It's a seller's market for starting pitching

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It's a seller's market for starting pitching

DALLAS -- The relative lack of front-line starting pitchers on the free-agent market this winter -- C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are considered the best of a thin lot -- has teams exploring the trade market for starters.

What they're finding, not surprisingly, is a seller's market with sky-high asking prices.

The list of established starters thought to be available in deals is a lengthy one and includes Oakland's Gio Gonzalez, Chicago's John Danks, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens, and Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie.

The demand for pitching is so great, and the free-agent options are so few, that teams with pitching to deal are demanding plenty in return.

Numerous reports have the White Sox asking for both catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Manny Banuelos -- arguably, the Yankees' two best prospects -- in return for Danks. The Yankees, unsurprisingly, passed on the proposal.

The Chicago Cubs are said to be taking a similar stance on Matt Garza. Garza is the club's best starter in a poor rotation, but the Cubs would be willing to listen. The asking price, however, would be huge -- befitting a healthy pitcher who remans under control for two more seasons.

Having cleaned out the top end of their farm system in the deal for Adrian Gonzalez a year ago this week, the Red Sox are dealing from a slight disadvantage in terms of their inventory of prospects.

They still have young players who interest other teams -- including catcher Ryan Lavarnway -- but they may not have two top prospects close to contributing at the big league level that many teams are seeking.

That could mean the Sox will fish around the shallow end of the free-agent pool, taking a similar tact to what the Yankees did last winter with Bartolo Colon.

In the past, the Sox have had a hard time attracting "depth'' starters in the winter because their rotation has filled out and veterans don't relish the idea of being stuck at Triple A.

But with both Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey sidelined following Tommy John surgery, they may be better able to sell low-cost veteran free agents on the opportunity to contribute in Boston.

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
----
Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P

 

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”