Sunday, April 30, 2017

Red Sox vs Cubs Sunday Night Baseball Live Chat 4-30-17

Come join the Maineiacs as we chat live tonight while the Cubs take on the Red Sox in Fenway Park. Come chat with us - it will help you survive Aaron Boone in the booth.
Live Blog Red Sox vs Cubs Sunday Night Baseball

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Matt, Manny, and the Beanball

Here's a few thoughts about the beaning of Manny Machado that I just had to get off my chest while waiting through an off day and a likely rainout tonight at Fenway:

First of all, I've absolutely had it with the deluge of insufferable tweets, columns, think pieces, and TV show rants that come out of the woodwork every time there's a high-profile beaning in the MLB. You know the ones I'm talking about - beaning is a symbol of the old fashioned Neanderthal macho culture of a sport dominated by men, there's no place in the game any more for beaning, and any time a beanball goes anywhere near the cranium we have to immediately compare it to Tony Conigliaro. Some of these blowhards even went as far as to connect beaning in baseball to rape culture in our society at large, as if hitting a man with a thrown baseball is similar to sexual assault. Good grief.

These are the same soft namby-pambies that cry that fighting should be removed from the NHL, suspensions should be handed out for leaving the dugouts to remove brawls from MLB, and every time a quarterback gets breathed on too heavily it should be a fine and 15-yard penalty in the NFL. Enough. Sometimes you deserve to get punched in the face. Sometimes a man has to stand up for his teammate and fight someone. Sometimes you have to learn to take a beating in response to something stupid you did. Whether Machado meant to or not, when you slide and almost blow out the knee and ankle of the opponent's captain, you're going to get a fastball to the ribs for that. End of story. You know who doesn't whine and cry about beanings? The players themselves. They get it. If these blowhards would stop clutching their pearls for a second at the thought of any form of aggression or violence, they just might see that there are life lessons for young men here.

Manny Machado knew he was going to get beaned on Sunday the minute he woke up and got out of bed. When Machado arrived at the ballpark, he knew he was getting pelted with a 95 mph fastball later that day. Did he avoid it? Ask his manger to take him out of the lineup? No, he manned up, got dressed, and took his beaning that he knew was coming. There's life lesson #1 for anyone who cares to teach lessons rather than scream about the impact of violence on our children watching at home.

The real story here that should have been written about on Twitter, in columns, and screamed about on TV is Manny Machado taking his beaning like a man, then getting up, brushing himself off, stepping back into the batter's box, and ripping an RBI double into the gap.  He didn't whine about it, he didn't start a fight in response, he didn't cry about violence in the sport. There's life lesson #2 for anyone who cares - take your consequences, then come back stronger.

Should Matt Barnes have thrown at Machado's head and potentially seriously injured one of the game's brightest stars? No. Do I believe Barnes meant to hit him in the head? Absolutely not. If Barnes could have walked up to the plate and chosen the exact spot to hit Machado, he would have chosen high up on his back above the numbers and under his name. That's where I believe he was aiming. The combination of the adrenaline flowing knowing that he's beaning someone and might have to fistfight right away if they charge the mound and the fact pitchers never practice throwing pitches to that spot caused it to miss high. I don't understand how this is so hard for people to accept, including Dustin Pedroia.

Speaking of that, what the hell was Pedroia doing? Why would the captain of the team yell from the dugout where his entire team can hear him, essentially saying "my teammate f'd up there Manny, I'm so sorry I love you so much, you know I love you, please don't be mad at me, we're good right Manny?" Hey Dustin, how about just saying you would have hit him in his first at bat and moved on? Why throw your teammate under the bus who is beaning someone and taking a 4-game suspension as retribution for a slide on your knee? How about kissing and making up with Manny in a text conversation after the game out of camera shot?

And finally, of course, it wouldn't be an RSM post by me without a shot at replay in baseball. Replay is ruining the sport of baseball and nobody with any power to do anything about it seems to care. A team can't even bean someone who deserves it then move on with life any more. Both teams had to stand around pissed off at each other, then Machado had to watch Kelly warm up, thinking that Kelly would probably plunk him again. It was the most awkward, inane, and unnecessary scene I've seen on a baseball field in some time. Not because beaning culture needs to be removed from the game - because replay needs to be removed from the game.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

RSM Red Sox Top 30 Prospects- April 2017

Another baseball season is in its infancy and as the new campaign commences, it is time to look at the top 30 kids in the Red Sox system.  Spring training performances and assignments have made some changes to our pre season rankings. Each player is listed with their Opening Day assignment, and in { } is their pre season ranking.

1. Andrew Benintendi, LF Boston {1}.  As expected Benintendi was the Opening Day starting left fielder for Boston, batting second in the potent lineup. Benny Baseball celebrated by capping a Sox win with a three run home run.  During April, Benintendi will go over 130 major league at bats and will lose his prospect status. As Andrew leaves this list, he will rocket to the top of the list of AL Rookie of the Year candidates.

2. Rafael Devers, 3B Portland {2}. Devers is poised to move to the number one spot in our May rankings.  He has something else in common with Andrew Benintendi, which was an Opening Day home run.  In his first AA at bat, Devers cracked a 400+ foot home run to right field at Hadlock Field. Unless Rafael destroys AA, he may well spend all of 2017 in Maine since he is only 20.  But do not bet against Devers torching the Eastern League pitching and forcing Boston's hand.

3. Jay Groome, LHP Greenville{3}. Like Boston has done with other highly regarded teenagers in recent years, the Red Sox assigned Groome to Greenville. At age 18, last year's first round pick, is skipping Lowell and going to a full season club.  Groome is expected to have each start capped at five innings to protect the young arm.  But a number of baseball people around the game feel with his explosive fastball and plus-plus curveball, Groome could flash through the minor leagues and be big league ready sooner than his age would indicate.

4. Sam Travis, 1B Pawtucket {4}. For the second year in a row, Travis excelled for the big club in the exhibition games. His goal for 2017 is to stay healthy and pile up some AAA at bats that were lost after a knee injury ended 2016 in late May. Travis' defensive work around the bag could also use some AAA reps.  By mid season Travis could force his way into the picture in Boston.

5. Bobby Dalbec, 3B Greenville {6}. This power hitting third sacker, along with Jay Groome, could make the 2016 draft one to remember.  Dalbec continued to show his power during the spring games.  Dalbec seemed to perform well enough to be pushed up to High A Salem.  But as mentioned in our pre season rankings, 2014 draftee Michael Chavis also was ticketed for Salem, so to get playing time for both, Dalbec goes to Greenville. But if Dalbec repeats his Lowell numbers from '16, he will make room for himself in Salem.

6. Marco Hernandez, INF Pawtucket {8}.  Marco had one of the best springs of anyone in the entire Red Sox camp.  At only age 24, Hernandez has not only made himself a definite top prospect, but has established himself as someone whose future includes a full time big league job.  In fact Hernandez ended up in Boston and in the lineup during the season's first week when Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts went on a brief bereavement leave. Ironically the current position considered the biggest question mark for Boston is third base.  Hernandez is the third of our top six prospects who could be a big league third baseman in the future.  In fact, Hernandez, depending on circumstances, could play a lot of third for Boston this year.

7. Josh Ockimey, 1B Salem {7}. Ockimey climbs another rung on the Red Sox ladder up to High A Salem. At age 21, this power hitter needs to put up consistent numbers throughout 2017.  Ockimey pounded the South Atlantic League in early 2016, but tailed off badly in the latter half. If Ockimey can put up an entire season of power hitting, he is one of the guys whose ascension could deepen the somewhat depleted top of the Sox system.

8. Brian Johnson, LHP Pawtucket {5}. Boston began spring training with six big league starting pitchers: Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Drew Pomeranz.  Three younger lefties were considered the depth in spots seven to nine: Henry Owens, Roenis Elias, and Johnson. Things changed while in Florida, Price is hurt and Pomeranz was set back due to some arm issues (although he is scheduled to pitch in April).  Elias was also hurt and Owens pitched so abysmally his future in Boston is a big question.  Veteran big leaguer, Kyle Kendrick came to camp on a AAA contract and pitched very well.  Kendrick is now likely the " number 6" starter. That leaves Brian Johnson.  Brian also pitched not as well as hoped in Florida, but better than Owens.  Johnson very much needs to begin his AAA season with a string of impressive outings to solidify his chance to pitch for Boston when needed this year. The Red Sox need this and Johnson needs this type of beginning in order to salvage what seemed like a certain long big league career just two years ago.

9. Roniel Raudes, RHP Salem {10}. Roniel has reached High A Salem at age 19.  Raudes has compiled impressive numbers in his career despite not having high octane stuff. Raudes has outstanding command and his game is predicated on that ability.

10. Nick Longhi, 1B Portland {11}. The second Sea Dog on this list, Longhi along with his corner infield mate, Devers, will be two of the must see guys at Hadlock this year.  To show the balance of the upper end of this list, not only are there two Sea Dogs, but counting Marco Hernandez' time in Boston this week, there are two each from Boston, Pawtucket, Salem, and Greenville also.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cousin Jason's 2017 Predictions

AL East
Boston- These Sox should wear out opponents offensively, let’s hope the pitching staff gets healthy and does the same
Tampa Bay- Why not the Rays? They pitch as well as any of the other AL East teams, maybe they finally can hit to match
Toronto- The Jays have plenty of pieces, can John Gibbons correctly put the puzzle together
New York- We’re a couple of years away from the next great chapter in the Sox/Yankees rivalry
Baltimore- The O’s seemingly overachieve every year, but this pitching staff will need to use more smoke and mirrors than the Great and Powerful Oz to repeat that feat in 2017

AL Central
Cleveland- Can the Lake Erie Warriors replicate 2016? Playing in the Central will help their chances, current slew of injuries will not
**Detroit- The Bengals got the band back together for one last tour, are they Hot-N-Ready to memorialize Mr. I with a pennant? Motown would go crazy, crazy if so
Minnesota- The Twins have a young nucleus that will surprise many by being consistently competitive
Chicago- The rebuild has already netted lots of future stars, a strong 2nd half from Moncada, Lopez, Giolito, and Kopech leap the South Siders out of the cellar
Kansas City- It may be more of a reload than a rebuild but the Royals sell off their potential free agents and it’s like 2007 in KC

AL West
Seattle- The M’s sniffed the playoffs last year, a better offensive unit gets them over the hump
*Houston- The ‘Stros could be MLB’s best team in 2018...which means they are a year away
Texas- The Rangers have too many question marks on their pitching staff to hang with their counterparts in a tough division
Anaheim- Halo fans will again enjoy watching Mike Trout be one of the best players in all of baseball, sadly his teammates are only mediocre at best
Oakland- The A’s could easily finish 3rd in this division if their usual off-season free agent shopping spree at Marden’s pays off and their young pitchers continue to mature, not sure that happens enough in 2017

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Verlander and the Upton’s (a pair of bombs each) lead the Tigers over the Astros
ALDS: Red Sox over Tigers in 6, Mariners over Indians in 7
ALCS: Red Sox over Mariners in 7 as home team wins each game

AL Awards
MVP Mike Trout
Cy Young Justin Verlander
Manager Scott Servais
ROY Mitch Haniger, picking Benintendi is too easy (probably correct though) so I’ll go out on a limb
HR Champion Edwin Encarnacion 44
Comeback Jacoby Ellsbury

NL East
Washington- The Nats appear to be the best team in the an improving division
**Miami- Improved pitching staff allows Marlins to jump up one spot from 2016
Philadelphia- The Phils get help from their farm system throughout the year to stay ahead of Mets and Braves
New York- The Mets have talent but the health of their pitching staff is littered with red flags
Atlanta- The Braves will be competitive but still need more seasoning

NL Central
Chicago- The Cubbies are still a juggernaut and the rest of the Central division seems to be regressing
*St. Louis- The Cards play over their heads all year, it’s still not enough to catch the Cubs
Pittsburgh- The Buccos play inconsistently but it’s good enough to finish 3rd
Milwaukee- The Brew Crew is better than the Reds but only slightly
Cincinnati- The Reds make some improvements but not enough to stay out of the basement

NL West
San Francisco- Giants break their trend of making the post season every other year
Arizona- Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo quickly bring the Rattlers up to respectability
Los Angeles- The Dodgers can’t buy their way to the top of the west this time
Colorado- The Rockies could be much better than expected but it’s a tough division
San Diego- The Padres make strides to catch their competitors but are not quite there yet

Post Season
Wildcard Game: Cardinals over Marlins
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 5, Giants over Nationals in 6
NLCS: Cubs over Giants in 7

NL Awards
MVP Matt Carpenter
Cy Young Jameson Taillon
Manager Torey Lovullo
ROY Manuel Margot
HR Champion Paul Goldschmidt 41
Comeback AJ Pollock

World Series
In the epic World Series, almost one hundred years in the making, the Cubs and Red Sox play a 7 game series for the ages with the Cubbies repeating, solidifying Theo Epstein’s shrine in Cooperstown

Barry's 2017 MLB Predictions

I don't have a good track record with these predictions, so I'm going with a slightly more scaled back approach this year.  Last year's sleeper team ended up losing it's first 25 games or so (Sorry Minnesota), so let's see who's getting jinxed this year...

AL East:
1. Toronto
2. Boston*
3. Tampa
4. Orioles
5. Yankees
The Red Sox will have too many injuries to overcome, and their bullpen will be their downfall.  The pitching injuries are too much for the pitching to overcome the decrease in offensive production without Big Papi.  The Blue Jays are right there with the Red Sox talent wise and they seem to be a little more healthy and a little more experienced in the every day lineup.

AL Central:
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Minnesota
4. Detroit
5. Chicago
This division may be the weakest in baseball, it is certainly the weakest division in the American League.  The Indians appear to be the class of the division, but I don't see any wild card teams coming out of this group.

AL West:
1. Houston
2. Seattle*
3. Texas
4. Oakland
5. LA Angels
This may be the toughest division in baseball.  The Astros didn't live up to expectations a year ago, but this year is a different story.  Seattle and Texas finish within five games of the division lead and contend for wild card spots all season with the Mariners pulling it out.

NL East:
1. Washington
2. New York*
3. Marlins
4. Philadelphia
5. Atlanta
This division has belonged to the Nationals in recent years and that will continue, but if the Mets starting pitching can stay healthy this year than they will contend all summer long.

NL Central:
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis
3. Pittsburgh
4. Cincinnati
5. Milwaukee
The Cubs may have the most young talent in baseball, but a world series hangover may be in store for them.  Look for them to get a real challenge from the Cardinals and the Pirates look to bounce back from a disappointing year last season with a veteran lineup and some good young pitching.

NL West:
1. LA Dodgers
2. San Francisco*
3. Arizona
4. Colorado
5. San Diego
The top three teams in this division will compete for playoff spots all summer long.  The Diamondbacks look to be improved under old Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

AL Wildcard game: Boston over Seattle

ALDS: Houston over Toronto
             Boston over Cleveland
ALCS: Houston over Boston

NL Wild Card Game: New York Mets over San Francisco

NLDS: Mets over Cubs
Nationals over Dodgers

NLCS Mets over Nationals

World Series:  Astros over Mets in 7 games

AL Awards:
AL MVP: Carlos Correa
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL Manager of the Year: John Gibbons
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi

NL Awards:
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndegard
NL Manager of the Year: Terry Collins
NL Rookie of the Year: Jameson Tallion

Brandon's MLB Predictions 2017

Here's a shot at predicting the MLB standings, playoffs, and awards for the 2017 season:

AL East
1. Boston
2. Toronto*
3. Tampa Bay
4. Baltimore
5. NY Yankees
The Rays surprisingly lead the AL east for most of the first half before fading in the second half and missing the playoffs entirely. The O's finally live down to projections for once. The Yankees are younger and more exciting, but have the worst pitching in the AL besides whatever is going on in Minnesota. The Blue Jays have too many bats and talented young arms to miss the playoffs.

AL Central
1. Cleveland
2. Kansas City
3. Detroit
4. Minnesota
5. Chicago
By far the worst division in the American League. Detroit joins the Twins and White Hose in the basement. The Royals have a resurgent run to wild card contention, but come up short. The Indians got better from 2016 and run away to win the division by 15 games.

AL West
1. Houston
2. LA Angels*
3. Seattle
4. Texas
5. Oakland
The Mariners are much more competitive in 2016, but come up short of the postseason again. The Rangers finally underperform their projection. The A's are a year or two away with another crop of young pitchers. The Astros fulfill their considerable potential and add either Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or both to their rotation. The Angels finally have enough pieces in place around Trout to get back to the playoffs and make some noise.

AL Playoffs
Angels over Blue Jays in Wildcard game
Red Sox over Astros in 6
Angels over Indians in 7

Red Sox over Angels in 6

AL Awards
AL MVP: Mookie Betts
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber
AL Manager: AJ Hinch
Comeback: Garrett Richards

NL East
1. Washington
2. NY Mets*
3. Atlanta
4. Miami
5. Philadelphia
The Mets pitching is so strong it doesn't matter who's hitting for them. The Braves comeback begins. The Nationals get it done despite Dusty.

NL Central
1. Chicago
2. St. Louis*
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Cincinnati
The Cubbies roll through the NL central again. The Cardinals haven't been to the postseason in a year or two, so they're due for a deep run. The Reds and Beers are awful.

NL West
1. Los Angeles
2. Arizona
3. Colorado
4. San Francisco
5. San Diego
The Giants have to finish down in 4th or 5th one of these years, right? Arizona has a ton of talent on that roster. The Rockies are all bash, again. Dodgers are the class of the division.

NL Playoffs
Mets over Cardinals in wildcard game
Cubs over Mets in 4
Nationals over Dodgers in 6
Nationals over Cubs in 7

World Series
Nationals over Red Sox in 7. It's now or never for the Nationals.

NL Awards
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
NL Manager: Joe Maddon (after obligatory year-long media ball-washing)
Comeback Player: Matt Harvey