So I know I’ve been away for a little while, but I’m back, for now anyways. Since I last wrote a lot has happened, so here’s a condensed version of what I planned on writing about, but never did.
First off, a couple of key guys have landed on the DL. Scott Atchison and David Ortiz have been placed on the 15 day DL for a sore wrist and heel respectively. Atchison (my favorite Sox) was huge for the team out of the bullpen this year. He assumed the role vacated by Alfredo Aceves. He’s thrived in the role, but hasn’t got the praise that Aceves did last year. That hasn’t bothered him though, as he has been one of, if not the most, consistent reliever. Many people believe that the increase in workload is the cause of the injury and he just needs some rest. Ortiz was injured in a much stranger way. On Monday night Papi injured his heel rounding the bases on Adrian Gonzalez’s home run. To replace them the Red Sox called up Junichi Tazawa and Mauro Gomez. Both these guys have played in the big leagues this year, so this isn’t new to them. Tazawa has been excellent this year while Gomez’s bat has outshined his glove by far. They both are depth moves and both will help.
Another big headline is that the Red Sox are aggressively pursuing Ryan Dempster. Although the Red Sox front office denied the rumor it doesn’t surprise me that they are making a push for a quality starting pitcher. The downside to this is that Dempster might not be all he’s cracked up to be. He’s having a career year, but his numbers could revert back to the Dempster of old. Now Dempster has always been a quality starter, but they’d have to pay the price of a top tier starter. Also they’d be negotiating with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, two guys who know the Sox’s farm system very well. The price would be steeper than normal, because neither guy could be tricked. I like Dempster, but I’m not sure how much.
Brent Lillibridge was designated for assignment on Monday. To be honest this move shocked me, because despite his near terrible performance (but a small sample size) he was just acquired and it seems strange that they just gave up on him. I expected them to option Nava, because he doesn’t fit in with the team anymore. At least Lillibridge would provide outfield and infield depth rather than just left field. It makes more sense to me, but Bobby does love Nava so I’m sure it’ll work out somehow.
Darnell McDonald was DFA’d by the Yankees. He’ll likely be released later this week.
Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury both have returned and are fitting in quite nicely. It’s like they’ve never missed a game. Sadly, Crawford has got his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He made some comments on how he and Terry Francona never really got along. He thought he was too quick to drop him in the lineup which frustrated him and impacted his entire season. He also has had his name floated around in trade talks including a blockbuster with the Marlins, which I’ll talk about in a full post.
So that’s all I got for you even though I’m sure I missed something, but whatever it doesn’t matter I’ll find out and somehow fit it in somewhere eventually, but if I don’t I’m sorry.
Yesterday the Red Sox recalled Aaron Cook, Jose Iglesias, and Will Middlebrooks from AAA. They also optioned Junichi Tazawa and Lars Anderson to AAA and placed Kevin Youkilis on the DL. Will Middlebrooks is expected to play third base in the absence of Youk. If you don’t already know, Middlebrooks is the top prospect in the Sox’s farm system. He was tearing up AAA pitching is April and many fans have been hoping to see him called up. Although he’s only expected to stay until Youk is reinstated from the DL, but there’s reason to believe he might over stay his welcome.
Will Middlebrooks is a near complete hitter. He can hit to all fields, but has a lot more power to his pull field. He also tends to expand the strike zone and chase pitches, especially fastballs up. Yesterday, in his debut, he was able to show patience by drawing a walk so he might be more patient at the big league level when he knows he’s not going to be able to handle all of those pitches.
If Middlebrooks can consistently play like he did last night (2 for 3 with a walk) he could find himself staying on the big league roster for a long time. He could end up being very valuable in keeping Youk healthy by having a trusted bat slid into the lineup when Youk is taking an off day which will be frequent. Although Middlebrooks is over hyped, he does has the skill to develop into the player that many project he will be one day. He’s a reason now to get excited even if his first stay isn’t for long.
Tonight has proven a point that I’ve believed for a long time. Daniel Bard needs to be the closer. Against the Minnesota Twins he worked out of a runner on third with one out jam. That’s a closer quality and Bobby needs to see that. If Aceves blows the lead that should be the final straw. Even if Aceves survives today, there’s no guarantee he’ll last tomorrow as he has struggled through these first few weeks.I don’t see how it could do any harm to the team. The Sox have three legitimate starting options beyond Bard. Aaron Cook, who has dominated AAA, needs to be called up before May first, otherwise he’s gone. Junichi Tazawa has been a pleasant surprise and we know he can start. Alfredo Aceves could simply swap roles with Bard and he won’t have to whine anymore. Although Bard has promise, with a pen is disarray you need to best utilize what you have and Bard is a top tier reliever which can’t be ignored. I know Bard isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to hop back into the pen, but he seems to be on board with whatever is best for the team. As I write this the Sox just won, barely. Aceves got the final three outs, but there wouldn’t have been a lead without Bard. Right now Bard is the best option for the Sox and the Sox need to act upon it. Bard can literally save the season.
The 4 and 5 spots in the Red Sox rotation are in question. There are several in house option which could fill those two spots.
Daniel Bard: Bard has seemed to be the favorite to be one of the 4 or 5 starters. He’s a great reliever, but he hasn’t started since 2007 in the low minor leagues. He seems to be a better fit as a reliever in the setup role. His 100+ mph fastball is the perfect out pitch late in games. As a starter he wouldn’t be able to just throw fastball as a starter. He’d need to expand his arsenal to become less predictable.
Alfredo Aceves: Aceves was the other top choice at the seasons end, because he’s proven he can start and be a good reliever. I don’t believe he can go deep in games, but with this reloaded pen the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings seem set. He can be reliable, but they can find better options and use Aceves where he’s best
Felix Doubront: Doubront has had his ups and downs. He’s been great at times, and struggled at others. If Doubront can stay consistent He’d be a nice fit at the back end of the rotation. Also another lefty couldn’t hurt either.
Aaron Cook: Cook is a recent addition who has had his ups and downs. The upside is that he’s a fantastic ground ball pitcher which works well in Fenway. Provided he can stay somewhat consistent he could end up being the best fit out of this group.
Vicente Padilla: Padilla has had the most up and down career of the group, but has never shined. I’ve also heard he’s only competing for a relief job, so he’s highly unlikely to grab a job.
Andrew Miller: Miller hasn’t impressed anyone since he hit the big leagues in Detroit. His high walk rate doesn’t bode well for him or the Sox.
Junichi Tazawa: Tazawa has been good in his short stops in the MLB. Injuries have played a major part of his development. If he can get healthy he’ll be fantastic based on previous success.
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