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Temporary — and Permanent — Rotation Fixes, Lowell to Anaheim?

ANGELS

Temporary — and Permanent — Rotation Fixes

Night after night, hit after hit, the Sox rotation is looking more like a punch-drunk boxer than a viable contender.

Though Lester has reaffirmed his ace status and Buchholz has put together a nice season on the surface, there just isn’t much to lean on after those two.

Lackey at least keeping the team in games with a 4.84 ERA/5.26 xFIP, Daisuke (5.77 ERA/5.48 xFIP) and Tim Wakefield (5.68 ERA/5.54 xFIP) can’t find their groove.

Though we knew what we were getting into trotting Daisuke to the mound – with his salary making him that much more cumbersome and immobile – the focus shifts to Tim Wakefield.

AL East Sleepers: Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz throws a pitch at Yankee Stadium in New York

As the hometown team boasts one of the strongest starting nine in the American League, it can be difficult to detect sleepers among the pack. Don’t be fooled, however. They are there and prepped to support an elite cast looking to avenge last season’s early playoff exit.

Though few of the positional starters offer much potential as true “sleepers”, considering the number of All-Stars and MVP candidates among them, the pitching staff contributes much of the excitement on this front. With youngsters and rebound contenders among the lot, an already superb rotation and bullpen could receive a few significant boosts from numerous sources.

SP Clay Buchholz

After the light came on last season, it never seemed to go out. Finally hitting his stride at the Major League level, he was able to lay fears about his potential to rest. Though not a groundbreaking season by any means, Buchholz’ performance went a long way toward stabilizing the ailing rotation during August and September.

Looking forward to 2010, Buchholz should comfortably take the place of the 5th starter – possibly 4th, depending upon the performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka – expectations he should have no problem fulfilling…

The Boston Red Sox and What It Means to Spend Wisely

Roush Fenway Racing Unveils Boston Red Sox Car

There is a difference between the Red Sox and nearly every other team in baseball – and it’s pretty obvious. How lucky are our home town fans, that our very own Boston squad has significantly more money to spend on players most other teams. Actually, all but one – but who’s counting. Too bad they’re in our division. But that’s alright, so long as we use our resources wisely.

So, what is using our resources wisely?

From the Red Sox’ perspective, it’s much different from most teams. Over the past five seasons, the team’s highest budget was $143 million, registered in 2007. We’ll save spectulating on this year’s budget, which will be quite high, as there could still be some maneuvering left to go, and the value of free agents and draft picks in this economy is yet to be determined. Therefore, we’ll treat 2007 as the team’s theoretical budget through which to speculate on how the team can formulate its spending practices.

Citing the research of analyst Keith Woolner, a theoretical replacement level team would win approximately 44 games. Putting this in perspective, this standard of futility is comparable to the some worst teams of all time, including the 2003 Detroit Tigers (43-119), the 1962 Mets (40-120), and 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates (42-112).

After seeing this, two thoughts come to mind. One, wow, how far have the Mets come since that

disturbingly dreadful inaugural season 47 years ago. The other, what in the hell happened to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who found a way to produce a 20-134 record (.130 win percentage) and be doomed to the annals of worst team in MLB history. Ouch. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, only 3,179 fans attended the team’s first 16 home games…

Lowrie, Bowden Face Crossroads in 2010

Cincinnati Reds v Boston Red Sox

Important Seasons Upcoming for Bowden and Lowrie

For all the talk about 2010 being a “bridge” year, it looks more like the team is building a new Boston skyline than a bridge over troubled water. With three big free agent signings already in the books and more expected to come, the team might as well be jumping cannonballs off the ledge with the huge splashes we’ve seen so far.

Still, the “bridge” that we’re seeing is really quite interesting in what it says about the team’s upper-level prospects and players ready to contribute on the major-league level.

In particular, this upcoming season will be crucial in the careers of Michael Bowden and Jed Lowrie. Though Bowden may have dug his own grave with his ineptitude on the mound last season (much of which was bad luck, i.e. a .377 BABIP) and Lowrie’s season was cut short by unfortunate injuries, the team’s “bridge” may not be to the next group of prospects – per se – but, rather, it is a bridge over the current failing batch, Bowden and Lowrie…

Bowden and Reddick’s Place in the Master Plan

Red Sox vs. Royals

Two of the Red Sox’ biggest prospects, Michael Bowden and Josh Reddick, had less than stellar seasons in 2009. While the pair still remain tremendous talents, it has now become more difficult to see either one in the Sox’ future plans, due in part to their failures this year as well as the team’s changing circumstances. Still, should either or both pan out as originally expected, they would be quite the addition to a team in need of an infusion of cheap, young talent.

Michael Bowden

It’s hard to say that Bowden is at a crossroads in his career. He just turned 23, he possesses excellent stuff, and has been great in his minor league showings. However, his 2009 was nothing short of a disaster, as he was belted in every way imaginable in every appearance he made.

MLB Potpourri – FireBrand Style

Boston Red Sox Terry Francona at Yankee Stadium in New York

With a very active weekend and Monday, Firebrand presents a comprehensive roundup of the latest Red Sox actions and news. Draft signings, playoff outlooks, and veterans returning to health, FireBrand Potpourri has it all…

A lot happened in Red Sox Nation this past weekend. Instead of wondering, let’s get into the gritty details.

-The Sox Drop Two of Three in Texas

The Sox lost two to the Rangers. Yeah, it’s too bad. The Sox stand one game back of Texas in the Wild Card, but that’s history and it’s time to look to the future. Junichi Tazawa struggled in his latest taste of big league hitting, allowing 2 HR and 3 BB against 0 strikeouts. Brad Penny had his moments and held his ground against a good Texas offense. However, he is still no more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, which showed this weekend.

The clock continues to tick on Michael Bowden, representing the last of the Red Sox reserve rotation arms. While he sports a glowing scouting report and a pristine 3.20 ERA in triple-A Pawtucket, it is getting more and more difficult to see him being a success at the major league level this year. With just a 6.40 K/9 and 3.36 BB/9 this season, he is far from a sure thing…

Tazawa Slated for Tuesday Start

Evan: Please welcome Mike Silver to the Fire Brand writing crew! Tim Daloisio is going to be stepping down from writing articles for Fire Brand. He will still be contributing one podcast a week plus the weekly poll — and will add in another podcast every week.

Junichi Tazawa heads to the rotation Tuesday against Detroit:
Boston’s management has decided it’s time for Junichi Tazawa to throw his hat into the ring as savior of the Red Sox starting rotation. Is he up to the challenge?

Fire Brand’s Top 40 Sox Prospects

Recently, ESPN ranked the Sox system 7th in all of baseball. This was quite a compliment to a team that just this past season graduated four of Baseball America’s top five Sox prospects (Buchholz, Ellsbury, Masterson, Lowrie). Led by Director of Amateur Scouting Jason McLeod, the Sox quickly stocked up their system through the amateur draft and international free agency. Their 2008 draft class has arguably the highest potential of any team, and all of that was made possible by the Sox willingness to go over the slot to obtain guys that are considered to have signability issues. Part of the reason that has caused this has been the emergence of top prospects Pedro Alvarez and Matt LaPorta, two unsigned draft picks in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Spending over the slot should be a continuing trend for a team as rich in resources as the Sox, allowing them to remain as one of the top systems in baseball.

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