Remember me


March 5, 2023
At least they got that right.
Devers. If it was going to be one, you gotta take Devers.
How much they paying him?
Saw a Brinks truck on the Pike earlier. Figure that’s going his way.
Takes a Brinks truck just to fill up my tank. What are prices down your way?
Saw $3.60 as the Gulf Station the other day. Should’ve brought a bucket along.
Wish you had.
So you’re out?
Yeah. Errands. Kids driving me up the walls, anything excuse to leave the house. You?
Same. Star Market. Some sale on whole hams that I’m meant to take advantage of. The modern equivalent of going out and killing a mammoth.
Shaw’s, you mean?
It was Star Market my whole life. I see no reason to call it different now.
A hobgoblin for consistency, you.
Two minutes and we’re already at Emerson. The high-water mark of our conversational year.
Probably. So you like Devers?
Sure. Best player we have. Hits a ton, plays a decent third base.
Eleven years, though.
And he’s twenty-six. His best years are coming, and he’ll still be a good hitter in a decade.
Less dollars, more years than the Yankees paid for Aaron Judge. And Judge is – what – thirty?
Thirty-one. Judge is a good case. The Yankees low-balled him last year, and he turned in a massive season. Carried the whole team for four months, made it just about impossible for the Yankees to not pay him. You could see the same thing happening for Devers next year. It’s smart the Sox managed to extend him.
Wicked smaht.
Don’t talk like that. You’re not Ben Affleck. Hingham isn’t Southie.
What about Xander?
Heart and soul of the team. But damn, the Padres made him some kind of an offer. And I’d take San Diego over Boston about eight months of the year. I don’t think they’ve ever seen slush there.
Should the Sox have matched?
It’s not my money.
Well, partially it is. You buy a few tickets most years. You’re allowed an opinion.
There are two ways to look at it. One, Bogaerts is our guy. He’s Derek Jeter, minus the endless hype machine of the New York press. Same essential profile as players.
Is he going to get to 3000 hits?
He might. He’s about 150 hits behind Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken, but 200 hits ahead of Paul Molitor.
That Bill James guy could probably give us a percentage off the top of his head, but I’m not sure what he’s been up to lately.
Don’t know. Probably wandering the plains of Kansas.
Carry on my wayward, son. Best Red Sox shortstop?
If he had stayed, he certainly would be. All the other contenders had short careers, so he would’ve passed them just on longevity. Now he’s against Nomar and Petrocelli. I guess Pesky, too, if you credit those missed those war years.
I’d take Nomah.
Me, too. I don’t think Xander has saved anyone by jumping into the harbor.
Urban legend.
Absolutely true. My cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s sister saw the whole thing.
We’re out for next year, right?
I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.
We finished behind Baltimore. Every other team in the division was a winner last year. Who are we ahead of right now?
The Sox had a stretch where they won thirty out of forty games last year, running out a lineup that had Bobby Dalbac and Frenchy Cordero.
And they had other stretches where they looked like a Butch Hobson team.
The Scott Cooper years.
The Bob Zupcic years.
Sure. I’m just trying to point out that you can’t tell what’s going to win.
You sound positively optimistic.
Maybe. Let me throw this at you: the Red Sox had a great offseason.
You can’t be serious. They lost Xander. They lost Eovaldi.
And they added Masataka Yoshida and Corey Kluber.
Is Yoshida any good?
He led the Japanese League in OPS last year. And the year before that. He has a claim as the best hitter in the country.
How does that translate here?
The projections are strong. A lot of the forecasts guess he’ll be a strong hitter. He also doesn’t strike out.
I thought baseball doesn’t mind the strikeout.
Nature abhors a strikeout. Or at least mine does.
Aristotle. Can he play shortstop?
Aristole or Yoshi? I doubt Yoshi plays anywhere but leftfield. His defense isn’t considered a strength.
George Springer, with less defense.
And on that we’re winning the offseason?
I think Yoshida and Kluber will outperform Xander and Eovaldi.
You’re crazy.
It’s not impossible. If Kluber just stays healthy, he might turn in more value than Eovladi: he can’t strike out anyone, but he’s a smart pitcher who doesn’t walk a lot of hitter. He can throw innings, which seems like half the battle these days.
And Yoshida?
I think Yoshida will be the best player the team has next year, outside of Devers.
Granted, that’s not saying much.
No, but I think he’s going to be a very good hitter. His defense isn’t great, but I think there’s a good chance he’s a top-20 hitter in the league. He doesn’t strike out and he makes hard contact. If baseball has another low-offense season like last year, he has the kind of profile that seems like it would do well in that environment. [Brakes screech, then a car horn honks] Jackass doesn’t know how to use a rotary. Came to a full damned stop.
Rhode Island?
Connecticut. Go back to Hartford, asshole.
Go back to Bridgeport.
Go back to Waterbury.
Go back to New London. Where they call it a roundabout.
What else do you like?
I like Justin Turner. I like him a lot.
He’s old.
Sure. But he’s been one of the better hitters in baseball for the better part of the decade. Strictly as hitters, there’s not a lot of daylight between him and Mookie Betts.
Strictly as hitters. As bowlers, there’s no comparison.
Right. Not that ten-pin is hard. I’d like to see Mookie try his hand at candlepin.
All those scattered pins. The little balls.
Gotta use the dead wood.
Are we forgetting anyone?
Adam Duvall might lead the American League in homeruns. Or RBI.
Sure. Led the NL in RBI in 2021. Right-handed hitter. All-or-nothing. Good corner outfielder. If he’s hitting late in the lineup, he'll have the chance to cash in some runners.
Him and that Mondesi guy can have a competition on who has the lower on-base percentage.
Right. If Duvall could walk seventy times a year, he’d be an MVP candidate. But he can’t, so he’s what he is. Career on-base of .289.
Does Adalberto have a chance?
He’s a heck of a flier, in two ways. He’s a flier around the bases, and he’s a player worth taking a flier on. I'm not sure why Kansas City cut bait on him. He could still be a star.
Time’s running out. And he can’t seem to stay healthy.
He stayed health in 2020, and he was a good player. He won’t make Opening Day, but it’s not going to be too hard for him to crack the infield, with Story out.
Contract year player.
Sure. A lot to prove. As a hitter his numbers are more like Byron Buxton’s than anyone acknowledges.
Buxton’s hit 48 homers over the last two years.
Right. But prior to that, Buxton’s power was more a hint than an actuality. At twenty-six, Buxton had a triple-slash line of .238/.289/.430. Mondesi is at .244/.280/.408.
You know that off the top of your head?
Okay, I might be cheating. But Mondesi could find it, still. He’s still young. We’re conditioned to expect everyone to hit the majors like Trout or Kris Bryant, fully-fledged superstars. Sometimes it takes a while.
You think he’ll pan out, then?
No. But it’ll be fun watching him. The pitch clock and the stolen base rules are going take some adjusting, and we don’t know how it’ll play out. A healthy Mondesi could break the franchise record for steals in a season.
Which is, what, twenty?
Something like that. I feel like Ellis Burks is the best speedster the Red Sox ever had.
You’re showing your age. And we had Rickey, for about a month.
I forgot about that. Rickey the Red Sock.
If everything breaks well, where are we?
Chasing. There’s just no way Boston will be better than all the other teams in the division. They could slip past the Orioles, and maybe Toronto or Tampa Bay collapses. Maybe Aaron Judge blows out his arm pitching in relief, and the Yankees lose 100 games. But I can’t imagine Boston getting ahead of all of those teams.
So it was a lousy offseason, then.
I think it was exactly the offseason the team needed to have. They made minimum commitments to players who might be OK, and if they’re not, it’s not going to burn them significantly. They signed the one guy they had to sign, the one guy who will still be an elite player when the guys on the farm start turning into good players. And they cleared the deck for those younger players.
Sink or swim, kids.
Right. Casas and Duran. Dalbec and Verdugo. Show us what you got. Are you a part of the future, or not?
I think the fans have a right to be frustrated. A little more spending, and they’d have a chance to contend.
Sure. But it’s a choice between spending a lot to maybe win 85 or 90 games, or trying to be deliberate, and making a team that can win 100 games. That’s where a lot of baseball organization are sitting right now: which way to go.
If you’re in the Central, 90 wins probably gets it.
Right. But in the big-money divisions, out-spending the competition is a nightmare. The Red Sox have to outspend the Yankees, and Toronto, which has the dollars of an entire country behind it. And they have the Orioles, who have something like ten or twelve of the top-100 prosects in baseball on their roster. And the Rays, who have another half-dozen.
The Red Sox should be able to field a competitive team.
Sure. And I think this squad isn’t going to lose 100 games. They’ll be competitive. But this wasn’t a team that was ever going to do much more than chase a Wild Card slot. If that happens, that’s great. But I don’t begrudge trying to be strategic. The Padres shelled out a ton of money for Xander, and they just extended Machado. That team is going to be a lot of fun next year, but I have no idea what they’re going to look like in 2030, when those contracts come due.
Padres fans are excited. Sox fans are disgruntled.
Well, let them be. The Red Sox will be interesting next year, and they have the chance to be good later on. I don’t think interesting is such a bad option, all things considered.
Alright. The missus is calling. Probably demanding that I come back. Help with the chaos.
Once more unto the breech, I guess.
First Emerson, now Shakespeare. Good place to leave it, I guess. Gonna grab a coffee first.
Nah. Cumbys. Better coffee. And the added benefit that I’m not participating in a stereotype about people from New England.
Good for you.
Ah, hell. I want a sausage egg bagel. Looks like it’s Dunkins’, after all. Don’t tell Bruce.
Secret’s safe with me. Go Sox.
David Fleming is a writer who currently lives in western Virginia, but still spiritually resides in the Bay State. He welcomes comments, questions, and rememberances of Bob Zupcic's years both here and at

COMMENTS (10 Comments, most recent shown first)

Whaddya talking about, Terry? The Red Sox have been doing a boom-to-bust thing for more than a decade:

2011 - 90 wins (Beer-and-chicken collapse)
2012 - 69 wins (Bobby Valentine takes over, team fire-sales a billion to LA)
2013 - 97, wins, (World Series, Marathon, 'This is our f-ing city!')
2014 - 71 wins
2015 - 78 wins
2016 - 93 wins
2017 - 93 wins
2018 - 108 wins. Best Sox team I'll ever see.
2019 - 84 wins
2020 - 65* wins (COVID year, Mookie leaves for LA.)
2021 - 92 wins (A very surprising playoff run.)
2022 - 78 wins. (A weird season)

The Sox have definitely had rebuilding years, or at least years where the strategy wasn't win-at-all-costs.

10:42 AM Mar 16th
Ellis Burks had an interesting career. Roughly 50 WAR so he was a real star, but his four best seasons (again using bb-ref WAR) were for four different franchises.

The Red Sox kind of went cheap, releasing him from his last arbitration eligible year due to an injury but Burks ended up having a good year for the White Sox, a Boston mistake in retrospect.
11:01 AM Mar 12th
Nicely turned, Dave. Gonna be weird watching the Sox in rebuilding mode. I can't remember the last time they weren't trying to grab the Ring.
2:22 PM Mar 9th
My second paid job was at a Star Market on the Cape. Not sure if it's still there, but that was probably the worst menial job I ever had: repetitious and constant. I think they've done a better job of training people across tasks in grocery stores, but back then, it was just 'You're on a register. Don't move for four hours.'
10:48 AM Mar 7th
On the speed thing: there's a generation of Sox fans who were really sold on the notion that Ellis Burks would be our first speedster. This was at the tail of a peak moment in stolen bases, and those of us who grew up watching the plodding teams of late-Yaz and Armas and Evans and Rice as everyone else seemed to run wild thought the Sox would finally be getting an Eric Davis- or Vince Coleman-type of player. We were deeply invested in that notion: we'd finally get our burner.

He was a hyped prospect. The Sox had a terrific farm system that was churning out hitters, and Burks was going to be the star.

And he WAS terrific, but not in any of the ways that stand out. He stole 20-25 bases, not fifty. He hit 20 homers, not forty. He'd hit .290 or .305, but not .350. He was a good centerfielder, but he wasn't Devon White, leaping over the wall to snag homers every week. He was on a team with Boggs and Evans and Greenwell and Rice and Rocket, and he got lost in the shuffle.

Burks was a lot like Carlos Beltran or Reggie Smith: a player who did a lot of things very well, but nothing spectacular. He was exactly the kind of player who wins you baseball games, but for some reason, he felt like a disappointment, like he hadn't come through.

He was, in fact, a terrific player, as good as Jim Rice, but in a different way. Rice helped Ellis along his way, of course, two Black men from the south navigating a city that wouldn't have been easy to navigate, either metaphorically or geographically.

I wished Burks had gotten more of a shake in Boston: if the Sox have a tradition of great leftfielders, they have another of letting go of fine centerfielders (Reggie Smith, Lynn, Burks) they should've held on to. One of my favorites.​
9:02 AM Mar 7th
Local color from Richmond: gas as low as $3.07. WaWa has best prices. And Dunkin’ added about a dozen locations in the Richmond metro area right before the pandemic. Looks like Krispy Kreme missed their window.
9:44 AM Mar 6th

The guy who founded Star Market chose that name because he liked hearing people in Massachusetts pronounce it.

Or I may have made that up.
9:26 AM Mar 6th
Gas is only $3.60 a gallon down your way? It is at least a dollar more a gallon down my way.
2:45 AM Mar 6th
Fireball Wenz
You forgot about Tommy Harper, and, more recently, jacoby Ellsbury - the latter was the fastest man I've ever seen in a Red Sox uniform.

Bobby Dalbec will turn 28 this year. Not exactly a kid.

Fun article!

10:04 PM Mar 5th
Fun article: Thanks, Dave!

Okay, you made me curious. The most recent Bill James Handbook in the Career Targets (used to be called the Favorite Toy) section says there's a 15% chance that Xander Bogaerts ends his career with 3,000+ hits.
3:57 PM Mar 5th
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