Tag:Marco Scutaro
Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Jed Lowrie on fire, laying claim to shortstop job

Lowrie

By Evan Brunell

After a four-hit day, Jed Lowrie has to be the new starting shortstop for the Red Sox, right?

Maybe.

There's no question Lowrie is off to a scorching start, as his .516 batting average in 31 at-bats shows. He's also contributed four extra-base hits and has provided steady defense. For at least the next few games, Lowrie will have a chance to wrench the starting job away from Marco Scutaro, who has started the season slowly.

Even the caveat of small sample size for Lowrie doesn't quite apply, as Lowrie ended 2010 turning heads upon his return from mononucleosis. Once a promising player who looked as if he could be a solid utility fielder, Lowrie has instead cut down on his strikeouts and juiced up the power unexpectedly. Lowrie's debut in the majors four years ago wasn't quite representative of his power stroke as he was still working through a wrist injury that cost him most of 2009. However, no one could have anticipated this much power for Lowrie.

All told, since last July 21, when Lowrie returned to the Red Sox, he's hitting .322/.404/.564 in 230 plate appearances.

Impressive? You don't know the half of it. Using the Day by Day Database at Baseball Musings for data through Sunday night, it's revealed that Jed Lowrie has been the second-most productive shortstop (according to the traditional slash stats) since his return from mono. Yes, that's right, Lowrie ranks ahead of such luminaries as Hanley Ramirez. The only person to best Lowrie is Troy Tulowitzki and his insane .331/.407/.672 line.

So will Lowrie continue to start? Of course, but if he tails off, the door will be wide open for Marco Scutaro to stroll right on through. You see, despite Lowrie's hitting, Scutaro possesses the better glove according to scouts and statistically, is Scutaro's equal, at best. Given shortstop is perhaps the most valuable defensive position, Scutaro's going to get his crack at getting his bat going to impact the game on both sides of the ball. Lowrie isn't a butcher in the field, though, so Scoot's going to have to really step up his game, but will get plenty of chances to do so.

Scutaro remains the starting shortstop even if it's name only, and that's an important distinction to make in Boston. Manager Terry Francona is the type of manager who is slow to make moves in the regular season even as the Red Sox have scrambled to get their house in order after a brutal 2-10 start. He's going to want to get Scutaro plenty of playing time because it will only improve the club, even if Scutaro stays in a utility role. That's why the club's departure on a West Coast trip comes as quite good timing -- Francona can start Scutaro over Lowrie without risking the ire of impatient fans.

But in case it hasn't been made apparent yet, Jed Lowrie is the future at shortstop, at least of the short-term variety. There's certainly a big question as to whether he will remain the future, as top prospect Jose Iglesias could be ready to start as early as 2012. That's a problem the Red Sox would love to have.

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Posted on: April 10, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Scutaro vs. Lowrie debate intensifies

By Matt Snyder

Throughout the offseason and spring, there was a large fan movement for the Red Sox to play Jed Lowrie over Marco Scutaro at shortstop. The rationale is pretty simple, actually. Lowrie is a better hitter, is only a slightly worse defensive player and is about 7 1/2 years younger than the 35-year-old Scutaro.

Considering the rough beginning by the entire Red Sox team, including the offense, games like Saturday will only help to fan the flames in favor of Lowrie.

In just his second start of the season, Lowrie went 3-4. He's hitting .364 with a .780 OPS in the exceptionally small 12-plate-appearance sample thus far. He did have a .907 OPS last season, though, in his limited time (197 plate appearances). Scutaro is just 3-21 with no extra base hits and one walk this season, giving him an anemic line of .143/.182/.143.

As the Red Sox scuffle and Terry Francona attempts to tweak the lineup and find something that works, it would behoove him to give Lowrie an extended look.

In the meantime, there will continue to be plenty of discussions on the matter , as the best argument to keep Scutaro in the lineup -- that he's a good clubhouse guy -- isn't really a good one.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Red Sox may trade Matsuzaka, Cameron, more

By Evan Brunell

MatsuzakaThe Red Sox are busy making several players available for trade, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. Players thought to be available include right-handers Daisuke Matsuzaka (pictured) and Tim Wakefield along with outfielders Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald and shortstop Marco Scutaro.

Out of these names, Matsuzaka is both the most well-known and also unlikeliest to be traded. After taking America by storm his first two seasons in town -- nabbing a ring in his rookie campaign back in 2007 -- Matsuzaka has struggled with injuries, integrating himself into the clubhouse and being completely ineffective as his 11.42 ERA in three spring training starts reveals.

"His rhythm was all out of whack,'' the source who indicated Dice-K was on the block said. "I don't know if it's because that's what the team wants, but I think he's become too much of a conventional pitcher. He's got to go back to pitching 'left-handed' again, dropping down at times, throwing from all kinds of angles, turning the ball over. He's not doing that as much.''

Matsuzaka has a full no-trade clause and is due $20 million over the next two seasons, making it difficult for a team to jump for Matsuzaka, no matter the talent that caused Boston to splurge for a $51.1 million posting fee just to talk to the Japanese phenom. However, there are enough teams in need of pitching and Matsuzaka's ace-caliber talents remain hidden somewhere in his body. It appears, though, that both Matsuzaka and the Red Sox are ready to move on, and Boston would do just that if they could add a young catcher to the team.

The Red Sox are set to go into the season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting with team captain Jason Varitek backing up. While the club has a few young catchers in the minors, they lack someone with a high ceiling. Despite Salty's pedigree, he has yet to put it all together in the majors and Boston would doubtless prefer to create more depth in the position.

One potential thought could be the Nationals, who have Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores as young catchers. While Ramos is expected to open the year as backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez and eventually supplant the Hall of Fame catcher, Flores is out of options. Flores is likely of little concern to Boston, who would prefer a player they can send to the minors and groom. Washington has such a catcher in Derek Norris, who was ranked as the No. 47 prospect in all of baseball by CBS Sports.

However, while the Nationals would love to stockpile quality pitching and could be intrigued by Matsuzaka, all the issues surrounding the 30-year-old and Norris' ceiling would make any such deal difficult to bridge unless Boston is willing to eat some salary.

Red Sox

If the Red Sox do move Matsuzaka, it would open up a hole in the rotation that could be filled by Tim Wakefield, reliever Alfredo Aceves or prospects Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller.

However, Wakefield is thought to be on the block himself despite stating he has no interest in playing for another team. Due just $1.5 million in 2011, the Red Sox could dangle the swingman for left-handed relief. The club has no shortage of left-handed relievers in camp vying for a job, but none are clear front-runners. If both Wakefield and Matsuzaka remain, the knuckleballer will pitch out of the bullpen.

Also available are backup outfielders Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald. Cameron is due $7.25 million in the final year of a two-year deal. Slated to start in center for the Red Sox last season, injuries derailed his season and now have him set to be the No. 4 outfielder. McDonald, meanwhile, took advantage of all the playing time afforded him in the outfield last season to finally establish himself in the majors after being a minor-league journeyman. He's making the league minimum so is the more valuable outfielder from a cost perspective, although Cameron holds the edge on offense and defense, which he is renowned for.

The Red Sox do need right-handed outfielders to complement their all-lefty outfielder along with DH David Ortiz, also a lefty. Given right fielder J.D. Drew has a checkered injury past, there's plenty of playing time in store for Cameron and McDonald. One of them is being made available likely to fill more pressing holes, such as left-handed relief. In addition, both outfielders rake against left-handers and are effectively filling the same role.

Cameron and McDonald could draw interest from the Phillies, who have to deal with top prospect Domonic Brown (No. 3 on the Top 100 prospects list) fracturing his hamate bone and likely out for all of April. He appears ticketed for Triple-A after that given his poor start to spring training and newfound need to get at-bats. That opens up a gaping hole in right field for Philly, trying to withstand the loss of incumbent Jayson Werth while worrying about replacing the offense of second baseman Chase Utley, who is unlikely to begin the season with the team. Backup outfielder Ben Francisco is expected to win the starting role.

The Phillies already have a payroll in the mid-$160 million range and would like to avoid paying a payroll tax that would be incurred upon hitting $178 million, so while Cameron makes more sense to become the starter, McDonald appears the more cost-effective solution who could platoon with Francisco as well as fill in for Raul Ibanez in left field. The Red Sox would replace their backup outfield spot with one of Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick or Daniel Nava.

Boston will also listen to offers on starting shortstop Marco Scutaro, who is in the final year of a two-year pact paying $5 million. He would be attractive to other teams given the price and ability to play second, short and third base, with a team option of $5 million for 2012 or a player option of $3 million. The Sox are able to listen to offers on Scutaro thanks to the play of backup Jed Lowrie, who has struggled with injuries the last few years but turned heads with his play late last season. The club also has heralded prospect Jose Iglesias (No. 36) who is widely considered Boston's shortstop of the future. While he could stand to cut his teeth a bit more in the minors with the bat, it wouldn't be outrageous for Boston to promote him.

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Posted on: January 14, 2011 9:52 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Red Sox could have battle at SS

Jed Lowrie
The Red Sox don't open camp for another month, but there's already a position battle brewing, at least in the mind of general manager Theo Epstein.

At a fan event Friday night, Epstein said he considers the door open for Jed Lowrie to earn significant playing time at shortstop if his spring performance convinces manager Terry Francona to play Lowrie (pictured, center) over incumbent starter Marco Scutaro. Lowrie started most games at short late last season as Scutaro dealt with a bum shoulder and covered for Dustin Pedroia's absence at second, and the 26-year-old batted .293 from August 1 on. Scutaro, 35, is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract.

“We have two really talented shortstops on the roster at different phases of their career, and they’ll both end up helping this club win,” Epstein said, according to the Boston Herald. “How it shakes out in terms of playing time will be up to [Francona] — and, ultimately, the players will determine their own roles. If we’re a better team with one guy playing two-thirds of the time and the other guy playing one-third of the time and moving around, that’s what we’ll be. If it looks like we’ll be a better team with a more traditional arrangement or a time share, that’s what we’ll do. Players, ultimately, make those decisions for you.”


Epstein said, however, that Scutaro is the starter entering camp.

“Scutaro signed here to be the shortstop,” Epstein said. “He should be healthy when he comes to camp, and he’s going to play a lot of shortstop. But we’re not good enough that we can’t use every available resource that we have. Jed Lowrie is someone who can play a good shortstop, can play a number of positions, and can help this team win. He’s going to see some time at shortstop. But Marco was our shortstop last year, and, until something changes, that’s how it’s going to be.

“I’m just making the point that we believe in both guys and think that they can both help us win."

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 18, 2010 11:07 pm
 

Thursday evening 11/18 rumor roundup

Hot Stove League With the GM meetings over, things have settled down -- but only a little bit.
  • Want a young, cost-controllable starting pitcher? Yeah, who doesn't? That's why the Rockies have made Jhoulys Chacin off limits, so don't bother asking. Back up the Brinks truck for Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich too, says Troy Renck of the Denver Post .
  • Speaking of Renck, he reports that Jorge de la Rosa won't wait around for Cliff Lee to pick a destination. Yes, it reduces de la Rosa's leverage by not waiting, but if de la Rosa gets what he wants, the lefty will move quickly.
  • Junichi Tazawa paved the way for Japanese amateur ballplayers, and Kazuya Takano and Kazuki Nishijima are more than happy with that paving as the two have joined the Dodgers organization, reports the Los Angeles Times .
  • Evan had Carl Pavano heading to the Brewers in his free-agent prediction piece . Uh, not so much, as the Brewers will look for pitching through trades and not free agency as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reveals.

    But not so fast. Cafardo reveals that the Brewers and Nationals are the frontrunners for Pavano. Who to believe...
  • Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com brings Red Sox goodness, noting that Marco Scutaro could be traded with six teams interested. Boston wants middle relief for Scoot. You have to think that if Scutaro walks, the Red Sox would install Jed Lowrie at shortstop and stop this Lowrie-at-third foolishness.
  • Oh, and closer Jonathan Papelbon wants a $2.15 million raise to $12.5 million as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Only in baseball can you get a multimillion dollar raise for your worst year yet. But Papelbon will be getting a raise, and continue to be one of the more overpaid closers in the game.
  • The Nationals seem unlikely to offer outfielder Josh Willingham a contract extension. Among one of the better sluggers in the game, Willingham will command a pricey extension and Washington doesn't seem terribly interested in entertaining that notion -- or even having Willingham on the team. A source tells MLB.com that Willingham will be moved before the 2011 season.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:50 pm
 

Red Sox shopping Scutaro

Marco Scutaro The Red Sox are listening to offers on shortstop Marco Scutaro, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports .

Several teams are interested in Scutaro, while the Red Sox would let Jed Lowrie take over at short if the Red Sox traded him.

The Red Sox are looking for middle relief, and Rosenthal notes the Cardinals, Padres, Reds and Pirates as a match with a need at shortstop and bullpen depth.

While there aren't many free agent shortstops on the market, the Rays are also looking to trade arbitration-eligible Jason Bartlett in favor of Reid Brignac. Bartlett made $4 million in 2010 and will be a free agent following the 2011 season.

Scutaro was somewhat of a disappointment for the Red Sox this season, hitting .275/.333/.388, down from his breakout season in Toronto in 2009, when he hit .282/.379/.409 in his only season of his career with an OPS+ better than 100 (average).

The 35-year old shortstop is due $5 million next season and has a $6 million team option for 2012 or a $3 million player option and a $1.5 million buyout.

Lowrie is younger and hit .287/.381/.526 in 197 plate appearances in 2010, playing both shortstop and second.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:06 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 1:12 am
 

R.I.P. Red Sox: Injuries crumble promising year

RIP All eyes will be on eight teams starting Oct. 6 for yet another chapter of postseason baseball. As the sports world waits for the crowning of a new (or as the Yankees hope, repeat) champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. The Red Sox kick off the latest installment.

The Red Sox went into 2010 with an Opening Day payroll just over the luxury tax threshold. This isn't a common occurrence in Boston, as the club likes to hold cash back for midseason deals, but there was only one problem with that: Boston didn't have the depth to bank on these midseason deals coming to fruition.

In the first year of a two-year "bridge" plan to integrate top minor leaguers into the team, the Red Sox succeeded in putting together an excellent team. They just forgot to sign one person: Lady Luck.

Injuries dominated the entire season en route to an 89-win season, a failure in these parts.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Almost no one was immune from injury, with only Adrian Beltre lasting the entire season as a healthy position player. Here's a quick roundup around the diamond:

C: Victor Martinez broke his thumb and went on the disabled list for a month. Jason Varitek fractured his foot in a season similar to Dustin Pedroia's and also missed extended time. Kevin Cash and Gustavo Molina did a poor job of holding down the fort while trade-deadline acquisition Jarrod Saltalamacchia eventually caved to injury as well.

1B: Kevin Youkilis was headed to another MVP-caliber season before tearing a tendon in his right thumb, ending his season on August 3.

Dustin Pedroia 2B: Pedroia (pictured) went down with a left-foot fracture, missing almost two months before returning August 17 and quickly landing right back on the disabled list after a setback.

SS: Marco Scutaro gamely stuck in the entire season, but suffered from left-elbow tendinitis, a sore neck, a pinched nerve and a right-shoulder impingement. He eventually had to shift to second base to finish out the year once he no longer could make the throw from short. Expected backup Jed Lowrie missed the first half of the season due to mono, but could battle Scutaro for the shortstop gig in 2011.

3B: Only Beltre escaped the wrath of the injury gods.

OF: J.D. Drew somehow hung in there all season, strange from the poster boy of injuries. He paid for it with one of his worst seasons, while center fielder Mike Cameron battled kidney stones and an abdominal tear before hanging it up. Jacoby Ellsbury got a Beltre knee to the ribs and suffered through a season full of misdiagnoses, rehab, returns, setbacks and questioning of his makeup.

SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka's spring training was delayed with a sore neck among other issues, while Josh Beckett celebrated his lucrative contract extension with a back problem that knocked him out over two months with a lower back strain and couldn't put anything together on the mound.

While the bullpen didn't have many injury problems, it had plenty with ineffectiveness and was one of the worst in the leagues. The poor play of closer Jonathan Papelbon (and free-agent starting pitcher John Lackey) only served to compound matters.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Clay Buchholz took the next big step and now pairs with Jon Lester -- who cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in the game -- to give Boston a young and incredibly talented top of the rotation. While Buchholz' 2.33 ERA is unsustainably low, there's no hiding his major step forward.

Daniel Bard impressed on the mound as well en route to becoming one of the most dominant setup men in the game, with many clamoring for his ascension to the closer's role in 2011.

Bill Hall shook off the cobwebs of the last few seasons, rediscovering the power stroke that enabled him to slam 30 home runs for the Brewers. His ability to play multiple positions was a lifesaver for Boston, which was able to deploy him where there were holes. Darnell McDonald came up from the minors as a veteran and made a splash in his debut, going on to establish himself as a fourth outfielder who can start against left-handers.

Adrian Beltre had a MVP-caliber season and established himself as a strong clubhouse presence -- but not when he gets his head rubbed .

HELP ON THE WAY

The Red Sox knew the minors wouldn't be of much help in 2011, and they were right. While players like Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick got their taste of the bigs, success was limited to just two.

One was outfielder Ryan Kalish, who imitated Sonic the Hedgehog in the outfield with his diving flip catches. Kalish struggled to adjust to major-league pitching but showed the talent and the guts to be named as a future 20 homer/20 stolen base candidate.

Felix Doubront zipped through Double- and Triple-A en route to making a few starts for Boston before joining the bullpen. Before his season was cut short to (all together now...) injury, he flashed the potential to make a major impact in the bullpen next season. His future in Boston likely lies in how the team addresses its shortcomings in the bullpen.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Red Sox will be expected to win, as is always the case in town. Given the team doesn't have much help from the farm on the horizon, Boston will again have to turn to the free-agent market. The Red Sox have a hair over $100 million committed in 2011 salaries and only expected raises for Jacoby Ellsbury and Papelbon to factor in. That should give the team upwards of $50 million to play with, and they'll need all of it with Martinez and Beltre free agents.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Adrian Beltre Adrian Beltre should be high on the priority list. No, he won't match his 2010 levels of production, but will remain one of the best third basemen in the game. Even though all signs point to his departure, money talks -- and unlike last season, Beltre now knows what life is like in Boston and seems open to a return.

Victor Martinez should also see a return to town, as he can catch for at least a couple more seasons and give the Red Sox quality at the plate. Martinez' ability to play first base also helps matters. However, Martinez also has his own signs pointing to a departure.

If so, Boston needs to go out and get an impact bat, with five-tooler Carl Crawford the prize. Jayson Werth would also be a reliable stopgap, but nowhere near the level of Crawford. If Beltre doesn't return, Boston's best bet is to shift Youkilis to third base and go after a first baseman -- perhaps Carlos Pena. Pena combines defense and powers, and if you get lucky, can hit for a solid batting average as well.

The bullpen is a key area to be addressed and while it's not Epstein's M.O. to shell out big bucks for a bullpen (which is a sound strategy), it may be time to put that philosophy aside. Scott Downs is reliever who has two things most relievers don't: an ability to pitch with a left arm and to pitch well. Epstein needs to bring the bucks and get Downs into the fold as the complement to Daniel Bard. However, the soft underbelly of middle relief is also a problem. Fortunately, there's no shortage of strong right-handed relievers -- the only question is if Epstein will go bargain-basement hunting like usual or shell out for a solid option.

2011 PREDICTION

The Red Sox will come back loaded in 2011, just like they did in 2010. The minor-leagues will be one year closer to helping out, which will only serve to deepen the depth the Red Sox will need as the season winds on. Couple that with the Yankees' own question marks and the Rays' planned slashing of the budget after seeing integral parts of the team leave as free agents this offseason, and the road to the playoffs for Boston looks far less prohibitive than 2010's road did.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. teams here .

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: September 7, 2010 5:49 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2010 6:00 pm
 

Shoulder forces Scutaro to second

Marco Scutaro Well, that's one way of thinking -- if your arm hurts, don't throw as far.

Red Sox second baseman Marco Scutaro is now the team's second baseman, switching places with Jed Lowrie. Scutaro's been bothered by a sore right shoulder. He had an MRI on Tuesday and it showed "tears" but he was told he couldn't do anymore damage to the shoulder by playing. So it comes down to pain level and how much he can get on the throw. That led to the switch to second base.

"Especially with this team, they've got a buck of fast guys, so if you get a ball at short in the hole, it's going to be tough," Scutaro said (via WEEI.com's Rob Bradford .)

Scutaro has started 238 games at second in his career and Lowrie has started 65 games at short in his three seasons in the big leagues.

Scutaro told reporters he didn't believe he'd need surgery in the offseason.

UPDATE: The Red Sox say the diagnosis on Scutaro is an "inflammation of a longstanding rotator cuff injury."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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