Every week, The Lineup will take a comprehensive, numerical and often uproarious look back at the previous week of Red Sox action both on and off the diamond. We'll go one through nine, from top to bottom in the order, covering all you need to know about your favorite team.
Without further ado, let's get this party started:
Catching a Deal at the Deadline
Let's get this straight. The Red Sox made the biggest deal of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline in landing switch-hitting catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez from the Indians. And more importantly, they made the most significant improvement of any team in the American League.
With the Tribe, V-Mart batted .284 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs. Despite a sizable slump of late — Martinez hit just .175 in July with one homer — the three-time All-Star will add significant punch to the middle of the Red Sox' lineup.
Furthermore, his versatility will provide more rest for several of Boston's aging stars: Jason Varitek behind the plate, Mike Lowell at third and potentially David Ortiz at DH.
Despite the excitement here in the Hub, the thought of leaving Cleveland was difficult for the 30-year-old Martinez, who will wear No. 41 in Boston.
"It's tough," he told The Associated Press. "This is my house. This is my home."
"It's bittersweet," Masterson told NESN's Heidi Watney after the deal was consummated. "Having so many great experiences — so many first experiences — with the Red Sox, the first guys you really bond with [as a major league player] … it's great to be a part of it. But for me, hopefully, it'll be a great opportunity going to another great organization."
Being involved in such a blockbuster deal did give the 24-year-old righty some consolation: "Hey, I got traded for Victor Martinez!
"But it's bittersweet. You don't want to leave such an amazing organization, but I hear Cleveland is great, too."
Dealing Masterson was a necessary evil of sorts for the Red Sox. Though he did show promise both as a starter and reliever this season, posting a 3-3 record with a 4.50 ERA in 31 contests, bringing in a player of Martinez's caliber requires giving up something significant in return.
Sorry to see you go, Masty. Red Sox Nation will miss you.
Blue Jay (No) Way
Somewhat lost in the excitement of the big deals that did get done was the fact that the deadline's most discussed target, Roy Halladay, didn't get traded out of Toronto.
Oh, there were talks … plenty of 'em. The Phillies seemed like the front-runners until they balked at Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi's request for highly touted prospects Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and J.A. Happ and instead snagged Cliff Lee from the Indians without giving up any of the three.
The Rangers were reportedly close to scooping up Halladay on Thursday night, but the deal fell through, and the Dodgers, Angels, Brewers and Yankees had also put calls into Ricciardi to no avail.
The Red Sox were very much involved in the Halladay sweepstakes as well. According to ESPN, a deal fell through Friday which would have sent highly sought-after young pitchers Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard to the Jays for the former Cy Young Award winner. But Sox GM Theo Epstein refused to part with both hurlers.
For being so public with his willingness to trade Halladay and then being unable — or, perhaps, unwilling? — to do it, Ricciardi should be shown the door, says Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
Gonzo Demands in San Diego
A source on Friday told ESPN's Jayson Stark that the asking price for Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez was "astronomical, three times the asking price on Halladay." As much as Theo Epstein wanted to bring him in, that was asking simply too much.
Buchholz, shortstop Jed Lowrie, and Masterson were reported to be "in the mix" in an earlier deal for Gonzalez, but the Padres also wanted minor leaguers Ryan Westmoreland and Lars Anderson as well.
There's little doubt that the Red Sox were looking to add some left-handed pop, but once it became clear that they could get it at a far lower price in the form of Martinez, the deal with the Indians became a far more sensible option for Theo and Co.
Young No Longer Restless
Despite parting with youngsters Masterson, Hagadone and Price, Epstein — in a relative coup — managed to hang onto the franchise's top baby-faced pitching prospects, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard and Michael Bowden. It's great news for the farm system and for the future of the franchise.
Despite all of the rumors sending Buchholz to Toronto, San Diego or some other MLB locale, the soon-to-be 25-year-old was relieved to remain in a Red Sox uniform.
"Last night, I didn't sleep as well as I thought I would," he told Watney after the 4 p.m. deadline. "With the questions I was asked … I couldn't really do anything about it. When you turn on the TV, that's all you see, that's all you read about. It's hard not to think about it. I was a little antsy in the clubhouse when I got here today. But it's part of the game. And I'm glad to still be a Red Sock, and I'll hopefully be a part of this team for a while."
Swapping First Sackers
Let's be honest, when the Red Sox landed Martinez, who will likely split time between first base and behind the plate, it became clear that the team had an overabundance at the corner infield spots. With Martinez likely to compete for time with Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Adam LaRoche and occasionally David Ortiz (especially in NL parks), it appeared that the recently acquired LaRoche became the odd man out, a victim of the numbers game.
So when the trade of LaRoche to the Atlanta Braves for fellow left-handed-hitting first baseman Casey Kotchman was announced, it only made sense that Boston would then send Kotchman somewhere else in a subsequent deal. But that later deal never came.
Especially with the finances between the teams being basically a wash, it's still not clear why Theo coveted Kotchman more than LaRoche. Going by the stats, Kotchman may hit for a slightly higher average, but he definitely has less power. Kotchman may have a slightly better glove at first with a league-best error-free fielding percentage of 1.000, but LaRoche is second at a paltry .999.
Perhaps Epstein sees the younger Kotchman as a better long-term fit with the franchise?
Or maybe Theo had another deal in the works that fell through at the last second?
Or maybe he was just toying with the other GMs all along?
As MLBTradeRumors.com reported, "GM Jack Zduriencik admitted he listened, but didn't find anything even worth discussing.
"Hernandez, just 23 years old, has a 2.79 ERA in 145 1/3 innings this year. He's under team control through 2011, but has yet to sign a long-term contract."
It's really a minor story as nothing ended up coming of it, but … man, would that have been a deadline triumph for the ages in Boston!
Bad News for Big Papi
By now, everyone is aware of the news that came out Thursday about David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez reportedly being on the infamous list of 104 players who flunked drug tests back in 2003.
There has already been plenty said on the matter, both by personalities here at NESN and by you, the fans. There's no doubt that Thursday's news is a blemish on the slugger's dazzling career in Boston.
But in terms of an on-field impact for Ortiz, the report has seemingly only served to be … ahem … performance enhancing. Papi hit a go-ahead, three-run blast in Thursday afternoon's comeback win at Fenway over the A's. He then proceeded to rip a two-run bomb in the third inning Friday night and go 2-for-4 against the Orioles in Boston's 6-5 victory at Camden Yards.
Instead of only bringing back bad memories of an incident from 2003, maybe these allegations will also bring him back to his 2003 level of productivity, when he hit .288 with 31 homers and 101 RBIs for the Sox.
Some critics are saying that, because of the reports about Manny and Papi's PED links, the Red Sox' 2004 and 2007 World Series titles are now tainted or corrupted.
Is taking illegal substances wrong? Of course.
Does some of the affection we've showered upon the very lovable Big Papi over the years now seem questionable or undeserved? Undoubtedly.
But should two specific (and glorious) world championships now be considered shady or dubious because two of 104 names were unearthed? Especially when the rest of those names haven't been released? Unless every World Series champ from the Steroid Era receives the same treatment, that just doesn't seem fair.
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