|Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher, Shin-Soo Choo and the Red Sox search for an outfielder||12.03.12 at 4:59 pm ET|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Red Sox addressed their top priority when they reached an agreement with Mike Napoli. There was a dearth of quality free agent first basemen on the market, and even fewer who wouldn’t require the team that signed them to sacrifice a draft pick as compensation. Now, with Napoli on board, the Sox’ other area of positional need should feature very different rules of engagement.
Even as the center fielders are coming off the board, with B.J. Upton having signed, Denard Span having been traded by the Twins and Angel Pagan reportedly nearing a return to the Giants, there remain a number of free agent and trade options in the outfield market. Josh Hamilton is there for the taking. So is Nick Swisher. So is Shane Victorino. And Cody Ross. And Ryan Ludwick. The Diamondbacks continue to be open to a deal involving Justin Upton. The Indians are dangling Shin-Soo Choo. And on… and on.
With Napoli on board, the Sox now feature a roster that is deeeeeep in right-handed hitters. Napoli joins Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and potentially Jose Iglesias among the team’s right-handed options. The team does hope to achieve a measure of balance, finding some left-handed options (or switch-hitters) to complement what it’s already assembled. The team also would like to find a strong defensive right fielder (essentially, someone who is capable of playing center but with the arm for right). Read the rest of this entry »
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — While the Red Sox have continued interest in free agent Nick Swisher, an industry source has indicated the first baseman/outfielder may wait until fellow free agent Josh Hamilton agrees to a deal before signing with a team.
Though the Red Sox signed catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli to a three-year, $39 million deal on Monday, the move has not taken them out of the running for Swisher, who hit .272/.364/.473 with 24 homers and 93 RBI last season for the Yankees.
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. CC Sabathia||07.28.12 at 10:09 am ET|
Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox against the Yankees for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon, going up against New York lefty CC Sabathia.
In his most recent outing, Lester tossed four innings and allowed 11 runs and four home runs as the Red Sox lost 15-7 to the Blue Jays. On the season Lester is 5-8 with a 5.46 ERA.
Boston has lost Lester’s last four starts, and the lefty allowed 22 combined runs over that stretch. His last win came a month ago, on June 27, when he allowed four runs in seven innings en route to a 10-4 victory over the Blue Jays.
He last took the mound against the Yankees on July 8 at Fenway. He allowed four earned runs and lasted 4 1/3 innings as the Red Sox lost 7-3. Nick Swisher leads Yankees batters with eight RBIs in his career against Lester and Derek Jeter has a .365 batting average against the southpaw.
The Yankees lost Sabathia’s last start, 5-4 to the Athletics. He allowed three runs and struck out six through seven innings. It was Sabathia’s second start since coming off the DL, making the lefty 1-1 since his return.
His first game off the DL was a 6-1 victory over Toronto, when Sabathia threw six innings and allowed zero runs.
The 32-year-old will be making his first start against the Red Sox this season. He has pitched against 11 current Red Sox batters, surrendering seven RBIs to Jacoby Ellsbury. In 71 plate appearances against Sabathia, Carl Crawford is batting .319.
|How the Yankees finally got to Jon Lester||08.06.11 at 12:46 am ET|
Red Sox fans have seen this movie before.
An ace pitcher is cruising along against the vaunted Yankee lineup, like Jon Lester was on Friday night. The Sox left had allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings, throwing just 73 pitches in the process.
Then, boom. All of sudden, the Yankees start taking pitches, fouling off pitcher’s pitches and making every swing count. The Yankees still work the pitcher as well as any team in baseball and they proved it again Friday night, trailing 2-0.
Even the best pitchers the Red Sox ever had – like Pedro Martinez, circa 1999 – have fallen victim to this in the last 15 years that Derek Jeter has been a captain. And Jeter was at the middle of things – or more to the point – the start of things on Friday night.
Eduardo Nunez fell behind quickly two strikes to open the sixth, with the Lester and the Red Sox in command, 2-0. Then six pitches – including two foul balls – later, he was on base with a walk. Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson followed with an RBI single to left-center and it was 2-1.
“Just really lost command,” Lester said. “You have to tip your cap to them. They did a good job being patient that inning. I threw some pretty good pitches they laid off, whether it was a ball or strike, they stayed within themselves and it seemed like the first five innings, we dictated both sides of the plate and in the sixth inning, they did.”
Lester would throw his final 35 pitches of the night in that sixth inning as the Yankees rallied for three runs off Lester.
“The first thing was Nunez’s at-bat, the fact that he was able a 3-2 walk after fouling off some really tough pitches,” Granderson said. “I think he threw pretty anything and everything at him. Derek got his first hit of the ball game, I got my first hit. Nunez read it really well and was able to score.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Gammons on the Big Show: Cliff Lee, John Lackey and relief pitching||10.22.10 at 5:10 pm ET|
MLB and NESN analyst Peter Gammons checked in with The Big Show on Friday afternoon to discuss a number of topics, including the Blue Jays’ managerial search (which appears focused on Red Sox coaches DeMarlo Hale and John Farrell), the Rangers-Yankees ALCS, the looming fight between the two clubs for the services of free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee and the Red Sox’ pitching issues, chiefly related to the bullpen and the performance of John Lackey and Josh Beckett.
For Gammons’ thoughts on the Blue Jays managerial search, click here. Highlights from the rest of his interview are below. To listen to the complete interview, check The Big Show Audio-on-Demand page.
Can the Yankees survive tonight?
They can survive it. Phil Hughes, the one thing about his two starts in the postseason, they were so broken up. There was so much time in between. … He’s made 18 starts on normal rest, four days rest. That’s by far the best he pitched, never less than five innings, very consistent, he averaged about six innings a start. His stuff has looked really short to me in both his postseason starts. Maybe he’ll come out and pitch well.
But if the Yankees have to go to their bullpen, Kerry Wood can’t keep picking guys off every time he walks somebody, and they have no left-hander to get anybody out. Boone Logan has come in twice against Josh Hamilton: double and home run, as opposed to the kid, Derek Holland, has been just unbelievable for the Rangers. Over two nights, I think Holland becomes one of the real keys to the series.
Why don’t teams spend more on relievers? That was an Achilles heel for the Red Sox.
The difficulty is they’re so inconsistent from year-to-year. Arthur Rhodes made the All-Star team in the National League this year. You just never know from year to year. To invest $4-5 million into a setup guy is a pretty scary proposition. You look around at the left-handers, Holland is a starter who was made a reliever here. You look around at other teams. Javy Lopez has done a really nice job. At 43 or whatever he is, he’s finally come up with a sidearm breaking ball. But left-handed relievers are really, really tough to find. It will be really, really interesting to see next year what the Red Sox, as good as [Felix] Doubront was, do you want to put him in relief and make him a middle reliever when at 25 years old clearly he’s a frontline starter.
Will Texas play with less pressure given that Lee is set for Game 7?
I think so. Cliff is so unflappable. I had a friend of mine in Cleveland say to me, ‘Where did this come from?’ This is a guy, when he was pitching for the University of Arkansas, dropped way down in the draft because he was averaging more than six walks per nine innings. People said he’ll never throw strikes in the big leagues. Now that’s all he ever throws.
You can just take all our computers and throw them out the window when it comes to development. Athletes sometimes just find it, and you can’t explain why. I have a good friend who scouts, was very close to Cliff coming up in the Montreal organization, he said, ‘He’s always been this way. He finally grew into that control.’ He’s so strong. … His stretching process is jumping up and doing 200 pull-ups. That’s how he starts every workout.
Hamilton said that Lee figures out the umpire’s strike zone on a given night and exploits it.
It is a part of his game. I thought it was a great observation from Josh. You do see that. … [Pitchers] want it to be their strike zone. Umpires have their strike zone. If you pitch to it, it gives you a much better chance. Cliff obviously never throws the ball over the middle of the plate,which obviously helps. It’s fascinating to watch.
It’s also going to be fascinating to watch what he does with his money this offseason, now that he has the Texas Rangers and their $3 billion television deal and the New York Yankees lined up to bid for him. I think he’s going to stay here [with the Rangers]. … It’s only an hour flight for his wife. I think this is kind of a place he likes it much better than the attention he would get in New York. But I could live on the $23-25 million a year Cliff is going to make this offseason.
What did you make of Nick Swisher’s comments that he’s tired of talking about Cliff Lee?
I think he just doesn’t want to talk about anybody else. … I thought he went a little bit overboard. But he’s a little bit theatrical. Every ball on the inside corner, he jackknifes away and does a little dance. … I asked him a question, next day he came up to me and said, ‘Why’d you do that?’ He didn’t get a hit, he struck out a couple times, but he also had a great 11-pitch at-bat, which I thought might have been, alright, you’re starting to get the strike zone. I think he’d had one hit the whole series. Sometimes when a guy has a great at-bat like that, it’s the beginning of something good. So I said, ‘What did you take away from the game more, striking out twice or the 11-pitch at-bat?’
He thought I was ripping him. … I thought it was an opening for him to say, ‘I’m going to be really good now,’ but he took offense to it. That’s Nick being Nick.
Red Sox fans cringe at the possibility that Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia could be at the top of the Yankees rotation.
It’s known that it’s Chuck Greenberg’s first big move. … I did find out that Chuck Greenberg is a college teammate of Wendy Selig at Tufts. … I really do think they’ll do anything they can to keep him. The thing that makes it difficult for the Yankees is that, unless they take the [Andrew] Brackman kid, the 6-foot-10 former basketball player from NC State and rush him, the next best free-agent pitcher on the market is now Carl Pavano. I don’t think he’s going back there again. It’s not a great winter. I can’t believe they’d ever trade for Greinke and try to have him pitch in New York. I think he’s better off pitching in Greenland.
Do you think the Red Sox regret pursuing Lackey last offseason instead of Lee this year?
They may. They were happy with Lackey in the second half. His quality starts were good. He pitched better. … Maybe, with a year under his belt, he’ll be more used to [the AL East]. And I think if Josh Beckett bounces back, that will help Lackey a lot, too.
Sometimes I felt there were minor conflicts between Lackey and Victor Martinez. I’m not sure it’s Victor’s fault. Lackey, I’m not going to say he’s stubborn, but he’s definitely focused on what he wants to do. I thought there were times when he and Victor got off on different tangents. We’ll see what happens next year with that.
|Swisher beats Youkilis in All-Star vote||07.08.10 at 6:03 pm ET|
Nick Swisher reigned victorious in a balloting showdown between the guy from “Moneyball” and the other guy from “Moneyball,” edging Kevin Youkilis to earn the final spot on the American League All-Star team. Major League Baseball is saying it was the closest such vote ever.
Final Vote candidates for the AL included Swisher, Youkilis, Paul Konerko, Michael Young and Delmon Young. The Yankees right fielder and Red Sox first baseman swapped places in the driver’s seat throughout the checkpoints of voting, which commenced following the initial roster’s announcement over the weekend.
Swisher becomes the eighth Yankee to be named to the squad, joining pitchers Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte (the replacement for Dustin Pedroia on the roster) and infielders Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. It is Swisher’s first All-Star appearance.
On paper, Youkilis seemed to have the edge in nearly every major offensive statistical category with the exception of average. Though Swisher hit at a slightly higher clip (.298, six points higher than Youkilis’ .292), the Red Sox first baseman has an on-base percentage of .409 to go with 17 homers and 55 RBI. Swisher is worse off in those categories, as he has an OBP of .376 with just 14 dingers and 48 RBI. The plate appearances were nearly identical, with Youkilis coming up 345 times to Swisher’s 341.
Youkilis had been hampered by an ankle injury the last two days but the injury is not considered serious and he stated on The Big Show that he would be healthy enough to play if he were to elected to the All-Star team.
Justice was seemingly done in the National League vote, as Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who leads the NL in homers with 21, was chosen over Ryan Zimmerman, Carlos Gonzalez and Billy Wagner. The Reds and Red Sox had teamed up throughout the week to campaign for both Votto and Youkilis, an Ohio native.
Red Sox aside from Pedroia to make the team include Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz, though Buchholz, Martinez and Pedroia will miss the game due to injury. Ortiz is set to participate in the Home Run Derby.
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