The real Boston rotation stands up

As we come down the stretch, four games ahead in the wild card race and seven behind the Yankees, the Red Sox are in a familiar and strangely comfortable place. All they have to do is continue doing what they’re doing, which right now happens to be playing winning baseball. Josh Beckett seems to have shaken off his rough stretch, Jon Lester has shown himself to be perhaps the top lefty in all of baseball this season, and Clay Buchholz is piling up the quality starts. Daisuke Matsuzaka is back in shape and will take the ball tomorrow against the Angels, and you have to think, apart from losing Dice-K for most of this year, this was the plan all along. Well, more or less.

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The Byrd-Carter connection, Tazawa to return

Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that the Yankees blocked the trade of Chris Carter to the Mets as revenge for the Sox signing Paul Byrd, who they apparently thought they would get. What is this, the 3rd grade? Boston had to pull Carter back and will have to wait until the offseason to ship him to Omar Minaya and company. Not sure how this waiver claim hurts the Sox really, other than limiting their 40-man roster temporarily; but Theo Epstein is an expert at finding someone to DL when he needs room to work.

Junichi Tazawa was sent down to make some room in the bullpen, but he is expected to be back and to rejoin the rotation in a week, according to Terry Francona.

A look at the rotation heading into September

As we head into the stretch, it’s nice to know that the rotation is in better shape than a month ago. Here’s a player-specific look at some of the issues.

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Smoltz, Lowrie and rehabbing pitchers

John Smoltz has been DFA’d and cleared waivers; he has also refused a bullpen or minor-league assignment. If the Sox can not find a trade partner by Sunday, they will have to release him outright. This may be what happens, despite interest by a few teams, as explained by Sean McAdam. Basically, Smoltz’s salary requirements fall drastically after he is released by Boston, so unless someone REALLY wants him, they will let him become a free agent, then sign him for the league minimum. Unless the Braves step up (unlikely), that is what will happen. Some in the sabermetric community still believe that Smoltz has some useful innings left in him.

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Sox add Byrd to the fold

The Red Sox signed 38-year old  pitcher Paul Byrd to a minor league contract yesterday. Byrd has not pitched at all since he became a free agent at the end of 2008. He will probably join Daisuke Matsuzaka in Florida, then pitch for Triple-A Pawtucket with an eye to a September callup.

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2009 Offseason: Winter Meetings underway

Theo Epstein and his cohort have arrived in Las Vegas, and are taking part in the GM Winter Meetings for the next three days. Is there something big in the works? All the signs point to a pretty big free agent signing, and I suspect it will be a young starting pitcher.

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2009 Offseason: Arbitration offers, Traber signed

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their impending free agents. This is important because if the player accepts, the team must go through the arbitration process to hammer out a one-year deal with the player. If he refuses, it means that if/when he signs with another team, the Red Sox will get compensated with draft picks if they are Type A or Type B status.

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2008 Offseason: SP Vazquez as a trade target

The Red Sox rotation features three potential aces, but could benefit from a little bump in terms of stability and performance, I think we can all agree. Instead of sinking tons of money into CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett, what if we look at trading for someone like Javier Vazquez? The White Sox have basically said that they will be looking to trade his salary elsewhere this offseason, and I propose that we nab him while the nabbing’s good.

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2008 ALCS: The front four matchups

Starting rotations have been announced by both teams, and here are the matchups:

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2008 Playoff redux

With eight games left (seven of them at home), the Red Sox have all but sewn up a playoff berth. The question remains, will the Tampa Rays slip enough for the Sox to take the division? At this point, the Sox would have to outplay them by 3 wins (Tampa has the divisional record advantage, so a tie isn’t good enough). That means if the Rays go 4-5, we have to go 7-1, and that will dictate a lot about the playoffs.

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