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The Bradford Files: Why Cliff Lee doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox

11.10.10 at 1:13 pm ET
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Cliff Lee might be a luxury the Red Sox can't afford. (AP)

I might be wrong (and probably will be) but I can’t see Theo Epstein getting on a plane to Arkansas to in an effort to court Cliff Lee, a task Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is reportedly undertaking Wednesday.

The news that the Red Sox were one of the teams to call on Lee shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody. They also called on both A.J. Burnett  and CC Sabathia two years ago when they were hitting the free agent market. But let’s make a few things clear:

1. The signing of Lee would put an ENORMOUS dent in the Sox’ ability to execute other moves. You’re talking somewhere in the vicinity of Sabathia’s $23 million a season (perhaps a bit less due to the 32-year-old Lee’s age), a number that would undoubtedly hamstring the Red Sox in fixing other problems heading through this offseason.

2. You have four starters who are locked into this rotation probably through 2014, the season in which Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Josh Beckett are under the Red Sox’ control through. You aren’t trading any one of those starters, whether it’s due to value or expense to the potential trade partner. Next season, that group of four will make around $37.5 million (thanks in large part to the only about $6 million committed to Lester and Buchholz). That number, however, will jump up past $52 million by the time ’13 rolls around. Factor in a Lee contract, and that obviously moves to upwards of $70 million for the starting rotation. No matter what the market, that’s tough to dance around when building the rest of your team.

3. Then there is Daisuke Matsuzaka. The 30-year-old has a full no-trade clause, which certainly limits opportunities to deal him. (It doesn’t, however, mean they won’t try.) He will make $10 million this upcoming season and in ’12, which is the final year of his deal. It is a somewhat manageable number for teams looking for top-of-the-rotation potential. Still, if even if the Red Sox are able to trade Matsuzaka, you’re talking about a spot you most likely want to reserve for either a controllable, young-and-up-and-comer, or cheap stopgap (see the interest in Justin Duchscherer).

4. The Red Sox are fully aware of the poor history when it comes to committing long-term deals to starting pitchers, and the even poorer history when they are on the other side of 30-years-old. It is most likely going to take AT LEAST five years to ink Lee, a road they were willing to go down with a 30-year-old Lackey, but probably not one their comfortable venturing toward again. Lee is a top tier pitcher, no doubt, but also soak in some reality. He hasn’t won more than 14 games in either of the last two seasons, went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts with the Rangers, is markedly less dominant in the second-half of the season (not, of course, including the postseason), has a career regular season record of 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA against the Yankees, and hasn’t pitched well in either Fenway Park (4.73 ERA for five starts). Many of these facts aren’t deal-breakers, but when digesting a contract the likes of which Lee will be getting, you have to consider all angles.

5. If the Red Sox do decide to take this to a Teixeira-esque level in regard to competing with the Yankees (who are undoubtedly making Lee their top priority), they will lose. The only time the Sox have won a bidding war with the Yanks was in the blind bid for Matsuzaka, which is really apples and oranges when trying to uncover optimism.

6. The Sox’ spending power this offseason isn’t what many think it might be. (Colleague Alex Speier busted out the spreadsheet and projects the Red Sox might have around $30 million to spend. As he points out, this is a very inexact science, but there is nobody in the industry I would trust to be close on the matter more than Alex.) You need at least one middle-of-the-order bat — whether it comes from the outfield or a corner spot — another catcher, and bullpen help. Trying getting quality at all of those spots while living with Lee’s paychecks.

Maybe the Red Sox do make a strong bid at Lee. Perhaps the Sox even sign him. But, heading into the waves of free agent talk that is to come, consider this an opportunity to go in with eyes wide open.

John Farrell on D&H: Players would ‘run through a wall’ for Terry Francona

11.10.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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John Farrell

Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday to talk about his new stint as Blue Jays manager, and how he plans to use free agency in organizing his new clubhouse. To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Farrell was drawn to the Blue Jays job because of the strengths of the team, its core group of young players, and the attraction of competing in the American League East. “I think it is the strongest division in baseball,” Farrell said, “and to go up against those teams a third of the time, between New York, Boston and Tampa, that’s a challenge that was relished, not run away from.”

A smaller payroll than some of those other AL East teams is something that Farrell is unconcerned about when it comes to working with the Blue Jays. While payrolls may differ around the league, each team still has the ability and opportunity to go out and compete for a World Series. “I think what it comes down to is just a team, an organization working in unison to be as efficient as possible,” Farrell said.

The first step to Farrell forming that kind of team was to get his staffing situation figured out. He said that as a person who has never managed, it was important to him to have someone who had that experience, and also that “to have someone that I had a standing relationship with.” So, Farrell dug into the Red Sox’ minor league staff pool and hired former Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo as his first-base coach.

Asked what he takes from his time alongside Terry Francona, Farrell said: “The thing that really stood out with Tito was his willingness to listen and, without a doubt, his unwavering confidence in players. He never backed off, even when a guy was struggling. So, players felt that belief in them and really that he had their back though thick and thin. … When guys went through some times where things weren’t going well, he never backed off them. I really feel like they believed in him and would run through a wall for him.”

It’s possible that Farrell could look back to his familiarity with the Red Sox organization when it comes to free agency. Farrell did not deny that there are questions on the Blue Jays roster, including at the catching position, which could lead to a pursuit of Jason Varitek. “We all know what Jason is about,” Farrell said. “He’s a great leader in the clubhouse and on the field. … We’ve got a young catcher in J.P. Arencibia that still needs some development and grooming to become an everyday guy.”

The bullpen is another area of the roster Farrell said needs to be address, and though he agreed that Cliff Lee is probably the most desirable guy on the free agent list, that doesn’t mean the Blue Jays will make a bid. “Whether or not he fits what we’ve got going currently, that will be determined here as we go deeper into the offseason,” Farrell said. “But I’m sure there’s going to be some heavy pursuit for Cliff.”

Read More: Cliff Lee, Jason Varitek, John Farrell, torey lovullo

Minor Details Podcast, Ep. 1

11.10.10 at 12:17 pm ET
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This week marks the debut of the Minor Details podcast, a regular look at the players and state of the Red Sox farm system. This week’s episode focuses on the recent Baseball America list of the Top 10 prospects in the Sox system.

The podcast is joined by WEEI.com colleague Rob Bradford for the introductory segment, Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen (who joins at the 9:25 mark), and Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis (31:56). The process of assembling the Top 10 list is discussed, as is the significance of the list to a baseball organization.

Players discussed include Casey Kelly, Jose Iglesias, Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Ranaudo, Garin Cecchini (after much bungling of the pronunciation, for the record, we wanted to clarify: Cheh-Key-Nee), Lars Anderson, Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Westmoreland, among others. The outrageously awesome musical introduction is by The Porch Cops, featuring members of Tallahassee.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

For suggestions for future podcast topics and guests, or to offer feedback (good or hate-filled), email me at aspeier@weei.com or contact me via Twitter.

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Anthony Rizzo, baseball america, casey kelly

Sean Casey on D&C: Carl Crawford a ‘total game-changer’

11.10.10 at 10:41 am ET
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Sean Casey

MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about Dustin Pedroia as one of the most interesting people in Boston sports, as well as what he thinks the Red Sox should do this offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

According to Casey, Pedroia is both interesting in the clubhouse as well as a pain in the butt. “He’s a great teammate,” Casey said. “He’s a guy that livens up the mood a lot, a guy that will bust your chops a lot, which I loved. I loved that he was so young but still felt confident enough to rip on anyone that came across his path. And I loved how he backed it up.”

If Jason Varitek leaves Boston this offseason, Casey believes it would be very likely that Pedroia steps into a leadership role as a captain, because he does a great job of making everybody feel like they’re a part of the team. “Everybody from the Dominican players, the American players, to the Japanese guys, everyone loves him,” Casey said. “A leader for me is a guy that brings everybody in.”

Another reason Pedroia would be a good fit as captain is because of the way he plays the game. “That guy goes out there hard every day and plays and backs up what he’s doing,” Casey said. “So, I think everyone relates to a guy like Dustin Pedroia.”

Pedroia brings a certain comfort level to the Red Sox lineup. “You feel like you’re never down, you’re never done,” Casey said, “because [Pedroia] might get one more at-bat, he might make a play up the middle.”

To further improve the Red Sox lineup, Casey suggests the club should go after free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, because he’s “a guy that is just a total game-changer.” The combination of Jacoby Ellsbury and Crawford would put a burst of speed in the Red Sox lineup. “Jason Werth obviously is a big right-handed bat, power bat,” Casey said. “He’d probably be big there at Fenway with the big power to left. But I think Carl Crawford is a game-changer.”

Read More: carl crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Sean Casey,

Source: Red Sox show interest in Justin Duchscherer

11.09.10 at 11:28 am ET
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According to a baseball source, the Red Sox have expressed interest in right-hander Justin Duchscherer as a potential addition to their pitching staff. Duchscherer, who was drafted by the Sox in the eighth round of the 1996 round before getting traded to the Rangers in exchange for Doug Mirabelli in 2001, went 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts for the Athletics in 2010. But after the five outings, he underwent season-ending hip surgery in June. That followed a 2009 season that he missed in its entirety following elbow surgery and subsequent depression.

But the right-hander has been effective when healthy. In 2008, he was an All-Star as a starter, going 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA. That came three years after he made the AL All-Star team as a reliever by going 7-4 with a 2.21 ERA in 2005. In Oakland, the 32-year-old (he turns 33 on Nov. 19) enjoyed significant success with new Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young, under whom he enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2003 while with Triple-A Sacramento.

Last year, Duchscherer signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the A’s as a free agent that included numerous incentives based on health and appearances. He would no doubt have to pursue a similar deal this offseason, but before the end of the year, Duchscherer (33-15 with a 3.13 ERA in 224 career appearances) made clear that he wants to continue to pitch.

“When I’m healthy, I’ve always proven that I can pitch,” Duchscherer told mlb.com in September. “The thing I have to prove is that I can stay healthy. I haven’t shown that yet. That’s the worst part about that, being a baseball player and knowing I can do it but not physically being able to. So that’s my goal, whether it’s here or somewhere else. I’m a baseball player, and I’d like to pitch at least a few more years. I’m too young to try to move on to something else.”

While Duchscherer has experience as a reliever and starter, the right-hander has made it clear to clubs that he is only interested in pursuing opportunities as a starter.

Read More: curt young, Justin Duchscherer,

Brian Daubach may just end up managing Bryce Harper

11.08.10 at 1:54 pm ET
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Former Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach has been hired by the Washington Nationals to manage their Single-A team, the Hagerstown Suns, in the Single-A South Atlantic League, the same league as the Red Sox’ affiliate Greenville Drive. Daubach managed the Pittsfield Colonials of the independent Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball last season, having previously served as the manager for the American Defenders.

Daubach could end up managing the top pick in MLB’s 2010 June amateur draft, Bryce Harper, who is currently hitting .348 for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Source: DeMarlo Hale to interview with the Mets

11.07.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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According to a major league source, Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale will interview with the New York Mets for their vacant managerial position sometime early this week.

The 49-year-old Hale was recently one of the four finalists for the Toronto Blue Jays managerial opening, which ultimately went to former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Hale, who has been with the Red Sox since 2006, has not held a major league managing job, having last managed with the Rangers’ Triple-A team in Oklahoma in 2001.

Hale was named the minor league manager of the year in 1999 after leading the Trenton Thunder to a record of 92-50. CSNNE was first to report the news of Hale’s scheduled interview with the Mets. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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