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Source: Red Sox ‘undecided’ on bid for Tsuyoshi Nishioka

11.19.10 at 4:24 pm ET
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According to a major league source familiar with the situation, as of Friday afternoon the Red Sox were still “undecided” regarding whether they will be submitting a bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was posted by the Chiba Lotte Marines. Teams have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to submit bids in regards to Nishioka, a 26-year-old switch-hitter who won the Japanese Pacific League batting title with a .346 average in 2010.

While Nishioka has played shortstop throughout his professional career, some believe he would be better suited for second base in the major leagues. The Red Sox did draw interest at the recent GM meetings in Orlando for shorstop Marco Scutaro, who is scheduled to earn $5 million next season, while holding a $6 million team option, or $3 million player option for 2012.

Part of any hesitation regarding attempting to secure the services of Nishioka might be due to the progression of shortstop Jose Iglesias, who continued to impress with his play in the Arizona Fall League and is thought to be on track to compete for a major league job in 2012.

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

Minor Details: Keith Law on Sox trade chips

11.19.10 at 3:22 am ET
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Keith Law of ESPN.com joined this week’s installment of Minor Details. The weekly podcast, which examines the shape of the Red Sox farm system, focused this week on how well positioned the Red Sox are to make trades this winter now that the Hot Stove season seems to have been ignited.

Law touched on a number of topics, including:

–Is it worth trading top prospects for a one-year rental such as Adrian Gonzalez? Law suggested that while he thinks that the Padres superstar first baseman would thrive outside of Petco Park, the fact that he is only signed through 2011 means that the Red Sox should not deal a top prospect — such as Casey Kelly — for him.

“In the Red Sox’ division, I wonder if they’re ever really high enough of a probability of making the playoffs that it’s worth giving up prospect depth,” said Law. “You could probably look at Kelly and say he could be in the big leagues in 2012. Maybe not with the Red Sox, but he’s not that far away. … Casey Kelly is not untouchable for me, but he’s pretty darn close to it. I don’t think I’d trade Casey Kelly for one year of Adrian Gonzalez, and I love Adrian Gonzalez.”

–Do the Red Sox have the pieces to trade for superstars such as Justin Upton this offseason? For many teams, Law believes the answer is yes. There might be some clubs that are looking for what he described as the “country strong,” light-up-the-radar gun pitching prospect who is not to be found in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. But for most clubs, the array and depth of prospects the Sox feature create the basis for deal.

“Your currency may not be good at all 29 banks in the trade market,” said Law. “It might be good at 20 of them. That’s good enough in most cases.”

–Whether there are untouchables in the Red Sox system?

–The trade value of Felix Doubront, whom Law described as a valuable secondary component to a deal because he is big league ready and capable of either taking a spot in the back of the rotation or filling a bullpen role right now.

“He’s valuable as a chip because he’s a big league-ready arm in some role … who will make no money,” said Law. “That’s tremendous value. … You can’t build a deal around Felix Doubront, but he has a lot of value as the second or even third player in a larger deal because he delivers value to the acquiring club from day one.”

Law described Doubront as being a great fit for teams like the Padres and Pirates.

–How the Sox might view the possibility of trading either Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo, based on their relative values, their potential and the fact that the team has some redundancy at first base. Law describes Rizzo as potentially having 30-35 home run power, making him “the more valuable property,” although he also noted that Anderson could play first base for a major league club on opening day.

–Does Jose Iglesias make Jed Lowrie expendable? Does Jed Lowrie make Jose Iglesias expendable? Law described Lowrie as being, like Doubront, a very valuable secondary piece to a deal, a major league-ready piece but someone who does not anchor a deal. Iglesias — about whose defense Law raved — might have more trade value, or value to the Red Sox.

–At what position do the Red Sox possess the greatest surplus for a deal?

–Why did Andrew Miller project to be a star in college, and why does he now represent a project hoping to salvage his career.

–How are Red Sox prospects such as Ryan Lavarnway and some Rule 5-eligible relievers performing in the Arizona Fall League?

To listen to the podcast, click here.

To listen to the first episode of the podcast, discussing Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects with Sox farm director Mike Hazen and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, click here.

To send feedback or suggestions for future episodes, email aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Adeiny Hechevarria, adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, andrew miller

Report: Scutaro trade market taking shape

11.18.10 at 8:55 pm ET
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Could it be one and done for yet another Red Sox shortstop? According to CSNNE.com, the Red Sox would be open to a deal of shortstop Marco Scutaro — who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Boston almost a year ago, in exchange for bullpen help.

The Red Sox have dealt with a well-documented shortstop merry-go-round since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. The team signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year deal after that season, only to trade him to the Braves after one season. The team signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for 2006, then inked Julio Lugo to a four-year pact starting in 2007. But Lugo spent just one full year as the Sox’ everyday shortstop before injuries and poor performances led him to be dumped in mid-2009. Now, it would appear that there is at least a chance that Scutaro would part ways with the Sox before the conclusion of his deal.

According to the report, the Red Sox have received interest from a half-dozen clubs in shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scutaro signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal last offseason. He will make $5 million in 2011, with a $6 million club option that comes with a $1.5 million buyout, as well as a $3 million player option for the 2012 season. The report suggests that a number of teams — including the Cardinals, Reds, Padres and Giants — are in the shortstop market, and that the Sox would be open to moving Scutaro in exchange for bullpen help. In his place, the team could turn to Jed Lowrie at shortstop, with a possibility of having Jose Iglesias emerge sometime in mid- to late-2012.

Scutaro, in his first year in Boston, set a career high with 150 games despite dealing with injuries for much of the season. He hit .275 with a .333 OBP, .388 slugging mark, .721 OPS, 11 homers and 56 RBI, spending most of the season in the leadoff spot. Lowrie played 55 games down the stretch, spending most of his time at second and shortstop while hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers and 24 RBI.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,

GM meetings recap: What Wednesday meant to the Red Sox

11.18.10 at 7:35 am ET
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Wednesday marked the second full day of the GM meetings in Orlando. For a look back at Day 1, click here.

In 2008, there was not a single transaction that occurred at the GM meetings. In that context, two years seems like quite a long time ago.

This year’s GM meetings feel less as if they are transpiring in the shadow of Disney as much as they are in the middle of a bazaar. There’s been plenty of activity, both real and stage-setting.

While Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told reporters that he did not anticipate that the club would do anything of note before leaving Orlando, three notable transactions took place to further shape the market for offseason deals:

–The Tigers signed free agent Joaquin Benoit, an outstanding performer for the Rays in a huge bounceback 2010 season, to a somewhat staggering three-year, $16.5 million contract. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings while pitching on an incentive-laden deal for the Rays in 2010. Implications for the Red Sox: The Sox are no fans of multi-year deals for relievers, and while they were prepared to bite the bullet on a deal spanning multiple seasons for relief arms, this deal — for a middle reliever — will no doubt embolden pitchers like Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes to shoot very high. With three years now a baseline for the relief market (for a pitcher who is one year removed from missing an entire season), the Sox’ task of adding bullpen arms became more challenging, especially with the top 2010 performer no longer available.

–The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Rajai Davis from the Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Implications for the Red Sox: Limited, especially since the Blue Jays were not expected to be major players for the outfielders (such as Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth) whom the Sox are more likely targeting.

–The Chibe Lotte Marines of the NPB will make shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka available to Major League Baseball clubs via the posting process. Implications for the Red Sox: Assuming that the 26-year-old, who led the Pacific League with a .346 average, is acquired and signed by a major league team other than the Red Sox, it could take away a potential suitor should the Sox decide to try to move either Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie. Alternately, the Sox could make a bid for Nishioka, in which case the club could more freely market Scutaro or Lowrie (much as the A’s did by acquiring pitcher Hishasi Hiwakuma and then dealing starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals as part of the deal for outfielder David DeJesus).

While those were the deals that actually got done, there was yet another wave of rumors and statements to help illuminate where the Red Sox stand in the offseason. Here, broken down by area, were the major developments from Wednesday.

OWNERSHIP, PAYROLL AND OVERALL OFFSEASON STRATEGY

–Red Sox chairman Tom Werner appeared on The Big Show and shed light on the Sox’ commitment to return to the postseason next year. (For a transcript of his remarks, click here.) He observed that the Sox had the second highest payroll in the majors last year, and that they anticipated “a robust payroll, probably as high as last year if not higher.” He also suggested that the team will move aggressively to improve its roster, and made clear that he and Sox ownership have no intentions of treating 2011 as a “bridge year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bridge year, carl crawford, casey kelly

Why it’s time to trade Jonathan Papelbon

11.17.10 at 8:19 pm ET
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Let the games, and rumors, begin.

The general managers’ meetings are under way down in Orlando and things are starting to heat up. When it comes to your Boston Red Sox, be ready to hear how they are in on every major free agent out there. Part of it may be due diligence and part of it may be sincere interest. We will probably never know which it is, but one thing that we do know is that the Sox have holes that need to be filled, and because of their roster flexibility, there isn’t a position on the field other than second base where they can’t improve.

Theo Epstein already has come out and said that improving the Sox bullpen will be one of the priorities this offseason. We all know that they need some help in the ‘pen, but could addition by subtraction be the answer?

I think it’s time to trade Jonathan Papelbon. Yes, I have had a change in heart. I preached all season long that Pap wasn’t going anywhere and that the Sox needed to add arms, not lose them. But, going into his last year of arbitration before he hits free agency following the 2011 season, Papelbon will cost the Sox close to $12 million in 2011.

As long as Pap is wearing a Red Sox uniform, he is indeed the closer of this team. Which leads us to the real issue. Jonathan Papelbon is still a very good closer when you compare him to others around the league, but he is no longer an “elite” closer. All you have to do is look at the last couple of years. His walks per nine innings are up. His hits per nine innings are up. There is just too much inconsistency in his game these days whether it is due to his mechanics or just the wear and tear given the position he plays.

One of the main reasons why I didn’t feel that the Sox should trade Pap this offseason was because I didn’t feel that there would be much of a market for him. I don’t think that has changed. He is due an awful lot of money next year, and given his desire to test out free agency following 2011, any team that would entertain acquiring Pap may only have his services for one year.

If the Sox were to find a match, I don’t see them getting anything more than a few prospects as well as possibly having to eat some of Pap’s salary. I know that doesn’t sound like a good deal, but if the Sox were to get a couple of prospects that, say … Jed Hoyer out in San Diego likes as well … it may become extremely beneficial in their pursuit of Adrian Gonzalez in the future.

OK, so why the change of heart? Two reasons.

No. 1. Have you seen how many quality relievers are available in this free agent class? If it’s lefties you’re looking for, you can start with Scott Downs, but it doesn’t end there. How about names like Brian Fuentes, Pedro Feliciano, Randy Choate or Arthur Rhodes, to name a few. Oh, you’d rather have a quality righty coming out of the ‘pen? OK. How would you feel about Grant Balfour, Matt Guerrier, Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch, Kevin Gregg or Frank Francisco. I know I’d feel pretty good if the Sox could get a couple of those guys.

No. 2. In order to sign a couple of pitchers from that list, it’s going to cost you. It sounds like Theo Epstein has already earmarked money for at least one reliever in free agency. The Sox can take the $10 million or so that they will be saving by dealing Pap (even if they pick up some of his contract) and sign a couple more of those guys.

My point? It’s time to hand the job over to Daniel Bard. There couldn’t be a better time. With the quality in this year’s free agent class, the Sox can surround their young closer with three veteran relievers. I think that we’ve all seen enough from Bard to think that he is more than capable of getting the job done.

It will soon be decision time for the Sox on Jonathan Papelbon. Do they trade him? Do they offer him arbitration? Do they let him go? The last one seems extremely unlikely, but ask yourself this: If you are starting to lose confidence in your closer, why hand over close to $12 million and put yourself through six months of second guessing about who to bring in in the ninth?

I just told you what I think they should do. Now, I’ll tell you what they are probably going to do: They’ll bring back Pap and I’ll be asked the same question I did all last year.

“Why don’t they just let Baaaaahd close?”

Good question!!!

Read More: adrian gonzalez, arthur rhodes, brian fuentes, Daniel Bard

Dustin Pedroia on The Laser Show: ‘I don’t pay attention’ to rumors

11.17.10 at 7:30 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined The Big Show on Wednesday with his weekly Laser Show. Pedroia talked about free agency from his point of view, his health and offseason recovery among other topics, and he took a few questions from callers.

“I’m feeling good,” Pedroia said. “I actually squatted this last week three sets of 10, man, so it’s kind of a big week for me. I’m doing a lot more lifting some weights with my lower body and I’m pretty sore right now, but I’m right on schedule. I feel great.”

To hear the entire interview, visit The Big Show’s audio on demand page.

What are you up to? What video game are you playing right now?

No, you know what, I’m not really playing anything. I’m talking to you guys, but, you I’ve been just working out and living the dream man. You know what, I change that. I’m actually participating in the dream. A lot of people try to live it, but I’m actually doing something.

How are you feeling? We’ll get all of the health stuff out of the way.

Yeah, let’s get it out of the way. I’m feeling good. I actually squatted this last week three sets of 10, so it’s kind of a big week for me. I’m doing a lot more, lifting some weights with my lower body and I’m pretty sore right now, but, you know, I’m right on schedule. I feel great.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andre ethier, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury

Source: Red Sox interested in Justin Upton, but ‘nothing even close’

11.17.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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ORLANDO — According to a major league source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox are interested in acquiring outfielder Justin Upton – no surprise, since most major league clubs would be interested in a 23-year-old budding superstar — but there is “nothing even close” in talks between the Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.

According to USA Today, both the Yankees and Red Sox have talked with the Arizona Diamondbacks about the availability of outfielder Justin Upton. The report, which cited anonymous sources from all three organizations, suggests that the Yankees have fallen short of the Diamondbacks’ demands, the Sox “remain engaged:”

“While the Yankees’ package has not met the Diamondbacks’ demands, according to officials from New York and Arizona, the Red Sox still are engaged in talks.

“If somebody wants to overpay,” Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said, “I’ll be more than willing to listen. It’s just a thing where people are kicking the tires right now. That’s it.”

USA Today was the first to report that the Diamondbacks are listening to offers on Upton, but a major league source told WEEI.com yesterday that there were “no legs” to talks between the Sox and Arizona, whose new GM, Kevin Towers, has been a frequent trading partner of Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Even so, discussion about Upton’s availability have persisted, and given both the talent (the former All-Star is just the 25th player in major league history to hit 60 or more homers through his age 22 season) and affordability (he has five years and $49.5 million remaining on the six-year deal he signed last spring) will ensure that he will remain of significant interest.

The Arizona Republic reported that the Diamondbacks would want four or five players — three of them either big leaguers or big league-ready — in any deal regarding the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, gm meetings, justin upton, kevin towers
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