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Anthony Ranaudo credits mechanical adjustment, newfound confidence culminating in major league debut 08.02.14 at 2:01 am ET
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Anthony Ranaudo earned a win in his first major league start. (AP)

Anthony Ranaudo earned a win in his first major league start. (AP)

A little under two months ago, things began to really click for Anthony Ranaudo. While working in a bullpen session with Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Rich Sauveur, the duo made an adjustment to Ranaudo’s windup, — making it more similar to the hurler’s windup in the stretch– reducing the downward movement in the righty’s motion towards the plate. The alteration, while slight, made a huge different in Ranaudo’s ability to command his arsenal of pitches, especially his fastball.

The difference in results have been striking.

Before the windup tweak, Ranaudo threw 62 percent of his pitches for strikes while posting a 3.09 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP, 57 strikeouts, 5.06 walks per nine innings and 36 walks in 64 innings pitched. Since making the adjustment, Ranaudo has thrown 66 percent of his pitches for strikes while dominating Triple-A lineups to the tune of a 1.63 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 42 strikeouts, 2.11 walks per nine innings and 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched.

Ranaudo’s success culminated in the righty’s major league debut on Friday in the Red Sox‘s 4-3 win over the New York Yankees, the 24-year-old’s favorite childhood team growing up in Freehold, N.J. En route to becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to win his major league debut against the Yankees since Vaughn Eshelman in 1995, Ranaudo went six innings, allowing four hits, two runs, four walks, two strikeouts and one home run allowed to Carlos Beltran.

Since making the mechanical switch, Ranaudo says the difference in his confidence pre-adjustment and post-adjustment is night and day and ultimately led to the biggest day of his career, his major league debut.

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John Farrell lays out implications of trades on remaining Red Sox roster 08.02.14 at 1:57 am ET
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Considering the number of moving parts on the Red Sox roster over the last two days, it’s completely understandable that Red Sox manager John Farrell might need a little reminder as to who went where.

“Let me bring out my scroll,” Farrell joked in response to a question about the team’s roster moves.

On the day after the busiest trade deadline day in franchise history, the Red Sox moved a lot of pieces and called up a significant number of players to fill in the cracks. Anthony Ranaudo was called upon to make his major league debut. Alex Wilson, Tommy Layne and Mookie Betts were also called up to fill needs in the bullpen and outfield, respectively.

Given the number of moving parts on Thursday and Friday, there are a considerable number of players whom the roster moves will have a ripple effect.

Among the players that were most directly affected by the trades was Ranaudo, who makes his first major league start after a strong season so far in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.41 ERA, 99 strikeouts, 49 walks and a .205 opponent batting average.

“[Ranaudo is] who has continued to build on a breakout year last year,” Farrell said. “Has thrown the ball very consistently, very well while at Triple-A all year.

The one thing you hear while he was in Pawtucket is that he’s gotten a high percentage of his outs on fastballs,” Farrell said. “He’s gotten some swing and miss. He’s been able to tighten up his breaking ball a little bit more than a year ago and that’s part of his overall progression. The ability to throw a breaking ball behind the count has been more readily available to him and has pitched with a lot of confidence throughout the year.”

Joe Kelly, acquired alongside Allen Craig for John Lackey, will join the Red Sox on Saturday. Farrell is looking forward to watching the righty pitch.

Looking forward to seeing Joe Kelly. A young guy that had the hamstring issue that caused him to miss some time early, but this is a power arm right hander that we’re excited to have,” Farrell said. “He’ll insert into the rotation once we get through this next turn, likely when we get into St. Louis. That’s yet to be determined, the exact date, but our rotation is youthful, but all with very good stuff.”

Due to the influx of outfielders currently on the major league roster, Daniel Nava, who is hitting .349/.400/.397 in the month of June, will likely see a reduction in his playing time. Farrell says, given Nava’s success at the plate, the outfielder will find a way into the lineup.

We’ll look to take advantage of Daniel Nava’s abilities,” Farrell said. “I’m not going to say that we’re in a strict platoon [with Craig], but at the same time, we’re going to make sure that Daniel gets on the field.”

The crowded outfield also impacts the playing time of super-utility man Brock Holt. Farrell is not concerned about getting his leadoff hitter time in the lineup.

Brock is going to be available to play center field against some left-handers,” Farrell said. “He’ll be on the left side of the infield against some right-handed starter so I see his alignment being in those three positions, center, short and third base.”

The trade of Stephen Drew also allows Xander Bogaerts to slide back to shortstop, a position he strongly prefers over third base.

He’€™s going to go back to the position he’€™s most familiar with,” Farrell said. “We agreed that the defensive component of his game was improving prior to the signing of Stephen drew and I say improving he was showing better range, particularly to the glove side so he’€™s going back to a position of familiarity”

The move of Bogaerts back to shortstop also opens up third base for Will Middlebrooks, whom Farrell has looked forward to watching.

He’s been able to get regular at-bats to get his timing down,” Farrell said. “Hopefully some of the injury bug that has followed him is behind him. Really, an opportunity to take advantage of his skills. The opportunity is in front of him right now.”

Allen Craig hoping to turn page, start new chapter with Red Sox 08.01.14 at 9:06 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

The 2014 has certainly not gone the way that Allen Craig wanted it to go. After having his offseason cut short due to the World Series and rehabbing an ankle injury, Craig has struggled at the plate to the tune of a .236 batting average, .291 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 44 RBIs. After finishing 21st in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting in 2013, Craig has certainly fallen back in terms of offensive production.

The trade to the Red Sox, in a way, represents a clean slate for the outfielder to start fresh. Red Sox manager John Farrell says that right now, the focus for the team is to get Craig firmly supplanted in Boston and comfortable in his new surroundings.

I’ve had a chance to talk to Allen a little bit today and we haven’t really started to dig in to get his feedback,” Farrell said. “Today has been about… just getting him settled in a little bit. We’ll get to know what he’s been dealing with a little bit more specifically as his at-bats are witnesses here. We’re clearly excited to have him.”

Craig said he was surprised to hear that he had been treaded because he hadn’t heard very many rumors.

I was surprised. As the day went on, I started to get really excited about where I was going to go,” Craig said. “I think it’s still sinking in, being in the clubhouse and seeing a lot of faces and putting names to faces and that type of stuff. I’m looking forward to getting down there and playing ball.”

The struggles that Craig has endured this season have been part of a big learning process for the 30-year-old.

Making adjustments and figuring out pitchers are going to do to you. I feel like I learned a lot from the first half of my season and I’m ready to look forward,” Craig said. “The first half of was frustrating. Ups and downs, but this is part of the learning curve of this game. It’d be nice to go out there and be great every single night, but sometimes you need to learn and I definitely learned.”

Craig does not consider his shortened offseason as an excuse for his struggles.

“I never like to use anything as an excuse,” Craig said. “My offseason was cut short because we played in the World Series and it was long. In that regard, my offseason was a little bit shorter, but I was healthy going into this year and I’m healthy now and that’s something that I’ve put in the past and I feel good and ready to go.”

For Craig, coming back to Fenway Park brings back memories of playing in the World Series for the Cardinals. The outfielder says playing at Fenway for the first time during the World Series was an incredibly positive experience.

I loved the atmosphere. It was a great experience for me and I’m happy to be back,” Craig said. “It’s cool to be on this side of the clubhouse and get to know the guys on this side.”

Craig, who says he will contribute offense to the Red Sox lineup, has not thought through about how hitting in Fenway Park will benefit him.

I’m just excited to be a part of this organization and get to know these guys,” Craig said. “Obviously, the tradition here is rich and winning the World Series last year and I’m just here to do my part and contribute to a good team.”

 

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Yoenis Cespedes on trade: ‘I feel very happy … to share a part of my career with the Red Sox’ 08.01.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes hopes to provide pop to the Red Sox lineup. (Joon Lee/WEEI.com)

Yoenis Cespedes already is larger than life. Cespedes, built more like an NFL fullback rather than an outfielder, makes throws from the outfield reminiscent of a bullets slicing through air and has won back-to-back All-Star Home Run Derby competitions.

Cespedes has even been the subject of a viral video, one created by his agent that showcased the outfielder’s ability to hit baseball a mile, dance with his family and cook a whole pig over a roasting fire.

But when Cespedes heard about Thursday’s trade, he was partaking in activity that non-pig-roasting, non-home run-hitting mortals do on a daily basis.

I was sleeping when the news came through,” the Cuban star said through a translator. “It caught me by surprise. There is a saying that only God knows why things happen.”

The outfielder is hitting .256/.303/.464 this season with 17 home runs, 67 RBIs, 26 doubles and 62 runs scored. Manager John Farrell said that Cespedes will play right field for the Red Sox moving forward, a spot unoccupied currently due to Shane Victorino‘s latest stint on the disabled list. Cespedes said that he has some experience playing the position from his time in Cuba. The acquisition of Cespedes filled the need for a power-hitting outfielder with major league-ready talent.

“We’ve been very clear internally the need to improve and upgrade our offense was a goal,” Farrell said. “We’ve been able to do that through these trades. To be able to bring in a middle-of-the-order, All-Star-caliber bat from a contending team, it’s not typical. I think as this deal came about, it became unique in its own right, and our ability to lengthen out the lineup with he and Allen Craig gives us that depth that has been lacking throughout the course of the season.”

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Transition coming: Clay Buchholz, Craig Breslow take stock of new Red Sox order 08.01.14 at 12:35 am ET
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Given the pure volume of trades that the Red Sox made at the deadline on Thursday, former Boston Bruin Shawn Thornton expressed concern at Thursday’s Buchholz Bowl charity event at Jillian’s and Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston.

“I’m coming to the game on Saturday and they might need me to pitch,” Thornton said with a chuckle.

The former Bruins winger was not far off, however. Following the trades on Thursday, Clay Buchholz is the only pitcher in the current Red Sox rotation who was a part of the group on Opening Day.

Jon Lester and John Lackey not only represented the team’s most consistent pitchers, but also provided leadership for the group in the clubhouse. Buchholz said that he was slightly shocked to see two of his rotation mates shipped out of town.

To be able to make friends and be lucky enough to be with the guys that I’ve been around, it’s a little different,” Buchholz said. “That’s the business side of baseball. Hopefully, they can make a move on and help another team reach the playoffs and reach another World Series.”

As the pitcher with the most experience on the staff, Buchholz would appear to be the de facto leader for the rotation. When asked if he was ready to lead the group, Buchholz was noncommittal and instead started to talk about his health.

I feel good where I’m at right now. I feel healthy,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the numbers haven’t gone the way that I wanted it to this season yet, but if I have 10, 11, 12 starts left, I’m going to go out there and treat it like it’s another game and go out and try to do the best I can to help the team win.”

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A brief look at new Red Sox 1B/outfielder Allen Craig 07.31.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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Allen Craig joined the Red Sox in a trade with the Cardinals on Thursday. (AP)

Allen Craig joined the Red Sox in a trade with the Cardinals on Thursday. (AP)

Among the two pieces coming the Red Sox way in exchange for John Lackey is Allen Craig. Craig was a key member of the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals team that the Red Sox defeated en route to their World Series championship.

While many may know Craig from the infamous obstruction play with Will Middlebrooks, the 30-year-old has had a solid career to date.

Craig was a drafted as a shortstop in the eighth round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft by the Cardinals out of University of California, Berkeley and made his major league debut in 2010 at the age of 25.

Craig had his strongest seasons in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Craig hit .307/.354/.522 with 22 home runs, 92 RBIs, 35 doubles and a 2.3 WAR according to Baseball Reference. In 2013, Craig hit .315/.373/.457 with 13 home runs, 97 RBIs, 29 doubles and 2.6 WAR according to Baseball Reference.

The first baseman/outfielder has struggled in 2014, hitting .237/.291/.346 with seven home runs, 44 RBIs, 17 doubles and -0.6 WAR in 97 games according to Baseball Reference.

In his career, Craig has been a solid postseason performer, hitting .260/.359/.480 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and five doubles in 118 plate appearances.

Throughout his career, Craig has displayed an ability to hit with runners in scoring position, hitting .363/426/.575 in 513 plate appearances. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Craig is hitting .321/.417/.561 in 247 plate appearances.

Craig has performed similarly against left-handed and right-handed pitching in his career, hitting .290/.349/.432 against righties and .293/.327/.533 against lefties.

Throughout his career, Craig has played every position in the field with the exception of pitcher, shortstop and catcher, although he has primarily settled into first base and the outfield.

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Trade deadline roundup: David Price reportedly likely to be traded 07.31.14 at 2:46 pm ET
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The domino effect following the Jon Lester trade is in full force. David Price will be traded before the trade deadline, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. There are multiple teams that are in on Price. The Tigers are interested in the lefty’s services, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

The Dodgers are in talks with the Rays and are willing to part with top prospect Joc Pederson, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Peter Gammons, however, reports that the Dodgers are not in on Price.

Among the other teams said to be interested in Price are the Pirates and Mariners.

– The Reds are dangling Mat Latos in trades, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.

–The Brewers acquired Gerardo Parra for minor leaguers Mitch Haninger and Anthony Banda. John Gambadoro of KTAR first reported the trade.

– The Athletics reportedly are getting numerous calls on Jason Hammel following the Lester trade.

The Mariners acquired Chris Denorfia from the Padres, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Read More: Chris Denorfia, David Price, Gerardo Parra, Jason Hammel
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