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Tag:Clay Buchholz
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

Join MLB Facts and Rumors at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday to chat live during the Rangers -Rays game!

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Posted on: September 11, 2010 12:33 am
Edited on: September 11, 2010 1:53 am
 

Rough outing bumps Buchholz from ERA lead

Clay Buchholz Clay Buchholz may want to skip his starts in the Bay Area from now on.

The Red Sox's right-hander's two worst starts this season have come in Oakland and San Francisco. On June 26 in San Francisco, Buchholz left after one inning with a hamstring strain, requiring a stint on the disabled list.

Friday night, he didn't last much longer, pitching to four batters in the second without recording an out before he was pulled. In all, he was tagged for five runs on five hits, walking four.

His ERA went from a league-leading 2.25 to 2.53, crowning Felix Hernandez as the American League's latest  leader in the category with a cool 2.30. Third is Trevor Cahill, who was opposite Buchholz on Friday. Cahill started the game with a 2.72 ERA. Cahill threw seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.61 and allowing just three hits.

Buchholz threw 39 pitches, 17 strikes in the shortest non-injury start of his career.

UPDATE: Buchholz was asked after the game if he thought the outing hurt his Cy Young chances (it did), he told the Boston Herald 's Scott Lauber (via Twitter ): "I'm not worried about the whole Cy Young deal. I'm worried about this team winning games."

The American League Cy Young looks like it'll come down to Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia. With Sabathia leading the way in wins and Hernandez leading in stats a pitcher can actually control.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .



Category: MLB
Posted on: September 4, 2010 6:58 pm
 

Boston looking at Buchholz on short rest

Clay Buchholz Clay Buchholz was pulled early in Saturday's game as the Red Sox kept an eye on Wednesday's last-gasp showdown with the Tampa Bay Rays.

With Saturday's 3-1 loss to the White Sox, Boston trails the Rays by 7 1/2 games in the wild card race.

Buchholz had given up two runs and the Red Sox trailed by just a run in the fifth, but with his pitch count approaching 100, Buchholz was pulled, replaced by Scott Atchison, who allowed five hits and a run in 1 1/3 innings.

Buchholz said he was aware the team was hoping he could come back on three days' rest on Wednesday. The only other available option for the Red Sox was Tim Wakefield.

Buchholz was pulled after 95 pitches.

"If they wanted me to come back, if I was over 100 pitches, it might be a little tough to do that coming back off three days' rest," Buchholz told the Providence Journal . "[Terry Francona] told me the situation before the game. That's the way it is."

Still, the team has yet to make a decision on Wednesday's starter, but Buchholz is a possibility. The three-game series with the Rays starts on Monday at Fenway Park. If the Red Sox can win the first two games to creep closer to the Rays, they'll see if Buchholz can go and try to sweep Tampa. If the Sox lose the first two games, it's likely they'll pack up the season. A split heading into Wednesday would make the decision on the pitcher telling of how the Sox feel about their postseason chances.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .



Category: MLB
Posted on: August 30, 2010 12:14 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 8:45 pm
 

Handicapping the AL Cy Young Award race

Cy Young award As August draws to a close, the candidates to win awards are beginning to take shape. The AL Cy Young is shaping up to be quite a race with several young pitchers in contention for the award.

Young pitching has taken the majors by storm lately, so it's only fitting that some new names enter the Cy Young race for the first time, spearheaded by Clay Buchholz and Trevor Cahill, although the wizened, grizzled, 30-year-old CC Sabathia may have something to say about who grabs the hardware.

One of the more difficult things to do in properly evaluating the winner of a Cy Young race is to figure out which metrics to look at. ERA has become a rather maligned statistic lately, although when evaluated in its sole function, is a great barometer of what a pitcher did with a specific team in a specific park in a specific year. And given awards tend to be all about what actual production was, one could argue that ERA is a primary indication of a player's performance.

However, there's also Fielding-Independent Pitching (FIP) which strips out most variables, giving you a better indication of a pitcher's true talent, focusing mainly on strikeouts and walks. xFIP normalizes homer rate, which gives you an idea of a pitcher's true talent with all variables stripped out, including home and road ballparks. What FIP and xFIP primarily do is give one an idea of what is most likely to happen from here on out in a pitcher's production.

So you have two metrics: one evaluating what actually happened, and one evaluating a pitcher's actual production. Given awards aren't about long-term success and are specifically geared to one-year wonders, whether aberrations or not, ERA shouldn't be eliminated from the evaluation process. Discounted, sure, but not eliminated.

One thing that can be eliminated, however, is wins and losses. Those have absolutely no bearing on a pitcher's effectiveness, and the voting process is starting to realize the foolhardiness of voting for wins as 2009 Cy Young victor Zack Greinke can attest to with a 16-8 record.

Without further ado, your top AL Cy Young candidates in alphabetical order:

Clay Buchholz Clay Buchholz
Boston Red Sox
15-5, 146 2/3 IP, 101 K, 55 BB, 2.21 ERA, 4.19 xFIP

Buchholz has been a revelation for the Red Sox this season, taking the next step toward being a front-of-the-line rotation member. After struggling with inconsistency -- both mechanical and mental -- over the last few seasons, Buchholz has finally found himself comfortable on the mound and that's translated to results. He has done very well in inducing soft contact that defenders can gobble up, but it's not entirely positive yet whether that's a repeatable skill or simple luck. It's probably a combination of both. Buchholz has the easiest road to victory, with a commanding ERA and a wins ledger that should crack 18 provided the 26-year-old doesn't fall apart down the stretch.

Trevor Cahill Trevor Cahill
Oakland Athletics
14-5, 155 2/3 IP, 88 K, 46 BB, 2.43 ERA, 4.12 xFIP

Unlike Buchholz, Cahill doesn't have the gaudy strikeout numbers which will harm him in a campaign otherwise remarkably similar to Buchholz. He has a ton of BABIP-fueled luck, largely because of the spacious park he calls home and the strong fielding corps behind him. Cahill figures to eventually morph into one of the better starters in the league, but at least for 2010, his success is based on a house of cards as he has no reliable strikeout pitch and doesn't force batters to chase pitches out of the zone.

Felix Hernandez Felix Hernandez
Seattle Mariners
10-10, 204 1/3 IP, 192 K, 56 BB, 2.47 ERA, 3.26 xFIP

Now we're getting into people with truly dominating statistics. Hernandez has already broken the 200-inning barrier with over a full month to go. That's all sorts of crazy, as is his K-rate a certainty to break 200. He's combining that with strong command, but his win-loss record sets him back, especially in an environment where a fair share of voters still value wins and losses. Such are the perils for playing for one of the worst teams in the majors, and a historically-bad offense.

Cliff Lee Cliff Lee
Texas Rangers
10-8, 179 2/3 IP, 156 K, 12 BB, 3.26 ERA, 3.26 xFIP

The 2008 Cy Young champion still has a strong chance at taking home the hardware, but his time so far in Texas hasn't been Cy-worthy. He has a 4.50 ERA in Texas, although his xFIP is still in the low 3.00's. A big reason why is the increased clip in home runs allowed which may be due to his new home park. His win-loss record leaves a lot to be desired as well, largely due to his turn in Seattle. Let's take a moment, however, to appreciate how good Lee has been: a low xFIP exactly the same as his ERA not only shows just how good he's been, but that he's pitched well without much luck, unlike Buchholz and Cahill. In addition, the 12 walks allowed is not a typo. Lee is this author's top choice for the Cy.

David Price David Price
Tampa Bay Rays
15-6, 164 2/3 IP, 154 K, 65 BB, 3.01 ERA, 3.98 xFIP

Price doesn't have much over Buchholz and Cahill, although he's been decidedly less lucky which is reflected in ERA. The difference in xFIP is marginal enough that makes one wonder if there's any reason he should stand over Buchholz and Cahill. Remember, not only are we looking for true talent, but we're also looking at what a pitcher actually did, luck and randomness included. Lee and Hernandez have the most compelling cases so far, win-loss record be damned, but Buchholz and Cahill hold the edge otherwise.

CC Sabathia CC Sabathia

New York Yankees
18-5, 194 2/3 IP, 160 K, 62 BB, 3.14 ERA, 3.83 xFIP

Sabathia has changed his game lately, inducing more groundballs while keeping the rest of his game constant. As a result, batters are making less hard contact off of Sabathia, and with a powerful Yankees team behind him, dominates the wins ledger with 18. His ERA is low enough and overall durability high enough that he presents a legitimate challenge for the top spot with strong cases in every category. No other pitcher on the list has the blend of wins, innings, BB/K, ERA and xFIP than Sabathia, which may be all that's needed to claim the award. The best chance to keep the trophy away from a member of the Yankees may rest in their division rival's Buchholz. If that ERA stays rock-bottom through the end of the season, that ERA plus what figures to be around 18 wins should present a compelling enough case to win the award. Until then, however, Sabathia has to be considered the favorite.

Just missed the cut: Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson

 -- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: July 8, 2010 6:11 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 6:21 pm
 

Girardi leaning toward Price to start for AL?

David Price On a media conference call for All-Star managers Thursday, Yankees/American League skipper Joe Girardi seemed to hint that the Rays' David Price will get the nod for the AL.

"I believe he is a strong candidate,'' Girardi said of Price. "Obviously when you look at the five pitchers that we have going, the five starters -- and you have to exclude [Boston’s Clay] Buchholz because he’s on the DL -- Price, [New York’s Phil] Hughes, [Seattle’s Cliff] Lee, [Boston’s Jon] Lester, and [New York’s Andy] Pettitte, these are all qualified guys. And you look at who’s on turn.

"Price is leading the American League in wins. He’s an extremely strong candidate. I think he’s second in ERA. He’s had a fabulous first half. And we’ll look at that as we get closer to Sunday."

Girardi has until Monday to announce his decision, and it would be tough to argue against the selection of 24-year-old Price. He has won a league-best 12 games, is second to Lee among qualifying players with a 2.42 ERA and Tuesday would be his natural day to start.

Lee might be able to make an even better case with his AL-best ERA (2.34) and WHIP (0.95). But he's won four fewer games than Price (even though that's hardly his fault) and would be on four days' rest. Then there's the matter of his thought-to-be-impending trade, and the possibility that he might be in another uniform -- or in the National League -- by the All-Star Game.

Speaking of the National League, Charlie Manuel is in a bit of a tough spot. Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez would seem to be a no-brainer given his accomplishments this season (15-1 record, 2.20 ERA, no-hitter), but he had been surprisingly human in his three starts (8.66 ERA) prior to Thursday's impressive win over the Cardinals. Florida's Josh Johnson, on the other hand, is on fire right now and leads baseball with a 1.70 ERA.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.



Posted on: July 6, 2010 6:11 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Ellsbury may join team in Toronto


Jacoby Ellsbury The Red Sox could be getting a much-needed body off of the disabled list before the All-Star break.

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports Terry Francona said there was a possibility Jacoby Ellsbury could return to the team this weekend in Toronto.

So far, this is just a possibility, Cafardo emphasizes.

Ellsbury suffered four cracked ribs on April 4, spent more than a month on the DL and cracked another rib and has been on the disabled list since May 28.

Francona told reporters Ellsbury was starting to throw and was having a good day in Arizona, where he has been rehabbing.

Another of the rib crew, Jeremy Hermida, took four rounds of batting practice in the cage on Tuesday and is expected to take regular batting practice tomorrow. However, Francona said he didn't know when Hermida would be headed out on a rehab assignment.

Francona had other updates to the length Red Sox list: no clue on Victor Martinez (thumb), foot injury buddies Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek are continuing to throw and Clay Buchholz (hamstring) should be ready after the All-Star break. Mike Lowell (hip) is at home in Miami.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.


Posted on: July 5, 2010 5:45 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 7:40 pm
 

Injuries taking toll on All-Star rosters


Mat Latos As happens every year, injuries will make several snubs All-Stars anyway.

SoCal's aces should get a chance to play in Anaheim based on recent injuries.

Boston's Clay Buchholz is headed to the 15-day disabled list, while Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo is not going on the DL yet, he will not be available to pitch in next Tuesday's All-Star Game, Brewers manager Ken Macha told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy .

"Throwing in the All-Star Game? No," Macha said. "I'm saying that, best-case scenario, he's probably going to be doing no baseball activities for a least 10 days. … He's not going to pitch in the All-Star Game. You can't have a guy walk off the mound one week and then put him in [the All-Star] Game the next. No."

Gallardo could still go on the disabled list, though, with his strained left rib-cage muscle. He is scheduled to see the team's doctor on Monday. The Brewers brought outfielder Lorenzo Cain up from Triple-A Nashville to be at the park in case Gallardo is put on the disabled list.

Gallardo, certainly deserving of his All-Star spot, could make way for Mat Latos. The Padres' right-hander is 9-4 with a  2.62 ERA and leads the National League with a .963 WHIP.

On the American League side, there are at least thee spots on the pitching staff because of Buchholz's injury and the new rule stating that keeps pitchers from starting on the Sunday before the All-Star Game and in the game itself. That rule will take the Yankees' CC Sabathia and the A's Trevor Cahill from pitching in Anaheim.

Joe Girardi will reportedly replace Sabathia with Andy Pettitte, while Anaheim's Jered Weaver should get one of the spots to appear in his home park. Weaver leads the AL in strikeouts with 124 and is 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA. Other possibilities are Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Andrew Bailey.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.



Posted on: July 2, 2010 5:10 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 5:17 pm
 

Buchholz set for Red Sox return

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz will go back into the rotation Monday against Tampa Bay, manager Terry Francona told reporters Friday.

Buchholz 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA, strained his hamstring running the bases last week but did not go on the disabled list. He had a throwing session on Boston's off day Thursday and reported Friday feeling good. He'll throw a bullpen Saturday.

The Red Sox could use some good news on the injury front -- they've got 10 people on the DL. The Red Sox said Friday that one of them, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, will throw three innings in a minor-league game on Tuesday.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.



Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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