Tag Archives: Andrew Benintendi

Red Sox vanquished in ALDS, but they’ll be back

The Boston Red Sox should contend once again in 2018

The Houston Astros came from behind, scoring twice in the 8th and once in the 9th inning, then held off a last-ditch rally to down the Boston Red Sox by a 5-4 score on Monday afternoon.

The victory advances Houston into the American League Championship Series for the first time since the 2005 postseason. The defeat in front of more than 37,000 mostly disappointed fans at historic Fenway Park sends the host Red Sox home for the winter.

Over the last decade and a half, those Fenway faithful and the team they love have enjoyed the greatest period of sustained success in franchise history. In those last 15 seasons, the Red Sox have reached the postseason nine times, capturing three World Series titles.

But more importantly for the future of the team is that the prospects for long term future success appears to be just as bright as those recent victorious campaigns.

The Red Sox are blessed with one of the most talented group of young players in Major League Baseball. Half of their projected lineup of position players will spend all of the 2018 season at or below 25 years of age.

That core group and their 2018 season age includes shortstop Xander Bogaerts (24), third baseman Rafael Devers (21), left fielder Andrew Benintendi (23), and right fielder Mookie Betts (25) as everyday starters.

Boston will also be starting a 28-year old Jackie Bradley in his prime. Likely to see the bulk of the catching duties, Christian Vazquez will be just 27 years old.

The club has a couple of young wildcards who are likely to help in some way, at some point in the 2018 season. 24-year old Sam Travis could well push for more time at first base. And it could still all click for Boston’s 26-year old former first round draft pick, catcher Blake Swihart.

Bottom line, there are a ton of good, young, talented position players who will be returning to the Red Sox next season. Those players are likely to continue to get better with age and experience.

On the mound, lefties Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz and righty Rick Porcello will all pitch the entirety of next season at age 29. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will turn just 25 years of age as the season opens.

There will be a group of talented right-handers, all no more than age 30, who will be returning to make up the bulk of the bullpen. These include Matt Barnes (27), Heath Hembree (29), Joe Kelly (29), and 28-year old Carson Smith.

The normally lights-out closer, Craig Kimbrel, will turn 30 years old at the end of May. He is due to become a free agent following the 2018 season, and will be an interesting situation to watch develop.

That young core is likely to continue to be supported by a group of strong veterans, most especially second baseman Dustin Pedroia, DH Hanley Ramirez, and pitcher David Price.

If there is a big question mark, it may be whether or not manager John Farrell will be asked to return following the disappointing playoff defeat. For me, it shouldn’t even be a question. In his five years at the helm in Boston, Farrell has guided the club to a cumulative 432-378 mark. The Red Sox have won three AL East crowns and a World Series under 55-year old. Farrell should definitely be back.

The Boston payroll will continue high, so the opportunity to add high-priced free agents is not likely here. However, there is already plenty of talent. The club is likely to look for little more than a more experienced lefty reliever this off-season. The minor league prospect talent could bring back something to fill any hole that may pop up during the year.

The Boston Red Sox are set to continue their recent string of successful seasons in 2018. Having won three of the last five AL East crowns, they will again be a top contender in the division next year. And with more experience under their belt, the young core should be expected to keep them a leading contender for years to come.

Major League Baseball 2017 Predictions

Opening Day in MLB is always the single most sure sign that spring has fully sprung. Ballparks across America will be filled to capacity in the coming days.
At last, Major League Baseball returns for the 2017 season.
Over the next seven months, excitement and drama that we can’t even imagine today will take place. 
While we cannot foresee the details, we can take a stab at a few predictions.
Some things are fairly certain based on the 2017 MLB season schedule. For instance, we know that the first game is scheduled to begin at 1:10pm EDT on Sunday afternoon.
The New York Yankees take the field against the host Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Since ‘The Trop’ is a domed stadium, chances of weather interruptions are almost non-existent.
Chris Archer of Tampa Bay is scheduled to throw the season’s first official pitch. Digging in at the plate as the Yanks’ leadoff hitter will be left fielder Brett Gardner.
Later that same day, two more games are scheduled to take place. The San Francisco Giants send ace lefty Madison Bumgarner to the hill. He will face the NL West rival Arizona Diamondbacks and their ace righty Zack Greinke. That game is scheduled to start at 4:10pm EDT at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The day’s action is scheduled to wrap with an 8:35pm EDT classic. The defending world champion Chicago Cubs visit their arch-rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.


Those three games will be followed by a dozen more scheduled to take place on Monday. Thus the full 2017 MLB regular season will be underway.
But where will it all end? Which players and teams will excel this season? Who will shine as the biggest, brightest individual stars of 2017? Which teams will overcome adversity and reach the postseason of October?
With prognosticators across the game making their predictions, it’s time for me to take my turn. Here go my picks for the final standings in each division. I will also make my postseason predictions. And you will also see my choices to take home the major awards from this coming MLB season.

MLB Draft 2015: Phillies Need Bats

Sometime around 8:00pm tonight, the Phillies will make the 10th overall selection in the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft. 
Having acquired a number of solid arms in recent trades, and developed a couple more through their system, the club should be focused on adding a sweet-swinging hitter with this year’s top selection.
In two previous pieces leading up to the draft, I’ve advocated the club selecting a college outfielder and a high school outfielder.
If we eliminate the three highly-considered shortstop prospects, and the next 3-4 highest rated players on most boards, I have come up with a trio of hitters (including my previously suggested pair) that I think would make fine choices.

Tucker is a 6’1, 180 pound outfielder who hits left-handed but throws righty. The brother of Astros outfielder Preston Tucker, he is considered at least his brother’s equal as a hitter, but is even more athletic overall. His lefty stroke has been described as “smooth” and “easy”, and I see him as the leading contender for the Phillies pick.

A 6’0, 205 pound switch-hitter who looks like he will be an outfielder, but has 2nd base experience in his past. He conceivably could at least be given a chance to play the Keystone until he shows that he can’t handle it. Happ will be the first-ever University of Cincinnati Bearcats player selected in the first round. He is widely considered as one of the 2-3 best college bats in this year’s draft class, and has developing power. I really like this kid.

At 5’10 and 180 pounds, the pure lefty bat is the smallest of my personal trio here, but there is nothing small about his bat. Dominating with his power-speed combo while in the SEC with Arkansas this year, he is a fast-riser on most draft boards.

The Phillies “brain trust” of team president Pat Gillick, general manager Ruben Amaro, and scouting director Johnny Almaraz are all surely going to be the main players in the club’s draft war room this evening, and it will be their pick to make. At this point as fans, there is no choice but to hope they get it right.
It’s way too soon to tell how the last two high picks, J.P. Crawford in 2013 and Aaron Nola a year ago, are going to pan out. But those players are now the Phillies top two prospects on all evaluators rankings. 
If the player selected here at #10 becomes a Top 3 prospect by this time next year, this will be considered a win.