Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation

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Red Sox look to focus on starting rotation

NASHVILLE -- With most of their outfield settled and most of the everyday lineup established, the Red Sox can now focus on finding an addition to their starting rotation.
But that could take a while.
Until two of the top free agent starters -- Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez -- sign, the market for starting pitchers isn't likely to be fully formed.
When Greinke and Sanchez decide -- the Sox aren't in the former at all, and only peripherally in on the latter -- it will determine what some of the lesser starters can command on the market.
"Could be,'' said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington when asked if he thought it might be a while. "We wondered if one of the guys went off (the board), it would speed up. We'll see. It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''
Among the names being considered by the Red Sox: Ryan Dempster; Brandon McCarthy; and Francisco Liriano.
Dempster, 36, who was dealt from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers last summer, is said to be looking for a three-year deal. To date, the offers he's received have not exceeded two years.
Further, according to a source, Dempster clearly prefers to pitch in the National League -- when he's pitched the vast majority of his career -- and also prefers to play for a team which has spring training in Arizona.
Those guidelines would seem to rule the Red Sox out of the running for Dempster.
McCarthy, who underwent brain surgery after being struck in the head by a line drive in early September, is fully recovered from his ordeal. But McCarthy has a long history of injuries and the Sox are said to be worried whether he can be counted on to provide 180 or more innings.
Finally, there's Liriano, who would give the Red Sox a third lefty starter to join Jon Lester and Felix Doubront. Liriano is likely to be among the more affordable starters on the market, in part because of his inconsistent performance since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2007.
Beyond the free agent market, the Sox continue to explore some potential trade opportunities for pitching.
Asked whether it was more likely the Sox find pitching help through free agency or the trade route, Cherington said: "I don't know. We're not close enough to anything to handicap it. We're definitely talking about both options.''
One trade partner would seem to be the Chicago White Sox, who are eager to shed some salary. Accordingly, righthander Gavin Floyd (9.5 million) is available and the White Sox have a need at catcher, which could lead to talk about Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
However, the White Sox are telling teams that if they moved Floyd, they would have to a get a more affordable starting pitcher back in return.

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Farrell addressed the "hot seat" issue Tuesday in an interview with MLB Network Radio.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.