Source: Cubs-Red Sox deal for Matsuzaka not imminent

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Source: Cubs-Red Sox deal for Matsuzaka not imminent

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

The Red Sox and Chicago Cubs may have discussed the names of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Cub outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, but pursuing a deal involving the two Japanese players does not seem like a priority for either team right now.

A Cubs source said Wednesday that in recently completed organizational meetings, Matsuzaka's name did not surface. Nor was Matsuzaka mentioned when Cubs officials discussed possible bad contracts they might be willing to assume under the right circumstances. Matsuzaka, who had an injury-plagued, largely uneven season (9-6, 4.69 in 25 starts), has two years and approximately 19 million on his landmark six-year deal with the Red Sox following an expensive posting process in 2006.

Matsuzaka's deal includes a rarely granted perk among Red Sox contracts: A full no-trade clause, meaning he has the right to negate any deal the Sox propose.

This is not the first time Fukudome's name has been linked to the Red Sox. Last June after injuries struck outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, the Cubs called and offered Fukudome, whom they were shopping to multiple teams. Fukudome is due 13.5 million in 2011, the final year of his deal with the Cubs.

Fukodome, who'll turn 34 at the end of April 2011, batted .263 in 130 games last year with 13 homers and 44 RBI. He had a .371 on-base percentage for a .439 slugging percentage, giving him an .809 OPS.

The Sox are universally expected to bid for both top free-agent outfielders on the market, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. It's possible that Fukudome might interest them as a fallback proposition. He could conceivably be paired with Cameron in a left-field platoon should Werth and Crawford sign elsewhere, though that would be an expensive proposition for the Sox. If such a deal were to be made without the Cubs agreeing to take back some of Fukudome's salary, the platoon of Fukudome and Cameron would cost the Red Sox 21 million.

It's unclear how willing -- the pitcher's no-trade clause notwithstanding -- the Sox are in dealing Matsuzaka. The rotation is otherwise set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and John Lackey, and they could plug Felix Dubront into the fifth spot to give them a second left-hander, to say nothing of the considerable savings in salary.

It has been speculated that if Matsuzaka were to waive his no-trade, it would likely be to a West Coast team in a market with a signifcant Japanese population. A West Coast team would also bring Matsuzaka 3,000 miles closer to his native country, making return flights home at least somewhat more convenient.

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

First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

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First impressions: Owens improves, Scott scuffles

NEW YORK -- First impression from Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

* Henry Owens looked improved over earlier starts.

The lefty took the place of Drew Pomeranz Thursday night and pitched into the fifth inning, allowing two runs on four hits.

Talent evaluators believe that Owens has the stuff necessary to be a back-end starter in the big leagues if -- and that's a big qualifier -- he can command his pitches.

Alas, that's often been an issue for Owens, who averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings last season in Boston and, in four starts earlier this season, a bloated 9.3 walks per nine innings.

On Thursday night, Owens showed far better control, issuing just two walks. Further, he managed to pitch ahead in the count, giving him an advantage against the New York lineup. And mixing his changeup and fastball, he fanned six.

* Robby Scott had a bad night at a bad time.

Scott's in the mix to make the Red Sox post-season roster as a lefty specialist, competing against the likes of Fernando Abad.

He had been effective in most of his previous outings, with no runs allowed in six appearances with five strikeouts and a walk.

But brought in to face Brian McCann with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, he yielded a single to center.

After getting Aaron Hicks on a flyout, he walked rookie Tyler Austin to force in a run, then heaved a wild pitch that scored another run before retiring Brett Gardner on a flyout.

Keeping in mind that Scott wouldn't be asked to face that many righthanders were he to make the post-season roster, Thursday's outing wasn't helpful in making his case.

* Yoan Moncada is gone for now.

The Red Sox announced that the rookie third baseman had traveled to Fort Myers to prepare for his upcoming assignment in the Arizona Fall League next month.

Expectations were high for Moncada when he joined the Red Sox on Labor Day weekend in Oakland and when he collected multiple hits in each of his first two starts, it appeared as though he would get most of the playing time at third for the remainder of the season.

But not long after, Moncada began chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone and looking very much overmatched at the plate. HE struck out in nine consecutive at-bats.

That doesn't mean that Moncada won't someday -- likely in the not-too-distant future -- be a very good major league player. But it is a reminder of how big a jump it is to go from Double A.

And, it served to point out how remarkable Andrew Benintendi has been in making that same jump.