Welcome back to the cooler! It was great to get back in the saddle last week and write the cooler for RSM Nation to partake in. The Maine weather this week has certainly started to turn towards autumn, which means the home stretch for the Sox regular season, the start of the NFL, Fantasy Football drafts, and for 3 of the Maineiacs back to school. In the meantime, let's see what is iced down this week:
1. We mentioned it last week, the Red Sox 3B conundrum. Apparently, we are still in a holding pattern with the monster platoon of Brandon Snyder and Brock Holt. Two things that jump out to me with this development, Will Middlebrooks may never play another game for the Boston Red Sox and the Red Sox truly want Xander Bogaerts to be fully developed before he makes it to the show. Let's start with Willie Middle, I refuse to believe that he would not be better than Brandon Snyder. Given that premise, how is it that he is still playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox? His star has apparently faded with the Boston front office, until the AAA season ends it appears as though Middlebrooks will remain there. Even then how many ABs will he get in Boston during a pennant race if he is not better than Snyder and Holt currently? I would wager that Middlebrooks is traded in the off-season, regardless. As for the prized possession, the Sox front office, which is way smarter than Red Sox Nation, obviously knows that pushing Bogaerts to Boston could cause damage to his Hall of Fame future. I still think that not recalling him has more to do with starting his MLB clock than anything else, along with the fact that he is not yet 21 years of age (Red Sox fans will have to wait until October 1st to buy Xander an adult beverage). His arrival after the AAA season will most assuredly take away ABs from the other 3B candidates, which further hurts Middlebrooks.
2. Stephen Drew, say loud, say proud, the Boston Red Sox shortstop is STEPHEN DREW! In a season of magical moments, other than Johnny Gomes, Drew might be the most clutch of all the Boston nine. What a big HR last night in Houston to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Jose Who? The big question with Drew going forward is do the Sox re-sign him for 2014 and beyond or do they let him walk and put Xander Bogaerts in the middle?
3. Sticking with shortstop, with Drew's play and the tremendous first start for Jake Peavy, the trade of Jose Iglesias so far ranks second in the all-time fleecing's pulled off by the Red Sox. A certain trade of Heathcliff Slocumb "If you got'em" for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe being the only one to top it. Remember when Red Sox Nation wanted to run Ben Cherington out of town last season? Me neither, the man has proved to be roster management wizard in 2013.
4. Another great question once the offseason rolls around is what will become of Jacoby Ellsbury? Ellsbury is starting to heat up with two bombs in Houston on Tuesday night. It is quite possible the Ells goes off for the final two months of the season, similar to the 2011 MVP-esque season he put up, in a push to make his nut in free agency. Is there any chance that the Sox re-up with the CF or will the fact that he is represented by Scott Boras mean he is sure to follow the cash?
5. Some issues still linger with this Sox team, despite already topping the 2012 win total, and only needing to go 25-21 for the remainder of the season to get to 95 wins, which is my personal barometer for making the post-season. Those issues include more shakiness from Jon Lester and Ryan Dempster. Speaking of Lester apparently his Temple Run tweet mentioned last week was done by his 3 year old son on Dad's iPhone, some might find this questionable but not me. Having a 7 and 4 year old, they are quite handy with the Apple products and Temple Run, so Lester gets a pass on the Tweet, however as many of his followers responded and #31 agreed, Dad needs to pitch better. I'm resigned to the fact that Dempster is what he is, a Dumpster Fire! Sure he'll eat some innings but in the post-season he is resigned to cheerleading, long relief, and mop-up duty. Another issue is Mike Napoli, where have you gone Mr. April? Napoli had an MRI on his hip earlier this week show that there has been no degeneration in the hip but there certainly has been a degeneration in Napoli's hitting of the baseball. The 1B will most definitely break Mark Bellhorn's single season team record of 177 strikeouts. Other than the Sunday night game against the Yankees, Napoli has been a non-factor for going on 3 months. If the Sox are truly going to contend in the post-season they are going to need all 3 of these veterans to get going.
6. Finally, the other issue that appears to be rearing its ugly head is the Sox relationship with the umpires. Sure, the umpiring has been questionable at best but this is a recurring theme with the Sox over the last couple of seasons. Remember Youkilis, Beckett, and Lester always bitching about pitches? Now, we have nightly someone becoming upset with the umpires like last night's ejection of Shane Victorino. Again if the Sox are going to contend in the post-season they need to stop worrying about the officiating and get it done on the field.
- Cousin Jason traveled to Pat's Pizza in Augusta last night with his "little buddies" mentioned in last week's chaser. With Cousin Jason navigating, believe me that trip to Fenway came up. Always good times with the little buddies!
- Are the Kansas City Royals the most dangerous team in the AL right now? When Bruce Chen is carving you up I think so.
- Anyone else perplexed by John Farrell's move to pinch run Drake Britton last night for David Ortiz? It turned out to be a moot point, but I got to believe having a pitcher run, unless he is Usain Bolt, does not give you a huge upgrade over Big Papi. Maybe once he gets to second but, on first?
- As NESN's post game coverage starts, I wonder what Maine location is Tom Caron taking a vacation too? I also wonder, who is this Adam character Sox fans have been subjected to this week?
We return to Friendly Fenway this week with a trip from April 18, 1991. Cousin Jason, Barry, and Deacon Art along with others traveled to Boston during April vacation to see the Sox take on the Royals. Along with our $3 bleachers seat tickets, we got a clinic put on by Red Sox pitcher Joe Hesketh and infielder Tim Naehring. As an infielder myself, I was enthralled with Naehring's presentation, especially his fielding apparatus of a batting glove attached to a piece of wood to help him with soft hands and fielding the ball cleanly. I loved the thing and made one myself when I got home. Apparently Naehring's was built with better quality workmanship than mine as my stapled on batting glove soon ripped to shreds. As far as the game goes, we got to see a doozy as Roger Clemens took on Bret Saberhagen, before his shoulder became mincemeat. Both were outstanding, Clemens gave up 3 hits over 8 with 10 K's and Saberhagen gave up 4 hits and the lone unearned run over 7 innings. Several greats were involved in this game with George Brett and Kirk Gibson in the line-up for the Royals while Wade Boggs and "The Gator" Mike Greenwell played for the Sox. Jeff Reardon, RIP, came on to save it for the Sox. The other thing I remember about this trip was that it was drizzly and overcast on the morning drive but by the end of the game we all had sunburns from the blazing sun in the bleachers.
Bottoms up, enjoy the remaining summer, and Go Sox!