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.

Tag: david price (page 1 of 2)

Reversing the Narrative on David Price

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season was one to forget for Red Sox starter David Price, on and off the field. He started the year on the DL with elbow issues, not making his first start until the end of May. Then, after 11 starts, at the end of July, went back on the DL until mid-September when he returned as a reliever for the stretch run. In his 16 appearances in the regular season, Price had a 3.38 ERA with 76 Ks in 74.2 innings pitched and had 2 solid relief appearances in the postseason against Houston. Unfortunately for the already vilified Price, his injury wasn’t even the biggest negative story of 2017.

As everyone knows at this point, David Price confronted Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on the team plane following a benign comment he made during the broadcast of a game against the Minnesota Twins about Eduardo Rodriguez. I’m not going to rehash the incident, because frankly, it was middle-school level dumb, and once again in his short tenure with the Red Sox, Price shined a negative light on himself. If he wasn’t already hated among Red Sox fans, berating a well-liked, Hall of Fame pitcher certainly didn’t help his image. Add to that his earlier confrontation with a reporter at Yankee Stadium in June and things were just out of control for him.

Now looking towards the 2018 season, there are some positive reports being thrown out there in what appears to be an attempt to reverse the narrative on Price. He faced the media early in an attempt to clear the air and move on from his struggles in 2017 by acknowledging his role in the incident (sort of) and his overall attitude.

I could’ve handled it better last year, absolutely. But I didn’t, and I’ve moved on. I feel like I’ve always been one to lead with my actions, and I didn’t do that very well last year. I know that and understand that, and I look forward to getting back and being that faucet and not being a drain. -David Price

He reportedly reached out to recently signed slugger J.D. Martinez in an effort to convince him to come to Boston and whether he had an impact on J.D.’s decision or not, appears to be invested in the 2018 Red Sox and his role on the team. At this point, he is a veteran who needs to recognize his impact on those around him in the clubhouse.

What’s often lost in all the off-the-field crap and injuries is that David Price is a 5-time All-Star and Cy Young Award winner. That’s the reason the Red Sox signed him to a massive $30+ million a year contract. He has the ability, even at 32, to impact the Red Sox in a significant way in 2018 if he stays healthy and has the right attitude. If he keeps his mouth shut and pitches to his ability on the mound, even Price has the chance for redemption. I’m just not sure he can make it through the year without becoming an unwelcome distraction once again.

Way To Early Red Sox Spring Training Predictions

Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

After a week of games, I finally had some time to sit and watch the Red Sox play on Sunday. The eye test can be a powerful tool in evaluating players because stats in the spring can lie (see my thoughts on spring stats here). It is still very early in spring training, but I have some quick observations and predictions.

Kyle Kendrick – Mark my words, before the All-Star break the Red Sox will be leaning on Kyle Kendrick in their starting rotation. With David Price‘s status uncertain at best, the Red Sox are already thinning out in the rotation. The three starters at the end of the rotation, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Drew Pomeranz, have all had injury issues and raise serious concerns around durability. If one of them goes down, then the Red Sox will be looking at the likes of Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Roenis Elias to fill the role; or Kyle Kendrick. The Red Sox took a low-risk flyer on him, but with a strong spring training, he may be the next in line to stabilize the rotation.

Mookie Betts – It never gets old watching Mookie Betts swing the bat. He cleans out the inside fastball like very few can and just looks smooth, whether it’s March or September. Betts had an excellent breakout 2016 campaign and I don’t expect him to fall off in 2017. He hit .318 with 31 HRs last year and finished 2nd in the AL MVP race. Betts is poised to be the next in a long line of superstar outfielders for the Red Sox.

Mitch Moreland – When the Red Sox signed Moreland, I thought he was a low-risk bench player. Unfortunately, Moreland is going to play more than he should in 2017. He’s a mid-.200 hitter at best and frankly, my early impression of his defense is disappointing at best. He feels like a roster-filler for a shitty team that just needs bodies, like the Red Sox opponent on Sunday the Atlanta Braves. Instead, a team that is a legitimate contender has him playing first base several times a week.

Deven Marrero – For a few years now Marrero has looked like an excellent prospect waiting for his chance in the big leagues. My prediction: he will be in the Red Sox lineup by mid-season and never look back. For everyone’s sake, I hope he is playing 1st or 3rd base and not SS. Marrero made a few sensational diving catches and showed off his cannon of an arm on Sunday while playing SS. Given the big question marks at the corner infield spots, this might be Marrero’s best chance to break into the majors.

A Deeper Dive on Rick Porcello

Photo from NESN

Photo from NESN

The Red Sox unexpected defacto ace and game 1 starter Rick Porcello struggled against the Indians last night allowing 5 runs in 4.1 innings. It was a tough time to have one of his worst outings of an otherwise very impressive 22-win season. Most fans were surprised at the emergence of Porcello as a #1 pitcher in 2016, but he has always shown signs of greatness, just without any real consistency and the right guidance/experience to bring it into the forefront.

Porcello made his major-league debut at the young age of 20 with the Detroit Tigers. He was an impressive 14-9 in 31 starts that season with an ERA of 3.96. Not too shabby for a young kid being thrown into the majors. He was able to begin learning from veteran guys like Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson and showed real promise. Porcello spent the following 3 years trying to match the success of his rookie campaign, but his ERA didn’t cooperate and he finished those 3 seasons with an OK 34-33 record and a mediocre 4.75 ERA. The pressure to become a top tier pitcher didn’t help his development. Instead of time learning to pitch in the minors, Porcello was forced to learn against the best players in baseball every 5 days.

After a better, but not great 13-8, 4.32 ERA 2013 campaign, Porcello entered the 2014 season with something to prove and a contract to earn. He pitched well, finished the season with 3 shutouts (the only 3 of his career) and posted a very respectable 3.43 ERA. He helped the Tigers reach the postseason, but was the odd man out in the ALDS as the Tigers got swept by the Baltimore Orioles in 3 games. To be fair, he was beat out in the rotation by the ridiculous 1-2-3 of Cy Young Award winners*, current teammate David Price, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer. It’s pretty damn hard to break into that top 3. Interestingly, Porcello could become the 4th member of that 2014 Tigers rotation to win a AL Cy Young Award. *Interesting fact, Verlander, Price, and Scherzer won the AL Cy Young Award in 3 consecutive years (2011, 2012, 2013), but Price won his when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.

After the strong 2014 campaign and an overabundance of pitching, the Red Sox came calling and Porcello was traded for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and minor-leaguer Gabe Speier. The Red Sox had Porcello under control for just one season ($12.5 million) and they wanted him locked up long-term, so offered him a huge 4 year/$82.5 million deal that would give him a base salary of $20 million a season. At the time, critics (myself included) destroyed the Red Sox for giving Porcello so much money, but the front office clearly saw the potential of a still young, but experienced MLB starter.

After spending his entire career in Detroit, the transition in 2015 was less than stellar. After a terrible 2/3 of the season an injury kept him out for most of August. Porcello returned much stronger and looked much more comfortable, as if he just needed the time to reset and adjust to Boston. His ERA dropped from 5.81 at the time of the injury to 4.92 at the end of the season in just 8 starts, putting him on the trajectory we all witnessed in 2016. Since his debut in 2009, expectations were that he would be a top of the rotation arm, so the only surprise is that it took him an extra 6 years to reach his potential. Now that he is comfortable and has learned how to pitch and not just throw, Porcello is an incredibly valuable member of the Red Sox rotation now and into the future. Even with 8 years of experience, Porcello is still just entering his prime years at age 27.

It has definitely been a long-game approach with Porcello in his career and now it is paying off. The Red Sox front office deserves credit for identifying his potential and giving him the time to grow into the role he currently holds at, or near, the top of the rotation. Last night aside, expect Rick Porcello to be a mainstay in the Red Sox rotation for years to come.

Down 0-1, David Price Must Shine

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After a heartbreaking 5-4 game one loss to the Cleveland Indians Thursday night, the Red Sox have to put this game behind them and turn right around for a late afternoon game two on Friday. John Farrell hands the ball to David Price for the most important start of the season. For those who need a reminder, let’s take a gander at Price’s career in the postseason (hint: it’s bad).

In 14 postseason appearances (8 starts) Price is 2-7 with a 5.22 ERA. His ALDS numbers are even worse (1-6 with a 5.48 ERA). That’s the guy Red Sox Nation is relying on for a strong outing opposite the Indians ace and one of the best pitchers on the AL, Corey Kluber, the owner of a 3.14 ERA and 18-9 record. Does anyone in Boston feel good about this matchup? If you do, you should get your head examined.

I’m an optimist, so this is where I say things like: on any given day, you never know, and anything can happen. Despite saying those things, in my heart I know the Red Sox are up against it in a big way. If there was ever a time for Price to endear himself to Sox fans, this is it. A gem tomorrow leading to a W would erase the memory of a handful of really bad starts this season and make his $30+ million per year salary seem slightly more justified (just slightly).

No pressure Price, it’s just a must win postseason game.

World Series Aspirations for the Red Sox

mlb-world-series-trophy

After a 3-year hiatus from postseason play, the Red Sox are back. They begin their postseason run tonight in Cleveland for game 1 of the ALDS after pulling away and securing the AL East crown in late September. The Indians are a formidable foe with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona at the helm and this should prove to be an interesting series, but the question I pose is much larger. Can the Red Sox win the World Series this year?

After the first month of the season, it looked as though the Red Sox offense could single-handedly win the World Series despite a struggling starting rotation, but as the year wore on, the two flipped a bit. The Red Sox starting pitching began to improve and the offense came back down to earth. The last month of the season, the Sox pitching staff had a 3.05 ERA and a strong 3.25 Ks/BB ratio, both season bests, while the Sox offense had the lowest average of the season, .267. In general I’m not worried about the offensive drop because they were still solid, but the uptick in pitching is critically important.

If we use the 2 wild card games as indicators of postseason play, pitching will be vital to success. Last night in the Mets vs. Giants game, both starters were dominate and allowed 0 ERs in a combined 16 innings. The night before in the Blue Jays vs. Orioles game, the starters allowed just 2 ERs a piece. Hits tend to be fewer and further between and runs come at a premium in the postseason, so a strong pitching staff is required to make a deep run. Timely hitting is of course crucial as well, but if your pitching rotation can’t put up 0s, then it will be very difficult to win consistently.

Tonight’s game 1 starter is Rick Porcello, arguably the favorite to win the AL Cy Young in 2016. If he continues to pitch like he can, then the Red Sox have a good chance to walkaway from game 1 with a W and gain control of the series on the road. Opposing Porcello in game 1 is Trevor Bauer, who despite having a nice year, holds a 6.39 ERA in his last 6 starts in September and October. Which Bauer will show up? The 9-6, 3.73 ERA solid pitcher until September, or the run-allowing machine in September and October.

The answer to my ultimate question is yes, if the pitching staff can hold up and perform at a high level, the Red Sox can play for the World Series. The offense will likely be good enough to win, but it all hangs on the pitching staff. With Porcello in game 1 I feel pretty confident, but David Price in game 2 and Clay Buchholz in game 3 scare me a bit. Price and Buchholz can both be lights out or absolutely terrible. If the starters sway to the side of lights out, then book your ticket for a Cubs vs. Red Sox World Series. Wouldn’t that be something…

Wright Performs Like an Ace

steven wright sandy leon getty

The Red Sox have been searching for ace-like performances all season long. Rick Porcello has played the stopper role at times and David Price has occasionally looked strong, but Steven Wright has been the closest thing to an ace and he proved it Friday night. In his 4th complete game of the season, Wright shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers to set the tone for the 3-game set that ends the 11-game road trip.

Wright has been more hit-or-miss as of late (mostly hit…pun intended), but Friday night he reestablished his ability to dominate a baseball game. He struck out 9 and allowed just 3 hits against a very good Dodgers lineup. It was a performance the Red Sox very much needed and will continue to need as the postseason push wears on in August and September. If Wright can return to his more dominant form on a consistent basis, Porcello can continue his very strong season and David Price can at least pitch reasonably well most outings, the Red Sox have a legitimate chance.

The Red Sox are now 5-4 on this gruelling west coast road trip and with one more win this weekend, can secure a winning record as they come home next week. With lots of road games remaining on the schedule, winning series on the road is pivotal in determining if they will be playing on October.

Ramirez Sums Up Loss with Tumble Down Stairs

Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

Christopher Evans/Boston Herald

With a 4-0 lead heading into the 8th inning and a reasonable pitch count for the Red Sox “ace” David Price, things were looking good, but you know when the story starts like that, the ending isn’t pretty. In the 8th the game changed on a dime as Seattle scored 5 runs on 5 hits, including 2 HRs, against Price, Matt Barnes, and newly acquired lefty Fernando Abad. The Red Sox went on to lose 5-4 and the most appropriate description of the game came after the L was registered when Hanley Ramirez jammed his wrist by falling down the dugout steps. Could there be a more perfect image to describe what happened to the Red Sox last night in Seattle than that? Hanley, and the Red Sox, fell down the stairs.

The Red Sox are now an abysmal 9-34 when scoring 4 or fewer runs in a game this season and now may have to deal with the loss of a strong offensive presence in Hanley Ramirez. They have fallen a game further back into 3rd place in the AL East and aren’t instilling confidence in fans as they roller-coaster their way through this west-coast swing. Each time the team is re-invigorated with some life, they find a way to go in the exact opposite direction.

I’m invested in this team and have believed from day 1 that they have the talent to be a real contender, but am starting to wonder if they are just playing with my emotions. I’m starting to think they will just stay close to a postseason spot into September with a few nice wins here and there, but ultimately will be playing golf when October rolls around. That seems like a waste for the best offense in baseball. Let’s hope this feeling in my gut is wrong, but it certainly feels like the Red Sox season is falling down the stairs into the darkness.

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.

Price Is Still Very Wrong

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Different day, same story. The Red Sox offense fell flat and the starting pitcher struggled resulting in a bad loss. Today, it was $31 million per year “ace” David Price who got knocked around by a lineup he should have at least some success against. Price’s ERA actually dropped to 4.74 after allowing 4 earned runs on Wednesday in just 6.1 innings. He did strike out 10, but allowed 9 hits, including a HR to continue his ominous streak of 9 straight starts allowing a HR.

It’s been my worst year. It’s not acceptable. I’ve got to get better. I will. … I’m so much better than this.

David Price on his terrible outing on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays (from @alexspeier on twitter)

Before Wednesday’s start, among eligible MLB pitchers, Price ranked 70th in ERA, 13th worst in hits allowed and 4 worst in earned runs allowed. As a reminder, he is also the 2nd highest paid player in baseball (annualized) and signed, as far as I can tell, the 8th highest total contract in the history of baseball. The stats and the salary just don’t compute.

I’m reaching a point where it’s nice for Price to acknowledge he has been bad and will get better, but how and when? I was a huge supporter when the Red Sox signed him, but my opinion is shifting dramatically with each terrible outing.

Porcello Impressively Stops Red Sox Skid

Chris Szagola/AP Photo

Chris Szagola/AP Photo

Coming into Tuesday night’s game against the team in last place in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox had lost 3 straight and 6 of the previous 10 games. The Rays crushed the Red Sox 13-7 on Monday night, leading to a closed door team meeting. The desperate need to stop the bleeding and right the ship fell on the shoulders of Rick Porcello on Tuesday night. He stepped-up and delivered a quality start and W, something Red Sox starters have failed to do lately.

Porcello allowed just 1 run over 6 strong innings while striking out 8 and walking 3 (all in the 4th inning). The run came when Porcello lost the strike zone in the 4th inning after a lead-off walk to Desmond Jennings and a single to Oswaldo Arcia, he then proceeded to walk Taylor Motter and Nick Franklin to bring in a run. Porcello then somehow, with no outs and the bases loaded, got a strikeout, flyout and strikeout to end the inning and limit the damage to just 1 run.

Normally a very good outing wouldn’t get a lot of attention, but given the circumstances, this game was critical to getting the Red Sox back on track. Porcello began the turnaround, now it’s on David Price to keep the momentum going in Wednesday afternoon’s 12:10pm getaway day game.

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