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Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Cook

Three Red Sox Players Who Could Go in Trade Deadline Deals

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A previous post outlined a “buy and sell” strategy for the Red Sox for the approaching MLB trade deadline.

The strategy goals are to protect whatever chances the Red Sox have to get into the playoff hunt, while also looking to 2013 and beyond by picking up assets that can help Boston long term.

As much as I would like to see them go – don’t expect for Josh Beckett or Carl Crawford to be heading out now. Their contracts – and production levels – make them close to untradeable.

The most attractive (to other teams) trade candidates the Red Sox have are players that can add value in the stretch run – and don’t lock in the acquiring team with a bad contract.

Boston should explore the trade market to land young major leaguers or good prospects in return. For the players proposed here, I don’t see top prospects coming back – but hopefully ones who can be developed and contribute.

Here’s a look at three trade candidates:

Cody Ross. As a player on a one-year contract, Boston should explore the trade market for Ross – even though he is having a good season. A proven playoff performer, Ross is exactly the type of player some team may pay big to acquire to put them over the top. San Francisco is a perfect fit for Ross – a place he has a strong playoff track record and a team that demonstrated it will pay to land a player for the stretch run. And Boston should try to get the Dodgers involved too – to generate some bidding competition. Other targets: Atlanta, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Kelly Shoppach. Another player on a one-year deal – and the Sox have Ryan Lavarnway looking like he is ready to go at Pawtucket – Shoppach could be dealt. But expect a lower return than what Ross could produce. My favorite target: Washington. Catching is a weak area with Wilson Ramos out for the season – and the Nationals have a strong farm system. Pittsburgh would be another good fit – with Shoppach providing an upgrade over Rod Barajas. And maybe it’s time to talk trade again with the Yankees – Shoppach would be a nice 2012 add for New York.

Matt Albers. He has rebounded from last season to pitch well out of the Red Sox bullpen. The Sox have Chris Carpenter and Alex Wilson looking good in Pawtucket as potential replacements. It may be a good time to move Albers. Deep bullpens contribute to pennants – and Albers could help teams like the White Sox, Angels and Texas (if they decide to bolster their bullpen instead of getting a starter).

Other guys who could go: Aaron Cook and Ryan Sweeney. Both could be traded and not be missed. I just don’t see the return they would generate as good as what Ross, Shoppach or Albers could produce.

Who do you think the Red Sox should trade? And who do you think they will trade?

What’s Going Wrong with the Red Sox

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It’s not complicated. The Red Sox are second in the AL (fourth in MLB) in runs scored with 138.

And the bullpen has turned things around – as noted in a Tweet by Jeremy Lundblad: first 14 games: 8.44 ERA; last 12 games: 1.31 ERA.

Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard have been okay for number four and five starters.

The Red Sox woes revolve around the top three starters: Jon Lester (one win), Josh Beckett (two wins and complaining about shoulder woes) and Clay Buchholz (three wins but with an eight-plus ERA – great proof  point the Red Sox are scoring plenty of runs to win).

As written in this blog previously, the season revolves around the top three starters.

They deliver as expected – and as they are paid – and the Red Sox have a playoff team.

They don’t deliver – nothing else matters.

Aaron Cook, Andrew Miller and anyone else in the Red Sox farm system doesn’t matter.

Playoff teams need dependable, front-line pitching.

Time to step up, guys.

Potential Red Sox Moves to Consider

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Power Arm from Pawtucket

The Red Sox have moved pitching prospect Alex Wilson from the rotation to bullpen down at Pawtucket. Wilson potentially adds another power arm to Boston’s ‘pen. One that can go multiple innings if needed.

Right now, the Red Sox are exploring their bullpen options and there aren’t many others in the minors – with moving Aaron Cook to the bullpen at the top of the list. And the veteran Cook has not relieved since 2003.

Let’s hope exploring the trade market is also part of the plan. But expect tough competition in the reliever trade market from the Angels. As noted in a previous post, good targets: Joel Hanrahan, Huston Street and Grant Balfour.

Dodgers Interest in Crawford?

The cheer from Red Sox Nation was deafening when Bill Shaikin posted last night he could see the Dodgers having interest in Carl Crawford – if Boston eats some of his salary.

Follow in the trade tradition of Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo – sign the check and get the deal done.

Crawford is not a fit for Boston – especially if his high salary restricts the team’s ability to sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal.

Another team worth exploring – Miami. They have showed a willingness to spend – and they could use a centerfielder and more offense.

Come on Carl, get healthy so Boston can trade you.

Grab Another Outfielder

With both Crawford and Ellsbury out for the long term, the Red Sox need to upgrade the outfield beyond Marlon Byrd and Lars Anderson.

Just like the reliever market, landing a quality outfielder will be difficult – and probably expensive – this early in the season.

Think the Sox should pursue is Alex Presley of the Pirates.

Pittsburgh is going nowhere this year so may open to a deal. Presley is a decent hitter with speed, who can play multiple outfield positiosn.

And Pittsburgh has a top OF prospect – Starling Marte – at AAA, who could replace Presley.

Do you see a better trade option for Boston to upgrade the outfield?

Red Sox Farm System Update

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Aaron Cook

All eyes are on Aaron Cook as the clock ticks towards his contract-mandated May 1 decision date on moving Cook up to the majors. The latest word is Boston pitching coach Bob McClure believes Cook can work out of the bullpen. Adding Cook to the bullpen adds depth – but Cook is untested in that role. The last time Cook relieved was 2003. But the move buys the Red Sox some time, keeping Cook in the organization and available for the rotation if a spot opens up. Look for Cook to be in the Sox ‘pen sometime next week.

Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks continues to be a beast – grabbing Prospect Watch Player of the Week from MLB.com and placing as the #1 prospect in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet from Baseball America. Despite a red-hot start, Peter Abraham points out Kevin Youkilis is close to an immovable object right now in Fenway – having earned patience based on past performance and a big contract that other teams probably aren’t eager to take on. The Red Sox top issue is pitching not hitting, and that enables Boston to give Youkilis an opportunity to get going. Also, should the Sox want to move Youk, his value is low. The team is better off seeing if Youkilis can produce at the plate to build some trade value. Don’t expect a Middlebrooks call-up soon.

Bullpen Rehab

Alex Speier reports Andrew Miller has been looking pretty good in Pawtucket rehab assignments. But 11 walks in 7.3 innings just won’t cut it in the big leagues in my view. Look for Miller to be moving on soon. Speier also notes Mark Melancon is pitching pretty well. The issue with Melancon – his numbers are meaningless; they only matter if produced in higher pressure, big league situations. Should Melancon rebuild some value, the Red Sox should send him off to a team like Kansas City or back to Houston. I don’t see him back in Boston in any significant role.

Matt Barnes

The Matt Barnes legend grows. Earlier this week, Barnes was in a classic prospect matchup against Orioles farmhand Dylan Bundy – and both pitchers were dominant. Look for Barnes to move up to High A Salem soon.

Assessing the Detroit Disaster

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Some thoughts on the opening series:

  • Manager Bobby Valentine showed he will tinker – sitting Kevin Youkilis and leading off with Nick Punto in the Sunday lineup – to try to find a “spark.” That’s a good sign – because the pitching staff needs tinkering.
  • As horrible as the bullpen was in Detroit, the performances of Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz worry me more. Gordon Edes writes a scout told him that Saturday’s game was the worst he had ever seen Beckett pitch. Buchholz was terrible today – four innings, seven runs. The Red Sox cannot make the playoffs without the Big Three in the rotation – Jon Lester was a lonely starter bright spot – delivering.
  • Daniel Bard’s season-opening start now has an even higher profile. Mixed or poor results will increase pressure to move Bard to the closer spot. Even if Bard has a quality start, the push to move him to the bullpen could be intense. And note: Aaron Cook threw a seven inning complete game for Pawtucket in his season debut – so a potential replacement is there.
  • Vicente Padilla was stellar today. Given the length of his outing, he can’t assume the closer role tomorrow – but look for him to be on the short list when Boston reshuffles the deck.

On to Toronto.

Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront Join Red Sox Rotation

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Manager Bobby Valentine told Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront they made the Red Sox starting rotation.

And with the news – Alfredo Aceves headed to the bullpen and Aaron Cook to Pawtucket.

Rob Bradford looked at the Red Sox decision process on their starters.

I like having a second lefty in the rotation and Doubront earned a starting spot this spring.

Bard has got the stuff to be an effective starter but it is to be determined whether he can make the transition from the bullpen.

Working from the wind-up, advancing his change-up and especially cutting down on walks are all still part of Bard’s working plan.

I feel bad for Aceves – who did nothing wrong to be bumped to the bullpen. But it’s a long season – and Boston is pretty certain to need additional starters as the year goes along. So I expect he will get another shot at starting.

However, for now, manager Bobby Valentine did not rule out Aceves closing while Andrew Bailey mends.

Expect to see Cook in the rotation later too – for now, he gets to build up some innings with a big-league decision on him due about May 1, based on his contract.

And don’t count out Daisuke Matsuzaka sometime in June or July.

Figure Boston will go through at least seven or eight starters during the season.

As the Red Sox found out last season, you can never have too many major league starters.

Red Sox Spring Training Update

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Fifth Starter. The fifth spot is still open in the rotation with Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront and Aaron Cook as the top contenders. Aceves has looked like The Man this spring. But his life-saving role in the bullpen last season is probably causing the Red Sox to pause in committing Aceves to a starting role. Doubront looked good against the Yankees this week – and having two lefties in the rotation has some appeal. And Cook pitched well again today. Cook got a late start to playing in games this spring – due a conservative approach because of past shoulder woes. If I was betting today – and this can change over the next two weeks – I would say: Aceves in the bullpen, Doubront in the rotation – but with a short leash – and Cook in Pawtucket to build up innings and be on call.

Proof Spring Training Stats Mean Nothing. Example A: Shortstop Pedro Ciriaco is batting over .500 and showing a great arm in the field. But there is no talk about Ciriaco as anything but Pawtucket bound. And if Jose Iglesias heads to the PawSox – as expected – Ciriaco most likely won’t even be a starter.

Lavarnway Interview. MiLB.com interviewed catcher prospect Ryan Lavarnway on his prep for the big leagues. My favorite question – what would you be doing if you weren’t a ballplayer? The answer: structural engineer. How many other ballplayers would say that? Expect Lavarnway to start in Pawtucket but hit Fenway sometime during the season. Or if Jarrod Saltalamacchia steps it up – Lavarnway could become a trading chip.

Red Sox Notes: Playoff Expansion, Aaron Cook, Salty, Boston Spending & Adrian Gonzalez

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Playoff Expansion. Expanding the MLB playoffs is a good move by baseball. Winning a division is more heavily rewarded by expanding the wild card – since now two teams compete for one division series playoff berth. And having an extra spot in the playoffs should extend pennant fever for multiple teams during the season. And with an ultra-competitive AL East – the Red Sox may need that extra spot to get into October Madness. They certainly could have used it last season.

Cook Taking it Slow. Aaron Cook says he is getting closer to being ready – five or six days from pitching in a game. I see Cook as the current top pick for the fifth starter role. Let’s see if he can win the spot.

Salty Takes Helm. With Jason Varitek retiring, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be thrust into the leadership role behind the plate. Expect Salty to step it up this season and have a strong year.

Red Sox – Yankees to Slow Down Payroll Arms Race. Alex Speier looks at why Boston and the Yankees aim to be pruning back their salaries. It is to not only avoid luxury tax. But also starting in 2014, teams (like Boston and New York) that contribute to revenue sharing and are under the luxury tax are eligible to get some money back. While management in both organizations – with dollars signs in their eyes – see this as a worthy initiative, it will be interesting to see if the competitive impulses overtake this thinking in the heat of pennant races. Particularly in the AL East – where it looks like four teams – adding in Tampa Bay and Toronto – have legitimate playoff hopes.

Adrian Gonzalez Outlook. Adrian Gonzalez says he is 100 percent and more relaxed this spring.

Do you think Gonzalez can top 27 HRs and 117 RBIs this season?

Red Sox Notes: Carl Crawford, New Attitude, Sweeney & Fifth Starter

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The State of Carl Crawford. The rehab of Carl Crawford from his wrist injury appears to be going well – with Crawford already hitting. The “care and feeding” of Crawford appears to be a Red Sox priority this spring – with manager Bobby Valentine showing him the love early and owner John Henry apologizing for past remarks about not wanting to sign Crawford. Boston has long-term, big-money invested in Crawford – and the team needs to get a return. I see Bobby V as a good fit for Crawford (Crawford does too) – with Valentine having a personality similar to Crawford’s former Rays manager Joe Maddon. So keep an eye on Crawford this spring – does he begin to show he can return to being the offensively dangerous player he was in Tampa Bay? And does the team show confidence in him by moving Crawford up to the top of lineup – where he thrived as a Ray?

New Attitude in Camp. The Red Sox during the first week in Spring Training camp are saying and doing all the right things – trying to put the ghosts of last season’s collapse behind them. Partly a testament to Valentine – and also to the players themselves. Red Sox management chimed in yesterday – addressing the current state of the Red Sox. But let’s not lose sight – it’s easy to be Camp Sunshine with the new beginnings of the spring (even the Pirates think they have a chance, right now). Let’s watch – how does the team start the season as compared to the woeful 2011 start? And the real test is how the team handles the grind of the 162 game season. We can’t forget one bad September can wash away months of hard work and previous success.

Sweeney: Right Guy. Ryan Sweeney is out to prove he is more than a throw-in in the Andrew Bailey deal. Based on his track record, Sweeney should play an excellent RF – which will help the pitching staff. The question is how much will he contribute with the bat? Look for him to be passable for a guy in the bottom third of the lineup – but without much pop. And Cody Ross will also get a big share of playing time – with the Sweeney – Ross combo holding down the fort well in RF.

Fifth Starter. The Red Sox have opened their Spring Training doors to a number of pitchers cast off from other clubs – in the hopes of finding the next Alfredo Aceves. The non-roster invitee list includes Aaron Cook, Vicente Padilla, Carlos Silva and 14 other pitchers. Who will get the coveted fifth starter position? I see Aceves back in the bullpen – he’s just too valuable there. Look for Cook (if he shows he is over shoulder woes) and Felix Doubront (on the 40 man roster) to be the top contenders.

Who do you think will be the Red Sox fifth starter when they break Spring Training camp?

Red Sox Notes: Big Papi, Cook, Aviles & Manny

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Ortiz Situation Could Get Ugly. Nothing good will result from the David Ortiz contract situation which may include an arbitration hearing. This weekend, Big Papi once again openly lobbied for a multi-year deal – his push earlier this off-season was met with the Red Sox offering him a pay cut as the price to go beyond one year (which had to be a blow to a prideful player like Ortiz). Right now – unless the two parties find a middle ground – the options are a big raise (in Boston’s view) for Ortiz – which establishes a base that makes it more difficult to retain him in 2013. Or Papi loses the hearing – which won’t make him too happy. Expect the Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis (he voiced contract concerns already last season) contract situations to be potential issues during the season – and possible threats to Clubhouse Karma in 2012.

Cook Raring to Go. Alex Speier spoke with new Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook about why he picked Boston and his expectations for the coming season. Boston signed three big leaguers to minor league deals – hoping lightning strikes with at least one of them: Cook, Vicente Padilla and Carlos Silva. All good, low-cost gambles. Given Spring Training is key for each of them – here are my thoughts on where they end up at the start of the season: Cook as the number five guy in the rotation; Padilla (if he clears up his child support issues), a power arm in the bullpen; and Silva, the sixth starter in waiting at Pawtucket. Cook says he is healthy, has experience starting in a tough park for pitchers and I just like a sinkerballer in the mix of the Red Sox rotation.

Aviles Controls Own Destiny. With both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie shipped off this off-season, Mike Aviles finds himself in position to become the Red Sox starting shortstop, writes Didier Morais. How this plays out will provide great clues into Boston GM Ben Cherington’s talent evaluation and team-building skills. Back in October, one would have placed Aviles as the third option at short behind Scutaro and Lowrie – Aviles even went to winter ball to get some right-field experience. Can Aviles – with help from Nick Punto – hold the position, particularly defensively? That’s a big question at a critical spot.

Good Chance Manny will be in AL East. Press reports say the Blue Jays and Orioles are two of the three teams (along with the Athletics) contending for Manny Ramirez. I understand it is a low-cost move but one I would avoid. Manny has proven he is only all about Manny – quitting on teams, not playing by the rules. And in his brief stint with Tampa Bay last year, Ramirez didn’t show much offensively. Not worth the aggravation in my view. But having him play in Fenway nine times in 2012 could be entertaining.

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