March 29, 2017

SB Nation: "Red Sox Are The Easy Pick For First" In AL East

From SB Nation's 2017 Season Preview:
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. New York Yankees
5. Baltimore Orioles

This is easily the most difficult division to predict. Not at the top, with the Red Sox having a clear advantage according to the computers and our common sense, but the rest of the way down. ...

The Red Sox are the easy pick for first, and there's a temptation to suffer from Red Sox fatigue and talk yourself into a wacky surprise of a pick. Don't fall for it. Even if David Price is out until May, this is a team with everything you want to see in a franchise: a stable mix of veterans and youngsters, a deep minor-league system, and the money and willingness to fix problems as they come up.

March 17, 2017

Everyone Loves A Contest #21: 2017 Red Sox W-L

With Opening Day a little more than two weeks away (April 3), it's time for this year's Red Sox W-L Contest!

Correctly guess Boston's 2017 regular season record and you could win a copy of The New Baseball Bible: Notes, Nuggets, Lists, and Legends from Our National Pastime, by Dan Schlossberg.

Contest entries must be emailed to me and include the following two items:

1. Predicted 2017 W-L record
2. Tiebreaker: Chris Sale's ERA

W-L guesses must be exact. Tiebreaker winner, if needed, will be the closest guess, either over or under.

Deadline: Sunday, April 2, 11:59 PM.

March 16, 2017

Culture Club: The Red Sox, Post-Papi

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, March 15, 2017
Life for the Red Sox without David Ortiz requires group therapy. Nearly every spring training morning, coach Brian Butterfield assembles the players to impress upon them the little virtues of team play by reviewing the previous game with a humorous touch. These sessions are designed to establish the culture of having the right culture, which is why they are known in Red Sox camp as "Culture Culture." ...

Spring training may be too long and sometimes tedious, but it is the incubator of a team's culture. ...

The Red Sox are holding their first camp without Ortiz since 2002. He became one of the most indispensable figures in the game, not only for his bat but also because of his generosity of spirit. Teammates rallied around him, whether in the dugout during a World Series game, in the clubhouse before a big series or after a bad loss, or in one of his many backyard barbecues at which all were welcome. ...

The reigning AL East champion Red Sox now belong to outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and shortstop Xander Bogaerts—all younger than 26 ... Last year, Boston fielded its youngest playoff team over a full season since 1975, and without Ortiz, this one could be even younger. ...

Boston is a loaded, deep team, probably a win or two better than Cleveland as the class of the American League. ... [A]t the moment, the Red Sox have no obvious vulnerability. ...

It's been seven years since Boston reached back-to-back postseasons. Each of its past three 90-plus win seasons (2009, '11 and '13) was followed by a retreat—by six, 21 and 26 fewer wins—the next season. The Red Sox won 93 games last year.

March 11, 2017

Farrell's Lineup May Have Benintendi 3rd, Betts 4th

Red Sox manager John Farrell has talked a little bit about his 2017 lineup and the issue of having a run of right-handed hitters at the top of the lineup.

To offset that, Farrell is considering having rookie Andrew Benintendi bat third, after Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts would likely hit fourth, followed by Hanley Ramirez.

There might be some lineups here in camp when Bogey returns that would take a look at that. If you were to take the approach of Andrew in the two-hole, where does that put Bogey? We're also talking about a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner who has had very good production offensively. If there's a way to combine breaking up the right-handers and not having a string of three or more right-handers in a row, is that one potential option with Benny in the three-hole? That puts Pedey, Bogey 1-2 with Benny and then Mookie four and Hanley five. You can probably make the argument those are our best five hitters in the top half of the lineup with some balance as best possible.
Wherever they need me, wherever that may be, it doesn't really matter to me. Approach or anything doesn't change for me. I'll be the same wherever I hit. Obviously there's a strategy behind it. You have to break up the righties. I'm just going to worry about hitting.
Farrell also had some good news on Saturday morning about David Price:
Yesterday we talked about increasing the rehab and putting some plyometrics in place. But he actually went and threw in the cage today, about 25 throws and the range of motion, the freeness to the movement is all positive. Granted, we recognize we're at the early stages right now, but it's a good day for David. ... All of the early phase of throwing are going to be short, controlled effort and energy. We're not even mapping out distances right now. We're more interested in seeing how his arm responds to even the light throwing.
Speaking of Price, the lefty did a Q&A interview with the Globe's Stan Grossfeld a few days ago. WEEI's Alex Reimer called the interview "bizarre" and "troublesome". He said Price was "paranoid", thought the pitcher was "losing his mind" and warned that we are "witnessing the self-destruction of a man". Reimer believes nearly the entire published interview "should disturb Red Sox management".

It sounds pretty horrible, doesn't it? I read Grossfeld's Q&A before seeing Reimer's description and I do not agree with his description. Price certainly comes off as thin-skinned and he seems to have a pair of rabbit ears when it comes to the boo birds and sports radio trolls, which is a shame, but in no way would I call it anywhere near a meltdown. Read it yourself.

March 7, 2017

US Soccer Now Requires That Players Stand For National Anthem

U.S. Soccer Becomes First Major American Sports Organization To Require That Players Stand For National Anthem
Emma Baccellieri, Deadspin, March 4, 2017
Five months after U.S. Soccer lashed out at Megan Rapinoe for kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest before an exhibition game, they've codified their dislike for silent and non-disruptive self-expression in this form. As of today, they're apparently the first major American sports organization to formally announce a requirement that players stand for the national anthem since Colin Kaepernick sparked anthem protests across several sports last fall. ...

Players can represent their country only, apparently, if they're willing to represent the version of the country in which U.S. Soccer is most interested in selling.
Rapinoe, last September:
I am disgusted with the way he [Colin Kaepernick] has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this. It is overtly racist: "Stay in your place, black man." Just didn't feel right to me. We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated. We are not saying we are not one the greatest countries in world. Just need to accept that [it is] not perfect, things are broken. ... And quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.
The new bylaw:
New Policy 604-1
(National Anthem)

"All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthem at any event in which the Federation is represented."

Passed by the Board of Directors on February 9, 2017

March 2, 2017

What's Going On?

After sitting in a cramped, overheated plane for 12+ hours, I was back home in good old Mississauga, Ontario, at eight o'clock this morning. I did not see any Red Sox news while I was away, so I'm wondering what has been going on in camp: good news, bad news, questions raised, answers provided?