Red Sox Acquire Ryan Cook from A’s

The Red Sox had a quiet trade deadline not dealing any of the veterans many of us expected them to. Mike Napoli and Alejandro De Aza were still in the lineup for Friday nights game with the Rays, while many Sox fans feel the Sox need to look elsewhere and give the younger players a shot.

The Sox did make one small move in acquiring A’s pitcher Ryan Cook. Cook, now 28, was the A’s former closer, who was an All-Star in 2012.Ryan Cook It is expected Cook will be activated tomorrow and supply some help in the Red Sox depleted bullpen. Cook was pitching in Triple-A Nashville, but did appear in 4 games with the A’s this season allowing 5 runs. He also was once traded for now teammate Craig Breslow, when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cook had a 4.05 ERA in 30 appearances with the Nashville Sounds this season, so the Red Sox seem to be taking a flier on a player they expect to rebound while controlling him for two additional years. Cook does come cheap, as the Sox will either surrender a player to be named later or cash in the deal. Cook spent two stints on the disabled list last season but this year has been working to get his effectiveness back, as he sometimes has trouble find the plate.

Obviously the Red Sox did not seem to find a taker for any bad contracts they have signed in recent years and did not want to deal of of their prospects with many of the top prospects in the lower levels. The Red Sox bowed out of the Cole Hamels sweepstakes after Hamels had listed the Red Sox on his no trade list but I feel if they offered to pick up his option for 2020 he would likely have approved the deal. Tyson Ross’ name was tossed around Friday as well who were looking for a shortstop of the future but apparently Deven Marrero was not the shortstop they were looking for.

The Red Sox can still make moves until August 31 but the player needs to pass through waivers to be dealt. Mike Napoli and his salary would likely pass through waivers but the Pirates who were rumored to have interest in Napoli, acquired Michael Morse on Friday so they seem to have a right handed hitter to platoon as first.

Koji Uehara Makes His Return to the Sox

Koji Uehara

Coinciding with the home opener, Koji Uehara was activated from the disabled list on Monday, after being limited in Spring Training due to a hamstring injury. His first save opportunity came on Tuesday night against the Nationals and he did not disappoint.

In an 8-7 Sox win Uehara threw 14 pitches, 10 for strikes, as he was his usual efficient self on the mound while strikinng out two. A very loud foul ball was hit by Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, that went just foul down the left field line, so close to being fair the umpires reviewed it.Koji Uehara Fortunately for the Red Sox the call on the field was upheld and Uehara got Zimmerman to fly out to left field on the next pitch.

Uehara’s return signaled the end to Edward Mujica in the closer spot for the time being. Mujica gave up two solo home runs in his two appearances before Tuesday night. Mujica got the win Tuesday night after going 1 1/3 striking out two. It is still expected that John Farrell will call on Mujica when Uehara needs a day or two of rest, as fatigue could be a factor this season for him, so that is something to keep an eye on.

With Uehara’s return, Tommy Layne was sent down to Pawtucket where he will join Dana Eveland as a lefty in the bullpen. Craig Breslow and Robbie Ross Jr. remain the lefties out of the bullpen for the big league club.

The expectations for Koji Uehara this season are something Red Sox fans seem unsure of. Can he be the lights out closer like he was for the tail end of 2013 and early 2014? Or will he struggle like he did in the second half of last season? Seeing a clean inning from the closer is obviously a good sign, but for the Sox to feel confident in their bullpen, it starts with the closer. With some shaky starts from the rotation the past few days and that 19 inning contest from last week, the bullpen has been used quite often, so a healthy and effective Uehara will only help pitchers like Robbie Ross Jr. and Anthony Varvaro get acclimated to their roles on this club.

Edward Mujica to Serve as B Closer

edward mujica

Despite what some may say, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell seems confident that reliever Edward Mujica is still in the picture this season.
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A few weeks back, the possibility of him being traded was discussed, but Farrell said that he along with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Alexi Ogando would make of the core of Boston’s bullpen.edward mujica

If anything were to happen to Koji Uehara, the skipper pointed out that Edward Mujica would close out games, or if the soon-to-be 40-year-old just needs a night off.
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Currently, Mujica is serving out his final year of a two year contract which may come as a surprise after how poorly he pitched early on last year.

For Mujica, the 2015 season truly was a tale of two cities, after surrendering ten earned runs in nine innings pitched back in April, he closed out the first half of the season with a 5.45 ERA in 35 outings.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Mujica stepped up his game and really turned things around late in the season, posting a 1.78 ERA in the second half last year. In his final 29 games of the year, he surrendered just five earned runs in 25.1 frames and notched six saves in just as many attempts.
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With the last two spots in the bullpen up for grabs, Robbie Ross Jr., Anthony Varvaro and Brandon Workman all look to make an impact in later innings, but do not count LOOGY Tommy Layne and knuckleballer Steven Wright out of the competition just yet.

While Ross and Varvaro have the advantage in terms of big league track record, Ross does have two options remaining and Varvaro can be dealt if it comes down to it.
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At this point, it would make sense that one of the remaining bullpen spots goes to a lefty and while Varvaro is not a lefty, southpaws are hitting .196 off of him in 270 at-bats, so he and Ross are likely fighting for one spot while Brandon Workman might just slide his way onto the team unopposed.

Boston Red Sox Re-sign Craig Breslow

craig breslow

In need of another left-handed reliever to compliment Tommy Layne in the bullpen, the Boston Red Sox returned to a very familiar face.
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According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, the Red Sox agreed to terms with Yale grad Craig Breslow on a one-year deal worth $2 million.craig breslow

Breslow, who tends to be a reliable reliever, had the worst year of his career to date in 2014 as he posted a 5.96 ERA in 60 games and walked 28 while punching out just 37 men.
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In his nine year big league career, Craig Breslow owns a 3.20 career ERA and only allows 0.8 homers per nine innings.

2015 will be Breslow’s fifth season as a member of the Boston Red Sox; he was a member of the team back in 2006, but spent all of 2007 in the minors and was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians in March of 2008. The team re-acquired him in 2012 at the trade deadline in exchange for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik, although Podsednik refused Minor League assignment and re-signed with the Red Sox shortly after.
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In 2013, Breslow played a key role in the Red Sox World Series championship run when he posted a 1.81 ERA in 61 games and did not surrender a run in seven appearances totaling seven innings in the ALDS and ALCS. The World Series on the other hand was rough for him as he allowed a pair of earned runs while only recording one out.

Breslow, whose decision came down to the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, made it clear to WEEI that he strives to pitch better than he did last season:

“I’€™m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’€™t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,” he added. “I think it’€™s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’€™ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.”

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Red Sox Start Making Bullpen Moves

Red Sox breslow Koji Just a couple of days after the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in Game 7 against the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox officially started making off season moves.

The Red Sox started by signing the closer for the last season and a half, Koji Uehara, to a two-year contract worth $18 million on Thursday. The 39-year-old will likely remain the closer in Boston until this deal ends in 2016 unless his decline continues in 2015.

Uehara had one of the best seasons as a reliever in MLB history in 2013 with a 1.09 ERA in 73 games with the Red Sox. He notched 21 saves while striking out 101 batters and walking just nine.

In 2014, the veteran had 26 saves, but went 6-55 with a 2.52 ERA. The 80:8 K:BB ratio is still one of the best in the league, but he was shutdown for most of September due to the extra workload the closer had in 2013 and at the start of the 2014 season. He blew several save opportunities down the stretch, but should be able to be a reliable option at the back of the Red Sox bullpen.

On Friday, the Red Sox also declined an option to keep Craig Breslow on the team. In 2013, the lefty went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 games for the Red Sox. He walked 28 and struck out 37 in his 54.1 innings of work.

Over his three years with Boston, 2013 was his best season and his role helped the Red Sox win the World Series. During the World Series run, the 34-year-old went 5-2 during the regular season with a 1.81 ERA. His recent struggles with location and velocity probably led to the Red Sox wanting to look to other players to fill up the bullpen in 2015.

Quantity vs. Quality: The Red Sox Bullpen Problem with Lefties

Boston Red Sox Bullpen

Monday’s blowout loss to the Seattle Mariners served as an important reminder to the Boston Red Sox bullpen. While they have an abundance of left-handed relievers in there, the quality is low.

Chris Capuano, who is the rumored odd man out with Clay Buchholz returning, did not help his case to stay when he entered to relieve John Lackey in the 4th inning. The left-handed long relief man started his fifth outing of the month, playing an attempted bunt-hit off the bat of James Jones well to end the six-run 4th.

The 5th inning was a bit troublesome for Capuano as he allowed back-to-back hits to right field, which scored the Mariners’ eighth run of the contest.

Then, the southpaw retired the side in order in the bottom 6th, including striking out shortstop Brad Miller. Capuano struggled mightily in the month of June coming into the game. In 1 and 2/3 innings, he’d allowed five earned runs. The previous two months he only enabled opposing teams to score seven runs, and ended May with a stellar 1.95 ERA. So, obviously, this was a pivotal game for Capuano to prove his worth, and he did fine — well, that is, until the 7th inning.

It started with a James Jones ground-rule double and ended with a Logan Morrison home run, which was his second of the night. Capuano came out of the game allowing five earned runs, six hits, and inflating his ERA to a pedestrian 4.55. The 7th inning implosion most likely sealed his fate, and he could be gone within the week.

However, Capuano was not the only reliever, or left-hand reliever for that matter, who struggled Monday. Craig Breslow entered Monday with an underwhelming 4.18 ERA, but because of his track record, there was no indication that his future with Boston was in jeopardy.

Nevertheless, Breslow relieved Capuano after he failed to collect an out in the 7th. His outing began allowing a double to Mike Zunino, followed by a walk to Dustin Ackley. A fielder’s choice advanced runners to second and third while simultaneously getting the first out of the long 7th inning. Switch-hitting utility man Willie Bloomquist then struck out. With two outs in the inning, Breslow allowed his second walk to Cole Gillespie that loaded the bases. Luckily, he escaped it by inducing a ground ball off the bat of Jones. The 8th inning was much smoother, but was not without a blemish as Logan Morrision was walked, marking Breslow’s third in two innings.

Even Andrew Miller, the final of the three southpaws in the ‘pen, has choked in key spots this year. Though his 2.67 ERA is tremendous, his five losses are alarming.

The Boston Red Sox are very weak in this aspect of their team. Excuse me if I don’t believe moving Felix Doubront and his 5.19 ERA this year and career 7.76 ERA in 22 games out of the bullpen is the solution.