Links 5-25-2010: It’s all coming together, roster moves, pressure to win, more on the AL East

Kevin Youkilis is scorching the ball (.388/.563/.821 in May), as I saw signs of it back in late April. The man is just in the zone, and not even Roy Halladay can stop him. Hope you’ve also noticed that Victor Martinez is also getting hot at the plate (.423/.444/.923 in 26 AB since May 17), just as David Ortiz morphs back into a pretty good imitation of Big Papi. This is the nature of baseball; players go through long, frustrating streaks as well as long, torrid ones. Let’s hope they stay hot for a long time. The rest of the year wouldn’t be bad.

BTW, Martinez appears to be okay after taking a foul tip off his left foot last night. X-rays were negative, so the Sox are not making a roster move.

Speaking of hot, the Boston rotation is finally putting it together, and surprisingly, the laggards are Josh Beckett and John Lackey, who were among the pitchers expected to anchor this staff. How about that Clay Buchholz? And with Jason Varitek catching him, Daisuke Matsuzaka put together a near no-hitter (that would have been number 5 for Tek, all with different pitchers). Varitek was quick to put down any suggestion that he should play over Martinez, and Terry Francona continues to insist that Dice-K will not always be caught by Varitek- but I think that’s meant to defend Victor’s reputation as a catcher more than anything else. Why break up what works? Not to be outdone, Tim Wakefield turned in a gem of a start in his go against the Phillies as well. He also knows when to call it quits; that’s why he’s still around at 43 years old. Bless that pitching depth.

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Links 5-20-2010: The AL East race, Beckett to DL, Dice-K and V-Mart friction, Lowell-Ortiz heats up, more

The AL East is becoming a tough place to compete, even for the Red Sox. Not only is Tampa Bay continuing their streak of great baseball, but even Toronto is getting into the act, outperforming expectations despite the losses of Roy Halladay and Marco Scutaro. I think I mentioned that the Blue Jays can be dangerous this year if they get enough hitting, because they have some very strong young pitching.

Josh Beckett has been placed on the 15-day DL, and 35-year old reliever Joe Nelson was recalled from Pawtucket in his place. They are just being cautious with Beckett, but there’s definitely something there, despite the Yankees’ protests. It would be a mistake to judge Beckett based on limited performance while injured. Filling during Beckett’s absence is Tim Wakefield. He’s happy to be back in the rotation, but he doesn’t approach it as he has to earn his way back in. Seems like he doesn’t particularly think much of some of his competition.

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Spring Training 2010: Considering Josh Beckett

With the leader of the pitching staff entering his contract year in 2010, the Red Sox are said to be broaching extension talks with Josh Beckett this Spring. Entering what will be his age 30 season, Beckett has already compiled quite a resume, including two All-Star appearances, a pretty sterling postseason track record and three World Series rings. He’s also been the World Series MVP. It’s rare to find a player with such command over his whole arsenal – a good fastball, a power curve, a polished changeup and a cutter to boot. He’s the stopper you bring in to silence the other team’s offense, start after start. Not only so, but Beckett is known as a fierce competitor and a driven athlete who sets the tone for the rest of the pitching staff. Let’s examine extending him in a bit more detail.

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2010 AL East Preview: Sox, Yankees reloaded

As Spring Training finally dawns, we are looking at two teams at the top of the division with significant turnover from this offseason. The Yankees have shed several older, oft-injured players and added a powerful left-handed bat in OF Curtis Granderson. For their part, Boston has decided to focus on run prevention with the signing of John Lackey and even sacrificed OBP in order to improve their team defense in this “bridge year”. The Tampa Rays have another year of development and polish on their young and talented core. Meanwhile, Toronto has gone into rebuilding mode with the trade of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and the Orioles’ youth movement is on the cusp of paying dividends. What can we expect to see in 2010? Read more of this post

Hot Stove 2010: Options for a SP

I started doing these summaries as one post, and it just got too darn long. I just ad to throw away my shortstop post today. Anyway, on we go to starting pitching.

The Sox rotation is young (apart from Tim Wakefield) and strong, but lacks veteran depth. Behind a budding ace in Jon Lester and a very solid Josh Beckett, we’ve got (at worst) a middle-of-the-rotation filler in Daisuke Matsuzaka and some young talent. The Sox could easily go their typically conservative route, or they can trade away some of those juicy prospects for an upper-tier pitcher:

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Links 12-01-2009: Halladay, John Henry, Pedroia at short?

Toronto ace Roy Halladay wants to avoid a mid-season media circus, so he has said that he will veto any trade that the Blue Jays want to make after Spring Training begins. If GM Alex Anthopolous can’t use the threat of moving Doc at the trade deadline as leverage in any winter deal, that may undermine their bargaining power somewhat. But don’t get too excited, for as David Pinto points out, this verbal statement is not binding at all.

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Hot Stove 2010: Sox ‘making push’ for Halladay

According to the NY Daily News, the Red Sox are “putting on a full-court press” in an attempt to trade for Toronto starter Roy Halladay before the Winter Meetings on Dec 7. The article suggests that Toronto would want Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly back, but I seriously doubt that’s gonna happen.

Is Halladay worth paying one of our Major League starters plus a prospect for? I think the answer is an unequivocal yes, though I don’t think that prospect should be Kelly. People wonder why acquiring a 33-year old pitcher is desirable, given we have a 26-year old stud in Buchholz; I think it’s a little underappreciated exactly how good Halladay is.

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