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Hey David ! FIGURE IT OUT.

By on July 18, 2016 at 6:57pm

With a chance to sweep the Yankees and pull to within one game of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the East, the Red Sox had their $200 million dollar man on the mound last night. Coming out of the break, Sox fans (including myself) were hopeful that David Price had figured out the source of his struggles throughout the first half of the year. Unfortunately, it was much of the same for Price and the Sox last night in the Bronx.

Like so many times this season, the big lefty looked sharp in the opening frames. His velocity was excellent, painting the black with a fastball touching 96 mph early and often. That, combined with his ability to mix in his breaking ball saw Price making quick work of the Yankees 19th ranked lineup through the first three innings. But, much like it has SO many times this season, one big inning ultimately did in the Red Sox “ace”.

So often this year, Price’s nemesis has been the long ball. While he didn’t allow a yabo last night, (a small miracle) he did surrender five hits in the fourth inning that resulted in three Yankee runs. Combine that with an excellent performance from Tanaka and the great Yankee bullpen, and that was all she wrote for the Sox and their six game winning streak.

Watching a pitcher with Price’s track record and ability struggle so mightily this season has been nothing short of perplexing. Mowing down lineups for years with the Rays, Jays, and Tigers, no one could have envisioned him sitting on an ERA of 4.36 twenty starts into his Red Sox career. Here’s hoping he can right the ship before the Sox and their playoff hopes disappear in the heat of the summer.

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Red Sox acquire reliever Brad Ziegler from Arizona (Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Dave Dombrowski has been in search of bullpen help as the August trade deadline fast approaches. Last night (or early this morning) the Red Sox acquired 36 year old righty Brad Ziegler from Arizona for prospects Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe. Ziegler will immediately help to stabilize a bullpen that has been teetering on the brink of implosion for months. Koji Uehara, while certainly effective at various times throughout the year, has been something of a “choose your own adventure” on the bump this season. You never know if you’re getting the dominant Koji we remember from 2013 who helped lead the Sox to a World Series title, or if you’re getting the guy we saw last night, giving up monster yabos to a less-than-stellar Rays lineup and nearly blowing a game that the Sox seemed to have in the bag. Junichi Tazawa, who has been an extremely valuable bullpen piece for the Sox over the past several seasons, has completely fallen off the rails this year. His ERA has ballooned since a solid start to the season, and he simply can no longer be relied upon in high leverage situations. Add in the fact that Carson Smith was lost earlier this year to Tommy John, and you begin to see why this move was imminent.

Ziegler will help to spell Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who has been dealing with some knee soreness in recent weeks. While Kimbrel certainly hasn’t been the dominant closer we all expected coming over from Atlanta in the offseason, he’s still the best relief pitcher on this staff by a wide margin. Dave Dombrowski didn’t bring Brad Ziegler in to take Craig Kimbrel’s job. The move is more of an “insurance policy” of sorts. Ziegler does an excellent job of pitching to contact, and he is a veteran reliever who is comfortable pitching in almost any situation. One of the biggest knocks on Kimbrel this year has been his inability to perform in non-save situations. Ziegler should help to remedy that issue, in addition to taking over the eighth inning role for Koji.

What really gets me excited about the Sox recent acquisitions is the idea that Red Sox front office is gearing up for bigger, better moves as the trade deadline draws closer. Getting a guy like Aaron Hill, who has been a terrific hitter at Fenway throughout his career (.308) to play third against lefties and give Pedroia the occasional day off at second was the first of what feels like many moves on the horizon for Dave Dombrowski and the Sox. Then Ziegler today, instantly fills another void.

In order to make the “big splashes” on the trade market, a savvy GM  first must take care of the leaks and crevices. Getting a big name pitcher the likes of Jose Fernandez of Chris Sale is of no value to the Sox if their bullpen is just going to give up the lead in the 7th or 8th. It’s now clear that the Sox are in it for the long haul, and that Dave Dombrowski has a few more tricks up his sleeve before the August 1st deadline.

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Roenis Elias’ Time to Shine

June 17, 2016 at 1:13pm in MLB, Now!, Red Sox

The end of the Red Sox four-man rotation offers Roenis Elias an opportunity.

Instead of Clay Buchholz returning from his relegation to the bullpen, John Farrell announced on Wednesday that Roenis Elias will greet the Mariners, his former team, for the opener of a three game series tonight at Fenway Park. Farrell attributed his choice of Elias, at least in part, to the potent left-handed sluggers in the Mariners lineup, most notably Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.

Elias, 27, was acquired last off season in the trade that sent Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners in exchange for Elias and Carson Smith. At the time the deal looked like a steal for the Red Sox, but with Elias in Pawtucket and Smith having undergone Tommy John, Miley sounds pretty good as an inning eater in the back of the rotation. Instead it is time for Elias to step up.

Elias successfully made the harrowing voyage from Cuba to the U.S. in 2010, and in the following year began his career playing in rookie league for the Seattle Mariners before working his way up the minor league ranks to Double-A by the end of 2013. The next year Elias made the big league roster out of spring training as the Mariners fourth starter. That season he pitched to the tune of a 3.85 ERA in twenty nine starts before the Mariners shut him down in mid-September with an elbow strain. In 2015, Elias bounced between Seattle and their Triple-A affiliate, Tacoma, posting a 4.14 ERA in twenty two appearances for the big league team.

In a recent interview Dave Dombrowski noted that out of spring training they wanted Elias to find one consistent release point for his curveball. Instead of employing a breaking ball from three or four different arms spots, the Red Sox asked him to find the best one and throw it on a consistent basis in an attempt to refine his command.

This season on the east coast is a change for scenery for Elias,and he has pitched well for Pawtucket. In ten games, nine starts, he has a 3.54 ERA and 8.85 K/9, and in his last five starts he has been particularly sharp. He has focused on finding a consistent breaking ball this season with the PawSox and will need to use this pitch effectively tonight if he wants to keep the potent Mariners offense off balance.

Roenis Elias is presented with a great chance to prove himself tonight at Fenway and, given the state of the Red Sox rotation right now, can earn himself another start if he pitches well. The Red Sox pitching staff is club’s biggest weakness right now, and an emergence from this Cuban south paw would help the team immensely as Dombrowski tries to patch together a reliable rotation before the August 1st trade deadline.

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Red Sox Draft LHP Jason Groome

June 9, 2016 at 10:13pm in MLB, Red Sox, Top Story

The Red Sox selected left-handed pitcher Jason Groome with the 12th overall pick in this years MLB Draft. Groome is a 17 year old senior from Barneget High School in Barneget, New Jersey, and was the top rated prospect heading into the draft. The lefty stands six feet six inches tall, weighs 220 pounds, and is currently committed to Vanderbilt University, which also happens to be the alma mater of current Sox ace David Price.

Groome’s pitching arsenal is highlighted by his 96 mph fastball, considered his deadliest pitch, as well as a filthy curveball and effective changeup. Scouts applaud his smooth throwing mechanics and praise his natural pitching ability. He is compared to Giants superstar Madison Bumgarner, although some scouts question whether his overall makeup will translate over into the big leagues. This was the most likely reason for his fall from number one to twelve.

Groome’s stats for this year weren’t all that mind-blowing however he did record a 19 strikeout no-hitter in the first two weeks of the season. This was his most impressive outing since he was out of the lineup for 30 days following a suspension he got for violating New Jersey Interscholastic transfer rules.

From the Red Sox perspective, this is a great pick for the future of the team. It’s been quite obvious that the current group of major league starters, and the underwhelming bunch of minor leaguers aren’t going to be enough in order to win a championship. Groome adds an elite arm as well as raw talent to the pool of Sox pitching prospects, and has the potential to be a very special player once he reaches the show.

Former major leaguer Todd Rizzo spoke highly about Groome in a recent interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, “To me, he’s a once-in-a-generation type pitcher. I’ve seen a ton of pitchers in my lifetime. I swear I’ve never seen anybody with the natural raw ability of Jason Groome,” (MLB.com).

The Red Sox will have until August 15th to sign Groome to a pro contract and convince him to forgo his college plans.

Jason Groome (Photo courtesy of app.com)

Jason Groome (Photo courtesy of app.com)



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AT&T Park (photo courtesy of bleachernation.com)

The Red Sox look to rebound from a tough series against the Blue Jays when they face-off against the San Francisco Giants for a quick two game series at AT&T Park. The Sox, (33-24, T-1st in A.L East), will head back to the Bay Area for the first time since 2013, and will go up against a loaded Giants squad, (35-24, 1st in N.L West), who are one of the top teams in all of Major League Baseball.

Tuesday 6/7 @ Giants:

Rick Porcello (7-2 4.00 ERA) vs Albert Suarez (1-1 3.18 ERA)

Players to Watch: David Ortiz and Hunter Pence

Ortiz continues to torch opposing pitchers in his final season with his offensive stats near or at the top of almost every category in the MLB. He is currently batting .340 AVG (4th), with 54 RBIs (1st), and 16 homeruns (T-4th). Pence is having another solid season with the Giants, batting .298 with 36 RBIs and seven homeruns.

Wednesday 6/8 @ Giants:

David Price (7-2 4.88 ERA) vs Madison Bumgarner (7-2 1.91 ERA)

Players to Watch: Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Crawford

Each teams left-handed ace will take the mound for the final game of the series, so expect an all out duel on the rubber for this one. On the offensive side, look for shortstops Bogaerts and Crawford to pace the scoring for their respective clubs. Bogaerts is right behind Ortiz in batting average sporting a .345 AVG, good for third best in the MLB, with 33 RBIs and six homeruns as well. Crawford boasts a .247 AVG with 30 RBIs and six homeruns.

First pitch for both games is scheduled for 10:15pm ET.

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The Return of Eduardo Rodriguez

June 2, 2016 at 2:05pm in Boston, MLB, Red Sox

When Eduardo Rodriguez dislocated his knee cap in spring training it was a shocking disappointment for many fans. He was expected to settle into Boston’s rotation and this anticipation had cultivated an anxious hope that he could build on an impressive rookie campaign. That anxiety boiled for over three months after the injury. The Red Sox front office exercised caution with Rodriguez through his rehab program, and then kept him in Pawtucket for five starts before recalling him. On Tuesday night at Camden Yards,  Rodriguez was finally ready for his debut with the Red Sox and he handled the occasion in stride. He threw 89 pitches over the course of six full innings, allowing just two earned on six hits and no walks.

The offense opened the game with back-to-back solo home runs by Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, and by the bottom of the second inning the Red Sox had a five run advantage. Rodriguez did not relinquish that lead. He used his fastball early in counts and then worked in a sharp change-up to strike out three batters.

The essential aspect of Rodriguez outing was that it quieted worries about his velocity that had risen when he did not feature 95 mph heater during his starts in Pawtucket. Against the Orioles, he consistently sat around 92 mph with the fastball but touched 94 mph and as he continues to regain both arm and lower body strength the velocity should continue to return.

The addition of Eduardo Rodriguez to the roster adds a sense of insurance to a pitching staff that has some holes with neither Clay Buchholz nor Joe Kelly having proven himself capable of retiring MLB hitters. Buchholz was the man relegated to the bullpen in response to Rodriguez’s return and after Kelly’s disastrous outing last night he was optioned to Pawtucket. which leaves a void in the rotation. It remains to be seen how the Red Sox will fill this vacancy but Rodriguez’s presence should help take some pressure off of the pitching staff as a unit.

His return also presents a precarious situation for the front office. Rodriguez activation from the disabled list feels like the prize of a trade deadline deal. As the deadline approaches this acquisition will have to effect the front office’s decision making. While it remains to be seen how this process will unfold but there is no doubt that Rodriguez’s return addresses an important hole in the rotation.

Rodriguez is regarded as one of the more promising young pitchers in baseball and has plenty of time to develop. A role in the middle of the Red Sox rotation this season will serve to curb the lofty expectations of Red Sox fans as the lefty continues to mature, but few question he has the raw talent of a future ace. The camaraderie in the clubhouse should help Rodriguez hone his craft as he learns from the savvy veterans during the playoff push, and fans can expect him to make a solid contribution as the Red Sox strive to stay atop the competitive AL East.

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: First Base

February 23, 2016 at 5:10pm in Fantasy, MLB

This analysis offers a tiered ranking system of first basemen for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. It assumes a 16 team mixed-league keeper format with a standard 5×5 scoring system and a 22 man roster with the following positional requirements: C (1), 1B (1), 2B (1), 3B (1), SS (1), CI (1), MI (1), OF (3), UT (3), SP (5), RP (4). All statistical information is referenced from FanGraphs.com.


Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)

Not much needs to be said here. Goldy is arguably the most valuable fantasy player and is only 28 years old. It will be fun to watch him lead a Diamondbacks team with World Series aspirations.

Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Jose Abreu (CWS)

The 26 year old Florida native is another stud. He is the cornerstone of what may become the Cubs team to break the Curse, and will hit in the middle of their lineup for the foreseeable future. Don’t expect the 17 stolen bases he had in 2015, but he is a high caliber talent worthy of your first round draft selection. 

Jose Abreu gets included in this tier because at 29 he is reaching his prime as a first baseman, and in his only two seasons has hit 30 home runs with 100 RBI. This production may not rise any more, but is an absolute asset to fantasy owners as he reaches his prime as a first-basemen.

Miguel Cabrera (DET), Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)

It’s hard to argue that Miggy is not the best hitter in baseball, but what separated him from the likes of Rizzo and Goldschmidt is the injury risk. Cabrera is 33 years old and has had trouble staying healthy in recent years. A luxury when he stays on the field but his ability to do so has become a concern.

Edwin Encarnacion is a similar case. Offers four category production when healthy but struggled with some wrist and hand injuries and is not getting any younger. 

Joey Votto (CIN), Eric Hosmer (KC)

Votto is a model of consistency. He is a pure line drive hitter that reaps the benefits of Great American Ballpark and it seems like he is always on-base thanks to his 21% walk rate. His value is degraded slightly by the lousy Cincinnati lineup this season but he is still a fantasy asset.

Hosmer is a player on the rise after his performance last season and is hitting the stride of his career. His steady contact and line drive rates have helped him maintain a good average and there remains some untapped power potential.

Miguel Sano (MIN), Freddie Freeman (ATL), David Ortiz (BOS)

Sano is oozing upside despite the fact that he has yet to manage MLB pitching enough to maintain a decent average, He has keeper value rooted in the elite raw power and young age, but he needs to find a position to play on the diamond so that he does not have assume a strictly DH role.

Freddie Freeman will have the unfortunate duty of hitting in the middle of the Braves lineup this year. Pitchers are likely to pitch around him and there no one behind him likely to produce on a consistent basis. He is  really good line drive hitter entering his prime but the problem is his supporting cast. A keeper, but he will not be able to do it all himself this season. 

Last here is Big Papi. I acknowledge this is a generous ranking in his last year before retirement, but a lock to hit 30 HR with 100 RBI in his send-off tour, he deserves nothing less.

Adrian Gonzalez (LAD), Prince Fielder (TEX), Kendrys Morales (KC)

Adrian Gonzalez is a pure line-drive hitter that stabilizes the middle of the Dodgers lineup. Unfortunately he is on the wrong side of 30 and although a proven fantasy asset he does not offer the same potential as other options. 

Prince Fielder is in a similar situation. He bounced back nicely at the start of last season from neck surgery but failed to maintain that performance in the second half of the season. He can hit when he stays healthy but, like Gonzalez, his best years are behind him. 

Morales is aging too. Now 33 he has seen his peak years in the rear-view mirror. He remains a is a solid utility option that can boost the HR, RBI categories while maintaining a respectable batting average.

Albert Pujols (LAA), Brandon Belt (SF), Carlos Santana (CLE)

Pujols will provide power and power. His line drive rate was its lowest in five years last season (16%) as he hit for an abysmal .244 batting average. He did hit 40 home runs last year, but at 36 years old he is no longer the machine he once was. 

Belt is the youngest of the group that is a contributor when on the field. But concussion problems are well-noted and make him a wild card at this point. This is confusing option for fantasy owners. A line drive hitter with some contact issues at timees, he offers surplus value if he falls in the draft because of health concerns. 

The last on the list is Carlos Santana. He fits a power profile with a lack of batting average but supports his value with very good OBP and the opportunity he will have to drive in runs from his spot in the Indians’ lineup. 

Mark Teixeira (NYY), Evan Gattis (HOU)

I am biased against anyone on the Yankees roster but Teixeira deserves a spot on here because he’s a proven veteran that benefits from playing in the new Yankee Stadium. If he can stay on the field he offers owners a nice value pick opportunity.

Evan Gattis’ fantasy value has dropped because of his status as a pure designated hitter with the Astros but his offensive output seemed to benefit from the change. One concern is a sports hernia that will delay his 2016 debut until after opening day. He will hurt a team’s OBP but make significant contributions in the home-run and RBI categories.

Ryan Zimmerman (WAS), Lucas Duda (NYM)

If Zimmerman can find a way to stay healthy he will serve as a run producer in the heart of the National’s lineup this season. The problem is his health; he hasn’t logged over 400 at-bats in either of the last two season so it’s hard to anticipate a valuable season from him.

Teixeria’s New York City counterpart, Luca Duda, is a pure power hitter. He won’t hit for an average but has shown promising improvement in his OBP over the last few years and is a mid-level fantasy option 

This class of first basemen offer owners a wide range of quality options depending on the roster you have put together. At the top are bonafide fantasy baseball studs that can anchor a team through the season, and are absolute keepers worthy of top draft picks. If you miss out on those guys and get your fantasy star at another position there are other first basemen that make solid contributions. As expected, most of these guys will produce for power categories like home runs, and RBI and can provide decent production in a utility role for almost any team.

Fishing for Prospects: A.J. Reed (HOU)

If you only take only one thing away from this entire series, let it be this name because A.J. Reed is poised for stardom. He was selected 42nd overall selection in the 2014 MLB draft after a stunning season at Kentucky that culminated in the Golden Spikes Award. That season he led the nations in home runs with 23 with a .336 batting average, and also contributed a 12-2 record on the mound with a 2.09 ERA and 71 strikeouts. The Astros player development staff decided to commit to Reed as a hitter and he thrived in the Class A Advanced California league before earning a promotion to Double-A in the second half of the season. Headed in to 2015 the Astros have other options ahead of him, but depending on how spring training unfolds Reed may get a shot to prove himself with the major league club as soon as this season.


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