Today the Red Sox called up 23 year old lefty Drake Britton from AAA Pawtucket and optioned Jackie Bradley Jr. This is first time in the majors for Britton and it’s a bit surprising, as he has only had one outing in AAA where he allowed 5 runs in 5.1 innings. Also, he was arrested and charged in March with DUI after crashing his truck going 111 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. It appears he had gotten past that as he went off to have his best year at any level, posting a 3.51 ERA in 97.1 innings with a 1.34 WHIP a 7.4 K/9 in Portland. All of that lead to him to get his first start in AAA and now his first shot in the bigs.
So the question is why now? With All-Star break approaching why do the Sox need to add an extra arm in the pen for today’s game. Some believe it’s insurance for Brandon Workman in case he implodes like Allen Webster has in many of his starts. Rather than blow through the bullpen the Sox’s have an option, like Steven Wright was in the win against the Mariners the other day, where he can go multiple innings to help save the pen. That seems to be the most likely scenario, but often times things are not as they seem and he could be here for other reasons. One is that Farrell likes the option of 3 lefties in the pen. At one point Farrell had the option of one of Craig Breslow, Andrew Miller, and Franklin Morales, but Miller’s season is done and Morales is also out with injury. The acquisition of Matt Thornton adds another lefty and so does Britton. This is unlikely, but it does give Farrell a lot of options, which Managers love to have. A third option is that the Sox got bad news on Clay Buchholz and they want another a starter and prefer to have Workman in the bullpen. All are feasible options, but the first option is the most likely and he’ll likely be back in Pawtucket by the time the Sox return from the break.
- Ben Cherington Would Like to Get Bullpen Help From Within, But Red Sox’ Internal Options Limited (nesn.com)
- Steven Wright Opens Eyes, Makes Case for Bigger Role With Huge Relief Performance (nesn.com)
- Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller will need season-ending surgery (wyff4.com)
The Boston Red Sox have surprised almost all of baseball this season by becoming contenders after having the second worst record in franchise history. In the offseason they changed the culture of the team, ousting manager Bobby Valentine and negative influences like Josh Beckett, and have added players who have been known as “good guys” around the league, like Jonny Gomes and David Ross. The change has been day and night for the Sox, instead of the constant soap opera that was the Red Sox clubhouse coupled with losing game after game, they have quietly worked their way to the best record in the American League.
Now this hasn’t come without some difficulties on the way, though. The bullpen hasn’t had much success, with the only two consistent relievers being Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. Andrew Miller was working his way to joining the Japanese duo, but his season has ended due to foot surgery. The Sox’s starting rotation has also been inconsistent. Although it hasn’t been to the level of the bullpen, the rotation has had issues. After hot starts from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, they have both fallen off. Buchholz has struggled with injuries, while Lester hasn’t been able to pitch anywhere near the level he was at, at the beginning of the season. The last major problem the Sox have had is the left side of the infield. So far this year Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, Brandon Snyder, Jonathon Diaz, and Brock Holt have played either shortstop or third base this season, and aside from Jose Iglesias, none have been all that great. Currently the two men who were projected to be the starters for the year, Middlebrooks and Drew find themselves in the minors and on the DL respectively. Overall, those three areas are where they should consider upgrading at the trade deadline. Here are some names who may find themselves on the Red Sox come August:
NOTE: Since writing this the Red Sox acquired Matt Thornton and cash considerations from the White Sox for Brandon Jacobs.
Matt Thornton (CWS): The 36 year old, 10 year veteran reliever’s name has been mentioned in trade talks the past few years, and the Red Sox name always pops up. The Sox’s interest has likely picked in the lefty after losing Andrew Miller for the season leaving Craig Breslow as the only left handed reliever in the Sox’s pen. Thornton hasn’t been as dominant as he was in previous seasons, he’s still been better than a lot of the Red Sox’s relievers this year. He’s posted a 4.00 ERA, but has a career ERA of 3.54. He’s also only allowed 4 home runs, which has been the root of many of the Sox relievers problems. He’s been one of the top lefties in the game the past several years and shouldn’t cost too much based on his age and expiring contract ($6 million option for next season). He’d be a worthwhile investment for the Sox if they can get him for their price.
Bobby Parnell (NYM): The Mets’ closer has had ups and downs throughout his career, but the past couple of seasons he’s seemingly figured it all out and has become a force in the back end of the Mets’ bullpen. The hard throwing righty has posted 2.48 ERA in 48 innings pitched allowing no home runs and allowing just 9 walks. The Sox have reportedly had talks with the Mets about Parnell already, but their price was too much. More recently it appears like he’s been pulled off the market. It’ to be expected when a team has control over a player for multiple years and hope to contend with the player before they hit free agency. Parnell is first eligible for free agency in 2016, but the Mets are in dire indeed of assets to build around and Parnell can give them that. His value has never been higher, so it wouldn’t be shocking to find him in a Red Sox jersey by the end of the month.
Matt Garza (CHC): Matt Garza is a name known to many Sox’s fans. He spent 3 years pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. He was part of the Rays team that knocked out the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS before losing in the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies. Needless to say he’s pitched in big games before, although not recently, because of the deplorable state of the Cubs. Luckily for the Sox though, that same reason is why he’s available. Although they are reportedly working on a contract extension, due to the great interest they are more than likely to move him. He’s gotten off to a good start this year after being injured to begin the year. In 10 starts he’s had a 3.22 ERA while averaging 8.1 K/9. The down side to it all is dealing with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, former heads of the Red Sox front office. They know nearly every prospect in the Sox’s system and know who to pursue and who to avoid. If the Sox can find a way to get him for a reasonable price, but if the price is too high, then there’s no sense in going after a marginal upgrade.
Yovani Gallardo (MIL): The Brewers ace is widely considered to be the second best starter on the market, behind Garza. He’s been one of the Brewers top pitcher since 2009, but this year his numbers are at an all time low. If he continues to this trend he’ll have his highest ERA of his career by a wide margin and his lowest K/9 rate. His walks are down, but is batting average against is at an all time which negates that. All in in all it’s been a tough year for Gallardo, but his track record shows that he’s capable of being much better. Maybe a move to a winning atmosphere where he’s not looked as the ace could help him perform better, or he may just be starting is decline, although at 27 that is very unlikely. Also, moving to the American League, especially the east, could make matters even worse. The Sox should, and likely will, avoid Gallardo, unless they discover Clay Buchholz will miss a significant amount of time.
Francisco Rodriguez (MIL): K-Rod has had a bumpy road since setting the single season save record for the Angels. After that season he bolted for the glitz and glamor (and the money) of New York, where he stumbled on and off the field. He’s now in Milwaukee, and this year he’s seemingly regained his form. He’s appeared in just 22 games this season after starting the year in the minors. He’s posted a 1.25 ERA in 21.2 innings and striking out batters at a great rate, 10.38 per innings. He’s also allowed just .195 batting average against with a WHIP of just 1.06. Overall, he’s a risky pick up, but he could be worth it for the Sox.
Michael Young (PHI): Young fits in exactly with what the Sox have been doing. He’s one the most respected guys in the league who always puts the team first, but can he help them win games? After being the face of the Rangers for the better part of the past 13 years, he was shipped to Philadelphia and has responded well. He’s hitting .288/.344/.411 in 83 games with 6 home runs and 24 RBIs. Although the power is down a little he’s still performed better than all of the Red Sox’s other third basemen and shortstops. The Phillies gave up very little to get him and likely wouldn’t ask for much more in return. He’d be a great fit in the clubhouse and the lineup.
Chase Utley (PHI): This seems like an odd target with Utley being a long time second baseman, and has only played first and second base, but he told the Phillies he could play third if need be. If the Sox believe he can make a successful transition to third he might be a risk worth taking. Utley has batted .276/.340/.504 this year with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in just 61 games. The 5 time All Star has been arguably the Phillies most consistent hitter this year. It’d take a quality prospect or two to get the face of the Phillies franchise, but he may just be worth it.
Jonathon Papelbon (PHI): Last, but not least, every body’s favorite trade target the former Red Sox’s closer Jonathon Papelbon. One of the most dominant closers Boston has ever seen. He bolted for Philly following the collapse of 2011, but his new team didn’t perform up to expectations finishing with a 81-81 record. This year they appear to be out of the hunt once again, so the rumors start to swirl. Phillies GM has been adamant that he won’t move Papelbon, but that could be just for leverage. His contract runs through 2015, so if Amaro believes they can contend next year and/or the year after, he has a reason to hold on to him. The thing is, Papelbon is aging and so is the rest of the roster, so unloading big contacts might be the first step. The Sox are interested if the Phillies want to negotiate, but the price might be extremely high. If the Sox feel this is the year than they should go all in, but the reason they never paid him like the Phillies did was to avoid the back end of the deal, the same part they’d be picking up. Logically it doesn’t make sense, but the bullpen is in such disarray that the Sox might just go for it.
Obviously these aren’t the only options for the Red Sox, and they can numerous directions. All in all, I think the Sox will be aggressive at the deadline and try to improve the club as much as possible.
Buchholz (2-0) v. Cobb (1-0)
After yesterday’s exciting win that I failed to review the Sox had momentum swinging in their favor. Could it carry over into today’s game? Maybe it did, but maybe it didn’t.
Clay Buchholz was as good as he’s ever been. He was dominate in every way possible. There really isn’t any other way to sum up his performance. He had a career high 11 strikeouts and had no hitter going into the eighth. The no hitter was broken up by a broken bat bloop single by Kelly Johnson. He would give up another hit in the inning, a double to Desmond Jennings, but kept the shutout going for all 8 innings he pitched. Andrew Miller would finish off the game with a strong ninth.
On the other side Alex Cobb was very good, but not great. He struggled in the third and didn’t get much help from the defense which lead to a 4 run third for the Sox. Other than that Cobb pitched very well for 6.2 innings giving up 4 runs with only 3 earned. Jamey Wright finished off the game allowing one run in 1.1 innings of work.
In the end the Sox came out on top with a 5-0 win over the Rays for their second straight win. They’ll have the chance to go for their first sweep of the season tomorrow in the early 11:05 Patriot’s Day game. It’s also Jackie Robinson Day so everyone will be wearing number 42 jerseys.
11 games down 151 to go
Buchholz (1-0) v. Chen (0-0)
The Sox held their home opener today at Fenway Park and it did not disappoint. There was a great pitching duel and an exciting finish to the game.
If you’re one of those people you hate pitching duels and only love offense, you would’ve hated this game. Clay Buchholz and Wei-Yin Chen both had their best stuff going for them today and when those guys are on it’s a fun game to watch. I think Chen is probably the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball. Last year as a rookie out of Japan he quietly became the best pitcher on the Wild Card winning Orioles pitching staff. Regardless, he showed all of his best stuff today and showed he has a very bright future. Unfortunately for him, Clay Buchholz matched him stride for stride. After 6 innings the game remained tied at 0-0. Neither pitcher would even blink. In the seventh, Buchholz started the inning off with a walk to Matt Weiters. After that though, he set the side down in order. Then came Chen’s turn to match yet another masterpiece of an inning by Buchholz. It looked like it was going to start well for Chen. He got Dustin Pedroia to ground to short, but Pedroia beat J.J. Hardy’s throw to first. Then Mike Napoli ripped a double off the center field wall that could have sworn was gone. So that left second and third no outs for the Sox’s hottest hitter, Will Middlebrooks. Then on the seventh pitch of the at bat with a 2-2 count, Middlebrooks waved at a pitch way outside. Chen had climbed one huge hurdle, but he was still 2 outs away from getting out of the jam and in stepped Daniel Nava. On the third pitch of the at bat, Nava found a pitch, middle in, that he liked and took a rip. And there it went. Right over the Monster. 3-0 Red Sox. That spelled the end of the day for Chen.
Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. Sox still hold a 3-0 lead and the closer Joel Hanrahan comes in. Things didn’t start out so well for Hanrahan. Adam Jones took him deep to put the Orioles on the board for the first time. Then he settled in retiring the next 2 batters and was one out away from closing out the home opener. But Hanrahan had to channel his inner Papelbon. J.J. Hardy gave them some life doubling to bring the tying run to the plate. Hanrahan then got Ryan Flaherty to pop out in foul ground and the Sox won.
Player of the Game: Clay Buchholz 7 IP 0 ER 8 SO
7 games down 155 to go
Clay Buchholz (0-0) v. Hiroki Kuroda (0-0)
Red Sox Yankees
Ellsbury CF Gardner CF
Nava DH Suzuki RF
Pedroia 2B Cano 2B
Napoli 1B Youkilis 3B
Saltalamacchia C Hafner DH
Middlebrooks 3B Overbay 1B
Victorino RF Wells LF
Bradley Jr. LF Nunez SS
Iglesias SS Stewart C
So after my first lame attempt at recapping the game, I’m back at it again! As you can see I’ve added the starting pitchers and the lineups as well. I’ve got 162 chances to make this as good as possible, so I hope to find neat ways to make these reviews more interesting and cool. So without further adieu here is my wonderful review.
The Sox jumped out early against the Yankees tonight, grabbing a 1 run lead off Hiroki Kuroda in the first off of a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single. Then disaster struck for the Yankees in the second when Kuroda took a Shane Victorino line drive off of his pitching hand. Kuroda would stay in the game, but he proceeded to hit Jackie Bradley Jr., load the bases and then hit Daniel Nava to score a run for the Sox. That would end Kuroda’s day after an inning and a third. The Yankees then brought in Cody Eppley who got Dustin Pedroia to ground in to a inning ending double play. It appeared as if they had avoided any danger, but then the the third inning rolled around and Eppley faltered. It looked like it was going to be a quick inning after getting two outs and allowing just one single. Then Victorino singled in Salty and stole second. Then JBJ knocked him in on his first career hit. The Sox would score two more runs that inning off a Jose Iglesias double and a Jacoby Ellsbury single. The Yankees then turned to Adam Warren who ended up going five and a third innings out of the pen allowing just one run.
As for the Sox’s pitching, it started off very well. Clay Buchholz dominated the Yankees for 7 innings allowing just one run. Unfortunately after he departed things took a turn for the worse. Andrew Miller was the first to relieve Buchholz and his command was lacking a bit. He faced just two batters; hitting one and getting the other to line out. Then it was Alfredo Aceves’ turn to take over. He wasn’t bad, but he threw one bad pitch to Vernon Wells and it became a 3 run ballgame. In the ninth Joel Hanrahan came in for his first save opportunity as a Red Sox. It was a stressful inning, probably because of the long at bats and the simple fact that it was ninth inning. In the end Hanrahan picked up the save and the Sox won the game.
All in all it was a good game. Buchholz looked like his old self and the bats came to life. This lineup looks like it could be incredibly efficient and score a lot of runs this year. Maybe it’s the Moneyball get on base theory, maybe it’s the chemistry, or maybe John Farrell’s just a genius. Either way I’m excited for this season.
Player of the Game: Clay Buchholz 7 IP 1 ER 2 BB 4 SO
2 Games down 160 to go
Spring Training has just begun, but bad news has already come out of the Red Sox camp. Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz, and David Ortiz have all had news regarding their health come out and none of it has been positive. Doubront has suffered a “setback” in his throwing shoulder, Buchholz has an issue with his hamstring, and Ortiz still hasn’t gotten over his Achilles injury (or Bobby Valentine but that’s a different story). All three of these injuries are huge blows to the Red Sox. If none of these guys are 100% for Opening Day, the Sox are down 2 of their top 3 starters and their most productive hitter. This a team that has a shot at making the postseason, but their not overly talented so every game matters and getting off to a good start is critical to their success. If their is a bright side to this it’s that a couple of the younger guys could get an extended look not just in Spring Training, but potentially in April. Steven Wright and Rubby De La Rosa would be the 2 most likely candidates to fill those roles and Mauro Gomez or even Ryan Lavarnway to replace Papi. Either way spring games haven’t even started yet and the future is already starting to look bleak. Hopefully, none of these injuries are serious and they can all come back at full strength and be ready to go Opening Day.
It’s been a long while since I’ve last updated this blog, but in this snowstorm I figured I might as well write something again. With players starting to show up in Fort Myers it’s time to start talking about the players in camp, and the players that are the most fun to talk about are the ones almost no one has ever heard of. The most interesting of that group of nobodies has to be righty Steven Wright. Wright was acquired at the trade deadline last year from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for former top prospect Lars Anderson. Wright sounds like any other run of the mill prospect being brought into camp, but he has something that makes him very special, the knuckleball. Although he’s never pitched a major league game in his life (and only 5 in AAA) John Farrell said he has a chance to make an impact in the majors this year. Whether or not that means making the opening day roster or even being in the rotation remains to be seen. Regardless, he’s a very interesting case. He could be the next Tim Wakefield or the he could end up being the next Charlie Zink, which is what makes him so interesting Will he be great or will he fall into oblivion without anyone noticing? Odds are it’ll be the latter, but I’m hoping the Sox will get another knuckleballer in the rotation. This year it’ll be tough for him to fit in with the rotation looking set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Ryan Dempster, and even if one those 5 get injured he wouldn’t be the first option with Franklin Morales and Rubby De La Rosa waiting for their shot in the rotation. Even though it’s a long shot how he performs this spring could have him leapfrog over both Morales and De La Rosa and give himself a very good shot to get sometime in the big leagues this year. Despite everything I’ve said though he most likely needs more time in AAA with, like I said earlier, just 5 games there with only 4 of them as starts. Hopefully sometime this year he’ll get his shot, but for now all we can do is watch him this spring.