Should we worry about the rotation?

After a solid debut for each of our five starters, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, and now Wade Miley looked absolutely awful in their second time through. Porcello had a pretty decent start, but it wasn’t anything that ‘wowed’ me. Kelly will take the ball tomorrow against the Orioles and his start could also have major implications for the future of the season. 

I know, I know, we’re 6-3 and we’re scoring a hefty amount of runs. We’ve won each series we’ve played thus far. All positive things, no doubt. And Buchholz, Masterson, and Miley are entitled to one bad start, right? I’m not so sure. Clay Buchholz was ROCKED by the Yankees last week. He left everything over the plate. It’s good to be able to throw strikes, but my God, Clay. He was so awful that night that even Stephen Drew hit a homerun off of him. Clay has the potential to be solid, and we’ve seen him do it before. But he’s not consistent. I don’t want a staff led by Clay Buchholz. Does that mean I don’t want him in the rotation? Not at all. I’d take him as a 3 or 4, much like the rest of this rotation. Masterson and Miley had horrendous comman issues. If you’ve ever seen Oprah giveaway something to an audience, just imagine her saying “YOU get a walk, and YOU get a walk, EVERYBODY gets a walk!” That’s how bad these guys were. Cause for concern? Still early, so I’m not on the “trade everybody” boat. But, from what I saw, I wasn’t pleased. Can these guys turn it around? Absolutely. Will they? We’ll see. Is anybody on this staff even capable of being mentioned in the same sentence as the word ‘ace’? No. 

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An Opening Day Evaluation

 After a horrid season last year, it felt good to get that sour taste out of my mouth by seeing the potential we have in this team. Here are my takeaways from the first game of 2015, and boy, was it a good one.

The gold stars go to….

1. Dustin Pedroia – HUGE day. Not one, but two homers. If you don’t remember, it took Pedroia over 100 at bats last season to hit his first. Now he’s on pace to hit 324. Will he reach that? No. But he’ll tell us that he will. Pedey finally looks healthy and I can assure you he’s going to have a big year. Wouldn’t expect anything less from the heart of the Red Sox. 

2. Clay Buchholz – Good God. Who saw that coming? He gave up only 3 hits and not a single run. Oh, and he had NINE (count ’em) strikeouts. He looked like 2013 Clay, and that’s the Clay that can truly be an ace. Can he keep it up? We’ll see. But today was certainly positive. 

3. Hanley Ramirez – like Pedroia, Hanley went deep twice. One of those was a grand slam. He had 5 RBI today and looked really locked in at the plate. When Hanley is healthy, watch out – he’s truly one of the best hitters in baseball. 

4. MOOKIE Betts – he’s always in the highlight reels. He went 2-4 today. Remember those people suggesting we should trade him for Cole Hamels? Oh, the irony. Betts smashed a solo homerun off that very same Cole Hamels today. We have our lead off man for years to come. 


The less-than-impressive….

1. David Ortiz – 0-4 with three strikeouts. Papi seemed a little too impatient at the ate today and it showed. He had a rather uneventful spring, but we all know what he can and will do. But hey, he played first base pretty decently. Ortiz will be fine. 

2. Pablo Sandoval – the Panda’s stat line was similar to Papi’s: 0-5 with three strikeouts. New team, new league, but Pablo will be fine. He made some plays at third and we can expect his bat to be a force sooner rather than later. 

Overall team grade: A+ 

The homeruns were great, but we can’t rely on those every single game. We’re gonna need to find ways to score when we aren’t smashing it out of the park. However, if there’s anything we can count on this season, it will be the offense. It’ll be exciting to watch. Clay was lights out. And Taz and Layne looked solid in their short amounts of work. In other news, the Red Sox have announced a 4-year extension with Rick Porcello. Personally, I think it’s a good move. Rick obviously wants to be here and he’s going to do very well. He’s still really young and he’s only trending upward. Can he be an ace? I believe he can. We will certainly see. Thank God 2014 is behind us because we have big things ahead this year. As always, thanks for reading! 

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Impact of Losing Vazquez

By now you know: Christian Vazquez is hurt. How hurt is he? We don’t entirely know for sure, but I can promise it’s not good. He was placed on the 60 day DL as of today, meaning at the very least, he’s out for awhile. If I had to bet, we won’t see Vazquez this season as he’s likely going to need season-ending surgery. What now? That’s the big question. 

Ryan Hanigan was acquired for Will Middlebrooks (thank God) in the offseason. Hanigan is subpar offensively but he’s a pretty solid defensive option. He’s a veteran and he knows how to play the game. Personally, I don’t want him as the primary option but that’s not my call to make. 

Then there’s Sandy Leon, acquired today from the Nationals. Leon is 26 and he’s also a steady defender but again, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. I know what you’re saying, “we don’t need them to hit. We have a great lineup.” You’re right. Vazquez wasn’t expected to hit much either. But here’s the problem: 

Neither of these guys is as talented on defense as Vazquez. You’ll never hear either one of them compared to Yadier Molina, a comparison Vazquez receives quite often. Our pitching staff is average on a good day. Like it, love it, disagree with me, whatever. They’re not great. With Vazquez, they would have seemed a little better than they actually are because of how well he calls games and how well he throws runners out. Without him, you’ll see more of the Clay Buchholz of old and the Justin Masterson that gives up 5 runs an inning. I’m not suggesting Vazquez would have made them all stars, but he certainly would have made them better. 

My suggestion is to just see what happens. Give it a month or two and see how well Hanigan and Leon can do. If they prove to be more harmful than helpful, make a trade. We could always bring up Blake Swihart and let him have a shot but I’m still worried he’s not quite ready. After this season in Triple A, I’d be comfortable bringing him up and seeing what he can do. 

No matter what happens, the loss of Vazquez will hurt. Just how much remains to be seen. 

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My 2015 player stat projections

Mookie Betts: .302 average, 13 homeruns, 61 RBI, 26 stolen bases

Dustin Pedroia: .286 average, 14 homeruns, 66 RBI, 11 stolen bases

David Ortiz: .273 average, 31 homeruns, 95 RBI, 2 stolen bases 

Hanley Ramirez: .281 average, 22 homeruns, 84 RBI, 12 stolen bases

Pablo Sandoval: .288 average, 24 homeruns, 90 RBI, 1 stolen base

Mike Napoli: .262 average, 25 homeruns, 73 RBI, 3 stolen bases

Rusney Castillo: .270 average, 11 homeruns, 57 RBI, 23 stolen bases

Xander Bogaerts: .262 average, 14 homeruns, 52 RBI, 8 stolen bases 

Christian Vazquez: .241 average, 7 homeruns, 30 RBI, 1 stolen base

Bench:

Allen Craig: .267 average, 10 homeruns, 41 RBI, 4 stolen bases

Daniel Nava: .280 average, 12 homeruns, 35 RBI, 6 stolen bases

Ryan Hanigan: .238 average, 6 homeruns, 20 RBI, 0 stolen bases

Brock Holt: .277 average, 8 homeruns, 31 RBI, 15 stolen bases 

Shane Victorino: .275 average, 9 homeruns, 38 RBI, 13 stolen bases 

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Who is Yoan Moncada?

If you haven’t heard, the Red Sox reached an agreement with the most sought-after Cuban player in recent history. Boston outbid a plethora of interested teams that included the Padres, free-spending Dodgers, and hated Yankees. I admit, I was one of the people that suspected Moncada to end up in New York playing in front of the worst fans in the world, but in a total surprise (to me, anyway), he’ll be playing in front of the best in the near future. So, if you haven’t heard much about this guy or you’re wondering what all the hype is about, here’s a quick rundown of Yoan Moncada and the talent and potential he possesses.

He’s considered a 5 tool player. What’s that? Basically, your quote-on-quote “superstar” player. That means he has power, hits for average, runs the bases with speed and skill, has a great arm, and a very good defensive skill set. Scouts around the league have likened Moncada to a young Chase Utley and there are even comparisons to Robinson Cano. In terms of how he compares to the best current prospects in the game, Moncada has been said to be at the top as well, with many suggesting he would easily be one of the best 10 (some say top 5 or even top 3) in the ENTIRE league. Needless to say, this kid is good. Take one look at his freakish arm size and you’ll quickly see the baseball equivalent to the Hulk.

What position does he play?

Moncada has some experience in the infield, particularly at second base and third base. Well, we have the best second baseman in the game along with a great addition at third in Pablo Sandoval. Where will Moncada go? Short answer: the minor leagues. He’s only 19 years old, meaning he isn’t exactly primed to go right now. I see him playing 1-3 years in the minor leagues and getting some seasoning before he gets the call up. Long answer: third base or the outfield. What about Pablo? Well, he’s definitely our third baseman right now, but he could move to first when Moncada arrives. If not, pull another Hanley Ramirez and stick him in the outfield somewhere (he could even play left if Hanley moves to first or DH).

Conclusion: this could very well be the next Yasiel Puig – just without a lot of the arrogance and baggage. You’ll want to be in Fenway Park in the next few years, because you could very well see another superstar lighting up the green monster. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for the support.

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2015 AL EAST Projections

Here are my predictions for the AL East for the upcoming season and my reasoning behind each one.

5. Yankees 79-83

Old, unhealthy, and a lackluster staff full of questions. Will Beltran and Ellsbury hold up an entire season? Not likely. How about Tanaka’s elbow? Huge question mark. Sabathia is a shell of his former self. McCann was about as useful as a burnt match last season and isn’t getting any younger. Oh, and they have a 40 year old, cheating, humiliating 3rd baseman/DH in A-Rod.

4. Rays 82-80

No more Joe Maddon, no more Wil Myers experiment, no more David Price. Longoria is still a question mark for me. Their offense should be quite anemic and I don’t think they have the pitching to get it done. Cobb isn’t too bad, and Archer still has potential. I don’t see the Rays being much of a threat this season.

3. Orioles 85-77

They didn’t do much this offseason. They lost Markakis, Cruz, and Andrew Miller. Their rotation is average. Machado, Wieters, and Davis will need to be healthy and need to have big years for the O’s to be back in the playoffs.

2. Blue Jays 86-76

They had a pretty solid offseason in terms of adding firepower. Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson should give them a nice boost. Throw in Bautista and Encarnacion and they should have a fun lineup to watch. Pitching will again be their biggest weakness. Dickey hasn’t regained his Cy Young form and I don’t see much potential for their rotation.

1. Red Sox 92-70

Most analysts don’t have the Red Sox reaching 90 wins. That’s fine. Most analysts didn’t pick the Red Sox to even make the playoffs in 2013 and we all know what happened. With the additions of Sandoval and Ramirez (as long as they stay healthy), a certain bouncback from Pedroia and Napoli, younger guys with tons of potential in Betts, Bogaerts, and Castillo, and one of the strongest benches in the league, the Red Sox will have a dynamic offense that will light up Fenway more times than not. The bullpen hasn’t gotten enough credit for how it’s been revamped, and I think it will be a very strong one. My biggest concern is still the rotation. Our guys are good, but they aren’t great. Throw in a Cole Hamels in the next few weeks and the Red Sox will look much more like the favorite. If they decide to pass on Hamels now, the trade deadline should still offer plenty to choose from. In the end, the Red Sox will have a strong second half and will win the AL East.

4.

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If the Season Started Today:

Here are my predictions for the 2015 Red Sox as the roster currently stands today. Enjoy.

1. The Red Sox will NOT acquire an “ace” and will almost certainly put Clay Buchholz or Rick Porcello on the mound against the Phillies on Opening Day. That leaves them room to see how the first half of the season unfolds and how the trade market develops for a top starting pitcher.

2. Betts will bat lead off and play right field. I know, shocker. Mookie is my pick to be an all star THIS season (we’ll get to that shortly). I think with his athleticism, speed, and hitting ability, he can be a force at the top of the lineup. I see Betts hitting .285 at a minimum with a maximum over .300.

3. Rick Porcello will lead the staff in almost every category. Of all the guys we have, I like Porcello the most. He’ll be just 26 on Opening Day. Once a highly regarded high school pitcher, he had mediocre seasons at best until the 2014 season, where he really showed why he was so highly regarded. He’s got the stuff to succeed. if he hits on all cylinders, he has the ability to be an ace.

4. Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will each play at least 140 games. This is a bold statement. Sandoval holds up better than Hanley, but both guys are a little more fragile than most. Hanley’s transition to left should ease the injury potential.

5. All Stars: With Lester and Koji being the only members of the Sox to make the all star team last season, expect a MAJOR change this year. Obviously, I’m making these projections with the hope that each guy stays healthy and plays to his ability. Here are my picks: Sandoval, Ramirez, Ortiz, Pedroia, Betts, and Porcello. I think Napoli will at least be in the discussion along with Koji and Castillo.

6. Rusney Castillo will have a fantastic year. He’s often been one of the lesser-talked-about members of the team this offseason, even though the Red Sox inked him to a 6 (technically 7) year deal to be the center fielder. Castillo only played in a small same size last year and should get a full season under his belt in 2015. The Red Sox didn’t pay him a record amount (at the time) to be average. They know his potential. I see Castillo hitting .275-.285 with 15+ home runs, an OPS over .800, and at least 20 stolen bases.

7. Breslow will have a major comeback season. He was abysmal last year (but let’s face it, who wasn’t). However, many forget how prominent Breslow was in 2013. He was pretty darn good statistically, and now he’ll be out to prove that last season was a fluke.

8. Bogaerts will improve, but not drastically. With big expectations for the 2014 season after a very strong showing in the World Series run, X faltered. He fell off a cliff only to climb all the way back then to fall again and finally make it back up that cliff at the end of the year. He’s still extremely young and has plenty of talent that I feel will continue to blossom, but I don’t see a significant increase in production this year. My guess would say .255-.270 with 12-15 homers. I think the defense will still be pretty questionable as well. Don’t fret, though. I think by the time he’s 25 or so, he’ll be the new face of the franchise (along with Betts).

9. Buchholz still struggles and is traded. Clay is perhaps the biggest question mark of the team. At times, he’s Cy Young-like, and others, he’s no better than a 9 year old. A lot of people still believe he can turn it around. I don’t. I think he has another horrendous year and the Red Sox deal him at some point and probably not for anything of value.

There you have it. My predictions for the season of it started today. Oh, and one last prediction: the Red Sox will make it to the ALCS if they get an ace. That’s not the finish line either, that’s a minimum. Like it? Love it? Hate it? I don’t care, but thanks for reading! Go Sox!

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