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Buster Olney on M&M: Ryan Dempster’s suspension should have been around 8-9 games 08.21.13 at 2:06 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN  baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Ryan Dempster’s five-game suspension and the flaws with MLB’s upcoming implementation of instant replay.

Olney said that he does not think that the five-game suspension issued to Dempster for intentionally hitting Alex Rodriguez with a pitch was a long enough suspension for Dempster’s actions.

“I was thinking about it overnight after it was announced and I thought, you know, we pretty much know the low end of the scale,” Olney said. “If you get into a retaliation situation and you throw at somebody, you’re going to get five games. They want to at the very least to potentially upset your next start, although it doesn’t in this case. On the high end are the 10 games that Ian Kennedy got, and the biggest reason MLB gave him 10 games was because he threw near Zach Greinke’s head. They really are concerned about the headhunting. If Ian Kennedy had hit him in the butt he probably would have gotten like six or seven games.

“I think that when you look back at what Dempster did, you try to sort of fit him into that scale of 5-10 games. Was it more than a simple retaliation and hitting some guy on the butt? Yeah, it was, because he had intent. He did it multiple times. On the other hand, did he ever put him in physical jeopardy throwing by his head? No. So I think he probably should have got somewhere in the 8-9 range.

“I am really surprised, too, that Major League Baseball — and it shouldn’t enter into the equation, but we know it does when they’re concerned about the public relations of all of this — they have to know that there is a segment of fans that are wondering if this is all personal in this vendetta against Alex Rodriguez and by giving him a five-game suspension, they just fuel that in a position, too, where they could have easily given him more and it wouldn’t have actually affected Dempster or the Red Sox because of the way the schedule is.”

Olney said that he thinks Dempster could have made his point with just the first pitch, which was thrown behind the Yankees third baseman.

“If he wanted to send a message, I thought he did it with the first pitch,” Olney said. “I thought if he had left it at that, and he throws a ball behind Alex Rodriguez on national television and lets that statement stand, everybody in the world would have gotten it. You think about if he had handled it that way, then you wouldn’t have had the situation where he complicates a game or affects or potentially creates a rally for the Yankees. And he wouldn’t have put himself in jeopardy of being suspended.

“But handling it the way that he did and taking the next step, to be honest, I don’t blame Joe Girardi for being mad. I do think there is something — and Lou, you have stood in that box in a way that I’m too gutless to against a guy throwing 95 mph — it is not a simple thing to have a guy throwing repeatedly fastballs at a prone target, to me.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Giants matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Barry Zito 08.21.13 at 10:42 am ET
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Felix Doubront

Felix Doubront

The Red Sox will send Felix Doubront to the mound Wednesday to take on Barry Zito and the Giants at AT&T Park.

Doubront (8-6, 3.95 ERA) has struggled in his last two starts, not pitching more than four innings in either outing. The 25-year-old has a 10.13 ERA during those two outings and opponents have a .465 on-base percentage against him. This recent poor showing is not consistent with the way Doubront had been pitching before August, as he was 4-3 with a 2.66 ERA through June and July.

His last outing was his worst outing since May, as he allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits through four innings before being pulled in a 10-3 loss to the Yankees. Doubront had trouble with the long ball in the game, as he allowed two home runs in a game for the first time since May 26.

“Two swings cost us five runs,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after the game. “This wasn’t one of our more sharp efforts.”

Doubront has never faced the Giants in his career and has no experience against Giants hitters. The only Giants hitter he had faced, Jeff Francoeur, was designated for assignment Tuesday.

Zito (4-8, 5.34 ERA) will be taking the mound after Chad Gaudin was placed on the DL with carpal tunnel syndrome Tuesday. Zito will be making his first start since July, as he has served as a reliever for the Giants since the beginning of August and has a 10.80 ERA in four relief appearances.

The 35-year-old lefty had significant struggles as a starter in June and July, going 0-5 with a 6.66 ERA and a .410 on-base percentage in 10 starts during those two months. Zito only pitched seven innings in a game twice during that span, and allowed four or more runs in six of those 10 starts.

While David Ortiz typically is worse against left-handed pitching, he has not had much trouble against Zito throughout his career, hitting two homers and three doubles while maintaining a .400 batting average through 27 plate appearances against him.

Read the rest of this entry »

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SI’s Tom Verducci on D&C: Ryan Dempster should be suspended 08.20.13 at 10:00 am ET
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Tom Verducci

Tom Verducci

Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci joined Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to talk about the arrival of Xander Bogaerts, the possible suspension of Ryan Dempster and the continued Alex Rodriguez ordeal.

Verducci said that if he were in charge of Major League Baseball, he would suspend Dempster for throwing at Rodriguez Sunday.

“I would, especially based on the [Rick] Porcello precedent,” Verducci said. “Porcello was not ejected from the game when he hit Ben Zobrist and there was a lot of talk from Jim Leyland that the Tigers would retaliate for [Miguel] Cabrera getting hit and thrown at. It seemed obvious to anybody watching the game that Porcello did it on purpose. I don’t know why he wasn’t ejected, but without an ejection he was still suspended.

“I think the same would apply here on the Ryan Dempster case. I haven’t heard anybody in baseball say they did not think it was intentional other than the Red Sox, and obviously they have to do that after a game.”

Dempster’s hitting of Rodriguez is in the past for Red Sox fans, who are prepared to see the future when Bogaerts makes his major league debut Tuesday night. However, Verducci said that the Red Sox are unlikely to move Stephen Drew from his starting role at shortstop and he is interested to see how much playing time Bogaerts gets.

“I’m intrigued to see how often John Farrell can get his name into the lineup,” Verducci said. “The Rangers brought up Jurickson Profar and it has taken a while for that to shake out. It can get a little bit awkward, but I think this kid is good enough where he is going to make it difficult to find ways to keep him out of the lineup.”

Verducci was asked if he thought the Red Sox could possibly trade Drew to make room for Bogaerts. However, with such little time left before the deadline, Verducci said he does not see a trade involving Drew going through.

“I guess a team like St. Louis, which has been running Pete Kozma out there, would have interest in him,” Verduccis said. “I’m not sure that he would be able to get through waivers. It is an interesting question where if you look at Bogaerts over just the next week — even this road trip — and you are convinced after that short of a sample that he is your guy and that you can move Drew, you go ahead and do that. It’s a pretty bold move to make in a short period of time. I wouldn’t expect it to happen though.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Giants matchups: Jake Peavy vs. Ryan Vogelsong 08.20.13 at 9:16 am ET
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Jake Peavy makes his fourth start for the Red Sox on Tuesday night. (AP)

Jake Peavy makes his fourth start for the Red Sox on Tuesday night. (AP)

The Red Sox will send Jake Peavy to the mound to take on Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants in an interleague battle Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Peavy (9-5, 4.41 ERA) has been a mixed bag since the Red Sox acquired him before the trade deadline, going 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA through his first three starts for Boston. Most of those runs came in a no-decision against the Royals, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits through five innings. He has only allowed a combined four runs on nine hits while striking out 11 in his two other starts.

The 32-year-old right-hander was saddled with his first loss in a Red Sox uniform last time out, when he allowed two runs on five hits through six innings in a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. It was a tough decision for Peavy, who had not allowed a run on only two hits through the first six innings. Three straight hits to start the seventh knocked Peavy out of the game, but the damage was already done.

“Jake threw the ball well,” Farrell told reporters after the loss. “Certainly deserved a better fate.”

Peavy, who started his career in the National League with the Padres, has been relatively successful against the Giants in his career, going 12-9 with a 3.51 ERA in 25 career starts against them. However, he has not been as successful at AT&T Park, going 8-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts there.

Vogelsong (2-4, 6.75 ERA) has only started two games since returning from a broken hand. The right-hander had a strong return, only allowing two runs on six hits through six innings on Aug. 9. However, Vogelsong did not last long in his second start, allowing three runs on six hits through 3 2/3 innings.

It has been one of the worst seasons of Vogelsong’s career this year, as the 35-year-old has not had a season with a 6.75 ERA or worse since 2001, when he had a 6.75 ERA in 15 games between the Giants and Pirates. However, Vogelsong’s K/BB ratio (1.96) is better than it had been two years ago (2.28), when he was an All-Star.

Vogelsong does not have much experience against the Red Sox, as he has only pitched three innings against Boston in his career — during which he allowed only one run. He has not faced anyone in the Red Sox lineup more than three times. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. CC Sabathia 08.18.13 at 11:57 am ET
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Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the Red Sox Sunday in a matchup against CC Sabathia and the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Dempster (6-8, 4.50 ERA) has not exactly been a workhorse for the Red Sox, as he as only lasted seven innings or more once in his last 10 starts — a stretch in which he has a 4.92 ERA. That has been a factor in Dempster’s lack of decisions, as the right-hander only has three decisions (2-1) during that span.

However, Dempster went deep into his last start against the Royals, and could have possibly lasted longer when he only allowed one run on four hits and two walks through seven innings (88 pitches). It was the first time that Dempster had allowed one run or fewer in a start since May 2, but John Farrell took him out of the game in favor of Junichi Tazawa — a move that resulted in a game-tying home run by J.P. Arencibia.

“Well, it didn’t work out, obviously,” Farrell said. “We felt like with power, it’s a better matchup with J.P., who handles offspeed stuff very well. Like I said, in this case it didn’t work out.”

Dempster did not perform particularly well in his last start against the Yankees, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and four walks. However, the Red Sox emerged with a win in that game thanks to a walk-off home run from Mike Napoli in the 11th inning.

CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia

Sabathia (10-10, 4.66 ERA) has not been as good as he typically is, and only has three starts in his last 13 outings in which he has allowed fewer than three earned runs. Since the beginning of July, Sabathia is 5-6 with a 5.55 ERA and has allowed 15 home runs.

However, Sabathia was much better in his last outing than he had been this season, and only allowed two earned runs on three hits while striking out seven through six innings. Sabathia had trouble with control in the outing and walked six hitters.

Sabathia struggled in his last start against the Red Sox, allowing seven runs through five innings on nine hits and two walks. Napoli and Gomes each homered off of Sabathia in that outing, who hit both Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew with pitches. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: John Lackey vs. Hiroki Kuroda 08.17.13 at 12:28 pm ET
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John Lackey

John Lackey

The Red Sox will send John Lackey to the mound Saturday to take on Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Lackey (7-10, 3.32 ERA) has struggled as of late, and is 0-4 with a 4.96 ERA and a .318 opponent batting average in his last five starts. Still, Lackey has been relatively effective for most of the season, and has lasted at least six innings in every start since June 10.

Last time out, Lackey allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks through seven innings in a loss to the Royals. Lackey struggled early in the game, walking the first two batters and allowing three runs in the first two innings.

“It was a grind early,” Lackey told reporters after the game. “I wasn’t feeling really great. I had a couple of 3-2 counts and didn’t make my pitch. I was lucky to get the ground ball for the double play and then I found my groove and started to make my pitches … For me to walk two in one inning let alone to lead off the game is hard to believe. I didn’t execute and I lost the game.”

Lackey already has one start against the Yankees this season, which resulted in a 5-2 loss on July 20. The Yankees knocked 10 hits off of Lackey in that outing, which was the start of his most recent five-game slump. Brett Gardner has done well against Lackey in his career, batting .360 off of him with a triple and two doubles in 27 plate appearances.

Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda (11-7, 2.33 ERA) has been the best Yankees pitcher all season, but he has been particularly good since the beginning of July. The Japanese starter did not allow an earned run in five of his last seven starts, and has a 0.94 ERA with a .215 opponent batting average during that span.

Last outing was more of the same for Kuroda, who shut out the Angels through eight innings while allowing three hits and striking out seven. Kuroda only allowed one walk in the game, something he has done in each of his last five outings.

Kuroda was the starter that topped Lackey in that July 20 start, when he held the Red Sox to two runs on five hits through seven innings. Mike Carp went 3-for-4 in that game, and was the only Red Sox player with an extra base hit off of Kuroda. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bunches of blunders: Red Sox continue sloppy play in the field 08.17.13 at 1:40 am ET
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Stephen Drew made one of three Red Sox errors in his team's sloppy 7-3 loss to the Yankees. (AP)

Stephen Drew made one of three Red Sox errors in his team’s sloppy 7-3 loss to the Yankees. (AP)

The Red Sox are not clicking right now. They have lost three in a row for the first time since July 6-8 and have now lost six of their last eight games. But perhaps the most prominent area in which the Red Sox have struggled has been in the field, where they have had seven errors in their last three games.

That struggle was especially apparent Friday night, when Boston committed three errors in a 10-3 loss to the Yankees. The most glaring instance occurred early, when shortstop Stephen Drew lost the handle while transferring a potential double play ball from glove to hand, turning a potential two-out, none-on situation into a no-out, two-on jam. One batter later, Alfonso Soriano blasted a three-run homer that put the Yankees comfortably ahead, 6-0.

“We weren’t sharp tonight,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We set the tone right out of the gate with some mislocated pitches. [Starting pitcher Felix Doubront] gets a good sinker, where he gets a groundball to Drew, and big swing in the game. It goes from what you think is a tailor-made double play to the next hitter driving the ball out of the ballpark and we’re down big at that point.”

It was not just the fact that the errors were happening, but it was the people who were committing the errors. Drew, who committed the first error, is among the top-10 shortstops in the league in terms of his UZR per 150 games (5.8 — meaning he was on pace to save nearly six runs over 150 games). Dustin Pedroia, who committed the team’s third error of the game, is third among major league second basemen with a 10.6 UZR per 150.

While players with the fielding capability of Pedroia are not prone to making errors very often, he was sure to note that mistakes do occur — even for him.

“My error, [Brett] Gardner’s running 3.7 down the line and I got an in-between hop. Stephen’s error, the ball was hit real hard. He just lost in the transfer. That’s baseball. Those aren’t mental mistakes. Those are physical errors. Those happen. Move on to tomorrow and try to play better.”

The third error was committed by Rubby De La Rosa, who fielded a ball down the first base line and threw it away down the line. His errant throw marked the third time in the last three games that a Sox pitcher committed an error while throwing to first, as Lester did the same thing twice on Aug. 14 against the Blue Jays.

The Red Sox have made 70 errors on the season after Friday night’s performance, which is just below the American League average (65). Boston is the only American League division leader that is in the bottom half of the league in fielding.

However, perhaps the three consecutive games with errors is just a slump for the Red Sox, who just ended a 10-game road trip and arrived back in Boston early Friday morning. The Red Sox had played four straight games without committing an error before the beginning of the streak.

“[The errors have] not been common,” Farrell said. “And of late they’ve come in bunches. Whether there’s some fatigue setting in with some guys and their legs, I think defensively you’re going to go through stretches much like we do offensively.”

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