The Red Sox bullpen was viewed as their biggest asset going into the 2013 season, and that is statement is farthest from truth on July 19th. The Sox had a deadly 7th, 8th, 9th combination with 3 guys who had closer experience. People lauded over this pen that would only force the Sox starters to go only 6 innings and still feel comfortable giving the ball over. Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, and Joel Hanrahan made up this super bullpen, but now only Uehara remains. Early in the season the Sox lost Hanrahan who had nearly every type of elbow surgery possible. Today John Farrell announced that Bailey has “pretty significant” damage to his shoulder and surgery is a possibility. If Bailey opts for the surgery he’ll be sidelined for approximately 12 months. If he decides just to rehab the shoulder, it’s still unlikely he’ll return before the season ends. Either scenario shows that the Sox search for another bullpen arm should be intensified. For now, Jose De La Torre will fill the void left by Bailey, but I doubt he’s the permanent fix.
Two guys, who appear to be long shots at best, have been added to the fold. Today the Sox announced the signings of Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon. Both relievers have been assigned to AAA Pawtucket. Lyon, a former Red Sox, was pitching with the Mets earlier this year. Over 34.1 innings he posted a 4.98 ERA before getting released. Contreras, was with Pirates to begin this season pitching just 7 innings in 5 games with an ERA of 9.00 before getting sent to AAA Indianapolis. In his 19.1 innings in AAA he was dominant with a .0.93 ERA and 11.17 K/9. The Pirates released him and now he’s here hoping for an opportunity. WEEI’s Michael Holley speculated that this could be an attempt to lure top Cuban pitching prospect Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to sign with the Sox. Gonzalez is likely to make a decision this week, and a chance to pitch alongside Jose Contreras would be alluring to a Cuban, but it’s not likely to be a deciding factor. Either way Lyon and Contreras are likely just depth moves to help with the depleted bullpen.
- Andrew Bailey likely out for the season, may need shoulder surgery (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- The Red Sox sign Jose Contreras and Brandon Lyon (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Boston Red Sox: All-Star break report card (isportsweb.com)
Another thing, although unlikely, is that he’s hiding an injury. This wouldn’t be the first time a Red Sox player had hid an injury to stay on the field and suffered for it. In 2009 Daisuke Matuszaka hid a groin injury and pitched poorly due to the discomfort in his groin area. Now I doubt Middlebrooks would try to hid something from the Sox, but he is the kind of guy who wants to be out there everyday, so I wouldn’t be stunned if that were the case and it would also give us an explanation for his performance.
Even we don’t know exactly what is wrong with Middlebrooks, we can try to figure out what should be done about his performance. The Sox could always take the irrational overreaction route and send down Middlebrooks and call up someone like Xander Bogaerts, but I would like to think the Sox are smart enough where they wouldn’t to something that far out of the box. A more realistic route is to give more playing time at three of Ciriaco, since he has slightly outperformed Middlebrooks, until Middlebrooks starts to perform in limited playing time until he’s eased back into an everyday role. Despite the fact that that is more realistic than the first option I still don’t see that happening. I think the Sox will just stick it out with Middlebrooks until he figures it out. What do you think the Sox should do about the struggling Middlebrooks?
- Will Middlebrooks Embracing Role as Boston Athlete, Proud to Represent City in Wake of Tragedy (nesn.com)
- Will Middlebrooks to Wear ‘Boston Strong’ Cleats for Tuesday’s Red Sox-Indians Game (Photos) (nesn.com)
- Adrian Beltre, Will Middlebrooks Can Turn to Each Other as Source of Inspiration During Weekend Series (nesn.com)
Following the Red Sox 6-5 win over Oakland today there was some shocking news. Alfredo Aceves had been optioned to AAA Pawtucket. He has 72 hours to report, but it sounds as if he doesn’t have intentions of reporting. MLBTR is reporting that within that 72 hour window the Red Sox will try to trade him. During the spring it appeared like there was a market for Aceves, but that has since disappeared following his behavioral issues and his lack of on field production. One team that’s been mentioned is the Los Angeles Angels, because their struggling bullpen, but they’d still likely have reservations about acquiring Aceves. Another team could be the Detroit Tigers, but that’s unlikely. Regardless, a guy with 8.66 ERA in April is hard to move in April. Also his constant issue would deter anyone trading for him.
To replace Aceves the Sox called up catcher Ryan Lavarnway. This comes as a surprise, because first of all everyone expected a pitcher and secondly with David Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, depth at catcher isn’t exactly needed. Lavarnway has gotten off to a fast start in AAA, hitting with a .310/.423/.452 slash line but has just 1 home run and 7 RBI. This will be his third stint in the majors, but his first two weren’t that successful. In 63 big league games he’s hit just .172/.230/.286. Maybe third times a charm for Lavarnway and he finally puts it all together at the big league level. As for why he was called up, there’s only been speculation. I’ve heard that when Lackey’s activated Victorino will head to the DL with his back issues. Lavarnway would become just an extra bat for the time being in that case. Another reason could be that the Sox are dissatisfied with the production of Ross and Saltalamacchia and with the extra roster spot could be just for a brief tryout. It really just baffles me why they chose Lavarnway but I’m sure we’ll find out soon.
Overall, this move proves the Sox are committed to putting together a team of good guys. While the debate between sabermetrics and traditional stats carries on the Sox will use their own formula of chemistry as their secret weapon. Hopefully this whole plan works out and these good guys actually have success.
- Aceves to minors (cbssports.com)
- Red Sox Option Aceves To Triple-A (boston.cbslocal.com)
- Alfredo Aceves Optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, Corresponding Roster Move to Be Made on Thursday (nesn.com)
- Aceves Forcing His Way Out? (thebestsoxblog.mlblogs.com)
Tonight’s game did not go well at all. Nothing went right from hitting, to pitching, and even fielding. The starter, Alfredo Aceves, made matters worse following the game with his comments. Aceves refused to take accountability for his poor performance on the field. He blamed the weather, the umpires, and even his own teammates for the loss, but not himself. This goes against the “good guy” mantra that the Sox have been trying to buy into, and as long as Aceves is around they’ll never fully achieve that.
This isn’t the first time Aceves has caused a stir. Last year his relationship with manager Bobby Valentine was well documented and by the end of the year he and Valentine were no longer on speaking terms, and I doubt they’ll ever speak again. This year he created problems in Spring Training when he and John Farrell had a misunderstanding when Aceves was throwing BP for someone. That blew over quickly, but he found himself in more trouble when he went to go represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. During a game between Mexico and Canada a Canadian batter was hit intentionally after Canada tried to run up the score. A brawl ensued and Aceves was right in the middle of it throwing punches. He was eventually restrained by Larry Walker and Walker said that he, “Saw the Devil in [Aceves’] eyes”. Clearly, he’s had his fair share of mishaps due to his character and attitude. This has always caused rumours about whether or not the Sox would keep him.
Personally, at this point in the year Aceves is way to valuable to get rid of. The Sox would be able to net a semi-decent return for him, but it wouldn’t be worth what he provides for the Sox on the field. Having him as a swingman (someone who can be used as a starter and a reliever) is much better than a couple if hit or miss reliever prospects. The swingman has become a bit of lost art as many teams decide to use the spot in their bullpen for another quality arm rather than shoving a starter in the pen, but it comes in handy when your starters back tightens up 30 minutes before the game and can’t pitch. The swingman saves you from a dreaded bullpen game and saves your bullpen as well. What makes Aceves so valuable is that he’s also a very good reliever, and not just a long man. With the Sox injury history in recent years I’d feel more comfortable with Alfredo Aceves as a spot starter then Clayton Mortensen. Although I don’t particularly like Aceves as a person he’s too valuable to this team to get rid of.
- Gresh & Zo: Alfredo Aceves’ Comments After Loss To A’s (boston.cbslocal.com)
- Aceves accepts little responsibility for loss (boston.com)
- Alfedo Aceves: “why don’t we hit?” (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Larry Walker Thinks He ‘Saw Satan’ in Alfredo Aceves’ Eyes While Restraining Pitcher During WBC Brawl (nesn.com)
Tomorrow David Ortiz is expected to be activated and Jackie Bradley Jr. is expected to be optioned to AAA to make room for Papi. That is exactly how the Sox had planned for this to go. Following those two moves Jonny Gomes was supposed to move from the DH role to left field, but there could be a change of plans.
Nobody expected Daniel Nava to get off the start that he has. In 10 games he’s batted .324/.429/.618 and I know it’s a small sample size, but it’s all we’ve got so far and why not ride the hot bat? Nava’s also has 3 home runs this year, 2 more than all other Red Sox outfielders combined. He’s also tied for second on the team with 9 RBIs and tide for fifth on the team with 6 runs scored. So, not only is he getting on base and scoring runs, he’s also driving them in.
Compare that to Jonny Gomes whose hit just about as well as Jackie Bradley Jr., so not very good. He has taken his fair share of walks, leading the team with nine, and has a higher OBP than Nava with .433. Other than that though Gomes’ bat has been dead. As long as Nava continues to perform at the rate he’s at and Gomes continues to under perform there’s no reason to start Gomes over Nava.
Also Nava’s defense in left has been impressive. He may not be a gold glover, but he plays very well in left field. The thing that impresses me the most about Nava’s defense is how quickly he gets the ball back into the infield. He’s turned a few doubles into singles by just playing the ball off the wall quickly and firing the ball back in. He’s like Dustin Pedroia in the outfield, he never stops hustling always giving a 100%.We’ve only seen Gomes in left for two innings this year, but from I’ve seen from him, which isn’t too much, he’s not quite as quick as Nava. It may be a minimal difference, but if you can hold a couple more guys at first rather than letting them get a double, it could end up saving some critical runs throughout the year.
One last thing in regards to Monday’s attack at the Marathon. The One Fund has been started by Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino to help those affected by the tragic events. If you’d like to donate you can here. Also 47 Brand has new “Boston Strong” hats with all proceeds going to The One Fund.
The controversial Fenway sellout streak has ended at 794 games (820 if you count Postseason). It was expected to end in early April and indeed it has. The recent Red Sox struggles have led to lack of interest which led to the end of the sellout streak. The sellout streak had recently caused some controversy due to the fact that there were unsold tickets. That was because a sellout is considered selling the maximum seating capacity which doesn’t account for standing room only tickets. I’m kind of glad the streak is over because it puts all of the years of the Red Sox where they belong, the past. Although those years were great, it’s a new era, the John Farrell era, and I hoping it’ll be equally as great if not greater.
- Red Sox’s Fenway Sellout Streak Ends at 794 Regular-Season Games – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Sox sellout streak done at 794 games (tracking.si.com)
- Boston Red Sox Sellout Streak May End as Industry Leader CheapSeatsTickets Announces President’s Day Discounts (prweb.com)
I’ve decided this year I’m going to try to review every game this year. Unfortunately, with 162 games, coupled with my laziness, in all likelihood that won’t happen. I’ll try to get off to a good start and we’ll see how far I get. Today was Opening Day for the Red Sox and they were in New York to take on the Yankees. There was plenty of interesting story lines to go along with this game as well. For starters it was Red Sox Yankees which is always exciting, then there was Kevin Youkilis’ first game as a Yankee and first against the Sox as a Yankee. There was also the big league debut of Jackie Bradley Jr. We also got a look at the decimated Yankee lineup and the new look Red Sox minus David Ortiz and Stephen Drew. As you can see there was a lot going on in this game like any other Red Sox Yankees match up.
As for the game, the Sox got off to a hot start and never looked back. They were able to get to C.C. Sabathia early and rallied for 4 runs in the second inning keyed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk and hits by Jose Iglesias and Shane Victorino. After that Sabathia was able to settle in and lasted 5 innings giving up just those 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. Jon Lester was better, but not by much. He too only lasted 5 innings giving up 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Most of his trouble came in the 4th where allowed the two runs off of 2 out 2 RBI single by Francisco Cervelli.
With the starters not going deep into the game we got a good look at both teams bullpens. Each team used 5 relievers over the last 4 innings. For the Sox, we got our first look at Koji Uehara and Joel Hanrahan for the first time in a Red Sox uniform. The Sox’s bullpen was phenomenal, allowing just 1 hit in four shutout innings. Unfortunately for the Yankees, their pen wasn’t as great. They allowed 4 runs on hits in their 4 innings of work. The one who really struggled was Joba Chamberlain. He came in in the 9th trying to hold the Sox lead at 3, but he ended up doubling it. He really struggled with his command and when he did get in the zone it was very hitable. He even had to be consoled by his good friend and now teammate Kevin Youkilis.
Every hitter, with the exception of Mike Napoli, got on base. Jackie Bradley Jr., although he failed to get a hit, he still made a huge impact. He walked 3 times, drove in a run, and made a great catch in left. Not bad for his MLB debut. Jose Iglesias surprised with 3 hits, even though he never got the ball out of the infield. The top of the order was very productive, with Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, and Dustin Pedroia combining for 8 hits and 6 RBIs. If the lineup can produce like this every night the Sox will be fine. Obviously you can’t expect 8 runs every night, but you can expect guys to grind out at bats and get on base.
All in all, the Sox came through with a 8-2 victory in John Farrell’s Red Sox managerial debut. The win went to Jon Lester and the loss to C.C. Sabathia. The Sox now lead the series 1 game to none.
Player of the Game: Jacoby Ellsbury 3 for 6 3 RBIs 1 3B
1 game down 161 to go