Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual


Nation STATion: No comeback . . . as usual

By Bill Chuck
Special to

Wednesdays game was unusual for the Red Sox, but not because they lost to the White Sox. Actually, that is more the usual. The Chicagoans have won their last 13-of-15 against the locals, and 9 of 10 since the start of last season.

To make it even uglier, the White Sox have had their way at Fenway seven straight times now, their longest winning streak in Boston since they also won seven in the 1958-1959 seasons. Those were the days when the White Sox had players like Jim Landis, Sherm Lollar, Early Wynn and a double-play combo of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox as they headed to the 1959 World Series. The Bostons, under Pinky Higgins, countered with Frank Malzone, Jackie Jensen, Sammy White, Bill Monbouquette, and a guy named Williams in his waning days (1959 was the only season in which he hit under .300).

But that trip down memory lane doesn't address what was unusual about Wednesday's loss. You might recall that the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead through three innings. And there you have it. Hard to believe, but that ties the largest lead lost by the Red Sox this season. In this return to small-ball era, three- and four-run leads mean something. They are not that quickly eviscerated by one or two swings of performance-enhanced bats.

Here is something else unusual about Wednesdays game: the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead after three innings. That in and of itself is not that out of the ordinary, but the fact that they lost the game is odd. When the Red Sox are ahead at the start of the fourth inning, their record this season is 18-7. Thats a .720 winning percentage (overall Boston is 30-26, .536).

The White Sox scored once in the fourth, which meant Boston held a 3-1 lead heading into the fifth inning. Heres one for you: when Boston is leading at the start of the fifth, its record is 22-5 (.815). Thats a pretty powerful number.

Chicago tied the game in the fifth and the two teams were tied entering the sixth inning. That has been a bad inning for the Red Sox to have a tie game. In fact, thats the worst inning for this team to be tied.

Tied at the Start of InningWinsLossesPct.Pitcher Role13026.536Starters21715.531Starters31210.545Starters4104.714Starters564.600Starters635.375Starters754.556Set-ups841.800Set-ups9501.000Closer1022.500Bullpen1121.667Bullpen1201.000Bullpen1301.000Bullpen
The two teams exchanged runs in the sixth and were tied entering the seventh inning. You can see from the chart above, the Red Sox are now just over .500 when tied entering the stretch inning.

The Chisox scored in the seventh to take their second lead. Now a one-run deficit heading to eighth inning shouldnt be a big deal. But this is where Wednesdays unusual game became the usual.

The Red Sox have come from behind to win six games this season. The White Sox can now say they have come from behind in 8 of their 27 wins. The Yanks have overcome deficits 12 times in their 31 wins. Its 8-of-29 for the Rays.

Comebacks are exciting for fans and players alike, but they have been far and few between for the Red Sox this season. When the Red Sox fell behind, 5-4, in a game they ended up losing 7-4, it pushed their record when trailing entering the eighth to a horrifying 1-23. Just so you realize, while the Sox do have four walkoff wins this year, only one has occurred when they entered the ninth behind, where their trailing record is 1-26 (.037).

In fact, Sox fans, you better hope your team gets off to a good start in every game. Because when they are behind at the start of the fifth inning their record is a measly 2-17 (.105), and by the start of the seventh its 1-19 (.050).

In 2007, you know, the last World Championship season for Boston? That year the Red Sox had 42 comeback wins. In the miraculous year of 2004, Boston celebrated 47 comeback wins.

Were early in the season, but its never too early to have some magic. Just ask the fans in Cleveland. The Indians, playing over their heads with enthusiastic baseball, have won 33 games this season and they trailed in 15 of them.

You want something to root for? Root for a comeback to the comeback.

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

In a week that has seen the Red Sox trade arguably the best prospect in baseball, Thursday can serve as a reminder that not all prospects -- even the great ones -- end up hitting. 

Eleven years ago today, the Red Sox traded Edgar Renteria to the Braves, and in eating some of the veteran shortstop’s contract, got Atlanta to give them third baseman Andy Marte. 

Andy freaking Marte. Those stupid, stupid Braves.

If you were a baseball fan at the time, you were flummoxed at the notion that the Braves, who were a factory for developing good, young players, would trade the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball from 2005, according to Baseball America. At 22 years old, he was coming off seasons that saw him hit 23 homers in Double-A and 20 in Triple-A. 

“There’s nothing not to like about Andy Marte. He’s and outstanding defender with a chance to be an impact player offensively,” an opposing Double-A manager said of him, per Baseball America. 

Some of the other guys in the top 10 that year? Joe Mauer, Felix Hernandez and Scott Kazmir. Sitting one spot behind Marte on the list? Hanley Ramirez. 

And when the Red Sox got Marte, he immediately shot up to No. 1 on the Baseball America’s list of Boston’s prospects. Look at the rest of this list. Hell, there’s a combined 10 All-Star nods between Nos. 2 and 3 alone, and that’s not to mention the American League MVP sitting at No. 5. 

So what did Marte do for the Red Sox? Well, he got them Coco Crisp. After Theo Epstein returned from his hiatus, he shipped Marte, the recently acquired Guillermo Mota (dude got traded three times in six months), Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named later and cash for Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. 

Crisp didn’t exactly rip it up in Boston, but Epstein’s (and then-Braves general manager John Schuerholz’) foresight to trade Marte proved wise. Marte spent six seasons in Cleveland, seemingly given every chance to break out, but never played more than 81 games. He was designated for assignment in 2009 and cleared waivers, allowing him to stay with the organization as a Triple-A player. The next season was his final one in Cleveland, and he left a six-season stint in with the organization having averaged just 50 games, three homers and 16 RBI at the Major League level. 

Marte would bounce around a bit in the Pittsburgh and Angels organizations, but he didn’t make it back up to the bigs until 2014 on a July 31 callup with the Diamondbacks. He’s now playing in Korea. 

Great prospects often become great players, and the Red Sox’ roster is proof of that. Strikeout concerns aside, there’s not much to suggest Yoan Moncada won’t be an absolute stud. Fans looking for silver lining to losing a top-tier prospect (other than the fact that you could Chris Sale for the guy), can look back 11 years and hope for the best. A lot of people were wrong about Andy Marte.

Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal


Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.