MLB Season Preview: Boston Red Sox

Xander Bogaerts is the most heralded Sox prospect since Hanley Ramirez

 

The Boston Red Sox were crowned World Series champions in 2013, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 6 games in the Fall Classic. The Sox were coming off a season in which they came in last place, winning only 69 games. A big trade sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers, freeing up space to sign guys that ended up being key pieces in the postseason run – Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, and Shane Victorino. The Red Sox are favorites to win the division in 2014, but Vegas thinks it’s the Tigers that are the best team in the American League.

Off-season transactions:

11/22 – Traded for RHP Burke Badenhop

12/4 – Signed C A.J. Pierzynski

12/12 – Re-signed 1B Mike Napoli

1/22 – Signed OF Grady Sizemore

2/22 – Signed LHP Chris Capuano

(The Red Sox did not re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew or Jarrod Saltalamachhia and Ryan Dempster will not play this season)

Losing Jacoby Ellsbury, an all-star centerfielder that has been with the club since 2007, is tough. Losing him to the Yankees is even tougher. GM Ben Cherington made a tough decision to not fork over the money, instead opting to sign Grady Sizemore to compete with Jackie Bradley Jr. for the starting CF spot. Xander Bogaerts will take over full time at shortstop after impressing last season, while Will Middlebrooks will get another chance to get the 3B job.  The Red Sox will get Jake Peavy for a full season and if Lackey and Lester can stay healthy, this will be one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

Projected 2014 Lineup:

  • A.J. Pierzynski, C
  • Mike Napoli, 1B
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  • Will Middlebrooks, 3B
  • Xander Bogaerts, SS
  • Shane Victorino, RF
  • Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  • Daniel Nava, LF
  • David Ortiz, DH

Rotation:

  1. Jon Lester
  2. John Lackey
  3. Jake Peavy
  4. Clay Buccholz
  5. Felix Doubront

Closer: Koji Uehara

The Red Sox will win 90+ games in 2014, but will the Yankees or Blue Jays rebound to content for the division crown? The Orioles also got better in the offseason, and the Rays are always in contention. While I’d be willing to wager on a spot in the new five-team AL playoffs, the division title is wide open with all five teams in contention.

The Other Lead – Your Sports Weekend in GIFs, Pics and Video

This week we’ll start with the most talked-about play of the weekend. Game 3 of the World Series ended on an obstruction call at third base. Was third baseman Will Middlebrooks even in the base path to home plate? Did he lift his leg on purpose? According to the rule as it stands, none of those questions matter. Sounds like Major League Baseball will be revisiting the rule in the offseason. The Cardinals won the game on the play to go up 2-1, but lose the next two games and now face elimination on Wednesday in Boston. Here it is:

It was a fun night in Norman if you are a Sooner fan, as Oklahoma took down #10 Texas Tech 38-30, thanks in part to this amazing double reverse for a TD:

 

#7 Miami escaped a wild one against 4-4 Wake Forest, but the win has given us more questions than answers about the Canes. Here’s the play of game… call it luck, call it skill or something in between, i’ll just call it ridiculous.

 

The Lions came back to win the game against the Cowboys on a last-second QB sneak by Matt Stafford, but its Calvin Johnson that was the star once again. Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 YARDS and a touchdown in, which was good enough for 2nd in NFL history for receiving yards in a single game. Whether it’s a slant or Stafford just throwing it up there, Megatron is just that good:

The biggest hit of the World Series this far, and likely to remain as such if the Red Sox clinch, is Johnny Gomes’ home run in Game 4 at Busch Stadium. He was hitless for the series up to them, and it was exactly what the Sox needed to get out of the rut they were in after the crazy end to Game 3. Here’s Johnny!:

The Other Lead – Your Sports Weekend in GIFs, Pics and Video

We’ll start this week with the fastest goal in MLS history, a Tim Cahill strike only 8 seconds into the NY Red Bulls’ game against Houston. An incredible goal no doubt, but the fault has to be place on the Dynamo defense. Houston lost and is now in position to miss the playoffs completely. Here it is:

Also on Saturday we had Game 6 of the ALCS, with the Red Sox one win away from facing St. Louis in the World Series. With the bases juiced and two strikes on him, Shane Victorino had the biggest home run of his career:

One of the best catches you’ll ever see happened in the Stanford-UCLA game. Stanford receiver Kodi Whitfield backhanded an bomb in the end zone for a touchdown:

Now for the NFL, how many people do you think it takes to cover Calvin Johnson? More than three, apparently. Megatron keeps amazing us with his otherworldly receiving skills, and he showcased them on Sunday against the Bengals:

Things didn’t go well for Nick Foles in his start in Philly against the Cowboys. The Eagles, who have been scoring 30 points a game this season, mustered only a single field goal in a 17-3 loss. This sums up the game:

Last but not least is the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. They’re in sole possession of first place after the Broncos lost to the Colts and KC was able to hold off a Houston team that was desperate for a win. Here’s Alex Smith running a successful fake hand-off to no one when Jamaal Charles went the wrong way, then taking it in for a TD himself:

You keep keepin’ on, Alex Smith — though i’m not sure the ’72 Dolphins are shaking in their boots quite yet. The Chiefs face the Browns in week 8, so the streak is likely to at least continue for another week.

New Players Abound In 2011 MLB Season

With the shortest offseason in major sports, a lot can happen in around baseball during the winter, and this year was no different. There were a number of high quality free agents available for the taking, and as a result a lot of teams will have a new look come opening day. 

Few teams did more to improve their stock than the Boston Red Sox. In early December, the Sox landed the coveted first basemen Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Not only will this provide Boston with a big left-handed bat in the middle of its lineup, but also strengthens their defense. Several days later, Boston signed free agent left fielder Carl Crawford, a player that will be a spark at the top of the batting order throughout the season. Boston also bolstered its bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks as a setup man.

Cliff Lee, who brought the Texas Rangers to the World Series last season, was also up for grabs this offseason. After an intense bidding war, the Phillies beat out the Yankees and acquired the talented southpaw. Lee took less money to accept the Phillies offer, a team he took to the Fall Classic in 2009, and joins Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels as arguably the best rotation in the majors.

Another coveted pitcher, Zach Grienke, also changed hands. The subdued right hander had long been the lone bright spot for the Kansas City Royals over the years, but was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason in an effort to keep up with a loaded NL Central.  

There are a number of new players in Tampa Bay as well. Just one season after winning the AL East for the second time in three years, the Rays have a virtually new team. Crawford is gone along with Matt Garza (Cubs), Carlos Pena (Cubs) and Jason Bartlett (Padres). To help fill the void, the Rays brought in some very familiar faces – Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon – hoping for some veteran production out of the two former Sox.

Staying in the East, the Baltimore Orioles have long been in the basement, but they took steps to compete with the Sox, Yankees, Rays and even Jays this offseason. The Orioles acquired a few big bats in shortstop J.J. Hardy, first baseman Derek Lee and slugger Mark Reynolds. Add that to a bolstered pitching staff, highlighted by Justin Duchscherer, and teams should watch out for Baltimore.

TicketCity and TripCart.com Offer Easy Planning for Fall Travel

As temperatures begin to cool and leaves begin to turn, millions of travelers are expected to take to the road in pursuit of fall foliage in the Northeast, and when they do, TicketCity and TripCart.com will be there to provide recommendations for natural sites of interest, as well as live events they won’t want to miss along the way such as baseball, football and Broadway.

TicketCity partnered earlier this year with TripCart, the most comprehensive online Road Trip Planner and travel reference site.  Together, they have taken the guesswork out of planning exciting things to do while chasing fall’s ever-changing colors. Booking weekends full of sports and entertainment through the sites’ revolutionary combinations of enticing content and robust, interactive technology has made the information gathering process a breeze.  Not to mention TicketCity’s reputation for outstanding customer service, abundant seating options and guaranteed reliable transactions.

This fall, TripCart, TicketCity, and good ol’ Mother Nature herself present foliage fanatics and sports enthusiasts a weekend of colorful indulgence in the Northeast’s favorite cities.  And fall foliage tours aren’t limited to small towns in Vermont or the Rocky Mountains anymore and aren’t exclusively about the trees and leaves.

Highlights of TripCart’s unique Urban Fall Foliage Guide include information on hundreds of scenic spots and routes, including:

Red Leaves by David Hepworth.

  • Lunch among leaves and life at Massachusetts’ Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Drive through cranberry country just south of Boston along State Road 105, along twinkling ponds and red-gold forests.
  • Combine rich fall foliage with rich American history at Philadelphia’s Valley Forge National Historic Park.
  • Take a break from city hubbub and hike through tranquil, colorful Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
  • Hop on Metro-North for a moving view of Hudson Valley Fall Foliage or grab the subway to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for a nap under the color-changing trees and then a stroll through trendy Park Slope. 

For those travelers looking to supplement their nature exploration with spectacular live sports or entertainment events, TicketCity offers no shortage of ideas to choose from:

Boston Red Sox by Keith Allison.

  • Catch the U2 360 concert tour at Gillette Stadium in Boston on September 20, 2009.
  • See Dave Matthews Band in concert at Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ on September 19-20.
  • Celebrate the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame benefit event at Madison Square Garden on October 30, 2009.
  • Support the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox with tickets for events as they head into postseason baseball.
  • Enjoy NFL action with the New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and New York Jets tickets throughout the entire NFL season.
  • Kickoff the NBA season with tickets to the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks or Boston Celtics.
  • Explore Broadway and all of its offering including tickets to shows such as The Lion King at Minskoff Theatre, and Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre.

Travelers are encouraged to mix and match nature with culture to create an itinerary that captures the best of fall foliage, entertainment, and fun. For more information on TripCart, or to begin planning your next excursion within the United States, visit www.tripcart.com. For details on the hottest sports or entertainment tickets, visit www.ticketcity.com.