Monthly Archives: March 2014

Local man recaps the Red Sox Season Opener (Orioles 2, Red Sox 1) Paywall Free!

Last week, The Boston Globe announced a monumental decision to move all of its staff-produced Red Sox content behind its online paywall. Not to worry, however: 43-year-old Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred.

Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. He watches nearly every game and recently signed an agreement to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

CARVER, Mass. – Alright, my family’s been getting the Globe delivered to the house here since Dukakis was in diapers. This whole deal may be a little rough at first for awhile but I’m pretty familiar with this whole converted pyramid structure or whatever heck they call it. But this ain’t that hard right? I’m gonna put this box score into virtual words using a trusty Gateway desktop computer I purchased at the old Circuit City (rest in peace). (You want player quotes though you’ll have to go see about that on the tube.)

I don’t know how many of yous actually got to watch much of the Sox game live today. Normally, I’d have missed it because I’d be out on my cranberry bog yanking out the dead roots in preparation for the spring harvest. But the raw, rainy weather had me ready to knock off around 3 o’clock. Gametime.

Alls you really need to know, to conjure up an accurate picture of the season opener, is that if Jonny Lester keeps pitching like he did today, this team’s gonna win some ballgames.

I’ve been worried about my man Jonny most of the spring. His psyche can’t be all that stable after seeing Papi get that extension and he’s just sittin around twiddling his thumbs. But he took the ball on opening day and looked like he did in October. Eight punchados. One walk. Whaddya have to say to that? Not Pedro or anything but not bad.

He made a bad pitch to Cruz in the 7th, no doubt about that one. But yous don’t need me to tell you how Cruz was cheating a couple years back and he’s probably still got a lot of ill-gotten muscle from his time on the roids. And, no, I’m not talking about hemorrhoids. I can’t say I can wish those upon anyone. Then again, I’m am a Christian and I believe every man pays his penance one way or the other…especially since he had the nerve to hit one off Jonny.

Taking a quick gander at the box score here, I’m seeing Dan Nava had a tough day at the plate. That’ll happen from time to time. He was probably pressing extra seeing how he was the leadoff guy today. Lotta pressure. You put him further down the order and he just sneaks up on ya a bit more. I’ll cut him some slack. Obviously he’s gonna have a bit of work out in front of him to get that average up now. But overall though, this is probably the year he turns into an outfield version of Pedoria, all-star games and all that glory, or the team needs to give up. I’m not the one to say I suppose.

Yup, the Sox had their chances today but oh well. Can’t leave ten guys on base and expect that you’re gonna live to tell about it. Still, I expected Ortiz would hit a jack when he came up with two guys on late. I had the ending all written up on my computer but then had to delete it all and write this when he didn’t come through as expected.

So I’m thankful for the off day tomorrow. I need to get out ahead of some stuff on the bog so the damn Ocean Spray people don’t crawl up my ass again. (They already demoted me to “auxiliary supplier” which I guess is like getting sent down to the PawSawx.) Otherwise, I’ve got no chance of catching the Fenway opener on Friday afternoon.

Next up is Wednesday night, again in Baltimore. The beauty is there’s a new game – I can feel a win coming. And I’m never wrong.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 21 – 27

The Red Sox will head north this weekend in preparation for Opening Day in Baltimore on Monday. President Obama will meet with the team the next day to honor the 2013 World Champs. Things are about to get serious.

David Ortiz Might Play Until He’s 57 Years Old…
With the announcement of the latest iteration of a contract extension, the Red Sox and Big Papi have all but guaranteed that he will never wear another team’s uniform as a major league player ever again. The extension, um, extends in theory until 2017 if Ortiz hits certain playing-time escalators. A few years ago, Ortiz wasn’t all that difficult an out for left-handed pitchers. It would have seemed unlikely that Ortiz’s at-bat total had a chance to remain anywhere above 500 as he looked to be evolving into a platoon DH.

However, none other than Adrian Gonzalez has been credited with counseling Ortiz in his approach against southpaws, which is proving to be an important development considering how well Papi has done against lefties the last two seasons. Gonzalez was reported to be a malcontent while he was on the Red Sox and this latest news proves all the conjecture. Knowing the Sox are basically obligated to pay Ortiz as long as he wishes to keep playing, A-Gonz was clearly helping Ortiz out in order to continue to cost the team millions of dollars years even after he went back to the West Coast. Demonic!

Boston Lands Third on Forbes’ MLB Valuation List
Forbes pegs the Red Sox franchise with a current value of $1.5 billion. The Yankees place first at $2.5 billion and the Dodgers are second at $2.0 billion (which also, interestingly enough, matches LA’s projected payroll for the 2017 season at its current rate of growth…). Regional television deals in larger markets are significant factors in many of these numbers, not only for the country’s top TV markets in New York and LA but also in Boston. The Red Sox own an 80% stake in NESN, which significantly aids the team’s value. While ticket demand is on a relative downturn now that the team’s sellout streak has ended, Forbes notes that the Red Sox saw a 14% increase in ratings during the 2013 championship run.

Every Little Thing No Longer Alright in Victorinoland
Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” was a Fenway favorite last year as Shane Victorino’s walk-up at-bat music. However, MLB has now capped hitters’ walk-up music playtimes at a completely un-alright 15 seconds.

On the Sons of Sam Horn message board, “mikey lowell of the sandbox” does seem to offer a feasible answer to the problem:

I see a solution — just leave out the introductory verse and go straight to the sing-along chorus:

Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, (“This is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

Yes, the team could cut out the first 10 seconds or so of the song, but isn’t the build-up all part of the fun? It seems that no matter what happens, if Shane’s going good, Fenway fans are likely to serenade him during the at-bat even if the song isn’t playing.

The 2014 Red Sox Pocket Schedule
Last year, Fenway Pastoral provided a detailed history of various promotional pocket schedules released throughout the years during spring training. Ever the vehicles of optimism, pocket schedules provide a nice snapshot of how the team plans to advertise its product to the fan base. For example, team-designed pocket skeds distributed last year centered on bringing pride back to the city after the 2012 Bobby Valentine-Helmed Abortion. The whole 162 Chances to Restore the Faith thing worked out pretty well.

David Ortiz pocket sked 2014

Coming off a World Series victory, the team probably won’t need to get all that creative this year to drum up interest on a macro level. But moving tickets during afternoon games in early spring could be more challenging. The 2014 pocket schedule rallying cry speaks to that: “Any Game Can Be The Game.”

Indeed. Opening Day is less than 72 hours away.

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: Kicking off the 2014 Baseball Season

Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is several years removed from his days as an eligible bachelor. The Boston starter and former ladies’ man has left his womanizing days behind and now leads a quiet life of domestic bliss with his two daughters and his wife, professional model Lindsay Clubbine. With the games that count now tantalizingly close, the ever-insightful pitcher sat down to answer some of Fenway Pastoral readers’ pressing questions.

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I read something recently about how the Red Sox have implemented a somewhat revolutionary program to keep the team healthy that includes “soft tissue management” from a team of top specialists in the field of physical therapy. Have you faked any injuries just to get a free massage or anything like that?

Misty from Dover

Misty, I’ve actually got my own stable of masseuses who take care of my needs because I think that, like, “hard tissue” is equally as important as this whole “soft tissue” craze. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure the team’s extensive stable of medical professionals is probably top notch. But if I’m being honest, I like to be able to have more say in the people who are rubbing my body. Since I first came to Boston, I’ve spent years vetting and refining the perfect mix of sure-handed specialists (as coincidence would have it, all ladies…) to suit my varying moods and daily needs. The one time I had one of the team’s professionals work on me, I was lying on my back and Ben Cherington popped his head in the door to ask me how I was feeling. He glanced at me briefly and got this horrified look on his face. So I just said, Dude, I’m getting a frigging massage in here…WTF? We actually haven’t really talked since that day.

What are your thoughts on the ladies that NESN has used as on-field “talent” during spring training telecasts. Looks like the network may break camp with a platoon of Elle Duncan and Sarah Davis. Can they combine to be suitable replacements for Jenny Dell?

Tim from Nashua

sarah davis and elle duncan

Sarah Davis and Elle Duncan enter the 2014 season in a rookie platoon situation.

Spring training performance is of limited value, Tim. Miniscule sample sizes; diluted competition; limited pressure. I don’t think we’ll really know anything for sure about either of these dames until the games are for real come April. Just because Sarah turned Mike Carp’s head a couple weeks ago doesn’t mean anything is set in stone. Mikey was probably ogling Elle Duncan’s, um, backside with equal vigor a few minutes later. Also consider that @sarahnicoledavis only has about 7,500 Twitter followers while @elleduncan has got 19,000 followers.

There’s no question that it’s beneficial to create some competition at this juncture of the season. It helps avoid complacency. And every reporter develops at her own rate. Let’s not forget that a couple years ago at this time, Jenny Dell could barely read off a cue card. She grew into the role and made a life for herself.

I’m all for capitalism and whatnot, but this whole dynamic pricing concept for Green Monster seats has me reeling. It just doesn’t seem right. I know the team will make some extra money, but the whole thing strikes me as a bit too opportunistic and manipulative of the marketplace.

Joe from Providence

I don’t see what the problem is, Joe. Let’s say you take a ride over to the Foxy Lady on a Tuesday night and the doormen are asking you to pay the same cover charge to get in for Amateur Night as the place gets for “Perfect 10 Fridays” or whatever they have down there. Games – and broads – are not created equal. Don’t listen to what some people say, you CAN put lipstick on a pig and, unfortunately, some lower-end establishments know it. Some dancers are uggos with a lot of makeup. Others are gymnastic freaks of nature who just kind of, uh, lost their way and made their lives into something awesome. Yeah, there’s a chance you feel a special “connection” with one of the more mature ladies on stage on a Tuesday night. But there are more people looking to tie one on and wink at a few chicks as they do their thing on stage on a Friday night.

In fact, I bet all the tenets put forth by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations were really just an elaborate allegorical manifesto designed to convince owners of local brothels to extend him a Tuesday night price break.

Some enterprising photographer caught Tom Brady cupping his wife Gisele Bundchen’s bum on the beach. You’re really the only other pro athlete in town who is married to a model. But you and Lindsay have kept it pretty classy and under-the-radar since you got married. Where are all the photos of you guys frolicking? When will you two be turning up on E! News?

Rob from Plympton

It’s not easy being a successful athlete and a ruggedly handsome sex symbol at the same time, Rob. There’s always someone camping out just waiting for you to do anything the least bit scandalous. Now that I have two World Series championships under my belt, I’m probably going to be in the same boat as Brady. Tom’s got that third Super Bowl ring so I’m only one behind him now. People always say that the paparazzi love a winner. Another World Series or two and I’ll probably be a mainstay in GQ for the next decade. Starting next week the quest starts anew.

Thanks for the questions, guys!

David Ortiz’s Latest Extension and What it Might Mean for Jon Lester

News of David Ortiz’s contract extension is drawing a variety of viewpoints from People With Opinions regarding whether the proverbial “hometown discount” has played a role in Papi’s compensation. It’s a pretty amusing argument given that Ortiz has never been paid more than $14 million in a given season. On the other hand, he’s been paid about $125 million up to this point, counting 2014. The basis for any kind of discount debate basically comes down to the intellectual dishonesty of either ignoring how little Ortiz was paid as he was proving himself to be a superstar or ignoring the cumulative amount of money he’s earned because he has been successful in Boston.

Looking at his annual WAR and corresponding salaries, Big Papi was basically grossly underpaid during his peak seasons and then essentially paid aptly during his declining years. On an extracurricular level, Ortiz has also obviously cashed in on his local hero status (as he should).

Since Ortiz first became a Red Sox in 2003, the price per one WAR has gone from around $3.0 million, based on estimates, to close to $6.0 million per WAR this year (based on expected production versus the money doled out for free agents who signed during the 2013-2014 winter).

One of these years, given his age, Ortiz is likely to fall apart, whether it’s gradually – due to decreased bat speed – or more abruptly as a result of an injury. Or, Ortiz could still be on the team in 2016 and 2017, based on the extension announced today. There are vesting club/incentive options for 2016 and another club option for 2017. Both of which are based on plate appearances and could very well lead to some discomfort if Ortiz enters into a prolonged funk at the plate and begins losing ABs as a DH.

There are therefore a number of possibilities for scaling up Ortiz’s salaries based on his performance. We can assume the team has at least in theory allocated $16 million for each of the next three seasons, 2015-2017, in the event he continues to defy the odds. It’s hard to imagine Ortiz hitting all escalators, but since the deal has been done in part to appeal to his pride, you have to figure there is at least a non-zero chance that he earns $16 million in 2017 if he, say, hits 30 home runs at age 40 during the 2016 season. If all that were to happen, here would be the breakdown of his time with the team.

David Ortiz salary projection

As shown in the chart above, if we look forward to the next three seasons for Ortiz, using his projected 2014 WAR of 2.5 as a baseline and assuming he loses about 0.5 WAR of productivity each season, Big Papi can be expected to ultimately net around $173 million in salary over the course of his Red Sox career while producing about 46 WAR overall in a Boston uniform. That works out to a payout of around $3.8 million per WAR.

Based on that production, the Red Sox will have gotten $20 million in surplus value thanks to his output in peak years.

Meanwhile, all of this could be instructive when trying to figure out what Jon Lester’s “hometown discount” extension, which seems to be an inevitability, may look like. With Ortiz more or less guaranteed to end his career with the Red Sox, it looks as though the team has established something of a baseline for what it will pay to keep a fan favorite around longer than it perhaps would normally stomach.

Projection systems have Lester pegged around 3.5 to 4.0 WAR this season. We’ve taken the higher end forecast for the purposes here and stepped it forward five years. Lester’s decline isn’t likely to be very linear. But assuming on average the same 0.5 decline annually, he’s a decent bet to generate 12.5 WAR in total over five years. This seems reasonable given his age and that he’s a lefty. (Maybe he starts being a “crafty” southpaw and stuff.)

If the Sox and Lester agreed to a five-year, $125 million extension, he would wind up with the exact same cumulative WAR as Ortiz over essentially the same amount of time (14-15 years) and right around the same total compensation ($169 million for Lester versus $173 million for Ortiz).

Jon Lester salary projection

Five years and $125 million seems like way more than the Red Sox would be willing to give any pitcher given their past track record. John Lackey hasn’t been quite the disaster many want to believe after all, but the team hasn’t come close to revisiting a five-year deal approaching nine figures since. Then again, if Lester doesn’t sign now and pitches well during 2014, he may be a goner given that Max Scherzer supposedly turned down six years and $144 million (as ESPN’s Gordon Edes noted in the article linked above).

To bring this back full circle, one can argue pretty easily that something like a five-year, $100 million deal would indeed represent a substantial “hometown discount” on Lester’s part. After all, he has – albeit more quietly and often with a scowl – done nearly as much for the Red Sox as Ortiz.

Meanwhile, since Lester began his career with Boston and was paid minimum salaries while under the club’s exclusive control, it’s conceivable that he could end up generating about $50-60 million in surplus value, even if he does get that $125 million deal as modeled above. Lester has never even come close to being paid more than the WAR value he’s generated. The team has benefited more from Lester than Ortiz on a cost-of-production basis because he was developed internally and was extended at a team-friendly deal near the end of his rookie contract.

It’s just business as usual for a front office that is proving to be adept at valuing its assets and making shrewd business decisions. The Red Sox aren’t going to be getting any hometown discounts from Ortiz or Lester because they’ve already gotten them. And it’s unlikely either player feels obligated to extend a discount, regardless of what they may tell the media when the question inevitably comes up, in one form or another. Unfortunately, that’s not the type of narrative that warms the heart or generates a whole hell of a lot of page hits and drive-time callers.


This Week in Boston Baseballing, March 15 – 21

The Red Sox forge ahead toward the start of the 2014 season, which is now 10 days away. The overall local buzz for a team coming off its third World Series in 10 years has been a bit restrained so far thanks to the Patriots’ active offseason and the Bruins’ continued success. But it’s hard to argue with a largely uneventful spring as that usually means good things for a baseball team with a roster as talented as Boston’s. The enthusiasm will come in due time.

Airline-style Pricing For the Monster Seats
On, Jesse Lawrence writes about the Red Sox’s decision to implement dynamic pricing for Green Monster seats this season, a move could net the team about $2 or $3 million of extra revenue.

Last year, Green Monster tickets had a face price of $165. While supply on the secondary market is usually limited to under 10 tickets each game, secondary-market ticket prices typically range from $250 to $450. … At 81 games over the course of the season, our calculation assumed an average free-market price of $350, which would mean an incremental $185 of revenue each game. For conservatism’s sake, we discounted that to $150 of incremental revenue per seat per game. With 20,000 Monster seats to sell over the course of the season, that equates to a clean $3,000,000 of incremental revenue for the World Champions–perhaps just enough to cover the addition of right-handed pull hitter at the trade deadline.

Wait, the Sox didn’t sign Jonny Gomes for his facial hair?
Yankee Stadium gets a lot of attention – along with Coors Field of course – for having a short porch in right field and a generally hitter-friendly environment. However, in 2013, as Tony Blengino writes on FanGraphs, Fenway Park was actually the second-most flyball-friendly ballpark in the majors after Coors (which is in its own stratosphere). Fenway’s “Park Factor” came in at 151.1 (average being 100) versus 116.5 for sixth-place Yankee Stadium. This measure is just another of the many ways in which New York is overrated.

We are now beginning to localize and quantify the Fenway fly ball factor – it is largely attributable to fly balls that would be outs almost anywhere else, that instead become doubles off of the high LF, LCF and CF fences. Now, to find some position players who hit more such fly balls than other players do, as well as some pitchers who can minimize such damage.

The Red Sox did just that, particularly in acquiring hitters Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp, both of whom are especially adept at lifting the ball in the air. Of course, park factors are somewhat dynamic from year to year and it’s likely pitchers may adjust. But it’s probably no accident that Gomes and Carp both drop their wrists low early in their swing path in order to get underneath the baseball.

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Red Sox-Yankees Gets Delayed Because of Bees
“Bees everywhere! God, they’re huge and they’re sting-crazy! THEY’RE RIPPING MY FLESH OFF!”

Rumors swirled about whether Mike Carp did his best Chris Farley impression as he vacated the infested outfield.

Groundskeepers Dig Out After A Long Winter
With MLB Opening Day only a little more than a week away, teams that will be hosting games in late March amidst a late-arriving spring thaw face the challenge of getting the field in playable conditions.

From’s news services:

That frost in the ground at U.S. Cellular Field can be measured in feet, not inches. To ready the field for the first pitch, Bossard is overseeing an effort akin to blowing a gigantic hair dryer under a tarp to pump hot air onto the field and thaw it out. Crews have been chipping away at ice near the right field line with shovels.

Groundskeepers at Fenway Park will have a few extra days to get the field in shape for Boston’s opener at home on April 4. But they are likely in a similar situation. Here is one encouraging shot of the park in early March posted on Sons of Sam Horn by user “Tippi Hedren”, just prior to several weeks of additional snow, ice and cold temperatures rolling through:

Fenway before March thaw
The outfield seems to have a color that at least resembles a very pale shade of green. It won’t be long now…

“Bees everywhere! God, they’re huge and they’re sting-crazy! THEY’RE RIPPING MY FLESH OFF!”

“Bees everywhere! God, they’re huge and they’re sting-crazy! THEY’RE RIPPING MY FLESH OFF!”

Scrollable Photo Gallery: Images from Red Sox Spring Training 2014

There’s been some beefing from fans arguing that the Red Sox should be on television a bit more during spring training. Or at the very least, some accessible radio coverage wouldn’t hurt. The mainstream sites have the daily lineups and general news round-ups pretty well covered. But other than updates on injuries, some tangible, visual evidence of baseball happenings is really what a fan needs most at this juncture.

Now that Getty Images has opened up a big portion of its image database to the general, free-loading public, Fenway Pastoral is here to help fans get their fix without having to click through any obnoxious, advertisement-laden galleries.

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2014 Red Sox Preview: RBI Baseball Comparables

Earlier this year, MLB announced plans to reprise the RBI Baseball name as part of a newly developed video game that would be available across a variety of gaming platforms. And really, who can blame them for trying to piggyback on proven success?

The original RBI Baseball, developed in the mid-1980s for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, is one of the best baseball video games ever created. Developed by Namco and published by Tengen, the game was licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not by Major League Baseball itself. There are only eight teams in the game (and also two All-Star squads). Teams are referred by city only and player names are not used anywhere within the original game. Presumably this will change now that Major League Baseball has its hands on the development process.

RBI J Rice

As we noted in the 2010 iteration of this post, playing the original RBI Baseball is especially satisfying for Red Sox fans because the “Boston” roster is absolutely stacked with both players who were good in real life and in the video game as well. Exactly why the game’s creators decided to make the Boston team disproportionately awesome remains unexplained.

Playing off of the Baseball Prospectus “most comparable players” feature that is used to develop the PECOTA projection system, Fenway Pastoral presents a preview of the 2014 Boston Red Sox real-life roster, as summarized by the “Boston” team RBI Baseball comparables.

Statistics following players are the totals as listed by RBI Baseball. Namco mainly used individual players’ numbers from the 1986 season in configuring gameplay skill levels. Exceptions included Tony Armas and Ellis Burks, as further explained below.


Marty Barrett, 2B (RBI Stats: .286 AVG, 4 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Daniel Nava
Barrett is a top-of-the-order guy who can routinely assault all fields with line drives and also knock out the occasional home run if an opponent grooves a pitch over the plate. He may not be the best leadoff hitter, but if a player is patient, RBI Barrett is almost never a cheap out.

Bill Buckner, 1B (.267, 18 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Shane Victorino
The accomplished veteran who was a productive player in the National League prior to coming over to the AL for the back nine of his career. The similarities between Victorino and Buckner probably end right about there, but we have to saddle somebody with this comp and Shane is probably going to see the majority of his at-bats at either leadoff or the No. 2 hole, so what the hell.

Wade Boggs, 3B (.357, 8 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Dustin Pedroia
The middle-of-the-order high-average, low homer guy. RBI Wade Boggs only hits dingers on mistake pitches or if the opponent leaves his pitcher in the game for too long. But much like the video-game Boggs, you can count on a bunch of doubles out of Pedroia even if the homers may be more of a rarity these days.

Jim Rice, CF (.324, 20 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Jonny Gomes
Rice never seems to hit as many homers as you think he should. But that doesn’t stop you as a RBI gamer from swinging for the fences when he’s at the plate. If he makes contact and it doesn’t go over the fence, it’s usually a hard single to left field or a harmless pop-up.

Don Baylor, LF (.263, 31 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Mike Napoli
As the No. 5 hitter, Baylor’s 30-plus home run power makes him a guy you can’t take for granted in the lineup when playing RBI Baseball. Players who make mistakes over the middle of the plate are routinely embarrassed by tape-measure home runs. But Baylor hit for a low average due to 111 strikeouts in 1986 and he was clearly on the tail end of a productive career. The game’s creators at Namco largely chose to ignore all this when inputting his skill set for game-play. In a similar sense, Napoli’s propensity to strike out can be overlooked since he probably represents the team’s best shot at 30 home runs from a right-handed hitter.

Dwight Evans, RF (.259, 26 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Will Middlebrooks
Namco blessed Evans with power that can translate to all fields and very few of his home runs are cheap. For the 2014 team, we’ll give the honors to Will Middlebrooks. Sure, it may seem like a stretch but it’s not necessarily out of the question WMB runs into 26 home runs during the 2014 season.

Rich Gedman, C (.274, 16 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: David Ross
Gedman gets overlooked due to the firepower in front of him. But he’ll get his knocks here and there if he gets the chance.

Spike Owen, SS (.231, 1 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Stephen Drew
Almost every RBI gamer will immediately substitute Owen out of the lineup for one of Boston’s more intriguing bats that wait on the bench. Who can resist when all fielder attributes are static regardless of who is substituted into the game? It doesn’t exactly work that way in real life, but Boston has more or less treated Drew this winter the same way Owen is treated by RBI gamers.


Dave Henderson, OF (.265, 15 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Grady Sizemore
Henderson is a sentimental favorite for those old enough to remember his two gigantic Game 6 home runs during the 1986 ALCS and World Series. He’s a good pinch-hit option in RBI play as well if the match-up is right and the player is looking to change things up. He provides some pretty solid pop off the bench and only further adds to the embarrassingly rich depth of the Boston roster. Sizemore has some comparable sentimentality going for him if people are willing to remember far enough back. Sizemore hit 10 HR for Cleveland in 2011 so it’s not too much of a stretch to think he could hit 15 for the Red Sox in 2014 if things break a certain way.

Ellis Burks, OF (.272, 20 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Xander Bogaerts
Burks’ listed stats are actually from the 1987 season. But he was a well-known prospect after being selected by Boston with the 20th pick in the 1983 draft. The Bogaerts hype will likely reach its critical mass by the time the season starts in April. Even if he underperforms early on, he belongs on the major league team. Forgive fans for looking ahead to what’s in store. No offense of course to Stephen Drew. But just to draw out this analogy, the makers of RBI could have either put a guy like Steve Lyons (1 HR in 275 PA in 1986) on the bench or fudged the truth a bit and, as they did, stuck 1987 Ellis Burks in the game. Who can blame them for choosing to include the exciting rookie over the veteran?

Tony Armas, OF (1984 totals: .264, 43 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: David Ortiz
Armas’ statistics on the RBI team are from the 1984 season rather than the 1986 season. Instead of listing him with 11-home-run power (his actual total from ’86), he is blessed with the ridiculous power he exhibited in 1984, when he banged out 43 home runs. Even as he approaches 40 years old, Ortiz remains remarkably consistent in his power numbers. He continues to make solid contact on just about everything left out over the plate, year in and year out. Just as nobody knows for sure why the RBI makers decided to immortalize Armas’ 43-home run season from two years prior to the game’s official production, no one can quite explain why Ortiz seems to be able to keep turning back the clock year after year after year. Armas doesn’t have a position in the field, but a savvy RBI gamer finds a way to get the biggest power bat on the team into the lineup at all costs.

Marc Sullivan, C (.193, 1 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: A.J. Pierzynski
A necessary evil. A placeholder. A last-resort option, hopefully. He fills out the roster and you hope, somehow, someway, he isn’t really needed after a while.


Roger Clemens (2.48 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Clay Buchholz
The right-hander from Texas who shows ace potential but who ultimately seems to fizzle out a bit earlier than you’d like. If you begin the game with Clemens, you may very well run through the opposing order with ease the first time through only to see a couple of hitters take his fastball out of the park the next time through. Buchholz’s starts – and his career of late – seem to be mired in a similar state of greatness restrained.

Bruce Hurst (2.99 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Jon Lester

Lester is the no-brainer for this comp, especially after his high-level performance during the 2013 postseason. (Hurst would have had a case for the World Series MVP in 1986 if things had gone differently.) Hurst almost always gives RBI gamers five innings (the equivalent of six or seven in a real game) and he misses plenty of bats along with way if players deftly utilize the screwball feature by holding the up button as the pitch is delivered, resulting in a killer amount of movement on offspeed pitches.

Calvin Schiraldi (1.41 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Edward Mujica
St. Louis more or less treated the right-handed groundball specialist as though he were Schiraldi 2.0 by staying away from him in the 2013 playoffs. Mujica saved a bunch of games for the Cardinals, but ultimately the team sensed he was on fumes by October and he pitched a total of just 2.0 postseason innings. Mujica’s split-finger fastball doesn’t miss nearly as many bats as Koji Uehara ungodly split. But if the Sox can get the same kind of results that Schiraldi gave the Boston bullpen during the 1986 regular season, Mujica will more than prove his worth. (There are some RBI gameplay similarities here as well: The video-game iteration of Schiraldi tops out in the low-90s, doesn’t strike out too many hitters and tires fairly quickly. He is rarely effective for more than three outs at a time.)

Bob Stanley (1.81 ERA*)
2014 Red Sox comp: Chris Capuano
More revisionist history from the RBI developers here: Stanley never had an ERA below 2.60, which he posted in 1978 pitching 141 innings primarily out of the bullpen in the process of finishing 7th(!) in Cy Young balloting. Stanley was pretty good a few years before the game came out. But with a fastball that tops out at 82 MPH, RBI Stanley’s stuff isn’t going to fool too many people on most days. We’ll give the dubious honors here to Capuano, as the veteran comes to town hoping to give the team back some of the innings it is losing with the news that Ryan Dempster is retiring. It will work out some of the time, but with the lifetime National Leaguer heading to the AL for the first time, he is going to take some lumps.