Red Sox Notes: Week of August 6th
By Brian Phair
This week began with the 2010 MLB non-waiver trade deadline on July 31st and ended with the news that Kevin Youkilis will have season ending surgery today (Friday). Then there were 2 moments this week when Red Sox fans could exclaim, “Finally!!”. The 1st was Jacoby Ellsbury’s return to action and the 2nd was a decision on what to do with Mike Lowell. Needless to say, it has been a busy week for the Red Sox, both from a public relations perspective and on the field with a tumultuous 4-game set with the Cleveland Indians wrapping up on Thursday night. It only gets more intense from here on out, as the Sox go to New York to face the Yankees in a 4-game with their sights set on making a dent in their now 5.5 game deficit in the AL Wild Card hunt and 6.0 game deficit in the AL East.
With Mike Cameron heading to the DL (more info. below), it opened up a slot on the roster for Daniel Nava to join the Sox for his 2nd stint this year. With the return of Jacoby Ellsbury on Wednesday, Nava was optioned to Pawtucket, having spent just a few days in a Red Sox uniform and getting into just 1 game in which he finished 1 for 2 with a single. Nava will certainly be called up after Sept. 1st when the rosters expand to 40 and has a bright future in the league.
As the trade deadline came and went without much action, the Sox made an internal move to designate Jeremy Hermida for assignment and call-up lefty outfielder Ryan Kalish. Hermida has been poor offensively this season hitting at just .203 and was especially poor since coming off the DL (2 for 20, .100 batting average in 7 games). During the last 7 games after coming off the DL, Hermida also struck out 9 times, walked 2 times and had 0 extra base hits.
This young kid has been one of the most hyped-up players in the Sox system over the last few years and finally got his chance in the big leagues this week given all the injuries. Kalish has been impressive since making his major league debut on July 31st when Jeremy Hermida was designated for assignment, appearing in 6 games. Kalish is 8 for 17 so far in the majors with 1 extra base hit and 1 rbi and he followed the trend in 2010 and got his 1st major league hit in his 1st at-bat on Saturday. Kalish is likely to be the future in the outfield for the Sox.
Oh Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. What a week it has been for Mike Lowell. After he completed his rehab stint in Pawtucket at the end of last week, Lowell was left in limbo about his future, sitting in baseball purgatory waiting to either be traded, released or activated. Alas, a door opened when Kevin Youkilis tore his abductor muscle in his thumb and opened up the slot at 1st base for Mike Lowell to not only be activated, but to play most every day as well. In his 1st at-bat after being activated, Lowell crushed the 1st pitch he saw for a monster home run, making a clear statement about what he has left in the tank. Lowell will play 1st base as much as his hip will allow for the time being.
The biggest and potentially most devastating injury of 2010 happened this week. Kevin Youkilis was in clear pain after swinging at a pitch in his 1st at-bat on Monday night against the Cleveland Indians. He tried to play on, but was removed due to the pain, which we later found out was from a torn abductor muscle in his thumb. The pain began on the west coast road trip about a week or so before, but finally became too much to handle for Youk. After getting a 2nd opinion in Cleveland on Thursday, the only course of action was season ending surgery which will take place on Friday. The tiny bit of silver-lining in this story is that Youk will be able to have a relatively normal off-season and should be 100% for when players report to Fort Myers, FL in February.
Although we have known about Mike Cameron’s injury pain for most of this season, it finally reached a point of unbearable this past week. Cameron was placed on the DL this week when he was no longer able to play through the pain and will undergo some treatments and try to rest and recover in a few weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shut down for the season if the Sox fall any further back in the standings.
After facing a setback, Dustin Pedroia appears to be closer to returning as this week went on. He is scheduled to attempt another jog/run on Friday to see how his foot is feeling and if he gets through that without discomfort, a rehab assignment could be on the docket as early as next week. Pedroia will likely need a few rehab games to get up to speed before returning the to middle infield at Fenway Park. When he returns, the Sox lineup immediately becomes much more dynamic and powerful.
Oh Captain, my captain is on the road to recovery. Similar to Pedroia, Varitek has been rehabbing from his broken foot and did some light jogging/running on Wednesday to test out his progress. All accounts are that it went well and if he continues to progress and not have any setbacks, he will likely see a similar rehab time frame as Pedroia, sometime in the next few weeks for a return in late August hopefully. Given Kevin Cash’s poor offensive output since coming to Boston, the Sox could use ‘Tek in the batters box as well as behind the plate.
Trade Deadline Silence
There was a lot of buzz this past weekend and through the week about the Red Sox silence at the non-waiver trade deadline. Many Sox fans were hoping to see some key pieces added for the stretch run, but to no avail.
"It was more the player cost, the prospect cost, more than anything. We were pretty aggressive, I thought, in offering some pretty solid prospects, staying away from our top, top guys. That wouldn’t make sense for relievers. That was the nature of the market this year, it was deep in starting pitchers, deep in DH-type bats, pretty thin in relievers and outfielders. We were on the wrong end of that supply-and-demand dynamic this year.We knew we’d have to, if we wanted to be competitive in the market, we’d have to pay high prices. We were prepared to and thought we were going to get something done and were disappointed in the end that we couldn’t. The teams that did trade their closers, they did really well with the closers they got back. – Theo Epstein on the high price of relievers at the deadline"
Non-Waiver Trade Market Deals
Theo has been a master of putting together waiver trades int he past, acquiring Alex Gonzalez and Billy Wagner in August last season and will likely look for one or two more this year. Theo did mention that there were no immediate deals on the horizon, but things can come up quickly, especially if the Sox can go to New York and win a game or two. The 2 primary focuses are likely a left-handed 1st baseman to platoon with Mike Lowell and a solid 7th inning reliever. If the Sox lose to New York, Theo may elect to stay quiet and look towards 2011.