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Red Sox-Marlins series preview 08.11.15 at 9:36 am ET
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Dee Gordon (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Marlins have struggled offensively this season but it’s no fault of Dee Gordon, who is hitting .326 and leads the National League with 134 hits. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Red Sox will open up a two-game set with the Marlins for the second time this season when they take the field Tuesday in Miami. In the two teams’ last series at Fenway Park on July 7 and 8, the Red Sox swept, winning by scores of 4-3 and 6-3.

The Red Sox are 50-62, 12 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. They have played .500 baseball in August thus far, posting a 4-4 record in the month.

Facing the Tigers in the latest installment of their road trip, the Sox had what can only be considered one of the most promising series of their season. They took two out of three in Detroit, with the victories coming on the arms of Joe Kelly and Henry Owens. Kelly was impressive Friday, striking out seven of the first eight batters he faced and finishing with 5 1/3 innings pitched while allowing just two earned runs. Meanwhile, Owens was just as effective on a limited pitch count Sunday. He hurled five innings, giving up three hits and four walks along with a run. Both of these efforts resulted in 7-2 Red Sox wins.

“I think, probably these last two starts, looking back, I can kind of trust myself in the zone more, rather than tinker around the strike zone,” Owens said of his first career major league win. “It’s good to get these first two out of the way, and the first zone, set my shoulders back, take a deep breath and move on.”

It wasn’t just the pitchers who provided a ray of sunlight for the Red Sox this past weekend, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. showed why they belong with the big league club with their performances as well. Castillo went 3-for-5 on Friday, scoring three runs and driving in one more during the win. He’s slashed a solid .333/.375/.444 since being recalled on July 27. Bradley also had himself a day this weekend when he clubbed a long ball and a triple on Sunday. He closed the game with five RBIs and a spectacular Willie Mays-esque catch.

“Today was a flash of what Jackie’s capable of,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his 25-year-old center fielder. “And when he swings the bat like that, it’s certainly the potential for an outstanding player. The defense has clearly been the carrying tool for him. It always gives him the opportunity to find at-bats for him.

“Today, a big day for him. But as a young player, both on the amateur level and the lower levels, he’s been a very good offensive contributor. It’s taken some time for him to get his feet on the ground here, but today is a glimpse of what that potentially could be.”

The Red Sox head into the Marlins series Tuesday with baseball’s 12th-best offense and fourth-worst pitching staff. However, the Sox’ struggles will be muted Tuesday when they take the field against the worst team in baseball.

The Marlins only wish they could erase 2015 from memory. They own a 44-68 record and, of Saturday, have fallen behind the Phillies for last place in the NL East. This year, they are 26-30 at home, far better than their road split, which sits at a lowly 18-38.

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Read More: Dee Gordon, giancarlo stanton, jackie bradley jr., Jose Fernandez
Red Sox-Marlins series preview 07.07.15 at 8:42 am ET
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Ichiro Suzuki and the Marlins are headed nowhere fast. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Ichiro Suzuki and the Marlins are headed nowhere fast, struggling offensively since star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton broke a bone in his hand last month. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

The Red Sox are reaching a critical point in their season going into their series with the Marlins. Winners of six of their last eight, the Red Sox are 39-45, but just six games out of first place in the AL East. A two-game sweep of the Marlins could prompt a buying mentality leading up to the trade deadline. Meanwhile, two losses could spell the white flag.

Coming off of three consecutive series wins, including a crucial two-of-three over the AL-leading Astros, the Red Sox appear to be right on the cusp of contention in the division. And with a three-game set against the first-place Yankees on the horizon, the Sox have the potential to make a huge leap before the All-Star break.

“It’s good, man,” David Ortiz said after 12-6 drubbing of the Blue Jays last Thursday. “We haven’t been able to play consistently good, you know? If we finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it’ll give you hope for the second half, especially when you’re in a division where there’s not too many games apart. We played the worst the first couple months of the season and we’re still six, seven games away. If we start playing better, it’ll give you hope.”

The Red Sox have scored at least five runs in each of their last four games leading to a 3-1 record. Over the last seven days, they have slashed a hefty .277/.344/.463, good for the fifth best OPS in the MLB. During this stretch, they have slugged the majors’ third-most extra-base hits.

Though the Sox rotation has struggled to say the least, the hurlers have begun to rebound. Over the last month, their ERA does not look pretty, sitting at 4.88. However, they sport a 3.49 FIP and a league-high .359 BABIP during this period, indicating they have fallen prone to some bad luck of late. Additionally, the starters’ 2.8 WAR ranks in the top third of the MLB.

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Read More: Christian Yelich, David Ortiz, Dee Gordon, giancarlo stanton
Farewell, rumor mill? ‘Supernova’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton reportedly nearing 13-year deal with Marlins 11.14.14 at 7:11 pm ET
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Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton didn’t win the NL MVP award, but he may be on the cusp of cashing in on the biggest contract in baseball history. According to CBSSports.com, the Marlins and Stanton have agreed to terms on a 13-year, $325 million deal, with the two sides working to iron out the language of the deal. The deal would include both no-trade protection and the opportunity to opt out, according to the report.

Stanton, who turned 25 last week, would thus be locked up through his age 37 season (if he does not exercise the potential opt-out) for a franchise that has a long history of trading its stars in their primes. Miami was evidently willing to change course for the foremost power hitter in the NL. Stanton, who finished second in NL MVP voting to pitcher Clayton Kershaw, led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging mark while hitting .288 with a .395 OBP in 145 contests before his year came to a sudden halt when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Sept. 11.

An extension could end Stanton’s perpetual place in the rumor mill, an existence to which he first became introduced as an 18-year-old in 2008, when he was mentioned as the potential return for the Sox in a trade that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Marlins.

“I heard it was going to happen,” Stanton acknowledged in 2009.

Indeed, in the absence of an extension, it seemed unavoidable to wonder whether the Red Sox would make a play for Stanton. That curiosity even hovered over this offseason, with curiosity about whether the Sox might try to build a package around Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sorry Red Sox fans, Marlins still not trading Giancarlo Stanton 11.11.14 at 7:39 pm ET
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Giancarlo Stanton (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton likely won’t be dealt by the Marlins this offseason. (Getty Images)

PHOENIX — It wouldn’€™t be Hot Stove season without some Giancarlo Stanton talk.

Tuesday at the general managers’€™ meetings, Marlins president Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings kicked off media availability with the GMs by updating where Miami stood with its Stanton extension dialogue.

“It’€™s been positive dialogue,” Hill said. “That’€™s the best way to categorize it. Nothing contentious. It’€™s been positive. We all recognize as a team we had a better year. We still didn’€™t have a great year but we made progress and improved on a 100-loss season in 2013, so we made progress. A lot of good things, a lot of good stories. So there’€™s some acknowledgment of the progress we made. We’€™re here the next few days to see what we can do to continue to build on that.”

Stanton — who routinely comes up as the player Red Sox followers hope for their team to acquire at some point –€“ finished 2014 with 37 home runs and is one of three finalists for the National League Most Valuable Player award.

Stanton is still two seasons away from being eligible for free agency.

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Marlins president David Samson: Giancarlo Stanton will be on 2015 Marlins 09.30.14 at 3:13 pm ET
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Marlins president David Samson told the Miami Herald that the team plans to discuss a long-term extension with outfielder Giancarlo Stanton — who hit .288 with a .395 OBP and .555 slugging mark while leading the National League with 37 homers despite missing the final weeks of the season after getting beaned by a pitch — this coming offseason. That said, Samson also said that the team would not consider trading Stanton even in the absence of a long-term deal.

“He’€™s on this team [in 2015] either way,” Samson told the Herald. “I can’t wait until after the season to sit down with Giancarlo and [agent] Joel Wolfe and talk about contract. We’€™re ready. We want him to be a Marlin well past his arbitration years.

“We hope that he believes in us and believes in Miami and believes in the direction of this team and recognizes that he has a chance to be the leader of a successful team for many years to come.”

Stanton, 24, is under Marlins team control for two more years before he’s eligible for free agency following the 2016 campaign. He made $6.5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2014.

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Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox expect renewed commitment from Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks 09.03.14 at 1:18 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Red Sox as the team’s miserable season moves into its final month. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox and Yankees are in the midst of a series in Yankee Stadium, and Olney noted that you’d have to go back to the days of Babe Ruth (during one of his rare off seasons) to find a time when both teams were ranked so low in offense.

“We’re closing in on a century since we’ve seen these two teams struggle this much offensively,” Olney said. “As you guys know, the Red Sox are always typically a good offensive team, the Yankees usually have their share of left-handed hitters who thrive in their home park. It just hasn’t been the case this year. It’s been a completely aberrational year.

“And as they play tonight, I was talking to a person within the Yankees organization today, they feel like they’re at the tipping point. The question is whether or not the Red Sox are going to shove them over the edge.

Rusney Castillo started playing in the Red Sox minor league system last week, and he’s moving up to Double-A this week. Olney said he isn’t sure if the Cuban outfielder will make an appearance at Fenway before the season is over.

“I think they should, because they think he’s going to be part of the team next year, and why not?” Olney said. “I know, for example, a lot of teams are doing that these days. The Cubs are doing it with Javier Baez, they’re doing with with Jorge Soler. … If I were the Red Sox, sure. Because you’re not going to pay a guy $72 million unless you think he’s ready to translate right away. So, why not? It’s a signed, sealed deal, so the arbitration clause doesn’t come into it, you might as well throw him into the deep end of the pool.”

Jackie Bradley Jr., who was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 17, is expected to return to Boston for the last few weeks of the season, although his offensive struggles have continued with the PawSox.

“[A return] would make sense,” Olney said. “And if they don’t, then let’s face it, it would have to be taken as punitive. It would have to be taken as a sign from the Red Sox organization that they want Jackie to focus more on making adjustments. That’s the big question now about him within the Red Sox organization: Will he make adjustments? Because I know that during the course of the year when he was approached about that, his response was, ‘Look, I’m fine. I’ll work my way through it. I feel good.’

“Now that we’re near the end of the season, they feel like that just wasn’t done in the way that it should have been done. And they’re going to want him to do that going into next year, and they’re going to want to have him respond. And given the fact that they have this volume of outfielders, I really think next spring is going to be absolutely huge for him.

“And this winter’s going to be huge — I was going to bring this up, too — for Will Middlebrooks. I know that there is desire within the Red Sox organization that Middlebrooks go and play winter ball to get more at-bats, to get more experience and to turn the corner. And if he doesn’t, then I think there’s a good chance he’s going to spend next year in the minor leagues. They don’t want to give him away. And I heard this from a couple of different teams, that when they approach the Red Sox, the Red Sox know that they have a really talented guy in Middlebrooks who hits for power, but they want to give it every opportunity for that to happen with them, because they know if they trade him now it’s essentially going to be at a cut rate, and it’s not going to be at what they believe his value to be. So if he’s going to be in the big leagues next year I think winter ball is going to be a big part of it, and a good spring training would have to be a big part of it.”

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Read More: buster olney, giancarlo stanton, jackie bradley jr., Rusney Castillo
Jim Callis: Blake Swihart the most difficult Red Sox prospect to part with 07.29.14 at 1:45 pm ET
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It’s a hectic time for the shaping of the Red Sox. The team is currently in sell mode, with the possibility of dealing any number of key veterans such as Jon Lester and John Lackey. At the same time, the Sox are no doubt in the early stages of contemplating how they’re going to address some of their pressing needs for 2015, whether beefing up the middle of the order or identifying a starting pitcher who could serve as a replacement for Lester should he not be with the team in 2015.

That, in turn, has created scenarios in which the Sox could both sell (parting with players slated to reach free agency after this year) and buy (adding long-term assets). For instance, could a team that has an organizational commitment to limiting the risk associated with long-term deals let Lester walk (or trade him, as the case may be) rather than signing him to a five- or six-year deal at, say, $24 million a year, and instead seek to trade for a pitcher like Cole Hamels who is essentially Lester’s age (Hamels, 30, is less than a month older than Lester), but whose contract guarantee would count as just a four-year, $96 million commitment for luxury tax purposes? In essence, doing so would have the Sox acquiring prospects for Lester and trading other prospects away in order to avoid one or two years at roughly the same AAV that Hamels would be receiving.

The Sox would certainly appear to have the trade chips to acquire Hamels, certainly. As Jim Callis of MLB.com noted in this podcast (on whether WEEI.com and/or the baseball industry overrates Red Sox prospects), the Sox might have the best catching prospect (Blake Swihart), the best left-handed pitching prospect (Henry Owens) and the best second base prospect (Mookie Betts) in the game. That permits flexibility to strike a deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Cole Hamels, giancarlo stanton, henry owens
Giancarlo Stanton on The Bradfo Show: ‘Rumors are rumors’ 07.16.14 at 10:31 am ET
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Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton joined Rob Bradford on The Bradfo Show to discuss transactions and trade rumors. To hear the interview, go to the The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.

Stanton has been involved in a number of trade rumors throughout his career, including some with the Red Sox.

Stanton said the first time he was involved in trade rumors was as a minor leaguer in 2008 when he was discussed as a potential trade chip in a deal for Manny Ramirez.

“I actually didn’t understand the business side of it as much or pretty much at all at that point so I was like, ‘Wait a minute, me for Manny Ramirez. This makes no sense. That can’t be even close to true,’ ” Stanton said.

“As I grew up and got older I understood how it works a little better and understood that was a possibility.”

Stanton said he first found out about the rumors on the Internet.

“It was actually pretty flattering to be compared to that caliber at that time,” he said. “It’s a huge risk when you do that for a minor league guy that’s never touched foot in the big leagues.”

Stanton said the first person he contacted after he saw the rumors was his agent.

“It’s usually something me and my agent talk about,” he said. “That’s the easiest route to know legitimacy or not, so that’s pretty simple. You talk to him on what matters then get back to what I’m supposed to do.”

That was only the first of multiple trade rumors Stanton’s name was in. He said he gets sick of being asked about them.

“Rumors are rumors, but then again the route of all truths could be some rumors, so you never know,” Stanton said.

Stanton’s first time at Fenway Park came in an interleague series in 2012.

“It was kind of like a fantasy field,” he said. “It’s like one of those fields you design in a video game and kind of just play in. It’s different seeing something for so many years on TV then walking into it. That was the awe that I was in.”

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Tom Verducci on MFB: Red Sox ‘have to be in at least a partial selling mode’ 07.14.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the state of the Red Sox, Jon Lester‘€™s impending free agency and trade rumors surrounding Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

In an interview with The Boston Globe published Sunday, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said that the organization has yet to determine if Boston — sitting at 43-52 and 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East — has accepted the role of “buyer”€ or “€œseller”€ this season, a stance that Verducci said he agrees with.

“€œI think right now, they’ve got to sort of be both,”€ Verducci said. “In other words, you have to lay the groundwork for some deals, you have to see what you can get for somebody, whether it’€™s a Jake Peavy, maybe a Stephen Drew, even a [Koji] Uehara. … But I do think they have to be in at least a partial selling mode and see what they can get for these players.”

Another week has gone by with no news of any progress regarding a new contract for Lester. Verducci said that while Lester — who has posted career-best numbers with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP this season — could be a trade chip, the Red Sox should go all out to retain the southpaw.

“€œI’€™d do everything I can to re-sign this guy. … I think you give it your best shot. … It’€™s hard for me to imagine the Red Sox going forward without Jon Lester,”€ Verducci said. “€œThe durability that he brings is just irreplaceable. Yeah, you look in the farm system, there’€™s a ton of arms that you really like, but some of those guys are 2-3 years away from the potential of being Jon Lester, and Clay [Buchholz] just has not proven he’€™s a 200-inning guy, 33-start guy year after year. … The minute you lose a pitcher like that, you’€™re trying to replace a pitcher like that, and that’€™s not easily done.”

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Read More: giancarlo stanton, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara, Tom Verducci
Buster Olney on M&M: AL East ‘hasn’t defined itself’ 05.14.14 at 1:09 pm ET
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ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox and the American League East, whose teams have been stung by a rash of injuries. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

All of the AL East teams except the Red Sox are dealing with injuries to key players.

“Just imagine every team wading in about 6 feet of mud,” Olney said. “No question about it. The other day I was talking to an executive from one of the five teams and he sounded so down. I said, ‘Hey, have you had a chance to look at what everyone else is dealing with?’ This division hasn’t defined itself. It’s essentially sitting out there on a tee for someone to grab — whoever can sort out their issues.

The Yankees‘ issues are absolutely acute with their starting pitching a complete mess. I think even if CC Sabathia is able to come back from the knee problem that he has, I think there are real serious questions about whether or not he’s going to be effective going forward and whether or not their starting pitching is going to be able to support a lineup that hasn’t been as productive as they expected. Toronto has starting pitching issues. You mentioned the Rays with their starting pitching. We came into the year saying well, they’re a World Series contender because of their starting pitching. But with Matt Moore out, are they going to be able to sort through that?

“The Orioles may face a situation at some point very soon where Matt Wieters is going to have surgery and be out for the year. Where do they make up for it in the catching? Their starting pitching is an issue. So, the Red Sox aren’t alone in trying figure out some issues. The whole division is three games under .500 collectively.”

The Red Sox could use more production from their young players, as Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. all are struggling offensively.

“I think they’re going to stick with Bogaerts for sure, because they committed to him in the offseason,” Olney said. “When they had their last conversation with Stephen Drew at the beginning of January, at that point when they weren’t close to a deal, they said, ‘You know what? We have to commit to this kid.’ So I think they’re going to do that. That’s not going to change. It’s always possible that you take Jackie Bradley out, you look for better matchups, that type of thing. But they believe in his talent. And they think it’s just a matter of time. They absolutely believe in his defense. So I don’t think those things are going to change.

“I am curious about Will Middlebrooks. I’d love to be in the room and give truth serum to the guys making decisions to know what they are seeing and what they are feeling about him. Because of course they’ve seen times when he’s been a help with his power, but then they’ve seen times when he goes into an absolute funk. Before I came on with you guys I was looking at some of his numbers, and the thing that jumped out at me was his performance with two strikes. The numbers suggest that he’s been absolutely helpless: 5-for-33 in two-strike counts — and not [just] 0-2, but 0-2, 1-2, 2-2 and 3-2, with 19 strikeouts. … With 0-2 counts, for example, 0-for-11, nine punchouts. That makes you wonder exactly how he’s approaching his at-bats, and is he one of those guys that once the pitcher gets an arm up on him in the ball-strike count that he becomes a really vulnerable hitter.”

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Read More: buster olney, giancarlo stanton, Jose Fernandez, Mut & Merloni
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