Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Red Sox Should Retire Wade Boggs' No. 26; He Earned It

Wade Boggs finished his 18-year career with a .328 batting average, .415 OBP, 3,010 hits, 1,412 walks, 578 doubles, 1,513 runs, and 1,014 RBI.

Eleven of Boggs' 18 seasons were spent in Boston, where he posted the vast majority of those numbers.

Boggs place in Red Sox history is quite secure. Twenty-two years after leaving Boston, the left-handed hitter remains second in batting (.338), third in on-base percentage (.428), fourth in walks (1,004), fifth in hits (2,098), fifth in doubles (422), and sixth in runs (1,067).

Yet, despite his greatness, and all of his many achievements, Boggs' No. 26 still hasn't been retired by the Red Sox after all these years.

Starting in 1983, Boggs won five batting titles with Boston, including four in a row from 1985 to 1988. The only other players to win four batting titles in a row are Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn.

Boggs also batted .349 in 1982, his rookie year, which would have won the batting title. But he was 121 plate appearances short of the required minimum of 502.

From 1983 to 1989, Boggs had seven consecutive seasons with 200 or more hits, an American League record. However, Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki later surpassed this mark, with 10.

Boggs' ability to hit the ball bordered on freakish.

In 1985, Boggs had 72 multi-hit games, a club record.

That year, Boggs also hit .390 with the count 0-2. Think about that for a moment.

In 1986, Boggs faced 3,059 pitches and swung and missed just 46 times.

In fact, Boggs struck out only 470 times in 7,323 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox. That's just 6 percent of the time, which is simply amazing.

Yes, the man had hawk eyes.

The third baseman went to eight consecutive All Star Games with Boston, and 12 consecutive overall.

Considering all of the above numbers, how did it come to pass that Boggs ever played for another team? Well, the Red Sox simply let him walk away as a free agent.

Boggs batted a career-worst .259 in 1992, and the Red Sox didn't want him back. So, the free agent signed a three-year, $11 million deal with the Yankees in December of that year. New York offered him one more year than the Dodgers, who were also interested.

The perennial All Star quickly proved he wasn't washed up. As a member of the Yankees, he went on to make three straight All-Star appearances, had four straight .300-plus seasons, and even collected two Gold Glove Awards for his defense.

In 1996, Boggs helped the Yankees win their first World Series title in 18 years, which would ultimately be his only world title. The image of him riding around Yankee Stadium after Game 6 — on the back of an NYPD horse, with his index finger in the air — is burned into the minds of many Red Sox fans.

Boggs ultimately spent five seasons with New York, and then two with Tampa Bay, before retiring. But those seven cumulative years were still four less than the eleven he spent in Boston.

In fact, Boggs is enshrined in Cooperstown, wearing a Red Sox cap. Yet, his No. 26 has yet to be retired by the organization. Despite this, the Red Sox inducted Boggs into their Hall of Fame in 2004.

According the Red Sox' criteria, a player must end his career with Boston, among other things, for his number to be retired. Yet, that stipulation won't likely keep Boston from retiring Pedro Martinez's number this season.

Moreover, Carlton Fisk — who retired as a member of the White Sox, and played more seasons with Chicago than Boston — had his No. 27 retired by the Red Sox.

I think that any reasonable person would concur; it's finally time for the Red Sox to do the right thing and retire Wade Bogg's No. 26 this season.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Red Sox Roster Has Undergone Vast Changes Since 2013 World Series Winner

Considering that the 2014 Red Sox went 71-91, we all knew that big changes were in store.

This offseason, Boston has added a number of new players, including Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello.

At last season's trade deadline, the Red Sox added Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Mookie Betts was called up at mid-season, and Cuban Rusney Castillo debuted with the Sox in September.

Gone from last year's club are Chris Capuano, Mike Carp, Rubby De La Rosa, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Will Middlebrooks, Andrew Miller, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, and David Ross, among others.

In short, the 2015 Red Sox will look quite different from the group that broke camp last spring. Yet, this is almost an entirely different team than the one that won the World Series just 15 months ago.

In that time, the Boston roster has been almost completely overhauled. The scope of the makeover is rather stunning for a team that won it all so recently.

To follow is a look at all of the players from the 2013 Red Sox who are no longer with the team:

Alfredo Aceves
Andrew Bailey
Daniel Bard
Pedro Beato
Jose De La Torre
Ryan Dempster
Felix Doubront
Joel Hanrahan
John Lackey
Jon Lester
Andrew Miller
Franklin Morales
Clay Mortensen
Jake Peavy
Matt Thornton
(There are even more, but they were bit players: Rubby De La Rosa, Brayan Villarreal, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson)

Ryan Lavarnway
David Ross
Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Mike Carp
Pedro Ciriaco
Stephen Drew
Jose Iglesias
Josh McDonald
Will Middlebrooks
Brandon Snyder

Quintin Berry
Jacoby Ellsbury
Jonny Gomes

If you weren't counting, that's 28 players who were on the roster just over a year ago and are now elsewhere.

So, what will the Boston roster look like on Opening Day 2015?

It's safe to assume that the Red Sox will carry the customary 12 pitchers: five starters and seven relievers.

Barring another trade or free agent signing, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson will comprise the rotation.

Craig Breslow (L), Tommy Layne (L), Edward Mujica (R), Junichi Tazawa (R), Koji Uehara (R), and Anthony Vavaro (R) will likely constitute six of the seven bullpen spots. Drake Britton (L), Zeke Spruill (R), and Brandon Workman (R) will probably compete for the final spot.

Consequently, the Sox will also likely carry the customary 13 position players. The starting lineup appears set.

Manager John Farrell has indicated that Mookie Betts will probably bat leadoff this season, followed by Dustin Pedroia in the second spot. Newcomers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval will likely to slot into the heart of the batting order.

Farrell says he likes the idea of left-right balance in the middle of the order, with lefty David Ortiz batting third, followed by Ramirez (right-handed), Sandoval (switch-hitter) and Mike Napoli (righty).

Rusney Castillo, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez will likely bat in the last three spots.

But the batting order accounts for just nine players, who will get the bulk of the playing time. At least one bench role remains unclear.

The trade of Yoenis Cespedes helped to clear an outfield logjam, but there are still at least six outfielders vying for five spots. Assuming that Jackie Bradley starts the season in Pawtucket, another outfielder still needs to be moved (Allen Craig?). The Sox currently have Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino, Craig and Daniel Nava (six players) contending for five outfield spots.

Here's a look at the projected lineup:

DH David Ortiz

C Christian Vazquez, plus backup Ryan Hanigan
1B Mike Napoli
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Pedro Sandoval
SS Xander Bogaerts
Utility Brock Holt

RF Shane Victorino / Mookie Betts
CF Rusney Castillo
LF Hanley Ramirez
OF/1B Daniel Nava / Allen Craig

That amounts to 14 players for 13 available roster spots.

Something has to give. The Sox will likely allow Craig and Victorino to showcase their talents for other teams during spring training, allowing the veterans to prove that they are both healthy and productive. Each player could be in line for a big bounce back season. The Sox could get more value by holding onto them for another couple of months and letting their values rise.

There is no rush to make a move. Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Meyers on February 21, while position players report on the 25th. Boston opens the regular season on April 6 in Philadelphia.

So, unless Ben Cherington has a plan for a No. 1 starter, the only real questions at this point are the seventh bullpen spot and the fifth outfield spot.

One way or the other, the Red Sox 2015 roster will be quite different from a year ago, and wildly different from the squad that shocked the baseball world in October 2013.