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Pap: no apology needed to Billy Wags

08.25.09 at 5:02 pm ET
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Don’t waste your time expecting Jonathan Papelbon to recant some of his remarks over the past four days concerning Billy Wagner.

On Tuesday afternoon, hours before the second of four games with the White Sox and moments after the Red Sox officially announced they had acquired Billy Wagner for a pair of minor leaguers, Papelbon said he welcomes the new 38-year-old fireballing lefty to the Red Sox bullpen.

“If I need to apologize for something, then I’ll apologize,” Papelbon said. “This is just a situation where there’s nothing for me to apologize about. I said nothing demeaning about him. We’ll get along great, I know we will. I’m actually looking forward to him coming here and kind of picking his brain.”

Papelbon said he’s looking forward to getting to know Wagner and seeing how he might deepen an already strong Red Sox pen.

Francona said he’s not concerned about the Papelbon’s comments becoming a distraction.

“With Pap, there’s about four or five times a year,” Francona said of Papelbon’s frank comments about not wanting to disturb the chemistry of the bullpen. “There’s not a whole lot of filter there. He’s also a good kid. We’re okay.”

But perhaps Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein shed the most light on the whole Papelbon-Wagner dynamic that the club feels has been overdramatized.

“I think Pap feels he was misunderstood and he’s not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with, obviously,” Epstein said. “When I talked to him directly about it he couldn’t have been more excited about the prospects of adding Billy Wagner and actually went out of his way to make sure Billy knew that he was more than welcome here.”

Epstein also clarified that, during a Major League Baseball sanctioned window during which the Sox could talk directly to Wagner prior to the trade, Papelbon also participated in the conversation to express directly to the Mets pitcher how excited he was to be teammates with a man who over 15 years has forged a reputation as one of the top closers in baseball history. 

As for how to use him, Francona will have that responsibility.

“I think we’re excited,” Francona said. “I think we have to recognize that he’s 14 months post-Tommy John surgery. I think it’s a great addition to our bullpen but again we will be very prudent and will use a lot of common sense and have a lot of communication with him because of what he’s been through, physically.”

Read More: billy wagner, Papelbon, Red Sox,

Red Sox Radio Broadcasts Return to WEEI

08.25.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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August 25, 2009 (Boston) ‘€” Entercom New England announced today that, effective with the team’€™s game against the Chicago White Sox Wednesday evening, August 26th, all future Boston Red Sox games will be carried on WEEI 850 AM in Boston, the flagship station of the WEEI Sports Radio Network.

From 1995 to 2006, Red Sox games were carried exclusively on WEEI. In 2006, the games were shifted to Entercom sister station WRKO AM 680.

‘€œWe have a tremendously close partnership with the Red Sox, and are very excited to bring them back to WEEI,’€ said Jason Wolfe, Entercom New England’€™s Vice President of AM Programming. ‘€œThis move will add consistency to our lineup, whereby all of our sports assets will be consolidated in the same place. There’€™s no better compliment to the Boston Celtics, Patriots Monday and Patriots Friday, Sunday Night and Monday Night NFL football, the Super Bowl and NCAA Men’€™s Basketball Tournament, than adding Red Sox baseball back to nation’€™s biggest sports radio station.’€
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Red Sox Announce the Wagner Deal

08.25.09 at 2:34 pm ET
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The Red Sox just issued the following press release to announce the deal to acquire Billy Wagner from the Mets in exchange for two players to be named:

The Boston Red Sox today acquired left-handed pitcher Billy Wagner from the New York Mets in exchange for two players to be named later.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Wagner, 38, has appeared in two games for the Mets in 2009, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.  In 45 relief outings with New York last season, the left-hander was 0-1 with a 2.30 ERA (12 ER/47.0 IP) with 27 saves in 34 chances before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on September 10.

A six-time National League All-Star, Wagner is 39-37 with 385 saves and a 2.39 ERA (218 ER/820.0 IP) in 767 career relief appearances over parts of 15 Major League seasons with the Astros (1995-2003), Phillies (2004-05) and Mets (2006-09).  His 385 saves rank second all-time among left-handed pitchers, trailing only John Franco’€™s 424, and sixth overall on the all-time saves list.  He has recorded 30 or more saves eight times and set a career high with 44 for Houston in 2003.

Wagner earned the 1999 National League Rolaids Relief Award and finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting that season.  Since 1954, his 2.39 ERA ranks third among qualifying relievers behind only Mariano Rivera (2.09) and Joe Nathan (2.13).

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Red Sox Acquire Billy Wagner From Mets

08.25.09 at 2:22 pm ET
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WEEI.com has confirmed reports that the Red Sox acquired left-handed reliever Billy Wagner from the Mets in exchange for two players to be named later.

The Sox were awarded a waiver claim on Wagner, who has 385 career saves, on Friday. The two teams had until Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to work out a deal or to have the Mets grant the waiver claim (and part with Wagner for nothing). But both of those possibilities required Wagner, who has a no-trade clause, to sign off on the deal.

Over the last couple of days, reports had surfaced that Wagner planned to employ his no-trade clause to block a deal, both because the Red Sox would not agree to grant his request that he not be offered salary arbitration and out of a feeling that pitching in a more regulated environment (outside of the rigors of a pennant race) would best position him for free agency. But, in the minutes leading up to the deadline for the trade to be completed, Wagner apparently had a change of heart, deciding that the opportunity to pitch for a championship was more important than pitching on a structured schedule with an out-of-contention team.

Boston.com reported that the Sox agreed not to exercise Wagner’s $8 million option for 2010, meaning they will exercise the $1 million buyout. But the report suggested that the Sox retained the right to offer Wagner salary arbitration, which would give them two compensatory draft picks should Wagner, a Type A free agent, be offered salary arbitration and sign with another team.

While the identity of the minor-league players whom the Mets will get back has yet to be learned, New York’s primary motivation was considered to be salary relief and the risks associated with either exercising Wagner’s option or offering him salary arbitration. That being the case, the return might be expected to keep intact Boston’s top prospects.

Read More: billy wagner, Mets, trade, waiver

Schilling talks Wagner on Dennis & Callahan

08.25.09 at 1:19 pm ET
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Curt Schilling called into the Dennis & Callahan show this morning to discuss some topics in the sporting world, one of which was Billy Wagner’s recent decision to nix a trade to the Red Sox (CLICK HERE for audio):

On what Billy Wagner gains by staying in New York: I know that they’€™re probably not going to pick up his option, which I don’€™t think is the problem. I think arbitration is the problem here (in Boston).’€

On Wagner’€™s alleged comments on ‘€œhis desire to end the year healthy for the future’€ and that ‘€œhe has a better chance lasting a month in a non-competitive environment’€: I’€™ve known Billy Wagner a long time and I can absolutely believe that. I can believe that comment.

On Wagner being ‘€œnutty and a little strange’€: No, not as much as you think. He’€™s left-handed, which makes him goofy to begin with.

On whether he and Papelbon could get along: They’€™d get along fine. Paps is Paps. There’€™s just not a whole lot of forethought there, and I’€™m one to talk. But if Billy Wagner if setting you up in the eighth, there’€™s a pretty good chance you’€™re going to get a few more save opportunities than you otherwise might. He’€™s always been a nightmare for left-handed hitters and when he was up around 100 (MPH) he was a nightmare for guys on both sides.

On whether he buys into the claim that Wagner was a righty at birth but broke his arm and switched to lefty, ultimately developing the ability to throw 100 MPH: I heard that story a long time ago. He says that it’€™s true, but I’€™m still calling it BS.

Read More: billy wagner, Dennis & Callahan, Schilling,

Red Sox vs. White Sox Match-Ups, 8/25/09

08.25.09 at 12:10 pm ET
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RED SOX VS. FREDDY GARCIA

The Red Sox bats have seemingly come back to life after a rousing 12-8 win over the White Sox last night. Boston powered its way past Chicago thanks in large part to home runs from Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew.

Tonight, the Red Sox face another of Chicago’s veteran right-handers in Freddy Garcia. The Venezuelan-born hurler is making his second start of the 2009 season for the Pale Hose.

In his last outing Garcia had a rough go of it against the Royals. Garcia went just 4.1 innings, giving up five earned runs in a 5-4 loss.

Garcia will face a lineup that is much more offensively potent than that of the Kansas City Royals tonight. Here’s how the Red Sox have fared in the past against Garcia:

Victor Martinez (30 plate appearances) .200 BA/.400 OBP/.478 SLG (2 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB)

Jason Varitek (28) .296/.321/.481 (HR, 4 RBI)

David Ortiz (22) .200/.273/.450 (HR, 3 RBI, 6 SO)

Rocco Baldelli (10) .222/.300/.222

Nick Green (6) .167/.167/.167

Kevin Youkilis (6) .000/.000/.000

Casey Kotchman (5) .000/.200/.000

J.D. Drew (4) .250/.250/.250

Jason Bay (3) .000/.300/.000

Mike Lowell (3) .333/.333/.667 (2B, 2 RBI)

Alex Gonzalez (2) .000/.000/.000

Garcia has yet to face Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Garcia is 6-2 with a 4.78 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox and 3-1  for his career at Fenway Park.

WHITE SOX VS. JON LESTER

The Red Sox will counter with lefthander Jon Lester tonight. Lester comes into tonight’s matchup wielding a 10-7 record and a 3.58 ERA.

Lester is currently third in the American League with 181 strikeouts thus far this season. Lester trails only Detroit’s Justin Verlander (211) and Kansas City’s Zach Greinke (182) in that regard.

Lester will be facing a lineup he has very little familiarity with. In just two career starts against President Obama’s favorite ballclub, the southpaw is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

Here’s how the White Sox have fared against Lester in the past:

Alex Rios (25) .300/.440/.429 (2 2B, 3 RBI, 4 SO)

Jermaine Dye (6) .000/.000/.000

Paul Konerko (6) .200/.333/.200

A.J. Pierzynski (4) .333/.250/.333

Carlos Quentin (3) .000/.667/.000

Alexei Ramirez (3) .333/.333/.333

Jim Thome (3) .667/.667/.667 (2 H)

Mark Kotsay (2) 1.000/1.000/1.000 (2 H)

Lester has yet to face Gordon Beckham, Ramon Castro, Brent Lillibridge, Jayson Nix, and Scott Podsednik.

Read More: freddy garcia, Jon Lester,

Tracking the Development of Buchholz

08.25.09 at 12:01 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz is a young pitcher in this league who is learning opposing hitters, as well as himself, each and every night he takes the mound. We all know how Clay came onto the scene, throwing a no-hitter right here at Fenway Park on September 2, 2007, against the Baltimore Orioles, as well as all the hype that consequently followed. But did we all get way ahead of ourselves as far as our expectations?

After all, look around the league. Every team in this league seems to have a young fireballer with loads of potential. On any given night, those kids can go out and throw a gem. Potential may be able to get you to the big leagues, but consistency will keep you there. We like to judge talent on what the player looks like on his very best night. How good can they really be? But what we should be really looking at is how good the player can be on his very worst night. We saw Clay on a night where he was at his very best. Unfortunately, we have also seen Clay at his worst.

I must admit, 2008 head me shaking my head. I really liked what I saw from Clay in terms of “pure stuff.” I compared Clay’s 2008 start with Jon Lester’s debut in 2006, and it got even more confusing. After six starts, Lester was 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Clay after six starts was 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA. Lester went on to throw 14 innings over his next two starts, giving up only one earned run, while Clay really struggled, going 8 1/3 and giving up 12 earned runs in two losses.

Jon Lester went on to become one of the very best left-handed pitchers in the game as Clay Buchholz was placed on the disabled list and then sent down to the minor leagues to work on his release point. At the time, I thought that might have been a pretty quick hook to the minors. Clay had eight starts, five pretty good…three not so good, but isn’t that expected when you have a young arm as your No. 5 starter?

I also thought having Clay change his release point was a bad idea. As it turned out, it only frustrated Clay more than it helped. His changeup didn’t look the same. His curveball didn’t have the same bite and had more of a slurve look to it. Overall, I think that 2008 was a learning experience for everyone. Clay came to camp this year with a different attitude. He’s back to his old release point. In talking to him, it’€™s obvious that he’s got a better understanding of the process and what it takes for him to pitch in the Big Leagues.

Overall, I think that you have to be pleased with what you have seen this year from Clay. I absolutely love the two-seamer that he has been featuring. Last year, Clay tried to get by with a 95 mph four-seamer. The problem was that he wasn’t getting many swings and misses. He wasn’t blowing it by anyone. Because of that, he tried to be too fine with it and got himself in a lot of trouble falling behind hitters. Not the case this year.

That two-seamer has great movement and can really tie up a right-handed hitter. Now comes the big question. Does he trust it? Because it’€™s a new pitch, it’€™s important that Clay believes in it and goes to it when he needs to. As good as Clay has looked this year, it’€™s still been a ‘€œtwo steps forward, one step back’€ kind of year. Three good starts, one bad. Three good, one bad. That’s the way 2009 has gone. When he throws well we’ve seen a pitcher who is not afraid to use his fastball ‘€“ a pitcher who pitches out of jams, not into them.

But, unfortunately, in his two not-so-good starts, we saw a young pitcher who still gets rattled when his fastball gets hit hard, someone who continues to throw the ball to first when the base runner is still standing on it (must be some kind of nervous twitch) and who turns to his changeup whenever he seems to be in a jam.

But, like I said, he’s still young. Let’s not forget that. That Jon Lester has developed quicker than Clay is by no means a reflection on how good Clay can become.

Clay Buchholz is this team’€™s No. 3 starter and will prove it over the next five weeks. He’s got the potential. Now it’€™s time for him to show the consistency.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, development, Jon Lester,

Every which Clay

08.25.09 at 8:36 am ET
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By his own admission, Clay Buchholz had seen this nightmare before.

Staked to a comfortable lead, the Red Sox righty looked anything but on Monday night as he could not get three outs with a five-run lead to earn the win.

It was on Aug. 2 in Baltimore when Buchholz was staked to a lead of 7-0 but gave up six runs in the third. The Red Sox came back with seven runs in the fourth and it appeared Buchholz was in line for the easy win when he got through the fourth inning. But he could not retire a batter in the fifth and was yanked after three batters and did not get the win.

On Monday night against the White Sox, the Red Sox made up a 4-1 deficit with a six-run third and added two more in the fourth for a 9-4 lead. But Buchholz, just one out away from completing the fifth, allowed a three-run homer to Paul Konerko and Ramon Ramirez was called on to get the final out of the fifth.

“Second time this year,” Buchholz said. “It’s tough to swallow whenever a team gives you the (five-run) lead and you can’t get through five innings with it. Too many pitches. They fouled off a lot of pitches and when I was already deep in the count. They battled up there and got some timely hits and that’s the way it goes sometimes.

“I’ve got to be able to go out there and put up zeroes in multiple innings in a row to even stand a chance to get past the fifth or sixth inning. I failed to do that tonight. I had three good starts leading up to this one and definitely wanted to have another one and it’s definitely hard to go out there and not get a win when your team gives you nine or 10 runs to do it,” Buchholz said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox,

Sources: Penny was claimed on waivers

08.25.09 at 8:33 am ET
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According to multiple sources, pitcher Brad Penny was claimed off waivers earlier this month, and then subsequently pulled back by the Red Sox. With the 48-hour window in which a deal could be worked out by the Red Sox and the claiming team already passed, Penny, who is being skipped over for his turn in the rotation this week, can’t be dealt by the Sox. 

Penny is scheduled to be available for relief duty both Wednesday and Thursday, with a simulated game planned for Friday if he isn’t used. Righty is currently 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA and has suffered losses in each of his last four outings. Since the All-Star break he is 1-5 with a 7.82 ERA.

Report: Wagner to stay with Mets

08.25.09 at 12:17 am ET
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According to FoxSports.com, Billy Wagner has invoked his no-trade clause, forcing the Mets to keep the 38-year-old reliever and not trade or release him to the Red Sox.

The report states that according to a source the Red Sox would have agreed to not exercise the pitcher’s $8 million option for 2010, but wouldn’t agree to not offer Wagner arbitration. Wagner projects to be a Type A free agent after this season, which would allow whichever team offers him arbitration to receive two draft picks if the hurler signs with another club. The activation of Wagner’s no-trade clause also prevented the Mets from letting Wagner go to the Sox without any compensation.

The teams have until 1 p.m. Tuesday to complete any transaction, but, according to the source, Wagner’s position appears firmly entrenched.

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