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Why the Sox aren’t yet considering a call-up for Ryan Lavarnway

07.20.11 at 2:06 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — There is no denying what Ryan Lavarnway has done offensively this year. His stats are beginning to look freakish.

Between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, Lavarnway has a .322 average, .396 OBP, .602 slugging mark and .998 OPS with 25 homers and 69 RBI in 87 games. He has been even more outrageous since his midseason promotion to Triple-A, hitting .388/.460/.760/1.220 with 11 homers and 23 extra-base hits in 32 games.

In short, Lavarnway — who led Division 1 with a .467 average and .873 slugging percentage as a sophomore at Yale — has been enjoying one of the best offensive seasons of anyone in the minors this year.

And yet, it would not appear that he has positioned himself for an imminent call-up.

It is virtually a foregone conclusion that he will be called up in September (when major league rosters expand from 25 to 40, and just a couple months in advance of when the Sox would have to place him on their 40-man roster in order to protect Lavarnway from the Rule 5 draft). But Sox manager Terry Francona said that, as impressive as Lavarnway’s offense has been, the opportunity for him to get regular work behind the plate in the minors is too significant for him to be squarely on his radar.

‘€œI know he’€™s been raking,” said Francona. “[But] the catching part’€¦, he’€™s gotten pushed already. Obviously offensively he’€™s doing great. [But] I probably don’€™t look as much when I figure a guy’€™s there to play as opposed to come help us.”

An injury could change that. According to team sources, Lavarnway’s offense is sufficiently advanced and his defense has shown enough improvement that the Sox would feel comfortable calling him up.

And team officials insist that Lavarnway’s defense has improved to the point where he can be a major league catcher, at least in some capacity — whether as a backup catcher/DH or, if he continues to advance, perhaps more than that.

Even so, Lavarnway has just 171 games behind the plate in his minor league career, as he’s typically split time between the catcher and DH positions. That is in part by design, since the Sox like to have their minor league catchers do drill work to improve mechanics and fundamentals on days when they are not starting behind the plate. That said, while Lavarnway has some solid indicators of improving defensive work (a 35 percent caught stealing rate, for instance, and just one error all year), he is still learning to call the game and to get a feel for what how to use a pitcher’s repertoire in a way that maximizes his comfort level.

That is in part simply a matter of repetition and game experience, something that Lavarnway is best suited to gain right now in Triple-A. Nonetheless, his offense will eventually clear a path for him to the majors — likely by September, if not sooner.

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Trade Deadline: Carlos Beltran reportedly gets a list of potential trade destinations, including Philadelphia

07.20.11 at 1:52 pm ET
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According to Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Mets have given Carlos Beltran a short list of teams they could trade him to, and the Phillies are one of them.

Philadelphia’s starting rotation has been terrific this season, but the team’s offense has struggled to keep up, ranking 14th in runs and 20th in batting average. The switch-hitting Beltran ranks ninth in the National League with 59 RBIs and is hitting .287 entering Wednesday.

The Giants and Red Sox have shown interest in Beltran as well, and Yahoo! reports that the Mets slugger would prefer to stay close to his New York home, making Boston a more likely destination than San Francisco.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran, Giants, Mets

Trade Deadline: Diamondbacks reportedly interested in pitching help

07.20.11 at 12:48 pm ET
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The Diamondbacks are interested in acquiring a reliever and possibly a starter, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Rosenthal writes that Arizona is very interested in Cubs set-up man Kerry Wood, but he has a no-trade clause and might not want to leave Chicago. Other relievers that Rosenthal says the Diamondbacks could be interested in are the Nationals’€™ Todd Coffey, the Mets’€™ Jason Isringhausen and the Blue Jays’€™ Jason Frasor.

He goes on to say that the Diamondbacks could seek a mid-level starter such as Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis, as they do not want to give up top-level prospects.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Jason Frasor, Jason Isringhausen, Jason Marquis

Live Blog: Andrew Miller, Red Sox look to finish off road trip strong against Orioles

07.20.11 at 12:16 pm ET
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Orioes/Red Sox live blog

Source: Carlos Beltran has not waived no-trade clause

07.20.11 at 11:36 am ET
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BALTIMORE — According to a major league source, contrary to a report earlier Wednesday, Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran has not agreed officially to waive his no-trade clause to the Red Sox or any other team because he has not yet been traded. He did express an interest in going to the Sox at the All-Star game, suggesting that it would be “a no-brainer” for him to accept a trade to Boston given the team’s place in the standings, but that has not been codified.

And while the Red Sox have certainly been kicking the tires in the Beltran derby, their conversations with the Mets about the All-Star have not advanced beyond preliminary discussions that would place them “in the mix.” According to a major league source, the Mets have received interest from 8-10 teams on the outfielder, with the Sox being characterized as one of the six most interested teams. For their part, the Sox haven’t zeroed in on Beltran or any other single player, as they continue to engage in a broad examination of the market at a time when they are determining the degree to which internal upgrades will address areas of need.

The price for the 34-year-old — who is enjoying a tremendous year, hitting .293 with a .389 OBP, .523 slugging mark and .911 OPS, along with 14 homers and an NL-leading 30 doubles — will be high in terms of prospects. The Mets, who had budgeted for all of Beltran’s salary, and have already received some payroll relief thanks to the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, are less concerned about how much of Beltran’s contract they will assume than they are about the caliber of prospects they would receive in return. (That said, some teams have shown a willingness to assume some of the remainder of Beltran’s $18.5 million salary while also offering the Mets prospects.)

The Mets are aiming high in terms of the prospects whom they would want back in dealing for the outfielder, given that he has emerged as the best bat in a weak market for hitters this summer (particularly given that the Mets are viewed, according to sources, as unlikely to trade Jose Reyes).

With the Sox having parted with three of their best prospects in the deal for Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets would be seeking to draw further from the top of the Sox’ farm system, looking at players with a chance to be impact regulars. From the Sox system, that would mean using a player like third baseman Will Middlebrooks — viewed as an above-average offensive and defensive third baseman who projects as a big league regular — as the type of player who might be considered. (Mets special assistant to the GM J.P. Ricciardi was reportedly in Portland the last two nights, at a time when the Mets’ Double-A affiliate was playing the Sox’ Double-A Sea Dogs team.)

In short, the Mets are in a position to shoot high on a player who will be strictly a rental. And while it would be a mistake to rule out the Sox in any conversations about elite players who might move before the trade deadline, the team will remain mindful of not just its 2011 potential but also future seasons.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran, jose reyes, New York Mets

Trade Deadline: Alfonso Soriano open to waiving no-trade clause

07.20.11 at 10:29 am ET
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Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has a no-trade clause, but he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he would be opening to waiving it if he were to be traded to a contending team.

‘€˜’€˜If it was a contender, yes,’€™’€™ Soriano said. ‘€˜’€˜Of course, I want to win. I want to win here. But if not here, then somewhere else.”

Soriano turns 36 in January, so winning is now taking on more of an urgency.

‘€˜’€˜I’€™m 35, and I want to win again,’€™’€™ he said. ‘€˜’€˜I had a good time with the Yankees when we went to the playoffs [2001-03]. I had a good time here the first two years going to the playoffs [2007-08]. That’€™s what it’€™s all about. We prepare our minds to play good in the regular season to make the playoffs.

‘€˜’€˜Whatever they want to do, I’€™m open. I’€™m a professional. I’€™m a soldier.”

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Alfonso Soriano,

Trade Deadline: Report indicates no offers yet for Ubaldo Jimenez

07.20.11 at 10:26 am ET
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The Rockies have not received a single trade offer for star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Yahoo! Sports reported. The Rockies reportedly have set their asking price as four top-end minor league prospects, with at least one ready for the big leagues.

The three most interested teams so far have been the Yankees, Reds and Tigers, according to Yahoo!.

The Yahoo! story indicates that the Tigers would most likely need to include Jacob Turner, a right-handed pitcher who signed a major league deal out of high school in 2009 and has pitched well at Double-A, in a potential trade. The Reds would need to send Devin Mesoraco, a catcher with an .861 OPS at Triple-A to the Rockies to obtain Jimenez. The Rockies reportedly have expressed interested in the Yankees’ Jesus Montero and left-hander Manny Banuelos.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, ubaldo jimenez,

Source: Sox ‘not pursuing anyone aggressively right now’

07.20.11 at 9:14 am ET
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According to a major league source familiar with the team’s thinking, the Red Sox are “not pursuing anyone aggressively right now” on the trade market. As is the club’s usual M.O. during the trade deadline, the team is looking at virtually every player on the market — a group that would appear to include Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Padres players such as outfielder Ryan Ludwick and reliever Heath Bell as well as a host of other players — to determine potential fits and acquisition prices.

That said, it would appear that such conversations remain largely in the exploratory phases, contrary to reports that the Sox are emerging as one of “the most aggressive suitors” for Beltran. While the Red Sox continue to examine trade possibilities, the source said that the team’s emphasis is on determining whether it has “internal solutions to upgrade areas that need to be upgraded.” The result of that determination will, in turn, likely dictate how the Sox proceed on the trade market between now and July 31.

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Trade Deadline: Giants reportedly interested in Michael Cuddyer

07.20.11 at 8:52 am ET
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After acquiring infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Astros, Giants general manager Brian Sabean said that the Giants are seeking ‘€œsomething bigger.” That something bigger could be Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The Giants have an interest in moving Cuddyer to second base.

Cuddyer has played 13 games at second base this season, and reportedly the Giants scouts feel comfortable with Cuddyer in the infield. Sabean has said he wants to improve the team’s offense by ‘€œlengthening the lineup.” This season Cuddyer is batting .295 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs.

The Twins reportedly have set a steep asking price for Cuddyer.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Jeff Keppinger, Michael Cuddyer,

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Jake Arrieta

07.20.11 at 8:22 am ET
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The Red Sox and Orioles will face off again at Camden Yards Wednesday, and Andrew Miller and Jake Arrieta will take the mound opposite one another for the second time this month. Back on July 7, Miller got the win on five innings of three-run, six-hit ball, while Arrieta struggled through 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, including two home runs.

Miller (3-1, 5.68 ERA) took his first loss of the season in his last start, and it wasn’t pretty. The 26-year-old failed to get through the third inning Friday vs. the Rays, surrendering seven runs on five hits while walking five and striking out none. The big blow came on a Ben Zobrist grand slam in the second inning. Aside from that outing, Miller’s ERA has been well under 4.00, although he’s yet to pitch over six innings in a game this season.

The Orioles have faced Miller a combined 51 times, hitting .263 with two doubles and six RBI. Mark Reynolds leads the way with four hits and three walks in 10 plate appearances against the Boston starter. No other Orioles hitter has more than two hits against Miller. The right-hander has handled Derrek Lee well in eight matchups, holding him to 0-for-5 with three walks. Recently extended J.J. Hardy is an even 2-for-4 off Miller with a sacrifice fly. Overall, Miller has struggled with his command against Baltimore, issuing 10 walks while recording just five strikeouts.

Arrieta (9-6, 5.10 ERA) has had a miserable month of July, dropping all three of his starts thanks to an 8.79 ERA. The right-hander gave up five runs in each one of those outings and hasn’t pitched past the fifth inning since June 15. Arrieta has struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing seven home runs in his last five starts. It’s been a dramatic collapse since his performance in June, when Arrieta went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA.

Arrieta has been a better pitcher at home, going 5-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 10 starts at Camden Yards. However, he surrendered five runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in his last start in Baltimore.

The Orioles starter has only faced the Red Sox twice in his career, and he has struggled with Boston’s lefty-heavy lineup. Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run in his team-high five plate appearances against Arrieta. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .364 with 10 RBI in just 37 plate appearances. Ten Boston hitters have faced Arrieta five times or less, and all but two of them have hits. Jacoby Ellsbury is 0-for-1 with two walks, and Josh Reddick is 0-for-2.

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Read More: andrew miller, Jake Arrieta, Orioles, Red Sox
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