Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Five Likely Sox Departures By Thursday

Here are the top five most likely Red Sox players to no longer be Red Sox players by this time Thursday:

1.) Jonny Gomes, OF. There are plenty of contending teams that could use the "Good Luck Playoff Charm" that is Gomes. The guy just seems to win wherever he goes. He still hits lefties at a ridiculous pace and is no longer in Boston's plans;

2.) Andrew Miller, RP. There isn't a scenario in baseball in which a lefty out of the bullpen isn't disproportionately valuable. Miller has been particularly effective this year (except in a few cases when he let inherited runners score). He is tall, imposing and out of town;

3.) Stephen Drew, SS. 'The Great Ten Million Dollar Experiment' was clearly a failure. The Red Sox now have two months to figure out if Xander Bogaerts is really going to be a productive shortstop in the major leagues. Dumping Drew allows for that. It also lets them put Will Middlebrooks back at third to see if he can regain his power stroke.

4.) David Ross, C. He's a great guy, and the GM recently assured everyone "Rossy" is sticking around, but, honestly, "why?" He's getting older by the day, can't hit and is blocking a two-month look at the Blake Swihart/Christian Vazquez "Tandem Of The Future".

5.) Jon Lester, SP. This is a tough one. If BenCher is convinced he can re-sign Lester next year (for, say, 5 years and $130 million), then he will be dealt for prospects at the last minute.

Seven Different Teams Now In On Jon Lester

According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, a total of seven teams are now involved in discussions about Jon Lester. The ever-shifting seven are: the Blue Jays, Mariners, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and (a new one to the list) Marlins. Just the sheer number of parties involved tends to reinforce the prevailing view that a trade is virtually inevitable. One of these suitors is bound to offer Boston an attractive package—and Sox GM Ben Cherington can still daydream about re-signing Lester for next year.

Red Sox Wives 'Team Up' To Fight Hunger in MA

On August 1st and 2nd (during games against the Yankees), a contingent of Red Sox wives will be teaming up with The Greater Boston Food Bank for the 23rd annual Strike Out Hunger fundraiser at Fenway. Since the program's inception, Red Sox Wives have raised almost $300,000 to help feed Massachusetts residents in need. In 2014, their goal is to raise enough money to provide 60,000 meals. Fans can donate $10 and get an autographed photo of Red Sox players! Fans can also get involved by entering a special VIP Raffle by August 11th for a chance to win four tickets to the August 21st game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The package also includes a batting practice visit, a tour of Fenway, a welcome message on the big board, a gift bag and a photo in the Red Sox dugout. For more information, you can visit the Food Bank website by clicking HERE.

Red Sox Could Reap OF Windfall In Pirate Trade

Bell, Ramirez, Meadows
One of the teams reportedly interested in trading for Jon Lester is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Buccos are currently just two games behind division-leading Milwaukee and could use a veteran stud in its generally mediocre rotation. With the inconsistent Gerrit Cole still recovering from injury, the BrewCrew currently features the following starters: Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquez, Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano and a suddenly resurgent Vance Worley. Do you think Lester might help out here? What's really intriguing is the trio of elite outfield prospects the Pirates could send to Boston—Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez and Austin Meadows. Bell is hitting .321 at two different minor league levels this year; Ramirez is hitting .309 at High A; Meadows is hitting .360 in High A. All three are effectively blocked by the trio of quality players already in the Pirate outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte. All three of these players are under team financial control until 2018. A match made in heaven, right? The Pirates need pitching help, the Red Sox need outfield options.

Memo To Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: Be Bold!

The last time Ben Cherington rolled the dice with a crappy Red Sox team, he gained a half a billion dollars, two prized pitching prospects and an eventual World Series championship. So, what could possibly deter him from being bold again this year? He's already pared one veteran from the roster in Jake Peavy (and gotten two pretty good pitching prospects back) and he is signalling a willingness to do a wholesale restructuring of this woeful team. From offering up both Jon Lester and John Lackey in trades (as well as his best bullpen lefty in Andrew Miller), BenCher could be setting the stage for something even bigger. Very few players appear safe from this year's purge—only David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and maybe Clay Buchholz, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Brock Holt, Daniel Nava and Christian Vazquez. In addition to Lackey and Lester, possible other departures are: Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, Koji Uehara, Edward Mujica (if anyone would take him) and David Ross. And, who knows, maybe there's a still Giancarlo Stanton deal to be made. Our advice to Cherington is simple: BE BOLD AGAIN!

REPORT: Sox Would Deal Both Lackey & Lester

According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox have let it be known that they would trade both Jon Lester and John Lackeyif they got an appropriate return back in players and prospects. If true, this would represent the clearest "white flag" yet in this horrific year. Arguably, Lester and Lackey have been the two most effective starters for The Carmine Hose over the last year and a half—raising the question of: 'just who would anchor the staff?' if both of these veterans leave. Curiouser and curiouser!

BrewCrew Now Showing Interest In Jon Lester

Well, you can add another potential Jon Lester landing spot to the already cited Los Angeles, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, the Milwaukee Brewers are now burning up the phone lines to Yawkey Way in pursuit of the lefty. The BrewCrew currently sits atop the NL Central, but could use Lester to stave off the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the pennant race. Reportedly, the bait being dangled by Milwaukee is one of their top pitching prospects—right-handed starter Jimmy Nelson (10-2 with a 1.46 ERA at AAA earlier this year). After being called up by the big club, however, he is 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA. Nevertheless, three of his four big league starts so far have been pretty good—for example, in his last outing against the Metropolitans, he went seven innings, giving up just two earned runs. Presumably, the Brewers would have to add additional prospects to any package for Lester.

HumiliationNation II: Sox Scalded By Jays, 14-1

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
It's fitting, isn't it? The Red Sox began their 'contention-ending' road trip with a 14-1 win at SkyDome, and they start their first lame-duck homestand with a loss to those same Jays by that same score of 14-1. This team has clearly given up: they are beaten, humiliated and lifeless. The most disgraceful performance was Felix Doubront in his petulant two-thirds of an inning—giving up six earned runs. Shameful. Five pathetic hits paced the "offense". They are worthy of a wholesale makeover at the Trade Deadline by GM Ben Cherington. For loyal Red Sox fans to spend good money to be subjected to this baseball dreck is a travesty. A contingent of FenwayNation staff will be attending tonight's game, and I can tell you there will be no rush to arrive early or stay late. My sole aim will be to sample the new vegan fare at America's Most Cramped Ballpark (not!). Would the last fan please turn out the lights when you leave? Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

O's Now In On Lester; LAD Moving To Hamels?

Multiple reports on FOXSports.com suggest that the Baltimore Orioles are now expressing interest in trading for Red Sox ace Jon Lester. While previous reports had the lefty going to the Dodgers, the latest word is that the Denizens Of Chavez Ravine are turning their attention to the Phillies and Cole Hamels. The reasons given for the switch are: A.) Boston is not that interested in being saddled with Matt Kemp and his contract and B.) Hamels is signed through 2018 (as opposed to Lester who could be just a three-month rental). Look for these twists and turns to intensify as Thursday's Trade Deadline draws closer.

Roger, Nomar, Pedro Go Into Sox Hall Of Fame

(Photos by Otto Greule Jr./Ezra Shaw/Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Sports fans, set your 'controversy meters' to "stun". The Red Sox announced today that they will induct three players and one broadcaster into the team's Hall of Fame on August 14th. The three players are Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez. Broadcaster Joe Castiglione will also be inducted. Nomar, Pedro and even Joe are no-brainers—all well-deserving honorees. Roger, on the other hand, will undoubtedly cause some controversy. Despite beating a federal perjury rap, few people this side of Brian McNamee believe the big guy was clean (e.g., at age 41, he went 18-4 and won his 7th Cy Young). The reception from the crowd at the pre-game ceremony at Fenway will tell a lot about how The Nation truly feels about Clemens. Fasten your seat belts!

Sox And Phils To Hold Private Castillo Workouts

According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, the Red Sox and Phillies—but notably not The Evil Empire—will hold private workouts for 27-year old Cuban defector Rusney Castillo. The speedy 5'9" outfielder escaped Fidel Castro's 'Socialist Paradise' (AKA Prison Island) and can hook on with any MLB club without hitting their international bonus pool money. It's estimated that Castillo will sign for between $25 and $35 million.

Tulowitzki Would 'Welcome' A Trade To Red Sox

(USATSI)
According to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe (AKA John Henry's Journalistic Plaything), Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki would "welcome" a trade to the Red Sox. Of course, it's been known for a while that "Tulo" wants to get to any big market team that can legitimately contend every year. Speculation has it that any deal for Tulowitzki would mean giving up Xander Bogaerts (and more). Still only 29, Tulowitzki is a perennial MVP-type player—if he can stay on the field. Last year, he played in just 126 games, in 2012 it was a paltry 47. Nevertheless, his 162-game averages over his 9-year career are impressive: .299 BA, 30 HR, 102 RBIs. But, then, there's the contract. He's owed $20 million a year for the next five years—then "only" $14 million in 2020. In 2021—when he will be 36 years old—you can buy him out for "just" $4 million. Yikes.

Joe Torre Spoke For Us All At HOF Induction

(Photo By Tim Roske)
We certainly didn't like Joe Torre when he was skipper of The Evil Ones. But we always respected the way he treated the game. He is an 'old-school' baseball lifer, and he reflected those sentiments in a fabulous Hall of Fame induction speech yesterday at Cooperstown. While he joked about some of his supposed shortcomings as a player (e.g., as a Met, he grounded into four double-plays in one game), he failed to mention that he was a pretty darned good ballplayer over eighteen seasons (.297 average, 252 HRs, 2,342 hits, 1,185 RBIs). But it was the closing portion of his speech that hit home—a simple, yet brilliant, expression of why we all love baseball. Here it is: "Baseball is a game of life. It's not perfect, but it feels like it is. That's the magic of it. We are responsible for giving it the respect that it deserves. Our sport is part of the American soul, and it's ours to borrow just for a while, to take care of it for a time, and then pass it on to the next generation. When I say us, I mean as managers and players. If all of us who love baseball are doing our jobs, then those who get the game from us will be as proud to be a part of it as we were. This game is a gift, and I'm humbled to accept its greatest honor." Amen, Joe Torre.

Yankee Fan Returns '13 Ring To Spinners Chief

Millitello (SportsReporters.com)
This is a story that gives you some hope for eventual world peace. Last Thursday, New York restaurateur Luigi Millitello found something very interesting on the restroom sink of his bar—a 2013 Red Sox World Series Championship Ring. Being a Yankee fan, his first thought was, "What are the chances of this happening?". The owner of the ring is also Lowell Spinners owner Drew Weber—who counts the restaurant (Luke's Bar And Grill) as one of his favorite Gotham haunts. When he discovered the bauble missing from his digit, Weber, "...started having palpitations. Sweat was pouring off my forehead." Hoping against hope, Weber called Luke's and got the good news from Millitello that his ring was safe—not without some choice Yankee-Red Sox razzing, however. All is forgiven, and Weber has even arranged for Millitello to attend Derek Jeter's final regular season game—on September 28th at Fenway Park. Nice ending. Send these guys to the U.N.!

"Growing Expectation" Of Lester Trade To LAD

According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, there is a "growing expectation" that Jon Lester will be traded by the Red Sox before the deadline—most likely to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whether the return to Boston is in the form of a package including 30-year old Matt Kemp (minus some of his humongous contract obligations) or just prospects—most likely stud center fielder Joc Pederson, remains to be seen. This could be even faster moving than we expected, so keep an ear to the ground!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lester For Kemp Deal Could Be In The Works

Multiple sources are reporting that a deal may be in the works between the Red Sox and Dodgers that would send Jon Lester to LA in exchange for outfielder Matt Kemp. FenwayNation reported on the early rumblings of this transaction last week, but it appears that discussions have now moved ahead significantly since then. Lester, interestingly, has said he would be reluctant to sign an extension with any new team—so his trade value is somewhat more limited that it might otherwise be. The Red Sox have also had their eye on LA's top OF prospect Joc Pederson. Stay tuned, this could get interesting fast.

Papi HR Delivers First Win At MostPulp, 3-2

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
David Ortiz hit a three-tun HR that propelled the Red Sox to a 3-2 win—their first this year at Tampa's MostPulpDome. Allen Webster got his second career win, going 5 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs. Andrew Miller—who may be wearing other laundry by week's end—pitched a clean seventh. Koji Uehara pitched the ninth inning for his 21st save of the year. Boston returns home after the horrific 2-5 road trip to once again face the Blue Jays.