Not everyone thrilled with Boston's pitching depth

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It’s a wonderful problem to have when you’re blessed with too much
pitching. In fact, you could argue that it’s no problem at all. That
it’s impossible to be blessed with too many competent hurlers. The
Boston Red Sox are testing that theory.

The Red Sox already have a rotation consisting of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Brad Penny and Tim Wakefield.

And on top of that, John Smoltz is set to come off the disabled list
soon. Smoltz reportedly offered to take a bullpen role, but management
is having none of that. They certainly don’t need a closer, and view
Smoltz as a valuable postseason asset as a starter.

Clay Buchholz is getting restless in Pawtucket


So what should Boston do? Tony Massarotti does a great job breaking down the likeliest possibilities, ranging from putting Dice-K on the DL (seems like a good idea), to moving to a six-man rotation (unlikely).

While Theo Epstein and Terry Francona decide what to do, they might
be interested to hear what Clay Buchholz has to say about the matter.

Buchholz apparently is getting tired of dominating Triple-A hitters at
Pawtucket, and while he stopped short of demanding a trade, he’s
starting to sound a little restless.

“Whenever they come to a problem they seem like they find a way to
fix it without me being in the picture. It is what it is. It’s
frustrating at times but I’m going out every fifth day here, trying to
help this team win and trying to get better every day I go out. …

“I want to be in the big leagues and I do want to go somewhere where I’ll be able to play and pitch every fifth day.”

Buchholz has a case, as does his teammate Michael Bowden. If not 100
percent major-league ready, the pair are certainly running out of
things to accomplish in the minors. Their numbers at Pawtucket:

  • Buchholz: 4-0, 1.75 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 15 walks and 59 strikeouts in 67 innings.
  • Bowden: 3-3, 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 22 walks and 42 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings.

    In contrast to Buchholz, Bowden sounds content for now to remain lost in the logjam.

    “I’d rather stay in the minors an extra year or so to play for Boston, to play in Boston at Fenway with that group of guys.”

    I wonder how long Bowden will keep singing that tune.

  • Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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    Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

    Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

    Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

    Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

    Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

    He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

    Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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    Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

    It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

    Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

    Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

    Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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    You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

    There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

    Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

    If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

    A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

    Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

    If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

    Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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    Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

    Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

    Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

    Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

    Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

    Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

    Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?