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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Papelbon

Red Sox Notes: Cherington Primed, Papelbon Pumped, Red Sox in Future & Bryce Brentz

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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 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. also spoke with former Boston prospect Casey Kelly as he prepared for Spring Training – who has a shot at the Padres rotation.

Red Sox Notes: Theo Compensation, Spring Training Questions, Farm Systems & Papelbon’s #1

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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 2007Clay 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.

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.


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