2018 Red Sox Bench Preview

One important battle for Red Sox fans to watch this spring will be the bench. Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland will be sharing first base duties. Eduardo Nunez will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns from injury and then become a super utility player. That leaves Brock Holt, Devin Marrero, and Blake Swihart battling for the last two bench spots. All three players have their strengths and weaknesses. Swihart finally looks healthy after battling injuries the past two years and has no options left. All three of these players will be looking to prove to the Sox why they should make the opening day roster.

Coming into 2018  Swihart is only three years removed from being the Red Sox top prospect. He made his debut in 2015 and did not disappoint. In 2015 he played in 84 games and hit .274 with five home runs. He was seen as the catcher of the future due to his offensive upside. In 2016 he played in only nineteen games before an ankle injury ended his season. In 2017 Christian Vazquez had a breakout season and Swihart only had five plate appearances. Swihart is no longer seen as the catcher of the future in Boston. As a result the Red Sox have used his athleticism to find him playing time and have turned him into a super utility player. So far this spring Swihart has returned healthy and looks to have regained his stroke. He had two home runs today against Baltimore reminding people that he is still dangerous with the bat. Swihart has no options left meaning if he does not make the opening day roster he would be placed on waivers and most likely be claimed by another team. The Sox value Swihart for his bat and if he can stay hot it will be hard to deny him a spot.

Devin Marrero like Swihart is out of options. Marrero does not have the offensive capability like Swihart but he is extremely good defensively. In seventy one games in the majors last year he hit .211. Marrero does offer some value with the bat as last year he hit .291 against lefthanders. In order to secure a spot he will have to prove he can hit right handed pitching as last year he hit .172 against righties. Marrero does not have the offensive upside like Swihart. He does have the defensive upside Swihart lacks and he can play multiple positions. In order to earn a spot he will have to show improvement with his bat.

Brock Holt unlike Swihart and Marrero has been a staple on the Sox roster since 2014. The Red Sox acquired Holt from Pittsburgh in 2014 in exchange for Mark Melancon. Holt instantly became a fan favorite with his all out effort in a forgettable 2014 season for the Red Sox. In 2015 he made his first All Star team and was viewed as an essential player to the Red Sox. Over the past two year’s Holt has struggled with numerous injuries. He’s failed to play in one hundred games the past two seasons and last year he hit a career low .200. Holt was once a lock to make the roster but this year that is not the case. Like Marrero he will have to show he can hit. He will also have to show that he can stay healthy and that he can be the player he once was. Holt was much more experience than Marrero and Swihart. If Holt shows he isn’t past his injuries then he may not have a spot on the roster.

All three of these players have something to prove. They will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this spring which will make Spring Training even better. Only two of these three will be on the Red Sox opening day roster. Red Sox fans will just have to wait and find out which two it is.

 

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Astros Force Game Seven

Last night the Houston Astros offense came to alive as they defeated the New York Yankees 7-1. It looked as if the Astros were on the verge of losing the series after their bats went dead. The Astros won the first two games of the series and looked to be pulling away. The series changed however when the series shifted to New York as the Yankees won games 3-5. The Astros bats were held in check as before yesterday the most runs they scored in a game in this series was four. With their season on the brink of ending the Astros key players stepped up when needed the most.

 

At this year’s trade deadline, the Astros surprised many by trading for Tigers long time ace Justin Verlander. He has been nothing short of amazing in the playoffs. In the first game of this series Verlander pitched a complete game while only allowing one run. Last night when the Astros needed him the most he delivered. He went seven innings while only allowing one run and struck out eight. The Astros offense backed their ace as Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Brian McCann all came up big.

Altuve who may win the AL MVP award had two hits including a homerun. Bregman who has been clutch for the Astros during the playoffs had two runs batted in including a double in the eight as the Astros pounded David Robertson. McCann who had been quiet in the series up to this point also had an RBI double in the eight off Robertson. During the regular season the Astros were known for their offense because of their deep lineup. In their first-round matchup against the Red Sox the Astros again displayed their potent offense. Against the Yankees their offense had been kept in check until last night. With their season on the line the Astros offense came alive behind the man on the mound has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tonight, the Astros place the ball and their season in the hands of Charlie Morton. Game seven is where legends are born and tonight for both these teams legends will be made.

Photo Credit: Marco Torres

#Astros

David Price Proves His Critics Wrong

In December of 2015 the Red Sox signed David Price to a seven year contract worth 217 million dollars. The deal at the time was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. Since signing that deal Price has received heavy criticism and clashed with the media in Boston. He hasn’t put up the spectacular numbers he did prior to arriving in Boston and has continued to struggle in the postseason until this past week. This year Price has dealt with elbow problems which placed him on the disabled list for the majority of the second half of the season forcing the Red Sox to use him as a reliever for the playoffs. In the opening round against the Houston Astros Price is pitching like the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were getting. As a starter Price is 0-8 in the postseason and in his only  postseason start last year against the Cleveland Indians he did not pitch well. Yesterday Price changed the narrative and saved the Red Sox season.

So far in this series against the Astros the Red Sox starting pitching has gotten destroyed. That didn’t change yesterday as the Red Sox starter Doug Fister only lasted one inning. Price entered the game in the fourth inning after two scoreless innings of relief from Joe Kelly and stunned the Fenway faithful. Facing the most potent offense in baseball Price delivered four innings of scoreless relief. The Sox bats followed suit as they came alive for the first time of the series and scored ten runs. The offensive explosion included homeruns by Jackie Bradley  and rookie Rafael Devers. The Red Sox needed some sort of jolt and it came from Price.

Many people have been critical of the starter this year. He needed a defining moment in a Red Sox uniform and he got that yesterday. Price may never pitch again this series depending on if the Red Sox can complete a comeback and win this series. Regardless of how this series ends Price stepped up when the Sox needed him the most and finally began to justify the contract Boston gave him.

Photo Credit: Jason Miller/ Getty Images

Patriots Make A Statement

Brandin Cooks, Corey Moore

Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Michael Dwyer

This past Sunday was unlike any other both NFL players and fans have ever seen. As most people have heard last week President Donald Trump was very critical when asked about players who were sitting during the national anthem to raise awareness for racial inequality in the United Sates.  Trump said that players who kneel during the national anthem should be pulled of the field and fired. This is not a political blog nor a political post however Trumps comments were both uncalled for and wrong.  when moments on Sunday occur such as the solidarity that was shown it can’t be ignored. On sunday NFL teams showed that they stood by each other with displays of unity. The Patriots players and team staff linked arms as some players kneeled during the national anthem. Many team’s did something similar as it varied throughout the league. Even though sundays are for football for a brief few minutes on Sunday these players reminded fans that they are more than just athletes.

With Politics aside once the Patriots and Texans game started fans were in for a wild game that reminded us why Tom Brady will apparently never age. So far this season the problem for the Patriots has been their defense and on Sunday it was the same. The Texans Rookie Deshuan Watson threw for over three hundred yards including two touchdowns. The rookie Quarterback was known for his elusiveness in college and on Sunday the Patriots had no answer. Even when the Patriots defenders got pressure on Watson he was able to avoid it giving his receivers more time to get open.  Heading into the last five minutes of the game it looked as if the Patriots were going to lose the game making them 1-2 and creating doubts about this team after an offseason which brought talk of an undefeated season. The Patriots however still had one more chip to play and that was Brady. Like he’s done so many times Brady rescued this team. The Patriots quarterback threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Cooks with 23 seconds left to put the Patriots up by 36- 33.

It was Brady’s fifth touchdown of the game as he also threw for 378 yards. Had the Patriots lost this game this team would be viewed very differently today. So far this season Brady leads all quarterback’s in yards and he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down a bit. Eventually Brady will start to show his age however at this point at 40 he looks better than ever. The decline that everyone is talking about with perhaps the greatest quarterback ever seems to be far away. As Brady showed on that last drive people should not doubt him or his team.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Patriots #NFL

Bruins Change The Narrative

Boston Bruins v Ottawa Senators - Game Five

Photo Credit: Chad Zimmermann

Today the Boston Bruins made a move that has been taking them all offseason to complete. The Bruins resigned forward David Pastrnak to a six year deal worth 40 million dollars . At the end of the deal Pastrnak will still be only 28 looking for an even bigger deal. Called Pasta by many in New England the young talented forward is coming off a breakout season in which he scored 34 goals while dishing out 36 assists in 75 games. This shows a shift for the Bruins as an organization. For many years and rightfully so the Bruins have gained a reputation for letting their young stars walk rather than extending them. They have traded young players such as Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, Phil Kessel, and Joe Thornton back in the early 2000’s. All these players have had very productive years since leaving the Bruins while the Bruins haven’t received a player in any of the deals that’s made the impact those players have on their new teams.

Last summer the Bruins extended Brad Marchand after he had a breakout year to a eight year 49 million dollar deal. Now with the Bruins extending Pastrnak they have two impactful forwards committed to the Bruins for at least the next six years.  They also did not have to break the bank for either of these players as both deals leave the Bruins with plenty of cap room to improve this team in the coming years. This helps the Bruins who have many young players in the minors who could be worthy of extensions in the near future such as Charlie Mcavoy.

Extending Pastrnak shows that the Bruins may be changing the narrative when it comes to keeping their homegrown players. It may only be two but for the second straight offseason the Bruins decided to keep their young star rather than trading him.

Written By: Jamie Gatlin

#Bruins

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