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Terry Francona on D&H: ‘I’m a Big Kotchman Fan’

12.17.09 at 2:38 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale & Holley Show to discuss his excitement for the shape that the 2010 Red Sox are taking. In the aftermath of the signings of John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro this offseason, Francona suggested that the team is positioning itself to win consistently. He also suggested that he thinks the club, as currently constructed, doesn’t need any further changes, and that he would be comfortable with Casey Kotchman as his everyday first baseman.

A transcript of highlights from the interview is below. To listen to the interview, click here.

On Mike Cameron:

He’€™s a good kid. I know you heard this yesterday, but I go back a long way with this guy. It’€™s kind of come full circle. He was a nice kid. Now that he’€™s a 37-year-old, he’€™s a good teammate. That’€™s for sure.

You scared 17, 18 year olds, telling them they’€™d end up working in 7-Elevens?

I don’€™t remember that word for word. My guess is, it wasn’€™t the hitting part. My guess is it was a day that we were taking infield, and we didn’€™t even complete infield because, you’€™re dealing with 18-year-olds, it was raining. We had to quit taking infield because we ran out of balls. I think that’€™s the day that statement came out.

Cameron is a 37-year-old ‘€“ why can he play everyday at this stage of his career?

He’€™s kept himself in great shape. If you just look at him, that’€™s not a problem. We didn’€™t sign him until he’€™s 41. And we have some protection. We have Hermida if he’€™s banged up or needs a day. He’€™s a pretty good fit right now. Sometimes, that’€™s almost as important as the guy you’€™re getting, is how he fits in. We’€™ve talked a lot this winter about wanting to improve our defense. We’€™re trying to get better. Rather than go out and chase every bat that’€™s available and playing softball, I think we sat down a lot and talked about pitching and defense and trying to be better than the other team. And I think we all feel pretty good about that right now.

Have you decided on your centerfielder for 2010?

No, I actually just hung up with DeMarlo [Hale, the bench coach and outfield instructor] a minute ago. What I think I need to do, and I kind of explained this real quick yesterday, is I need to sit down with Theo ‘€“ it’€™s been a busy few days for him ‘€“ with DeMarlo. I have some ideas on this, but I want to talk with Jacoby and Cameron a little more about this, and then we’€™ll figure it out. I have some ideas, but I really want to talk to everyone involved before we do this.

Are you comfortable with either of those guys in left field or right field?

We don’€™t need them to play right field. I think you’€™re maybe talking about left or center. And, yeah ‘€“ they both can do both. We’€™d like to put ourselves in what we think is the best position, and take a little bit of time to think about it and also to talk to everyone involved. But either way, we’€™ll be okay because both of these guys can catch the ball.

You said that you always want more pitching. Did you think you would be able to land the best available free-agent pitcher this offseason?

No. I really didn’€™t. It’€™s funny. I kind of alluded to it yesterday, because every time Theo asked me in the meetings ‘€“ in fact, one time he asked me and then stopped and said, ‘€˜I know your answer’€™ ‘€“ every time he asked me about somebody, I’€™d always come up with a pitcher. It’€™s the way I think we can be good not only in the short term, but also sustain it in the long term. What we found out in ‘€™06 was, as many things as went wrong, when we lost our pitching we couldn’€™t overcome it. That was a horrible feeling. I guess maybe, you’€™ve heard me say it before, when you think you have enough [pitching], go get more. I guess I’€™m always going to feel that way. We made a good staff a lot better. I’€™m glad for that.

Were you active in the recruiting of these guys?

Not really. I guess Theo knew my history with Mike Cameron, but I think sometimes, Theo has a great way of doing this, when things need to get done, he does it quietly and gets them done. When too many people get involved, things have a tendency of getting out there. When he needs to get it done, he goes out there and does it. I respect that a lot.

You have to feel that Ellsbury-Cameron-Drew gives you as good a defensive outfield as there is in the league.

Yeah, we’€™re pretty excited about that. We banged our heads against the wall and tried to figure out ‘€“ how can we get better? How can we get more consistent? It’€™s easy to say we can get six guys who can hit 30 home runs. But by catching the ball, having it end up where it’€™s supposed to, and having really good pitching, we felt like that was our best way to get better. We just didn’€™t do a good enough job consistently last year defensively.

What does Scutaro bring to your lineup and the shortstop position?

This is quietly a really good signing for us. You saw what happened last year. We had so much fluctuation at shortstop for a lot of different reasons. And then when we got [Alex Gonzalez], and it really settled things down. Now you have a guy who’€™s going to be really consistent catching the ball, and you add some really strong on-base skills, he’€™s a good baserunner, he’€™s just a really good ballplayer. From day one, we’€™re going to have a guy who we can run out there everyday. Whether we hit him at the top of the order or the bottom of the order, he’€™s going to get on base. He’€™s going to be a good addition. I think the fans are going to respect and enjoy this guy really quickly.

How does Scutaro compare to the ‘€™09 version of Alex Gonzalez defensively?

That’€™s going to be interesting. Anytime you’€™re comparing someone to Alex Gonzalez defensively, that’€™s quite a compliment right there. Gonzie, like you kind of alluded to and I agree with the assessment, he made plays that made you kind of scratch your head. Now, he lost some range, but he’€™s still so good defensively. Marco, if you look at some of the defensive metrics, actually rates above Gonzie in some of those. Now, those aren’€™t perfect. But I think the point is, this kid’€™s pretty good defensively. He may not be as flashy as Gonzie ‘€“ I don’€™t know that anybody is ‘€“ but he’€™s going to be a very good defensive shortstop.

Can you compare who Scutaro was for most of his big-league career to who he’€™s been in the last couple years? How has be become a full-time player?

I think that’€™s a better question for him. He came up with Cleveland, he was a good utility player, and then somebody finally gave him a chance to play. Maybe it was out of necessity. Maybe somebody saw something. But we’€™ve all seen what he’€™s done as an everyday player. He’€™s taken his skills, and he’€™s actually become better. Some guys can’€™t do it. They play everyday and they can’€™t do it for some reason ‘€“ whether it’€™s physical or mental. He’€™s gotten better. He’€™s at a little bit of an older age. But again, we got him for two years, and we’€™re all excited. He’€™s going to be a good part of our team.

Have you figured out who will play first and third?

I know that you’€™re kind of alluding to Mikey Lowell. Out of respect to him, we kind of need to let this play out. I’€™m sure Mikey’€™s name comes up a lot the last couple winters. It’€™s probably not the most comfortable situation. One way or the other, something will resolve itself, and then we’€™ll have a lot to talk about, one way or the other. Just out of respect to Mikey, it’€™s probably better for me to leave that alone right now.

Youkilis will play anywhere ‘€“ do you think he’€™d prefer first base or third base?

I think if he had his choice, he’€™d be a third baseman. I think he views himself as a third baseman. He’€™s kind of referred to himself as Happy Gilmore a few times. Now, he’€™s a tremendous first baseman, but I think that his first and true love is third base.

Do you like your team better today than you did two days ago?

Yeah. Because I get to talk to Theo and the guys, I can see some of these things coming. But I’m probably more comfortable with our team than maybe a lot of other people are. I think people are maybe clamoring for more moves. I’m a big Kotchman fan. I think Kotch kind of goes under the radar because he came over and he didn’t play and he didn’t say anything and he just kind of went about his business. We can do just fine with Kotch playing first, hitting down toward the bottom of the order and catching everything in sight. I’m pretty comfortable with that.

Read More: Casey Kotchman, john lackey, marco scuatro, mike cameron

Red Sox Announce Date Changes to Season-Opening Yankees Series

12.17.09 at 1:56 pm ET
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The Boston Red Sox today announced the following changes to their 2010 Opening Series:

· Game 2 of the Opening Series against the New York Yankees, originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 7, 2010 will now be played on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 7:10 p.m.

· Game 3 of the Opening Series against the New York Yankees, originally scheduled for Thursday, April 8, 2010 will now be played on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 7:10 p.m.

· Monday, April 5 and Thursday, April 8 will now be scheduled off-days in the team schedule.

These changes to the schedule were made in light of 2010 Opening Night being moved up to Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. That game will be televised in the local broadcast market (all of New England minus Fairfield County, CT) on NESN HD, and nationally on ESPN2.

Will They Hit? A Look at the New (Current) Red Sox Lineup

12.17.09 at 1:15 pm ET
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Gone are the Days of Thunder at Fenway Park … at least for now.

The newly reshaped Red Sox will not be confused for the group that typically bludgeoned opponents into submission in previous years, most notably from 2003-05, when the team cleared 900 runs a year with seeming ease. Nor will next year’s bunch — as currently constructed — be confused for the 2009 edition of the Red Sox. As of this moment, the Sox have effectively replaced Jason Bay, Mike Lowell and a revolving door at shortstop with Mike Cameron, Casey Kotchman and Marco Scutaro.

As general manager Theo Epstein articulated Wednesday, this has been part of a strategy in which the Sox have focused over $100 million this offseason in an effort by the Sox to shut down other teams’ offenses.

John Lackey is a big part of that. So, too, is outfielder Cameron — long viewed as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game — and shortstop Scutaro, who even if a tick below Alex Gonzalez defensively, is still likely an upgrade over what the Sox fielded at the position over the full course of 2009 (Nick Green, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Gonzalez).

“I know a lot of emphasis, a lot of talk, was centered on our offense last year. What’€™s lost in the mix is our run prevention needs to improve as well. We were one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball last year and we think Mike is a very important piece [in improving],” said Epstein. “I think there are a couple of parts that will allow us to throw a really good team defense out there which will help our pitching staff, help our run prevention.”

Even so, defensive upgrades aren’t helpful if you can’t outscore your opponent. Even Zack Greinke, the best pitcher in the majors in 2009, went just 16-8 due to non-existent run support from the Royals. All of that raises the question: what can be expected from the Red Sox offense in 2010?

Barring a move to add a bat — and by all indications, Adrian Gonzalez isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, at least this offseason — there is little question that the Sox’ offense will take a bit of a hit. The move to replace Jason Bay with Cameron in left is a defense-first move. So, too, is the team’s willingness to move Mike Lowell to Texas so that Kevin Youkilis can cross the diamond from first to third, thus resulting in Casey Kotchman — at least for now — being penciled in as the Sox’ starting first baseman.

Cameron hit .250/.342/.452/.795 last year with the Brewers, almost perfectly in line with his career line of .250/.340/.448/.788. He has, in the words of GM Theo Epstein, “serious juice” in his bat, resulting in 20-25 homers almost every year. The he strikes out about once a game, Cameron works deep counts, meaning that he plays into the Sox’ typical gameplan of driving starters out of games early.

“We think he’s an underrated offensive players,” said Epstein. “He gets his 20 to 25 home runs a year, a very consistent performer. He’€™s a threat out there. He’€™s not somebody that pitchers can take lightly. He’€™s got serious juice. Primarily a pull guy, he fits perfectly into Fenway Park and as he said could put some dents in the wall or over. And he sees a lot of pitches. Mike takes his walks, and I know he strikes out a lot but that doesn’€™t scare us. We have a lot of productive hitters here who have struck out a lot. Strikeouts are OK as long as they come, as they often do, with walks and home runs. And in Mike’€™s case, they certainly do.”

The Sox also feel that Kotchman has potential to be a solid if unspectacular offensive contributor. In 2007, at the age of 24, he hit .296/.372/.467/.840, numbers that resulted in him being the centerpiece of the Angels’ deal for Mark Teixeira the following year. He is still just 26 and entering his prime years.

Even though he struggled in a part-time role with the Red Sox last year, and his power is not what you would ordinarily expect from a first baseman, Kotchman has been a tough at-bat in the past, and the Sox believe that he can build on his career .269/.337/.406/.742 line. The Sox are comfortable with the idea of having him be their starting first baseman next year.

“He’€™s a good example of a player who has a chance to go out and build some value by playing,” said Epstein. “He didn’€™t get an opportunity to play here, but he’€™s outstanding defensively, he’€™s somebody who’€™s a tougher out than the numbers indicate. He can hit really good pitching. He’€™s really tough to get to swing and miss. We think there’€™s a lot of offensive potential there. If we end up with him playing a lot of first base against right-handed pitching, we have a chance to duplicate or build off what he did in 2007 for example, that’€™s a great solution.’€

Even so, there is no doubt that a lineup featuring Kotchman and Cameron rather than Bay and Lowell will take a hit. Even so, any offensive decline for the Sox might be softened by the addition of Scutaro, who — even if he fails to replicate his 2009 career year (.379 OBP, .789 OPS) with the Blue Jays, and instead comes closer to his career norms (.337 OBP, .721 OPS) — will represent a huge upgrade over the Sox’ offensive struggles from the shortstop position in 2009.

Last week, before the agreement to trade Lowell (still waiting to be finalized) and the signing of Cameron, we looked at what the Red Sox lineup might look like in 2010 with or without Bay. Plugging Cameron into the lineup reveals a fairly similar outcome — that the Sox, if Kotchman, Scutaro and Cameron can perform at their career average levels, will be a slightly but not significantly worse offense club in 2010 than they were in 2009.

Assuming that every Red Sox lineup holdovers — Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew — performs at his 2009 level next year, and that Cameron, Kotchman and Scutaro performed at their career averages, the Red Sox starting nine would project (according to the amazing baseballmusings.com Lineup Analysis tool) to score 5.646 runs per game. Over a full year, that would project to a whopping 915 runs.

That is not quite the production that the Sox would get with Bay, Lowell and the team’s season-long shortstop output. Such a group would project to score 5.735 runs a game, or 929 runs over the full year, according to the same Lineup Analysis tool. (Note: this total is greater than what the Sox actually scored for a couple reasons: 1) It features a full season of Victor Martinez behind the plate, rather than the Sox’ actual team, which featured Jason Varitek and George Kottaras for two-thirds of the season. 2) It assumes that the Sox regulars all play 162 games; days of rest and time on the disabled list will push this expectation down.)

If the Sox remain unchanged, then it would seem fair to expect some drop in run production. The team, which scored 850 runs, might be conservatively estimated to score about 850 runs (though there is a decent chance that, with a full season from Victor Martinez, some improvement in David Ortiz’ year-long totals, and continued improvement from Jacoby Ellsbury, that number could be higher). The lineup would still feature a bunch of tough outs, and would likely be one of the best handful of offenses in the American League.

That, the team believes, would be more than enough to win given the improvement in the team’s run prevention.

And if it doesn’t? Then the team feels like, after preserving all of its top prospects, it would be in a position to add a bat once the season is underway.

“I think we like the pieces that we have right now,” said Epstein. “I think generally speaking it’€™s easier to add a bat during the season, so I think our pitching staff is going to be extraordinarily deep, so if we do go into the season with a mix similar to what we have right now, and if the need for a bigger bat does develop, I think that’€™s something we can address during the season. By no means am I saying we’€™re done, but I also don’€™t feel so rushed to go out there and do something dramatic.”

Read More: Casey Kotchman, Jacoby Ellsbury, marco scutaro, mike cameron

Red Sox Hot Stove Chat – Thursday at Noon

12.16.09 at 11:42 pm ET
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It’s been a busy week in the offices of Fenway Park. Jason Bay’s Red Sox career came to an end, with the team instead electing to pursue free-agent pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron to pursue a makeover predicated on run prevention. All the while, the Red Sox may have been positioning themselves – whether this offseason or next season – to make a run at one of the elite bats on the market.

Join WEEI.com’s team of Lou Merloni, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier on Thursday at noon in the Virtual Pressbox to talk about the new landscape at Fenway Park.

Hot Stove Chat

Lackey: ‘Winning is biggest thing for me’

12.16.09 at 4:48 pm ET
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As a now-former member of the Angels, John Lackey is more than familiar with the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway.

Now, he’ll become more intimately aware of the inside of the home clubhouse.

He was directly above it on Wednesday as he spoke about what it means to be with the Red Sox, after signing a five-year/$82.5 million deal with Boston, giving the Red Sox one of the deepest staffs in all of baseball.

Here are some audio highlights from his press conference on Wednesday.

Lackey explained why he is so happy to be coming to Boston.

Lackey said he’s not worried about his 2-5 lifetime record, including a 5.75 ERA in nine career starts at Fenway.

Lackey said he’s always been interested in the Red Sox.

Lackey said he’s got mutual respect for new teammate Josh Beckett.

GM Theo Epstein said Lackey gives the rotation significant depth.

Epstein admitted he never thought Lackey was interested in Boston.

Epstein said this strengthens the rotation for years to come.

Epstein explained the rationale of the five-year contract.

Read More: Angels, john lackey, Red Sox,

Why Lackey Was a Better Fit Than Halladay

12.16.09 at 4:32 pm ET
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At the 2009 trading deadline, the Red Sox made an aggressive play to acquire Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. The team reportedly offered a 5-for-1 package that was centered by Clay Buchholz, three other pitchers and outfielder Josh Reddick. The Jays declined to make the move.

This offseason, the Sox once again kicked the tires on Halladay, but it remained clear that the cost to the Sox for the 2003 Cy Young winner — a combined hit of prospects and a long-term contract extension — would lead to an imbalance in the team’s pursuit of short- and long-term success. Halladay would have cost the Sox several key prospects, not to mention upwards of $75 million over the next four years.

Lackey, by way of contrast, cost the team plenty of money (five years, $82.5 million), but did not require the team to part with any of its key prospects. And while the Sox will have to give up a first-round draft pick for Lackey (one that would have gone to the Blue Jays for the Marco Scutaro signing, and that will instead now go to the Angels), the team should conclude this offseason with a net increase of two draft picks.

The Sox will lose both their first- and second-round picks for the signings of Lackey and Scutaro. But the team will get the No. 20 overall pick in the draft from Atlanta as a result of the departure of reliever Billy Wagner, and the Sox will get a draft pick from a team that signs Jason Bay (a first-rounder from some clubs, though if the Mets sign Bay, the Sox would get New York’s second-round pick, since their first-round selection is protected), as well as two draft picks in the sandwich round.

On balance, then, the Sox feel that the moves that they’ve made thus far to sign free agents Lackey, Scutaro and Mike Cameron have left the club in better long-term position than would have been the case had it pursued a player such as Halladay in the trade market. The Sox have retained all of their best prospects this offseason and they have added draft picks. It’s been expensive in terms of dollars, but the overall cost to the organization has been a reasonable one.

“We had interest in Halladay dating back to the trade deadline and early in the offseason,” said Sox GM Theo Epstein. “Well before [Halladay] was moved, it was clear he wasn’€™t going to be a factor for us based on the asking price, which is reasonable. I think [Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous] did a really good job. We weren’€™t prepared to pony up the prospects in addition to the salary that would have been required.

“We’€™re in a pretty good spot now. If you look at what we’€™ve done, I do think we’€™ve improved the 2010 red sox. I think we’€™ve improved our long-term outlook. We’€™ve added draft picks, we hope to add more draft picks ‘€“ I think we probably will ‘€“ and we haven’€™t touched our prospect inventory at all. All of those different factors contribute to a healthy organization, what your team looks like next year, what it looks like in the future, what your commitments look like, what your draft-pick bounty in next draft, and how many prospects you’€™re able to retain, at least ones you believe in. In all of those areas, we feel like this is a pretty good solution for us.”

Read More: john lackey, Roy Halladay,

Mike Cameron: Not working at 7-Eleven

12.16.09 at 3:57 pm ET
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Mike Cameron is regarded as one of the most personable players in the majors.

On Wednesday at Fenway Park, with a bright smile and a sharp wit, he showed why.

Here are some audio highlights from his press conference.

Mike Cameron on why he is excited about joining the Red Sox.

Cameron, who turns 37 in January, said he can still play center field.

Cameron is excited for playing in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Cameron said that his minor league hitting coach Terry Francona warned him what would happen if he didn’t take to batting tips.

GM Theo Epstein said Cameron is a big piece of the 2010 puzzle.

Epstein said Cameron improves a run-prevention defense that was not good last year.

Epstein said the Red Sox have targeted Cameron for a while.

Manager Terry Francona said he hasn’t decided where Cameron will play yet in 2010.

Francona has seen Cameron come full circle.

Read More: mike cameron, Red Sox, Terry Francona,

Transcript from Cameron press conference

12.16.09 at 3:48 pm ET
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Here is the transcript of the Mike Cameron introductory press conference from Wednesday afternoon, at Fenway Park (courtesty the Red Sox‘€™ media relations machine):

1. Theo Epstein opening statement:

We’€™re very excited today to announce the signing of Mike Cameron to a two-year contract. Mike is a big part of our off-season puzzle, a huge addition to the ballclub and this organization.

2. Mike Cameron on joining the Red Sox and where he will play:

I guess I should answer the second question first. That’€™s going to be totally up to Theo and Tito. And why did I choose Boston, because I felt like I played in a pretty large market before and I understand the values and the hard work you have to continue to put in because we’€™re scrutinized sometimes. At the same time, the opportunity to really win a championship. I pretty much have gotten to the end of the road so many times, so close, but with nothing to show for it. With the addition of Lackey and guys that are already here that have already been through it a couple of times I just feel like it’€™s an opportunity for me to come out and compete and try to do some good things. It’€™s on the East Coast, it’€™s close to my home, it’€™s a pretty special moment. I haven’€™t really been this excited about coming somewhere since I first came to the big leagues. This is one of the most historic parks that you get a chance to play in and hopefully I’€™ll put a couple dents in the monster.

3. Cameron on ability to play a Gold Glove caliber center field:

That’€™s definitely something that’€™s a possibility but I think I’€™ve played a Gold Glove caliber center field my whole career, I just don’€™t get a chance to get recognized for it. The numbers speak for themselves. I still feel that I’€™m able to move around pretty good and I played probably one of the better center fields this year that I’€™ve played in a long time. I’€™m not knocking the other years that I’€™ve played because I try to play it well every year and that’€™s just a part of who I am., it’€™s part of trying to go out and do the craft to the best of my ability to help the team defensively and definitely put a sense of calm in the pitchers.

4. Epstein on Boston’€™s interest in Cameron:

Our interest in Mike actually goes back a few years when he was a free agent and signed with the Mets. We had a lot of interest in him and it just didn’€™t work out. We had a lot of conversations at that time and he was part of a couple of potential big trades lined up that just didn’€™t go all the way to the finish line. Mike was someone we anticipated would be a free agent this off-season, so we scouted him a lot during this past year and we had and we echo Mike’€™s statement that he played one of the better centerfields that he ever has this past year. We just think he’€™s been an elite defender his entire career, someone who has been underappreciated from an offensive standpoint because he’€™s always played at big ballparks, pitchers ballparks. And he’€™s been one of the most consistent players in the game if you look. He’€™ll get his 20 to 25 home runs every year, play outstanding defense, sees a lot of pitches at the plate. We just think he’€™s an underrated offensive player, a plus defender, a great guy in the clubhouse. He fits in really well with what we do here. I know a lot of emphasis, a lot of talk, was centered on our offense last year. What’€™s lost in the mix is our run prevention needs to improve as well. We were one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball last year and we think Mike is a very important piece, as well as our second announcement coming up.

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Transcript from Lackey press conference

12.16.09 at 3:35 pm ET
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Here is the transcript of the John Lackey introductory press conference from Wednesday afternoon, at Fenway Park (courtesty the Red Sox‘ media relations machine):

1.  Theo Epstein opening statement:

We’€™re thrilled today to be able to announce that we signed John Lackey to a five-year contract. John’€™s addition to an already solid pitching staff is a significant boost to this ballclub. He’€™s somebody that we look to be an anchor in our rotation for a long time coming.

2.  John Lackey on excitement to be pitching for the Red Sox:

Obviously I’€™ve been here for some big games and really competed against these guys quite a bit. I’€™m here to win, that’€™s the bottom line. I’€™ve always had a lot of respect for this organization from the other side. Winning is the biggest thing for me and I know this organization has a great chance to do that and hopefully I can help out.

3.  Epstein on Lackey deal:

We touched base with Steve Hilliard, John’€™s agent, really early in the off season. We were actually a little bit surprised when Steve said John had a lot of interest in pitching for the Red Sox. Watching him from across the field we’€™ve always seen him as a big game pitcher, a top of the rotation guy, and a really tough competitor but we never really thought he’€™d be interested in Boston. I guess it’€™s one of those things, when you play across the field from someone you just kind of see them as the opposition and that’€™s it. He said John’€™s really serious about Boston, he wants to win, he loves how every game in Boston is like a playoff game, he can really see himself there. That got our attention in ahurry and we proceeded to stay and really get in touch with Steve. We had a couple different versions of an offseason plan. Some involved spending more resources on a big time position player and getting pitching depth but this really intrigued us as an alternative. The deeper we got into the off season, the more intrigued we got, the more we dug about John and his personality and his fit for the Red Sox and what it would mean to our rotation and the future of our rotation we got more and more interested. Talks developed well and it ended up being the right path for us.

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Gonzalez Deal Unlikely … For Now

12.16.09 at 3:25 pm ET
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According to multiple major-league sources, there’s very little likelihood of a deal between the Red Sox and Padres involving Adrian Gonzalez in the near future. As has been the case since last summer, the Sox continue to check in with the Padres on Gonzalez and to monitor his availability, but the team has not made a concerted push for the slugging first baseman in the aftermath of signing pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron. Indeed, one source suggested that there was absolutely nothing to the idea that a deal might soon be hatched.

That said, the Sox are in a position of greater strength than they were before the signings to explore a deal. Sox GM Theo Epstein noted in the press conference to introduce Lackey that his club is in better position to explore deals now that it has added two pieces to its 2010 puzzle.

“We like the position we’€™re in right now. We have some depth, some options, and some flexibility going forward,” said Epstein. “This puts us in a position to have some flexibility if we need to make a move down the road to have some offense.”

Lackey could, for instance, allow the Sox to consider moving a pitcher like Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a package. The signing of Cameron to a two-year deal gives the Sox four outfielders — Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and Jeremy Hermida (the latter of whom the Sox believe will receive his fair share of playing time, in contrast to the possibility that Hermida would be limited to spot bench duty had the Sox signed Jason Bay or Matt Holliday) — who are under team control for the next two years. With Cameron’s arrival, the Sox would find it easier to deal some of the young, athletic outfielders in their system, such as Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish and Ryan Westmoreland, whom the Padres would be almost certain to seek, along with complementary players to add to a potential package. (It is worth noting that some in the Sox organization consider Westmoreland nearly untouchable.)

Even so, there is no sense that there is a fit right now between the clubs. The Padres, understandably, would seek a Brinks truck return for Gonzalez, whose skill set (40-homer power, Gold Glove caliber defense) and salary ($4.75 million in 2010, $5.5 million in 2011) make him as desirable a trade target as there is in the game. San Diego has shown little inclination to compromise on its asking price.

That may change during the season. If the Padres conclude they will not contend either in 2010 or 2011, then they would likely make Gonzalez available before this year’s trade deadline. At that time, the Padres would have a greater incentive to deal the first baseman, since they would face the prospect of dealing him before this year’s deadline or trying to move him next offseason, when the potential return would be diminished by the prospect of getting just one year of Gonzalez’ services, rather than two. And if the Padres do make Gonzalez available, the Sox would undoubtedly be one of the most aggressive teams to pursue his services (even if it is an exaggeration to say that they would include both Buchholz and Ellsbury in a package).

The Sox have a strong track record in adding major position players mid-year, as evidenced by the acquisition of Jason Bay in 2008 and Victor Martinez in 2009. No doubt, they would love to continue that trend with Gonzalez.

But for now, it would seem, such a trade scenario remains far more likely to unfold during the season than it is this offseason. Padres GM Jed Hoyer and manager Bud Black are both on record (here and here) as saying they expect Gonzalez to remain in San Diego at the start of next year, and there has been little evidence that there has been a status change amidst the swirl of events at Fenway Park in recent days.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, john lackey
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