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?

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.