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Sources: Chances of Red Sox dealing Beckett less than 50-50; team not close on adding or subtracting

07.30.12 at 9:40 pm ET
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With a bit more than 18 hours left until the trade deadline, here is where things stand with the Red Sox, based on conversations with multiple major league sources:

— A major league source disputed the notion that the Sox were actively shopping or looking to engage in an outright dump of Josh Beckett, in which the team would be willing to absorb the lion’s share of his contract. If the Sox were to move the right-hander, part of the reason would be financial relief from one of the team’s biggest long-term deals. That said, the team has engaged in conversations about the right-hander with other teams, discussing a variety of packages that might offer the framework for a potential deal.

For now, the source portrayed the Red Sox as being more likely to retain Beckett than to trade him, pegging the chances of a deal as less than 50 percent. There is considerable complexity related to a deal involving the pitcher, including: a) the player return for the pitcher; b) the amount of the remaining roughly $37 million on his deal that would be assumed by both teams in a deal; and c) Beckett’s right, as a player with 10 years of major league service and five with the same team, to veto a trade.

The source said that the Red Sox have not gotten to the stage in negotiations with other teams at which they would have asked Beckett about his willingness to waive his 10/5 right to veto a deal.

WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported earlier on Monday that the Braves and Rangers are not in on the pitcher right now.

— The team is not discussing Jon Lester with other teams. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Cody Ross, daniel nava, jarrod saltalamacchia

Red Sox notes: Setbacks for David Ortiz (minor) and Scott Atchison (MRI)

07.30.12 at 8:46 pm ET
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Bobby Valentine hinted Monday that he is hopeful that slugger David Ortiz could return from a strained right Achilles injury by the end of the week, despite a setback over the weekend in his strength and conditioning program. Ortiz told ESPN that he could not complete agility drills for his feet and instead had to take to running in a swimming pool for treatment and therapy on his right foot.

Ortiz, who leads the Red Sox in homers (23) and slugging (.609) and OPS (1.015), injured himself on July 16 while rounding second base on an eighth-inning, go-ahead homer by Adrian Gonzalez. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and is eligible to come off on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if it was ever on goal,” Valentine said of Ortiz coming off the DL after 15 days. “Whenever he’s ready. He’s running in the pool and we’ll take it from there. He’s not far away but I don’t know that Wednesday is the magical day but it will be sometime soon. He’s swinging OK. It doesn’t seem like he’s lost a lot of his rhythm or strength or timing. But he’s only at about 80 percent because he’s trying to keep away from making the situation any worse.”

As for not performing the agility test, Valentine said the team was using precaution after Ortiz reported soreness.

“A little sore [Saturday],” Valentine said. “That’s why he went to the pool today to do that running routine.”

Infielder Mike Aviles continues to nurse turf-toe, with the team deciding not to place him on the disabled list.

“Mike’s dealing with a turf toe,” Valentine said. “It’s not a life-threatening situation but it sure is an incumberance. We’re just trying to see what we can do to get that feeling out of there.

“It’s not fun to deal with. The less he strains it in the athletic motions of playing, the better it can calm down. If it calms down, we’ll have a 100 percent Mike back. He could play the game, go in in an emergency, pinch-hit, do all those things. We wouldn’t pinch-run him necessarily but he could if we had to.”

The news did not seem as encouraging on Scott Atchison, the Red Sox right-handed reliever who allowed three runs in his rehab outing Friday night in Pawtucket. The next day he reported soreness in his right forearm. When he went on the disabled list on July 15, he was 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games.

“He had an MRI today and we’re waiting on the results,” Valentine said. “It seemed like he went in with a forearm and it moved back, up closer to the elbow. It seemed like 15 days ago it was just going to be he needed just a couple of days rest. And then we gave him a lot of rest, and then when he threw, it didn’t feel good the next day.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, Big Papi, Bobby Valentine, Boston Red Sox

Trade Deadline: Dodgers reportedly make push for Cubs starter Ryan Dempster

07.30.12 at 3:41 pm ET
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According to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com, the Dodgers are engaged in trade talks for Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, and those talks apparently gained steam Monday.

Dempster has been one of the most coveted trade deadline pieces, but a deal has yet to get done for him even on the eve of the trade deadline. The Cubs and Braves could not complete a trade last week when Dempster refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Miller indicated the Dodgers initially seemed more interested in another Cubs starter, Matt Garza. He also wrote that the Cubs originally wanted highly touted prospect Zach Lee in exchange for Dempster, a guy considered off-limits by the Dodgers.

The Dodgers acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins last week and have moved into a first-place tie with the Giants in the NL West.

Dempster, 35, is 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA, which is the second-best starter ERA in the NL.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Ryan Dempster,

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick on M&M: Teams not ‘jumping through hoops’ to acquire Josh Beckett

07.30.12 at 2:33 pm ET
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick joined Mut & Merloni on Monday afternoon, a day before the MLB trade deadline, to talk about Josh Beckett‘s value, what the front office might do in the next day, Carl Crawford and team issues. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Beckett has been at the forefront of trade rumors for the Red Sox, though his somewhat negative reputation and large contract present an obvious obstacle for a trade.

“I can tell you this, I think that obviously he’s not the pitcher he used to be,” Crasnick said. “He’s making a lot of money and, frankly, I don’t think his reputation as a guy who’s going to come into a situation and improve your clubhouse is the best. And teams are conscious of that. It’s probably unfair, I think if he went into a place that was winning he would go in there and fit well. But he hasn’t pitched that great, he’s been pretty good, but if teams are going to pick up that kind of money, I think they want superior performance. Right now on a good staff people look at him as a three or fourth-starter type. To be honest, I don’t think people are really jumping through hoops on this from what I’ve seen.”

Added Crasnick: “I think Ben Cherington downplayed [trading Beckett] a little bit, which is in his interest. He wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t calling around on this guy. … I just think his market is undercut from some of the other options out there. I just don’t know that they’re going to get a lot for him, unless they’re willing to pick up an awful lot of the salary. If they’re spending a ton of money to get rid of the guy, is it really worth making the trade to begin with? Because you’re not getting any salary relief.”

If the Red Sox choose to trade righty-hitting outfielder Cody Ross, it could be a signal of the team’s selling nature.

“He’s another guy we haven’t heard a ton on his name,” Crasnick said. “He’s a pretty good rental type of player. He’s a good guy in the clubhouse. He’s a good right-handed hitter, he hits lefties. I don’t know that the Red Sox are really in a position in that market to start pumping on the season. … I think teams like Boston and Tampa, especially Boston given the demands of that market, I don’t see them becoming a huge seller. I think they can strategically move some guys and move some salary. Cody Ross is a pretty handy guy to have, and I don’t know that what you’re going to get in return really exceeds the value of what he gives to your team now.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Cody Ross, Jerry Crasnick, Josh Beckett

Trade Deadline: Phillies P Cliff Lee reportedly ‘in play’

07.30.12 at 1:04 pm ET
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ESPN’€™s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that the Phillies are entertaining offers for pitcher Cliff Lee.

Tweeted Olney: Cliff Lee is in play in trade talks today. Rangers obviously the most logical landing spot, with 3B Mike Olt as possible centerpiece.

According to Olney’€™s sources, the price will be steep, as the Phillies are looking for a significant package of prospects in return.

Olney also tweeted that the Yankees are not expected to pursue Lee, as they lack the budget space to take on his sizable contract.

The 33-year-old lefty is due $25 million in each of the next three seasons. He is just 1-6 with a respectable 3.95 ERA in 2012.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Cliff Lee,

Trade Deadline: A’s reportedly interested in Jays SS Yunel Escobar, Diamondacks SS Stephen Drew

07.30.12 at 12:31 pm ET
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After missing out on acquiring Hanley Ramirez, the A’s reportedly have set their sights on Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Escobar is an option for the A’s, while the Blue Jays are believed to have strong interest in Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson.

On Monday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Arizona’s Stephen Drew had joined Escobar among the A’€™s top choices at shortstop.

The Jays (51-50) could be willing to deal Escobar given they have highly-touted Cuban prospect Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the minors.

Heyman reported that the Mariners also could be interested in Escobar.

The 29-year-old is hitting .255 with seven homers and 35 RBIs for Toronto. He is under contract through 2013 with club options for both 2014 and 2015.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays

Opinion: Time for Terry Francona to move on

07.30.12 at 11:54 am ET
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Terry Francona is better than this, isn’t he?

Look, we all get it. We really do. Francona is still Level 5 pissed about all that happened last year — the failure of ownership to pick up his options during the season, agreeing to play along with the idea that his exit was a mutual decision and not a firing, and of course the natural suspicion that Someone Upstairs was one of the leaks to Bob Hohler. He was embarrassed, his reputation was injured, and no one in ownership (particularly the now-reclusive John Henry) jumped, walked or even raised a finger at the chance to publicly defend the character of the most successful manager in franchise history.

Yup, no checks were bounced, no contracts were violated. Understood. The Red Sox paid Terry Francona millions and millions of dollars to manage a baseball team until they didn’t want him to manage anymore. It happens all the time. But let’s be fair: Lots of times we don’t know who is right and who is wrong but not on this one. Ownership v. Francona is a battle the Sox will never win. And, at 51-51 with chaos rife in the organization — you can’t handle things worse than the Sox did with Carl Crawford on Saturday, total amateur hour — Francona looks better every single day. I had no problem with Francona losing his job last year for all the reasons that have been laid out a million times, but I think we all, on July 30, now know that last September wasn’t really Francona’s fault.

And that’s why I was stunned to read about Francona walking into the Sox locker room at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, pulling up a chair and holding court with a dozen or so players as if the last nine months had never happened. Bizarre at best, calculated and fueled by revenge at its worst.

Listen, obviously there are occasionally familiar faces in the clubhouse before games. But this isn’t Kevin Millar or Sean Casey or Nomar Garciaparra. Francona is hugely popular with a significant voting block on that team, many if not most of whom aren’t thrilled with the guy who took Francona’s job. Also, there’s the very public matter of serious acrimony between ownership and Francona, and that’s not in the past tense. There have been recent tales of more phone calls unanswered and disrespect and confusion and promises broken and all the drama that has made for thousands of hours of hideous country music over the years.

Francona is clearly affected by this, understandably. He’s hurt. But it’s time to stop, to stop talking about his feelings to the media, to stop making a case that has already been judged and rendered many times over. We get it, there’s no new ground to cover. You’ve won and it’s not even close. No one thinks the owners are right on this. Quit while you’re ahead.

But it seems he can’t do that. Don’t be confused, what Francona did on Saturday was done only to symbolically give ownership the middle finger. He put Valentine in a terrible position, made him look weak (he sent Valentine a text message to apologize the next day) in front of players who don’t mind Valentine looking weak. It was a power play that was completely unnecessary, a bully move made out of frustration for allowing himself to be bullied. When you get divorced, you lose the right to go back into your old house, put your feet up and have control of the remote.

Terry Francona needs to move on. He’s not going to get an apology from John Henry or Larry Lucchino or Tom Werner. If that was going to happen it would have happened already. If he really doesn’t know who the leak (or leaks) are in the Hohler story, he’s not going to find out from those guys. Fool me once and all of that. Nothing is going to change, and he has to accept it. It’s still OK, I guess, the wounds are still fresh, but how much longer until Francona’s semi-regular pity parties become pathetic?

The moral high ground is a wonderful thing (I’m told). Francona, in the  public eye at least, owns it against Sox ownership. In a perfect world that should be enough, right?

Guess not.

Read More: John Henry, Terry Francona,

Trade Deadline: Shane Victorino appears likely to be traded

07.30.12 at 11:44 am ET
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Shane Victorino‘€™s long run with the Phillies appears to be nearing an end.

ESPN.com’€™s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Phillies ‘€œhave too many trade options for Victorino to fathom that he’ll stay put.’€

Crasnick lists the Dodgers, Reds, Pirates and Giants among the teams linked to Victorino, who makes $9.5 million this season. The 31-year-old center fielder becomes a free agent at season’€™s end.

Victorino is hitting .261 this season with nine home runs, 40 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. A lifetime .277 hitter, Victorino joined the Phillies in 2005 and has played the entirety of his major league career in Philadelphia with the exception of a brief stint for the Padres in 2003.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Jerry Crasnick, Philadelphia Phillies, Shane Victorino

Trade Deadline: Indians reportedly shopping Justin Masterson, drawing interest from Red Sox

07.30.12 at 11:39 am ET
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Losers in seven of their last 10 games, the fading Indians are shopping Opening Day starter Justin Masterston, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.

According to Knobler, the Red Sox had scouts on hand to watch their former pitcher Saturday in Minnesota, where the 27-year-old righty allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Rangers, Cardinals and Orioles also could be interested.

Masterson, who appeared in a total of 67 games for the Sox in 2008 and 2009, is 7-9 with a 4.49 ERA this season.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Danny Knobler

Monday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Max Scherzer

07.30.12 at 9:26 am ET
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After pulling back to .500 with a series win in the Bronx, the Red Sox (51-51) return to Fenway Monday night to take on Max Scherzer and the Tigers.

Taking the mound for Boston is a much-improved Clay Buchholz (8-3, 4.93). The 27-year-old was shelled by the Tigers in his first start of the year, giving up seven earned runs over just four innings. Buchholz continued to struggle through much of April and parts of May but ran up an 8-2 record through June 19, thanks in large part to receiving more run support than any pitcher in the league.

Since then, the right-hander dropped a game to the Rays on July 14 in his first start back from a trip to the DL, but he has allowed just one run in each of his last two starts. The offense, however, has abandoned him in those starts, giving him a combined one run of support.

The Sox are 25-28 at home this season, while Buchholz is 5-1 with a 4.83 ERA in nine starts at Fenway. Despite the tough start in April, Buchholz has been effective in his career against the current Tigers lineup, allowing just two home runs in 107 at-bats. Overall, Detroit is hitting .252 with 16 RBIs and 22 strikeouts against him. Jhonny Peralta owns seven of those RBIs, as he boasts a .357 average with two doubles and a single in 14 at-bats against Buchholz.

At 54-48, Detroit enters the final series of a nine-game road trip trailing the White Sox by 1½ games in the Central. Fenway has been anything but friendly to the Tigers, who’€™ve lost seven of their last eight games in the ballpark, including the first three games of their most recent visit in late May.

It was Scherzer (10-5, 4.49 ERA) however, who lead them to a 7-3 victory in the series finale, allowing three earned runs over six innings of work. He was 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA over his previous four matchups and gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings to the Red Sox on April 8.

The 28-year-old has been solid of late, heading into this series 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA over his last seven starts. His 142 strikeouts put him third in the AL behind only teammate Justin Verlander (146) and Seattle’€™s Felix Hernandez (153).

The current Red Sox lineup is hitting a combined .296 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 71 at-bats against Scherzer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Detroit Tigers, Max Scherzer
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