|Theo Epstein on D&C: No trade option can take the place of Clay Buchholz||07.21.11 at 11:00 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday and discussed the possibility of the Sox making a move before the July 31 trade deadline, the health of Clay Buchholz, the emergence of Josh Reddick and the attempts to sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term contract.
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Which member of your roster has surprised you the most this season?
It’s going to be hard to pick just one. I think not to be overlooked is the contributions of guys like Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves that really helped make our bullpen a strength in this club. You can add Wakefield and Andrew Miller as well as guys who have really stepped up and helped stabilize our rotation. The one thing we haven’t had to talk about this year that we normally have to talk about is a bullpen collapse. Knock on wood, we haven’t lost a lot of tough games out of the bullpen. There has been one or two, but usually by this time of year you have lost half a dozen or more. We haven’t had to talk about just throwing someone out there to start a big-league game that we don’t feel good about. The depth guys have really stepped up and stabilized things, which is huge.
Isn’t pitching what every team is looking for at the trade deadline?
Yeah, you can never have enough, obviously. We’ve proved that. The reason every team looks for pitching is that you can acquire a pitcher and slide him in. For position player help you have to have the right fit. Pitching is so tenuous. You think you have enough, you think you’re set, and one key injury to the wrong pitcher and you are in a compromised spot. So there’s probably not a team in baseball that could withstand an injury of their best pitcher and be fine. That’s why you can never have enough no matter what. Keeping these guys strong and healthy through the year is such a battle that you always need more pitching to back them up.
Will the next couple of weeks of medical reports on Clay Buchholz dictate in some fashion the direction the club might go in terms of trading for a starting pitcher?
There’s nobody that we can go out and acquire that is going to take the place of Clay Buchholz. If you asked me what player out there, if could name one player to acquire for this team it would be a healthy Clay Buchholz. I think we’re going to have that. It’s been a slower process than anyone wanted — especially Clay — but he is getting better. We’ve had three opinions on it now and it looks like it’s just a matter of time. Let’s say — and we don’t expect this at all — let’s say the news was different and it’s going to be a little longer I’m sure it would affect how we would look at things. But I don’t think there is anybody out there we could acquire that would come close to replacing Clay. And when it comes to depth options I think we have a lot of those internally and I’m sure we’ll look around. But I do believe that Clay will come back healthy and be that type of impact acquisition that we couldn’t make on the trade market.
Has Josh Reddick made the decision pretty easy about who should be playing right field now?
You can’t deny what Josh Reddick is doing and you can’t deny that he’s a different player than he’s been. Josh Reddick has always had a world of talent. From the day we drafted him, the ball jumped off his bat as well as just about any player in our system. Always really athletic, always a really good outfielder, always a playmaker in the outfield, always a pretty dynamic baserunner. It was simply of question of Josh — and it always has been — improving his plate discipline. His swing mechanics, going up there with a plan, working the count, putting himself in a position where he could let that explosiveness of his bat play and let his natural instincts play out there in the batters box. We’ve probably talked to Josh about it thousands of times over the years and it looks like a light has gone on for him. He’s a different guy and a really exciting piece, not for just this year but also the future. Tito makes out the lineup and I’m sure he’s going to have decisions to make on a nightly basis. I don’t want to speak for him, certainly Josh is someone who has helped us win games and you want to put him in a position to continue to do that.
Does the production from Reddick and the struggles of J.D. Drew mean that we have seen a full-time switch in right field?
I don’t think you have to cast your lot on one player and completely bury another. As I said, Tito’s job is to put the best team on the field on a given night to help us win. When you have one player performing so well, or so hot, maybe demonstrating that a light has gone on for him and another player who has struggled all year it’s something you have to really massage as a manager. But we’ve always been an organization that has given the best players a chance to impact the game for our team on that given night. I know there’s been a lot of discussion on these airways, ‘Do this 100 percent. The other guy plays zero percent.’ That’s probably not how it’s going to be, but of course the players who are playing the best at the time get the chance to win a game for the Boston Red Sox.
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Jake Arrieta||07.20.11 at 8:22 am ET|
The Red Sox and Orioles will face off again at Camden Yards Wednesday, and Andrew Miller and Jake Arrieta will take the mound opposite one another for the second time this month. Back on July 7, Miller got the win on five innings of three-run, six-hit ball, while Arrieta struggled through 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, including two home runs.
Miller (3-1, 5.68 ERA) took his first loss of the season in his last start, and it wasn’t pretty. The 26-year-old failed to get through the third inning Friday vs. the Rays, surrendering seven runs on five hits while walking five and striking out none. The big blow came on a Ben Zobrist grand slam in the second inning. Aside from that outing, Miller’s ERA has been well under 4.00, although he’s yet to pitch over six innings in a game this season.
The Orioles have faced Miller a combined 51 times, hitting .263 with two doubles and six RBI. Mark Reynolds leads the way with four hits and three walks in 10 plate appearances against the Boston starter. No other Orioles hitter has more than two hits against Miller. The right-hander has handled Derrek Lee well in eight matchups, holding him to 0-for-5 with three walks. Recently extended J.J. Hardy is an even 2-for-4 off Miller with a sacrifice fly. Overall, Miller has struggled with his command against Baltimore, issuing 10 walks while recording just five strikeouts.
Arrieta (9-6, 5.10 ERA) has had a miserable month of July, dropping all three of his starts thanks to an 8.79 ERA. The right-hander gave up five runs in each one of those outings and hasn’t pitched past the fifth inning since June 15. Arrieta has struggled to keep the ball in the park, allowing seven home runs in his last five starts. It’s been a dramatic collapse since his performance in June, when Arrieta went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA.
Arrieta has been a better pitcher at home, going 5-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 10 starts at Camden Yards. However, he surrendered five runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in his last start in Baltimore.
The Orioles starter has only faced the Red Sox twice in his career, and he has struggled with Boston’s lefty-heavy lineup. Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run in his team-high five plate appearances against Arrieta. As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .364 with 10 RBI in just 37 plate appearances. Ten Boston hitters have faced Arrieta five times or less, and all but two of them have hits. Jacoby Ellsbury is 0-for-1 with two walks, and Josh Reddick is 0-for-2.
|Red Sox-Rays matchups: Andrew Miller vs. David Price||07.15.11 at 9:00 am ET|
Regular-season baseball is back for the Red Sox after a brief four-day hiatus, and there are no arguments about it. These games count. The Sox sit 1 1/2 games ahead of the rival Yankees after the All-Star break with just over 70 games left on the schedule for both teams. With that many contests yet to be decided, it’s important to not forget the third-place Rays, who are six games behind Boston and could take a bite into that deficit with a three-game set between the two sides this weekend. The Red Sox will send lefty Andrew Miller to the hill to try to keep the Rays at bay from the get-go of the season’s second half while the Rays will counter with their lefty ace David Price down in Tampa Bay Friday night.
The successes of Miller (3-0, 3.57 ERA) during his limited time with the Sox this season have been well-documented. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in each of his four starts at the big-league level in 2011, but Friday could provide his first real test of the year. His four previous starts came against offenses (Padres, Pirates, Astros and Orioles) that score fewer than the league average of 4.18 runs per game. The Rays offense, which produces runs at a rate of 4.22 per game, will be the best offense the lanky lefty has faced thus far. If he’s going to be successful, Miller will have to work on his control after he surrendered a season-high four walks in that pre-break start against the O’s. That inefficiency led to him throwing 97 pitches over just five frames and an early exit, despite the win.
Miller has faced most of the Rays starting lineup but that experience has been of the very limited variety. Only Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton have faced him four times, with Upton going 2-for-4 with a solo home run in those plate appearances. Ben Zobrist has yet to put a Miller pitch into playing as he is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch.
Price (8-7, 3.70 ERA), on the other hand, has plenty of experience against his Friday night foe as five different Sox hitters have double-digit plate appearances against the lefty. Still, that history between the two sides has not been a particularly good one for the Boston batters. While his career record against Boston is just 4-3, Price owns a 3.43 ERA over those seven starts and has held this current set of Sox hitters to just a .222 batting average.
Price has been good but not necessarily great against the Sox this season, giving up five runs over 12 2/3 innings pitched over two starts. He allowed three runs in five frames of work on June 16 but walked a season-high five Sox hitters in a 4-2 loss at Fenway Park. Price allowed four earned runs in each of his two starts in the month of July before the Midsummer Classic, causing his ERA to jump to its highest level since April 29 when it stood at 3.95. Read the rest of this entry »
|Sea Dogs’ Tim Federowicz remembers Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard from UNC days||07.14.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
Daniel Bard hasn’t allowed a run since May 23, a stretch of 19 1/3 innings in which his ERA has plummeted from 3.60 to 2.05. The Red Sox are 4-0 in Andrew Miller‘s four starts this year, and Miller himself is 3-0 with a 3.57 ERA.
This isn’t the first time Bard and Miller have played together. They were teammates at the University of North Carolina, two years ahead of Portland Sea Dog catcher Tim Federowicz. And Federowicz, who was a freshman at UNC when the two pitchers were juniors who were on the cusp of being drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft, said their powerful arms were evident even then. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jerry Remy on D&C: Injury-depleted Sox need to keep John Lackey in rotation||07.06.11 at 10:03 am ET|
Longtime NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Kathryn Tappen. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Jon Lester left Tuesday night’s outing after four innings with a lat strain. With Clay Buchholz hurt, Daisuke Matsuzaka out and John Lackey struggling, there is great concern about the Red Sox pitching staff.
“It’s starting to remind me a little bit of last year, and I hope that’s not the case, because last year injuries destroyed the team,” Remy said. “What it’s destroying right now is the starting rotation, and that’s not a good sign at all.”
Left-hander Andrew Miller has impressed in his three starts with the Sox. Remy said the key is control.
“The thing that’s impressed me about him is that his changeup is very good,” Remy said. “His fastball is not Randy Johnson-like; it’s not 99. But he gets it in the mid-90s and he’s got that good changeup to go with it. He’s got the curveball to go with it. I guess they’ve worked with his mechanics and they’ve got it to where he’s throwing more strikes. He hasn’t been walking people. If he doesn’t walk people, his stuff certainly is good enough to win at the big league level.”
Added Remy: “They may have found something here that’s going to help them the rest of the way down the road and hopefully into the postseason.”
There has been talk that Lackey’s next start Saturday will be key to his future with the team this season. Remy doesn’t agree.
“I don’t think so,” Remy said. “Because where are they going to go? Even if he doesn’t pitch well, if he’s physically OK, I don’t see where they could put him other than the starting rotation, especially now with the injuries. ‘¦ I don’t see where it’s a life-or-death situation with Lackey.”
|Saturday’s Red Sox vs. Astros matchups: Andrew Miller vs. J.A. Happ||07.02.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
Two starts may be a little early to call Andrew Miller the next Sandy Koufax, the man Miller had dinner with back in the spring of 2009. But the lanky lefty will do his best to improve the strength of any connection between the two when he takes the mound against the Astros and their own lefty starter J.A. Happ Saturday evening.
Miller (1-0, 3.09 ERA) pitched extremely well in his last outing, allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks over six innings while striking out four in a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh for his first W in a Red Sox uniform. The outing was arguably his best in the majors since June 23, 2009 (7 IP, 1 ER) and solidified Miller’s spot in the Boston starting rotation at least for the foreseeable future. He came up biggest in the fifth inning of that start when he struck out Neil Walker and got Matt Diaz to fly out to right with the bases loaded and the Pirates up 2-1. (The Sox would come back with two runs in the seventh to give themselves the win.)
Miller has some experience against some hitters on the Houston roster, dating back to his days in the Tigers and Marlins organizations. Jeff Keppinger (2-for-2, 2 doubles, 1 walk) and Michael Bourn (2-for-2, 1 walk) have yet to be retired by Miller, but in the same token, Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence are a combined 0-for-10 against the lefty with five strikeouts. Surprisingly, Happ has faced Miller in the past and actually reached on a basehit in his only official at-bat while he bunted successfully in the others. (On the flipside, Miller is 0-for-1 against his Happ at the plate.)
For the season Happ (3-9, 5.54) is hitting .292 at the plate (7-for-24) with a home run and four RBI, but while he’s been good offensively, you simply cannot say the same thing about his performance on the hill. Happ leads the National League in losses with nine, and that total already represents a career-high for the 28-year-old. The month of June was by far his worst of the 2011 season as he went 0-3 with a 7.86 ERA over five starts. Surprisingly, Happ has struggled the most against lefty hitters as they are hitting .328 against the southpaw with a .966 OPS compared to .261 and .775 marks for righty batters, thus explaining Terry Francona‘s decision to put Adrian Gonzalez in right field and David Ortiz at first base for Saturday’s affair.
That being said, Gonzalez is 0-for-3 with a walk against Happ in his career. In fact, Jacoby Ellsbury is the only Boston position player to get a hit off Happ, although he could miss another start due to the illness that kept him out of Friday’s lineup. Read the rest of this entry »
|Peter Gammons on M&M: Don’t expect anything major at trading deadline from Red Sox||06.29.11 at 1:46 pm ET|
Gammons was asked about the schedule the Red Sox are in the middle of– nine straight games on the road in National League parks. He noted that the dilemma about what to do with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz — whether to start Ortiz at first and move Gonzalez to right to improve the lineup — is a reflection of the tremendous consequences that losing Gonzalez to injury could have.
‘It’s part of the schedule. … If anything happens to Gonzalez this team is not going to make it,’ Gammons said. ‘They aren’t going to be playing in October very long. That is a question, and an issue and how much of the defense is a problem if you have [David] Ortiz and Gonzalez in the lineup at the same time out of position’¦ These are the issues they face now.
‘They need to win these two games in Philadelphia and at least two out of three in Houston and move forward. They need Andrew Miller to continue to overcome adversity like he did on Sunday and eventually I am sure [Felix] Doubront will come up and be somewhat in the rotation’¦ They haven’t had [Clay] Buchholz, [Jon] Lester and [Josh] Beckett going all at the same time this year and that would be a huge thing moving forward.’
While players such as Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran and Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer could both be available in the coming month as the July 31 trade deadline nears, Gammons suggested that the Sox are near their payroll limit, to the point where they wouldn’t be able to take on players like Beltran and Cuddyer who are making eight-figure salaries.
“No chance. No chance. If they can add a million, maybe a Jeff Baker [from the Cubs] or someone like that, [Rockies outfielder Ryan] Spilborghs is [making $1.9 million], that would be [$800,000] at the trade deadline, they might be able to do that at the trade deadline, but as of right now, they spent their money during the winter,” said Gammons. “Remember in 2009, when they claimed Jose Bautista on waivers, and [Red Sox GM Theo Epstein] worked out a deal with [then-Blue Jays GM] J.P. Ricciardi. That deal was rejected because they were already at the level. They’re not getting Carlos Beltran. They’re not getting Michael Cuddyer. … If they do something it will be something very small.”
Beltran is enjoying a renaissance with the Mets this year after dealing with injuries over the last two seasons. The free-agent-to-be is hitting .281 with a .373 OBP, .862 OPS and 11 homers. Cuddyer is also enjoying a solid season for the Twins, hitting .286 with a .351 OBP, .805 OPS and 10 homers. Both have numbers that would represent a vast improvement over what the Sox have received to date from J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald in right field.
But Beltran is earning $18.5 million this year (and counts for $17 million for luxury tax purposes), while Cuddyer is under contract for $10.5 million ($8.375 million for luxury tax purposes). As such, Gammons does not think they are realistic options.
“They’re not taking on Cuddyer or Beltran,” said Gammons. “I know they set budgets, as do most companies, even though they have the worst right field production in baseball. I think what they’ll do is, two weeks from now, they’ll make a decision about where they go with Mike Cameron. Probably three weeks from now, they’ll make a decision about what to do with Darnell McDonald. If it’s really dire at that point, and they say, ‘We have to do something,’ then maybe they can make a deal for a Baker or a Spilborghs.”
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