Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

618122.jpg

Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

For weeks, as teams waited to see where Yu Darvish would land, the pitching trade market in baseball was at a standstill.

Now that the Texas Rangers have won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Darvish, the logjam that existed should break -- both for the remaining free agents and teams looking to move pitching.

The Red Sox, as active as any team in the game when it comes to searching for pitching, should find some clarity soon.

On the starting pitching front, the team continues to remain in contact with the Oakland A's (Gio Gonzalez), Chicago White Sox (Gavin Floyd, John Danks) and Houston Astros (Wandy Rodriguez).

Among free agents, the Sox are involved with both Roy Oswalt and Joe Saunders.

Oswalt, who had been seeking a multi-year commitment, is now said to be resigned to landing a one-year deal. That makes him more affordable for the Red Sox, who don't have much room in their budget for a big commitment, but would be willing to take a chance on Oswalt on a short-term deal.

Another possibility for the Sox is Joe Saunders, who was non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. Saunders would give the Boston a rotation a second lefty to go with Jon Lester.

The Sox have three starters set -- Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz -- and could potentially have another to round out the rotation if they continue with their plan to use both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves in the rotation.

But they could use depth, too, and for now, that's limited to unprovens such as Felix Doubront.

In addition to filling holes in the rotation, the Sox remain in the market for a closer.

Mark Melancon, obtained last week in a deal from Houston, is unlikely to fill the closer's role, though he could take over Bard's set-up duties.

Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are the two best options on the free agent market.

For now, Madson is priced out of Boston as agent Scott Boras is seeking an eight-figure salary. Madson was on the verge of signing a four-year, 44 million deal to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies in November before the Phils abruptly changed plans and instead signed
former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The one path for Madson coming to Boston would be a willingness to take a one-year (plus an option) deal, as Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, did two years ago.

Cordero is the only other free agent with extensive closing experience and may constitute an affordable compromise choice. He's averaged almost 39 saves over the last five seasons.

Cordero limited opposing righthanders to a minuscule .465 OPS last year but lefthanded hitters compiled a .736 OPS, creating some questions within in the Red Sox front office about his reliability.

Said one baseball executive: "There are no perfect solutions at this point."

Finally, there is Andrew Bailey, who is also being shopped by the A's. The A's have requested outfielder Josh Reddick as one part of a package of prospects.

Sources say the two teams have also explored a mega-deal that would send both Bailey and Gonzalez to the Red Sox. But such a trade, coming 12 months after the team packaged three top prospects to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, would effectively clean out the Red Sox inventory.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_072816.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

angels_nava_072816.jpg

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver