Red Sox acquire Rangers reliever Littleton

In a move that may be the clearest yet that the Red Sox are moving towards having Justin Masterson and Clay Buchholz battle it out for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, the Red Sox have acquired reliever Wes Littleton from the Texas Rangers in exchange for two players to be named later or cash.

Littleton, 26, has a career 3.69 ERA in 102.1 career innings. A sidearmer, his current claim to fame is notching the save in the Rangers’ 30-3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, pitching three innings to close out the game.

Littleton spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he had a 4.01 ERA in 44 relief appearances.

Among active pitchers with at least 100 innings in the bigs, he ranks 14th with a career groundball percentage of 71.5.The Sox now have 38 pitchers on the 40 man roster. It is possible that
the players to be named later will be predicated on if Littleton makes
the Opening Day roster or not as he is out of options.  Rangers GM Jon
Daniels says he doesn’t expect the players to be named until close to Opening Day.

Wes Littleton – Career with Texas

Year G IP ERA G/F K BB
2006 33 36.1 1.73 3.75 17 13
2007 35 48.0 4.31 2.09 24 16
2008 12 18.0 6.00 2.07 14 8

Not to stir the pot or anything here, but I find it pretty interesting that Littleton, an African-American, was acquired shortly after the Red Sox traded their only African-American player in Coco Crisp. There were a bit of rumblings about that fact during the Coco trade. Littleton is a quality reliever and I expect him to throw quality innings with us, but was his ethnicity a motivating factor? Something to think about.

The Red Sox organizational depth chart for pitching now looks as such:

STARTERS (7)
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden

RELIEVERS (7)
Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez, David Aardsma, Wes Littleton

Assuming
Masterson becomes a starter, the team could field a full pitching staff
by optioning Buchholz and Bowden to Triple A along with either
retaining Aardsma or designating him for assignment.

This may be a precursor to the Sox investing all their money into Mark Teixeira.

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