Saturday, February 25, 2017

International Editor: Change For Change's Sake No Good

by Mark Lawrence, FN International Editor

Sydney, Australia. In the wake of recent proposed changes to the National Pastime, I’m left wondering if Commissioner Manfred bumped his head climbing out of the limo on Park Avenue and had some kind of misguided epiphany:  “I know! I’ll Make Baseball Great Again.”

I don’t have any idea why this painful Pace-of-Play initiative seems to have taken on the same level of importance as defeating ISIS – for as long as this scribe can remember, baseball games have averaged around three hours in length and that’s been the way (uh huh, uh huh) I liked it.  So, how in the world can shaving off a quarter of a minute from an Intentional Walk have any real, significant effect on reducing game time?

Miami Marlins Bullpen May Have A Very Red Sox Look

The Miami Marlins are likely to have a pretty good relief corps in 2017. Part of the reason for that could be the acquisition of some former Red Sox pitchers and coaches. First of all, Juan Nieves is the pitching coach—and he thinks he's figured out how to make Junichi Tazawa a dominant force again. Don't forget that in his seven years in Carmine Hose, Tazawa owned a 3.58 ERA (2.86 in the 2004 championship year). For a long time he was a real contributor. A few mechanical tweaks and an innings limit could turn the former Boston set-up man into a key bullpen resource again. On top of this, the Marlins added Brad Ziegler—who had a terrific 1.52 ERA in his short stay in Boston. Keep an eye on Miami's pitching this year—it could be interesting.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Red Sox Fall To Metropolitans, 3-2 At JetBlue Park

(AP Photo)
In their first action against an MLB team, the Red Sox fell to the Mets 3-2 today in Fort Myers. Hanley Ramirez had one of only two Boston hits—a double. The immortal Brian Bogusevic knocked in both runs for the Red Sox. Henry Owens took the loss—hurling two innings and giving up two earned runs (including a solo HR). Kyle Kendrick pitched two innings as well, and gave up the third run. Red Sox pitching did strike out 16 Metropolitans in the loss—including four by Owens.

Brock Holt To Play Shortstop Today Versus Metropolitans

Here is today's Red Sox lineup for their exhibition match-up against the New York Metropolitans: Brock Holt SS, Andrew Benintendi LF, Hanley Ramirez DH, Jackie Bradley, Jr. CF, Bryce Brentz RF, Marco Hernandez 2B, Sandy Leon C, Allen Craig 1B, and Josh Rutledge 3B. Lefty Henry Owens will start for The Carmine Hose. Game time is 1:05 PM Eastern.

Castillo Putting "Rusney" Nail In His Red Sox Coffin

(Boston Herald Photo)
As we wrote about on Tuesday, Rusney Castillo is facing a watershed moment during this year's Spring Training camp. Yesterday, he did nothing to improve his lot by failing to run out a ground ball that resulted in an easy double-play. It appears that Castillo forgot the number of outs in the inning. Regardless, not hustling when your baseball career is on the line, is inexcusable. Not to mention the King's ransom ($72.5 million) that you're being paid to suck. As The Boston Herald gleefully points out that is $2.5 million more than John Henry paid for The Boston GlobeManager John Farrell called out Castillo during the game against Northeastern, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old has got to be on thin ice in this organization.

Moreland & Travis Go Yard In 9-6 Win Over Northeastern

(Boston Herald Photo)
In the first game action of 2017, Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis each clouted three-run HRs to pace Boston to a 9-6 win over Northeastern University. The Huskies actually outhit The Carmine Hose 9-8, but the dual 3-run blasts proved the difference for Boston. Sox hurler Brian Johnson pitched two hitless innings, with a string of minor leaguers filling out the game. Also collecting hits for the Red Sox were: Deven Marrero, Blake Swihart, Pablo Sandoval (a double capped by a head-first slide into 2B), Brian Bogusevic, Chris Young and Steve Selsky. The Red Sox take on actual MLB talent in the form of the New York Metropolitans at 1:05 PM today.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mitt Romney Looking To Buy A Piece Of The Evil Empire

Say it ain't so, Mittster! The former Governor of Massachusetts, Republican presidential nominee and Red Sox fan Mitt Romney is looking to buy a big chunk of The Bronx Embalmers. After failing to buy into the Marlins and Dodgers, Romney is inexplicably seeking an ownership share of his favorite team's mortal enemy. What's up with that? Hopefully, this is just bad reporting by the NYC rags, but it sure looks for real! Romney did own a piece of The Pinstriped Posers back in 2007—but that was through his blind trust. This time, he's going in with eyes wide open. If this goes through, we're hoping current Governor Charlie Baker revokes Romney's passport to Red Sox Nation.

Derek Jeter: "I Love Watching Mookie Betts Play"

Yankee legend Derek Jeter has one guy in major league baseball he likes watching—and it's your current Red Sox right-fielder. At a team gathering for Yankee minor-leaguers, the former pinstripe captain was asked who he likes in baseball today. His response was, "I love watching Mookie Betts play. Anyone who goes and plays the game hard." This high praise for The Mookster is understandable, since Betts brings the same respect for the game that so characterized Jeter's career. Pretty cool.

POLL: Rizzo Tops List Of Ex-Sox Players We Lust After

Early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll shows that Cubs first-baseman Anthony Rizzo is the ex-Sox player/prospect that readers would most like to have back on the team. As the chart shows, a slim majority (51%) pick Rizzo, while 23% select his World Series Champion teammate Jon Lester. Next on the list are: Yoan Moncada at 12% and Michael Kopech at 9%. A few readers listed other players not on our list, most notably, the following really good suggestions: Andrew Miller, Adrian Beltre and Anderson Espinoza. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

POLL: Panda Seen As Most Likely Over-Performer In '17

Updated results to a recent FenwayNation Poll show that most readers think Pablo Sandoval will be the Red Sox player most likely to perform above expectations during the 2017 season. As the chart shows, 29% pick The Panda as their choice, followed by Drew Pomeranz at 18%. Next on the list are Mitch Moreland at 14%, Christian Vazquez at 13%, Carson Smith and Sandy Leon each with 8%, and Tyler Thornburg at 4%. A total of 6% named other players not specified on this list.

David Ortiz Might Join The NESN Broadcast Team

Speculation has been slowly building that retired Red Sox icon David Ortiz could very well end up in the NESN broadcast booth this year—at least on a limited basis. These stories are now building to the point of near certainty as people like team President Sam Kennedy have explicitly floated the idea. Said Kennedy, "He's got a lot of different interests. Broadcasting is certainly one. It'd be interesting to see if he goes into national broadcasting. We'd certainly love to have him part of our local broadcast team on a limited basis." Ortiz is scheduled to make an appearance at Red Sox Spring Training soon, so there will be an opportunity to confirm or deny this information directly with Big Papi. Ortiz did a credible job as a commentator on FOX during its coverage of the 2014 World Series. Stay tuned—literally.

POLL: Which Ex-Red Sox Player Would You Want Back?

Which ONE of the following ex-Sox players would you MOST like to have back?
 
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Sam Travis 'Leader In The Clubhouse' As 2017 Sleeper

(Getty Images)
If you're looking for a true sleeper candidate on the 2017 Red Sox, Sam Travis may be your guy. Don't be surprised if Travis gets FenwayNation's 2017 'Under The Radar' Award (for under-recognized contributions). Way back before last Thanksgiving, we profiled Travis as a potentially big contributor this year. The 23-year-old had a monster Spring Training last year, hitting .469 and knocking in 13 runs. Then, at AAA last May, he tore his ACL. Travis is now back, bulked up, and ready to fill-in at 1B, DH or wherever. One role for the right-handed hitter might be to platoon with Mitch Moreland at first base—freeing up Hanley Ramirez to DH every day. Stay tuned—don't forget about this kid.