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Olney Looks at the Market For Jason Bay on D&H

10.15.09 at 11:51 am ET
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ESPN Senior Writer Buster Olney, in an interview on the Dale & Holley Show, suggested that the Red Sox could be inclined to draw the line on a new deal for Jason Bay at four years given the concerns about his defense. Olney said that general managers and scouts with whom he has talked have described Bay as “basically a designated hitter playing outfield,” which will temper the length of his contract.

“[Bay] provides the kind of power that the Red Sox need. But he’€™s basically a designated hitter playing outfield. That’€™s the assessment of most of the general managers and scouts that I’€™ve talked with. He’€™s so defensively challenged that he’€™s going to go very quickly to being a DH. If you’€™re the Red Sox, do you lock yourselves into a five-year deal with a guy who probably projects to DH after Ortiz leaves? I seriously doubt it,” said Olney. “I do wonder whether Seattle or San Francisco or some other team, maybe the Cardinals if they don’€™t re-sign Holliday, if some other team will step up and be so desperate to land a power hitter like him ‘€“ because let’€™s face it, the free-agent market stinks ‘€“ will there be another team that gives that fifth year? If that’€™s the case, I think the Red Sox aren’€™t going to move.”

Olney also said that he did not expect the Yankees to be involved in bidding on the premier free-agent outfielders — Bay and Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday — this offseason, given the anticipated arrival of heralded outfield prospect Austin Jackson and the potential need to move Derek Jeter to left field in the coming years.

“I think they’€™re absolutely not going to pursue one of the high-priced free-agent outfielders. I think what they’€™re going to do is make an offer and try to get Johnny Damon to come back for one year. Short of that, they’€™ll probably try to do something with [Hideki] Matsui,” said Olney. “They’€™ve got this terrific young outfielder in Austin Jackson coming up in the next two years. They’€™re going to have to make a decision, probably, to move Derek Jeter, and I think LF is probably going to be the most likely spot for him.

“I think the Red Sox’€™ primary competition for Jason Bay is going to come from Seattle and San Francisco. I really get the sense that the Red Sox internally are going to set a price for Jason Bay and they’€™re not going to go beyond what they’€™re comfortable with.”

Some other highlights from the interview are below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

Are you surprised that the ALCS is Angels-Yankees, with the Red Sox at home?

I am. I picked the Red Sox to win, and obviously that was wrong.

As the series went along and the season went along, I was sort of reminded of the 2005 Yankees, with Ruben Sierra in right field and Gary Sheffield in left field, the sort of older, slower, defensively challenged group of guys. I think that was exposed by the Angels. Certainly something I underestimated was how well John Lackey was throwing at this time of year. He had a lot of life on his FB in Game 1, and I think that set the tone.

Are the Yankees afraid to let Joba Chamberlain start in this series?

He’€™s clearly shown that, for now, for whatever reason, he’€™s absolutely suited to come out of the bullpen.

In the last game of the regular season, he came out of the bullpen and suddenly he was the old Joba ‘€“ the fire-breathing Joba. He was attacking the strike zone with fastballs.

I think at this point they’re, “Well, okay, that’€™s what works for him, and this is how we’€™re going to go.”

If the weather messes with their plans for CC Sabathia in Game 4, Chad Gaudin will go in Game 4, and Joba’€™s just going to stay in the bullpen.

The Yankees appear to have gone from a high-priced collection of talent to being a good team.

The guys they brought in deserve some credit for beginning to change the culture: AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia and Nick Swisher.

For years, there was a cold war going on between Derek [Jeter] and Alex [Rodriguez]. It’€™s probably too strong of a way to put it, but there was a lot of tension there.

I would give credit to both sides to make an effort to change. Alex certainly changed the way he goes about his business. He doesn’€™t make himself as available. He’€™s focused more on baseball. I think you saw, during the postseason, Derek acknowledged Alex and is working with him more than in the past.
I think the culture is really different.

Is the New York media making a big deal about A-Rod being seen having dinner with Kate Hudson in Miami last night?

No. But you know how these things go.

It will probably become a big deal if he goes hitless.

He’€™s as locked in as ever this postseason. You can always tell that by how he’€™s driving fastballs. In that series against MN, he hit the ball to CF and RF. That tells you he’€™s not anxious at the plate.

He’€™s swinging the bat as well as I’€™ve ever seen him in the postseason. And he has really good numbers in his career against Angels starters, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders in particular.

You said that the Sox reminded you in the playoffs of the ’05 Yankees – a slow team that was beaten by the Angels. What can they do this offseason?

It’€™s a tough team to makeover because of the existing contracts. Lowell is under contract for 2010 and so is David Ortiz. I think they’€™re going to need to do something. They may not be able to go out and get the perfect solution now, and that would be someone like Prince Fielder.

They made some trades. Their depth in their farm system is not what it was a year ago because some of the guys have been promoted, some of them have been traded. So they’€™ll probably have to go for, especially if they don’€™t sign Holliday or Jason Bay, a Grade B solution.

I would not be surprised if they make a decision one way or the other to moving out, say, Mike Lowell, or telling Mike Lowell he’€™s going to have a very reduced role for next year. To me, he’€™s the most vulnerable guy, given what their strengths are and what they’€™re going to need.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, buster olney, jason bay, joba chamberlain

Chat With Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Jason McLeod at Noon

10.15.09 at 11:50 am 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.

Chat With Red Sox Amateur Scouting Director Jason McLeod

We look forward to seeing you at noon!

Report: Red Sox to Meet with Japanese High School Phenom

10.15.09 at 1:19 am ET
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According to Nikkan Sports (as translated and linked by npbtracker.com), the Red Sox are scheduled to meet with Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old who has starred in Japan’s Koshien Tournament, on Oct. 19. The Sox, according to the translated report, are one of eight major league teams slated to meet with Kikuchi.

Kikuchi is deciding whether to pitch in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, or to bypass the Japanese draft to sign with a Major League Baseball team as an amateur free agent. His case is viewed as similar to that of Junichi Tazawa, the right-hander who signed with the Red Sox last December after pitching in Japan’s amateur Industrial League, though Kikuchi’s potential jump from high school directly to the United States is considered in some ways even more dramatic than was Tazawa’s.

The other MLB teams that are scheduled to meet with Kikuchi, according to the report, are the Dodgers, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, Mets, Yankees and Indians. NPBtracker also offered a scouting profile of Kikuchi. To read it, click here.

Read More: junichi tazawa, yusei kikuchi,

Terry Francona on D&H 10/14

10.14.09 at 8:15 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined Dale & Holley for the final time this season to talk about the postseason and what Francona might do with all the free time on his hands. Check out the entire audio here. Some highlights below.

We wrap up the season with Terry Francona, I just thought it might be three or four weeks from now.

Yeah, I’m used to doing this either in my office or from the road. Not from home. I don’t like it.

Tito, how are you dealing with this?

It’s hard. Every year is a little bit different. A couple of years we’ve been fortunate enough to be celebrating, a couple of years we’ve been heartbroken. This year is a hard one to figure. There are a lot of ways to spin it, I think perspective is the hardest thing to achieve early on, from fans, media, myself. You know, the one thing we talked about when we were down to New York, down to Cleveland was we thought we were good enough to win, but if you put yourself in a position where if you make a mistake, you go home, well, you know what happened. We played a good game the other day, for the most part. We scored off a good pitcher, we had a two-run lead going into the ninth. We made some mistakes and when you get yourself into a situation like that, if you make a mistake, you end up going home.

You know what it’s like in this town, the other team never plays well, your team always played poorly. How much credit does the starting pitching for the Angels get for those two games in Anaheim? How much blame does your offense get?

Well, we probably always look at ourselves more than the other team. That’s human nature. [John] Lackey and [Jered] Weaver pitched great games. We feel like, regardless, once you get to the playoffs you have to find ways to score. We didn’t. We always take that responsibility. Again, perspective is the biggest word and it’s going to be difficult for people to find that. [Jon] Lester pitched great. There are some things that happened in that game … For me probably the biggest one is Bobby Abreu. He had an at-bat, a couple at-bats where he never flinched. He took a 94-mile-an-hour fastball that was two inches out of the strike zone and never flinched. That’s pretty good hitting. We’re trying to give up a run to get out of the inning because Torii Hunter was coming up next. Bobby had that great at-bat and then Torii took Lester deep. That was the game. So there are some things that happen during the game that I don’t think people necessarily remember that can really swing a game.

Going back to Game 1, I would love to know what the approach was for Bobby Abreu. Was Lester pitching around Abreu? Or was that a just a very discriminating eye by Abreu?

We’re not pitching around him. Now, we respect what he can do. I think if you go back and look at his at-bats, he took some pitches that most hitters don’t take. He got to a 3-2 count with Lester, Lester threw him a 94-mile-an-hour fastball that was a borderline strike. Bobby never flinched. Bobby Abreu was as locked in, and when I say that I don’t mean he was just getting hit after hit, he never offered to pitches that were an inch or two off the plate. To me, with some of the stuff we were throwing up there, that’s an amazing feat.

We were looking at first-time through the lineup in those first two games, your team was 1-for-25 with two walks. Is there such a thing as being too patient or were they just making pitches …?

What happens when you go through the lineup the first time and you don’t have any success, guys are trying to be patient because that’s what we do. And what happens sometime is they understand that and they execute strike one and now we’re hitting in the hole. That happens from time to time, that’s just the way the game is. That’s why sometimes when the game’s over you tip your hat to the opposing team and you feel like you should have done some things better. That’s the way the game is. When you work ahead, you’re going to have success. We didn’t want to be too aggressive, we wanted to be patient. What ended up happening is that we were hitting 0-1 a lot. We ended up expanding the zone because they were good enough to make it expand. It kind of goes both ways.

What went into the decision to intentionally walk Torii Hunter and pitch to Vlad Guerrero in Game 3?

There are a lot of things that happened. For me, nobody will be able to tell me that was the wrong move. Not that they won’t be able to tell me, they won’t be able to convince me, I’ve been told a lot. Vlad hadn’t done much in that series. I felt like we executed pitches and if you go back and look at the executed pitches we did throw to Vlad, we broke his bat, and struck him out. Torii Hunter is swinging with a lot of violence and makes me nervous. I thought it was the right thing to do. The first pitch to Vlad wandered out over the middle and he kind of threw it up into center and it did the job. I would do that again every single time because I know it’s the right thing to do.

Were you concerned that it limited Jonathan Papelbon’s options with the bases loaded?

Yeah, sure. It certainly is a factor. It wasn’t enough of a factor to make me not want to do it. If Pap makes a pitch to Torii Hunter and Torii does something to help them win the game, I would want to shoot myself. Again, I wasn’t happy that Vlad got a hit. Again, I would do it every single time if it was the same situation.

I know you don’t deal in absolutes, but do you feel like in the situation you had there, it was an absolute time to load the bases?

Michael, I just said that. I don’t know what else you want me to say. Again, every situation is different. We had a situation down in Tampa earlier in the season that we elected not to. I wasn’t comfortable with his ability at the point in the game where he was. I thought I was putting him in an unfair position. I thought Pap would be able to execute a pitch easier to Vlad than to Torii Hunter. I thought with Torii Hunter if you make a mistake, Pap was missing up a lot. You miss up to Torii Hunter and he might hit it on that street. We don’t have a lot of time to think about it, but again, you can’t convince me that was the wrong thing to do. You can try, but I feel strongly about that.

Did you feel the running game of the Angels, their vaunted running game was as big a factor as some feared?

It concerned us, I think justifiably so. Not just stealing bases, but going first to third, but the fact that they can run. Even when a guy like Vlad hitting, they’re not afraid to put runners in motion. If you vacate, which you have to, Vlad hits the hole, whether by luck or execution, it works. When they’re on second base you have to hold them or they’re going to run. So just the fact that they didn’t steal a ton of bases doesn’t mean that it doesn’t play into the game.

Was there any point in that game, before the blow up, that you said to yourself, “It doesn’t look like Pap has it today”?

When he came in in the eighth, he actually made a a terrible pitch to [Juan] Rivera. We got the base hit to right that drove in two runs. When we got the add-on run I was actually thrilled because of everything we talked about. The running game, Pap’s not real quick to the plate, it takes away the stolen bases, it takes away the sac bunt. So that run, for me, was huge. In fact, if you replay the inning, as much that happened, we’re still sitting on a win if we can get that last out. I thought that last run we got was huge. That’s why we pinch-ran, that why we did what we wanted because we did want to get a tack-on run.

When you play a series you come out of it with more respect for a certain guy. That guy for me was Eric Aybar. Do you agree with that?

Well, I don’t know. I had respect for him going in. We studied them pretty extensively. We thought we could beat them, it doesn’t mean we don’t respect the way they play. They have a lot of balance, they have a lot of different ways to beat you. Again, you have to remember, in a three-game series, whoever does something is going to stick out for you. If Eric Aybar goes 0-for-10, you might say, “I don’t think he’s very good.” Well, he is. [Kevin] Youkilis didn’t hit much. Youk hit the ball three times in the last game as hard as you can hit it. Those things happen sometimes. over the course of 162 games, those things even out. In a short series, they don’t always even out.

Do you undertake exit interviews, for lack of a better term? Without getting into specifics, if you do, what are the things you talk to players about?

Some are formal, some are informal, some are done before the season is over, some will be done in the next few weeks. Some are not done exclusively by me, some are done with John Farrell and the pitching staff, some are done with the medical staff, some need to be done by me and Theo [Epstein]. We pretty much try to communicate with everybody.

I read Clay Buchholz’ comments in the paper, “I’ll never assume anything again. I’ll go into this offseason working as though I have to earn a spot on this team.” You probably like to hear those words.

Yeah, that’s good to hear. Now, I don’t pay much attention to the paper, but I understand your point. He assumed a little bit a couple years ago. He was young, when we were that age we made mistakes. And Clay probably learned the hard way. But he’s got a chance to be a pretty special talent and he seems to be growing up. Now, again, he’s got some more to go. The game got going for him a little fast the other day. Torii Hunter took off and if Clay steps off, Torii’s in the middle of “no man’s land” with a huge base-running blunder. Now, because Clay balked, nobody remembered that. So, there are things that happen in the game that seem to get lost in the shuffle that are huge plays.

In 2008, you were one win from going to the World Series, you just tweaked the team. In 2009, you lose in the first round. Is this a tweak situation? Do you expect to have the same guys back next year?

I don’t know. What I do know, we won 95 games this year, I don’t know how many we won last year, I think the same. Again, we exited real quick in the playoffs and that is distressing to all of us. If we make moves as a reaction to that, that would be a mistake. The moves we make, and Theo is great at this, will be made to try to make us be good not only for the short term but not forgetting the long term. That’s the one thing he has his hands full doing and I probably get to see it first hand because I’m there, it’s not easy. When you don’t have the ability to step back and “reload” or however you say it, it can be challenging. I think he’s done an amazing job of, at times, cutting ties with some pretty popular people. I don’t know if I’d have the ability to do that. He’s done a great job of balancing the present and the future and it’s going to be another challenge this year.

I know you guys talk continuously, but when Theo is about to make one of those major moves, say trade Nomar Garciaparra away for the sake of discussion, is it better for you to not know what’s going on?

No, no, no, I definitely appreciate knowing. I think he understands that. I’m there every day and if I don’t understand what’s going on in the clubhouse he has the wrong guy. So, we do a lot of talking about that kind of stuff.

As a manager dealing with grown men, is there a point where you say, “That is crossing the line, we don’t want you talking about this or saying this to the media.” Does that exist?

Oh, sure, every so often, I call Pap in and tell him to shut up. He’s great, he says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like this, or I did this.” Or he’ll just come in and say, “I messed up.” We do that from time to time. It’s how we operate.

Papelbon likes the attention, he has a big personality. Do you think that had anything to do with his on-field performance this year?

No, I don’t see how it possibly could. As long as he works hard and he’s ready to pitch. He was out there at the end and he didn’t pitch very well. That might stay with him for a while. It doesn’t have anything to do with the interviews he does on Comcast or whatever. He’s a good-hearted kid, he works hard, he made some bad pitches. I’m sure, being in this town for six years there will be a huge reaction to that. He’s one of the best in the business and just didn’t do a good job in his last game.

Will you go to the Arizona Fall League and look at Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias, or just wait until they get to the major league camp?

You know what, I may just do that. I know Theo says I’ve always had an open invitation to do it, but in the past we’ve really never had the time to do it. So, I may try to take advantage of that, go out there and watch those guys. And maybe even get a chance to go to dinner with them, get a chance to get to know them a little bit. I think that can be an advantage.

You’ve got some babies in this organization, 18, 19, 20 years old.

Yeah, it’s exciting. They’re a few years away. Most of our guys are here right now, so there is a little bit of a gap. But there are kids coming, they are exiting. Potentially really impactful players like we have now, but a little on the younger side.

When the season ends so quickly, do you get the urge to e-mail and text these guys to just talk?

Well, I actually have with a few of them. The way it ended was so abrupt that we had a short meeting. The losing manager has an obligation to get to the media room “right now.” We gathered everybody up, had a short meeting and moved on. And then the next day, guys were packing, some decided not to. So there were a few guys I missed that I wanted to talk to. There are some things I wanted to tell some guys, some “thank yous” things like that. But there is some time where guys need to be away from me. I understand that. Then the process starts over again. The trainers and medical people make sure that the guys have their programs and our guys know what to do. I’ll be in touch when the time is right, but they need some time away to take a breath.

How would you describe your interest in the ALCS and NLCS now?

Zero. This was such a tough ending for me this year that I don’t think I can watch it. I wasn’t ready to be done. There is no getting around it. This was a tough one. I felt, like in the past, we have the ability to come back and beat teams. We have the ability to get down, but we have the ability to come back and I felt like “here we go again” but it didn’t happen and it crushed me. I’m going to have to deal with that for a while.

Several of your coaches, Tim Bogar, Brad Mills and John Farrell, are up for manager jobs. Do you expect changes in your staff this offseason?

The only way there will be changes is if someone becomes a manager. Which, I guess, that’s a good thing. I love the staff, I think we have the best staff in baseball. They’re hard-working, knowledgeable and passionate. That’s why you’re seeing these guys getting interviews. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Demarlo Hale’s name creep in there, too, with one of these teams. And I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these guys gets a job. And if that happens, we will have to go find a coach, which is tough for me, but also very rewarding at the same time. It’s a good problem to have.

It would be bittersweet if Brad Mills gets a job.

He’s one of my best friends in the whole world, not just in baseball. We’ve been together a long time. What he means to me is a lot. I know he wants a chance to manage and I think he’s very, very deserving. The situation in Houston is really intriguing.  He’s been with Ed Wade before, 10 years ago. I think we’ve all done some growing up since then. I think Ed is going to enjoy interviewing Millsy and I think Millsy is going to have a good interview. Now, saying that I think Tim Bogar is going to interview well, too. It’s really a unique situation.

Do general managers call you about Bogar and Millsy?

You know what, there is kind of a protocol that people have to follow, but again, I’ve known Ed for a long time. I’ve already talked to him and Theo knows I’ve talked to him, he doesn’t have a problem. I guess the guys you know, you talk to. I know the guys in Cleveland real well, and I know Ed. We’re not breaking the rules they’re just trying to find out who’s capable of managing their team.

Read More: ALDS, Angels, Brad Mills, Clay Buchholz

Farrell Declines Chance to Interview With Indians

10.14.09 at 4:29 pm ET
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WEEI.com has confirmed through a Red Sox team spokesperson that pitching coach John Farrell will not pursue an opportunity to interview for the vacant position of Cleveland Indians manager. The news was first reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Farrell, who pitched for the Indians from 1987-1990 and in 1996 and then served as the team’s director of player development from 2001-06, had been considered a front-runner for the position had he pursued it.

Though there is a clause in Farrell’s contract that stipulates that he cannot become manager of another club until after the 2010 season, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said on Monday that the team would allow the pitching coach to interview for the position in Cleveland should he want to do so. According to the Plain Dealer, however, Farrell informed Indians G.M. Mark Shapiro on Wednesday that he would not pursue the opportunity.

“It’s an honor to be considered for the job,” Farrell told The Plain Dealer. “Especially for a team that I played for, my father played for and where there are so many people I know and respect. All those things considered, my desire is to fulfill the commitment between Boston and myself.

“There’s no denying there is an intent to manage at some time. But I have a mutual commitment with Boston that I feel I should fulfill.”

Last month, Epstein discussed the importance of his pitching coach, who has overseen Sox pitching staffs that have finished 1st, 3rd and 3rd in fewest runs per game in Farrell’s three seasons in Boston.

‘€œHe’€™s a valuable part of the organization,’€ Epstein said. ‘€œWe see him as a core part of our foundation going forward.’€

Read More: John Farrell,

Phillips on D&C: Trade Papelbon

10.13.09 at 1:38 pm ET
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Former Mets G.M. and current ESPN analyst Steve Phillips, during a visit with the Dennis & Callahan Show on Tuesday morning, said that he expects the Red Sox to dangle closer Jonathan Papelbon in the trade market, and that he believes the Sox should use the hurler as a chip.

Phillips suggested that reliever Daniel Bard has shown that he has the arm and — in his postseason appearances — the makeup to close. In an offseason when the free-agent market is regarded as weak, Phillips suggested that the Sox’ best avenue to improve their team for 2010 is to use Papelbon to try to acquire an impact player via trade.

“I think if Papelbon is available, and I think he will be, I think there will be a significant market for him and teams will really step up,” said Phillips. “When you look at the Bobby Jenkses of the world who might be available via trade, and guys like that, Fernando Rodney is a free agent, Papelbon stands out as a difference maker. If I’€™m the Red Sox, I look at the arm that [Daniel] Bard has. They know his stomach better than anybody. I know they see that at some point he’€™s a closer. I take that shot. I trade Papelbon, take that money, re-invest it somewhere else, and really, instead of dip in the free-agent market ‘€“ which is not a great free-agent market this year ‘€“ utilize a trade to be able to really impact [the team]. I think it’€™s critical.”

Phillips also weighed in on whether he, as a G.M., would rather pursue Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, the two premier sluggers in this offseason’s free-agent market. Phillips based his assessment on Bay’s proven ability to succeed in a big market and the likelihood that the Red Sox outfielder will cost less than Holliday.

“I probably go Jason Bay, and the reason is that, for whatever reason, Matt Holliday doesn’€™t play well in the American League,” said Phillips. “I take the guy I know versus the guy I don’€™t know. I like Matt Holliday. I think ‘€“ I think ‘€“ he can play in Fenway, and I think he can play in Boston. But we know what Jason Bay can be. My sense is that Bay will probably, probably, there’€™s less marquee value with Jason Bay than there is Matt Holliday. Matt Holliday has kind of blown up into being this kind-of superstar guy. I think you get a slightly better deal with Bay than Holliday. So I think you stick with Bay.”

To listen to the complete interview, which also included discussion about potential Sox trade targets this offseason and David Ortiz‘ future in Boston, click here.

Read More: Daniel Bard, jason bay, Jonathan Papelbon, matt holliday

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.’€

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