Tim Kurkjian

Tim Kurkjian

ESPN baseball writer Tim Kurkjian joined Middays with MFB Monday afternoon to discuss trade rumors surrounding Jon Lester, Koji Uehara and other Red Sox players. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Trade rumors linking Lester to the Dodgers have quickly emerged as one of the top stories leading up to the July 31 deadline, with LA outfielder Matt Kemp tied in with many of the trade discussions. Kurkjian said that he doesn’€™t believe that Boston will trade its ace, but noted that a lot can change in the upcoming days.

“I’€™m going to say that Jon Lester is not going to be traded, with the understanding that has finally occurred to me in the last five days that it’€™s a possibility,” Kurkjian said. “I would say 10 days ago, I was told, ‘€˜Jon Lester is not going to be traded.’€™ And now that possibility exists, therefore it is a fascinating situation, and the Dodger angle is very interesting. They have so much money to deal with, all they care about there is winning a World Series and if they can’€™t get David Price, than maybe, just maybe, they look to Jon Lester.

“I’€™m just not sure that Matt Kemp is the right fit here. Granted, the Red Sox need all sorts of outfield help, that’€™s pretty obvious. He played all three outfield positions this year because he has not done very well in center field, but it just doesn’€™t seem like this is going to happen -€“ Kemp for Lester – because too much money is involved from Kemp’€™s end, free agency with Lester, to me, there are just too many moving parts.”

Another prime candidate to be traded is closer Koji Uehara, who has once again been spectacular at the back end of the bullpen (21 saves, 1.51 ERA, 0.76 WHIP) this season. While Kurkjian acknowledged that Uehara could be dealt, he added that a big-market team such as the Red Sox do not have the luxury to just mail it in for the rest of the season.

“It’€™s going to be real interesting what they do with Koji, who had a second half of the year like almost no closer has ever had. … But a free agent at the end of the year, how much is he going to ask for? The Red Sox have to ask themselves, ‘€˜Is he our closer? Do we need to re-sign him? What’€™s that going to take?’€™ I was told all along that they’€™re not trading Koji if they’€™re in the race, but if they fall out of the race, they naturally have to at least look into it, and I’€™m sure that they will,” Kurkjian said. “All sorts of teams need a reliever, that’€™s for sure. This is where contenders, including the Dodgers, just absolutely load up on as many relievers as the can get down the stretch, because you win in the postseason with a deep, versatile bullpen.”

Kurkjian continued: “This is a different situation here in Boston. These are not the Cubs. This team won the World Series last year, they’€™re selling out virtually every night, it’€™s an expensive ticket, you can’€™t just give up on the season when you’€™re the Boston Red Sox and that’€™s the tricky spot that they’€™re in.”

With the Red Sox 10 1/2 games back in the AL East standings, it appears that all hope is lost for any potential playoff runs in 2014. As a result, multiple players could be sent packing in the coming days, including Mike Carp, Felix Doubront, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes. While the Red Sox aren’€™t likely to gain ground in the standings, Kurkjian said that a potential Red Sox fire sale would not be too large.

“No, I don’€™t think so,” Kurkjian said. “I think at this time of year, at least this is my experience, you hear 1,000 names and two of them move, or one of them move. You also need to look at the value of the people that you’€™re trading. Mike Carp is a good player in spurts, he can help you in a lot of ways but he’€™s not going to bring you much realistically, so if you’€™re not getting anything back, why would you move him even though he’€™d like to move on? … That’€™s the way it works this time of year. When you fall out of it, everyone’€™s available but it’€™s very rare that three, four, five guys move from one team at the trade deadline.”

For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

The outlook of the 2014 season looks bleak for the Red Sox.

With just four days until the July 31 trade deadline and 10 1/2 games out of first place, it appears that Boston is ready to wave the white flag on the year and prepare to add assets for future campaigns.

“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015,”€ said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’€™t know yet.”

While Boston’€™s chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle by the day, the Red Sox still have an opportunity to make up some ground in the division when they host the Blue Jays for a three-game series at Fenway Park.

While the Red Sox trend downward, the Blue Jays have looked resurgent coming out of the All-Star Break. Entering the break, Toronto had dropped eight of its last 10 games and had fallen to four games out of first place in the AL East. Even with injuries to key contributors such as Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays have been able to battle back into contention for a playoff spot with a 7-3 record over their last 10 games.

“It is kind of a resilient group,” said manager John Gibbons said after Toronto’€™s 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. “We have some guys that didn’t start with us, they’re getting some opportunities and they’re doing good things for us.

“That’s important, guys are filling in and they have to do the job for you. We were struggling going into the All-Star break, so playing better coming out of it was very important to us.”

The Blue Jays got the best of the Red Sox in their last series on July 21-24 at Rogers Centre, taking three of four from Boston and further knocking the Red Sox down in the division standings. Boston has struggled against Toronto this season, posting a 3-7 record against its divisional opponent.

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.

Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-6, 5.50 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.04 ERA)

Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA)

Wednesday: Jon Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (10-7, 3.19 ERA)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

– Boston ace Jon Lester has continued to string together his best stretch in a Red Sox uniform amid multiple trade rumors, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.07 ERA in his last eight starts. Lester is making the most out of a contract year, compiling career highs in ERA (2.52), WHIP (1.12) and strikeout/walk ratio (4.66).

David Ortiz wasn’€™t lying when he said he was about to ‘€œget hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.’€

The Red Sox designated hitter went on a tear during the team’€™s recent seven-game road trip, hitting .286 with 12 RBIs. Seven of Ortiz’€™s eight hits were for extra bases (five home runs, two doubles). Prior to his power surge, Ortiz hit at a paltry .210/.317/.395 clip over his previous 57 games.

Dustin Pedroia rebounded from an 0-for-17 hitless streak (July 19 – July 22) during the final four games of the road trip, batting .400 (6-for-15) with one double and 1 RBI. Pedroia also recorded his third stolen base of the season Sunday -€“ his first theft since May 2.

WHO’€™S HOT: BLUE JAYS

– Toronto starter Marcus Stroman will likely be looking forward to taking the hill against the Red Sox again, as the young righty took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing against Boston Thursday en route to an 8-0 victory.

Stroman, the youngest member of the Jays rotation at just 23 years old, has been the team’€™s most consistent starter, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Melky Cabrera has continued to play a major role in Toronto’€™s offense this month, posting a .356/.417/.506 line in July with eight doubles and 11 RBIs. The 29-year-old outfielder has only gotten better at the dish as the month has progressed, hitting .400 (10-for-25) with six doubles over his last five games.

WHO’€™S NOT: RED SOX

– It seems like Brock Holt is human after all.

The Red Sox utility man cooled off during the team’€™s seven-game stretch away from Fenway, hitting just .115 (3-for-26) over his last six games. Holt, who was hitting .326 as late as July 20, has seen his average drop to .307 entering Monday’€™s game.

– In what has been a recurring theme this season, Xander Bogaerts continues to look lost at the plate, hitting just .211 (4-for-19) with 6 strikeouts and no walks over his last four games. Over his last 37 games, Bogaerts has posted a line of .139/.172/.190 with just three extra-base hits (two home runs, one double).

– While Rubby De La Rosa has excelled at Fenway this season (3-0, 1.38 ERA), the same can’€™t be said for when the 25-year-old starter takes the hill on the road, posting an 0-3 record with a 6.04 ERA. De La Rosa turned in his worst start of the season in his last appearance against the Blue Jays Thursday, allowing six earned runs over four innings of work.

WHO’€™S NOT: BLUE JAYS 

– Blue Jays southpaw Mark Buehrle established himself as a Cy Young candidate during the early stages of the 2014 season, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.10 ERA over his first 12 starts of the season. The veteran lefty has yet to replicate his success in the second half of the season, posting a 4.95 ERA over his last nine starts while failing to earn a win since June 1.

One member of Toronto’€™s potent lineup that has failed to pull his weight this month has been outfielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus has hit just .193 (11-for-57) in July with four extra-base hits (two home runs, one double, one triple).

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan
Tim Kurkjian joins the program to discuss the Red Sox options at the trade deadline.

[0:00:15] ... -- after five days intention. Settled in November December. October whenever this. Jon Lester on the prospect to be traded from the Boston Red Sox -- to -- a hot topic of conversation our program earlier today Alou Maloney Christian Fauria and meets him -- -- -- with an FBI on 937 WEEI your home of the Boston Red Sox -- us right now let's talk about that and more on the AT&T hotline. Promised pianist in courts in. Tim thanks a lot for joining us and let's cut right to the chase here Jon Lester -- be traded will -- -- -- LA and is Matt -- coming back here in exchange. Orlando -- early in the first question today. I. -- gives -- I'm gonna pay that now answered. In not only be traded with the understanding that it finally occurred to me in the last five days. -- it and -- possibility -- I would say and they ago I was built Jon Lester is not. Going to be traded and now that possibility. Exists in the airport it is a fascinating situation. And the dodger angle is Barea is staying they have so much money -- at all they care about they're winning World Series if they can't get David Wright. Then maybe just maybe they looked at Jon Lester. Is that your Matt Kemp is the right fit here granted. The Red Sox need all sort of outfield -- that's pretty ...
[0:02:28] ... that desperate team -- How do you find the Texas Rangers for Matt Garza right -- units that's been there that the can get over the hump and that's that's we wanted to do whatever it ...
[0:03:20] ... much -- -- -- you give up certainly one of them for Jon Lester and he out at self. Is that work that or a two months now and they're bad situations there's no telling what they might do. Let the same time and is not in mortgage the future Jesper two months so if it were GM -- Earn every out of their salary right now to like make that looked like take a chance or do you like it that it. These are the hardest decision. At GM will ever happen. Regarding Andrew Miller and his future and -- we can now attached Koji who Haaretz of that discussion as well. Yeah I mean it's gonna ...
[0:05:14] ... but something up that. My concern is big picture of what this Jon Lester negotiation. Committee how they're moving forward here and -- and John Henry. There's still a big market team as long as you ...






A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

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– The PawSox saw their 11-game winning streak conclude. Pawtucket broadcaster Josh Maurer does an excellent job dissecting the streak.

– Right-hander Matt Barnes had his second straight solid start coming out of the All-Star Break, tossing five innings and allowing two runs while matching a season-high with six strikeouts. He gave up four hits (three singles and a double) while walking two. Barnes now has back-to-back outings of at least five innings and two runs allowed, the first time he’s had such a stretch since accomplishing the feat in four straight starts to open his season in Pawtucket.

– Feats of Mookie: Streaking (modestly). Mookie Betts went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games, and he’s hitting .361/.395/.556 in his eight games since returning to Triple-A Pawtucket. He did, however, strike out twice on Sunday and now has whiffed nine times while walking just twice since returning to the minors, suggesting that he’s still regaining his timing at the plate after navigating through part-time duty in the big leagues.

Ryan Lavarnway, playing first base, went 2-for-4 with a double. He’s 3-for-6 with a double and two walks in his two games back at Pawtucket, and 8-for-22 with two doubles, a homer and four walks overall during his rehab assignment while returning from a broken wrist.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 8-5 WIN AT NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)

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– For the first time in his eight starts in Portland, right-hander Luis Diaz gave up more than three runs. The 22-year-old permitting five runs on seven hits (a single, five doubles, a triple) in five innings while punching out four and walking two.

– Left fielder Keury De La Cruz, in his third game off the DL, went 2-for-5 with a double and homer. The 22-year-old snapped a string of 16 straight games without an extra-base hit, a drought that suggests that his swing-first approach (he hasn’t walked in 14 games in July) limits his ability to hone in on pitches against which he can apply his ability to damage the baseball. In 40 games this year, he’s hitting .282/.292/.389.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-1 WIN VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

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– Right-hander Pat Light closed out an outstanding July with a career-high seven innings in which he allowed one run on four hits (three singles and a solo homer), walked three, struck out two and got an eye-opening 13 outs on the ground. After entering the month with a 6.39 ERA in his first 12 starts following an early-season promotion, the 2012 supplemental first-rounder went 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA while operating as a groundball machine, holding opponents to a .211 average in the month despite getting just 13 strikeouts (against 12 walks) in 30 innings.

– First baseman Jantzen Witte snapped a three-game, 0-for-9 stretch (and a 1-for-19 run over five games) by going 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk. The 24-year-old now has 18 extra-base hits in 34 games since moving up from Greenville, forging a .279/.336/.473 line.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-4 WIN AT HAGERSTOWN (NATIONALS)

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Forrestt Allday, in his first game in three weeks, went 3-for-4 with a triple and drove in two runs. The 23-year-old is hitting .274/.380/.360 in 52 games during his first full pro season.

Wendell Rijo‘s spectacular month continued, as the 18-year-old went 2-for-5 with a double and walk to improve his line to .286/.378/.600 with 12 extra-base hits in 19 games. He’d never before slugged over .500 in a month. While Rijo has shown impressive offensive potential, the fact that he is a second baseman — and without the freakish athleticism of a Mookie Betts to permit him to move all over the field — suggests that he represents a potentially redundant asset. He’s so low in the minors that it could be years before a potential bottleneck; nonetheless, while he fits the profile of an above-average offensive second baseman in the big leagues, if teams ask for him as part of the return on a package that might feature more big league-ready young talent going to the Red Sox, it would be hard to imagine Rijo being off limits.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 9-3 LOSS VS. BROOKLYN (METS)

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– Outfielder Danny Mars went 1-for-3 and got hit by a pitch, extending his hitting streak to 10 games (.325/.372/.450 line during that time) and his streak of consecutive games reaching base by walk or hit to 15. In 25 games, the 20-year-old switch-hitter has a .353/.416/.510 line, including marks of .397/.443/.562 against righties.

– Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to eight games during which he’s hitting .419/.406/.613 with a pair of homers among his 13 hits.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: OFF DAY

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: OFF DAY

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who’s next? It’s a question that hovers over the Red Sox roster right now, and will continue to do so until the trade deadline passes on Thursday. All potential free agents are on high alert, given the Red Sox’ stated intention of putting themselves in the best position possible come April 2015.

Jonny Gomes said he's aware of, but not alarmed by, the possibility of being dealt. (AP)

Jonny Gomes said he’s aware of, but not alarmed by, the possibility of being dealt. (AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who’s next? It’s a question that hovers over the Red Sox roster right now, and will continue to do so until the trade deadline passes on Thursday. All potential free agents are on high alert, given the Red Sox’ stated intention of putting themselves in the best position possible come April 2015.

Outfielder Jonny Gomes, in the second season of the two-year, $10 million contract he signed with the Red Sox on his birthday following the 2012 campaign, is aware of that fact. The possibility is not alarming, as Gomes already has experienced a mid-year relocation, going from the Reds to the Nationals for a pair of minor leaguers in 2011.

The 33-year-old, hitting .240/.333/.363 with six homers, but a robust .315/.410/.450 line against lefties, clearly wouldn’t be surprised if he were dealt to a contender in need of a right-handed bat with some thump. He’s not eager to be dealt, but he’s prepared if it happens, and suggests that his on-field performance won’t be impacted by the team for whom he spends the rest of the year.

“The first time I got traded, it was extremely mixed emotions of a team, not necessarily giving up, but feels you’re replaceable. At the same time, out of all the guys available in the trade market, this other team picked you,” said Gomes. “You never want to be given up on. But there are situations where you’re not being given up on but the business side stands out.

“This happens every year. This isn’t my first rodeo with this and me,” he added. “You truly have got to wait for the moment, play for the moment. I’ve seen guys get wrapped up in it and fail. I’ve seen guys try too hard. I’ve seen guys shine, get traded and they go somewhere else and lay an egg because they were putting on a front. That’s one thing that won’t happen with me.

“I signed a two-year deal here. I would love to fulfill that agreement that I signed,” he added. “But I feel the same way that [Jake Peavy, dealt to the Giants on Saturday] probably feels. I truly hope that if I leave, it would be to help the organization.”

Whether traded or not, Gomes said that he represents a known commodity — whether to the Red Sox or a team acquiring him.

“One thing I can guarantee, if I’ve got a uni, I’m going all out. I truly don’t have that in me to play any different, whether it’s the trade deadline or not the trade deadline, 20 games out or 20 games up,” said Gomes. “I’ve been here a year and a half. I don’t think people have seen any difference in styles of play for me — swing hard, run hard and overly aggressive mistakes. At the end of the day, I’ll take that over the other way.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The weekend offered a glimpse into some of the challenges John Farrell, Red Sox have had to face this season. (AP)ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It is difficult to comprehend the place where the Red Sox have arrived. The dynamic surrounding the team bears no resemblance to what was accomplished -- and how it was accomplished -- last year.



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When David Ortiz launched a three-run homer that ultimately propelled the Red Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Rays. He enjoyed it. His opponent did not.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When David Ortiz launched a three-run homer that ultimately propelled the Red Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Rays. He enjoyed it. His opponent did not.

Ortiz decimated an elevated Chris Archer changeup and sent it rocketing into the far reaches of the right field bleachers in the Tropicana Dome. He admired his work, then flung his bat to punctuate his blast before circling the bases. In an echo of comments made earlier this season by Archer’s teammate, David Price, Archer (a 25-year-old who has appeared in 49 career big league games), suggested that Ortiz acted without a proper sense of decorum.

“I think it was a perfect example of what Price said,” Archer told reporters. “All of my interactions with him off the field have been good, but when it comes to him on the field, I don’t know what makes him think that he can showboat the way he does, and then nobody can retaliate or look at him in a funny way or nobody can pitch him inside.”

Ortiz shrugged off the criticism, and suggested Archer — given his lack of big league experience — wasn’t the right one to level such judgments.

“Tie game, something like that, you put your team ahead, you enjoy,” said Ortiz. “What can I tell you man? Players in today’€™s game are too sensitive about things. I’€™ll just leave it like that. I think he’€™s a good pitcher. I think he’€™s got great stuff. He’€™s a guy that I think is going to be pretty good. But it takes some time to get to that level.

“There’€™s always going to comments out there. He’€™s not the right guy to be saying that. He’€™s got two days in the league, you can’€™t be just [whining] and complaining about [stuff] like that.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz, who slammed his fifth homer of the seven-game road trip on Sunday to propel the Red Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Rays, took stock of his team at a time when it’s prepared to return to Fenway Park nine games below .500, with rumors swirling of players who might get moved in the coming four days. Ortiz made clear that his preference is to see the Red Sox keep Jon Lester and work to regain their footing with the left-hander.

“Like I always say, I’€™m just another player here where I’€™ve got no choice but to agree with whatever,” Ortiz said. “The front office is hard to do and they’€™ve been talking about trading Jon. That sounds like a rebuilding, that type of situation. I don’€™t know. There’€™s not much I can say about it but they’€™ve probably got their reason to do it. Hopefully it doesn’€™t happen. Lester is one of the best pitchers in the game. That’€™s a keeper. … Hopefully he sticks around and keeps on giving us those good seasons that he always does give us.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier