Tagged: MLB Trade Deadline

The Bullpen Saga Continues


Andrew Bailey

Andrew Bailey (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

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.

Red Sox Trade Targets


Matt Garza

Matt Garza (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Photograph taken by Googie Man 23:45, 10 April...

Photograph taken by Googie Man 23:45, 10 April 2007 . . Googie man . . 2500×1667 (3,201,337 bytes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Red Sox Acquire Matt Thornton


Matt Thornton

Matt Thornton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night the Red Sox made their first move of the trade deadline season. They acquired left handed reliever Matt Thornton and $750,000 from the Chicago White Sox for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs. Thornton was acquired to plug the hole in the bullpen left by the injury to Andrew Miller. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was optioned to Pawtucket and Andrew Miller was transferred to the 60 day DL to make room for Thornton on the 25 and 40 man rosters.

The immediate impact of the move is that it improves the bullpen. Over the past several years Thornton has been a force in the White Sox’s pen, being able to shut down whoever he faced, righty or lefty. In eight seasons with the White Sox he’s posted a 3.28 ERA and a 1.196 WHIP. However, this year righties have figure him out batting .314 off him with a .414 OBP, but he’s been as good as ever against lefties. They’re only batting .170 off of him with an OBP of .232. The only oddity in his numbers is that 3 of the home runs he’s given up have been to left handed batters, which has played a part in the fact that they are slugging .385 off him. Regardless, despite his declining stuff  he can still get lefties out. He should end up being a valuable part of the pen and will hopefully add some consistency to this otherwise volatile pen. Also the cash is likely to help the Sox pay Thornton’s $1,000,000 buyout for next year, because the Sox are unlikely to pick up the $6,00,000 option for 2014.

With every trade you have to give something to get something. That something happened to be Brandon Jacobs, a minor league outfielder who was promoted to Portland just a few days prior to the trade. Jacobs, according to Sox Prospects, was once the 8th ranked prospect is the Red Sox system, but he had struggled the past year and a half in Salem and fallen to 36th and was also rated the most disappointing Red Sox prospect by Baseball America. He showed good power, hitting 13 home runs last year and 11 so far this year, but struggled batting for average . He was hitting just .244 when he was called up to Portland. He was tremendous upside because he’s a 5 tool player, but putting all together has been an issue. The reason he was so expendable, was because he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season and was unlikely to be added to the 40 man roster to protect him from other teams. All in all he’s a great prospect, but he was an expendable piece.

All in all, it appears to be a great trade for the Sox. They filled their biggest need, and only lost a guy who they were likely to lose next off-season anyways. Thornton is said to be a high character guy and should fit right in with the club. This could be the biggest move the Sox make this month.

DeJesus Gets the Call


 

Today the future begins for the Boston Red Sox. Today the Red Sox recalled infielder Ivan DeJesus from AAA Pawtucket. He was one of the prospects the Sox received in the Dodgers blockbuster. Although he doesn’t project to be much, he’s part of the future. It’s exciting that were getting our first look at what we got.

 

Reviewing the Return


 

After looking at the final details of the trade that occurred yesterday I’m sure some people were left scratching their heads wondering who were the guys the Red Sox got back. Hopefully this will help clear up any confusion.

James Loney: Loney was once the prize jewel of the Dodgers farm system. When he arrived he played very well for a rookie. He looked like he had a bright future ahead of him. Sadly, the light has dimmed.  He is in the midst of the worst season of his career, and doesn’t appear to be getting any better. He has a career slash line of .284/.341/.423. That’s not too bad, but that’s the kind of numbers you’d expect from a first baseman.

To look at the positives, he’s a good doubles hitter who hits to the opposite field and Fenway is a good doubles park especially to left, which is where a majority of the balls he hits go. Also, he’s a plus defender. He’s not as a good on defense as Adrian Gonzalez, but still far better than average.

Many say he’ll be gone after the season because his contract expires following the season, but I believe that he’ll return. He’s one of the top first basemen on the free agent market next year and there’s very few internal options. He’ll be back unless they believe Mauro Gomez is the future first baseman of the Red Sox.

Ivan DeJesus: Ivan DeJesus is a utility infielder who specializes at second base. He’s played a majority of the season in AAA, but he has spent some time in the majors. He’s put fairly good numbers in the minors with a .297/.369/.389 slash line.

He’s said to be a great defender and has great patience. He doesn’t project to be any everyday player, but a solid utility man. He looks like he might end up being the future Nick Punto of the team.

Allen Webster: Webster may end up being the biggest piece of the trade. He’s 22 year old sinker baller who has never pitched above the AA level. His fastball can reach up to 98 MPH and he also has a curve, change and slider which are all considered to be plus pitches.  One strange thing is that he strikes out a lot of batters for a sinker baller. Over his five year minor league his averaged just under one strikeout per inning. His only issue is he allows a lot of base runners. His career WHIP is 1.357, but it has been inflated by high WHIPs the past two seasons.

The key is that in the minors for Webster is that he has been able to stop those base runners from scoring, but will it work in AAA or even in the majors? One thing that helps him is the sinker. A sinker is a groundball pitch which tends to generate several double plays if kept low in the zone. He projects as a front of the rotation starter who could possibly be an ace, but more likely to be a 2 or a 3.

Rubby De La Rosa: De La Rosa is a power throwing right handed starting pitcher. He throws a fastball, change up, and slider. He primarily throws his fastball which tops out at 100. He’s just coming off of Tommy John surgery and in recent outing has only been able to reach 97, but is expected to get his velocity up once fully recovered. He boasts an impressive 2.75 ERA over his 6 seasons in his minor league career. He also has a nice 9.2 K/9, so we know he has no issues punching guys out.

When looking at the future for him, I can’t see him staying as a starter. His limited repertoire and high velocity fastball make him look like a late inning reliever rather than a starter. Early in his development he should have worked more on his slider and tried to develop one or two more secondary pitches if the Dodgers wanted him to become a starter. The Sox can use the same approach the Reds did with Aroldis Chapman. De La Rosa is very similar to Chapman, except Chapman usually gets a couple extra MPHs on his fastball and has a slightly more developed slider. De La Rosa slider will develop in time, but he’ll never reach Chapman’s velocity. If the Sox follow the Reds’ mold De La Rosa could be come a deadly weapon in the bullpen for years to come.

Jerry Sands:  Sands is a power hitting first baseman/left fielder. With his horrid arm and lack of first base depth in the system he’ll likely be developed as a first baseman, but there really isn’t much developing left to do. He’s spent most of the past two seasons in AAA with seventy games in the show sprinkled in.  In the Majors he has a .244/.325/.376 slash line with 4 homers and 27 RBI.  It’s not great, but for a rookie it’s far from bad. In the minors, however, he has .290/.377/.566 with 118 homers and 375 RBI in five seasons. His power is his greatest asset and that’s about it.

He could be the future first baseman of the Red Sox or even the future DH. Many don’t believe he’ll amount too much, but I see him as a potentially 300+ home run hitter for his career. He’s got the power for it, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

Just a note Loney is with Major League club, DeJesus is in AAA, and Webster is in AA. Sands and De La Rosa are expected to be used as players to be named later. Sands will finish the season in the Dodgers AAA affiliate. De La Rosa is expected to be shut down for the remainder of the season. Both of them will not be named until after the season and the postseason as well.

 

Red Sox, Dodgers Complete 9 Player Blockbuster


Yesterday the Boston Red Sox acquired James Loney, Allen Webster, Ivan DeJesus, and two players to be named later from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto. The two PTBNL are expected to be Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands. This trade combined a salary dump and a deal to strengthen the farm system. The Red Sox sent approximately 262.5 million dollars worth of contracts to the Dodgers and provided only 12 million dollars salary relief. It is just the second time a player with over 100 million dollars left on his contract, and the first with two.

This was an extraordinary trade. It’s probably the biggest trade of the 21st century. The Red Sox eliminated two of the biggest problems on the team while only paying roughly 5% of the salary owed to the former Red Sox. They also acquired 4 quality prospects and a big league first baseman. On the other hand the Dodgers filled four major needs. They now have a left fielder and first baseman for the future, a starting pitcher with playoff experience, and a super utility man.  How they’ll fit remains to be seen, but they figure to fare better L.A.

This trade truly begins the Ben Cherrington era of the Boston Red Sox as he was able to eradicate Theo’s bad deals (with the exception of John Lackey) with this trade. If this wasn’t a Lucchino move, this mean that Ben has established himself as a legitimate MLB GM. This now gives him the chance to spend money to back bad contracts of his own. Hopefully he won’t make the same mistakes Theo did in the final years of his tenure as Boston’s GM, but he may. The best idea would probably be to hold on to all the money and only use it when necessary. Sadly, this is Boston and there are expectations that need to be lived up to, so the money will likely be used very quickly.

All things considered, I love this trade. Although I believed Crawford was going to come back and be productive, the contact was ridiculous and to get rid of it was huge. Also dumping Beckett is fantastic. Everyone knew it was time to move on it was just a matter of finding a suitor for him. Losing Punto is a non factor. We didn’t lose nor gain anything by sending him to L.A. The only real lose is Adrian Gonzalez. He was a great player for the Sox, but he wasn’t the Adrian Gonzalez that we had seen in San Diego. He just didn’t fit right in Boston. Bundle all those things together and get 4 good prospect plus a first baseman in return, you’ve had a good day.

Deadline Review


In the past two days there’s been a flurry of roster moves made by the Red Sox in the past couple days. Yesterday the Red Sox said in a press release:

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox today placed outfielder Ryan Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured bone in his left hand and recalled both outfielder Ryan Kalish and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen from Triple-A Pawtucket.  Kalish and Mortensen will be active for tonight’s game against the Tigers at Fenway Park.  Additionally, the club today activated right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Sweeney is likely done for the season if the Sox miss the playoffs, but he may return for the final games of the season.  Kalish is returning to the Sox after a brief and largely unsuccessful stint in the majors earlier this year. Mortensen was called up to fill the open spot Albers left, until Craig Breslow arrived which was just a few minutes ago. Chris Carpenter has missed the entire year with a right elbow surgery. He was the compensation received by the Sox for Theo Epstein.

Now on to the trades. Yesterday the Sox made two trades. The first was the Sox acquiring lefty Craig Breslow from the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handed Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik. This move was made to give the Sox bullpen flexibility, so that Franklin Morales could be put back into the starting rotation. I like this move, because Morales had been very effective as a starter and I love that he’ll be returning to this role. Also the bullpen doesn’t lose anything, because Breslow is a great left reliever. I am a huge Albers and Podsednic fan, but there wasn’t a need for either of them (although you can never have enough pitching.)

The other trade was between the Cleveland Indians and the BoSox. The Sox acquired righty, knuckleballer Steven Wright for first baseman Lars Anderson. This a great move, because it brings everyone’s favorite pitch, the knuckleball. Also, Lars needed to be moved, because he had been blocked for a long while now and I’m glad they got a good return for him. Another great thing is that Tim Wakefield will work with Wright, so he’ll be taught well.

Today there were a few more roster moves that took place. Daniel Nava was placed on the DL with a sprained left wrist and able to be activated on Sunday August 12th. Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Pawtucket to take his place. Clayton Mortensen was optioned to AAA to make room for Craig Breslow who was added to the 25-man roster.

And with that, that’s all the Red Sox have done the past two days. Ben Cherrington is a very busy man.