Tackling the trade deadline: Boston Red Sox

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Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.

Boston Red Sox
First-half record: 55-35
Standings: Leading Yankees by 1 game, Rays by 6 games in AL East

Needs

Starting pitcher: The Red Sox thought they were set with a rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but three of their five starters are on the DL and no one in Boston wants to see Lackey start a postseason game.  The Red Sox should be able to win the AL East or at least the wild card with what they have now, but it’d sure be nice to have additional options for October.

Right field: Free-agent-to-be J.D. Drew appears to be half-retired already.  He’s hitting .229/.329/.317 with just 10 extra-base hits and 21 RBI in 18 at-bats for the season.  On the plus side, the Red Sox do have an internal replacement available: Josh Reddick, who has been subbing in for an injured Carl Crawford in left, is hitting .393/.429/.672 in 70 at-bats.  He already has as many extra-base hits as Drew.  Still, he is unproven and the Red Sox might bypass him if the right opportunity comes along.

Bullpen: Bobby Jenks was supposed to be Boston’s third shutdown reliever alongside Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, but he’s served two DL stints and amassed a 6.32 ERA in 19 appearances.  The Red Sox will be shopping for a seventh-inning guy, preferably a left-hander.

Target

Matt Garza (RHP Cubs): Garza has never fulfilled his promise, but the Red Sox know him well: he’s 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 career starts against Boston.  He was also largely responsible for knocking the Red Sox out of the 2008 playoffs when he went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA for the Rays in the ALCS.

Proposed deal

Garza for 3B Will Middlebrooks, RHP Kyle Weiland, LHP Felix Doubront and C Tim Federowicz

For the Cubs to move Garza, they’re going to want to make up for most of what they lost in getting him from the Rays over the winter.  This deal doesn’t net them any elite prospects, but Middlebrooks is currently a better hope at third base than the Cubs’ former first-rounder Josh Vitters and both Weiland and Doubront are ready for extended opportunities to show what they can do in the majors.

The Red Sox could instead part with their top pitching prospect, Anthony Ranaudo, in place of Middlebrooks and one of the two arms.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.