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Red Sox Should Look Into R.A. Dickey Trade

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The top off-season player acquisition target for the Red Sox – if they are to contend in 2013 – is landing a number one starter.

Based on last season’s performance, neither Jon Lester nor Clay Buchholz can be counted on to be the pitching staff’s ace.

John Lackey is a crap-shoot – coming off of Tommy John surgery and delivering mediocre results for the Red Sox before the injury.

Felix Doubront is promising but at this point is a back-end of the rotation guy. And who knows what Rubby De La Rosa can provide.

The Red Sox need a big winner who can eat innings.

Enter R.A. Dickey, the likely Cy Young winner who is on the Mets.

Under normal circumstances, there is no way Dickey would be on the market.

But the Mets are a mess on the field. Dickey is 38 years old and has one year left on his contract.

To quote Mets GM Sandy Alderson on dealing Dickey, “I think it’s always been a possibility. I think that’s always been understood by R.A., by his agent, by us. It doesn’t mean it’s the preferred avenue but … it’s always been assumed as part of the equation.”

Alderson also said, “It would be a little unusual to trade a Cy Young winner, but I can remember a time when we traded for the leading hitter in the National League at the time, so it happens.”

Is there a team and manager in baseball that has more combined experience in dealing with a veteran knuckleballer than the Red Sox and John Farrell – based on the experience with Tim Wakefield?

Boston knows a knuckleballer can pitch successfully in his late thirties – and even into his forties.

Any Other Number One Options?

One reason to zero in on Dickey – the top-tier pitcher market is pretty thin (as one would expect).

  • Justin Verlander – This Tiger is going nowhere.
  • Felix Hernandez – Let’s take Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik at his word: King Felix is staying in Seattle.
  • Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee – Probably not moving from Philadelphia but worth a phone call to check out. Both would fit as Dickey alternatives.
  • CC Sabathia – Yankees ace is staying put.
  • Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers are looking to extend him.
  • Jered Weaver – Angels have dumped two starters and Zack Greinke is a free agent, Weaver is staying with Los Angeles. Boston should investigate Greinke as a free agent – but I don’t see him as a fit at Fenway at the mega-price tag he is expected to command.
  • David Price – Maybe is pricing himself out of Tampa Bay – but unlikely Rays would move him to Boston (but the Red Sox should inquire).
  • Matt Cain – Giants are not dealing this ace.

What a Dickey Deal Would Take

One would figure there would be a strong trade market for Dickey – despite his age and contract situation.

The Mets are building – so they would want youth but close to the majors.

Start with a young starter like De La Rosa, Matt Barnes or Allen Webster.

Add in Ryan Lavarnway – depending on how the Mets evaluate him. If they see him as a potential starter, he would be a good piece to include since New York needs a catcher.

Then include an outfielder such as Bryce Brentz or Ryan Kalish (given the injury history – probably not high on the Mets list).

And close it out with a strong prospect who is a ways away like Garin Cecchini (his brother is in the Mets organization) or another young pitcher such as Anthony Ranaudo.

That’s a lot to offer – but the Red Sox would hold onto the organization’s jewels in Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley. They maintain pitching depth, losing only one from De La Rosa, Barnes and Webster – and also keeping Henry Owens.

Among the rest – Lavarnway, Brentz, Kalish, Cecchini and Ranaudo – none are sure-bets (if such a thing exists among prospects).

Another possible trade package direction – include Jacoby Ellsbury, if the Red Sox don’t expect Ellsbury to re-sign with the team. Of course, Ellsbury may not be too attractive to the Mets – if they don’t see an opportunity to retain Ellsbury.

If the Red Sox move Ellsbury, they could look to add a free agent like Shane Victorino to provide a bridge until Bradley is big league ready.

What do you think – should the Red Sox pursue Dickey? If yes, what do you think it would take to get him?

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?

Red Sox Notes: Ross, Wakefield, Ranaudo & Oswalt

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Cody Ross is Mr. Average. Christina Kahrl wrote about the players who are the statistical average in offensive production at every position – with Red Sox newcomer Cody Ross grabbing the leftfield spot. Ross is a good, low-cost pick-up late in the off-season.

Wakefield Wants to Return. Tim Wakefield again voiced his strong preference to come back to Boston and pitch one more season with the Red Sox. Despite the uncertainty in the Red Sox rotation, I don’t see Wakefield coming back. But it would be strange seeing Wake pitch for another team. Probably strange for Wakefield too. Look for him to retire.

Ranaudo ready for more. MILB.com spoke with Red Sox pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo who said he is hoping to start the season at AA Portland. Ranaudo is very active on Twitter – @anthony_ranaudo – if you are looking to follow someone new.

Oswalt Looks Heading South. Jon Heyman writes it looks like the Cardinals and Rangers are Roy Oswalt’s top choices – leaving the Red Sox to look elsewhere for a starter. My top pick for the Red Sox would be Edwin Jackson with Gavin Floyd number two (Jackson gets the nod only because he is a free agent). If Boston is truly satisfied with the starting rotation (as management says), St. Louis is shopping Kyle McClellan to clear salary room for Oswalt – and he would be a good addition to the bullpen. Kind of what they hoped Dan Wheeler would produce last season.

Written by Albie Jarvis

January 29, 2012 at 8:11 pm

How Red Sox Can Fill Out Starting Pitching Rotation

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Job one for new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is shoring up the starting rotation.

A big part of the September collapse was Boston ran out of quality pitchers down the stretch.

Some of that was the result of massive performance failure by “aces” Josh Beckett and Jon Lester – and injury to Clay Buchholz.

For purposes of this post, we will assume the team gets the “big 3” into shape for 2012.

Every season, we see successful teams typically need at least 6 or 7 starters to get them through the season.

Boston can’t count on John Lackey. And shouldn’t count on Daisuke Matsuzaka – anything he delivers in 2012 is an unplanned bonus.

It’s time to thank Tim Wakefield for his service – and move on. He is no longer a quality major league starter.

And while Andrew Miller may be worth inviting to Spring Training – he showed nothing last season.

A Look at Starter Options

Alfredo Aceves.  What a find. While Aceves was super-valuable in the bullpen, he deserves a shot at starting in 2012. Don’t forget – Aceves has a 24-3 career record.

Yu Darvish. It’s tough to offer an opinion on a player I have never seen. Darvish is ranked the top Asian pitcher potentially (it is not official – yet) looking to come to America. Mark me down as skeptical on Darvish’s impact. Dice-K was supposed to be a sure thing – and the combination Japan baseball not big league caliber (so a star there doesn’t equal an MLB star) and the cultural aspects – from training to media scrutiny – make it a tough transition. So today – Darvish is not in the plan.

Farm System. There is no sure thing among starters in the Red Sox minors. Closest to the majors are Felix Doubront – who between injury and conditioning issues wasted 2011 – and Kyle Weiland – who was not impressive in his big league trial. And who knows if Junichi Tazawa is now – or will be ever – ready to contribute. Doubront is the best pitcher among the 3 – pencil him as starter #7 either working out of the bullpen or rotation in Pawtucket.

Trades. The Red Sox should play to their financial strength – and pursue starters that are pricing themselves out of the reach of small market teams. And buy low.

Potentially on this list: Anibal Sanchez (Miami), Gio Gonzalez (Oakland), Brandon McCarthy (Oakland) and Joe Saunders (Arizona).

And then you have pitchers moving up in price on teams with the money but that just may not want to pay – Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta) and John Danks (White Sox). You can add Francisco Liriano (Minnesota) – but I would pass on him. I would love to add David Price to the mix – but don’t see Tampa Bay talking with Boston.

And then you got players with bad contracts. Top of that list are Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers (both on Houston). (Side note: How does Ed Wade keep his job?)

Boston should be able to grab at least one player from the above list – without having to give up too much in return (if the team is really looking to avoid the 2012 salary).

My top 3 choices: Sanchez, McCarthy and Rodriguez.

Free Agents. I don’t see Boston going big on C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle. The team has 4 starters locked into long-term deals already – don’t expect them to make that 5.

Roy Oswalt is a possibility – depends on the medical reports. Right now, I would pass. The team has enough medical issues on the staff.

Paul Maholm looks like a good starter for the back-end of a rotation. He was been decent on a poor team. Had some injury issues last season – those would need to check out. Bruce Chen is a comparable alternative for a lefty in the #5 slot in the rotation.

So how do the Red Sox get to 7 starters?

  • Lester
  • Beckett
  • Buchholz
  • Aceves
  • Sanchez, McCarthy or Rodriguez (less likely Rodriguez if Maholm or Chen signed)
  • Maholm or Chen; maybe Oswalt
  • Doubront

Red Sox 2011 Player Report Card

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John Tomase released his Red Sox player report card for the 2011 season.

Overall, it is pretty good. Here are some comments:

Josh Beckett – B. Too high – should be a C. He’s paid like a number one starter and totally failed in September crunch time. The Red Sox front office has got to be asking themselves: What can the team expect from the Big 3 of Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz in 2012? Most teams would kill for that front-end of a rotation. But it failed in 2011.

Theo Epstein – C. Too high – should be a D. Tomase graded Carl Crawford – D; John Lackey – F-; and Bobby Jenks – D-. All were Theo’s boys. Money covers a lot of mistakes. But in the end, even $170 million was not enough as the Red Sox were scrambling in the trade market to find a starting pitcher during the last week of the season. If Theo was being graded pass/fail – the grade would be fail.

Kevin Youkilis – B-. Two consecutive underperforming, injury-riddled seasons. Have to ask – is Youkilis past peak performance? We already heard Youkilis speak up during the 2011 season wondering if the Red Sox planned to extend his contract – which ends after 2012 (plus a team option). Theo should waste no time saying – let’s stow the contract talk until after next season.

Jason Varitek – C and Tim Wakefield – C-. No issue with the on-field grades but with all the comments about the lack of veteran player leadership contributing to the team’s September collapse, you have to ask: where were these leaders? Looks like the end of the line for two Red Sox greats.

Alfredo Aceves – A. A life saver. A top priority for Red Sox brass should be finding the Aceves of the 2012 season in the free agent market. Who do you think that player might be?

Top Boston Red Sox Blog Posts of the Week – May 28, 2011

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Inside Look at Aceves. Scott Lauber spoke with Tiger pitcher Phil Coke about his former Yankee teammate Alfredo Aceves. Coke calls Aceves “epitome of a competitor.” With John Lackey returning, it will be interesting to see who moves out of the starting rotation: Aceves or Tim Wakefield. Right now, I’d say Aceves goes back to the bullpen because of his versatility.

Beckett on Pace for Historic May. Jeremy Lundblad sizes up Josh Beckett’s May – which includes an 0.60 ERA, the fifth lowest for the month in the last 50 years. Lundblad examines historical comparisons for May and monthly performance in general. Beckett should have one more shot to lower his May ERA – weather permitting.

Lars Anderson Trying to Break Through. Prospect Lars Anderson has two challenges. One, the immovable object of Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Second, high expectations created by a strong 2009 season. Anderson talks with Mike Scandura about his quest to reestablish himself as a top prospect. He needs to show more pop at bat to find a home – somewhere – in the majors.

The Book on Britton. Chris Mellen profiles Drake Britton, Boston’s top lefty pitching prospect. Britton is struggling this year – but that hasn’t diminished his standing. How a player rebounds from setbacks is all part of the development process. Keep an eye on whether Britton turns it around this season.

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

Boston Red Sox – Minnesota Twins Series Preview

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As poorly as the Red Sox have played, the team is only 4 games out of first in the AL East with 131 games to play, writes Peter Abraham.

Boston has been hot lately, winning 12 of their last 19 games. That’s a great pace – but most likely unsustainable.

The Red Sox looked like they mailed the game in yesterday. I know they were tired – but so were the Angels. John Tomase thinks the Sox have too many stars and not enough dirt dogs.

They need to play like every game counts – and beat up on the weaklings of the AL. And at this point, the weakling list includes the Minnesota Twins.

Let’s hope the hungry Red Sox show up for the 4-game series.

Red Sox – Twins Pop Quiz

The Red Sox were the last team to hit 4 HR in one inning against the Twins. Boston did it on July 3, 2000. Name the 4 Red Sox players.

Twins Talk

  • Jason Kubel is Minnesota’s hottest hitter – hitting safely in 25 of 29 games this year. He has a .350 Avg. with 3 HR & 13 RBI. But overall Minnesota’s offense is anemic. They have scored 89 runs, on pace for just 497 for the season. The Twins lowest season total ever is 537.

Red Sox Report

Tim Wakefield slides back into the Red Sox rotation, starting the series opener. Daisuke Matsuzaka’s relief appearance on Wednesday has pushed his next start from Friday to Sunday.

Gordon Edes writes John Lackey accepts blame for his start yesterday. The bullpen needed a break and Lackey let them – and the rest of the team – down. Brian MacPherson thinks Lackey is losing confidence in his fastball.

Quiz Answer

Carl Everett, Troy O’Leary, Jason Varitek and Morgan Burkhardt.

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