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The Major League Baseball draft is vastly different from those of the other major sports leagues. In the NFL and the NBA and to a slightly lesser extent the NHL, draft picks are expected to join their new teams and start performing more or less immediately.

Not so with MLB.

Due to the sport's massive minor league infrastructure, baseball draftees aren't immediately thrust into the spotlight with the big club. In fact, it's a rarity for a player to have any real impact in the first couple of years after they've been selected. While the other drafts feature names and faces that we're likely to see quickly, we probably won't see our team's baseball selections at the big league level for at least a little while.

Obviously, this makes draft grading an even more ludicrous prospect in baseball than it is in other sports. Predicting the future is already impossible - predicting the future of an 18-year-old high school pitcher with great stuff and questionable maturity is even more so.

Still, it's fun to look at the choices our team makes - even if we won't get the payoff until sometime further down the road.

So what does Boston’s 2018 draft class look like?

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 16:34

Red Sox Report Card - May 2018

The conventional wisdom says that post-Memorial Day is when we can really start taking seriously the statistical trends that we’ve been watching play out on the field. And so, with the month of May in the rearview, it’s starting to look like this Red Sox team might actually BE this good.

May was certainly kind to the Red Sox. No American League team managed more wins than the 18 Boston put up. Nor did any AL squad top the team’s whopping 50 home runs for the month. Or the 295 strikeouts from the pitching staff. There was a bit of a power outage at Fenway last season, but the lights are definitely shining so far in 2018.

Yet even after two exceptional months, Boston’s 39-18 record is a mere 1.5 games ahead of the 35-17 output of the Yankees. So there you have it – May may have been a monster month, but the Sox are going to have to keep it going to stave off their division rivals.

But yeah – it was a good month to be a Red Sox fan.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

By the time you read this, the 2018 Major League Baseball draft will likely be in the books. The latest wave of players from the high school and college ranks will have been selected, from the blue-chip stars-in-the-making to the bench-riding organizational depth.

Next week, we’ll be doing a look at the entirety of the Boston Red Sox draft class, but for now, it seemed like it might be fun to introduce you to some of the guys from the very tip-top of this year’s crop. These first-rounders will be expected to make an impact at the big-league level.

Of course, that might not be for a few years. MLB is unique among North America’s big four pro sports leagues in that its massive minor league infrastructure (not to mention its service time rules) encourages extended development of players. In the NFL, NBA and to a lesser extent the NHL, top picks are expected to perform at the highest level immediately. Meanwhile, it might be a while before we see any of 2018’s baseball draftees in the bigs.

So there isn’t the urgency accompanying these guys that there is in other sports. So why not learn a little bit more about the players who made the top-10? For instance, it’s the first time in over a decade that the first five players selected all came from the collegiate ranks. Seven of the 10 are position players, with just three pitchers. And one of them is going to be playing football on Saturdays this fall.

Let’s check it out.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:52

Albert Pujols joins 3,000-hit club

One of Major League Baseball’s most exclusive clubs has a new member.

With an opposite-field single off Seattle Mariners pitcher Mike Leake on May 4, Los Angeles Angels first baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols became just the 32nd player to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. He’s the latest in a run of players to reach the mark – Alex Rodriguez in 2015, the just-released Ichiro Suzuki in 2016 and Adrian Beltre last season – though it’s likely that it’ll be a while before the club gets any bigger.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:42

Saying sayonara to Ichiro

An MLB legend may have played his last game.

The Seattle Mariners announced that they were releasing outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, bringing to an end (at least for now) a playing career that spanned nine seasons with Japan’s Orix Blue Wave and double that number in MLB.

(Note: This means that I, an old, am now younger than exactly one MLB player. I’m dealing with it, but hey - let’s all cross our fingers for the continued good health (for a given value of good health) of the ageless Bartolo Colon.)

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 01 May 2018 16:40

Red Sox Report Card - April 2018

Well now – that’s a hell of a way to start the season.

The Boston Red Sox just had the best April in the team’s history, winning a record 19 games in April (along with two out of three in March). After this red-hot opening month, the team sits atop the American League East with a 21-7 record.

New manager Alex Cora has clearly reached this team in a way that the departed John Farrell never quite managed toward the end of his tenure. That new energy seems to have contributed to the big start (though we’ll see how everyone is feeling come the Fourth of July – or even Memorial Day).

There are a few players struggling, but overall, the team has performed as well as their record indicates. We’ll just see if they can keep it up.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:35

Possible MLB milestones for 2018

Baseball is a game that has always held its own history in high regard. And one of the best ways to keep track of that history has been through statistical milestones, numbers that have come to act as a sort of distillation of greatness. Round numbers that represent on-field brilliance in an easy-to-understand way.

Granted, changes in the game are in turn changing these milestones. The way the game is played and the meaning of the numbers being tallied isn’t what it once was; the sabermetric revolution has altered how we look at these statistics. Still, there’s something undeniably special about those iconic career marks. While their relevance may fade someday, we’re not there yet.

Here are a few milestones that might be reached in 2018:

Published in Sports

It has been a quarter of a century since the current iteration of minor league baseball landed in Maine’s largest city.

The Portland Sea Dogs are celebrating their 25th anniversary this season. The team began life in 1994 as the AA affiliate for the expansion Florida Marlins. However, they were destined to remain part of the Marlins system through 2002 – less than a decade. That was when the team switched affiliation and joined the Red Sox farm system, where they remain to this day.

Nearly 300 players have worn the Sea Dogs uniform over the past 25 years, including a whole lot of future big leaguers. In honor of this auspicious anniversary, it seemed fitting to assemble an all-time lineup.

Here's a look at some of the best players ever to grace the grass at Hadlock Field.

(Note: This list is intended to include only those players whose stint in Portland preceded their major league successes. Players whose Sea Dogs tenure consisted solely of injury rehab will not be included.)

Published in Sports

PORTLAND – I’m not very good at fantasy baseball.

I’ve had some luck in the realm of fantasy football over the years, but as far as fantasy baseball goes, well – I’m kind of terrible.

Published in Sports

It might be hard to believe, considering how much snow we’ve seen recently, but spring is here. Whatever the weather says, the truth is that baseball season is just around the corner! Spring training is coming to a conclusion – we’re on the verge of seeing games that count!

There’s plenty to be excited about in 2018. The Houston Astros look ready to hit the field as defending champions for the first time in their history. We might get our first legitimate two-way player in nearly a century thanks to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani. Young superstars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are playing for what will likely prove to be record-shattering free agent contracts. Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw will continue to build on their Hall of Fame careers.

And once again, I have staved off the inevitable reality of age; we have not one, but two major league baseball players who are older than I am – pitcher Bartolo Colon, now with the Minnesota Twins, and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who has returned to the Seattle Mariners, the team where his storied MLB career began.

As for the specifics – who knows? There are going to be a lot of home runs and a lot of strikeouts. There will be stars who perform to expectations and unknowns who shock the world. There will be delightful highs and unfortunate lows. There’s no way to say for certain what will go down on the field in 2018.

But let’s give it a go anyway.

(Division winners – x; Wild Card teams – y)

Published in Cover Story
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