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Red Sox pregame notes: Sox finally close to getting their lineup 07.16.12 at 7:56 pm ET
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Carl Crawford's return is helping the Red Sox lineup to take its anticipated shape. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury is 6-for-14 in his first three games back. Carl Crawford is batting second in his first game of the 2012 season on Monday. And on Thursday, the Red Sox now appear likely to have Dustin Pedroia returning from the disabled list on the first day on which he’s eligible to do so — potentially as the All-Star-caliber second baseman that he has been for so much of his career, rather than a player who was barely an imitation thereof while dealing with multiple thumb injuries this season.

“He truly feels great,” manager Bobby Valentine noted of Pedroia. (More on his improvement here.)

The result is that, by the end of this week, for the first time all year, the Red Sox may have a pretty good approximation of the lineup they anticipated having in 2012. Though Will Middlebrooks has replaced Kevin Youkilis, the rookie has been delivering the sort of production that the Sox would have loved to see from the veteran, and so the lineup will soon look very similar to the one envisioned by the team entering the year, with Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, Carl Crawford and Mike Aviles offering the team the sort of depth (at least in terms of reputation) that has been missing for much of this year.

If there was a moment for the Red Sox to assert themselves, this would appear to be it.

“I think we’re a really good team with everyone healthy,” said Crawford. “I think we’re one of the best teams in baseball.”

That perspective helps to explain why the Red Sox, at this time, have no intentions of blowing up their roster.

OTHER NOTES

– Crawford said that he expects to play virtually every day, a perspective shared by manager Bobby Valentine. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bill james, Bobby Valentine, Brent Lillibridge, carl crawford
Reaction from Chicago on acquistion of Kevin Youkilis 06.25.12 at 4:05 pm ET
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Kevin Youkilis

The White Sox acquired third basemen Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox on Sunday in exchange for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge. Here is how the trade was received in Chicago.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams, courtesy of CSNChicago.com:

“He’s very excited to join our club and he’s got a little edge to him, which I like. I think he’s going to fit in just fine with our ball club.” — Ken Williams

ChicagoTribune.com: Williams buys a Youkilis lottery ticket:

Maybe a couple years ago it would’ve been a big move, but look, trading a minor-league pitcher and a bench player and paying almost nothing for it does not constitute a big move. This is more like buying a lottery ticket. [Ken] Williams is gambling that he will get lucky with an old guy who’s looking older still because of a bad back and having a bad year to match. Whatever Youkilis has done before does not seem to matter this year, especially this month. — Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenblooom

White Sox players react to the trade via CSNChicago.com:

“He’s been a great player for a long time in Boston. If you play at that level, you can play anywhere.” – First basemen Paul Konerko

“It’s baseball. If you were the GM, if I was the GM, I’d make the same trade.” – Infielder Orlando Hudson

“Adding a nice piece there, and kind of giving that statement to our fans and to our team, ‘We’re in this thing to win it.’ ” – Pitcher Jake Peavy.

Young boy reacts to trade:

A young White Sox fan wasn’t so happy to see Kevin Youkilis come to town because Lillibridge happened to be his favorite player.

Here are some Twitter reactions from White Sox fans, courtesy of CSNChicago.com,

Read More: Brent Lillibridge, Kevin Youkilis, Zach Stewart,
What the Red Sox got for Youk: A look at Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge 06.24.12 at 7:08 pm ET
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The Red Sox plan to develop Zach Stewart as a starter in Pawtucket. (AP)

The Red Sox acquired 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart and 28-year-old utility man Brent Lillibridge from the White Sox in return for Kevin Youkilis on Sunday. So who are they?

Stewart, who has spent most of this season as a reliever for the White Sox, is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just four walks through 30 innings pitched this year. Despite coming out of the bullpen in his first 17 appearances of the year, he made his only start of the season in his last appearance on June 18, lasting 5 2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs in a loss to the Cubs. He was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on June 19.

Before coming to the White Sox, Stewart was with the Blue Jays, an organization for whom he was rated the top prospect by Baseball America in 2009. In his only three appearances with the Blue Jays of his career (all as a starting pitcher), Stewart went 0-3 with 10 strikeouts and a 4.86 ERA. The sinkerballer has permitted a somewhat alarming home run total (21 in 97 1/3 innings) in his big league career, something of a surprise given his excellent groundball rates.

Stewart’s best start of his career came on September 5th of his rookie season, when he had a perfect game through seven innings against the Twins before allowing a hit to Danny Valencia. Stewart finished the game having only allowed one hit and recording nine strikeouts in the win.

Stewart, who was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2008 draft, is now with his fourth organization. As a prospect for the Reds, Stewart was traded along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen. Four days short of two years later, Stewart was traded with Jason Frasor for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brent Lillibridge, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, Zach Stewart
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