Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Papelbon’
Cherington Primed. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says his focus in player acquisition has been getting players in their primes (examples: Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon). Cherington notes players in their prime ages are typically at their healthiest and strongest, writes John Tomase. Player to watch: Kevin Youkilis. In the last three years, Youkilis has played in 358 games, compared to J.D Drew who played in 357. Youk will be 33 years old this coming season. With top 3B prospect Will Middlebrooks at AAA Pawtucket and in the last year of his contract (with a team option); Youkilis needs to demonstrate he can still produce.
Papelbon Pumped. Old friend Jonathan Papelbon arrived at Phillies Spring Training and opened with a press conference – declaring he was ready to start a new chapter. When discussing Boston, Papelbon gave thumbs to new Red Sox closer Bailey – saying Bailey has what it takes to thrive in Boston. The pressure will be on Pap (nothing new there) – with Philadelphia called out by pundits for overpaying Papelbon. The Phillies are a veteran – borderline old – team and win now is the mantra. Papelbon will be counted on to deliver. That’s what he is getting the big bucks to do.
Red Sox in Five Years. ESPN ran an interesting feature projecting where each MLB team will stand in a power ranking five years from now (subscription required). It’s not going to get any easier for the Red Sox. Boston scored well, landing in the #5 spot – but looking up at AL East foes Yankees #2 and Rays #3. And the Blue Jays came in at #6. Expect continued heavy competition for playoff spots – even with an expanded playoff picture – in coming years. Texas was #1.
Brentz Ready to Bop. Red Sox OF prospect Bryce Brentz talks to MiLB.com about getting ready for the coming season. Brentz had a breakout year in 2011. Figure him to start the season playing again for high-A Salem with the opportunity to move to AA Portland if he shows he is ready for a promotion during the year. MiLB.com also spoke with former Boston prospect Casey Kelly as he prepared for Spring Training – who has a shot at the Padres rotation.
Epstein Compensation. Nick Cafardo runs through potential compensation options for the Red Sox from the Cubs for Theo Epstein. What’s “significant” value – that’s the question. One’s got to think Boston has been asking for the moon which is why Chicago feels they are better off letting the commissioner decide. No one outside the Red Sox and Cubs (and they aren’t talking) knows what was said about compensation before Theo jumped ship. But letting talks drag on has enabled Chicago to trade assets that may have interested Boston (Andrew Cashner, for example). I like Cafardo’s suggestion that lefty pitcher Travis Wood (an off-season pick-up by Chicago) would be fair compensation – a decent, not top-line player who potentially could play a role in Boston’s rotation. The Cubs farm system is so thin, it is hard to see how anyone beyond OFs Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur, and SS Javier Baez rate as significant.
Three Questions. Tim Britton outlines three questions the Red Sox must answer in Spring Training.
- Who will fill out the rotation? I am picking Daniel Bard and Aaron Cook.
- Who will start at shortstop? I say, the season starts with Mike Aviles but his poor defense has the Red Sox turn eventually to Nick Punto, Jose Iglesias or someone to be acquired.
- Who will play right-field? I like the Ryan Sweeney-Cody Ross combo. It will be an improvement over J.D. Drew and Josh Reddick. In the outfield, I am more concerned with: will Carl Crawford play like a $19.5 million/year left-fielder? My hunch is no.
Farm Report. Keith Law ranked MLB’s farm systems with the Red Sox landing in the second tier at #18. Law writes Boston is “terribly thin up top.” The Red Sox are stacked in the lower minors and could move up the charts quickly if their young prospects produce. Of course, they could also wash out – keeping Boston searching in the free agent pool. Looking at the rest of the AL East: Tampa Bay #2, Toronto #3, New York #10 and Baltimore #17. That’s not good news for the Red Sox. Keep in mind Boston’s farm system has not produced an impact player since 2007 – Clay Buchholz.
Papelbon is Tops. Dave Cameron called the Phillies signing of Jonathan Papelbon the worst transaction this off-season. According to Cameron, Philadelphia overpaid and should have waited out the market – to save money to address other issues like left-field. No Red Sox move made the best 10 transactions list. The “swap” of Papelbon for Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon at the back-end of the bullpen was GM’s Ben Cherington’s best move of the off-season.
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
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.
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.
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.
With 12 saves, closer Chris Perez has performed well – but still needs to work on lefty batters and reducing walks.
Red Sox Report
- Jon Paul Morosi writes an overworked bullpen may prove to be a stumbling block for the Red Sox.
- Ortiz has become the fifth player to hit 300 HRs as a Red Sox – and said he was “honored” to be in that elite company – joining Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans.
- Jonathan Papelbon has been lights out this season. Troy Patterson asks – with free agency looming – would you sign Papelbon for 3 years and $45 million?
- With lefty hitters batting just .185 Avg. against Franklin Morales, Jim Bowden thinks he could develop into a power armed lefty specialist reliever.
- The DL duo of John Lackey and Bobby Jenks continue to make progress.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia – with 3 HRs in the last 5 games – says he feels more comfortable.
- MacPherson spoke with Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen about some recent promotions in the Sox minors. One of the players promoted – Bryce Brentz – has stayed hot, hitting an HRs in his first 2 games for Salem.
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.”
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.
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
- Jonathan Papelbon has been slamming the door on opponents – going 8 for 9 in save situations. Josh Beckett marvels at Papelbon’s electric stuff.
- Comings and Goings. Boston traded for lefty power reliever Franklin Morales, signed Kevin Millwood to a minor league deal and shipped out Hideki Okajima. Theo Epstein likes Morales’ upside despite control issues this year. Also, Jose Iglesias was sent back to Pawtucket with Drew Sutton coming up to take the utilityman role.
- Great article by David Schoenfield on top amateur picks 1 to 30 in MLB draft history. On the list: Roger Clemens who the Red Sox snagged at #19.
- Boston has moved from #18 to #8 in this week’s Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Cubs are #25.
- Danny Knobler writes the Red Sox should look into Pudge Rodriguez at catcher. I don’t see him as enough of an upgrade over what the team already has to warrant a deal.
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?
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.
- Maybe 8 is Carl Crawford’s magic number. Batting eighth in the lineup on Sunday, Crawford had 2 hits including his first HR as a Red Sox.
- Don’t discount the contribution of Jonathan Papelbon in the current win streak. In the Angels series, Papelbon turned in his first 3-day, 3-save performance since Sept. 2-4, 2007.
Pop Quiz Answer
Miguel Tejada had 5 hits vs. Boston on July 9, 2005.
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
- Choo is off to a cold start – 1 for 12 with 6 strikeouts. But Travis Hafner is looking good at the plate.
- The Indians turned in MLB’s first triple play of the season with old friend Orlando Cabrera playing a role.
- Grady Sizemore is starting a minor league rehab stint – coming off knee surgery.
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.
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?
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?