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Ben Cherington: Red Sox in position to build ‘good rotation…that can contend for the AL East’

12.03.14 at 4:21 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an interview on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio, said that the Red Sox remain unsure of the means by which they’ll round out their 2015 rotation, but the team is confident in its ultimate ability to put together a group that will have aspirations to win the division next year.

“I wouldn’t rule out adding two starters. We don’t know what the names are. We don’t know where they’ll come from. We don’t know the cost associated with it,” Cherington told MLB Network Radio. “We’re in a position to be active in the market for pitchers. … Everyone’s got a budget, including us. There is some limit at some point to what you can do. We feel good we’re in a position, whether it’s talent or whether it’s the financial resources, to build a rotation that’s a good rotation and that, along with the rest of the team, can contend for the AL East next year.”

One asset that the Sox have to use in trying to address their rotation is their outfield surplus. Cherington echoed remarks he made at the press conference introducing Hanley Ramirez as the team’s new left fielder in suggesting that the team does face an increasing likelihood of dealing from its positional depth.

“The Hanley signing does increase the likelihood of us making a trade. It doesn’t guarantee it but it does increase the likelihood, and sure enough we’ve had a lot of calls on the outfielders since then,” Cherington told the radio network. “We’ll see what happens in the trade market over the next couple weeks. … We felt like the signing of Hanley put us in a better position not just to address our needs this offseason but to ensure the lineup in the short- and the long-term and to give us the best chance to make sure we have a high quailty defender in both center and right in the short- and long-term.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox Hot Stove live chat, Wednesday at noon

12.03.14 at 10:49 am ET
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‘Tis the season for all manner of rumors! WEEI.com’s Alex Speier will take stock of the rumor mill, answering your questions in a Hot Stove chat on Wednesday at noon. Line up your questions now:

Live Blog Red Sox Hot Stove chat – Wednesday at noon
 

Report: Reds haven’t talked to Red Sox about Yoenis Cespedes

12.03.14 at 10:17 am ET
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With the Reds in the market for a corner outfielder and armed with a wealth of starting pitchers (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon and Mike Leake) who are one year from free agency, Cincinnati has been viewed as a natural potential partner for a Red Sox team with multiple vacancies to fill in its rotation and power-hitting corner outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a player who can be moved. But according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that his team has not talked to the Red Sox about Cespedes.

Cueto went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 243 2/3 innings in 2014, finishing second to Clayton Kershaw in Cy Young balloting. Latos made just 16 starts in an injury-riddled campaign, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA while punching out 6.5 per nine innings and walking 2.3 per nine. Leake went 11-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts, while Simon, in his first full season as a starter, went 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA, 5.8 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine. Cespedes hit .260 with a .301 OBP, .450 slugging mark and 22 homers in 152 games for the Red Sox and A’s.

Red Sox non-tender Juan Francisco

12.02.14 at 7:56 pm ET
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On a day when the Red Sox announced that they had tendered contracts for the 2015 season to the 28 unsigned players on their 40-man roster, the team said that it had non-tendered corner infielder Juan Francisco, thus making him a free agent. Francisco had been designated for assignment last week to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Pablo Sandoval. By non-tendering Francisco, the Sox have the right to negotiate with him as a free agent. The 27-year-old — listed at a hulking 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds — smashed 16 homers while hitting .220/.291/.456 in 320 plate appearances for the Blue Jays last year, though he also struck out in more than one of every three plate appearances.

 

MLB umpire Dale Scott reveals he’s gay

12.02.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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Dale Scott revealed in a recent interview that he is gay. (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Veteran umpire Dale Scott revealed in a recent interview that he is gay. (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Dale Scott, a major league umpire for 29 seasons, revealed he was gay and has been married to his partner of 28 years, in an interview with Outsports.com.

“I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else,” Scott said to Outsports.com. “And that’s the way it should be.”

Scott had been profiled in an October issue of Referee magazine, a subscription only magazine with a circulation of 45,000, and in the article was a picture of him and his partner on a flight to Austrailia for last year’s 2014 opener between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers that Scott had sent.

“Obviously, when I sent that picture (to the magazine), I knew exactly what it meant,” Scott said. “In a small way, this was opening that door in a publication that wasn’t going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it’s not Time magazine. I made that decision to go ahead and do it because I felt it was the right thing to do. I realized that it could open a Pandora’s Box, but this is not a surprise to Major League Baseball, the people I work for. It’s not a surprise to the umpire staff.”

Scott has been an umpire for three World Series, as well as three All-Star Games.

For Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Report: Cubs have $138 million offer to Jon Lester, Red Sox at $130 million

12.01.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Cubs currently have the high bid in for free agent left-hander Jon Lester at six years and $138 million, while the Red Sox have “suggested at least a willingness to go to $130 million for six years.” Heyman suggests that the Braves made an offer of a lower figure than that for Lester to play close to his Georgia home. He also notes that right-hander Tim Hudson has been involved in the Giants‘ efforts to recruit Lester. Given the number of interested suitors, Heyman suggests that there is a possibility that Lester will end up with a deal in excess of $25 million a year for a total commitment of $150 million or more.

Dick Bresciani, ‘institutional memory’ of the Red Sox, passes away

12.01.14 at 1:31 pm ET
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Dick Bresciani, described by team CEO and chairman Larry Lucchino as “the institutional memory” of the Red Sox in a career that spanned more than 40 years with the club, passed away on Saturday night. He was 76.

Bresciani began his career with the Red Sox in 1972 as an assistant public relations director and over his 42-year tenure with the club, realized numerous promotions, first in public relations and public affairs before spending the last dozen years as a VP of publications and archives (2003) and then a club historian in 2009 — the same year that his years-long campaign to get outfielder Jim Rice elected to the Hall of Fame realized a successful conclusion.

Here is the Red Sox’ press release on Bresciani:

Richard (Dick) Bresciani, the longtime Red Sox Vice President who had served the club since 1972, died Saturday night of complications from leukemia.  His devoted wife of 40 years, Joanne Bresciani, informed the club.  He was 76.

Known universally as ‘€œBresh,’€ the native of Hopedale, Massachusetts was a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, the University of Massachusetts Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame.  In 1997, he received Major League Baseball‘s highest honor in Public Relations, the Robert O. Fishel Award.

‘€œBresh was like a father to some members of our Front Office, an attentive uncle to many, and the institutional memory to all,’€ said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino.  ‘€œHe loved the Red Sox with a passion and zeal that reflected Boston and New England.  He was a walking, talking encyclopedia of anecdotes and stories that cannot be replaced.  The Red Sox family has lost a beloved and loyal member, and we offer our deepest sympathies to his beloved Joanne.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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What it would mean for Red Sox’ draft if they went after James Shields, Max Scherzer, Ervin Santana or Francisco Liriano

12.01.14 at 12:48 pm ET
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Now that the smoke has cleared somewhat after the shock and awe signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, it seems like a good time to delve into some of the deal’€™s minutiae.

Here is some clarification as to what the signings (and potential signings) mean for the Red Sox‘€™ draft in 2015:

– The Red Sox first-round pick ‘€“ No. 7 overall — is protected (since it is in the top 10).

– The Giants and Dodgers don’€™t get the Red Sox actual picks after that. (A change with the new CBA.)

– The Red Sox lose their normal second-round pick and the compensation pick they hauled in at the end of the second pick from the A’€™s in the Jon Lester trade.

– The Giants and Dodgers each get a compensation pick after the first round. Those picks are awarded in reverse order of standings of all the teams who lost players who received qualifying offers.

– If the Red Sox sign another player with a qualifying offer attached — such as James Shields, Ervin Santana or Francisco Liriano — they would lost their third-round pick (and so on).

It’s interesting to note that the draft pick acquired in the Lester deal basically gave the Red Sox a freebie when it came to signing a qualifying offer free agent.

Also, now that the cost of signing a Shields, Scherzer, Santana or Liriano would just be a third-rounder, does that change the dynamic in how the Red Sox’ approach those free agents differ from other teams? While teams pursuing Shields likely won’t be discouraged by his qualifying offer existence, both Liriano and Santana could potentially be hit hard by the qualifying offer tag (as Santana experienced go-round before signing a one-year deal in March).

An example how such a chain of events might shape a team’s approach to qualifying offer free agents came last year when the Orioles were willing to sign Nelson Cruz only after committing to Ubaldo Jimenez (sacrificing their first-round pick). The O’s deemed Cruz worthy of sacrificing the value of a second-round pick, which became a reality after the Jimenez signing.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old Santana (211 and 196 innings, respectively, over the past two seasons), and the 31-year-old Liriano (4-0, 1.23 ERA in his last seven starts; 3.38 for the season) both carry uncertainty, and aren’t viewed as top-of-the-rotation options. But they also may represent the kind of starting veteran presences the Red Sox might not be averse investing a few years in.

It should be noted that the remaining free agents with qualifying offers attached are: Liriano, Santana, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson, Shields, and Scherzer. (Nelson Cruz reportedly agreed to a deal with the Mariners Monday.)

Shane Victorino: ‘I should be the starting right fielder’

11.27.14 at 11:12 pm ET
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Shane Victorino is optimistic he will hit the ground running when spring training rolls around. (Getty Images)

Shane Victorino is optimistic he will hit the ground running when spring training rolls around. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Through all the uncertainty that has encompassed the Red Sox‘ offseason, Shane Victorino has taken solace in his own run of certainty.

Monday, for the first time since undergoing back surgery, the outfielder will swing a bat. It is the latest step forward in a rehabilitation process that has left Victorino as confident as ever heading into his third season with the Red Sox.

“Everything feels great,” Victorino said from Hawaii, where he had been over the last week or so to help run his charity event for the Shane Victorino Foundation (helping children in need). “There hasn’t been any setbacks. I was cleared to start swinging a few weeks ago but I was coming to Hawaii so they didn’t want me to do any swinging or rotating until I got back [to his home in Las Vegas]. Once I get back Monday I’ll probably start therapeutic swinging just to get the motion of what’s going on. It’s going in the right direction. I’m moving, running, lifting with no setbacks. Here and there, there are your normal fatigue of muscle areas, but beyond that there hasn’t been anything to have me slow it down.

“From what I know we’re all systems go if everything go as planned. As of now, all systems are go. We have no intentions of taking it slow going into spring training. That might be a mindset that changes, but as of right we’re focused on being ready for the first day of spring training and doing everything from the start to when things pick up.”

So with his health trending in the right direction, the next question involving Victorino involves his role in an unbelievably crowded outfield.

There’s Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Hanley Ramirez, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt. Yet, as far as Victorino is concerned, there should be one constant that provides some outfield certainty heading into 2015 — the soon-to-be 34-year-old playing right field at Fenway Park.

“If you think there’s somebody better in right, be my guest,” he said. “Obviously health will dictate that. But if I’m healthy if there’s a better outfielder in right field then show me and go out there and do it. I’m not saying that in a cocky or arrogant way. It’s just how confident I am to know I should be the starting right fielder. There are things to come into play and situations to be discussed. I plan on being healthy and out there and ready to go. Like I said, it’s my job. I don’t think there’s anybody can tell me differently. If they feel there is from an organization’s standpoint it is what it is. As I’ve said, whatever uniform it may be I’m going to go out there and give 100 percent and be the best I can be. Obviously I want it to be a Red Sox uniform and be a right fielder, but I can’t control decisions that are made from up top.”

Victorino — who is on the final season of a three-year, $39 million deal — then added regarding the perceived outfield competition, “It’s part of the business. Yeah, some of the things that are discussed in terms of contracts and length of contracts, as a player or as a fan who follows what’s going on you sit there and say less than a year ago they weren’t going to do these kind of things. Teams do change. But as I said, that’s their decision. That’s a business decision. It’s not our decision to worry and ponder about. As a baseball player I’m focused on being healthy and be ready to go. I’m not worried about what guys are getting and what contracts are signed. You worry about those kind of things then that takes another element away from your focus of being the best player you can be.”

It’s not a stretch to identify Victorino as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. In 2013, he provided Gold Glove defense while finishing with 15 home runs, 21 stolen bases, a .294 batting average and an .801 OPS in 122 games.

Last season, however, back and hamstring issues limited Victorino to just 30 games, leading to the season-ending operation. It was a nightmare that began on the third day of spring training and has left the former switch-hitter (now hitting exclusively righty) having to stake claim to his former lot in life once again.

Yet, as far as the outfielder is concerned, if all things go as planned health-wise the days leading into the ’15 season shouldn’t be approached any differently than those heading into his team’s world championship-winning campaign two years before.

“I never try to impress anybody. I’m not out there to impress anybody,” he said. “Do I want to get myself as close to game motion and process? Yes, that’s what spring training. But I always say it’s not about the results of spring training and what happens there. It’s about being ready for April 5, to be ready for that first game in Philly. That’s what I’m focused on. I plan on being ready to go on Day 1 in spring training and be as healthy and at 100 percent as best I can.”

Ben Cherington on D&C: Yoenis Cespedes ‘in our plans for next year’

11.26.14 at 10:13 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss Boston’€™s most recent offseason acquisitions. To hear the segment, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With the Red Sox‘ signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in a precarious situation. He was acquired in a trade at the non-waiver deadline in July, but he could be on his way out in a trade this offseason because Ramirez is expected to start in his position. Cherington tried to downplay the urgency to move the Cuban outfielder.

Said Cherington: “We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’€™s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions. We’€™ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’€™ll know more about who’€™s here and how it all adds up.”

Pablo Sandoval signed a reported five-year, $95 million contract. With the production he’€™s had over his career and the fact that two other teams were bidding on the third baseman, Cherington said the final contract fell in line with what he thought it be before Sandoval signed.

“It ended up being about in the neighborhood where we thought,” Cherington said. “Again, given his age, his sort of platform and what he’€™s done in the postseason and everything about him. And then the fact that he’€™s done it in a major market, he was going to get attention, there was going to be competition and we felt like he would end up in the neighborhood he ended up. It just so happened that the three teams involved in the end were all pretty much in that same neighborhood, and we’€™re obviously very happy he chose us.”

Before the 2013 World Series run, the Red Sox landed Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino on three-year deals. This time it took two more years to get Sandoval. Cherington said age played a role in the contract differences.

Said Cherington: “First of all, every guy is different, and I think most if not all of the contracts two offseasons ago were with guys past 30. … In Sandoval’€™s case he’€™s 28, so the calculus is a little bit different. … The other thing is, the market is changing. Every year for every player in baseball, contracts continue to move, the dollars continue to move. So you have to adjust to that. What was valued three years ago is different. Every year we’€™re trying to build the best team we can and end up finding the players that fit into that plan.”

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