AL East Standing: 1st
Current Record: 60-40
Weekly Record: 2-1
(Every Sunday I will attempt to give some brief thoughts on the past week for the Boston Red Sox. It will be filled with hopes, frustrations, exhilaration, pain and puns. Lots of puns.)
“Bug” Is An Understatement: Well, crap.
Andrew Bailey was the latest Red Sox reliever to fall, the team announcing that he will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn capsule and damaged labrum in his right shoulder. He’ll be knocked out for at least the next 12 months, and all of a sudden that $4.1 million salary is looking mighty heavy. The worst part of all of this is that Bailey was starting to turn it around, having thrown four consecutive scoreless appearances leading up to the All-Star Break. His injury also leaves the Red Sox bullpen another man short. Matt Thornton finally had a good outing on Sunday night, Pedro Beato and Drake Britton are nice surprises, and Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara are still dependable late-inning options. However, they’re still one more dependable option from the bullpen being a strength again (more on that below…)
In other news, Clay Buchholz’ injury is inching towards being almost as uncomfortable as situation as the Yankees trying to come up with daily ways to keep Alex Rodriguez as far away from their clubhouse as possible. The Red Sox medical staff has said that Buchholz should be able to return, but the pitcher (and would-be Sox ace) keeps feeling tightness, and is visiting Dr. James Andrews (DRAMATIC DUH-DUH-DUH MUSIC) for a second opinion. The hope is that Andrews will give Buchholz some assurance that he is ready to play, but his inability to get back on the mound has become a certified concern. This is absolutely something to monitor in upcoming days, and if he is set to miss much more time the Sox will absolutely be players for a starting pitcher at the deadline, though prize Matt Garza has already found a new home, and Cliff Lee seems unlikely to be shipped (and his price will almost certainly be ridiculous).
Update: Dr. James Andrews gave Buchholz the go-ahead to continue a throwing program, saying that there was no danger, once the inflammation decreased, of further damage. While his return is anything but imminent, this is a step in the right direction. That sound you hear is the collective sigh of relief coming from New England)
A Visit by the Empire: The Red Sox hosted the Yankees this past weekend, the Sox taking two out of three in a marvelous fashion. Ellsbury smashed an Andy Pettitte pitch to right in the first at-bat of the game on Friday night, and Felix Doubront turned in another startlingly efficient performance (6.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 K). The Yankees took the second game, running into the human wall that is Hiroki Kuroda, who outdueled a rejuvenated John Lackey, taking the game 5-2. The last game, however, was an absolute doozy. The four and a half hour game was ended in the 11th inning, as Mike Napoli (whose beard is reaching absolutely fantastic Viking levels) smacked a(nother) home run to center field, tossing his helmet to Jonny Gomes before leaping into the pile of Red Sox players waiting for him at home plate. And that wasn’t even the most impressive home run for Napoli, as his earlier three run homer was jacked out of Fenway Park, completely clearing the Green Monster and landing somewhere on Landsdowne.
Saying No Thanks To A Trade Rumor: So a constantly circulating rumor has been that the Red Sox are interested in Phillies third baseman Michael Young, and have been scouting his games this week. Young has had a pretty good season at the plate thus far, with a .286/.347/.417 line, 7 HR, and 31 RBI for a struggling Phillies team. And, especially in recent weeks when we’ve seen Jonathan Diaz, Brock Holt, and Brandon Snyder all man the hot corner, the call for a more known commodity at 3rd has been ringing out. He’s also renowned around the league for being a tremendous clubhouse presence and could be a great fit on a team filled with large characters. But while it may seem nice to just plug Young into the lineup, it would only be a hasty move that would hurt the Red Sox a lot more than it would help in the long run.
Forget that he’s 36 (don’t forget it). Forget that he’s a pretty miserable defensive player (this is a huge deal). Forget that he’s only going to be a half-season rental (seriously, guys). There are only two things that you really need to worry about. The first is what the Sox would have to give up. The Phillies traded two relievers (Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla) for Young, but we can’t really take that as an indication for what a potential Phillies/Sox trade would look like. Young’s value was at an all-time low, his stats dropping off pretty concerningly, and he had been crowded out by the other young infielders on the Rangers system. Now, however, Young has shown his worth. And this is Ruben Amaro we’re talking about, the biggest tease of a trade partner, who still maintains that the Phillies will not be selling at the deadline, even with his team far out of playoff contention. Amaro has put himself in the enviable position of saying he needs to be bowled over for a deal to happen, perfectly content to stay put.
The second concern is that it’s not just a detriment to the future in that the Sox will lose players to the Phillies, but how this shakes up their current roster. Stephen Drew has come back from the DL, and Jose Iglesias has slid back over to third base. Even though he is still learning the position, Iglesias joins Drew and Pedey as arguably one of the most dominant defensive infields in the major leagues. And even though his crazy hitting numbers are starting to regress (and quickly), he’s done more than enough to earn his current starting spot. Bringing in Young could shake Iggy’s confidence irreparably, and would be a sad end to a breakout season. Also, bringing in Young pretty much closes the door on Will Middlebrooks coming back this season, which would be an absolute shame (and I’m becoming increasingly worried he’s going to develop Daniel Bard Disease). It also lowers the chance of us seeing Xander Bogaerts in a Sox uniform this season, robbing us of a chance to see the most exciting infield prospect in the Sox system since Nomar Garciaparra a little early (now I’m just being selfish). What’s that you say move Young to 1st base? Mike Napoli’s perfectly fine there. Have him as a back-up first baseman? We already have Mike Carp. And you’re crazy if you think that Michael Young is taking late-season DH at-bats away from David Ortiz. I like Young. I like him a lot. But the Sox’s great need for a third baseman seems a bit overblown to me. And I’d rather not sacrifice my future for a luxury piece.
And finally some not-very-serious speculation: I want to stress that I have no actual evidence to support any of this, nor do I have any insight into the Brewers’ management.
Since Joel Hanrahan went down for the season, I’ve been asking my friend Jake, a Wisconsin native and huge Brewers fan, what it would take to get Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez off to the Sox. For those who don’t follow the Brewers (and I don’t really know why you would, or if you do, why you’re reading this article), Rodriguez is tearing it up to the tune of 24.2 IP, 1.09 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10 SV, and 26 K. The one-time best-closer-in-the-league has had a rejuvenation in a big way, and has been one of the bright spots.
At the beginning of the season, when I asked, I just got a shrug. “We have Axford and Henderson, he’s kinda a luxury.” By late May/Early June, he dared to say “Ranaudo or Barnes” (I hit him.) A few weeks ago he would just laugh at the idea.
Yesterday, Ryan Braun was suspended for the rest of the season for violating league drug policy. Braun, for better or worse, was the face and superstar of the Milwaukee Brewers, especially once Prince Fielder fled to Detroit. Yes, the Brewers have rising young talent like Jean Segura and Norichika Aoki, and one of the best all-around players in Carlos Gomez, but Braun was the most recognizable and the most explosive, the former and, perhaps future MVP.
After briefly discussing the suspension, I asked Jake my usual question about K-Rod. His answer:
“Idk. One or two mid-levels.”
Even though they sat at 41-57, there was still a feeling that the Brewers had a chance because they still had a star, and a cast of young players growing up around him. Now that Braun has become baseball’s new villain (or at least keeping A-Rod’s seat warm for him), the Brewers seem to have a lot less going for them this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team tries to sell off their more attractive pieces for prospects in order to rebuild. And if so, the Sox should be first in line for a chance at K-Rod, who could be the final piece for a struggling Sox bullpen. There have already been reports of a trade between the two teams, and Sox scouts have gone to watch the flamethrower pitch. It seems cruel to pick on a team that’s had such a blow, and we should shed a tear for the poor Brewers fans. But as Jimmy Dugan says, there’s absolutely no crying in baseball.
(Again, I have no real evidence. I cannot stress how much I am reaching here.)