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Red Sox Report: Sox Lose 3 of 4 In Bronx, Possibly Pedroia

Sox manager John Farrell was the first manager ejected for arguing with a replay ruling.



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The feelings John Farrell expressed toward the umpires last night seemed to have boiled over from a bigger problem the Red Sox are going through. The offense is struggling without its healthy starters playing every day. Dustin Pedroia seems to have received good news this afternoon that his wrist is not broken but just bruised. Pedroia, who hates missing games period, missed Sunday’s game and might still require a DL stint but not an extended one.

Koji Uehara did not pitch this weekend either with soreness in his shoulder. This made the Sox bring on Edward Mujica for the save in Friday night’s 4-2 over the Yankees, their only win in the series. Home runs from Jonny Gomes and Grady Sizemore were the only offense Jon Lester needed en route to his first win on the young season. The Sox offense did not score over four runs in any of the games this weekend and have only scored five runs in four games this season, with two of them being a losing effort.

Shane Victorino who has not played at all this season, will likely start a rehab assignment in AA Portland on Tuesday. Victorino who has been bothered by hamstring issues, would have likely been back sooner if he did not catch the flu. His return will cause an outfield logjam as John Farrell has been playing Jackie Bradley and Grady Sizemore together in the outfield with Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes seeing more time on the bench. Bradley is better defensively than Sizemore in center and left field might save Sizemore’s legs making him more effective on the base paths. A decision might come as early as this weekend on who Victorino replaces on the roster and Daniel Nava could be on his way out.

The  loss of Pedroia would hurt Sox offense even more.

The loss of Pedroia would hurt Sox offense even more.

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list the Sox brought in veteran infielder Ryan Roberts to platoon with Jonathan Herrera. Roberts collected his first two hits with the team in last night’s game and has been playing good defense. He was pinch hit for in the eight by Mike Carp, who struck out with the bases loaded against David Phelps. No timetable has been set on Middlebrooks return, but I expected him to come back strong this season, so hopefully a return is soon.

The starting pitching this weekend besides John Lackey’s start on Friday was excellent. 4,2,7,3 those were the runs given up respectively in the series. With this offense you should win three of those games. Run support has been a problem with the team as the leadoff hitter has been a spinning wheel between Gomes, Nava, Sizemore, and even Pedroia got a crack at it on Saturday. Xander Bogaerts has no RBI but a .283 average, can’t knock in runs with no one on base.

The Sox turn to Jake Peavy for Tueday night’s opener in Chicago against the White Sox. Peavy will be making a return to Chicago where he pitched nearly four years. He has looked good in his first two starts, giving up a combined three runs, but no wins to show for it. The Sox offense has to come around or John Farrell will be yelling at more people than just umpires. Here’s to hoping it comes around tomorrow night with Peavy on the hill.

Love the Glove: Red Sox Infield

Teams in large markets (like Boston) tend to feature at least several players who can swing the bat, and don’t always place a high premium on run prevention. Despite their impressive stable of young pitching, the Red Sox will never be confused for a pitching-and-defense type of team. However, run prevention played just as much a role in the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run as their league-leading offense. The Red Sox are strongest in the infield, where they feature multiple players who can seriously flash the leather.

Napoli and his beard are rock-solid at first

If there is any weakness in the Red Sox infield defense, it is at the corners. While the eye test generally yields positive reviews (last year’s controversial World Series ending notwithstanding), Will Middlebrooks does not feature impressive defensive numbers over his career at third base: -11 Defensive Runs Saved, -3.1 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games played. Middlebrooks takes pride in his defense and puts in a lot of work to make himself better, so an optimistic evaluator could see him improve to at least a statistically average third baseman this season. The same could not really be said for Mike Napoli. Despite a reputation as a defensive liability, Napoli was great under the guidance of third base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield with the Red Sox in 2013. Napoli (and his beard) earned very impressive 10 DRS and 13.3 UZR/150 for his work at first base. Napoli has turned himself into at the very least a good defensive first baseman, and probably should have gotten more serious Gold Glove consideration.

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Celtics Tweets of Interest: C’s Visit Walter Reed Center; Jared Sullinger Echoes Brad Stevens

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After Monday night’s loss to the Bulls in Chicago, the Boston Celtics (23-52) were officially eliminated from the postseason.

Nobody expected the Celtics to make the postseason since they are undergoing a transition and their best player, Rajon Rondo, was out for half of the season. Rondo has also been unable to play in back-to-back games because he is resting his surgically repaired knee. Like their defeat on Monday night, the Celtics remain competitive until the fourth quarter when they lack execution on both ends of the court with young players. The Celtics are also without a scorer they can isolate or run pick-and-rolls in the final stretch.

Rondo made his debut as the color commentator on Monday. While Rondo was quiet at times early in the game, he did provide some interesting comments. Rondo noted that Bulls guard “Kirk Hinrich is one of the most physical guards in the NBA.” Hinrich is a solid two-way player who can defend on-the-ball while shooting from the outside. Over his 10-year career, Hinrich shoots at nearly a 38% clip from beyond the three-point line. Cedric Maxwell debated this notion when he sat with CSNNE’s Mike Gorman in the second half. Maxwell said there are more talented defensive guards in the NBA such as the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade. Rondo also told a story about how he and Bulls center Joakim Noah came to an understanding after spending a decade with the two competing against each other through AAU, college basketball, and in the NBA. Both players played in the same conference (SEC) in college with Rondo at Kentucky and Noah playing for Florida. They are both highly competitive who can produce baskets for themselves and their teammates. The Celtics point guard also said that one of Brad Stevens’ plays worked because the Bulls love to tag cutters. This is all part of Rondo’s knowledge and recognition through game film.

Here are the tweets:

This is a tweet from the Celtics with a picture of Brad Stevens and a few Celtics players with Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and designated hitter David Ortiz. The Celtics and Red Sox both visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Tuesday. Players such as Brandon Bass, Jerryd Bayless, and Kris Humphries were all in the picture with a wounded warrior. Both teams are in the Beltway region as Celtics took on the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night and the Red Sox are in the midst of their opening series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox also visited the White House on Tuesday morning to celebrate their 2013 World Series championship.

It’s nice to know that Celtics players are not tuning out Stevens and the coaching staff as the 2013-’14 season is coming to a close. The Celtics have played hard throughout this tough season. Sullinger tweeted a message from Stevens as he was watching the Dayton-Florida game on Saturday evening. The top overall seed Florida advanced with a 62-52 win, but Sullinger was rooting for Dayton since Sullinger was raised in Ohio. The Celtics forward played for Ohio State, who coincidentally was upset by Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In a side note: On March 28th, the Celtics observed a moment of silence for the Boston Fire Department before their game against the Toronto Raptors. Then in last Sunday’s loss to the Bulls, the Celtics wore black warm-up shirts to honor the Boston firefighters. My prayers go out to the families of Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Michael R. Kennedy as well as all of the Boston firefighters who risk their lives everyday.

Red Sox Report: Sizemore Decision Has Impact On Sox Lineup

Grady Sizemore has done nothing but impress the Sox with his bat and glove.

Who will be leading off for the Red Sox preparing for the first pitch from Chris Tillman on Opening Day in Baltimore? With ten days from the first game of the 2014 season, signs point towards Grady Sizemore winning the center field job as well as the leadoff spot in the Sox lineup. Not something most fans and writers expected back in February when the team reported to camp. Sizemore, who has not played in a major league game since 2011, has looked healthy this spring and this upcoming weekend will play in three straight games for the first time.

With the health and the timetable of Sizemore’s recovery not being questioned at this time signs point to Jackie Bradley being sent down to Triple A unless another move is made to deal outfielder. The Sox like Mike Carp’s bat off the bench and the fact he can provide help at first base. Carp packs left handed punch off the bench that this team needs, and unless they are overwhelmed with an offer he is here to stay. Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes seem to have the left field platoon locked down with Carp getting the occasional start as well. Sizemore of course needs to pass the test this weekend. Starting Bradley in Pawtucket I feel is the better choice than with the big club just to send him down like last season. He could use some more seasoning and work on hitting pitches inside.

With Sizemore leading off who will follow him? Signs point to Shane Victorino taking hold of the second spot in the lineup once again and Pedroia following in the three spot. Pedroia is more of a number two hitter but is hitting third to better the team. After thumb surgery this offseason Pedroia’s power numbers should be up this year. Pedroia did hit second in the World Series last October, with Ortiz and Napoli moving up as well but unless the team needs a shakeup the lineup with have Ortiz in the cleanup spot with Napoli behind him.

With the first five spots taken, expect Nava or Gomes to hit in the six hole in the lineup and possible switch with Victorino who seems to be giving up switch hitting this season and may move down against right handed pitchers. Xander Bogaerts will likely hit seventh to start the season and in all likelihood move up in the lineup if he shows the plate discipline he did last October and so far in Spring Training. Will Middlebrooks, who started last season hitting sixth in the Sox lineup, is expected to start in either the eight or nine spot flip flopping with the catcher that day David Ross or A.J. Pierzynski, depending on the matchup.
Sizemore is the real wild card in the whole lineup. If he starts the season with the team he leads off. If he doesn’t it is likely Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava will, which might make the lineup suffer. You can’t expect Sizemore to be like he was in Cleveland but there is no question he is going to try to be the player he once was. With Victorino giving up switch hitting the flexibility might be lost when it comes to matchups but Victorino showed last October he could hit right handed pretty well. Pedroia and Ortiz are going to hit and both will start the season healthy together.

Mike Napoli came to spring training with no worries about his hip this year and just focusing on his hitting and defense. If Napoli cuts down on his strikeouts he could be even more of a force than last season, but the real focus is just continuing to have good at bats and work the counts like he did last season averaging over five pitches per at bat. Nava and Gomes can also work the count if they hit behind Napoli which will leave pitchers giving Ortiz something to hit. Bogaerts is already expected to be a top shortstop and the Sox will likely have an advantage against most teams if Bogaerts shows he can a premier hitter as a primarily weak hitting position.

The Sox are hoping the work Middlbrooks did this offseason will translate onto the field.

The Sox are hoping the work Middlbrooks did this offseason will translate onto the field.

Which Will Middlebrooks will the Sox see this season? The one who suffered through a long slump last year eventually getting sent down to Pawtucket and losing his job or the one who when recalled seemed to focus on grinding out at bats and working on hitting the off speed pitches. No question he has the power, the consistency is what John Farrell and the Sox brass are looking for. Pierzynski has gap power which may lead to many doubles at Fenway and has always been an above average hitting catcher throughout his career. Ross, who will see more time than the prototypical backup catcher, is no slouch at the plate either as we saw in October he was a contributor as well.

John Farrell and Ben Cherington still have to ultimately make the decision on Grady Sizemore within the next ten days but in my opinion he makes the team and Bradley starts in Pawtucket. The Sox will grind out at bats just like last season and try to get to bullpens early. If everything follows suit the Sox lineup on Opening Day look like this:

1. CF Grady Sizemore
2. RF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli
6. LF Daniel Nava
7. SS Xander Bogaerts
8. C A.J. Pierzynski
9. 3B Will Middlebrooks

If Sizemore doesn’t pass the test weekend and needs more time in Florida to start the year expect the lineup to look like this.

1. LF Daniel Nava
2. RF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli
6. SS Xander Bogaerts
7. 3B Will Middlebrooks
8. C A.J. Pierzynski
9. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Why Giancarlo Stanton is a Perfect Fit for the Red Sox

Stanton would make a powerful addition to any lineup

Stanton would make a powerful addition to any lineup

Ever since the Great Fire Sale of 2012, the Miami Marlins have been receiving inquiries and offers for their lone remaining superstar, Giancarlo Stanton. There has been a good deal of speculation that the Red Sox have been interested in Stanton for some time, and who could blame them? Stanton possesses what many believe is the best raw power in baseball, and would be a potent addition to any lineup. Where it gets interesting, however, is that there are rumors that the Red Sox are contemplating putting together what they deem to be a competitive offer to the Marlins, last week’s disagreement aside. The Red Sox are in an envious position in that they have enough organizational depth and prospect quality to make a deal for Stanton a possibility, even if the Marlins insist that a deal is not forthcoming.

Earlier this month a report in the Boston Globe suggested that an acceptable offer for Stanton could include Matt Barnes, Christian Vasquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and one of either Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini. That package contains a substantial amount of both talent and potential, and it would take a serious amount of courage for any general manager to turn down. I would have some doubts about it from the Red Sox’ perspective, as it would be very hard for them to give up a centerfielder – Bradley Jr. – for a corner outfielder, especially when there is no obvious replacement on the current team. The team would be much better served trying to include a player such as Bryce Brentz, who profiles similarly to Stanton as a power-hitting right-handed outfielder, and is much more easily replaced. The rest of this hypothetical offer though, could be swallowed by the Red Sox with little damage to their organizational depth.



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The Red Sox farm system is widely regarded as one of the best in the game, and every player lost in this trade could be replaced by an identically valuable prospect in the Red Sox system. After Matt Barnes, the starting pitching depth is still intact with Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Ruby De La Rosa; Vasquez can be replaced by Blake Swihart, who is considered the superior prospect due to his more prolific bat; Brentz (or other replacement position prospect) would be more of a depth loss and would not do much organizational damage; Betts does not have a role in the Red Sox organization because he currently shares a position with Dustin Pedroia, who just happens to be in the first of an eight-year contract extension. The Red Sox organizational depth would really bear fruit under this scenario, as it would allow the Red Sox to add a premium major-league talent without destroying their entire farm system in the process.

These trade scenarios being thrown out all operate under the assumption that the acquiring team is allowed to sign Stanton to a multi-year contract extension as a condition of the trade. No team would want to give up such a monumental prospect haul for a couple years of production, even superior power production. Also, Stanton will play all of this season at age 24, meaning that the a team could have the opportunity to lock up most, if not all, of his prime years, adding greater value to an already sizable deal. The Red Sox are one of a handful of teams that have the financial flexibility to make such an extension a reality, as well as the organizational depth to survive the loss of top-tier talent. In other words, there is not much standing in the way of Giancarlo Stanton coming to Boston, other than a willingness to do business.

Never Too Early To Think Of The Red Sox & Fantasy Baseball

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There will be a lot of familiar faces in Boston this upcoming season, as the franchise opted to hold off on making any major moves. After all, spending like crazy in the offseason led to turmoil just a few seasons ago. With that being said, fans of the team are already trying to project fantasy baseball 2014 numbers for some of their best overall position players and pitchers.

The heart and soul of the franchise are the two mainstays, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Both are getting up their in age, even if their numbers don’t always make it look that way. Ortiz is pretty much a full-time designated hitter, so that keeps him relatively healthy. It’s hard to see him not regress to the mean a bit in fantasy baseball 2014 though. He’s still the top DH in the game, but he will probably last until at least the fifth round.

Pedroia plays a more premium position, and he is younger than Ortiz. That makes him a more highly rated fantasy baseball prospect. His power numbers dropped off a bit in 2013, but his average was stable. It also helps that he is good for about 15-20 stolen bases if healthy. Waiting past the third or fourth round could prevent someone from drafting him.

Like David Ortiz, fantasy baseball owners need to be cautious with Koji Uehara. Given his age, one definitely did not expect him to be the best closer in baseball last season. He finished as the 41st best player in fantasy last season, which is remarkable for a closer. He is still a borderline top 100 fantasy pickup, so don’t go crazy with him.

One guy poised to make the jump is Xander Bogaerts, who will get a chance to play every single day at the MLB level in 2014. Sure, there are quite a few safer picks on Boston right now, but this is a low risk, high reward guy to draft near the end. He showed plenty of promise for Boston in limited action this past season, and he is without question a major part of their future. With so many youngsters excelling very early on in recent memory, it makes sense to at least give him a shot early in the year.

Boston lost some key pieces from 2013, most notably Jacoby Ellsbury. However, while they may not have any first round fantasy talent on their roster, they have a ton of above average pieces that could very well get them back in the playoffs.

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