Red Sox trade Rumors: Layne, Hamels

It’s becoming pretty clear that the players on the Red Sox roster right now can’t get the job done. I’ve mentioned this before—this has been a one step forward, two step back season for the Red Sox. After completing an impressive sweep of Oakland, the Red Sox promptly dropped 2 straight to their division rivals, the Orioles. The Sox are incapable of developing any consistency so far this season, and I believe they’ll need to make a move before the July 31st trade deadline if they want to contend. But are the Red Sox trade rumors true?

One player that has long been talked about in connection to the Red Sox is Cole Hamels. Red Sox trade rumorsAfter a rocky opening start in which we pounded him, he has posted a 3.13 ERA through 87.1 innings and a 5-5 record. One of my main concerns throughout all the Hamels-to-Boston talk is what Philadelphia would want in return. Per a report by Masslive, the Phillies have been taking a long look down on the Red Sox farm system. It makes sense – we need a pitcher, and Philly needs young blood, but if the asking price is too high, the Red Sox may want to look elsewhere for an ace.

A player who could be on the block for the Red Sox is Tommy Layne, a lefty specialist who could have some value to a contending team looking to make a push. Layne is one of those strong bullpen arms that a needy contender might need. Right now, lefties are hitting .153 against Layne, and he’s gone 5 straight appearances without giving up a run. That was capped off with a save in the final game of the series against the Oakland Athletics. Could a contender be talked into overpaying for Tommy Layne? It’s quite possible if he keeps performing the way he has.

Layne for Hamels won’t happen, since the Phillies aren’t exactly what I would call a contending team. Since Layne is 30, he hardly fits what the Phillies would be looking for – as I mentioned above, they need young blood. But I will say that if the Red Sox can get Hamels and not morgatge the farm, then I’d be all for it. Before the season, I wasn’t sold, but the Red Sox desperately need an ace, whether it’s Cole Hamels or not. I’m a little tired of the losing.

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.

Brandon Workman Placed On DL

Brandon Workman

The plan for Brandon Workman this off-season was to focus on just relieving for the first time in his career. After being a starter for much of his time in the minor leagues, the Red Sox with many young starters coming up through the system felt relieving is the best fit for Workman, this time around. After struggling last season with velocity, early this spring his velocity was up a tick with shorter outings.

Before even throwing an official pitch this season Workman was diagnosed with a right elbow strain and was placed on the disabled list Saturday. Not exactly how Workman and the Red Sox pictured his season starting. Brandon WorkmanThe minor leagues have a disabled list of seven days, but it has not been announced how long Workman is expected to be out. Workman was one of the last cuts in a battle for the last two bullpen spots that eventually went to Robbie Ross Jr. and Tommy Layne, one of which will likely be sent to Pawtucket on Monday, with Koji Uehara likely being activated from the disabled list, in time for the home opener.

Workman’s experience in the 2013 playoffs had many thinking, myself included he could have been groomed as a potential closer. Heath Hembree and Zeke Spruill picked up saves in the PawSox first two games of the season in Lehigh Valley. With Workman on the disabled list look for those two to get their opportunities in the closer role for the PawSox.

Early injuries happen to many teams, as the Red Sox opened the season with Joe Kelly and Koji Uehara on the disabled list. You could say it had an effect on the bullpen already, as Edward Mujica blew his first save opportunity Friday night. Ironically, Steven Wright, who took Kelly’s initial roster spot got the win in the 19 inning marathon pitching 5 innings in relief. As the Red Sox get their closer back for the home opener, a key component to the PawSox bullpen will be spending time on the shelf.

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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The Tommy Layne Hype Is Premature

Tommy LayneThe Boston Red Sox have fallen in love with left-handed relief pitcher Tommy Layne since he’s joined the team. The hype he’s getting is justified considering his All-Star season down in Pawtucket and his deceptive delivery. To show you what I mean, here’s a video of Layne pitching in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=34587875&sid=milb
As you should be able to see, Layne hides the ball behind him until the last second. This makes it more difficult for hitters to determine which pitch is being thrown, and, obviously, gives batters a tougher time making proper adjustments to put a good swing on the ball.

He passes the eye test with relative ease and his traditional stats aren’t too shabby, either. Through just seven and 1/3 innings this season in the majors, the southpaw has compiled a stellar 1.23 ERA. Now, this is certainly too small of a sample size to pass proper evaluation on, but as Sabermetrics have taught us, minor-league numbers are an effective tool to project future performance, as well.

So, Tommy’s 1.50 ERA and 2.74 FIP in 48 innings of work in Triple-A Pawtucket this year have substance to them, yet only in proper context. It’s imperative to look at the 29-year-old’s unsustainable .244 BABIP, 0.19 HR/9, and 86.4 LOB% with Pawtucket (Note: MLB average is a .296 BABIP, 0.88 HR/9, 73.0 LOB%), and realize he was the recipient of quite a bit of luck. Unless Layne has fairy godparents there’s no way he’ll be able to continue to perform at such a high-level with those numbers.

I feel, rather, the Tommy Layne with the mediocre peripherals and non-MLB-worthy ERA — which we’ve seen frequently in his professional baseball career — has a much better chance of surfacing than the one we’ve witnessed throughout 2014.

However, baseball is a game of mysteries, and, truthfully, anything can happen. Pitchers can (and do all the time) hone their craft to improve whatever aspect of their game they lack with proper coaching and a willingness to adjust.

So, no, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Layne flourish, but it would be very unconventional for him to do so with such poor and untenable statistics. He could be a gem for Boston, and fulfill a glaring projected need in ’15. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see how Layne performs the rest of the season.