Red Sox acquire Rich Harden

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Red Sox acquire Rich Harden

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- By early evening, the dominoes were beginning to fall.

Erik Bedard failed his audtion Friday night at Safeco Field. Hiroki Kuroda told the Los Angeles Dodgers that, no, he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause.

And the Colorado Rockies, who had been attempting to play three teams -- the Red Sox, Yankees and Cleveland Indians -- off one another, finally got what they wanted from the Indians.

Time -- and options -- were running out for the Red Sox. So, in a bit of irony, the Sox, whose pitching depth has been thinned by injuries, have a trade in place that will net them Rich Harden - one of the least durable pitchers in the game.

The Sox Saturday night had an agreement in principle with the Oakland A's to get Harden for minor league first baseman Lars Anderson and a player to be named later. Harden must first pass a physical before the deal is made official.

Harden has pitched parts of nine seasons in the big leagues, but only four times has he stayed healthy enough to make more than 20 starts.

He underwent surgery for a torn labrum in 2005; for a partially-torn cartilage in his shoulder in 2009; and has had a laundry list of ailments and injuries before and since.

But the Red Sox' reports on him this season were encouraging and there is the matter of his relationship with current Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, who worked with Harden for some of his best seasons in Oakland.

Earlier this week, Young described Harden as having "Cy Young-quality" stuff when healthy.

The Sox can now start crossing their fingers.

Of course, this isn't a long-term investment. Harden is a free agent after the year, so there's little in the way of investment (he's being paid 1.5 million, meaning the Sox will assume about 500,000 for the rest of the way) or commitment.

They don't care about his track record or his durability issues in the past. What they need is about dozen starts between now and the end of the regular season, and perhaps a handful more in October.

He's doesn't have the ceiling that Jiminez has, but then again, he didn't cost anywhere near what the Colorado pitcher did. Cleveland gave up a total of four players, including two high-end prospects to get Jimenez.

For the Sox, that would have meant a package involving third baseman Will Middlebrooks and pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. That was too high a price to pay.

As for Bedard, he's been every bit as brittle as Harden, wtihout always being as competitive. And Friday's start in Seattle, in which Bedard showed poor command, was cause for concern.

If Clay Buchholz is indeed sidelined for a while, Harden gives the Sox more options in October. If he pitches well and stays healthy, he may be good enough to start Game 3 of the Division Series.

If he doesn't, then the Sox will have given up little more than a player whose path was blocked -- short- and long-term -- by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Little ventured, then. Health, irony of irony, will determine how much gained.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.