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Red Sox fans, doesn’t this seem like a long time ago?

09.17.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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ESPN’s “30 For 30″ hasn’t been a disappointment yet (unless you’re counting the fantasy sports expose), and judging by this trailer they have kept the excellence rolling when looking at the Red Sox’ comeback against the Yankees in 2004. Take a peak:

Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Mariners 1

09.15.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz once again showed why his 2010 season has represented a tremendous leap forward in his career. The key trait in his two-year turnaround from a demotion to the minors to top-of-the-rotation status has been keyed by the ability to isolate his struggles.

That has been most important on a pitch-to-pitch and batter-to-batter basis for much of the year, but on Wednesday, Buchholz showed the ability to prevent failure from bleeding from one outing into another. After turning in his worst start of the year in Oakland last weekend, allowing nine baserunners and five runs in one inning, he rebounded to shut down the Mariners.

For the 15th time in his 26 starts this year, Buchholz allowed one or fewer earned runs. In so doing, he led the Sox to a 5-1 victory over Seattle to complete a three-game sweep to give the Sox their 82nd win of the year. That, in turn, assured the Sox their 13th straight winning season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Though the performance came against the anemic Mariners offense, Buchholz once again looked like one of the best pitchers in the American League. He struggled again out of the gate, allowing a solo homer in the bottom of the first and putting the first two runners of the second on base. But he worked out of that jam (thanks in no small part to a Victor Martinez pickoff of Casey Kotchman at third base), and ended up retiring 12 of 13 batters in a stretch. Buchholz did not allow another run in lowering his ERA to 2.48.

Victor Martinez made huge contributions both with a bat and behind the plate. He helped Buchholz get out of his early jam by picking Kotchman off of third and later caught Chone Figgins in an attempted steal of second. Offensively, he supported Buchholz with a two-run double against left-handed reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith. Martinez’ .405 average against lefties leads the majors; his 1.173 OPS against southpaws is second to Kevin Youkilis‘ amazing 1.311 mark (min. 100 PAs vs LHP).

Adrian Beltre was once again a force in the ballpark that did quite a bit of damage to his statistics over the previous five years. Beltre went 1-for-3 with a homer and two walks. For the year, he hit .297/.387/.481/.868.

Marco Scutaro, despite playing through injury, continue a September that has been his finest month of the season. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Scutaro is now hitting .298 with a .952 OPS this month, the latter figure representing his highest mark of any turn of the calendar.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Though Yamaico Navarro made some nice defensive plays at shortstop, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and flailed wildly at the plate as Seattle pitchers exploited his over-eagerness.

Daniel Nava, after going 0-for-3, is now hitting .158 with a .483 OPS in September.

Terry Francona on D&H: Kalish ‘a keeper’

09.15.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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Terry Francona

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined Dale & Holley on Wednesday for his weekly conversation and talked about the Red Sox’ philosophy as the team heads toward the end of the season with a playoff berth being highly unlikely.

“It changes, but the philosophy of our games certainly don’t change,” Francona said. “Regardless of who plays, you try to play the game right and you try to win. Obviously, we’re incorporating some younger kids in the lineup, and we’re trying to get them to understand what a huge honor it is to play in these games. If you’re a Lars Anderson and you’re playing a couple of games instead of a Mikey Lowell, he needs to understand that, ‘Look, man, this guy has had a long career and you’re taking some of his at-bats, so get after it.’ And I think they’re doing that.”

Francona discussed being loyal to players such as David Ortiz when they may be struggling, and also how the team is trying to work some of the younger players into the lineup.

Following is the transcript of the conversation. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

You’ve had a well deserved reputation that you’ve developed here for being faithful to your players.  You go back to that example of Dustin Pedroia’s rookie year and hitting .180 in April and everybody wanted him out and [Alex] Cora in and you stuck with him and reaped the rewards. Is David Ortiz another example of reaping the rewards by standing by someone?

Well, I think we’ve stood by people when we think that that’s the best thing to do. I mean, again, and I believe in loyalty, but there’s a difference between being loyal and not being very smart.  When we felt like [Jonathan Papelbon] should replace [Keith] Foulke, we did it. When we feel like we need to make changes, we do.  But when I feel like somebody’s struggling, and to make a knee-jerk reaction, that’s not, to me, a good manager. That’s just making a reaction. You’ve got to let these guys play a little bit, and David’s a great example of that. He’s maybe the only one that believed in himself, and I’ll be darned, you look up later and he’s got 30 home runs, he drives in 100 runs, good for him.

Back in April, did you see this at the end of the season?

Well, I guess I hoped, but we didn’t see it at the beginning of the season. And because of the way our roster was configured, we’d get to the point where David was hitting against a few lefties and we were pinch-hitting for him a couple of times, it was tough. David was not very happy with anybody, and I was probably near the top of that list. But to his credit, he turned it around and we told him, right straight up said, “David, if you want to play, hit.” And he did that, so, good for him.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, ryan kalish, Terry Francona

The year in Red Sox international signings

09.15.10 at 12:10 pm ET
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In recent years, the Red Sox have been one of the more aggressive teams in the international market. Since 2006, the team has signed players like middle infielder Oscar Tejeda (approx. $550,000), third baseman Michael Almanzar ($1.5 million), catcher Oscar Perez (approximately $700,000) and shortstops Jose Iglesias ($8.25 million) and Jose Vinicio ($1.95 million).

This year, however, the Sox did not make the same dramatic splash in the international market. Though the team scouted the pool of available players heavily, to date, there have only been a few international amateurs with whom the Sox have been able to find common ground in terms of an asking price and how the organization values them.

The fact that the Sox have not signed any of the more prominent (and expensive) names on this year’s international market does not necessarily have much bearing on the impact the teenagers might one day make.

After all, the signing of Felix Doubront in 2004 to a modest $150,000 bonus made few ripples. Likewise, the 2006 signings of Stolmy Pimentel ($25,000) and Yamaico Navarro ($20,000) remained unnoticed until both emerged among the best prospects in the organization.

Doubront and Navarro are now in the majors; Pimentel is virtually certain to be placed on the organization’s 40-man roster this winter, and he is viewed as being perhaps the second-best pitching prospect in the organization, behind only Casey Kelly.

Those examples suggest that the international market remains something of a crapshoot. Low-bonus signees can emerge as big leaguers. Players signed to more sizable bonuses, meanwhile, may never see the majors. As one baseball source noted, not even one percent of players signed out of the Dominican Republic will ever be added to a major league 40-man roster.

Such is the nature of trying to project players at the age of 16, when they are physically and emotionally immature. Scouts in Latin America are tasked with looking at a 130-pound ballplayer – sometimes, a player with so little in-game experience that he is unfamiliar with basic rules of the game such as force outs – and imagine how he projects years later when his frame has filled out and he has had years to professionalize.

The incredible distance that players must travel from the time that they sign as 16-year-olds to the majors helps to explain why international scouting is such a challenging undertaking. Moreover, it is an undertaking that requires patience. Doubront signed as a 16-year-old, and required six years to rise through the Sox system. Yet that ascent actually qualified as rapid, considering that he is now 22 – the same age as many of the college players taken in the 2009 draft.

All of that is to suggest that it remains to be seen what kind of impact the Sox get from the relatively low-profile international amateur signings they’ve made this year.

This year, the Sox’ biggest money international signees were Cuban defectors in their 20s. The team signed 23-year-old catcher Adalberto Ibarra for between $700,000 and $800,000, and also added 24-year-old outfielder Jorge Padron and 26-year-old Juan Carlos Linares.

Ibarra, who initially signed a five-year big league deal before renegotiating due to an issue in his physical, hit .244 with a .400 OBP and .268 slugging mark in 55 plate appearances for Hi-A Salem. The 24-year-old Padron hit .280/.323/.355/.678 while splitting the year between Salem and Double-A Portland. Linares, who will play in the Arizona Fall League, hit .239/.271/.391/.662 in 13 games for Portland.

The team also agreed to terms with four other Latin American teenage amateurs:

Anthony Amaya

A left-handed hitting and throwing 16-year-old centerfielder from Panama. Amaya has a sound swing, but is very young and physically immature. He played for Panama’s junior teams in international competition in recent years. His physical maturation and performance in the Dominican Summer League will determine his projection.

Edwin Osorio

A very raw, 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher with a big curveball and a fastball in the mid-80s. The Colombian was converted from shortstop to pitcher a year ago.

Denier Lopez

A 16-year-old, 6-foot, switch-hitting shortstop from Venezuela. His defensive tools are more developed than his offense a this point. He has agreed to terms, but the signing is not yet official, pending the completion of standard background investigations.

Joseph Carpabire

A 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-handed pitcher with a very projectable frame. The 17-year-old from Venezuela has actually been eligible to sign since 2009. He currently tops out at 88 mph, and he has both the build and delivery of a starter. Like Lopez, he has agreed to terms but has not yet signed while a standard background investigation is performed.

Read More: anthony amaya, denier lopez, edwin osorio, joseph carpabire

Sox Single-A team brawls in playoff loss

09.15.10 at 6:59 am ET
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The Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate in South Carolina, lost to the Lakewood BlueClaws in Game 2 of the South Atlantic League championship series in a game that featured a bench-clearing brawl. After Greenville’s Derrik Gibson crashed into Lakewood catcher Sebastian Valle while being tagged out at home, the players exchanged words as Valle left the field. Lakewood pitcher Jorge Rodriguez stepped in to continue the argument with Gibson, and  other players soon joined in, leading to pushing and punching. Two players from each team — Greenville’s Gibson and Michael Almanzar, along with Lakewood’s Rodriguez and Leandro Castro — were ejected.

Here’s the video:

Here is a second angle:

The Drive went on to lose the game 6-1, evening the series at a game apiece. It continues Thursday at Lakewood.

Click here to read more about the game.

Read More: brawl, Greenville Drive,

2011 Red Sox schedule press release

09.14.10 at 8:36 pm ET
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The following is the official press release from the Red Sox concerning their 2011 schedule:

BOSTON, MA—The Boston Red Sox are scheduled to open the 2011 season on the road against the Texas Rangers on Friday, April 1 with a three-game set at the Ballpark in Arlington.  The club will then travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians before returning to Boston for the 2011 Home Opener at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees on Friday, April 8.  The Red Sox will also play two exhibition games against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston at the conclusion of the 2011 Spring Training season, Wednesday, March 30 beginning at 8:05 p.m. ET/7:05 p.m. CT and Thursday, March 31 at 1:35 p.m. ET/12:35 p.m. CT.

The Red Sox are scheduled to play a total of 72 games with their American League East Division rivals, 18 each with Baltimore, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Following the first series versus the Yankees in Boston, the Red Sox will host New York from August 5-7 and again from August 30-September 1 at Fenway Park.  Boston will visit Yankee Stadium three times this season, May 13-15, June 7-9, and September 23-25.

Boston will have 18 games, all three-game series, against National League opponents, hosting the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres and traveling to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Houston.

After the club’s Home Opener versus New York, Boston will host the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays to complete a 10-game homestand from April 8-18.  The Sox will host a season-high 11-game homestand April 29-May 9, taking on the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Minnesota Twins.

Click here for the complete schedule.

Sox name minor league players of the month

09.13.10 at 6:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox named their Minor League Players of the Month for August/September, which included recognition for a pair of players on their current big league roster.

Josh Reddick was named Player of the Month, hitting .338/.375/.615/.990 with 10 homers in 34 games for Triple-A Pawtucket before his call-up on the final day of the minor league season

Raynel Velette was named Pitcher of the Month(s) after going 2-1 with a 1.77 ERA, striking out 17 and walking two in 17 1/3 innings for the Rookie Level GCL Red Sox

Second baseman Nate Spears was named the Baserunner of the Month after scoring 35 runs in the season’s final 34 games for Double-A Portland.

Felix Sanchez was recognized as the Base Stealer of the Month for swiping 20 bags in 26 attempts while splitting 30 games between Lowell and Greenville

Lars Anderson was named the Defensive Player of the Month for his work at first base with Pawtucket. Anderson committed two errors in 33 games for the PawSox in August and September.

Read More: felix sanchez, josh reddick, lars anderson, nate spears
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