Thursday, August 21, 2014

Top Five Reasons The Red Sox Stink In 2014

As we sit 17.5 games out of first place and 13 games out of a Wild Card berth, it's probably not too early to do a post-mortem on your 2014 Carmine Hose. Here are the Top Five Reasons The Red Sox Stink In 2014:

#5: Key Injuries. Actually, it's really just one key injury—to RF Shane Victorino. The Flyin' Hawaiian has played in exactly 30 games this year, hitting .268 with 2 HRs and 12 RBIs. Last year, despite nagging injuries, he suited up for 122 games, hitting .294 with 15 HRs and 61 RBIs. Missing him, Boston has had to mix-and-match a bevy of OFs—and only Brock Holt has been a success (and half the time he's playing some other position on the field anyway).

#4: The Buchholz Implosion. In need of a bounce-back year from Clay Buchholz, what the Red Sox got was a trounce-back year. The Texas righty has so far posted a 5-8 record and a 5.94 ERA. After performing as a Cy Young favorite in the early stages of 2013, Buchholz was chronically injured for a big chunk of the season, and performed at a mediocre level in October (4.25 ERA in 4 starts). He's even worse this year. The question is: 'Are we now seeing the real Clay Buchholz'?

#3: Over-Reliance On 'The Kids'. The Red Sox came into the 2014 season with a bit of a 'Pollyanna' attitude toward their younger players—tossing them right into the mix. Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. (after The Great Grady Sizemore Experiment failed), and Will Middlebrooks have not panned out as reliable starters. It also makes you wonder if the Red Sox organization is again over-valuing its "top" prospects.

#2: Underestimating The Loss Of Jacoby Ellsbury. While Ellsbury is not exactly an MVP candidate for The Bronx Embalmers, he is having a decent year so far (.276, 10 HRs, 54 RBIs, 34 SBs). More importantly, Boston lost a dependable, productive lead-off hitter. And, while Brock Holt eventually filled that void, he's not a permanent top-of-the-order solution. Ellsbury's dynamism is gone forever and it hurt this team badly in 2014.

#1: Raiders Of The Lost Offense. This could pretty much be the all-encompassing single reason for this awful season. The Red Sox are on pace to score only 621 runs this year—232 fewer than they scored last year. Averaging 3.8 runs per game was never going to get them a chance at back-to-back World Series Championships. For 2015, they need to stack their lineup with 3-4-5 hitters that can all go yard. You can even see the difference this year when they feature Ortiz-Cespedes-Napoli in those spots. Despite what the GeekHeads say, scoring more runs than your opponent is what wins ballgames.

Bard's Comedy At Fenway Should Be Tragedy

As we first reported back in April, Fenway will play host to a performance of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night this coming September 19th. All we have to say is that—this yearA Midsummer Night's Dream has turned into The Comedy of Errors, and following The Carmine Hose has become Much Ado About Nothing. Oh, well, wait 'til next year—All's Well That Ends Well. Too bad The Bard (Daniel, that is) isn't around to attend.

POLL— Fans to BenCher: Sign Rusney Castillo!

Almost nine in ten respondents (87%) to our latest FenwayNation Poll are supportive of the Red Sox signing International Free Agent Rusney Castillo. As the chart shows, a scant 13% feel that the 27-year-old Cuban defector is not worth the likely 6 year, $50 million outlay it will take to get him. Reports suggest that the wait to see who gets the speedy and powerful outfielder will be over very soon—perhaps before the end of this week. Contending teams like Detroit and San Francisco need to ink Castillo before August 31st to allow him to play in the post-season. The Red Sox, of course, have no such time constraints.

Another Buchholz Meltdown Leads To 8-3 Loss

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Leading 3-1 going into the fifth inning, Clay Buchholz took that offensive gift and flushed it down the proverbial toilet—giving up five runs to the Angels in that frame in an ultimate 8-3 loss. The first six Halo batters reached on Buchholz, whose post-game explanation is like something out of the movie Groundhog Day: ''Just missed location with a couple of pitches and they were able to put a big inning together." Perhaps a GPS is in order for Mr. Buchholz to define the location—60 feet, 6 inches. Boston had taken a 3-0 lead, one coming from a solo blast by David Ortiz (his 30th of the season). Ortiz has now tied Ted Williams for most 30-HR seasons as a Red Sox player (8). Other than that, you can pretty much file this one under: Ghost Of Bobby Valentine. They still need 14 wins to eclipse the record attained by 2012's skipper.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

REPORT: Lester Likely To Go To Empire/Theo

The Horror
According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, multiple MLB sources agree that Jon Lester's return to Boston is "a long shot". The sources believe that the lefty will either wind up in pinstripes or toiling for Theo Epstein on the North Side of Chicago. Referring to Boston's low-ball $70 million offer to Lester, one MLB exec stated, "The Red Sox aren't going to admit they made an $80 million mistake by offering $150 million". Probably true, but if John Henry can sell-off a few soccer balls, maybe he can offer $140M—which might be enough to bring him back.

Lackey Pays For Uni Number With Babe Ball

Apparently, former Red Sox pitcher John Lackey really likes the number forty-one. Why else would he hand over a perfectly good Babe Ruth-autographed baseball to teammate Pat Neshek for a dumb jersey number? We realize forty-two is always unavailable, and 40, 43 and 44 are already taken on the Cards. OK, OK, and 45 is Bob Gibson's retired number. Alright, we take it back, nice move, Lackey. For sure.

What The Sox Lose By Demoting Bradley, Jr.

 (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The demotion of Jackie Bradley, Jr. to AAA Pawtucket was probably the best move for the player and the team. It will allow him to work out his offensive problems without the glare of Boston fans and media. While Mookie Betts is a far better hitter, he is not (as we saw last night) the defensive equivalent of Bradley, Jr. In fact, very few are. According to Player Standard Fielding stats for this year, JBJ is ranked third in the American League in "defensive runs saved above average" for all outfielders (a geeky way of saying he's worth a crap load of runs to a team). Only the amazing Kansas City Royals trio of Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and Jarrod Dyson are in JBJ's league. So, while it's probably a good thing for now, The Carmine Hose will seriously miss the effortless, gliding defense that Bradley provided.

Curt Schilling Reveals Bout With Mouth Cancer

(WEEI Photo)
Appearing with WEEI's Dennis & Callahan during their morning coverage of the 13th Annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Red Sox hero Curt Schilling announced that he has been suffering from mouth cancer—which is in remission. Schilling cites his thirty years of using chewing tobacco as the reason for his condition. Said Curt, "Absolutely. No question in my mind about that. I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer." Schilling (who lost 75 pounds during the ordeal) recounted his six months of grueling treatment and hospitalization to battle the disease. Hopefully, we will be seeing Curt on the set of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball soon.

Red Sox Among Finalists On Rusney Castillo

(Photo: www.juventudrebelde.cu)
The Evil Empire is out of the running for Cuban defector Rusney Castillo—as are the Phillies and Cubs. This, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are finalists in the race to sign the 27-year old International Free Agent—along with the Giants and Tigers. Word is that the Tigers have become very aggressive in their efforts to get the center-fielder—since they created a huge gap at the position with the trading away of Austin Jackson. However, Boston may have a bit of a perverse edge over both San Francisco and Detroit, since they have no need to sign Castillo in time for non-existent playoff eligibility.

Angels Get To Koji In Ninth; Top Red Sox, 4-3

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
As we all know, everything—and I mean everything—ultimately has a New England connection. And so it was tonight at Fenway, when Providence, Rhode Island's Chris Iannetta stroked an RBI Wall-Ball double off Koji Uehara, giving his Halos a 4-3 victory over The Carmine Hose. Koji got the first two outs in the 9th, but Brennan Boesch (not to be confused with Hieronymus Bosch) roped a shot out of the reach of Mookie "JBJ Would Have Had It" Betts. Boston had fought back from a 3-1 deficit on RBIs by Mike Napoli and Brock Holt (who earlier was robbed of a three-run HR at the bullpen wall in right). Napoli ended the game with a strikeout as both Yoenis Cespedes and David Ortiz were stranded on base. After a tough third inning (three runs), starter Allen Webster rebounded to go six full innings—yielding no more tallies. Last year, they win this game—in 2014, it's just another agonizing loss.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rusney Castillo's Official Highlight Reel

Farrell: Either Betts Or Bradley, Jr.‚—Not Both

Bradley, Jr. And Betts: One Or The Other
In major league baseball, the direct answer is definitely an endangered species. But, not with Red Sox manager John Farrell—at least yesterday, anyway. When discussing the demotion of Jackie Bradley, Jr. and the consequent ascension of Mookie Betts, the skipper stated, "Our roster couldn’t co-exist effectively with both—so it’s one or the other." Hello! As we have stated here before, next year will require some basic decisions by the front office on the plethora of outfielders available. Whatever the final composition of that outfield (perhaps even including Giancarlo Stanton), it clearly won't include both Betts and Bradley. That much, at least, has been decided.

POLL: Huge Majority Want Sox To Pay Castillo

Very early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll shows that more than four in five readers want the Red Sox to shell out $50 million over six years for Cuban defector Rusney Castillo. As the chart shows, fully 86% want Boston to make Castillo's Pay Day, while just 14% think $50 million over six years is too much for the 27-year old outfielder. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

The Road To Breaking The 'Valentine Curse'

Your 2014 Carmine Hose have 38 games left to play in this dismal season. In order to surpass the win total of the 2012 Boys of Bobby Valentine, they will have to take at least 14 of those games. Seems like a pretty easy task, right? Except the eight teams they will face until the end have a combined .537 winning percentage—and only one of those teams is under .500 (Tampa Bay). They will face the division-leading Orioles six times (.577 winning percentage), The Evil Ones (.516) six times, Toronto (.512) six times, Tampa (.492) seven times, the Angels (.593) three more times, KC (.556) four times, Seattle (.540) three times and Pittsburgh (.512) three times. So, let's say the Red Sox play over their heads—at .500. That would give them 19 wins—just five more than needed to surpass The Valentine Line. That's 75-87 for the year. Still pretty, pretty, pretty bad.

FN POLL: Should Sox Pay For Rusney Castillo?

The Rusney Castillo Sweepstakes

Should The Sox Pay Up To 6 YRS and $50M For Castillo?

  Current Results

Tazawa Miscue Leads To 4-2 Loss To Angels

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Junichi Tazawa had a chance to get out of a big jam. With the bases loaded in the eighth, the reliever bobbled a grounder to the mound—which would have gotten at least one out. He was charged with a double error and two Angels scored. Despite a ninth-inning rally, The Carmine Hose fell short by those very two runs and have now lost three of their last four, losing 4-2. The Red Sox stranded twelve runners and were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. Sound familiar? Brandon Workman pitched well—giving up just two runs over seven innings—but it just wasn't enough.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Forty-Seventh Anniversary Of An Awful Day

On August 18, 1967—forty-seven years ago todayTony Conigliaro suffered one of the worst beanings in MLB history. The Angels' Jack Hamilton fired a fastball at Tony's head and a sure-fire Hall of Fame career was derailed. The technical injury was: "a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to his left retina." His batting helmet did not, of course, have the protective ear-flap that is so familiar to us today. The Red Sox 'Impossible Dream' season had quickly turned into a nightmare. A year or so later,  he remarkably won the Comeback Player of The Year award, but it was never the same again for the kid from St. Mary's High School in Lynn, Massachusetts. He was the fastest player ever to 100 HRs, but he would end his career with just 166. He was a shooting star that left us at the far too young age of 45. He is still missed.

JBJ Video Memories: Doubling-Off Derek Jeter