3-30-2011: Sox upgrade at backup catcher

The Red Sox made a minor trade yesterday, acquiring 26-year old catcher Mike McKenry from the Colorado Rockies for reliever Daniel Turpen. Like most catchers, McKenry struggles a bit with hitting, but he has some middling power and walks a good deal. Perhaps more importantly, he is a solid catcher defensively, having thrown out a 37% percent of baserunners in his 5-year minor league career and around 30% at Double- and Triple-A. Theo Epstein, looking for depth at catcher, didn’t want to sign another no-hit veteran, but instead added a guy with at least some potential to blossom into a legitimate Major Leaguer.

Mark Wagner was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. I’d be surprised if he is claimed by anyone, and it is likely he will land back at Pawtucket.

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2010-2011 Offseason: Catcher

With the offseason coming up soon, we need to begin analyzing what we already have in place for 2011 and where we could make improvements. Here’s a look at our situation at catcher.

Without a doubt, this is the most worrisome position for us this offseason. Victor Martinez is a potential free agent, and entering his age 32 season, the Sox are reluctant to commit the money and years to sign him (perhaps as much as 4 years, $60M). With his certain Type A status, there’s even less incentive for the Red Sox to outbid another aggressive team for Martinez.┬áMartinez has indicated a desire to stay, but also to continue catching for the duration of his next deal (which the Sox are not on board with, if their two-year offer to him is any indication). However, the loss of a team leader and 4 WAR player is not going to be easy to any team to absorb. And with the essential role the catcher plays, you’ll need a familiar face somewhere on the roster.

Also a free agent this offseason is team captain Jason Varitek, who entering his age 39 season and with his declining skillset is even less desirable of a signing than Martinez. Varitek started the year strong, but quickly got injured and seemed to run out of gas this season. Tek wants to retire as a Red Sox, and the team would like to oblige, but not at the cost of a bloated contract and a wasted roster spot.

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Links 7-8-2010: Swept in Tampa, the bullpen, Youk’s All-Star chase, Injury turnaround?

Ugh. Not a fun series to watch, as the Sox got swept away last night by the Tampa Bay Rays. We are now two games behind them and 4.5 games back of the Yankees in the AL East, and that All-Star Break can’t come quickly enough.

Game 1: I am usually a Daisuke Matsuzaka apologist, but this game was a disaster for him. He kept stepping off the rubber and delaying, so he could never get into any kind of rhythm. He just doesn’t look confident out there. Admittedly, he had some long half-inning breaks, but he just looked terrible. When the bases are full, he has no problem attacking hitters and going ahead 0-2, but the rest of the time he was nothing. Terry Francona should have pulled him earlier, yes, but who could he go to that is any better right now? A lot has been made of Dice-K’s botched bunt play, but that’s the least of his issues right now. That play shows how much he’s putting pressure on himself and not just playing the game… Eric Patterson had 3 XBH, including a double and two home runs, his first multi-HR game of his career. The first one was a fully legitimate one, but he was lucky to golf the second pitch, a low breaking ball from Andy Sonnanstine. You could just see the disgust and disbelief on Sonnanstine’s face on that one.

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Links 5-5-2010: Sox down Halos 5-1, Papi still in, Ellsbury takes BP

So, about that game yesterday. I would have lifted Jon Lester in the 8th against Mike Napoli with the score 1-1. Yeah, I know he hasn’t done much this year, but he’s got a career .285/.393/.520/.913 line against lefties; he was also 2-2 in the game. I think Lester was up to 103 pitches when he came to bat, a little short. Napoli singles, and the Angels have two one with no outs. Thankfully, Mike Scioscia believes in the sacrifice, and Dustin Pedroia came through with an inning-ending double play (which may not have actually been two), but I don’t think the extra drama was needed. Anyways, give Dustin credit and the win went to Lester, which he deserved.

Jonathan Papelbon also came on and mixed it up quite a bit. With a four-run lead, you can afford to try some stuff out. His splitter was probably the best I’ve seen from him all year, which helped speed things along.

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Links 5-4-2010: Beckett, Dice-K’s return, Lowell-Ortiz drama, Embree-Schoeneweis, injury train chugs along

It was an eventful week, no? The Sox get swept by the lowly Orioles in Baltimore, the first time that’s happened in a long, long time. Before you panic and sell your season tickets, I’d just point out two things: The Orioles were underperforming all year long, and were due for a bounceback (too bad it happened against us), and the Red Sox team they were playing was not anywhere near the team that was assembled in the offseason. We just need to stay in it until our team gets healthy again, I really believe that. Terry Francona offered his thoughts here.

Josh Beckett was strong in his outing, going back to his four-seam fastball (46 thrown, 43.8%). It wasn’t generating swings and misses (only a 2.2% Whiff rate), so it wasn’t his best heater, but it got the job done. Beckett was able to throw all of his fastballs for strikes, and the cut fastball was better, showing more horizontal break (+2.01 in by PITCHf/x) and zipping in there at 90.1 mph. It was the pitch which generated his best Whiff rate at 22.2%. So it was real; believe it. Beckett is back.

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Linkage: Milestones all around, minor leaguers recognized

Congratulations to these Red Sox, who achieved notable milestones this past week:

In case you missed it, here is the video of Nick Green’s narrow escape from a flying broken bat last week. My heart almost stopped during this play, thinking, “oh no, this means we have to play Julio Lugo!”

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On the Farm: May 2009 update

A lot of things going on in the minor league system this past month. Here’s an update:

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