting rotation is better than people think, even without Johan Santana, but their lineup stinks.  At least they’re not the...
  5. Miami - Will fight all season long to stay in the hunt...for worst team in the majors.
NL Central
  1. Cincinnati - The Reds have everything you want in a winning ballclub: they hit for average and power, they have stars, they have speed, they have a solid rotation (Johnny Cueto is better than anybody realizes), and a lights-out closer in Aroldis Chapman.  I say the Reds win the NL Central by the biggest margin of any division champ.
  2. Pittsburgh - The Pirates finally finish above .500 for the first time since George H.W. Bush was president.  However, they come up short in both the playoff race and the MVP race as McCutcheon comes up just short.
  3. St. Louis - They have perhaps the best crop of rookies ready to enter the bigs of any team in the majors.  This crop will help the Cards contend all year long, but they fall short of the playoffs.
  4. Milwaukee - If Ryan Braun ends up getting suspended for PEDs, then they could fall to dead last in a hurry.  If Yovani Gallardo steps up his game a notch, they could compete for the playoffs.  Low floor, high ceiling team.
  5. Chicago Cubs - Jeff Samardzija is legit.  Anthony Rizzo is, too.  Starlin Castro is as well.  Everybody else, meh.
NL West
  1. LA Dodgers - Their roster is not deep, and they have spots filled with downright bad players (Juan Uribe? Luis Cruz?), but they also have the best pitcher in the NL (Clayton Kershaw) and perhaps the best position player (Matt Kemp).  Kemp struggled with injuries last year, but when he is healthy he is one of the best three players in all of baseball.
  2. *San Francisco - Essentially the same team that won it all a year ago.  It would take a crippling injury or two for them to not make it back to the postseason this year.  If they stay healthy, they get in again.
  3. Colorado - I picked them to win the division last year and they bombed horribly.  I’ll go ahead and pick them 3rd this year, and pray that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez stay healthy all year and rake in Coors Field.
  4. Arizona - They supposedly wanted to build a “grittier” roster this offseason to make the mentality of manager Kirk Gibson.  They got grittier, but they also got worse.
  5. San Diego - One of these years, their kids might vault them back to the top of the NL West.  It won’t be this year.  San Diego fights tooth and nail for the most losses in the majors with Miami and Houston.  Stay classy, San Diego.
NL MVP - Joey Votto (Freddie Freeman finishes in the top 4 in voting)
NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw
NL Manager of the Year - Dusty Baker
NL Rookie of the Year - Shelby Miller

NL Playoffs
Wild Card Game - Washington over San Francisco

Atlanta over Los Angeles
Cincinnati over Washington

Atlanta over Cincinnati in 7

World Series - Tampa Bay over Atlanta in 7

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cousin Jason's 2013 Predictions

With opening day here and an outstanding Sox victory in the books, here are my predictions.

American League

East
Toronto- Unlike my peers at RSM, I'll buy the hype
*Boston- Top to bottom, the Sox roster is stronger than the other AL East teams
Tampa Bay- Too many holes for the Devil Rays to cover with Price, Maddon, and Longoria
New York- The AARP Cards arrive frequently in the Bronx this year
Baltimore- Regression to the mean

Central
Detroit- Easily the best team in this division
#Cleveland- Tito and the Tribe Harlem Shake into the postseason
Kansas City- The Royals with a revamped rotation will be in the hunt until the end but come up short
Chicago- Peavy and Sale pitch the South siders out of the basement
Minnesota- Mauer and Morneau can only do so much, pitching is the achilles' heel however

West
Los Angeles- The best team in the AL rides a deadly line-up to October
Texas- The Rangers fall off the pace early but rally to finish 2nd in this weak division
Seattle- The former voice of the PawSox Aaron Goldsmith and an improved roster make strides
Oakland- Another regression to the mean
Houston- Bad baseball in Houston...but not historically bad

Playoffs
Boston over Cleveland in Wildcard Game as Dempster outpitches Daisuke
Los Angeles over Boston in 5
Detroit over Toronto in 4
Los Angeles over Detroit in 6

Cy Young Justin Verlander

National League

East
Washington- The capitol is rocking all-summer as the Nationals run away with it
*Philadelphia- Much like the Sox, the Phils rebound from their disappointing 2012
Atlanta- Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are not enough to vault the Braves into the postseason
Miami- The Marlins fallout of contention early and shop Stanton at the deadline
New York- If not the worst team in the NL, pretty damn close

Central
Cincinnati- Joey Votto and Company slug their way to the top of the Central
Pittsburgh- McCutcheon treats the NL like his own personal video game but it is not enough to get the Bucco's into October
St. Louis- The postseason is not in the cards for the team from the Gateway to the West
Chicago- Another long season for Theo's gang, but some Wrigley magic keeps them out of the cellar
Milwaukee- The Brew Crew and their fans will want to drink heavily, which boosts Miller sales

West
San Francisco- The Giants prove too much for the rest of the West
#Los Angeles- Magic in Chavez Ravine
Colorado- The Rockies make another late season run but fall short
Arizona- Diamondbacks lack the talent to keep pace
San Diego- Padres World Series drought remains celibate

Playoffs
Philadelphia over Los Angeles in Wildcard Game- Home field advantage propels the Phillies
Washington over Cincinnati in 4
Philadelphia over San Francisco in 7
Washington over Philadelphia in 6

Cy Young Matt Cain
Manager Bruce Bochy

World Series- Washington over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County of California in 6, Nationals fans storm the Mall and attempt to topple the Washington Monument

4/1 Red Sox Opening Day

Let's use this post for all of the Opening Day comments and updates.  We'll post some links for some good reading material and we can get ready for opening day.  Here is a game breakdown from boston.com extra bases blog.

Here's Dustin Pedroia's predictions for 2013. Good stuff from the de facto Captain.  @LaserShow15 should be fun to follow this year.

Here's a look at the Boston Herald's extensive opening day coverage.

Here's fellow Mainer Chad Finn's Red Sox predictions for 2013

The lineups have not been posted yet, but here's is my best guess at today's lineup.  The only real question mark is at Catcher where yesterday John Farrell said it was still to be determined.
*Update the lineup has now been posted and it is in the comments section below
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mike Napoli  1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jonny Gomes DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. LF
David Ross C
Jose Iglesias SS

There's my best attempt at getting inside John Farrell's head.