Marco Scutaro had a solid first season in Boston after signing a two-year, $12.5 million contract as a free agent last winter, basically duplicating his career numbers by hitting .275/.333/.388 despite playing through multiple injuries.
He was signed in large part because of Jed Lowrie’s uncertain injury status, but now that Lowrie is healthy again Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Red Sox “are opening to trading Scutaro for the right part.”
Scutaro is owed $5 million in 2011, with a $6.5 million option or $1.5 million buyout for 2012, which suddenly looks like a very reasonable contract in what is a very weak market for free agent shortstops. However, while the Red Sox’s odds of cashing in Scutaro for good value are helped by the weak market, trading him without bringing in another shortstop option would be placing an awful lot of faith in Lowrie staying healthy.
Lowrie was fantastic after joining the team in mid-July, hitting .287/.381/.526 in 197 plate appearances, and at 26 years old has likely reasserted himself as Boston’s long-term shortstop, but he’s played a total of 87 games in the past two seasons and the Red Sox typically like to stockpile depth as much as any team. Plus, with Dustin Pedroia coming back from a broken foot having both Scutaro and Lowrie is hardly overkill.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.