Nine stolen bases?! Here's how the Red Sox can stop the running game

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Guerrero steals.jpgI mentioned it in ATH, but it’s worth mentioning again: the Rangers stole nine bases off the Boston Red Sox last night. Nine. As in, the most any team has stolen in a game in eight years. Even Vlad Guerrero — who walks around like Fred Sanford half the time — swiped two.

Obviously it’s going to be easier to run when a knuckleballer like Wakefield is on the hill, but it’s not like you can absolve Victor Martinez here. He has only caught one guy in 25 attempts all season. And most of those came with guys throwing real fastballs on the mound.  There are faster teams than the Rangers out there, and they no doubt watched last night’s highlights closely.  You can only assume teams will run on the Red Sox more and more until they show they can do something about it. But what to do?

For starters, you have to move Wakefiled out of the rotation when Daisuke Matsuzaka comes back to the big club, which could be as early as next week. This is not just a stolen base prevention move given that Wakefield hasn’t been particularly effective this year, but with an offense that is sputtering like it is, every bit of — dare I say it? — run prevention is needed, and keeping the running game in check is part of run prevention.

A more pressing problem is the man trying to throw runners out. Don’t get me wrong. I love Victor Martinez. But I watched him for years in Cleveland — years in which he was increasingly used at first base and DH because of his poor defense — and he is never going to be able to truly get the job done behind the plate for a contending team.

Something needs to be done about that, and I have an idea: move Victor Martinez to DH, cut bait on Big Papi and acquire a defense-first catcher to restore order on the basepaths.

Such a move may be painicky. It may be radical. But it may be the best option for the Red Sox. And most beautiful thing about it: it kills three birds with one stone: (1) it solves the defensive problem; (2) it moves Ortiz’s dead wood out of the lineup; and (3) it reduces Victor Martinez’s price in free agency, making him much easier to simply plug in as Ortiz’s permanent replacement next year and for a few years thereafter. Cheap? Sure, but it ain’t dumb.

The only problem would be the media ruckus that would be caused by so definitively moving Ortiz aside, but if the team keeps losing and/or playing ugly baseball like it has already the media din is going to be there anyway.

So, what say you Red Sox Nation?

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.