Sunday, April 27, 2014

Red Sox Winning April Still in Sight

Despite the up and down April, punctuated by strong performances followed by ugly games, the Sox still have a chance to finish the opening month at or over .500.  As of this Sunday morning, they sit at 12-13 with three April games left. A win to sweep the Jays today along with two wins back in Boston over the slumping Rays would give them a 15-13 April.  Maybe more importantly the Red Sox are currently only 2.5 games  out of the AL East lead and are in third place.  The entire division remains bunched together, three games apart from top to bottom.

In my last post I certainly overstated John Lackey's third start of the season in New York including it in "three strong starts".  Lackey did open the campaign with two strong starts but for the April 12th game in the Bronx, John gave up 6 runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.  That mischaracterization must have jinxed the whole rotation because in Lackey's next start he pitched just as poorly( 5 1/3 IP for 6 runs) and from his start through Jon Lester's next, the five man rotation put up four stinkers along with one decent Felix Doubront start.  Then with the ups and downs mentioned above, from April 22 through the 26th, Lackey and Jake Peavy threw great games and yesterday after a horrid first inning, Clay Buchholz gave the club a quality start, 7 IP with only the 3 first inning runs allowed.  Jon Lester goes today trying to erase his poor start last time out versus the Yankees.  But this time through Doubront, put up the stinkeroo.  I still think overall this rotation is a strength of the club.

Another bright light in recent days for Boston is the ability to field the entire expected lineup.  Both Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks have returned from the DL, and both ( especially Middlebrooks) contributed to two wins so far in Toronto.  Victorino helps soldify the top of the batting order and will help stabilize the outfield, which has been erratic, at best, offensively.  Middlebrooks, who had homered in the Fenway opener before getting hurt, hit another ball out of the park yesterday in Toronto. I felt in spring training, and I still do, that Will Middlebrooks is primed for a breakout year.

With the return of Shane Victorino, the Red Sox made their roster decision among Jackie Bradley Jr./     Daniel Nava/ Mike Carp.  Nava was the odd man out, for now, being optioned to AAA.  I feel several factors lead to this decision. Foremost Nava had an option left(as did Bradley, Jr.) and could be sent to Pawtucket without exposing him to waivers. This in addition to Nava's awful April, only hitting around .140 made him the odd man out.  Jackie was not going anywhere, he is certainly the everyday center fielder, shining defensively and beginning to show, perhaps, his potential on offense with Friday night's two doubles and a triple game. A fourth player also fit into the decision, that is Grady Sizemore. Bradley, Jr. has looked way, way better in center than Sizemore further cementing JBJr as the everyday man in center field.  As I mentioned in the last post, if Mike Carp was the player to go, he would have to have been traded due to having no options left.  In the week or so before Victorino was activated something changed there as well.  Ever since last winter the most likely suitor for Carp had been the Pirates.  They had a need of a left handed hitting first sacker, and they did not want to spend big money. But it turned out that person was not Mike Carp, but Ike Davis, who the Mets traded to Pittsburgh last week. This closed the door on Carp being traded for anything of value, and closed the door on Daniel Nava for now.

As far as Daniel Nava getting back to Boston, I think it could be a lot further down the road than expected.  Barring an injury to a Sox outfielder or Nava hitting .400+ at AAA with power and forcing his way back, I think the Sox roster is set without him.  With Bradley, Jr. and Victorino set in center and right, Grady Sizemore now joins the left field platoon spot with Johnny Gomes formerly held by Nava.  If Carp continues to hit in his substitute role, where would Nava fit?

After playing the Yankees and Orioles seven times apiece in April, the Tampa Bay Rays are the most frequent opponent for the next month or so.  The Rays come to Fenway this week Tuesday through Thursday, and Sox go to St. Pete for three on Memorial Day weekend, and the Sox end May (into June 1st) with three more at Fenway against the Maddon men.  This could be an opportunity to put the Rays in the rear view mirror and perhaps force Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay GM, into considering trading David Price at July 31's trade deadline rather than wait until this off season.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Red Sox at the 1/10 Pole

The 2014 Red Sox have 16 games under their belt and are off to a 7-9 start which is three games out of first in the AL East ( more on that at the end of this piece).  Not exactly the beginning to their world title defense the fans ( and likely the team) were hoping for but there have been positives to the start.

Here are a few random notes and thoughts on the Sox so far.

First, this note is a little late, but it is was thrill attending the home opener ( along with Barry and Brandon) and be able to witness the Red Sox receive their 2013 World Series rings. The entire ceremony which included the marathon bombing survivors and families, the Boston Pops, banners from previous championship teams, the Dropkick Murphys, and former Pats, Bruins, and Celtics                  
(hello, Leon Powe), and their title trophies, and so much more.  Despite dropping the game to Milwaukee it was a great day with great atmosphere.

The Red Sox offense has not been up to its usual standards so far, especially there has been a lack of hitting with runners on base.  There is a fine line between reasons and excuses sometimes, but I think you have to chalk up some of the scoring paucity to the typical cold April weather.  In addition the Red Sox have been unable to put the full starting nine on the field with Shane Victorino having missed all 16 games and Will Middlebrooks going down with a calf injury the day after the home opener ( in that game Middlebrooks hit a missile of a home run into the monster seats). Victorino was supposed to have started his minor league rehab in Portland three days ago, but the Sea Dogs have been postponed each of the last three days due to the cold, rainy weather.  Let's get all hands on deck before deciding this offense has been permanently damaged by losing Ellsbury, Salty, and Drew. ( it hasn't, I believe)

Speaking of injuries the Red Sox seemed to have dodged three cannonball sized bullets on that front. Dustin Pedroia had injured his wrist during the home opener, and missed a Yankee game last weekend.  But upon returning to Boston, the MRI showed only some inflammation, no fracture.  He received a cortisone shot and only missed two games.  It is very hard to imagine this squad going forward successfully if Pedroia had to have missed a significant remainder of the year.  Another dodge was Mike Napoli only ( I say only only, but did you see that finger sticking sideways, yeech) dislocating rather than breaking his finger after a head first (hands first??) slide into second base.  Napoli not only has the all important job of hitting behind David Ortiz, but at this point of the new season, he leads the Sox in home runs, RBI, batting average, hits, and on base percentage. In other words damned near everything.  The last of the three injuries the Red Sox appear to have weathered with minimal effect is the stiffness in Koji Uehara's shoulder.  Two years ago while pitching for Texas, Uehara missed 66 days with a similar sensation in that area.  His MRI testing came back clean and Koiji returned to the hill last night and had a save to end the road trip.  There is some thought that as the MRI suggests, there is nothing really wrong, it is just Koji being a little concerned based on the 2012 episode.  Let us hope the Red Sox have truly dodged this one as well.

As haphazardly as the offense has begun, the pitching for the most part has been outstanding.  To me this is a strong sign that this Red Sox team is still well positioned to take the AL East.  Both Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront have left something to be desired in some of their starts, but have glimmers of their abilities.  But the other three starters have all been strong each time out.  Jon Lester, after taking a perfect game into the sixth and outdueling Chris Sale for the win last night, has put up outstanding starts in each of his four trips to the mound. Veterans John Lackey and Jake Peavy have each turned in strong starts in each of their three appearances so far.  Lester's ERA is 2.17 and John Lackey, with a small hiccup in last start, is at 3.86.  Jake Peavy leads the starting staff at this point at 1.91.

The bullpen has been every bit as good as the rotation, even with Koji missing a week.  Newcomers Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica have had their up and downs so far and will hopefully adjust to pitching in Boston.  Andrew Miller returning from last year's mid season foot injury seems to be rounding into shape.  Miller's ERA is 1.50 and his control seems to be coming around with seven strikeouts so far.  The three stalwarts of the 2013 pen, Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Craig Breslow       ( after returning from the DL) all have an ERA of 0.00. Another pitcher with  spotless 0.00 ERA is newcomer Chris Capuano.  The long time National League starting pitcher and Massachusetts native seems to be thriving in the Boston bullpen and has pitched some keys innings.

It was really great to see Xander Bogaerts go deep for the first time in the young season last night, off All Star Chris Sale no less.  It was a real blast, and although the measurement of home run lengths seem to not be official at times, this one is being reported at 444 feet.  Bogaerts only had one home run in majors last year on September 7th at Yankee Stadium off Jim Miller (not exactly Chris Sale).  That bomb was reported at 443 feet. I know there are stats for everything these days, but you have to wonder if any big leaguer has ever hit his first two home runs for a combined 887 feet!  For those of you wondering where Xander' home run power has been remember this note.  In the last two seasons at Salem, Portland, and Pawtucket, Bogaerts has hit two April home runs.  He has hit 33 after April.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. had been optioned to Pawtucket at the end of spring camp, but got a reprieve when Victorino pulled a hammy in the final exhibition game.  Over the first sixteen games, Jackie has seemingly taken full advantage and secured a regular spot in center field.  His defense in center and right field, when asked to play there, has been spectacular at times.  But mostly Bradley, Jr.'s defense is something you need to behold day in and day out.  He is always where he needs to be on defense, and glory be he can actually throw, a novelty in the last decade or two for Boston in center field.  I said seemingly has secured a spot because there are a couple of issues still lurking. First, JBJr did struggle somewhat on this recent road trip and his batting average is down to .227.  But his OBP, always a key part of his game in the minors, is at .346.  The only two Red Sox regulars with higher OBP are Mike Napoli at .400 and Bogaerts at .397 (David Ross is at .389).  The other scenario which could still send Bradley, Jr. back to AAA when Victorino is activated (likely next week) is the fact he does have options and could be sent back.  The other players in this equation seem to be Daniel Nava and Mike Carp.  You could include Johnny Gomes, but his right handed bat, if nothing else, keeps his roster spot.  Nava also has an option left, even though he has been in the bigs for the last year and a half.  Due to Daniel's slow 2014 start some are advocating this rather than send down Bradley, Jr.  The other move would be to trade or release Mike Carp. To me Daniel Nava and Mike Carp are pretty much the same player, or at least could have the same role on this team. If your outfield is Grady Sizemore, Bradley, Jr., and Victorino from left to right (and it should be!) with Gomes as a right handed hitting 4th/5th outfielder, then Nava or Carp are the 4th/5th outfielder who is also a backup first baseman.  After watching Mike Carp try to play left field at Fenway for the home opener (unsuccessfully, I might add) if it comes down to this choice keep Nava and trade Carp.  I think you could trade Carp for something of some value, a minor leaguer likely, rather than have to release him.  There is at least one rumor out there that the Sox do not want to designate Carp for assignment and then not be able to find a trade partner because they are concerned the Yankees would snap him up if he is released. The other reason given for keeping Carp over Jackie is to hang on to as many players as possible.  I get this but if the Sox need another corner out fielder I believe rookie Bryce Brentz could help with that and provide another right handed bat.  It comes down to this for me: is this team better with Jackie Bradley, Jr. or Mike Carp on it?

Tonight the Red Sox come back to Fenway to begin a seven game home stand with Baltimore for four games and three next week with the Yankees.  This will begin their longest stretch, weather permitting, at home this season, 15 of the next 18 through May 8th will be at Fenway. Besides the O's and New York the Sox will host the Rays, A's , and Reds after a three game stop in Canada to play the Jays. The upcoming Oriole series will include a Sunday night ceremony remembering the Marathon bombing victims and survivors as well as the first Patriots Day Monday morning game(who in the hell came up with a schedule that has a Sunday night game before the AM Patriots Day game?) since the bombing of the Marathon finish line.  This may represent some closure on the 2013 season and all of these upcoming home games may give ample opportunity for this version of Red Sox to move upward in the AL East.

Lastly, I want to go back to my opening paragraph which mentioned the Red Sox current 7-9 record leaving them three games out of first.  How important is a winning April?  I did some research recently using the nine most successful teams in the last 60 years or so for the  Red Sox. I did not go back further than that because the seasons started late in April then.  The nine teams were the six pennant winners 1967, 1975, 1986, 2004, 2007, and 2013, plus two teams that went to Game 7 of the ALCS: 2003 and 2008.  Finally I included the 1978 team which won 99 games but unfortunately came up short trying to win #100.

Of these nine teams only one had a losing April, the '75 club went 7-9.  The teams from the 2000's on this list played especially well with W-L records of 18-9, 15-6, 16-8, 17-12. and 18-8.  So about 89% of these strong Sox clubs had a winning April. I certainly have not given up on the '14 Sox having a winning April, but just in case I have found a corollary to my original "truth".  Since this year's AL East has been bunched together so far, I checked these same nine Red Sox teams to see what their standing to first place was at the end of play on April 30. Even though 89% is a strong indicator I have found another that is 100%.  All nine of the aforementioned Sox teams were within at least three games of first place at the end of April. The '75, '78, and '03 teams were 3 games behind, the others ranged from 2 games behind to 3 1/2 ahead( 2007).  If the Red Sox are looking to repeat, it seems over the next two weeks they should get over .500 and certainly need to stay no further out than their current three games behind.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Night Baseball Live Chat Red Sox @ Yankees 4-13-14

Come chat with the Maineiacs tonight during Sunday Night Baseball as the Sox try to even up the series with the Yanks.
 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

RSM Red Sox Top 20 Prospects- April Report

Another baseball season has commenced, major and minor leagues, and we here at RSM renew our rankings of the top kids in a very loaded Red Sox system. There are prospects who rate down in the 30s that would be in most of the other MLB team's top 12. Because of that depth we will rank a top 20 to begin the new season.

First a couple of housekeeping items.  We have decided to remove Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. from these rankings.  Different sources of prospect rankings define prospects differently and many still include these two.  To me Xander is a fixture in Boston and will never see AAA  again, and unless a roster crunch causes it, JBJr should be entrenched in the Boston outfield.  On the other side of the coin, after much deliberation, our rankings will include Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa, since they are both in the Pawtucket rotation and trying to earn their way back to Boston.  Again since De La Rosa is no longer rookie eligible and because of Workman's 2013 Boston performance some rankings do not include one or both of the pitchers.  We will for now.

In the initial 2014 rankings we will not overload you with stats.  If you would like to review their 2013 numbers, refer back to November 2013 and January 2014 for our off season top 50 rankings.  This list will mention some numbers from the very small sample size of 2014 and let you know where the players are assigned to begin the new year.  The number in brackets after the player and their team is the off season ranking.  One thing to remember about the winter rankings, Bogaerts and Bradley, Jr. were included as 1 and 2.  So any player who is at the identical ranking has actually been surpassed by two players, and moving up 2 spots is basically staying in place.  Let's get to it.

Top 20

1. Henry Owens, SP- Portland {4}- For some reason last winter I had not only the B Boys ahead of Henry but also Garin Cecchini.  Must have been the cold winter we just endured.  Owens finished last year at Portland impressively after dominating Class A Salem.  All he has done in his first two 2014 starts after returning to Portland, is twirl a no-hitter on Opening Night ( albeit a rain abbreviated 6 inning game) and in his second start Owens threw 6.2 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and no walks for his second win of the young season.  I urge all you Maineiacs to get yourself down to Hadlock Field when Owens is scheduled to pitch.  But you may want to plan the trip soon.  The only thing that could keep Henry at Hadlock beyond Memorial Day or so, is the fact Pawtucket has a prospect laden rotation already ( see below).  I suspect the Pawsox will find room for him.

2. Garin Cecchini, 3B- Pawtucket {3} The first interesting note about Garin is that he is beginning at Pawtucket.  He spent 66 games, about half a season at Portland in 2013, and there was an assumption made he would at least make another cameo at Portland to begin this season.  A strong showing in the big league camp took care of that assumption, and he is the starting third sacker in Pawtucket.  Due to his impressive Florida showing and red hot start at AAA ( hitting around .500), some fans expected to see Cecchini come up to Boston when Will Middlebrooks hit the DL last weekend.  John Farrell explained through the media, the team feels Garin needs more work on his defense and likely at least the same 66 games or so at AAA that he had at Portland last year.   The Red Sox Rubik's Cube of shortstop/third base will be fascinating to see unfold over the next year or so, hell maybe even this year.

3. Mookie Betts, 2B- Portland {10}It may hard to justify moving a player from 10 to 3 after just two weeks or so of a new season.  But upon further reflection of the 2013 Mookie had, and his red hot start in his first handful of AA games, he seems like someone to place your bets on (sorry).  In Mookie's first 17 ABs at Portland he is hitting .529 with a home run and three doubles.  With a glut of middle infielders (three of which are on this list), Betts will also get time at shortstop and DH.  One clue as to how high the Sox hold Betts may be if he also gets time in the outfield for the first time in his career.  Second base is quite spoken for in Boston, and therefore the fastest route to the big leagues may as a super utility guy who can hit and hit for power.

4. Blake Swihart, C- Portland {9} Another guy moving up substantially from the winter.  Swihart came out of 2011 draft as #26 overall with the reputation as a top rated hitting prospect.  But the young switch hitter has become so adept at catching that he was the Red Sox minor league defensive player of the year in 2013.  Boston has let Swihart play full seasons in each of the last two years, '12 at Greenville and last year at Salem with no mid year promotion.  So you can reasonably expect Blake to spend all of '14 at Hadlock Field. As your astute readers may have noticed three of our top four prospects are playing for the Sea Dogs.  As mentioned above, get yourself to Portland to see these guys, you will not be sorry.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

RSM Live Chat - Red Sox @ Yankees 4-10-14 7:00pm

Come join the Maineiacs as we live chat for the first Red Sox/Yankees matchup of 2014!
 

Comparing the Start of 2014 to the Start of 2013

After reading Art’s post about the Red Sox’ start through nine games, I started to make a comment about the helter-skelter nature of the early 2014 schedule and how it seems to be preventing this team from getting in a groove. So I went back and did some research on their start to the 2013 season, and what I found led me to blow this up into its own post.  Here’s what I found:
  • The early season schedule through nine games in 2014 has certainly been crazy. Check out these start times:
               3/31 - @ Baltimore - 3:00pm (season opener)
               4/2 - @ Baltimore - 7:05pm (normal weeknight start time)
               4/4 - vs. Milwaukee - 2:05pm (home opener)
               4/6 - vs. Milwaukee - 1:35pm (Sunday start time)
               4/8 - vs Texas - 6:05pm (experiment with earlier start time for warmth/sunlight)
               4/9 - vs. Texas - 4:00pm (getaway day)

That’s six different start times in the first nine games.  When you throw in a trip to the White House on April 1 and the home opener/World Series rings ceremony on April 4, it has been really hard to establish any kind of rhythm throughout the first nine games of this season.  Baseball is a game of routine, and if start times and ceremonies prevent players from getting into a comfortable routine, then the on-field performance suffers.  Hence, the slightly disappointing 4-5 start to the season.  
  • For comparison, in the first nine games of 2013, 8 of the 9 games started at either 1:00 (3 times) or 7:00 (5 times).  The only exception was a 2:00pm start time for the Baltimore home opener.  This consistency allowed our everyday players to establish their rhythm early on and got us out to the great start that led to a great season. Through nine games in 2013, our record was.......5-4.  Wait, what?!?! That’s right, even though the first nine games of 2014 feels a little disappointing, the Sox are only one game off their 2013 pace.
  • In their 5-4 start in 2013, the Red Sox outscored their opponents 46-31. In their 4-5 start in 2013, the Red Sox have been outscored 35-37. I’ll let you decide what this means, if anything.
  • Throughout the first 16 games of the 2013 season, no Red Sox starting pitcher gave up more than 3 runs, which is probably the biggest factor that went into the 46-31 run differential mentioned above. In 2014, Buchholz has been torched for 6 runs (he didn’t give up a single run in his first 22 innings pitched of 2013), and Doubie has been roughed up for 5 runs. Is this a symptom of the aforementioned helter-skelter early season schedule? Is this an indication that the teams playing the Red Sox are taking their pitching staff more seriously in 2014 coming off a World Series championship than they did in 2013 when the Sox were coming off the dumpster full of dog poo that was 2012? Or is this just an over-examination of a small sample size? It should be mentioned that in 7 out of 9 games to start the season, the Red Sox’ starting pitching has been very good, Lester’s 0-2 record be damned.
  • Along with a more consistent start time routine, the 2013 Red Sox were helped by starting the season with players in clearly-defined roles, which allowed them to get into a rhythm and allowed the Red Sox to get off to a good start and never look back all season long. At least that’s how I remember it. Right?  Not so much. See if you remember these events:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nine Games in the Books- On to the Bronx

After an opening series in Baltimore and the first home stand of 2014, the Red Sox stand at 4-5.  Not the start hoped for, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives so far as the Sox invade New York for a four game set beginning tomorrow night with the Yankees.  Here are a few thoughts on some of those negatives and positives of very, very early 2014.

Negatives

* The three game sweep by the Brewers at Fenway.  Certainly the Red Sox should not go 0-3 at home versus the Brew Crew.  But I have heard a number of fans (and granted there is a large"the sky is falling" contingent in Red Sox Nation) use the word embarrassment for the weekend.  The Red Sox were tied into the ninth for the home opener and into the 11th on Saturday.  That series was NOT an "embarrassment".  Three losses by 10-2 scores would have been an embarrassment.  Disappointment, but nothing more.

*Lack of clutch hitting.  Two games in particular stand out, the opener in Baltimore ( hopefully Jon Lester will not be this year's John Lackey getting no run support all year) and Tuesday night's hitting into 5 double plays.  But the hitting with RISP has been lacking for the whole nine games, excepting Mike Napoli's 3 run blast in the extra inning loss to Milwaukee, Papi's game winning home run today versus Texas, and some run scoring hits by Jackie Bradley, Jr.  I chalk this up to a small sample size, and fully expect this team to pile up runs.  Warmer weather will help also.

* Will Middlebrooks injury. The timing of this was so unfortunate as Middlebrooks seemed to be in great shape and was showing some early power hitting, with the only Red Sox home run in the home opener.  Hopefully his calf injury will be relatively minor, and Will can get back in the lineup.

* Clay Buchholz' first start.  The only poor start the first time through the rotation.  This makes Thursday's start against the Yankees all the more interesting.  Although Buch is slotted in the five hole in the rotation to begin 2014, the Sox need him to produce as he is capable of.

* Felix Doubront's second start. Unfortunately, Doubront pitched like he has so often in his past versus Texas.  A strong first two or three innings, then the wheels came off.  No pitcher in the game can shut out the opponent every start, so let us hope this was a blip on the way to the breakthrough so many people are predicting of Felix in 2014 (me included).

Positives

* Two series wins.  Even though the Sox are under .500 due to the Milwaukee weekend, they have won the other two series taking 2 of 3 from two AL contenders, Baltimore and Texas.  As Boston showed in 2013, the key to winning the season is to keep piling up series wins 2 of 3, 3 of of 4, etc.

* Starting pitching has been strong.  With the two exceptions listed above, the Sox are one start shy of two times through the rotation and have had 7 of 9 good to great starts.  All of Lester, Lackey, and Jake Peavy have shone twice each.  To me the biggest reason the Red Sox are well positioned to repeat is this starting staff (the whole staff, actually).

* Koji and Tazawa are off to repeats of '13.  Again, it is very early but both of the bullpen stalwarts       ( Koji, especially) have not missed a beat.  If this duo can continue, this team becomes all the much harder to take down as AL East Champs (and beyond).

* Xander Bogaerts is coming as advertised.  The out Xander made in his last AB today dropped him down under a .300 BA, but he has put together one great plate appearance after another.  Not only bunches of hits and walks, but several of his outs have been hit on the screws.  Oddly enough through nine games, Bogaerts has no home runs or any RBI.  The RBI is sort of team related, when the lineup produces as expected more RBI opportunities will arise.  As far as home runs the Aruban has hit 2 April home runs in the minors for the last two seasons and 33 after April.  There will be plenty of home runs from our rookie shortstop.

* The blessing of the injury to Shane Victorino.  Hopefully Victorino will be back in the lineup before April is out, and Shane's hamstring injury lead to the reprieve for........

* Jackie Bradley, Jr.  After losing his roster spot to Grady Sizemore, and being officially optioned to Pawtucket, Bradley, Jr. got the chance to stay for now in Boston when Victorino was hurt in the last exhibition game.  And after a slow game or two ( like taking a called third strike to end the opener), Bradley, Jr. has shown off his spectacular glove ( in right field, for now) and has been reaching base two or three times per games with run producing singles and a wall ball double, and today with three key walks.  At this point in time the only reason Jackie should not start every game in right field until Victorino is ready, is when Jackie is needed to play center to give Sizemore one of his needed off games.  If he continues to play anything like the recent days it will be very difficult if not impossible to send him to AAA.  Back on March 1st on this site, I wrote as spring training began, I felt the best outcome for the Sox outfield would be JBJr in center and a healthy Grady Sizemore taking left field from the Gomes/Nava platoon( with of course the unstated intent to have Shane V in right).  Today for the first time that I had seen several writers including the esteemed Alex Speier of WEEI and Peter Abraham of the Globe both suggest that outfield alignment going forward.  It would be by far, the best defensive outfield in the game, and pretty damned fair at the plate as well.  When approached, John Farrell was noncommittal but did not reject the premise.

Two last notes before prepping for the Yankee series.  First it is known some of the Maineiacs are not fans of the new replay rules ( me definitely included).  Can you imagine what little would be left of Fenway Park if the umpires had looked at a replay and reversed the call of David Ortiz' game winning 8th inning home run today?  What bedlam it would have been, and mark my words that will happen before this year is over.  God help us all.

Before the year began, Buster Olney of ESPN ranked the strength of schedule for each team for April and had the Sox around the middle of the AL pack ( 7th I think).  To me I think the Red Sox April slate is tougher than it seems.  For one thing of the 28 games ( counting March 31), 19 are versus AL East rivals.  Fourteen of the nineteen are against the O's and Yankees, seven with each.  Sixteen of the remaining nineteen now that the first nine are off the board. ( Plus the Sox play one more game with the Rays on May 1).  The only three non AL East April games are with the lowly White Sox, but they are in Chicago on the upcoming road trip after the four in the Big Apple.  Last year the Sox had an 18-8 April and it was very important to their road to the pennant.  Let us see how the next three weeks go for this version of the Red Sox.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RSM Live Chat Red Sox @ Orioles 7pm

It's the first live chat of the 2014 season!
 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Red Sox Visit the White House, in Tweets

The Red Sox had a victory parade of sorts today, rolling through the streets of D.C. in a motorcade to visit the White House. The Red Sox ownership, coaches, and players (led by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, and others) toured the White House and had a photo op with President Obama, who spoke about the team’s unforgettable 2013 championship season - a championship season which featured a team and a city creating shared memories in the midst of tragedy.

Everybody who was on Twitter around 11 this morning saw their timeline explode with tweets about the Red Sox' visit and President Obama (Mr. President, it's pronounced NAP-o-lee), so it seemed appropriate to base this post on my favorite tweets.  

In addition, I challenge everyone who reads this to a caption contest.  I'll give my entry under each tweet and you leave yours in the comments section.  Best captions, judged by me, will go back in the post.

Gomes and Napoli picture w/ Clinton portrait:
What a perfect duo to pose in front of the portrait of Bill.  They look like they were caught in the middle of trying to come up with Monica Lewinsky's name and couldn't remember it. Hands in pockets, beards loud and proud, and hey did I mention that JACKET?!?! Go America! Hooray for turning Rocky's boxing shorts into a suit coat! USA! USA! USA!

Caption: "What was that chicks name? It started with an 'M' and it ended in a 'insky'..."

Speaking of the jacket: