|08.13.10 at 2:05 pm ET|
Just three days remain for the Red Sox to come to terms with this year’s crop of draftees, but still, there’s a whole lot of waiting to be done. That is in no small part because of Major League Baseball’s efforts to delay signings in excess of recommended slot bonus figures for picks.
It is not merely a matter of holding off on approval for such deals. In many instances, clubs have not even been given the go-ahead to make offers above the slot values, thus delaying almost all deals to the last few days and hours before the deadline.
That, in turn, has stopped the Sox from advancing too far in negotiations with several of their top picks. The team was able to move quickly to sign its first two picks, third baseman Kolbrin Vitek (hitting .241/.333/.368/.701 with the Lowell Spinners) and outfielder Bryce Brentz (.179/.251/.288/.539). But since then, progress has been limited.
A lack of progress in negotiations should not necessarily be taken as an indication that the Sox are unlikely to sign a pick. That said, the Sox drafted aggressively this year for several players with signability questions, knowing that there was a risk that they wouldn’t sign as high a percentage of its top picks as it has in recent years.
Here is a look at where things stand for the top 10 picks in the 2010 Sox draft class:
1st rd: Vitek – signed ($1.359 million)
1st rd – supplemental: Brentz – signed ($892,000)
1st rd – supplemental: Anthony Ranaudo – Ranaudo proved in the Cape League that he is healthy. As he set out to do at the start of the summer, he demonstrated that he remains the same sort of talent that had him projected as perhaps the top college pitcher entering this year’s draft.
He has also stated in no uncertain terms that he is open to returning to LSU.
“Anthony has told me repeatedly that he loves LSU and would be very happy coming back for his senior year if things don’t work out with the Red Sox,’ LSU coach Paul Mainieri told The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.). ‘He told me he’s making all his plans to do so and the only way he won’t is if the Red Sox meet his exorbitant demand for bonus money. I guess the Red Sox have to decide how much they value Anthony because he’s asking for first-round money.’
Advised by Scott Boras, there is no question that Ranaudo carries a significant asking price. To date, according to sources familiar with the situation, there have been no substantive talks between the Sox and either the player or his advisor regarding a deal — no surprise, given that draftees advised by Boras typically do not talk until the 11th hour. He has not yet taken a physical.
2nd rd – Brandon Workman – Like Ranaudo, Workman will carry a high asking price. At the time of the draft, he was seeking a bonus in line with that of a first-round pick. The big right-hander from the University of Texas was in Boston earlier this month for a physical and to throw a bullpen, but according to sources familiar with the situation, there have been no significant negotiations between the Sox and the pitcher on a deal. In all likelihood, talks won’t heat up until later this weekend or Monday.
3rd rd – Sean Coyle – Coyle is a diminutive middle infielder who revels in comparisons to Dustin Pedroia. According to the Tribune-Democrat, he was going to head to Boston for a physical this week, but decided to delay the trip until the weekend so he could keep playing in his summer league tournament. The article said that Coyle remains undecided about whether to sign with the Sox or to go to the University of North Carolina to play with his brother, Tom. He is believed to be seeking a seven-figure commitment to pass on his college scholarship.
4th rd – Garin Cecchini – Earlier in the summer, Cecchini was seeking a $1.75 million bonus to pass on a scholarship to LSU. He is recovering well from surgery to repair his ACL, and showed impressive power — particularly given the state of his recovery from surgery — while taking batting practice in Fenway in July. He is currently in Boston for a physical, a necessary precondition of any potential deal, though no agreement has been reached between the sides.
The Sox are reasonably confident that they will be able to reach an agreement with at least one of their top two prep selections (Coyle of Cecchini), while maintaining hope that they might be able to sign both by the Monday deadline.
5th rd – Henry Ramos – signed ($138,200): hitting .304/.354/.431/.785 with two homers and 10 steals in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. A high schooler out of Puerto Rico with notable power.
6th rd – Kendrick Perkins – signed ($628,000): Signed away from his two-sport scholarship commitment at Texas A&M earlier this week, he is a high-ceiling, athletic outfielder who has reported to Fort Myers.
7th rd – Chris Hernandez – The University of Miami left-hander has taken a physical for the team. Negotiations are ongoing with the junior, who has been a solid performance pitcher in college.
8th rd – Mathew Price – The draft-eligible sophomore from Virginia Tech seems likely to sign. He had a 7-4 record and 4.95 ERA for the Hokies in 2010 while striking out 8.4 batters per nine innings while walking just 2.6 hitters per nine in the ACC.
|08.13.10 at 9:00 am ET|
The Red Sox will round out their tough 10-game road trip this weekend when they face the team with the biggest division lead in the majors. To open up its three-game series with the Rangers, Boston will hand the ball to stopper Josh Beckett as it looks to rebound from a heartbreaking loss on Thursday to Toronto. Texas will counter with Tommy Hunter, who has been the Rangers’ most effective starter this season despite missing two months.
Hunter (9-1, 3.01 ERA) recovered from his worst outing of the year with a win in his last start. On July 30, the right-hander allowed a season-worst eight runs to the Angels in only three innings of work to suffer his first loss. On Aug. 5, Hunter was back to form against the Mariners, tossing 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball to help Texas win, 6-0. Seattle went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position against the starter.
In his career against Boston, Hunter is 2-1 with a 7.53 ERA in three starts. Though Red Sox batters are hitting .276 off him, Hunter has gotten the better of Boston in his last two starts. In the most recent meeting, Hunter earned a win at Fenway Park while allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings. The offense helped him out with a six-run cushion before he even took the mound in the bottom of the first inning.
Beckett (3-2, 6.21 ERA), meanwhile, is looking to bounce back in his own way after a disappointing outing against the Yankees on Sunday. New York scored seven runs on 11 hits in Beckett’s 4 2/3 innings, handing the right-hander his first loss since returning from the DL on July 28. Before the short outing, Beckett picked up back-to-back wins while throwing 15 innings, albeit against the Angels and Indians.
In his career against Texas, the Boston starter is 2-2 with a 4.82 ERA in six starts. Despite struggling with a 6.23 ERA in seven road outings this season, Beckett owns a 2.25 ERA in three starts in Arlington. In their meeting on April 21 at Fenway Park, the Rangers shelled Beckett to the tune of seven runs in seven innings. On the strength of their offense, the Sox were still able to pull out the 8-7 victory. Josh Hamilton, who was the only player selected ahead of Beckett in the 1999 draft, is 4-for-9 with a home run and five RBI against him. The Texas outfielder is leading the majors in average at .357 this season. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.12.10 at 6:54 pm ET|
We have now reached crisis stage with Jonathan Papelbon. No getting around it — he has officially moved into shaky status. Sure, he was very good for the last couple of weeks (just one earned run allowed in his previous 17.2 innings before Thursday) but we’ve seen enough signs over the last year to know that an epic-sized meltdown was near.
And we sure got it Thursday. Four hits and three runs allowed in just a third of an inning, turning what should have been the final touches on a Red Sox sweep into what could turn out to be a crushing loss.
We know that Papelbon now fails the “Is he an elite closer” smell test. But here’s just a couple of numbers to back up the claim and give the Bard For Closer crowd some more muscle.
1. It is August 12 and Papelbon has already allowed 18 earned runs — tied for the most in any season of his career.
2. Eighteen earned runs doesn’t sound so bad, right? And his 3.26 ERA is still significantly better than the league average. But look at it like this: At the absolute peak of Papelbon’s skill — 2006 and 2007 — he allowed 19 total earned runs in 126.2 innings pitched. He’ll need to allow just a single earned run over the next 77 innings to match that mark.
3. At his best Papelbon was a nearly unmatched combination of power and control. He walked just eight batters in his 69.1 innings in 2008 (with 77 strikeouts). When that 2008 season ended he had issued 53 career free passes in 230 innings. In his last two years (137.1 innings) he has walked 43 batters.
4. Going into the 2010 season Papelbon had a career ERA of 1.84, WHIP of 0.98 and K/BB ratio of 4.5. All three totals were the best of any reliever in major league history (minimum 250 games pitched).
Those three numbers in 2010: 3.26 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a K/BB ratio of 2.37. Forget the best in baseball history, that K/BB ratio ranks 56th in the American League this year among all pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched (the ERA is 38th, the WHIP 25th).
5. Papelbon has allowed six home runs this season and blown six saves. Both are career highs, as are his five losses. The combined total of home runs allowed, blown saves and losses — 17 — is five more than in any other season.
|08.12.10 at 6:03 pm ET|
Early in Thursday afternoon’s game, a wave of “Adrian Beltre Facts” ‘ modeled after the phenomenon of the “Chuck Norris Facts” and their various offshoots ‘ took off on Twitter. Below are a few of the best tweets assorted Red Sox writers and fans had to offer:
- Adrian Beltre has never hit into a fielder’s choice. The choice is up to him.
- Adrian Beltre hasn’t made 15 errors. The official scorers have.
- The reason Adrian Beltre throws flat-footed is to slow down the rotation of the earth.
- NASA solved its early problems by having Adrian Beltre throw the capsules into space.
- With the roof open at Rogers Centre, the sun isn’t beating down on Adrian Beltre. Adrian Beltre is beating down on the sun.
- Carl Everett thinks that Adrian Beltre is made up, just like the dinosaurs and outer space.
- Adrian Beltre doesn’t use a cup — to drink hot coffee.
- The ball that hit Adrian Beltre in the groin last season was put in protective custody, just in case.
- Adrian Beltre doesn’t like anybody touching his head because he’s afraid he’ll break their hands.
- Even Chuck Norris is afraid to touch Adrian Beltre’s head.
- Even Adrian Beltre’s helmet is afraid to touch his head.
- The Big Bang was a result of God touching Adrian Beltre’s head.
- Adrian Beltre developed a new diagnostic tool for the medical staff: the collide-a-scope.
- Adrian Beltre once collided with himself. It was before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series.
- Adrian Beltre is the reason McDonald’s discontinued the McRibs.
- Adrian Beltre once watched “Delta Force” on TV. Chuck Norris woke up the next day with three broken ribs.
- Adrian Beltre thinks it’s called a “pillow contract” because you can use it to suffocate sleeping enemies.
- Adrian Beltre is the reason baseballs need stitches.
- The reason you kneel when you pray is because Adrian Beltre kneels when he swings.
- When the Blue Jays wanted to open the roof, they asked Adrian Beltre to hit a pop-up in batting practice.
- It took Adrian Beltre only four swings to demolish the old Yankee Stadium.
- Adrian Beltre pulled a ball to the opposite field.
- Adrian Beltre only appeals to umpires on checked swings so they can feel important.
- Adrian Beltre didn’t just understand the “Sopranos” finale. He lived it.
- Scott Boras is actually an Adrian Beltre client.
- Customs officials will have to show Adrian Beltre their passports at the airport tonight.
- Adrian Beltre won Connect Four in three moves.
- When Adrian Beltre does a postgame interview, he asks the questions.
- Adrian Beltre doesn’t wear spikes. The ground knows the only way to survive is not to let go.
(Thanks to Red Sox beat writers Brian MacPherson, Scott Lauber, Sean McAdam, Gordon Edes, Pete Abraham and everyone else who participated.)
|08.12.10 at 4:49 pm ET|
TORONTO — For the first time in his major league career, Jonathan Papelbon was taken out in the ninth inning in a tie game as a reliever (due to factors not involving an injury), Thursday. After the Red Sox‘ 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays — in which Papelbon surrendered three runs in the ninth for the third time this season — the Sox’ closer said he understood why Sox manager Terry Francona made the move to go to Daniel Bard with one out, the Sox up by a run and the bases loaded. (Click here to see ‘Closing Time’ for a recap.)
“You want to finish games, that’s my job. I want to finish games,” Papelbon explained. “But I think the fact of the matter is that I didn’t execute my job and you pass it on to somebody else.”
Despite showing some of the best velocity he has possessed all season (hitting 99 mph on one occasion), Papelbon said that when it came to life on his fastball it wasn’t one of his better days.
“I didn’t have much power or energy in my delivery today,” he explained. When asked if he felt like that warming up in the bullpen, Papelbon responded, “Just most of the day. Just kind of a groggy day for me.”
Papelbon’s struggles began after replacing John Lackey after the Red Sox’ starter surrendered a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista in the ninth inning. With the Sox holding a two-run lead, the reliever came on and immediately allowed three straight hits — a double to Vernon Wells, Adam Lind’s single up the middle, and a single by Aaron Hill that rifled off the closer’s foot.
Papelbon did come back to strike out Travis Snider with pinch-runner DeWayne Wise at third representing the tying run. But Edwin Encarnacion managed to jump all over a slider for a game-tying double down the left field line, leading Papelbon to intentionally walk Lyle Overbay and subsequently leave the game in favor of Bard.
“Leaving the ball up in the zone,” he said when asked what went wrong. “It just seemed every one of my pitches today was up in the zone in a pressure situation and obviously that can’t happen.”
Bard couldn’t duplicate the same magic he performed Monday afternoon in New York when he came on with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh inning and got out of it unscathed. This time Toronto’s Fred Lewis’ managed to elevate a fly ball to center field just deep enough to score Hill with the game-winner.
“I think he grounds it out half the time. It’s definitely where I wanted it,” said Bard of the pitch. “It’s almost impossible, but I got out of it the other day. It wasn’t the ninth so that’s the difference. There’s no room for error there, at all. Just some tough luck and some tough hops.”
Asked what his strategy coming into the situation was, Bard explained that a strikeout wasn’t on his mind.
“I’m trying to get a double play. That’s our best shot of getting out of it,” he said. “If I try to go punch-out that increases my chances of walking him and throwing balls out of the zone. I have to pitch with my best stuff in the zone in that situation, try to get a ground ball or an infield pop up. Something soft.”
Asked about taking out Papelbon for the first time in the middle of the ninth, Francona cited what the situation called for.
“Sometimes the games dictate … it’s not an ego thing,” the Sox’ manager said. “Just trying to win the game. More of a … at that point, we’re trying to keep the ball out of the air. Pap was up. It’s probably not the best way. Just trying to keep that game going.”
|08.12.10 at 3:35 pm ET|
TORONTO — The Red Sox were on the verge of walking away from their three-game series with the Blue Jays with a sweep, and a healthy dose of momentum heading into the teeth of the pennant race. But then came the ninth inning.
The Sox entered the final frame up, 5-2, but John Lackey stumbled and Jonathan Papelbon could not preserve a two-run lead. The result was a 6-5 win for the Jays and one of the more disappointing losses of the season for the Sox.
After Lackey had held the Jays to just two runs over eight frames, things started going astray for the Sox. First, Lackey — shooting for his first complete game of the year — gave up a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista to cut the Sox’ lead to two runs. And then Papelbon came on and allowed the first three Jays’ hitters he saw to reach via hits. The closer proceeded to strikeout Travis Snider, but then allowed a game-tying double to Edwin Encarnacion. That drove Papelbon from the game, paving the way for an entrance by Daniel Bard.
Fred Lewis greeted Bard with a fly ball to center field, just deep enough to score Hill from third with the game-winning run without a play at the plate, dropping the Sox four games behind the Rays in the wild card race.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Jonathan Papelbon had some struggles, giving up two hits on his first two pitches. The first was a double by Vernon Wells, who was immediately brought in via Adam Lind‘s single up the middle to close the gap to a single run. Aaron Hill then singled off Papelbon’s foot to put runners on first and third with nobody out. After striking out Snider on a 98 mph fastball, Encarnacion would drive the closer from the game in favor of Bard. It was the fifth time Papelbon had given up three runs in an outing during his career as a reliever, and third time this season. With six blown saves this year, he has matched a career high.
– The man of the hour Wednesday night, Bill Hall, had a rough game, joining Adrian Beltre as the only two members of the Red Sox’ starting lineup not to claim a hit. Hall, who was coming off a game in which he hit two homers, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– After two subpar outings, Lackey turned in a very effective outing. The righty kept the ball on the ground — especially in some key situations (as was evidenced by two inning-ending double plays) — and he managed to limit the Jays to just one hit with runners in scoring position. Lackey fell just short of his first complete game as a member of the Red Sox after totaling one last season, having had 14 for his career, having to leave after Bautista led off the ninth with a homer to left.
– Jed Lowrie continues to impress, this time doing so while subbing in at shortstop for Marco Scutaro. Two games after hitting a rocket off the center field wall while batting left-handed, Lowrie turned around and walloped his first home run of the season, and fifth for his career, slightly to the right of straightaway center. He is now hitting .313 since returning from the disabled list.
– Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made quite an impression in his first start as a member of the Red Sox. He first gunned down Toronto’s Aaron Hill trying to steal second, and then came through with the bat, finishing with a pair of doubles. The last time the 25-year-old caught in the majors on a regular basis (with Texas in 2009) he threw out 19 of 61 baserunners attempting to steal (24 percent).
– Besides Saltalamacchia, three other members of the Red Sox lineup notched a pair of hits, with David Ortiz, Victor Martinez and Darnell McDonald all accomplishing the feat. One of Ortiz’ hits happened to be his 25th homer of the season, allowing him to join Ted Williams and Jim Rice as the only Red Sox players to have more than six seasons of 25 or more homers. Williams finished with 14, while Rice had seven.
|08.12.10 at 11:47 am ET|
Join Lou Merloni at 12:30 p.m. to talk all things Red Sox during the Sox-Blue Jays game!
Lou is fresh off of being immortalized by the Lowell Spinners with his own bobblehead. They don’t just give those to anyone! Join Lou for the first pitch of the game to break down the state of this year’s team, which has now crept within 3 1/2 games of the Rays in the wild card.
|08.12.10 at 11:24 am ET|
With a three-game winning streak in their back pockets and their first sweep in weeks on their minds, John Lackey and the Red Sox look to take the final game of their series with the Blue Jays Thursday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. Five games out in the AL East and 3½ back in the wild card, the Red Sox could use the sweep, knowing that the Yankees start a four-game series against the last-place team in the AL Central, the Royals, and the Rays go from playing the mediocre Tigers to playing the cellar-dwelling Orioles.
The Sox will hand the ball to Lackey, who has not been as sharp lately as he was in the middle of the season. Lackey (10-7, 4.60 ERA) has won only one game since the beginning of July while losing four decisions. In his last game, Lackey faced the Yankees and gave up five runs on eight hits through six innings. He picked up the loss in that game because the Sox were only able to pick up two runs off of CC Sabathia, who went eight innings before handing it over to Mariano Rivera.
Lackey has faced the Blue Jays twice already this season. In the first game on May 10, he just barely got by as he gave up six runs in six innings, but the Sox got just one more run and gave Lackey the 7-6 win. The second game didn’t go as hot as the game came during Lackey’s miserable month on July 10. Lackey only went 4 2/3, allowing seven runs on eight hits with six walks. The Sox lost that game at Rogers Centre, 9-5.
For the Blue Jays, Brad Mills will make the start, one day ahead of his scheduled start as Brett Cecil was scratched from the matinee game with a mild knee strain. Mills (1-0, 4.09 ERA) has his work cut out for him; he was thrown into the rotation just before his July 28 start against the Orioles (7 IP, 0 R, 2 H), and he already knows going into the game against the Red Sox that he’s going to get optioned down to Triple-A Las Vegas following the game.
Keep an eye on the top and the middle of the Blue Jays lineup. Leading off, Jays center fielder Fred Lewis is 5-for-8 against Lackey with two doubles and three RBI, Meanwhile, in the heart of the lineup lies Jays DH Adam Lind, who is 6-for-12 with two doubles and two RBI.
Serving the purpose of stopgap, Mills has been up and down in the Blue Jays’ organization, with his major league debut coming in 2009. Because of this, he has yet to face the Red Sox in his career.
Following Thursday’s game, the Sox will travel south to play the AL West-leading Rangers for a weekend series before heading home to take on the Angels ‘ most likely with the addition of a pint-sized former AL MVP.
Red Sox vs. Brad Mills
None of the current Red Sox batters have faced the Toronto starter.
Blue Jays vs. John Lackey
Vernon Wells (28 current plate appearances against Lackey): .192 BA/.250 OBP/.308 SLG, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Lyle Overbay (21): .222/.333/.333, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Aaron Hill (20): .111/.200/.167, 1 double, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
John McDonald (20): .167/.167/.333, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts
Adam Lind (12): .500/.500/.667, 2 doubles, 2 RBI
Fred Lewis (10): .625/.700/.875, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
JosÃ© Bautista (9): .167/.444/.667, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
John Buck (8): .429/.429/1.000, 1 home run, 1 double, 3 RBI, 3 strikeouts
Edwin EncarnaciÃ³n (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Travis Snider (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI
|08.12.10 at 10:57 am ET|
Alex Speier delivers the stat of the week, looks at what type of miracles could lead to the Sox making the playoffs, and highlights Jeremy Hazelbaker.
|08.11.10 at 10:08 pm ET|
TORONTO — Things are looking up for the Red Sox.
With their 10-1 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, the Sox are now suddenly 3 1/2 games in back of Tampa Bay in the race for the American League Wild Card. But not only are the Sox gaining ground, they appear to be putting their pieces together, having now won three straight. (Click here for a recap.)
This win was a collective effort between starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and pretty much the entire Sox offense, although it should be noted that Bill Hall supplied much of the momentum for the attack, coming away with his first two-homer game in more than two years. It gave Hall 15 home runs for the season, which, in case you were counting and comparing, is as many as Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria.
Here is a lot that went right for the Red Sox, and the little that went wrong:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– It has to begin with Hall, who first gave the Sox the lead for good with a solo homer in the second inning, and then went deep again with a two-run blast in his next at-bat in the fourth inning. Adding to Hall’s memorable night was an RBI single in the fifth. The second baseman now has seven homers in his last 14 games with an at-bat. Hall also did his part in the field, turning a nice 4-3 double play in the fourth inning, tagging Yunel Escobar and then proceeding to throw out Vernon Wells at first.
– Lost somewhat in the offensive barrage by the Sox was the performance of Buchholz. After allowing a sacrifice fly to Jose Bautista in the first inning, the Red Sox starter settled down, facing just 17 batters over the next five innings. Buchholz has now allowed three runs or fewer while going at least seven innings in each of his last four starts. He finished the night having allowed just one unearned run in eight innings, in the process taking over the league lead for ERA with a 2.49 mark.
– Virtually the entire lineup got in the act, totaling their most runs since scoring 14 on July 9 at Rogers Centre. Besides Hall, J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre also chipped in with homers, while Mike Lowell equaled Hall’s three-hit night. Most of the damage was done in the fifth inning, when the Red Sox scored five — four before an out was recorded — while driving Toronto starter Shaun Marcum from the game (4 IP, 8 R).
– A definitive plan for the return of Dustin Pedroia was presented by Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who said that Pedroia would be playing second base for Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday and then serve as the PawSox’ DH Sunday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Marco Scutaro continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 to make him 3-for-38 in his last nine games. The only other Red Sox starter not to contribute to the team’s 14-hit attack was Jacoby Ellsbury (0-for-4). Scutaro did make a stellar play, diving and robbing Bautista of a hit to end the eighth inning.
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