This Week in Boston Baseballing, July 18 – 24

The Red Sox swept the Kansas City Royals over the weekend at Fenway Park and erupted for a 14-1 victory in Toronto on Monday night. That outburst took the team from 25th in runs scored to 16th in the Majors by night’s end. Unfortunately, the Sox dropped the next two games against the Blue Jays and, all the while, the Tampa Bay Rays were in lockstep with the Sox (now 9 1/2 games back in the AL East).

If we had to guess, the Red Sox front office probably started fielding quite a few more phone calls from contenders yesterday afternoon as Rubby De La Rosa departed the game down seven runs and Boston remained hit-less through the 6th inning.

Boston’s playoff odds according to Baseball Prospectus are down to 2.5%, a 1.0-point decrease over the last seven days. The CoolStandings model on FanGraphs is only slightly more optimistic with the odds at 4.8%. In other words, Andrew Miller’s bags are probably already packed.

Ortiz Passes Yaz’s Career Home Run Total
David Ortiz hit two home runs on Monday night to pass Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time leader board. He hit homers in the following two games at the SkyDome (he has 37 in all at the stadium, first all-time) and now has 454 career home runs. Papi reaching 500 homers may have seemed like a long shot a few years ago when he was first entering his decline phase, but the dropoff hasn’t been nearly as precipitous as – let’s admit it – most all of us expected.

Would a Concerted Playoff “Push” Be A Trap?
Writing for FoxSports.com’s Just a Bit Outside blog, Dave Cameron wonders whether going for broke for an AL Wild Card slot makes sense for fringe contenders during a year in which the two best teams – the A’s and the Angels – come from the same division, thus making it a near guarantee that the second WC team will be on the road for a one-game playoff.

There’s going to be pressure on a lot of teams within striking distance of the second wild-card spot to make a big move over the next week. Before they mortgage the future for a run at that spot, however, it’s worth asking what the realistic upside of winning the second wild card actually is. Yes, technically you get to say you made the playoffs, but in reality, all you’ve really done is worked yourself into a game with a better team, at their park, in a format that allows them to neutralize their biggest weakness.

Being part of the AL East, the Red Sox are more likely to make it to the playoffs as a division winner, anyway. That fact could have muddied the waters quite a bit for the Boston front office if the team hadn’t just lost three straight to the Blue Jays. At the time of this writing, about the only player on the team who is likely 100% untouchable in trade talks would be Xander Bogaerts.

John Henry Settles the Lester Contract Matter …. For Now
From the Thursday Boston Herald:

In an e-mail to the Herald last night, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said the team has agreed not to resume contract talks with its ace left-hander until the season is done. In late June, Lester said he didn’t want to be bothered during the season with negotiations and risk becoming a distraction for the team.

“I’m not going to discuss Jon’s situation out of respect for both Jon and (general manager) Ben (Cherington) other than to say that both sides have put further discussion off until after the season,” Henry wrote. “It’s clear that both Jon and our organization would like to see Jon back next year if possible.”

To paraphrase Lester’s reaction prior to Thursday’s game, the contract talks being on hold is “news” only in the sense that Henry said so to reporters. If this is the front office playing hardball though, you’ve got to hand it to them. The team appears ready for a prolonged blinking contest, no?

 

The Season of Brock Holt

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