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: yoan moncada

Chris Sale Officially Begins Red Sox Career

AP Photo/John Raoux

Tonight at 7:10pm, Chris Sale will throw his first pitch in a game that counts for the Boston Red Sox. Sale was traded to the Red Sox this offseason with the expectation that he will be the ace of the pitching staff for years to come. The Red Sox gave up a big haul to the Chicago White Sox, including top prospects Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada, as well as other minor leaguers Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz. The expectations are high, but not unwarranted.

Early in this season, I’ll do a short player profile for all the new additions on the roster. Since Sale is starting tonight, he’s the perfect place to start.

Player Profile

Name: Christopher “The Condor” Sale

Bats/Throws: Left/Left

Height/Weight: 6’6″, 180lbs

Born: 3/30/1989 in Lakeland, FL

Drafted: Chicago White Sox in 2010 1st round (was drafted by the Rockies in the 21st round of the 2007 draft, but decided to go to college)

College: Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL

MLB Debut: 8/6/2010 with the White Sox

Stats:

Sale joins the Red Sox with a career 3.00 ERA, 1,244 Ks and a 74-50 record in 7 big-league seasons, along with 5 consecutive All-Star selections and a top 6 finish in the AL Cy Young voting for 5 consecutive years. Sale has 14 complete games and 2 shutouts on his resume, including 6 complete games and 1 shutout for the White Sox last season. Sale’s K to BB ratio is the best in baseball among active pitchers (4.785) and has the 2nd best active adjusted ERA+ (135), behind only Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

*All biographical information is from www.baseball-reference.com.

Red Sox Reset: 5 Things to Watch for the Final 29 Games

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

As September arrives and minor league call-ups are beginning to get the good news from the Red Sox front office, a postseason run is in the air over Fenway Park. This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride and I suspect September will be no exception. If you are a Red Sox fan and invested in the team’s success, stock up on Tums and Pepto-Bismol now, because you are definitely going to need it. Here are 5 things to watch for with 29 games remaining in the Red Sox season.

5. The next 3 series will set the tone for the final 3 weeks

I know it’s cliche, but momentum down the stretch is absolutely critical. The final 23 games of the season are against AL East rivals, including teams directly in front and behind the Red Sox in the standings. The 6 games prior to that stretch are games on the west coast against the Oakland Athletics and the San Diego Padres, two last-place, sub-.500 teams. I know west coast travel and playing on the road is tough, but if the Red Sox do not win 4 of 6 in these 2 series, it will be a failure. You have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat and these are the only remaining series in which you should have a significantly more talented group than your opponent.

4. The Red Sox starting pitching must avoid bad mistakes

The Red Sox pitching staff has gone through good and bad stretches throughout the season. In order to make the postseason and have a chance at perhaps winning a wild card game or a series, the Red Sox starters have to be smart and not give up the big hit or make a big pitch mistake in a tight situation. As of late, a bad pitch leading to a big HR or a big base hit has hurt the Red Sox and in closely contested, playoff-like games, one big pitch mistake could be the difference between a W and an L. The starters don’t need to shutout opponents because their offense is so talented, but consistent quality starts (6IP+, 3 or less ER) will go a long way to help the bullpen and put Ws on the board.

3. Effectively use September call-ups – especially at 3rd base

On September 1st (today), MLB rosters expand to 40 from 25. It allows teams to bring up younger talent and give them a chance to play in the big leagues. In this case, the name with a chance to have the biggest impact is Yoan Moncada, who has been working out at 3rd base in the minors. Since Spring Training, the hot corner has been a questionable spot in the Red Sox lineup. Pablo Sandoval is gone for the season (thankfully) and Travis Shaw started strong, but has accumulated 15 errors and been just OK in the batter’s box since. With call-ups, young phenom Moncada can get his chance to grab the 3rd base job from Shaw and potentially provide a nice spark for the Red Sox.

2. Avoid situations where John Farrell needs to make an in-game decision

I understand the premise of this is flawed, but bear with me because it’s incredibly important. John Farrell is a below-average manager when it comes to making in-game decisions, especially with the pitching staff (great for a former pitching coach, eh?). He has repeatedly made head-scratching decisions about which bullpen arm to use later in games and many of them have back-fired. The easiest way to avoid his incompetence without firing him? Avoid close games late. Take the game out of Farrell’s hands by putting games out of reach earlier on and leaving fewer guys on base. This is mostly on the Red Sox offense to round back into April/May form and put crooked numbers on the board whenever a decent scoring opportunity arises. I know it’s much easier said then done and they are never not trying to score, but a shift in mindset is necessary give the managerial incompetence.

1. Simply treat every remaining game like a 1-game playoff

Throughout the course of an 162-game season, there are some games you don’t push your pitching staff or bench as much as you could in order to rest players. It’s justified as an effort to preserve player health for the long-haul of a season. That’s over now. The Red Sox are 2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East (who they play 6 more times) and 2 games ahead of the 3rd place Baltimore Orioles (who they play 7 more times). These and other opponents are playing for their playoff lives and it is highly likely that 1 game will have a significant impact on the difference between winning the division, grabbing a wild card spot and playing golf on October 3rd. Unless there is an extremely compelling reason, everyone should be available every single day, whether it’s off the bench for a pinch-run or pinch-hit scenario or out of the bullpen for a batter or two. Every game is absolutely critical and September is no time to be cautious.

Yoan Moncada: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

yoan moncada

Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada was in the news on Sunday night after hitting a monster HR and earning the MVP in the Futures Game, an all-star game to honor up-and-coming young baseball stars. Moncada’s stock has continued to rise to new heights and was named the the #1 prospect in baseball mid-season by Baseball America, a jump of 2 spots from his pre-season #3 ranking. The 2nd baseman made the jump from A+ Salem to AA Portland this season and instead of taking time to adjust and get settled, he has torn the cover off the ball.

In 16 games with Portland, Moncada is hitting .328 with 5 HRs and 1 RBIs. Combined with his 61 games in Salem, Moncada is hitting .312 with 9 HRs and 49 RBIs so far this season. He is just 21 years old and not yet knocking on the big league door, but his name is already familiar to many Red Sox fans. With trade talks heating up lately, Moncada’s name in mentioned as an almost untouchable alongside outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who played opposite Moncada in the Futures Game. Watching him in the Futures Game is further proof of why he the Red Sox organization doesn’t want to part with him

I’m a five-tool player. For the ones that have never seen me play, today you’re going to have an opportunity to. -Moncada to press before the Futures Game on Sunday.

For those who don’t know, the Red Sox signed Moncada out of Cuba in 2015 by giving him an outrageous $31.5 million signing bonus. He has a strong personality and exudes confidence in everything he does. He arrived in Spring Training this year showing off the 2 new additions to his car collection, a BMW X6M Lumma Widebody and a Lamborghini. Not the first few purchases I would make with my signing bonus, but then again, I’m not 21 and definitely didn’t just get 10’s of millions of dollars. If he keeps progressing like he has, the $31.5 million will just be the very beginning of his career earnings and the car collection will continue to grow.

 

Unlikely Trade Partners: Red Sox and Yankees

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Only once since 1997 have the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees been trade partners. That one deal: Stephen Drew was traded to the Yankees for infielder Kelly Johnson and $500K in 2014. The AL East rivals have not been trade bedfellows often over the last few decades, but could this year be the exception? The Red Sox need late-inning relief and the Yankees certainly have some to spare.

When looking back at the history of trading between these two clubs, it’s rare because both teams have to be going in opposite directions to make it work. When both teams are buyers, no one has anything to sell the other and visa versa. The only way a trade would even be discussed between the rivals is if one team was out of contention at the deadline and the other had a legitimate shot at the postseason. This year has the potential to fit that mold.

The Yankees are 38-39 on the season, 9 games back in the division (4th place) and 3.5 games back in the AL Wild Card. If they continue to struggle and a month from now are even further back, they could easily become sellers. The Yankees farm system is ok, but not great, so they could choose to move a bullpen piece like Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller for a top tier prospect like Andrew Benintendi or Yoan Moncada. Chapman is a free agent at the end of the season (making $11+ million this year), so might command less via trade, while Miller is locked up through 2018 at $9 million per year.

A fly in the ointment of this situation is that the Red Sox would need to remain atop the AL Wild Card or near the top of the AL East to be buyers and make a push (and be willing to part with a top prospect). If both of those things align naturally, the situation could result in a trade between AL East rivals. I have a hard time believing it will happen, but stranger things have happened!