Bobby V: If the '51 Giants could do it...

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Bobby V: If the '51 Giants could do it...

BALTIMORE Hope always springs eternal for Bobby Valentine, and rightfully so for a baseball guy that knows his history.

Valentine knows that the St. Louis Cardinals went on the mother of all hot streaks to come from 9 12 games back in September, and eventually win the World Series last season in impressive fashion. But the Sox skipper has also heard that this year isnt last year plenty of times while players are undermining management, holding secret meetings and sending poisonous text messages to the ownership group.

So, the manager invoked one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of Major League Baseball the 1951 New York Giants who went 50-12 in their final 62 games and needed the Shot Heard Round the World to win the pennant before finally falling to the Yankees in the World Series.

Bostons nine showed none of that right kind of stuff while engineering the worst September collapse in baseball history last fall, and playing mediocre, uninspired baseball through one brush fire after another this season.

But Valentine still believes.

When you talk about 87 wins I think thats how many St. Louis had last year. On Sept. 5 they were 9 12 back and theyd basically thrown in the towel on Sept. 1, said Valentine. Is today the day when the winning streak has to start happening? Id like it to. I dont know what day it will be.

Every coach deep in a divisional hole will pull out those inspirational tales of unexpected victory and ungodly winning streaks, but the Sox have given zero evidence theyre a candidate for that kind of greatness.

Valentine was reminded that last year might be a tough example when looking for a miracle comeback story, and thats when he started conjuring up images of Bobby Thompsonclubbing immortal homers.

Then take another example. You say this year isnt last year, but this year is this year. Last year wasnt the 1951 New York Giants, said Valentine. They were 14 12 games out in the middle of August. We arent that bad. You could say this isnt 1951 and this is a totally different story. It is what it is. The only time you figure it all out is when its over.

I dont figure it out beforehand. Thats for all you guys that are smarter than me. I try to figure out what happens afterwards, and believe until Im forced to believe something different.

This Red Sox team is 13 12 games behind the Yankees, 6 12 games out of the wild card chase and needs to play .750 ball the rest of the way to conceivably make the playoffs. Hope might spring eternal, but dont take that away from them because its pretty much all theyve got.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.