Big week on and off the field for Sox
A major league organization is always multitasking, dealing with the future as well as the present.
The Red Sox have a lot going on this week. There are intense draft meetings taking place, with the microscope squarely on new amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye, who had a very limited scouting background when he took over in January for his mentor, Jason McLeod, who oversaw very good drafts before leaving to become the assistant general manager under Jed Hoyer in San Diego.
With four picks in the first 57 it’s easy to see why the Sox are trying to make sure they get it right in a draft (which begins Monday) that could impact their future tremendously. General manager Theo Epstein has done a lot of scouting himself over the past month.
In the meantime, the big league team makes the American League East standings tighter by the day. Before you know it, it will be a three-team race.
The Red Sox are trying to cover themselves any way they can for the injuries to outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, who have played together only four times this season. While Cameron’s recent soreness should be a temporary situation, Ellsbury is doing his work before games, hoping for the day when he’ll be 100 percent. Ryan Kalish was recently promoted to Triple A, which gives the organization a legitimate outfield prospect on the major league doorstep, since Josh Reddick has gotten off to a poor start (.188 at Pawtucket entering last night, after hitting .390 with nine RBIs in 20 spring training games).
Considering the outfield hodgepodge, the Sox have been able to maintain some semblance of productivity. Jeremy Hermida has had his moments (18 two-out RBIs), but he began last night’s game hitting .208. Bill Hall has shown versatility, even pitching an inning, but he was hitting .218, though he was 4 for 9 in his last three games. Darnell McDonald, who had his 15 minutes of fame when he homered in each of his first two games, has been solid, with a .262 average, three homers, and 13 RBIs. He’s been the Nick Green of the early part of this season, and the Sox were ready to designate him for assignment before Ellsbury went back on the disabled list.
It’s a team, too, that has Mike Lowell languishing on the bench. With David Ortiz hot again, Lowell’s opportunities are few and far between (67 at-bats). The Sox could deal him, but interest has been limited. The Rangers would take him, but the Sox would have to assume most of his salary. The Angels are saying no, and a White Sox official said yesterday, “There’s no fit.’’ The Mariners have Mike Sweeney but they are always looking for offense, especially with Ken Griffey retiring yesterday. Of course, if the Sox would take Milton Bradley off their hands, their ears might perk up.
As for outfielders, there are plenty of mediocre ones available, which is why the Sox hope Kalish doesn’t need a lot of seasoning at Triple A and can be knocking on the door, or Reddick starts hitting like he did in spring training.
The Pirates would trade the Sox Ryan Church, and the teams like to deal with each other, so that is always a possibility. The Royals would listen on David DeJesus, who tormented the Red Sox over the weekend. The Indians would deal Austin Kearns, while the Cubs, who have been scouting the Red Sox, would like to deal Alfonso Soriano’s massive contract, Xavier Nady or Kosuke Fukudome.
The Diamondbacks would put Conor Jackson on the block, but he hasn’t been hitting. The Sox might be able to get David Murphy back from the Rangers. They could beg the Astros’ Carlos Lee to waive his no-trade clause, but why, given his horrible start and poor outfield play?
The last thing the Sox want to do is deal for a player good enough where the price is too high. It’s one thing to keep picking up the Jonathan Van Everys of the world, but if you stretched for a DeJesus, then you’re talking about having to surrender real prospects. And right now, there aren’t many the Sox would want to deal for an established player, unless it was an impact player, like the deal they made for Victor Martinez last season, when pitching prospects Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price went to the Indians.
With Martinez hitting again, and his receiving and throwing improving, it doesn’t appear the Sox will be in the market for another catcher any time soon. They had kept their eye on Rhode Island native Chris Iannetta of the Rockies and the Diamondbacks’ Chris Snyder, but both may instead be something to consider in the offseason. It doesn’t appear the Sox will be involved in the Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt sweepstakes, unless there’s an injury to a starting pitcher or if Josh Beckett’s back injury turns into something severe.
Ditto the shortstop situation, where Marco Scutaro has been nursing an elbow injury that stems from an injury he has in his neck, but has responded to treatment. Jed Lowrie is on the mend in Fort Myers, and the Sox also have Cuban phenom Jose Iglesias at Double A Portland. He would be an easy player to slip into the starting role if Scutaro were to miss a lot of time.
The Sox simply want to get through this stretch of injuries in the outfield without having to dedicate more payroll or player inventory. We’ll see how quickly Cameron gets back and how effective he is when he returns. Ditto Ellsbury, who can impact a game. The Sox have done well in getting by without them.
With the race tightening and the Sox in position to make something happen, we’ll see if they have the depth to get where they want to go.