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?

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.