John Farrell still hopeful Stephen Drew will return to Red Sox

8 Comments

The Red Sox acquired utility infielder Jonathan Herrera from the Rockies yesterday in exchange for left-hander Franklin Morales and minor league right-hander Chris Martin, but manager John Farrell confirmed during an appearance on WEEI’s Hot Stove show this evening that the move doesn’t mean that the team has ruled out the return of Stephen Drew. In fact, he indicated that there’s mutual interest in getting something done.

“Herrera, this is a guy that’s played all over the infield. We like him from the left side a little bit better — he’s had better performance as a left-handed hitter. He is a switch-hitter, but better from the left side. We feel like with all the other right-handed infielders, it’s a good complement to those who are already here. At the same time, if things fall a certain way with Stephen Drew, it doesn’t prohibit us from adding Drew as well.”

Indeed, Farrell suggested that mutual interest exists in having the shortstop return to the team with whom he signed a one-year, $9.5 million for the 2013 season.

“Both sides would like to see this come together,” Farrell said of talks with Drew. “But at the same time, as we all know, he’s looking to see what best opportunities would be out there for him.”

Drew’s market has been slow to develop this winter, in part because he is attached to draft pick compensation. The Mets have been mentioned as one possibility, but general manager Sandy Alderson has said that if the team does upgrade at shortstop this winter, it will likely be via trade and not the free agent market.

As of now, the Red Sox are expected to go with top prospect Xander Bogaerts as their starting shortstop in 2014. If Drew returns, Bogaerts would likely get every opportunity to be the starting third baseman. Will Middlebrooks, who hit just .227 with a .696 OPS last season, could be pushed to the minors in such a scenario.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
21 Comments

The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.