Posts Tagged ‘Adam LaRoche’

First things first.  The game.  We won, 6-5.  Smoltz finally made his record two and four.  Barely.  Five runs on eight hits over six innings isn’t exactly what you’d hope for for someone you acquired specifically for the postseason, but it’s decent for a starter at the tail end of the rotation.  He didn’t walk anybody and struck out two.  Gave up two two-run shots though which was concerning at best.  Ramirez and Okajima each got holds.  Paps got a save.  Eighteen pitches; twice the number of pitches necessary to get all three batters out on strikes alone, so he’s still not where he needs to be.  On the bright side, he didn’t walk anybody, which has largely been the difference between this year and last year and which his why his ERA doesn’t always reflect how shaky he’s been.  And he didn’t give up a hit.  Two strikeouts.  Not bad for an eighteen-pitch save.  Not bad at all.

You have to love this resurgence of the offense.  It comes at just the right time, too.  You like to see your team flourish in August because many squads can get bogged down between the pressure of an imminent October run and the weight of the heat outside.  August is a tough month any way you spin it, and it’s good to see us start it off so well, especially given our recent struggles.  Ellsbury went three for five with one of his best catches of the season to end the fifth.  He reached over the center field wall to rob Luke Scott of a home run.  And then he led off the bottom of the inning with a home run of his own.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  Jacoby Ellsbury, ladies and gentlemen.  And I think him finally finding his groove in the leadoff spot has really helped the bats wake up.  Youk went three for four with a two-run shot with two out in the seventh.  The ball was clobbered to left field.  Clobbered.  And Ortiz went two for four with a two-run shot in the third.  How ’bout that.

So we were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and still managed to score six runs.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: you can score all the runs you want, but unless your pitcher keeps you in the game, the runs won’t help.  Every once in a while, though, runs alone will pull it out.  This brings us to within one and a half games of the Yankees.  We’ve won our last two and started this series on the right foot.

Okay, we’ve covered the game.  Now for the trade deadline.  Jarrod Washburn is with the Tigers, Cliff Lee is with the Phillies, Jake Peavy is with the White Sox, and in an anticlimactic result of epic proportions, Roy Halladay is still with the Blue Jays.  No surprise there.  JP Ricciardi basically said, “Sure, go ahead and take Halladay for a season and a half, and why don’t I just hold on to your entire farm system for you.” Like that was ever going to happen.  We definitely weren’t going to mortgage our future.  But Theo did wheel and deal, and he pulled off a brilliant blockbuster, and at an exceptionally reasonable price, too.  Welcome to Boston, Victor Martinez! As both a catcher and first baseman, he’s very versatile and skilled in the field; the .992 fielding percentage proves it.  And as a .284 switch-hitter, with a .297 career average, he’s the bat we were looking for.  Of course, that begs the question of where he’ll fit in.  With Wakefield on the DL, Tek hasn’t been getting his usual day off every fifth day.  George Kottaras was just placed on the disabled list, probably to make way for Martinez behind the plate.  And since he also plays first base, he can man that bag while Youk moves to third and Lowell takes the day off.  And he’s a DH, so he can give Papi the day off.  Basically, the possibilities are endless.

To get him, we had to give up Justin Masterson and two pitching prospects, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price.  I have mixed feelings about seeing Masterson go.  The Red Sox never gave him a fair shake as a starter.  The starts we’ve seen from him have been outstanding; he’s held the opposition to about two runs while going deep for a young guy.  And he’s done it consistently.  I hope Cleveland will give him the chance to start consistently.  In other words, we’ll miss the kid, and I wish him the best.

We also traded Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for Casey Kotchman.  LaRoche first came up with Atlanta and he’ll also be going back to the National League, so I like that fit.  As far as Casey Kotchman is concerned, it surprised me a little to learn we swapped a first baseman for a first baseman when we just made a blockbuster deal for another first baseman, but Theo explained it and it makes sense.  Apparently, with LaRoche’s style at the plate, he needs to play regularly to be productive.  While he was here, for all of about a week, he did play pretty regularly and was productive, but perhaps in the long run if he were benched more often, he wouldn’t be.  On the other hand, Kotchman’s different approach would allow him to come off the bench more easily, and with a .282 average so far this season, I hate to say it, but he’s definitely an upgrade from LaRoche.  And he’s an awesome defender, too.

The Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston, Jr. for a catching prospect.  That’s it.  I’m serious.  I tried really hard not to laugh but wasn’t very successful.  I’m not saying the standings situation for the rest of the season will be easy.  I’m saying it just got a whole lot easier.

So in my opinion those were fantastic deadline moves.  Fantastic moves.  Congratulations again to Theo on a successful deadline.  We didn’t overpay for Martinez at all, and the LaRoche-for-Kotchman swap was a straight-up improvement in numbers; you sort of had this sense all along that LaRoche was a chip anyway.  Sad but, as Kotchman said, it’s a business.  Luckily LaRoche is comfortable in Atlanta, and it’s a win-win.  Speaking of win-win, it’s Beckett at David Hernandez tonight,and Martinez will bat third and play first.  I’m pumped.

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Fast-forward to October.  What do you see? I see Beckett, followed by Lester, followed by who? Neither Dice-K nor Wakefield, so Smoltz? Penny? Buchholz? None of those options seem appealing or sure-fire, and we’ll have to endure two nights of it.  Buchholz isn’t as bad as the others quality-wise; the problem is that his outings are never that long, and as the most recent implosion of the bullpen shows, they can’t always be counted on.  So basically we’re going to have to shake things up somehow.  I know Theo has made some mistakes in the past, most notably with Lugo and Gagne, but he’s made less mistakes than other GMs, and the mistakes he has made have been of a lesser impact.  Gagne didn’t cost us the division.  He came close, but he didn’t.  I trust in Theo’s judgment, is all I’m saying.

I don’t trust in Penny’s arm anymore.  He’s got some stuff left in the tank but at this point I’m inclined to think it’s just the residue of his military-like consistency in the first half.  After the first inning alone, the score was 5-3, Oakland.  That’s not a mid-game score.  That’s a final score.  Teams win games by that score.  And that was only after one frame.  Things quieted down until the fifth and sixth, when Oakland scored three more runs.  Then we scored one run in the bottom of every inning until it was over.  We lost, 8-6.  We put up a real nice fight, though, and even though we can’t buy a win, we’re raking in our share of hits, which is a welcome respite from the previous nonexistence of any offense whatsoever.

To be fair, the eighth run was given up by Masterson but was unearned.  Still, Penny only lasted five innings and a batter, gave up the seven runs on seven hits, walked four, and struck out three.  Adam Kennedy hit the first pitch of the game out of the park.  Way to set the tone.  Kurt Suzuki led off the fifth with a solo shot as well.  The whole thing was just mighty ugly.  Saito and Ramirez were fine.  After last night it was a sight to sore eyes.

Like I said, the offense did its part to rescue this one but in the end just couldn’t pull it off.  Ellsbury went two for four with a walk, three runs, a steal of third, and a beautiful sliding catch to end the eighth inning.  Pedroia went two for five with an RBI and a missed catch, during which he looked like an absolute amateur.  Youk and Bay both walked and scored.  Lowell had an awesome night, going two for three with a run and five RBIs.  He DHed last night, so LaRoche played first and Youk played third.  Good move by Tito.  Partly due to a two-out, three-run moonshot in the fifth. Lowell was trying to take the skin off the ball, the way he hit it.  Fantastic.

So there you have it.  The game that could’ve been a win was just as easily a loss, and that’s not a position we want to be in.  That’s a really bad position to be in.  We just can’t seem to bat around and win in the same game, and quite frankly it’s very disturbing.  Oh yeah, one more thing: we’re three and a half games behind the Yankees now.  Great.  Just great.  This is not a complete and total disaster.  Yet.  If we continue like this, it will be.  We need solid and consistent pitching.  We had that in the first half, and we were in first place.  I highly doubt it’s a coincidence.  In Theo we trust.  Gio Gonzalez at Lester.  Let’s take ’em down.

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When a team wipes the floor with you and lights up your pitchers for eight runs, you’re not starting a series on the right foot.  I don’t know what foot you’re starting the series with on that situation, but it isn’t the right one.  When a starting pitcher gives up a home run in the first inning, you’re not even starting the game on the right foot.  When your opposition has five more hits than you, when you go one for eight with runners in scoring position while your opponents go five for fifteen, that’s not the right foot either.

Well, I guess all we can do is sit back, shake our heads, and wonder.  Wonder about why a team that owns an inferior squad could possibly be in second place, because ladies and gentlemen, we won, 8-3 last night.  That game was ours from the moment Josh Beckett struck out his first batter on three pitches, and we locked it when Dustin Pedroia hit a home run into the Monster seats in the first inning.

He would finish two for four with another RBI.  Ellsbury had a huge night; he went  three for five, including a triple, with a run and an RBI.  Bay hit, walked twice, and batted in a run.  Drew went two for four and scored twice.  LaRoche went two for four with two doubles, a run, and an RBI on one of those doubles.  How’s that for the new guy.  Tek hit, walked twice, and batted in yet another.  And he’s caught more games than any other catcher in Red Sox history.  Lowrie hit and batted in two via bloop popup.  There are your eight runs.

Beckett made a fielding error.  But when he gives up only three runs on nine hits in seven innings while walking one and fanning ten, we can forgive the man.  If he is a man.  I thought he was but now I’m not so sure.  He pitched beautifully.  Had to work himself out of a bases-loaded jam at one point and faltered a bit towards the end of his outing.  He allowed a run in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, during which he pitched to only one batter before giving way to Daniel Bard who, along with Manny Delcarmen, was excellent by the way.  But the point is Beckett was brilliant and took the win.

Word is that Dice-K blames his current shoulder problems on the Red Sox’ training program, and on the surface, that makes sense.  We’re trying to get him to conform to the Major League way of doing things, but why fix something that’s not broken? If spending hours between starts just throwing pitches works for him and helps him build arm strength and refine his breaking pitches as he says it does, then why not let him throw as much as he wants? At this point, you could say it might be worth a shot.  But the differences in training correspond to differences in the game.  John Farrell said himself that they recommended Dice-K change his regimen only after they saw how fatigued he was in the second half of 2007.  The strike zone is different, the season is longer, it’s a five-man rotation with no regular day off, there’s more frequent and extensive travelling, and the list goes on.  It’s entirely possible that Dice-K’s regimen isn’t suited to this league; in other words, it’s possible that neither regimen is better.  Theyr’e just different.  The Red Sox’ shoulder strengthening program is extremely effective.  Just ask Brad Penny, who’d probably be recovering from shoulder surgery right about now without it.  But it’s probably not the only effective program.  If Dice-K is more used to something else and it’s been proven to work for him, he should probably stay with it, but not if it hinders his progress and success in the Majors.  He says it’s not the World Baseball Classic per se that weakened his shoulder, more that it weakened his shoulder because he wasn’t properly prepared since the Sox didn’t let him engage in his usual training.  The Red Sox agree he wasn’t in shape heading in, and when he returned he wasn’t exactly in shape either.  So it sounds like they’re both right on that issue.  And to his credit, we’ve heard nothing but positives about his work ethic from Terry Francona, and he’s participating fully in the training program in Florida.  Let’s just hope something works.

The Yankees won.  I mean, would it hurt them to lose on a day we win, oh, I  don’t know, say, at least three times? I’m just saying.  Vin Mazzaro at Clay Buchholz and, as always, we need this win.  This is a very important win.  Putting aside the fact that if we win this game, the worst that can happen is we split the series, we need to win because we want to move up in the standings, establish some momentum, and get the bats going at a consistent rate.  And because we can.  There’s always that.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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And we’re back to losing.  Back to being two and a half games behind the Yankees.  Back to scoring less than three runs per game.  Back to wondering how Smoltz will pitch in the postseason if he can’t even pitch against the O’s at home in July.  We’re beyond nerves of the first game, nerves of the first game at home, getting used to pitching for a different team.  That was all well and good, but it’s no longer applicable.  Nothing is applicable.  Smoltz has enough games under his belt that his brilliance, if there’s any left, should be shining through.  It isn’t.  He’s one and four with a 7.04 ERA.  That doesn’t sound like a postseason pitcher to me.  The goal is to peak late, but it’s getting late and there’s no sign of peaking.  It’s August next week when the real hunt begins, but Smoltz just doesn’t look like he can cut it.  In five innings, he gave up six runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts.  He allowed a solo shot to Nick Markakis in the fifth.  The irony, of course, is that Dice-K was sent to the DL twice, the second time for an extended period, because he kept having outings like this.  So basically what we have here in Smoltz is a perfect and exact replacement for Dice-K.  Great.  That means that win of his will be the only one and the loss column will just keep growing and growing.  How lucky are we.

Masterson was fine enough, Saito could’ve been better, and Ramirez struck out the last batter of the game on three pitches.  If you ask me, they should just make Masterson a starter and leave him in that position already.  I think at this point a final decision has to be made.  If you keep using him frequently in both roles like that during a season, his performance in each will suffer.  They need to pick one, and he’s shown that he can handle both, but to me he seems much more suited to the starter’s role.  Especially lately.  Any kid who can start that well at such a young age deserves a chance to develop himself as a starter.  Then, if it doesn’t work out, he can join the bullpen.  But it seems like we have a golden starter on our hands and we’re wasting him.  He’s good.  At this point, he’s a lot better than Dice-K and Smoltz.  Put him in there and see what happens.

We lost, 6-2, so obviously the lineup did not do well.  Pedroia hit an RBI double and Lowrie hit another sac fly;ur two runs, ladies and gentlemen.  Ellsbury went two for four with a steal, his forty-fourth of the season.  Drew hit and scored.  LaRoche went two for four.

So that’s it.  That’s pretty much everything there is to address.  Pretty much all there is to it, really.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that this is incredibly frustrating.  Incredibly frustrating.  We’re not even playing .600 ball.  Nomar and the A’s are back in town, and it’s Trevor Cahill against Beckett.  It’s Beckett, so we should be covered.  I said “should.” Apparently, since we’ve determined that he is in fact human, there’s no guarantee.

The Bottom Line

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Don’t look now, but we just won two in a row! At the very least, we win the series, but from the way we’ve played over the last two games, a sweep is well within our grasp.  After a 7-2 victory, I have to say I’m feeling it.  Seven runs scored in a single game is the way it should be, and we haven’t seen that in a while.  More like seven runs scored in a single week.  But it looks like we’re slowly but steadily getting back on track.  Just ask the Yankees.  Their winning streak has been duly snapped.  By the A’s.  That is not something to be proud of.  And in a fantastic display of carpe diem, we shrunk their first-place lead to one and a half games.  Onward to first.  Give it a few days.

Lester was brilliant as usual; no surprises there.  With 109 pitches, he gave us quality through seven and a third, gave up two runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out nine.  Best lefty in the game right here.  Fine, one of the best, as everyone else would say.  We know he’s the best in the game.  Eventually it’ll occur to everyone else and they’ll figure it out.  Probably just around the time Lester rolls into town to dismantle their lineup.  Bard was solid.  Ramirez took twenty-two pitches to finish the ninth.

And now for the offense.  It’s been too long since we had a proper spread to discuss, so I’m looking forward to this.  Ellsbury went two for five with two RBIs on two doubles, a theft of third, and a pickoff on second.  From the leadoff spot.  He’s finally getting used to it up there; all that time in the bottom of the lineup let him focus more on improving himself and less on the pressure of living up to his spot.  And he’s looking good in Number 1; every time he bats there, he looks better and better.  If he stays comfortable he’ll be even more of a tremendous asset.  Pedroia walked and scored.  Drew hit and made a throwing error.  Bay, ladies and gentlemen, went two for three with a walk and a run.  It’s about time.  Lowell, Tek, and Green all hit and scored.

And now for the grand finale.  Or rather grand finales.  We had two long balls.  Both for multiple runs.  Papi hit what amounted to an absolute bomb off the photographer well in center field.  With runners at the corners.  In the first inning.  So in the first inning, Big Papi hits a three-run home run.  Wow.  Just wow.  That one speaks for itself, no? So does the next one.  Two-run shot in the eighth ended up in the Monster seats for Adam LaRoche.  Welcome to Boston.  I think you’ll like it here.  What is it about these guys from the Pirates who come over to the contender of all contenders and suddenly their best comes out? I have no idea, but I hope it continues.  Theo Epstein must be very pleased.  One thing LaRoche has to learn if he keeps going yard: you have to take your helmet off when you enter the dugout.  If you don’t, everyone will start pounding it.  Hard.  Repeatedly.  It’s quite funny.  But other than that, LaRoche can keep on doing what he’s doing so far.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done.  One thing I will say is that the O’s went two for twelve with runners in scoring position, and we went two for six with the same amount of hits: ten each.  Which means that the O’s had more opportunities to score than we did.  That’s the pitchers’ responsibilities, so there’s an area of improvement right there if John Farrell needs something to work on.

The Cards acquired Matt Holliday, who went four for five in his St. Louis debut, tying his career high of hits in a single game and racking up the fifteenth four-hitter of his career.  This completely overshadowed the fact that Julio Lugo, also debuting for St. Louis, went two for five with a triple and a home run.  Good for him.  I think the National League pitching will help him out.

Jim Rice is being inducted into the Hall of Fame today.  Congratulations! Like I said, it’s definitely about time.  After twenty-five years and fifteen tries, you’ve earned it.  You’ve most certainly earned it.

David Hernandez at Smoltz.  I think the best thing for Smoltz to do here would be to not lose.  Rather to win and keep the momentum going.  We’re at home and facing a less-than-intimidating opponent, so the matchup should be a good one for Smoltz.  That’s not to say he can’t handle a bigger stage, that’s just saying it should be relatively easy for him to win this one.  Then again, I thought it would be easy for him to beat the Nationals and I was wrong.  Still, like I said, we’re at home, we’re in our division, it’s the second half, the postseason is in sight.  It’s a different atmosphere, so maybe we’ll see a different, and hopefully better, side of Smoltz.

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The losing streak is over.  Done.  Finished.  Snapped like the Yankees’ first-place lead will be in a matter of days.  That was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time.  The only thing that would’ve made it better was a Yankees loss, but I’d rather the standings don’t change than they change but in the wrong direction.

I want everybody who called for a trade of Brad Penny to consider this proof that so would’ve been a huge mistake.  I think we can safely say that one thing we’ve learned from our experiences this season is that you can never have too much pitching.  After Theo worked his magic in the offseason, people started dreaming about a six-man rotation.  Clearly that did not happen.  Beckett and Lester are right where they should be, now at least, but Wakefield is on the DL, Smoltz’s return to form is progressing exceptionally slowly (I know, I know, the goal is to peak late), and Dice-K is redoing all of the Spring Training he missed by pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.  So we’ve added Clay Buchholz to the rotation and kept Penny.  And clearly that paid off.

Penny got the win last night, improving to seven and four with a 4.71 ERA, which is still deceptively high.  He went six and a third, gave up zero earned runs on five hits (one unearned), didn’t walk anybody, and struck out four.  How’s that for solid? Delcarmen took care of the last two outs in the seventh with one pitch, Okajima controlled through the eighth with ten, and Papelbon racked up save number twenty-five.  Another less-than-beautiful twenty-four-pitch effort.  He had to work himself out of a bases-loaded situation and did so by fanning Luke Scott and Melvin Mora in order.  Why he couldn’t just get the two strikeouts before the bases became loaded is beyond me.  He was doing so well up to this point; he seemed to have largely gotten over his I-forgot-how-to-make-a-save-in-less-than-fifteen-pitches phase.  Maybe this time the sloppiness will prove to be the exception rather than the rule.  But it hasn’t been pretty.    Only seven of his twenty-five saves have been one-two-threes.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s already allowed nineteen walks, which is already twice his total for last season.  That needs to be fixed.  Definitely before October.  Prefereably before September.  But hey, if he figures it out before August, I won’t complain either.

The unearned run scored because Tek made a throwing error.  That does not happen often.  But it’s all good because he hit an RBI single to plate Drew in the fourth.  Ellsbury went two for four with a theft and a textbook forward diving catch in the third.  I’m telling you, you can bat any ball at him at any speed and any angle and make it travel any distance, and not only will he catch it but also he’ll make it look easy.  Pedroia went two for three with a walk and a repeat performance of that play he made to save Buchholz’s no hitter; a dive to the right, springing up, and firing to first for the out.  Ortiz hit, and Bay and Lowell hit and walked.  Lowrie hit a sac fly to bat in Lowell in the fourth, and who but JD Drew finally got a hit.  And he got an RBI in the fifth.  How ’bout that?

Things to be happy about.  We won.  We may be two and a half games behind the Yankees, but it could’ve been three and a half.  Tampa Bay is not close to catching up to us, even if we were planning on staying in second place.  The only two members of the lineup who went hitless were Youk and Lowrie, and Youk walked and scored and Lowrie hit a sac fly to plate somebody, and if that’s our version of hitless, that’s okay with me.  And that means that the seven other members of the lineup did hit.  And two members of the lineup enjoyed multi-hit games.  We went three for eight with runners in scoring position, but that’s a .375 average.  All in all, not a bad way to break the losing streak and not a bad building point for going forward.

We designated Mark Kotsay for assignment to make room for Adam LaRoche.  That’s fair.  When he wasn’t on the DL this season, he was batting .257 with an on-base percentage of .291, slugging percentage of .324, and home run and RBI totals of one and five, respectively.  LaRoche is posting comparable numbers: a .247 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, and home run and RBI totals of twelve and forty, respectively.  So the one thing that LaRoche has that Kotsay doesn’t have, offensively speaking, is gap power.  When people refer to LaRoche as a left-handed power bat, they mean more that he hits line drives for extra bases than home runs, but with the abysmal state of our offense over the past few games, I’ll take that.

Jeremy Guthrie at Lester, and Gio Gonzalez at Pettitte.  Speaking of the Yankees, did you know that Eric Hinske’s been tearing it up over the last six games? That’s just poor timing if you ask me.  In those six games, he’s got four home runs and six RBIs to go along with a .333 batting average.  Since when does that happen? And why couldn’t he have just done that with us? That right there is just unfair.  Anyway, unfortunately the A’s are nothing to be feared (unless you’re a Twins fan, in which case you support a team that lost to the A’s, 16-1, in one game only to drop a ten-run lead to lose in another).  But neither are the O’s, and if Lester keeps pitching the way he has been, we’ll have this locked.

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We lost by a final score of 1-3.  This one took us five pitchers; Texas only took two.  Buchholz lasted only four innings and in a massive display of inefficiency threw ninety pitches in that time.  Three runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  Ian Kinsler led off the third with a home run.  Delcarmen, Bard, Okajima, and Papelbon were, for all intents and purposes, spot-on.  Especially Papelbon.  Eight pitches in the eighth inning.  And it’s becoming more and more the norm.

Nick Green hit a home run of his own to lead off the third.  Other than that, we went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.  What a riveting performance.

So that was a little bit longer of a recap, but that was because we addressed the bullpen.  The point is that we’re on a streak, all right.  We’re on a fantastic streak.  We’re on a streak lasting five games already.  It’s a losing streak.  And we’re two games behind the Yankees.  I can not put into words how not good this is.  That wasn’t a great start for Buchholz, but that should have been a win anyway.  Since when do the Boston Red Sox fail to make contact with runners in scoring position or fail to score runs generally? Apparently, since now.   I’m not a fan.  I am most definitely not a fan.

JD Drew is currently on the second-longest hitless streak of his career.  He’s 0 for 22.  He’s on pace to surpass the longest, an 0-for-25 stretch to start his 2005 season with the Dodgers.  This is something you just love to find out when your team can’t even buy a hit.

We traded two prospects to the Pirates for Adam LaRoche.  He’s a first baseman by trade, so I see him coming off the bench every so often to give Lowell a day off; Youk would move to third.  Or he could DH and give Papi the day off.  But he’s a .269 hitter and batting only .247 on this season, and while he’s a career .486 slugger, he’s currently slugging .441, on top of being very inconsistent, so he’s not exactly the big bat many of us were hoping for.  Ready for the sad part? We can’t even technically complain about that because that average is higher than the averages of three of last night’s starters.  It’s just so painful.  And he’s a lefty, and any left-handed hitter is an asset.  One thing I will say: it’s unfortunate that, in leaving the Pirates, he leaves his younger brother, Andy LaRoche, their third baseman.  Two brothers on the same team is pretty neat.  I’ll tell you who it would be awesome to get: Jermaine Dye.  There’s a guy I’d love to see in a Red Sox uniform.  Flirting with .300 right now.

I would just like to say thank you to the Pirates, and also that you’ll be feeling it later.  The Pirates clearly have no front office to speak of.  They keep trading away their best players for mediocre prospects.  Everyone knows they’re desperate, so it’s not like they can command the pride of anyone’s farm system.  Soon they won’t have any players left to trade away, and by then they’ll have a farm system that’s second-rate.  And they’ll be right back where they started: not quite at the bottom of the National League, but with a losing record and falling fast.

We also traded Julio Lugo to the Cards for Chris Duncan, a left fielder who bats .257 career and .227 this season.  Only five home runs on the entire season.  Whatever; he’s at Pawtucket anyway.  We gave them cash considerations in return for either cash or a player to be named later.

This could be Theo positioning himself to make a move at the trade deadline.  Either he’s simply adding depth to the bench, or he’s adding more trade bait.  Either way, in Theo we trust, and we have to wait and see what happens.  But as the deadline approaches, the suspense is definitely growing.  You never know what he might have up his sleeve.

Big day on Sunday for Jim Rice, when he’ll finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame! It’s about time.  Really.  And make some room on the right field roof deck beacause his Number 14 will be retired by the Red Sox.  Yes, sir.  Jim Rice finally gets his due.  It’ll be a great day.

We have a very-much-needed day off today, followed by a return home against the Orioles.  Brad Bergesen at Penny.  This is exactly what the doctor ordered.  We get swept by the Rangers, which again is just painful to acknowledge, but we’re coming back to our house against a weak division team.  The Penny part, I probably could do with out, but with Buchholz and Smoltz largely failing, I’ll take what I can get.  Which hopefully will be a win.  Because right now, every game is starting to feel like a must-win.

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