|07.17.11 at 8:15 pm ET|
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said in a video Saturday that the Red Sox may be looking for pitching rotation help from the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda. However, after speaking with two East Coast team executives, MLB.com’s Peter Gammons wrote Sunday that Kuroda would not waive his full no-trade clause to play for an East Coast team.
A 36-year-old right-handed pitcher from Japan, Kuroda is 6-11 with a 3.13 ERA this year with the Dodgers. He has held opponent batters to a .249 average and .298 OBP.
Kuroda has played in only three games ever against the American League, going 1-2 with a .306 ERA. He has never faced an AL East team or played at an AL East park.
|07.17.11 at 8:14 pm ET|
The Rockies have asked the Yankees for four minor league players ‘ including top pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances ‘ in exchange for 27-year-old right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday. Jimenez is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA this year, but is a past All-Star, World Series starter and Cy Young candidate.
The other two players asked for are Triple-A catcher Jesus Montero and right-hander Ivan Nova, who is 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA for the Yankees. Heyman tweeted that the Yankees would trade Montero, who’s hit .288 with just seven home runs in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but that’s as far as they are willing to go.
Banuelos is considered one of the elite pitching prospects in the game. He’s 3-3 this season with Double-A Trenton, with a 3.64 ERA and almost a 2-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio. Betances has had an even more productive year for Trenton, going 4-3 with a 2.62 ERA. He strikes out more than twice as many batters as he walks, and averages 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
|07.17.11 at 8:09 pm ET|
|07.17.11 at 6:16 pm ET|
The Red Sox are among the teams interested in the Padres’ 33-year-old outfielder Ryan Ludwick, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Ludwick is batting .240 with 55 RBIs this season. A right-handed hitter, Ludwick is batting .272 against lefties this year.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover spoke with an AL and an NL scout about the likelihood of trading for several players, including Ludwick. The AL scout said San Diego would ask for a near-ready prospect and possibly two more players. The NL scout said that while Ludwick could be helpful, he’s not a ‘frontline guy,’ and that teams should not give up too much for him.
|07.17.11 at 6:13 pm ET|
If the Red Sox want to rejuvenate their starting rotation, one place they might look is Houston. SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday that incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is looking to drop their payroll to $60 million. As such, they are looking to trade starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers.
Rodriguez is 6-6 with a 3.52 ERA this season. He is 2-5 with an ERA over 6.00 in eight career starts against Boston’s AL East opponents, however, and has never pitched at Fenway Park.
Myers is 3-10 with a 4.86 ERA. In nine games against the other AL East teams (seven starts), he is 4-2 with a 4.63 ERA.
Heyman added that the Astros will not trade right-handed outfielder Hunter Pence.
|07.17.11 at 6:09 pm ET|
The Rockies are in talks with the Yankees to trade Ty Wigginton to New York, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday. Heyman added that Wigginton, a third baseman with 13 home runs, might provide some power while Alex Rodgriguez recovers from surgery.
Wigginton’s versatility may add to his appeal to the Yankees. Wigginton has played all four infield positions (granted, only two games at shortstop), both left and right field, and DH. He is also a .295 pinch hitter.
|07.17.11 at 12:06 pm ET|
“Jim Hendry has no interest in trading Dempster or Garza during season,” Gammons wrote on Sunday.
With the back injury to Clay Buchholz and the struggles of John Lackey and Andrew Miller, Garza has been the subject of trade rumors to Boston. The right-hander is 4-7 with a 3.97 ERA this season. Dempster is 7-6 with an ERA of 4.68.
|07.17.11 at 11:01 am ET|
Lowe — now 38 years old — is owed roughly $6 million for the rest of this season and is under contract for $15 million next season. Lowe has a 5-7 record in 2011 with an ERA of 4.30. He hasn’t pitched in the American League since he left the Red Sox after the 2004 season.
|07.17.11 at 10:28 am ET|
‘Pedey has the rare ability to get hotter than anybody I have ever seen,’ Francona said. ‘Fortunately, it looks like he wants to do that. He can go on these runs where it doesn’t matter what you throw him and it looks like he’s starting to get to some balls that he didn’t earlier. Even when he’s not hitting he impacts the game, but when he starts getting hot, that’s really good.’
It was succinct, to the point and dead-on accurate.
Moments later some of the members of the Rays were jokingly yelling over to Pedroia ‘ who was taking up his familiar pre-game spot in the dugout ‘ saying how they were going to drop curveball after curveball on him. (Without getting into specifics, the second baseman’s response was along the lines of ‘Bring it on!’)
What transpired in the subsequent game was another round of hitting heat, with Pedroia raising his batting average above .290 (.291) for the first time this season thanks to a solo home run and single in five at-bats.
It marked the first time in Pedroia’s career that he has hit home runs in three straight games.
To Francona’s point, the Sox’ No. 2 hitter is once again hot, having raised his batting average 56 points in 72 days.
So, is this the hottest he has ever been?
‘It’s right up there with the one he had in ‘08 when he was hitting like .250 and got up it up to like .360 in like a month,’ said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. ‘It seems like every year he has a run like this in the middle of the season where he’s at .260 to .270 and he has a nice little run where he gets over .300.’
This is one of the good ones, but Magadan is right, ‘08 remains the standard-bearer. That year it took Pedroia just 35 days to take his low-point (.260) up 56 points.
The difference this time around, of course, is the power.
With his fifth career opposite field home run (having not had any prior to the ‘09 season), Pedroia is now just four homers shy of his career-high. Whether it is the current three-game HR streak, or putting a ball in the Fenway Park center field bleachers for the first time as he did June 19, this has been a new wrinkle to the same old story.
‘Just the power that he’s showing, the way he’s driving the ball, it’s kind of special,’ Magadan said. ‘It kind of reminds me of last year.’
What happened last year was a three-home run game in Colorado the day before Pedroia broke his foot on a foul ball in San Francisco.
The reality was that Pedroia was on a fairly solid power pace in ‘10, having hit 12 homers in 73 games. He now has 13 in 89 contests this season.
But whether it’s the power, the walks (already only 11 shy of his career high of 73) or simply the base hits, the image of Pedroia these days is markedly different than what was displayed earlier this season.
‘His spring training was a little strange. He had some mechanical things going on he hadn’t really experienced before,’ Magadan said. ‘I think spring training and the first two months of the season he was just willing himself to get hits. He was just finding ways to get hits. He never really felt great at the plate. It wasn’t really until recently ‘¦
‘It was a combination of clearing his mind with his knee, his foot feeling better and making a mechanical adjustment that allowed him to go through the baseball. He felt better mechanically, his pitch selection got better, he stopped trying to cover balls that were a foot off the plate. He started taking those and stayed on his pitches until he got two strikes. It’s been good.’
|07.17.11 at 7:00 am ET|
Josh Beckett will return to the mound for the Red Sox Sunday night in Tampa Bay, making his first start since July 8, when he left the game with a hyperextended knee. He’ll face off against Jeff Niemann, a pitcher who’s handled the Red Sox well in the past, although he’s yet to make a start against Boston this year.
Beckett (8-3, 2.27 ERA) continues to be the rock of the Red Sox rotation, although his ERA has ballooned a bit from its formerly American League leading form. The right-hander has picked up wins in four of his last five starts, although his last outing against the Orioles was a bit shaky. Beckett got the win thanks to eight first-inning runs from the Red Sox, but gave up three runs on seven hits before being removed with the knee injury.
Beckett was at his best the last time he visited Tropicana Field, tossing a one-hit shutout while striking out six and walking none back on June 15. If not for a third-inning infield single by nine-hitter Reid Brignac, Beckett could have been perfect.
The Rays have faced Beckett a total of 185 times, with Johnny Damon, Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton holding the lion’s share of plate appearances. Each of those three players has two home runs off Beckett. Damon leads the way with 56 plate appearances, hitting .269 with a team-high nine RBI and 12 strikeouts. Longoria has had the most success, batting .324 with five doubles and eight RBI. Ben Zobrist has had the most trouble with Beckett, managing just one hit in 15 plate appearances. As a team, the Rays are hitting .247 vs. the Boston starter.
Niemann (4-4, 4.53 ERA) will make his 11th start of the season and look to build on an impressive month of July. In his last two starts, he’s gone 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, although he’s often had to work out of trouble, surrendering 15 hits and four walks in those two outings. The right-hander’s recent success finally shrunk his ERA below 5.00, where it had been hovering all season.
Niemann had a disastrous start to the year, posting a 1-4 record and a 5.74 ERA in his first six starts before being sent to the DL with a back injury in early May. He’s been solid since then, save for a rocky outing against the Astros (3 innings, 5 runs) on June 26. The Rays starter has struggled at Tropicana Field in five starts this season with a 1-3 record and a 5.53 ERA.
The 28-year-old has spent the entirety of his three-year career with Tampa Bay, and has faced Red Sox hitters a combined 42 times. Boston’s lineup has struggled overall, hitting just .190 with one home run and seven RBI. David Ortiz has the lone long ball to go along with two hits and two RBI in six career plate appearances. Marco Scutaro has a team-high 16 plate appearances vs. Niemann, but he’s only mustered three hits and has struck out three times. J.D. Drew also has three strikeouts in eight plate appearances, although he also has two doubles and two RBI.
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