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Home » July 2009 Game CommentsJuly 2009 » Designated


Game 89: July 17, 2009
WinRed Sox4
W: Clay Buchholz (1-0)
H: Daniel Bard (2)
H: Hideki Okajima (18)
S: Jonathan Papelbon (24)
55-34, 4 game winning streak
Blue Jays1
L: Ricky Romero (7-4)
44-47, 3 game losing streak
Highlights: Perhaps these alternate road uniforms and Hanging Sox caps will look cool in retrospect, like the Toronto throwback powder blues. Until then, Fridays on the road look more like Fort Myers in February.

To kick off the second half the season the Red Sox front office kicked Julio Lugo off the 25-man roster. Designating the spotty shortstop for assignment freed up a spot for Mike Lowell, who was removed from the disabled list. Clay Buchholz made his long-awaited but brief return to the majors; Aaron Bates was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for the promising starter.

The Boston club has so much depth in its organization that it can shuffle players and not resort to deadline deals to improve itself. Theo Epstein and company also proved they are neither stubborn nor prideful about a mistake. Rather than continuing to run Lugo on the field to satiate his ego or attempt to resuscitate an ebbing career, Epstein fell on his sword and admitted his error. The signing blunder will likely cost the team the rest of the $9M Lugo is owed this year and $9M in 2010.

Buchholz wasn’t stellar in his return but was at least competent: 5⅔ innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. Ricky Romero, who was drafted 36 picks ahead of Buchholz in 2005, vacillated between dominance and docility: 4⅓ innings, 5 hits, 4 earned runs, 5 bases on balls, 8 strikeouts, 1 home run. How these two draft classmates will develop and contribute to their major league affiliates offers a much more compelling storyline than the tales of failed free agent signings.

J.P. Ricciardi was once heralded as Billy Beane’s successor, and they are similar in that neither has experienced success in the playoffs. In fact, Ricciardi’s teams have never made the playoffs. With the success of the Rays, the Blue Jays’ general manager can no longer point to being an AL East team as the barrier to making the playoffs. But he has at least one thing in common with Epstein: having to cut ties with a big ticket free agent. He released closer B.J. Ryan earlier this month, at least conceding that Ryan’s production fell far short of expectations.

It’s a delicate situation, holding out hope for a veteran player to come around. The Red Sox were patient with David Ortiz, and that patience is now paying dividends. The designated hitter knocked in two runs in the fifth with an opposite-field blast that just missed clearing the left field wall.

Ortiz’s runs added to the lead garnered by Kevin Youkilis’s first inning blast. The two-run clout will hopefully break the dual-corner infielder’s J-month slump (.244 BA, .393 OBP, .467 slugging in June, .213 BA, .302 OBP, .511 slugging in July thus far).

The only thing that would have finished off Epstein’s All-Star break moves with a flourish would be extending Jason Bay’s contract. Sadly that did not come to pass. I would really hate to boo Bay when and if he dons the pinstripes, but that is a distinct possibility. Perhaps his father, a Red Sox fan, will talk some sense into him.

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