|11.03.10 at 10:33 am ET|
Red Sox prospect Adalberto Ibarra, a catcher who defected from Cuba in 2009 and signed with the Sox this summer, underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder. While the Red Sox and the catcher had been on the fence about whether or not to rehab the injured shoulder or perform surgery to clean it up, they decided that, since he would likely be back and ready to play after four or five months, they were better served to have the 23-year-old undergo the procedure now than jeopardize his 2011 season.
“We ended up having to clean up his shoulder a little bit. He will actually be out until spring training,” said Sox farm director Mike Hazen. “He wasn’t able to get over the hump throwing-wise. We were in that situation where, do we wait and have it flare up and then he misses the season, or, if we do it now, he rehabs the entire offseason and he’s back playing in April. We decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and go in there and see what was going on. They cleaned him up a little bit. Everything looked pretty good, but they felt like it was the right call to go in there. It was 50-50 that he would have been able to rehab it successfully.”
Two offseasons ago, Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland underwent a similar offseason procedure on his labrum in the middle of November. He was able to return to games (albeit only as a DH) by spring training. Hazen characterized Ibarra’s surgery as somewhat less significant than Westmoreland’s, and so the Sox are confident that he will be able to hit in spring training games while getting built up towards catching. (Westmoreland did not play outfield in games until August 2009, roughly 10 months after his labrum surgery.)
Ibarra initially agreed to terms on a five-year, $3 million major league contract with the Sox that included incentives that could push the value of the deal to $4.3 million. But the catcher failed his physical because of the shoulder, and so he and the Sox renegotiated to a signing bonus for a minor-league deal between $700,000 and $800,000.
The Sox evaluated Ibarra over a six-month stretch in the Dominican before signing him. At the plate, he possesses advanced plate discipline and power potential. His catching skills are described as developing.
After signing, the left-handed hitting Ibarra spent much of last summer in Fort Myers rehabbing before making his pro debut with a minor league affiliate in August. Ibarra hit .228 with a .382 OBP and .645 OPS in 19 games between the Rookie Level GCL Red Sox and the Hi-A Salem Red Sox.
|11.02.10 at 4:07 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona made no secret of the fact that it was going to be difficult to replace pitching coach John Farrell once he left Boston to become the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only was Farrell a close friend, but he was also a valued source of council in whom Francona had virtually complete confidence to manage the pitching staff.
But Francona recognized that it was all but certain that, after four years of having Farrell as his pitching coach, he would lose him this offseason. Farrell was going to depart to become a manager somewhere else, leaving a void.
And so, down the stretch of the regular season, Francona — with the assistance of Farrell — began drawing up a list to identify the ideal person to serve as the next Red Sox pitching coach. Both men came up with the same name atop their lists: Curt Young.
It was unclear whether the pitching coach of the Athletics would be available, however. Young had longstanding roots in the Oakland organization (22 years as a player and coach). Moreover, he was highly valued for the quality of his work, as Athletics pitchers had a 4.03 ERA (tops in the American League) in Young’s seven years as pitching coach, and an AL-leading 3.58 mark in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.02.10 at 1:52 pm ET|
Here is the press release from the Red Sox announcing the hiring of Curt Young as their new pitching coach:
BOSTON, MA — The Boston Red Sox today named Curt Young Major League pitching coach.
Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein and Manager Terry Francona made the announcement.
“We are lucky to be able to add an experienced pitching coach the caliber of Curt Young to the organization,” said Epstein. “Curt has a proven track record of success in this job, mixing excellent relationship-building skills with expert knowledge of pitching and how to get hitters out at the Major League level. Pitchers who have worked with Curt swear by him, and the results speak for themselves. We think he will work well with our pitching staff and within the culture of our clubhouse.”
The 50-year-old Young has spent the last seven seasons as the Oakland Athletics pitching coach from 2004-10. Under his guidance, Oakland pitchers have posted an American League best 4.03 ERA (4,535 ER/10,135.1 IP) and held opponents to an AL low .257 batting average (9,939-for-38,616) while allowing the fewest home runs in the circuit (1,062). A’s hurlers led the American League with a 3.56 ERA (566 ER/1,431.2 IP) in 2010 and topped the league with 17 shutouts. The staff also allowed the fewest hits (1,315), runs (626) and earned runs (566) in the AL this season and faced the fewest batters (6,011) in the Majors. Additionally, Oakland starters posted a Major League best 3.47 ERA (383 ER/992.0 IP), the lowest such mark in the AL since 1990.
Young began his coaching career in Oakland’s minor league system in 2000, serving as pitching coach for Double-A Midland. His Midland staff compiled a 4.64 ERA that season, which was the lowest figure posted by the club in 15 years. In 2001, Midland pitchers bettered the previous year’s figure by 24 points, finishing with a 4.40 ERA, and in 2002 the RockHounds finished with a 3.88 ERA. Young was promoted to Triple-A Sacramento for the 2003 season and the River Cats posted the fourth best ERA in the Pacific Coast League at 3.90 en route to the PCL Championship.
Originally drafted by the A’s in the fourth round of the 1981 June draft out of Central Michigan University, Young pitched parts of 11 Major League seasons with Oakland (1983-91, 1993), Kansas City (1992) and the New York Yankees (1992). The left-hander compiled a 69-53 record and a 4.31 ERA (530 ER/1,107.0 IP) in 251 appearances (162 starts) and was a member of the A’s starting rotation when they won three consecutive American League pennants from 1988-90.
|11.02.10 at 1:05 pm ET|
According to multiple baseball sources, the Red Sox will hire Curt Young as their next pitching coach, with a formal announcement coming as soon as today. Young will replace John Farrell, who left the Red Sox last week to become the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Young spent the last seven seasons as the pitching coach of the Athletics. During that time, the A’s have a 4.03 ERA that ranks as the best in the American League. The Oakland staff also had a 3.58 this year that led the American League.
“We are lucky to be able to add an experienced pitching coach the caliber of Curt Young to the organization,” GM Theo Epstein said in a press release announcing the hiring. “Curt has a proven track record of success in this job, mixing excellent relationship-building skills with expert knowledge of pitching and how to get hitters out at the Major League level. Pitchers who have worked with Curt swear by him, and the results speak for themselves. We think he will work well with our pitching staff and within the culture of our clubhouse.”
Young announced just over a week ago that he would decline Oakland’s offer of a contract for 2011 in order to pursue other opportunities in the major leagues. He interviewed with the Sox last Monday, and immediately became a leading candidate for the position.
The Sox also considered other external candidates and interviewed a pair of internal candidates, Mike Cather (an advance scout in 2010 who had previously spent four years as a minor league pitching coach) and minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel.
But, in the end, the Sox will turn to the man who has helped turn the Athletics into a factory for talented young pitchers, with a young staff that includes top talents such as Trever Cahill and Brett Anderson.
Rob Bradford contributed to this report.
|11.02.10 at 8:17 am ET|
Kevin Youkilis was tracked down by reporters this past weekend at the University of Cincinnati Homecoming football game, having played for the Bearcats’ baseball team from 1998-2001 . The fairly clean-shaven Youkilis explained that he has been hitting and throwing for the past couple of weeks, and that he and his injured thumb were ready to play baseball once again (yet, as he pointed out, “there’s no baseball to be played.”)
But then the subject of moving across the diamond came up. Clearly, Youkilis is not taking rumors of the Red Sox acquiring a first baseman lightly.
“I’m preparing myself to play third base because if you prepare yourself to play third base and you play first, it’s an easy transition,” Youkilis said. “So, for me, I try and prepare myself mentally to play third. I’ll probably take a little more ground balls this year, but hopefully we’ll find out sooner than later.”
Youkilis was then asked if he minded manning third base after become a Gold Glove first baseman. His answer? Not at all.
“I love third base. I love playing it, I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I would love to play third base, but wherever the team needs me I’ll play. First base, third base. No outfield. I’ll play shortstop if they want me to play short. For me, anywhere in the infield is good.”
|10.31.10 at 10:27 am ET|
The line score was fine. In his final start of the Arizona Fall League season, Red Sox top prospect Casey Kelly allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in five innings. He gave up one homer, walked one and struck out three.
But while that line might not exactly turn heads, Kelly finished the season flashing the sort of stuff that convinced the Sox that he had a very strong developmental year. His fastball topped out at 94 mph, and he showed a swing-and-miss curve and changeup. (Of Kelly’s 78 pitches, he elicited eight swings and misses, with five on curveballs and three on changeups.) As has been the case throughout this year, his mistakes were on fastballs up and over the plate, and against advanced hitters, that proved costly. All the same, it was a solid performance, giving Kelly three solid to strong outings (of his four starts) in Arizona.
Kelly’s AFL season is now over, and with it, so, too, is a 2010 campaign that was his first as a full-time pitcher. Between Double-A Portland and his time with the Peoria Javelinas of the AFL, Kelly logged 111 innings, going 4-5 with a 5.51 ERA, 92 strikeouts (7.5 per nine innings) and 39 walks (3.2 per nine innings).
While his 6.75 ERA in 16 innings in the AFL is gaudy, that was largely the byproduct of one terrible start (a two-inning, eight-run stinker) among his four outings. Otherwise, Kelly showed good stuff in Arizona and, perhaps more importantly, he was aggressive throwing strikes, walking just four in his 16 innings and allowing a pair of homers. (Both solid totals, considering the hitter-friendly environment of the AFL.) Considering that he was the second youngest pitcher in the fall league for top prospects (Kelly turned 21 on Oct. 4), he carried himself well, and he accomplished what he went to Arizona to do, tacking on 15-20 innings to his season to build his workload.
Now, with 2010 behind him, and the experience of a full season as a professional pitcher on his resume, Kelly is set up for a significant 2011 season. The Sox, with good reason, emphasized the fact that his stuff was better than his results in 2010.
Given that Kelly was dealing with youth (he was among the youngest pitchers in both the AFL and Double-A) and inexperience (he had 95 pro innings as a pitcher prior to this year), and that he was adjusting to physical development that took him from being a command pitcher to more of a power pitcher, it seems far to conclude that the numbers did not tell the whole story of his 2010 season.
But in 2011, with several of those adjustments having occurred, performance will likely be used as a meaningful barometer of his prospect status. If the physical gains of 2010 can translate into results, then his top-prospect status will be cemented further. If not, then there will be questions about whether he has been overhyped.
But, for now, such questions seem premature. This season was one of challenges, adversity and — the Sox believe — progress and development for a pitcher whose talent and makeup were both prominently on display throughout the year. For now, the numbers mean less in 2010 than the development that occurred for a young pitcher whose future, the Sox believe, remains extremely bright.
|10.30.10 at 11:25 am ET|
Javier Lopez, in his second stint with the Red Sox, served as an at-times vital cog in the team. He spent parts of four years with the Sox, from 2006-09, and in 172 appearances with the club, he had a 3.30 ERA.
But the end was rough. In 2009, he appeared in 14 games for the Sox, and allowed 20 hits and 12 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. His 9.26 ERA — and the ascent of Daniel Bard in the minors — resulted in the left-hander being designated for assignment to clear a spot on the big league roster for Bard in early May.
“I really don’t think I threw the ball all that bad,” Lopez told Alden Gonzalez in a terrific feature on the left-hander on MLB.com. “But when I decided to get hit around pretty bad, I made sure I did a good job of it. I made sure I got hit around.”
He did a good enough job of it that the Sox could not be faulted for releasing him at the end of last season. But, much to his surprise, one year later Lopez has emerged as an enormous contributor for the Giants, who now lead the World Series, 2-0.
After San Francisco acquired him from the Pirates at the trade deadline, the 33-year-old had a 1.42 ERA in the regular season. In the postseason, he has delivered many crucial outs for the Giants, permitting just one hit, one walk and one run in 5 2/3 innings (1.59 ERA) while striking out six. He has been called upon to neutralize the best left-handed hitters of playoff opponents — Jason Heyward of the Braves, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard of the Phillies, Josh Hamilton of the Rangers — and he has succeeded.
“If you told me in May or June that I’d be here, in this spot, I’d tell you you’re lying to my face,” Lopez said in the MLB.com story. “It’s a dream. These are the spots that you try to play all your life for.”
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