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Posts Tagged ‘Brad Penny’


It has been a busy day for the Red Sox front office as the trade deadline draws near, and the Sox are mired in an offensive slump.  I’m not saying anything needed to be done, but they have not been playing well and have relinquished the AL East lead to the Yankees.

The Red Sox plundered the Pirates again.  I think I might prefer the players the Braves got from them, but Adam LaRoche fills the need they had.  That need is two-fold.  They needed a left-handed hitter with some power.  Mark Kotsay is not to be confused with a guy with power.  Kotsay did a great job filling in at first base when Lowell went down in the playoffs last year.  But the Red Sox needed some power in that line up.  He enables them to platoon a guy with power with Mike Lowell who continues to struggle with a bad hip.

They gave up 2 prospects that were quite unlikely to ever crack the Red Sox’ line up.  They might make the Pirates’ line up though.  Argenis Diaz made some very flashy plays at short, but often blew routine plays and hit a tad better than Alex Gonzalez.  The Red Sox have two other prospects with far better chances of playing SS in the big leagues, one of the their Dominican players and a recently signed Cuban player.  Hunter is perhaps a #4 starter, which we really don’t need.

The big news is that they actually got a warm body for Julio Lugo.  The Cards, in desperate need of warm bodies in the infield since Pujols can only play one position, took him.  They won’t pay any of his salary.

I like the symmetry of this.  The Red Sox’ revolving door at SS started when they did not re-sign Orlando Cabrera after the landmark 2004 season.  Instead they signed the SS for the Cards who made the final out of the 2004 World Series who is now known as Rent-a-Wreck since he played so miserably for the Red Sox that they promptly traded him to Atlanta after the 2005 season.  I think this is the final year of that deal, so they won’t be paying him anymore after this season.  Then we had the great fielding, but light hitting Alex Gonzalez who is also known for getting hurt (though not as much as Pokey Reese).  He was warming the seat until Julio Lugo was a free agent.  Theo promptly paid him $9 million/year, and we have suffered ever since.  He has not hit for anything resembling the power he displayed elsewhere, and had a knack for making errors.

His injuries paved the way for Jed Lowrie who rarely made errors and showed some power until injuring his wrist.  With his wrist surgically repaired, Lugo ran out of time.  Of course, it wasn’t like he was playing.  Throw away Nick Green has been playing solid defense (though mired in an ugly Lugo-like slump).  Lowrie can now platoon with Green until he’s ready to resume his role as starter, hopefully providing some good offense to go along with his solid defense.

So, the Red Sox have dealt with some of their issues as they struggle through the middle portion of the season.  Clay Buchholz makes his second start as Wakefield rests his back.  Plenty of people anticipate Penny being traded (prospects?) should Dice-K get his shoulder strong enough to pitch effectively again.  If he doesn’t, they can still trade Penny and keep Clay in the majors.  He worked out the kinks in his delivery, and his mindset.  Now it is time to take back the East from the Yankees.

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Going into this season most people, Cavman included, thought starting pitching was the Red Sox greatest strength.  I didn’t think the offense was as “average” as some people.  But so far the starting pitching has been the weakest link, despite numerous injuries to key position players.  We have seen Lowrie, Lugo, Kotsay and now Youkilis on the DL, with games also missed by Ellsbury, Drew and Papi due to injury.

Despite the games missed, the Sox are still 21-13 which would put them in first in most divisions (well, the Blue Jays have barely played any AL East teams).  No thanks to the starting pitching- Wakefield excepted.  Lester and Beckett have been greatly disappointing.

I think it is time to bring up Clay Buchholz who continues to dominate as he did in Spring Training.  This puts Masterson back in the bullpen where he is most effective.  When Dice-K gets back, give Lester and Beckett some rest.  They obviously need time to either rest or figure something out.  Go to a 6 man rotation, I don’t know.  But if the Red Sox have average starting pitching they would have a better record than the one they already do.  That speaks volumes about the fantastic job the hitters and bullpen have done, with the exception of the recently designated for assigment Javier Lopez.

I suppose they could just keep doing what they are doing.  But, will that help Beckett (6.42), Lester (6.31)and Penny (6.9) get back on track.  Seriously 3/5 of the rotation with ERAs over 6- two of them aces????  It is a miracle they aren’t hanging out with the Rays and Orioles.  I am grateful for this miracle, but we can’t expect to keep winning consistently unless we get better starting pitching.

Update: the Herald’s John Tomase agonizes over this after another lousy start by Lester.

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The Red Sox have signed a bunch of people to 1-year deals.  In the last few days they have reached agreements with pitchers Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Takashi Saito.  They have also signed OF Rocco Baldelli and OF/1B Mark Kotsay.  All but Kotsay are coming off seasons in which they have had injury or illness problems.  What is going on here?

The Red Sox are putting together a roster that has the ability to compete with the Rays and Yankees THIS year.  They are not locking themselves in to any long term contracts, so if any of these guys doesn’t recover, it is not a huge hit.  Particularly in terms of the pitching, these moves allow their prospects to develop and they won’t have to trade someone at a discount (like they did Coco Crisp) if/when the particular prospect is ready.

For instance, let’s say Bowden or Buchholz shows he is ready to take up a spot in the rotation in 2010, they won’t have to trade Smoltz or Penny.  However, if Brad Penny has a great year the Red Sox could decide to commit to him long term.  I like the flexibility this provides.  Unlike the Yankees, they have not locked themselves into anything for the next 4-8 years.  They can adjust on the fly.

These guys have all shown they have major league tools.  All we actually need from Rocco is to start against lefties and be ready to pinch hit in the late innings of tight games.  We lose nothing when it comes to defense with that late substitution.  The guy can also hit and run the bases.

If he can’t bounce back as well as hoped, we have the insurance of Mark Kotsay should Drew or Ellsbury suffer an injury.  We aren’t having to dip into the minors like last year and bring up guys who either can’t hit or can’t field.

In the case of Saito, we have a proven closer just in case something happens to Papelbon.  Redundancy, or insurance, depending on how you look at things.

They Red Sox will also have the salary flexibility, as Gammons noted, to pursue a player another team deems too expensive as the trade deadline approaches.  Imagine one of our starters in the outfield gets injured.  He notes that Detroit may decide to dump some salary.  They could pursue Magglio without entering luxury tax territory.  Financial prudence in these tough times, with a commitment to win.

Yes, they didn’t get the big bat they wanted.  But they have the bats needed to ‘protect’ Big Papi.  The problem was injuries, not talent.  If Papi and Lowell are healthy we have a line up to compete with any other AL team.  I don’t buy this fear about being unable to produce runs.  Lowrie can hit, he slumped after an injury to his hand.  The only weak link in the line up will be catcher.

Theo provided some solid depth without breaking the bank or tying up resources for years to come.  He’s sticking to the plan to develop prospects.  All we need now is a catcher.

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