Friday, December 14, 2018

Briefly A Red Sox IF, Ian Kinsler Is Now Off To San Diego To Become A Padre

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Multiple reports indicate that former Red Sox infielder Ian Kinsler has signed an $8 million, two-year-contract with the San Diego Padres. The deal is reportedly contingent upon Kinsler passing a physical. Last season, as a member of the Red Sox, Kinsler won the first World Series ring of his 13-year MLB career. The 36-year-old is a four-time All-Star and came to Boston in a mid-season trade with the Angels that sent former Red Sox prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez to Anaheim. In the 2018 ALDS against The Evil Ones, Kinsler hit .308 in the four game series. During the regular season for Boston, Kinsler played in 37 games—hitting .242 with a HR and 16 RBIs. He is a .271 hitter over his full MLB career. Kinsler played eight years in Texas, four in Detroit, splitting 2018 between Anaheim and Boston. He will play some second base and some third base for San Diego—helping mentor young infield players like Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Luis Urias. We wish Ian the best of luck with his new team!

A's Stephen Piscotty Wins Tony Conigliaro Award For Overcoming Adversity

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Oakland A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty is the recipient of the 2018 Tony Conigliaro Award. The award has been given out annually since 1990 to the MLB player who "has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of Tony C." Winners are selected by an 18-person committee, made up of media members, MLB executives, Red Sox officials, fan representatives, and Tony's brothers, Richie and Billy Conigliaro. The award will be formally presented to Piscotty at the 80th annual Boston Baseball Writers' Dinner on January 17, 2019. Piscotty's mother was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. He was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Oakland A's to be near his mother's home in northern California during her battle against the disease. Gretchen Piscotty passed away on May 6th of this year. In his first game back after her death—at Fenway Park—Piscotty hit a home run over the Green Monster in his first at-bat.

Red Sox And Evil Ones Will Square-Off In A Night Game In London June 29th

Major League Baseball has announced that the first of two games in London between the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will take place at night local time on June 29th. The second contest will be an afternoon tilt local time on Sunday June 30th. Both games will be televised back to the United States—on Saturday by FOX (6:10 PM local time; 1:10 PM Eastern) and on Sunday by ESPN (3:10 PM local time; 10:10 AM Eastern). Both contests are treated as "home games" for Boston—cheating many Red Sox season-ticket holders out of two games at Fenway Park. The two games will be played at London's Olympic Stadium—the home venue of the West Ham United soccer team of the English Premier League (EPL). Red Sox owner John Henry also owns EPL's Liverpool franchise. Both Jackie Bradley, Jr. and CC Sabathia are in London this week promoting the games for MLB. These will be the first MLB games ever played in Europe, and are an effort to help globalize the appeal of America's "pastime".

Prospects1500: Sox Have Just One Prospect In Top 100—3B Michael Chavis

According to a December ranking by the website Prospects1500, the Red Sox have just one player in the Top 100—3B Michael Chavis. It's analyses like these that bring home the reality of how bad the Boston farm system has become. Even if Dave Dombrowski wanted to land a big name player in a trade—there's nothing below the major-league roster to tempt anyone. Sure we got quality players in return on most deals—like Chris Sale—but our scouting and development operation had better re-stock the farm pretty quickly before the current championship window begins to close in a few years. The 23-year-old Chavis is projected to become a 25-HR hitter—with a plus arm at the Hot Corner. However, his overall defense is iffy—so he might eventually translate to a corner outfielder or a first-baseman. In any event, he's pretty much the only elite prospect we've got—and he's ranked at #74 on this Top 100 list. Yikes!

The Sox Would Not Go To A Third Year On Joe Kelly, And The Dodgers Did

The reason that Joe Kelly (AKA Jim Buchanan) will be pitching at Chavez Ravine instead of Fenway Park next year comes down to: one year. According to multiple reports, the Red Sox were unwilling to go to a third year on their 2-year offer to Kelly—and, of course, the Dodgers did go there. Kelly will get $25 million over the course of the deal—a significant raise over the $2.6 million he earned from Boston in 2018. Despite his brilliant performance in the 2018 post-season, Kelly's regular-season numbers last year were pedestrian at best. While he achieved "folk hero" status after the "Joe Kelly Fight Club" brawl against The Evil Ones, it probably did not make sense to extend him to that third year. Hopefully, the money saved on Kelly will be spent on either Adam Ottavino or David Robertsonor both. Stay tuned!

London Calling!: Jackie Bradley, Jr. Appears On MLB Network This Morning

Red Sox center-fielder—and ALCS MVP—Jackie Bradley, Jr. called in to MLB Network this morning from London, England. Bradley is on a special mission for Major League Baseball—along with CC Sabathia—to promote next year's June match-up in London with The Bronx Embalmers. Asked whether the Brits are into baseball at all, JBJ joked, "I think for the most part cricket is what's on their minds, but, yes, they're excited about seeing the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. And, we're excited to come here, too." He was also asked about the changes he made to his offensive approach in 2018. Bradley said, "I just worked on my swing path and how, mechanically, my swing needed to work in order to impact the baseball appropriately—and not just hit into the shift." With so much information available to players these days, JBJ feels that you need to "focus on individual things a little bit at a time—get one part of your game mastered and then add on to that." Finally, when asked to reflect on the 2018 World Series Championship season, Jackie stated, "We achieved what we set out to do from the first day of Spring Training. We knew we had a great team—but a lot of things have to go right to win it all. We played the game the right way, were a close-knit group, and we look forward to defending the championship." Damn straight, JBJ!

Is A Reunion With Jed Lowrie The Answer To 2B Uncertainty Of The Red Sox?

Lowrie (L); Pedroia (R)
Here's a possible solution to Boston's 2019 second-base conundrum: stick two 35-year-olds at the position. How do you do this? You go out and sign free-agent (and former Red Sox IF) Jed Lowrie, and figure out a reasonable scheme to get both him and (a presumably healthy) Dustin Pedroia enough at-bats. The hitch might be convincing both of these "gamers" to sit part of the time—but, hey, they're both 35 and Pedey is coming off major knee work. Red Sox manager Alex Cora seems to be the perfect guy to do the convincing—and it seems this would really help the team stabilize a key position. Lowrie has been on an incredible roll late in his career. The last two seasons, he has put up identical OPS+ (120) and slugging (.448) numbers. Last season, he knocked in 99 runs and made his first All-Star team. It's unclear what he will command in free-agency—but his age and the lure of coming back to his original franchise (with a real shot at repeating as World Champs) might make him take a reasonable offer. Most projections have him around the $12.5 million per year range. So, a two-year deal worth $25 million would probably do it.

Craig Kimbrel Still Seeking Six-Year, $100M Deal, Boston Unlikely Landing

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As we reported early on in the off-season, former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was seeking a six-year deal. Now, new reports confirm that that contract duration is correct—and the 30-year-old reliever is looking for compensation in the $100 million range. Despite Kimbrel's undoubtedly impressive career credentials (1.91 ERA, 333 saves), his post-season shakiness in 2018 raised questions about his long-term effectiveness. While "pitch-tipping" was cited at one point as the cause of his erratic playoff performance—even after this was floated as the explanation, he continued to deliver "cardiac" saves for the eventual World Series Champion Red Sox. Dave Dombrowski has all but said Kimbrel will not return to Boston—and they may be focusing on the likes of David Robertson and Adam Ottavino. It's hard to imagine that any team would shell out the kind of deal Kimbrel is seeking—but the Philadelphia Phillies are the current favorites to land him. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

GOOGLE: Red Sox Were The Number Two Most Searched Sports Team In 2018

According to GOOGLE's "Year In Search 2018", the Boston Red Sox were the #2 most-searched professional sports team in 2018. Boston was second only to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the search list—compiled among searchers in the US and "based on search terms that had the highest spike this year as compared to the previous year." Fourth on the list were The Bronx Embalmers—just behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished in third place. The team the Red Sox beat four-games-to-one in the 2018 World Series—the Los Angeles Dodgers—slotted in at the fifth position, while the Los Angeles Lakers came in sixth. The Boston Celtics were next, ranked in the seventh position—followed by the Cleveland Browns (#8), the Chicago Bears (#9) and the Milwaukee Brewers (#10). So, Boston, LA and Cleveland were the only cities to have two teams represented on the Top Ten list.

With Kelly Gone, Red Sox Need Former Northeastern Husky Adam Ottavino

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UPDATE: Sox talking with Ottavino and Robertson
With the departure of Joe Kelly to La-La Land—and the Red Sox seeming (and justified) unwillingness to give six years to Craig Kimbrel—a bullpen move now is paramount. Former Northeastern University Husky Adam Ottavino is still out there on the market—after turning in a brilliant campaign in (of all places) Colorado last year. The righty pitched in 75 games for the Rockies—holding opposing batters to a .158 average. He also averaged 13 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018. The 32-year-old is probably now in the catbird seat money-wise—since the Red Sox have been sitting on their hands all off-season, while multiple relievers are getting signed (just today Kelly and Jeurys Familia). In fact, in our view, we need two new bullpen arms—unless you want to count on Dave Dombrowski's wishful thinking that Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier will suddenly morph into Mariano Rivera and Bruce Sutter. Our plan would be to get both Ottavino and David Robertson—anything less is asking for more late-game troubles in 2019.

Is WEEI Considering A "Talk Show" Format For Red Sox Radio Broadcasts?

In what would clearly be the dumbest idea since New Coke, the Red Sox "flagship" radio station—WEEI—is apparently at least considering moving to a "talk show" format for game broadcasts. My first thought was: thank goodness I have Sirius/XM Radio, so I can switch to the broadcast of whoever the Red Sox are playing that day. Good grief! Are the executives at Entercom (the parent company of WEEI) already smoking what has recently become legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? According to a tweet this morning by The Boston Globe's Chad Finn, "WEEI is going ahead with plans to do the talk-show format during its Red Sox broadcast. Saw the job posting sent to staatalentDOTcom subscribers last night." Of course, WEEI has quickly denied the moronic idea, tweet-firing back, "This [the Finn report] is not true. If you checked with me I could've told you that. The only thing I sent to StaaTalent was a reply confirming that the job was open and people can apply." Hopefully, Finn's good reporting has shot down what was clearly—at minimum—a trial-balloon for a wicked stupid idea. Let's hope Entercom execs are back to smoking regular tobacco.

Joe Kelly Heads To Chavez Ravine, Signs Three-Year, $25M Deal With Dodgers

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One of the epic 2018 post-season heroes for the Red Sox—reliever Joe Kellysigned a three-year, $25 million contract with the guys he smoked in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kelly had an up-and-down regular season—except for the classic brawl he instigated with the Yankees that conveyed legendary status upon him. Kelly pitched six scoreless innings in the World Series—and allowed just one run in 11.1 post-season innings overall. During his five-year stay in Boston, Kelly went 26-11, with a 4.33 ERA. Over 359.1 innings, he whiffed 319 batters. We will all miss his "Jim Buchanan" persona and his gritty competitiveness. Good luck in LA, Mr. Kelly!

POLL: More Than Four In Five Support Decision To "Flip-Flop" Top Of Order

Early results from our latest FenwayNation Poll show overwhelming support for Red Sox manager Alex Cora's decision to "flip-flop" to the top the of line-up in 2019. The skipper's plan is to have Andrew Benintendi lead off, with Mookie Betts hitting second (thus getting more RBI opportunities). As the chart shows, fully 84% support Cora's plan, with just 16% in opposition. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

FN POLL: Favor Or Oppose The New Top Of The Red Sox Line-Up For 2019?

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has announced that his 2019 line-up will have Andrew Benintendi leading-off and Mookie Betts hitting second. Do you favor or oppose this change? free polls

Empire Re-Signs JA Happ, Noah Syndergaard Pursuit Likely A Smokescreen

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UPDATE: May not be a done deal
The Yankees have re-signed left-handed starter JA Happ to a three-year contract extension—rendering moot the fake pursuit of New York Met starter Noah Syndergaard. It never seemed likely that the Met ownership would ever allow "Thor" to be on the back pages of the Gotham tabloids winning games for The Evil Ones. So, The Pinstriped Posers now have a 2019 rotation of  Happ, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. And, of course, they still have to unload joke-starter Sonny Gray. Happ was supposed to shut down the Red Sox—but, while he had his moments, was ultimately ineffective against Boston's triumph in the ALDS. Look for The Bronx Embalmers to now focus on landing the one guy who best typifies the Yankee player profile—the despicable Manny Machado.

Is Gorkys Hernandez Acquisition The Prelude To A Jackie Bradley, Jr. Trade?

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The Red Sox have signed OF Gorkys Hernandez to a minor-league deal—which could net him $1 million if he makes the major-league roster. Now, Boston already has four major-league outfielders—Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and (occasionally) J.D. Martinez. So, what gives? Many are speculating that the acquisition of Hernandez may fuel the rumors of a trade of Bradley—denied by Red Sox brass along with trade rumors about Xander Bogaerts and Rick Procello. Said Dave Dombrowski, "I can tell you that we're not looking to move anybody. We're not driven to move anybody. But I think you always keep open minds to anything that takes place. People come to you with different thought processes." Still, getting the defensive-minded Hernandez—who played 142 games for the Giants last year—does make you wonder. The 31-year-old Hernandez hit .243 last season—with 15 homers and 40 RBIs. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

SHOCKER: Rick Porcello May Be Available In A Trade To Aid Sox Salary Dump

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TRIPLE SHOCKER: Bogie and JBJ on the block, too?
In a shocking report by USAToday's Bob Nightengale, 'rival executives' point to the desire of the Red Sox to slice their huge $230+ million payroll—perhaps by putting Rick Porcello on the trading block. Porcello, who turns 30 later this month, is owed $21,125,000 in 2019—the last year before he becomes a free-agent. Interestingly, Dave Dombrowski dealt Porcello once before—to the Red Sox from the Tigers for Yoenis Cespspedes in 2014. The righty had a solid "bounce-back" 2018 for the Red Sox—going 17-7 with a 4.28 ERA. He gave up just 177 hits in his 191.1 innings of work over his 33 starts. The number of home runs he gave up went down sharply as well—going from 38 in 2017 to 27 in 2018. In the post-season, Porcello was beaten up some in the ALCS, but shone in both the ALDS and World Series with sub-2.00 ERAs. Plus, he can hit the snot out of the ball in NL parks. This report is a bit of shocker—although Boston's payroll is already at $232.1 million—which would kick-in the third level of MLB's luxury tax. Stay tuned, this would be a huge development if it goes down!

Sox Are Now Viewed As "Heavy" In On Free-Agent Reliever David Robertson

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Multiple reports now indicate that the Red Sox are 'heavy' in on their pursuit of free-agent bullpen piece David Robertson. The 33-year-old Robertson had a solid 2018 with The Bronx Embalmers—posting a 3.23 ERA, and giving up just 46 hits in 69.2 innings of work. He also struck out 91 opposing batters. With Craig Kimbrel's 5-6 year contract demands, it appears more and more likely that Boston will turn to alternatives like Robertson and/or former Northeastern University Husky Adam Ottavino. Said Pinstriped Poser GM Brain Cashman, "I don’t know what our competitors are willing to do whether it is a trade or free agency. I have legitimate offers out for various trade partners and or free agents. We haven’t agreed do to anything yet." Stay tuned, the reliever market could break soon—even during the Winter Meetings this week in Las Vegas.