Friday, October 17, 2014

A Simple Solution To World Series Home Field

As we approach another Fall Classic, we're again confronted with the rank stupidity of home-field advantage being determined by an exhibition game. The Kansas City Royals might get an extra home game because Mike Trout had a good day last July 15th. Is this really fair? Of course not. So, let's try to find a more representative way to decide the issue. Oh, wait, we have another of Bud Selig's dumb ideas right in front of us! The ubiquitous Interleague schedule—where a cross-league game is played every day. That's a pretty big sample size—in fact, it was 257 games in 2014. This is an even better idea, since the leagues are now balanced—with 15 teams in each circuit. As it happens, the AL whupped butt this year—winning 140 games to the NL's 117. In fact, the AL has had the advantage since 2004. Still, wouldn't it be great if Bud made this simple and logical change on his way out the door?

Jose Iglesias Said To Be 'Fine' For 2015 Season

Remember Jose Iglesias? You know, the guy we traded away in exchange for now-San Francisco Giant Jake Peavy in a three-way deal? After missing the entire 2014 season with stress fractures in both of his shins, word is that the 24-year old shortstop will be 100% healthy for the 2015 season. Perhaps the slickest Red Sox defensive shortstop in a generation, Iglesias began to show surprising offensive ability before his July 2013 trade. He then played well against his old club in the 2013 ALCS. Now, it looks as if he'll be Detroit's starting shortstop for a long time. While Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski won't fully commit to this, it seems pretty obvious, "I would think with what we know from Iglesias, if he returns to the form that he was in the past, which they tell me he will, but if he does, then he would be our regular shortstop because he's a very, very good shortstop." Indeed.

Sox Land Four In Baseball America IL 'Top 20'

Baseball America's International League (AAA) Top 20 list includes four players from the Red Sox organization. The four are: Mookie Betts (ranked 2nd), Anthony Ranaudo (ranked 6th), Christian Vazquez (ranked 16th) and Allen Webster (ranked 19th). All four made contributions to the 2014 Red Sox big league club and are slated to be key players in 2015 as well. Congrats to all four!

Ten Years After: Dave Roberts' Watershed Steal

It can't possibly have happened a decade ago. But, re-checking our trusty FN WayBack Machine, it appears that the Dave Roberts Steal was exactly ten years ago today—although technically, it happened after midnight. As one of the privileged 34,826 who attended the 5 hour and 2 minute contest, I can safely state that it was the most thrilling sporting event I ever witnessed in person. And I attended some doozies! It was bigger than the Snow Bowl Game at the old Foxboro Stadium, bigger than the 2007 ALCS clincher, bigger than the Game One win in the 2007 World Series, bigger than the 2013 ALCS clincher. You have to recall the utter despair that was crowding in on us as Mariano Rivera took his warm-up tosses in the ninth. We only wanted this one win—to avoid the humiliation of a sweep at the hands of The Evil Ones. Looking back, it's amazing how much positive signage was around the old ballpark: "It Ain't Over Yet", "You Gotta Believe It To See It" and my personal favorite: "Tomorrow Never Dies". We all know what happened—and the impact it had on the next ten years. Thank you, Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts and Bill Mueller.

Ten Years Ago Today: The Steal

Chili Davis Interviewing For Sox Hitting Coach

Apparently, the reports of Chili Davis' elimination from the Red Sox hitting coach job were greatly exaggerated. Davis is in Boston today to interview for the position—which expands the field to six who are under consideration (also Rich Gedman, Paul Sorrento, Bill Mueller, Tim Hyers, Kevin Long). Davis is currently the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics and had a stellar playing career—mostly with the Giants and Angels. He was a .274 lifetime hitter with 350 HRs over 19 major league seasons.

REPORT: Sox Expected To Offer Shields 4-5 Yrs.

James Shields
According to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News, the Kansas City Royals expect the Red Sox to offer free-agent James Shields a 4-5 year deal—a deal the AL Champs believe they'll be unable to match. While Kansas City will make a "genuine" effort to re-sign Shields, they realize they have little realistic hope of holding on to their ace. Boston—in their view—is the most likely landing spot. It's well known that the right-hander is one of Ben Cherington's primary targets as he tries to re-fill the top two spots of the Boston rotation.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

David Ortiz On FOX World Series Coverage

You won't have to wait until Spring to see David Ortiz in a baseball setting again. FOX Sports announced that Big Papi will be part of a pre- and post-game panel during their upcoming World Series coverage. The 2013 World Series MVP will be joined by Frank Thomas, Gabe Kapler and the insufferable Nick Swisher. Coverage begins before Game One of The Fall Classic in Kansas City (the American League won The All-Star Game, after all) on Tuesday, October 21st at 7:30 PM ET on FOX.

Is Jason Heyward On The Red Sox Trade Radar?

(Photo By Justin Edmonds)
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (AKA John Henry's Journalistic Plaything) writes that Atlanta's Jason Heyward is "definitely a name that’s come up" in Red Sox trade musings. Heyward is a classic case of the "can't miss" guy who has—in fact—mostly missed so far in his career. The 26-year old Heyward is a .262 career hitter, who averages 20 HRs a year and 69 RBIs. Not exactly MVP numbers. In 2014, he hit just 11 HRs. So, could he be a "David Ortiz-Like" acquisition, as some have opined? Possibly. Heyward is an incredibly athletic player who could still turn it around. He could probably be had for Yoenis Cespedes (who has just one year left on his contract). Then again, Heyward is also in the final year of his contract—and is slated to make $7.8 million. Cespedes turns 29 in two days and is owed $10.5 million next year. It's certainly an interesting trade to ponder—although Boston would probably need another player back.

Re-Live Scary '14 Season: Halloween At Fenway!

As if the 2014 season wasn't terrifying enough, the Red Sox are offering everyone the chance to "Trick Or Treat" around Fenway Park on October 30th. For example, you can dress up as a character from the team's theme movie: "Raiders Of The Lost Offense". Or, if you happen to be religious, you can speak the following in the on-deck circle, "many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first". Or, perhaps, you'd like to use the Creepy Pitching Machine out in the bullpen, and see if you can beat the 2014 Red Sox team ERA of 4.01. Come one, come all!

Red Sox Hitting Coach Choices Down To Five

According to multiple reports, the Red Sox have narrowed their search for a new hitting coach to five: Bill Mueller, Somerville's Paul Sorrento, Tim Hyers, Worcester's Rich Gedman and Kevin Long. Earlier interest in Chili Davis seems to have waned. Our choice would be a tandem of Mueller and Gedman—similar to the 'two assistant hitting coach' model of the last few years. The team is replacing outgoing hitting coach Greg Colbrunn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AL East Champ Orioles Could Be History Soon

(Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)
Later on this evening, we may know one of the participants in the 2014 World Series. With their 2-1 victory last night, the Kansas City Royals are one win away from eliminating the AL East Champion Baltimore Orioles. This Mid-American Magical Mystery Tour has been highlighted by speed, timely hitting and a steel-vault bullpen. The Orioles seem snake-bitten by a fundamentally-sound National League brand of baseball they can't really deal with. Last night, the Kansas City RBIs came on a ground-out and a sacrifice fly—extending their post-season winning streak to ten. Baltimore's first-baseman Steve Pearce described his team's dilemma thusly, ''It's hard to take advantage of mistakes when they're not making any.'' Indeed. So, the Birds and their fans face a 3-0 hole in the ALCS. Heaven knows, we can relate.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Former Red Sox Battery In Action In NLCS

UPDATE: Lackey gives up 4 in 1st. A.J. Pierzynski will catch John Lackey this afternoon in a post-season game. No, you have not had a really bad flashback to June—it's the NLCS and they'll both be in Cardinal Red. Game Three of the series that will produce the World Series entrant from the Senior Circuit starts in minutes in San Francisco, with the series knotted at 1-1. Close your eyes and imagine A.J. is still being a jerk for us. It's not that hard.

Geddy On Short List Of Hitting Coach Options

FN Editor And Geddy
In addition to their interest in fired Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long, reports are surfacing that the Red Sox are eyeing a few other candidates—including former catcher (and Worcester native) Rich Gedman for the job. Another Massachusetts native—Somerville's Paul Sorrento—is also on the short list, along with current minor league hitting coach Tim Hyers. Sorrento is currently minor league hitting coordinator for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Apparently, the team has decided not to consider existing assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for the new position. Former 2011 Pawtucket hitting coach and ex-San Francisco Giant Chili Davis has also been mentioned in multiple reports.

Sox 'Interested' In Fired Empire Hitting Coach

Kevin Long
After their own hitting coach (Greg Colbrunn) stepped down recently, the Red Sox are now expressing interest in hiring fired former Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long. For most of Long's tenure in the Bronx, The Evil Ones were among the elite offensive teams in the American League. Now, not so much. A raft of injuries and a roster more attuned to AARP than OBP, resulted in a bleak 2014 for The Pinstriped Posers. Believe it or not, Boston scored one more run than The Bronx Embalmers in 2014 (634 to 633). Stay tuned!

POLL: Betts Has Solid Lead As Mr. Untouchable

The vote is in and the results are clear: Mookie Betts is seen by FenwayNation readers as the most "un-touchable" player in trade talks. As the chart shows, fully 42% choose Betts, followed distantly by Xander Bogaerts at 13%. Next on the "don't trade this guy" list is Yoenis Cespedes at 12%, with Henry Owens close behind at 11%. Christian Vazquez is next at 9%, followed by Blake Swihart at 8%, and Deven Marerro at 2%. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Will Middlebrooks pull in 1% each. Another 1% chose an "other" player not on the list.

Mike Napoli To Undergo Sleep Apnea Surgery

(Getty Images)
UPDATE: Surgery details Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli will have surgery to alleviate a sleep apnea condition he has dealt with his whole career. The procedure will happen in early November allowing him to recover in time for Spring Training. Napoli texted the following, "I've been dealing with sleep apnea for a long time, my whole career, I've tried numerous things and none of them worked. Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines. It's just gotten to the point where I have to get this done." Napoli suffered a series of injuries in 2014 that hampered his offensive production.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Betts Makes Baseball America All-Rookie Team

Mookie Betts has been named to the prestigious Baseball America All-Rookie Team for 2014. Betts outdid such 2B stars as Joe Panik (SF), Jonathan Schoop (BAL) and Kolten Wong (STL). Said Baseball America, "Betts has all the ingredients to be a hitting star—barrel control, true plate discipline, speed, solid power." Congratulations!

Game Three Of The ALCS Postponed By Rain

Game Three of the American League Championship Series has been postponed by rain—and will be played on Tuesday night at 8:07 PM ET. Heavy rains in the Kansas City area forced the change—with little hope of let-up for the remainder of the night. Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen was to have faced off against Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie.  Game Four has been re-scheduled for Wednesday at 4:07 PM ET, while Game Five (if necessary) will be played on Thursday at 4:07 PM ET. The Royals lead the best-of-seven series 2-0.

POLL: Mookie Surges As Most 'Un-Touchable'

Additional voting in our FenwayNation Poll shows that Mookie Betts has surged into a strong lead as our readers' choice to be the most 'un-touchable' player in any off-season trade discussions. As the chart shows, Mookie now pulls in almost four in ten votes (37%), followed by Xander Bogaerts at 18% and Yoenis Cespedes at 16%. Interestingly, starting pitching prospect Henry Owens is next on the list at 11%‚ tied with catcher Chrsitian Vazquez. The other top catching prospect—Blake Swihart—gets 8% of the vote. There are still no votes cast for Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley, Jr., or SS prospect Deven Marrero. You can still vote in the poll HERE.