|10.21.09 at 9:26 am ET|
Joe Torre and Terry Francona forged a bond over the course of their time as rival managers in the American League East. Occasionally, out of public view, they would take a few moments to compare notes from their perspectives as the managers of the Yankees and Red Sox. Now that Torre is out of the American League East and managing the Dodgers, the two have taken delight in the fact that they can commune out on the field before spring training games in the Grapefruit League, no longer having to conceal their friendship from public view.
Next time they get together, apparently, they will have quite a topic to discuss.
Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is again at the heart of some controversy for his actions during the National League Championship Series between his (and Torre’s) club and the Phillies. On Monday, Ramirez was removed from the game for defensive purposes in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Dodgers leading 4-3. Rather than remain on the bench, Ramirez — as first reported by FoxSports.com — went into the clubhouse and showered. By the time he had emerged, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins had ripped his two-run, game-winning, walkoff double to the gap in Philadelphia, and the Dodgers had gone from tying the NLCS at two games apiece to standing on the brink of elimination, down 3-to-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“When I came out, they were turning the TVs off and everybody was coming in,” Ramirez told reporters.
Torre shrugged off the incident. Though he did concede that “it probably doesn’t look good,” he also said that it wasn’t unusual for his slugger to behave in this manner.
“Manny has so much confidence, and when we get a lead late in the game, and I’ve taken him out, whether it be for defense or we have a big lead, when we go up to shake hands after the game, he’s in his street clothes. So it’s really nothing different than he’s done before. I don’t think it’s disrespect of anything,” said Torre. “He wasn’t going anywhere until the game was over, and we can’t put him back in the game. But that’s not something I thought was unusual since individuals are all different anyway. But he’s always done that, so it’s nothing that last night was going to be any different.
“As we say, Manny is Manny. He’s a cool customer. But he certainly didn’t have any lack of respect because of that. I think the way it turned out, it probably doesn’t look good. But it’s nothing different than he had done before.”
Of course, the Dodgers will forgive Ramirez his ablution if he can help the team erase its deficit. In 2007, in his final playoff run with the Sox, it was Ramirez who suggested that “it’s not like it’s the end of the world” if the Sox were to be eliminated from the playoffs when down 3-to-1 to the Indians in the ALCS. The Sox embraced that notion, and outscored the Indians, 30-5, over the next three games en route to a World Series victory.
If the Dodgers are to do the same, then Ramirez will likely have to be a major factor. Thus far, he is hitting .250 with a homer and three singles in the first four games. Interestingly, he has yet to walk in the series, a sign that either the Phillies are not backing away from challenging him or that Ramirez is being unusually aggressive in his plate approach this postseason (or both). In that context, it is also worth noting that during the Dodgers’ first-round sweep against the Cardinals, St. Louis walked Ramirez just once, thus ending a streak of eight straight postseason series in which Ramirez had walked at least twice; his still-active streak of 16 straight postseason series with at least one walk (dating to the 1997 ALDS) is also in jeopardy.
|10.20.09 at 10:59 pm ET|
There is no disputing the significance of Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship series to Red Sox fans everywhere. Winning those two games against the Yankees provided the momentum for the greatest comeback in modern sports history.
But when it comes to epic moments on the greatest stage baseball has to offer there is still one game – one night – that will live on in the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.
It was 34 years ago that Game 6 of the 1975 World Series was played between the favored Big Red Machine and the underdog Red Sox. With the Reds heading back to Boston up, 3 games-to-2, they needed just one win to end a half-decade of near-misses.
The weather would provide a dramatic and appropriate metaphor. Three days of rain delayed the contest, which began on a crisp New England autumn night and ended in the early morning hours of Oct. 22.
But it was not only how it ended on Carlton Fisk’s tantalizingly dramatic home run off the left field pole that made this game a classic. It was everything that led up to that moment at 12:34 a.m. that made Game Six the greatest game ever played in the eyes of baseball fans around the globe.
Now, there’s a book out that details that night. “Game Six-Cincinnati, Boston and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime” by Mark Frost not only addresses the game but the personalities in and around the game.
“This was epic drama on a stage I’d never witnessed before,” Frost said. “That feeling stayed with me all these years. It’s an attempt to bring back to life that entire evening, one of the greatest stories in American sports.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.20.09 at 3:17 pm ET|
Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan has generously offered to drop by the Virtual Press Box on Thursday at noon to take questions in the second installment of WEEI.com’s Thursday baseball chat series.
In his third season with the Sox, Boston finished third in the A.L. in runs and second in the league with a .352 OBP, .454 slugging mark and .806 OPS. In fact, the Sox have ranked in the top three in the A.L. in each of those categories in each of his three seasons with Boston.
Before he joined the coaching ranks, Magadan spent 16 seasons in the majors with the Mets, Marlins, Mariners, Astros, Cubs, A’s and Padres. He compiled a career .288 average with a .390 OBP. After retiring, he entered the Padres system, first as a minor-league hitting coordinator and then on San Diego’s big-league hitting coach from 2003-06.
|10.19.09 at 5:42 pm ET|
Red Sox reliever Takashi Saito cleared outright waivers on Monday, and elected to become a free agent. As noted last week, the Sox and Saito found such an outcome mutually beneficial, since having Saito become a free agent via this process allows the Sox to negotiate with him this offseason about a possible return. Had the Sox instead released the pitcher after declining his $6 million option (with a potential $1.5 million in incentives for 2010), the club would not have been eligible to negotiate with him until May 15.
Saito is open to re-signing with the Red Sox, though the pitcher plans to talk to other clubs as well. According to a baseball source, the Sox have expressed some interest in bringing the right-hander back, though there have not been any discussions of specific contract terms. In 56 appearances that spanned 55.2 innings, Saito finished the year with a 2.43 ERA, the eighth lowest by an American League reliever with 40 or more appearances.
|10.17.09 at 8:31 pm ET|
Shortstop Jose Iglesias, a 19-year-old who signed a four-year, $8.2 million contract with the Red Sox in July, provided an impressive offensive debut in the Arizona Fall League while playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, going 3-for-5 while scoring three runs, walking twice, and hitting a home run in his first two games.
Iglesias’ homer was a two-run blast, coming in the fifth inning of Mesa’s 12-5 loss to Surprise against Mets’ prospect Josh Stinson.
Iglesias, the youngest player in the AFL, will share time at shortstop with fellow Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly. Kelly started his first game for Mesa Saturday night, hitting eighth against Peo Saguaros.
In other AFL news, 2009 top draft pick Stephen Strasburg pitched 3 1/3-innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits, in his debut for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Friday. The Washington Nationals‘ top prospect threw 50 pitches — 32 strikes — while having his initial offering reach 99 mph.
“It was a great feeling,” the 21-year-old told MLB.com. “It was great to have a lot of my family come in from San Diego to watch this. It’s been a long time since they were able to watch me pitch. This was the first time for me to be pitching in an actual [pro] game. I was extremely excited to be out there, and I can’t wait to get out there and do it again.”
In case you forgot, Strasburg signed a $15.1 million contract with the Nationals just minutes before the Nationals were set to lose his rights, on Aug. 18.
|10.16.09 at 5:30 pm ET|
Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie, whose season was hampered by the need for surgery on his left wrist in April and a difficult recovery process from it, met with Dr. Donald Sheridan — the specialist who performed surgery on him in April — and was told on Friday morning that his wrist should be fine after an offseason to recover and strengthen the area.
“The prognosis is good,” Lowrie wrote in an e-mail. “With rest, strength and conditioning it should be 100 percent.”
Lowrie hit .147 with a .475 OPS in 32 games this season. Sox general manager Theo Epstein said at the conclusion of the season that the team believes in the young infielder’s talent, but until he proves the ability to remain healthy over the course of a big league season, the team will need other options as short. All the same, the Sox still consider the best-case scenario for their shortstop position in 2010 to be Lowrie’s emergence as a healthy and productive big leaguer.
“Lowrie is an important factor for us,” Epstein said on Monday. “This is a young player we really believe in who has been hurt as a big league player. We’ve not seen the type of player he can be yet at the big league level because he’s been playing hurt the entire time. At some point, the player has to get healthy to be able to show what he can do and to be able to help the organization.
“I don’t think we can hand a job to him because he hasn’t proved his health yet at this point. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here at this time next year, hopefully with champagne and not having one of these post-mortems, but looking back and saying, ‘Wow, he really got healthy and proved himself in winning that job or playing his way into a meaningful role,’ ” Epstein continued. “Now it’s on him. He’s got to get himself healthy and make an impact. We can’t stake our season on the hope that he’ll be healthy. We have to have other options.”
|10.16.09 at 5:09 pm ET|
The Red Sox purchased the contract of Reynaldo Rodriguez, the 2009 Rookie of the Year in the independent Golden Baseball League, from the Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League. Playing for a team owned by former Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria and his brother, Edinson, the native of Colombia hit .335 with a .380 OBP and .486 slugging mark while adding six homers, 48 RBIs and 18 steals (in 21 attempts) to his line in 74 games. He was named the GBL’s top prospect by Baseball America.
Rodriguez played first base for the Scorpions, though it is unclear whether that would be his most likely position in affiliated baseball. He exhibits more speed (and less power) than players who usually stay at that position.
“He’s not a prototypical first baseman. He’s kind of lean and wiry. He’s just not a big, burly power-hitting first baseman,” said Yuma President Mike Marshall, who spent several years in the majors with the Dodgers, as well as portions of 1990-91 with the Red Sox. “He’s a guy that hits for average. Everywhere he goes, he hits .330, .340. He’s a gap hitter [with] a lot of power to right and right center. He uses the whole field and has occasional power, but he’s more of a hitter. You think of a power hitting first baseman ‘ he’s not that. He’s an average, RBI, stolen bases gap hitter with occasional power. He really handles the bat well. Doesn’t strike out much. He looks kind of like [current Dodgers first baseman James] Loney from the right side.”
At 22 (he turns 23 on Jan. 1), Rodriguez is unusually young for a prospect signed out of an independent league. He spent a couple years in the Yankees‘ farm system (after signing with the Yankees as a catcher) and performed well as an older player in the Dominican Summer League, where he finished among the league leaders in average in both 2005 and 2007. But he was hampered by an arm injury and released in ’07.
Rodriguez returned to Colombia, where he was one of the better hitters in the Colombian winter leagues. There, as was the case in the GBL, he showed an ability to hit well against much older competition. He shows a consistent ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball, and his athleticism, solid performance and the low cost of acquiring him convinced the Sox that it was worth taking a shot at signing him. Marshall suggested that Rodriguez “absolutely” could represent a diamond-in-the-rough with big-league potential, though Marshall qualified that assessment.
“I don’t know his past, but I know that he’s young enough to be able to move up through the ranks,” said Marshall. “This isn’t a rookie league or an A-ball league anymore. There’s Double-A, Triple-A and big league guys all over the place. The same is true when he goes back to Columbia. Do you project him as a big leaguer? I don’t know. That’s a tough thing. The position he plays right now, sometimes they want a little more power. I will say this ‘ he was a top five hitter in this league.”
The Sox will follow Rodriguez during his winter league season in Colombia to consider whether he will compete for a job as a first baseman or outfielder. Rodriguez will come to spring training on a tryout basis, giving the Red Sox time before deciding if they want to sign him to a contract for the 2010 season.
The Sox have been increasingly aggressive in recent years in trying to acquire top independent league talent, as evidence by the acquisitions of outfielder Daniel Nava (who hit .352 with a .458 OBP and .533 slugging mark this year as a 26-year-old splitting this year in High A and Double A ball) and relievers Robert Coello (2.05 ERA as a 24-year-old in High A Salem) and Derek Loop (4-3, 1.89 as a 25-year-old for Salem and Portland this year).
|10.16.09 at 9:22 am ET|
Tim Wakefield is set to undergo surgery on a herniated disc in his back Wednesday, with the possibility of the operation being moved up slightly.
Wakefield has said that doctors told him that the procedure would not hinder his preparation for next season. The disc had pressed on a nerves in the 43-year-old’s back, causing weakness in his right leg. Wakefield managed to pitch four times after making the American League All-Star team, but was left off the Red Sox‘ American League Division Series roster. He finished his 17th major league season going 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts.
It is expected if the surgery goes as planned that the Red Sox will pick up the pitcher’s $4 million team option. “Wake is someone that is in our plans and we hope makes starts for us next year and is a member of the rotation,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein during his Monday press conference. “We haven’t sat down and finalized anything. Obviously we want to see how the surgery goes and then both sides will sit down and talk.’
In other Red Sox medical news, infielder Nick Green, who battled a slipped disc in his back in the season’s final month, will be examined next week with the possibility of undergoing surgery.
|10.15.09 at 10:22 pm ET|
Red Sox amateur scouting director Jason McLeod visited the WEEI.com Virtual Press Box to discuss the draft and Red Sox prospects on Thursday afternoon. Here is a transcript of the chat, in which McLeod discussed the status of prospects such as Ryan Westmoreland, Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson, Dustin Richardson, Luis Exposito and Eammon Portice, among many others:
On whether Ryan Westmoreland’s broken collarbone affected the outfielder’s prospect status:
Not at all. It’s unfortunate that Ryan has had to deal with two injuries since he signed but he went out and had a very productive summer before crashing into the outfield wall and injuring his clavicle. Baseball America recently rated him the #1 prospect in the NY Penn League.
When Dustin Richardson was scouted, did you view his future as being that of a starter or reliever?
Our scouts who saw him [in 2006] in the Big 12 (Jim Robinson and Dave Finley) thought he could have a productive career in a relief role and that’s how we saw him when he entered the system. He is in the Arizona Fall League now and has definitely put himself in contention to get a serious look from the ML staff in spring training.
Do you view Casey Kelly’s future as being as a shortstop or pitcher?
Casey is a talented two way player and I believe he has a bright future on the mound. Seeing what he was able to do this year in his first year pitching at the professional level confirmed that thought.
How do you assess Michael Almanzar’s struggles this year?
Michael, like most young Latin players, is still in the early development stages of his career. He has developmental goals that we have laid out for him and now it’s a matter of letting him play and mature. He was still very young for the leagues he was competing in.
What would you recommend to someone trying to find an internship in baseball ops or scouting?
The Winter Meetings can help if you can get a face to face interview. That is hard to do at times as there are plenty of other candidates looking to do the same thing. I would start by sending a resume to all 30 clubs with your interests & ability.
Do you draft for need or do you take the best player available?
Our focus will always be on selecting the player who we feel can bring the most impact to the organization.
Why did Jason Thompson (an 11th-round pick) get only one plate appearance in the GCL after signing?
Jason signed late…near the August 15th signing deadline…then was battling a sore hamstring shortly after arriving so he didn’t get much time on the field. The good news is he was able to get plenty of ab’s in the recently completed Instructional League.
What impressions did you have of Jose Iglesias from Instructional League?
I only got a limited look at our Instructional League team due to post season scouting commitments. Saying that, I was impressed with the entire group down there. I have yet to see [Iglesias] but will get my first look shortly out in the Arizona Fall League.
How do you see Madison Younginer (7th rounder) and David Renfroe (3rd rounder) panning out?
Both Madison and David have very big upsides due to their athleticism and physical tools. Like a lot of 18 year old kids, they are still unpolished and have plenty of development ahead of them but we certainly like their potential for impact.
Is there any chance that Casey Kelly could be in the majors by next September?
I think that would be a lot to ask of Casey considering he hasn’t had a full season of pitching under his belt. He is advanced for his age but as with all of our pitchers, there will be a plan laid out for him in terms of innings, usage, etc.
What type of prospect is Eammon Portice, who led the Carolina League in strikeouts (141 in 128.1 innings)?
Eammon is a versatile guy that provides a different look as he has a deceptive delivery and will use different angles. As you mentioned, he has swing & miss stuff as evidenced by his strikeouts and has put himself in position to be considered in the future.
I wonder how (or if) your perceptions of age versus level change when it comes to position players that convert to pitchers? I have an ulterior motive as I have a son (in a different organization) who took up pitching at 22 after four years of college and one professional year as a shortstop. He spent this season in the SALLY league as a 24 year old (his second season as a pitcher after having not pitched since middle school). The “prospect” evaluators expect a certain progression pace. Do the front offices expect the same in this type of situation?
I think most evaluators (both scouts and front office) weigh all factors when writing reports. A “prospect” is determined by what is perceived to be his ML value no matter the age. A 24 year old in the SAL may not get as much love from Baseball America but if the stuff & ability are there, the scouts and front offices will take notice. As for progression, you would hope he could be at the higher levels sooner as his 6 year free agent status will come into play.
How did you get your start in baseball operations?
After my brief minor league pitching career, I was fortunate enough to get an internship with the Padres back in 1994. Kevin Towers was the Scouting Director at the time and I begged him to let me do anything for him (file reports, help with tryout camps, etc). Fortunately, I was able to hang around long enough and eventually ended up coaching in the minor leagues for San Diego before moving back to the front office. Kevin & Theo took me to lunch one day in 2001 and talked to me about becoming a scout. The rest as they say is history…
Can you provide a scouting report on yourself as a pitcher? How did your stuff grade?
Lol…you really want to know that? Hmm…I was the ultimate “projection guy”. 6’3″ 190 lbs, 87-90 with limited life. Best pitch was probably my straight change up. The development in terms of velocity and a breaking pitch just didn’t come along. Hey, what can you expect out of a 44th round draft pick?
Roman Mendez and Manuel Rivera, the ace twins of the Gulf Coast team… starting in full season ball next April?
That is still to be determined but they certainly have earned a hard look. With all of the younger players we’ve been drafting and the stellar work by Craig Shipley and his staff on the International side, there will be some hard decisions to be made. That’s a good thing…..
Does performance affect draft status?
It depends on what aspects of performance you’re looking at. Obviously, it’s much easier to track college performance and we ask a lot of questions of our scouts about certain players performance in a given year.
What organizational goals did Jason Place reach in Salem to earn his promotion to Portland, and how do you view his overall development during his time with the seadogs? Do you feel he can cut down enough on his strike out rates to have an eventual impact on the major league level?
‘Without getting into specifics, Jason has made incremental improvements on a yearly basis in terms of how he controls his ab’s to development with swing mechanics. The tools we saw in Jason as an amateur are still there now in terms of bat speed, raw power, and defense. Obviously, he has had his struggles with the strikeouts and that has been a large part of his development plan. He is still only 21 yrs old and hung in there at the AA level this year which he will most likely repeat next year. The tools are in place but there is still honing that needs to be done.
Can you name one positional player and one pitcher who you expect to be the 2010 breakout prospects in the Red Sox system? Thanks.
Wow…that’s a tough question to answer Bill because I think there are multiple candidates. It also depends on what’s categorized as a “breakout player”. Is it someone whose not considered a prospect at this time? Is it a Ryan Westmoreland who will play in his first full season league? I hate to back out of this question but my hope is we’ll be arguing come next September on who should be those players due to multiple nominees.
A lot of time is spent on high draft picks and they are seen by multiple evaluators but few make it to the majors. What are some of the common factors that come up as to why they didn’t make it?
Well first of all it is really, really hard to play in the Major Leagues. There are only 750 spots for the thousands of professional ballplayers under contract. I don’t have the exact figure in front of me but I believe it somewhwere around 10% of all drafted players that get to the ML’s. As to factors for not making it, a lot of times it’s just plain ability. Sometimes I need to remind myself how talented these guys are even when they’re struggling.
Mark Wagner had a pretty nice bounce back year after an awful 2008. Given his impressive offensive numbers before ’08, and his consistent ability to throw out runners, is he being looked at as a possibility to back up Victor Martinez next year?
Wags has definitely put himself in position to get a good look from the ML staff come Spring Training. Ultimately, Theo will have to make the decision on our backup catching situation.
Do you see a player like Anthony Rizzo having a place on the major league team in the future? What exactly does he have in terms of tools that could make him valuable to a big league club?
First of all, Anthony is an outstanding kid with great makeup. To come back the way he did after missing the majority of last season was truly inspirational. As to his on field ability, he has a fluid left-handed swing with a mature hitting approach and a chance to hit for avg or better power from the 1b position. He also is a sound defensive player. He’s still very young considering he missed an entire year.
When do you project Luis Exposito Making it to the MLB?
A lot of that depends on what our catching situation is at the ML level. This was a big year for Luis and like Wags, he has put himself in position to get a good look from our staff in the spring.
Any power hitting prospects we should be looking out for moving up anytime soon?
If moving up means at the ML level, Lars is probably the closest. This wasn’t the year Lars was expecting of himself but I expect him to bounce back in 2010. Exposito also has plenty of power though I wouldn’t consider him to be ML ready. As to those who have already played at the ML level, Josh Reddick would be the guy.
I have read some interviews this summer with Lars and it strikes me that this guy is almost too cerebral and as a result, he struggles with his confidence. Is that a worry ….that this guy has too much going on upstairs?
I wouldn’t call Lars cerebral as he is a diligent hard working kid who is fun loving in the clubhouse. If anything, I would say he tends to over analyze and he has been that way since HS. He expects a lot of himself and going through a rough patch as he did this year, there was a constant sense of “searching for the answer” instead of just playing and letting his natural ability take over. He would’ve been a junior in college this year had we not signed him and with the attention he’s received, he hasn’t had much time to mature on his own as others his age would.
|10.15.09 at 4:01 pm ET|
Contrary to a report on Thursday afternoon, there has been no transaction to this point involving Red Sox reliever Takashi Saito, according to a major-league source. Specifically, as of Thursday afternoon, he has not been assigned outright to Pawtucket or removed from the 40-man roster.
That said, it would not come as a surprise if the Sox were to attempt to outright Saito in the coming days for the purposes of making him a free agent, since doing so would give the club its best opportunity to re-sign the pitcher as a free agent. Here’s how:
For the team to attempt an outright assignment, Saito would have to be placed on and clear outright waivers. Assuming that he went unclaimed, Saito — as a player with 3+ years of major-league service time — would have the right to elect free agency. The pitcher unquestionably would exercise that right. That, in turn, would make him an unrestricted free agent, eligible to re-sign with any of the 30 MLB teams, including the Red Sox.
The Sox hold a $6 million option (with an additional $1.5 million in potential incentives) on Saito for the 2010 season. As WEEI.com reported earlier this month, a clause in Saito’s contract required the Sox to release the pitcher if they did not exercise their option. If the Sox simply release Saito without outrighting him, however, they would be ineligible to re-sign Saito until May 15. Free agency resulting from an outright assignment, on the other hand, would put the Sox on a level playing field with the other 29 teams in bidding for the pitcher’s services.
Saito went 3-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 56 appearances for the Sox this year, striking out 52 and allowing 50 hits in 55.2 innings. The Sox signed him to a base salary of $1.5 million with numerous incentives last offseason, and those incentives ultimately increased the value of both his 2009 earnings and his 2010 option to $6 million.
Though the Sox almost certainly will not exercise the pitcher’s 2010 option, the possibility remains that the team could seek to re-sign Saito for a lower base salary. The right-hander, who will be 40 next season, said that he would like to return to pitch in the majors again in 2010, and that he would like to return to the Sox.
“Since it’s something I can’t control, I can’t say much, but I’m hoping to come back to America and pitch again, and [would like] especially to come back to the Red Sox,’ Saito said in late-September.
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