Boston was busy Wednesday afternoon, getting Adam LaRoche from the Pirates for a pair of marginal prospects before swapping Julio Lugo to the Cardinals for Chris Duncan. Eating most of the $13.5 million remaining on Lugo's deal allowed the Red Sox to get a potentially useful player in return, although Duncan's stock is down dramatically over the past two years and he'll head to Triple-A for now.
Lugo is expected to assume a fairly big role for the Cardinals, pushing Brendan Ryan for playing time at shortstop while also being an option at second base and third base. His bat remains useful and his lack of range following knee surgery is less of an issue at another spot, but Tony La Russa and company will soon learn that Lugo simply isn't capable of playing a decent shortstop right now.
While dumping Lugo for whatever they could get became a no-brainer for Boston the move to add LaRoche is more interesting. He figures to be a part-time player if everyone else is healthy, essentially providing insurance for Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz. LaRoche's struggles against left-handers won't be an issue if Lowell is healthy and he's a career .275/.347/.500 hitter versus righties.
If nothing else he's a sizable upgrade over Mark Kotsay and the Red Sox may be one of the few teams that can afford to pay $3 million for 50 games of a part-time player. Rather than wait to see if he'd fetch draft picks as a Type B free agent the Pirates chose to cash LaRoche in for Argenis Diaz, a 22-year-old shortstop with lots of glove and little bat, and 21-year-old right-hander Hunter Strickland.
While the Red Sox get a jump on the trading deadline and the Pirates continue their never-ending rebuild, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Jordan Zimmermann has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals this season, posting a 4.63 ERA and impressive 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91.1 innings as a 23-year-old rookie who basically skipped Triple-A. Unfortunately he was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with right elbow soreness. There's no timetable yet for his return, but fellow 23-year-old Collin Balester will take his rotation spot.
* Bobby Jenks has allowed runs in four of his last five outings, but Ozzie Guillen made it clear Wednesday that he's in no danger of losing closer duties. "He's my closer and if people don't want him to be my closer, don't come to the God damn game," Guillen said. Despite those comments it was Matt Thornton closing out a one-run lead Wednesday night with Jenks having worked on back-to-back days.
AL Quick Hits: Vicente Padilla was scratched from his Wednesday start with the flu, so Dustin Nippert held the Red Sox to one run in 5.2 innings for his first win since last September … Glen Perkins could be headed for the disabled list after complaining of shoulder soreness after Wednesday's brutal effort … Juan Rivera (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game Wednesday … Kevin Slowey (wrist) will begin a rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A … Clay Buchholz struggled Wednesday while subbing for Tim Wakefield, leaving after throwing 90 pitches in four innings … Felix Hernandez allowed just one run Wednesday while throwing at least seven innings for the ninth straight start … Armando Galarraga gave up just one hit in 7.2 innings Wednesday, but got stuck with a no-decision … Nelson Cruz (finger) returned to the lineup Wednesday by going 2-for-2 with two walks and two steals.
NL Quick Hits: Manny Corpas may miss the rest of the season following surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow … Manny Ramirez was out of Wednesday's lineup after being plunked on the hand, but delivered a pinch-hit grand slam into the "Mannywood" section at Dodger Stadium… Garrett Jones went deep again Wednesday, giving him nine homers in 17 games … Jason Marquis' next start has been pushed back to Tuesday thanks to a finger blister … Chris Carpenter tossed eight innings of two-run ball Wednesday before Ryan Franklin blew the lead … Edinson Volquez (elbow) reported zero problems after a bullpen session Wednesday … Ricky Nolasco struck out 10 and combined with three relievers on a three-hit shutout Wednesday … Josh Willingham snapped a 0-for-14 slump by going 4-for-4 with a homer Wednesday … Jair Jurrjens beat Tim Lincecum while retiring 17 straight batters Wednesday … Tony La Russa said Wednesday that Todd Wellemeyer's rotation spot is safe for at least one more start.