Tagged: Sox

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.

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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.

Tough Decision Looms For Sox


It’s no secret that Jose Iglesias has surprised some people this year and been one of the most productive hitters in the Red Sox lineu

Jose Iglesias

Jose Iglesias (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

p in these first 3 games. Unfortunately for him he appears to be the odd man out going forward. With Stephen Drew close to returning from his concussion, the Sox need to make space on their roster. Obviously they’d like to replace an infielder with another infielder. The Sox won’t send down Pedroia, for obvious reasons, that leaves Pedro Ciriaco or Jose Iglesias to be sent down. But why would the Sox send down Iglesias, the starter, over Ciriaco? There’s more than one reason why.

The big issue here is options. Each player receives 3 minor league options when they make the big leagues for the first time. The first time someone is sent down in a season it uses an option. Any time after that, for that season, doesn’t use an option, but that rule took effect last year. Once a player is out of option they have to pass through waivers to be sent down and be claimed by any team. Pedro Ciriaco is out of options; Jose Iglesias is not. That alone is the biggest reason to send down Iglesias. It’s because they can send him down without the fear of losing him. Now you might say that Ciriaco is an unimportant part of the team, and you may be right, but he adds depth to the roster. He’s really the only guy on the team who fits the utility man role and losing him could leave a gaping hole on the bench especially if the injury prone Stephen Drew goes down again. You might wonder why isn’t Iglesias isn’t a good fit for the utility role. That’s because he just doesn’t have as much experience at any position other than short. Had Ciriaco not had broken out last season, sending him down, likely, wouldn’t be a problem, but then again had he not broken out he probably wouldn’t have made the team.

Another reason is that Iglesias needs at bats. His struggles at the plate have been well documented, and despite seeming to get over them, nothing will cause him to revert back to his old self more than not getting regular at bats. Iglesias’ bat is finally showing signs of life and the Sox would like to ride the hot streak for as long as possible. With every hit he should gain more confidence in his ability at the plate. If he is indeed sent down, then he can take what he’s learned from his short stint in the majors and refine it in the minors. If the Sox just bury him on the bench he’ll just lose the confidence he’s gained and could just turn into the Jose Iglesias that has disappointed us all for the past few years.

Now this isn’t to say Iglesias has no chance of staying on the team when Drew returns. After all, as the Red Sox have shown with Jackie Bradley Jr., they are wiling to make a decision that doesn’t make the best sense for the future, but to keep the best 25 guys on the roster. The Sox may even decide to start Iglesias over Drew if he proves to be more effective than him. All in all I think the best idea would be to go back in time and never sign Drew, but I don’t think that’s exactly plausible. But then again the Sox owners have a lot dough, so anything’s possible.

JBJ Makes the Team


It appear Jackie Bradley Jr. will make the Opening Day roster this year. After wowing everyone in what was supposed to be a short stint to get his feet wet he has now gone from AA phenom to major leaguer. It’s still not official but the final two roster spots were down to Mike Carp, Ryan Sweeney, and Bradley and Sweeney has just been released. There’s only one logical explanation which is that Bradley and Carp have made the team.
I’m not a huge fan of this decision, but I understand why it was done. I agreed with the people who wanted to keep him down for the first 9 games to delay his service time from starting. This would give the Sox another year of team control which could be very important down the line, because it would either save the Sox money or prevent his departure for another year. Either way it benefits the Sox. I’ve heard the argument (mostly on the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show) that every game matters and not starting him day would be costly down the line. Although I agree every game is of equal importance, is the potential of winning one or two more games in April worth losing a whole year of a potential superstar? I’d say no, but clearly the Sox are in a win now state of mind as always and are disregarding the future for 9 games in April.
Although thus far I’ve stated my disagreement with the move I do still believe that he is ready to be an everyday major league player. He appears to be a 5 tool player and adds another dimension to the Red Sox offense. He could end being what Carl Crawford never could be the Sox. Although he’s not as fast as Crawford, he does have a lot of speed and may have more power. His defense could also be big for the Red Sox too. If he does indeed start in left field, the Sox would have an outfield made up of 3 center fielders, and 3 very good defensive center fielders at that. With all that speed out they can cover much more ground than any other group of outfielders and that could actually help save some runs. It may not actually play a huge role, but it does have potential to be a big part of the Sox’s success.
All in all I love Jackie Bradley Jr., but the move baffles me a little bit. I do think he will be a vital part of this team now and in the future. He could end up being the X factor that lifts this Red Sox’s team into contention.

The Situation at Short


Stephen Drew has a concussion and the reports on him seem to get worse as each day passes by. He’s left the team to get further reports on his health and is expected to begin the season on the DL. With the money he’s getting on a one year deal it’s safe to say that this news is more than a little disappointing. Also this leaves a gaping hole in the position that hasn’t been found a permanent owner since Nomar occupied it and there isn’t exactly a plethora of option for the Sox to pick from.

Jose Iglesias: Iglesias is the favorite to get the job and his strong spring has bolstered his chance to make the team. Iglesias was projected to be the Red Sox shortstop in 2012 a few years back, but as we all know that did not happen. There has never been a question about his fielding ability, but his bat has raised several question marks. He’s yet prove he can be a productive hitter in the major league or really at any level for that matter. He did spend time working out with Dustin Pedroia this Winter and maybe that work has paid off and he can finally reach his full potential.

Pedros Ciriaco:  Ciriaco stormed on to the scene last season when he played phenomenally in a short stretch at the end of the year. He is a great fastball hitter, but the second the pitch moves Ciriaco looks lost. Obviously with time he’ll be able to learn how to pick up the breaking ball, but do want to wait for that from your starting shortstop? If you want to wait for progression you might as well go with the top prospect in Iglesias. Like Iglesias there aren’t any questions with his defense. I can definitely see the Sox choosing Ciriaco to start at short I just question if it’d be the right choice.

Brock Holt: Holt is your traditional utility infielder. Can hold his own at every infield position, but won’t hit too much for you. Holt came over to the Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan trade and was expected to battle with Ciriaco for the utility infielder spot and he has been outperformed by Ciriaco thus far and it doesn’t appear as if that’ll change. Odds are the only way he’s making the team is on the bench.

Xander Bogaerts: Bogaerts, whose name I’ll never be able to spell correctly on my first try, has about a 0.0000001% chance of starting the season as the Red Sox starting shortstop, (and that may be a stretch) but never say never I suppose. He’s one of, if not the, top prospects in the Red Sox system and has a lot of people excited about his future. He’s excelled at every level and appears to be just a couple of years away from being major league ready. MLB.com’s Jonathon Mayo believes that he’ll be ready for next year. The Sox could start him at the beginning of the season to see how he fares against top-level competition, but that would cause them to use an option and start his service time clock. Neither of those things are something the Sox want to do, so I highly doubt they would go this route.

 

It’s Almost Over


It’ been three weeks since I’ve last posted on here, so I thought I’d do a brief post on the state for the Sox. The best news I got is that this season is almost over. We can finally move on from this train wreck of a season and hope for a good offseason.

This September hasn’t been much better than lasts. The only difference is that the our playoff chances aren’t disappearing right before our eyes. Those were lost awhile ago so it really didn’t matter now.  Ever since that horrid road trip, the Sox have been hard to watch. There isn’t much good going on, but there’s a whole lot of bad. Speaking of bad that pretty much defines Alfredo Aceves right now. When your team loses the last eleven games you’ve pitched in, you know somethings not right.  He’s not the only one struggling, but he struggling more than anyone else right now.

Bobby Valentine’s tenure as the manager of the Boston Red Sox is also almost over. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that his time is up. The teams failures weren’t entirely his fault, but he did play a role in them. All in all, he’s getting way too much of the blame, but when there’s no respect given to you should your time is up. I would of liked to have seen Bobby V succeed, but it wasn’t meant to be I guess.

Well that’s all I really got to say about the wonderful Boston Red Sox.

McDonald DFA’d


I know this a little late, but Darnell McDonald has been designated for assignment. He’ll likely suffer the same fate as Marlon Byrd without the suspension. He was a decent fourth outfielder for the past few years, but it was his time to go. With Kalish and Nava surprising everyone with their play he got pushed out. Although I thought Mortensen would get sent down, but he would’ve only lasted a few more weeks if he had stayed with Crawford and Ellsbury returning soon. I would have never guessed he would’ve lasted with the team as long as he did when he first came up. He’ll be missed in the clubhouse and by fans across Red Sox Nation, but it was his time.