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Archive for the ‘Bobby Jenks’ Category

Koji Uehara – Record Setting Season for Red Sox

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As big a team effort as this season has been for the Red Sox, not sure they would be in first place without closer Koji Uehara.

Plan A (Joel Hanrahan) and Plan B (Andrew Bailey) washed out to injuries. And a quick trial of Plan C Junichi Tazawa didn’t look promising.

So Boston turned its closer role over to the 38 year old Uehara.

And Uehara has delivered – boy, has he delivered.

Start with: He hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 30. And Uehara’s post All-Star break numbers are historic: 24.1 IP, five hits, zero runs, one walk, 33 K’s, a 0.24 WHIP.

Add in: Uehara has currently retired the last 37 consecutive batters he has faced, the longest run in Red Sox history and longest for any reliever since White Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks retired 41 straight batters in 2007. According to SABR, Jenks’ streak is the longest for a reliever.

Rob Bradford writes Uehara has become the most important player in the American League.

It’s hard to argue with that perspective. And who knows, if the Red Sox have an extended post-season run maybe Uehara gets to change that to the most important player in all of baseball.

Saltalamacchia – Away from Varitek’s Shadow

Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has finally shed Jason Varitek’s shadow says manager John Farrell.

Boston coach Torey Lovullo calls Salty “a guy who’s a true backstop for a championship-caliber ball club.”

And with free agency looming this off-season, Saltalamacchia could not have picked a better year to showcase his talents.

Ken Rosenthal points out Saltalamacchia and Brian McCann of the Braves are the top catching free agents to be – with teams like the Phillies, Rangers and Yankees probably in the hunt for new backstops.

John Tomase notes Salty’s OPS ranks among the top 10 catchers in the MLB, and he’s exactly the kind of player the Red Sox would pursue on the open market if he came free from another team.

All this points to Saltalamacchia being a Boston signing priority in the off-season.

Who’s Got Most Power?

Good article by Brian McPherson, asking Red Sox players which batter has the most raw power.

Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli and David Ortiz were all in the conversation – with Big Papi crowned king.

Who do you think is Boston’s best power hitter?

Red Sox Notes: Salute to Wake, Pitching Woes, Theo Compensation & Sox Payroll

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Thanks Wake! It’s not ending the way Tim Wakefield wanted it to – but my hat is off to Wake for a terrific career and for his contributions off the field too. Wakefield will always be remembered as part of the 2004 and 2007 World Championships – which obviously have special places in the hearts of Red Sox fans. I will also remember Wakefield as stand-up player willing to do what was best for the team – start, spot start, relieve (15 saves in 1999). He was an excellent fielding pitcher too. Here’s a nice overview on Wakefield’s career from Ian Browne. I am happy Wakefield will continue to be associated with the Red Sox. I expect he will be a popular visitor to the Fenway Park Legends Box.

Pitching Problems. Alex Speier zeroed in on what he sees as the real problem with the Red Sox pitching staff – no prospect emerged as a critical contributor in 2010 or 2011. I agree – and this is an issue one can extend to the entire team. Red Sox management promised a player development machine – but the results have not been there the last few years. This contributes to late season holes (like last September when Boston had no one in AAA who could be counted on to deliver one quality start). And to big (and bad) free agent investments like John Lackey. But there is good news. The status of prospects can move up quickly as they progress through the system and the Red Sox appear to be strong in the lower minors. Keep an eye on Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes in the coming season. While they may not help in 2011, how they play will tell you whether Boston is developing any premium pitching prospects.

Still Big Spenders. Jeremy Lundblad went through the numbers on the Red Sox 2012 payroll – and they show Boston has definitely not gone cheap. This coming season will most likely be the highest payroll in team history. The big issue is bad contracts – notably Lackey, Daisuke Matuszaka and Bobby Jenks. And we will learn if Carl Crawford should be added to that list. This past off-season GM Ben Cherington took a conservative approach in the free agent market (hello, Cody Ross and Nick Punto). A big test on for Cherington comes in the future, when he makes a big-money, long-term commitment – does he demonstrate better judgment than his predecessor?

Theo Compensation. Gordon Edes has an update on the Theo Epstein compensation from the Cubs – no major league player or premium prospect coming to Boston (although Edes puts Josh Vitters on the not-coming-to-Boston list, someone not typically considered a top prospect). Edes reports the Red Sox still hope to get a quality prospect – a player who has a chance to contribute at the major league level one day. My prediction (with my typical caveat – I don’t know anything) – pitchers Trey McNutt or Chris Carpenter. Who do you think Boston will receive as compensation?

Post-Winter Meeting Trade & Free Agent Ramblings

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A few post-Winter Meeting thoughts on trade and free agent options for the Boston Red Sox.

Miami Marlins

Totally get their moves – they improved their team; built buzz for their new stadium. Still don’t necessarily see Miami as a playoff team next year. Remember, the Marlins lost 90 games last season – so they have a long way to go to compete with Philadelphia and Atlanta.

The Red Sox should be asking about Hanley Ramirez. Boston needs a big, righty bat.

The Marlins need a centerfielder. Carl Crawford (plus cash – although that doesn’t seem to be an issue in Miami any longer). Add in Jed Lowrie to play third for the Marlins until prospect Matt Dominguez is ready.

And Boston will need to add more (even though Ramirez had an off-year like Crawford).

Daniel Bard

Keep Daniel Bard in the bullpen and give him a shot at closer – despite Bobby Valentine saying Bard will be prepped as a starter in Spring Training.

I am no pitching coach – but converting from bullpen to being a quality, major league starter in the American League East does not seem like a trivial task.

Especially for a player who has no track record of success as a starter in the minors.

Next season is about winning the World Series.

The Red Sox are not looking to conduct any on-the-job training. Proof point: Dale Sveum is managing in Chicago, not Boston.

And yes, have Plans B (Alfredo Aceves) and C (keep checking into bullpen arms like Andrew Bailey, Ryan Madson and Brandon League) in place – in case Bard is not ready to be the closer.

Boston is a big-market team – they can afford to invest in some depth.

And no don’t count on any contribution from Bobby Jenks.

Red Sox Farm System

Improving the farm system – especially pitching – needs to be a priority for new GM Ben Cherington.

Theo Epstein promised to create a player development machine but it has not manifested itself – despite big amateur player signing budgets. (Something to keep an eye on Cubs fans.)

Yes, Boston gave up two top prospects (Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo) in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. (I excluded Rey Fuentes – who did not make San Diego’s top ten prospect list in Baseball America’s most recent rankings.) But there has not been much else there.

Proof point one: last September, the Red Sox had no one on their top minor league teams available to call on to help when the pitching collapsed.

Proof point two: Boston did not place one player in Keith Law’s top 50 players 25 years old or younger. No former farmhands on the list either.

Proof point three: Boston has only one player in Jonathan Mayo’s top 2011 prospect list – SS Jose lglesias.

Why does this matter? Take a look at the Trevor Cahill trade. Arizona needed to deal only one top prospect – Jarrod Parker, #17 on Mayo’s list – with a couple of second-tier prospects to get a good major league starter. The type of pitcher who would be a welcome addition to the Red Sox rotation in 2012.

Baseball Winter Meetings Preview

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Ben Cherington checked “hire a manager” off his to-do list.

This week, Cherington will turn his focus to filling some holes on the field.

Here are some areas to watch in Dallas:

Starting Pitchers

Red Sox need one or two starters – depending on whether they move Daniel Bard or Alfredo Aceves into the rotation (figure one of them getting a shot). Watch for:

  • Trade or Free Agent? The Red Sox are not very deep in young, quality players (note: this week Keith Law listed his top 50 players 25 years old and younger – no Red Sox). I don’t think Boston has what it takes to get Gio Gonzalez or Jair Jurrjens. Look for a free agent starter pick-up.
  • Does new manager Bobby Valentine influence Boston to go after Japanese ace Yu Darvish? If yes, Darvish may be the free agent target.

Bullpen

I see Bard getting an opportunity to be the closer.

But the Red Sox will want another option – ready to go if needed. And that won’t be Bobby Jenks.

Look for the Red Sox to grab Huston Street in a Colorado salary dump. Andrew Bailey is another option.

And Boston will fill in by adding a bunch of arms – with candidates including Luis Ayala and David Aardsma.

David Ortiz

  • Will Big Papi accept arbitration? His quest for a multi-year deal would say no.
  • Will the Red Sox go multi-year? Two years – probably. Three years – probably not.
  • Who is Plan B? Carlos Beltran would be an excellent fit.

My prediction – With a two-year deal and an option, the Red Sox re-sign Ortiz.

Big Names

If I was going to pick one “big name” Red Sox to be traded – it would be Kevin Youkilis. He has had two consecutive injury-filled years. He has one year plus an option on his contract. It may be time to see what he can bring in the trade market.

For a big name coming to Boston – how about Hanley Ramirez? If Jose Reyes signs with Miami, pack up the truck for Ramirez – starting with Youk (the Marlins could use a 3B – and Hanley does not sound very enthusiastic about moving there).

Papelbon Moves onto Phillies – What’s Next for Red Sox?

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Closer Jonathan Papelbon got the big money and long-term deal he has been working towards – and is headed off to Philadelphia.

More power to him. Papelbon delivered for the Red Sox.

He was a 4-time All Star. Fan favorite. And stand-up guy when things didn’t go well.

One can’t blame the Red Sox for passing on Papelbon.

The MLB track record on long-term deals for relievers is not that great (especially for hard throwing relievers). Exhibit One: B.J. Ryan and the Blue Jays.

And don’t counter with the longevity of Mariano Rivera. The future Hall of Famer is a freak – in a category all by himself.

David Schoenfield chronicles Papelbon’s performance, writing here are Papelbon’s rankings over the past three seasons among all relievers with at least 150 innings:

  • 19th in batting average
  • 16th in on-base percentage
  • 18th in slugging percentage
  • 23rd in ERA

What’s Next?

Gordon Edes writes the next manager will have a say on how the closer role is handled.

I look for the Red Sox to take a Kevin Towers approach – focus more on acquiring depth, less on making a splash with a big-name replacement.

Daniel Bard will get a shot but given Boston’s annual expectations (World Series), the team will need to cover its bases.

Bobby Jenks – the team can’t count on him. Anything (positive) he provides will be a plus.

Alfredo Aceves – he gets a well-deserved shot in the starting rotation.

Groom a rookie or two for the back-end of the bullpen – looking at Felix Doubront, Kyle Weiland and Junichi Tazawa. Another name to watch: Alex Wilson as a potential power arm in the pen.

Shop the “bargain table” at the free agent bazaar. Players like: Mike Gonzalez or David Aardsma (38 saves in ’09; 31 saves in ‘10 – show relievers can come from nowhere).

Go find 1 or more “plus arms” that may be able to put it together for a year (building the bullpen is a year-by-year process – don’t count on guys for more than a year). Utilize someone like Jed Lowrie or Josh Reddick to get an arm – potential upside for potential upside.

And wait out the free agent market. There are a lot of relieves available.

See where the market places players like Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton – and look to do a short-term, incentive-laden deal. To get some Bard insurance.

Boston Red Sox – Tampa Bay Ray Series Notes

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One Ray looking good this series is recent call-up lefty reliever Jake McGee. He throws gas – hitting 97 mph.

There is still no timeline for the return of Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. He has been out long enough now that Buchholz will need rehab starts to get back in the groove. So we are probably looking at mid-August as a best case scenario.

The Rays have more big-time pitching help on the way. Lefty starter Matt Moore – off an impressive appearance in the Futures Game – was named the #3 MLB prospect by Baseball America. Look for Moore to arrive in Tampa Bay sometime next season.

Bobby Jenks hit the DL for the third time this year. It is officially time to declare this FA signing a bad move. Look for the Red Sox to acquire a reliever who can be reliably called upon in the 7th inning down the stretch. Appears Ozzie Guillen was right about Jenks. Lefty Randy Williams – who looked good in his Red Sox debut – was called up from Pawtucket to replace Jenks.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg spoke with the media and sounded like a frustrated guy. Frustrated over attendance, stadium issues and rumors his respected GM Andrew Friedman is getting ready to skip town. Can’t say I feel sorry for him – he’s a big money guy who knew what he was buying into – but the Rays look forever destined to be “close but no cigar.”

Boston Red Sox – Detroit Tigers Preview

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The surging Red Sox are playing as advertised, writes Anthony Castrovince. They are an MLB best 25-12 since April 16.

Boston has a big three of starters – led by Jon Lester who got an MLB top 7 wins against the Indians. And a deep lineup that’s producing – with Carl Crawford hopefully having a breakout game with 4 hits Thursday.

Tiger Tales

Here’s the series preview from STATS and the series pitching match-ups. Tyler Murray does a deeper dive on Thursday’s pitching match-ups.

This week, P Phil Coke went to the DL and Detroit called up Andy Oliver, who will start on Sunday.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland says he doesn’t mind the second guessing on sports talk radio.

Tim Dierkes looks at Detroit’s payroll for 2012.

Red Sox Report

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