Cafardo On Stanton, Red Sox, Ramirez, Willingham,

No one would have predicted it this time a year ago, but Red Sox-Dodgers series next week in Los Angeles could very well be a prelude to the World Series, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  It's not a surprise to see that L.A. has benefited from the swap early on, but few expected the Red Sox to be this strong in 2013.  Does Dodgers GM Ned Colletti see this intriguing World Series matchup happening?  “That’s something you can dream about. I’m worried about Tampa Bay,” Colletti said, referring to the Dodgers’ weekend opponent.  Here's more from today's column..

  • The Twins and Red Sox might be in the best position to acquire Giancarlo Stanton this offseason if the Marlins make him available since both teams have the organizational depth to make a blockbuster deal.  A few teams like the Rangers have inquired about Stanton and were consistently told he wasn’t available, but Miami would have to listen if someone offered a handful of top prospects. “The Red Sox might be in a better position than the Twins because the Twins have to rely on their top players to come up and man several positions,” said one baseball exec. “The Red Sox have veteran players so their need to keep their best guys isn’t as severe. So if they can trade them off for a young player like Stanton, they wouldn’t have to fear about thinning out as a result.
  • The Yankees could turn out to be the best fit for White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez as they eventually will need a replacement for Derek Jeter, who could wind up DHing a lot in 2014. The Bombers' weak farm system could be a stumbling block, however. 
  • Now that he's back from knee surgery, Twins outfielder Josh Willingham could be moved before the end of August.  Willingham hasn’t had a good season but last year he hit .260/.366/.524 with 35 homers last year.  The 34-year-old is signed for one more year at $7MM.
  • ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin has been one of the most interesting names bandied about as a possible replacement for Nationals manager Davey Johnson. Another candidate is Houston manager Bo Porterbut he says he's not returning to the Nats.
  • Even though the Red Sox are looking for a right-handed power bat, they don’t see Mark Reynolds as a fit because of his poor defense and high strikeout rate. 

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