It’s definitely fair (more than fair) to say the 2017 Boston Red Sox lacked home run power. That issue had a little bit to do with a few hindering factors: David Ortiz retiring after the 2016 season was the BIG one, but Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts both falling into the mid-20s for home runs (30 HR club in 2016), and Xander Bogaerts more than halving his home run total from 21 in 2016, to 10 in 2017 both contributed to an AL-worst 168 home runs last season.
That being said, even with the lack of power, the 2017 Boston Red Sox had the 10th most runs scored in all of baseball, 6th in the AL. So when we look at how the Red Sox could improve their offense as we approach the 2018 season, obviously adding power is at the forefront of everyone’s concern. But just how necessary is it?
Diving in deeper, there was one glaring issue that the Red Sox never were able to fix last season: baserunning. And this issue became even more apparent in the playoffs (particularly Game 4 vs. Houston), where they consistently had boneheaded mistakes on the base paths, en route to a 3-1 series defeat at the hands of the World Champion Houston Astros.
Overall, Boston made 81 outs on the bases (11 ahead of the 2nd worst team), including 73 with RISP. Obviously those things happen, but if they were able to cut those gaffes in half - 40 (3rd least in baseball) - you’re talking about another 40 possible runs you could’ve scored. So instead of 785, the Red Sox could’ve possibly wound up with 825+ (3rd in baseball), and with this pitching staff, that should be able to get the job done more often than not - especially in big games.
So as the J.D. Martinez saga has now dragged on into Spring Training, obviously adding him would help the offense immensely, but you HAVE to factor in how much his numbers could deteriorate if the bat is repeatedly taken out of his hands by boneheaded mistakes made by basically the same team around him.
With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching (February 26), the Boston Bruins find themselves in a precarious situation that they have not been in for quite some time. Thats right, for the first time in what seems like forever, the Bruins are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. In fact, they are only a few points out of having the best record in the NHL. If the Bruins play their cards right, they could find themselves winning a Presidents' Trophy in what many considered to be a rebuilding year. As the Bruins continue to win games with some of their young guns, it has become apparent that this team could add pieces at the Deadline to not just be a bonafide playoff team, but a legitimate contender to win the whole damn thing.
So, of course, rumors are going to start circulating and the team is going to be linked to some of the top available players on the trade market. We have seen the rumors already start to circulate in regard to New York Rangers winger Rick Nash, but news has now begun to pop up about his captain, Ryan McDonagh, being available as well. Thats right, folks, the Rangers are blowing this thing up. The 28-year-old has never been an offensive-minded defenseman, but he is a legitimate top-four guy and a true veteran presence that could greatly help the Bruins if they were to acquire him. The former first rounder currently has two goals and 24 assists, while sporting a career-low +/- of 7.
Obviously the Bruins would love to have this guy, but, as always in any sport, it is going to come down to the price. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal was the first to report that the Rangers would more than likely be asking for Jake DeBrusk in return for McDonagh's services, who has a year left on his contract after this season at an annual cap hit of $4.7 million. DeBrusk would not be the only piece going to New York, but he would be the hardest pill to swallow, so he will be the focal point of the remainder of this article.
The Bruins highly covet DeBrusk, who was drafted 14th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. In 51 games so far this season, the 21-year-old has notched 11 goals and 18 assists. Additionally, DeBrusk has been a focal point on the second line with David Krejci. If the Bruins aren't turning this into a blockbuster deal and acquiring McDonagh AND Nash, then it doesn't make a ton of sense to me. Even if the Bruins were to acquire McDonagh and Nash, are those the two players you want to empty your bucket of assets for? Personally, its a no from me.
Understandably, the Bruins should be reluctant to trade him away, even if McDonagh is a perennial Norris Trophy candidate every year. As I briefly mentioned previously, McDonagh is a fantastic fit for this Bruins team. In years past this team has been looking to add a legitimate top-two defensive pairing-type of guy, and McDonagh is that dude.
If I am the Bruins, I am waiting to see if that price will come down. I do not want to trade some of the assets that I have been accumulating for multiple seasons just to spend it on a guy that will be here for a year and a half. If the Bruins can get a player like McDonagh for the likes of Ryan Spooner or Frank Vatrano, then we can start talking. Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson are all slated to become free agents with McDonagh, so perhaps those guys will be impacted by a potential trade of the St. Paul, MN native.
The likelihood of a deal of this magnitude getting done at the Deadline is not great, but they are fun to talk about, right?
To JD Martinez or not to JD Martinez, that is the question. A motivated Hanley Ramirez’s answer has got to be “to not JD Martinez.”
It’s pretty simple: if the Red Sox land JD Martinez, Hanley’s role on this team is quite literally up in the air. Having both Martinez and the recently re-signed Mitch Moreland on the team would make Hanley the odd man out. Now, if the Red Sox don't land Martinez, it’s a completely different story. The Red Sox would be forced to heavily rely on Ramirez’s bat and health, which is a pretty scary thing to even merely think about if you’re the Red Sox.
People forget, Ramirez has only hit 30 home runs twice in his career: in 2008 with the Marlins and in 2016 here in Boston. If Hanley is going to be this team’s DH, they need a David Ortiz-esque 30/100 season out of him, and he needs to stay motivated, focused and healthy. Who knows whether we’ll get one, all or none of the above at any given time.
A motivated Hanley Ramirez is one of the better hitters in Major League Baseball, and I mean that. When he really wants to, he can tear the cover off the ball like he means it. In 2016, he hit 30 homers, drove in 111 runs and hit .286 and slugged .505. He dropped to 23 homers, 62 RBI with a .242 average and slugged .429 in 2017. In 2016, he had Ortiz by his side. In 2017, he had a super young team around him, he was hurt and he was too confident and made up too many excuses as he was expected to “lead” the team.
This year, he himself even said he expects himself to hit 30 home runs and his manager, Alex Cora, told everyone quite simply: “If he hits, he’s going to play.” Not to mention, on this team, he *should* be a leader. He’s the second oldest player on the team, has been around the block a few times and is a solid role model on and off the field when he has his act together. Not to mention, he’s off to a good start: he dropped 15 pounds over the offseason, thanks to him getting in on the TB12 Method, and he showed up to camp two days early. If he can merely pretend like he’s Tom Brady for the majority of the season, then we’ve got something brewing here, folks.
If there’s one thing I really want to tell Hanley, though, it would be this: please, pretty please, on behalf of all Red Sox fans, please stop swinging for the fences during every single one of your at-bats. First and foremost, it doesn’t work. Your contact rate percentage was the lowest of your career in 2017 at 75 percent. Your ground ball rate dropped 7 percent last year, too. Second of all, it doesn’t help your shoulder. You talked about how you “hit 23 home runs with one shoulder last year.” Maybe you would have had both shoulders for longer if you didn’t air it out on every single pitch you saw no matter what it was?
Alright, I’m done. That was harsh, but I needed to get it off my chest.
Monetarily, though, Hanley should be motivated, because he’s got a $22 million vesting option that begins in 2019 IF he reaches 497 plate appearances this year (which is, by the way, the weirdest number ever and just looking at it makes my anxiety shoot up through the roof). He needs to stay healthy both for the benefit of his team and for himself.
Like most Red Sox fans, Hanley irritates me beyond human comprehension. Why he can’t stay motivated, I really don’t know. Albeit, I’m willing to give him another chance this year. He has what it takes to be the x-factor of the Red Sox if they don’t sign Martinez, and I believe that. Call me crazy. If Boston does snag JD, then it’s a completely different story. For the time being, I’m remaining cautiously optimistic. This particular Red Sox teams has so many “what ifs” surrounding it heading into the season, but I’m quite ready to see just how they play out, especially Hanley’s situation. Let’s fuckin’ have it.
(Via AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Eduardo Nunez has returned. After a successful half season in Boston last year, he's decided to re-sign with the Red Sox on a one year deal, with an option for a 2nd year. His stint in Boston was certainly memorable. In only 173 plate appearances with the Red Sox, he slashed .321/.353/.539 with an .892 OPS. He also hit 8 homers and stole 6 bases.
Those 8 homers are big.
Before 2017, Nunez had only 1 season of double digit homers. If his 173 plate appearances were stretched over a full year, that's on pace for 26 home runs. And he's lightning fast as well, on pace for 20 steals in a full season with the Red Sox.
Defensively, Nunez is versatile, but below average at most positions. He's registered innings at second, third, short, left, right, and DH. But, while I personally like the small ball, have a lot of fast, versatile guys who can steal bases brand of baseball that Nunez is perfect for, it's not how you win in baseball today. In this era of baseball, you win with walks and homers. Maybe the players are juiced, maybe the balls are juiced, hell maybe the bats are corked. Nobody knows. But Eduardo Nunez, as talented as he is, can't hit homers and doesn't draw walks.
He drew 6 in Boston last year. Yes, only 6.
For comparison, Giancarlo Stanton (who you might remember the Yankees got for basically nothing) drew 82 unintentional walks in 2017. Is that unfair to compare the NL MVP to a scrappy role player? Yeah. But this problem extends far beyond just Nunez. The Red Sox had nobody draw more than 64 unintentional walks in 2017.
Nunez was 6th on the Sox in OBP last year. OUCH. Nobody on the Red Sox had an OBP over .369. That's good, really good, but not great. Let's talk slugging. It's a good way to tell if someone's getting extra base hits. If we throw out Chase d’Arnaud, Chris Sale, and David Price, who combined for 5 plate appearances, then Nunez’s .539 slugging leads the Red Sox. Yes, he did it in fewer plate appearances than anyone. But he's still 57 points ahead of anyone else, and 80 points ahead of anyone with 500 plate appearances. Not one everyday player slugged .500 in 2017.
The Red Sox were 27th in home runs last year, and dead last in the AL. Adding a guy with Nunez’s power won’t help that. However, they were 6th in steals last year, 3rd in the AL. Adding a guy with Nunez’s speed definitely helps that, especially with him taking on an everyday job for the first month or more.
And, listen to this: he might actually be better than Dustin Pedroia at this point. Defensively, Pedroia’s clearly better and nobody’s denying that. However, as a great baseball coach once said: “Nobody cares about boring-ass defense.” Nunez is better offensively, faster, and more versatile. So, ultimately, this signing fits well with the Red Sox. But it still won't go that far towards winning many ballgames. But it should still make the Red Sox a bit more fun to watch. And God knows the Red Sox need to be fun to watch.
On this episode of 4th and Goal, the boys discuss Bad Boy Pete's visit to Twitter Prison the other day, and they probably also talk about some other, less important, football and Patriots stuff. #FreePete