Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports


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Red Sox Trading Deadline Preview – Which Players Would I Be Sad to See Go?

With only four days left before the Trading Deadline to fully acknowledge the season’s premature end, the Red Sox will be fielding hundreds of phone calls about many of their players. Here, I will go through a list of the nine most likely players to be traded in my opinion, commenting on their respective values and how I would feel about seeing them go. It is in no particular order.

Jonny Gomes – Despite his .241 batting average and .365 slugging percentage, I would imagine just about every team would love to have Gomes for the stretch run. He brings all the intangibles of a proven winner to a clubhouse, and he can be a clutch right-handed hitter off the bench. He should command a mid-level prospect or two. Personally, I would be deeply saddened to see Gomes traded because he became my favorite player on the team, but I think he’s the one it would seem most obvious to trade given his value and the logjam in the outfield.

Mike Carp – Carp has had a poor year, with a .215 average and 0 home runs. But he still has some value on the market as he is a left-handed bat with some pop, capable of playing a few different positions. He proved last season that he can pinch hit in pressure-filled situations, so any team looking for left-handed options should be licking its lips. Given his poor production and lack of a clear spot on the team, I doubt Carp will garner more than a low-level prospect in return, but I think he could be the next one to go. I appreciated what he did a year ago, but I won’t be upset when Carp is gone.

Stephen Drew – It’s hard to know what kind of value Drew has right now given his poor offensive performance since re-signing with the Red Sox in late May. Of course though, he would bring one of the steadiest gloves in the league to any team he goes, and I can only imagine he’d start to hit a little better. I’ve always liked Drew, and I want to see him succeed. So if he’s traded to a contender, while I’d be sad to see him go, I’d be happy for the shortstop to get another chance at the postseason.

Andrew Miller – The lanky lefty apparently has been the subject of a lot of attention from opposing scouts. He has always had eye-catching stuff, and he’s looked quite good recently. He could conceivably get the Red Sox a top-level prospect given the value of left-handed relievers at this time of year. Miller has been around a long time, yet never quite lived up to his potential, having had various control and injury problems over the years. So if the Sox sell high on him, I think it would be a smart move. I don’t want to see him go, but I’d be okay with it.

Craig Breslow – Breslow hasn’t been very good this year, and he wasn’t very good in the World Series. But for much of last season, he was excellent as a late-inning left-handed reliever. A change of scenery could help Breslow rediscover his best stuff. When the Red Sox acquired him at the deadline a few years ago, they surrendered two major-league type players. I doubt the Red Sox will get a similar return, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a higher return than many would expect given his production this year. I’m pretty indifferent to Breslow at this point, so a trade wouldn’t leave me in tears.

Burke Badenhop – Badenhop has been consistent in the later innings for the Red Sox this year. His right-handed arm would look good for contenders as a sixth or seventh inning man. He should have relatively high value given his success this year, but don’t expect a huge return for a slightly above average middle reliever. Because he wasn’t on last year’s team, most Red Sox fans won’t have trouble saying goodbye to Badenhop.

Daniel Nava – I think it’s unlikely Nava will be traded, but due to his recent surge in production and his versatility across the diamond, Nava could be an attractive option for a National League team looking for a fourth outfielder/backup first baseman. His story is one of the great ones in baseball, and Red Sox nation has fallen in love with Nava in the last 18 months. Trading Nava wouldn’t have a huge impact on the current Red Sox team or future ones, but personally, I’d be quite sad to see him go.

Koji Uehara – As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Uehara’s situation is unique given his contract and his age. Trading him in many ways would make a lot of sense. And obviously, as one of the game’s best closers, he would have tremendous value. The Red Sox would certainly demand a top prospect or two. If Jake Peavy could garner two top-ten prospects, a deal for Uehara should get the Sox two top-five prospects at least. Obviously, given his postseason heroics and his lovable personality on the field, everybody, myself included, would be devastated to let go of him. But for the right deal, I think I could understand it were he traded.

Jon Lester – Lester has been nothing short of an ace this year. And with a gigantic payday on the immediate horizon, the Red Sox will be fearing the worst. While he’s said he would consider a return via free agency an option were he traded, I think it would be unlikely. So for the Red Sox to trade him now, they’d need to get the equivalent of a first-round pick in return at the very least, as that would be the compensation for losing him in Free Agency. I’d imagine the Red Sox will be holding out for an offer that will blow them off their feet, and I don’t know how likely that is. But should Lester get traded, it would be five times as sad as the day Nomar Garciaparra was traded. Lester has been everything for the franchise, on the field and off, bringing us two championships, a no-hitter and an incredible story of courage. I really hope his time in Boston is not coming to an end anytime soon. But if he is traded, it will be a sad day.

Over the next few days, we’ll see a few of these names leave Boston, and I’ll have much more to say on the subject. Check back for more Red Sox coverage as the week continues.

Who will you be sad to let go? Please comment below

 

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Hello, Goodbye – Jake Peavy Departs the Red Sox and David Ospina Signs With Arsenal

Yesterday saw the first in what surely will be a series of departures in the next few days for the Red Sox. As the losses pile up quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Red Sox trade away as many as ten players. If other teams are willing to give up valuable commodities for our players, it would make a lot of sense to look towards the future. And Jake Peavy was the first casualty of the recent slump, getting shipped off to San Francisco for two pretty decent prospects.

The Red Sox got more for Peavy than I expected. The two prospects we got in return, Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree, are talented pitchers who are certainly capable of making it to the big leagues. I guess the Giants felt they’ve been underperforming, but they are two of their top pitching prospects so it wasn’t a bad deal for the Sox, who continue to stockpile impressive young arms. Peavy is a much better pitcher than his 1-9 record, but I don’t think many expected a return like this given his struggles.

I gave most of my final thoughts on Peavy after his last start in Toronto (you can read them here), but overall, I think this is a needed change of scenery for the veteran pitcher. While he didn’t make as big an impact in Boston as many hoped when he was acquired last July, he did win a championship. And for that, I consider Peavy’s year here a resounding success. He embraced the team and the city with his whole heart – even buying himself a Duck Boat last winter – and was a huge presence in the clubhouse. He is a fighter on the mound and was it was always fun watching him compete. I wish him the best of luck in San Francisco.

The Red Sox won’t miss Peavy’s lack of production, but they will miss his competitive fire and his clubhouse presence. But with Peavy now gone, expect the next few days to be filled with more goodbyes. Almost everybody we will see go brought us a championship last year, and we should applaud them as they leave. When saying goodbye, think about 2013 rather than 2014.

Moving across the pond, Arsenal today announced their third signing of the summer, bringing in Colombian keeper David Ospina from French side Nice. Despite being only 25 years old, Ospina has a vast amount of experience, having been a starter for his clubs since he turned 17. He has 48 international caps to his name with Colombia, and in South American qualifying for the World Cup, he truly arrived as one of the game’s great keepers with a series of man of the match performances.

Ospina was particularly impressive in Brazil last month at the World Cup, showing himself admirably in Colombia’s run to the quarterfinals. For the most part, he looked an assured pair of hands in the back. His shot-stopping was generally very good, with a couple of key saves in the knockout stage, and he did well to claim crosses throughout the tournament. He also was noticeably quick off his line, with one instance of beating Didier Drogba to a ball on the edge of the box standing out. He seemed to be fond of the punch, as he parried shots and crosses far away from danger quite calmly.

However, despite all that is going for him, I don’t think Ospina will take the number 1 spot from Wojciech Szczesny any time soon. Arsene Wenger says they’ll compete for the job, but Szczesny has too much quality for me to see him losing the spot. But even if Ospina doesn’t earn the starting spot, he will force Szczesny to be at his best throughout the campaign. The Pole is an immensely talented keeper, but his lapses of concentration and perceived overconfidence are worrying at times. Now that he has a quality keeper behind him, one who is even better than Lukasz Fabianski, he’ll have to remain focused at all times. It can only help him to bring in such stiff competition.

It was always going to be difficult to sign a keeper knowing they would likely spend most of their time on the bench, but getting an experienced, but also relatively young, international in Ospina for only a rumored 4 million pounds is a great bit of business. This was yet another well executed transfer this summer, and I have to say, I’m impressed with the way that Arsene Wenger is getting things done in the transfer market. With more arrivals appearing to be close, this could turn out to be an even better summer window for Arsenal.


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10 Years Ago Today

Watching the Red Sox blow a lead against the Blue Jays last night in a momentum-swinging loss, one that could prove decisive in Red Sox GM’s Ben Cherington’s Trading Deadline decision making, I started thinking back to better times. For today, I remembered, was July 24, a day that every Red Sox fan should have implanted in their memory. Ten years ago today, the course of the Red Sox franchise was altered. And I don’t believe I am exaggerating one bit.

On July 24, 2004, the Red Sox and Yankees battled in another mid-summer top of the division clash. The Red Sox had been slumping, and the Yankees were surging. It was not unlike the previous 86 years. But in one game, everything changed. If you still don’t know what I’m referring to, maybe you should watch this video.

That will never get old. The instant that future Red Sox captain Jason Varitek smashed his glove into A-Rod’s face, the Red Sox were given a belief that they hadn’t experienced in years. They could fight back. And damn it, they would fight back. They were done with the bullying from the evil empire. Done with the losing. Done with A-Rod. So when Alex Rodriguez uttered that first expletive in Bronson Arroyo’s direction, he gave the Red Sox exactly what they needed. He ignited a fire that has burned ever since. Three World Series trophies later, we all owe him a big thank you.

Equally important in that game for belief going into the rest of the season was Bill Mueller’s walk-off home run off of Mariano Rivera that completed the comeback victory. Everybody knew Rivera was the best. But from this game on, Mueller and the Red Sox believed they had the legendary closer’s number. That would translate to a lot of postseason heroics. Here is that home run from the Red Sox third baseman who never gets the credit he deserves to this day.

Everybody remembers the ALCS comeback in 2004, but had they not come back against the Yankees on July 24, the Red Sox might not have truly believed. And as we all came to learn in October, belief is everything sometimes.

There aren’t many moments in my life that I can tell you exactly where I was when something important happened. But I can paint you the scene down to the smallest details in this one. For a nine-year-old die hard Red Sox fan, this game was just about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I turn 20 years old next month, which means that this game happened over half my lifetime ago now. That’s a pretty scary thought, considering that I feel like this game happened yesterday. Everything is still so vivid.

In over a century of Red Sox baseball, many moments have stood out as ones that will be discussed as long as baseball is played. But the image of Varitek’s glove in A-Rod’s face should go down as one of the most iconic moments in sports history. May it never be forgotten.

Today, let’s all raise a glass of whatever we are drinking to Bill Mueller and Jason Varitek. Without their heroics ten years ago, life as a Boston sports fan would be drastically different today.


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My Thoughts on Evan Turner, James Rodriguez and Jake Peavy

I’ll get back to my Arsenal player previews tomorrow, but today I’d like to address a few topics from the rest of the sports world.

The news broke in the last few days that the Celtics have signed former number two overall pick Evan Turner. At first glance, this seems an especially strange free agent pickup considering what the Celtics are trying to do with their roster right now. With an already crowded backcourt, adding an easily disgruntled me-first shooting guard seems risky for a number of reasons. The Celtics need their young players to get playing time and they need them to feel comfortable shooting the ball. Turner, it would seem, could only hinder their progress. And with the team a long way away from competing, why would you pay someone relatively big bucks to block the team’s development?

However, I’ve learned to trust Danny Ainge’s judgement for the most part. Aside from Brian Scalabrine’s long-term deal, Ainge has generally done well in getting something out of players that have lost their way. Jordan Crawford was the prime example of such a player. Crawford took his lumps on a losing team, but rediscovered his game and earned himself a way out of town via trade, getting the Celtics a few more draft picks. Turner can be a similar type of project. If he plays, he’ll be able to get off a lot of shots on this team, as few players will take them from him. Then, he can reestablish his market value and the Celtics might be able to sell high on him in February. If he doesn’t play well, he can sit on the bench and watch James Young and Marcus Smart battle in front of him.

At the very least, Turner is someone who wants to score. Last year’s team was a little too pass-heavy at times, and the offense became rather predictable. On his day, Turner can contribute a triple-double. And players like that can attract fans to the TD Garden in a down year. Overall, I’m not quite sure what I think about the signing. It doesn’t seem to fit with the team’s philosophy on the court, but yet it seems strangely right up Ainge’s alley.

Moving to soccer, yesterday’s big news was the confirmation of Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez’s big money move from Monaco to Real Madrid. By now we’re all quite familiar with the left-footed number 10, and his talent level is off the charts. He certainly is good enough to play for the biggest club in the world, and he’ll immediately form an incredible front 4 alongside Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Add in Toni Kroos and Xabi Alonso/Luka Modric in midfield and that lineup is simply unbelievable. The scary part is that the players and their styles of play complement each other, unlike whatever Barcelona is trying to do with Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi.

This move would also seem to indicate the imminent exit of Angel di Maria and/or Isco. Both of these players are world-class, and it’s astounding that players such as these two who have proven themselves more than worthy of places in the side won’t be able to get on the field. Any team will be lucky to sign any of the unwanted Real Madrid castoffs, as they are all sensational talents. But for Madrid, however good they are, they are expendable now. In order to form super-teams, you need to be ruthless to improve great teams. And Carlo Ancelloti have certainly wielded the axe ruthlessly. I won’t want to face Real Madrid any time soon.

However, this move does call into question what FIFA’s Fair Play regulations actually do. How is it that Real Madrid can keep spending absurd sums to their heart’s content? I know they have sold a couple players, but the numbers don’t come close to matching.

Lastly, while I didn’t get to watch last night’s Red Sox game, I wanted to share a few thoughts regarding Jake Peavy. The former Cy Young winner contributed to last year’s World Series championship by bringing a winner’s mojo into the clubhouse upon his arrival at the trading deadline. Even if he didn’t win every time out, he was still bringing positive vibes to the mound. Now, a year after his arrival, everything has flipped. Whenever he pitches, there is bad karma everywhere. He hasn’t pitched well by any means, but it’s no coincidence that he has the worst run support and worst record in the league.

It’s time to get rid of that bad karma. Brandon Workman can fill his role in the rotation, so the Red Sox should take whatever they can get for Jake Peavy, even if it’s a quarter on the dollar. I’m not saying this because I dislike Peavy or think he is as bad as his 1-9 record. I just think the Sox can’t afford to lose their belief every fifth day. We’ll always have the championship with Peavy. And he’ll always have the duckboat. But the Red Sox don’t need to always have Jake Peavy losing games. It’s time for a change.

That’s all for today. Hope it’s a good one.


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Where Has This Team Been All Year?

Good morning, everyone. I was planning on just having one Arsenal post today, but after watching the Red Sox-Blue Jays game last night, I decided I needed to say a little bit about the best Red Sox performance of the entire year. I’ll have the Arsenal post up in a few hours as well.

Wow. I guess the Red Sox really don’t want to see any of their teammates traded away. Where has this team been all year? Just about everybody in the lineup was effective at the plate last night in a 14-1 rout of the Blue Jays, as the offense scored more runs than they had in any game all year. A daunting road trip could have derailed the Sox’s momentum, but the reigning champs kept up the pressure on the rest of the AL East with another win, their eighth in the last nine games. Suddenly, the Trading Deadline doesn’t feel so imminent.

As I wrote yesterday morning, the bats were coming around everywhere except the middle of the lineup this past weekend. Last night, Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava and everybody else who has been struggling all year continued their impressive start to the second half. Every player except for two had multiple hits by the start of the sixth inning. But the difference last night that set off the huge offensive night was that David Ortiz started hitting again. After taking an extra session of early batting practice before the game to rediscover his stroke, Ortiz found success immediately. He had to work for his two home runs, as neither pitch was right in his wheelhouse, and it was evident that the extra work helped him stay balanced in the box. And behind him, Mike Napoli also continued to heat up, hitting another home run himself.

Along with the boost that Ortiz’s night provided, that Drew’s bat is starting to come around is nearly as exciting for a couple reasons. It gives the lineup an extra dimension when he adds some pop. And frankly, I’ve been tired of hearing so many people hate on the guy on talk radio in recent weeks. His defense has always been superb if not spectacular, but his steadiness is more valuable than the flare Jose Iglesias provided. Pitchers love having Drew behind them, and that’s worth a lot.

He’s also capable of hitting more than your average shortstop can. Just a couple years ago, he was considered an elite hitter, and while the glimpses of that player have been rare in his time in Boston, he can still be a threat offensively. Drew could have a lot of say in whether the Sox keep digging themselves out of their hole.

I’ve been expecting Brock Holt to come down to earth for a long time but the longer this goes on, the more it looks like he’s here to stay. Last night was yet another engaging chapter in the Legend of Brock Holt. Three months ago, who would have thought that we be a thing people would be writing? He collected two hits – he’s still leading the league in hits since his call-up in May – including one off yet another lefty, and scored a couple runs.

But it was his catch in right field that stood out for me. It’s amazing how quickly he’s adapted to playing the outfield, and this particular catch showcased all the skills he’s developed in the last month. He read the ball off the bat, sprinted to the right spot, timed his jump perfectly and held onto the ball when he hit the wall. It takes years for the best outfielders to learn how to do that, but Holt has done it in a month. There’s no telling what’s coming next from the little man.

It seems strange that David Ortiz passing Carl Yastrzemski wasn’t mentioned on NESN by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, or at least not in any way I picked up on, but that milestone home run was hardly the story last night. Not even John Lackey’s stellar start deserved the bulk of the headlines either. It was a night about the whole team putting things together. And in that way, it felt a lot like last year.

Suddenly, things are looking up for the Red Sox. It seems like Jake Peavy might be taking the mound tonight in Toronto after all, even after an entire month of trade talks. With the rest of the team’s fortunes rapidly changing, maybe it’s time for Peavy to earn that elusive second win of the season. After the last few days, I expect nothing less.