Tag Archives: Hanley Ramirez

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.

Marlins All-Time 25-Man Roster

The origins of the now Miami Marlins can be traced back to a man who built a financial empire on the VCR home entertainment boom of the 1980s.

Everyone remembers “Blockbuster”, the video rental giant from those days? Well it was the CEO of Blockbuster Entertainment who finally brought Major League Baseball permanently to the Sunshine State.
Wayne Huizenga, that Blockbuster CEO, had become involved in ownership of both the Miami Dolphins of the NFL as well as the team’s home at Joe Robbie Stadium during the early 1990s.
Huizenga was subsequently awarded both an MLB expansion team, which he named the Florida Marlins, as well as an NHL team, the Florida Panthers, for the 1993 season.

The Marlins Become Champions – Twice

The Marlins were big losers in their expansion season, but soon built up their roster of talent to the point of becoming a near-.500 level team over each of the next three seasons.
In 1997, the club splurged in the free agent market, made some astute deals at the MLB trade deadline, and reached the postseason for the first time as the National League Wild Card team.
Getting hot at the right time, those Marlins would win the World Series in just the fifth year of the franchise’s existence. In that 1997 Fall Classic, the Fish defeated a powerful Cleveland Indians team with a dramatic walk-off in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7.
Huizenga was roundly criticized when, instead of using the title as a chance to build a consistent winner, he subsequently sold off most of the veteran talent which had made it possible.
The year after winning that World Series he sold the team to John Henry, now owner of the Boston Red Sox, who would in turn sell to current owner Jeffrey Loria in 2002.
Just six years after that first World Series crown, five after being totally dismantled, the Marlins stunned many in the baseball world by winning it all once again. Astute offseason signings and in-season deals once again added to a few talented homegrown stars, and the Fish won a second World Series championship in the fall of 2003, defeating a dynastic New York Yankees squad in six games.
Despite winning those two World Series crowns within the first decade of their existence, the Marlins, who play out of the National League East Division, are one of only two MLB clubs to never win a division championship.
In November of 2011, the team officially changed names to the Miami Marlins in an agreement with the city which was largely funding construction of the retractable-domed Marlins Park, which then opened for the 2012 season.
While a number of great players made just a pit stop in Miami, my choices for the Marlins all-time 25-man roster reflect players who spent at least a few years with the club. As I put together these all-time 25-man roster pieces, I like to include at least a couple of relievers. The choice of the second reliever was my most difficult here.
I am quite sure, as always, that you might have a few players who you believe should be included. For instance, I simply couldn’t justify adding 1997 World Series MVP Livan Hernandez. I would love to hear your own selections.
After reading through mine, add yours, or any additions and subtractions you would make, in a comment at the end of the piece.

Miami Marlins All-Time 25-Man Roster

The Miami Marlins joined the National League as a 1993 expansion team, and the “Magic City” has seen a number of great players don their colorful uniform.

The origins of the now Miami Marlins can be traced back to a man who built a financial empire on the VCR home entertainment boom of the 1980’s.
Everyone remembers “Blockbuster”, the video rental giant from those days? Well it was the CEO of Blockbuster Entertainment who finally brought Major League Baseball permanently to the Sunshine State.
Wayne Huizenga, that Blockbuster CEO, had become involved in ownership of both the Miami Dolphins of the NFL as well as the team’s home at Joe Robbie Stadium during the early 1990’s.
Huizenga was subsequently awarded both an MLB expansion team, which he named the Florida Marlins, as well as an NHL team, the Florida Panthers, for the 1993 season.
The Marlins were big losers in their expansion season, but soon built up their roster of talent to the point of becoming a near-.500 level team over each of the next three seasons.
In 1997, the club splurged in the free agent market, made some astute deals at the MLB trade deadline, and reached the postseason for the first time as the National League Wildcard team.
Getting hot at the right time, those Marlins would win the World Series in just the fifth year of the franchise’ existence.
In that 1997 Fall Classic, the Fish defeated a powerful Cleveland Indians with a dramatic walkoff in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7.

Huizenga was roundly criticized when, instead of using the title as a chance to build a consistent winner, he subsequently sold off most of the veteran talent which had made it possible.
The year after winning that World Series he sold the team to John Henry, now owner of the Boston Red Sox, who would in turn sell to current owner Jeffrey Loria in 2002.
Just six years after that first World Series crown, five after being totally dismantled, the Marlins stunned many in the baseball world by winning it all once again.
Astute off-season signings and in-season deals once again added to a few talented homegrown stars, and the Fish won a second World Series championship in the fall of 2003, defeating a dynastic New York Yankees squad in six games.
Despite winning those two World Series crowns within the first decade of their existence, the Marlins, who play out of the National League East Division, are one of only two MLB clubs to never win a division championship.
In November of 2011, the team officially changed names to the “Miami” Marlins in an agreement with the city which was largely funding construction of the retractable-domed Marlins Park, which then opened for the 2012 season.
While a number of great players made just a pit stop in Miami, my choices for the Marlins all-time 25-man roster reflect players who spent at least a few years with the club.
As I put together these “All-Time 25-Man Roster” pieces, I like to include at least a couple of relievers. The choice of the second reliever was my most difficult here.
I am quite sure, as always, that you might have a few players who you believe should be included. For instance, I simply couldn’t justify adding 1997 World Series MVP Livan Hernandez.
Would love to hear your own selections. After reading through mine, add yours, or any additions and subtractions you would make, in a comment at the end of the piece.

ALL-TIME MIAMI MARLINS ROSTER

Sep 9, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Fernandez (16) celebrates their 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

PITCHERS (11)


Josh Beckett – 6th pitching WAR, 5th WHIP, 7th K’s, 8th Wins, 2003 World Series MVP
Kevin Brown – 1st ERA, 2nd WHIP, 7th pitching WAR, 9th WAR, 1997 World Series
A.J. Burnett – 4th pitching WAR, 4th IP & K, 5th Wins, 6th Starts, 2003 World Series (injured)
Steve Cishek –  2nd relief pitching WAR, 3rd Saves, 4th RP K’s, 5th Games
Jose Fernandez – 1st WHIP & BAA, 2nd ERA, 5th pitching WAR, 8th K’s, 9th Wins, 2x NL All-Star, 2013 NL Rookie of the Year
Josh Johnson – 1st pitching WAR, 2nd K’s, 3rd WAR, Wins, IP & ERA, 4th WHIP, 2x NL All-Star
Robb Nen – 1st relief pitching WAR & Saves, 3x NL All-Star, 1997 World Series
Ricky Nolasco – 1st IP & Starts, Wins & K, 2nd pitching WAR, 10th WHIP
Brad Penny – 4th Starts & Wins, 5th IP, 8th WAR, 9th K’s, 2003 World Series
Anibal Sanchez – 9th pitching WAR, 5th Starts & K’s, 6th IP & Wins
Dontrelle Willis – 2nd IP, Starts & Wins, 3rd pitching WAR & K, 2x NL All-Star, 2005 runner-up NL Cy Young Award, 2x NL All-Star, 2003 NL Rookie of the Year, 2003 World Series

POSITION PLAYERS (14)

Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; American League infielder Cabrera (24) of the Detroit Tigers before the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

INFIELDERS (6)

Miguel Cabrera (1B/3B) – 1st AVG, 2nd OBP & OPS, 3rdt Doubles, 4th WAR & RBI, 5th Hits & HR, 6th Runs, 2x Silver Slugger, 4x NL All-Star, 2003 World Series
Luis Castillo (2B) – 1st Games, AB, Hits, Runs, Steals, Triples, 3rd WAR, 3X NL All-Star, 3x NL Gold Glove, 1997 & 2003 World Series
Derek Lee (1B) – 6th HR & Games, 7th RBI, 8th Runs, 9th Hits & Doubles, 2003 NL Gold Glove, 2003 World Series
Mike Lowell (3B) – 1st RBI & Doubles, 3rd Games & AB, 4th Hits, HR & Runs, 6th WAR, 3x NL All-Star, 2003 NL Silver Slugger, 2005 NL Gold Glove, 2003 World Series
Hanley Ramirez (SS) – 1st WAR, 2nd AVG, OBP, Steals, Doubles & Runs, 3rd HR, 4th Triples, 5th RBI, 2006 NL Rookie of the Year, 3x NL All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, 2009 runner-up NL MVP
Dan Uggla (2B) – 2nd HR, 3rd Runs, 5th WAR, 6th RBI & Doubles, 7th OPS, 8th Hits, 2x NL All-Star, 2010 NL Silver Slugger

CATCHERS (2)

Charles Johnson – 1st Defensive WAR, 10th WAR, leads virtually every franchise catching category, 1997 World Series
Mike Redmond – 5th Defensive WAR, 2nd in most franchise catching categories, 2003 World Series, managed club parts of three seasons 2013-15

OUTFIELDERS (6)

Jeff Conine – 2nd Games & RBI, 3rd Hits, 4th AB, 5th Doubles, 7th WAR & Runs, 8th HR, 2x NL All-Star, 1997 & 2003 World Series
Cliff Floyd –  3rd OPS, 4th OBP, 6th AVG, 8th WAR, RBI & Doubles, 9th Hits & HR, 10th Games, 2001 NL All-Star, 1997 World Series
Juan Pierre –  2nd Triples, 3rd Steals, 5th AVG, 10th Hits, 13th WAR, 2003 World Series
Gary Sheffield – 1st OBP, SLG & OPS, 7th HR, 9th RBI, 10th Steals, 2x NL All-Star, 1996 NL Silver Slugger, 1997 World Series
Giancarlo Stanton – 1st HR, 2nd WAR, 3rd RBI, 4th OPS, 5th Runs, 2014 NL Silver Slugger, 3x NL All-Star
Christian Yelich – 6th OBP,  8th AVG, 11th WAR, 12th Steals, 2014 NL Gold Glove

Hanley and the Panda to Boston

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to longterm contracts with a pair of big name free agents, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval.

MLB sources have told the Boston Globe that both deals are for 5 years, with Ramirez’ in the $90 million and Sandoval in the $100 million range.

This is as clear a sign as any that the Bosox are not happy with having followed up their 2nd World Series title in 3 years in 2013 with their 2nd last place finish in 3 years in 2014.

While the adding of big name free agents is exciting for a fan base, the more important factors involve how those players will actually fit your current needs. The fact is that the Red Sox already owned a number of exciting offensive options, both in established players and in high-ceiling prospects.

The acquisition of both Ramirez and Sandoval brings a ton of risk to the organization at great monetary cost without addressing their most glaring need.
They still need at least two more established, talented starting pitching options than they currently possess. And they could use more reliability in the pen as well.

The risk side involves both players physical ability to perform through the contracts. Hanley, who turns 31 years old next month, has missed big chunks of 2 of the last 4 seasons with injuries, not including a piece of this last 2014 season. Sandoval, one of the game’s proven “clutch” postseason hitters, is limited offensively over the course of a 162-game season. He also has a chronic weight issue that is only going to affect him more as he approaches and passes age 30.

Ramirez is going to play left field, and Sandoval will play 3rd base. With Cuban signee Rusney Castillo expected to take over the everyday role in centerfield, and with Yoenis Cespedes in right, this creates a blockade for a number of young players and prospects deserving of and ready for increased playing time.

Mookie Betts is clearly ready to play every day. He can play 2nd base, where Dustin Pedroia is entrenched, or in the now-jammed outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr is perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the game today. He has not yet shown he can hit on a consistent basis, but he appears ready for at least a shot at an every day role.

Catcher Blake Swihart just before and 3rd baseman Garin Cecchini just after Opening Day each turn 23 years old, and are both nearly ready. Will Middlebrooks is 26, and certainly ready for an everyday 3rd base role. Every one of these 5 youngsters is now blocked for the foreseeable future. Panda blocking the 3rd sackers, and 24-year old Christian Vazquez as catcher.

Kung Fu Panda joins Hanley in beefing up Bosox lineup

There is much speculation that with these signings, that the Red Sox may renew pursuit of a pitcher, such as the Phillies’ available ace Cole Hamels. If they led such a deal with young shortstop Xander Bogaerts and included any 2 of these other 5, the Phils likely pull the trigger. 24-year old pitchers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster are two other potential prospects figuring in such trade talks.

Some Boston fans would love the Phillies to take Cespedes for Hamels. That is a pipe dream. Cespedes is indeed talented. However, he turned 29 last month, and becomes a free agent after next season. Neither of those things fits into the Phillies stated rebuilding plans. If he were to agree to an affordable extension, then perhaps he works as a piece along with a couple of the prospects, but that is not likely to happen.

Whatever happens with the Phillies and Red Sox, Boston clearly needs to do something big, probably a couple somethings, involving the addition of pitching if it truly wants to come back immediately to Series contention from it’s last place finish in what is becoming an increasingly competitive division and league.

What they have shown with the signings of their one-time prospect Hanley Ramirez and the Panda are that they are not content to wait for the dice-roll development of admittedly talented kids. Now we likely will see which of those kid prospects they are willing and able to part with in order to fix the remaining pitching holes.

MLB 2010: National League

In nearly every major publication and from most every prognosticator you will find that the 3-time defending NL East winning, 2-time defending National League champion, and back-to-back World Series participant Philadelphia Phillies are considered the odds-on favorites to repeat at least where that eastern crown is concerned.

In fact, many have them again winning the NL pennant and advancing back to the Series, some predicting they will win.

An admitted lifelong Phillies fan, this absolutely prejudiced observer is calling it that way. Phillies to win their 4th straight NL East crown, 3rd straight National League pennant, and then a 2nd World Series title in 3 years.

Did you expect anything else from me under the current circumstances? However, it will be a struggle, there will be highs and lows, they will be pushed. I will cover the Phillies specifically in detail in my next article here in the coming days.

In that NL East race, the team that will push the Phillies the most this year will be…the Atlanta Braves. In fact, some might even find a reason to pick Atlanta to Tomahawk Chop their way back to the top of the division and unseat the Fightin’s from their lofty perch.

Atlanta’s rotation of Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson & Kenshin Kawakami is talented and deep. The lineup is led by declining veteran and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and perhaps the best offensive catcher in the NL in Brian McCann.

However, the biggest reason that the Braves will challenge the Phils will be the play of tremendous rookie right fielder Jason Heyward. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will, and soon. Bobby Cox has a strong bullpen as well, and in his final season as manager he should push for a playoff spot.

The Florida Marlins have a superstar and NL MVP candidate in shortstop Hanley Ramirez, a pair of exciting young outfielders in Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin, a slugging 2nd baseman in Dan Uggla, and a pair of strong starting pitchers in Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. But they lack the overall roster depth to beat out either the Phils or the Braves. The New York Mets are not as deep or dangerous as in previous seasons, and are once again battling injury. The starting pitching behind Johan Santana is just not deep or talented enough either. They should be good enough to stay ahead of the Washington Nationals, but maybe just for one more season. Once Nats uber-prospect starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg arrives this summer, he may help vault them past New York.

In the NL Central the safe and sexy pick are the St. Louis Cardinals. The best hitter on the planet, Albert Pujols, will now be joined for a full season by the support of star outfielder Matt Holliday. Those two and the 1-2 rotation punch of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are formidable, but I don’t think it’s going to all be enough to repeat at the top of the division. I like the Cards to slip to 2nd place behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew will be led by a pair of genuine MVP candidates of their own in Ryan Braun (pictured) and Prince Fielder. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf will give them a strong 1-2 rotation punch. I’m calling this a very close race, with an MVP season from Braun providing the difference for the Brewers.

Behind those two top central dogs, I’ll call the order: Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston and Pittsburgh. The Reds, like their AL Central and Ohio brothers in Cleveland, have ‘dark horse’ contender written all over them. If their rotation stays healthy, and if young bats Joey Votto and Jay Bruce produce to their potential, the Reds could surprise and push the top two. The Cubs look like aging underachievers to me, though ace Carlos Zambrano appears to be in shape and motivated. The Astros have talent, especially in it’s lineup with Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn, but it is fragile. The Pirates are still just too young, though outfielder Andrew McCutchen will prove one of baseball’s most exciting players.

In the NL West, I am looking at perhaps the closest 1-3 race in the league. The Rockies, Dodgers, and Giants (I’ll call the finish in that order, since I have to make a prediction) can all win the division here with the right answers to their respective questions. For Colorado, are the young bats at the top of the order in Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler for real? For the LA Dodgers, can Manny Ramirez still be a Hall of Fame offensive force in the middle of the order? In San Fran, can they manufacture enough offense to support what is perhaps the best pitching in the division? In fact, the Arizona Diamondbacks have the roster talent to join this group and make it a 4-team race, but only if they can get ace Brandon Webb healthy early and keep him healthy all year.

I think that the Rockies kids are indeed for real, and that the club will find enough pitching led by starter Ubaldo Jimenez to win the division. The Dodgers will find that Mannywood is shutting down, and that the star slugger will both decline in production and prove to be a disruptive presence in the clubhouse. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Brian Wilson lead a strong and deep Giants’ staff, but the ‘Kung Fu Panda’, Pablo Sandoval, will not have enough offensive help for the team to push past the top two clubs.

The health issue will prove to much for Arizona, despite the presence of one of the game’s emerging superstars in outfielder Justin Upton. The San Diego Padres will pull up the rear out west, with the biggest item there all season being when, to where, and for what will they trade stud 1st baseman and pending free agent Adrian Gonzalez.

In the playoffs, I think that the Phillies and Brewers will advance to meet one another in the NLCS, repeating their matchup from the 2008 Divisional playoff round which the Phils won by a 3 games to 1 count. I think that the Phils offense will wear down and overwhelm the Brewers pitching, putting Philly into the World Series for the 3rd consecutive season. This would mark the first time since the Stan Musial-led St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-44 that a team from the Senior Curcuit went to 3 straight World Series appearances.

In that World Series, I am going to pick, oh, I don’t know, how about those Phillies to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in a rematch of their 2008 battle. This one could be much closer. The Rays starting pitching is better now, but so is the Phillies. The Rays offense is more experienced now, but then so are the Phillies players. I am  going to give the World Series nod to the combination of Ray Halladay and Cole Hamels, with the Phillies taking it in the full 7-game limit. Another parade down Broad Street for the Fightin’ Phils and their fans in early November of 2010.

Picks for the National League award winners are Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers outfield stud, as the NL Most Valuable Player. The Cy Young Award will go to the Phillies big acquisition, ace righthander Roy Halladay. I will pick outfielder Jason Heyward of the Braves to begin a long and storied career with a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. However, Heyward will be seriously pushed for that award by starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, taking the honor only because Strasburg will start out with a few weeks in the  minor leagues.