If the Red Sox are going to pull off a blockbuster trade by Friday’s deadline to land one of the marquee players they have targeted — Roy Halladay, Victor Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez or Cliff Lee — it stands to reason that Clay Buchholz is probably going to have to be included.
Knowing this, Buchholz took the hill for the Sox on Tuesday night for the last time before the deadline and seemed unfazed by the circumstances. He allowed nine hits over 5 2/3 innings, but just two runs. Buchholz would have gotten the win if not for the implosion of the bullpen.
After the game, he seemed unfazed by his name continually churning in the rumor mill. Perhaps this is because Buchholz has been the subject of rumors at this time of year for three seasons in a row.
“Those are things that you can’t control and I’m a firm believer in doing the things that you can do to help a team win and not really think about anything else,” Buchholz said. “It doesn’t matter what I want or what I say, it’s what the organization needs. So i just let it go in one ear and out the other until somebody in here tells me something about it. I really don’t pay any attention to it.”
Yahoo Sports! reported Tuesday that the Red Sox made a couple of proposals to the Jays for Halladay that included Buchholz. However, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Web site that he is still not close to a deal.
“Nothing is close,” Ricciardi said. “Nothing is happening.”
In the meantime, enticing highly-touted prospects around the league like Buchholz will have to wait another few days before being sure of their fate.
— Ian Browne
Brian Anderson got his wish to be traded, and in the process, the White Sox apparently have added a valuable veteran piece to their bench for the playoff push over the next two months.
Anderson, 27, was traded to Boston in exchange for Mark Kotsay and cash considerations on Tuesday. Kotsay, 33, is a .281 hitter with 110 home runs and 614 RBIs over 13 Major League seasons. He batted .257 with one homer and five RBIs in 27 games for the Red Sox in 2009 before being designated for assignment on July 24.
Kotsay’s arrival now makes either Dewayne Wise or Josh Fields expendable for Chicago. Kotsay ranks third among all Major League outfielders with his 113 assists since the start of the 1998 season, trailing Bobby Abreu (117) and Vladimir Guerrero (115), but also can back-up Paul Konerko at first base.
Of even greater importance is Kotsay’s .373 career average as a pinch-hitter, an extremely weak area for the White Sox at present. Wise had been serving as a defensive replacement and a left-handed hitting reserve outfielder, while Fields had been spelling both Jim Thome at designated hitter and Konerko at first base.
It was just five days ago when Anderson told MLB.com that he would like to be traded so he could get a fresh start at playing regularly somewhere else. For the moment, that start doesn’t look as if it will come in Boston, as the White Sox top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft will be sent to the Minors. He hit .238 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 65 games before being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on July 20. Anderson is a career .225 hitter, with 20 homers and 75 RBIs in 334 games.
During a radio interview on The FAN590 prior to Thursday’s Blue Jays-Indians tilt at Rogers Centre, general manager J.P. Ricciardi shed a little more light on why Toronto is suddenly willing to shop ace Roy Halladay.
“What’s changed is Roy has told us that he’s going to test the free-agent market,” Ricciardi said.
Halladay is under contract for $14.25 million this season and $15.75 million in 2010, which is the final year under his current deal. The Blue Jays originally planned on discussing an extension with Halladay this coming offseason, but Ricciardi’s comments make it clear that’s not going to happen.
The chances of Toronto retaining Halladay seemed slim already, considering the fact that the club has trimmed its payroll and the pitcher has expressed that he wants to have a chance to play October baseball. With the Jays in fourth place in the AL East, and a rotation filled with injuries and young arms, contending soon doesn’t seem realistic.
Halladay is scheduled to start for the Jays on Tuesday in Seattle and Ricciardi doesn’t want the pitcher taking the mound with the thought that he might be traded in the following three days leading up to the July 31 Deadline. Ricciardi said Toronto’s internal deadline of Tuesday is flexible, depending on how close the club might be to a deal.
“If we’re down the road with something, obviously the deadline can fluctuate,” Ricciardi told reporters earlier Thursday morning. “If we’re not down the road by the 28th, nothing’s going to happen.”
The team considered to be the front-runner to land Halladay continues to be the Phillies. Even though Philadelphia is believed to be opposed to including top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in a possible deal, the Blue Jays sent assistant general manager Tony LaCava to scout Drabek’s latest start on Wednesday.
The Brewers are also considered to have serious interest in trading for Halladay. Other teams who have been tied to Halladay in various reports include the Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees. Ricciardi said only a few teams have approached him with serious interest.
“Some are serious and some I would say are delirious,” Ricciardi said during the radio interview.
Now that Adam LaRoche has been traded to the Red Sox, it will create the type of redundancy Boston general manager Theo Epstein spoke of last week.
Epstein said the team was actually trying to create redundancy to cover themselves from a depth standpoint down the stretch. The Red Sox have an All-Star first baseman in Kevin Youkilis, but the presence of LaRoche will allow Mike Lowell to rest his surgically repaired right hip more often. Youkilis would play third on days Lowell sat.
Of course, the Red Sox already have a left-handed hitting backup first baseman in Mark Kotsay, but there again is the type of redundancy Epstein was referring to.
“We want to create as much depth and redundancy as we possibly can because if you don’t address depth before July 31 or in some cases in August, then you’re left without an opportunity to do so down the stretch and into what we hope will be another postseason,” Epstein said on July 17. “We’re going to read and react based on our health and based on the way some guys are playing and try to build as deep and as strong a position player core as we can.”
LaRoche, with 12 homers this season, offers the Red Sox some additional pop, and the offense has been slumping of late.
LaRoche is a free agent at the end of the season and is earning a salary of roughly $7 million this season. He is a possible Type B free agent, which means the Red Sox would get a draft pick if he signs with another organization.
As for the Pirates, they are likely to need a shortstop after this season with Jack Wilson headed for free agency. Hence, the acquisition of shortstop prospect Argenis Diaz — a terrific defender — in the deal for LaRoche. Diaz is 22 years old and is a good defender, albeit without much pop in his bat.
Still no word on how the Red Sox will get LaRoche on the 25-man roster.
With t-minus two weeks until the trade deadline, Red Sox fans shouldn’t waste time having thoughts about a postseason rotation of Halladay-Beckett-Lester. The price — major prospects, not to mention the money to sign Halladay long-term — figures to be too steep for Boston’s taste.
The Red Sox strongly believe in building around their core of prospects instead of dealing them away.
Besides, GM J.P. Ricciardi — according to several reports — told both the Red Sox and Yankees that the price for them would be significantly steeper than a non-AL East team, which makes perfect sense.
Here is Epstein’s take on trying to trade for an elite starting pitcher, without mentioning Halladay by name:
“It’s always tempting but it always comes at great cost. When you do it through the free agent market, it comes at tremendous risk in terms of the years and dollars you have to spend and if you do it through trade, it comes at tremendous cost – your best and most promising prospects – the core of your organization in a lot of ways.”
“The only way to do it that seems to make the most sense every time is to develop them from within. We’re lucky that we have a talented starting pitching core here that’s doing a great job and has kept us where we are in the standings and a lot of talented young pitchers in the Minor Leagues, one of which is going to pitch here tonight for the Big League club, to fortify the organization going forward. We’ll see what happens on the trade front. Things are always tempting but those temptations always come at a cost.”
— Ian Browne
Many on hand at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon wondered if they were watching Roy Halladay’s last outing as the ace of the Blue Jays. If so, Doc did not disappoint, spinning a complete-game gem en route to a 3-1 win over the Red Sox.
“I was hoping he’d have an unbelievable performance, something I could remember when I look back at my time here in Toronto,” Jays catcher Rod Barajas said. “It definitely goes through your head. I hope it’s not the last time. Everybody in this clubhouse hopes it’s not the last time.”
Multiple reports indicated that representatives from the Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox, Rangers and Twins were in attendance for Halladay’s latest start, which netted his 11th win and lowered his ERA to 2.73. Former Jays GMs Pat Gillick (Phillies) and Gord Ash (Brewers) were in Toronto for the entire weekend series against Boston.
Philadelphia is still believed to be the front-runner to land Halladay, and the Jays and Phils have reportedly already discussed a few of the Phillies’ top prospects, including outfielder Michael Taylor, shortstop Jason Donald and pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek likely needs to be included to convince the Jays to pull the trigger on any deal with the Phils.
As far as the other clubs in attendance for Halladay’s start, it’s possible some were there to take a look at Boston’s players, or Toronto’s relievers — Doc’s fourth complete game of the year robbed scouts of that chance — and position players. The Red Sox don’t have serious interest in Halladay and the Rangers and Twins appear to be long shots.
It’s worth noting that Ash was at the helm in Toronto when the Blue Jays drafted Halladay. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, “Rival teams say the Brewers have enough prospects to make a Halladay deal.”
Prior to previous Trade Deadlines, Halladay’s name has been tossed around in rumors and reports. This year, though, the speculation is real and Halladay’s recent comments indicate that he’s more open to the idea of being dealt than he was in the past. On Saturday, Halladay’s wife, Brandy, stepped into the radio booth during the Jays’ game and the talk eventually turned to the wave of rumors.
“This very well could be our last homestand,” Brandy Halladay said on The FAN590. “If something happens before the Trade Deadline, I won’t be back. That’s difficult. That’s more than difficult. I just broke into tears four minutes ago. … It’s very difficult for everybody. … You’re making me cry now.”