February 16, 2018

Betts And Bogaerts Describe A Tense, Uncomfortable 2017 Clubhouse

Both Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts admitted yesterday that the 2017 Red Sox had a tense, problematic clubhouse.

Dan Shaughnessy wrote a column about it in Friday's Globe and (what a surprise!), he made it all about him (and the other writers) right off the bat:
So there. It's all true. We weren't making it up last summer/fall when we told you that the first-place 2017 Red Sox were sour, unhappy, dysfunctional, and headed for a fall. ...*
I think we still enjoyed it. But we could have had more fun. Through the rough times, I think those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much. If we hit a rough patch this year, I feel like maybe we can learn from last year and continue to enjoy the game and maybe get out of it faster. ...

[There was] tension in the locker room as far as if things are down. ... I think this year will be a little different. I'm going to approach things a little differently as far as, if I'm not playing well or if we're losing or whatnot, I can do my best to try and find a way to get everybody back happy, smiling, excited and going to play. There were times where we lost a couple games in a row and we weren't necessarily down but we were kind of pressing to try and get back to the winning side instead of just letting it happen, letting the game play out. Especially late in the season when the gap started closing as far as the winner of the division.
Betts talked about moving forward without David Ortiz:
Nobody is him. So we have to find our niche in the clubhouse and figure out what works for us and how to get back to that. I knew it would be kinda tough. ... [L]ast year was definitely a learning curve. I think this year we're getting to kinda know how it works without him now. We may have him around a little bit but I think we have to work on just focusing on us and who's in the clubhouse and figuring out a way to lighten things up throughout the whole process. ... I think as a whole group it's just going to take four or five, six guys to kinda fill that one spot. It just lets you know how important he was.
Bogaerts recalled the 2013 team:
We were a lot like brothers, a lot like family on and off the field. All these years, I believe we have better teams, paperwise, namewise. [But] 2013, we were so close with each other. We had such a bond. You try to learn the stuff that they learned and [pass it] on to a guy like maybe Devers. I'm looking forward to it, to that challenge. ... We're all grown men. I definitely believe we all learn from last year. We had a lot of stuff going on last year, to be honest. We all live, learn and move forward. We can't just sit back and keep reminding ourselves about the past. That's not something we want to do.
When asked to elaborate on "a lot of stuff", Bogaerts replied: "I mean we all know. We all know what was going on. I don't think I really want to get into details."

Also: Hanley Ramirez promised to hit for more power in 2018.
You're gonna see it, for sure. Literally, I was hitting with one arm last year and I hit 23 [home runs]. Now that I feel good, there are not going to be excuses. Better go out there and hit 30.
* The CHB informed Betts that "the team [described elsewhere in the column as "a pack of sensitive, spoiled millennials"] isn't generating much buzz back home" and asked if Betts could do anything to fix that ... because ... well, all smart baseball fans know the team that generates the most "buzz" a day or two after spring training camps open in mid-February automatically wins the World Series. (No link to any CHB material will ever be provided here.)

American League "To Speed Up Ball Games"

To Speed Up Ball Games
Ban Johnson Declares Unnecessary Delays Must Cease

Ball games in the American League will be speeded up hereafter, according to President Johnson, who has instructed his umpires not to tolerate any unnecessary delays. The order today is the outgrowth of a complaint made by President Comiskey of the Chicago Americans, who said that protests of some managers and players about the condition of the ball in recent games has made it to necessary to play two hours or more.
The New York Times, September 2, 1917

February 8, 2018

Truck Day

Holy shit. Truck Day was this past Monday! ... How did I miss it?

Ian Browne noted this year's truck contains "20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 batting-practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of uniform pants, 400 T-shirts, 400 pairs of socks and 20 cases of bubble gum". Al Hartz is driving the truck for the 20th* consecutive year. He will arrive in Fort Myers today.

* The Herald claims this is Hartz's 21st consecutive year.

Predictions For 2018: Lindy's & Athlon

Two more baseball annuals are out.


Red Sox (WC)
Blue Jays

World Series: Dodgers versus Yankees

MVP: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland; Corey Seager, Dodgers
Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Astros; Carlos Martinez, Cardinals
Rookie: Francisco Mejia, Cleveland; Ronald Acuna, Atlanta
Rookie Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani, Angels; Walker Buehler, Dodgers
Manager: Mike Scioscia, Angels; Dave Roberts, Dodgers


Red Sox
The road to the East title still goes through Boston. The Red Sox, who have won the division the past two seasons, have the requisite 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation (Chris Sale and David Price) to be formidable in playoff series. It's a good situation for new manager Alex Cora.
The new look Bronx Bombers will be one of the sport's focal points this summer with Giancarlo Stanton joining Aaron Judge in a power-packed lineup. The pitching is first-rate, too; they yielded the second fewest runs in the American League last season.

Red Sox
Cora played in Boston. That should give him a good idea of what it takes to manager there, but it is not enough. He's going to have a tough time this year. He's smart and will learn, and be better in his second year. ... The first thing Cora has to do is get Pedroia on his side. Pedroia runs that clubhouse. Farrell lost Pedroia and was finished from there on out. ... They really missed Big Papi last year. Nobody is that lineup really hit for power. You can't win playing 81 games in that ballpark with a bunch of Judy hitters. ... Bogaerts should do some damage in that park. He hits too many grounders. Pull the ball in the air; and he'll get 50 doubles. ... Price's command was terrible last year. He used to throw strikes with everything, but only the fastball worked for him.
Things must hve really gotten bad in the clubhouse for Cashman to fire Girardi. He's an uptight guy, but he won and did a good job with that club. ... I get that Boone's a great guy and relates well to people, but there's more to the job than that. ... It's the type of lineup that can go into a funk without warning for a week or so because everyone is striking out.
Athlon Sports

Red Sox (WC)
Blue Jays

ALCS: Astros over Yankees
NLCS: Nationals over Cubs
World Series: Astros over Nationals

MVP: Mike Trout, Angels (Giancarlo Stanton #2, Aaron Judge #6, Mookie Betts #7, Didi Gregorius #9); Bryce Harper, Nationals
Cy Young: Chris Sale, Red Sox (Luis Severino #3); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie: Shohei Ohtani, Angels; Ronald Acuna, Atlanta


Red Sox
The Yankees, on paper, have passed them. ... You don't know what you'll get from David Price with that elbow. And that market is all wrong for him. I bet he wishes he'd signed somewhere else, but he does have the chance to opt out after the season. ... Their young core is impressive. Andrew Benintendi has a lot of ceiling left, Jackie Bradley Jr. is a fabulous defender, and Mookie Betts can do it all. I'm excited to see Rafael Devers for a full year. He's got great hands at the plate, he plays loose, and he knows the strike zone.
They're primed to make a deep run. There's nowhere for a pitcher to breathe against that lineup. ... Stanton and Judge can be pitched to; like most big guys, they have a hole up and in. ... But only the best of the best have the command to consistently exploit that weakness, and of course those guys hammer mistakes. I have a lot of confidence in Luis Severino; he's found his footing now, and he'll be one of the best pitchers in the game for the next decade.
Final Analysis

Red Sox
Two years ago, after a season that saw every New York regular post a below-average OPS, it appeared the Red Sox would dominate their rivals for at least five years. Instead, the Yankees once again look ready to rule, and it's fair to wonder if the Red Sox can keep pace. ... If they don't, we'll be wondering how this all fell apart so quickly.