First Half Red Sox Recap

When the Boston Red Sox left Fort Myers in March to embark on their 2013 campaign, few (if any) believed they would be in the position they are at the All Star break.  I thought I was wearing my usual hometown shades when I said they would be a .500 team.  What the Red Sox have done is amaze everyone.  On this date, the Red Sox are in first place in the American League East.  They also have the most wins in all of baseball.  There are many different people and various factors Red Sox fans can attribute this success to.

Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington was finally given the keys to the car from Larry Lucchino late last season.  Cherington quickly unloaded a ton of ben-cherington4salary and even more ego in one foul swoop by sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles.  Cherington then went to work in the offseason by bringing in solid baseball players that had an even better attitude.  Goodbye headaches. Hello Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, and Mike Carp.  More importantly, Cherington was able to give Bobby Valentine the pink slip.  Keep in mind Bobby V was never Cherington’s guy in the first place.  With Bobby V gone, Cherington traded Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays to grab the man he wanted all along, John Farrell. What was once labeled as a season where the Red Sox needed to win their fan base back, they now find themselves in playoff contention.

John Farrell

Farrell has been exactly what the Red Sox needed coming into the 2013 season.  He has been the anti-Bobby V.  Have you heard any incidents within the Red Sox clubhouse this season? Remember last season when we knew everything that was going on between manager and players? Remember when Will Middlebrooks made 3 errors in one inning and he came in to the dugout to be greeted by Bobby V saying “nice inning kid.” Farrell has handled any issues going on in-house expertly.  He has even handled the unpredictable Alfredo Aceves admirably.  Farrell also helped Jon Lester get back to his old self early in the season. Granted Lester has struggled recently.  Be that as it may, the pitching staff as a whole, has benefitted from having Farrell in the dugout.  Clay Buchholz is 9-0 with an ERA below 2.  If not for a nagging shoulder injury, he would have started the All Star Game and would undoubtedly be the front-runner for the Cy Young award.  Thank you, John Farrell.

The players

Remember the criticism Red Sox management received when they gave David Ortiz his long-awaited multi-year deal in the off-dustinseason?  Big Papi has rewarded that decision to the tune of a .317 batting average with 19 home runs and 65 runs batted in.  Many baseball writers (Heyman, Morosi) have Dustin Pedroia as their first half American League MVP.  Yes, they have Pedroia over Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera.  Pedroia has missed one game this season.  He has made one error.  He is hitting .316 with 6 home runs and 56 runs batted in.  He is doing all this with a torn ligament in his thumb.  The man is a beast.

Daniel Nava has turned in Trot Nixon.  Nava should have been named an All Star after the stellar first half he put up for the Red Sox.  In the preseason Nava was an after thought.  Many people figured he would be playing elsewhere by now.  When Jackie Bradley, Jr. struggled in April, Nava was red-hot.  He is yet to really cool off.  He has been a steadying presence whether hitting leadoff, second, or sixth in the lineup.  The man the Red Sox once acquired for one dollar is hitting .288 with 10 home runs and 52 runs batted in.  Tell me he doesn’t remind you of Trot Nixon with a clean uniform.

At this point in the season, Jose Iglesias has to be the Rookie of the Year in the American League.  Iglesias started out the season with the big club while Stephen Drew recovered from a concussion.  Iglesias was hitting over .500 when Drew came back. Iglesias was in Pawtucket for about a month.  He was pressed back into duty and has continued to hit the ball well for the Red Sox.  Many were concerned about his offense.  Often times it may not be pretty.  It may be an infield hit, it may be a blooper down the line, but either way it looks like a line drive in the box score.  Keep in mind Iglesias is just 23 years old. I do not expect him to hit over .350 the rest of the year.  As a matter of fact, I fully expect him to finish the season slightly below .300.  But I do know this.  I want him to play shortstop everyday for the Boston Red Sox.  The kid plays spectacular defense.  The kid belongs in the big leagues.

The last man I need to mention in this post is John Lackey.  Who would have thought he would be the Red Sox horse going intobos_a_lackey_b1_600 the All Star break.  Lackey is throwing the ball extremely well after an awful first 3 years with the franchise.  He is hitting 96 on the gun.  He is getting numerous swings and misses.  His ERA is below 3.  Now, anyone that has read my writings over the past few years now my hatred for John Lackey.  I would be remiss if I failed to give credit when credit is due.  With Jon Lester struggling and Clay Buchholz “hurt”, John Lackey has been the man in the Boston rotation.  To think his season looked over before it got started in Toronto in his first game this year.  Lackey has been awesome for the Red Sox and I do hope it continues.

The Red Sox are 58-39 and 2.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays.  The second half of the season begins Friday.  Saddle up Sox fans the road to the playoffs is upon us.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

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Thank You Red Sox!

The Boston sports scene has not been pretty over the past week.  I detailed the heartbreak in a post I wrote yesterday.  Therefore, I will not speak about it again.  Instead, I write about the first place Boston Red Sox, who have made life a little bit easier in Boston despite what has gone on recently.  Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have more wins than the Red Sox this season.  Most of the so-called experts penciled the Red Sox in for 84 wins this season.  Amazing enough, they are just 19 wins away from equaling last season’s total of 69.

Everyone, including myself, have been waiting for the Red Sox to taper off a bit.  The same can be said for Jose Iglesias who is Jose Iglesiassporting an amazing .409 batting average.  Iglesias will have to go 0 for his next 40 to be at .300.  With Will Middlebrooks struggling to hit the Mendoza Line (.200), Iglesias has shifted over to third base while Will figures things out in Pawtucket.  I fully expect Middlebrooks back with the big league squad by the end of July.  This is a guy who hit 15 home runs with 54 runs batted in, playing in just 75 games last season.  I believe the third base- shortstop situation will figure itself out over the course of time.  Stephen Drew has the month of July to get it together or else we may be looking at Middlebrooks and Iglesias on the left side of the infield.  Heck, we might even see Xander Bogaerts playing a prominent role in August.

Jon Morosi tweeted he believes Dustin Pedroia is the first half MVP in the American League.  Anyone who knows me knows I am the biggest Pedroia blowhard dead or alive.  Obviously, Miguel Cabrera is the MVP in the first half of this season.  But I did become curious.  In Pedroia’s 2008 MVP season, he played in 157 games hitting .326 with 17 home runs and 83 runs batted in.  He led the league in runs (118), hits (218), and doubles (54).  He also won the Gold Glove award.  This season, Pedroia is on pace to play in 160 games. He is projected to hit .322 with 10 home runs and 91 runs batted in.  He is projected to score 102 runs, 201 hits, and 42 doubles.  He will obviously win the Gold Glove this year.  I will never argue with anyone that says Pedroia is a top 5 player in all of baseball.

Jonny Gomes stats may not look all that great.  He is hitting .218 with 5 home runs and 2o runs batted in playing in a limited dustin-pedroia-2fashion.  But I feel whenever Gomes comes up in a big spot, he produces.  When he is pinch-hitting, he is 4-12 with 2 home runs and 3 runs batted in.  He is hitting .321 with runners in scoring position.  Sure, he may be overpaid.  But it’s not my money. And I love the energy he brings to the dugout.  Don’t think for a second he is not a big part of the resurgent Boston Red Sox.

Lastly, how awesome has John Lackey been?  Never did I think I would say that.  I have easily been his harshest critic during his time in Boston. But Lackey has been a bulldog for the Red Sox going deep into games when the team needs him to.  I know I am stunned too. But I won’t complain.  I am not ready to take back all the horrid things I said about him over the last three years but I will acknowledge his recent success. The 34-year-old has an ERA under 3 and has been a stopper while Clay Buchholz has been hurt and Jon Lester has been struggling.  Lackey has been a pleasant surprise and I hope he can keep it up!

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF