8-6-2010: Youkilis lost for the year, Cleveland redux, Yankees on tap

Now comes the disturbing and somehow predictable news… Kevin Youkilis will have surgery today and will miss the rest of the 2010 season. This news could not have come at a worse time, with guys like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Cameron still out, Victor Martinez playing hurt and Jacoby Ellsbury just trying to get back into the swing of things. We need to win now if we want to stay in the chase.

What will the Red Sox do about first base? For now, they will play Mike Lowell there every day. Despite his Daniel Nava-like heroics in his first at-bat, there are still some serious health concerns with Lowell. He may not be able to play every day, so we’re going to need a quality left-handed bat to complement him. For now, there are no plans to promote Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Lars Anderson. Theo Epstein would like to see if Salty can stick at catcher, so he’ll be working on that for now. J.P. Ricciardi really likes the addition of Salty, and says that it could really pay off down the line.

As far as other options, I think the Sox are trying to avoid paying any real talent to try and salvage what looks like it could be a lost year already. Jed Lowrie has reportedly taken some reps at first base as a fill-in for when Lowell can’t go. They will reportedly audition Carlos Delgado, and they do have room on the 40-man roster, but I’d be surprised if the Sox committed to play him while Lowell is around. He’s an option only if Lowell clears waivers and is traded. There are some other DFA/FA options out there as well, such as Casey Kotchman and Daric Barton.

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6-14-2010: Nava!, roster shuffling, draft signings, the Ellsbury fiasco

Daniel Nava stands a stocky 5-10, 200 lbs. He is 27 years old, and has never played above Double-A ball until this season. After not making his college team initially, he was an undrafted player out of Santa Clara, and went to play independent league ball. The Sox signed Nava in 2007 for $1. Seriously. He’s not supposed to be in the big leagues. Yet here he is, slugging a grand slam in his first Major League game; no, check that, first at-bat; no, check that- on the first pitch he ever saw in the Majors off of Phillies starter Joe Blanton, a legitimate big league starter. Nava is actually a very well-rounded player; it’s just that none of his tools predict any level of success at the highest level. His journey is a great story, and I hope that he does stick somewhere, if not with us. Sabermatricians have said that Nava’s excellent minor league numbers bode well for him at this level.

With Josh Reddick already sent back to Pawtucket, Nava was called up to replace the injured Jeremy Hermida, who went on the DL with a severe case of Adrian Beltre. Reliever Joe Nelson was designated as well, making room for Jonathan Papelbon to return to active duty. Unfortunately, Nelson proved ineffective in his stint here, and his future with the team is uncertain. Also called up was left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson, as Daisuke Matsuzaka was suddenly¬†placed on the 15-day DL for forearm problems. He immediately came out and said that it wasn’t a big problem at all, which is a good thing, but I think he should keep his mouth shut more on issues like this.

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Links 4-15-2010: Lackey rolls, Ortiz vs Hermida, Sox claim Luis, Bonser hurt?

After another solid outing in Minnesota, John Lackey has gotten off to a great start in 2010. Expected to be a solid 3rd starter, the 6-6 righty has been the strongest arm in the rotation thus far, posting two quality starts with a sparkling 1.42 ERA. The peripherals are nothing too special (3.91 FIP, 5.53 xFIP) but he’s using all his pitches effectively and induced almost 50% ground balls and let the defense work for him. Don’t expect this kind of pitching all season from Lackey, but it’s certainly nice while it lasts. This is the strength of a team with a quality front three – it will be VERY hard to get us to lose more than a few games in a row.

Manager Terry Francona is predictably still standing behind Papi, but the Sox are smart and they won’t stick with him for too much longer if he doesn’t show signs of improvement. The thing about it is, we have another productive left-handed hitter on the roster right now in Jeremy Hermida. With the opportunity afforded him by Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury, Hermida has shown that he can play in this league; if Ortiz continues to struggle, he could easily step in as a lefty DH. Again, there’s that great team depth I’ve been praising.

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2009 Projections: How did we do?

Now that the regular season is over, we can take a look back and compare our expectations with what we really saw. Here are the predictions I made on this blog before this season, and how it all turned out. Back in January I predicted that we would score about 835 runs, allow 729 runs and end up with a 92-70 record, winning the wild card. We got the wild card, but actually ended up with 95 wins, mainly due to the unexpected struggles of the Rays. Going into a bit more detail: Read more of this post

The rotation situation will work itself out

Here we sit on August 4th, one-half game out of first place. It was great that we got Victor Martinez at the trade deadline, but the infield corners are not the only place where it seems we have an overflow of players to deal with. The rotation also has a lot of dubious candidates and a lot of question marks; beyond our top two, who should be going out there every fifth day? Six guys, three rotation slots plus a backup starter role. Viewed positively, this is great depth. Negatively, we’re talking about six guys who all have their problems; in 16 starts since July 1, the back end of our rotation has posted a 5-6 record and a collective 6.32 ERA. There are a number of issues which need to be looked at for each one. Let’s think it out.

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Masterson, Hagadone and Price swapped for V-Mart

Apparently, it’s a done deal. Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price will be joining the Cleveland organization, and the Red Sox will acquire 1B/C Victor Martinez. The 30-year old Martinez, a switch-hitter, brings a .284/.368/.464 line with him and the flexibility to play first base, DH and catch, which should ensure enough playing time for him. He also brings some postseason experience from 2007, which we know the Sox value.

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What to do with Smoltz?

Alright, time to tackle the topic of the day – John Smoltz. After six starts, the future Hall-of-Famer has averaged a mere 5 innings per outing and compiled a 7.04 ERA. This is not exactly what people were expecting, so the calls for him to be moved out of the rotation are growing. What can we say about the way he’s throwing the ball now, and can we expect things to get better for the 42-year old?

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