Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Month: July 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Price Finally Puts Up a 0

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In 18 previous starts this season, David Price had yet to finish an outing without allowing an earned run…until Sunday. The 19th time was the charm. In the final game before the all-star break against the Tampa Bay Rays, David Price was, well, David Price of old. He shut down the Rays allowing just 4 hits in 8 innings, striking out 10 (for the 3rd straight game) and allowing just 1 BB. This is what the Red Sox are paying him $30+ million a year to do.

With the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays both winning on Sunday, a W was crucial for keeping the division race tight going into the 4-day break. The Red Sox improve to 49-38 and are still in a virtual tie for 2nd place in the AL East with the Blue Jays, both 2 games back of the Orioles. If Price can continue to pitch like an ace and the Red Sox can bring in another starter to bolster the rotation, this race will only get more intense as the calendar turns to August and September.

For now, the Red Sox can rest and recover in a positive mindset knowing that they have won 4 straight, including a sweep of the Rays. Although they have some pitching holes and several injuries to deal with, 11 games above .500 at the all-star break is a great accomplishment.

Porcello Wins #11

AP Photo/Jim Mone

AP Photo/Jim Mone

If before the 2016 season you had told me the best pitcher on the Red Sox at the all-star break was Steven Wright and the most consistent starter after him was Rick Porcello, I would have guessed the Red Sox were in last place 13 games under .500. Instead, the Red Sox are in a virtual tie for 2nd place in the AL East (.002 percentage points ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays) just 2 games back of the division leading Baltimore Orioles with one game to go before the break. A big reason the Red Sox are in a great spot thus far is Rick Porcello.

On Saturday, Porcello once again proved his worth by pitching 7 very good innings and allowing just 1 run on a solo HR to pick up win #11. Of his 18 starts this season, Porcello has gone 6 or more innings in 15 of those starts and allowed more than 4 earned runs just once (5 earned on June 2nd vs the Baltimore Orioles). He has a very respectable 3.66 ERA with 92 Ks in 113 innings pitched. At 11-2, he has the 3rd best record in the AL and been one of 2 stable starters in the rotation all season (Wright being the other).

He isn’t flashy and won’t get a ton of attention, but Porcello is as responsible for the Red Sox success in 2016 as anyone else on the roster. Hopefully he can continue to produce a solid outing every 5 days in the 2nd half of the season and end with one of the best years of his career.

Injuries Mounting as Red Sox Add a Bullpen Arm

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports

After Friday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Dave Dombrowski worked into the night to bring in a back end bullpen arm. Earlier in the day, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel were both unavailable due to injury, leaving a few giant holes in the ‘pen. We know now that Kimbrel had torn his meniscus going for a ground ball in batting practice and will need surgery (out 3-6 weeks). To add depth to the ‘pen Dombrowski traded RHP Jose Almonte and infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe to the Arizona Diamondback for set-up man Brad Ziegler.

Ziegler is a legit late-inning arm who can close if needed. The side-armer is 36-years old and has a 2.82 ERA with just 1 HR allowed in 38.1 innings this year with the DBacks. He has walked 15 batters this year, more than you would like to see, but should compliment the other bullpen arms well. Given Kimbrel’s injury and Koji Uehara‘s age, I think Ziegler will get some set-up and closing opportunities over the next few weeks. His veteran presence should help stabilize a sometimes shaky bullpen down the stretch.

Also on Friday night, Brock Holt left with and ankle sprain and Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball of his shin. Both did not play on Saturday and I would guess will not play Sunday as well, given the extended all-star break begins on Monday. They can rest and be fully ready to go when the Red Sox return to action on Friday, July 15th in the Bronx against the Yankees.

Left Field Black Hole Strikes Again

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On Friday night yet another left fielder for the Boston Red Sox bites the dust. Brock Holt sprained his ankle sliding into 2nd base on a stolen base in the 4th inning and had to leave the game a bit hobbled. It’s too early to tell if the injury will sideline Holt for very long, but left fielders have had a hell of a time this season. Holt is the 3rd Red Sox left fielder to get hurt in the last 5 weeks and his 2nd injury this year. Holt recently returned from an extended absence due to a concussion and lingering symptoms, so for his sake, I hope the injury won’t keep him away from baseball long.

In early June, Blake Swihart jammed his left ankle on the concrete wall while making a catch  near foul territory and has yet to return. A few weeks later, Chris Young strained his hamstring rounding first base after a solid base hit and is still on the 15-day DL nursing the injury. Both players are improving and Swihart has begun hitting again, but whoever steps into left field next for the Red Sox better be extra cautious. I’m looking at you Bryce Brentz.

Pitching Trade Talks Heating Up

Gary Landers/AP Photo

Gary Landers/AP Photo

After the Red Sox acquired infielder Aaron Hill from the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, Dave Dombrowski said other trade talks were beginning to gain steam. We know Dombrowski has been on the phones inquiring about pitchers throughout the majors, but until now, those talks have appeared to be very preliminary. With many pitching trade rumors being associated with the Red Sox, let’s take a look at three potential trade partners for Boston.

Atlanta Braves

One of the biggest names being tossed around is Julio Teheran of the Braves. The 25-year old is a very talented young starter who is stuck on a terrible Braves team. This year he is 3-7 with a 2.72 ERA and 105 Ks in 112.2 innings. He has allowed 15 HRs and throughout his young career has allowed 1.1 HRs a game, which is not ideal, but certainly not a deal-breaker. The Braves also have closer Arodys Vizcaino who like Teheran, is 25-years old and has been strong at the back-end of the bullpen. He has a 2.75 ERA and 10 saves in 2016, with 47 Ks in 36 innings.

I could easily see the Braves not taking calls on either pitcher considering they need to rebuild around somebody, but on the flip side, if the Red Sox are willing to part with a few of their top prospects, it might entice the Braves to be realistic about a rebuild that will take a few more years.

Philadelphia Phillies

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has been reporting that the Red Sox have interesting in Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. Many Red Sox fans will remember Hellickson from his 5 years with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a solid rotation arm who has a career ERA a touch below 4 and could provide some back of the rotation stability. This season, Hellickson is 6-6 with a 3.92 ERA and 93 Ks in 105.2 innings. He has allowed 16 HRs this year in the NL, but could provide a veteran presence and hopefully some consistency.

As mentioned above, he already knows pitching in the AL East, so has an advantage on day 1. He will also likely take fewer prospects to acquire, so could be a slightly cheaper alternative.

Oakland Athletics

The name Sonny Gray has been floating around Red Sox circles for a few years now. Until this season, Gray has been one of the best pitchers in the majors since his debut in 2013. The 26-year old has had an abysmal 2016 season and is sitting with a 3-8 record and 5.16 ERA. His BB/9 is well above his career average (3.4) and his K/9 is below his career average (7.1). Given the hot start to his career, you have to believe this year is an aberration for Gray.

The Athletics are in 4th place in the AL West and 12 games under .500, so are likely looking to sell before the deadline. If they are willing to part with Gray, the price will likely be lower than at this point last season, but still relatively steep given his age and past history. A change of scenery is probably a good thing for the young starter at this point in his career.

Stay tuned to Life of a Sportsaholic for updates and new rumors as we approach the non-waiver trade deadline.

Red Sox Acquire Infielder Aaron Hill

Roy Dabner/Journal Sentinel

Roy Dabner/Journal Sentinel

The Red Sox made a move today that involved a pitcher, but it wasn’t to bring one in, it was to ship one out. The Red Sox sent RHP Aaron Wilkerson and 2B Wendell Rijo to Milwaukee for veteran infielder Aaron Hill. After being traded to the Brewers earlier this year, Hill has hit .283 with 8 HRs and 29 RBIs in 78 games. Many Red Sox fans may remember Hill from his 5+ years spent in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays. At 34 years old, he is a stable veteran presence who will get some good playing time backing up Travis Shaw, Dustin Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez.

Wilkerson is a nice prospect, but not likely a long-term solution for the Red Sox in the starting rotation. Capitalizing on his great year in Pawtucket by getting a major league asset back via trade is a smart move from Dave Dombrowski. Rijo was ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Red Sox system and at 2B, is behind a lot of talent before he reaches the majors, so an easily expendable piece.

This was a nice depth move that makes the Red Sox major league roster a little better. We are all awaiting a pitching move or two to really get excited about.

Red Sox Offense on Historic Pace

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Most of the attention on this year’s Red Sox team has been around the struggles associated with the pitching staff and for good reason. There are many holes in the pitching staff and if the Red Sox want to contend this year, they need to improve on the mound, but what is being overlooked in 2016 is the Red Sox offense. As a team, the Red Sox are on pace to have one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the franchise.

Through 84 games, the Red Sox offense leads the MLB in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs, OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS. They are the best offensive team in baseball by far, leading in most offensive categories by a fairly wide margin. Seven members of the Red Sox starting lineup are hitting over .285 (Sandy Leon .477, David Ortiz .337, Xander Bogaerts .332, Dustin Pedroia .305, Mookie Betts .299, Jackie Bradley Jr. .293, and Hanley Ramirez .287)  and six players have 48 or more RBI with 3 games left before the all-star break (David Ortiz 69, Mookie Betts 58, Jackie Bradley Jr. 54, Xander Bogaerts 52, Travis Shaw 48, and Hanley Ramirez 48. Since the team has been so offensively dominant, I wanted to see historically where they would be if the pace continued in the 2nd half of the season.

Boston Red Sox All-Time Rankings for 2016 team (116 years)
(if current pace continues)

3rd best in batting average (.292)

2nd in slugging percentage (.476)

1st in doubles all time (411)

1st in hits (1689)

5th in runs (918)

9th in runs/game (5.67)

5th in RBIs (874)

3rd in OPS (.836)

It’s hard to argue that the 2016 team wouldn’t be the best or at least among the top few best offensive seasons in the history of the franchise if the pace were to continue. I would imagine the pace would drop off slightly in the 2nd half of the season, but the lineup is so strong that I can’t imagine there will be many prolonged team slumps leading to an extreme drop. Now if only the pitching could improve…

ERA Watch

Wright ERA Watch 7.7.16

After 14 starts, Steven Wright had a ridiculous 2.01 ERA and was cruising. In his last three starts, Wright has allowed 12 earned runs and his ERA has ballooned to 2.68. He allowed just 4 HRs in his first 14 starts, but 3 in his last 3 games. The Red Sox can not afford a slide for all-star Steven Wright, because he has been their best pitcher all season. He won’t have another start before the all-star break, but can hopefully right the ship (pun intended) after the break.

Recommended Reading: The Player’s Tribune Edition

The title of this post takes me back to middle school when we had a “Recommended Reading” list for the summer. It was the first piece of paper I forgot about when I got home on the last day of school, because it was the last thing I wanted to do. I promise you, this is not like that dreaded list. The few recommendations below are articles I have come across over the last few weeks and for various reasons, I think are worth reading. This edition involves 3 articles from The Player’s Tribune, the website that Derek Jeter started when he retired. It has become a platform for athletes to tell their stories in their own voice.

Trickster by Steven Wright

The day after being selected to his first all-star game, Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright told his story. He writes about his career in the minors, hardships and discovering the knuckleball. Wright makes throwing a knuckleball look relaxed and easy on the mound, but his path has been anything but relaxed and easy. From living on $15K a year in low-rent housing to getting sent to play A ball at 26 years old, Wright fought through adversity to get where he is today. His story is inspiring.

Just about every knuckleballer turned to the pitch out of desperation. To hold on. To save our careers.

13 Concussions by Casey Cochran

Casey Cochran was a QB at UConn from 2012 to 2014. In the first game of the 2014 season against BYU he got hit in the head by a forearm of a 235lb linebacker and briefly lost consciousness. It was the 13th concussion he had endured in his football career at age 20. A week later, Cochran boldly decided to retire from football, the one thing he had always dreamed of doing. His story is terrifying and inspiring, a true glimpse into the life of someone who has experienced severe brain trauma and lived to deal with it. This is a true must read for any sports fan.

Welcome to the Family by David Ortiz

The final article is very different than the first two. It is simply two friends, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, sharing memories. The chat was around fathers day, so that topic weighed heavily on their discussion. Coming to America from the Dominican Republic, the two of them left family behind and had to make it on their own. It’s definitely a fun and light-hearted conversation between two friends.

Six All-Stars for 3rd Place Red Sox

Image from Fan World

Image from Fan World

Before another tough loss for the Red Sox on Tuesday night that dropped the Red Sox to 3rd place in the AL East, the 2016 All-Star rosters were announced. The Red Sox headlined the American League squad with 6 selections and the potential for a 7th (Dustin Pedroia is one of 5 players in the Final Vote). This is exciting news for the players and as a Red Sox fan, it will be enjoyable to watch them participate in all-star festivities, but do the Red Sox really deserve 6 or 7 all-stars?

The 3 of the 6 Red Sox players selected were no brainers: David OrtizXander Bogaerts and Steven Wright. Ortiz and Bogaerts are ranked 3rd and 5th respectively in all of baseball in batting average and it’s hard to argue they both aren’t the best player at their respective position in the AL, if not all of baseball (definitely for Ortiz with no DH in the NL). Wright has been stellar this season for the Red Sox. In 16 starts he has the 2nd best ERA in the AL (2.42) and has held opponents to a .217 batting average against. He will have a real shot at getting the nod to start for the AL on July 12th.

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