|06.15.11 at 3:32 am ET|
Andrew Miller turned in a dominant outing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, one day before the Red Sox must call him up to the majors or give him the right to opt out of his contract. He pitched 5 1/3 innings for the PawSox, allowing a run while striking out 10, walking one and lowering his ERA in Triple-A this year to 2.47.
Miller made clear that his goal remains to pitch in the major leagues. Regardless of whether he is summoned as a starter (the role in which he’s spent the full season, and in which he’s identified a routine that has yielded particularly strong results in his last four starts, in which he’s struck out 26 and walked three) or reliever, the veteran of parts of five big league seasons looks forward to competing again at the game’s highest level.
‘I’m property of the Boston Red Sox. If they call me up, they can do whatever they want with me. I’ll happily do it, and I’ll give it everything I’ve got. I’ll start, I’ll relieve, I’ll play second base. It doesn’t matter,’ he told reporters. ‘If there’s a spot in the big leagues, I want it. That’s what we all, that’s where everyone in this locker room wants to be. That’s what we’re working for I guess.’
If the Sox do not call up Miller on Wednesday, then he would find no shortage of suitors for his services if he opted out of his contract, which calls for him to make $1.2 million (prorated for the portion of the season that he spends in the majors) if promoted to the big leagues. He has shown a mid-90s fastball and nasty slider in the minors this year, and of late, he’s been throwing strikes with both.
Yet while the major leagues are, of course, Miller’s goal, the pitcher also underscored that he is not in a rush to move to another organization, emphasizing that he is more focused on his long-term career than on returning to the majors at any cost. After all, the left-hander turned down big league deals from other clubs during the offseason in favor of a minor league contract with the Sox that would allow him to develop without artificial constraints (in the case of a big league deal, the fact that Miller was out of options raised the possibility that an organization other than the one that signed him could claim him if he was exposed to waivers while being sent to the minors).
While he is eager for the opportunity to return to the majors, Miller — whose career prior to 2011 had steadily moved in the wrong direction, with a 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA in 79 big league games with the Marlins and Tigers — also values the progress that he has made in the Sox organization, and suggested that he’d like to remain with the franchise.
‘The Red Sox in general in every aspect have given me every opportunity. They’ve been first class. I don’t have any complaints at all. Certainly, it’s a good place, good fit for me,’ Miller told reporters. ‘Things are certainly going the right direction here. It would certainly be a shame not to keep it going. ‘¦
‘Considering the year I had last year, the ups and downs I’ve had the last probably year and a half, for me, it’s been nice to go out and show that it’s still there and I’m showing here that I think I can be a good major league pitcher,’ he added. ‘At this point, when I came in and signed with Boston, I knew that it was kind of a long-term project. I wasn’t going to short-sight anything. I think I’ve come back and I’ve started to establish that I’m on the way back. I’m looking to go to the major leagues and stay up for a long time. It doesn’t matter when it starts. It’s more the long term.’
Miller is scheduled to talk with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein on Wednesday about his future with the organization. While it is certainly possible that the Sox could decide to promote him to the majors — either to insert in the rotation as a starter or as a member of the bullpen — his statements also suggest that the discussion of the pitcher’s best long-term interests will leave the pitcher open-minded about the opt-out if the Sox do not elect to call him up immediately.
|06.14.11 at 10:56 pm ET|
Multiple Red Sox sources said on Tuesday night that no decision has been made regarding the next step for left-hander Andrew Miller, with one suggesting instead that “everything is open” until the team and pitcher sit down to discuss his future with the organization on Wednesday.
Miller, who struck out 10 and walked one in 5 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, has an opt-out in his minor league contract if he is not called up by Wednesday. However, sources indicate that the Sox are unlikely to let the situation come to that, and that they plan on talking with the pitcher about how to continue what both sides have referred to as a “partnership” beyond the opt-out date — whether in the majors or minors.
A left-hander with a history of control troubles, Miller has been dominant while attacking the strike zone of late, striking out 26 and walking three hitters in his last 25 1/3 innings, spanning four starts. On the year, he now has a 2.47 ERA in 13 games for the PawSox.
While a report in the Boston Globe suggested that Miller will be called up and added to the rotation in the upcoming series against the Padres, the team sources said that the Sox had not yet made a decision about whether Miller will be called up, or if he is promoted to the majors, how his role might be defined. Sox GM Theo Epstein is slated to meet with Miller to discuss the pitcher’s path going forward on Wednesday.
“I know Theo plans to sit with him [Wednesday] and kind of talk about his status,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona explained before Tuesday’s game against the Rays. “He’s throwing the ball great. He’s somebody we’ve obviously watched since spring training with anticipation because of what he potentially can do but I do know Theo is going to sit and visit with him.
“There’s a lot to like about him,” added Francona. “He’s a good kid. He’s grounded. He went through a lot of stuff in the winter talking to him because I wanted him here so bad. I kind of spent some time talking to him. He’s just a likeable kid. I think he wants to succeed here. I think he likes it here.”
For more on the unusual decision that the Sox and Miller face with the pitcher, click here.
|06.14.11 at 9:36 pm ET|
The Red Sox lineup had battered all opponents over the first 10 games of the month, pounding out 87 runs in bludgeoning one opponent after another. However, the team’s lumber continued to slumber in Tampa Bay, one day after the team enjoyed an off day.
The Sox managed just five hits against Rays starter James Shields, who was dazzlingly efficient through the first seven innings before his command faltered in the eighth.
The 4-0 loss marked the sixth time the Sox had been shut out this season, and the first since May 29. The unexpected silence of the lineup led to a hard-luck loss by Boston starter Tim Wakefield on a night when the Rays could muster little against him.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–The Sox appeared poised to strike early against Shields, putting runners on the corner with one out in the first inning for Kevin Youkilis. But Youkilis, who has been surprisingly wretched with runners on third and fewer than two outs this year, continued to struggle in those run-scoring situations. Youkilis swung and missed at a 2-2 changeup. For the year, he is now 1-for-15 (.067) with 10 strikeouts in 20 plate appearances in situations where contact would likely result in an out.
That was simply the beginning of a dreadful night for Youkilis, who grounded into double plays in each of his next two plate appearances. It was just the second game in his career in which he’d grounded into two twin killings, with the other having come almost five years ago, on July 7, 2006, against the White Sox.
–Shields was terrific against a number of hitters against whom he had struggled in his career. Though Dustin Pedroia carried a .433 average against Shields into the game, he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a surprising (and unsuccessful) bunt attempt in the first inning, in which Pedroia — who was bunting for a hit — popped the ball back to Shields. David Ortiz, who entered the proceedings with a .364 average and three homers against Shields, was likewise 0-for-3 with a walk.
–In an indication of how good Wakefield’s knuckleball was inside the Tropicana Dome, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia committed a pair of passed balls, both in the sixth inning, in permitting the Rays to score an insurance run without benefit of a hit. Wakefield issued a one-out walk to Evan Longoria, who advanced to second on the first passed ball. After a walk and a groundout, Saltalamacchia’s second passed ball permitted Longoria to cross the plate to give Shields some breathing room in what had been a 1-0 game.
—Tommy Hottovy, against whom hitters were 0-for-6 entering Monday, permitted his first major league hits (both on soft liners) and also hit a batter in allowing his first two big league runs in the eighth inning.
–In his first game in Tampa Bay as a member of the visiting team, Carl Crawford went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. In his first at-bat — in which he was heavily booed as he stepped to the plate, before a wave of cheers overtook the initial hostilities — he grounded out with the bases loaded to end the Sox’ only real threat of the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–Wakefield turned in an outstanding outing. Though his knuckleball moved so much that it became an issue, at times, to command the ball (resulting in five walks), he logged seven innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) while permitting four hits. He matched a season-high in innings pitched. Meanwhile, Wakefield also logged 119 pitches, the most he’s thrown in a game since 2003.
—Adrian Gonzalez saw his streak of nine straight games with an RBI come to an end, but he collected three hits in four at-bats. It was his 11th three-hit game of the year, tied for the most in the majors.
|06.14.11 at 3:11 pm ET|
The Red Sox will be seeking their tenth straight win when they take on the Rays at Tropicana Field Tuesday night. The Sox have swept the Athletics, Yankees and Blue Jays en route to nine straight wins. They outscored the Blue Jays 35-6 in their series over the weekend.
It will also mark Carl Crawford‘s first visit back to Tampa following signing with the Red Sox this past off-season. Veteran Tim Wakefield (3-1, 4.84) will take to the mound for the Sox, while the Rays will counter with James Shields (5-4, 2.85).
Wakefield, who is only four wins shy of 200 for his career will look to extend the Sox winning streak and get him even closer to the milestone. He has appeared in 45 games lifetime against the Rays, including 34 starts. He has had a great deal of success as well, compiling a 21-6 record.
He has won three out of his last four starts, including a 11-6 win over the Yankees last week in his last start. In that game Wakefield didn’t have his best stuff, but the Sox bats bailed him out. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and three walks, but it was good enough to earn the win.
His counterpart Shields, has struggled when facing the Sox. Over the course of his six year career Shields has faced the Red Sox 16 times, going 5-9 over those 16 starts. Shields is coming off of a no decision in his last outing. He went 7 innings, allowing three runs in the Rays win over the Angels.
|06.14.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
It is time for The Decision.
The partnership between Andrew Miller and the Red Sox has been everything that both sides could have hoped for to date. When Miller decided to pass on major league deals this winter in favor of a minor league contract with the Sox, the two sides considered the arrangement one that was meant to be in the long-term best interests of both the player and club.
Miller would be able to work on developing mound consistency without the limitations of roster considerations, such as the prospect that he would need to be exposed to waivers and potentially change organizations. At 26, he was willing to work in the minors with one organization and one pitching coach to find the mechanics that would best allow him to harness his considerable gifts ‘ a 6-foot-7 frame, a mid- to high-90s fastball, a slider that can make left-handed hitters weep ‘ into results.
With Triple-A Pawtucket, Miller has done just that. He has not been the disappointing pitcher who was taken with the sixth pick of the 2006 draft and rushed to the majors en route to a 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA in 79 big league games. Instead, he has been dominating on the mound. He has a 2.54 ERA and 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Opponents are hitting just .175 against him, and he’s permitted just one homer in just over 60 innings all season.
He has been particularly sharp in his last three starts, after he and PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur tweaked his routine to have him simulate an inning before the start of games. Miller, who had walked 32 batters in his first 40 1/3 innings this year, particularly his last three starts in which he’s walked just two batters and struck out 16 in 20 innings. For a pitcher whose chief limitation has been his lack of command, it’s been an eye-opening stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.14.11 at 2:19 pm ET|
Before we get into the 30 clubs, 30 nuggets, here are a couple of additional notes:
* – The Indians beat the Yankees, 1-0, last night at Yankee Stadium, snapping a streak of 193 straight losses by the Tribe when they score fewer than two runs on the road, dating back to 1992. They were within two of the all-time record of 195, set by the Tigers from 1988-2003.
* – By June 1, every team in the majors had a shutout this season. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1992.
Now, on to the nuggets:
Boston Red Sox –
After leading the majors with a team OPS of .820 in May, the Red Sox offense is again leading the majors in June:
.941 – Red Sox
.847 – Tigers
.827 – White Sox
If the Red Sox’ OPS holds up for the remainder of the month, it would mark the second highest in MLB history (since 1946), trailing only the June by the 2003 Red Sox (.945).
New York Yankees –
The Yankees allowed triples to coco Crisp and Andy LaRoche of the A’s on May 31, snapping a club record streak of 276 consecutive games without allowing multiple triples.
Wade Davis has induced misses on just 13.5 percent of swings against him this season, on pace to be the lowest ever by the Rays pitcher (min. 1,500 pitches in full season):
13.5% – Wade Davis, 2011
14.0% – Paul Wilson, 2002
14.0% – Albie Lopez, 2001
The Orioles have allowed 19 home runs to opposing cleanup hitters, the most in the majors and more than twice as many as they’ve surrendered to any other spot in the opposing lineup. They’ve been outhomered 19-6 at the #4 spot in the lineup this season.
Blue Jays pitchers have walked the first batter of an inning 71 times this season, far and away the most in the majors:
71 – Blue Jays
58 – Rangers
55 – Red Sox
That’s 11.8 percent of leadoff batters faced that have walked against Toronto, on pace for the highest percentage since they began tracking the stat in 1974:
11.8% – Blue Jays, 2011
11.6% – Rangers, 1986
11.5% – Reds, 1988
—————————————————————————————————————————– Read the rest of this entry »
|06.13.11 at 5:59 pm ET|
The Red Sox‘ decision to trade minor league catcher Mike McKenry was driven less by anything that the 26-year-old had done since being acquired from the Rockies at the end of spring training than by the performance of one of the top hitters in the Sox’ minor league system.
McKenry, acquired in exchange for right-hander Daniel Turpen at the end of spring training, had put together a respectable line in Triple-A Pawtucket. He was hitting .274 with a .369 OBP, .421 slugging mark, .790 OPS and three homers in 29 games. But the Sox were willing to send him to Pittsburgh (in exchange for a player to be named or cash) because Ryan Lavarnway gave them little choice but to promote him.
Lavarnway started slowly in Double-A this year, hitting .216 with a .272 OBP, .365 slugging mark and .636 OPS in 18 games in April. Yet those numbers were misleading.
“He wasn’t hitting at all in April, but we were getting reports saying, ‘Don’t worry about it ‘ this guy is smoking the ball,'” said Sox VP of Player Personnel Mike Hazen. “Things started to fall ‘ more often, over the wall ‘ in May and June.”
Indeed, the 6-foot-4 23-year-old has dominated Double-A pitching after the season’s first month. In 37 games since the start of May, he was hitting .343 with a .408 OBP, .590 slugging mark, .998 OPS, 11 homers and 19 walks. He was hitting for average, hitting for power and controlling the strike zone, something he’s done almost from the moment that he was promoted to Portland almost a year ago.
In 99 games with the Sea Dogs since last summer, Lavarnway had a .284 average, .375 OBP, .503 slugging mark, .878 OPS and 22 homers — marks that are strikingly in line with his performance in parts of four pro seasons, during which he’s hit .281/.373/.503/.876.
“I’d say he has a pretty good handle on the competition there. It’s time to challenge him,” said Hazen. “This is a pretty good bat here, and he needs to face better pitching.” Read the rest of this entry »
|06.13.11 at 12:13 pm ET|
The Red Sox are close to signing their first members of the draft class of 2011.
The team expects to finalize agreements today with three players whom it selected in the 2011 draft, two seniors and a fourth-year junior: 11th-rounder Kevin Brahney, 14th-rounder Mike McCarthy and 24th-rounder Drew Turocy.
UPDATE: The Sox also have agreements in place with sixth-rounder Miguel Pena, ninth-rounder Travis Shaw, 13th-rounder Matty Ott out of LSU and 15th-rounder Braden Kapteyn. All will need to undergo standard physicals and drug tests in order to finalize their agreements; assuming they do so, all seven players are expected to open the year with the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League.
A brief look at each:
6th round (No. 202): Miguel Pena, LHP, San Jacinto Junior College
This marks the third straight year in which Pena has been drafted. He was selected by the Nationals out of high school in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, and by the Padres in the 13th round out of San Jacinto (where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte both pitched) of last year’s selection process. In his second year at San Jac, Pena went 10-3 with a 1.91 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 24 walks in 85 innings.
At 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, he’s slight, but scouting reports suggest that he has a clean delivery that allows him to throw strikes with his fastball (described by Baseball America as an 88-91 mph pitch; though this report suggests that he tops out at 94 mph), curve, slider and changeup. He did reportedly get sent home from the Cape League last summer due to disciplinary reasons.
However, Pena decided that he wanted to move forward in his career, and made clear to the Sox that he was willing to sign quickly for $85,000 — accepting less than he’d been offered the previous two times that he was drafted — in order to begin his professional career. He was particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of doing so in the Sox system, in part based on the glowing recommendations of Sox minor leaguer Garin Cecchini, with whom Pena played during his high school career. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.13.11 at 11:48 am ET|
The Red Sox have invested aggressively in recent years to draft and sign two-sport star athletes away from football scholarships at prominent national programs, having done so with players such as Will Middlebrooks (2007 5th round, $925,000), Casey Kelly (2008 1st round, $3 million), Brandon Jacobs (2009 10th round, $750,000) and Kendrick Perkins (2010 6th round, $600,000). But one of the team’s most intriguing draftees of the 2011 draft is showing an initial inclination to go to school.
The Sox selected Senquez Golson out of Pascaguola High School in Mississippi with their eighth-round pick this year. Golson hit .325 with three homers and 25 RBI as a prep senior. He was also a highly regarded cornerback in high school, resulting in a two-sport scholarship offer to Ole Miss.
He has tremendous speed (he was timed running from home to first in 4.0 seconds) and bat speed that creates significant upside, even if his skills are at an early stage of their development since he hasn’t been playing baseball year-round due to his football commitments. The Sox scouted him heavily this spring, and drafted him with the idea that his tools create a significant ceiling.
“This is the athlete that baseball needs. This is the athlete, the football player, that has played baseball, that has skills. He has unbelievable bat speed. He’s an 80 [on the scale of 20-80 used by scouts] runner,” said one talent evaluator. “He plays center field like a strong safety. He doesn’t have the advancement yet in the outfield or a lot of parts of his game, but that ball goes up and he’s running straight to the ball. He doesn’t get a good jump on it. He doesn’t get good routes. But he has makeup speed. It’s almost like he runs to the ball to tackle it. He’ll get better at it, but he’s just such an exciting athlete out there. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.12.11 at 4:01 pm ET|
It is getting ridiculous.
There was a time this year when the Red Sox offense was failing to fire on all cylinders. In fact, through the first five weeks of the season, the Sox ranked in the bottom half of the American League in runs scored, and were left to rely on the pitching staff to carry them to victories.
No longer. Sox starter Jon Lester was overpowering on Sunday, but really, he could have been terrible and it wouldn’t have mattered in his team’s 14-1 victory. The Red Sox continued an offensive surge that has established them as the best lineup in the majors. In 10 games in the month of June, the Sox are now averaging an unbelievable 8.7 runs per game.
The team has scored at least eight runs in 15 contests this year, most in the majors. Put another way: Through 65 games, the Sox have scored at least eight runs in almost a quarter of their contests. Their record in such games is 15-0.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—David Ortiz continued to to deliver damage from the middle of the lineup, eviscerating a Kyle Drabek fastball for a three-run homer to right-center and run-scoring double to left-center against left-handed reliever Luis Perez. He is now slugging .624 for the season; in his career, he’s only had one season in which he’s had a higher slugging percentage, having punched in at a .636 mark in a 2006 campaign that saw the slugger hit 54 homers. He’s hit 11 of his 17 homers this season on the road.
—Jon Lester turned in an outing that was both dominant and efficient, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out eight batters. He needed just 102 pitches to navigate through eight innings of work. He is now 9-2 on the year, and his ERA dropped a quarter of a point to 3.73.
The left-hander was perfect through the first 3 2/3 innings before giving up a solo homer to Jays slugger Jose Bautista, and the left-hander walked just one hitter, marking the second straight start and third in four outings in which he’s allowed just one free pass. The two hits he allowed also represented a season-low.
Lester had terrific command of a 93-95 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate against right-handers (save for one mislocated heater that Bautista hit out to straightaway center field), and he also featured a devastating cutter that resulted in five swings and misses.
—Adrian Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a homer while driving in a pair of runs. He extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one run batted in to nine, all Sox wins. It is the second longest streak of games with an RBI that the Sox won, behind only a 10-game stretch by Dwight Evans in Sept. 1989.
Gonzalez has now driven in 60 runs in the Sox’ first 65 games, a pace that would yield 150 RBIs in the year. That has only been done three times in Red Sox history, and not since 1949, when both Ted Williams and Vern Stephens plated that many runners.
—Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, double, 4 RBI and two walks. He matched a career-high by reaching base five times in a game.
—Dustin Pedroia clubbed an early two-run homer and reached base twice on walks. He now has reached base at least three times in a career-best four straight games, reaching base 14 times in 22 plate appearances during that stretch (.636 OBP). In nine games this month, he has a .522 OBP; he has raised his 2011 OBP by 37 points (from .341 to .378) during the run.
—Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 3-for-4 to improve his average to .400 in the month of June.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
—J.D. Drew went 0-for-5 while matching a career-high with four strikeouts. He was the only member of the Sox lineup not to have a hit. His average for the season has fallen to .227, while his OPS is at a lowly .667.
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