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.

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Red Sox Add Mike Carp Via Trade

Shipping Up to Boston: The Boston Red Sox acquired OF/1B Mike Carp this week from the Seattle Mariners, after agreeing to trade a player to be named later or a cash consideration in exchange for Carp. Carp will join the Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL tomorrow (Friday February 22nd) to begin his Spring Training.

Carp’s Numbers: In 2012 Carp batted .213 last year with 5 HR and 20 RBI in just 59

games. That’s a steady decline from 2011 when he batted .275 for 12 HR and 46 RBI in 79 games. Carp missed the majority of the past two seasons with the Mariners due to shoulder injury issues. Carp is a .255 career hitter with 18 HR and 71 RBI.

Can Carp Contribute?: Yes, yes he can. While Carp’s numbers certainly don’t leap off the stat sheet, he was acquired by the Red Sox to primarily add depth to first base and the outfield. Something the Sox certainly need this season.

The addition of Carp allows for breathing room at these positions, should Napoli’s hip injury re-surface or one of the outfielders go down. At 26 years-old Carp is a young platoon-type player that the Red Sox can work with and get solid production from, for little cost.

Final Thoughts: I like the addition of Carp in that the Sox aren’t giving up much for him and he could have tremendous upside in Boston. I look at it this way: If Carp (who has yet to play a full MLB Season) can stay healthy and provide the depth the Sox need, the trade is a great payoff. I have a feeling Carp could be the surprise of the season for Boston.

One last note on Carp coming to the Red Sox, in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster Boston had to put OF Ryan Kalish on the 60-day disabled list. Kalish you may remember is still recovering from right shoulder surgery.

Can Carp help the Red Sox this season? Leave a comment below

Boston Red Sox 2013 Season Preview

With pitchers and catchers meeting in Fort Myers, FL this Sunday (Feb.10th) baseball season is officially back!! Well alright, “technically” it’s not back until Feb. 21st when the Red Sox  play Northeastern in their first scheduled Spring Training game. Nevertheless, with the season, and spring, right around the corner; I thought I’d give the Fenway Faithful a preview of what 2013 should look like for the Bo-Sox.

Likely Lineups:

1.OF Shane Victorino

2. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

3. 2B Dustin Pedroia

4. DH David Ortiz

5. 1B Mike Napoli

6. OF Jonny Gomes

7. 3B Will Middlebrooks

8. SS Stephen Drew

9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Granted this is just a rough draft of what the lineup “could look like”. Only John Farrell will truly be able to assemble a proper lineup when spring training is complete. For now, the above lineup is my take on where Farrell may go with the batting order.

The lineup could very well have Ellsbury and Napoli batting Cleanup at 3 and 4 which would then likely shift Dustin Pedroia to bat 2nd in front of Ellsbury and have Papi batting 5th after Napoli. Also, Farrell may choose to have a healthy Ellsbury be the lead-off hitter, which Ellsbury has certainly had success at in seasons past. However if Ellsbury puts up 2011 numbers this season, having him 2nd or 3rd could be more beneficial for the Red Sox as far as RBI production is concerned.

Lastly, the bottom of the order is subject to change as well. Middlebrooks, Gomes, and Drew could all bat lower or higher based on their spring training results. Salty will stay at the bottom of the order until he can prove he’s the switch hitting prodigy he was supposed to be. Only time will tell what the everyday batting order will eventually look like.

5 Man Rotation:

1. Jon Lester. 2. Ryan Dempster. 3. Clay Bucholz. 4. Felix Doubront. 5. John Lackey

While the pitching rotation isn’t exactly terrifying to many teams in the majors, this assembly of arms can get the job done for Boston. Lester and Bucholz will have to bounce back, Dempster will have to pitch more consistently than in seasons past, Felix Doubront will have to prove he wasn’t just a one year wonder baller, and John Lackey will have to return to his prime if the Sox want to get the most wins out of this group.

The rotation may change throughout the season, as it often does, as the Red Sox have options should one of these guys fold. Boston can bring up the likes of Rubby De la Rosa or Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket if those two show they are primed for a big league day job.

Also, Boston could add to the Rotation if they choose to sign still-free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals). Again like the lineup above, only time will tell what is working, and what needs to be worked out.

The Pen:

Relievers: 1. Andrew Bailey 2. Koji Uehara 3. Daniel Bard 4. Craig Breslow 5. Alfredo Aceves

Closer: Joel Hanrahan

The Red Sox Bullpen as it stands right now is the strongest weapon Boston has entering this season. While the 5-man rotation could use some re-tooling, and our lineup is still missing a big bat or two, the pen looks to have great promise in 2013.

Boston went out in the off-season and added the likes of relievers Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow, and new closer Joel Hanrahan to sure up the 7th,8th and 9th innings for this year. All of which were inexpensive upgrades that should ultimately pay off for the Red Sox.

Win-Loss/ Post-Season Projections:

Though I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan to my very core, I must blog with a sense of realism in making these next few predictions.

Win-Loss Record: 85-77 (I didn’t just come up with this record out of thin air just so you know. I went through the entire schedule and chose game by game what I thought were wins and losses for the Red Sox.)

AL East Finish: I sadly have the Red Sox finishing third this year just ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by a few games. I see the Toronto Blue Jays meeting everyone’s expectations and winning the east with the Yankees somehow frustratingly finishing in 2nd place. The Orioles return to their usual spot, in the AL East’ cellar in last place.

Postseason: With the Sox finishing third by my count, there will be no post-season play for this Red Sox group. I have the Blue Jays clinching a spot with the division crown and the New York Yankees beating out Boston for the final of two Wild Card spots by a few games.

Final Thoughts: I whole heartedly hope I’m way wrong about my season predictions for the Red Sox. I hope some how, some way, the Red Sox can bring back some of that 2004 magic and sneak into the post-season. Realistically though, I only foresee a minor improvement for Boston as this is a rebuilding year. I look at it this way, ANY results this season should be better than last seasons 69-93 last place finish. How do you see the 2013 season going for Boston? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox, Napoli Finally Agree To 1 Year Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox have finally come to terms with free agent catcher Mike Napoli as the two sides agreed to a 1 year deal worth 5 million dollars with Napoli potentially earning 13 million dollars based on his regular season performance.

The original deal from the winter meetings signing was a 3 year deal worth 39 million dollars. However, after a hip injury surfaced from a failed physical, the deal went stale. After 6 weeks of  re-negotiating, Nap is on board now and will be used to help out primarily at first base. Napoli will likely also be catching some nights to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia a rest.

Naps Numbers: Napoli’s numbers fell slightly last season with a .227 batting average and 24 HR from his career year in 2011 when he hit .330 with 30 HR. The Red Sox also hope his numbers at Fenway Park continue, as Nap has hit 7 HR with 17 RBI and a .710 slugging percentage in 19 games at Boston. Napoli is a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI.

Final Thoughts: Nap should be a solid addition to the Red Sox clubhouse. If nothing else, Napoli offers flexibility for the roster, and a solid bat in a lineup that could certainly use some pop. Also, getting Napoli for 5 million dollars is an inexpensive move by Boston that should ultimately pay off. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t pan out and is gone at seasons end. What do you think? Will Napoli help the Red Sox or be another Bean-town bust? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Whip Up an Early Winter Meetings Deal

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Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox wasted no time on Monday in making a deal happen with free agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, as the MLB Winter Meetings kicked off in Nashville.

The Sox and Napoli have agreed to a three-year contract worth a reported 39 million dollars. With the signing of Napoli, the Sox now have flexibility at both the catcher and first base positions. Napoli will most likely play first if Boston plans to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the clubhouse. Should Boston trade Salty, Napoli would then likely catch with newly acquired back up catcher David Ross, and clubhouse young gun Ryan Lavarnway sharing time at the position.

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Nap’s Numbers: Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI, he’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Also, Napoli should fit into the batting lineup during home games just fine, as he is a .306 hitter with 7 HR and 17 RBI in 19 games at Fenway Park lifetime.

Final Thoughts: In my opinion this was a great move for the Sox as they’ve added another experienced veteran at a good price to not only help bolster the roster, but add flexibility as well. As always, I want to hear back from the fans on this one. What do you think about the Sox signing Napoli? Who should they sign next?

Recap of the Red Sox Winter Meetings Moves

The Boston Red Sox broke out their checkbooks last week, and made some off-season deals that didn’t break the bank. The Bo-Sox came away with three players in the 2012 Winter Meetings held in Nashville.

Boston signed free agents Mike Napoli (catcher/first base), Shane Victorino (outfielder), and Koji Uehara (reliever). These moves will help to bolster some of the holes on the roster. Here’s a breakdown of what each player brings to the team:

Done Deals:

Mike Napoli: The Sox signed Nap to a three year deal worth 39 million dollars. Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He brings flexibility, as he can play either catcher or first base, as well as a solid bat in the lineup for Boston. Which position he will spend more time at, depends on what Boston plans to do with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If they trade Salty, Napoli would likely become the starter at catcher. If they rotate Nap and Salty, expect to see Nap on first some nights and Salty behind the plate. At age 31, Napoli brings veteran experience and a clubhouse presence. Something the Sox could certainly use.

Shane Victorino: The Sox also inked Victorino to a three year-39 million dollar deal. Victorino batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. His numbers were down from 2011 (.279 AVG, 17 HR, 61 RBI) however, Victorino is a veteran outfielder who offers years of experience and is well known for being active in community work around the city in which he plays for. Boston most likely looks at Napoli and Victorino (along with Jonny Gomes) as guys who can come in and set an example for the rest of the team. Victorino will mainly offer another bat to the lineup, and if his numbers have an uptick in 2013, he could prove to be a smart move by the Sox when it’s all said and done.

Koji Uehara Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California.

Koji Uehara: The Sox and Uehara agreed to terms on a one year- 4.25 million dollar deal. Uehara was regarded as one of the best relievers last year playing for the Texas Rangers. Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA with a 0.64 WHIP with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings of work in 2012. At 37, Uehara brings a veteran arm to an already solid bullpen. This was a nice, inexpensive move by Boston.

Less is More: Total Money Spent at the 2012 Winter Meetings: 82.25 million dollars. Which isn’t bad considering how much money Boston dropped in 2011 (roughly over 300 million dollars) and we all saw how that panned out. Maybe “Less is More” will actually be true for the 2013 Red Sox.

Final Thoughts:What Red Sox fans should take away from these deals is this. The Red Sox are trying to piece together a balance of talent and character in what is the first of many building blocks to rebuilding this team. Napoli, Victorino, and Uehara will help mold the foundation, but the Sox still need a few more pieces before they can begin constructing a house.

What do you think? Did the Sox make the right moves in this year’s meetings? What would your next move be if you were Ben Cherington? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Offseason Options

ImageDecisions, Decisions: In an effort to sure up most of the remaining holes on our roster, the Boston Red Sox have been talking business with a few guys who could fit the bill. Free agent catcher Mike Napoli  and free agent outfielders Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Ryan Ludwick, and Nate McClouth are all on Boston’s radar.

The Sox have already inked career back up catcher David Ross and outfielder Jonny Gomes at little cost. So, Boston is trying to make a few moves, in the upcoming winter meetings, to bolster the rest of the roster for next season.

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Let’s take a look at some of the Sox’s options in the free agency market:

Mike Napoli C/1B– Batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Napoli, age 31, offers flexibility for Boston, being able to play catcher or first base, and he offers a solid bat in the lineup.

Nick Swisher OF- Batted .272 with 24 HR and 93 RBI for 2012. Swish is a career .256 hitter with 209 HR and 673 RBI. At 32-years-old, Swisher offers veteran experience and is known throughout the MLB as a great clubhouse personality and a gamer. With Ellsbury, a re-signed Ross (hopefully) and Swisher/Gomes the outfield would certainly be set. But, Swisher will likely seek too much money and fall off our list.

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Shane Victorino OF- Batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. Victorino is a career .275 hitter with 90 HR and 409 RBI. Victorino, also 32, would offer veteran experience like Swisher, but may not offer the same numbers Swisher can in the batters box. However, Victorino would be a more affordable option.

Ryan Ludwick OF- Batted .275 with 26 HR and 80 RBI in 2012. Ludwick is a .263 career hitter with 143 HR and 530 RBI. Ludwick had a Cody Ross-esque year with the Cincinnati Reds and would be another veteran guy to add like Swish and Shane. But, at age 34, the question can be asked, how much longer will Ludwick produce? Also Ludwick’ stats may have swelled due to playing in Great American Ballpark (one of the smaller parks to play in, which allows for a higher HR/RBI production).

Nate McClouth OF- batted .241 with 7 HR and 20 RBI in 2012. McClouth is a career .248 hitter with 88 HR and 290 RBI. McClouth’s numbers don’t exactly jump off the screen in the sense of production, but at 31-years-old, he could be a role player option (much like Gomes will be) if the Sox miss out on other outfielders.

Final Thoughts: The Good News: Boston will have plenty of options to consider going into the winter meetings. The Bad News: This year’s market for players, is one of the weakest in recent memory. The Sox will have to be smart and carefully consider who their best choices will be this off-season.

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Another position the Sox will need to address, finding a starting pitcher to sure up the rotation. There are a few big names in free agency like Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, and Anibal Sanchez. However, Boston may resort to filling in the rotation by way of trade, instead of splurging on a starter.

 

Who do you think the Sox should sign next? Should they go after a big name like Josh Hamilton or Greinke? Leave a comment below.