Dice-K out of Boston’s rotation for good?

The Red Sox might have found the answer to their question about what to do with their starting rotation when John Smoltz comes off the DL, although it’s certainly not one they were expecting would unveil itself.

Boston fans and those unfortunate enough to have him on their fantasy team know that Daisuke Matsuzaka has been wretched this season. After the Braves beat him like a piñata last Friday, Dice-K dropped to 1-5 on the season with an 8.23 ERA and 2.20 WHIP.

Following that performance, the BoSox placed Matsuzaka on the disabled list for the second time this year, this time due to isuckitis and ican’tthrowastriketosavemylifeitis. And as the Boston Herald points out, Dice-K might not return to the starting rotation for the rest of the season, even if he does come off the DL in perfect health.

Smoltz is set to make his 2009 debut this week and with Brad Penny pitching as well as he has this season, there isn’t any room for the struggling Matsuzaka in the rotation. So even if the team doesn’t find anything wrong with him in his latest stint on the DL, Dice-K might have to ride out the rest of the season in the bullpen or on the pine.

Of course, there’s a major possibility that the 86-year old Smoltz and the fragile Penny could go down at some point this season and Dice-K could leap back into the rotation, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But it is staggering that a pitcher who went 18-3 last year with a 2.90 ERA has struggled so badly this season.

One issue that is sure to be brought up is Dice-K’s role in the World Baseball Classic. He pitched well int he WBC this year, yet he’s struggled mightily so far in the MLB season. How does a pitcher who went 18-3 one year go directly in the toilet the following season? Did he get worn out or hurt in the WBC? If he did, it would be yet another reason not to have the WBC be played before the MLB season.

Either way, Boston is thankful to have the pitching depth they do and despite other teams being interested in his services, it doesn’t look like Penny is going anywhere now.

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Red Sox to skip Dice-K’s next start

With John Smoltz set to come off the DL, the Boston Red Sox have decided to skip struggling Daisuke Matsuzaka’s next start.

At the moment, Matsuzaka does not have a next scheduled start. John Smoltz is slated to go Thursday in Matsuzaka’s normal turn in the rotation. Pitching coach John Farrell said after the game, “I think until a determination comes from within, we haven’t announced a rotation beyond that.’’

“There’s certainly no imminent announcement, if that’s what you’re asking for,’’ Farrell added of what comes next for Matsuzaka. “But knowing how determined he is, knowing the work ethic that he has, he’s disappointed, I’m sure. But at the same time we can’t forget that this is a 33-game winner over the previous two years coming into this season. We certainly have some work to do. Consistency of strikes, particularly with his fastball, is the primary target. We’ll continue to work toward that.’’

Manager Terry Francona said that with Monday’s offday, the Sox have “the ability to be a little flexible in what we do going forward.’’ He also said that nothing is likely to be an nounced before Monday, prior to the team’s trip to Washington.

The Sox were contemplating moving Brad Penny to the bullpen to make room for Smoltz in the rotation, but he’s pitched well in his last two outings and it’s hard to move him with Dice-K pitching so poorly. Penny’s name has also surfaced in trade rumors the past week, but nothing serious has materialized yet.

While Boston would certainly love to have the Dice-K that went 18-3 last year, at least with Penny pitching well they can be patient while Matsuzaka works out the kinks. While they have the time, I’m sure the club’s training staff will determine whether or not Dice-K’s problems are physical. He could still be suffering from the shoulder injury that landed him on the DL last month.

Five MLB trades that don’t need to happen

I get it – baseball trades are fun. They’re fun to speculate about, they’re fun to debate and they’re fun to analyze. But just because a club needs a bat, an arm or is just looking to shrink salary, doesn’t mean that a trade needs to happen.

I’ve compiled a list of five trade rumors and where they originated. I then discuss why each of them makes sense, but why they also don’t necessarily need to happen.

Rumor #1: The Red Sox will trade for Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Why it makes sense: Boston is growing impatient waiting for Jed Lowrie to recover from a wrist injury that has held him out since mid-April. They’re also tired of watching Julio Lugo (who is equally bad offensively as he is defensively) make a mockery of the game whenever he trots onto the field. While Nick Green has done well filling in for Lowrie while he’s been hurt and for Lugo while he continues to work on being the most overpaid player in professional sports, the Sox feel they could do better with Wilson. (There’s also a rumor making the rounds that Boston wouldn’t have to give up any top prospects in order to acquire Wilson – they just would need to take on the rest of his salary.)
Why it doesn’t need to happen: Wilson is excellent defensively, but he brings very little to the table in terms of offense. He’s also overpaid himself, as he’ll make $7.25 million this year and $8.4 million in 2010 despite being limited at the dish. While waiting for Lowrie to return to the field has been a slow death for the Sox, he’s cheaper than Wilson and gives the team a better overall player at the position (when he’s healthy, of course). Plus, Green has played well and Boston might be better served holding onto prospects in order to make a more productive move around the trade deadline (i.e. adding another bat in case David Oritz plans on hitting south of .200 all season) than one involving Wilson.

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