GM Meetings notes: Sox won't look to add to their rotation

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GM Meetings notes: Sox won't look to add to their rotation

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Don't expect the Red Sox to be among the most aggressive bidders for the thin class of free-agent starting pitchers this winter. With their rotation featuring five veterans set, the Sox don't have a lot of room.

But do expect that the Sox will be looking to improve their organizational starting depth, helping to provide some insurance should injury or poor performance deplete their major league rotation.

That could include taking a chance on a veteran coming off injury (Brandon Webb, Jeff Francis).

"We'd like to add some starting depth, in one form or another,'' said Theo Epstein. "Whether it's someone coming off an injury who might help us in the second half of the season or it's a really good minor-league free agent who we could have at Triple A. Through one form or another, we'd like to add some depth.

"That's an area we'd like to address.''

The Sox are counting on Felix Doubront to, for the time being, help out in the bullpen. Meanwhile, beyond Michael Bowden (who has struggled in the major leagues) and Junichi Tazawa (coming off Tommy John surgery), there are a lot of options internally.

Free agent Victor Martinez lives in nearby Orlando, but Epstein said he didn't feel the need to go meet with the catcher face-to-face.

"We had a lot of talks, heartfelt exchanges,'' said Epstein. "I think he knows how we feel. We know how he feels, certainly. I would do it in a second if I thought there was something to be gained from it, but he knows how we feel.''

Detroit remains the clear front-runner to sign Martinez, though the Tigers' pursuit of Adam Dunn could impact that. Others with an interest in Martinez: Baltimore, Texas and Colorado.

With the quarterly owners' meetings overlapping with the ongoing GM meetings, the two groups met for several hours yesterday to talk (again) about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, which expires after the 2011 season.

Among the items discussed: possible changes to the current amateur draft -- including official slotting and the introduction of a worldwide draft -- allowing teams to trade draft picks, and the elimination of the current compensation system for losing free agents.

Next summer's draft is regarded by many scouting directors as one of the best in recent years.

Epstein was asked how that might impact his moves this winter -- knowing that signing free agents will cost picks that are even more valuable than usual, while losing free agents will result in picks in a deeper-than-usual draft.

"If the draft is particularly strong or particularly weak,'' said Epstein, "I think you allow it to be one determining factor out of many. If you're talking about nuances, where 'It might be strong,' or 'It might be weaker,' then that doesn't change anything. It's hard enough to tell on draft day whether it's a good draft, let alone this far out.''

The draft is said to be deeper than usual for both college and high school pitchers.

Epstein raved about recent international free agent signing Juan Carlos Linares, who defected from Cuba, signed with the Red Sox last July and is currently winding down his season in the Arizona Fall League.

"He's really opened some eyes,'' said Epstein. "He's very toolsy and it looks like he's really going to hit. He was centering everything, showing significant opposite-field power and pulling the ball with authority.''

Linares is considered an above average outfielder with the ability to play all three outfield spots. In 17 games, Linares hit .397 with 3 homers and 14 RBI, with a .423 OBP, .662 slugging percentage and OPS of 1.084.

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.