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The Red Sox Have A Need For Speed

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It’s kind of funny that a team with both Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury would be last in baseball in stolen bases. Then again, it’s kind of funny that Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury have played a combined seven games due to elbow and shoulder injuries. Bobby Valentine is a small ball manager– as he bunts more than almost any other AL manager, but he has not been able to take advantage of the stolen base this season. They have stolen just 21 bases and have just 33 stolen base attempts; only the Tigers have fewer attempts than that. With no return in sight for either Ellsbury or Crawford– both of whom are on the 60-day DL– the Red Sox need to improve the speed in their lineup through trades and the like.

One of the fastest players in baseball is Denard Span, and coincidentally he plays for one of the worst teams in baseball in the Minnesota Twins. Span had some injury issues in 2011 and only played in 70 games, but he has been healthy and effective in 2012. He is batting .284/.350/.376  with a home run and 13 RBIs in 54 games this season. Surprisingly, the speedy center fielder has only swiped 7 bags this season, but the last time he played a full season (2010), he stole 26 bases and was caught just 4 times. For the lowly Twins, who stand in last place at 24-35– it would probably take prospects more than anything else to land Span. Anthony Ranaudo is a highly ranked pitching prospect for the Red Sox, but he hasn’t had a tremendous amount of success since entering the ranks of professional baseball so he could be used in a package. Ranaudo and perhaps single-A outfielder Henry Ramos could be a sufficient package to land Denard Span.

The second speedster the Red Sox should consider acquiring would be Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers. After a great 2011 season that saw the Brewers advance to the NLCS– the loss of Prince Fielder and injuries have added up to produce a mediocre 28-32. Gomez, who hits lefties well, has been forced to platoon along with Nyjer Morgan and in Boston he could replace Darnell McDonald— who has been less than impressive since 2010. Gomez has had a decent 2012 season, with a .258/.287/.412 line to go with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs. He has also stolen 5 bases in 7 tries and possesses plus plus speed. Pitching has been the problem for Milwaukee– as it has been in Boston– so a triple-A pitcher like Alex Wilson may get the job done.

My third and final name is St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Jon Jay. Jay was kind of a hero for the 2011 World Champion Cardinals as he took on the role of the starting center fielder fairly early on and batted .297/.344/.424 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs. However, the offseason signing of Carlos Beltran has pushed Jay into a utility role for St. Louis. He’s still hitting .343/.395/.438 with 2 homers and 8 RBIs– but he has not been starting. Despite the Cardinals being a contender, it makes sense that they would want Jay to pursue his career– which looks to be promising– in return for a major league player or two. The Cardinals have a great offense, so pitching would be the elixir and a package of Junichi Tazawa and Matt Albers may be enough for the Cards.