Boston Red Sox

Red Sox talks for Upton heat up before stalling over Arizona's demands

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Red Sox talks for Upton heat up before stalling over Arizona's demands

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox would love to find a way to work out a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Justin Upton, especially with the rival New York Yankees also engaged in talks for the same player.

But for now, the asking price -- said to be three players off the current major-league roster -- is simply prohibitive.

A Red Sox source Tuesday had classified talks for Upton as preliminary in nature and unlikely to yield anything tangible. But according to an industry source, talks continued late Tuesday night before stalling again -- at least for now -- over the Diamondbacks' most recent demands.

Arizona general manager Kevin Towers, as aggressive as any executive in the game, is willing to talk about anybody in his organization. But according to an executive familiar with the nature of the Arizona talks, the Diamondbacks are, predictably, asking for a lot.

Upton is just 23 and possesses speed, power and impressive defensive skills. He's also under control through 2015. Over the next five seasons, Upton will be paid an average of just under 10 million per season, totaling 49.5 million.

The Diamondbacks want an outfielder to replace Upton, along with two pitchers. Among current Red Sox outfielders, Mike Cameron and J.D. Drew are both too seasoned and too expensive, while Ryan Kalish hasn't proven that he's ready to play regularly at the major-league level. That leaves Jacoby Ellsbury as the most logical part of any package.

From among the team's pitchers, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are considered virtually untouchable and Josh Beckett and John Lackey are too pricey. Jonathan Papelbon is a year away from free agency, making him unattractive to Arizona, but set-up man Daniel Bard and lefty Felix Doubront would fit the profile.

Of that trio, Bard would be the toughest for the Sox to move, given that the bullpen already needs improvement. Including Bard in a deal would mean an even bigger makeover for the relief corps.

Conceivably, the Sox could deal Bard and sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano to set-up Jonathan Papelbon, with an eye toward having Soriano replace Papelbon as closer in 2012. But that would require a significant investment in Soriano, a player who has had durability issues.

What concerns the Red Sox is the possibility of the Yankees making a deal for Upton, then adding Cliff Lee, the premier free agent starting pitcher.

After being dismissed as general manager of the San Diego Padres after the 2009 season, Towers served as a scout and consultant for the Yankees in 2010 and gained first-hand knowledge of their minor league system. Undoubtedly, Towers has a ready-made list of prospects he would like to get from his former team.

But though the Yankees boast a number of top prospects, led by catcher Jesus Montero, pitcher Andrew Brackman and infielder Eduardo Nunez, most are not near ready to play at the big league level and Towers had made it clear that he's not interested in dealing off major leaguers for prospects -- no matter how talented.

"I told our fans that I'd like to turn this thing around in a hurry," said Towers, who took over a team which finished last in the N.L. West. "I'd like to compete and hopefully win a division in 2011. Any move that we make is going to be (for) more major-league ready players. I'm not looking to acquire 'A' ball prospects right now."

That means that Towers has little interest in the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Jose Iglesias or Casey Kelly -- three of Boston's most highly-regarded prospects.

It also suggests that the Yankees would have to be willing to include current major leaguers such as Brett Gardner and Joba Chamberlain to match the kind of package of players being asked for from the Red Sox.

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

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

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Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

MORE:

The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

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Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

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Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Though they rank last in the American League in home runs, the Boston Red Sox have found plenty of other ways to win - especially in extra innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and Boston used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games - tying a franchise record for extra-inning wins set in 1943.

In this one, pitching and defense proved to be the winning formula. After Drew Pomeranz allowed five hits over 6 1/3 innings, five relievers held the Orioles hitless the rest of the way.

"They've been able, to a man, hand it off to the next guy and continue to build a bridge until we can scratch out a run - tonight not even with an RBI," manager John Farrell said. "We find a way to push a run across."

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.

Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save.

"They've been unbelievable," Boston's Brock Holt said of the bullpen. "That's why our record is what is in extra-inning games, because of those guys."

The game stretched into extra innings in part because Bradley made a sensational catch to rob Baltimore slugger Chris Davis of a home run in the fifth inning. Bradley quickly judged the trajectory of the ball while running to his left, then left his feet and stretched his arm over the 7-foot wall in center field.

The finish came after Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman locked up in a scoreless duel that was essentially the exact opposite of Monday night's 10-8 slugfest.

Although he didn't get his 17th win, Pomeranz lowered his ERA to 3.15 and set a career high by pitching at least six innings for the 17th time (in 30 starts).

Gausman was even sharper, giving up just three hits over eight innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.

The right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced before Rafael Devers singled off the right-field wall.

Baltimore threatened in the third inning when Manny Machado hit a two-out double, but he was thrown out by Benintendi trying to score on Jonathan Schoop's single to left field.

No one else got to third base until the sixth, when Baltimore had runners at the corners with two outs before Pomeranz struck out Mark Trumbo with a high, outside fastball.

The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention.

"They're very frustrated right now," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can imagine grinding as our guys have since February and not being able to push a run like that across in some of these games when we pitch well. That's been a challenge for us. I feel for them because I know how much it means to them."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who left Monday's game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his nose, did not start but was used as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning and grounded into a double play. Farrell said Pedroia will likely return to the starting lineup Wednesday. . DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) was out of the starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game. Farrell said Ramirez was available to pinch hit and is likely to start Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Chris Sale (16-7, 2.86 ERA) will seek to match his career high in wins Wednesday night in the series finale. He needs 13 strikeouts to become the first AL pitcher with 300 in a season since Pedro Martinez in 1999.

Orioles: Wade Miley (8-13, 5.32 ERA) has lost his last three starts. The left-hander gave up six runs and got only one out against the Yankees on Friday night.