|07.28.09 at 5:14 pm ET|
From WBZTV reporter Dan Roche’s Twitter page:
“Sources tell me Sox have not offered Buchholz, Bowden and Westmoreland for Halladay.”
Shortly after Roche’s post, Boston.com also reported that suggestions of a Buchholz-Bowden-Westmoreland package were inaccurate. ESPN’s Keith Law further suggested that the Sox view Westmoreland as untouchable.
|07.28.09 at 4:01 pm ET|
According to Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports, the Red Sox have reportedly made an offer to Toronto for prized pitcher Roy Halladay. The report says the offer includes Clay Buchholz, pitching prospect Michael Bowden, and top outfield prospect Ryan Westmoreland. But because the Blue Jays are also looking for a shortstop, the Sox might try to get a third team involved in the potential trade.
Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi told Boston and New York, both of whom are contenders for a Halladay trade, that they will have to pay a premium for a trade within the division. Ricciardi also set a personal deadline of Tuesday to deal Halladay, but he recently said the deadline is negotiable.
The report goes on to say that Boston’s offer is “competitive” with the package Toronto is seeking from the Philadelphia Phillies, the widely-considered front-runner for Halladay. A report Monday from FOX Sports said “the Phillies remain the team most likely to land Halladay, followed by the Red Sox.”
Highly-touted Red Sox prospect Daniel Bard is also allegedly off-limits during these trade negotiations.
|07.28.09 at 2:40 pm ET|
According to SI’s Jon Heyman, if the Sox were to pull the trigger for Halladay, they would need to include not just Clay Buchholz but also pitcher Daniel Bard and shortstop Jed Lowrie – a hefty price for a pitching ace.
Despite Tom Werner’s implication that the club may still make a big move before the trade deadline, Heyman writes that “Boston is seen by competitors as being very reluctant to give up its top prospects.”
|07.28.09 at 2:12 pm ET|
According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the Sox are looking for a fourth outfielder with defensive skills and the potential for power at the plate. Willie Bloomquist of the Royals and Cody Ross of the Marlins seem to fit the bill. Bloomquist is hitting .268 with two homers, 19 RBI and 17 stolen bases while only committing one error in 50 games split among right, center and left field this season. Ross is hitting .267 with 14 homers and 53 RBI having committed three errors in 99 games between right and center field. The Rockies’ Ryan Spilborghs has been a player of interest in the past. Spilborghs boasts a .252 average, six homers, 35 RBI and three errors in 77 games in right, center and left field this season
|07.28.09 at 2:04 pm ET|
The Yankees have won 10 of their last 11 games since the All-Star break and currently hold first place in the competitive AL East, 2.5 games over second-place Boston. But that’s not good enough for GM Brian Cashman and the Bronx Bombers.
According to SI’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees are still looking to add pitching to a starting rotation that already includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettite. Toronto ace Roy Halladay remains their first target, but Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told New York it will take both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes plus prospects for Halladay.
If that’s a little rich for the Yankees’ blood, they could pursue Plan B: Jarrod Washburn.
New York called to inquire about Washburn Saturday, according to SI, although it’s not certain that Seattle will trade the lefty pitcher. Washburn is 8-6 with a 2.71 ERA this season.
|07.28.09 at 1:48 pm ET|
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com- 11:36 a.m. reports that the Red Sox, while unlikely, could technically pull of a deal for Cleveland left hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez. Tampa Bay has also been eyeing the Tribe duo but do not have the financial flexibility of the Red Sox. Lee and Martinez are owed about $3.5 million for the remainder of the season. Lee is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA and 107 strikeouts this season while Martinez is batting .287 with 14 homers and 64 RBI for the down-and-out Indians who are 11 games back in the AL Central.
|07.28.09 at 1:31 pm ET|
According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail if the Blue Jays were to trade Roy Halladay to either the Red Sox or Yankees it would cost a “premium” for the two American League East teams. While a deal with the Red Sox is less likely the Blue Jays are said to be most interested in Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz more than anything the Phillies, another Halladay contender, might have to offer. Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi had marked today as the self-imposed deadline for any Halladay deal but has since rescinded on that deadline. Major League Baseaball’s deadline set for Friday, July 31st at 4 p.m. EST.
The Providence Journal also reported that Riccardi’s asking price for Halladay would be Buchholz , 2008 first-round draft pick Casey Kelly, currently pitching for Salem, and an additional Sox prospect. It would seem that the never-trade-top-prospect Red Sox would balk at such a deal making the Sox all but out of talks with Toronto.
|07.28.09 at 12:59 pm ET|
Tuesday night will surely be a festive night at Fenway as the Sox retire Hall of Famer Jim Rice‘s number 14 along with the numbers of Red Sox greats Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Carlton Fisk, among others.
But after the jubilation subsides, it’s time for the Sox to get down to business.
Following a dismal start to the second half in which Boston lost five straight games and fell in the AL East standings, the Sox have finally regained their composure, winning three of their last four games. Not to mention last night marked the first game in a four-game home stand against one of baseball’s worst teams: the Oakland A’s.
Oakland (41-57) is currently last in the AL West, 17 games behind the first-place LA Angels, and holds the fourth worst record in the majors.
With their season all but lost, the A’s will send rookie pitcher Vin Mazzaro to the mound to face Boston’s Clay Buchholz. The two young pitchers have hardly any experience against their respective opponents: Mazzaro has never faced the Sox, and the only member of the Oakland lineup that Buchholz has faced is former Red Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
In 10 starts this season, Mazzaro is 2-7 with a 4.75 ERA, averaging a little over five innings per start. Buchholz, who has been the focal point of various trade rumors this season, has only had two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The 24-year-old righty is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in those starts this season.
Speaking with WEEI last night, Buchholz said he feels like a better pitcher this season compared with last.
“I feel more mature in the game,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I had to learn a lot through some struggled, but eventually I came through and it was learning process for me. It wasn’t always fun but sometimes you need to learn from your mistakes. That’s what brought me back here and that’s what drove me during the off-season to get better.”
The Red Sox currently trail the Yankees by 2.5 games in the AL East standings. But with New York facing a lethal Tampa Bay lineup this week, followed by the second-place White Sox over the weekend, Boston hopes to capitalize against a weak Oakland team at home.
A’s VS. BUCHHOLZ
Orlando Cabrera (6 career plate appearances against Buchholz): 2-6, strikeout
RED SOX VS. MAZZARO
The Red Sox have never faced Mazzaro.
|07.28.09 at 12:17 pm ET|
Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, during his visit on the Dale & Holley Show, discussed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka’s contention that he needs to follow a different training regimen than American pitchers in order to reclaim the success he had while in Japan. Farrell, who suggested that the team is looking to a September return for Matsuzaka, has been included constantly in conversations about the throwing program that has been developed for him.
The pitching coach said that after Matsuzaka first came to the Sox from Japan, no adjustments to his routine were made until the pitcher encountered challenges (such as fatigue in the second half of the 2007 season) that required changes.
“We acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke. When he came over, no changes were recommended. No changes were mandated by any means,” said Farrell. “Any adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he’s adapted here.”
The pitching coach acknowledged that there have been differences of opinion. Matsuzaka has emphasized the need for lengthy throwing programs, while the Sox have tried to emphasize work meant to build the physical support structure for the shoulder. In that sense, the pitcher’s offseason conditioning program might have been inadequate as a means of preparing for the rigors of the 2009 season, particularly in light of the fact that he jumped into full competition at an unusually early stage due to the World Baseball Classic.
“In hindsight, there might not have been the work that he needed to put in on his own time in the offseason to build the foundation that every pitcher requires to withstand the workload that a major-league starting pitcher is going to go through here in the States,” said Farrell.
Clearly, differences of opinion on best practices remain. That said, Farrell emphasized that the Sox try to collaborate with Matsuzaka on his throwing, shoulder and conditioning programs in order to ensure both the best likelihood of his success and the greatest level of comfort for the pitcher.
“His theory might be, ‘I’m going to get my arm in shape just by throwing.’ We feel there has to be a support structure in the rest of the body,” said Farrell. “To me and to us, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Japan, the Dominican or the States. We feel that the human body has movement that it goes through that you have to support.
“We’ve got a $103 million investment in the guy that we have to, we feel, not only protect but put him in position to have success,” Farrell continued. ” We recognize there are differences…This is a two-way situation. We’re not mandating items directly to Daisuke. For (differences of opinion) to come out in the way that it has is, in a word, disappointing.”
Here are some excerpts:
On Daisuke’s comments about the training program (translated in this article):
First of all I’m aware of the article that was written and the interview recently with Daisuke down in Florida, and I don’t if there’s a concise answer to respond to that. But what I will say is this we have the utmost respect for the baseball norms and culture that the Japanese baseball leagues have. We not only respect them but we acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke.
When he came over no changes were recommended no changes were mandated by any means. The adjustment in throwing have been in response to the challenges that Daisuke has faced here. I think we look back at 2007, and he has been a very successful pitcher in the two years that he has been here. We know that there was a pretty substantial amount of fatigue in the second half of 2007 that we had to give him a breather at the time, largely in part because of the differences in travel, differences in competition, differences in strike zone, a number of the on-field challenges that he faced.
So any of the adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he has adapted to the rigors of the schedule and the competition here. As we all know, he came into spring training prior to the 2008 season with what we intended to be the same approach we took in 2007 but at the same time we monitor every one of our pitchers in terms of conditioning, their shoulder strength and provide for the specific needs that each guy has. Now in May he was shut down I think in large part because he came into spring training a little bit behind other pitchers on our staff. Whether that was a carryover effect of pitching into late October, November from the year before and a short offseason and having to crank it back up like every other pitcher did we saw some effects last year with Josh Beckett, guys that had heavy workloads in the 2007 season.
So the challenges that Daisuke faced are no different than any other pitcher here and we have to use our best judgement to put pitchers in a situation where they’re not only going to be productive but where we feel they are going to be healthy not only in the short run but in the long run as well. So I know Daisuke’s transition here and the challenges he’s faced, he’s obviously on record now saying he has vast differences with the throwing program but we have a $103 million investment in a guy that we have to what we feel not only to protect him but to have that success that we just outlined.
On concern with Daisuke’s physical condition coming into spring training:
There was a concern from the standpoint of the WBC. I want to be clear that we’re not pointing the finger at the WBC as the culprit here. We had six players that participated in that tournament. All but Daisuke were in spring training with us at the outset. We granted that freedom to Daisuke knowing that there would be a huge time zone difference, changes that he would face physically from a lot of travel to turn back around in a week or ten days and go back to join Seibu for training or join team Japan for the WBC. But because we thought it was in his best interest to keep some stability in that time zone to stay there, we did send a representative over to monitor Daisuke’s workouts to provide us feedback because that was the same feedback that our other five players in the WBC were getting while they were in our camp.
I think that’s proven business. You think about the investment we have in him, the care that we give all our players was no different than what any other player on the Red Sox had gone through. In hindsight there might not have been the work that he needed to put in on his own time during the offseason to build the foundation that every pitcher requires to withstand the work loads that a major league pitcher is going to go through here in the States.
On a possible misunderstanding with Daisuke due to language barrier:
I would find that, well I can’t say that’s an absolute no but I would say this for the amount of sit down conversations, the amount of communication that we’ve had with all of our players to make sure there is nothing lost in translation even to the point of basically an open forum. This is a two way situation we’re not dictating or mandating items directly to Daisuke the opportunity to provide his feedback has always been allowed and welcome. So for this to come out as it has, I mean we recognize there are differences and we’ve worked diligently and thoroughly to bridge that gap. But for them to come out as they have is, in a word, disappointing.
On Matsuzaka’s program for building up arm strength
We are familiar with the norms and practices that the Japanese pitchers go through and I want to be clear that the freedom and the lengthy bullpen have been provided and allowed for as long as the strength and the test results that we put all of our pitchers through meet a minimum standard. That doesn’t mean he has to be pristine in terms of his overall shoulder condition overall should strength but when you allow a pitcher to ramp up volume when he’s in an area that is somewhat of a red flag, that’s just being negligent on our part – whether it’s Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Smoltz whoever it might be. We are going to have specific work plans for every pitcher and Daisuke is going to be no different.
Now his theory might be ‘I’m going to get my arm in shape just by throwing’. Well we feel there is a support structure with the rest of the body that needs to be in a condition of core strength, flexibility and endurance to support the stresses that the throwing motion or the arm is going to be put through. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Japan, the Dominican or the States. The human body has movements that it goes through that you’ve got to support with overall conditioning and strength in addition to throwing. But if you just take it from a throwing standpoint I think you’re getting to a point of diminishing return and putting your arm in jeopardy of further injury and that’s what we’ve felt all along and that’s what we’ve tried to educate him on and we’ve gone to extreme lengths because he is that valuable and that talented and he deserves that.
On how close/if Daisuke will pitch in a major league game this year…
We are hopeful that he comes back in September because right now the long toss program and the throwing program he is on which again is outlined week to week with his input based on how he feels with the stresses and intensity level outlined given in a week. The thing that we have not done is put a target date as a marker in the near future to say this is the game that we are hoping you are back in Boston for. And being attached to the calendar causes the pitcher or player to neglect how his body is feeling and what his body is telling him. In a sense we’re not letting Daisuke completely direct this but he is certainly included in the planning and the throwing going forward.
On Smoltz’s performance so far…
I think for everyone who watches games that he pitches or reads the box score, you see the line score, it’s less than what we maybe initially anticipated. But when you look at the stuff – the crispness to his fastball, the action to his slider, those have increased slightly each outing. Now there are adjustments that John clearly has to go through he still has to incorporate. I think from a pitch execution standpoint, because John is such an above average strike thrower, opposing hitters know he’s going to be around the plate.
A lot of time because of the engrained and very successful approach he has taken in Atlanta where a guy is pitched to the outside corner so much, hitters have gone in knowing he’s going to be around the plate and probably the outside part of plate a majority of the time. When location of his fastball, because his slider has not really been hit all that much, it centers around his fastball and when his fastball has not been consistent and he has missed to that area where hitters are looking for and not fearing a ball up and in on them at times that’s where some hard contact has come in. We still believe as an organization and staff here that he is going to pitch very productive games and he is going to win ball games for us. We signed him with that intent. He is doing work that he needs to. He will be the first to tell you that he is frustrated because it hasn’t happened sooner than it has.
On whether it more difficult pitching outside of Atlanta or away from the National League for Smoltz…
There are definitely differences. You look at the lineups that any pitcher is going to face here in the American League and certainly the American League East and there is certainly not the breather that the nine-hole in the National League, being the pitcher, is going to provide. The National League provides a little bit more of an ability to manage the lineup you’re facing. In other words, pitch around the four or five hole hitter, then you get into six hole hitter, and that’s not to degrade players in the National League but it’s a different style game and we are all aware of that. I think it is just a matter of John understanding that he has to allow or create some uneasiness in the hitters he is facing while they are in the box. At the same time John is going through somewhat of a learning curve. Any pitcher that comes back from surgery such as John has had they have to relearn themselves based on the type of stuff they have and how their body responds and how the action of the pitches respond particularly in key situations with men on base. I know the two out runs have been well documented here and that is where his focus and our focus is on making that necessary adjustment.
On the adjustments made by Buchholz
I think Clay has done a great job of meeting the challenges he faced a year ago. There was a lot of attention and a lot of emphasis placed on using his fastball more than he did a year ago, he’s done that. I think he’ s done a great job with managing the situation as it unfolds during the game and not slowing the game down, controlling his emotions, still executing pitches in those certain situations. There has been progress made in a number of areas. He comes back to us and the two games he has pitched, and he is obviously on the mound again tonight, he has made strides in those areas and to his creidt he has learned from the challenges and hardship that he went through a year ago and that is, I don’ t think, any different than a lot of guys as they are transitioning to the big leagues.
On Daniel Bard’s progress…
I think you have to look at the switch to the bullpen to make him a reliever as the single most important thing as far as Daniel not only getting to the major leagues but how he has flourished in that role. I think the ability to come in and attack for one inning, two innings rather than trying to balance and pace himself for six or seven innings it’s allowed him to find an energy and effort level in his delivery that has simplified his approach to pitching. That is his overall mindset and it obviously has been very successful for him we also recognize the challenges he faced when he was first signed. In A-ball he had to go back down to extended spring training to get rebuilt a little because the command issues were very evident. There is a little bit of a dynamic here in being with Cleveland in a position where you oversaw a lot of guys coming into the system, when guys are first round draft choices a lot times there is an intangible, a self induced pressure to uphold all the expectations of a first round draft choice. Once that player realizes his goal of getting to the big leagues a lot of that pressure evaporates and is eliminated. I think we are seeing some of that in Daniel where he is able to relax a little bit more, he has been able to allow his nature abilities to come out more. What we are seeing everytime he walks to the mound now and he has just done a great job in the overall refinement of his delivery and his strength throwing ability. They flashed a stat on the board last night before his first pitch of the inning that he had 9.3 innings in July with no walks two hits and 17 strikeouts. Those are almost fantasy league and video game-like numbers and it has just been great to see his evolvement here with us.
|07.27.09 at 7:31 pm ET|
For the second straight night, Mike Lowell is out of the lineup in favor of an infield alignment of Adam LaRoche at first and Kevin Youkilis at third. While it might be natural to wonder if the incumbent third baseman is antsy about his playing time following the deal for LaRoche last Thursday, he cautioned that it might be premature to obsess about the playing time situation.
“It has been three days,” said Lowell. “The world’s not coming to an end.”
To the contrary, Lowell anticipated that he would get more rest with the trade for LaRoche. That was, after all, one of the stated reasons for the deal – to give him more rest in keeping with the plan unhatched while Lowell was on the disabled list due to soreness in his right hip at the start of July.
In point of fact, Lowell suggested that he feels “great…really good,” and that he is pleased with how his hip is responding to the time on the sidelines.
That is not to say he is without concern. Lowell did express dismay about the performance of his club, which is now 3-6 in the second half while averaging just 2.8 runs per game.
“I’m much more concerned with playing teams that I feel like we should be playing against much better than they are. That’s not a one-man thing. I think that’s a 25-man thing,” said Lowell. “If we keep playing like this, there’s going to be major changes in the lineup. We’ve got to start swinging the bats, and we’ve got to start scoring runs.
“Winning determines who plays. We’ve got to win games. It’s simple,” he added. “If we’re not winning games, whether it’s from one aspect or another, we have to find the combination that does. I think we’re all on the same page on that.”
Of course, Lowell is also aware that if his club does not soon improve its play, then it will increase the likelihood that the Sox feel compelled to make a deal in the trade market. The days between now and July 31 come as an odd time for the Red Sox clubhouse, one in which manager Terry Francona suggested that the team might find it more difficult to perform based on “uncertainty.”
Lowell described an atmosphere of some excitement and curiosity about what the deadline might bring. Nonetheless, he also noted that the performance of teams down the stretch is not necessary dictated by deadline deals.
“I think there’s a lot of back-door action going on. I think that’s kind of exciting, waiting to see who’s going to make a big splash,” said Lowell. “I don’t think the trade on July 31st is always the answer. I think everyone kind of gets hyped up because it’s the trade deadline. More often than not, it doesn’t really pan out as this franchise-changing move. We’ll see.”
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