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Monday, April 30, 2012

Buchholz Falters in Seventh But Red Sox Win 11-6

Monday's game against the Oakland Athletics was an odd one to say the least with Clay Buchholz right at the center of the Red Sox' madness. The struggling starter was in the midst of a gem 2/3 of the way through the sixth but ended up surrendering 7H, 6ER and 5BB before he was removed in favor of Junichi Tazawa.

Going into the seventh inning, the Red Sox had a padded 11-1 lead thanks to a homer and 4 RBI's from leadoff hitter Mike Aviles, a pair of solo bombs off the bat of David Ortiz, a two run homer from Darnell McDonald and a pair of runs driven in by centerfielder Marlon Byrd but Buchholz' struggles would lead to another nail biter on Yawkey Way.

Franklin Morales got the biggest outs of the game in the eighth, getting--former Red Sox--Josh Reddick to ground into a tricky double play, one of three the Athletics ran into.

After Bobby Valentine finally pulled his starter, he used a combination of five relievers to get four outs before going to his closer for the ninth in a non-save situation.

Alfredo Aceves came up with a scoreless ninth inning to give the Sox an 11-6 win in the opener of a seven game home stand at Fenway Park. Tomorrows matchup will feature Felix Doubront vs. Jarrod Parker. Stop by The Yawkey Report for full coverage of the game.


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2011 Draft Pick Matt Barnes Makes First Leap

The Red Sox drafted Matt Barnes--a RHP from UConn--with their first pick (19th overall) in the 2011 First Year Player Draft. The highly touted pitching prospect didn't make his professional debut until 2012 due to the innings he pitched while at UConn in '11, but he's made up for the missed time, and then some.

Barnes didn't allow a run until his fifth start with the Greenville Drive, a total of 26 2/3 scoreless innings before that run came. In 26 2/3 innings, the righty has a 2-0 record, 0.34 ERA and 43 K's. He was simply overwhelming to hitters at the Single-A level.

According to Alex Speier of weei.com, Barnes will now be faced with a challenge as he has been promoted to the High-A Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League. Look to see how he progresses at the High-A level, it could tell us a lot about his future arrival in the big leagues.


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Junichi Tazawa in the Eighth?

Junichi Tazawa
Junichi Tazawa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There were several bright spots for the Sox on the road to a 6-1 trip away from Fenway Park but perhaps the most surprising was recently promoted reliever Junichi Tazawa.

The Japanese righty--two years removed from Tommy John surgery--was once a top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization and since his promotion he has shown why.

In 6 1/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen, Tazawa has yet to allow a run, including a three inning save in relief of Felix Doubront Thursday against the White Sox.

This Week In Beantown Baseball: 4/23-4/29

After a concerning 4-10 start to the season, the Red Sox turned the page and finished up the last week in April with a scorching road trip between Minnesota and Chicago. Every element of the team seemed to click all at once, leading to a 6-1 trip that puts the Sox just a game under .500 heading to Fenway on Monday.

As I said, everything clicked for the Red Sox but the most encouraging sign from the seven game stand was the pitching--relief and starting.

Josh Beckett put together a pair of quality starts, allowing two runs in six innings against the Twins on Tuesday and three runs in seven strong against the White Sox in Sunday's loss.

Clay Buchholz Looks to Get Rolling Against Athletic's

After a 6-1 road trip, the Red Sox will be back at Fenway on Monday to face off with the Athletic's and their impressive young lefty, Tommy Milone.

The A's young pitcher carries a 2.00 ERA into his first career start in Boston and will be matched up against struggling Red Sox pitcher, Clay Buchholz, who has a bloated 8.87 ERA in 4 starts on the season.

The Athletic's come in a game under .500 at 11-12, 5.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West. The Red Sox are within a game of even as well at 10-11 but hold the bottom spot in the AL East, 3.5 games back of the first place Orioles and Rays.

With the exception of Buchholz, the Red Sox' starting rotation has been impressive of late, making it vital that the struggling starter flips the switch soon. Especially with Aaron Cook dazzling at AAA and Dice-K fairly close to returning.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm and the lineups will be posted here as soon as they're available.


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

D-Mac's Time With The Sox May Be Running Short

For the past two years the Red Sox have carried journeyman outfielder Darnell McDonald on their roster, usually with less than impressive results but his versatility and right handed bat have kept him with the big club instead of shuttling to and from Pawtucket.

D-Mac came on strong in 2010--when the Red Sox were ravaged by injuries--but has only shown glimpses of the production he provided down the stretch two years ago.

Bobby Valentine elected to carry McDonald after a scorching spring training but the backup outfielder has been far short of sensational thus far in the 2012 season. The opportunity was there but he was unable to pick up where he left off in Grapefruit League play, where he hit over .400 for the Sox.

The Red Sox' fourth outfielder had an encouraging night at the plate on Friday--2 for 4, 4RBI--but it may be too little, too late. The acquisition of Marlon Byrd from the Chicago Cubs may render D-Mac dispensable.

Since coming over to the American League, Byrd is hitting .308 in 26 AB with a .333 OBP and 1 RBI while McDonald has a .143 BA, .262 OBP, 1HR and 6RBI in 36 AB.

With Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford on the disabled list for extended periods of time, it's to be expected that McDonald will have ample time to turn things around and stay on the team as a backup but if he can't prove that he's more valuable than Marlon Byrd--also a right handed hitter--his time with the big club may be running out.



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Gavin Floyd Shuts The Door on Red Sox Win Streak

The Red Sox rode into Sunday afternoons game on a six game winning streak, but right hander Gavin Floyd was determined to put a roadblock in the way of a four game sweep at home.

Floyd put together a gem, going 6 2/3 allowing just 1 ER, 3H, 1BB, while striking out 9 Red Sox hitters. All of those numbers--with the exception of the strikeouts--came after 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball.

Josh Beckett put up a quality start, going 6 2/3 IP, allowing 6H, 3ER, 3BB, 8K but on this day it wasn't good enough.

The scoring came in the first inning off Beckett, with Alex Rios driving in a run and Adam Dunn blasting his fifth homer of the year but the way Gavin Floyd was pitching, the lead felt much greater than three runs.

The Sox would put together a run in the seventh on a Cody Ross RBI single but the White Sox got it back in the bottom eighth with a single off Junichi Tazawa that scored Rich Hill's runner Alexei Ramirez from second.

Even though the Red Sox snapped their six game winning streak, Josh Beckett recorded his fourth straight quality start. On most nights the Sox would have won the game but tonight the offense got shut down. Hey, you can't win em' all right?


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Lineups For Sunday: Red Sox @ White Sox

The lineups are in for today's Red Sox vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Josh Beckett will be facing off with Gavin Floyd, with the Red Sox looking to extend their season-high win streak to seven games. Here they are, courtesy of NESN.


Red Sox

Mike Aviles, SS
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Cody Ross, LF
Marlon Byrd, CF
Kelly Shoppach, C

White Sox

Alejandro De Aza, CF
Brent Lillibridge, 3B
Adam Dunn, 1B
Paul Konerko, DH
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Alex Rios, RF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Dayan Viciedo, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 2B



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Would The Yankees Sign Roy Oswalt?

Sometimes it's funny how things work out in baseball. Going into spring training, the majority of baseball considered the Yankees' rotation second only to the Rays in the AL East, but how things have changed in just a short time.

The reason for praise was centered around the acquisition of Michael Pineda and signing of Hiroki Kuroda, which was supposed to give the Yanks a mixture of talented young arms and experienced starting pitching. Instead they have a Jekyll and Hyde number two starter and a pitcher out for the season with TJ elbow surgery.

Adding to the mess that is the Bronx Bombers starting rotation has been CC Sabathia's struggles, Freddy Garcia's 12+ ERA and Phil Hughes' ERA approaching 8.00.

The Evil Empire has one Andy Pettitte working his way back to the bigs after a year of retirement, but can a 39 year old starter carry the weight of a horrid rotation on his back?

In his recent rehab start with Single-A Trenton, Pettitte allowed 5R,4ER with 3K in 5IP.

Like most years, the Yankees have thump in their lineup--112 Runs in 20 games--but as a Red Sox fan in 2011 knows, it means nothing without starting pitching.

With Roy Oswalt still on the market, he has to be considered an option for a team that will surely collapse if it's starting pitching doesn't improve.

Oswalt posted a 3.69 ERA in 139 innings last season but had trouble with his back--missed time in June--likely the reason he hasn't been signed. The way the Yankees rotation looks though, wouldn't you take a chance? It's not like they don't have the cash to throw at him.

It's likely that someone will pluck the 36 year old off the market soon, whether or not it's the Yanks remains to be seen but they must be considering it.


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Red Sox Lean On Beckett For Sweep, Seventh Straight Win

A second consecutive dismal start landed the '12 Red Sox in hot water once again this season, but tonight they look to extend their season high winning streak to seven. To do so, they will need a good effort from Josh Beckett and a repeat of Saturday night's bullpen performance.

The Sox' number two starter had a rough first start but has since become a rock in an otherwise inconsistent starting rotation.

In that first start against Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers, Beckett was taken deep five times, allowing 7 runs total in 4 2/3 innings. Since that start he's allowed 3 runs or less and gone atleast 6 innings in each of his three starts.

With Jon Lester struggling to find consistency and Clay Buchholz still getting knocked around in his starts, the Red Sox have leaned heavily on Beckett to win ball games and he's came through.

The Sox will take on Gavin Floyd, who started the season with a shaky start as well (5ER in 5 2/3IP) but has since been solid, lowering his ERA to a respectable 3.60.

With two solid starters on the mound, there's a good chance the Red Sox will need to replicate last nights performance from their--recently solid--bullpen. Visit the site after the game for full recap's and updates on any news in Red Sox Nation.


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The Red Sox Are Facing a "Good Problem"

The Red Sox have had plenty of problems in this dead-even 2012 season, but soon they may have one of those "good ones" when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns from Tommy John surgery.

The problem they will have is too much starting pitching, like you can ever have too much right?

As it stands, the Sox are trotting out Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard--in that order. So the question becomes, where do you put Dice-K?

In his second rehab start on Saturday, Matsuzaka put together 4 2/3 IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 7K. According to Boston.com, his velocity ranged from 73 to 93 mph over 74 pitches (44 strikes).

The Red Sox also have a decision to make on Aaron Cook, who has an opt-out clause he can exercise May 1 if he's not on the major league roster by then.

Cook has pitched very well in Pawtucket, with the latest sample being a 6 1/3, 3ER performance on Saturday night.

According to Bobby Valentine, the Sox are pondering the use of Cook out of the bullpen, which would open the door for his call-up before the Tuesday deadline.

There would be several teams at the sinkerballers door should he opt-out of his contract with the Sox, so it's vital that Bobby V and company come to an agreement that keeps him somewhere in the Red Sox organization.

Either way, it will be interesting to see what decision is made with Cook. Do they put him in the 'pen? Let him walk? Does he stay until June 1? Whatever the decision, Red Sox News on the Daily! Will be here with analysis.



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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Jon Lester, Red Sox Bullpen Shutdown White Sox

On a blistering cold night in Chicago, the Red Sox came away on a scorching six game win streak--putting them at .500 (10-10) for the first time this season.

The story of the 1-0 victory was obviously the pitching, with Jon Lester shutting out the ChiSox for seven innings but the White Sox' starter Jake Peavy was pretty good himself.

Peavy made just one mistake all night, an RBI single up the middle from Adrian Gonzalez with Ryan Sweeney on second base. Other than that, the righty was electric--throwing 117 pitches in the complete game loss.

Jon Lester was a little better but just a bit shorter in his first win of the season, allowing 5H, 0ER, 1BB, 7K in 7 IP.

The Red Sox bullpen continued its recently solid ways, locking down the nail-biter with two solid innings from Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves for the save.

Aceves appeared to be overthrowing again the ninth--he hit 97 on the gun--but his stuff was far crisper tonight on the way to his fifth save in seven opportunities.

Tonight's win was the sixth straight for a Red Sox team that had been 4-10 entering the win streak, an encouraging sign for Bobby Valentine and his group. They look to extend the streak to seven with Josh Beckett facing Gavin Floyd on Sunday.



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Did The Red Sox Get The Better End This Time?

Okay, maybe it's a little early to ask the question but I'll ask it anyways. Is there a chance the Red Sox got the better end of the deal that sent RP Michael Bowden to the Cubs for OF Marlon Byrd?

When the deal was made, I was one of the people that said, "what the hell?" and "he's got 3 hits this season!" but I could see the Red Sox' angle on the trade as well.

Byrd is considered a good defender, which the Red Sox were lacking in their outfield and they probably didn't think he would hit .070 for the rest of the year.

There is also the fact that Michael Bowden had been DFA'd to make room on the roster for another position player, which gave the Red Sox 10 days to make a move.

Since being acquired, Marlon Byrd has 7 hits in 22 at-bats, good for a .318 average. That's more than double what he had in twice as many PA with the Cubs.

Obviously 22 AB is a very small sample but do the Sox even need him to hit .300? I'd say .270 would be more than acceptable as a fill in until Ellsbury or Crawford can get healthy.

Although Bowden had been solid in his short stint with the Sox this year, he has generally been regarded as a bust--making him dispensable to a team in dire need of outfield help.

If the addition of Byrd can provide above average defense and decent offense, the Red Sox will get the better end of the deal.


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Jon Lester Looks to Extend Streak to Six

The Red Sox will take the field tonight at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, looking to stretch their season high winning streak to six games. They will do so behind their presumed ace and number one starter, Jon Lester.

In his four starts this season, Lester has displayed his dominance but also the inconsistency that makes him frustrating to watch at times--most recently against the Twins.

In that start the lefty allowed 4ER in the fourth and another in the fifth before blanking the Twins in the sixth and seventh.

The start before that was a disaster at the hands of the powerful Texas Rangers. In that game Lester ran into trouble early, throwing 49 pitches in the second inning and allowing 7 ER in just 2 IP.

His first two starts of the season were very encouraging. A 7 inning, 1 run performance on Opening Day followed by an 8 inning, 3 run showing in his second start but things have unraveled quickly for the Sox' horse and he looks to get back to form tonight against the lowly Chicago White Sox.



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The Disaster That Is Carl Crawford

After receiving news that Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford would be shut down with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, I felt inclined to air out an obvious fact. Crawford's contract is a disaster and we're only in the second year.

The problem is, not only has the--once speedy--outfielder been unproductive, he can't stay on the field to provide any sort of value.

In 2011, Crawford finished the year with career lows in BA (.255 BA) and OBP (.289). He had just two more RBI (56) than his sophomore season with Tampa Bay in '03, just 19 steals--following a '10 season in which he led the AL with 47--and he missed 32 games total, more than he's missed in all but two seasons in his career.

Those numbers don't warrant anything close to the $20 million that CC earned for the 2011 season, but everyone said "he'll get em' next year" right? Not even close.

2012 will again be a disaster year for the Sox' "star" outfielder.

During the offseason it was announced that Crawford needed surgery to repair an ailing wrist and he was doubtful for Opening Day in Detroit. That was just the beginning of what appears to be another disaster season.

The Red Sox have now made his elbow injury public and announced that he will be shutdown for several months after receiving a Platelet Rich Plasma injection. He could miss as much as three months, which puts him somewhere around the All-Star break.

The Red Sox are paying over $20 million for half a year from Crawford, assuming surgery won't be necessary at some point. Even if he hits .300 during that time it will be considered an enormous bust at that price.

Last season and this season were supposed to be the prime years for CC, likely part of the reason the Sox forked over a freight train full of money to sign him. Things haven't exactly gone as planned.

If Crawford continues to be marred by injuries, unproductive or both, his signing could end up considered the worst in the history of the game. And there have been some bad ones.


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For Ryan Sweeney, It's The Change of Scenery

When the Red Sox acquired Ryan Sweeney and Andrew Bailey from the Oakland A's in the offseason, he was considered a platoon outfielder that would share time with right handed hitter Cody Ross. It's amazing how things can change in a hurry.

With the unfortunate injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, came an opportunity for 27 year old Ryan Sweeney. To this point he has virtually erased the thought of Carl Crawford and his .255 batting average from a year ago and--along with Ross--has made Ellsbury's absence somewhat bearable.

After his most recent appearance--a 2 for 5 night against Philip Humber and the White Sox--Sweeney holds a .383 average, 10 doubles and 8 RBI in 60 AB this season.

Splitting time in Oakland last season, Sweeney put together a .265 BA, .346 OBP, 1HR and 25 RBI in 264 AB.

In recent years he has become known as a solid defender and an offensive underachiever, but the change from a pitchers ballpark at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to the hitter friendly parks in the AL East may be just what this underachiever needed.

Whether or not the offense is for real remains to be seen, but for now the Red Sox will miss Carl Crawford a little less when Sweeney steps into the box.



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Daniel Bard Seizing The Moment

In the wake of 2011's September circus that saw the "Red Sox Show" sent packing early, Daniel Bard asked for a shot in the rotation--where he started his professional career--and was promised the opportunity. In the face of adversity and doubt, Bard has begun to shine in a way that many didn't see possible.

The doubt was somewhat warranted in spring training as the former setup reliever allowed 18 runs and 16 walks through 24 2/3 innings--including a relief appearance in which he allowed 7 ER in 2 2/3 innings--but Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington saw enough progression to extend the experiment into the regular season.

After Friday's defeat of the White Sox, Ben Cherington would probably love to tell Bobby V--who openly disagreed with him regarding Bard in the rotation--"I told ya so!"

Starting his third game of the season--after being skipped due to a rainout against the Yankees--It would have been understandable if their was a bit of rust on Bard's powerful right arm, but if their was it got left in the Red Sox bullpen at U.S. Cellular Field.

Instead of using the extended rest, with just a relief appearance mixed in as an excuse, Bard went out and turned in his best start to date--including spring training. He allowed just 6H, 3R, 2 ER, 1BB, 6K in 7 IP, with the most impressive number in that line being the 1BB that he allowed, following a start in which he allowed 7 in 6 2/3 IP.

There were mistakes in the outing, such as the 3-0 fastball that Paul Konerko planted in the bullpen and the change up to A.J. Pierzynksi for an RBI double in the first inning but Bard's ability to look past those mistakes and turn in a stellar outing far overshadowed them.

Up until now there has been continuous talk of a return to the bullpen for the star reliever but last nights start all but eliminated that talk.

With Rich Hill's return and Aaron Cook in line for a call up by Tuesday (when his opt-out clause takes effect) there is plenty of reason for optimism on a pitching staff that has seen nothing of the like to this point. The Red Sox could try Aaron Cook in a relief role or shuffle elsewhere but now is not the time to disturb Daniel Bard.


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Youkilis,Pedroia Respond to Bobby V's Remarks. Trade Possible?

Last night Bobby Valentine took a jab at Kevin Youkilis on WHDH's Sports Xtra Radio Show. Valentine questioned Youk's commitment to the game in an interview taped Sunday morning and aired after the Red Sox' game Sunday afternoon. These were the exact comments.

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,” Valentine said.batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.”


 Youkilis heard about the comment's Sunday night from his agent and said Monday morning that he was "confused" and "surprised" that Valentine would question his commitment. He also said him and his manager had spoken about the comments but would not reveal what was said in that conversation.
 Dustin Pedroia was also quick to get Youk's back saying this about the remarks his manager made.
“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,” Pedroia said. “That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here.”
Youk won't be in the lineup today in the 11:05 game against the Rays as Nick Punto will get the start at third base. Whether his being taken out of the lineup has anything to do with this is unknown.
The turmoil in the Red Sox clubhouse is concerning, especially since the team appeared to be coming together. Im not sure what Bobby Valentine's intentions were with this but I can tell you that nothing positive can come of it. A team that has clear cut chemistry issues doesn't need their manager publicly criticizing them.

Curt Schilling was scrutinized for saying that Bobby V's style wasn't a good fit in Boston but was he right? One thing I know is calling out his players won't do Bobby any good, If he has a problem with Youk's commitment he need's to keep it between the two of them. You should know better Bobby, Shame on you.


Update: According to Gordon Edes, Kevin Youkilis was seen meeting with GM Ben Cherington this morning. A trade seems a very real possibility. As the story develops Red Sox News on the Daily! will have the latest updates. 



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Red Sox Manager Makes Curious Comment Regarding Youkilis

It's no secret that Kevin Youkilis had trouble firing the engines in the Red Sox first few games but in his last five games it appears he's seeing the ball better, he's taking walks again and he's getting his hits--6 for 18 last five games--so Bobby Valentine's comment on WHDH's "Sports Xtra" last night come as a bit of a surprise and open the door for speculation. This is what he said.



“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.’’

As Roles Are Defined, Red Sox Bullpen Coming Together

After gut wrenching losses in the season opening series against the Detroit Tigers and the "Bash Brothers", the biggest question mark for the Red Sox was their battered bullpen. Injury to the presumed closer Andrew Bailey put the bullpen in a state of flux with several moving parts and we know how that turned out.

Two blown saves in one game by Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves on Opening Day, followed by a walk-off homer by Alex Avila in Game 3 caused panic in Red Sox Nation and--although not publicly--it's safe to say Bobby Valentine lost some sleep trying to figure out where to go with his bullpen.

Then the series in Toronto rolled around.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Look Back to the Greatest Moments Under Terry Francona

Starting today and ending Friday--when the Red Sox celebrate Fenway Park's 100 year anniversary--I will provide my readers with an article each day relating to the greatest achievements of the Red Sox under Terry Francona. This is my little way of celebrating the manager that took the Sox to their first World Series in 86 years. 

To get things started I've provided the link below to an article that's sure to give any Red Sox fan goosebumps. Enjoy the great read and be sure to leave comments letting me know what you think. 

Red Sox "Actively Exploring Outfield Market"

Alex Speier of WEEI reported Sunday that the Red Sox are "actively exploring the outfield market" as they prepare to lose Jacoby Ellsbury for what could be a significant amount of time.

Bobby Valentine said that Ellsbury would ice the subluxed right shoulder for 48 hours before more tests would be done to determine how much time the Red Sox will be without their all-star center fielder.

Depending on the news they get regarding the situation with Ellsbury, the Red Sox may look to help from outside of the organization.



If the initial reports of 6-8 weeks end up the case, the Red Sox would be better served waiting for Carl Crawford to return from wrist surgery and filling in the holes with internal options until Ellsbury is able to return the lineup.

If it's determined that 6-8 weeks is a long shot or Carl Crawford suffers any setbacks the Sox would likely try to come to terms for an outfielder that can serve their needs. Some names that have been thrown out there--with little traction--are Coco Crisp and Marlon Byrd.
 
The Red Sox have working relationships with both players' respective teams so a deal could likely be reached but at this juncture they wouldn't come cheap. The next few days will factor largely into the decision as Bobby V tries to figure out if his team can win with some combination of Cody Ross, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney and Jason Repko in the outfield.



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Red Sox Bullpen Operating at Full Steam in 6-4 Win

A week ago the Red Sox bullpen was in the midst of coping with injury to their presumed closer Andrew Bailey and several were calling for Daniel Bard to be returned to the pen immediately. How things have changed in a short period time as roles become defined and the Sox' bullpen continues to become formidable.

The Red Sox sent first year starter Felix Doubront to the mound on Sunday expecting to need a few innings from their bullpen and they got them--four to be exact--and they were well pitched and for the third straight game were able to stave off the Rays and preserve the clubs third win in a row.

Doubront pitched well through the first four innings but the Rays were able to get to him in the fifth inning. Doubles from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria plated three runs and Fenway-hater Luke Scott led off the sixth with a solo homer to erase the 4-0 lead held by the Sox, makeing it a tie game and taking the ball out of Doubront's hand.

Scott Atchison got an out in the inning and then made way for Vicente Padilla, who has emerged as this years version of Alfredo Aceves. Padilla finished off the sixth and took care of the seventh, keeping the game tied and giving David Ortiz the opportunity to pull ahead with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth.

Mike Aviles added his second homer of the season in the seventh to give the Red Sox an insurance run but it was the back end of the bullpen that provided the story in today's game.

Franklin Morales--who's emerged as the eighth inning guy--pitched a scoreless eighth, with a bit of traffic but he got the job done nonetheless to hand the ball over to closer Alfredo Aceves.

Aceves put together another perfect ninth inning and pick up his second save of the young season. With the scoreless outing Aceves has brought his uncomputable ERA down to single digits at 9.00.

Notes-- Cody Ross hit his second homer in as many days, a moon shot over everything in left field for a 3-run blast that gave the Red Sox an early lead. 



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Bowden, Exposito Designated For Assignment, Lin Optioned

This morning the Red Sox made a flurry of roster moves that included designating RHP Michael Bowden and C Luis Exposito, Optioning Che Hsuan-Lin to AAA Pawtucket and calling Jason Repko and Nate Spears to the big club.

The moves come after the team revealed yesterday that Jacoby Ellsbury has a Subluxed right shoulder and will likely miss 6-8 weeks or more.

Michael Bowden made the opening day roster for the first time in his career and had pitched 3 innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, allowing a run and striking out 3. He was out of options and has generally been considered a bust to this point (5.39 ERA in 39 appearances) but this move comes as a bit of a surprise. Justin Thomas seemed like the logical option to be moved but the lack of left handed options in the bullpen may have contributed.



Jason Repko will be in the lineup today, playing center field when the Red Sox face the Rays at 1:05 pm.

Repko had a strong spring training and was 7-13 in four games at the time of the call up from AAA Pawtucket.

Nate Spears will likely serve as a backup infielder to spell Dustin Pedroia if needed and give Bobby Valentine another option late in games. Previously the Red Sox were carrying 13 pitchers and just 12 position players.

There is a chance that the designation of Michael Bowden was to open the door for a trade to the Cubs, who are looking for a suitor for outfielder Marlon Byrd in exchange for bullpen help.



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Marlon Byrd Possible Trade to Red Sox?

In the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's Subluxed right shoulder the Chicago Cubs are said to be keeping a close eye on the situation as they try to trade veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd.

The Cubs are reportedly looking to acquire relief arms to solidify their spotty bullpen, something the Red Sox haven't mastered to this point either.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Way Tito Was Treated Will Never be Forgotten

Am I the only one that remembers that magical season in 2004? The one that saw the Red Sox beat all odds and adversity on their way to first World Series title in 86 years--does anyone else remember that, or was it just something I dreamed up in my baseball ridden mind? I'm inclined to think that it really happened and it's sad that no one else remembered it after the 2011 season. 

After eight years of managing the rigors that come with a team like the Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona and his team had a bad string of luck that left them looking back on an epic September collapse in which they went from a 9 game Wild Card lead to the odd man out in the '11 playoff picture. To say that a change was warranted would be an understatement but the way it happened was nothing short of tragic.

Jacoby Ellbury's Injury Makes Carl Crawford's Return Vital

With news coming Saturday that the Red Sox will lose their star center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for an undetermined amount of time, the return of $20 Million left fielder Carl Crawford now becomes a necessity for the Sox. 

Carl Crawford had surgery to repair his ailing wrist in January and was supposed to be on track to return toward the end of April before soreness in his throwing elbow set him back another week or more, putting him on pace for a return in early to mid May.

Rays Pitchers Can't Contain Surging Red Sox Offense

A quick stat for you--the Red Sox scored just 22 runs in the first 6 games they've played this season against Detroit and Toronto. The surging Sox offense has scored 25 in just the last 2 games they've played against the Rays, winning both and bringing their record to 3-5.

For a team that lost their catalyst in Jacoby Ellsbury to a Subluxed right shoulder in the first game against the Rays, the offense comes as a pleasant surprise.

In Saturdays game Clay Buchholz got the Red Sox in an early hole allowing 4 runs before they could even step to the plate but that wouldn't dampen the Sox' spirits.

Three home runs from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz spread through the first five innings allowed the Sox to break even with the Rays at 5 a piece and they were just getting started.

Mike Aviles hit a low change up over the monster seats to lead off the seventh and give him his first homer of the 2012 season. His blast would be the start of a relentless barrage of offense from the once sputtering Red Sox.

Cody Ross squared up on a pitch that ended up putting a dent in the green monster for a two run double and added a 2 run homer in the bottom of the eighth giving him 2 hits and 4 RBI in the game.

David Ortiz added to his night with a bases clearing double to left field that had Tampa Bay's Elliot Johnson eating grass in an attempt to field it.

The offense was clearly the story in the game but it wouldn't have been the case if Clay Buchholz hadn't settled down and gave his team a chance to win. Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect eighth and ninth as well, leading to the Sox' third victory of the young season by a score of 13-5.





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Red Sox Josh Beckett Working on Fans Forgiveness

 In the wake of an epic September collapse that saw the Boston Red Sox blow a 9 game lead in the AL Wild Card, Josh Beckett was expected to start his redemption tour in 2012. His first start didn't go as planned and some fans went as far as calling for him to be traded.

On April 7th--the second game of the season--Beckett got shellacked to the tune of 7ER and 5 HR in just 4 2/3 innings against the mighty offense of the Detroit Tigers. Concern regarding a thumb injury that Beckett said went back 18 months had people concerned.

Tim McCarver--broadcasting the game for FOX--said on one curveball "that looked like a pitcher with a sore thumb" and "he'll put that pitch in his back pocket". That wasn't the case as Beckett came right back with a curveball for a strike on the next pitch but the outing was cause for concern in Red Sox Nation nonetheless.

With Boston's number two starter scheduled to start Fenway's home opener, Bobby Valentine made a comment before the game that he was "holding his breath" that Beckett was OK--causing even more concern among Red Sox fans, but it proved unwarranted.

All Beckett did was go out and shut the Rays down with an 8 inning, 5 hit performance allowing just 1 run and getting his first win of the season. Bobby Valentine called it "the perfect outing" after the game and revealed that he would drop one of the 13 pitchers on the roster for a position player.

The performance from Josh Beckett was just the beginning of a long road that will hopefully result in confidence from the Red Sox fan base but it was a nice way to start.

For all of the positives that came out of Friday's game there was an equally important negative. Jacoby Ellsbury--runner up for '11 MVP--was injured in the fourth inning trying to break up a double play at second base. Ellsbury slid hard into Reid Brignac causing the shortstop to come down hard on his right shoulder. Jacoby was visibly in pain, holding the shoulder tightly as he walked off the field and left the game.

Initial reports Saturday morning say that Ellsbury suffered a type of dislocation in the shoulder and will likely miss 6-8 weeks. Not encouraging for the Red Sox especially after a 2-3 performance coming off a slow start in the first 6 games of the season.

Che Hsuan-Lin will meet up with the team today and stay for the remainder of the series against the Rays.




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