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Archive for the ‘Jonathan Papelbon’ Category

Red Sox Could Use a Righty in the Bullpen

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With the deadline for acquiring players who can be post-season eligible fast approaching, the Red Sox are most likely in the hunt for a right-handed pitcher for the bullpen.

But the guess here is the Red Sox already have that player on the team roster in starter Ryan Dempster.

Here’s why.

With the best record in the American League – Boston has the last shot to claim a player in the AL, meaning competitors Texas, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland and Oakland all have to pass a player before the Red Sox have a shot.

And for a National Leaguer, all NL teams need to take a pass on a waiver claim before the AL teams come up to bat.

That means a good deal is unlikely to make its way to Boston.

More likely the options will be relievers with bad contracts (Jonathan Papelbon or Heath Bell) or undistinguished performance (Kevin Gregg reports say Gregg has cleared waivers – or Tom Wilhelmsen).

Or poor starters who could shift to the pen (Joe Blanton or Edinson Volquez – who was just picked up by the Dodgers).

These look like options the Red Sox will pass on.

Should the Sox make the playoffs – they will go with no more than four starters.

Right now, Dempster looks like the odd man out (losing out to Felix Doubront for the last spot in the rotation).

And if Clay Buchholz makes it back to the big league roster – that would pretty much seal the deal that Dempster heads to the bullpen (probably for Doubront too).

Dempster has bullpen experience – he had 33 saves in 2005 (I know a long time ago).

Adding a veteran presence like Dempster to the bullpen could make things easier for Junichi Tazawa (looks like he is running out of gas) and Brandon Workman (may not be ready for 8th inning duties).

Do you think the Red Sox will try to bolster their bullpen today?

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.

2012 Red Sox Pitching Options – Rebuilding After September’s Collapse

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Job one for Ben Cherington or whoever replaces Theo Epstein as Red Sox GM is to get the pitching staff in shape for next season.

Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey all stunk in September (actually, Lackey stunk all season).

The Tim Wakefield Era is probably over.

The Andrew Miller experiment – while a worthy attempt – doesn’t look like it will pay off.

And Erik Bedard – thankfully – is probably just passing through and will be elsewhere in 2012.

Jonathan Papelbon (free agency) and Daniel Bard (another last season collapser) create questions in the bullpen.

Fortunately, we had Alex Speier walk through the Red Sox pitching options.

Speier first reviews the 2011 numbers – Boston’s starters had a 4.49 ERA (#22 in MLB); 71 quality starts (#28 in MLB); 940 innings pitched (#25 in MLB); and more.

Not a pretty picture.

So what are the answers? A look at a few options Speier discusses:

  • CC Sabathia. I love him. But at age 31 and probably wanting 6 or 7 years, let’s pass.
  • C.J. Wilson. Pursue if the price is in the Beckett/Lackey deal range. Pass if the price tag is $100 million (as reported).
  • Yu Darvish. Never seen him – so tough to weigh in. But at this point – not sure I’d dip into the Japan market after how the last great pitcher from there (Daisuke Matsuzaka – who shouldn’t counted on for anything in 2012) worked out.
  • Alfredo Aceves. Keep him in the bullpen – where he was invaluable.
  • Daniel Bard. I like the power arm in the rotation – but that’s a tough transition (bullpen to starter) to make in the majors. But Gordon Edes thinks Bard can make the move.
  • Papelbon. All depends where the Papelbon market is – if it’s $12 million/3 years – yes, do it. If it is more money or years, check out Heath Bell (who will probably be a big Texas target with Neftali Feliz moving to the rotation).
  • Gavin Floyd/John Danks. I would zero in on one of these guys as a Lackey replacement. They are not front-line starters but can be good middle of the rotation pitchers.

As the Hot Stove heats up – let’s keep an eye how the Red Sox can improve the pitching staff.

What are your suggestions for trade and free agent moves?

Boston Red Sox – Cleveland Indian Series Preview

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Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis have been on a tear lately.

Brian MacPherson notes in the last 10 days, Gonzalez and Youkilis have combined to hit .403 with a .464 on-base percentage and .722 slugging percentage – a 1.187 OPS.

And Rob Bradford writes Gonzalez’ presence has helped David Ortiz regain his leftfield stroke and reach a .300 Avg. again.

MacPherson also cites Youkilis passed Mo Vaughn this weekend to gain the all-time Red Sox lead in being hit by pitches.

Tribe Talk

Old friend Justin Masterson starts the series opener. After beginning the season 5-0, Masterson has lost his last 2 decisions while still pitching well.

Big day for SS Asdrubal Cabrera yesterday, going 5 for 5 with 2 HRs. Bud Shaw writes the game is just another indication Cabrera has emerged as a star.

With 12 saves, closer Chris Perez has performed well – but still needs to work on lefty batters and reducing walks.

Cleveland got word rookie P Alex White is expected to be out 8 to 12 weeks with a sprained finger ligament. Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore are also on the DL.

Here’s a look at the series pitching match-ups and a series preview from STATS.

Red Sox Report

Boston Red Sox – Chicago Cubs Preview

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The last time the Chicago Cubs visited Fenway Park was 1918.

Anthony Castrovince notes the series will end what is easily the longest time between appearances for any team in any ballpark.

Red Sox reliever – and ex-Cubbie – Rich Hill tells Castrovince, “It’s going to be a hot ticket. The Cubs are probably the most beloved National League team. The Red Sox are the most beloved American League team.”

Hill adds to the ProJo, “This will be a blast.”

Gordon Edes pens an open letter to Cubs fans – telling them to hang in there. Writes Edes, “One of these centuries, it will happen for you.”

Cubs Chatter

Manager Mike Quade says his troops have been trying too hard – they should just relax.

Darwin Barney has been one of the top rookies in baseball this season, batting .343 with 8 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs.

Doug Davis pitches the opener for the Cubs. Here are the Red Sox – Cubs pitching match-ups and a series preview.

The Chicago Tribune looks at the “Curse of 1918” for the Cubs.

Bill Buckner – former Cub and Red Sox – says life’s tough and accepts his reality.

Red Sox Report

Boston Red Sox – Baltimore Orioles Series Preview

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What a difference a week makes.

Last Monday – despite 2 wins in a row – the Boston Red Sox faced a still-skeptical fan base that things were really turning around.

Now, Boston has a five game winning streak going – including their first 4 game series sweep in Anaheim since 1980.

And the team has won 8 of their last 9 games – and has the .500 mark within reach for the first time this season.

With Baltimore slumping – 3 wins in their last 14 games – the Red Sox should win the series and get above .500.

Why are the Red Sox winning? Boston starters have allowed 2 or fewer runs while pitching at least 5 IP in each of the last 9 games.

It’s all about pitching.

Red Sox – Orioles Pop Quiz

Eight times an Orioles hitter has had 5 hits in a game. The last player to hit this mark did so against the Red Sox in 2005. Who is the player?

Orioles Update

The Red Sox face Zach Britton in the series opener. Britton has 3 wins, tying the Baltimore record for a rookie starter in April. He’s the kind of starter who does well against Boston – 1) a lefty and 2) a rookie they have not faced before in the regular season.

Brian Roberts has hit in a team season-high 11 straight games, going 16 for 47 (.340 Avg.).

Mark Reynolds is struggling (1 for last 25 AB) – with a .177 Avg. and 20 K in 62 AB for the season. Not a surprise for a guy who has struck out more than 200 times in each of the last 3 seasons and batted .177 last year. The lure of the long ball – Reynolds had 32 HR in 2010 – gives him a job. I don’t see the average/HR tradeoff working in the Orioles favor. Don’t expect him to last the season in Birdland.

Reynolds is not the only hitter not producing. #2 hitter Nick Markakis (.208 – 2 HR – 6 RBI) and #3 hitter Derek Lee (.225 – 1 HR – 2 RBI) are putting up anemic numbers. Baltimore has a team batting Avg. of .230 (Sox not much better at .239).

Red Sox Review

  • Series opening starter Clay Buchholz is 5-2 with 2.98 ERA against the Orioles. Last season, he went 15 IP and zero earned runs in 2 games started versus Baltimore.

Pop Quiz Answer

Miguel Tejada had 5 hits vs. Boston on July 9, 2005.

Boston Red Sox – Cleveland Indians Preview

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On to Cleveland for the Boston Red Sox.

Let’s start with good news – the Indians starters for the three game series.

Josh Tomlin, Mitch Talbot and Fausto Carmona (already 0-1, 30.00 ERA).

They should help get the Red Sox bats going.

Tomlin is a finesse pitcher who is prone to giving up a home run. The Red Sox beat Tomlin last August with Adrian Beltre hitting a grand slam.

Says Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher, “He’ll make a mistake out over the plate and it’ll go a long way. It’ll go 450 feet. I guarantee that’ll happen at least two-dozen times this summer if he makes 34 starts in the big leagues.”

But on the plus side, Tomlin beat CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander in head-to-head duels last year.

Indians Pop Quiz

Shin Soo Choo and which other player are the only 2 MLBers to hit at least .300 with 20 HR and 20 SBs in both 2009 and 2010? Answer below.

Indians Fast Facts

Red Sox Warm-ups

Jeremy Lundblad shares 5 things to know about Josh Beckett for his season debut. The Red Sox need vintage 2009 Beckett – when he was 8-1 following a Boston loss. Ian Browne channels back to Beckett’s big 2007 ALCS victory against Cleveland which came when the Sox were down 3-1 in the series.

Over his career, Jonathan Papelbon owns Cleveland writes Gordon Edes. Pap is 1-0, 1.38 ERA, converting all 10 of his save opportunities.

Here’s hoping manager Terry Francona starts Jarrod Saltalamacchia Tuesday night. He delivered nothing while batting but no way was he responsible for the atrocious pitching in Texas. Salty says he is prepared for the long haul.

Jonah Keri makes the case Carl Crawford should continue to bat seventh against left-handed pitchers. Not exactly what Red Sox fans had in mind for the team’s $142 million investment.

ESPN’s week one MLB Power Rankings are out – with the Red Sox landing at number 7. The AL East teams are MLB beasts with Yankees #1, Blue Jays #8 and the unbeatable Orioles #9.

Pop Quiz Answer

Former Red Sox farmhand and current Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Top Red Sox Blog Posts of the Week – Feb. 26

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Catching Prospects. Excellent post by SoxProspects on the Red Sox top catching prospects. Boston has numbers but no sure-bets. It will be interesting to watch if a player emerges as a top-quality prospect. With the injury history of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, someone may be needed this season. My top two for long term: Ryan Lavarnway and Adalberto Ibarra.

Hill in Bullpen Mix. Milton, Mass. native Rich Hill is in the mix for a spot as a lefty reliever with the Red Sox. Sean McAdam looks at how Hill now throws sidearm to add some deception to his delivery (since he has lost velocity due to a shoulder injury). There is a crowd competing for the last two bullpen spots – but always room for a lefty who can get outs. We will see if Hill can deliver.

Sox Stat Nuggets. Gary Marbry calls out Jonathan Papelbon as ranking number two among relievers in “really tight situations” – 7th inning or later, ahead by one or score tied, with two outs and runners in scoring position – over the last four years. Nice spot for Pap but his current issue is not his career – but rather, the big drop-off from career norms last season. A couple of other interesting pitching stats also in this post.

Nava Looking to Stick. Last season, Daniel Nava emerged from nowhere into the Red Sox outfield mix – due to injury and an extremely memorable first major league at-bat (grand slam) writes Brian MacPherson. With Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron back from injury and Carl Crawford signing, Nava has been pushed back off the radar. But if last season proved anything, it was: stuff happens during the season. Looks like Nava will land back in Pawtucket – with the chance to prove he belongs back in the majors if not with the Red Sox, perhaps somewhere else.

What are your top Red Sox blog posts picks for the week?

Top Red Sox Blog Posts of the Week – Jan. 29

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Think Spring. For those of us in the Northeast, Over the Monster did a public service documenting all the dates we need to know about Spring Training (and get our minds off of snow). Only ten days to Red Sox truck day.

Red Sox Cuban Connection. I always look forward to Alex Speier’s podcasts on the Red Sox farm system. The latest edition reviews the growing number of Cuban players among Sox prospects. Every Sox follower knows about SS Jose Iglesias. Here are two more players to watch this year: OF Juan Carlos Linares (he’s an older prospect – 26 – and could move fast) and C Adalberto Ibarra (hurt last year – more of a bat than a catcher). Sox Prospects does a deeper dive on Linares.

Can Salty Hack it in 2011? That’s the big question posed by Fire Brand of the American League. As I have written before, the Red Sox are taking a big gamble on the catcher duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek getting them through the season (and hopefully, playoffs). I like Salty long term as at least a platoon catcher. But until he demonstrates he can contribute an entire season at the big league level, I am uneasy (especially teamed with an older player who was hurt much of last year). And check out the blog’s post on Jonathan Papelbon. I am less bullish on Pap – maybe the combination of contract year and bullpen competition will reignite the fire in him.

Top Red Sox Prospects. Each year, I eagerly await Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. It’s out and Peter Abraham lists the top 30 Sox prospects. I like Josh Reddick at #4. I think he breaks through this season to become a factor in the J.D. Drew 2012 replacement sweepstakes.

What were your top Red Sox blog posts of the week?

 

How the Red Sox Built Their Bullpen

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The Red Sox bullpen was a major disappointment last season and Boston has devoted considerable attention and resources to the pen to straighten it out.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Boston Herald, “I do think we have reason for optimism (about the bullpen). We have some guys that can make guys swing and miss. We have maybe a couple extra arms, hopefully, if something happens, which it always does. We have some competition for jobs. We have some left-handers that want to show what they can do, and we have a need. It’ll be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.”

Let’s look at the various strategies deployed:

  • Competition. The Red Sox took a page from Bill Belichick’s book – position competition is good. Adding Bobby Jenks gives Boston options should Jonathan Papelbon falter again (or if a good trade offer for Pap comes along – following up on recent trade efforts).
  • Power arms. The addition of Jenks also lengthens the Red Sox ability to bring heat – along with Papelbon and Daniel Bard.
  • Deep depth. Dan Wheeler joins Scott Atchison as a steady, durable arm ready for innings 5, 6 and 7.
  • Last year doesn’t predict next season. Welcome back Hideki Okajima with a low-cost contract.
  • Bring on the troops. Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, Robert Coelho and the PawSox crew. Relievers can come from nowhere to have good seasons. The Red Sox have the resources to play the numbers game to increase their chances of getting someone at the right time.
  • Sixth starter. Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront. Wake is the primary long reliever – and emergency spot starter. Ready to move into the rotation if needed. Doubront will wait in the wings in Pawtucket.

Around the Bases

  • One More Draft Pick? The Sox still hope free agent 2B Felipe Lopez signs with someone because it would add to next June’s draft haul. Over the Monster notes the Red Sox would get a supplemental first round pick, which would give them five of the first 55 picks in the 2011 draft.
  • Key an eye on Lavarnway. C Ryan Lavarnway is getting close to being in the Fenway discussion writes CSNE’s Sean McAdam. This is a big season coming up for Lavarnway to show he can play in the upper minors.
  • Tejeda emerges at 2B. Another Sox prospect to watch this year is Oscar Tejeda, who had a breakout season in low A ball. Middle infield prospect with some pop in his bat. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo places Tejeda #6 among 2B prospects.
  • Iglesias number three. Mayo placed Jose Iglesias #3 among his top shortstop prospects.

Written by Albie Jarvis

January 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm

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