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Sunday in Seattle gave us a ‘case of the Mondays’

07.26.10 at 11:01 am ET
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Three items from a disastrous Sunday in Seattle:

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* – The Red Sox have gone 18-125 (.144) against relief pitchers in 11 games since the end of the all-star break. That’s the lowest average in the majors in that span:

.144 – Boston Red Sox (18-125)
.176 – New York Mets (19-108)
.183 – Colorado Rockies (17-93)
.183 – Los Angeles Dodgers (11-120)

The lowest average against relievers in the AL (other than Boston) since the break has been Tampa Bay’s .205 mark.

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* – Evidence of Tito’s lack of confidence in the relief corps other than Bard and Papelbon:  Red Sox starters have thrown 110 or more pitches in 32 games this season. That’s the 2nd most in the AL this season and just one short of the number of times that they were pushed that far during all of 2009:

34 – Los Angeles Angels
32 – Boston Red Sox
28 – Texas Rangers
24 – New York Yankees

In 2008, Red Sox starters had only 21 such outings and in 2007 they had 35.

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* – Sunday’s meltdown by Okajima was the 11th time this season that a Red Sox reliever has pitched less than an inning and allowed 4 or more baserunners, the most in the AL:

11 – Boston Red Sox
10 – Texas Rangers
9 – Baltimore Orioles
8 – Toronto Blue Jays

The Yankees have the fewest such meltdowns this season, with 3.

UPDATED: Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 7/26

07.26.10 at 9:52 am ET
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After splitting a four-game series with the Mariners, the Red Sox will round out their West Coast road trip with a three-game set against the struggling Angels. A day after pulling off a major trade, Los Angeles will try to climb back up the AL West and wild card standings. On Monday night, Clay Buchholz makes his second start since returning from the disabled list new Angels righty Dan Haren.

Before being put on the shelf for nearly a month with a hamstring injury, Buchholz (10-5, 2.81 ERA) had one of the best first halves of any starting pitcher in the AL. At one point, he won nine of 11 decisions, including a streak of five straight victories. On July 21, Buchholz returned to make a start against the Athletics in Oakland, tossing four mediocre innings and allowing five runs. The rust was evident and he’€™ll hope to get back into a rhythm against a team that has hit him hard in the past.

Over his career, Buchholz is 2-2 against the Angels with a 6.35 ERA and a .326 batting average against. In his outing this season vs. Los Angeles in Boston, he had one of his worst performances of the year, allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Buchholz and the Red Sox still earned the win, but he wasn’€™t particularly sharp, giving up eight hits and walking three batters. Hideki Matsui has the most experience against the Boston starter, mostly from his time with the Yankees, hitting .400 in 11 plate appearances.

The decision by the Angels to throw Haren against the Sox on Monday means the bumping of the night’s original starter in Joel Pineiro (10-7, 4.18 ERA). Haren was 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA for the Diamondbacks this season and struck out 141 hitters in 141 innings. The Angels gave up a package of Joe Saunders and three minor leaguers to land Haren and likely did so with the hopes that the ERA would revert back to the 3.07 mark he posted when he was last in the AL West. The centerpiece in the Mark Mulder deal in 2004, Haren spent three seasons in Oakland before being traded to the Diamondbacks in the offseason following the 2007 season.

In his career vs. Boston, Haren is 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA in seven regular season starts. He’s struck out 35 and walked 12 in 43 innings against the Sox. As a member of the Cardinals, Haren threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings combined in Games 1 and 4 of the 2004 World SeriesRead the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels,

Closing Time: Mariners 4, Red Sox 2

07.25.10 at 7:14 pm ET
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Hideki Okjima absolutely imploded in the eighth inning, allowing five straight Seattle batters to reach before finally getting an out. The result was letting three runs score, leading to a disheartening, 4-2 loss for the Red Sox in their series finale against the Mariners.

After the Yankees and Rays both came away with victories Sunday, the Red Sox now find themselves eight games behind New York and five in back of Tampa Bay. (Click here for a recap.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Daniel Bard was charged with the game-tying run — snapping a streak of 15 consecutive appearances without giving up a run — but it was Okajima who did the brunt of the damage in the pivotal eighth. After Jose Lopez greeted Bard with a leadoff single, driving the reliever from the game, Justin Smoak broke an 0-for-23 stretch by rifling Okajima’s first pitch into left. The Sox lefty then waited too long to make a decision on Casey Kotchman’s bunt, loading the bases. The Mariners proceeded to take the lead when Michael Saunders singled in both Lopez and Smoak. Pinch-hitter Milton Bradley added an insurance run when he executed a safety squeeze bunt, which the Red Sox couldn’t make a play on.

– Matsuzaka’s pitch count didn’t allow for the optimum use of the Red Sox’ bullpen. The starter did rally to get through six innings, but he could have made a lot more easier for the Sox pen if there weren’t 86 pitches thrown in the first four innings.

– The Red Sox’ hitters continued to struggle, finishing the game with their last 13 batters failing to reach base.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– When the Red Sox needed it the most, Matsuzaka came through with a pair of pitch-efficient innings. Entering the sixth inning, Matsuzaka had already thrown 102 pitches and was threatening to stretch out a Sox bullpen further than Sox manager Terry Francona would have preferred. But Matsuzaka came through with an eight-pitch sixth inning, exiting with 110 pitches for his outing.

– Matsuzaka pitched an uneven, yet effective, game. For the 14th time in his Red Sox career the starter walked at least five batters (this time issuing exactly five free passes). It was the second time this season the righty managed the feat, having walked eight Kansas City batters on May 27. But while Matsuzaka’s control left something to be desired, he did allow the Mariners just four hits while striking out four, leading to the Seattle hitters managing just one hit in nine chances with runners in scoring position.

– The Red Sox seemingly did just enough offensively … until the eighth inning came around After Seattle jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a run in the third inning, the Sox responded with two of their own in the fourth against Seattle starter Doug Fister. J.D. Drew got things going with a single to right. After moving up on a David Ortiz walk, the outfielder knotted the game at 1-1 when Kevin Youkilis rifled a double into the left field corner, also moving Ortiz to third. The Sox’ DH proceeded to score on Adrian Beltre’s bloop into left.

Victor Martinez eyeing Monday return

07.25.10 at 5:47 pm ET
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Victor Martinez appears ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list for Monday’s Red Sox game against the Angels in Anaheim, Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters prior to his team’s game against the Mariners in Seattle Sunday afternoon.

“I actually think he’s probably going to be ready,” Francona said. “If he comes in and says, ‘I’m hurting,’ we’re not going to do it. All things point to him being ready to go.”

Martinez has been on the DL since June 29, having fractured his left thumb June 28. The Sox’ catcher caught has recently caught the side sessions of both Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz, and planned on spending Sunday’s game in the bullpen warming up Red Sox relievers. Before his injury, Martinez was hitting .289 with nine homers, managing a .431 average against left-handers. Sox catchers were hitting a combined .147 without an RBI or extra-base hit in July.

For more Red Sox news see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox vs. Mariners matchups, 7/24

07.25.10 at 10:20 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-3, 4.29 ERA) goes to the mound for the Red Sox Sunday in their final matchup with the Mariners in their three-game series at Safeco Field.

Matsuzaka looks to continue his winning streak after leading the Red Sox to a victory against the A’s last week.  He threw 89 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run and two hits, while walking two and striking out six.  Since returning from his strained right forearm injury, Matsuzaka has pitched with a 3.77 ERA in his last five starts. The victory against Oakland was his second straight win.

Matsuzaka was looking sharper with more command over his pitches in his last outing with Oakland.  He dished strikes on the first pitch to 19 of the 24 batters he faced to contribute to four 1-2-3 innings in the 2-1 victory.

Against the Mariners, Matsuaka has a 2-1 record with a 3.99 ERA, recording 31 strikeouts.

Doug Fister (3-6, 3.56 ERA), a rookie right hander, looks for his first win since May 14 against the Red Sox. He has only faced Eric Patterson on the Sox line up so far.  After Fister started the season with a 2.45 ERA in his first 10 starts, holding teams to three or four runs a game, a fatigued right shoulder in the beginning of June sent him to the DL for almost a month. He returned June 26, but has had a rougher time on the mound since his injury’€“ putting up a 6.14 ERA in three starts leading up to the All-Star break.

In Fister’€™s last start, he retired a season and career-high six batters, walking one, and earning three runs over six innings, but got no offensive help from Seattle in a 4-0 loss to the White Sox.

Mariners vs. Matsuzaka

Ichiro Suzuki (20 plate appearances): .250 average/.400 OBP/.375 slugging, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jose Lopez (18): .188/.235/.188, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Josh Wilson (8): .375/.375/.500, 1 double

Milton Bradley (6): .400/.500/.600, 1 double, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Russell Branyan (6): .167/.167/.167, 3 strikeouts

Chone Figgins (6): .333/.667/.333, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Casey Kotchman (5): .200/.200/.800, 1 HR, 2 RBIs

Matsuzaka has not faced Josh Bard, Franklin Gutierrez, Rob Johnson, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak and Jack Wilson.

Red Sox vs. Fister

Eric Patterson (5 plate appearances): .200 average/.200 OBP/.200 slugging, 3 strikeouts

Fister has not faced Adrian Beltre, Dusty Brown, Mike Cameron, Kevin Cash, J.D. Drew, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, Gustavo Molina, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Shealy and Kevin Youkilis.

Closing Time: Mariners 5, Red Sox 1

07.25.10 at 12:46 am ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester had the stuff to make history on Saturday, retiring the first 16 Mariners hitters he faced, 10 of them by way of the strikeout. But his bid for perfection was ended with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, when a line drive to left-center by Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson clanged off the glove of center fielder Eric Patterson for an error. Wilson reached second, and against the next batter, Lester — pitching out of the stretch for the first time of the game — hung a curveball to Michael Saunders, who crushed it into the right field stands for a two-run home run.

That was the only offense that the Mariners mustered against Lester on Saturday. But it proved enough against a Sox team that could produce no offense of its own en route to a startling 2-1 loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Eric Patterson was making his second start in center field for the Red Sox when the ball found him at a most inopportune time. Wilson’s liner to left-center proved to be the first error that Patterson has ever made in the big leagues as a center fielder. It is impossible to know whether Lester would have stumbled in his bid for perfection in the absence of Patterson’s misplay, but certainly, both Patterson and Lester wish they would have had the opportunity to find out.

–The Sox failed to take advantage of the few opportunities that they had. Most notably, Jeremy Hermida — in his first start since June 9 — struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the second inning. Jed Lowrie twice flied out to right with two on and two out. The team was held hitless over the last 3 1/3 innings by the Mariners bullpen.

Jon Lester through the first 16 batters of the game: 5 1/3 innings, no baserunners, 10 strikeouts. Lester after Patterson’s error: 2 1/3 innings, four hits, walk, five runs.

Manny Delcarmen turned in his second straight poor relief outing. He entered the game with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the eighth. He promptly forced in an inherited run without even making the Mariners put a ball in play, walking the first batter he faced and then hitting Jose Lopez to force in a run. He nearly gave up a grand slam to the next batter he faced, Justin Smoak, but the drive died on the warning track.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Lester set a career high with 13 strikeouts, the most by a Red Sox left-hander since Bruce Hurst punched out 14 on May 5, 1987. He showed one of his best changeups of the year, and had a full complement of swing-and-miss secondary offerings.

David Ortiz hit his first homer of the second half, smashing an 89 mph fastball from Pauley into the stands in right-center for his 19th roundtripper of the season.

Mike Lowell went 4-for-4 in his rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket. For details on that game, click here.

–A Red Sox team that is desperate for offense received positive news about two players. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez are nearing game-readiness, with Martinez likely to be activated (barring a setback) in Anaheim, and Ellsbury set to start a rehab stint with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Monday.

Read More: eric patterson, Jed Lowrie, Jeremy Hermida, Jon Lester

Lowell has a big night in Pawtucket

07.24.10 at 11:04 pm ET
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Red Sox corner infielder Mike Lowell, in his second rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket, went 4-for-4 with three doubles against the Columbus Clippers (Triple-A affiliate of the Indians) on Saturday. Two of the doubles were lined to left field, one kicked off the glove of the Clippers’ first baseman and into right field and the single was dunked into right. After his fourth hit, Lowell — who played first base on Saturday — was lifted for a pinch-runner.

Lowell has now played two rehab games for Pawtucket. He will play again on Sunday, starting at third base.

The performance came amidst reports that the Tigers have expressed at least some interest in Lowell. WEEI.com reported that two Tigers scouts were in attendance at Lowell’s first rehab game between the PawSox and Toledo Mud Hens (the Triple-A affiliate of the Tigers). Lowell is hitting .213/.308/.350/.658 in 31 games with the Sox this year. He has been on the disabled list since June 24 due to discomfort in his right hip.

Martinez, Ellsbury near return to games

07.24.10 at 7:43 pm ET
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Both outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Victor Martinez could play in games as soon as Monday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Seattle.

While Ellsbury is slated to start a minor league rehab stint by playing in the Gulf Coast League next Monday and Tuesday (with the possibility of going to Triple-A Pawtucket later in the week), Francona told reporters there was “a possibility” that Martinez could be activated from the disabled list during the upcoming series in Anaheim next Monday through Wednesday.

Martinez cleared an important hurdle on Saturday, catching a bullpen session thrown by Clay Buchholz without experiencing any pain. Martinez has been wearing a glove that is designed to give extra support to his broken left thumb, and he reported that the session with Buchholz was pain-free.

“The big concern was catching, and definitely after today, I feel great. It feels good just to get the feeling, and knowing that I’€™m pretty close to coming back,” Martinez told reporters.

The catcher added that he also felt less discomfort while hitting in batting practice, particularly from the right side, than he had earlier in the week. He has been able to move his hands closer together after having to spread them out in previous batting practice sessions. That, of course, raises questions about whether his thumb will have healed enough to permit him to perform at his customary standards, but the Sox are optimistic that he can still produce despite any lingering pain.

“I don’€™t doubt that he’€™s going to feel this,” Francona told reporters. “He hits a ball and doesn’€™t catch it clean or he hits a ball on the end of the bat, he’€™s going to feel it for a while. I don’€™t think that means he can’€™t be effective.’€

Martinez will spend Sunday in the bullpen, catching pitchers as they warm up. If that goes without incident, then it would appear that the catcher could be activated as soon as Monday in Anaheim.

“It’€™s not in concrete but it’€™s certainly a possibility,” Francona told reporters. “When he’€™s ready, we’€™ll let him play.’€

Ellsbury has played in just nine games this year due to five non-displaced rib fractures. He is hitting .250/.267/.341/.608. Martinez, who has been out since suffering a fracture in the tip of his left thumb on June 27, is hitting .289/.344/.480/.824.

While the Red Sox have remained among the league leaders in most offensive categories (runs, OBP, OPS, homers, etc.) in Ellsbury’s absence, the team has found it more difficult to make up for the Martinez’ production. Since Martinez went on the D.L., Sox catchers have represented a significant lineup liability, particularly with Jason Varitek also on the sidelines. Fill-ins Kevin Cash, Gustavo Molina and Dusty Brown are hitting a combined .169 with a .225 OBP, zero extra-base hits and two runs batted in.

The Sox have explored the trade markets for both outfielders and catchers, the return of a healthy Martinez and Ellsbury could impact that pursuit.

For more Red Sox news, visit www.weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, victor martinez,

Red Sox vs. Mariners matchups, 7/24

07.24.10 at 10:01 am ET
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Continuing their 10-game West Coast swing, the Red Sox will take on a familiar face Saturday night for the third game of their four-game series against the Mariners. David Pauley, a midseason call-up for the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma, had previously been in the Red Sox system for four years. Pauley spent most of his time with Portland and Pawtucket in the minors, but he did make a few appearances with the Sox in 2006 and 2008. In 2009, he was designated for assignment to make room for John Smoltz and was eventually traded to Baltimore for Randor Bierd, who was released by Pawtucket on Thursday.

Since joining the Mariners on June 27, Pauley (0-2, 2.40 ERA) has been serving two roles: reliever and starter. As a reliever, the Colorado native didn’€™t get much of a chance to show what he had, pitching four innings while giving up no runs, three hits, three walks and three strikeouts. When ace Cliff Lee was traded to Texas on July 9, it was Pauley who filled in Lee’€™s rotation slot that day. He didn’€™t do that bad, giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings against the Yankees. However, he received only one run of support and the M’€™s fell short, 6-1. In his last start, it was déjà vu as the White Sox roughed up the Mariners, 6-1. Pauley didn’€™t fare as well as his first start however, as he gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings.

Meanwhile, Jon Lester has hit a rough patch of sorts recently. He picked up his fourth loss of the year against the Rangers on July 18, his first loss in nearly a month. Those two ‘€œrecent’€ losses are an anomaly, though; before his June 22 loss against Colorado, Lester had won his previous eight decisions, not losing a game in over two months. Despite the ‘€œproblems,’€ Lester (11-3, 2.81 ERA) still has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the league and the rock in the frazzled Red Sox rotation. Even in that loss to the Rangers he was effective, allowing three runs on nine hits over eight innings while striking out six. Just like Pauley, Lester didn’€™t get enough run support as the Red Sox lost 4-2.

In terms of matchups to look out for, it’€™s about as one sided as it could possibly be. Partly due to his prolonged tenure in the Red Sox minor league system and partly because of the depleted Boston roster, Pauley never has faced any of the current Red Sox batters.

For Lester, it’€™s pretty obvious who to look out for, and it’€™s right at the top of the lineup. One of the best leadoff men in history, Ichiro Suzuki knows exactly how to hit major league pitchers, and Lester is no exception. Ichiro is 6-for-18 against Lester with a couple of home runs, but the same isn’€™t the case for the rest of the Mariners lineup. Case in point: More than half of Franklin Gutierrez‘€™ career plate appearances against Lester have resulted in a strikeout (7-of-13) while Jack Wilson is 0-for-8 in his career against the lefty.

The Red Sox will finish up the series against the M’€™s on Sunday afternoon before moving on to Anaheim in the last leg of their road trip.

Red Sox vs. David Pauley

None of the current Red Sox have faced the Seattle starter.

Mariners vs. Jon Lester

Ichiro Suzuki (18 career plate appearances against Lester): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.667 SLG, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout

Franklin Gutierrez (13): .231/.231/.231, 2 RBI, 7 strikeouts

Jose Lopez (12): .100/.250/.100, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Chone Figgins (9): .250/.222/.375, 1 double, 3 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Josh Wilson (9): .000/.111/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Russell Branyan (7): .429/.429/.571, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Milton Bradley (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Ryan Langerhans (3): .500/.333/.500, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Casey Kotchman (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

Josh Bard, Rob Johnson, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak and Jack Wilson have never faced the Boston starter.

Read More: David Pauley, Jon Lester, Mariners, Red Sox

Gammons on The Big Show: Trade deadline dealing overrated

07.23.10 at 9:43 pm ET
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Longtime MLB insider Peter Gammons made his weekly call into The Big Show to talk about all things Red Sox and baseball, especially at the most hectic time of the season: the trade deadline. Gammons covered many different topics, including the Red Sox’ plans for the next week as the July 31 deadline approaches, the plans for key free agents, the return of injured players and the rise of some minor league players in time to be traded.

“I don’€™t trade Clay Buchholz for a first baseman. The only way [the Red Sox are] going to win is with pitching,” Gammons said. “Now, if you’€™re talking about [Felix] Doubront or something like that, that’€™s fine, but they’€™re not going to give up [Jon] Lester or Buchholz to get Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder. I think that’€™s what it would take.”

Below are highlights of the interview. To listen to the complete interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

On the trade deadline’€™s significance:

You know, it’€™s kind of interesting. I’€™ve done a lot of research ‘€” gone all over the trade deadlines ‘€” and other than last year, where the Phillies got Cliff Lee, which clearly got them into the World Series, the last team that got to the World Series and did anything of significance at the trading deadline were the Red Sox in 2004 when they moved [Nomar] Garciaparra for [Doug] Mientkiewicz and [Orlando] Cabrera. The notion of pennants being changed by trading deadline deals is essentially fiction. In 2003, the Yankees got Aaron Boone and he hit under .200, but he did hit one famous home run. In 1999, the Yankees got David Justice, but otherwise, that’€™s about it.

On whether or not Theo Epstein should make a move at the deadline or wait for his roster to settle down:

Well, I think he looks at it as, ‘€œOK, can we do something for this year and next year?’€ You can get a catcher that can go both years. I think the relief pitchers are more temps because that’€™s the nature of relief pitchers. Outfielder, I think you would like someone who can play for you next year, but if you want a David DeJesus, that’€™s out of the window now. I think I was told 4-6 weeks on his thumb.

So I think he looks at it both ways. When you look at it, Beckett comes back, and [John] Lackey was certainly encouraging last night, if four times or five times around the rotation your starting pitching is the best in the league, then you’€™ve got a chance to catch Tampa and get into the wild card. You can go into the playoffs with Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, you’€™ve got a great chance to win every series.

I don’€™t think he’€™s going to trade off six prospects to go get a guy that’€™s going to fill in. I do think that Cody Ross was another world. I’€™d still pick [Rick] Ankiel if he shows he can play, the problem is he came back off the DL last night, hasn’€™t played any rehab games, so it’€™s hard to tell if you can take him. You still have the whole scope of it in the Jayson Werth thing, but that’€™s a big gamble until you sign him because he wants to be a free agent at the end of the year.

On the possibility of re-signing Adrián Beltré instead of bringing on a new big bat:

I think it’€™s going to be hard to sign Beltré. They’€™d like to. The question with attendance down ‘€” I think [in] 13 cities now ‘€” how many teams can afford a $13 million a year third baseman? I think that’€™s one of the things they have in the market. I still think the Angels’ first priority ‘€¦ well, I know their first priority is Carl Crawford, that’€™s why they put his locker next to Torii Hunter at the All-Star Game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: chris iannetta, peter gammons, Trade deadline,
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