Red Sox Return to Baseball’s Fall Classic

Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Pennants and Playoffs: The Boston Red Sox have clinched the American League East division title for the first time since 2007 and will make their first post-season appearance since 2009. At 95-62 (as of September 23rd) the Red Sox continue to hold the M-L-B’s best overall record as well as a league leading home record of 53-28.

The Sox also top the majors in nearly every batting statistic. Boston is in first place in total runs with 812 and slugging percentage with a .443 average, meanwhile the Sox rank second in the league for batting average with a .275 and on-base-percentage with a .348.

On a pitching end, Boston’s staff remains rock solid ranking in the top ten or higher in two of the four major statistical categories. Currently the Sox hurlers rank third in the league in quality starts with 94, eighth in the majors with a batting average against of .246, 11th in ERA with a 3.72, and 13th in WHIP posting a 1.29.

With just a few games left in the 2013 regular season, Manager John Farrell has been hard at work finalizing the 25 man roster for October play, so let’s take a look at who will likely make the cut, and what’s in store for the bearded beasts of the east.

Picture Courtesy of ESPN.com

Fall Ball: Here’s a rundown of what the Red Sox 25 man roster should look like once the playoffs begin: (roster information is accurate as of September 23rd according to 25manrosters.com)

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

C David Ross

C Ryan Lavarnway

DH David Ortiz

IF Dustin Pedroia

IF Mike Napoli

IF Stephen Drew

IF Will Middlebrooks

IF John McDonald

IF Brock Holt

IF Xander Bogaerts

OF Jacoby Ellsbury

OF Sahne Victorino

OF Jonny Gomes 

OF Daniel Nava

OF Mike Carp

OF Jackie Bradley Jr.

OF Quintin Berry

P Clay Bucholz

P Jon Lester

P Ryan Dempster

P John Lackey

P Jake Peavy

P Koji Uehara

P Junichi Tazawa

P Brandon Workman

P Allen Webster

P Franklin Morales

P Craig Breslow

P Matt Thornton

P Steven Wright

P Felix Doubront

P Rubby De La Rosa

P Brayan Villareal

P Drake Britton

The list above contains 36 players, meaning 11 of them will not make the cut. The obvious choices of Ortiz, Pedroia, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, Ellsbury, Victorino, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Nava, Ross, and Carp come as no surprise to anyone. However, with Farrell wishing to carry 11 pitchers in to the post-season, (according to ESPN.com/Boston) who he deems worthy of the final two position-player spots will be interesting.

With De La Rosa, Wright, Britton, Villareal, Webster, and Doubront all likely being left out of Farrell’ 11 man pitching posse, and Holt, Snyder, and Lavarnway missing the positon-player party, this leaves four players fighting for those final two spots: Bradley Jr. vs. Berry and McDonald vs. Bogaerts.

As far as who Farrell will choose, this has yet to be determined, but it’s really just a matter of choosing which type of role player the Red Sox will need.

In the Bradley Jr. vs. Berry case, it’s quite simple, Farrell will pick Bradley Jr. because of his defensive skills and potential plate presence to sure up the outfiled, or go with Berry becasue of his base speed and glove work. Either way the Sox will have a solid player added to the 25-man roster.

Then in the case of McDonald vs. Bogaerts, Farrell has the choice between the more seasoned McDonald, or the up-and-coming Bogaerts who has turned heads with his defensive work on the left-side of the field. Again, like with Bradley Jr. vs. Berry, either way Farrell goes, Boston will have a deep depth chart on the left side of the plate defensively.

Picture Courtesy of boards.sportslogos.net

Final Thoughts:

Given the surprise success the Red Sox have had this season, it would not be farfetched to say that this year’s squad has what it takes to storm into the World Series and walk away as the winter classic champions. While the A-L competition will be fierce with the likes of the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers standing in their way, history may repeat itself this post-season.

The last time the Boston Red Sox won the A-L East (2007) they went on to win the World Series Sweeping the surprising N-L Pennant winning Colorado Rockies. How far do you think Boston will go this October? Leave a comment below.

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The 2013 Boston Red Sox are For Real

Believe in Boston: The Boston Red Sox have been nothing short of the “Real Deal” this season. At 50-34 (as of July 1st) and in first place atop the American League East by two-and a half games, Boston has been both surprising and sensational to say the least. The Sox went 6-4 to close out the month of June and look poised to have a strong finish to the first half of the season. So, for those of you Sox fans still waiting for the wheels to fall off…you can stop worrying about those wheels, and start enjoying the wins.

Shane Victorino getting mobbed by Big Papi and Co. after a walk off win against Toronto recently. Picture Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Boston currently owns the third best record in the MLB and ranks first in both total runs (431) and on-base-percentage (.349), as well as second in batting average (.274) and slugging percentage (.444). Those numbers at the plate puts the Red Sox first overall in the MLB for team batting. Another impressive batting statistic for Boston, the Sox also rank first in the MLB for RBI with 420.

From a pitching end the Red Sox starters and bullpen rank among the middle of the pack in the MLB at 14th overall with a team ERA of 3.91. On a positive pitching note though, the Sox rank second in the MLB for strikeouts with 710.

Seeing Stars: With a well deserved All-Star break two weeks away, there are a few team members from Boston who will likely be spending that break in the “Big Apple”. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury are all receiving a good volume of votes to play at Citi Field on July 16th in New York for the 2013 All-Star Game.

As of July 1st “Big Papi” appears to be a lock to play for the American League All-Stars as their designated hitter with 4,398,197  votes already cast for Ortiz. Meanwhile, Pedroia ranks second in the voting polls for second base with 2,838,129 votes. Pedroia is currently behind New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano who has 3,974,322 votes. Worst case scenario, he makes the ASG as a reserve for the AL.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have been a big part of Boston’s success. The powerful pair will likely see playing time in the 2013 All-Star Game on July 16th at Citi Field in New York. Picture Courtesy of http://www.metro.us

As for Ellsbury, he’ll need a little bit more help in the voting polls. Only six outfielders can make the ASG roster for the AL. Ellsbury currently ranks eighth in the voting results with 1,751, 022 votes, ranking him behind Baltimore Orioles OF Nate Mclouth with  2,169,772 votes, and Texas Rangers OF Nelson Cruz who has 2,258,797 votes.

Honorable Mention: Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has pitched beautifully for Boston so far this season. In 12 starts Buchholz has posted a 9-0 win-loss record, a sparkling 1.71 ERA with a mere 1.02 WHIP, and 81 strike outs. Unfortunately, he is still on Boston’s 15-day disabled list with a sore trapezius muscle in his neck, as well as an inflammation in his pitching shoulder according to ESPN.com. Meaning he will likely be left out of this year’s ASG.
A Promising Pen: Despite Joel Hanrahan not working out the way the Red Sox had hoped, and Andrew Baily being demoted from closer to reliever…again, Boston’s bullpen has also seen it’s share of success.

Koji Uehara seems to be embracing his new role as the teams closer, and has earned four saves on the season so far. In 34 innings of work, Uehara has a respectable 2.12 ERA with a microscopic WHIP of 0.82, and 49 strikeouts. Meanwhile Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa have combined to become a nice 1-2 punch combo coming out of the bullpen for Boston.

Koji Uehara appears to be comfortable in his new role as the Red Sox closer. He already has four saves to his credit. Picture Courtesy of bigstory.ap.org

In 37 innings pitched, Tazawa has posted a solid 2.92 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP, and 40 strikeouts to go along with 15 holds. While Miller has a 2.64 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts with six holds.

Final Thoughts: Though the Red Sox still have two weeks and the entire second half of the schedule still to play, it would appear the stench of 2012 has been successfully washed away. So for now, enjoy the wins, watch what happens, and who knows, we may just wind up in the World Series.

How do you think the second half will go for the Sox? Should Boston make any moves before the trade deadline? Leave a comment below.

Lucky You, Red Sox Fans: It’s Time to Cruise

bosoxWhat do some legendary former Red Sox players, WEEI broadcaster Joe Castiglione, Celebrity Cruise lines and you have in common? The opportunity to have an island-hopping romp together in January 2014, that’s what.

Beginning Jan. 12, 2,886 lucky passengers will leave the real world behind and set sail for seven nights in the Caribbean on one of Frommer’s 2011 “Best Cruise Ships,” the Celebrity Silhouette. This cruise news is a big deal for both Celebrity and Boston—so what can fans expect?

Destination Paradise

Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, the ship first sails to Cozumel, Mexico, for a full day on shore to do as you please. Next stop: George Town, Grand Cayman, for another full day of adventure or relaxation. On to Falmouth, Jamaica, for a day and then Labadee, Haiti (Celebrity’s own private island). Each town offers unique excursions:

  • Mexico: Take a secret river and cavern tour, ride an ATV for an off-road adventure through the jungle, go kayaking or simply relax on la playa (the beach)
  • Grand Cayman: Snorkle in crystal blue waters, visit Stingray City on a catamaran sail or relive the swashbuckling days on a boat complete with a crew acting out real pirate encounters
  • Jamaica: Hike a volcano or have a zipline and bobsled canopy tour through the tropical coastal forest
  • Labadee private island: Ride a coaster and jump on an in-water trampolines at the largest aqua park in the Caribbean, ride jet skis or parasail 400 feet above the sea

On the Ship

There is a full day at sea before arriving back in the U.S., which is a good thing. There are two exclusive cocktail parties for Boston fans to hobnob with some of the organization’s legends, including Castiglione. Drink martinis at a special tasting and karaoke into the night singing “Sweet Caroline” in tribute.

Toss a ball around with Keith Foulke; relax with a cocktail and BBQ with fellow Boston fans on the ship’s Lawn Club; paint a picture in the onboard art studio; grab a craft beer at Michael’s Club; go tax and duty-free shopping at stores of the most luxurious brands like Bvlgari and Versace; try your luck at blackjack in the onboard casino. And eat … eat really well, 24/7.

The trip starts at $910 for a stateroom and goes up from there, according to MLB.com. This price includes an onboard credit of $50, most meals, port charges, fitness centers and events on the ship.

The Partnership

Start looking for Celebrity banners at the games. The Red Sox have recognized the company as the team’s official cruise line. The partnership also includes experiences at Fenway Park, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Celebrity will become present in the park and four times a month will have fan giveaways
  • There will be chances to win tickets to this once in a lifetime trip
  • Each double play executed by the Red Sox this season get a fan $200 off a Celebrity cruise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Start Your Week Off Right With Sox Tickets

red sox contestHope everyone’s getting mentally prepared for tonight. I mean it makes for a much better Monday when you’ve got a Stanley Cup Finals game to look forward to. But if for some reason that’s not enough to make you smile, we’ve got something else!

Our friends over at TiqIQ are giving away another $100 towards Red Sox tickets. All you have to do is go HERE and tell us your favorite 2013 Red Sox Moment. The contest closes Friday and one lucky reader will be ending the week with $100 towards Red Sox home game tickets! Happy Monday and good luck!

Enter Contest Here

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Reader Contest – Who Wants Sox Tickets?

It might still be early in the season but it’s hard not to have a smile on your face today if you live in Boston. The Boston Strong concert was a huge success last night at the Garden, the Bruins continue their run at the cup tomorrow night, and our beloved Red Sox close out the month of May sitting atop the AL East. Gotta love the vibes from the team this year! With that said, we’ve got some good news for everyone!

We recently partnered up with our buddies red sox contestover at TiqIQ to give you a chance to win some great Sox prizes. Here’s the deal. All you gotta do is go to the Red Sox Contest page, submit your email address and then tell us Who is your favorite of the NEW Red Sox players and why? It can be as short and to the point as you want. At the end of the contest period next week, we will pick the best answer and that person will win $100 in Ticket Credit for any Red Sox home game on already discounted tickets (36% or more)! So smile! Summer’s here, the Bruins are still in the playoffs, and you have the chance to win $100 in Sox tickets. Oh, and happy Friday!

Click here for Red Sox Contest Page!

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Red Sox Update

The Boston Red Sox celebrating one of their 20 wins this season.
Picture Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Sensational Sox- After an absolutely astounding start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were swept over the weekend by the red hot Texas Rangers. Boston finished the month of April at 19-8 with the best record in the big leagues.

In this month of May though, things have not been so merry for the Sox, as they are 2-3 in their last five games. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what’s brought Boston to a 20-11 overall record thus far:

Pitcher Perfect- Ok, so some of the Sox pitching hasn’t exactly been perfect, but Clay Buchholz’ certainly has. Take a look at his April numbers: W/L Record: 6-0 ERA: 1.01 WHIP: 0.96 SO: 47. Buchholz is pitching like a man possessed, more importantly, it would seem he has finally tapped into that potential the Red Sox clubhouse saw in him a few seasons ago.

Jon Lester has also been a monster on the mound this year with a 4-0 record, a respectable ERA of 3.30, a WHIP of 1.17, and 40 SO. Anchored by both Lester and Buccholz, the Sox rotation finds itself ranked in the top ten in the majors at eighth overall.

Boston starting pitcher Clay Buchholz has been on fire this year for the Sox.
Picture Courtesy of usatoday.com

The Red Sox have a solid team ERA of 3.60 and rank second in the MLB in strikeouts with 287. Boston also ranks fourth overall in batting average against with a .233. While those numbers are impressive, the back end of the rotation and the bullpen need to improve if the Sox want those stats to stick around.

Side Note: I claimed before the season started that Boston’s bullpen would be a strength. Boy was I wrong…dead wrong. However, that’s not to say the pen hasn’t had bright spots in the form of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, (say both their names five times fast) but improvement is important moving forward this May.

Breaking Out The Bats: The Sox have been simply slugging the baseball so far this season. Boston ranks in the top five or higher in the MLB with a .269 team average (5th), 149 runs (5th), a .347 OBP (3rd), and a .443 SLG (3rd) which lands them fifth overall in team batting.

Newcomer Mike Napoli has had a big impact on Boston’s lineup this year. Nap is currently batting .268 with six home runs and ranks third in the majors with 31 RBI. Meanwhile, the regulars: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury, have all been contributing as usual.

Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (Left) high-fiving C Mike Napoli (Right). Both have had big bats for Boston this season.
Picture Courtesy of sports.inquirer.net

Ortiz is batting for a .440 average with four home runs and 17 RBI in 13 games this season. Pedroia is putting in another fine season batting .294 with 12 RBI and a team high .396 OBP. Ellsbury is batting .279 with 12 RBI and leads the team in hits with 38.

Also, second year stud Will Middlebrooks continues to shine as he is tied with Napoli for a team high six home runs and has 12 RBI on the year. Middlebrooks batting average of .195 could see improvement, but with “great power comes great responsibility”. The young-gun thirdbaseman just needs better plate discipline.

Side Note: Even more surprising than the Sox stellar start to the season, is the at-bats by Daniel Nava. Nava has spent the majority of his time with Boston as a platoon-type player in the outfield.

This season though, he has been one of the better bats in the lineup. Nava has posted a .286 average, which ranks him second for team average behind Pedroia. He also has five home runs with 19 RBI, which ranks him second in team RBI, right behind Napoli.

Final Thoughts: Despite the recent sweep by the Rangers, Boston remains in first place in the American League East with a game and a half lead over the New York Yankees. More importantly, it would appear after an amazing April, the Red Sox have put the past (2012) behind them and are playing towards a bright future. How do you feel about the Sox start? Where do you see room for improvement? Can they keep this up all season? Leave a comment below.

An Unlikely Fan

Neil Diamond is becoming a Boston Hero. First, he comes over to Fenway Park a few days after the Marathon Bombings to sing his “Sweet Caroline” song that we all know and love between innings at the park.  Yes, he was a little off key, but hey, he’s 72 years old. The thought was still there.  Don’t forget, he grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He is not a Red Sox fan.

Now, Neil Diamond is donating this week’s sales from this hit song to the victims. The track sold 19,000 times. Even the Yankees and Toronto Raptors played this song in honor of Beantown in recent days. It’s nice to see everyone loving Boston, and loving our country. Too bad it had to happen like this! Have a good Thursday everyone.

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Class Act

Just one day after the attacks at the Boston Marathon finish line, the country was still hurting—and will be for some time. I do not want to get into details about all of the events that occurred on April 15th, because we all know what happened.  I would like to point out a Class Act last night. The New York Yankees played Fenway’s classic “Sweet Caroline” song in their third inning to honor those in Boston for what they had to go through. They also issued the following statement (ESPN):

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the families who were affected by the bombings and our respect and admiration go out to the police, medical personnel and first responders who acted so heroically,We stand united with the participants, volunteers, staff and spectators of the Boston Marathon and the people of Boston.”

Also, before the game even started they were showing their support. Instead of just having their trademark logo on the big screens around the stadium, they had both their logo, and the Red Sox emblem on it with the words “United We Stand”. Even if you hate the Yankees, you have to respect this.

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Red Sox Opening Day: Boston Beats New York 8-2

Successful Start: The Boston Red Sox put their best foot forward yesterday (April 1st), by beating the New York Yankees 8-2 at Yankee Stadium. The victory marks the first Opening Day win for Boston since the 2010 season when the Sox (coincidentally enough) beat New York 9-7 on April 4th.

Red Sox OF Shane Victorino
Picture Courtesy of blogs.eagletribune.com

Jon Lester looked impressive on the mound tossing five solid innings with a 3.60 ERA, five hits, two earned runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts to start the season at 1-0. Newcomer and Sox outfielder Shane Victorino had a big day in the big apple with 3 RBI going 2 for 6 at the dish. Meanwhile, outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (2 RBI 2 for 6) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (1 RBI 0 for 2 with a fielders choice to score Will Middlebrooks in the 7th.) produced as well en route to a win against the Evil Empire.

Rookie OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Picture Courtesy of cbsboston.files.wordpress.com

Side Note: Historical Highlight: According to ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes Spring sensation and rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’ major league debut in left field for the Sox, is the first time a rookie has made the Opening Day roster for Boston since Shea Hillenbrand in 2001, and Bradley Jr. is the youngest left fielder to start on Opening Day since Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski in 1961 and 1962.

Final Thoughts: There’s no better way to wash off some of the stench that was the 2012 season, than to come out and beat your most hated division rival by a few runs. Managed by new skipper John Farrell, the Red Sox look ready to turn the page and write a new chapter in the teams history book. How do you feel about the Sox after their Opening Day win? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Spring Training 2013 Update

With the 2013 regular season opener less than two weeks away, I thought I’d give fans an update of all the action coming out of Fort Myers, FL. The Boston Red Sox are 13-10 in Grapefruit League play this Spring and are in fourth place overall. Here’s a rundown of who has shined this Spring and what to watch for as we enter the 2013 season:

Pitch Perfect: Well, not exactly, however, the Boston Red Sox anticipated starting rotation of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey have been all the buzz this Spring according to ESPNBoston.com.

This year’s rotation has posted a combined 1.99 ERA in Spring Training action (including three shutout innings by Lackey in an exhibition matchup with World Baseball Classic team Puerto Rico). When you consider the combined rotation ERA was an appalling 5.19 a season ago, that’s a significant improvement thus far.

 Lester, Buchholz, and Doubront have all shown promise of good things to come in 2013, with solid starts in their recent outings. Lester has pitched 20 innings allowing only six hits and two earned runs with 16 strikeouts. Buchholz has went 13 and 1/3 innings allowing eight hits and one run. While Doubront has pitched 8 and 2/3 innings allowing seven hits and two earned runs with 11 strikeouts.

Newcomer Ryan Dempster has posted solid numbers as well. Dempster has went 12 and 2/3 innings for Boston surrendering nine hits with three earned runs and nine strikeouts. As for Lackey, he is still a work in progress coming back from Tommy John surgery and has only worked 6 and 2/3 innings allowing six earned runs eight hits with only four strikeouts. However, Lackey has a 2.70 ERA in his last two outings for Boston, so there’s a silver lining for him.

A Future at Fenway: Arguably one of Boston’s top player prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. has had a sensational Spring showing. Bradley Jr. has posted a eye popping .436 batting average in just 18 games this Spring with nine total runs, 17 hits, eight base on balls, four RBI and one HR. Should Jonny Gomes or Shane Victorino falter in the outfield, or if Jacoby Ellsbury is stricken with injury yet again, Bradley Jr. could receive a call up this season.

Another top Sox prospect, whom we haven’t seen much of due to his participation in this year’s World Baseball Classic, Xander Bogaerts has been impressive with his glove work and faired well in the WBC for team Netherlands.

Bogaerts played in 7 games posting a .263 average with five hits, one run, and one RBI. Bogaerts has went 1 for 2 with one RBI for a .500 average in one game with the Sox in Spring Training. Should he continue to have success in the minors, Bogaerts could be on a fast-track to Fenway by next season.

Designated Dilemma: With the injury to David “Big Papi” Ortiz keeping Boston’s heavy hitter sidelined to start the regular season, the Sox need a solution at Designated Hitter. While it isn’t clear who the Red Sox will choose to fill Ortiz’ shoes until he returns, Mike Napoli would seem to be a logical solution until then.

Napoli has hit well in Fenway Park posting seven HR’s, 17 RBI, and a .710 Slugging Percentage in 19 career games at Boston. Also, Napoli has posted a .348 average with seven RBI, two HR’s, and a .652 Slugging Percentage in nine games in Grapefruit League action this year.

Granted, the Sox didn’t sign Nap to DH, they signed him to play first base and catch on nights when Jarrod Saltalamacchia needs a rest. However, with the Sox addition of Mike Carp from Seattle, Boston could slide a more than capable Carp over to first base and drop Napoli into the DH slot in the lineup, just as a temporary fix for Ortiz.

Here’s how the lineup would look with Napoli at DH and Carp at 1B:

1. OF Shane Victorino

2. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

3. 3B Will Middlebrooks

4. 2B Dustin Pedroia

5. DH Mike Napoli

6. OF Jonny Gomes

7. SS Pedro Ciriaco (who will be returning soon from his minor back spasms to replace SS Stephen Drew who hasn’t fully recovered after suffering a concussion)

8. 1B Mike Carp

9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who I have batting 9th only to add pop to the bottom of the lineup. Salty is batting .345 with five RBI and one HR this Spring.)

Side Note: This is just a look at one internal option the Red Sox have to make up for the current loss of Ortiz. The Sox could also simply allow David Ross to catch and let Salty DH, which would keep Napoli at 1B and make for a better lineup.

Napoli would stay as the number five hitter, Salty would move up to the number six spot with Gomes moving down to seventh, Ciriaco would move to eighth, and Ross would take Salty’s place batting ninth. Regardless of what the Sox choose to do, the DH position needs to be dealt with and soon.

Final Thoughts: The Boston Red Sox are off to a solid start this Spring and look poised to turn things around in 2013. Of course, only time will tell what fate the baseball gods have in store for Beantown this year. How do you think the Sox have looked in Spring Training? Who would you have DH for Boston? Leave a comment below.