Red Sox Go To Work On Rebuilding Starting Rotation

After learning the Red Sox were out of the running for Jon Lester’s services on Tuesday night, general manager Ben Cherington wasted no time rebuilding the rotation, filling the void left by the former ace signing a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

In less than 48 hours, Cherington has acquired three starting pitchers, trading for Wade Miley and Rick Porcello before signing Justin Masterson to a one-year deal. None of the three are brought in with the purpose of supplanting Lester as the staff ace, but all fill a need the club was desperate for — rotation depth and arms with major league experience.

Miley is 18th among major leaguers in innings pitched (598 2/3) since becoming a full-time big leaguer at the start of 2012, when he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. The 28-year-old has averaged 200 innings and 32 starts while posting a 3.74 ERA over that span. In 2014, he went 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who finished with the worst record in baseball (64-98). His ERA away from Chase Field, Arizona’s hitter-friendly home ballpark, was 3.17.

Miley has three more seasons until he hits free agency. He came at the cost of Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, who ironically were acquired by the Red Sox in the same trade, part of the August 2012 deal that sent Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

De La Rosa went 4-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts), with a 7.16 ERA over his final seven starts. With a fastball that tops out around 100 mph and a heavy curveball that reaches 90 mph but not much else, the 25-year-old projects to be late-inning reliever.

Webster made 11 starts, going 5-3 with a 5.03 ERA. He looked timid at times, particularly with men on base. That said, the 24-year-old finished strong, going 2-0 with a 2.63 in September, with 15 strikeouts to five walks over 24 innings. Of the young pitchers to see time in Boston in 2014, Webster had the best repertoire of pitches. Based upon those two factors, it’s not inconceivable that he could have a breakout season similar to what Anaheim’s Garrett Richards or Cleveland’s Corey Kluber had last season, which could’ve been what made Webster so appeasing to the D’Backs.

Porcello is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, setting career-highs in wins (15), innings pitched (204 2/3) and ERA-plus (116) with career-lows in ERA (3.43) and WHIP (1.231). Eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season, the 25-year-old appears to be entering his prime after six seasons in Detroit.

The Red Sox surrendered outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and two minor leaguers for Porcello. Cespedes, who was the starting left fielder after being acquired by the Oakland A’s in July, was rumored to be on the move for much of the offseason, as the team has a logjam of outfielders. Hanley Ramirez, who was just signed by the Red Sox to a four-year, $88 million contract two weeks ago, is expected to the team’s starting left fielder in 2015.

Masterson was drafted by the Red Sox in 2006 and was with the big club for parts of two seasons before being traded to the Cleveland Indians at the 2009 trade deadline for Victor Martinez. The 29-year-old is coming off a disastrous 2014 season, in which he made 28 appearances (25 starts) between Cleveland and the St. Louis Cardinals, going 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA. Opposing batters hit .283 off him with an .826 OPS.

At the cost of $9.5 million, Masterson comes at a low price. John Farrell could also elect to put him in the bullpen, a role he’s served in the past and is an area of need for the Sox.

More could come. The Red Sox still need an ace, and there are some available. The trendy pick is Cole Hamels, being dangled by the Philadelphia Phillies. Other options include free agent Max Scherzer, Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale.

On the same token, plenty of teams have won in recent seasons without an ace pitcher, instead opting for more than No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers capable of giving innings and pitching in big games.

Tis’ the season.

Bruins Break Ground On New Practice Facility

The Boston Bruins broke ground Thursday on their new practice facility in Brighton. The facility is one of the centerpieces of the Boston Landing project, a mixed-use development in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood that includes office, residential and commercial space centered around the New Balance world headquarters.

Plans for the facility were announced in July for the team to make its new practice facility part of the 14-acre site adjacent to the Mass Pike. The team’s practice facility has been at Ristucca Arena in Wilmington — approximately 15 miles north of Boston — for the last 27 years.

The arena will feature 25,000 feet of office, locker room and training space. It will be one of the best facilities in the NHL, coming on the heels of years of the Wilmington facility being sub-standard for the league.

The rink will be open to the public, making it the first public ice rink to be built in Boston in nearly 40 years.

The Bruins had been searching for practice facilities for quite a few years prior to settling for the Allston facility this past summer, which principal Charlie Jacobs was sent ‘over the moon’ by the details of the facility. Several locations inside the 128 belt (i.e. approximately 10 mile radius of Boston) were considered, including adjacent to TD Garden, where a mixed-use development is being planned on the footprint of the old Boston Garden.

The naming rights of the facility will go to Warrior Sports, a sporting goods company that manufactures equipment and apparel for soccer, hockey and lacrosse. Terms between the Bruins and the Warren, Mich.-based company are not known.

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Posted by: Patrick O'Rourke on