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

Red Sox Back to Their Winning Ways

The Boston Red Sox came into their May 14th tilt vs the Tampa Bay Rays in third place in the American League East.  Many believed the Cinderella Sox were starting their skid into the basement of the division like many had predicted in the winter.  They were facing a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with 14 of those games away from Fenway Park.  Here we are on June 3rd, and the Red Sox are atop the American League East by 2.5 games, continuing an improbable 2013 season.  They went 13-7 over the last 20 games culminating in taking 2 out of 3 from the Yankees in the Bronx.

During this stretch they were bitten by the injury bug.  They lost Will Middlebrooks, Shane Victorino, and David Ross to the 040813_nava2disabled list.  Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury missed time as well.  The Red Sox have shown if they are anything, they are resilient.  The most pleasant surprise two months into the season is the production of Daniel Nava.  Coming into the season, Nava was an after thought.  Everyone expected Jonny Gomes and Jackie Bradley Jr. to patrol the outfield.  With Victorino hampered by a variety of injuries, Gomes off to a slow start, and Bradley Jr. figuring things out in Pawtucket, John Farrell was able to turn to Nava.  Nava is hitting .297 with 8 home runs and 37 runs batted in.  He is tenth in the American League in OPS at. .880.  That is better than Robinson Cano, Carlos Santana, and Ian Kinsler.  He has also been solid with the leather.

Dustin Pedroia is having an all around amazing season.  Word came out this week he tore a ligament in his thumb on Opening images-1Day. His .333 batting average and eye-popping defense make it seem there is no injury at all.  There has not been one game that has gone by where Pedroia hasn’t robbed someone of a base hit.  Water covers two-thirds of the earth’s surface.  Dustin Pedroia covers the rest.  He has played in every game this season and is yet to commit an error.  He has 153 assists and 93 put outs.  Someone put a call into Mr. Cano and alert him his Gold Glove is coming back to Boston, where it belongs.

Look at David Ortiz’s stats.  He his hitting .333 with 10 home runs and 36 runs batted in.  It is easy to forget that he actually missed nearly the first month of the season.  Hopefully he continues to stay healthy.  The Red Sox are a much different team with his bat in the lineup.  Fellow bash brother Mike Napoli has been producing as well.  Twice this season, opposing teams have intentionally walked Ortiz to get to Napoli.  On both occasions, Napoli made them pay dearly by hitting two grand slams.  Napoli has 45 runs batted in on the season.  If he can stay healthy throughout the season, I firmly believe the Red Sox should honor their original contract offer to him.  Give him a 2 year $27 million deal.

Jose Iglesias belongs in Boston.  Pedro Ciriaco does not.  Will Middlebrooks is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Mike Carp, Jose Iglesias, Jarrod SaltalamacchiaJune 8.  When he comes back, I sincerely believe Ciriaco will be given his walking papers.  He has been atrocious this season both mentally and physically.  He has brought back memories of Julio Lugo in the field, and has been an airhead on the base paths.  Iglesias has been producing for the Sox at the plate and his signature defense has been on display at short and third.  If the Red Sox send Iglesias down again, they will lose this kid forever.  They can’t afford to do that.

A look ahead shows the Red Sox have a rather difficult schedule over the next 13 games.  They host the Rangers for three games.  Remember how the Rangers sent them into a tailspin after sweeping the Sox earlier in the season in Arlington.  The Angels come to town after that and then they travel down to The Trop to take on the red-hot Rays.

 

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

 

Red Sox Hit First Rough Patch of 2013

The Red Sox were not going to play .720 baseball all season long.  For the first time in the 2013 season, the Red Sox have hit on hard times.  The injury bug has stung the back-end of the bullpen.  They have not been able to hit with runners in scoring position.  These have been the two main factors in the Red Sox going an abysmal 4-9 since the last time I wrote on this very site.

Joel Hanrahan is done for the season after experiencing tightness in his forearm.  He will undergo season ending surgery at someimages point in the near future.  Andrew Bailey has also been out with arm trouble.  An anticipated strength coming into the 2013 season is now a massive question mark.  John Farrell has named Junichi Tazawa as interim closer, until Bailey comes off the disabled list.  The only other candidate was Koji Uehara.

Having Hanrahan down for the count and Bailey on and off the disabled list is frustrating for Red Sox fans.  The Red Sox traded Josh Reddick for Andrew Bailey last offseason.  That trade has been one-sided to say the least.  Reddick launched 32 home runs last season and shockingly won a Gold Glove last season.  Yes, he is off to a slow start this season.  By comparison, Andrew Bailey has appeared in just 32 games for the Sox.  Joel Hanrahan was traded to the Red Sox this past off-season with Brock Holt for Mark Melancon, Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus, and Stolmy Pimental.  All I need to tell you about this trade? At the time of this writing, Mark Melancon has a 0.47 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in 19 innings.  Hanrahan likely ends his Red Sox career with an 0-1 record and a 9.82 ERA in 7.1 innings.

My outside the box cure for the Red Sox closing woes?  Move Ryan Dempster to closer.  Bring up Alan Webster and put him in the rotation.  Dempster has had success as a closer before.  He also features two pitches you want your closer to have; a slider and a split finger fastball.  This keeps Uehara and Tazawa in their 7th and 8th inning roles, allows Webster on to the major league roster, and is insurance for the man made of glass, Andrew Bailey.

I blame the lack of offense of late right at the top.  Jacoby Ellsbury’s on base percentage is .311.  I am not looking for Ellsbury to Unknownrepeat his 2010 video game numbers.  I am not asking Ellsbury to hit over .300, steal 70 bases, or even hit 10 home runs.  I am just asking him to get on base.  What good is a dynamic player like Ellsbury if he can’t get on base?  Too often this season Ellsbury has led off the game either swinging early in the count and popping up to the shortstop or second baseman; or swinging at a bad pitch with a 3 ball count.  It’s truly maddening.  Ellsbury needs to do a better job of getting on base.  The Red Sox have an exciting lineup that has been dull due to Ellsbury incompetence at the plate.  They will go as he goes.  Right now, he is going nowhere.

On a side note, Stephen Drew is hitting .228.  In my last post I guaranteed he would be at .230 the next time I sat at this laptop.  Way to do me proud, Mr. Drew.  The bold prediction this time around?  Dustin Pedroia currently has 1 home run on the season.  He will hit 5 more between now and June 3.

The Red Sox now play 20 days in a row against sub par teams.  (Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and New York.) I believe this stretch will be a true test to see what we have going into the summer.  I am hoping to see a resilient team that can shake off this bad stretch and get back in the win column.  I really believed they were the antithesis of last season’s disaster.  These next 20 days will show an awful lot about the 2013 Red Sox.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Patterson’s Week 10 MLB Rankings

Ten weeks into the season and I have surprised myself with having a power rankings column for every week.  In regard’s to my preseason predictions, an update: My AL preseason Manager of the Year has been fired.  My AL Rookie of the Year pick was finally called up this week.  My AL Central prediction is pretty much the opposite of the current standings, the same with the AL West.  My NL Rookie of the Year was demoted, promoted, and then broke his wrist.  As you can see, my crystal ball was malfunctioning back in March.  On to the present…

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

While the Phillies are loaded with the big names, Howard, Rollins, Utley and the 4 aces, it has been Placido Polanco that has impressed me most this season.  He has played in 65 of the Phillies 66 games hitting .309 with 4 home runs and 37 runs batted in.  He is what every championship needs.  He is the glue.

2) Boston Red Sox (9)

The Red Sox received good news this week when they learned that Dustin Pedroia’s knee issue was simply just a bruise.  After missing a game because of his consultation, The Laser Show has returned with a vengeance going 6-9  with 4 runs batted in since returning from the knee exam going into Sunday’s game with the Blue Jays.  I will also point out the Red Sox personify fire at the current time as they have won 9 in a row.  In those nine games the lowest run total they have put up is 5.  That is sick and wrong.

3) St. Louis Cardinals (3)

There isn’t a day that goes by that I have not regretted picking up Lance Berkman off the waiver wire in my fantasy baseball league.  I, like many others I’m sure, thought Berkman was all done after his stint with the Yankees last season.  He is proving all those doubters wrong to the tune of leading the Cardinals in most offensive categories.  The Cardinals.  The team with the best offensive in baseball.  The Cardinals.  With players named Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus.  The leader? Berkman.

4) Atlanta Braves (11)

I have no idea how they are doing it, but the Braves are shooting right up these rankings over the past few weeks.  Their whole starting outfield (Heyward, Prado, and McLouth) are all on the disabled list.  Dan Uggla is still slumping hitting just .183.  I understand the Braves have the best pitching in all of baseball to this point in the season, but you need at least some offense to win games.  How are they doing it?

5) Milwaukee Brewers (8)

Carlos Gomez has been playing a sensational center field for the Brew Crew.  Earlier in the week he had two eye opening catches against the Mets including robbing Carlos Beltran of a home run.  Today he made a game saving catch on a ball hit by Colby Rasmus.  It won’t be long before he has his own personal high light reel.

6) New York Yankees (4)

The Yankees are understanding what it was like to be the 2010 Red Sox in regards to being afflicted with the injury bug.  They have been without Phil Hughes the majority of the season.  They lost Rafael Soriano for awhile.  Joba Chamberlain is now out for the season with Tommy John surgery pending. Just yesterday, Bartolo Colon went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring.  All of this really makes me marvel at the durability of Mariano Rivera.

7) San Francisco Giants (10)

The Giants continue to be stung by the injury bug.  This week they lost Freddy Sanchez to a dislocated shoulder.  They are now without Pablo Sandoval (although he is expected back soon), Buster Posey, and now Sanchez.  Where the Giants will get their offense is anyone’s guess.

8) Cleveland Indians (2)

The Indians have started their slide as they are 2-9 in the month of June.  They are now tied with the Tigers for first place in the AL Central.  Josh Tomlin has come back down to earth as his ERA is now 4.01.  The Indians really need Travis Hafner to come back from the DL and they need Carlos Santana to start hitting the baseball.

9) Detroit Tigers (12)

The play of catcher Alex Avila has made Victor Martinez the most expensive designated hitter in baseball.  Avila is hitting .296 with 9 home runs and 34 runs batted in.  Avila is just 24 years old and is clearly the catcher of the present and future.  Martinez has been producing as well, hitting .310 with 6 home runs and 34 runs batted in.  But I don’t think those numbers are worthy of the 4 year $50 million deal he signed, especially if he is going to be used as the team’s designated hitter/backup catcher.

10) Texas Rangers (6)

The Texas Rangers organization selected former University of Georgia outfielder Jonathan Taylor in the 33rd round of the MLB Draft earlier this week.  Taylor was paralyzed from the waist down after a collision in a game this season.  What a classy move by a classy organization.

11) Arizona Diamondbacks (5)

After a scorching second half of May, the Diamondbacks have cooled a bit.  They are 6-5 in June and are a half game back of the Giants in the NL West.  The young corps of Justin Upton, Chris Young, and Stephen Drew have led the offense and with the NL West looking weaker in weaker by the day, the division is there for the taking.

12) Tampa Bay Rays (14)

Matt Joyce has 3 years of major league experience.  He has never played in more than 92 games and has never had more than 262 at bats.  So far this year he is enjoying a break out year hitting .330 with 10 home runs and 34 runs batted in through 60 games and 200 at bats.  The obvious question is: Can he keep it up?

13) Cincinnati Reds (15)

In my research for this post, I came across a rumor that I really like. Jose Reyes to the Reds.  Could you imagine the double play combo of Reyes and Brandon Phillips?  Could you imagine Reyes setting the table for Phillips, Votto, and Bruce?  While I think that the Reds more pressing need is starting pitching, this Reyes rumor is very intriguing.

14) Seattle Mariners (13)

Ichiro’s consecutive games played streak of 255 was snapped this week, as he was given a day off because of his prolonged slump. The streak was the second active longest behind Matt Kemp (268). Just seeing those numbers makes me laugh when I think of Cal Ripken’s 2,632 straight games played.  Talk about streaks that will NEVER be broken.

15) Florida Marlins (7)

You know its been a rough week for the Marlins when a sportscaster on Friday night was quoted as saying, “And for the first time all week, the Florida Marlins have a lead.”  Yikes.  In the interest of fairness, their two best players, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson are on the disabled list.

16) Pittsburgh Pirates (18)

Believe it or not the Pirates are just 2 games under .500.  Usually around this time the Pirates are well out of the pennant race and are about 10 games under .500.  This has to be encouraging for whatever Pirates fans there are in this world.  Their star player, Andrew McCutchen is just 24 years old.  Jose Tabata is 22.  Reason for optimism in Pittsburgh.

17) Toronto Blue Jays (16)

After watching Kyle Drabek’s start against the Red Sox on Sunday, I couldn’t help but agree with Sox radio commentator Dave O’ Brien that Drabek might be best served pitching in the minors right now.  There is no doubt Drabek has a great arm.  But he is trying to hard to strike out the ball park instead of letting his fielders play behind him.  The result? He leads the majors in walks.  Let him go to Triple A where he can learn how to pitch and not just throw.

18) Colorado Rockies(19)

A year after being nearly unhittable, Ubaldo Jimenez is just terrible this year.  On Sunday Jimenez went 5.1 innings giving up 11 hits and 7 runs (only 2 earned), and three home runs.  On the season, Jimenez is 1-7 with an ERA of 4.63.  His ineffectiveness paired with the loss of Jorge De La Rosa is the reason the Rockies have fallen out of contention as quickly as they have.

19) New York Mets (21)

The Mets have to be crazy if they don’t want to re-sign Jose Reyes.  He is just 28 years old and is leading the majors in hits and batting average.  He is doing it all at a position where there isn’t much offense anymore.  The argument could be made that he is the best shortstop in baseball with all due respect to Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki.  The Mets would be best served to trade David Wright and to hold onto Reyes.

20) Baltimore Orioles (22)

The Orioles have announced that they intend to cut Zach Britton’s workload in an effort to get him pitch deeper into September.  Over 13 starts he is 6-4 with an ERA of 3.18.  The 23 year old has thrown 82 innings so far this season and has never thrown more than 154 in any year.  This is a smart move by the Orioles because Britton is a building block that the Orioles can start a franchise around and some day be competitive in the ultra-competitive AL East.

21) Chicago White Sox (20)

Ozzie Guillen recently said that Paul Konerko will walk into the Hall of Fame “the right way.”  While there is no doubt in my mind that Konerko is clean, is he a Hall of Famer?  At this point in his career, he is a .282 hitter with 381 home runs and 1,207 runs batted in.  If a decision had to be made right now, I would say he wouldn’t be getting into Cooperstown as he compares to Tino Martinez right now. Konerko needs 2-3 seasons of 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in for me to say with any certainty that he would be a Hall of Famer.

22) Los Angeles Angels (17)

The Angels are about to embark on a 12 game road trip starting in Seattle, then to New York to face the Mets, followed by a trip to Florida, and then back across the country to face the Dodgers.  This news isn’t awful for the Angels since they are 16-16 on the road this season and 15-20 at home.

23) Los Angeles Dodgers (23)

Another week and its more of the same for the Dodgers.  Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier continue to mash the ball with little to no help from anyone else in the lineup.  Kemp is hitting .331 with 20 home runs and 56 runs batted in and Ethier is hitting .321 with 5 home runs and 32 runs batted in.

24) Washington Nationals (26)

Other than Bryce Harper showing he is a Class A deusch this week by blowing a kiss to a pitcher he just hit a bomb off of in the minors, the Nationals did receive good news this week.  Their best player, Ryan Zimmerman, is expected back Tuesday.  He is 8-16 on his current rehab stint.

25) San Diego Padres (25)

The Padres called up Anthony Rizzo this week, one of the pieces of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.  He has helped alleviate the pain of losing one of the games best hitters by producing himself.  The 21-year old is 3-7 with a home run this week.  He is the future of San Diego.

26) Kansas City Royals (27)

This week the Royals called up my pre-season Rookie of the Year, Mike Moustakas.  He had a very slow start in Triple A, and quite frankly I was surprised the Royals called him up as he isn’t much of an upgrade over Wilson Betemit at this point.   He wasn’t mashing the Triple A pitching like teammate Eric Hosmer was either. Through 2 games so far he is 2-6 with a home run and 2 runs scored.

27) Oakland Athletics (24)

Bob Geren was my preseason pick to be the American League Manager of the Year.  Instead he is the first manager relieved of his duties in 2011.  It is hard to blame Geren for the Athletics’ woes when their offensive personnel is terrible and their closer had an ERA near 5.  Let this be a lesson to all readers: Take my predictions with a grain of salt and laugh at them.

28) Chicago Cubs(28)

There isn’t much good news in Wrigley Land as the Cubs are pretty awful this year.  But they are expecting to get Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, and Jeff Baker all back this week from the disabled list.  Aramis Ramirez is showing signs of getting his power turned back on as he homered twice this week.

29) Minnesota Twins (30)

The Twins are 8-3 in the month of June.  They have finally got out of the cellar in these rankings and I doubt they will get to the #30 spot again.  Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishiokia are expected back within the next two weeks.  They should be getting Jason Kubel back soon as well.  If only Justin Morneau could return his former self, the Twins could make a push in the AL Central.

30) Houston Astros (29)

Mark Melancon does not have to worry about losing his closing job with the return of Brandon Lyon.  On Saturday, Lyon came on in the tenth inning against the Braves and promptly gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk without getting an out.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Kinsler or Pedroia?

Writing about the Red Sox struggles is only going to succeed in making me very angry.  So I will not delve into their present situation right now other than saying this: The Major League Baseball Season is a marathon, not a sprint.

What brings me to my laptop tonight is something I thought of over the weekend as I was down in Texas for the Celtics-Spurs game and then the second game of the Red Sox-Rangers series.  I started writing back in 2007 with Brick on a blog called “McKeon and The Mongoose.”  A lot of what I wrote on there centered around lunch time arguments I had with fellow staff members at a summer camp I worked at for quite a few summers.  One argument that went on for all 8 weeks was a “Who’d you rather have” type thing.  After this weekend I figured I’d rehash the discussion and get back to what got me into writing in the first place.

Who would you rather have? Ian Kinsler or Dustin Pedroia?

After watching Ian Kinsler flat-out rake against the Sox opening weekend, I remembered how much of a stud Kinsler actually is.  He led off 2 of the three games with bombs and at least had the common decency to wait until his second at bat in the third game of the season to hit number 3.

He has the ability to be a .300, 30 home run, 30 stolen base, 100 RBI guy.  He plays a solid second base, never making more than 20 errors in a season.  He is 28 years old and is entering his prime.  According to Baseball Reference, Kinsler’s 162 game average is .281, 25 home runs, 84 runs batted in, 28 stolen bases, and 115 runs.

But that is the problem.  Kinsler hasn’t come close to putting together a full season.  The most games he has played was his 144 in 2009.  Other than that he hasn’t played more than 130 in a season.  Kinsler has a knack for getting injured every season.

While Pedroia did miss most of last season with an injury only playing 75 games, it seemed like a freak injury.  Other than that, anyone who doubts his talent can just take a look at his trophy case.  Rookie of the year, MVP, Glod Glove, Silver Slugger, and a World Series ring in three and a half seasons in the majors.   In using the same 162 game average I did with Kinsler, Pedroia has a .304 batting average, 16 home runs, 73 runs batted in, 16 stolen bases, and 110 runs.

In summing up my argument, let’s not forget that Ian Kinsler went to Arizona State as a freshman but transferred his sophomore year.  Kinsler and Pedroia battled for the shortstop position, a battle won by Pedroia.  Kinsler was moved to second base and then ultimately transferred to the University of Missouri.

Call me a homer, but until Ian Kinsler can put a full season together I am sticking with The Laser Show, Dustin Pedroia.

Agree? Disagree? Love it? Hate it? Give me your feedback below.

I can be followed on Twitter @ Scottientcf

Mumbles: Blizzard Edition

After shoveling for nearly two and a half hours, I feel the need to rant.  It is usually ideal therapy for me so I figured there is nothing better than to sit down at my computer and just let it have it.

* First and foremost, all you people out there who love snow and are the outdoorsy type were either dropped on your heads as children or should make an appointment to get your head examined, pronto.

*Yesterday, the Patriots took care of business by dismantling the Bills giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  While this is an obvious advantage for the Pats, let us not lose sight of the fact that the Pats just last season were blown out on Foxboro turf by the Ravens 33-14 in the first round of the playoffs.  The Patriots could play host to any number of teams as the AFC playoff picture hasn’t quite come into focus yet.  To be honest there isn’t a clear cut team that I am “comfortable” with the Pats facing after their first round bye as each team poses it’s own set of problems.

*Going into this season I was hoping the Patriots would use the Raiders pick to scoop up Alabama’s Mark Ingram.  Now with one week to go in the regular season, that is no longer the case.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been incredible for the Pats this year.  He has carried the ball 209 times this year for 928 yards and 12 touchdowns, without a fumble.  In fact during his 3 years in the league spanning 309 carries he is yet to fumble.  (Lord, I hope I don’t jinx the man).  He has also been great in the back field in picking up blitzes to protect Brady.  He along with Danny Woodhead have been a very pleasant surprise this season.  What’s even better is they are both young and can share backfield duties for years to come.  Their success has enabled the Patriots to concentrate on other areas come draft time.

*I am really hoping that the Celtics aren’t about to partake in their annual swoon after Christmas.  Last season the Celtics were 23-5 going into Christmas day, eerily similar to this season.  Last season they played the Lakers and lost, much like they did with the Magic this season.  Last season, after Christmas the Celtics played less than .500 ball and got a 5 seed in the playoffs.  I am hoping the Celtics can maintain the dominance they have showed this season because I feel home court advantage will be important to them come April as evidenced by their 13-1 home record, best in the NBA.

*Many fans are wondering if the Celtics will make their usual trade deadline move as they have the past 3 years (PJ Brown, Mikki Moore, Nate Robinson).  Such a move will be unnecessary as they will actually be getting healthy around that time.  Expect Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West, Jermaine O’ Neal and Rajon Rondo to all be fully healthy come mid- February.  I have long said this is the deepest team I can remember in the NBA.  For that very reason I think they are the best team in the NBA.

*There has been a lot of discussion as to what the Boston Red Sox batting order will be come 2011.  Some writers (Gordon Edes) actually think that Dustin Pedroia will bat 5th or 6th.  Now what bothers me is that he is a so called expert and gets paid to offer his opinion on such matters.  But how can one man who has his amount of access to the club even think this?  Why would anyone bat the league leader in runs scored when healthy (2008-118 runs 2009-115 runs) deep in the lineup and not have him set the table for the big boppers?  His logic escapes me and if anyone can help me understand what he is thinking it will be greatly appreciated.

*In regard to the Sox lineup, here is something that hasn’t really been brought up.  Why not bad Carl Crawford ahead of David Ortiz? If Crawford was to bat in the 5 hole and Ortiz 6, there would be no more Ortiz shift.  A walk to Crawford would soon turn into a triple if teams were to employ the dreaded shift.  With the shift out of play, Ortiz is looking at 15 to 20 more hits this season.  At the same time I see the flaw in having back to back lefties in the lineup,  but I think it is more valuable to get rid of that shift as many times as possible.

*Last week I wanted Claude Julien fired and was calling for Santa to give him a shake weight to occupy his time.  Don’t get me wrong I still want him canned.  But how cool was it to see Shawn Thornton drop the gloves 2 seconds into the game against the Thrashers last Thursday night? I was calling for some kind of spark that would show me the Bruins did have heart.  Thornton produced that and then found the twine twice in a 4-1 win over the second best goalie in the NHL, in Ondrej Pavelec.  Hopefully Bruins fans will look back to December 23 as the turning point in the season, that got the boys in black and gold going.

*Speaking of the Bruins, I appreciate Marc Savard’s effort in trying to drop the gloves toward the end of the Atlanta game.  But what the hell was he thinking?  This is a man who was knocked out for an extended amount of time last season after a cheap shot by Matt Cooke.  Then missed the first few months of this season with post concussion syndrome.  I never want to see one of my guys turtle but that was an exception.  I understand he didn’t want to be the only one on the ice not dropping his gloves, but he has to realize common sense.  Don’t put yourself at obvious risk of furthering your injury!

I can now be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNtcf.