What the Boston Red Sox Should Do at the Deadline

Boston Red SoxThe Boston Red Sox have won three of their last four games, but it’s probably too late. With the trade deadline looming, the Red Sox, at 42-52, will most likely be sellers. So, here’s what Ben Cherington and Co. should do if they don’t go on a huge winning streak these next three weeks.

First, they should be actively shopping relievers Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow. All of them are free agents after this season, and it’s pointless to keep them if they’re not going to play baseball in October. They should, rather, look to get something for the long-term. In other words, players who will have a positive impact when they are playing “meaningful” baseball. Koji would obviously draw a nice return, and so will the others.

Next, Jake Peavy, who’s been rumored to be available, should be traded. Dealing him would enable the Red Sox to fit Brandon Workman or Allen Webster into the rotation for the rest of the year. Boston can get a taste of what they’re going to get before, as anticipated, moving them into the rotation next year.

Jonny Gomes is another guy they should be shopping. The 33-year-old outfielder is a free-agent after this season, and would be desirable to a lot of teams. He has a track record of postseason success and, despite his decline offensively, still has pop in his bat.

Stephen Drew, the much-maligned shortstop, is an interesting case. On one hand he’s been terribly disappointing this year, but Boston would be selling low on him. However, I guess getting something is better than nothing. Another benefit in doing so is this will give Xander Bogaerts the opportunity to slide back to shortstop. Despite his recent struggles, if they’re serious about him being their shortstop of the future, it’s better to wean him in when they’re not competing.

There’s no reason to blow it all up. They have a plethora of prospects expected in 2015, and should be competitors as a result. One thing, though—if they aren’t serious about re-signing Lester, then deal him. He would draw a huge return, however, the Red Sox should be focusing on extending him instead.

It’ll be intriguing to see how Boston approaches the deadline, but they’d be foolish to not pursue long-term gains for useless short-term commodities.

Does Jackie Bradley Jr. Need More Time in the Minors?

Jackie Bradley JrAfter seeing Jackie Bradley Jr. for nearly half a season, the 24-year-old has failed to really hold on to the starting centerfielder role on the 2014 Boston Red Sox. Sure, he may be leading the team on average with runners in scoring position, but he has failed to do anything else at the plate on a consistent basis.

In 275 plate appearances with the big league club this season, Bradley has hit at a .208 clip which is just a smidge higher than his career. .203 mark. While he does have 24 walks on the season, he strikes out way too much with 79 in 77 games he has played in.

With the nine assists being third in MLB among outfielders, it may be tough for the Red Sox to sit the player who is making play after play on the defensive end, even with his offensive production being abysmal at best.

The Red Sox are currently eight games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. If the team hopes to turn anything around, then the offense is the first thing that needs to get going and Bradley is not even close to the answer.

What needs to happen is that the team should send him back to Triple-A Pawtucket until he tweaks his approach at the plate. Once he shows he can hit with at least a .270 average, then the team can decide whether or not he should be back up with the Red Sox. Plus, he needs to be willing to take more pitches outside of the zone rather than swing over breaking balls— which he is prone to do.

With Mookie Betts now up on the roster, he has already played a couple games in center while Bradley took a seat on the bench. With too many outfielders to play on a consistent basis, the Red Sox need to demote someone and the best option has to be Bradley.

With the Red Sox nine games under .500, the team needs to at least take a chance to fix Bradley in order for him to make a difference with the ball club going forward. Bradley is the future for center field and the Red Sox need to do everything in their power to make sure he can handle the offensive side of the ball better than a .200 average each season.

The Red Sox gave him a chance to prove himself and he has failed so far, so time to give someone else a shot until he can right the ship.

Clay Buchholz Better in First Start Off DL

Clay BuchholzClay Buchholz went 7 1/3 innings in his return on Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners while earning his third win of the season in a 5-4 victory for the Boston Red Sox. He allowed four runs which all came on the three home runs he allowed, including two in the second inning after retiring the first three batters in the first inning. Overall, he pitched well enough to get a victory, but there is some cause for concern after the three long-balls.

The 29-year-old pitched fairly well with seven hits allowed and no walks. He only struck out two batters, both in the seventh inning when it looked as if he was finally able to take real control of his change-up and cutter. He did reach up to 94 on the radar gun and looked to have control for the most part.

In the early innings, the right-hander had trouble locating all of his pitches, but was able to get it far enough off the sweet spot of the bat to force quick outs. He only threw 76 pitches before being pulled after a spectacular diving catch from Jonny Gomes to keep the tying run from reaching scoring position.

With the Red Sox having trouble scoring runs this season, Buchholz needs to keep the ball in the park while also keeping his control. It might be mostly mental, but the shoulder injury is something of the past and he needs to push through it in order for the Red Sox to rely on him every five days.

Jonny Gomes: Lefty Killer?

gomesThis year, on paper, Boston Red Sox outfield Jonny Gomes is not having a great year. The higlight of his season in the eyes of many was wearing an American Flag blazer to the whitehouse when the team met with president Obama. He is hitting .232 in 59 games with a .333 OBP and five homers. In a weak outfield, it looks like his job on the team might not be safe.
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Take a second look at Jonny Gomes, and he is more valuable. In an equal amount of at-bats between lefties and righties, Gomes is hitting just .159 of righties with a mere .245 OBP and a .305 average with a .416 OBP off of lefties. Having a lefty specialist on the Red Sox will definitely help them in the long run as Gomes should be able to compliment their starters if they have every day guys who can hit a baseball.

Since Gomes has an equal number of at-bats against both lefties and righties, manager John Farrell is making a mistake. There is no reason why Gomes should be facing righties unless Boston is in dire need of a player. This way, Gomes can stay on the bench as a possible pinch hitter for games he does not start in. He came up clutch a number of times in 2013, so it seems likely that he can come up big again for the team sometime soon.
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On a Red Sox team that will need to do some serious roster crunching soon, Jonny Gomes should be safe. He owns one of the highest averages on the team against lefties. Also, he gets on base at a reasonable clip (.333) and provides the team with a solid power bat off the bench. His trade value is not spectacularly high, but if it is then they should consider trading him; he is a luxury they can live without.

Overall, Jonny Gomes is a valuable player to the Boston Red Sox, the one catch is he has to be used right. When put into a situation which does not work for him, he will not do anything. When Gomes is comfortable and the splits are in his favor, he instantly transforms into one of the best players in the league.

Red Sox Start New Streak; Beckett Tosses No-No and Cubs Sign Manny

Josh Beckett

Was the Panic Button at the ready? Were we ready to push that panic button? Ten losses in a row. Worst slump in 20 years! Three straight series sweeps. Two veterans on the disabled list. Maybe the only good thing to come out of loss number ten is that there was a bench-clearing incident in Tampa, and maybe, just MAYBE, that can light a spark under this team.

To add salt to the wound, Josh Beckett spun his first career no-hitter. Beckett struck out six, walked three and didn’t come close to allowing a hit against a lineup that included two former NL MVPs and four former All-Stars, as he led the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-0 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia today.

For a little more salt thrown in, Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein just signed Manny Ramirez as the new player-coach for the Triple A Iowa Cubs. In a statement issued by the Cubs, Epstein said “While Manny is not and will not be a fit on the Cubs’ major league roster, we do think at this stage of his life he’s a nice fit as a mentor for some of the young talented hitters we have in the organization. Manny will coach full-time and play part-time in a limited role that does not take at-bats away from our prospects.”

“If he shows there is still some magic in his bat, perhaps he will find his way to the major leagues and help another team, but that is not why he is here. We are thrilled that he wants to work with our young hitters and make a difference.”

Can you imagine Manny imparting advice to the Cubs prospects? “Yo, listen, when you make the show and need some time off, tell Theo your grandmother died. It worked for me three times in Boston.”

But we digress. It’s a shame that punches weren’t thrown in Tampa Sunday. That could have shaken the Sox out of their slump perhaps. The incident took place after Yunel Escobar advanced to third base on the pitch following his two-run double that gave the Rays an 8-3 lead in the seventh inning. After he was awarded the base on defensive indifference, Escobar began pointing and shouting toward the Boston dugout.

When little Yunel got his wish and the Sox dugout responded, he couldn’t hide fast enough behind his third-base coach or the third base umpire. He also wanted NOTHING to do with Jonny Gomes, who bolted in from left field. As a matter of fact, Escobar probably ran a further distance from the Red Sox than he did going from home to third.

The bottom line is this, perhaps throttling little Yunel would have been the igniter this team needs, because these are not good times for the defending World Series Champions, but with two wins in a row over the Atlanta Braves, is the tide turning?

World Series Game 4, A Team Effort from Start to Finish

World Series Game 4

World Series Game 4 featured some improved bats in the lineup, including a late addition made at batting practice, Jonny Gomes. Gomes hit a home run, scoring 3 men and giving the team a 4 run lead. Believe it or not, Stephen Drew improved his offensive performance and earned an RBI with a hit to right field, scoring David Ortiz prior to Gomes’ bomb into one of the deepest parts of that St. Louis field. Each and every player pushed hard, together as a team, to overcome the Game 3 loss. Game 3 worried many members of Red Sox Nation. We know every move these players make is crucial to a win. What pressure! Still, pressure is what the post season is all about.

Pitching was handled as a team effort, too. Forever fighting, Clay Buchholz began the game. Many members of the bullpen, including Felix Doubront, John Dempster, Junichi Tazawa, John Lackey, and Koji Uehara followed him. Each man performed and stitched together innings that held the Cardinals to only 2 runs. Wise decision making by John Farrell and Juan Nieves.

Overall, an impressive observation of the Red Sox’ game is that when they lose, they lose tight games. Game 3 was won by 1 point. When they win, they win by over 2 points. When one team member gets on base, in Game 4 it was David Ortiz, additional hits are sure to follow. Everyone rises to the occasion, which is rare in modern day baseball where players seem to be playing for personal stats, salaries, and status. Focus on the team begins with management. Once the players know that Farrell and Nieves care, it encourages the team to come together and work hard as one. This clubhouse camaraderie was missing last year under Bobby Valentine. Now it is back. Hopefully it is here to stay.

On to Game 5. Go Sox!