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Posts Tagged ‘Jed Lowrie’


The Annual Winter Meetings of MLB will be taking place this week.  The free agent signings have begun, but the biggest fish remain to be caught.  A few minor trades have taken place, but there may be some big ones to emerge as GMs and agents converge.

Going into the meetings, the Red Sox have lost 2 players from last season.  Billy Wagner and Saito have both shifted to the formerly of Boston now Atlanta Braves.  Losing Wagner, a type-A free agent, freed up the possibility of solving Theo’s perpetual SS dilemma by signing free agent Marco Scutaro.

Some people have been critical of this move.  But Theo did not pull another Lugo (or Renteria).  The deal was for only 2 years (not 4), and is affordable by baseball standards.

This allows for one of two things to happen.  Either, Jed Lowrie proves he can stay healthy and productive, or more importantly international free agent signee Iglesias proves he can hit as well as field.  The Red Sox have a solid defender who can get on base and score runs in Scutaro.  Though 2009 was his best year he may benefit from being in a better line up and seeing better pitches.  One of the main needs for the Red Sox has been addressed.

That leaves left field as the biggest problem to be addressed.  Jason Bay, in the eyes of some, is their best bet.  I beg to differ.  Yes, Holliday will cost more money.  But his average production is better than Jason Bay’s.  Even when you look at this past year, Holliday is a better hitter.  Holliday strikes out considerably less than Bay.  This means he puts the ball in play more often which means that runners can advance instead of stifling the offense.  He does hit, on average, into 2 more double plays per season than Bay.  He also hits for a bit more power.  His defense is also better than Bay’s.  Bigger bat, and so is his glove.  Theo should be willing to pay a little more to get a better player.

Much has been made about a possible trade for Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonazalez.  The Red Sox have some chips in major league ready players that could make it possible.  They can offer Lowrie and Casey Kotchman in addition to a few prospects.  Hoyer’s past with the Red Sox can work for him in this regard.  He knows the best players the Red Sox have in their system.

If they were able to pull that off (thereby getting a 2nd big bat to make it a lethal offense) it would make Lowell expendable.  I hate saying that.  He’s, by all accounts, a great guy and has played well for the Red Sox.  But Youk could shift back to 3rd, improving our defense.

This could be an important series of meetings.  I don’t expect the Red Sox to sign a left fielder, but I do expect that a lot of the groundwork for that signing and any important trades should be laid.  It should be a busy week for Theo.

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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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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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Globe staff/Jim Davis

Globe staff/Jim Davis

I was nearly jumping for joy with them after an exciting final 2 innings to last night’s game.  Jon Lester continues to build a reputation as a money pitcher, throwing 7 shutout innings that was nearly wasted by a spent bullpen.

Francona made an uncharacteristic mistake, I think, by pulling Okajima.  Another walk, a passed ball and Hunter’s timely hit tied that game.  Maybe Okalima would have surrendered a home run.  I don’t know.  But I didn’t like it then.

After Shields got the heart of our line up out in the 8th, I thought it was going to be another marathon session.  That is until the Angels had a man on 3rd in the 9th.  An incredible play by the Captain to end the threat.  Yes, a bit controversial- but the ball was knocked out by the ground, not the tag.  Like Cal Ripken, it would be interesting to see what the rule book actually states.  I think they made a reasonable call- but I am biased.  [what is different here from a play at the plate is that Varitek clearly had possession & control of the ball prior to the tag- he’d run 90 feet with it.  in a play at the plate, the action happens so fast the ump can’t be sure if the catcher has control of the ball until after the play is done.  if ESPN asked for my opinion to refute their ‘expert analysts’, I suspect they might go ‘hmmm, hadn’t thought of that.’]

It seemed like the Angels got a break on that ground rule double by Bay.  Especially when Teixeira grabbed that screaming line drive down the line.  But another Red Sox rookie came through as Lowrie dumped a single into right field so Bay could get home.  Awesome ending (unless you cheer for the Angels).

Now the Rays- a solid, gutsy team.  When the Rays won the regular season series the Sox were struggling with injuries to Lowell, Drew & Beckett.  Yes, Longoria and Crawford were out too.  What I didn’t know until yesterday was that Drew led the Sox with game-winning RBI, despite missing a good chunk of the season to back injuries.  His effortless defense, combined with that, gives him an edge of Crawford (a player I really like).

So now we see who is better- the battered Sox who just dispatched the team with the best record in baseball, or the upstarts who eliminated a one dimensional team in the White Sox.  Make no mistake- the Rays can win this series.  They are good enough and deep enough.  They got rid of the clubhouse distractions and have lots of character guys who also play very well.  This is no lopsided series.  The Rays have the Red Sox’ respect.

I think the Red Sox will win due to the intangibles.  It is not just having been there before- but succeeding there before.  They’ve developed a great system of scouting teams and prepping players that pays dividends in the playoffs.  They have a few days to put together a game plan they can execute.  That gives them an edge- not a guarantee, but an edge.  It should be fun to watch.

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It has been a miserable season for the Red Sox in terms of injuries.  They have been hit hard from the very beginning of the season as Beckett had a back issue.  Those who’ve missed time include Big Papi, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Lugo (thankfully), Dice-K, Wake, Colon (the low-risk gamble didn’t really pay off).

But the Red Sox STILL made the playoffs.  Putting the season in context, I’m content with winning the Wild Card.  The Rays had a great season, and despite some significant injuries, held on to win the division.  They almost had the best record in the AL.  But the Sox did suffer far more significant injuries to key keys.

And now they limp into the playoffs, possibly to be decimated by the Angels just like the White Sox destroyed them in 2005.  Lowell’s hip is still bothering him, and that affects not just his fielding but also his hitting.  Lowell is an important part of this team.  He’ll try to play, but we’ll see if he can deliver. 

J.D. Drew MIGHT be okay.  As someone who has had a bad back the last few years, you just never know how it will feel.  If it holds up, he could be an important contributing member of the squad- like in last year’s playoff drive.

Lugo had another setback, which allows Lowrie to have an opportunity to shine.  We won’t miss he of the weak bat and suspect defense.

Papi’s wrist is still a huge question mark.  It is a day-by-day thing.  When your big bat has such issues it doesn’t bode well.

(more…)

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