|07.06.11 at 1:41 pm ET|
Sitting in first place in the American League Central, the Indians will be in a new position this trading deadline. Instead of being sellers like in previous years, this year they will be buyers as they will look to maintain their position atop the AL Central.
Speaking with Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said: ‘We’re open in any way we can to improve the team, whatever that might be. Especially with [Shin-Soo] Choo suffering the injury that he suffered, we’ll probably focus most of our efforts on improving our offense and getting a little more consistency there.’
Antonetti also noted how difficult it is to project how a player from an outside organization will work out after a deal is made.
‘It’s so hard to put percentages on external acquisitions because there are so many variables in play,’ Antonetti said. ‘The benefit that we have with our internal options is we control those unilaterally, which guys we bring up, provided they’re healthy. Externally, so many things have to come together.’
|07.06.11 at 1:37 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling checked in with the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to offer his opinions on the state of the team. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The big topic of discussion this week has been the struggles of John Lackey. Schilling had plenty to say about the former Angels hurler who has yet to live up to his big free agent contract in Boston.
“I don’t know that you’ve gotten much different than what was [in Anaheim],” Schilling said. “This was a guy who always pitched to contact, a guy who didn’t have ‘ with maybe the exception of a year ‘ was never a high strikeout guy, coming to the biggest and best and most potent offensive division in baseball.
“I know he’s someone who has always hated pitching in Fenway. He made multiple comments after multiple series ‘ especially in the postseason ‘ about pitching here. I was surprised to see him sign here, actually. I don’t know what the competitive money was, but I didn’t think that this was a place he wanted to pitch.
“Having said that, I think that there’s a lot of stuff going on off the field, as would there be with anybody whose wife is undergoing chemo and the cancer scare that his wife is. Once you start to enter that into the equation ‘ and I know fans don’t want to hear that ‘ I don’t discount that. I don’t discount the impact and the effect that that can have on someone.
“Where they’re at? Jeez, they don’t have options. You’re not going to send him down. You’re not going to release him. Can you put him in the bullpen? Will he go to the bullpen? There’s a lot of things. If you listen to the guys in that clubhouse talk, they swear by the guy, which, for me, is a huge indicator of what kind of player he is.
“My biggest challenge has been a lot of his postgame stuff has been, not lack of accountability, but I just feel like life would be a lot easier if he just sat down after these games and said, ‘You now what? I sucked.’ If he did the Josh Beckett, I think life would be a little bit easier for him. But you know what? They’re going to keep running him out there, and hopefully he gets the ship righted.”
|07.06.11 at 11:12 am ET|
Newsday’s Ken Davidoff digs into the trade market this season and sees that the top commodity, both desired and shopped, is relievers.
He sees the top relievers available as San Diego’s Heath Bell and the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez. He also sees the Padres have Luke Gregerson and Chad Qualls as quality relievers available. Teams that he sees in the mix to acquire these guys are the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Cardinals and Rangers.
Davidoff does not anticipate that Jose Reyes will be dealt from the Mets, but if Reyes is moved, the writer sees possible destinations for the shortstop as the Reds, Indians, Giants, Mariners and even the Red Sox.
Also, there are a few teams out there that Davidoff sees that might be seeking help in boosting their starting rotations. The Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Indians are among those teams.
From the AL East, he has heard from an official with a National League club that the Rays will be both “buyers and sellers” at the deadline.
|07.06.11 at 10:59 am ET|
With the second-to-worst record in the American League, the Orioles are expected to be sellers leading up to the trade deadline. According to Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun, the Orioles do not have many trade chips, but he does name a few players that could be dealt, including third baseman Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds leads the major leagues with 13 home runs since June 1, including five already in July, and he could become available during the next few weeks. Vensel also named shortstop J.J. Hardy, starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and relief pitcher Koji Uehara as players that could also be available to be dealt to other teams.
He also notes that he does not believe All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and starter Zach Britton would be made available for potential trades.
|07.06.11 at 10:27 am ET|
ESPN columnist Ian O’Connor, author of ‘The Captain,” a book about Derek Jeter, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Kathryn Tappen to discuss the book and Jeter’s future with the Yankees. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
O’Connor went all the way back to Jeter’s childhood and spoke with grade school teachers, high school coaches and summer league coaches to get a better idea of what Jeter is like as a human being.
He also noted in the book four flaws that he sees Jeter having: being overly sensitive to criticism, carrying a grudge for a long time, not being a better captain when Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees, and not speaking out more against steroid use. O’Connor said he wanted to speak with Jeter in more detail about them, but Jeter refused a lengthy sit-down interview.
O’Connor said part of the reason for Jeter’s 2010 struggles had to do with contract talks.
‘He was very uncomfortable,” O’Connor said. “It bothered him. I think last year when he had his worst year the contract thing bothered him. He would never admit that, clearly, as he struggled he realized he was digging himself a bigger hole at the negotiating table, tens of millions of dollars. Now, that the contract thing is behind him, it’s bothering him that he isn’t performing better.’
O’Connor also touched on the 3,000 hit milestone Jeter is about to achieve and how it might affect the remainder of his career.
‘Once he gets past 3,000 hits [some people think] a burden will be lifted from his shoulders and he will return close to the 2009 Derek Jeter,” O’Connor said. “I don’t think that is going to happen. I think unfortunately, age and unseen forces of gravity and time have caught up to him and he is going to be this kind of player.’
|07.06.11 at 10:03 am ET|
Longtime NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Kathryn Tappen. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Jon Lester left Tuesday night’s outing after four innings with a lat strain. With Clay Buchholz hurt, Daisuke Matsuzaka out and John Lackey struggling, there is great concern about the Red Sox pitching staff.
“It’s starting to remind me a little bit of last year, and I hope that’s not the case, because last year injuries destroyed the team,” Remy said. “What it’s destroying right now is the starting rotation, and that’s not a good sign at all.”
Left-hander Andrew Miller has impressed in his three starts with the Sox. Remy said the key is control.
“The thing that’s impressed me about him is that his changeup is very good,” Remy said. “His fastball is not Randy Johnson–like; it’s not 99. But he gets it in the mid-90s and he’s got that good changeup to go with it. He’s got the curveball to go with it. I guess they’ve worked with his mechanics and they’ve got it to where he’s throwing more strikes. He hasn’t been walking people. If he doesn’t walk people, his stuff certainly is good enough to win at the big league level.”
Added Remy: “They may have found something here that’s going to help them the rest of the way down the road and hopefully into the postseason.”
There has been talk that Lackey’s next start Saturday will be key to his future with the team this season. Remy doesn’t agree.
“I don’t think so,” Remy said. “Because where are they going to go? Even if he doesn’t pitch well, if he’s physically OK, I don’t see where they could put him other than the starting rotation, especially now with the injuries. ‘¦ I don’t see where it’s a life-or-death situation with Lackey.”
|07.06.11 at 7:19 am ET|
Tim Wakefield will square off against Ricky Romero in Wednesday’s series finale at Fenway Park. Both pitchers will make their first starts against an American League opponent since mid-June, and both hurlers posted rather different interleague numbers this season. Wakefield struggled in his last two starts against the Astros and Pirates, while Romero shut down the Phillies, Cardinals and Braves in his last three outings.
Wakefield (4-3, 4.82 ERA) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Houston, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Wakefield has cooled off after winning three of his first four starts, posting a 2-2 record and 5.48 ERA in his last five outings. The knuckleballer gave up five runs in each of his last two appearances and hasn’t logged a quality start since June 19.
The Blue Jays have 155 combined plate appearances against Wakefield but have been held to just two home runs and a .226 team batting average. Five Toronto regulars have seen Wakefield at least 10 times, and none of those hitters has an average over .286. That number belongs to Aaron Hill, whose team-high 37 plate appearances vs. Wakefield have yielded 10 hits, a double, two RBIs and six strikeouts. Yunel Escobar has hit the Boston starter well in seven plate appearances, logging two singles and a home run. Wakefield has dominated Corey Patterson in 18 meetings, holding him to a .167 average and striking him out three times.
Romero (7-7, 2.75 ERA) is the undisputed ace of the Blue Jays staff, leading the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (99). It’s been an up-and-down season for Romero to say the least; after losing three of his first four decisions, he won four of five to bring his record to 5-4. However, a recent 2-3 stretch has put him back at .500. While he might not have too many wins to show for it, Romero has been stellar in his last four starts. Dating back to June 15, he’s posted an ERA of 1.49, including a complete-game shutout of the Cardinals on June 26.
Despite Romero’s impressive numbers, the Red Sox have handled him with relative ease. Back on April 18, Romero was lit up for five runs on eight hits before being pulled with one out in the fifth inning. As a team, Boston is hitting .380 off the Blue Jays starter with 10 doubles, one home run and 19 RBI. J.D. Drew has led the way, hitting a torrent 11-for-22 against Romero, including a home run, a triple and five walks. David Ortiz has performed nearly as well, hitting .435 with a home run and seven RBI in 27 career plate appearances. Kevin Youkilis has a team-high two home runs off Romero.
|07.05.11 at 11:33 pm ET|
Darnell McDonald knew he had it in him. He did, after all, once get clocked at 96 mph when pitching in high school.
Adrian Gonzalez knew McDonald had it in him, seeing what he saw in Fort Myers.
“We took infield in spring training,” said the Red Sox first baseman, “and he showed [his arm] off.”
Tuesday night, when making the Red Sox’ 27th out in their 3-2 win over the Blue Jays, McDonald didn’t disappoint.
With John McDonald at the plate, two outs in the ninth, Edwin Encarnacion at second, and the Sox clinging to a one-run lead, the Jays’ infielder lobbed a single into left field. With Encarnacion racing around third, representing the potential game-tying run, the Sox left fielder raced over, scooped up the ball about waist-high and proceeded to unleash a bullet to catcher Jason Varitek.
Replays showed Encarnacion may have slipped his right foot around Varitek before any tag could be made, despite initially being blocked the captain, but all that mattered for McDonald and the Sox was that home plate umpire Brian Knight called the baserunner out.
“Once McDonald got that good hop I saw where the runner was I thought, ‘He actually has a shot.’ And then when I saw the throw I thought it was going to be close. They all did their job right,” Gonzalez said. “Tek did a great job of protecting the plate, blocking Encarnacion, and McDonald threw a perfect strike to him to allow him to be able to do that.”
For McDonald, who came away with an eighth-inning single to raise his batting average to .125, it was a moment to build on.
“I wasn’t really sure,” said the outfielder when asked if he thought he initially had a chance at getting the out. “I was just thinking get it in as soon as possible. I was really shallow. It was funny because shallow throws are kind of more difficult to gauge. I just tried to grab it and throw a four-seam fastball to Jason.
“It’s been very tough. I want to do things to help the team. Obviously I haven’t been effective at the plate. It’s a long season. I want to do anything I can to help this team. When you’re not hitting defense has to be on point.”
|07.05.11 at 11:15 pm ET|
Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t immediately argue the final play of the 3-2 Red Sox win Tuesday night but once he saw the replay of the out call on Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, he made no mistake in criticizing the accuracy of home plate umpire Brian Knight on the tag attempt by Jason Varitek.
“We should still be playing right now,” the former Red Sox pitching coach said. “That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job sliding around the plant leg of Tek but his swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot. So right now, we should be out on that field playing.”
John McDonald lofted a soft single to left field with two outs and third base coach Brian Butterfield sent Encarnacion home from second with what would have been the tying run after Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to protect a 3-0 lead to start the ninth.
Darnell McDonald threw a strike to Varitek, who blocked the plate with his left foot. Replays showed that Encarnacion’s left foot was blocked but he hooked his right foot through and got the plate while Varitek’s swipe tag missed the body.
“From 90 feet from home plate and with the runner in between the view of ourselves and home plate, he made the call as it was. Unfortunately, we should still be playing,” Farrell continued. “After the replay, absolutely, because from our vantage point, Edwin is right in line with the play at the plate. We don’t have the benefit of replay but the wide margin he missed the tag, a little bit surprised the call went that way.”
|07.05.11 at 11:15 pm ET|
(Courtesy the fine folks at Fox 25 and the Lowell Spinners)
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