Tagged: Clay Buchholz
Questions, Questions, Questions
Posted by: Chris Cue
5:30am Tues, 11/24/09
If there is one thing that can be said of Baseball’s off season it’s that it’s filled with questions. “What will my team do?”, “Will we pay what is needed to land that guy?”, “Will they try to resign that player?” “Can we trade for so and so?” and on and on and on. There’s plenty of speculation to be sure. Equally as sure is that most of what we read is nothing more than that….speculation. So, at least during this point of the non-playing season, we all have equal ground to work on when it comes to “What I think will happen” types of conversations. With that in mind, let’s take a look at several area’s that may or may not affect the Red Sox and other AL East teams.
We’ll start out with an article that perked my interest in where the Red Sox and Yankees might stand in the hunt for Doc Halladay’s services. The article (HERE) in today’s Herald by John Tomase states: “The Yankees and Red Sox are expected to be at the forefront of trade
discussions (for Halladay) with rookie general manager Alex Anthopoulos. The Sox have
more to offer, however, because they can dangle potential
front-of-the-rotation starter Clay Buchholz.”
Now, being the Red Sox homer that I am, I would love to believe that is the case. However, when you step back and attempt to take a non-biased look at the situation, I’m not sure the Sox do have it over the Yankees because of Buchholz. Personally, as of today, I would take Clay over either Joba or Phil Hughes, but just because Clay may be considered a notch above (for now), you have to remember it’s going to be a package of players that lands Halladay….not just a single pitcher. The Jay’s needs for next season if they move Doc are going to be: Starting Pitching, a Catcher and a Short Stop. While the Red Sox can fill the Starting Pitching spot with Clay, we fall a little short in the Catcher and Short Stop positions as far as ML ready players go. Of course, it may not be necessary for either team to fill immediate needs for the Jay’s. It could be a matter of what the Jay’s see as future needs too. It appears to me that both the Sox and Yanks may be a little closer in available talent then Tomase gives credit for. As always, it will boil down to which team is willing to give up the needed talent to land Halladay. Recent history tells me that both Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman are rather shy about giving up the kids they develop, but for the opportunity to sign Halladay long term (if the Jay’s provide such a window to negotiate an extension ), we may see more of a willingness then we have in the past to trade some kids. Stay tuned to this one.
The other curiosity I have also is in regards to Starting Pitching. While the Sox do appear to have a set rotation already in place, there’s no doubt that Theo is going to want to add depth to it in case of injury or flat out ineffectiveness. But will he (or the Yankees) be interested in a front of the rotation starter this off season?
I started wondering how much next years crop of available Starting Pitchers will
determine what we do and don’t do this year. I think a case could be
made that both the Sox and Yanks made decisions long before last years off season
that allowed each team to be in the Teixeira race when he became available.
So, I’m wondering how much the crop of available starting pitchers next
year will determine what teams do this off season.
Take a look at a few of the names that are slated to become Free Agents next off season
and there are a number of 2nd tier guys available too like:
Ted Lilly, Javier Vazquez and others
By the way,
not only are all of those guys slated to become Free Agents next year, that list doesn’t include some guys that may be available via trade. For
instance, the Marlins by their recent actions may have opened up the possibility that Josh Johnson
could be available via trade next off season. Of course the Marlin’s didn’t come
right out and say he would be available, but they failed to sign the kid to an extension
and opted to go year to year for his last 2 Arbitration eligible seasons that
they have him under control (2010 & 2011). That would appear to
make him trade bait next off season, so we may be able to throw his name on that list too. We’ll have to see about that
because Marlin’s have been known to hang on to guys and just get draft picks
when they leave instead of trading them. However, it seems safe to assume there is at least a
very good possibility he’ll be shopped.
That’s a pretty good
crop of potential available starting pitchers next year which is why I’m
wondering if teams may have an eye on that and be a little shy of
locking up someone less desirable long term this year. In other words,
let’s say that neither the Red Sox or Yankees show interest in John Lackey this
off season, I’m thinking that next years available pitchers may have
something to do with it.
Just a thought…..and of course, it adds more questions.
Cheers and Go Baseball!
Carter, Green Make the Team – Buccholz in Limbo
By Chris Cue
April 1. 2009
This isn’t an “April Fools Day” joke, nor should it be considered one. Both Nick Green and Chris Carter were announced as “probable”opening day members of the Red Sox yesterday. Green would be the temporary fill in for Julio Lugo on the bench and Chris Carter will fill Mark Kotsay’s spot as the 4th OF-1B. Lugo is expected to be back and ready to play within a few weeks of the season opener. At that time, Green will be optioned back to Pawtucket and Chris Carter will likely follow sometime in mid- May when Kotsay returns.
As presently constructed, here is the opening day bench for the Red Sox:
(L) David Ortiz DH
(R) Rocco Baldelli OF-DH
(L) George Kottaras C
(R) Nick Green IF-OF
(L) Chris Carter 1B-OF
Most of the concern this season surrounds Third baseman Mike Lowell and his ability to play after recovering from hip surgery. The Red Sox are well covered there without the need for a bench player to fill a backup role for him. Both Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie are fine defensive Third baseman. Therefore, the only need on the roster is for the bench to provide backup for their positions at 1B and SS. With yesterday’s announcement, it’s clear that Carter will backup Youkilis at 1B in case he needs to move across the diamond and Green will provide depth at SS/2B should Lowrie be needed at Third.
While all of this is certainly exciting for both players, it comes with one caveat. Both Green and Carter were told they would be going North with the team to play the Mets at Citi-Field, but were cautioned that a last minute trade or waiver claim could still have them starting their season in Pawtucket. There have been no rumblings of a pending deal by the Sox, but that’s not unusual considering how the organization keeps news like that from leaking out. So, there still remains the possibility that neither will actually make the team, however at this late date, it seems likely that they will.
The only other position on the Red Sox 25 man roster that is still being talked about is the 5th Starting Pitchers slot. The Red Sox have said all along that position belongs to Brad Penny, however there are indications that Penny may not be ready in time for his April 12th start. Buchholz who had been stellar until yesterday’s outing against the Rays, is still the leading candidate to fill that position if Penny is indeed thought to need more time. So, for now, Buchholz remains in limbo awaiting a decision by Pitching Coach Jim Farrell and Head Coach Terry Francona on his opening day role. Most signs are pointing in the direction that Penny will be given more time and that Buchholz will be needed, but that is far from a certainty at this point. Brad Penny is scheduled to pitch today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is no doubt how he fares today, could be the deciding factor in Buchholz’s fate. Will he be the 5th starter for the Boston Red Sox or a starting pitcher for the AAA Paw Sox? He should know which it is going to be shortly after today’s game.
Wilkerson Walks, Penny or Buchholz as 5th Starter
By Chris Cue
March 30, 2009
Prior to yesterday’s game between the Red Sox and the Phillies, it was announced that Brad Wilkerson had left the Red Sox Spring Training camp. Wilkerson, who had an April 1st opt out clause in his minor league contract, apparently exercised that option a few days early. It was pretty clear that while he has a good glove to back up Youkilis at 1B and Drew in RF, he was not getting it done at the plate.
During this Spring, Wilkerson had almost 4 times the amount of strikeouts as he did hits and was struggling with a .119 batting average. The handwriting was on the wall. Wilkerson was not going to make the Major League roster and so he opted out of his deal to pursue his options elsewhere.
This decision in no way cripples the Red Sox bench for the coming season. Both Jeff Bailey and Chris Carter are fine options to take the backup outfielders role until Mark Kotsay returns from his back surgery. Carter, now with a batting average of .359 along with Bailey currently hitting .356 are now the leading candidates for the role. Chris Carter is currently on the 40 man roster and the Red Sox have room to add Bailey as well. Of the two, Bailey is probably the better fielder, but neither stands head and shoulders above the other. Terry Francona could literally flip a coin and make this decision.
In other Spring Training news, the Red Sox announced that Justin Masterson will be assigned a bullpen role for the upcoming season. That decision has opened up the questioning of who will begin the year as the Red Sox 5th starting pitcher. Masterson had been stellar throughout the Spring raising the talk of him possibly filling that role in case Brad Penny isn’t ready in time. Now that Justin has been relegated to the bullpen, it would appear that Clay Buchholz may now be the leading candidate. That depends of course, on whether or not the Red Sox feel Penny is ready to go by April 12th which is the first date the Sox will need a 5th starter.
In an interview with Terry Francona, Boston Globe reporter Adam Kilgore asked Tito about Penny’s readiness to start on the scheduled date. Francona’s answer would lead anyone who has followed this team to believe the club may be looking to give Penny more time. “You don’t want to rush into something because there is an arbirtrary date.” Francona said, “We need a pitcher, but we don’t want to make a mistake either.” Knowing how this team operates, one could assume that they are once again planning on playing it safe and giving Penny a week or two more to be brought up to speed. That would obviously put Clay Buchholz as the Red Sox 5th starter to begin the season. Buchholz, who still has minor league options left, could then easily be sent down once the team feels Penny is ready to go. No official announcement has been made yet, but from the rumblings that have been heard, it’s a safe bet that the Red Sox will announce Buchholz’s role very soon.
By Chris Cue
March 26, 2009
Let’s pretend for a second. Let’s take some of what we know as “given” and apply that to a situation most would love to have. That said, the following could be a problem. Granted, it’s a good problem, but a problem never the less.
We know the Red Sox goal for John Smoltz is to be ready to pitch by June 1st. We also know that Brad Penny is slated to be the Red Sox #5 starter. At the beginning of the Red Sox season, this is what’s expected to be the starting rotation:
Brad Penny (although Masterson may have to make a start or two until the Sox feel Penny is ready)
We also know that Clay Buchholz has been very impressive this Spring and Masterson is making a serious bid to be a starting pitcher as well. So, add to the above list Buchholz, Smoltz & Masterson as potential starting pitchers when June 1st rolls around. That’s 8 options the Red Sox have at starting pitching, 6 of which can not be sent down to the minor leagues to make room for the players with major league contracts. All 5 and John Smoltz are signed to Major League contracts.
Here’s the scenario: It’s now June 1st. Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield & Penny are all holding their own. They are all healthy and are productive. Where do you put John Smoltz? Do you DFA Penny or Wakefield? Do you opt for a 6 man rotation? Do you make creative use of the DL to give the other guys a break, or does one of the 6 go to the bullpen? This is a great problem to have no doubt, but would be a very hard decision to make. The issue given this scenario is that the Red Sox hold no options with 6 of their potential starting pitchers. They can’t demote someone to AAA Pawtucket. Somebody is going to have to go to the bullpen, get released or they will have to go to a 6 man rotation. Let me stop right here and say that I think a creative use of the DL is probably the first option the club has, but it only prolongs the problem. Using the DL would allow time for somebody to develop the injuries we have to expect, but timing on this is the issue. You can’t automatically tell someone to get hurt before June 1st and neither do you want to. At the same time, you expect injuries, but expecting them to happen at or by a certain time is incredibly optimistic to ensure your game plan works out.
This scenario is the “Best case” situation. It may never be a problem or ever become an issue, but I wonder what the Red Sox front office has planned…..just in case they get lucky and this plays out to reality. If and that’s a big IF, everyone remains healthy and productive, this is a situation that would be very interesting to watch.
Wakefield Has Issues
By Chris Cue
March 8, 2009
Back in December it was speculated here that Tim Wakefield may not be coming back to the Red Sox rotation this season. The link to that article is HERE. At the time, it was believed he might be considering retirement do to some sort of injury to his pitching shoulder. While it’s obvious that Wakefield will pitch for the Red Sox again this year, those concerns about his shoulder turn out to be well founded and explain a lot.
It was revealed in a Boston Globe article by Adam Kilgore yesterday that Wakefield has pitched the last 2 seasons with a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. Knuckleball pitchers like Wake are certainly a different breed, which may be why he has been able to continue the way he has. Still, it was explained that the problem with his shoulder is what has caused him to wear down late in the year.
Wakefield said: “It doesn’t really bother me until the innings count gets high, in the 160- to 180-inning range.” Using the lower end of that innings count (160), that means he feels he can be fine for a little more then 22 starts if he pitches an average of 7 innings per start. After that, he’ll begin to run into a fatigue problem. The same problem he’s had for the last 2 years. Clearly, the additions to the Red Sox starting rotation of Brad Penny and John Smoltz should give Terry Francona ample opportunities to rest Wakefield during the course of the season. Clay Buchholz is also in reserve if either Penny or Smoltz stumble, so it’s quite possible that Wakefield, while limited to a certain amount of innings, could still be very effective this season. It’s going to be up to the health of the other starting pitchers and Francona to insure that Wakefield is given the time off needed if the Red Sox hope to have him available for late September and the post-season.
It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t “new” news to the Red Sox front office. It explains why the Sox are currently so deep with starting pitching options. Right now, if you count Justin Masterson as a possible starter, the Red Sox have 8 potential starting pitchers. They are: Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Penny, Wakefield, Smoltz, Buchholz and Masterson with the possibility of a 9th starter in Michael Bowden if necessary. That kind of depth didn’t just happen. Theo Epstein has obviously made provisions for a starter needing rest or being injured. Now, perhaps we know at least one reason why the depth of the starting rotation was so important this off season.
Tito Talks Shop Heading Into Spring Training
By Chris Cue
February 4, 2009
Terry Francona sat down for a little question and answer session with MLB.com’s Ian Browne recently. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read it, you’ll find the complete interview HERE.
There are a few answers that Tito gave that I’d like to put my 2 cents in on. The first is his response to the Short Stop position heading into Spring Training.
Francona: Well, I would say right now it’s pretty wide open. I’ve never really been in that situation here. It’s kind of a unique situation. You’ve got a guy who you give a four-year deal to for a lot of money and he gets hurt. A guy comes in and plays really well for a while and then he kind of tails off — but again, he handled himself really well and I think his future is really bright. He was also injured, to boot. Saying that, I don’t know if I believe in competing in Spring Training. What we’ll do is we’ll sit down with both of them the first day, we’ll explain to them how we feel. And we’ll try to put the best team out on the field. I’m also a firm believer that things take care of themselves. We’re not going to look at their batting average every day and things like that. We’re just going to try to put our ballclub in the best position to win. However that ends up, it will be my responsibility.
My take: I think I would rather have heard him say something along the lines of “It’s Lowrie’s position to lose”, but knowing Tito, he gave the politically correct answer as usual. I’m fairly sure that the job is indeed Jed’s to lose, however Tito wouldn’t have said “It’s wide open” if Lugo didn’t have a shot at winning his spot back. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out. Either way, you can expect Lugo to get a fair amount of playing time. $9 million sitting on the bench isn’t easy to trade away. He’ll have to see action if the club intends to explore trade opportunities for Julio’s services.
Tito also had this to say regarding Jason Varitek’s possible reduced role in 2009:
Francona: I’ve heard all the talk but I’ve never had anyone ask me before. I think it’s unfair to say that before the season starts. Knowing Tek, he works so hard. Just for me to come right out before the season starts and say, yeah, we’re going to do this or do that … you know what? That’s not the case. The season will take care of itself.
If Tek needs rest, that’s my responsibility, to know that he needs rest. But again, that’s like saying you’re going to pinch-hit for a guy in February. I really don’t want to. That’s like saying a guy is going to have a tough year before the year starts. We’re talking about the captain of our team, and he means a lot. I just have to be a believer in him so we’ll let it play itself out. If he needs rest, we’ll give it to him. And again, you have to realize, he will be 37 years old. I understand that. I don’t want to run him into the ground because I’ve probably done that before because we rely on him so much. We’ll try to use good judgment.
My take: Again, I think we’re seeing the politically correct answers from Tito regarding Varitek. Reading between the lines here is what I think is important. Tito wouldn’t have brought up his age, pinch hitting for him or the fact that they have used him too much in the past if it wasn’t a concern. What is clear is that Tito is willing to let the season and Jason’s play dictate what he will and won’t do. If Varitek is batting .280 into July, I’m pretty sure Tito isn’t going to be thinking about pinch hitting for him. The converse of that is if he’s batting .220 at that time. If that’s the case, then I think the Captain will need to sit down during the late innngs of close games.
The entire Q&A is worth reading and I would encourage you to do so. Tito also covers other topic’s and players such as: John Smoltz, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell’s health concerns, Jacoby Ellsbury’s need for consistency, Clay Buccholz and Michael Bowden’s possible 2009 contributions, Daisuke’s involvement in the WBC, the addition of Rocco Baldelli to the club and he discusses his own health situation as well.
Just as a side note: Truck Day is this Friday and Jon Lester is already in Ft. Myers!
Odds and Ends
Even during this slow news time for baseball there are a few rumblings and rumors that caught my eye. Nothing earth shattering as of yet, but I suspect the trade news and deals will begin to get underway relatively soon.
The first tid bit of information is along these lines and it’s an excerpt from this Boston Herald article posted today by Sean McAdam.
This a true OFF season
“…..of the 223 players eligible for free agency – most via standard free agency and some who weren’t tendered contracts last month – fewer than 60 had agreed to terms by the end of business Friday, leaving about 70 percent of the market unemployed as we head into the first full week of the new year.”
The sheer number of available players still remaining would seem to suggest that we are in for a very active January. Stay tuned….
Another peice of information worth noting is in regards to the inquirey the Red Sox made on Hanley Ramirez. This time, the info comes from Nick Cafardo’s normal Sunday contribution to the Boston Globe.
The most improved players
“…3. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: The Marlins made it very clear to the inquiring Red Sox that Ramirez was not available. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Sox were quickly rebuffed and word is there was never mention of players the Red Sox could offer to entice the Marlins.”
If this is to be believed, then it’s clear there was never a mention of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, etc, being offered in exchange for Hanley Ramirez. It sounds like the Sox inquired, but were politely told that the Marlins had no interest in trading Hanley, so players names never came up.
The final tid bit isn’t really a rumor or a rumbling. It’s more of an observation then anything else.
I’ve been checking RedSox.com to see when the remainder of the regular season game tickets go on sale. No word yet, but I know it’ll be soon.
Anyway, while trying to decide which games I’d like to go to this year, I noticed that June & July seem to be the softer part of the Sox schedule this season. I only mention this because if for some reason we get off to a slow start, then these 2 months should allow us to gain some ground or if we’re doing well, perhaps pull ahead depending on our situation.
There are more road games in June then July, but we’re into inter-league play then. Here’s the schedule.
Detroit for 3 – away
Tex for 3 – at home
NYY for 3 – at home
PHI for 3 – away
FLA for 3 – at home
ATL for 3 – at home
WAS for 3 – away
ATL for 3 – away
BAL for 2 – away
BAL for 1 – away
SEA for 3 – at home
OAK for 3 – at home
KC for 4 – at home
TOR for 3 – away
TEX for 3 – away
BAL for 3 – at home
OAK for 3 – at home
BAL for 1 – away
September is going to be a tough month….2 off days and 17 road games. That’s a pretty rough way to wind down the season. However, rosters expanding and having plenty of call-ups should help as long as we’re not in a fight for our lives for a playoff spot.
A link to the season schedule is HERE.
Enjoy your Sunday!