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: steven wright (page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

Injuries and Fatigue a Concern for Red Sox

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

After taking a week off, I’m refreshed and ready to go. Unfortunately, the Red Sox are decidedly not refreshed and struggling with injuries and fatigue with a big 11-game 4-city road trip in front of them. Besides the obvious recent DL stints for Steven Wright (shoulder soreness) and Ryan Hanigan (ankle tendinitis), Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz are looking slower and fatigued as of late. It’s a big concern for the Red Sox who are fighting for a postseason spot.

Bogaerts had played in 108 of the team’s first 110 games of the season, which is a lot to expect from a guy playing shortstop. The overwork is beginning to show it’s ugly head. Since July 24th, Bogaerts is hitting .231 and his season average has dropped .020 points. He does not have a HR in August and his bat has looked slow compared to April and May. By all measures, his .313 average, 14 HRs and 69 RBIs is a very strong season thus far, it’s how far it has dropped and how fatigued he has looked over the last several weeks that is most concerning. He got the day off on Sunday vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks and is likely to have another day off on Monday as the team travels to Cleveland. I’m worried the rest is a little too late.

For David Ortiz, the outrageous first half of his retirement tour is in the rear view mirror. At the all-star break, Ortiz was hitting .331 with 22 HRs, 72 RBIs and 34 doubles, which were all at or near the top in the AL. Now, in 26 games since the break, he has begun to shoot back to earth with a .239 average, 4 HRS, 18 RBIs, and just 3 doubles. Like Bogaerts, his overall stats are impressive for the season (.310, 26 HRs, 90 RBIs, 37 doubles), but the sharp downward trend is a huge concern moving forward for the 40 year old. At his age, he’s much more likely to continue to decline the final 6 weeks of the season.

If the Red Sox are going to get a playoff spot and contend this year, Bogaerts and Ortiz have to be healthy and able to produce when it counts. At this moment, I have no confidence that either player can rest and regroup enough to have a significant impact down the stretch.

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.

ERA Watch

wright era watch 7.22

Through 14 starts, Steven Wright had an ERA hovering a hair above 2.00 and was looking like one of the best pitchers in the AL. His following 4 starts were less than stellar, allowing 15 earned runs. We watched his ERA balloon to 2.77 (still incredibly respectable) and the conversation shifted to concern about the great run being over. Last night, Wright returned to his ace form and threw 8 innings with 9 Ks and 2 runs (1 earned) when the Red Sox needed to not tax their bullpen. It was against the terrible Minnesota Twins, but a strong outing and a return to form none-the-less. He dropped his ERA 0.10 after last night’s performance and will have a chance to shine again against the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the home stand on Tuesday.

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.

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.

Continue reading

Red Sox Pick Up Important Game

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP

After a terrible 10-16 month of June, the Red Sox began July with hope of improvement or risk another lost season. July started off well when the Red Sox scored their first 1st inning run since June 11th. They piled on 4 more runs behind Steven Wright to build a 5-0 lead and then the rain came. As the rain began to fall, Wright’s knuckleball became ineffective and the game got very hairy, very quickly.

In the 6th, Wright allowed a double to Albert Pujols, hit Jefry Marte with a pitch and walked former Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava to load the bases. The knuckleball was flat, so Wright went to the fastball on a 3-2 count to CJ Cron which he hit for a grand salami. Just like that, a shutout for Wright turned into a 5-4 tight ballgame. After rain came in force and the game was delayed, the Red Sox behind Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed out a 1-run win.

The win was important because the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Minnesota Twins, allowing the Red Sox to gain a game and sit 4 games back of 1st place in the AL East. The game also hopefully builds some confidence and helps propel the team to a much better July than June.

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