Tag: Matt Guerrier

With Gonzalez Deal Done, What Is Next On The Agenda For Red Sox Front Office?

As soon as GM Theo Epstein & Company completed the trade to acquire Adrian Gonzalez, and long before they boarded a plane for Florida to attend the MLB Winter Meetings, their collective attention immediately turned to other priorities. What is next on the agenda?

Epstein has made it clear the club has a couple of needs that need to be addressed this week: a pair of relievers and a right-handed bat.

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Boston’s Unfinished Business: Red Sox Need More Than Adrian Gonzalez This Year

As a Red Sox fan, I’m as happy as anyone that the Red Sox have acquired Adrian Gonzalez. However, Boston’s work is far from done in this offseason: if they are to succeed in 2011 and beyond, the Red Sox need Carl Crawford and several relievers.

While the prospects dealt to San Diego in the Gonzalez blockbuster are tremendous talents, they’ll probably hit the bigs too far in the future to help a Red Sox team poised for success now. Casey Kelly would find himself logjammed behind a locked-up rotation, Anthony Rizzo is a first baseman, and Reymond Fuentes is years away from achieving anything close to the success of his cousin Carlos Beltran.

San Diego snatched a strong haul, but it’s a much stronger haul for a small-market team than for a team capable of filling any need through free agency and less reliant on a farm system’s continual production. While the Red Sox need quality homegrown players like Bard, Buchholz, Ellsbury, Lester and Pedroia to produce at a high level for a relatively low cost, they don’t need to fill an entire 25-man roster with low-cost pre-arbitration youngsters. The Sox can afford the Adrian Gonzalezes of the world.

So, yes, I’m a big fan of this deal, which also means that Boston avoids committing four or more years to a productive but inconsistent and aging corner infielder like Adrian Beltre. This move gives Boston tremendous flexibility moving forward.

That said, Boston cannot rest on its laurels and settle for only minor improvements between now and spring training. Boston needs both Carl Crawford and multiple relievers.

Although Gonzalez may hit .320 and provide more than 40 homeruns and 100 RBI per season, he less than replaces the combined 2010 production of Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. Those two sluggers launched 48 bombs, drove in 181 and averaged .310 for the season.

The Sox need another bat, and it had better be in an outfield that’s only one year removed from losing JD Drew and Mike Cameron. Crawford’s dominant speed and defense make him by far the best available option for years to come.

Just take a look at the potential free agent outfielders next Winter, and you’ll quickly recognize what an opportunity teams have right now to sign the likes of Crawford. The Sox shouldn’t be afraid to sign two franchise players to six or eight year deals at the same time. Crawford and Gonzalez can carry this club for a long time.

Then there’s the bullpen. Young flamethrower Daniel Bard recently commented to the Boston Herald that the pen needs a veteran presence. They need some help out there.

With Hideki Okajima non-tendered, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez dealt away last season, and Jonathan Papelbon diminishing each time he takes the mound, the Sox need to bolster the pen for 2011. Recently, they’ve been connected to Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, Koji Uehara, and Ron Mahay.

The smart money’s on Fuentes and Guerrier. Either way, the Sox cannot rely on recent acquisitions Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz. Soon the free agent relievers will be gobbled up like holiday leftovers.

The Sox need to get in on this arms race.

For breaking Red Sox news updates, follow Peter on Twitter at BoSoxUpdate.

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Toronto Blue Jays Rumors and Deals: Mark Reynolds, Dustin McGowan and Pitching

It can be a confusing time of the year in Major League Baseball, what with arbitration offers, non-tender candidates, Type A and B free agents, waiver claims and the Rule 5 draft.  So it can be tough to decipher what is happening with the team you support and whether there is any truth to the rumors that can emerge.

The Blue Jays are no different, especially with the secrecy that surrounds Alex Anthopoulos’ moves.  This is what has happened so far and what could be happening.

Dustin McGowan has re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for a one-year, $450,000 deal.  The former first-round pick hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008 due to a series of injuries.  But with this deal, it gives hope that the hard-throwing pitcher will make his return to the mound at some point in 2011.

The Blue Jays are reported by MLB Trade Rumors to be interested in acquiring Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks.  While negotiations with the team to acquire their other star, Justin Upton, seemed to go nowhere, there is a chance that the third baseman could be had for a much more reasonable price.

Arizona as a team, led the league in strikeouts last year, by a large margin, and Reynolds had the most on his team.  So it is understandable that Arizona would be pursuing a contact hitter in return for the power hitter.

It is also rumored that the Blue Jays are pursuing relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier.  The Jays bullpen is up in the air after both Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs turned down their arbitration offers, though Jason Frasor will be returning after accepting his offer.

Both RHP Jeremy Accardo and OF Fred Lewis were not tendered contracts by the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2011 season, making them free agents.

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Toronto Blue Jays Looking To Add Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain To Bullpen

According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Blue Jays are believed to have interest in signing relievers Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain.

Guerrier was not offered arbitration by the Twins, so he is now a free agent. In 2010, a campaign where he made $3.15 million, experts peg him to make no more than four to five million next season.

In 74 appearances, The 32-year-old Guerrier went 5-7 with a 3.17 ERA, 5.3 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9. The addition of Guerrier would add to an already changing Blue Jays bullpen that will see Brian Tallet (Cardinals), Scott Downs, and more than likely Kevin Gregg depart from the organization.

The Jays are also believed to have interest in signing Canadian Jesse Crain to add to the bullpen as well.

The 29-year-old Crain enjoyed a career year last year with the Twins, following off-season shoulder surgery. Despite his terrible one inning effort against the Jays in his last appearance last year, Crain appears to be right in the Blue Jays sight-lines.

Crain went 1-1 last season with a 3.04 ERA in 68 innings, while posting career highs in strikeouts (62) and holds (21).

If the Jays can add both Guerrier and Crain to their bullpen, they will definitely improve themselves from a year ago, at least in terms of right handed pitchers.

Both pitchers are not the type-A free agents, so the Jays will not have to give up draft picks to sign them. The downside is that as many as nine teams could be interested in both players, so a bidding war could commence and force the Jays out of contention.

With news coming today that the Jays have resigned Dustin McGowan to a new one-year contract worth $500,000, they could get yet another shot in the arm to their depleted bullpen here too.

McGowan, who has not pitched since 2008, has always had massive potential. The Jays don’t want to lose out on that if he goes to another club. For example, Chris Carpenter struggled with injuries with the Jays, but when he was let go and went to St. Louis, his career skyrocketed.

In keeping McGowan, the Jays are hoping for a Carpenter-like resurgence. Although extremely unlikely, McGowan still figures prominently in the Jays future plans.

With a torn labrum now behind him, McGowan has begun a throwing program that he hopes will help him get healthy in time for Spring Training in February. If McGowan does return, look for him to come out of the bullpen from now on. Already with experience out of the pen, he could conceivably close games for the Blue Jays and, at a $500,000 dollar price tag, could be among the best bang for your buck closers in the majors.

Thoughts on the Jays adding these three to the bullpen?

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Boston Red Sox Look to Overhaul Bullpen: Eyeing Minnesota, Chicago and Tampa Bay

Last year, the Boston Red Sox had a number of barriers en route to their third-place finish in the American League East behind the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees.

Despite all of the injuries to their regular positional players (Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, etc.), the bullpen was and still remains a focal point for this offseason for a number of reasons.

Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard were the only two members of the bullpen who had ERAs less than four, and had it not been for the seasons of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, it should be viewed by many experts and fans that the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff all had issues throughout the season despite its 4.20 ERA, which was ninth best in the American League last year.

Additionally, the Red Sox bullpen had 22 blown saves last year, which was the fourth worst in the major leagues last year. Why did the Sox have a jump in blown saves last year? The Red Sox were second worst in batters faced in the American League last year only to the Kansas City Royals, as they faced a whopping 38.68 batters per game.

Fortunately, there are some very good options in free agency that can aid in shoring up their second set-up option and their middle relief corp.

Here is a look at some of the leading options that the Red Sox may approach as candidates during the offseason:

Jon Rauch (Age 32)

Rauch entered last year as the primary setup man for the Minnesota Twins before Joe Nathan went to the DL due to a torn elbow ligament. Once Rauch settled in as the closer, he did pretty well prior to the Twins trading for Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals. Rauch led the Twins with 21 saves against four blown saves and had a .268 BAA. Rauch earned $2.9 million last year and is comparable money to JJ Putz. In terms of value, Rauch is one of few closers in the free-agent market that will not cost a first-round draft pick as well.

Jesse Crain (29)

Before Joe Nathan, Jon Rauch and Matt Capps went to the Twin Cities, it was widely regarded that Crain was the Twins’ closer of the future. Entering last year, Crain had a number of disappointing campaigns (2007, 2009) but really turned it on with the Twins deploying a heavy dose of their bullpen.

Crain was second on the team among his bullpen mates with a stalwart 1.176 WHIP and his seven hits per nine innings led the team. He earned $2 million last year and could provide good value to the Red Sox.

Matt Guerrier (32)

Guerrier was no slouch last year as well for the Twins bullpen. Over the last two years, Guerrier has held opponents to batting averages of .207 and .219 and WHIP of .97 and 1.10 respectively. More of a control and finesse pitcher than Crain, Guerrier has been a workhorse as he has totaled 70 innings or more for the last four seasons. Guerrier earned $3.15 million last year.

JJ Putz (33)

After enduring two injury-plagued campaigns in 2008 and 2009, Putz was a mainstay in the White Sox bullpen last year. He went 54 innings and held opponents to a .204 BA while striking out 65 batters. Putz earned $3 million last year and with Sergio Santos and Matt Thornton on the rise, Putz may not be returning to the South Side.

Grant Balfour (34)

While all eyes will be on closer Rafael Soriano this offseason and if he re-signs with Tampa Bay, along with his other teammates (Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena), Balfour is a target worth keeping an eye on. Balfour earned $2.05 million last year as he held opponents to a .206 batting average and held a 1.08 WHIP en route to a 2.28 ERA.

If the Red Sox can get any of their left-handed assets out of the bullpen to improve on their 2010 campaigns, these are some of the American League middle relievers that are within Boston’s budget and can replace what Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez were suppose to bring to the table over the last couple of years.

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Twins Bullpen: Why Having a Deep ‘Pen Is Doing More Harm Than Good

After the acquisition of closer Matt Capps, the Minnesota Twins had a consistent bullpen. Every reliever knew what his job was going to be. Every reliever had his inning.

It was organized. Peaceful.

Flash forward a month.

The Twins acquired two more relievers: Randy Flores off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies and Brian Fuentes via trade from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United States in North America.

Now, everything is a complete mess and it’s evident by the pen’s performance as of late.

Starting with Thursday’s absolutely terrible loss to the Tigers in 13 innings, it became quite evident that Ron Gardenhire and the Twins’ coaching staff is too inclined on using the deep bullpen.

What do I mean by that?

Since the Twins acquired Flores and Fuentes, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire seems to be too keen on “playing the match-up.”

Instead of letting his reliever pitch his inning, Gardy is now using the one-and-done strategy where he brings in a pitcher to get an out, then goes to another reliever to get another out or the final two outs.

In Friday’s game, the Twins went through three relief pitchers in just one inning. Three. This is coming off the heels of a game that required the use of two starting pitchers, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn, as relievers.

It’s one thing if it’s a 17-inning game and you have no other choice to use a starter. However, if the starter is coming in during the 11th inning, something is wrong.

Now, the Twins entire pitching staff, sans Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano, is in utter disarray.

What happens if Friday’s game goes into extra innings? You just burnt three pitchers in the eighth inning trying to get three outs and a handful of your previous relievers were taxed in the previous game and probably unavailable. 

Does Gardy send in Michael Cuddyer to toe the rubber? How about seeing what Denard Span has?

Before we had this depth, the bullpen had a rhythm. It was effective. Now, the bullpen seems disorganized and that may be leading to the inefficiencies we’ve been seeing over the past couple weeks.

Now, I’m not against playing the match-ups if you have the players. However, those match-ups should be in the eighth and the ninth, not the sixth or seventh or when your entire pen is available to throw. Two pitchers in an inning should be enough unless, of course, one flounders and needs to be yanked.

Also, it’s September. That means expanded rosters. More pitchers are available to use. However, for some reason, these pitchers weren’t with the team for Thursday’s marathon. 

Even with the expanded rosters, I’ll still want Crain, Guerrier, and Flores in the game before Alex Burnett and Rob Delaney. These pitchers should only be used when the game is out of reach or the bullpen in completely taxed like Friday’s game.

Hopefully, Gardenhire is taking a long look at his pitching staff and will rethink his strategy and going back to how things were before. 

Stick with what works. Now is not the time to experiment with a new bullpen strategy.

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