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Beckett blockbuster nets Marlins four prospects

By Jim Callis

November 24, 2005


Since Roger Clemens established himself in the mid-1980s, the Red Sox almost always have had one of the very best starters in the American League. First Clemens, then Pedro Martinez, then Martinez and Curt Schilling in 2004. But when Martinez left for the Mets and Schilling was hurt, the 2005 Red Sox lacked an ace and it showed.


Boston took steps to remedy that shortcoming, completing a seven-player deal with Florida on Thanksgiving. The Red Sox got Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota in exchange for four prospects: shortstop Hanley Ramirez and righthanders Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia.


The Marlins' motivation was financial. The Red Sox will assume the last two years and $18 million on Lowell's contract, and they also face arbitration with Beckett and Mota. They also shed salary in another big trade on Thursday, sending Carlos Delgado to the Mets.


Beckett, a 25-year-old righthander, has yet to achieve the superstardom predicted for him but still has No. 1 starter stuff, not to mention the 2003 World Series MVP award. Beckett can reach the upper 90s with his four-seam fastball, get good sink on his two-seamer at 92-94 mph and make hitters look silly with his curveball. He also has a good changeup. He's coming off his best season yet in 2005, when he went 15-8, 3.38 in 29 starts, though he did make two trips to the disabled list, one with recurring blister problems on his right middle finger and another with a strained left oblique. In 180 innings, Beckett had a 166-58 K-BB ratio while limiting opponents to a .234 average and 14 homers. He has a career 41-34, 3.46 record in 106 games, and his ERA is significantly lower in Florida (3.14) than elsewhere (3.83).


Lowell, 31, is coming off his worst season, having batted .236/.298/.360 with eight homers and 58 RBIs in 150 games. He hit .293/.365/.505 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs in 158 games in 2004, and there has been no explanation for his decline. He did win a Gold Glove at third base in 2005, where he has solid range, good hands and a strong arm. He's a career .272/.339/.461 hitter with 143 homers and 578 RBIs in 989 games.


Mota, a 32-year-old righthander, could be a boost to a Boston bullpen that finished next-to-last in the majors with a 5.15 ERA. Mota was one of the game's top setup men in 2003-04, though he slipped this year when he was bothered by elbow inflammation that landed him on the disabled list in May. He went 2-2, 4.70 with two saves and 14 holds in 56 games. He had a 60-32 K-BB ratio in 67 innings, while opponents hit .254 with five homers against him. When he's right, Mota works primarily with a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup. He also mixes in a slider. He has gone 22-24, 3.61 with seven saves and 81 holds in 386 career games.


Ramirez, 21, is one of the game's top shortstop prospects but also something of an enigma. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2000, he never has has a breakout year to match his considerable tools. He batted .271/.335/.385 with six homers, 52 RBIs and 26 steals in 122 games this year at Double-A Portland. Ramirez has the bat speed, raw power and pitch recognition to hit .300 with 20-plus homers per season, but he has yet to show the focus and preparation to get him there. He has above-average speed and shortstop range, as well as a plus-plus arm. The Marlins don't have an obvious starter at shortstop, so Ramirez could get a long look in spring training. He struck out in his two big league at-bats in September.


Sanchez, 21, established himself as one of Boston's best pitching prospects after recovering from surgery to move a nerve in his elbow in 2003. He went 9-6, 2.85 in 25 starts between high Class A Wilmington and Porltand in 2005. He had a 158-40 K-BB ratio in 136 innings, and held opponents to a .212 average and 12 homers. Sanchez has a 93-95 mph fastball, yet his changeup might be his best pitch. He's still refining his curveball, though he flashes a solid-average breaker at times.


Delgado, 21, has bounced back strong since missing the 2002 and 2003 seasons following Tommy John surgery. Signed as an outfielder out of Venezuela in 2001, he has a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 98 mph, and his changeup currently is a better pitch than this curveball. He went 7-3, 3.50 with two saves in 33 relief appearances at low Class A Greenville this year. He had a 69-39 K-BB ratio in 72 innings, and opponents batted .215 with three homers against him.


Florida originally signed the 21-year-old Garcia out of Venezuela in 2001. They released him in 2002, and he quickly hooked up with the Red Sox, whose international scouting director at the time was Louie Elajuathe Marlins' director of Latin American scouting when they signed him. Garcia's stuff is very similar to Delgado's. Garcia throws a little harder on a consistent basis, but his secondary pitches haven't made as much progress. He went 3-5, 2.01 with six saves in 32 relief outings at Greenville. In 45 innings, he had a 54-18 K-BB ratio, .275 opponent average and three homers allowed.



Mets get Delgado a year after losing free-agent chase

By Jim Callis

November 24, 2005


The Mets lost out to the Marlins in the free-agent hunt for Carlos Delgado after the 2004 season, but they finally got their man on Thanksgiving. New York acquired Delgado from Florida in exchange for three prospects: righthander Yusmeiro Petit, first baseman/catcher Mike Jacobs and third baseman Grant Psomas. The Marlins also sent $7 million to the Mets toward the three years and $48 million remaining on Delgado's contract.


Florida finalized a second major trade on Thursday, sending Josh Beckett to Boston in a seven-player deal.


Delgado, 33, reached 30 homers for the ninth consecutive season in 2005, hitting .301/.399/.582 with 33 homers and 115 RBIs in 144 games in his first year in the National League. He remains as dangerous as ever, an all-around hitter who produces for power and average and also draws lots of walks. He's not much of a baserunner or defender at first base. He's a career .284/.393/.559 hitter with 369 homers and 1,173 RBIs in 1,567 games.


Petit, a 21-year-old righthander, was the best pitching prospect in the Mets system and will compete for a job in a decimated Marlins rotation. Signed out of Venezuela in 2001, he has gone 28-20, 2.71 with 491 strikeouts in 402 innings. He's not as overpowering as those numbers would suggest, however. Petit's command and deception, more than sheer stuff, give batters fits. He has good life on an 88-90 mph fastball and also throws a changeup, slider and curveball. He went 9-6, 3.60 in 24 starts this year, including an 0-3, 9.20 performance following a late-season promotion to Triple-A Norfolk. In 133 combined innings, he had a 144-24 K-BB ratio and allowed a .230 average and 20 homers.


Jacobs, 25, attracted attention by batting .310/.375/.710 with 11 homers and 23 RBIs in 30 games after getting his first big league callup in August. He'll factor in the competition to replace Delgado in the Florida lineup, with fellow prospect Josh Willingham looming as his biggest competition. A 38th-round pick out of Grossmont (Calif.) JC in 1999, Jacobs batted .321/.376/.589 with 25 homers and 93 RBIs in 117 games to win the Double-A Eastern League MVP award before his promotion. He's a lefthanded pull hitter with power, though it remains to be seen if big league pitchers will exploit his lack of plate discipline. Jacobs signed as a catcher, but he's a below-average defender who won't see much time there in the majors. Tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder in 2004 didn't help his arm strength.


Psomas, 23, exploded in his first full season after signing as a 15th-round pick from West Virginia in 2004. He batted .301/.399/.517 wtih 20 homers and 69 RBIs in 133 games between low Class A Hagerstown and high Class A St. Lucie. A gap hitter with some pull power, he understands the strike zone but is still working on pitch recognition. He's an average defender with some arm strength.

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