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What history says about the Red Sox’ opportunity in this year’s draft

06.04.11 at 2:11 pm ET
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The Red Sox have four of the first 40 picks in next week’€™s Major League Baseball draft. It’s a rare situation for any team to be in, as only eight times since 2000 has a team had four of the first 40 picks. Those include the 2010 Angels, the Athletics in 2002 and 2004, the Braves in 2000, the Cubs in 2002, the Giants in 2007, the 2005 Marlins and 2004 Twins.

Having such a high number of top picks allows the organization to possibly take chances on guys whom they might otherwise shy away from if they did not have as many top picks. The Sox often refer to using top picks as a stock portfolio, using some to acquire high probability guys but for whom the payoff is capped, and others on higher risk players (whether due to makeup, signability, or tools that remain in the early stages of development) who can also offer huge returns if everything clicks.

‘€œYou want to get good players,’€ general manger Theo Epstein said. ‘€œYou want to combine upside and probability but when you don’€™t have extra picks, it’€™s sometimes hard to take that extra risk with the very high upside. You can diversify your portfolio a little more when you have more picks and take that chance.’€

Teams that have had such a large number of top picks haven’€™t fared as well as one might think: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Theo Epstein,

Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog, June 4

06.04.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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The Red Sox will try to extend their incipient winning streak to two games behind Josh Beckett, the American League leader in ERA with a 1.80 mark. He’ll be opposed by A’s standout Trevor Cahill.

For all the latest news and analysis from Fenway Park, click below to join the live blog.

Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog

Pregame notes: Buchholz dealing with back, Lackey to throw ’90ish’ pitches Sunday

06.04.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Clay Buchholz stated after his start Friday night  that he was thinking about a potential abnormality in his back while on the mound, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Saturday’s contest that the the idea of there being any kind of malady had given him some cause for concern. Out of that, the skipper said Buchholz may get a few extra days off instead of pitching in his scheduled spot on Wednesday against the Yankees.

“I think we want to sit down with him and figure out the best way to go forward, whether it’s in five days or giving him a couple extra days,” said Francona. “We can do that with the day off on Monday.”

As a result, Tim Wakefield will do a regular bullpen session on Saturday in preparation to potentially take Buchholz’s start on Wednesday in New York. Spot starter Alfredo Aceves will also move to the bullpen full-time in preparation for John Lackey’s return to the rotation Sunday “so that we have everything covered,” according to Francona.

The manager cautioned though that all of these moves were precautionary and that everything could still go according to the original plan depending on how Buchholz’s back feels before the start of the upcoming road trip.

“Maybe we don’t know today,” he said. “Maybe we need a couple extra days to see.”

There’s more pregame injury notes on Lackey and Marco Scutaro after the jump as well as Francona’s thoughts on Jed Lowrie‘s issues when hitting as a lefty in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, john lackey

Saturday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Trevor Cahill

06.04.11 at 9:44 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their homestand with Saturday’€™s 1:05 game against the Athletics. Josh Beckett (4-2) takes the mound for the Red Sox.

Beckett is pitching as well as anyone in the American League. He leads AL starters in ERA (1.80) and opponents’ batting average (.189), and has allowed the fewest earned runs (14) among qualified AL starters as well. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 2.5:1.

Beckett has been good but not fantastic against Oakland, going 5-3 in eight career starts with a 4.41 ERA and a .255 opponents’ batting average. His last start against the Athletics was on September 12 last season, where he pitched six innings, gave up three runs and won the game.

As well as Beckett has pitched, he has received inconsistent run support this seasn, resulting in five no-decisions despite a quality start in all but two games this season. He’€™ll be facing another ace Saturday in Trevor Cahill (6-3), who leads the Athletics rotation in wins and ERA (2.31). Cahill has struggled recently, however, having lost his last three decisions and taking a no-decision in a losing Athletics effort in a fourth game. His last win came on May 9 against Texas.

Cahill has struggled in three starts against Boston, going 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA and a .266 opponents’ batting average. He beat the Red Sox in his most recent start, pitching seven shutout innings on September 10 last season.

Beckett will have to be most careful with designated hitter Hideki Matsui. Because of Matsui’€™s years with the Yankees, he has already seen Beckett 41 times. Although he’€™s only batting .243 against Beckett, Matsui has hit three home runs and a triple. Second baseman Mark Ellis has also homered off Beckett and driven in five. Ellis is batting .333 against Beckett, but has struck out seven times. Left fielder Ryan Sweeney is 3-for-8 with a home run and two doubles.

No one on the Red Sox has the kind of experience with Cahill that the Athletics have with Beckett, who have combined for 132 plate appearances against the Sox right-hander. J.D. Drew and David Ortiz have each faced Cahill nine times, going 2-for-9 with a homer. Dustin Pedroia has doubled and homered off Cahill in six appearances, and Jacoby Ellsbury has tripled and driven in a run in five appearances.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, Oakland Athletics, trevor cahill

Bobby Jenks isn’t worried about looking pretty right now

06.04.11 at 7:55 am ET
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At this point, Bobby Jenks isn’t worried about style points. He’s worried about getting outs. And for the first time since starting his season with four straight scoreless outings, the 30-year-old righthander recorded consecutive scoreless – if not clean – innings of work in back-to-back appearances.

On Tuesday, Jenks came into a 10-1 game against his former team – the White Sox – and allowed two hard-hit balls that fell for hits. But he escaped when Paul Konerko lined a ball right back into his glove. Jenks then underhanded a toss to Adrian Gonzalez at first to complete the inning-ending double play.

On Friday, Jenks entered a much more highly leveraged situation. The Red Sox were down just 6-5 as he came on for the seventh inning. Again he got into trouble with two runners on base. He allowed a leadoff double to Josh Willingham. He then balked Willingham over to third base and walked Kurt Suzuki.

But then Jenks showed exactly why the Red Sox still have faith in him.

Like Tuesday night, Jenks made the pitch he needed, a fastball to Barton, inducing a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. Fully recovered from the right biceps strain that forced him to miss almost four weeks, Jenks is back throwing 96 mph fastballs, sliders and offspeed pitches, and doing it with a smooth delivery.

“It’s huge,” Jenks’ catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “That’s what wins games, pitching and defense. He was able to get a ground ball and it was a double play. But no one is going to worry about Bobby. Bobby’s got great stuff. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to battle. He’s not going to give in. He’s been through a lot this year. For him to come back like that is huge for this team.”

Two outings, three hits, a walk, a balk and most importantly, no runs.

“Right now, it’s telling me that I have to stop getting into those situations,” Jenks said, only partly tongue-in-cheek. “I thought they were pretty quality pitches to Willingham but he took some really good sliders in the dirt. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap. He waited for a good pitch to hit.

“You just have to stay confident and know you’re just one pitch away, which was the case.”

And for a pitcher trying to regain the form that convinced the Red Sox in the winter that he could help them, focusing after the balk call by home plate ump Dan Bellino wasn’t a problem. Throwing the right pitch to Barton was the only thing on his mind.

“I knew who I had coming up,” Jenks said. “And I knew going in, the scouting pitching report, if you quick-pitch him, he’s a first-fastball hitter. So I tried to jump on him a little bit. You can induce ground balls that way.”

Most importantly to the Red Sox, a healthy and effective Bobby Jenks means restoring the bullpen order to Jenks in the seventh, Bard in the eighth and Papelbon in the ninth, exactly what happened Friday night in the 8-6 come-from-behind win.

“Obviously, it wasn’t a clean inning but I battled through it,” Jenks said. “The way I feel right now, it’s about making those quality pitches when you need them.”

Read More: bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox, Daric Barton, kurt suzuki

MLB Power Rankings, 6/4: Are the Red Sox in the top 10?

06.04.11 at 6:55 am ET
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After another brief hiatus (let’s go ahead and blame the power-play) here we go with the return of the 2011 WEEI.com Major League Baseball Power Rankings. Each week (or as close as we can get) throughout the season we will be bringing you an updated version of the list, which will be determined by record, ranking within each team’€™s division and which team would have the best chance at winning if participating in a best-of-seven series.

Feel free to pick apart the admittedly imperfect rankings by emailing kminihane@weei.com or sending a message via Twitter to twitter.com/kirkmin. Have at it.

(Note: Team record and last ranking are in parentheses and all stats are through 6/2.)

1. Phillies (34-23, 2). Since the start of the 2007 season, Roy Halladay has walked a total of 165 batters in 1,052 IP. During that same span, Daisuke Matsuzaka has walked 301 batters — in 429.1 fewer innings pitched.

2. Indians (33-22, 1). Fair to ask if this recent skid is more than just that and maybe the beginning of a return to reality. The Indians need more from Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, each with a slugging percentage of less than .400.

3. Cardinals (34-25, 6). We talk about this all the time, but it’s guys like Fernando Salas — 10 saves, a 1.05 WHIP, 25 Ks and a 1.82 ERA — that make it awfully tough to believe that the Sox are going to cough up $45 million for Jonathan Papelbon.

(Oh, and have you urinated in the last hour or so, or do you have food or water in your mouth? No? We’re good? OK, I guess it’s safe for me to tell you what nickname Chris Berman came up with for Salas. Ready? Fernando “Tossed” Salas! Done laughing yet? One of these days I suppose Berman’s act is going to get tired, but I just don’t see it happening for at least another 30 years.)

4. Yankees (31-24, 15). Wow, has the Cano vs. Pedroia debate ever been an easier call? Just a monster gap between the two at this point. After a third-place MVP finish last season, Cano has an OPS of .839 in 2011, which down from 2010 but still 151 points higher than Pedroia’s this season.

5. Marlins (31-24, 5). Josh Johnson leads the National League in WHIP (0.59) and is second in ERA (1.64) and has exactly one more win his nine starts than John Lackey — last in WHIP and ERA in the American League — has in his seven starts.

6. Giants (32-25, 8). Losing Buster Posey is a killer, but Pedro Sandoval is expected back in the next 10-14 days, and even if he doesn’t match his 2010 production I don’t see how a rotation (Matt Cain has the highest ERA at 3.88) this good doesn’t keep the Giants on top of the NL West.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: MLB power rankings, Phillies, power rankings, Red Sox

The $142 million man is money when it matters

06.04.11 at 12:34 am ET
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David Ortiz is no stranger to clutch hits. The man affectionately known as the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history has produced the lion’€™s share of the franchise’s biggest hits in the last almost-decade.

So when Carl Crawford, he of the many an early-season struggle thus far in 2011, stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning while facing a 6-5 deficit, Ortiz knew exactly what to think.

‘€œWe’€™ve got money,’€ Ortiz said after the game. ‘€œWe’€™ve got money. He likes to get that paper right there, always.’€

Indeed, it was Crawford who cashed in on the big situation with a broken-bat liner to centerfield that plated both Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis to give Boston the lead in what would be an eventual four-game-losing-streak-snapping 8-6 win over the Athletics Friday night.

And Ortiz had some basis for his confidence in his leftfielder.

Crawford now has a team-leading four hits in the seventh or later that have given the Red Sox the lead, one more even than early-season MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez. Crawford also trails Gonzalez by just one for the team lead in game-winning RBI with five. On the whole, in late-and-close situations (which are defined as the 7th inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck), Crawford was hitting .314 (11-for-35) after his base knock Friday. Compare that to his .161 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position regardless of the inning, and you can pretty easily determine that the lefty has been hitting his best when the game is on the line. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian fuentes, carl crawford, David Ortiz, jarrod saltalamacchia

It’s official: Daisuke Matsuzaka headed for Tommy John surgery, ‘probably next week’

06.03.11 at 11:57 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed after Friday’s game against Oakland that starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will have ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow within the next week. The decision to go ahead with the surgery was made after a consultatation between Red Sox team doctor Thomas Gill and orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum during Friday’s game, with Matsuzaka’s input.

“It looks like Dr. Yocum is going to peform a surgery on Daisuke, probably some time next week,” Francona said. “That’s still to be determined but it looks like it’ll be next week.”

Matsuzaka will miss the remainder of the 2011 season, his fifth year of a six-year, $52 million deal with the Red Sox, signed before the 2007 season. Matsuzaka was 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA this season in eight games, seven starts. He is likely to miss part of the 2012 season as well as he recovers and rehabilitates his right elbow.

Matsuzaka left his April 29 start against Seattle with tightness in his right forearm and elbow before returning in relief in the marathon 13-inning loss to the Angels on May 4, taking the loss after throwing the 13th inning. He would start twice more, both starts, on May 8 and May 16 before landing on the disabled list with a strained right forearm.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dr. Lewis Yocum, Dr. Thomas Gill

Closing Time: Carl Crawford comes through in the clutch again

06.03.11 at 10:47 pm ET
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If you were to superficially look at Carl Crawford‘€™s hitting line from Friday’€™s 8-6 Red Sox win, you’€™d think it was highly indicative of how the Boston leftfielder’€™s season has transpired thus far. A 1-for-4 performance for the guy hitting .235 may not seem like anything special, but a closer examination would have you believe even more that Friday was a microcosm of Crawford’€™s season.

With the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a 6-5 contest, Crawford stepped in against lefty reliever Brian Fuentes and poked a broken-bat, two-run single into center to give the Red Sox their first lead since the third inning. The speedy leftfielder now has a team-leading four hits in the seventh or later that gave the Red Sox the lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia added his fifth home run of the season in the eighth as an insurance run.

Buchholz was chased early in the loss after he allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. Four of those runs came in a rather pedestrian first inning from the starter, in which he allowed five singles. His earned-total was a season high, and his outing was his shortest since April 9 when he lasted just 3 2/3 in a 9-4 loss to the Yankees.

Oakland starter Josh Outman didn’€™t fare any better, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits over just 2 2/3 for his shortest start this season in three appearances.

Here’s what else went right for the Red Sox in the win, other than Crawford’s heroics, along with a few things that went wrong.


–More like what went left, at least in the case of David Ortiz. The Sox designated hitter took RBI drives to left field in his first two at-bats. The second hit in the third inning, a shot off the Green Monster, was arguably the biggest as it tied the game at 4-4 after Buchholz had given Oakland a four-run cushion in the first.

–After going down 4-0 in the opening frame, the Red Sox put together two-run rallies in the first, third and seventh innings to ensure that the A’€™s wouldn’€™t walk away with what could have easily been a laugher. Kevin Youkilis (2-for-3, BB, 3 R) and Adrian Gonzalez (3-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI) combined with Ortiz to key those rallies. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Josh Outman

Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog — June 3

06.03.11 at 6:40 pm ET
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Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog

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