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.

The Red Sox have no plans to shift Felix Doubront back to the rotation. (AP)

The Red Sox have no plans to shift Felix Doubront back to the rotation. (AP)

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. Nonetheless, that doesn’t diminish the challenge of navigating through player discontent.

On Saturday, Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp made known his desire for a trade, saying that he’d asked the Red Sox to trade him to another team that might be able to give him a greater playing opportunity.

Through 104 teams games this year, Carp — hitting .215/.337/.304 entering his start against the Rays on Sunday — has played in 39 games, making 19 starts, with 95 total plate appearances. Through the first 104 games of 2013, Carp played in 54 games, making 36 starts, with 156 total plate appearances.

That said, Carp missed 33 team games while on the DL with a broken foot, explaining some of the disparity. Had he remained healthy, his playing time for the year would project to 57 games, 28 starts and 139 plate appearances through 104 games.

So, the Red Sox don’t believe that Carp’s playing opportunity has changed significantly. Yet they are aware of his displeasure in his current role.

“We’ve had a chance to sit down and talk. I respect his desire to play more,” said manager John Farrell. “And yet, when you’ve been very consistent with what his role was a year ago, that was to be the same role this year. And I understand where players want to get on the field more consistently. So I respect what he had to say.”

Felix Doubront likewise has said on multiple occasions that he does not see himself as a reliever. Yet the Sox believe that the 26-year-old has an opportunity to become a meaningful contributor in precisely that capacity, even as they acknowledge that based on stuff, ability and physicality, in another circumstance, he could be a starter.

But given his performance in the rotation compared to those of other pitchers — such as Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Sunday call-up Allen Webster — Farrell suggested that Doubront needed to be mindful not of whether he could be, in some sort of theoretical vacuum, a starter, but rather whether that’s his most valuable role on this roster, where a case can be made that other pitchers are more deserving of rotation spots.

“This is still a left-handed pitcher who’s got good stuff,” said Farrell. “Consistency has been something that’s always been a focal point from start to start, or in any given inning. That still remains. But when you start to grade out the physical abilities, you would think that he’s certainly capable of more [than a reliever]. …

“[But] there’s a clear role for him in the bullpen. Sometimes performance guides where you are slated or where you’re slotted. And sometimes, that’s where some objectivity has to come into play,” the manager added. “Like I said, I fully respect guys wanting an expanded role. Along with that comes the circumstances that they find themselves in. Who else is around them? Who else is competing for the same spots? You can’t turn away from that.”

These are the sorts of headaches that Farrell rarely confronted — at least not publicly — last year. Perhaps such outcomes were inevitable, with Carp and Doubront eventually struggling with a change of roles regardless of the team’s performance. But perhaps their frustrations with their roles are being magnified by the team’s declining fortunes, with shared goals yielding to personal ones.

“I think when teams are performing well as a group, there might be more of a willingness to accept a given role,” said Farrell. “But as I mentioned, I respect that a guy wants to get on the field. Yet there’s competition from within, and sometimes that wins out.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On a night of offensive futility, it was the moment that reverberated.

Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning on Saturday night against Rays reliever Grant Balfour. At a time when the Red Sox trailed, 2-0, Bogaerts had an opportunity to alter the contest, with runners on first and third and one out.

Xander Bogaerts thought that his strikeout on Saturday represented the third out rather than the second. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts thought that his strikeout on Saturday represented the third out rather than the second. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On a night of offensive futility, it was the moment that reverberated.

Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning on Saturday night against Rays reliever Grant Balfour. At a time when the Red Sox trailed, 2-0, Bogaerts had an opportunity to alter the contest, with runners on first and third and one out.

And so, when Bogaerts took a fastball for a called third strike, the moment was disheartening enough for the young player. But then it became embarrassing.

Bogaerts placed his helmet and bat on the dirt next to the batter’s box and removed his batting gloves, as if the inning was over. He thought that he had recorded the third out of the inning instead of the second.

“It’s something that shouldn’t happen again,” said Bogaerts. “I went up there, double-checked with [Rays catcher Jose Molina], asked him, ‘Two outs,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, two outs.’ That’s what I heard. I could have heard wrong, too. But that’s what I heard. If I got it wrong, that’s terrible. It’s something that shouldn’t happen again.”

Bogaerts said it wouldn’t have altered his offensive approach had he known that he was hitting with one out — in which an out could have still meant a run — rather than two. He would have looked to accomplish the same thing against Balfour regardless of the number of outs, hoping to go up the middle.

Yet to Sox officials, the fact that Bogaerts lost sight of the game situation represented an indicator of a player who may be struggling to stay afloat as he tries to swim through frustrations that he’s never before encountered. As such, that misstep — the culmination of mind-blowing struggles — convinced the Sox to give the 21-year-old a day off in the series finale on Sunday.

Bogaerts did collect a hit on Saturday, but that was the only time he put a ball in play while going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. While he’s shown recent glimpses of emerging from the offensive funk that has consumed him since early June, those have been unsustained, with Bogaerts now hitting .237/.309/.352 this season. That includes a 40-game run since June 5 in which Bogaerts is hitting .146/.181/.199 with six walks, 42 strikeouts and four extra-base hits in 160 plate appearances.

“I think yesterday was probably one of the first times, one of the few times we’ve seen him where the game situation, or what was unfolding inside it, maybe caused a little bit of a distraction to him. So, felt like today was a good day to give him a little bit of a breather,” said Sox manager John Farrell in explaining why the Sox have Brock Holt at third and Bogaerts on the bench against Rays right-hander Chris Archer. “As we’ve done of late, there’s been times when we’ve given him a little bit of a blow, just trying to stay with the pace of things as we get a little bit deeper into the season.”

Of the recent glimpses of progress — such as a homer in the first game after the All-Star break or a three-hit game against the Blue Jays last week that have quickly yielded to struggles — Farrell acknowledged the fitful nature of Bogaerts’ performance.

“Trying to keep some momentum going with the adjustments he’s continuing to work on daily,” the manager said. “We’ve seen it gain a little traction inside of a given game, but occasionally there’s some reversion back to him being a little bit quick to the front side — some of the same challenges that he’s been facing for some time now.”

The failure to remember the number of outs offered the Sox something of a red flag regarding Bogaerts’ state of mind on Saturday. Bogaerts, however, rejected the notion that the misstep represented a more profound struggle to deal with the frustrations of the most sustained slump of his life.

“It had nothing to do with frustrations. I went up there and I heard there were two outs. I just went up there and wanted to put up a good at-bat,” said Bogaerts. “I wish I didn’t do it, because it didn’t look good, but I’m not the first and won’t be the last to do it.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Allen Webster

Allen Webster

The Red Sox will look to salvage what has been a disappointing three-game set against the Rays on Sunday, sending Allen Webster to the hill against Chris Archer in the series finale.

Webster will make his first appearance with Boston this season — starting in place of Jake Peavy, who was traded to the Giants on Saturday.

Acquired from the Dodgers in the August 2012 deal that saw Boston part ways with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto, Webster has been solid down at Triple-A Pawtucket this year with a 4-4 record and a 3.10 ERA in 21 games (20 starts).

Amongst International League leaders, Webster entered Sunday eighth in ERA, fourth in strikeouts (100) and fifth in innings pitched (122). The Greensboro, N.C., native has been a reliable presence in the Pawtucket rotation, allowing three runs or fewer in 19 of his 21 appearances this season.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Webster’€™s experience and consistency were the prime reasons why he was the one to get the call-up to the major leagues.

“At the time when [Rubby De La Rosa] came up, it was either Allen or Rubby, take your pick. So he has been able to maintain the overall command of stuff [better] than a year ago,” Farrell said. “€œAnd he’s got another 20-plus starts under his belt at the Triple-A level, which when you take back last year, when you look back last year, his year at Triple-A was a very good one for us. In the process of transitioning to our level here.”

Webster left a lot to be desired in his first run with Boston in 2013, posting a 1-2 record with an 8.60 ERA (29 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings). Sunday will mark Webster’€™s first career appearance against the Rays.

Archer (6-5, 3.31 ERA) helped Tampa Bay earn its fifth straight win in his last outing against the Twins on June 20, allowing one earned run over 6 1/3 innings.

“I think that today was an average day as far as I go,” Archer said after the game. “I didn’t have my wipeout slider consistently. But I threw some changeups to kind of counteract my slider not quite being where I wanted it to be. And at times when I needed to make pitches with my fastball, I did.”

Archer, who started the season with a 5.16 ERA through his first eight outings, has gone through an impressive turnaround as of late, compiling a 2.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over his last 12 starts.

Archer’€™s last start against Boston was on May 23, as the 25-year-old righty allowed no earned runs over six innings while striking out 11 in what was a 1-0 Rays win. In five career appearances against the Red Sox, Archer is 1-2 with a 4.81 ERA.

Red Sox vs. Archer (RHP) 

Chris Archer

Chris Archer

Dustin Pedroia (14 plate appearances): .100/.286/.100, 1 single, 2 RBIs

Mike Napoli (11): .100/.182/.100, 1 single, 6 strikeouts

David Ortiz (11): .444/.545/.444, 4 singles, 5 RBIs

Shane Victorino (9): .250/.333/.375, 1 double, 1 RBI

Daniel Nava (8): .200/.500/.800, 1 home run, 3 walks

Xander Bogaerts has one walk and four strikeouts in five plate appearances against Archer.

Jackie Bradley (4): .333/.500/.333, 1 single, 2 strikeouts

Stephen Drew has two strikeouts in four plate appearances against Archer.

Brock Holt has one double in three plate appearances against Archer.

Mike Carp has one single in two plate appearances against Archer.

Rays vs. Webster (RHP)

Logan Forsythe has one strikeout in three plate appearances against Webster.

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ultimately, the Red Sox lost because they did not hit on Saturday night. The team’s 3-0 loss to the Rays suggested that preventing Tampa Bay’s second run likely would not have meant the difference between victory and defeat.

David Ortiz said he felt umpires ruled incorrectly on a review of what could have been a home run. (AP)

David Ortiz said he felt umpires ruled incorrectly on a review of what could have been a home run. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ultimately, the Red Sox lost because they did not hit on Saturday night. The team’s 3-0 loss to the Rays suggested that preventing Tampa Bay’s second run likely would not have meant the difference between victory and defeat.

Still, Sox players expressed a degree of dual confusion about one play in the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning, with Yunel Escobar on second base and one out, catcher Christian Vazquez snared a breaking ball in the dirt and fired a missile to second base. His throw appeared to beat Escobar to the bag by plenty, with shortstop Stephen Drew slapping on a tag. Yet Escobar was ruled safe.

Manager John Farrell made the slow stroll to second base umpire Marcus Pattillo, and once there, he awaited word from the dugout as to whether or not to challenge the ruling on the field. Farrell elected not to do so.

“When we reviewed it internally, it wasn’t conclusive,” Farrell said after the game. “Where we were at that time of the game, given our history with when we’ve used the system before, when it’s not conclusive, we’re not going to risk using the one challenge we have at that moment.”

Yet upon seeing replays of the play and call, Red Sox players had a different view.

“A challenge would have been nice there. Looked like he was pretty out,” said Lackey. “I looked at it, he looked pretty out to me. But you’€™re right, sometimes they still don’€™t overturn when it looks pretty — you never know. We’€™ve had it go both ways this year so, what are you going to do?”

David Ortiz was more blunt.

“How in the hell didn’€™t we challenge that one? Inconclusive? They played that on TV 20 times. I saw the replay like 20 times on TV. Me and [Shane Victorino] saw it,” said Ortiz. “That was [an] out.’€

Ortiz had assumed that the team hadn’t challenged because of an earlier review of a scorcher Ortiz hit to right field that was ruled fan interference when a fan gloved it (and appeared to trap it against) atop the yellow line of demarcation for home runs. But that review was actually an umpire review (rather than a managerial challenge); Farrell still had his challenge, but elected not to use it, a fact about which Ortiz seemed surprised.

Of course, there are few certainties regarding the outcome of a review. Ortiz felt strongly that his first-inning shot should have been a home run, and remained dismayed that even after the video review, it was ruled a ground-rule double.

Ortiz was displeased.

‘€œThat was a [redacted] homer. That was a home run,” said Ortiz. “I don’€™t give a [expurgated] what they say. That was a homer. They [expletived] up on that one right there.

“They say the guy reached over. The guy, he reached over, but the pressure of the ball pulled him down. That ball was going to be over the freaking yellow line over there,” he added. “I think that the umpire down the line, he kind of panicked when he saw the right fielder [motioning for interference]. I guess that’€™s what happened. but I watched the whole replay ‘€“ that was a home run.”

Here is the controversial play:

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier