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Tag:Pawtucket Red Sox
Posted on: July 31, 2009 5:11 pm
 

Recapping the Sox' Deadline Deals

The Boston Red Sox were one of the busier teams leading into today’s 4pm trading deadline.

The major deal was the Sox acquiring Cleveland Indians All-Star catcher Victor Martinez, and the minor deal was swapping first basemen to get Casey Kotchman from the Atlanta Braves.

Martinez is the biggest offensive pickup of the 2009 trading deadline. Martinez had a injury plagued 2008 season that lead to mediocre numbers, but he has picked it up again in 2009 and reestablished himself as one of the best offensive catchers in the game.

A switch-hitter, he gives the Sox excellent versatility in the line-up and on the field. While not official, it is expected that he will play predominantly at catcher and designated hitter. He is a better left-handed hitter, and that will allow the Sox to rotate Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek in the line-up against lefties.

The Sox gave up RHP Justin Masterson, who had been splitting the year in the bullpen and rotation, and minor league pitchers Nick Hadagone and Bryan Price.

Masterson was a solid cog of the Red Sox team, but often found himself as the odd man out. The Indians will probably utilize him as a starter, which is where most scouts see him headed, but the Sox were never in the position to give him a chance to develop in that respect.

Hadagone was the biggest chip the Sox gave up. A left-hander in class-A Greenville, Hadagone underwent Timmy John surgery and recently returned from the disabled list and was very impressive. Price is a right-handed pitcher also in Greenville.

The other trade, while it possesses less excitement, was much more peculiar. The Sox obtained Kotchman, traded as the major component of the deal that brought Mark Teixeira to the Angels, for recently acquired Adam LaRoche.

It is odd not because LaRoche only spent a few days with the Sox, or that the Sox traded him because of the surplus of first basemen the Sox possess after getting Martinez. It is strange that the Sox would trade him, an everyday player, for another left-handed first basemen used to playing everyday.

Terry Francona is going to have to do an incredible job of juggling the line-up to make sure everyone gets enough at-bats to be happy. Kevin Youkilis has to play everyday, an one would expect that Martinez is also going to be in the line-up everyday.
 
This means that somehow Francona has to rotate them so that Varitek, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz get playing time. Lowell’s time figures to be cut the most, as Youkilis will likely play most of him games at third base for the rest of the season.

Given Martinez’s poorer numbers against lefties, and Lowell and Varitek’s success, they will be playing against left-handers. But while Varitek has been described as a walking ice-pack and Lowell is coming off of hip surgery, they can’t be thrilled at the prospect of their playing time being reduced.
Kotchman has likely drawn the shortest straw. His playing time will be significantly reduced as virtually every other player in this rotation can play multiple positions, where Kotchman is relegated to first only.

Back up catcher George Kotteras will return to triple-A Pawtucket. He is the personal catcher for knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield, who is on the disabled list. He won’t be activated for a few weeks, at which time the Sox will have to decide who should catch him.
   
To replace Masterson, the Sox have several immediate choices to pick from. Southpaw Javier Lopez was optioned down at the beginning of the season because of terrible struggles, but he has turned his season down in the minors. The Pawtucket Red Sox’ closer Fernando Cabrera is mowing down hitters with an ERA under two while being perfect in save chances. Lefty Hunter Jones and righty Michael Bowden have already pitched out of the bullpen this season for the Sox, and they also have Japanese prospect Junichi Tazawa.

Until Wakefield comes back from the DL, one of those triple-A relievers figures to replace the gap in the bullpen.

Heading into tonight’s game against Baltimore, the Sox are a significantly upgraded team both offensively and defensively. The only problem will be getting a group of good players fair playing time, which any manager will tell you is a good problem to have.

Posted on: July 24, 2009 12:04 pm
 

How the Sox can get Halladay and keep Buchholz

Roy Halladay is on the trading block, and there are only about 29 teams who would be interested in his service.

If the Red Sox swung a deal for arguably the best pitcher in baseball, they would be able to march out Halladay, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester in a playoff series, which is enough to make any opposing manager wish they weren’t in the playoffs.

The problem with trading for the best pitcher in baseball is that it will come at no easy price. The Red Sox and GM Theo Epstein are reluctant to part with prized pieces of the minor league system, and none more so than Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz has been nothing short of remarkable in the minor leagues this season, compiling a 7-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. He was the leading vote getter among all minor league players for the Triple-A All-Star game and was tabbed to start before getting called up to the big leagues.

The Sox have spent a great deal of time and effort on Buchholz, priming him for what hopes to be a long and productive major league career. Naturally, they do not want another team, especially a fellow A.L. East team, to reap the benefits of the work that they put in for him.

Ignoring the fact that Buchholz will never be Roy Halladay and the Sox should go offer him up for Halladay, it is possible to put together a deal without Buchholz. It will still be painful, as several key contributors would have to be a part of the trade.

If I am Theo Epstein, and I am told that if I trade Buchholz then I will be fired and hung out by my entrails over Gate A on Yawkee Way for all of Red Sox Nation to throw overpriced sausage and pepper sandwiches at me, then I can manufacture a New Deal.

The Jays want at least one starter in return. If it is not Buchholz, then the next best piece in the Sox farm system is Michael Bowden. Can we make a trade and avoid both top prospects all together? Let’s try.

Any trade for Halladay will include players who can make an immediate impact as well as future prospects. For players who can make an impact now would be: Justin Masterson, Daniel Bard and Jed Lowrie. For future prospects: Lars Anderson and Casey Kelly.

The Jays, understandably, want a starter in return. Scouts see Masterson as a starter who needs regular rest. The Sox use him in the bullpen based on their needs, but he has shown that he can be stretched out. Kelly also fills the need for a starter and has been very impressive in the minors.

Bard gives the Jays a shut-down guy out of the bullpen, and a potential future closer. Bard is the player that hurts the most to see go in this scenario, but the Sox bullpen was considered to be the best in baseball before Bard was called up.

Before Sox fans say that the bullpen takes a terrible hit, remember that Bard’s replacement in Pawtucket is Fernando Carbrera who is 17-for-17 in save opportunities with a 1.73 ERA, 40 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched and a .193 opponent batting average. The Sox also have Junichi Tazawa, who is a great young Japanese prospect.

Lowrie’s impact on the team since his call-up last year was more out of need rather than desire. He plays excellent defense, but is below average as a hitter. He was injured, and may simply be slumping this season, but Lowrie was never viewed by the organization as the shortstop of the future. The Jays reportedly want a shortstop/middle infielder who can play defense. Of course, Nick Green’s play has certainly been solid enough so that the Sox are not loosing much if Green is officially the everyday shortstop.

As for Anderson, there is not much room for him in Boston. Scouts tout him as an excellent hitter who uses all fields, but still learning defensively. In Boston, the Sox have their first baseman in Kevin Youkilis, although some have said that Youkilis will move back over to third when Mike Lowell’s ailing joints give out and Anderson would take over at first.

The Sox would love to have Anderson mature into an excellent hitter, but he is a piece that they see as possible trade bait. They will certainly not hesitate to trade him for a player like Halladay.

Masterson, Bard, Lowrie, Anderson and Kelly for Halladay. It gives the Jays exactly what they are looking for position-wise. Talent-wise, it does not have the same big names like Buchholz and Bowden, but the Jays get a great core of young players to compliment the ones they have. (They can also have Brad Penny if they want him, too).

Tell me what you think – is this plausible?


Posted on: May 26, 2009 6:42 pm
 

Papi Dropped/Buchholz Nearly Perfect/Penny Rumors

In a big day for Red Sox news, the biggest story is that David Ortiz has finally been dropped in the lineup. Terry Francona released his lineup for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins, and it has J.D. Drew in the third spot, with Ortiz taking Drew’s position in the six hole. Ortiz has not been anywhere but the three position in the batting order since May 2005, when he and Manny Ramirez were sometimes swapped as clean-up hitters.

After having a decent series from May 19-21 against the Toronto Blue Jays, picking up three hits including his first home run of the season, he then went 0-for the series against the New York Mets. He was benched yesterday while the Sox faced a tough left-hander in Francisco Liriano. His batting average recently dipped below the Mendoza line and now stands at .195.

Dropping Ortiz down to the six hole seems like a big move, but it is more to maintain the continuity of the rest of the lineup. This way Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay remain largely unaffected, or at least, will not have to move in the lineup. They will benefit from Drew’s higher on-base percentage and better speed.

In other news, Clay Buchholz, pitching for triple-A Pawtucket, took a perfect game into the ninth inning of the PawSox game yesterday against the Louisville Bats. A leadoff single broke up the bid, but Buchholz retired the rest of the hitters in the ninth on his way to a one-hitter. He is now 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched for Pawtucket.

Buchholz has been absolutely dominating in the minors this season, and yet he could not seem to get a roster spot in Boston. However, this last performance may have done it. In news related to Buchholz’s performances, the Boston Globe reports that Brad Penny is on the trading block.

The team would be looking to move Penny for two reasons. Firstly, the Sox need to make room for Buchholz. There is no reason for him to stay in the minors. Secondly, the Sox will use Penny as an opportunity to bring in some kind of bat off of the bench. The players whose names that have been thrown around, such as the Washington NationalsNick Johnson, will be too expensive for only a deal involving Penny.

But, the Sox could hope to pick up a player in the same way that they got Mark Kotsay last year, but this player will likely be able to contribute more off of the bench. But, the Sox will be bearing in mind that by the All-Star break, the Sox bench will likely be Kotsay, Rocco Baldelli, Nick Green, Julio Lugo and George Kotteras. That bench is pretty solid and fills the need offensively, so Penny may be exchanged for something else.

Posted on: January 3, 2009 1:54 pm
 

Boston is the Best Place for Bard

Until ten days ago, Josh Bard seemed destined for infamy in the eyes of Red Sox fans. His named was becoming cliche, with phrases like "That player is so bad, Josh Bard could catch better than him," or "That trade hurt us even more than Josh Bard." When Boston signed Bard in the 2006 off-season, they were looking for a more dependable back-up for Jason Varitek than Doug Mirabelli, who in parts of six seasons with the Red Sox managed only a .237 batting average and 48 home runs in over 1,000 at-bats. Bard's performance in Boston was vividly nightmarish.

He started only five games in 2006, all of which were starts by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Bard proceeded to allow ten passed balls in only 53 innings, leading Wakefield to start the season 1-4. A few days into May, Bard was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Mirabelli with, most notably, Pawtucket Red Sox reliever Cla Meredith, who was called up by the Padres upon his arrival, and finished his rookie year 5-1 with a microscopic 1.07 ERA in over 50 innings pitched. Bard, meanwhile, backed up Mike Piazza and hit .338 in 231 at-bats for the Padres.

Needless to say, Bard left Red Sox fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.

So, imagine the surprise when GM Theo Epstein announced that, in a year in which the Sox have likely lost all three of last season's catchers to free agency, the Red Sox have resigned Josh Bard to a one-year contract.

But Red Sox fans should not dismay. Yes, we have seen a number of players come through a revolving door labeled "talented, but cannot play in Boston," but seldom do they get a second chance. Bard is one of the better hitting catchers in the major league, and he brings with him the fifth-highest career batting average among active catchers.

For Bard, Boston was a shocking dose of reality. Professional athletes have a tendency to take a lot for granted, but Bard has emphasized after his signing that playing in Boston taught him nothing is ever guaranteed. He will be a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox next season.

First, the expectations are extremely low. Because of his last stint, there is nowhere to go but up. Second, he was not around long enough to show that his offense abilities allow him some slack for his defensive shortcomings. In the same way that Varitek's abysmal offensive production was dismissed because of his defense and play-calling ability, so too will the opposite be true for Bard. And thirdly, Bard is by far the best available option. There is no point for the Red Sox to empty their farm system for a player like Jarrod Saltalamacchia when Bard is available through free agency.

Posted on: April 22, 2008 10:48 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-22-08

The Red Sox got another come-from-behind win, despite having Josh Beckett scratched from his start. Some thoughts on the game:

With Josh Beckett sidelined with a stiff neck, David Pauley got the call from triple-A Pawtucket did a decent job filling in. Considering that Pauley was a few minutes away from making his final preparations for a start tomorrow with Pawtucket when he found out that he would making his four career start. The Sox would have liked to see him get through five innings, and five runs in four-plus innings does not count as a quality start, but given the nature of the circumstances, it could have gone much worse. Pauley showed some flashes of what has gotten him a 1.17 ERA in three starts in the minors this year. He retired all of the first six batters that he faced in order, keeping hitters reaching for his very good sinking fastball. When he keeps it down, he can make it break away from left-handed batters, and he compliments it with a good breaking ball to righties. But, once the Angels came around for the second time, and started getting on base, Pauley started leaving a lot of his pitches up in the zone. He is still only 24 years old, and he seems to be headed toward a major league job somewhere in the next few seasons. It is unlikely that the Sox will be looking to trade Pauley, as he is close to being in big league form. Remember that Curt Schilling is likely in his last attempt at his pitching career, and Tim Wakefield will be 42 by the end of the year, and the Sox will need at least one more starter in the near future. At the very least, Pauley will have a chance to compete for that spot.

Keeping this recap impartial, there is a very big difference between analysts who call players like Jose Reyes and Grady Sizemore the “most exciting players in the game,” and the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury is actually getting it done, at all levels, as an exciting player. Reyes and Sizemore are both fast, and tend to be involved in flashy plays, but, at this very early point in all three players’ career, Ellsbury has delivered more than Reyes and Sizemore and the other “exciting” players. He has the ability to change the way his team plays. His play is not only infectious, but he draws so much attention when he is on the bases that hitters can come to expect more fastballs, and enjoy the chance to bat with a runner in scoring position. The bursts of power are unexpected, but no less appreciated, by the Sox, and his ability to make improvements, finally lifting his average over .300 while creeping his on-base percentage nearer to .500, is what makes him truly exciting. The Sox have had a lot of great players, but it is a rare occurrence to watch the development of one.

The Sox banged out an impressive 16 hits, and while they have had good pitching, their winning streak has been driven by their offense. Looking at their line-up, seven of the nine starting position players are batting over .300, one of the exceptions being David Ortiz, and the other being back-up catcher Kevin Cash, who fills in for Jason Varitek while he battles the flu. Ellsbury is short just a few at-bats of qualifying for batting average and on-base percentage, but with him included, the Sox have six of the top 25 batting averages in the American League. With their performance today, the Sox drove their team batting average to .303, which is a full ten points higher than second place, which happens to be the Angels. The thing is that the Sox won the game today with a triple-A minor leaguer making his fourth career start, where the Angels, with John Lackey injured, had their number one pitcher on the mound. The Sox do not have the best pitching, but they have the best offense, and the best combination.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game against the Angels. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 14, 2008 12:19 am
Edited on: April 14, 2008 12:22 am
 

Red Sox Recap 4-13-08

The Red Sox got enough where it counted and won the series against the Yankees, two games to one. Some thoughts from the game:

Daisuke Matsuzaka reverted to the 2007 version that we knew of, as opposed to the much improved version we had seen in the last two starts. Matsuzaka had been pitching very effectively, spotting his off-speed pitches and being aggressive with his fastball. However, tonight, we saw much of what agonized Sox fans last year, a pitcher with explosive stuff, but instead of going after hitters, he nit-picked on the corners and tried to get hitters to help him out. The Yankees, however, are just as patient as the Sox, and that led to six walks given up by Matsuzaka, which ran his pitch count to 116 through five innings. He had a significantly higher ERA at home last year, and also posted an ERA over 6 against the Yankees last year, which are two areas that he has to pick up. He can pitch shutout ball away from Fenway for the entire season, but if he can get it done at home and against the Yankees, he is in for some rough times in Boston.

Mike Timlin made another appearance tonight, and had another disaster. Much in the way that Manny Delcarmen had his troubles against Frank Thomas in the Toronto series, Timlin has now surrendered both home runs that Jason Giambi has hit this season. He gave up three hits and did not record any outs, and was saved by Javier Lopez from giving up any more runs as Lopez induced Johnny Damon to ground into a double play. He has now given up three runs, including the two homers to Giambi, while only recording one out, which results in an astronomical 81.00 ERA. Conventional wisdom would say that he was rushed back too quickly, having only made two appearances during a rehab assignment in Pawtucket. But, it may be that, at 42 and one of only thirteen pitchers with over 1,000 appearances in the history of major league baseball, he just does not have much left in the tank. Eventually, if his woes continue, he may be headed back to the disabled list.

Speaking of the bullpen, Lopez pitched the most effective, and his most important inning, of the short season thus far. This was exactly the reason why Lopez was held while the Sox had to go through roster issues. Lopez, criticized because although he is on the team as a lefty specialist, the numbers have shown him to be more effective against righties, will always play an important role against the Yankees. The Yankees employ five lefties and two switch hitters, and Lopez was brought in to retire Johnny Damon, who grounded into a double play, and Robinson Cano. Lopez is the classic example of a pitcher who will always have a job in the big leagues simple because he is a left-handed pitcher who has a deceptive delivery. But, if he does what he did tonight, there will be no complaints from the Sox. It is also very encouraging that on a night, as expected, where Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima are unavailable, the rest of the bullpen can at least hold on and get the important outs. Other than Timlin, Delcarmen, who finished the game, along with performances by Lopez and David Aardsma, all had great outings, and at this point of the season, that will be a big advantage over other teams, like the Yankees and Tigers, as we have seen.

As was anticipated, David Ortiz was given the night off, albeit the rubber game of the first series of the season against the rival Yankees. The Sox next scheduled day off is not until April 28, which, beginning on April 8, would have been a stretch of 20 straight games. Manny Ramirez was in the lineup as the designated hitter, and with the still hot J.D. Drew was moved up to the number three spot, Jacoby Ellsbury replaced Ramirez in left and picked up a hit and an RBI. There is no question that the Sox looked much more consistent on offense tonight because there was finally some consistency at the top of the lineup. Since coming back from Japan, the Sox have won back-to-back games twice this season, and Ellsbury has started all of those games. It may not be that Ellsbury is that much better than Coco Crisp, who has a higher batting average this year than Ellsbury, but it is clear that the offense will respond more when the lead-off man can start getting into a routine.

Look for this recap as the Sox open a bizarre two game series with the Indians, their only trip to Cleveland this year. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com