May 13, 2012

On Baseball: Bound for Fenway, or not

Red Sox prospects who pass through Hadlock Field often become trade chips rather than fixtures in Boston.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Justin Masterson was a starting pitcher for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2007-08, then became a reliever for the Red Sox, but he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2009 for Victor Martinez. Now, Masterson is a mainstay in Cleveland’s rotation.

John Ewing/2007 Telegram File

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WONDERING WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN ...

Here is a look of some of the trades involving former Sea Dogs players, who looked at one time to have a future at Fenway Park:

Nov. 11, 2005

Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez (along with lower-level pitchers Harvey Garcia and Jesus Delgado) to the Florida Marlins, for pitchers Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota and third baseman Mike Lowell.

While Beckett's stay Boston has been up-and-down and, lately, controversial, he saved the Red Sox in the 2007 playoffs with his domination (4-0, 1.20 ERA). Lowell, considered a salary dump by the Marlins, was the 2007 World Series MVP. Mota was traded two months after he was acquired.

Ramirez was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2006 and is a three-time All-Star. Sanchez pitched a no-hitter in 2006 and, after three injury-plagued seasons, was 21-21 with a 3.61 ERA over the past two season, averaging 195 2/3 innings.

Jan. 27, 2006

Catcher Kelly Shoppach (along with Mota, third baseman Andy Marte and pitcher Randy Newsom) to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Coco Crisp, catcher Josh Bard and pitcher David Riske.

The Red Sox went with the experienced Bard over the rookie Shoppach as their backup catcher. But Bard could not handle Tim Wakefield, committing 10 passed balls in seven games. Shoppach became the Indians' backup. He signed as a free agent with Boston this year. Crisp replaced Johnny Damon in center field, but was eventually replaced by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 2007 playoffs.

May 1, 2006

Reliever Cla Meredith (along with catcher Josh Bard) to the San Diego Padres for catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Boston had traded Mirabelli, but wanted him back because of Bard's problems. To do so, the Red Sox had to throw in Meredith, a relief prospect who was rushed to the majors in 2005 with horrible results. He looked ready in 2006 and shined for the Padres (1.07 ERA) that season.

July 31, 2007

Outfielder David Murphy and pitcher Kason Gabbard (along with outfielder Engel Beltre) to the Texas Rangers for reliever Eric Gagne.

This is a second-guesser's delight. Gagne bombed in Boston (6.75 ERA in 20 games) and was left off the postseason roster, while Murphy hit .340 in 43 games that season, and has been a regular contributor since. Gabbard did not work out, and Beltre, 22, is in his third season in Double-A.

But this deal did not look terrible at the time. Boston was in a chase for the playoffs. Gagne had recorded a 2.16 ERA with 16 saves for Texas. Several teams, including the Yankees, were after Gagne.

July 31, 2008

Outfielder Brandon Moss and reliever Craig Hansen (along with Manny Ramirez), in a three-team deal that brought Jason Bay from the Pirates.

Ramirez forced this deal when he quit on the team. To get Bay as a replacement, Boston also dealt Moss, who was considered an extra outfielder, and Hansen, who was drafted with great promise but had produced little.

Bay batted .274 with 45 home runs in his time with Boston before going to the Mets as a free agent in 2010. With the extra draft picks the Red Sox got for losing Bay, they drafted outfielder Bryce Brentz (now in Portland) and pitcher Brandon Workman, a prospect in Class A.

Hansen faded away in Pittsburgh. Moss played a full season in 2009 (.236, seven home runs) and has been with two organizations since, mostly in Triple-A.

July 22, 2009

Shortstop Argenis Diaz (along with Hunter Strickland) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Diaz was considered a legitimate prospect in Portland with a major league-ready glove. But both his defense and offense began to falter, and he was dealt for major-league depth.

LaRoche did not want to be a backup in Boston and was traded nine days later for first baseman Casey Kotchman.

Diaz reached the majors briefly in 2010 and has been in Triple-A since, now with the Tigers. Strickland is still in Class A.

July 31, 2009

Pitcher Justin Masterson (along with pitchers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price) to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Victor Martinez.

Martinez provided some punch to the Red Sox lineup (.284 and 28 home runs over 183 games), but not enough to give Boston any postseason success.

Masterson stayed in the majors and was 12-10 last year with a 3.21 ERA and over 216 innings. He is 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA this season. Hagadone is a reliever for the Indians (0.96 ERA), and Price is in his third year in Double-A.

Aug. 31, 2010

Manny Delcarmen to the Colorado Rockies for Chris Balcom-Miller.

Once a mainstay in the Boston bullpen, Delcarmen became expendable. So the Red Sox traded for a pitching prospect they once wanted to draft. Balcom-Miller is now pitching well for the Sea Dogs.

Nov. 12, 2010

Pitcher Dustin Richardson to the Florida Marlins for pitcher Andrew Miller.

This was a deal involving lefties in need of work. The Marlins eventually released Richardson. Miller was just called up to the Red Sox bullpen, although there is still concern about his control.

Dec. 6, 2010

First baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Casey Kelly (along with outfielder Reymond Fuentes and utility player Eric Patterson) to the San Diego Padres for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

To get one of the premier hitters, the Red Sox gave away a lot, in terms of three prime prospects. Gonzalez batted .338 last year with 27 home runs and 117 RBI.

Rizzo tore up Triple-A last year, was promoted and struggled (.141 with one home run in 49 games). He was traded to the Cubs and is again tearing it up in Triple-A (.356, 10 home runs). Kelly, promoted to Triple-A this year, is on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. Fuentes is in his first season in Double-A.

July 30, 2011

Infielder Yamaico Navarro (along with pitcher Kendal Volz) to Kansas City for infielder Mike Aviles.

Aviles has gone from utility player to starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. He's batting .266 (.304 on-base percentage).

Navarro was a talented player who began to see his potential, but there was no room for him in Boston. The Royals eventually traded him to Pittsburgh, where he is a utility player. Volz, who was in Class A with the Red Sox, is in Double-A and has a 1.04 ERA.

July 31, 2011

Catcher Tim Federowicz, outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang and pitcher Stephen Fife in a three-team deal that brought pitchers Erik Bedard and Josh Fields from Seattle.

This was a crazy day at Hadlock Field, as three key Sea Dogs were dealt -- Federowicz and Fife to the Dodgers, Chiang to Seattle.

Bedard was the prize for Boston, which needed a starting pitcher to help reach the playoffs. It did not work. Bedard was 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA in eight starts. Because of injuries, he pitched only six innings after Sept. 3. He signed with Pittsburgh this year.

Fields is a reliever for the Sea Dogs.

Federowicz is batting .287 in Triple-A. His teammate, Fife, is 3-2, with a 6.03 ERA. Chiang is batting .272 in Triple-A.

Dec. 14, 2011

Infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland to Houston for reliever Mark Melancon.

Boston needed to strengthen its bullpen. Weiland was not considered ready to help, and Lowrie was thought to be injury prone.

Melancon, who had a 2.78 ERA in 2011, was hit hard early this season and was sent to Pawtucket.

Lowrie is Houston's starting shortstop, batting .301 with four home runs. Weiland made the starting rotation but has been sidelined with an infection in his shoulder.

Dec. 28, 2011

Outfielder Josh Reddick (along with first baseman Miles Head and pitcher Raul Alcantara) to Oakland for reliever Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.

Boston needed a closer to replace Jonathan Papelbon and Bailey was available. He injured his thumb in spring training and is on the disabled list. Sweeney has been a nice surprise, batting .355.

Reddick, who played 87 games last year (.280 average), is now starting for Oakland. Head and Alcantara are in Class A.

April 21, 2012

Michael Bowden to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd.

Boston wanted a center-field replacement for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury and had already given up on Bowden, preferring more experienced relievers. Byrd, who was batting .070 in Chicago, is hitting .279 for Boston, but his defense has been suspect.

Bowden has a 2.08 ERA in three appearances with the Cubs.

-- Kevin Thomas

This year, Sea Dogs fans are watching prospects like outfielder Bryce Brentz and pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. Anthony Ranaudo, a top pitching prospect, has just joined the club, and Barnes could be here before the end of the season.

Will they eventually be Red Sox stars, or trade bait?

Several factors determine their future in Boston. In Masterson's case, it was the desire to add Martinez's bat to a faltering lineup.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who played in Portland part of 2004 and 2005, was a can't-miss prospect. But there were questions about his maturity -- would he survive the spotlight of Fenway Park? Boston might have kept him, but the Red Sox needed pitching and Josh Beckett was on the trading block.

First baseman Lars Anderson, like Ramirez, was once considered Boston's No. 1 prospect after batting .316 in Portland with five home runs over the last 41 games of the 2008 season.

There was speculation that Anderson would begin the 2009 season in Portland, with plans for an early promotion to Triple-A and an eventual call-up to the majors.

But Anderson's disdain for the attention heaped upon him affected his game. He stayed in Portland the whole season, batting .233 with nine home runs. He was almost traded last season for Oakland pitcher Rich Harden, but Boston backed out, fearful of Harden's health.

But with Adrian Gonzalez playing first base for Boston, Anderson's time in the organization might be running out.

Jed Lowrie, a Sea Dogs standout in 2007, started at shortstop for the Red Sox in the 2008 playoffs and was the opening-day shortstop in 2009. But injuries have been a persistent problem. He was dealt in the offseason.

Prospects don't think of trades when they come up through an organization. But then they happen. And, Masterson said, it's not a bad thing.

"You're traded. Usually, someone wants you," Masterson said. "They expect great things out of you, just as you do for yourself. That's what you aspire to, until you probably get traded again, someday."

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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