Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pedro Debuts On MLB Network On April 8th

(Exclusive FenwayNation Photo)
Red Sox great and soon-to-be-enshrined Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez will make his MLB Network debut on April 8th. Pedro will join a star-studded team of analysts—including fellow 2015 HOF inductee (and also former Carmine Hoser) Jon Smoltz. Pedro will also reprise his role as a post-season analyst for Turner Sports. Said Pedro, "I'm looking forward to having fun and doing what we like to do the most, which is talk baseball, analyze things that will happen during the game, how we would approach some of those things. I'm excited and can't wait for the moment to get here." Who knows? We may get another classic "Wacha, Wacha!" moment.

Vazquez May Miss Opening Day; MRI Possible

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Christian Vazquez—slated to do the bulk of the catching for the Red Sox in 2015—has not caught a game in almost two weeks and may miss Opening Day due to an elbow strain. On March 13th, Vazquez injured the elbow throwing out an Empire runner at second base. While it has not been decided, Vazquez could be given an MRI to gauge his readiness. Said manager John Farrell, "He's improving. Any time a player misses time, there's some level of concern because of the talents that they are, and a player's health is first and foremost. But there's still some steps to accomplish." It's unclear who would replace Vasquez on the roster should he head to the DL—but Blake Swihart would be the logical choice.

Moncada Jumps Over Swihart On Prospect List

Major League Baseball's revised ranking of Red Sox prospects places newly-acquired Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada on top of the list. He replaces Blake Swihart, who had been considered the team's top prospect for some time, and is now ranked as #2. Rounding out the new top five are: #3—LHP Henry Owens; #4—LHP Eduardo Rodriguez; #5—3B Rafael Devers. Devers has been getting quite a bit of ink lately—and was singled out by Baseball America as Boston's #1 power-hitting prospect.

Red Sox Cut Owens, Brentz, Cecchini Thursday

The Red Sox assigned LHP Henry Owens to minor-league camp this morning. Owens, once touted as the top lefty in the system, has fallen behind others after a couple of very poor Spring outings. Also, Boston optioned OF Bryce Brentz, 3B Garin Cecchini, and RHPs Heath Hembree and Zeke Spruill to AAA.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Are Victorino Comments Worthy Of Firestorm?

(Getty Images)
UPDATE: Victorino responseLadies and gentleman, we finally have our first Spring Training controversy. Talk radio is going bananas today over comments made yesterday by Shane Victorino to a Philadelphia newspaper. Basically, Victorino said he would love to have Cole Hamels in Carmine Hoseessentially no matter what the price. That last part is the rub—construed by some as throwing outfield competitor Mookie Betts under the bus. Said Victorino, "And I understand the future is important, but for an organization—and anybody, any organization, not just here —I'm going to give up, maybe not everybody, but I'm going to give up 2-3 pieces that I think are necessary for a certain guy. Because it warrants it. This guy [Hamels] is established." Then, as if to draw a direct comparison between a hitting prospect (Betts?) and a known quantity (himself?), he went on, "Why would you hope that guy becomes this hitter, when you have it right now?" In our view, this is a tempest in a teapot. Victorino never specifically names any prospect, and actually goes out of his way in the interview to be cautious. For example, he says, "I'm also happy with the guys we've got—I respect them." Well, certain talk radio types need something to draw ratings.

NFL Player Heads To Sox Minor League Camp

Magee In 2014
OK, this is a weird one. He might not turn out to be another Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson, but Brandon Magee is going to give it a shot. Just this morning, Magee was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Immediately afterward, Magee let it be known that he's headed to Red Sox minor league camp at Fort Myers. Said the former linebacker, "Right now, I'm focused on spring training." Magee —a two-sport player at Arizona State—was drafted by Boston in the 23rd round in 2012. Originally, the Cleveland Browns signed Magee as an un-drafted free agent, and after a cup of coffee at Sox camp last year, he chose to play football again—this time for the Bucs. He saw limited action last year as a special teams member. So, now, it's hardball time again!

FORBES: Sox Are Third Most Valuable In MLB

FORBES magazine has released its 2015 list of MLB team values—and the Red Sox come in at number three. Not surprisingly, The Bronx Embalmers top the list with a valuation of $3.2 billion. The Dodgers come in second, worth $2.4 billion, while the Red Sox chime in next at $2.1 billion. Forbes calls the figures "enterprise values"—that is, a calculation of equity plus net debt. Overall, Major League Baseball itself is valued at a whopping $36 billion—with an average team value of $1.2 billion (up 48% since 2014).

RI Lawmaker: Vote For Any PawSox Subsides

A Rhode Island state legislator wants to make sure any public funding of a PawSox move to Providence is put before that state's voters. Republican State Rep. Patricia Morgan has filed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether the new owners of the AAA franchise get any public subsidies to build a new Providence waterfront ballpark. The new owners include a heavy Boston Red Sox contingent—including team president and CEO Larry Lucchino. The new owners want to re-brand the franchise as "The Rhode Island Red Sox". Said Rep. Morgan, "That’s [the taxpayers'] money. It’s not some men sitting around a table, yucking it up with one another. It is the people’s money, and they have a right to say yes or no." Indeed.

Simulator Projects Mariners Over Sox In ALCS

Probably Just As Accurate
PredictionMachine.com is a game simulation site that touts itself as "the most accurate and trusted source for predicting sports outcomes straight-up and against-the-spread." So, based on their own description, you can take what follows with as large a grain of salt as you wish. Anyway, the site ran over 50,000 simulations of the 2015 season and found the Washington Nationals won the World Series the highest percentage of the time (16.4%). Next on the "champions" list were the Dodgers (11.7%), the Mariners (9.8%), the Cardinals (9.7%) and your own Carmine Hose (8.2%). The Red Sox, Nats, Dodgers, and Cardinals were the only teams to win their divisions more than 50% of the time. Along the way, the Red Sox defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the Divisional round, but lose to the Mariners in the ALCS. Boston is projected to win 91 games—with their likelihood to reach the post-season set at 72.9%. For our money, we're taking it with a whole box of Diamond Crystal salt.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Koji's Opening Day Readiness In Serious Doubt

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
After putting on a good face for several days, Red Sox manager John Farrell has finally admitted that Koji Uehara may not be ready for Opening Day (April 6th in Philadelphia). Uehara has been suffering from right hamstring tightness—and has not pitched in a game since March 14th. As each new day passes without game action for the closer, his readiness for Opening Day becomes more doubtful. Said Farrell, "I think with each passing day he's not in a game, there's growing concern, concern in the sense, 'Will he be ready for April 6?' And we're just working through that." Edward Mujica is the likely replacement for Uehara until he can return.

Fenway Begins To Look Normal—60s Due Soon

The consensus among the meteorological community in Boston is that temperatures will hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday of this week. Now, after their bungling performance this Winter, the credibility of this crew is roughly equal to that of Brian Williams. Nevertheless, photos from Fenway Park do indicate that it is beginning to look normal—with only a few stubborn pockets of snow and ice hanging on. So, if the temperatures actually do move into the 60s range, things should progress enough that the old girl will be ready in plenty of time for the Home Opener on April 13th—exactly twenty days away.

Sox May Put Kelly On DL, Go With Four Starters

For the first time yesterday, Red Sox manager John Farrell floated the possibility that Joe Kelly (suffering from right bicep tendinitis) might go on the disabled list. The rationale for this action would be that Boston does not need a fifth starter until April 12th (a Sunday night game in the Bronx). The extra rest would give Kelly the opportunity to fully heal from the injury—and make an extra minor league start—in Florida. There is still a chance that Kelly could make a final successful major league Spring start without discomfort that would avoid a DL stint.

Sox Skills Competition Determined Road Roster

 (Photo By USATSI)
On Sunday, the Red Sox held a 'skills competition' to determine which players would take today's grueling three-hour road trip to Jupiter—on the East Coast of Florida. The event was 'refereed' by David Ortiz (still out with flu and dehydration issues). Among the 'losers' were: Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Daniel Nava. Among the 'winners'—who get to stay on the West Coast in Ft. Myers—were: Mookie Betts, Deven Marrero, Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt and Bryce Brentz. With the exception of Mookie and The Panda, it looks like the fans over in Jupiter hit the jackpot.

Monday, March 23, 2015

David Ortiz Still Out Due To Flu & Dehydration

Someone get the Poland Springs folks on the horn! And put a call into The CVS Minute Clinic while you're at it! David Ortiz will now be out until Thursday due to issues related to the flu and dehydration. The Red Sox DH has been out of games for almost a week now due to these conditions. Said manager John Farrell, "He's just on the tail end of the flu-like symptoms and a respiratory (infection). He had battled some dehydration a few days ago, but associated with that is the general soreness that we're getting out of him. But he's making progress."

Say It Ain't So: Louisville Slugger "Finnish"-ed

Another iconic American brand has been sold to foreigners. Hillerich & Bradsby Co. has made the famed "Louisville Slugger" wood bats for over 130 years. The company has now been sold to Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for $70 million. Wilson, in turn, is really owned by Amer Sports Corp.—based in Helsinki, Finland. Now, the Finns are perfectly nice people—but what do they know about bats? Yet another sign of the Apocalypse.

MLB Pegs Red Sox As #2 Overall Farm System

There's something to be said for the talent evaluation brainpower emanating from Yawkey Way. MLB.com has ranked the 30 major league farm systems and the top two have a decidedly "carmine" lineage. Topping the list is the Chicago Cubs—cultivated over the last few years by Boston renegades Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Number two on the list are your own Boston Red Sox—with Ben Cherington and his bevy of kids poised for stardom. The Twins, Pirates and Mets round out the top five—with The Evil Empire (old and getting older by the day) nowhere in sight. Of course, the real key to success in talent evaluation is knowing which kids to trade and which to hoard. Those results are yet to come.

Sox Great George Scott Would Have Been 71

Had he lived, former Red Sox first baseman, three-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove winner George Scott would have been 71 years old today. In nine seasons with Boston, Scott hit .257 with 154 home runs (or "taters" as he called them). While we didn't know why at the time, Scott wore a batting helmet in the field because of experiences with road fans throwing objects at him during his career. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 as part of the deal that brought Tommy Harper and Marty Pattin to the Red Sox. He came back to Boston in 1977 for Cecil Cooper. Known as "Boomer" in his days at Fenway Park, Scott was just 69 years old when he passed away in June of 2013.

Mookie-Palooza Is The Big Spring Training Story

(Getty Images—Joel Auerbach)
He hit an inside-the-park-home-run yesterday, but he didn't really need it. Mookie Betts has long since cemented his role as Opening Day starting center-fielder for the Boston Red Sox. So far this Spring, the 22-year old has been the story—hitting .471, with six doubles, two triples and that aforementioned HR. His Spring OPS is a silly 1.324. Rusney Castillo's injury woes—coupled with this kind of production from Betts—cemented the CF job for the kid. As if to emphasize the point that 'competition is good', Castillo came back and clouted a three-run HR and a triple in four at-bats. If Allen Craig doesn't get moved by April 6th, it will be interesting to see how Boston shoe-horns all these outfielders onto one roster—including .333-hitting Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Wade Miley Sets The 'Pace' For Sox Starters

Not only did Wade Miley deliver five shoutout innings yesterday—he also pitched at a pace that will put a smile of Commissioner Rob Manfred's face. In the tie with the Pirates, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley, Jr. each had two hits and Alan Craig had an RBI. The left-handed Miley took a total of 19 minutes to work his five frames—talking an average of 17 seconds to deliver each pitch. Gee, maybe there's a correlation between working fast and getting batters out. Greg Maddux could not be reached for comment.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ESPN's Olney: 'Concerns' About The Red Sox

Olney; The Wolf
To paraphrase the immortal Winston Wolf from 'Public Fiction': "Let's not congratulate each other just yet". Before we start printing 2015 World Champ t-shirts, maybe we should step back and try to take an objective look at this year's edition of The Carmine Hose. A man with as much gravitas as 'The Wolf'—Buster Olney—has some doubts about this team. Said Olney on WEEI: "Other teams are seeing real problems with the rotation. I have real concerns about the Red Sox, I just don’t think they’re going to have enough pitching to win this division. In the eyes of other clubs, this is a team that’s going to have to hit its way to success if they’re going to win this year. I think it’s possible that they could hit so well that they wind up making the postseason, but I just don’t see it." Hmm. Maybe we better put the champagne back in the fridge.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jon Lester To Miss Next Start Due To 'Dead Arm'

(AP Photo)
Former Red Sox (and current Chicago Cubs) ace Jon Lester will miss his next start due to what is being described as a "dead arm". At this stage of Spring Training it's not unusual for pitchers to lose some velocity and effectiveness due to so-called dead arm syndrome. In his last start on Monday, Lester was shelled for seven runs by the Padres. According to new Cubs manager Joe Maddon, this setback will not affect the left-hander's scheduled start on Opening Day against the St. Louis Cardinals. Said Maddon, "I checked in this morning. He's feeling great so we just want to back off a little bit right now." The acquisition of Lester has led to a lot of excitement around the benighted Cubbies—vaulting them into discussions about making the post-season among both fans and odds-makers (If you are interested in legally betting on baseball games this season, you can find a wealth of information at http://www.legalbaseballbetting.com/). The Red Sox failed to lure Lester back this off-season after shipping him off to Oakland at the trade deadline last year.