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: dustin pedroia

Grading the Boston Red Sox: One Month In

It’s hard to believe we are already through the first month of the baseball season (almost). Throughout the year, about monthly, I’ll check in with the Red Sox and grade certain aspects of the past month or season as a whole. Every aspect of the team or the team’s play is fair game, from ownership on down to players in the minor leagues and other team officials. Read through my thoughts and then share how you are feeling about this team in the comments section or on our Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!

John Farrell – C

Since we are starting from the beginning, a natural place to start is with the bench leader. Farrell has continued his pattern of being a meh game manager in 2017. The most glaring and perfect example of Farrell’s (lack of) game management skill came on April 20th against the Toronto Blue Jays. Sale was cruising through 8 shutout innings with just 4 hits, 13 Ks, and 102 pitches. The Red Sox were winning 1-0 at the time and Sale had struck out 2 in the 8th. Instead of letting Sale go back out for the 9th, he brought in Craig Kimbrel who immediately (2nd pitch) gave up a HR to Kendrys Morales. He recovered and the Red Sox won in 10, but it was the wrong managerial move. It was so bad that Farrell had to have a closed door chat with Sale afterword to explain his decision.

Mitch Moreland – A+

Without a doubt, the biggest surprise of 2017 for me is Moreland. I figured he would be a mediocre hitter with some pop (.250 with 15 HRs) and a solid defensive first baseman, but he has far surpassed my expectations. Through 19 games played, Moreland has a .315 average with 11 doubles (1st in AL) and 2 HRs. He has an error, but has been solid defensively. I definitely don’t expect his hot start to carry on throughout the year (career .255 hitter including this year), but it seems Fenway Park is a great fit for Moreland.

Jackie Bradley Jr. – Incomplete (2 out of 10 on his topple rounding first base)

It’s been an odd start to 2017 for JBJ mostly because he has only appeared in 7 games thanks to a knee injury. The oddest part is how the injury happened. JBJ was rounding first base on a fly out when his toe got stuck, jamming his knee, and forcing him to stumble and fall like a clumsy toddler learning to walk. He was forced to the DL and didn’t come off until this past week (April 21st). Since returning he has 3 hits, including a monster HR onto Eutaw St. in Baltimore, so things are looking up.

Steven Wright – D

What the hell happened to Steven Wright? Oh yeah, he’s a knuckleballer. The most notoriously inconsistent pitch in baseball. As dominant as Wright was in the first half+ of last season, the knuckleball giveth and the knuckleball taketh away. The numbers are ugly – 8.66 ERA, 7 HRs and 17 earned runs in 4 starts with just 9 Ks – and the struggles seem to be continuing. To be fair, 2 of his starts were against the power-hitting Orioles, which is a tough match-up, but at this point it’s hard to be too optimistic.

Chris Sale – A++

With expectations through the roof for Chris Sale to be THE ace of the Red Sox staff, he pitched even better than advertised. Whenever a pitcher is being compared to Pedro Martinez after his 1st 4 starts in a Red Sox uniform, good stuff is happening. Sale has a scary low 0.91 era through 4 starts and has allowed 1 HR and just 3 earned runs while racking up a league high 42 Ks. If he had even a tiny bit of run support he could be sitting at 4-0 on the young season, but instead he has a meager 1-1 record. The runs will come at some point and then Sale will begin to pile up the Ws.

Matt Barnes – F

Overall, Barnes has pitched OK early in 2017, allowing 4 runs in 10 innings of work out of the bullpen. On it’s own, that’s probably a C-ish grade, but what dropped Barnes to an F was his throw at Manny Machado‘s head on Sunday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: throw at someone all you want, but don’t go near the head. It was a dumbass move by the young reliever and in turn, cost him a 4 game suspension (pending appeal). That pitch started a clubhouse rift with team leader Dustin Pedroia, which for a guy still trying to earn consistent relief appearances late in the game, could be harmful. Time will tell how this pans out, but at this moment, Barnes’ reputation isn’t looking great.

Pablo Sandoval – D

Hopes were high for Panda in 2017 after he arrived to Fort Myers early and in great shape. He was moving well and seemed to have a renewed attitude. Now, 17 games into the season, Panda is hitting .213 with 3 HRs (the bright spot and reason he is graded a D) with 13 Ks. He has had a few big hits late in games, but that’s about all he can boast at this point. Defensively, he’s struggling just as much, with 4 errors in the early season. At this pace, he is averaging 38+ errors for every 162 games. That’s just bad. Even worse? He now has a sprained knee and is on the DL, likely keeping him out into at least the first week of May (if not longer). Different year, same story.

Orioles and Red Sox: The New AL East Rivalry

Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

For decades the premier rivalry in the AL East (and in the MLB) was between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. It was one of the most bitter rivalries in sports that resulted in countless fights and insane postseason matchups coming down to the final out. Over the past decade, the hate in the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry has all but disappeared and their games are no longer appointment television. Don’t worry sports fans, another AL East rivalry is just beginning to heat up.

After a reckless slide into second base by Manny Machado, tensions began to rise between the two clubs. Dustin Pedroia was sidelined by the play and as much as he tried to downplay the incident as a hard baseball play, John Farrell and his Red Sox teammates took exception. Farrell spoke to league official Joe Torre (there is always a Yankees connection) after the game insisting that a reckless slide like that one should be disciplined by the league, but his appeal got nowhere. The only other course of action for the Red Sox is to throw at Machado to send a message and close the book on the incident.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for rivalry lovers), Matt Barnes chose to retaliate with a ball to the head instead of just firing a 95 mph fastball into Machado’s ass like most would do. There are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball, but throwing at someone’s head is, and always has been, a giant no-no. Barnes has since been suspended for 4 games (pending appeal) and he deserves every game of it. I love the UConn product, but it was a stupid move. The pitch “got away from him” while trying to throw high and inside and just happened to end up behind Machado’s head. I can smell the bullshit from here.

Given how it all unfolded, I can’t imagine the bad blood is over between these two teams. The play again next week at Fenway Park and after that 4-game series, they meet another 10 times during the regular season. Both teams are projected to finish in the top 2 or 3 in the division and could very well both make the playoffs. Buck Showalter will surely continue to needle the Red Sox in press conferences and the heat will continue to be turned up as the pressure mounts later in the season.

Let the games begin…

Birthday Cake for Dustin Pedroia

Elisa Amendola/AP

Elisa Amendola/AP

Happy 33rd Birthday to the one and only Dustin Pedroia!

Most Important Win of the Season for the Red Sox

pedroia bogaerts celebrate

For most fans, Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would be the first game of the series they could watch start to finish. With the Red Sox traveling on the west coast, the first 3 games of the series began at either 9 or 10 pm on the east coast, resulting in games ending just too late. The Sunday 4pm start time was a treat, but most of the game wasn’t. Missed opportunities (8 left on base) and a lack of timely hitting put the Red Sox in a 3-0 hole going into the bottom of the 9th, a situation the team has not been able to overcome all year…until yesterday.

With their back firmly against the wall and a bad loss staring them in the face, the Red Sox showed some life for the first time in a while. After a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk and an Aaron Hill single, the Red Sox had something going. Then, the collective hearts sank when Ryan Hanigan and Brock Holt struck out back to back. It was up to Mookie Betts, who with 2 outs in the 9th, down 3 runs, finally put the Red Sox on the board with a line-drive base hit into right field. It was then all on the shoulders of Dustin Pedroia, who had a sombrero to that point in the game (3 Ks). With one swing of the bat, the Red Sox were lifted off the mat and brought back to life. A 417 ft HR to center field gave the Red Sox their first lead of the game and it would stick for a huge W.

That HR is the biggest hit of the 2016 season, hands down. If Pedroia makes the final out, the Red Sox fall to .500 on the road this season, 2.5 games back in 3rd place in the AL East and walk away losing 3 out of 4 against the Angels. Instead, they are 23-21 on the road, are just 1.5 games back in the division and have a thrilling series split to carry them to Seattle. The win prevents them from losing 6 of their last 7 (although losing 5 of their last 7 isn’t good, it’s better) and hopefully gives them some momentum moving forward and into Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Does that hit push Dave Dombrowski to make a big move on Monday and really believe in this team? I don’t know, but I promise you it didn’t hurt.

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.

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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#VotePedey in All-Star Final Vote

Image from MLB.com

Image from MLB.com

Vote for Dustin Pedroia #VotePedey in the 2016 All-Star Final Vote! The player with the most votes heads to the All-Star game.

Is Epic Comeback a Turning Point?

When David Price got pulled after 2.1 innings and 6 runs in Texas last night, it felt like another lost night. The Red Sox got 2 runs back on a Hanley Ramirez HR, then Matt Barnes abruptly gave up a HR to make the score 7-2 after 4 innings. With a thin bullpen and a struggling offense, I didn’t think there was any chance of a W. Then the 9th inning happened.

Down 7-4 in the 9th, Jackie Bradley Jr. walked to kick off the inning before Bryce Brentz struckout and Travis Shaw popped-out. Then the Red Sox spark plug, Sandy Leon, stepped in and ripped an RBI double to get the rally started. Mookie Betts promptly crushed a 2-run HR to tie the game.  A Dustin Pedroia walk, Xander Bogaerts single and a wild pitch gave the Red Sox a lead to stay. Koji Uehara shut the door in the bottom of the 9th and the Red Sox walked away with a marquee win.

Last night’s win was desperately needed. It felt like the season was beginning to get away from the Red Sox after losing 12 of the last 21 games and slipping to 2nd place in the AL East. The offense was struggling to score more than 2 runs and the pitching staff looked vulnerable. All problems are certainly not resolved after 1 win, but watching the team pick up a terrible start from their ace by coming back to win against a very good Rangers team is inspiring.

It feels like last night could be the boost the team needs to begin playing better and winning some games. Unlike earlier in the season where it felt as though they could come back from any deficit with their potent offense, lately their team confidence level had dipped. A win like this can only help to improve that confidence moving forward.

Top defensive plays of the week from the MLB featuring Dustin Pedroia, a name familiar with Red Sox fans, Jose Iglesias, and former UConn star George Springer!