The four days since the Red Sox last played a game have been oddly liberating. No worrying about how the team played or their latest loss, no freaking out over the latest awful starting pitching performance or injury, no fretting about Bobby Valentine's predilection for bunting or predilection for even more bunting. It's freeing. And now it's time for that freedom to end and I couldn't be happier. Let's go, Red Sox!
You may be familiar with the Hall of Nearly Great e-book project that our own Mark Normandin is spearheading along with the excellent Sky Kalkman. The book seeks to catalog the many players who's careers don't merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame but who were great players nonetheless. Over at The Platoon Advantage, The Common Man has picked up that mantle and applied those same standards to players who are still active. The first to receive the treatment is former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon. (The Common Man; The Platoon Advantage)
We do a fair bit on the Red Sox minor league affiliates here at OTM, but that doesn't mean others don't do a bang up job as well. Here's Alex Speier on potential ace in the making Henry Owens among others. (Alex Speier; WEEI.com)
Continuing in that vein, the 2011 draft may once be looked back at as one of the greatest draft classes ever in Red Sox history. Or not. We don't know. But we do know things are looking up right now, and especially so for '11 draftee Jackie Bradley, Jr. who tore up High-A and is now replicating that feat in Double-A. Do the Red Sox have a future star on their hands? Quite possibly. (Jon Meoli; Sox Prospects via ESPN Boston)
One of the earlier surprises of the season was Mike Aviles. Aviles has never been an on-base machine, but when he's playing good defense and hitting for power (like he was early on in the season) he's an above average shortstop. Lately he's faltering on the second part which, because of his worse-than-pedestrian on-base skills, has put him and the Red Sox in a bit of a pickle. Evan Brunell looks at Aviles and says he needs to adjust his approach to reignite his success. (Evan Brunell; Fire Brand of the AL)
It's been an odd season around the majors as several sure-thing stars haven't ever got their seasons off the ground. At Big League Stew, Kevin Kaduk looks at ten who fit this category starting with our own first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez. (Kevin Kaduk; Big League Stew)
Has time off given Daisuke Matsuzaka a new lease on life? (Bradley Woodrum; Fan Graphs)
Tom Verducci on the myths and truths of the Midsummer Classic. (Tom Verducci; Sports Illustrated)