|Red Sox Lineup: Xander Bogaerts gets day off as Rick Porcello, Red Sox seek to complete sweep of D’backs||08.14.16 at 12:58 pm ET|
The Red Sox look to sweep the Diamondbacks on Sunday behind their best pitcher, Rick Porcello.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts will get the day off after battling recent fatigue. Bogaerts is batting .203 in his last 18 games, dropping his batting average to .313, the lowest it has been since May 8.
“Like anybody, he needs a little bit of a day to get some fresh legs,” manager John Farrell said before the game. “He’s scuffling at the plate right now a little bit where he might lunging at times, he might be caught in between at times. Maybe a day to kind of catch his breath a little bit is needed.”
As for Porcello, he’s looking to improve upon the best home record (11-0) in the game. The Red Sox have won all 12 of his starts at Fenway Park.
“Rick in his own right may be on the path to his best year as a major-league pitcher himself,” Farrell said. “Rick has been extremely comfortable in Fenway, extremely successful. We’ll need it based on what the matchup suggests.”
What has been the difference for Porcello?
“There’s a few reasons, but I think it starts with him being in his second year in Boston,” Farrell said. “He’s more comfortable. He’s certainly comfortable on the mound here. I just think the environment, the expectation, it’s more of a known commodity to him this year than it was a year ago. It’s allowed, that relaxation to let his natural abilities come out. That filters over to his execution which has been probably as consistent as any point in his career — the fewest walks per nine innings allowed. He’s not beat himself. He’s put the ball on the ground at a pretty good rate.”
Here’s the lineup, with the Red Sox facing Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke:
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Brock Holt
RF Mookie Betts
DH David Ortiz
1B Hanley Ramirez
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
3B Aaron Hill
C Sandy Leon
LF Andrew Benintendi
In the Red Sox-Diamondbacks series finale on Sunday afternoon, Boston will send its most consistent starter, Rick Porcello, to the mound opposite veteran right-hander Zack Greinke.
Porcello is 15-3 in 23 starts with 3.40 ERA and a 1.079 WHIP. The 27-year-old is looking to become the first Red Sox pitcher to start the season 12-0 at home since Dave Ferriss went 13-0 in 1946. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.53 ERA since June 28. Porcello has allowed more than two walks only once this season. In his last start last Tuesday, Porcello pitched eight innings, allowing two runs, seven hits and one walk with six strikeouts in a 5-3 win over the Yankees. It was Porcello’s 100th career win.
“It was a big win for us,” Porcello said (via MLB.com). “We came off a long, tough road trip, so we definitely needed to start the homestand off the right way. It was a good way to start the series.”
Porcello is 0-1 in two career starts against the Diamondbacks with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP. Porcello last faced the Diamondbacks in 2014 as a member of the Tigers. In that start, Porcello went seven innings, allowing three runs, five hits and no walks with five strikeouts.
|What would have Red Sox done if they didn’t get David Price, Zack Greinke? Dave Dombrowski explains||01.27.16 at 12:09 pm ET|
They were going to keep spending until the free agent starter couldn’t say no. It was reminder that Cubs president Theo Epstein offered on the Hot Stove Show, saying that the Sox final offer of $217 million was “about $50 million” more than what Chicago was willing to give.
And if Price fell through, Zack Greinke would have surely gotten the same treatment, with the Red Sox undoubtedly ready to take on the six-year, $206.5 million deal the righty pitcher ultimately got from Arizona.
But what if both fell through?
The Red Sox were clearly prioritizing getting an ace, and those two were seemingly the only pair of free agents who could be classified as no-doubters in that respect. Johnny Cueto? Not the same stratosphere.
Appearing on the Saturday’s Hot Stove Show from Foxwoods, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski shed some light on the Red Sox’ plan of attack.
First off, even a portion of that money that went to Price, or potentially Greinke, wasn’t going to a high-priced position player.
“You can have your original plan, but then what based on what takes place you need to make some adjustments,” Dombrowski said. “I’m sure if we had not signed one of those two guys we still would have looked to do something with pitching, but I don’t know what may have been different at that particular time.”
But the real takeaway was that, according to Dombrowski, there was no chance that the kind of pitcher the Red Sox sought could be reeled in via the kind of trade the Sox would be willing to explore.
“I think that’s one of the advantages you have when you have some experience, and I’ve worked with a lot of the general managers … Some people can tell you that this guy is not available. Well, he might be available. You can really read his tone of voice. There are other guys who tell you that this guy is not available, and he’s not. There’s no sense in knocking your head against the wall all winter long trying to get that guy when he really is not available,” Dombrowski explained. “Now when I say that, any player in baseball is available if you want to overwhelm somebody so much you can basically get anybody. But you may get that guy in a trade, but now you have four other holes on your big league club so you really haven’t helped yourself.
“So I think in reading the trade market early, it was apparent to me to get the type of starting pitcher we needed with what we wanted to do, there was not any of them that were available that were going to come to us with prospects. It just wasn’t going to happen. So really quickly you could say that’s not the direction we’re going.
“I thought we would come back with a closer, back-end type guy through the trade market and it would be costly with players, which it was. But if you were going to get the type of guy we wanted in the starting rotation, that was going to have to come through free agency.”
Another interesting aspect of Dombrowski’s explanation regarding the Red Sox’ offseason plan was his very direct proclamation that any championhip-caliber team needs an ace to lead its starting staff.
It was about as direct of an about-face from the ownership’s previous philosophy as Dombrowski had delivered since taking over.
“To me, the No. 1 need we had was that ace at the top to go out there because I think our organization needed that type of guy,” he said. “And when you look at tradition of good clubs, championship clubs, they almost always have that type of guy. And when I also talk to people in the Red Sox organization it was apparent that when the Red Sox last won, every time they won, they had guys at the top of the rotation that can in turn take pressure off of others.
“Clay Buchholz is a fine pitcher. Now, we need to work, and he has worked hard this winter and done some different things to try and keep himself strong and healthy throughout the years. And Eduardo Rodriguez, he is in a situation where he has a chance to be a very fine pitcher. He’s already shown you those capabilities. But I think it’s a lot different when you say, ‘Well, he might slide into the third day or the fourth day, ‘ compared to, ‘Wow, we need this guy to pitch against the other club’s ace right off the bat.’ I think it puts people in a more comfortable position in an organization.”
|Curt Schilling on D&C: Red Sox might pursue Zack Greinke for 1-2 punch with David Price||12.02.15 at 10:26 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane on Wednesday morning to explain why he supports the Red Sox‘ decision to spend a record amount of money for David Price. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling said it shouldn’t matter that owner John Henry decided to open his wallet and shell out a reported $217 million over seven years for a 30-year-old left-hander.
“This is what makes it different here in the sense that when John Henry wants someone on the team, John Henry gets what he wants. … That’s one of the beauties of being a fan here now. Money is no object when it comes to putting a roster together,” Schilling said.
That said, Schilling echoed the thoughts of many in saying that the Red Sox have to expect that the last couple of years of this deal won’t be a good value.
“I don’t know how good he’s going to be or how serviceable he’s going to be [in the final years of the deal], but you don’t put $30 million onto a guy who’s 11-11 with a [4.20 ERA],” Schilling said. “And that is best-case [scenario]. Because are you fully expecting him to make 33 starts, 34 starts a year for seven consecutive years? I always look at things like this as, OK, one of these years he will not pitch. Right? So, it’s a six-year performance deal for seven years worth of money. Where does the other side of the hill, where does the downside begin — does it begin at 33, does it begin at 36?
“But here’s the thing: That doesn’t matter. Because if they go to the World Series and win, then the amount of money this organization makes off that World Series win pays for this a couple of times over.”
There also has been widespread speculation that Price will opt out of the deal after three years — reportedly an option in his contract — but Schilling doesn’t see that as likely.
Said Schilling: “I don’t think opting out is even remotely possible from the standpoint of, what are you going to do, opt out of a $30.1 million deal to get [$]32 million from somebody else? I think that after the first year he’s going to love it here. I think after the first month he’s going to love it here. Because this is baseball heaven. … There’s very few places like this. And he’s in the family now.”
|Report: David Price chose Red Sox at last minute over Cardinals; Sox nearly signed Zack Greinke||12.01.15 at 7:25 pm ET|
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Price believed he had a seven-year deal in place to join the St. Louis Cardinals, but the Red Sox upped their offer at the 11th hour to seven years and $217 million, $30 million more than St. Louis had on the table.
That swayed Price to come to Boston. Had he signed with the Cards, according to the story, the Red Sox were in negotiations with Dodgers free agent Zack Greinke, and had been given a Tuesday deadline by his representatives to reach an agreement.
Price was reportedly “enamored” with joining the Cardinals, who are closer to his hometown of Nashville, but the Red Sox offered too much money to ignore, and so he’ll stay in the American League East, where he has spent virtually his entire career.
The Red Sox clearly coveted either Price or Greinke, the top two pitchers on the market, and judging from the size of their offer to Price, it’s clear which one they preferred.
In the end, they got their man.
|Looks like Johnny Cueto isn’t settling for Jordan Zimmermann deal||11.30.15 at 1:10 pm ET|
Even though the consensus is that Cueto would be a notch below the other two, that doesn’t mean he’s going to come cheap.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Cueto is looking for the kind of payday Jon Lester reeled in last offseason when he inked his six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs.
One of the selling points for a team interested in acquiring Cueto is that he would not cost a draft pick, having not been eligible to receive a qualifying offer due to his midseason trade. According to FoxSports.com, such a dynamic was a factor for the Diamondbacks, who own the third-most valuable non-protected pick (13) in next June’s draft.
While organizational philosophies don’t always necessarily line up in terms of valuing draft picks, Arizona’s reluctance to part with No. 13 is notable considering the Red Sox own No. 12. The highest pick ever surrendered for a free agent signing since the qualifying offer system went into place was last year, when San Diego forfeited No. 13 to lock up James Shields.
(Price would not cost a team a draft pick, while Greinke would.)
Prior to joining Kansas City in July, Cueto was viewed neck-and-neck with Price as the top free agent-to-be starter. But rumors of an elbow issue, coupled with a 4-7 mark and 4.76 ERA in 13 starts with the Royals, seemingly diminished the 29-year-old’s value.
“It depends,” said Cueto on if he would sign with the Red Sox after this season. “Because I’m a free agent, and I’m just going to pick the best choice to go. The main thing ‘ I would like to come here because it’s a championship-caliber team.”
Clubs in the Johnny Cueto market believe he's looking for a $140-160M payout. That's Cole Hamels-Jon Lester territory.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 30, 2015
|Now question can be asked: Should Red Sox prioritize Zack Greinke or David Price?||11.04.15 at 1:19 pm ET|
Nobody should have been surprised Zack Greinke took the route he did earlier Wednesday morning, opting out of the final three years of his current deal with the Dodgers.
Sure, the 32-year-old pitcher surrendered a guaranteed $71 million, but coming off the season(s) he produced, it was absolutely the logical move considering where the age Greinke would be hitting free agency if staying with his previous deal.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility we’re talking a six-year deal for Greinke, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons. Since 2013, he has gone 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA. (As a quick aside, how in the world have the Dodgers not won more considering their other top starter, Clayton Kershaw, is 53-19 with a 1.92 ERA over that same span.)
So, with the Red Sox very publicly stating finding a pitcher like Greinke this offseason is their top priority, the pitcher’s newfound life as a free agent should be a top priority Dave Dombrowski and Co.
The fly in the ointment is the perceived hesitation Greinke might have when it comes to playing in a place like Boston. Having battled a debilitating social anxiety disorder, the righty has been on record saying he couldn’t envision himself pitching in a place like New York. But what about Fenway Park?
Greinke did have Boston, along with New York, on his no-trade list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much considering such a move is used for contract leverage more than anything.
There is seemingly a strong support system for the former Royal, Brewer and Dodger, with his former general manager Allard Baird serving as the Red Sox senior vice president of player personnel, and Brian Bannister, the Sox director of pitching analysis and development, having a long history with the pitcher. Bannister and Greinke developed a close relationship while playing together in KC, having shared a common interest in advanced pitching metrics and analytics.
|Devil in the details: Contract possibilities for Jon Lester and the Red Sox||11.19.14 at 2:52 pm ET|
The Red Sox have made no secret of their desire to make a push for Jon Lester, a notion that has gained further credence with the reports (the first one of which came from ESPNBoston.com) that the team has made an offer to the left-hander.
But, of course, it is one thing to make an offer, another to find common ground to satisfy Lester’s interest in a salary befitting his status as an elite pitcher and the Sox’ interests in accounting for the risks associated with a long-term deal for a pitcher in his 30s. In the absence of concrete details about what shape that offer has taken, here are a few potential models and/or features of an offer that the Sox may try to incorporate as they attempt to reacquire an elite pitcher while minimizing the risk on the back end of the deal:
Model 1: Cliff Lee (fewer years, more dollars)
In the 2012-13 offseason, the Red Sox proved aggressive in terms of the average annual value they put on the table while trying to limit the number of years they committed to players. In doing so, they got (for instance) Shane Victorino to pass on a four-year deal worth roughly $11 million a year from the Indians in favor of a three-year, $39 million deal to come to Boston.
In the winter following the 2010 season, left-hander Cliff Lee walked away from potential deals of six-plus years (with offers typically rumored to be for $23 million or so per year) in favor of a five-year, $120 million deal ($24 million per year) with the Phillies. It’s worth noting that there are similarities between Lester’s situation and Lee’s.
|Zack Greinke takes stock of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, free agent pitching market||07.14.14 at 5:24 pm ET|
When Greinke arrived at free agency two years ago, he had just turned 29, pitched 1,492 innings and owned a 3.77 career ERA with 8.0 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings. He commanded a landmark six-year, $144 million deal from the Dodgers. Lester — in a more difficult division, but at an older age (30) — is nearing the open market with a career 3.66 ERA, 8.2 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per nine innings and 1,505 career innings under his belt. So, Greinke’s $24 million-a-year haul will undoubtedly be a point of reference for Lester, just as it was for Scherzer and the Tigers when Detroit offered (and Scherzer rejected) a six-year, $144 million offer this spring.
“There’s a lot more pitchers like me than there are pitchers like [C.C.] Sabathia when he got to the open market and [Clayton] Kershaw if he got to the open market,” said Greinke, referencing the left-handers who commanded deals of seven years and $169 million (Sabathia from the Yankees after the 2008 season) and seven years and $215 million (Kershaw from the Dodgers this spring. “It’s a lot easier to compare players to my skill level than theirs. Scherzer and Lester, they’re fantastic, but they’re not, I don’t think, at Sabathia’s level when he became a free agent, because he was pretty amazing.”
As a student of the game, Greinke has considered the cases of both Lester and Scherzer. He notes that the months ahead could transform their futures by nine-figure sums.
“They’re two different ones,” said Greinke. “Scherzer has been amazing to me, because he’s slowly gotten better every year. Even this year, his velocity has gotten down a little bit, but his ability to pitch has gotten much better. Even though he’s an older guy, it seems he’s still getting better, which makes him kind of exciting. Lester’s had more of an up-and-down career but he’s had a longer track record of success than Scherzer. They’ve both been healthy. It’s pretty interesting, those two. And they’re both pitching really good right now.
“There’s still a long time to go with the season. Their contracts could go from $100 million to $200 million or $100 million to $20 million over the next two months, depending on how they pitch, if they’re healthy and all that stuff.”
|Kevin Millar on M&M: Padres’ Carlos Quentin charging the mound ‘an overreaction and it’s kind of tired’||04.12.13 at 1:39 pm ET|
Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the brawl that broke out between the Dodgers and Padres on Thursday night and about what he’s seen from the Red Sox so far.
Millar said he thinks Carlos Quentin should be punished harshly for charging the mound and breaking Zack Greinke‘s collarbone. However, he said there’s no way Dodgers manager Don Mattingly‘s proposal that Quentin shouldn’t play again until Greinke returns from the injury will come true.
“It’s a great soundbite, it’s great for Don Mattingly to say that, but it’s not going to happen,” he said. “You’re not going to suspend somebody 30-40 games for charging the mound. A lot of guys get hurt charging the mound, but that’s part of charging the mound. It’s just a typical suspension, you’re going to get fined, but if you overreact — you’re not going to sit out 30-40 games. You’ve got guys that take steroids that sit out 50 games. You charge the mound, you tell me it’s going to be close to that? No.
“There are divers in the game. You know when a guy’s throwing at you, and if Quentin really thought Greinke’s throwing at him? ‘¦ I don’t think he’s throwing at him. It’s a one-run game, it’s a 3-2 count. It’s an overreaction and it’s kind of tired. ‘¦ Poor Zack Greinke’s a buck-92 and Quentin’s no small guy. It’s bad for the game when somebody goes down like that, and if you’re a Giants fan you’re over there licking your chops saying, ‘We’ve got a chance to keep going.’ ”
On whether he’s worried about Joel Hanrahan: “No, not at all. His stuff’s too good. It happens early in the season and it becomes magnified, but this guy’s going to save a lot of games for the Red Sox. ‘¦ He had to get out of that inning [against the Orioles], and it didn’t happen, and they lost, big deal.”
On Jackie Bradley’s recent struggles: “It’s part of growing pains. That’s why I always tell everyone, don’t get so excited about spring training statistics. ‘¦ The bottom line is, I would like to see the Red Sox somewhat get some consistency with their lineup. I don’t like Jonny Gomes sitting on the bench all the time. This is a threat you signed for 10 million bucks for a couple of years. Let him get in there and get his feet going and start hitting some balls. As far as a young man like Jackie Bradley Jr. who’s going to have a great career — he’s a great kid, the work ethic’s there. He’s going through a little stretch right now.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Castillo, Vazquez meet in PR finals
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Leon debuts, Elias strikes out seven
- SoxProspects.com's Top Posts of 2016
- December Notes: Sox deal key prospects for Sale, Thornburg
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Rodriguez tweaks knee, Castillo rakes
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Ramirez debuts, Vazquez homers
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Abad debuts, Hernandez goes deep again
- Scouting Updates: Mata leads group of DSL player page updates
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Eduardo Rodriguez debuts in Venezuela
- Trade Analysis: Scouting the prospects dealt for Tyler Thornburg