Archive for July, 2011

Red Sox beat buzzer with Bedard deal

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — So, how close did it come?

The Red Sox have a history of pushing the boundaries of the trade deadline. In eight previous years under Theo Epstein, the Sox had consummated 10 different trades on July 31, including a couple of complex deals — a four-team swap to move Nomar Garciaparra and acquire Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in 2004 and a three-team deal to send Manny Ramirez packing in favor of Jason Bay — that barely squeezed under the 4 p.m. deadline.

This year, the clock was once again winding down toward the deadline.

“It wasn’€™t clear we were going to be able to get anything done until the last minute again,” said Epstein. “I don’€™t know why that always happens to us. … It was a little stressful.”

The Sox and Mariners could not match up precisely based on the prospects in the Red Sox system — there were players whom the Sox didn’t want to sacrifice — and so Boston had to find another party to give the Mariners the return that they needed to move Bedard. (more…)

Theo Epstein: Erik Bedard ‘can go out and beat anybody’

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — It came down to the wire, but the Red Sox were determined not to let the trade deadline pass without getting a deal done for a starting pitcher.

“We would not have been satisfied had we let the deadline pass without getting a starter,” Sox general manager Theo Epstein said.

And so, the Sox made a broad-based exploration of the market for starting pitchers. They checked in with the Rockies on Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers on starter Hiroki Kuroda (before he invoked his no-trade clause to stop any deal that would have sent him to Boston), nearly completed a deal with the A’s to land starter Rich Harden (before the deal unraveled over medical concerns) and then, finally, zeroed in on Mariners hurler Erik Bedard as the deadline neared.

Bedard pitched poorly on Friday, allowing six runs in 1 1/3 innings in his return from a month spent on the disabled list due to a left knee strain. However, while he looked rusty with his command, he also appeared healthy, with his fastball velocity in the low-90s, consistent with what the Sox had seen while scouting him throughout the year, during which the left-hander had been quite effective.

And so, the Sox felt that based on what they’d seen from Bedard since spring training, he represented a good opportunity to bolster their rotation. He had a 4-7 record but with a 3.45 ERA in 16 starts with the Mariners this year, with 87 strikeouts and 30 walks in 91 1/3 innings. From what the Sox saw of him in May and June, the 32-year-old looked like a pitcher who, if healthy (not a fact to take for granted, given his injury history), can match up with anyone.

“[Bedard] really started to look like one of the better left-handed pitchers in the league again so we were certainly on him,” Epstein said of the scouting process that started in spring training in Arizona. “We scouted his first start back the other day in which he looked healthy. Rusty, certainly, but healthy. We thought, based on the looks from this year, his stuff was coming back, he was throwing well. He looks like someone who can really help us.

“We like the pitching that we have. We like the starting pitching that we have,” Epstein continued. “But there’€™s the health question mark with [Clay Buchholz], and we felt like adding another arm who, when he’€™s right, can go out and beat anybody, would be a really nice way to improve the club.

“We’€™re really glad not to get just any starting pitcher but to get somebody who’€™s capable of shutting down any lineup in the league when he’€™s right. He’€™s certainly capable of pitching big games for us down the stretch and somebody with enough talent to take the mound in the middle of the pennant race or in a playoff game if that opportunity presents itself.”

(more…)

Red Sox announce trade for Erik Bedard, Josh Fields

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — The Red Sox announced the trade that has them sending four minor leaguers to the Mariners and Dodgers in exchange for left-handed starter Erik Bedard and right-handed minor league reliever Josh Fields. The press release is below.

Of note, the Sox moved Clay Buchholz from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list in order to clear a roster spot on the 40-man roster for Bedard. However, Buchholz — who is going to see a back specialist in Los Angeles on Monday — was not going to return from the DL before mid-August anyway, so the deal is purely procedural.

For analysis of the players involved — both those whom the Sox acquired as well as the prospects who were dealt — click here.

Here is the release:

The Boston Red Sox today acquired left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard and right-hander Josh Fields from the Seattle Mariners. The club first sent minor league right-handers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson and then traded Robinson to Seattle with minor league outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang in exchange for Bedard and Fields. To make room for Bedard on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox transferred right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz to the 60-day disabled list. (more…)

Closing Time: Red Sox close out best July in franchise history

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — There was also a baseball game.

The Red Sox did not allow the looming trade deadline to distract them from the field. Instead, the team claimed the rubber match against the White Sox by a 5-3 margin, narrowly emerging with a winning (2-1) record on the three-game road trip. It marks the seventh straight road trip from which the Sox have emerged with a winning record. The Sox now have a 33-21 record (.611) away from Fenway that ranks as the best road mark in the majors.

The Sox put the final touches on a 20-6 month, a .769 winning percentage that ranks as the best in franchise history for the month. It was also the team’s first 20-win month since May 2007.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

‘€¢ Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 with a walk and delivered a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning to put a cap on a remarkable month of July in which he collected a hit in all but one game. Pedroia hit .411 with eight homers, 22 RBI and a 1.188 OPS during the month.

‘€¢ Jason Varitek crushed a two-run homer to left-center against Mark Buehrle in the top of the second inning, his second straight plate appearance with a homer against a lefty following a roundtripper against Royals rookie Tim Collins last week. Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have now combined for 16 homers (second most of any team in the AL) and 56 RBI (tops in the AL).

‘€¢ Andrew Miller bent but did not break. He allowed a season-high 10 hits (all but one of which were singles) while forging a new season-high with eight strikeouts and walking a season-low one batter on a day when his fastball regularly registered 94-95 mph. The volume of hits was alarming, but the Sox will gladly take the results from a Miller who throws 73 of 106 pitches (69 percent) for strikes.

‘€¢ Adrian Gonzalez quietly extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning double to left-center, and later added a run-scoring double in the top of the ninth. The first baseman is 23-for-43 (.534) during the stretch.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

‘€¢ Carl Crawford went 0-for-4 and is now hitting .250 with a .599 OPS since returning from the disabled list. On the year, Crawford is hitting .144 against lefties.

Red Sox land Erik Bedard, prospect Josh Fields in three-team deal

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — The Red Sox got their starting pitcher.

Just before the 2011 trade deadline, the Red Sox acquired left-hander Erik Bedard and minor-league reliever Josh Fields from the Mariners as part of a three-team deal that sent Sox prospects Chih-Hsien Chiang and Juan Rodriguez to the Mariners and Tim Federowicz and Stephen Fife to the Dodgers, according to a major league source. News of the Bedard acquisition by the Sox was first reported by Gordon Edes of ESPN.com

Here’s a look at the players the Sox acquired and gave up:

THE RED SOX GOT …

Eric Bedard had a disastrous return from the disabled list on Friday, allowing seven baserunners and lasting just 1 1/3 innings, the shortest stint of his career. But his fastball still was 91-93 mph, and for the year, he has a 4-7 record and 3.45 ERA. And while he has been oft-injured, he has also been very good at times when on the mound, having struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings in his career. His velocity this year, according to a talent evaluator, had been the same as it had been throughout his career.

Since the start of the 2006 season, among major leaguers who have thrown at least 500 innings, Bedard ranks 15th in ERA with a 3.41 mark, slightly ahead of Matt Cain (3.43), Dan Haren (3.44) and Zack Greinke (3.45), and just behind Cole Hamels (3.40).

Though he has had more than his fair share of struggles staying on the mound, making just 107 starts in the past six years (a low number, albeit 20 starts more than Rich Harden — whom the Sox nearly acquired on Saturday night — made in the same span), he has unquestionably featured excellent stuff when on it. Notably, he has had an ERA of 3.76 or lower in every year since 2006 (with the necessary disclaimer that he missed all of 2010).

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Lars Anderson on deal that wasn’t: ‘All fantasy’

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

For a brief spell on Saturday night, Lars Anderson thought that a remarkable opportunity had opened up for him. The Red Sox and A’s had agreed to a deal (pending a review of medicals and a physical) that would send pitcher Rich Harden to the Red Sox in exchange for the Triple-A first baseman as well as a player to be named. Anderson was pulled in the seventh inning of Pawtucket’s game on Saturday night, and became aware that he was penciled in for a trip to the Bay Area from which he hails.

For the 23-year-old, the prospect was understandably tantalizing. There is no clear path to the majors for him in Boston, given that Adrian Gonzalez will be handling first base for the Sox through 2018. Oakland would have represented not only a big league opportunity, but also a chance to go home, since Anderson grew up in Sacramento (home of the A’s Triple-A affiliate) while rooting for the A’s. With his father, George Anderson, in Pawtucket on Saturday, Lars Anderson told the Providence Journal that there was enthusiasm for the idea of the change.

“There’s more of an opportunity to be in the big leagues there than here obviously at my position,” Anderson said of Oakland. “It was an exciting personal prospect for my own career. Like I said, it’s all fantasy. … Probably got too far ahead of myself as far as the daydreaming goes. It was crazy.”

Trade Deadline: Rangers trade for Mike Adams from Padres, not Heath Bell

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Multiple reports are indicating that the Rangers have acquired reliever Mike Adams from San Diego for two minor leaguers, Robert Erlin and Joseph Wieland. Initially, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported the Padres traded closer Heath Bell to the Rangers. Check back for more information as it becomes available.

The chaotic home stretch of the trade deadline

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

CHICAGO — The fact that the trade deadline falls on a Sunday creates a somewhat unusual dynamic. The Red Sox will be playing — unless White Sox starter Mark Buehrle manages to propel the game at lightning pace — when the 4 p.m. EST marker comes and goes, and so the Red Sox literally may be a different team by the time they end the game than when they began it.

It’s an exciting prospect, yet a bizarre one — a fact that has been reinforced already this weekend, when the Rockies had Ubaldo Jimenez start on Saturday despite the fact that the Indians and Rockies had nearly consummated a deal to send the right-hander to Cleveland. (At one point, amidst rumors of the Sox’ interest in Jimenez, Dustin Pedroia told manager Terry Francona, “I can’t be involved in that trade. I’m wanted for murder in Colorado,” a winking reference to his performance in the 2007 World Series and his three-homer game in Coors Field in 2010.)

“It’€™s an exciting time. It’€™s exciting for everything. You look up at the TV and you see all kinds of guys — one guy is warming up, one guy is not warming up, he’€™s pitching, he’€™s not pitching, he’€™s in Cleveland. There’€™s all kinds of [stuff] flying around,” said Sox manager Terry Francona, who said that Josh Beckett was offering a running play-by-play of the Jimenez circus on Saturday. “It’€™s going to be about the seventh inning, and that’€™s really weird. You could really have a fiasco happen. I don’€™t think it would happen to us, but you could be out of players and pulling guys off the field, pulling a pitcher out of the game.”

The last time that the Red Sox faced such a scenario was in 2005, a day on which inactivity proved remarkable. Jonathan Papelbon made his major league debut while Manny Ramirez, who had been politicking for a trade to leave Boston in previous days, was not in the lineup.

Ramirez and Kevin Millar made an impromptu appearance in Francona’s office that morning, with Ramirez engaging in a bizarre and rambling discussion of his state of mind, most notable for his proclamation at one point, for no apparent reason, “I’m a gangsta,” which prompted Francona’s enthusiastically inexplicable response, “You bet your ass you are.”

Ramirez did not get traded, and shortly after the trade deadline, stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter and bounced a single back up the middle for a game-winning single.

“Was that the one where he stood out in the dugout and said ‘€˜Manny being Manny’€™ and ‘€˜This is the place for me, man’?” Francona tried to recount. “That day aged me a little bit.’€

Presumably, this day will not feature craziness that is precisely comparable, but with the Sox racing to upgrade in any fashion possible, it will feature more than its fair share of intrigue, both inside the Red Sox clubhouse and certainly outside of it. Whether the myriad rumors will ultimately manifest themselves in a new reality — and roster — is anyone’s guess.

Trade Deadline: Red Sox were interested in Scott Hairston, Mets not willing

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Red Sox showed some interest in outfielder Scott Hairston, but the Mets were not willing to deal the 31-year-old for money or a fringe prospect. Hairston is hitting .250 with an .810 OPS, playing all three outfield positions.

Trade Deadline: Yankees interested in Wandy Rodriguez?

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted Sunday that the Yankees are trying for Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez, but New York Post writer Joel Sherman tweeted that the Yankees don’t think they’re close to a deal. Sherman tweeted that the Astros would have to pay a lot to trade Rodriguez, who is due $23 million over the next two seasons and has a $13 million team option with a $2.5 million buyout for 2014. The Astros, meanwhile, are trying to cut payroll for new owner Jim Crane.

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweeted later on Monday that there was a “50/50″ chance the deal would happen, according to his source.

Rodriguez has struggled recently, losing four of his last five decisions and seeing his ERA grow from 2.97 to 3.47. Those losses dropped his season record to 7-7.

A 33-year-old lefty, Rodriguez has never been strong against the American League, posting an 8-10 Inter-League record with a 5.25 ERA and .257 opponent batting. He’s 2-3 against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays (he’s never faced the Red Sox), and struggled in his one game at Yankee Stadium, allowing eight earned runs in five innings.