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Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox ‘more equipped than any other team’ to make a deal

04.29.15 at 1:23 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about potential solutions to the Red Sox‘ pitching woes as well as news around baseball. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

While Red Sox starters have turned in a 6.03 ERA on the year, Olney said that an even more concerning number has been coming out of the staff.

“It’s the ratio of innings between the starters and the bullpen,” he said. “Any miles you’re running early in the season is inevitably going to take its toll, and as of this morning the starters have thrown 112 innings and the bullpen has thrown 80. That’s an unbelievable ratio and workload early in the year for these guys.”

The only reason Olney said this is not a worst-case scenario is because the other teams in the AL East are facing struggles of their own. That in itself gives Boston a better chance to work out the kinks and gives the Sox some breathing room before crunch time.

“When you look at the way the rest of the division is playing out, at least they don’t have a Kansas City Royal team, a Detroit Tiger team running away, creating a big hole,” Olney said. “There are five teams dealing with various issues. That would be a worst-case scenario if you actually had a couple teams spreading away from the pack, but I think it’s part of the reason why the Red Sox probably have a little bit more time to deal with this, to give Buchholz, to give Wade Miley a couple more turns through the rotation to see if they’re going to make things better.”

For Olney, the most readily available solution for the Sox is to take a trip down to Pawtucket and give pitching prospects like Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez a chance to show their stuff in the majors.

“I know [the Red Sox] love the work that those guys showed in spring, and I just talked to an evaluator this morning with another team who said to me, ‘We love Rodriguez.’ They think Rodriguez might be one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, so those are two nice options for them to consider moving forward,” Olney said.

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Why Phillies’ potential interest in Red Sox top prospect Manuel Margot adds intrigue to Cole Hamels situation

04.29.15 at 11:37 am ET
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Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

In times like these, Red Sox fans should take note of all the travel plans for every top Phillies talent evaluator.

That’s why the Philadelphia Daily News report suggesting Charlie Manuel (now an adviser for the Phillies) will be venturing down to Salem, Virginia, to take a look at Red Sox top prospect Manuel Margot offers some intrigue.

According to major league sources, the Phillies’ demands for pitcher Cole Hamels remain extremely uncomfortable for those seeking to deal for the lefty. But with teams — such as the Red Sox — suddenly finding significant concerns in their starting rotations, Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro’s strategy of waiting for the right deal might pan out.

Right now, the Cardinals (losing Adam Wainwright), Yankees (injury to Masahiro Tanaka), Rangers (without Yu Darvish), Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy out for the season), and Mets (something to put them over the top) all would be considered candidates for Hamels’ services.

Then there’s the Red Sox, who are attempting to preach patience with their starters but carry a rotation with the worst ERA in the majors by more than half a run (6.03).

The Red Sox, according to a source, have let the Phillies know where they stand in regard to the price they’re willing to pay for Hamels. Outfielder Mookie Betts and catcher Blake Swihart are two players the Sox are not comfortable putting in the conversation.

That’s why the Phillies’ potential interest in Margot is intriguing.

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Curt Schilling on D&C: Clay Buchholz ‘not going to be a [No.] 1, that’s just not going to happen’

04.29.15 at 9:29 am ET
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ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday to talk pitching and offer his opinion on what’s going on with the Sox rotation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

For a team that scores as many runs as it does, clocking in at second in the league with 109, the Red Sox‘ run differential is concerning. Boston has a minus-nine in that category, having given up the most runs in the majors at 118. It also has the worst ERA for starting pitchers, a hefty 6.03. While there were reservations about stocking up on middle-of-the-rotation guys to fill out the staff, Schilling said even these results were unprecedented.

“That’s one of those ‘nobody saw it coming’ kind of things,” he said. “I don’t know what to say, I can’t explain it in a way other then they just pitched poorly, but — and I hate to beat a dead horse — but we were talking about No. 1s in spring training, we were talking about the lack of a true one and for me this is one of the things a [No.] 1 prevents.”

Schilling reiterated that having an ace or a clear No. 1 keeps teams in general from skidding and floundering down the line.

“When you have a Pedro [Martinez], you don’t go on five-game losing streaks, your starters don’t go four or five games in a row throwing five innings or less,” he said. “They change the bar and they set the bar and they stop things from happening, and generally you get imitation being the sincerest form of flattery where guys that are pitching against him and with him are trying to match and compete instead of trying to get through the fifth.”

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. R.A. Dickey

04.29.15 at 8:24 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello will make his fifth start of the season on Wednesday at home against the Blue Jays. Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will take the mound for Toronto.

Much like the rest of the Red Sox rotation, Porcello (1-2) has gotten off to an inconsistent start to 2015. His lone win came on a four-run, eight-inning gem against Washington in his second start of the year. Since then, Porcello allowed eight runs in five innings against the Orioles and four runs in six innings, also against Baltimore. His ERA has climbed to 6.48 and his WHIP has jumped to 1.44, both second worst among Red Sox starters behind Wade Miley. He already has allowed six home runs and has a batting average against of .277, both worst among Boston starting pitchers. The 26-year-old has shown that he can pitch like an ace when he has his best stuff, but the Red Sox would like to see that much more consistently.

In his last outing against Baltimore, Porcello allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven through six innings. He gave up a home run to Jimmy Paredes and received a no-decision, as the Red Sox mounted an eighth-inning comeback to get the win.

The most concerning stat for Porcello in his last outing may be the ground ball to fly ball ratio. For a pitcher who relies on getting outs on balls in play instead of strikeouts, Porcello would like to see more than three balls put on the ground as opposed to 12 in the air. Before his most recent start against Baltimore, Porcello spoke about his pitch selection, specifically about mixing in his rising four-seam fastball with his signature sinker.

“There’s a balance and there’€™s a fine line between throwing it the right amount and throwing it too much, you can get away from what I do best and what my strength is, which is throwing the sinker,” Porcello said. “The thing is I have the ability to throw a good four-seamer and generate some swings and misses. It’€™s just a matter of picking the right spots.”

In eight career games against Toronto, Porcello is 2-5 with a 4.70 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, 15 strikeouts and 12 walks. He has allowed four home runs to the Blue Jays in 44 total innings.

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Clay Buchholz takes some responsibility for poor performance: ‘I have to do a lot better job than that’

04.28.15 at 11:51 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz has a 5.40 ERA since the start of the 2014 season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has a 5.40 ERA since the start of the 2014 season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Another game, another poor outing from a Red Sox starter.

Coming into the season the Red Sox weren’t expected to have five pitcher’s competing for the Cy Young. But, what they’ve received through the first 21 games has been far from what anyone thought they would get.

Dependability was the word thrown around most, and the Red Sox starters have been anything but dependable.

No. 1 starter Clay Buchholz was the latest to go down, as he went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) all in the third inning before being boo’d off the Fenway Park mound in an eventual 11-8 loss to the Blue Jays. All the damage came after he was given a 4-0 lead going into the inning.

It was the second time in five starts this season where he’s failed to record two outs in the third inning and Tuesday was the shortest outing of his career since going 2 1/3 innings April 21 of last year against the Orioles.

“I mean, whenever the team gives you a four-run lead you’re supposed to come out a lot better than that,” said Buchholz. “Went out there with a game plan of throwing strikes, let them put the ball in play and get outs. Walked the first guy. All the contact that they made — they hit the ball hard and it wasn’t at any of our players in the field. I have to do a lot better job than that.”

“I have to do a better job of minimizing the damage in that inning and getting us back in there with the lead still. I didn’t do a good job of that,” he added.

Buchholz now has an ERA of 5.76 and Red Sox starters now have a collective ERA of 6.03, the worst in the majors. It’€™€™s the eighth time in 21 games the Red Sox’€™€™ starter has failed to make it out of the fifth inning. Furthermore, Buchholz is the third Red Sox starter to allow five earned runs in fewer than three innings this season. This comes after they had three such outings all of last season.

“I would have liked to stay in there a little bit longer, but that’s not my call,” Buchholz said. “I have have to do a better job of persuading I guess in a way. Couple of pitches that got hit hard, like I said, I felt like they were pretty good pitches. Other ones were mistakes in the zone and that is what good hitters are supposed to do. I am a lot better than that. Get them again in two more starts and I’ll do a lot better job next time.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox can’t overcome dismal Clay Buchholz start, fall to Blue Jays

04.28.15 at 10:12 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz was yanked after just 2 2/3 innings in Tuesday's loss to the Blue Jays. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz was yanked after just 2 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s loss to the Blue Jays. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If you thought the Red Sox‘ starting rotation had problems going into Tuesday, they just became a whole lot worse.

Handed a four-run lead going into the top of the third, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz imploded, allowing five runs (four earned) in the frame and was removed after recording just two outs with the Red Sox trailing 5-4.

Edward Mujica came on to allow three more runs in the fourth inning, all on the way to a 11-8 Red Sox loss to the Blue Jays.

“I mean, whenever the team gives you a four-run lead you’re supposed to come out a lot better than that,” Buchholz said. “Went out there with a game plan of throwing strikes, let them put the ball in play and get outs. Walked the first guy. All the contact that they made — they hit the ball hard and it wasn’t at any of our players in the field. I have to do a lot better job than that.”

Buchholz now has an ERA of 5.76 and Red Sox starters now have an ERA of 6.03, the worst in the majors. It’€™s the eighth time in 21 games the Red Sox’€™ starter has failed to make it out of the fifth inning. He is the third Red Sox starter to allow five earned runs in fewer than three innings this season. This after they had three such outings all of last season.

Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchinson wasn’t much better than Buchholz, as he allowed six runs in four innings on nine hits, while walking five.

The Red Sox did make a game of it late, as Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run just inside Pesky’s Pole in the eighth inning making it a two-run game at the time, but that would be as close as they would get. It was Ramirez’s 200th career homer.

“In our dugout, regardless of the score, there’€™s always a thought that ‘€” even tonight ‘€” we feel like we can comeback,” manager John Farrell said. “We did comeback, we answered. It felt like we still had an opportunity to win this game even though you’€™re down three-four runs in the middle innings. We’€™ve got to find a way to gain some consistency and, more importantly, maintain to momentum with a shut down inning.”

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The entire Blue Jays lineup. Every starter recorded a hit, as they finished with 17 in the game. Six of their nine starters had multiple hits.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Edward Mujica, Toronto Blue Jays

Clay Buchholz roughed up for 5 runs in 2 2/3 innings (all coming in 3rd inning)

04.28.15 at 7:50 pm ET
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As if you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Red Sox starters.

Handed a 4-0 lead going into the top of the third inning, Clay Buchholz imploded, allowing five runs (four earned) before being removed after recording just two outs in the inning against the Blue Jays Tuesday night. Toronto had five hits (all singles) in the inning.

He finished the outing going 2 2/3 innings allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits while walking one and striking out four.

Buchholz now has an ERA of 5.76 and Red Sox starters now have an ERA of 6.03, the worst in the majors. It’s the eight time in 21 games the Red Sox starter has failed to make it out of the fifth inning.

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Jackie Bradley rejoins Red Sox, says he’s better equipped to ‘take punches’

04.28.15 at 5:30 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

If Jackie Bradley has learned anything over the last difficult year, it’s that he can take a punch.

Bradley arrived to spring training in 2014 as the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury and left the season a few months later as an afterthought in an organization that had already moved on to Mookie Betts, with outfielders Rusney Castillo and Hanley Ramirez added for good measure.

But with the Red Sox in need of a bat — and late-innings defense in the outfield — Bradley returned to Fenway on Tuesday afternoon feeling better equipped for the big leagues than he was a year ago.

“I’m mentally stronger,” Bradley said before the Red Sox played the Blue Jays. “I’ve been through a lot. I continue to grind. You really find out who you are as a person and a man when you’re able to constantly take punches and be able to press forward.

“I’m just thankful to be playing baseball. I’m glad to be here right now.”

The abuse Bradley absorbed was certainly earned. He hit just .198 in 127 games and left the Red Sox no choice but to demote him late in what could’ve been a Gold Glove season. But Bradley arrived in Fort Myers around New Year’s for workouts and cage sessions with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, and the result has been a player swinging the bat much more in line with his rise through the minors.

Bradley was hitting .315 with a .383 on base percentage in Pawtucket. He may never be a dynamic big league hitter, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to swing well enough to keep his glove in somebody’s lineup.

And if he absorbs criticism along the way, he has developed a thick skin.

“You’€™ve got to continue to grind,” he said. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you, so you’€™ve got to continue to work, and the hard work will pay off. Life, you’€™ve got a lot of tough lessons. You’€™ve got to continue to grow and continue to work.”

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Red Sox injury updates: Mike Napoli out ‘couple of days,’ Shane Victorino targeting at-bats early next week

04.28.15 at 4:32 pm ET
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First baseman Mike Napoli missed Monday’s game with the Blue Jays with an illness, and that illness will keep him out at least a few more days.

Manager John Farrell said prior to Tuesday’s game Napoli would be out “probably next couple of days.” His illness is contagious, so the team is being careful.

Daniel Nava has started at first base both nights in Napoli’s absence.

After being placed on the disabled list April 25 with a hamstring injury, Shane Victorino is taking the steps needed to make a return as soon as next weekend. He’s eligible to return next Friday (May 8) in Toronto.

“Vic’s running will increase with intensity today,” said Farrell. “Would anticipate that he continues to ramp up through the weekend and hopefully early next week would be able to go out and get some at-bats.”

The only issue of coming back next Friday is playing on the new artificial turf in Toronto for a weekend series, which has caused some issues to some players already. Farrell said the team will monitor the situation and know more as next Friday gets closer.

“The reports coming out of teams that have gone through there have been — it’s a new turf. It’s extremely long, the blade of artificial grass, the depth of the crushed rubber is deep,” Farrell said. “It looks like some guys have had some negative effects on their legs after playing up there. Whether or not Vic is ready to be activated, next Friday is the day, we’ll determine that when we get closer to it.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

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Jackie Bradley recalled, Steven Wright optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket

04.28.15 at 4:07 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

For the third straight day the Red Sox made a roster move, this time to get back to standard 12 pitcher, 13 position player roster.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and pitcher Steven Wright was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket. Wright was called up Monday, but wasn’t needed in the game.

“We needed to add another position player,” manager John Farrell said. “Mike Napoli is still day-to-day and with last night’s outing of Joe Kelly and where we came through last night, felt like our bullpen was caught up enough to go back to 12 pitchers. Jackie will be in a reserve role coming off the bench.”

Bradley got the call around 1:15 this afternoon, and received plenty of congratulatory hugs from his teammates upon arriving in the clubhouse.

“Just coming off the bench,” Bradley said of his role. “Maybe late inning and just I have to be ready to go in at any notice.”

After not making the Opening Day roster, Bradley has enjoyed a lot of success at Triple-A, as he was hitting .315 through his first 18 games with an on-base percentage of .383.

“He’s maintained the swing he showed in spring training, which I think he’s back to the stroke he had as an amateur and in the early days of his pro career,” Farrell said. “I thought last year there was maybe some length added to his swing. Opened up some holes. But it’s more of a line drive all fields approach that he’s maintained.”

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