Jon Lester maintains that he would want to return to the Red Sox even if traded. (AP)

Jon Lester maintains that he would want to return to the Red Sox even if traded. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With the trade deadline now four days away, Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester remains one of the most fascinating candidates on the market. The left-hander is at the point where he wouldn’t be surprised by a trade, but the Sox would have to get tremendous value in return for him.

That being the case, it’s worth noting that one way the team could get greater value for him in a trade would be if he negotiated an extension with the club that acquired him. If landed as a multi-year contributor, the potential prospect return for Lester could increase considerably.

However, it’s a road that Lester is unlikely to go down. He reiterated the notion that his preference is to be with the Red Sox in 2015 and beyond — even if traded for the duration of this year — and so he finds it hard to fathom that he would be able to make a long-term decision about playing in another city during the very narrow window afforded by the trade deadline — particularly given that Lester said he doesn’t plan to make a decision driven purely by securing top dollar, but instead wants to ensure that he is happy with all facets of any team with which he signs.

“Probably not, just based on the fact that going in, you know nothing about it,” Lester said of his willingness to consider an extension. “I think sometimes you can get blinded by success. Especially you come from here, right now, we’re not playing so good — you get traded to a contender, we’re back on the winning trail, everybody is happy when you’re winning. It’s always roses. You can never see the bad when you’re winning. I wouldn’t say never, but it would have to be ideal — you would have to fall into a perfect, perfect scenario.

“But my ultimate goal would be to come back here. That would be, like I said the other day, I know that’s hard to do. I know it doesn’t happen very often. But I understand it. I get it.

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness. There’s some guys, that drives them. That’s great,” said Lester. “For me, I want to be happy. I want to be comfortable. I want to be in a place that wants me and appreciates what I do.”

One additional note: One industry source suggested that there has been no meaningful dialogue about a rumored trade possibility involving the Red Sox and Dodgers that would have the Sox sending Lester to Los Angeles with Matt Kemp coming back to Boston.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox rookie catcher, who had a hit and a couple of great plays in the win that closed out the series.
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox rookie catcher, who had a hit and a couple of great plays in the win that closed out the series.

[0:00:18] ... up to them but on a strike and c'mon you know the strike zone the. -- you must take a lot of pride in being able to occasionally get a strike three your. For your pitcher ...
[0:02:16] ... to his ranch yet and it's got to be a lot of Juan Cruz and catch. Told you we are right course record in all star game you know we're on. Great pitchers. Tell us if possible -- influence. -- -- proposed today there are yet here you guys ...




ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the rest of his teammates prepared for a road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay, David Ortiz said that he was getting ready to visit Jamaica. Evidently, he got there.

David Ortiz hit a three-run homer to propel the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

David Ortiz hit a three-run homer to propel the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the rest of his teammates prepared for a road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay, David Ortiz said that he was getting ready to visit Jamaica. Evidently, he got there.

A lot went wrong for the Red Sox during their 2-5 road trip that essentially snuffed out any sense by the Red Sox front office that a standings surge was possible this year. But Ortiz offered a singular highlight on the trip with an epic display of power.

On Sunday, Ortiz punctuated his showcase by launching a three-run homer that represented the entirety of his team’s offensive output in a 3-2 win over the Rays. In the seven-game trip, Ortiz went 8-for-28 with five homers and two doubles (with a likelihood that one of the doubles should have been ruled a homer rather than a ground-rule double on fan interference), good for a .286/.310/.893 line. He now has 25 homers on the year, the 10th time in his 12 seasons with the Red Sox that he’s reached that market.

At a time when the Sox are trying to evaluate what they have for 2015, Ortiz — even at 38 — continues to represent a known quantity in the middle of the order, a player around whom the team can envision building a deeper, better lineup for next year.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Allen Webster successfully employed a bend-don’t-break strategy to earn his second big league win in eight starts. The 24-year-old struggled to throw strikes, unleashing more balls (44) than strikes (42), yet he still showed the ability to miss the barrel of his opponents’ bats. He allowed just three hits (two singles and a double) while striking out four. Though errant fastball command led him to walk five, Webster’s standout changeup got Rays hitters chasing pitches for either swings and misses or weak contact, allowing the right-hander to limit the damage to two runs in his outing.

Dustin Pedroia finished a difficult road trip on a positive note, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a steal. He went 6-for-15 in the final four games of the trip, while the steal was just Pedroia’s third of the year, and his first since May 2.

Christian Vazquez continued to look comfortable at this level, going 1-for-4 and highlighting his rocket arm in gunning down Ben Zobrist on a stolen base attempt. The Rays did later execute a double steal attempt, but Webster hadn’t given Vazquez a chance on the lead runner and the Sox middle infielders left second base uncovered. Vazquez also made an excellent play to throw out Brandon Guyer on a good bunt down the first base line.

– The Red Sox bullpen delivered a string of impressive performances to forge a combined 11 outs. Edward Mujica (two outs), Andrew Miller (one inning, one walk, one strikeout) and Junichi Tazawa (scoreless eighth, two strikeouts) handled the relay in front of Koji Uehara, who recorded his 21st save with a scoreless ninth.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Brock Holt went 0-for-5, wrapping up a 1-for-13 series against the Rays and a 3-for-26 road trip.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Mookie Betts homered on Saturday.  (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Mookie Betts homered on Saturday.
(Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

The briefest of all looks at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Saturday — with apologies for the brevity.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-5 WIN AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Powering up. Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 — his fourth multi-hit game in six contests — while launching a three-run homer. He now has a six-game hitting streak in which he’s 12-for-28 with a double, triple and homer.

– Shortstop Deven Marrero, who had been in something of a second-half funk (6-for-28), had his second four-hit game of the year, going 4-for-4 with a double and knocking in three. He’s hitting .320/.363/.400.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-0 LOSS AT NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)

(BOX)

– Second baseman Sean Coyle went 2-for-4. He’s recovered from a horrific 0-for-5 game that featured five strikeouts on July 20 to go 9-for-24 (.375) with a double, homer, three walks and four strikeouts.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-2 LOSS VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Justin Haley tossed five innings, allowing just three hits, but one was a two-run homer to account for the only runs he permitted in a loss. Haley struck out two and walked none, continuing a year in which the 23-year-old has had tremendous control, averaging 7.2 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings.

– Left-hander Corey Littrell allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits (including a homer), walked two and punched out six whle working as a piggyback starter. In seven second-half appearances, the 22-year-old has 7.2 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings with a svelte 2.25 ERA. The homer was the first he’d given up since June 20.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-5 WIN AT HAGERSTOWN (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz continued to show the ability to handle an innings load, earning the win while yielding four runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out two. The 20-year-old has pitched at least six innings in nine of his 19 starts, and in his first pro season, the 2013 second-rounder has already crossed the 100 innings threshold (102 1/3). While he hasn’t shown plus stuff, he’s shown the ability to throw strikes with multiple pitches, and seems to be responding well to the physical demands of pro ball — as evident by the fact that his velocity has been creeping up throughout the year, topping out around 96-97 mph in recent weeks.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 9-5 WIN VS. HUDSON VALLEY (RAYS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Bryan Hudson went 4-for-5. The 19-year-old’s four-hit game included a pair of triples and a pair of hits in a single inning. He’s hitting .243/.326/.330 with four steals.

– First baseman Sam Travis went 1-for-4 with his fourth homer of the year. He’s hitting .303/.355/.394 in July.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 5-2 LOSS VS. GCL TWINS

(BOX)

– Shortstop Javier Guerra continues to show an uncommon ability to impact the ball for an 18-year-old with strong shortstop skills. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, giving him 12 extra-base hits in 27 games on the way to a .304/.317/.471 line.

– Wunderkind Rafael Devers went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk. He has a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .385 — actually a step down from his overall performance in 17 games since being promoted to the GCL from the DSL. Since reaching the States, Devers is hitting .393/.449/.623.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT DSL MARINERS

(BOX)

Enmanuel DeJesus, a 17-year-old left-hander from Venezuela, recorded a career-high six punchouts in 3 2/3 innings. He has 37 punchouts and 15 walks in 41 innings.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 0-for-4, and is now 1-for-12 during his GCL rehab assignment.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Andrew Miller has been traded before. Indeed, he owns a permanent place in baseball history, having been traded after the 2007 season (his first full year in pro ball) by the Tigers to the Marlins as part of a six-player package that resulted in Miguel Cabrera joining Detroit.

Andrew Miller is aware of his name in the trade rumor mill. (AP)

Andrew Miller is aware of his name in the trade rumor mill. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Andrew Miller has been traded before. Indeed, he owns a permanent place in baseball history, having been traded after the 2007 season (his first full year in pro ball) by the Tigers to the Marlins as part of a six-player package that resulted in Miguel Cabrera joining Detroit. At the time, Miller recalled, there was shock value to being dealt by the organization that had drafted him just 18 months earlier.

This year, there will be no shock if Miller is dealt by Thursday’s trade deadline. Rumors of a heating market are growing in intensity. Several industry sources suggested that, in many ways, it would be a shock if the Red Sox do not deal Miller, a 29-year-old who has harnessed his mid- to high-90s fastball and slider to forge a 2.52 ERA with an eye-popping 14.6 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings in 47 appearances (39 1/3 innings).

Miller will be eligible for free agency this offseason. Given his age, recent dominance and prevailing market trends, he’ll probably seek something north of the three-year, $21 million deal that power lefty setup man Jeremy Affeldt received from the Giants after the 2012 season (when he was 33 years old). Even if the Sox wanted to bring him back, the market for his services via trade right now could be considerable.

A year ago, for instance, the Padres turned left-hander Joe Thatcher (and a prospect) into starter Ian Kennedy at the trade deadline. Thatcher had an additional year of team control, but couldn’t match Miller’s dominance. Last year, the Angels dealt two months of left-hander Scott Downs for a long-term bullpen piece in Cory Rasmus — at a time when Downs had been reduced to the lefty specialist role.

The Sox’ potential haul for Miller likely will be capped by the fact that he’ll be a free agent after this season, but his value among the bandwidth of available relievers is considerable. Miller understands that. Yet at this stage of his career, having found the long-anticipated success in his career, he suggested he’s not focused on the matter.

“Honestly I don’t really care to find out if I’m worth a team’s seventh-best prospect or Baseball America’s 150th best prospect. I would have no idea where to begin. That’s for the general managers and scouts to figure out,” Miller said on the Minor Details podcast. “As far as the trade deadline, being mentioned, it’s impossible to avoid. Shoot, my parents, my wife, my agent, everybody — you hear the rumblings. You can be aware of that stuff, but when I get to the ballpark, I’ve got to completely forget it, ignore it and focus on the task and hand, and that’s winning the ballgame today and how can I help?”

That is a question that Miller may well be asking with another team by the end of the week.

For more of Miller’s thoughts on prospect valuation, his recollections of having been part of the Cabrera deal and his views on the trade rumor mill, click here for the Minor Details podcast.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — At a time when the Red Sox are sinking in the standings, with contention ever more difficult, some player concerns have shifted from the state of the team to their own place on the roster. It’s not an uncommon occurrence when an environment shifts from one in which winning was routine to one in which struggle becomes the norm.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — At a time when the Red Sox are sinking in the standings, with contention ever more difficult, some player concerns have shifted from the state of the team to their own place on the roster. It’s not an uncommon occurrence when an environment shifts from one in which winning was routine to one in which struggle becomes the norm.