With the second half of the season kicking off with a series against the Boston Red Sox, I chatted with Derek Skytalo, editor of http://bosoxinjection.com/ about the upcoming series, the state of the Red Sox, and what to expect coming up on the trade deadline. Enjoy.
Dave Hill: It was recently mentioned by Peter Gammons in an interview on 98.5 that Jon Lester may be unhappy and want out of Boston. Do you feel the Sox would consider moving him, and what type of return would they be looking for?
Derek Skytalo: As of now I don’t think the Sox will move Lester. But if the club struggles over the next couple weeks I think both he and Beckett could be moved and I think they both should be. There is too much clubhouse noise and I firmly believe both are heavily involved, look at last year. If this team can’t get it together then a shakeup is needed and not just trading players like Cody Ross or Mike Aviles but Beckett and Lester. Although the off season would be more fitting to move both pitchers I dont see either being dealt this month. If they did I could see Lester packaged with some prospects and a guy like Ryan Sweeney to go after a Matt Garza type pitcher. King Felix would be nice and I wouldn’t think twice about dealing Lester in a package but I seriously doubt he’s available regardless of the offer.
DH: How much will the return of Jacoby Ellsbury impact this lineup?
DS: Ellsbury does so much for this club by his return. First, he brings some much needed excitement to all involved including an anxious fan base. Most importantly he brings a threat to the lead off spot, speed on the base paths which has been almost non existent for the Sox and a level of defense that’s been missing since he got hurt. I expect his timing to be slightly off at the plate but I look for him to bounce back quickly, giving this club a kick start they need so badly.
DH: Carl Crawford is set to begin his second attempt at a minor league rehab assignment. When would it be reasonable to expect him to return, and how much of an impact can he be expected to have?
DS: If things go well this time around and its a big if, I’d say the end of the month is reasonable to see CC with the big club. As far as an impact, not many fans are expecting much. I mean he will be playing with an elbow that will undergo TJS after the season so his production is likely to be on par with last season. Personally I think he should have the surgery now and be fully healed and hungry for next season. I understand he wants to contribute now but sometimes what a player wants versus whats best for the team aren’t the same thing.
DH: Daniel Bard has imploded dramatically since being sent down to Pawtucket. There has been talk that his struggles may be similar to Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel. Can Bard be fixed to the point where he can once again be a vital member of the bullpen?
DS: I think he can but it won’t be anytime this year. Something’s happened with Bard and it could be more mental than anything now. I think he needs a winter to clear his head and recover from an awful decision to try and start. He’s an asset to any bullpen when he’s throwing like he did for the past two seasons as the set up man. The pen is where he belongs and both Bard and Sox management finally realize that. I just hope he can bounce back next season and help this team out.
DH: With the struggles the Sox have had this season, how likely are they to be sellers at the deadline, and who would they be looking to move?
DS: Similar to the Rays I expect the Sox to be both. Guys like Sweeney, Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik and Kelly Shoppach are almost surely to be moved while Ross and Aviles could be trade chips if the club falls further behind. We discussed Lester and Beckett and unless a deal for Hernandez is available those two along with Ellsbury and Buchholz are unlikely to go anywhere. Ben Cherington has said he’s focused on acquiring starting pitching help so look for some of the above names to make headlines in the next three weeks.
DH: What are your expectations for the series this weekend?
DS: Like you I think it will be low scoring given the Sox offensive woes lately. I like the Sox on Friday and the Rays in the final two, further pounding the Sox into a deeper tail spin. This club has so many issues right now and it’s affecting their play on the field. The swing game in my mind is Saturday. If Buchholz can return to the form he was in prior to his DL stint then the Sox have a chance if they can get Price out of the game by building up his pitch count early. If not I don’t see the Sox beating Shields at home. They struggle in Tampa and Shields is one of the main culprits.
We here at Rays Colored Glasses would like to thank Derek for answering our questions, and I answered several of his as well about the Rays for BoSox Injection. With both teams in the thick of the Wild Card hunt, this is an important series for both squads.