McAdam: Sox may make moves sooner rather than later

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McAdam: Sox may make moves sooner rather than later

TAMPA -- The non-waiver trade deadline is nearly three weeks away, and in the past, the Red Sox have pulled off some of their biggest July deals at literally the last minute.
The complex three-team Manny Ramirez deal took place with seconds to spare in 2008 and recent deals involving Victor Martinez (2009) and Eric Bedard (2011) took place in the minutes before the deadline.
But this year, external forces might force the Red Sox to move sooner.
The imminent return of outfielders Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, while welcome, will create a logjam of outfielders for the Red Sox roster, which could speed up the timetable for some deals.
Two weeks ago, the Red Sox were forced to designate Darnell McDonald when a numbers crunch hit the roster. McDonald, while a member of the Red Sox for the past two and a half seasons, had little value on the trade market.
But that won't be the case for a number of outfielders under the team's control. And already, there's a surplus on hand. While at least two of the three outfielders who could be moved still have options remaining and could be stashed at Pawtucket short-term, it behooves the club to move one (or more) sooner rather than later.

-- Scott Podsednik, who came off the disabled list last week following a groin strain, has been optioned to Pawtucket, with no available spot on the roster.
Obtained earlier this season in a minor trade with the Phillies, Podsednik showed a renewed ability to get on base in 19 games with the Sox and is capable of playing an adequate left and center field.
In a few weeks time, Podsednik succeeded in re-establishing some value and with no spot available for him upon the return of Crawford and Ellsbury, the Red Sox would be wise to get something for him while they still can.
Even if Podsednik isn't necessarily viewed as an everyday player by many clubs, his skill set (speed, on-base ability, defense) is perpetually in demand by clubs looking to improve their depth for the final two months.

-- Daniel Nava, whose play over the last two months has re-ignited his career, could be another piece in demand.
Since being promoted -- frankly out of desperation, when the Sox had seven outfielders on the DL at the same time -- Nava has shown himself to be a much-improved defender in left.
Moreover, having taken over as essentially the everyday leadoff hitter for the Sox for the past month, Nava has comiled a .388 on-base percentage.
Most scouts would argue that Nava is better suited as a depth option off the bench rather than an everyday contributor, but with so many teams on the periphery of the playoff race, there's no shortage of demand for valuable pieces like Nava.
Like Podsednik, Nava's value has never been higher, and may never be this high again. With Crawford signed to a long-term deal, Ellsbury under control through the end of 2013, Ryan Kalish ready to contribute from Pawtucket and highly-valued outfield prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz no more than a season and a half away, Nava doesn't have a long-term spot in the Red Sox' outfield.
The time to move him is now.

-- Ryan Sweeney was, for a time earlier this season, the most dependable major league outfielder the Red Sox had. Indeed, even with return of Crawford and Ellsbury, the case can be made that Sweeney remains the team's best outfield defender, capable of playing all three outfield spots.
But with Crawford, Ellsbury and Cody Ross viewed as the starting outfield soon, Sweeney has been relegated to a back-up role and he could serve as an interesting trading chip.
It's important not to overstate Sweeney's appeal. He has next-to-no home run power -- he's without one in 192 plate appearances this season -- and his .400 slugging percentage is telling.
But Sweeney can hit for average, provide the occasional double and is a plus defender. He would excel as part of a platoon or the first outfielder off the bench for a team in contention. Sweeney is still just 27 and is under control for another season and a half.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays…

1) Toronto’s offense can never be taken lightly.

Coming into the series, the Blue Jays had scored 197 runs, putting them in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams and averaging four runs per game. In the two games against Boston, they’ve scored 17 runs.

So an offense that had appeared to be dormant has been woken up thanks to some subpar Red Sox pitching.

It seems like these two teams are very similar and could be in opposite positions just as easily. The Blue Jays are only three behind in the win column (five in the loss), so Boston needs to win David Price’s Sunday start to widen the gap and cut their three-game skid.

2) Craig Kimbrel is only effective for so long.

Boston’s closer wasn’t giving excuses following Saturday’s game -- and this isn’t one either.

Saturday’s 39-pitch performance wasn’t just his season-high, but his career high in pitches.

This not only resulted in a drop in Kimbrel’s velocity, but it exposed flaws in the Red Sox’ pen. Kimbrel is truly a one-inning guy, so if Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara can’t get him the ball, he’s useless.

And it seems like Uehara won’t be used on back-to-back days frequently in the near future, so Boston won’t be able to use Tazawa in a seventh inning role with much consistency.

Somewhere along the way Dave Dombrowski will need to find another reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.

3) Offense can only take a team so far.

Both teams had big offensive days, in large part because pitchers from both sides made a lot of mistakes -- but they still took advantage of them.

Had the Red Sox been the home team in this contest, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have won -- just based on the progression of the game and ignoring any statistical splits.

If the Red Sox are serious about making the postseason, they need pitching to pick up the slack once in a while. Because when they hit the road late in the year, games like will slip away when quality pitching is lacking.

Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

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Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays:
 
QUOTES
*“We’ve seen Hanley [Ramirez] catch that ball multiple times...An unfortunate situation at a key moment.” John Farrell said of the final play of the game.
 
*As soon as I let it go I thought he was out...I feel like that game kind of slipped away from us.” -Travis Shaw said of his throw in the final play of the game.
 
*“Everybody was so excited on the bench. We’d lost the lead and to have him come through in that situation . . . It was huge.” -Hanley Ramirez on David Ortiz’s go-ahead homerun in the ninth inning.
 
*“We’re a strike away on a number of occasions . . . you watch the attack plan all day long right-handers with curveballs were having success against [Justin] Smoak.” -Farrell said of the bullpen’s performance and Smoak’s ninth inning hit off Craig Kimbrel.
 
*“If he makes an accurate throw he’s out.” -Farrell on Christian Vazquez’s errant throw in the ninth inning.
 
*“In some key spots we gave an extra 90 feet when otherwise we have not of late.” -Farrell said about Boston’s inability to execute late in the game.

NOTES
*Xander Bogaerts has hit safely in his last 21 games, extending his streak with a home run to lead off the fourth inning. He’s hitting .402 with five home runs during the streak. Bogaerts logged his ninth three-hit game of 2016.
 
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to five games with his first-inning double. Pedroia has also hit safely in his past 22 games against Toronto. He’s hitting .444 during the short streak.
 
*David Ortiz extended his own hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth. He's hitting .520 over that span.
 
* Russell Martin logged his fifth multi-hit game of the season -- and first three-hit game -- smacking a double and a home run. Martin entered the game batting .179 with three extra-base hits.
 
 
STARS
1) Russell Martin

Not only did he score the winning run, but he also tied the score in the ninth and launched a home run earlier in the game.
 
2) Xander Bogaerts
Another threre-hit performance, extending his hitting streak to 21 games, Bogaerts keeps creating headaches for opposing pitchers.
 
3) Rick Porcello
On a day where pitchers from both side scuffled, Porcello’s 6 2/3-inning effort gave Boston more than enough of a chance to win. 

First impressions: Big trouble for Red Sox bullpen

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First impressions: Big trouble for Red Sox bullpen

First impressions of the Red Sox' 10-9 loss in Toronto:
 
Rick Porcello was back in top form.

Despite the matchup at the Rogers Center being less than favorable for Porcello, and the righty not at his best of late, he held a streaking, dangerous offense at bay for 6 2/3 innings (four runs, seven hits) before the bullpen coughed up two leads. 

While Porcello hasn’t performed poorly of late, there’s no question he hasn’t been at his best -- so it’s good to see him have a consistent feel for his pitches.

The bullpen might be in trouble Sunday.

With Junichi Tazawa struggling, Craig Kimbrel throwing a season high 39 pitches and Matt Barnes pitching in both games this series, the bullpen won’t be at it’s best for the final game in Toronto. So, if there were ever a time for David Price to throw like a true ace, Sunday would be it.

Tommy Layne proves again that he’s not trustworthy.

With a four-run lead, and only needing to get two batters out, Layne couldn't get an out in the eighth, allowing two runs on two hits and starting something not even Kimbrel (who gave up leads in the eighth and ninth after being called on for a five-out save) could stop. The lefty specialist may have entered the game with an ERA below 3.00, but his results are inconsistent.
 
Umpire Mike DiMuro’s injury changed the tone of the game.

The home plate umpire took a hard foul ball off the center of the mask, delaying the game for several minutes and forcing Brian Gorman to call the game behind the plate.

And with that came an inconsistent strike zone. Both sides were frustrated by his inconsistency with his zone. Porcello had two pitches stopped due to late timeout calls. Marcus Stroman was almost allowed to quick pitch Hanley Ramirez twice in the same at-bat.

The crew got it right removing DiMuro from the game, but Gorman was bad in relief.
 
David Ortiz getting doubled up in the fourth inning can’t happen.

Darwin Barney showed some range, getting to Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s soft line drive up the middle, flipping the ball to second quickly after to get Ortiz. This comes a night after Hanley Ramirez got double up off a screaming line drive.

There’s a difference between the two though. Ramirez had no time to react. Ortiz had all the time in the world. Even though Papi’s speed hasn’t become enhanced in his old age -- unlike his power -- that was a rally-killing play he could’ve prevented.
 
Don’t sleep on Dustin Pedroia.

Between Ortiz’s farewell tour and the youth rising, Dustin Pedroia continues to perform well under the radar.

He went 2-for-4, lacing two doubles off Toronto’s ace, Marcus Stroman. Pedroia is hitting .309. He’s not the only player being overlooked, but he’s definitely received the least amount of attention in Boston’s power-packed lineup.