Gammons and Edes on the Red Sox' plans

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There aren’t many people who know the Red Sox front office better than Peter Gammons and Gordon Edes do, and this morning they provide their views as to what that front office is going to do this offseason. Their thinking:

  • They both think that Jason Bay will stay in Boston, mostly because the Mets don’t have the cash to beat a Boston offer and none of the other potential suitors — the Giants, Mariners, Angels or maybe the Cardinals — don’t really work for a number of reasons. I agree. Bay has a pretty comfortable job in Boston. Anywhere else he goes his defense will be a bigger issue than it is in Fenway. I think he stays.
  • Despite declining Alex Gonzalez’s option, he’ll stay around too, yielding to Jed Lowrie if Lowrie proves that he can stay healthy, and generally providing some insurance for a position that always seems to be unsure in Boston.  My view: not sure there are any better options out there. Omar Vizquel maybe? Either way, cover it with a glove and wait for Jose Iglesias to mature.
  • Forget the Adrian Gonzalez speculation. Jed Hoyer knows who the best Sox prospects are. The Sox don’t want to trade their best prospects. They just don’t match up. It’s way more likely that the Sox will convince the Blue Jays that their second tier prospects are really top shelf guys and pry away Roy Halladay.  My view: there’s too much risk with a Sox-Padres trade right now. Whoever loses the trade is going to be accused by talk radio and the local papers of giving a gift to their buddy, and no one likes that kind of garbage.
  • The Sox are going into 2010 banking on a rebound by David Ortiz, a healthy Mike Lowell, and having Victor Martinez around all season. My view: they are about 33% likely to realize an overall offensive improvement from that strategy.  Could be a tough year on offense for Boston.
  • They’re likely to once again explore the high-risk, high-reward scrap heap for some pitching depth, with Gammons and Edes both mentioning Ben Sheets and Rich Harden.  Actually, Edes calls this “low-risk, high reward.” That makes no sense to me. Maybe it’s “low money,” but anytime you commit a roster spot to a guy and exclude other possibilities, you create at least some risk.  If you use that roster spot on guys with injury histories like Sheets and Harden, you’re creating high risk.  One would think that the Smotlz-Penny experience of last season would have hipped Edes to this.

Right now the odds favor a stand-pat kind of offseason for Boston. Which, given the relative dearth of high-quality free agents and trade bait, is probably the most prudent move.  There’s no shame in playing for the Wild Card Red Sox fans.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).