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Red Sox pitching coach search takes shape: Curt Young impresses

10.26.10 at 4:10 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, the Red Sox interviewed former Oakland pitching coach Curt Young on Monday about the vacancy for the position of pitching coach that was created by the departure of John Farrell, who left to become the manager of the Blue Jays. Young, according to the source, was the most impressive of the external candidates with whom the club has talked thus far.

Young spent the last seven seasons as the Athletics pitching coach. In 2010, the young Oakland staff led the American League with a 3.58 ERA. But after 27 years in the A’s organization as a player and coach, Young turned down the team’s offer on Sunday, and he appears to be a strong early candidate to succeed Farrell.

That said, the interview process remains ongoing for the Sox. Later this week, the team will interview a pair of internal candidates: Mike Cather, who served as an advance scout in 2010 after three years working in Double-A Portland (2007-09) and one with High-A Wilmington (2006), and Ralph Treuel, who has spent the last four years as the organization’s roving minor league pitching instructor. Treuel also spent part of the 2006 season as the Sox bullpen coach, and served briefly as the team’s pitching coach in Sept. 2001.

Read More: curt young, John Farrell, mike cather, pitching coach

Red Sox announce ticket prices for 2011

10.26.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued a press release announcing ticket prices for the 2011 season. The team said that ticket prices in 16 categories of seats would remain the same, while approximately 30 percent of seats will be increased by no more than $5 a ticket. Overall, the team announced, prices for tickets will rise by 2 percent, which the team described as the second-lowest increase of the last 16 years (trailing only 2009, when the team froze ticket prices).

Here is the complete release:

The Boston Red Sox today announced prices for tickets available to the general public at Fenway Park for the 2011 regular season, and for 2011 Spring Training games, with prices held at 2010 levels on most categories of tickets.

2011 regular season ticket prices will be held at 2010 price levels in 17 categories of Fenway Park tickets: Green Monster Seats; Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck; Pavilion Box; Left Field Pavilion Reserved; Right Field Box; Right Field Roof Box; Right Field Roof Terrace; Outfield Grandstand; Bleachers; Upper Bleachers; General Standing Room; Pavilion Standing Room; Coca-Cola Corner Pavilion Standing Room; Right Field Roof Box Standing Room; Right Field Roof Terrace Standing Room; Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck Standing Room and Green Monster Standing Room.

Approximately 30% of tickets, all of which are located in three prime infield ticket categories, will see a modest increase for the 2011 season, with no single price category increasing by more than $5. The overall average price increase for all tickets is 2%, which represents the lowest percentage increase over the past 16 seasons with the exception of the 2009 season when the team implemented a price freeze across the board in all ticket categories. In 2011, 63% of the tickets throughout Fenway Park will be $55 or less, with the lowest bleacher ticket price remaining at $12.

Designated prime infield seat locations within three categories of Fenway Park – the Field Box, Loge Box and Infield Grandstands – will undergo increases of $5, $4 and $3 respectively. Prices for more than 4,700 seats in those three sections will be held at 2010 levels.
2011 Spring Training Game prices for all tickets available to the general public will be held at 2010 levels. The Red Sox implemented an across the board freeze on all Spring Training ticket prices for games at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, FL, in 2009 and repeated the measure in 2010. 2011 marks the fifth time in six years that ticket prices for games at City of Palms Park have remained unchanged. The 2011 Spring Training schedule and ticket on-sale date will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are extremely fortunate that Red Sox Nation continues to support this team year after year, and it is because of this tremendous and consistent support that we can continue to invest at significant levels in the ballclub and on the ballpark. As we look beyond 2010 to next season, we are committed to intensifying our efforts and focusing our resources to bring post-season baseball back to Fenway Park,” said Larry Lucchino, President/CEO. “This offseason we also enter the tenth and final year of major annual improvements to Fenway Park, which have been significantly supported over the years by ticket revenue. For that, we thank our fans for their key role in preserving and improving Fenway Park. The total, overall investment to preserve and protect Fenway Park over the last decade, approximately $285 million, has greatly enhanced the fan experience and will ensure Red Sox baseball can be played at Fenway Park for future generations.”

“The Boston Red Sox fans are the most loyal in all of Major League Baseball, and we are constantly mindful of this as we make decisions that will have an impact on the Club, Fenway Park, and our fans. After considerable evaluation, we decided to implement a small increase on a limited number of prime tickets for the 2011 season – the second lowest percentage increase over the past 16 seasons,” said Sam Kennedy, Executive Vice President/COO. “Over the last few years, we have taken steps to slow the growth of season ticket and individual game ticket prices in efforts to ensure the Fenway Park experience is a viable option for as many citizens of Red Sox Nation as possible.”

Distribution methods for Green Monster and Budweiser Deck tickets will be announced after the New Year, in accordance with past practice, and will be designed to make these popular seats available to as many different people as possible. Pricing for premium seating in 2011 will vary and be based on longer term contracts entered into several years ago. The Red Sox special discount programs for Active Duty Military and Clergy will continue unchanged in 2011.

Fans’ first opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2011 season will be the annual, all-day “Christmas at Fenway” presented by Stop & Shop on Saturday, December 11. Additional details for this traditional and popular holiday event will be released in the near future.

Read More: Fenway Park, ticket prices,

What Zack Greinke thinks about pitching in New York

10.26.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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Zack Greinke (AP)

According to several reports, the Kansas City Royals will entertain pitches for 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. It is expected that it would take an enormous prospect package to acquire the Royals ace, who is young (he just turned 27 last week), affordable (he is under contract in 2011 and 2012 for $13.5 million, relatively short money for a pitcher of his talents) and armed with stuff that is comparable to just about any pitcher in baseball.

Greinke, one year removed from his dazzling Cy Young campaign, struggled in 2010. He was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA, more than two runs higher than his 2009 mark. Even so, many observers thought that the right-hander might have been disinterested while pitching for a Royals club that was once again a last place club. Greinke himself suggested as much towards the end of the year, telling MLB.com that he had indeed struggled with motivation, and that he would consider changing his medication for a social anxiety disorder in order to help deal with the issue.

With many teams feeling that Greinke’s 2010 performance was something of an aberration, his appeal this offseason will be tremendous. His talent makes him a lower-cost alternative to Cliff Lee, with few other pitchers able to match his stature.

But, a question looms over where Greinke might be willing to pitch. The topic is somewhat delicate, given the social anxiety disorder that had him on the brink of quitting the game in 2006, and had Royals officials fearing more for his health and well-being than his pitching future. If, for instance, the Yankees prove unable to land Lee in free agency, Greinke would appear the only top-of-the-rotation alternative who would be available this winter.

But the question exists as to whether Greinke would be a fit for a team in New York with a press corps and fan base several times the size of that to which the right-hander has become accustomed in Kansas City. Indeed, Greinke himself suggested in 2009 that part of the reason he signed a four-year, $38 million deal with the Royals was his comfort with the environment. And while he said that he has progressed sufficiently in his treatment that he could imagine pitching somewhere else, he admitted that he found it hard to imagine pitching in New York.

“[The environment] had a lot to do with [signing the extension], for sure,” Greinke said at the 2009 All-Star Game. “Now, maybe New York would bother me, but I don’t think anywhere else would bother me anymore. Even though I’m in Kansas City, I’ve gotten used to it a lot more. New York, I still might have trouble in New York. I probably would. But I think almost everyone does.”

Greinke, FoxSports.com reported earlier this offseason, will have the right to veto trades to 15 teams in 2011. This past season, when he had the right to veto deals to 20 clubs, the report stated, both the Yankees and Red Sox were on the list of teams to whom he had the right to veto a deal. And while that is sometimes merely a negotiating ploy to extract more money from potentially interested clubs, in Greinke’s case, the issue could be more delicate than that.

As MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons said on The Big Show on Friday:

“I can’t believe [the Yankees would] ever trade for Greinke and try to have him pitch in New York. I think he’s better off pitching in Greenland.”

Read More: Mets, new york, Yankees, zack greinke

Kelly gets shelled in Arizona Fall League start

10.26.10 at 2:00 am ET
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Top Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly was hit hard in his Monday outing in the Arizona Fall League, allowing eight runs on eight hits in just two innings of work for the Peoria Javelinas. Kelly struck out two, walked one and allowed a homer. Kelly threw 46 pitches, 28 for strikes.

The outing represented a dramatic departure for Kelly, who had excelled in his first two AFL outings. Prior to Monday, he’d allowed three runs (one earned) in nine innings while allowing six hits, walking two and striking out six.

Despite the tough outing, Kelly sounded an upbeat note on his twitter page.

“Its games like these that make you a better player. Adversity is a great thing really shows what kinda player you are,” he wrote.

Kelly is expected to throw 15-20 innings in the AFL in order to make up the innings that he missed at the end of his season with Double-A Portland due to a strained lat muscle.

Read More: arizona fall league, casey kelly,

Farrell suggests Blue Jays’ goal is to compete for World Series

10.25.10 at 4:07 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, in his introduction as the Toronto Blue Jays manager on Monday afternoon, expressed his gratitude to the Sox for the opportunity they gave him to return to the field at the same time that he made clear his desire to compete with Boston. The man whom Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos heralded, “first and foremost, [a]s a leader,” suggested that he pursued the Blue Jays job because he identified a team with the resources — both in terms of talent and financial — to pursue championships.

“We have a common bond here. Going through this interview process, it became very clear, the direction this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all selling points to me,” Farrell, who will wear No. 52 with Toronto, said at the press conference to introduce him as manager. “I come here and share the same vision that [Anthopoulos and team president Paul Beeston] do, and that’s to win a World Series.”

Farrell said the opportunity with the Blue Jays was clearly more compelling than previous ones he’d been presented with (whether interviews about managerial openings with the Indians, Mariners or Pirates, all of which he declined) in part because he had seen at some length the significant potential of a Blue Jays team that finished 2010 with an 85-77 record on the strength of a lineup that set a franchise record for home runs and a young, talent-laden rotation that features Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil.

“I think it’s clear, no matter of whether it’s on the Red Sox side of the field or the other side of the field, what’s taking place here,” said Farrell. “It didn’t give the impression of a one-year wonder. You saw the youth, talent in the rotation. … The ultimate goal is to sustain this, not to say we did it one year, but to say we did it year over year.”

Farrell said that his experience pitching in Toronto in the early-1990s, when the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) was sold out nightly, made the idea of managing the Blue Jays even more appealing. He suggested that there was potential for Toronto, when it is ready to contend, to operate with the resources of a large-market team (Toronto, he noted, is the fourth largest market in North America) that can acquire free agents to complement the talented, largely homegrown core of the club.

Already, he views the team as having a number of components needed to make headway in the AL East.

“There is a lot of work to be done, yet [there are] strengths of this ballclub, which center around a young pitching staff, a very good starting core, an offense that set records with the home run ball,” said Farrell. “We also know that in this division, it’s extremely difficult to compete. … It’s an extremely challenging division.

“We can assemble a team to [compete]. We know that we have to earn the trust of our fans. That’s where coming back to the vision of winning a World Series is here,” said Farrell. “Working off the strengths of the individuals on this roster, we can achieve that.”

If the Blue Jays put themselves in position to compete for a championship, Farrell said that he received assurances that Toronto will be able to carry a payroll to support such ambitions.

“Tampa’s been able to do it on a much lower payroll. I think the most important thing is how efficient we are as an organization. … At the right time, there’s an ability to sign free agents to augment the roster that’s currently in place,” said Farrell. “We know we’re not going to be at the level of New York, per se. At the same time, there’s going to be the ability to compete.

“This is where conversations got very pointed with Alex,” Farrell added. “At the right time, there’s going to be an ability to support a very strong payroll.”

Farrell said that the goal of the Jays will be to rank in the top five of the American League in runs scored and runs prevented, suggesting that doing so bodes well for teams with World Series aspirations. He also said that the Jays will retain pitching coach Bruce Walton and third-base coach Brian Butterfield. (Butterfield was one of the other finalists for the managerial vacancy.)

The 48-year-old Blue Jays manager took time to thank the Red Sox — starting with manager Terry Francona for the opportunity he had in Boston. He praised Francona’s managerial style, in which he “never wavered” in support of his players, leading to a clubhouse atmosphere where members of the roster “wanted to run through a wall for him.”

“Tito, the last four years standing beside you have been a tremendous learning experience,” said Farrell. “The opportunity that you and [the Red Sox front office] afforded me in Boston is really what allowed me to make this progression to come here today.”

Anthopoulos said that ultimately, while it represented a plus that Farrell was experienced with the AL East and while some might view it as a drawback that he had an on-field background solely with pitchers (first as a big league pitcher, then as a pitching coach), ultimately, neither of those elements was important in the selection of Farrell.

“It was irrelevant to me what position he played, because he showed all of the other criteria that were important. … [Knowledge of the division] was part of it, but the person was more important than anything else,” said the Toronto GM. “It came down to the person and the things we were going to value.”

Just as was the case for the Sox when they tabbed Farrell as a pitching coach, and when they did everything in their power to retain him when other teams asked to interview him about managerial vacancies, the Blue Jays reached the conclusion that they had found their man. And Farrell, for his part, believes that he has found the right organization in which to cut his managerial teeth.

“I’m anxious to get started,” Farrell said. “I’m anxious to grab this situation wholeheartedly.”

Read More: alex anthopoulos, Blue Jays, brian butterfield, bruce walton

Sox thank Farrell for ‘real impact’ he made

10.25.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued the following press release about the departure of pitching coach John Farrell, who was announced as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday:

John Farrell, the Red Sox pitching coach over the last four seasons, was today named manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

“It has been a pleasure to work with John over the past four seasons,” said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona. “He handled our pitching staff with exceptional skill and helped develop a number of remarkable Major League pitchers. I am appreciative for his dedication and his friendship, and am proud and excited that he will be able to showcase his abilities with the Blue Jays. We wish John and Sue the best as they embark on their new adventure in Toronto.”

“John made a real impact on our pitching staff and the organization as a whole in his four years here,” added Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein. “His commitment, character, and ability to make genuine connections with people will be missed. We wish John well as he starts what is certain to be a long and successful managerial career.”

Farrell, 48, has served as the Red Sox pitching coach since 2007, during which time Boston hurlers have posted the third best ERA in the American League at 4.11 (2,637 ER/5,778.1 IP) and recorded an AL best 4,771 strikeouts. In his first season with the club, the staff led the American League with a 3.87 ERA (618 ER/1,438.2 IP) en route to a World Series title. Under his guidance, Red Sox pitchers have twice led the AL in strikeouts, tallying 1,185 in 2008 and 1,207 in 2010. Additionally, Farrell was selected as the 2009 recipient of the Red Sox Good Guy Award from the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA and has served as a spokesperson for the Mass Mentoring Program during his time in Boston.

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Farrell served as the Cleveland Indians Director of Player Development from November 2001 until November 2006, with the Indians earning “Organization of the Year” honors in consecutive seasons in 2003-04 from USA Today’s Sports Weekly, and were named the top farm system in professional baseball in 2003 by Baseball America. Selected by Cleveland in the second round of the 1984 June Draft, he appeared in 116 Big League games (109 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Indians (1987-90, 1995), Angels (1993-94) and Tigers (1996).

At this time, no replacement for Farrell has been named.

Read More: John Farrell, Terry Francona, Theo Epstein,

Francona reflects on Farrell’s departure: ‘There’s a reason people want him’

10.25.10 at 1:05 pm ET
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Terry Francona and John Farrell have been close ever since the two were in Cleveland as players in 1988. When the Red Sox manager was able to hire Farrell to be a pitching coach in the offseason following 2006, it was a thrill — both because it would give him an opportunity to work with a close friend, and because of the value he knew that Farrell would bring to the Sox.

The two had four seasons together, spanning three playoff campaigns and a World Series win. But today, Farrell is being introduced as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, and so Francona will have to brace for life without his longtime right-hand man in the dugout. That being the case, it was a moment for Francona both to take stock of what Farrell meant to the Sox organization and to think about what his departure means.

“The fact that he was there, like a pillar, for four years, I feel really lucky,” Francona told WEEI.com. “I would say every person he’s come into contact with, [he’s impacted]. How many times do you get lucky enough where it’s one of your best friends in the whole world, and someone you respect as a worker besides, you get to stand next to him for four years through a lot of ups and downs. He had a very calming effect and made me feel a lot more confident in what I was doing.”

Farrell’s impact on the organization, Francona suggested, was felt in numerous ways. There was the work with developing pitcher’s arsenals and finding their mechanics. There was the in-game advice offered to Francona. There was the work in developing elite young pitching talents, most notably Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard. There were the personnel decisions that Farrell helped to influence, such as the decision not to trade Lester.

In short, his impact was felt in fairly far-reaching fashion, something that merely reinforced the conventional wisdom that he is one of the few people in the game capable of succeeding in a front office or in a dugout as a pitching coach or manager.

“There’s a reason people want him. There’s a reason we wanted him, there’s a reason Cleveland wanted him, that Toronto now wants him for different jobs,” said Francona. “He can do whatever he wants. He’s kind of a rare talent. He’s good at a lot of things, and on top of that, he’s a great person. That’s a great combination.”

That talent now will become something of a detriment to the Red Sox. Farrell, a man who knows the Boston pitching staff intimately, can’t help but offer the Blue Jays a competitive advantage when the Sox play Toronto.

“I don’t see where it will help. That’s the one thing, I wish he was in a different division. We spend our whole life trying to find ways to win games. To face one of your best friends 18 or 19 times isn’t the most fun. Somebody is going to go home being mad. I hope it’s him,” said Francona. “I wish that was different. But that’s the only negative I see. He’s very deserving. We knew this was going to happen, and I’m thrilled for him. That far outweighs the negatives.”

The Sox, Francona said, will talk to both internal and external candidates. The process will not be rushed, and the manager said there is “no timetable” for finding Farrell’s replacement. For now, the Sox merely know that they lost someone who became a key figure in the organization over his four years.

“I knew he wouldn’t be here forever,” said Francona. “But having him here for whatever time, I think we all felt was worth it.”

Read More: Blue Jays, John Farrell, pitching coach, Terry Francona
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