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Chat With Red Sox Amateur Scouting Director Jason McLeod

10.13.09 at 12:26 pm ET
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Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod has kindly offered to drop by the Virtual Press Box on Thursday at noon to take questions about the Red Sox’€™ scouting and player development.

McLeod joined the Red Sox in 2003 as director of scouting administration, and was promoted to head of the team’€™s draft efforts following the 2004 system. In the six drafts since McLeod joined the organization, the Sox have added several key big-league contributors, including Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard.

The draft has also helped the Sox to build what is regarded as one of the top farm systems in the majors, thanks to prospects such as Casey Kelly, Josh Reddick, Lars Anderson, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Westmoreland and Anthony Rizzo. The team’€™s first-round pick in 2009, centerfielder Reymond Fuentes, was named the third best prospect in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League after hitting .290 with a .331 OBP as an 18-year-old.

McLeod is believed to be the first MLB official of Samoan descent. His mother’€™s cousin, Eli Faleomavaega, is the current Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from American Samoa, which was recently devastated by a tsunami.

Please join WEEI.com and McLeod in extending support to the victims of the tsunami. For information about how to do so, please visit the website of Congressman Faleomaveaga or the Red Cross.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Chat With Red Sox Amateur Scouting Director Jason McLeod

Bay talks about the future

10.12.09 at 7:09 pm ET
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Speaking from the Red Sox clubhouse before leaving for the season, outfielder Jason Bay stopped to talk about his future with reporters:

Will he be back?: Good question I guess, your guess is as good as mine. I’€™d like to be no question.

What will it take?: “I don’€™t know we made some strides earlier on and I’€™m comfortable here and I’€™ve gotten to this point and I leave it up to my agent to tell me where I’€™m at. I’€™ve said it before, it just doesn’€™t boil down to dollars. There are places you’€™re comfortable and this is one of them. So I definitely put it at the top of the list.”

What it will be like? “I have no idea that’€™s why I’€™m kind of curious. I don’€™t know who’€™s interested I don’€™t know any of this stuff. I’€™ve never done this before I;m kind of interested to see how it plays out. I really don’€™t know what to expect.”

What else other than the money?: “At some point it is about the money I mean it’€™s not all about the money, the situation I was in before I came here in Pittsburgh when we didn’€™t win a lot of ballgames and then you come here and you win a lot of ballgames go to the playoffs two years in a row. That has a huge factor, it really makes playing baseball an enjoyable factor.”

What type of team will you be looking at? “A team that is definitely set up where you get a chance to win over the term that you’€™re going to be there and a place where my family is going to feel comfortable. I think a lot has been made because my family lives in Seattle this whole west coast thing and you know that would be a positive for those teams but at the same time I’€™m comfortable there, knowing the guys knowing the team knowing everything.”

“For me it’€™s been the winning. You get that in some other places but after being here and the rabid fan base and playing for the Red Sox there’€™s really not that experience in a lot of places so like I said when I got here baseball not that it wasn’€™t fun before but it was fun again and I really enjoyed that.”

“I’€™m not going to state that (that Boston is preferred choice) but yeah, ultimately it boils down to that I’€™ve gotten to this point and I’€™d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’€™t look around but at the same time I’€™ve said all along if something comes up ‘€“ I’€™m a pretty level-headed guy ‘€“ if something comes up that makes sense I’€™d have a tough time saying no.”

“I haven’€™t given a ton of thought (to when he wants deal done) I don’€™t even know when it starts ‘€¦ I’€™m definitely excited to see what’€™s going on.”

Will it be driven by your agent, Joe Urbon, or you?: “No question (Bay). I think sometimes it might be that way but ultimately it is up to the player and sometimes that view gets a little skewed by external factors and by other people I consider myself level-headed enough to make my own decisions but informed decisions.”

Best selling point of Boston? “For me? My familiarity of it. I’€™m kind of a creature of habit I like knowing already knowing the guys in the clubhouse knowing Tito knowing what it’€™s like to play here. A lot of people say OK I wonder what he’€™s going to do in that situation but the fact that I’€™ve been here and I’€™ve done that kind of puts your at ease a little bit. ‘€¦ Now I’€™ve been through it a yeah and half and OK I can handle this and I enjoyed it. That familiarity is huge.”

Beckett wants his Tek-nichian back in 2010

10.12.09 at 5:16 pm ET
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Josh Beckett made it clear on Monday that he would like to see Jason Varitek back in a Red Sox uniform in 2010.

“He’s definitely one of those guys I’d love to see back, even if the transition starts like it started at the end of the year,” Beckett said. “I think there’s a lot of things that a lot of people can learn from him. And him being around, it’s never a bad thing. He’s so great with young guys and he knows to run a clubhouse and that’s why he wears that ‘C’ on his chest.”

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Monday that he had yet to speak to Varitek about his role next year. The Red Sox captain has a $3 million option he can exercise for 2010 or the club could pick up his option at $5 million.

Epstein added that he Victor Martinez would likely see the majority of catching duty next year. Martinez caught all three games of the series against the Angels while Varitek did not play in the ALDS, the first time in his Red Sox career he spent the entire postseason on the bench.

“It’s obviously not anything you want to see somebody go through, and I consider Jason Varitek a dear friend of mine,” Beckett added. “It’s obviously tough to see people go through those transitions but he handled it very well.”

Read More: Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett, Red Sox, victor martinez

Theo and Tito look ahead to 2010

10.12.09 at 2:34 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and his skipper Terry Francona, less than 24 hours after their team was shown the postseason door by the Los Angeles Angels, addressed a room full of about 50 reporters and nine TV cameras about what went wrong after 95 wins in the regular season and what to expect in 2010.

Here are some of the bullet points from Monday’s session in the Fenway Park media room.

Red Sox have given permission to the Astros to speak with first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their managerial vacancy. Pitching coach John Farrell expressed to the Red Sox that he still wants to stay but Epstein will meet with him to make sure he still is not interested in the Cleveland job.

Francona said he is having a hard time dealing with elimination. But he physically feels fine.

Francona said Mike Lowell will likely feel better in ’10 according to medical staff. “I think they’re confident that he will be better next year.”

Epstein said Tim Wakefield will have surgery this week and he is in Red Sox plans in 2010.

Alex Gonzalez indicated he would like to return to Boston next year and Epstein indicated the Red Sox are open to picking up the option. “That certainly is one way we could go.”

Epstein indicated optimism in re-signing free agent Jason Bay. “It’s unusual. Epstein said of the talks between the Sox and Bay. “I still feel core elements are in place we still want Jason Bay on Red Sox and he wants to be on Red Sox.”

Epstein said the free agent market isn’t the greatest. “I think we have some flexibility. Not world’s greatest free agent market.”

Epstein on David Ortiz. “We need him to be a force.”

Epstein said he hasn’t talked to Jason Varitek about his role in 2010.

Epstein indicated Victor Martinez will catch majority of games in ’10.

Epstein on whether they will look to lock-up Martinez past 2010: “We’ll see. We’d love to see him here long term.”
Epstein said, depending on offseason moves, 2010 could be last run for several core Red Sox players to “make a run” at title.
Here is the transcript:

Theo on the bench: ‘€œSome of our bench, they’€™re free agents. And we’€™ll see. We’€™ll build a bench, we’€™ll be deep and we want to be as deep as we possibly can. When you don’€™t have obvious upper-level depth at some positions, you have to get creative in how you’€™re going to create that depth.

‘€œWe want a strong bench because we’€™re going to have some players that come in with some injury questions again. We predict that Mike Lowell will be improved next year, physically, how improved will he be? Jed Lowrie? We’€™re going to have to have a lot of depth. You always do. It’€™s never enough but we’€™re going to try to build up as much as we can this winter.’€

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Astros to interview Bogar, Mills

10.12.09 at 1:01 pm ET
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The Houston Astros have requested and received permission from the Red Sox to interview first base coach Tim Bogar and bench coach Brad Mills for their vacant managerial job. Bogar, who played for Houston from 1997-2000, managed two Single-A affiliates of the Astros from 2004-05. He was named Apalachian League Manager of the Year in ’04 and South Atlantic League Manager of the Year in ’05. This was Bogar’s first season in Boston. Mills has been Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston for six seasons. He has a 6-5 record as Sox manager when covering for Francona. Mills, who played alongside Francona with the Montreal Expos in 1981-83, managed 11 seasons in the minor leagues for the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002). He was first base coach for the Phillies under Francona from 1997-2000.

Read More: Brad Mills, Red Sox, Tim Bogar,

Not a field of dreams for Pedroia

10.12.09 at 8:15 am ET
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It was a moment lost on many, but not Dustin Pedroia.

With runners on first and second and one out, in the eighth inning of what would turn into the Red Sox‘ 7-6 loss to the Angels, Kendry Morales hit a bounding grounder to Pedroia at second. But upon its arrival the ball took a bad hop, forcing the second baseman to collapse to his knees and smother it just enough to get the inning’€™s second out at first.

Some, including Pedroia, felt like ‘€“ especially with Guerrero running at first ‘€“ there was a legitimate shot at an inning-ending double play when the ball left the bat.

‘€œIt took a bad hop,’€ Pedroia noted. ‘€œOur infield sucks. It’€™s the worst in the game. I’€™m not lying about that. That is true. It took a bad hop. I just tried to put my body in front of it to get an out.

‘€œI think about those things too. That stuff upsets me. My job is to take 1,000 ground balls a day and the other guy’€™s job is to get the field perfect so we can play baseball. But it happens. That’€™s the way it goes.’€

Pedroia’s right knee was severely bloodied and scraped on the play, as well. 

Loss Will Fuel Papelbon

10.11.09 at 6:51 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon took his time after suffering the Game 3 loss, and understandably so. Following a run of near-perfection that spanned his first four major league seasons, beginning with his dominance in the 2005 playoffs (when the Red Sox were eliminated by the White Sox) and continuing through a World Series in 2007 and a seven-game ALCS in 2008, he had been as dominant as nearly any pitcher in postseason history.

Papelbon carried a 0.00 ERA into Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Angels, the longest run without permitting an earned run to start a postseason career by any pitcher in big-league history. And so, after being entrusted with a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning, Papelbon himself never would have expected an outcome like the one that unfolded.

‘€œIt hurts just as much as any other postseason loss. You can’€™t sit there and classify how much this one hurts than any other. … In postseason play, my job is to, when I get called upon is to get all the outs I’€™m called on to get,” said Papelbon. (More audio below) ‘€œI think things happened quick, more than anything. I wasn’t able to stop the bleeding. Your team fights and puts you in that situation, to call upon you, and you let them down. Your team expects you to pull through and preserve that win for you and then you don’€™t, it’€™s definitely not a good feeling.’€

The Sox closer entered with two on and two out in the top of the eighth. He left a first-pitch fastball in the middle of the zone to Juan Rivera, resulting in a two-run single that narrowed Boston’s advantage to 5-4. Even so, after the Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, Papelbon seemed set to close the door for his eighth career postseason save.

Instead, after blazing through a pair of outs to open the inning, the Angels began battling, whittling at the closer’s invincibility. Erick Aybar singled on an 0-2 fastball, then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Chone Figgins jumped ahead, 3-0, before drawing a full-count walk. Bobby Abreu then fell behind 1-2, fouled off a pitch, then lined a double to left-center to score Aybar and put runners on second and third.

The Sox elected to intentionally walk Torii Hunter (3-for-8 with a homer in his career against Papelbon) to load the bases for Vladimir Guerrero (2-for-12 against the Sox closer. Guerrero swung at Papelbon’s first-pitch fastball. (Notably, Papelbon threw nothing but fastballs in the ninth: all 26 of his pitches (not counting his intentional walk) were heaters.) Though the pitch stayed off the barrel of the bat, Guerrero muscled it into shallow center for a two-run single that ultimately propelled the Angels to victory.

‘€œI felt good. I did,” said Papelbon. “I wasn’€™t able to really locate when I needed to and it proved to be costly.’€

Papelbon said that he would leave behind the sting of defeat as soon as he left the clubhouse. He set to the task of packing his belongings for the winter after the game. Even so, the Sox closer admitted that he might make a point of replaying this game to drive himself in his preparations for the 2010 season.

“I don’€™t take anything home with me or take anything into the offseason with me,” Papelbon said initially. “Although when you do go into the offseason after the season is over and it ends like it did today, definitely, definitely you remember those situations when you’€™re in the weight room in the offseason and when you’€™re getting ready to prepare. Who knows? I may be replaying this on the TV in my weight room in the offseason and give me a little motivation for next season.’€

There was such an air of certainty about having Papelbon on the mound that his teammates were stunned by the way the lead escaped him.

“It was 0-2, two outs, just waiting and planning on playing tomorrow. Then all of a sudden, one thing led to another and you look back and it was like, ‘€˜Whoa ‘€“ what just happened?’€™” said outfielder Jason Bay. “He’€™s been our guy the entire year. Nobody goes through an entire year being perfect. It just happened it was Game 3, an elimination game in the postseason. But absolutely, we’€™ll take him any day of the week. … I feel bad for Pap, but at the same time, I don’€™t think anyone here looks at him and thinks it’€™s his fault. I think Pap’€™s strong enough to let this one go.”

Papelbon’s pitch count reached 32 when he left the mound, and so manager Terry Francona made the decision to lift him and bring in reliever Hideki Okajima. As Papelbon exited, a first-of-its-kind sound greeted him, as some in Fenway Park booed their closer. Papelbon was not asked if he heard those boos, or if he did, whether that will be part of his motivational postseason reel. Some of his teammates, however, did take umbrage at the treatment of the closer.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

If that is to happen, Papelbon would likely have to play a major role in the development. It would be no surprise if he proved capable of doing so, after a season in which – despite some struggles, he went 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA and went 38-for-41 in regular-season save opportunities. All the same, after allowing his first October runs, his aura of playoff invincibility has been changed. The 0.00 that greeted his entrance, and that Papelbon admitted prior to the series was “extremely dear” to him, is gone, and with it, so is the 2009 season of the Red Sox.

Papelbon appreciated his teammates’ support afterward.

Papelbon said he feels like he let the whole team down.

Papelbon said this will be motivation for next season.

Papelbon said this loss will stick with him.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon,

Figgins to Fenway ghosts: ‘not this time’

10.11.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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Angels third baseman Chone Figgins watched from his defensive position as a door next to the ‘379’ marker in center field opened during the bottom of the ninth inning, after the Angels had taken their 7-6 lead.

Figgins said he had a conversation with Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale, whom Figgins has known since his days in the minors.

“It’s funny, we saw that door open, and the third base coach tells me, ‘You know the ghosts just opened the door.’ And I said, ‘Nah, not this time.’ I was like like close that door so we can close all this,” Figgins said. “Get three outs and let’s take it home.”

Indeed, the Angels had a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth and eliminated the Red Sox in a three-game sweep.

Read More: Angels, Figgins, Red Sox,

Lester on Booing Papelbon: ‘It Was Uncalled For’

10.11.09 at 5:44 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester admitted that he was “absolutely” surprised to hear fans booing Jonathan Papelbon after the Red Sox closer suffered a loss by allowing the first runs of his postseason career as the Sox got eliminated, 7-6, in Game 3 of the ALDS by the Angels. Papelbon entered the game with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the eighth. He allowed both inherited runners to score, and then after retiring the Angels (via a pickoff throw) in the eighth, allowed three more runs in the ninth to end his record-setting run of 26 scoreless postseason innings to start his career.

“I think [the booing] surprised everybody,” said Lester. “I don’€™t think he deserves for [the fans] to do that. Obviously, it wasn’€™t everybody. You could tell that. But the few people that did [boo him], I personally think it was uncalled for. But that’€™s the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully we can come back next year and do better.”

Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein suggested that the fans were likely “booing at the situation, more than at the guy. He’s been a big part of our success. He didn’t have it today. There were a lot of frustrated people out there. I would be shocked if they were booing him, personally. They were probably booing the situation.”

Read More: booing, Jonathan Papelbon,

Pedroia: ‘We all think of this year as a failure’

10.11.09 at 5:34 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia drove in the first two runs of Sunday’s game but felt frustrated afterward as he and his Red Sox teammates watched as the Angels scored three times with two outs and none on in the ninth to rally to a 7-6 win, eliminating the Sox from the postseason.

“It kind of happened real fast,” Pedroia said. “We played as hard as we could. Tough way to end, obviously. We all think of this year as a failure so best thing we can do is work extremely hard in the offseason and get ready for next year.”

Pedroia added that he felt for closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed all three ninth inning runs.

“That’s why that’s the toughest job in baseball,” Pedroia said. “If you save it, you’re supposed to do that. If you don’t, everyone points the finger but there’s no one we’d rather have the ball but him.”

Read More: Angels, Pedroia, Red Sox,
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