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John Kruk on The Big Show: It is now ‘imperative’ that Yankees sign Cliff Lee

12.09.10 at 2:59 pm ET
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ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined The Big Show on Thursday, praising the Red Sox for the signing of Carl Crawford and noting that it is now crucial for the Yankees to sign free-agent starter Cliff Lee.

“It’s imperative,” Kruk said. “Not just because he’s left handed, but because Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia are the only to starters that are dependable. They need another one if they want to compete.”

Kruk pointed out that Crawford was likely drawn to the Red Sox because of the stability in the lineup and that “they can win two or three championships by the time” his deal expires.

Even if the Yankees were to sign Lee, Kruk felt that the Red Sox would still the best team in the league.

“They’re younger they’re more athletic,” Kruk said of the Sox. “Better starting pitching. Besides Mariano [Rivera] [vs. Jonathan] Papelbon, which is relatively close, the Yankees have no bullpen.”

While he applauded the move to get Crawford, Kruk saw the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez as the Sox’ biggest move, saying that “they just got an MVP” by trading for the slugging first baseman.

“He might be the best hitter in baseball in that ball park,” Kruk said of Gonzalez. “‘€¦ It’s not going to shock me if he’s a 50-50 guy with 50 homers and 50 doubles in that ballpark. ‘€¦ His average is going to go up at least 30 points just because he’s hitting in Fenway.”

Red Sox winter meetings leftovers

12.09.10 at 1:56 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It is easy to forget that the Red Sox still have more to do this winter.

The signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are what will define the team’s offseason, but the Sox are quick to acknowledge that their work is incomplete. Indeed, insofar as GM Theo Epstein said at the start of the meetings that the team’s top two priorities were “bullpen, bullpen,” it is clear that more activity lies ahead for the Sox.

In sum:

–Yes, the Sox are still looking to fill out a bullpen whose only certain members for next season are Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Scott Atchison and Tim Wakefield (albeit with a strong internal candidate for a relief job in Felix Doubront).

“The bullpen remains a priority,” said Epstein. “That market has seemed like it was on the verge of really moving for the past two or three days and I think we all thought it would break at the meetings. It hasn’t quite yet, so we’re still involved with a number of relievers through free agency and a couple through trade. It remains a priority.”

–Epstein said that, if the club loses its first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) for signing a Type A free agent (Crawford), it would not necessarily provide an incentive or disincentive with regards to signing another Type A free agent.

If a club were to lose its first rounder, then going forward, you might say it might not want to sign another compensation free agent because it would also lose its second rounder,” said Epstein. “But you could make the argument that the second rounder isn’t as valuable as the first rounder so it allows the club to be more aggressive. It doesn’t rule anything like that out or doesn’t rule anything like that in.”

The Sox, according to sources, have not ruled out giving up a draft pick for left-handed reliever Scott Downs. At this point, the Sox would have to give up a second-round pick to sign him. With the team not expected to pursue either Grant Balfour or Rafael Soriano (the only other Type A relievers on the market), none of the other free-agent bullpen options are expected to cost the Sox a pick.

–Epstein said that the Sox could still be in the market for complementary bench players.

–Speaking generally, he also said that the Sox could be in better position to deal players from their big league roster. Presumably, the Sox could have outfield surplus from which to deal, as even before a deal with Crawford becomes final, they have nine outfielders (J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Josh Reddick, Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson and Jordan Parraz) on their 40-man roster.

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The Aftershock: Baseball world reacts to the Red Sox signing of Carl Crawford

12.09.10 at 1:03 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The reverberations continue to be felt.

The morning after the news of Carl Crawford‘s agreement to a deal with the Red Sox, it remained the foremost topic of chatter as the Winter Meetings drew to a close. It was not merely that the Sox had delivered a baseball bombshell by acquiring an All-Star player in Crawford. It was the combination of the Sox’ acquisitions of Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, one of the best offensive players in the game who is also a Gold Glove defender, that proved dizzying.

Immediately, the suspicion emerged that the Yankees and Angels would have no choice but to scramble for counter strikes. New York GM Brian Cashman was peppered with questions about whether he felt compelled to sweeten his offer to pitcher Cliff Lee in the aftermath of the Sox’ deal with Crawford. He insisted that he did not feel such a compulsion, even as he acknowledged that the Sox had just delivered a haymaker. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, adrian gonzalez, alex anthopolous, andy macphail

Hot Stove roundup, noon: Rangers send reps to Arkansas as last-ditch effort to persuade Cliff Lee

12.09.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted on Thursday that the Rangers are putting up a last-ditch effort to try to sign free agent pitcher Cliff Lee by sending representatives to Little Rock, Ark., to meet with Lee and his agent, Darek Braunecker. NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra writes that there isn’t a whole lot of context to the reports about the Rangers meeting with Lee, and that it may just as well be an effort to play head games with the Yankees, who are the favorites in the Lee sweepstakes.

Calcaterra said that with the $300 million the Red Sox have spent in the past few days, it’s hard to imagine that the Yankees won’t counter with an expensive signee of their own. We’ll know more about the meeting between the Rangers, Lee and Braunecker later on Thursday.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ The Astros have agreed to a one-year deal with former Rice pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, the Houston Chronicle’s Zachary Levine reports. Rowland-Smith was taken with the No. 5 pick in the Rule 5 draft, and is pending a physical. The Australian lefty was non-tendered by the Mariners after going 1-10 with a 6.75 ERA in 2010. He played three seasons before 2010, including one and a half as a starter, with ERAs under 4.00 for the Mariners.

‘™¦ The Orioles continue to make news this week, announcing that the team and free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche have mutual interest in each other, but have not yet had any formal talks, and no formal offer has been made, the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly tweeted on Thursday. LaRoche has garnered a lot of interest this offseason, with teams such as the Nationals, Rays and Orioles all showing significant interest.

‘™¦ The Dodgers have shown interest in signing former Red Sox utility man Bill Hall as a left fielder, the L.A. Times reports. The Dodgers are reportedly among several teams that have shown interest in the former Red Sox, who hit 18 home runs in 2010, but struck out 104 times in 119 games played with Boston.

‘™¦ MLB.com reports that Cleveland legend Bob Feller has been transferred from the Cleveland Clinic to hospice care for the terminally ill, according to Bob DiBiaso, the Indians’ vice president of public relations. The 92-year-old Feller is battling leukemia, and was recently admitted to the clinic after suffering from pneumonia. Feller was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August, which is a form of cancer in which the white blood cells interfere with the production of normal blood cells.

‘™¦ Rob Biertempfel, columnist for Trib Live Sports, tweeted on Thursday that the Pirates seem to be close to reaching a deal with the Braves for starting pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, but money is still an issue. The deal will continue to develop over the course of the day.

Read More: bill Hall, Cliff Lee, Hot Stove,

Red Sox lose a pair of pitchers in Rule 5 draft

12.09.10 at 11:11 am ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox saw a pair of division rivals snap up pitchers from their minor league system on Thursday, as the Tampa Bay Rays snagged 21-year-old left-hander Cesar Cabral, while the Yankees grabbed right-hander Daniel Turpen.

Cabral, 21, is a big, physical left-handed reliever whom the Sox signed out of the Dominican in 2005. In 2010, he had a dominant performance to start the year with Single-A Greenville, producing a 0.29 ERA in 17 appearances (31 1/3 innings) while striking out 35 and walking just seven. After a mid-year promotion, however, he struggled to remain consistent. He started well, but finished at High-A Salem with a 5.81 ERA, though he continued to have a solid strikeout-to-walk rate (45-to-14 in 48 innings). He features a solid fastball that is typically in the 93-94 mph vicinity, as well as a slider that produces swings and misses. He has been working on a changeup that is viewed as a work in progress. With the Rays’ bullpen having been pillaged by free agency (the team could lose as many as five big league relievers), Cabral will certainly have an interesting opportunity with Tampa Bay.

Turpen, 24, was the pitcher whom the Sox acquired from the Giants at the July 31 trade deadline in exchange for Ramon Ramirez. He spent all of 2010 in the Eastern League, first with San Francisco’s affiliate in Richmond, then with the Portland Sea Dogs. Between the two teams, he had a 4.30 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 28 walks in 69 innings. He only allowed four homers.

The big, 6-foot-4 right-hander has a power sinker that has produced strong groundball rates throughout his minor league career. He also features a cutter and slider, though the two pitches can sometimes blend together, and his stuff can flatten out at times. While his ability to induce grounders could make for an interesting bullpen weapon, it is difficult to imagine him sticking for a full year with a Yankees team for whom success is defined by championships.

The Red Sox had identified both pitchers as candidates to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, in which a team may take a player who — after a certain amount of service time, depending on how old he was at the time he entered the system — is not protected on the 40-man roster. But the team felt that there was a good chance that if either pitcher was selected, it was unlikely that he would stick on his selecting team’s major league roster for a full season. The Sox receive $50,000 for both players; if they do not stay on the big league roster of their new clubs, both players will be exposed to waivers and then, assuming they clear, offered back to Boston for $25,000.

“We lost, at least for the time being, two players in the Rule 5, and we wish them well with the new organizations,” said Sox GM Theo Epstein. “But hopefully they soon will be their old organizations and we get them back. We’ll see.”

The Sox have not lost a player to the Rule 5 process since the Tigers kept left-hander Wilfredo Ledezma in 2002.

Read More: cesar cabral, daniel turpen, Hot Stove, rule 5

Hot Stove roundup, 11 a.m.: Luke Scott making waves with comments about President Obama

12.09.10 at 10:49 am ET
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Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott made a name for himself more this week with his comments than his career hitting. The 32-year-old, .268 career hitter said in an interview that President Barack Obama is “hiding something” the way he dodges questions. He also is siding with “birthers” ‘€” people who believe that President Obama was not born in the United States, plainly stating his opinion that Obama was not born in the country he now leads.

The Los Angeles Times, among several other news outlets, covered what Scott had to say. The Orioles organization shortly after released a statement, saying that Scott’s opinions were not the views of the team.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted on Thursday morning that the Red Sox are still interested in Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who was tendered for arbitration by the team. ESPN reported on Wednesday that the Dodgers were interested in former Rays catcher Dioner Navarro. The team also signed Rod Barajas several weeks ago.

‘™¦ In light of Carlos Pena‘s signing with the Cubs, the Rays are searching for a replacement first baseman, and are targeting former Blue Jay Lyle Overbay and former Brave Derrek Lee, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The team also has interest in Adam LaRoche, but the Nationals are considered to be the front runners to sign LaRoche. The Times reports that all of the free agent options may be too expensive for the Rays.

‘™¦ According to a tweet by a Pirates insider, the team has acquired relief pitcher Cesar Valdez from the Diamondbacks as the player to be named in the Zach Duke trade. The D-Backs acquired Duke on Nov. 24 from the Pirates for the player to be named. Duke, a 27-year-old starting pitcher, finished the 2010 season with an 8-15 record with a 5.72 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 29 starts.

‘™¦ The Pirates weren’t done creating news on Thursday morning, signing free agent pitcher Scott Olsen to a one-year, $500,000 deal for 2011, with incentives of up to $3 million, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted. The incentives the Pirates are offering will be performance-based.

Read More: Hot Stove, Luke Scott, Scott Olsen, Zach Duke

Hot Stove roundup, 9 a.m.: Orioles acquire shortstop J.J. Hardy from Twins

12.09.10 at 9:28 am ET
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The Orioles, although undermined by the Red Sox‘ signing of free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, became the second team in the AL East to acquire a player they had been targeting for several days. The Orioles completed a trade early Thursday morning that sends Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore, CBS Sports’ Scott Miller reports. Infielder Brendan Harris was included in the deal to the Orioles.

The Twins received minor league pitchers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey, according to the report. Hardy batted .268 with six home runs and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010. Hardy, according to Miller, became available when the Twins began negotiating with Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. They are expected to sign Nishioka for three years for between $9 million and $12 million.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman tweeted early on Thursday that the Yankees have offered free agent pitcher Cliff Lee a seven-year deal after both Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth were signed to seven-year deals. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Red Sox had submitted to Lee a low-ball, seven-year offer so that his camp could use that as leverage with the Yankees for a seventh year. The Yankees had reportedly offered Lee a six-year deal worth between $138 million and $150 million.

‘™¦ Free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera has agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Royals, ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas tweeted Thursday morning. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi when both sides were reaching an agreement, and was confirmed by Rojas when the deal was made official. Cabrera, who was released by the Braves after the 2010 season, hit a disappointing .255/.317/.354 in 509 plate appearances. The 26-year-old will receive $250,000 in incentives, pending a physical.

‘™¦ Scott Boras, agent for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, said on Thursday that Beltran plans on being a Met next season, mlb.com reports. Boras said that Beltran has a no-trade clause with the Mets, so ultimately the decision comes down to the outfielder and his wife, and what they want. But Boras made it clear that to date, Beltran’s plan is to be a Met next season.

‘™¦ The Brewers are continuing their push to sign free agent pitcher Carl Pavano, meeting with the pitcher on Wednesday face-to-face for a 45-minute session, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. The team has yet to decide whether it will make an offer to Pavano, but Pavano’s agent, Tom O’Connell, said that he considers the Brewers a serious suitor, along with the Twins and the Nationals. A fourth undisclosed club is said to have interest in Pavano.

‘™¦ The Los Angeles Times reports that Angels center fielder Torii Hunter was “crushed” to hear that free agent outfielder Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox. Hunter had been courting Crawford to sign with the Angels since the All-Star break last season, the Times reported. Hunter spoke with the Times from his home in Texas, where he received the news.

Read More: carl crawford, Hot Stove, J.J. Hardy,
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