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Boston Red Sox

No Reason Not To Believe In Sandoval Comeback

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The Boston Red Sox had a great deal of depth at third base at the start of last season. Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw, super-utility man Brock Holt and no.1 MLB prospect Yoan Moncada (converted from second base) were all in contention for the spot. Though he was originally the front-runner, Pablo Sandoval gained a plethora of negative media attention for showing up in Fort Myers even heavier than usual. He struggled in the preseason and was eventually benched for Shaw. He did appear in a couple games to start the year, but soon his entire season was lost to what was revealed to be a torn left labrum.

Sandoval looked big even for Panda standards entering 2016. Photo by The Boston Globe.

However, although his missed virtually all of 2016, Sandoval is now guaranteed to be the club’s everyday guy at the hot corner. The Red Sox traded Shaw to Milwaukee this offseason for right-handed setup man Tyler Thornburg and sent Moncada to the White Sox for ace southpaw Chris Sale in one of the biggest moves in recent MLB history. With Holt likely to continue his utility role, Red Sox fans know who their 3B will be this year, but that doesn’t mean everyone is jumping for joy.

Though the Sale-Moncada blockbuster was a brilliant move by Boston because it gives the team the AL’s best rotation by far, many fans reacted negatively out of distrust of Sandoval. Because Moncada was thought to be the team’s 3B of the future, the trade made it evident that Sandoval is the guy at third now, they are counting on him to return to form in order to be competitive in the team’s first season of the post-Big Papi era.

For Red Sox  fans, it’s understandable why skepticism is being thrown the Panda’s way. The team invested $90 million in the big man in November 2014 and he has largely failed to live up to it at this point. Sandoval’s first season in Boston was quite underwhelming as he batted just .245 and drove in a measly 47 along with just 10 homers. To top that off, his second season ended practically before it started. Sandoval does have a lot to prove this season.

Despite all this, there is no reason to believe that Sandoval won’t bounce back in 2017. For starters, Hanley Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox immediately after Sandoval did, also struggled mightily in his first season in Boston, driving in just 53 and looking like a train wreck in left field. Many were tough on Ramirez as well entering 2016 and he responded with a 30 HR, 111 RBI campaign. If Hanley did it, Sandoval certainly can too.

The other reason to believe is the work that Sandoval has put in since he’s been out. He progressed so well in his rehabilitation that he may have returned last season had the Sox not been swept out of the ALDS.  Manager John Farrell also reported then that Sandoval was working diligently in Fort Myers to get in better shape and had lost 15 pounds by last August. It appears that the slugging Venezuelan has lost even more since then in a recent photo that undoubtedly had fans across the MLB double taking.

Sandoval looks like a new man in this December 2016 shot. Photo by WBZ-Boston.

Unless he goes on a two-month buffet binge, it looks as if Sandoval will be entering this season in the best shape of his life. The 30-year-old has proven in the past that his weight hasn’t hindered him from being a capable third baseman as his career Fielding % is .958. But, just imagine what he’ll be capable of now that he is healthier than ever. AL Comeback Player of the Year 2017? You never know.

With a rotation comprised of Rick Porcello, David Price, Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez and now Chris Sale alongside a talented young lineup and a reinvigorated Sandoval, the Boston Red Sox are looking like a very, very good team entering this year.

 

 

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Sam Kennedy Says Keeping Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez ‘Difficult’, But There is a Way

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Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez

After a disappointing 2019 campaign following a 2018 World Series championship, the Boston Red Sox are looking to trim payroll and revamp for the 2020 season.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy spoke Monday about the team’s future and stated that there is a way for the team to keep superstar outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez and stay below Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax, but it won’t be an easy task to perform.

“There is a way, but obviously it will be difficult given the nature of the agreements and the contracts we have in place,” Kennedy said, according to ESPN.

“We have a very targeted and strategic plan that we’re building now. Some of the dates related to contract decisions come right after the World Series. So we’ve had some time in September to focus on the offseason given where we were in the standings,” he said. “It is going to be a challenging offseason, but we’re ready to attack it head-on and do everything we can to put a competitive team out there not just for next year but 2021, 2022.”

The comments come off the heels of a Friday media session with team owners John Henry and Tom Werner where the two stated that they were prepared to cut payroll to get under the luxury-tax threshold next season.

The Red Sox have had baseball’s highest payroll for two consecutive seasons, exceeding the competitive balance threshold of $208 million in each of those seasons.

Doing so for a third straight season would see an astronomical rise of the taxes.

“We need to be under the CBT,” Henry said on Friday.

“We will continue to demonstrate a willingness to go over the CBT,” Kennedy said. “It is going to be a challenging offseason, but we are going to attack it.”

“We absolutely love Mookie Betts as a player, as a person,” Kennedy said. “We’ve gotten to know his family. You hope that he’s a guy that is here for the long term.”

Kennedy also added that he took no offense at the idea of Betts testing the free agent market this upcoming winter.

“I think it speaks to Mookie’s confidence and how special of a player he is,” Kennedy said of Betts’ potential testing of the market.

“He really does love it here. He told me he loves it here. … You can see with the joy and energy and enthusiasm in which he approaches playing baseball at Fenway Park — the fans love him.”

Kennedy also lauded the performance of Martinez, while also pointing out his importance to the team’s success.

“You want J.D. Martinez in the middle of your lineup,” Kennedy said. “He’s a world champion and was a key part of last year’s success, so we will see where it goes in the future.”

The Red Sox have a lot of work to do this offseason, and it may include losing Martinez, or Betts, or potentially both as they look to drop payroll.

 

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Fire Dave Dombrowski

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Dave Dombrowski

The Boston Red Sox have fired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski one year after winning the World Series, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The Red Sox fired Dombrowski, 63, on Sunday and they will elevate senior vice president Raquel Ferreira and assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran and Zack Scott to jointly lead their baseball operations department for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Dombrowski was hired back in August 2015 and was the architect of the World Series Championship team in 2018.

Dombrowski made some major moves during his tenure, such as trading for Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrell, signing J.D. Martinez and David Price, and hiring manager Joey Cora.

“This is a guy that gave me a chance to come here and be a big league manager,” Cora said. “It’s one of those things that caught me. They just told me, so I’m not ready to talk about it.”

An excessive payroll and getting this team back on track will be just some of the tasks that Dombrowski’s successors will have to do.

For all that Dombrowski had accomplished in Boston, he came under scrutiny this season for some of the big moves he missed on, as well as the team’s poor season that has them well out of the division race and 8 games back from the wild card.

 

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Boston Red Sox

Red Sox David Price Blasts Dennis Eckersley

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David Price

Some feuds just refuse to die, and that seems to be the case with Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who is a TV analyst for the team, whose feud kicked off around two years ago.

It all started when Eckersley made a comment about Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on air, leading to Price confronting him on the team plane, blocking his path, mocking, and cursing at him as some players applauded.

A few years after the incident, Eckersley made comments about Price during an interview with the Boston Globe that ran on Tuesday.

“I didn’t know how to deal with that. I don’t plan on saying a word to him, I don’t plan on seeing him, never,” Eckersley said. “I don’t really give a — one way or another. I don’t think he really cares one way or the other.”

Price made some not-so-subtle comments, in response, on his Twitter account via some emojis on Wednesday, but unloaded on Eckersley when speaking to the media at Fenway PArk on Wednesday.

“Honestly, I just think it’s trash. He had an unbelievable career and he’s a Hall of Famer,” Price said (h/t ESPN). “I saw his special on MLB Network. It was cool. The one thing that stood out to me was that he had zero former teammates in that interview. Not one talking about him. It was him talking about himself.

“If anybody ever does a special on me after baseball, I won’t need to go on that interview. I will have former teammates. I will have former coaches. He didn’t have that. To me, that’s all you need to know. That tells the story right there.”

It seems that this feud is far from being over.

 

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