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Three Off-Season MLB Moves That Affect the Red Sox

Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are the centerpieces 2009-2010 off-season trade market (NBC Sports).

Plenty of action has already taken place during the off-season. The Red Sox have made their share of moves (John Lackey) and also made intentions known (Adrian Gonzalez). This could force other players out to get rid of the surplus (Clay Buccholz). But, it’s not just the Red Sox that have been moving and shaking. Plenty of other teams around the majors have made huge signings that the Red Sox will have to deal with during the 2010 season. With many more trades and signings sure to come, I thought I’d help organize some key trades outside the Red Sox organization so far and what it means for Boston:

#3 Curtis Granderson

Detroit shipped center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, and starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks sent starting pitcher Max Scherzer and pitcher Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The Yankees gave up starting pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, and pitcher Phil Coke and center field prospect Austin Jackson to the Tigers. With so many players going back and forth, Granderson is the centerpiece, as the Red Sox will now have to face him in 18 games.

In 2009, Granderson batted .249, with an on-base percentage of .327. However, he hit a career-high 30 home runs, batted in 71 runs, and hit eight triples. The triples were a career-low number since 2006, when he started playing almost whole seasons (He even hit 23 in 2007!). With 76 walks (four intentional), 10.75% of his plate appearances resulted in walks. His penchant for not doing so well against left handed pitching is a key observation for the Red Sox to note. If a right hander matches up against Granderson, teasing the outside corner to mimic left handers as much as possible could be a useful strategy, as could throwing heavy breaking balls down and in, trying to get Granderson to jump.

#2 Hideki Matsui

The Angels signed Hideki Matsui, meaning the Sox only have to face him 10 times (seven at Fenway) instead of 18. Before becoming the World Series MVP, Matsui hit .274 (a career low) with an OBP of .367. 28 home runs and 90 RBIs is nothing to scoff at, and 12.476% of plate appearances resulting in walks is something to look out for. Still, his 75 strikeouts joining an AL rival is good for the Sox.

So what should the Sox do about Matsui? Not much is really needed. 2006 and 2008 were injury years for Matsui, limiting him to 51 and 93 games respectively. With the Red Sox pitching situation shifting, the new super-powered rotation should just throw their usual array of wily pitches, and be sure not to give something to Matsui that looks good and over the plate to hit at.

#1 Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay

The Phillies sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners, the Blue Jays sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and prospects galore were thrown around; once Toronto got the rights to prospect Michael Taylor from the Phillies, they even involved Oakland by trading Taylor for prospect Brett Wallace. All in all, nine players changed hands on four deals. This one was complicated, but all we need to know is that the Red Sox will have to face Halladay’s team six times instead of 18, and Lee’s team 10 times (seven in Seattle) instead of six. That’s a net decrease of eight times facing the teams of these two aces.

In 2009, the Red Sox were 2-2 against Halladay and 0-0 against Cliff Lee. Halladay’s 17-10 record and 2.79 ERA, combined with Lee’s 14-13 record and 3.22 ERA, seems to show the move will have a positive effect on the Red Sox, meaning they’ll face the statistically worse pitcher more often. Lee has given up more hits, runs, walks and recorded less strikeouts than Halladay. Despite getting the win in Game 5 of the World Series, Lee gave up five runs on seven hits (with three walks and three strikeouts). The Red Sox would do well to capitalize on this. Sign some bats, and jump on Lee early and often. Crush him and show him he’s not as invincible as the Mariners hope he is.

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