Will Mookie begin to reach superstar status this year?
Mookie Betts arrived on the professional scene with a bang. Blasting through the minor leagues quickly and hitting everything that came his way. With the Red Sox struggling in nearly every facet of the game last season, they had Betts playing all outfield positions to help him to the big club a lot quicker. Obviously that worked. He essentially made it and never turned back. He hit a very respectable .291 with 5 homeruns in just 51 games and provided the Red Sox and their nation with the promise of a potential superstar in the making.
2015 spring training rolls around and Betts does not miss a beat. Hitting a scorching .471for all of spring and that carried into the beginning of the regular season. But since then he has been awfully quiet. He now sports an average under .200 and is striking out more then usual. While it looks to be, at least from my point of view that he's still staying calm and collective at the dish, it seems as if he may be pressing a bit. Trying to do a little too much. He still is fraying walks and is still able of swiping a bag in the process. He hasn't looked too push the ball to right field, which would really open up the whole diamond for himself. He hasn't looked too hot overall. This me too my next question:
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Did he have too much success too early?
And it's very possible he has and one I hope I'm wrong about. This has the potential to be a Jackie Bradley Jr. situation, but I'm going to tell you why is not.
Bradley was not nearly as disciplined at the plate as Betts has been in their short careers. And while in the Minor Leagues, pitchers try to get away with throwing heat passed you, that doesn't happen up with the big boys. Players need to learn that they can see a breaking ball at any time, in any count, which is why at times you see younger players struggle for a period, because they are so used to see fastball after fastball. The reason I think that this situation is different then Bradley Jr. is because Betts has shown that he can adjust to off speed pitches. He has had some hard luck with line drive outs and hard hit ground balls. Eventually these will start hitting some holes, he will start hitting some gaps and using that speed to create problems on the base paths.
This kid still has plenty of raw talent and is still extremely young. He has shown a willingness to do what it takes to help this team (hence the move to the outfield from second base). Within time I believe he will find his niche, hit some gaps, start going 2-4, 3-4, 2-5, 3-5, and driving that batting average up. He's got plus speed so even dropping a bunt down to get on base can get him going at any point as well.
To me, it can't get any worse for this kid. I still see him hitting damn near .300 this season, even with the slower start. He will be a huge contributor to this team in their quest for October baseball. Mookie is the next big superstar in Beantown.
Red Sox rotation had shown good potential. Was that a one hit wonder?
It's not hard to see the potential of the Red Sox starting rotation. This could be a good thing and also an extremely difficult one to watch.
When the Sox "failed" an attempt to lure back new Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester to Boston, the Sox brass reacted quickly, sending OF Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit for SP Rick Porcello. They also swung a trade for Arizona Diamondbacks SP Wade Miley, sending SP's Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster packing. Days later they signed Justin Masterson to a one-year deal. So the Sox entered spring training with its current rotation that they sport today. All that to pair with now staff "Ace" Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly, who was acquired via trade from the St. Louis Cardinals. This is not an ideal situation.
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While I give give the rotation a little more slack then most of you would, the potential to add another really good pitcher should be atop of the Red Sox to do list if they have playoff aspirations. I still think that the rotation the Sox boast is serviceable, but is serviceable good enough to make a deep playoff run? Probably not. There has been two turns through the rotation. The first go through, each pitcher spun very solid outings. The second time through, outside of Rick Porcello? Not so much. Not one of them finished 5 innings. 2 starts apiece isn't enough for me to justify it being a disaster for the rotation, but I will admit that if things don't change soon and for the better, something must be done, but I'm not willing to blow up the farm for that to happen.
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Many rumors (many we had heard over and over) over the course of the offseason, pegged Cole Hamels as a stone cold lock to join the Red Sox and while I believe it's not a terribly bad proposition, I believe the asking price for someone who hasn't had the best success against American League foes is a little too high. Mookie Betts you want? No, not happening. Oh, Blake Swihart? Probably not, pal. Until the Philadelphia Phillies lower that asking price for Hamels drastically, I do not forsee the lefty in Boston uniform anytime soon.
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Jordan Zimmerman you ask? After that disaster performance the other day, do you really want him taking the bump every fifth day? Arguably the second best pitcher on the Nationals staff, Red Sox Nation had the opportunity to see him pitch inside Fenway this week. Results weren't so hot, obviously. If anything positive came out of that start, it's the asking price that went down for Zim. But also you'd have to sacrifice alot of your future for a pitcher with his pedigree.
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Johnny Cueto? Free agent to be. Arguably the best pitcher potentially available before the trade deadline. While on paper this trade makes the most sense, financially it does not do it for me. Again, you'd have to sacrifice a big chunk of your future for a player of this stature, but without knowing if he is going to sign an extension to stay in Boston after this season, there is no point in taking that risk. We've seen it too many times. To me, that is far from worth.
So are the Red Sox in a World of hurt with the starting rotation? No. Not right now. Give it more time and I believe most of these pitcher's will turn it around. If they don't, then the Sox will have to make that big splash if they plan on playing into October.
After a Cy Young, Kluber cashed in. But is that enough?
After a Cy Young award winning season, a dominate one in the American League at that, Corey Kluber was rewarded for his efforts from the Cleveland Indians. A contract to the tune of a 5 year, $38 million dollars. While no one in this world or gods green earth should ever piss and moan about earning $38 million dollars, he does have a bit of a reason to gripe.
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To put it in perspective, Corey Kluber had an amazing year, compiling a 18 win and 9 loss season with an ERA of 2.44 while also striking out 269 batters. Rick Porcello, who inked a 4 year, $ 82.5 million dollar deal days later, compiled a 15 win and 13 loss season with a 3.43 ERA, striking out 129 batters in what is being described as a career year for the righty.
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Right there is all the more reason to be upset. But then again, is Kluber setting himself up for another monster contract down the road? Banking on being that go for that period of time is a big gamble, but if he wanted to really get payed more, he should have waited. If Porcello received that much money on what the Red Sox think he can be, then in all honesty, Red Sox bias aside, I think Kluber could have made more then what the Sox gave up. If we're basing it off one year of success, to me it's not really that close. And don't get me wrong, I really like Porcello as a pitcher and I believe he's going to pitch extremely well and I loved the signing, but I just believe that Kluber could have made, bare minimum, the same amount, if not more.
Now I'm not so sure what his agent had been telling him leading up to this moment. Something tells me he read the market extremely wrong because starting pitching is at a premium right now and any solid pitcher is getting LARGE contracts from teams. This is an absolute steal for the Indians, as they locked up a pitcher at very low dollar amounts, for a long time. He is only going to get better and I bet it won't be too long before you hear about him commanding some sort of extension in the form of more cash, or some sort of trade if that mess hits the fan.