All posts by Tyler Mason

Interview with Jim Murray

The staff of F.I. is thankful for the opportunity to interview Jim Murray on how the Boston Red Sox are doing and their plans for the future. Murray is the headlines anchor for one of Boston’s most popular sports radio show, Felger and Mazz. Check him out Monday through Friday from 2-6 p.m. where he updates you on what’s going on around the sports world on 98.5, The Sports Hub. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter, @bigjimmurray.

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F.I.: When David Ortiz does retire, who will be the new face of the Red Sox organization?

Murray: Either Bogaerts or Betts. Not only do they both rake, they’re friendly, humble guys who are easily marketable.

F.I.: In the potential pitching market, which starting pitcher fits the Red Sox rotation best Chris Sale or Jose Fernandez, and is the price tag going to make the Sox give up some big name prospects?

Murray: Jose Fernandez is the real deal and has numbers that are comparable to Clayton Kershawn over the last couple of seasons. I’d move anyone short of Bogey, Betts and Moncada for him.

F.I.: With Travis Shaw having a terrible month of hitting in June, do you see him potentially being dealt during the trade deadline?

Murray: No shot. He’ll come around.

F.I.: With Sonny Gray having his worst season so far in his young career, do you think it would be a bad idea for the Sox to go after him at the deadline?

Murray: Considering what they had to give up for Pomeranz (top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza), the price would be too much for Gray.

F.I.: Do you see the Sox going after a legitimate outfielder at the deadline since Blake Swihart and Chris Young are on the DL? If so, who? Or will they stick with Brock Holt, Bryce Brentz and Ryan LaMarre until everyone gets healthy?

Murray: Nope, no need. They’ll get Young back soon enough.

F.I.: As far as prospects, the Red Sox Farm system is one of the strongest in the League between Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada. Who do you think will get to the MLB first and who will be more successful?

Murray: Moncada wowed the hell out of me with his appearance in the Futures game this past week, and I have some concerns about what seems like a passive personality in Benentendi, so I’ll go with Yoan.

F.I.: People have been talking about the pitching problems for the Sox, but do you think that the coaching staff has been doing their best and is that a reason for the Red Sox struggles as of late?

Murray: No. John Farrell & Carl Willis strike me as mostly useless and if anything have screwed some of this staff up.

We would like to thank Jim Murray again for taking the time to answer the questions the staff of F.I. came up with!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter as well, @FIsports_.

 

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2016 Baseball Hall of Fame prediction

With the 2016 Hall of Fame class being announced this week,  I think it’s only appropriate that some predictions should be made. A new group of legends will be getting that long awaited phone call they have been dreaming of their whole life. Now some of these players dreams are about to become a reality while others just have to wait another year.

1. Mike Piazza

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Piazza seems to be one of the sure favorites in this year’s group. This is his fourth year on the ballot, but it is finally his time. To be honest, I’m surprised it took him this long. Piazza, in my opinion, is one of the best offensive catchers ever to play the game. The 12 time All Star and 10 time silver slugger finished his 16 year career with a .308 batting average. That’s the third best career batting average from a catcher of all time. He also won the 1993 Rookie of the Year and the 1996 All Star game MVP. But going through all of these accolades, one of the best moments in Piazza’s career was his legendary 8th inning home run the day after 9/11. That moonshot to centerfield didn’t just have the Mets take the lead, but also gave a reason for people around New York to smile. Piazza was looked at as a hero then and, after his stellar career, he will get inducted.

2. Ken Griffey Jr.

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With it being just his first year on the ballot,  you can’t tell me that “The Kid” won’t make the cut. When Griffey first entered the league in 1989, kids were impersonating his long, but smooth swing with the most nonchalant follow through in their backyard. His swing just looked so effortless but, boy, did it have power. His 630 career home runs, earning him 6th on the all time list, can speak for itself. Also, to this day, he is the only player to ever win the Home Run Derby three times. But don’t think that the 13 time all star and 7 time Silver Slugger could just hit, he also played stellar defense. When Griffey was roaming centerfield for the Mariners, he was a 10 time Gold Glove winner, receiving the award 10 years in a row (1990-1999). Ken Griffey Jr. will forever be one of the best sluggers to ever play baseball. He brought a whole new type of “swagger” to the game, whether it was chasing down fly balls with ease or hitting tape measure shots out of the ballpark. In my opinion, he should have been inducted yesterday.

3. Trevor Hoffman

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Another 1st timer on the ballot, I believe, will be joining this legendary class. If Hoffman were to get voted in, he will be just the 7th closer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. People have said before that voters should consider evaluating closers as Hall of Famers. People say that because of the fewer innings they pitch compared to starters and that it is easier to be successful when you just pitch one inning every couple games. That to me is absurd, especially if you were to tell me that Hoffman shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. The 7 time All Star is second all time in saves with 601. The all time leader is Mariano Rivera and if you think he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, you should just stop watching baseball. With Rivera and Hoffman being first and second on the list, Lee Smith in 3rd place is nowhere close to them at 478. To be honest, I will be shocked if any other pitcher ever gets close to 600 saves. With people saying that closers should be looked at as Hall of Famers, I can see your point with anyone BUT Hoffman and Rivera because they showed that they completely dominated the position like no other. I strongly believe that there won’t be any other closer ever to put up the amount of numbers Rivera and Hoffman did.

There you have it. Those are my three joining the group of heroes, legends, and the best players to ever play America’s Pastime. There is still the elephant in the room for the past couple of years now whether or not steroid users like Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire should be allowed. Obviously from my picks, this isn’t the year for any of them. Ever since the newest release of MLB players, Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, and Taylor Teagarden being accused of using performance enhancing drugs, baseball writers won’t believe that it is time to let the four former muscle heads in due to the fact the steroids hasn’t been put to a complete stop yet.

In the far, far, far future (hypothetically speaking) when I am part of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and get to actually put my vote in for who gets into the Hall of Fame, my predictions for the 2016 class will be correct. But until that forsaken day comes, we will just have to sit back, relax, and wait for the announcement to be made later this week.

A beat-up Buchholz

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With the Red Sox signing David Price and having him be their ace for years to come, I think Boston just killed two birds with one stone.

1. They finally have someone who can anchor the staff for the first time since Jon Lester.

2. Clay Buchholz doesn’t have worry about being the number 1 in the rotation anymore.

When the 2015 season began, the Red Sox were in Philadelphia for Opening Day. Manager John Farrell chose Buchholz to be the Opening Day starter, hoping that he can stay healthy and be their ace all season. As Buchholz trotted to the mound in the bottom half of the first, I was already pleased with his performance because he didn’t pull a hammy on his way to the mound. Buchholz actually had everyone raising their eyebrows after he twirled 7 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and one walk while the Red Sox gave him plenty of run support in the 8-0 victory over the Phillies. Sox fans thought that this was the year that Clay was ready to prove everyone wrong, stay healthy, and have people think that whenever he’s on the mound, his team his going to win.

You’ve got to remember that Clay’s stellar performance over the Phillies…was against the Phillies. Philadelphia has been in complete rebuild mode for the past 3 seasons ever since the Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee era slowly disintegrated. Ever since trading away their core pieces that brought this organization so much success like middle infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the only players that may put fans in the seats now is veteran slugger Ryan Howard and young outfielder Odubel Herrera, who hit just under .300 in 147 games. So with Buchholz pitching a gem against a JV lineup, fans should have waited to jump on the “Buchholz Bandwagon” and see how he did against actually contenders.

The 2015 season for the Boston Red Sox was a joke. The pitching was a joke and when the offense started off slow and couldn’t support the third worst rotation in the American League, you weren’t going to see the best results. But right before the All-Star break, the Sox won 4 straight heading into the last series vs. the first place New York Yankees. Boston was just 4.5 games out of first place at the time, so if they were able to take 2 games in the series or maybe sweep their arch rivals, they would have a lot of momentum going into the second half of the season. A red hot Clay Buchholz had won 4 straight outings and was getting the ball for the first game of the series. Fans were hoping he was ready to make the next step of being an ace by delivering a W in a big game like this.

A solo home run by Alex Rodriguez in the top of the first was just the beginning of this never-ending roller coaster. In the top of the fourth, Buchholz delivered an off speed pitch to former teammate, Stephen Drew. After the pitch, he told catcher Sandy Leon to come to the mound. As Leon jogged to the mound from home plate, John Farrell and the trainer began to follow, along with the infielders. As everyone was huddled up around Buchholz, Farrell then made a signal to the bullpen and just like that, his game was done. At the time, that was the biggest game of the season and the lights were all on Clay Buchholz. That was his chance to change people’s outlook on him and as usual, the injury bug got to him and he was placed on the 60-day DL with a right elbow strain, and ending his season.

Now throughout Buchholz’s career, there has always been one thing that has been his kryptonite and that is…well…anything, if you think about it. When I scrolling through Twitter one day, I came across something that really defined Clay Buchholz in a nutshell. It was a list of all the injuries he has sustained throughout his career. Now, some of you may think it’s silly to start a list of his past but when you look at these numbers, you come to wonder why the Red Sox still keep this guy around.

2008: 16 games missed with a right fingernail tear.

2010: 18 games with a left hamstring strain.

2011: 93 games with a lower back stress fracture.

2012: 20 games with esophagitis.

2013: 82 games with right shoulder bursitis.

2014: 28 games with a left knee hyperextension.

2015: 75 games with a right elbow strain.

If you add those games up, the total amount is 332 games missed over 7 trips to the disabled list. That’s over 2 seasons where Clay Buchholz has been on the DL throughout his 9 seasons in the MLB. And yet, the Red Sox will be paying him around 13 million dollars in 2016.

Now people always think of the 2013 season where he put up by far his best numbers. In the first half of the season, he went 9-0 with an ERA of 1.71. At the time, an obvious all-star and the front runner for the Cy Young award. But after suffering right shoulder bursitis and being shut down for a good chunk of the second half of the season, he was never the pitcher he was once before the All Star break.

With Price now being the obvious number 1 in the rotation for the Sox, 2-5 are still up in the air. With Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, and Joe Kelly fighting for those last 4 spots, you wonder if the Red Sox will ever stop looking at Buchholz as a top of the rotation pitcher and just make him a number 4 or 5 in the rotation.

People have to stop remembering what Buchholz once was and accept that he has already hit his peak. When he’s healthy, he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball. I just don’t think it is necessary to pay the guy that much money for a good month or two of pitching and then making his yearly trip to the DL. But that’s just my opinion.

Yankees acquire Aroldis Chapman

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When the legend Mariano Rivera hung up the cleats in 2013, there have been a lot of contestants trying to fill his role as the Yankees closer. But earlier this afternoon, the Yankees got their guy. Four time all star, Aroldis Chapman was traded from the Cincinnati Reds where he got 146 saves in the span of 6 seasons. Chapman doesn’t have the devastating cutter Rivera used to throw; in fact, Chapman is kind of like the opposite of Rivera.

The Yankees gave away 4 minor leaguers for the one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game…and that’s just an understatement. Batters try not to show fear as Chapman fires 100+ MPH fastballs on a regular pitch basis. The one thing that batters hate when they face him is that they don’t know where the ball is going…and sometimes neither does Chapman.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a deal with the Reds to send Chapman to the Blue Crew. But after Chapman was alleged to being involved in assaulting his girlfriend, the deal was called off. Knowing the Reds are in complete rebuild mode, they weren’t done trying to trade him, which caused the Yankees to give them a call, and the rest is history.

One question mark is if Chapman will be in uniform on Opening Day. His assault charges are in further investigation right now and if it doesn’t play out in Chapman’s favor, Yankee fans may not be seeing him close a game until later in the season.

But let’s say the charges are dropped and he is ready to go for Opening Day. You could arguably say that the Yankees have the best 1-2-3 punch coming out of the bullpen in all of baseball. With having Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller being the 7th and 8th inning guys before Chapman, you could say the chances for a comeback by the opposing team decreases dramatically. But who knows, with the signing of Chapman, Miller could be on the trade block. With the Yankees trying to get younger, an everyday outfielder or power hitter could be a good option for replacing a 38 year old Carlos Beltran and 40 year old Alex Rodriguez.

If Miller isn’t dealt anywhere this winter and the Yankees decide to have a 3-headed monster in the bullpen, all you have to tell your starting rotation is to give their team a quality start and the bullpen will finish the job. Not that hard, right? Maybe not for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees finished 23rd last season in quality starts in all of baseball with 72. But with the offense finishing second in runs scored and picking up the team’s ERA being above 4, you can say that the lesser amount of quality starts won’t be a problem.

Another issue the Yankees COULD have with this deal is if that Chapman becomes a free agent next season. If Chapman has a break out year and another team offers him some big bucks, don’t be surprised if he decides to sign elsewhere. But knowing the Yankees and their history of big contracts, I don’t see there being another team getting in their way.

With this deal being done today, the Yankees made their case that they will be contending for the A.L. East crown just like everyone else. They and Boston’s bullpen seem to be equally dominant on paper. But no matter how good your team looks on paper, I, as a Red Sox fan, know that anything can happen when the season starts.

Disaster in D.C.

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When people are settling down from the Christmas festivities, the Washington Nationals are accepting the lump of cole they received in their stocking this year. Trust me, this isn’t the first time for them.

If you were to look back on the past 4 seasons for the Nationals, the records don’t really help my case as to why I think this team has a lot of work to do. They have won the N.L. East crown 2 out of the past 4 seasons (2012 and 2014) and in those seasons, they won an impressive 98 wins in 2012 and 96 in 2014. In 2013 and 2015, they finished just above .500 but finished second in the division and failed to make the playoffs. But when the Nats went into the 2012 and 2014 playoffs as the favorites to win the Pennant, they were eliminated in the first round both years.

The word “favorites” really represent the Washington Nationals well the past few years. They haven’t just been favorites going into the playoffs, but before the season starts as well. Before the 2015 season began, the Nationals signed all-star pitcher, Max Scherzer, to a seven year mega deal worth 210 million dollars. With that acquisition alone, the Nationals had one of the scariest pitching rotations (on paper) people have seen in awhile. With the five man rotation being Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Doug Fister, you wouldn’t be looked at as stupid if you thought this team was going make a push to the title.

The offense can’t be left alone either. People were ready to see former Rookie of Year, Bryce Harper, stay healthy and have a stand out year. To be honest, Harper was the only good thing that happened for the Nationals in 2015. His .330 batting average, 42 home runs, and 99 RBI’s got him a Silver Slugger award and the elusive MVP trophy for the National League.

…but that’s about it if you’re looking at positives for the Nationals.

Throughout the 2015 season, there wasn’t really anyone else in the lineup to help Harper. Whether it was Ryan Zimmerman’s hamstring snapping every time he tried to beat out a ground ball and then being out for 2 months, or Ian Desmond (if he gets resigned) playing the entire season but finishing with a mediocre .233 batting average, this team has to make some changes. Changes that will not give Harper the responsibility to carry the line-up night in and night out.

Let’s go back to the rotation. At first, Scherzer was living up to the hype. After joining an elite club by throwing 2 no hitters last season, fans knew that it was worth spending big bucks for this guy. Scherzer’s 10-7 record with a 2.11 ERA in the first half of the season earned him a trip to the All Star game. But when the All Star festivities began to simmer down, Scherzer’s ERA began to rise up. While going 0-3 with an ERA of 6.43, the team began to head south in the division because no one else in the rotation was showing hope to carry the load. Both Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez’s subpar second half performances didn’t help the cause. Also, having Strasburg and Fister on the DL throughout May and June wasn’t what National fans were expecting.

Come on, when you have mid-season acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon, going after your only offensive weapon and arguable the face of the franchise in Bryce Harper, you know you have hit rock bottom.

So here we are in late December, the Nationals have a new skipper in Dusty Baker, and they just agreed to terms with second basemen, Daniel Murphy, who was a playoff hero last season for the New York Mets. But don’t think he’s the answer to all of Washington’s problems. He is a player that can help out Harper drive in some runs, but they need to get another power bat. Maybe free agent outfielder, Yoenis Céspedes? He has shown great success against N.L. East teams last season with a batting average around .300 against them. Him and Harper would be a great duo to have in the lineup, and could give pitchers nightmares. Let’s face it folks, if Harper is having a bad day at the plate, chances are that the Nationals will probably lose that game. Which is said because this team has so much potential but in the end, they will just break all of their fans hearts…again.

Also, with having Jordan Zimmerman agreeing to terms with the Detroit Tigers, Scherzer has a little bit more responsibility in carrying this rotation. People can be thinking that Strasburg will have a bounce back year but looking at his history and having Tommy John surgery on his résumé, I don’t know if he will be the lights out prospect he once was. With Fister, he is a ground ball pitcher. He doesn’t have the stuff to blow batters away and if they resign Ian Desmond, him averaging over 20 errors the past 3 seasons won’t help Fister’s cause.

The Nationals have some work to do, to say the least. I have to admit, I was one of many that hopped right on the Nationals bandwagon prior to the 2015 season. But as usual, they made not just me, but many people, look stupid. With just under 100 days left until Opening Day is here, the Nationals better figure it out because if not, they may be finding themselves much lower than just a second place finish.

Wild N.L. West

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Late last week, I was raving about how the Diamondbacks are making moves to win now with the signings of pitchers, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. But I forgot about what the 2016 season means…

An even year. Which means the San Francisco Giants are going to win the World Series. It’s only appropriate to give them the trophy now, right? I mean come on, they have won the World Series the past three even years (2010, 2012, and 2014) and after the moves they have made lately, you wouldn’t be crazy if you made them the early favorites to win the N.L. West.

Earlier last week, the Giants agreed to terms with right handed pitcher, Jeff Samardzija with a 5 year contract worth 90 million bucks. A couple days later, Johnny Cueto signed with the Giants as well with a 6 year contract worth 130 million dollars. These two deals alone make the Giants  contenders yet again.

The 2015 season for the Giants was a disappointing one. They finished with an 84-78 record and failed to make the playoffs. If other teams finished the season like the Giants did, they would think it would be a successful one. But with the Giants’ résumé being the way it is, if you don’t make the playoffs and contend for a championship, you have failed.

With the 2016 season around the corner, Giants knew that they had to make improvements. They already have their ace in postseason legend Madison Bumgarner, but why not put a little more depth to the rotation with the additions of Samardzija and Cueto. So having those three work horses carrying the load at the top of the rotation, the Giants also have veteran, Matt Cain. Cain, who hasn’t plugged in 100 innings the past two seasons due to injuries with his right elbow and forearm, wants to show that he can still help this team contend. Cain was once a top of the rotation pitcher. He even has a perfect game under his belt. If he can go out there every fifth day and give them a quality start, he will just make this team ten times more dangerous. They also have Chris Heston and Jake Peavy fighting for those last two spots, along with Cain. Heston had an on and off year finishing with a record of 12-11 and an E.R.A of 3.95. His no-hitter was the highlight of last season, but showing inconsistency and  having his E.R.A being close to four, I would see him being the number 5 starter at best. With Peavy, the intense veteran who seems to go crazy on the mound, finished last season with an 8-6 record and an E.R.A of 3.58. Peavy, like Cain, was on the DL for a chunk of last season and hopes to turn it around.

Having the Giants ready to bring it in 2016, the Dodgers hope to do the same thing. But after losing Zack Greinke in free agency and then agreeing to terms with pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, but potentially losing him after a failed physical, they’re asking their ace, Clayton Kershaw, to do a lot for them next season. The Dodgers have been contenders for the past couple of seasons now, but if they can’t fix the rotation, L.A. may have problem.

With the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres being in re-build mode, the Arizona Diamondbacks may have me eating my words. A couple of articles ago, I said that the Giants and Dodgers would be fighting for the N.L. West crown. But after what has been happening in L.A., the D-Backs may have a chance.

As the weather gets cooler and the ball drops to celebrate the new year, it is still too early to predict anything. But as of right now, the Giants just made a statement with these two deals. Like I said earlier, knowing it is going to be an even year, they should feel pretty confident with their upcoming season.

Red Sox catching situation

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As opening day is a little over 3 months away, the Boston Red Sox have a situation on their hands. But when we take a look at it, it is not that bad of a situation. Boston has three catchers that have a chance to start in 2016. Those catchers are Christian Vázquez, Blake Swihart, and Ryan Hanigan. The big question is who will be the winner.

Christian Vázquez became the everyday catcher near the end of the 2014 season. His defensive awareness and cannon for an arm made him known in just the 55 games he played in. People have compared Vázquez’s defensive presence with 8-time Gold Glove winner, Yadier Molina. Besides, they don’t call him “Mini Yadi” for nothing. When the 2015 season was about to begin, pitchers trusted Vázquez and had confidence in him to be the everyday catcher. But just a few weeks before spring training was about to end, Vázquez hurt his elbow and later had Tommy John surgery, ending his 2015 season. We fast-foward to right now where Vázquez is playing Winter ball in his home country, Puerto Rico. He is only limited to batting right now so he can get his swing back. Vázquez has been doing long-toss weekly as well as catching bullpen sessions, but the true test will come in March when he is firing the ball down to 2nd base from home plate. Manager John Farrell hopes that Vázquez is ready for the 2016 opener because if his arm his healthy and back to normal, baserunners will have trouble running on him.

Now Christian Vázquez is a great player to catch pitchers. He will give them confidence with his ability to frame pitches on the corners and make those pitchers know that baserunners will probably not steal on them. But one thing that Vázquez doesn’t have is consistency in offensive production. Granted, in the 55 games he played in his Major League tenure, Vázquez hit .240. Not a terrible batting average for a catcher, but there is a better option. That option is 23 year old, Blake Swihart.

Swihart is entering his second season as a big leaguer and Red Sox Nation is expecting him to be the same offensive weapon he was in 2015. Swihart made his Major League debut back on May 2nd because of injuries in the catching department. In just 84 games played, Swihart hit .274 for the entire season, and .303 after the All-Star break. With Swihart being one of many weapons in the Red Sox line-up, his defense is still a work in progress. His caught stealing percentage was 28%. Not really comparable to Vázquez’s 52% back in 2014. Swihart was also charged with 16 passed balls which was 2nd among all catchers in the Major Leagues. But back in 1998, the Sox had a rookie catcher by the name of Jason Varitek. In just 75 games behind the dish, Varitek was charged with 18 passed balls. People probably thought he wasn’t a defensive catcher. But look what history has to say to those opinions now. A Gold Glove award and being named captain for the Sox from 2005-2011 proved those people wrong. So even though Swihart’s defense is still being worked on, you can’t say his bat was a key contributor to the Red Sox line up that finished fourth in runs scored, 6th in batting average, and 5th in on base percentage last season in all of baseball.

Last but not least you’ve got the ole veteran, Ryan Hanigan. If you were to ask me, I would have to pick Hanigan being the player not making the Opening Day roster if the Red Sox were not going to carry three catchers. Hanigan played in just 54 games last season after he fractured a finger on his throwing hand which lead him to the 60-day DL. Hanigan, who has shown seasons with offensive success in Cincinnati, has died down after disappointing batting averages the past three seasons (.198 in 2013, .218 in 2014, and .247 in 2015). With his bat not being the best, one thing that makes him valuable is his trust with the pitchers. Just like Vázquez, Hanigan creates great relationships with any pitching staff he works with. Catchers like Jason Varitek, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, and Salvador Pérez are just a select few that focus on defense production rather than offense because that is what will make their ball club ten times more successful.

So if Santa comes down the chimney next week and gives me the job to be the manager for the Boston Red Sox, I would choose Blake Swihart and Christian Vázquez be on my Opening Day roster. I believe this team is getting younger and the younger the team, the more successful they will be. I understand they need veterans in the clubhouse (which they do with Pedroia, Price, and Ortiz), but Hanigan isn’t the answer for the future. With Swihart showing offensive success already at age 23 and Vázquez hopefully going back to the way he was 2014, you could possibly see a great catching duo for years to come.

Now, if I were to choose who would be in the Opening Day line-up, let’s just wait a couple more months and pray everyone stays healthy throughout the winter and spring.