Welcome back to another Read Sox. This week we take a look at Jackie Bradley Jr.’s crazy month, Anderson Espinoza’s breakout and a poor season for Pawtucket.
In the 33 games over the second half of the season Jackie Bradley Jr. hasn’t just played okay or gotten a little better; he has performed as the best player on the Red Sox and one of the best outfielders in all of baseball. His WAR of 2.6 over the last 30 days not only leads the Red Sox but all major league outfielders, barely edging out the scorching hot Yoenis Cespedes (2.4). Yesterday versus Toronto JBJ continued his hot run, going 4-4 with a home run and a double, bringing his second half slash line up to a staggering .360/.429/.739 with seven home runs while continuing to impress in the field. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe notes that it wasn’t long ago when it was difficult to imagine any scenario where JBJ found himself on the Sox roster heading into next year as many speculated a trade. Tireless work not only in the off-season but during the year with Chili Davis has certainly paid off, and Bradley finds himself firmly cemented in the Red Sox future, prompting Dave Dombrowski to begin to explore different ways to effectively align the stellar defense of the “BBC” lineup. I feel that with his arm JBJ remains a difference maker in right field and despite what I said a few weeks ago, the bat may indeed play in a corner position.
As we head toward the end of the season, beat writers and columnists around baseball will begin to speculate about off-season trades. With Dave Dombrowski’s extensive history of re-hauling rosters and selling the farm to do so many analysts are worried that he may gut the farm, leaving a rich system barren. Aside from the recently signed Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada perhaps no prospect in the system has benefited more from his performance this season than young-right-hander Anderson Espinoza. At just 17-years-old the Espinoza has climbed from the Dominican Summer League all the way to Single-A Greenville and has drawn comparisons to the great Pedro Martinez. Alex Speier of The Boston Globe writes just how uncommon this jump is, and how his talent, rather than his age, is likely to dictate a faster rise through the system. He notes that by making it all the way to Greenville before his 18th birthday he has become the first Red Sox starter since 1977 to make a start at that level. When Dombrowski assesses the system and decides who to put on the block and who to keep it seems paramount that Moncada and Espinoza remain untouchable. With long term solutions in the outfield and the move of Hanley Ramirez to first base the loss of Manuel Margot and Rafael Devers in order to improve the club elsewhere would sting but would be easier to endure.
In the same game that David Ortiz hit home run number 497 he exited in the fifth inning with a strained calf muscle. Michael Silverman of the BostonHerald.com takes some time remind us that although this fragile nature should be expected of a soon to be 40-year-old player, the Sox need him more than ever and have no replacement for his offense in sight.
Rick Porcello continues to look like a changed pitcher since returning from his stint on the DL. Despite giving up three earned runs in yesterday’s contest, he was able to pitch into the eighth inning and stifle a hot Jay’s offense in order to get the win. Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe writes how getting back to the basics helped transform his season.
There will be no Governor’s Cup chase for the Pawtucket Red Sox this year but that’s okay. The number of promotions to the big league club has been staggering and left the Paw Sox with little firepower as they limped to the finish with a 59-85 record. Bill Koch of The Providence Journal writes that despite the depleted core, the team was able to finish the season strong and that the goal is to help the big league club, not to chase championships.
After yesterday’s win, interim manager Torey Lovullo thinks that something special is happening with these Sox and that he won’t rule out a playoff berth. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com touches on this topic and looks at just how far fetched making the playoffs would be and instead sets some realistic goals for the remainder of the season.
Three Good Game Stories
With an impressive Labor Day victory over the first place Toronto Blue Jays there are a lot of positives to draw on with what has suddenly become a likeable ball club. Ben Buchanan of OverTheMonster.com recaps the action and talks about JBJ’s big day and Rick Porcello’s solid but unspectacular outing.
On Sunday the Red Sox completed a series sweep of the lowly Philadelphia Phillies. Alec Shirkey and Aaron Lebowitz of MLB.com write about some of the reasons why they were able to sweep, including David Ortiz’s continued success and Eduardo Rodriguez’ excellent start.
Saturday vs the Phillies Wade Miley pitched a complete game and Xander Bogaerts contributed four RBI in the 9-2 victory. Nicolas Goss of NESN.com covers these events and more in the recap of Saturdays contest.
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