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Reports: Sox, Lackey agree to 5-year deal

12.14.09 at 4:18 pm ET
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Multiple outlets are now reporting that the Red Sox have reached agreement with free-agent starter John Lackey on a five-year deal, pending the results of a physical. ESPN’s Jayson Stark has the deal as being for roughly $82.5 million (slightly more than the $82.5 million that A.J. Burnett received in a five-year deal from the Yankees last offseason), while SI.com describes the deal as being for “around $85 million.”

Lackey came to Boston on Monday for a physical, WEEI.com confirmed (a piece of news first reported by Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse). According to executives from multiple clubs, he was using Burnett’s deal as a benchmark for the one he was seeking this offseason.

For more on what a Lackey deal would mean, click here.

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UPDATED: Lackey Taking Physical for Red Sox

12.14.09 at 12:56 pm ET
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WEEI.com has confirmed that right-handed pitcher John Lackey is in Boston undergoing a physical for the Red Sox. The physical was first reported by Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse (via Twitter), with FoxSports.com suggesting that the exam could be a prelude to a deal.

Major-league executives said that Lackey was seeking at least the five-year, $82.5 million deal that A.J. Burnett received last offseason in free agency from the Yankees. (UPDATE at 3:30 p.m.: Jon Heyman of SI.com is reporting that the deal could be worth roughly $85 million over five years.)

As the top available free-agent starter this offseason, Lackey had received interest from several clubs, with the Angels suggesting that their hopes of retaining Lackey were part of the reason why they might not be able to pursue Jason Bay. Angels skipper Mike Scioscia had nothing but raves about the right-hander, who was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie.

“John is obviously one of the top starting pitchers in our league,” said Scioscia. “I don’t know if there’s many pitchers that are out there, certainly this year there aren’t many pitchers that are out there, that would be available, that are going to combine the depth that he can pitch in an individual game with his ability to go out there and compete in any situation in any ballpark. That’s what makes — that’s why we want him back in an Angels’ uniform and that’s also why other teams are interested in John.

“John could handle playing anywhere. He could handle playing in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, any area. This guy is as focused as any pitcher I’ve seen with the ability to just forget about the environment he’s pitching in and focus in on that catcher and what he needs to do in a certain situation against a hitter and execute it. A lot of guys have the focus, they just aren’t able to do it. … John is a special talent. We certainly — we appreciate it, and hopefully we’re going to see him in an Angels uniform next year.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona expressed his admiration for Lackey earlier this offseason on the Dale & Holley Show. At the same time, the Sox skipper acknowledged the risk associated with pursuing a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for a long-term deal.

“John Lackey is one of the best. Every year, there’€™s a couple guys that seem like they can sway the fortunes of an organization. He’€™s that type of pitcher,” said Francona. “Now, to get that type of pitcher, you’€™re going to have to make quite a commitment. That’€™s something that makes our organization a little bit uneasy. It doesn’€™t mean a guy can’€™t come in and help you win. If there’€™s an injury along the way, that can set your organization back quite a bit. There’€™s a lot to think about besides just the year 2010. You’€™re possibly talking about 2015. That’€™s a lot of years.

“I probably do [consider him an ace],” he continued. “He’€™s missed a little bit of time, but when he’€™s out there, I think their team feels it’€™s going to win. He can match up against [Josh] Beckett, [Jon] Lester. He can go head-to-head with the better guys in the league and hold his own.”

Lackey, 31, owns a career 102-71 record with a 3.81 ERA while averaging 7.2 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings. He had made at least 32 starts for five straight years, from 2003-07, before being limited to 24 starts in 2008 and 27 starts in 2009 by a triceps injury in 2008 and elbow inflammation this year. Nonetheless, he was strong down the stretch this year, recording a 2.89 ERA over his last seven regular-season starts and a 2.29 ERA in three playoff starts, including a dazzling 7.1 shutout innings in the Division Series against the Red Sox.

Lackey is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA in nine career regular-season starts in Boston, though he has also made some excellent starts in Fenway Park, most notably when he carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning in July 2008, and when he allowed two runs in seven innings in a no-decision in Game 4 of the ALDS. Of Lackey’s six most recent regular-season starts in Fenway Park (dating to the 2005 season), he has four quality starts.

One major-league executive of a club that has been involved in talks with Lackey’s agent, Steve Hilliard, was surprised by news of the physical. The source said that it would be unusual if Lackey signed with the Sox before his agent shopped the offer to other clubs that had expressed interest in the pitcher. At roughly noon today, no such offer had been shopped to the executive’s club. For that reason, there was at least some skepticism about whether or not an agreement is in place or close. (UPDATE at 3:02 p.m.: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Angels still believe that they are in the running for Lackey.)

That said, if the Sox had made a substantial offer in line with Lackey’s asking price, then a quick agreement could have been possible, and might have rendered it unnecessary for the agent to shop the deal to other interested clubs.

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Surgery a possibility for Lowell

12.14.09 at 10:14 am ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, it will be determined in the coming days whether or not Mike Lowell needs surgery on his left thumb. As WEEI.com reported, it is expected that the Texas Rangers will examine the third baseman at some point this week. The Rangers and Red Sox have agreed upon the principles of a deal that would send Lowell and $9 million of the $12 million owned him for the 2010 season to Texas for minor league catcher/first baseman Max Ramirez. Peter Gammons was the first to report that surgery might be a possibility for Lowell, posting on Twitter.

Sources: Rangers to examine Lowell

12.14.09 at 12:54 am ET
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According to sources familiar with the situation, the Texas Rangers will be examining Mike Lowell’s left thumb in-person at some point this week. One source confirmed that the deal that would send the third baseman to Texas (along with $9 million of his $12 million 2010 salary) for minor league catcher/first baseman Max Ramirez will not be completed until the Rangers examine Lowell. No scheduled meeting had been arranged as of Sunday night.

The condition of the thumb is a sufficiently significant question that it — along with at least one other issue unrelated to either player’s physical condition — is holding up the trade’s completion. The Red Sox are also in the process of evaluating the health of Ramirez’ wrists, both of which he had issues with in the ’09 season.

Lowell has a history of problems with his left thumb, most recently having injured it at the end of the ’09 regular season, playing a role in him missing the final series of the season before playing the American League Division Series with the thumb taped. The 35-year-old also went on the 15-day disabled list after injuring the thumb in the Red Sox’ first home game of the ’08 season.

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What Did the Sox Give Up for Boof Bonser?

12.13.09 at 11:19 am ET
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In Boof Bonser, the Red Sox acquired a pitcher with a chance to be a bullpen contributor or rotation depth option in 2010. Signs were positive during his rehab with the Twins that he would make a solid recovery from the surgery on his labrum and rotator cuff in February. While the 28-year-old’€™s major-league numbers aren’€™t great (18-25, 5.12 ERA), his 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.54 strikeouts per walks are impressive. That, coupled with the fact that his stuff has played up out of the bullpen, makes him a decent gamble for the coming season.

On Saturday, the Sox revealed that the player to be named who they sent to the Twins in exchange for Bonser was Chris Province. Though the 24-year-old Province is not one of the better-known pitching prospects in the Sox’€™ system, he was viewed by the Sox as one of the pitchers likely to be an eventual big-league reliever.

Province had a 2.60 ERA in 43 appearances spanning 79.2 innings in Double A Portland in 2009. The previous year, Province had one of the more deceptive lines in the Sox system: though he had a 4.82 ERA at two levels of A-ball (a 2.86 ERA in Low-A Greenville and a 6.26 ERA in High-A Lancaster), he had a tremendous 2.67 : 1 groundball-to-flyball ratio, and was victimized in Lancaster in large part by the lunar infield surface that makes every groundball an adventure.

In 2009, his grounder rate (3.29 : 1) was even better. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, a fourth-round pick out of Southeastern Louisiana University in the 2007 draft, profiles as a likely big-league middle-relief option. Bonser has a chance to be a more overpowering bullpen option if healthy, but Province seems like the type of pitcher whom the Twins typically seek in order to create a very effective, inexpensive bullpen with diverse looks.

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Agent: Bay Prepared to “Move On” After Rejecting Red Sox Offer

12.12.09 at 4:35 pm ET
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Joe Urbon, the agent for free agent outfielder Jason Bay, told WEEI.com that his client might be ready to move on from the Red Sox after fielding the team’s latest offer.

“We’ve turned down the Red Sox offer,” Urbon said. “We have other offers on the table that are better than we have from the Red Sox and unless the Red Sox are willing to move off their offer we’re prepared to move on.”

When asked if he was surprised at the course the negotiations have taken, Urbon responded, “No.” The agent did leave the window open for the potential of the Red Sox getting back into the hunt with another other, and did not say that there was any sort of timetable set for an agreement to be reached.

According to a major league source, there is one team that has extended past the four years thought to be offered by the Red Sox.

The Mets proposed a four-year deal of more than $60 million and less than $65 million on Thursday. The last reported Red Sox offer was for four years and $60 million. On WEEI’s The Big Show on Friday, Peter Gammons said that the Giants were willing to go to five years, although Gammons also said that Bay simply did not want to go to San Francisco.

FoxSports.com was the first to report that the Bay camp was turning down the Red Sox’ latest offer.

Read More: Giants, jason bay, joe urbon, Mets

Transcript: Peter Gammons On The Big Show

12.11.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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Peter Gammons joined the boys on the Big Show this afternoon to talk about his return to the New England baseball market after 20 years at ESPN and discuss what is happening with the Red Sox. Check out the full transcript below.

Click here for the full audio version.

So, you will actually start at NESN and the MLB Network today?

No, I mean, we are sort of working it out. I am actually going over to NESN today to do something but most of the activity will start after the first of the year but give me time to figure out exactly what I am doing.

Well, welcome back home.

Thank you. It is fun to be home, it does mean something as you know very well since I have been with you for a lot of years and it does matter to me. I grew up here and I covered that team for a lot of time and the market is tremendous. People get so emotional. I was reading Dan Shaughnessy yesterday and I was actually laughing because people are taking one word [bridge] and making such a big deal. But that is the way we are, I mean, the Red Sox are lucky that fans care that much. You could be in some markets where people just go, huh, who cares? The New York Mets have made themselves that way. The Mets are running around announcing that they have made offers to Jason Bay and now Joel Sherman is saying that it is to make sure that people believe that they are actually trying. That is not what people want to hear.

Is the Red Sox reaction to the Yankees having just won a championship?

I think so, to a certain degree. They see where the Yankees are right now and they are, again, going to be $80 million above anybody else in the American League East and, you know, that is a lot of money that is different. They did such a great job last winter with Teixeira, Sebathia, Burnett that they are in a tremendous position right now. They are going to be, Theo always says, at worst you expect them to win 95 games and at best you expect them to win 105. That is what you are dealing with and I think that Red Sox fans are discouraged about that but they should also look at it and say that the Yankees did a good job rebuilding on the fly, albeit with a lot of money. And the other thing that I think is really frustrating to Red Sox fans is that when you look at the Yankees veteran players that have been there for 14, 15 years, they don’€™t seem to be getting older where a lot of Red Sox players have been getting older.

When you look at Mariano Rivera, he has been doing it forever. It may be the most remarkable thing that we have seen in the last 15 years that he has been able to be at the top of the game and he does it with one pitch.

I wrote a column about that during the playoffs and this is not hyperbole, I really believe this ‘€“ in the last 15 years in Major League Baseball he is the Most Valuable Player and he is the Cy Young Award winner yet he has never won an award. It is just astounding. Despite that incredible pitch he has tremendous fitness, he has a great body but the makeup. I remember I had breakfast with him on the first day of Spring Training 2002 and he had just given up the lead to Arizona in Game 7 of the World Series the previous October and I said to him ‘€œ are you ready for when pitchers and catchers reporting that you are going to get a thousand questions about it, are you ready for it?’€ And he said, ‘€œ oh yeah, I was over it when the plane landed in Newark.’€ He said ‘€I broke three bats, it is the nature of the game. He said there are games where I didn’€™t pitch as well and got the save so, now, believe me, I didn’€™t lose any sleep.’€ Most of the rest of us cannot relate to what makes great athletes great, Steve can, but most of us can’€™t relate.

What is your take on the Lowell trade?

I think they just decided it was best for everybody, for him and for everybody to just move him. They have to make a change at third base and I don’€™t think that Mike was very happy about it, but they said OK, we’€™ll clear the deck and move on. I know, I read all the defensive metrics and it was one of the worst seasons for a third baseman in like the last 10 years or something. But this time he has five months to rehab where last year he told me in January that he wasn’€™t sure what he was going to do in Spring Training. I hope he comes back but they just clearly decided to move on, he is not going to be happy and that is it. The guy they are getting may be leading the Venezuelan League in home runs but he is also leading the Venezuelan League in chickens consumed.

It all brings us back to Jason Bay. Do you buy that the Sox are hesitant to give him a fifth year that another team will?

I think there is a good chance about that. I know the Giants would go to a fifth year but I know that Jason does not want to play in San Francisco, pure and simple. If there was a mistake made here is that the Red Sox made him such a huge offer in July that it gave Joe Urbon the confidence that they will go for $3 million and another year. I am not sure that is going to happen. Would the Mets go to five years and $17 million? I think the Angels are going to end up resigning John Lackey so I think Bay is out of it there so I think it would be San Francisco, the Mets or the Red Sox and the first two are not exactly attractive alternatives. Though, it is a lot easier for a right hander to pull the ball in the new ballpark in New York than it is to go to right-center.

I assume that you do not think that Seattle is a player for Bay but people say the Adrian Beltre thing is not cut and dry in terms of him just walking to the Red Sox no questions asked and that Seattle will offer him a contract and they have some money to spend. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I do. I don’€™t know how they would do it. I mean, maybe they would play Figgins at second base but Figgins thought he was playing third base so, it will be interesting to see. I also don’€™t know Beltre’€™s frame of mind. I know he likes being on the West Coast but he hates that ballpark. I haven’€™t had time to do all the work on it but Scott Boras‘€™s mathematics. I know he told the Red Sox that you can have Matt Holliday right now, just duplicate the Mark Teixeira contract. But, you know, Boras is great at what he does but his numbers will show that Beltre is a better hitter on the road than better, but, you know, we’€™ll see. Beltre is a very good player and a tough guy but he does have, like Jason, have a lot of injuries in his past.

I credit the Red Sox, it was phenomenal of them. Dana Levangie may be the best advanced scout in the game the way they prepare. Breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball, you worry about that a lot. We saw Jason go through a two month stretch where he got nothing but breaking balls but I am not sure Beltre would ever get a fast ball here.

What do they do in left field without either Bay or Holliday?

I don’€™t really know yet. Maybe a short term of get Mike Cameron and put him in centerfield and put Ellsbury in left field and sign Xavier Nady? That is a possibility. I think they have four or five alternatives where they go a lot more to defense, because they did have the did have the second worse defense in baseball last year and maybe they can save the pitching with that. Even though I have great respect for David Ortiz when he says they have to get more power they did hit 46 more home runs this year than they did in 2007 when they won the World Series. They scored more runs than they did in 2007, the defense of course will still be a problem but they have to have that balance. I don’€™t know much how much real power they are going to have. How much better can Kevin Youkilis be than he has been the last two years, I don’€™t know.

What do you think about the Sox acquisition of pitchers? Do they got low end reclamation projects or try to get in on the Lackeys and Halladays of the world?

I don’€™t think they go Halladay because I think it would be a disaster to give up Buccholz and Kelly and then try to pay a guy with his medical history $18 million a year through the age of 38. That won’€™t happen. I do think they are looking toward Lackey, but, there are guys, I know it is expensive for this market but what about Derek Lowe? The Braves have to move him and he didn’€™t pitch well this last year but he got really messed up mechanically and I know he is expensive but maybe there is a way of moving somebody who has a little bit of money left and do that. It may be that if they lose out on Bay and Holliday and so forth that maybe what they do is just hold on and look at all the teams that don’€™t start off well and maybe just buy off some of their players and see what they have come July 1st.

Do you see all of this approaching the Sox approach with Beckett? Even if they get a guy like Lowe or Lackey that they cannot have too many highly paid guys at the top of the rotation and that he will have to move on after next year?

I think that is a possibility. Josh had one great year here, but as you know Rob, in the eyes of the manager, the coaches and most of the players they have two captains ‘€“ one of them is Pedroia and the other one is Beckett. The way he does his between the starts sides in the bullpen, the way goes about things. There is a lot of respect that goes there. I think he has had a tremendous impact on Lester and he is starting to have a tremendous impact on Buccholz and I think they expect Kelly to be ready by late August and I know they would like to have Beckett around for him. So, even though, OK, he has a 4.05 ERA in a Red Sox uniform and yes in the last two postseasons he has four starts, 30 innings and 18 runs, but on the other hand there is something really unusual that if he is your third starter, that is pretty good. And I think that the makeup of leadership on the team that he would make a void that would be pretty difficult to fill.

What do you think of Scutaro and does that end the merry-go-round for the Sox at shortstop?

Yeah, I think for a couple of years. They did a lot of medicals on him because he had the plantar fasciitis the last five or six weeks of the season and it really effected him. As of about July 20th, if you believe all those defensive metrics they use in baseball, he was the best defensive shortstop in baseball and he struggled after that. Allan Baird went and worked him out and they got all the medicals on him and Allan said he was just the way he was early in the season, he is a very smart player. And, because of the nature of being able to vest the third year I think that they see him as a guy who eventually becomes a utility player and eventually becomes the mentor to Jose Iglesias who they and everybody I talk to in baseball thinks is really going to become one of the great defensive shortstops. About that merry-go-round, I am one who really like Jed Lowrie. I think he is an average to above average defensive shortstop who could have 50 extra base hits. But, once he gets those hand injuries he has got to be really afraid. That is one reason that they have been a little bit cautious on Mark DeRosa. He had that wrist injury last year, is he really going to come back from it at the age of 35? It is one of those questions, it becomes a gamble. They are paying for some guys who don’€™t play here anymore.

Do you know exactly what you are going to be doing at NESN? On the desk before and after games? Where will we see you?

I will be there, I will be at Spring Training, I will be doing shows in the offseason. I have kind of patterned my career after someone like Dick Schofield Sr. At every position I try to get in more innings than any other infielder in history.

Maybe they will bring you back for some Bruins games? People forget you used to over the Bruins back in the day.

I would love that. I was out in the L.A. Forum when they brought Frank Sinatra out to sing the National Anthem before, I think it was Game 6 of the 1976 playoffs and Wayne Cashman cut the cord. And Sinatra was supposed to sing the National Anthem and you couldn’€™t hear him because Cashman had already cut the line.

You are going to continue to do that national stuff for the MLB Network. How is that going to work?

I will go down to New Jersey occasionally and I can do some of it from Boston. So, it will work out very well for me.

You will be able to spend much more time at home.

Yes I will. Which I enjoy. I like being home. Not that I didn’€™t love the Residence Inn in Connecticut.

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2010 Regular Season Home Games On Sale Saturday

12.11.09 at 4:13 pm ET
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The Boston Red Sox just sent out the following press release in regards to ticket information for 2010:

WHAT:  Tickets for the 2010 season will go on sale on December 12, 2009 online at RedSox.com and by phone tomorrow morning beginning at 10:00 a.m.  Single-game ticket sales will be available online at www.redsox.com  and by phone at 888-REDSOX6 beginning at 10:00 a.m. on December 12th. Fans who require ADA accessible seating may also call 877-REDSOX9. Hearing impaired fans may call the Red Sox TTY line at (617) 226-6644.

Tomorrow’€™s ticket on-sale will be the first opportunity for fans to secure tickets for the 2010 season and use them as presents for loved ones during this holiday season.  The wildly popular ‘€œSox Pax’€ will once again be available and every one of these unique four-game ticket packages includes either a game against the New York Yankees or against the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies.  The list of ten different ‘€œSox Pax’€ available for sale is attached.

WHEN:  Tickets go on sale on www.redsox.com and through 1-888-REDSOX6 at 10:00 a.m. The Boston Red Sox thank fans in advance for their support and patience during the early stages of the sales process both online and over the phone.

ADDITIONAL INFO:  The 7th Annual Christmas at Fenway Presented by Stop and Shop will take place at Fenway Park‘€™s EMC Club and State Street Pavilion on Saturday, December 12 from 10:00 a.m. ‘€“ 5:00 a.m.  Players, coaches, alumni and Front Office personnel will be available to answer questions and interact with the fans.  Members of the media are invited to attend.

The second Great Fenway Park Yard Sale presented by FW Webb will take place the following day on Sunday, December 13th from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m.  The Yard Sale will give fans the opportunity to purchase Red Sox memorabilia, collectibles and souvenirs that can become their own cherished keepsakes and unique holiday presents.  The selection of items will include physical parts of the ballpark such as authentic Fenway Park bricks and signage along with other items such as game-worn paraphernalia, game programs and other miscellaneous items.  Members of the media are once again invited to attend.

Larry Lucchino on D&C, 12/11

12.11.09 at 1:24 pm ET
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Larry Lucchino made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about the Red Sox’ offseason moves ‘€” or lack thereof. After Lucchino reminded fans that tickets go on sale Saturday, he engaged in some hot stove talk. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Highlights are below.

If I said to you, To bridge or not to bridge, do you know what I’m talking about?

I think there’s been a gross overreaction to one word, and that word is bridge. Just look at our track record, don’t listen to what we say. It’s demonstrated that we are a competitive bunch. Theo, John Henry, Tom Wener, myself, the whole organization is animated by a very strong commitment to winning and a personal sense of competition. And if you look at the last seven years, we’ve been in the postseason for six of them. And we don’t intend to shift or change our philosophy. I think that was a terrible overreaction to a word that’s misunderstood.

Does it take some discipline to resist the urge to make a splash just to convince everyone that you’re trying, that you’re not rebuilding?

I don’t think we should have to crow about our commitment to winning. It’s there. Our goal is to play baseball every October. While other teams are going home to play golf, our goal is to play baseball. We’ve done that six out of the last seven years. For those who may have been alarmed by one particular column yesterday, I would say to you if you want some different perspective, look at Nick Cafardo today in the Globe, where he writes about the fact that there’s plenty of time in the shopping and the building season in this offseason for next year’s team. Players are non-tendered beginning tomorrow. [Mark] Texeira, for example, the big signing last year, wasn’t done until Christmas. There’s plenty of activity that remains because the market has actually been rather slow in developing this offseason. The market has a different personality.

The payroll has gone down the last two years, will it go down again?

Our payroll has not gone down the last two years. The newspapers may report that our payroll has gone down the last two years, but that is just not accurate. And our payroll will be higher this year. We don’t discuss publicly what are payroll is because we think there’s a competitive disadvantage in telling the other teams in our division and our league what we’re going to spend and not spend because they may be able to do some guesses and calculations about how active we’ll be in the market. We’re always pleased when other teams announce that they’re payroll will be X or Y, and we just sit quietly and don’t say anything. But it is inaccurate to say our payroll has gone down, and our payroll will go up this year.

You can talk about any [free agent] you want.

We try to live with a certain kind of discipline about this. Premature publicity and speculation about free agents ‘€” where they may go, what they may do ‘€” can tip a hand, can inform your opponents of what you’re thinking. I think that makes common sense, guys. I know you have a job, and that’s to get as much news and information as you can possibly get ‘€” or, in your case, opinions. The fact is we don’t have a similar obligation to inform you guys because that same information can be disseminated to people who are waiting to see what our plans, what are perspectives are on many of these players. Just look back at the last few years and tell me which teams have been very active the last several years. We’ve been quite active in the offseason and among the most active teams in baseball year-in and year-out. And I think at the end of this offseason we’ll fall into that same pattern again.

If I can say a word about the word “bridge,” what we’re talking about is a bridge to young players that will be available. That means we’ve got to find other ways to be competitive in the next couple of years. And that can mean trades, that can mean free agents. What we don’t have a is a set of reinforcements at Triple A ready to jump in to the big league team next year, in 2010. We have some that we’re already planning for in 2011, 2012 more likely. So the word could have been “alternatives” ‘€” we’re looking for alternatives to the influx of young players. But I can tell you definitively that John Henry, Tom Werner, Theo Epstein, people in our organization, our entire partnership wants to win, we’re committed to winning. And we’re doing everything possible to field a team that’s worthy of fan support year-in and year-out.

Does commenting on the chronology of left fielders offend your sense and sensibilities?

I just don’t know what’s going to happen. When one guy’s represented by [Scott] Boras, you can guess that that’s going to be a longer and more protracted negotiation.

And more expensive, too.

Potentially, but free agents, many of them are expensive. And other agents do a good job of driving the price up as well. I think if you look at our track record, you guys can reach your own conclusions at the scenario. … It’s just speculation on our part because the schedule is more dictated by the agent than the player when you’re in the free agent period than by the clubs or the market.

Have the Sabremetricians re-thought their rules of engagement, and defense is much more at a premium than it was a year or two ago?

Well, there have been more efforts in recent years, as you probably know, to quantify defense, to find a metric or a set of metrics that will help quantify defense. Because it has always been fundamentally important. Traditional people have always been talking about pitching and defense. And even the Sabremetricians recognize that defense is an important component, and I think they’re a little frustrated in their inability to define it and to quantify it as they would like. I think there has been some effort to do that. But in our case, we recognize that one of our deficiencies we had last year, and Theo talked about this with some regularity, is our defense. We had a very good offense despite it being less good than years before, still it was one of the top two or three offenses in the league. We had very good pitching for most of the season. But we had some defensive issues, and I think that’s something that any team does in the offseason’€” assess your strength and your weaknesses and you try to address your weaknesses.

So the first thing you did was get rid of Alex Gonzalez. That’s going to shore up the defense [sarcastic].

Well, you have your opinion about Gonzalez vs. Scutaro. And we’re talking about 2010, we’re not talking about 2005 in terms of players’ evolution or the changes that take place. It takes a while for the facts to catch up to reputation.

What’s your opinion in general of Adrian Beltre? Have you always been a fan?

I’ve heard and seen how outstanding a defensive player he is. But to say I’ve always been a fan is overstating it.

Is the Mike Lowell deal done?

No. I’m not going to comment on that. If we have some announcement to make, we’ll make it.

Will [the Padres] trade Adrian Gonzalez? Will they have to?

There’s an example of a team that has identified where it’s payroll will be. They have said their payroll will be at $40 million, That’s very nice for us to hear that. We see now from published reports that their payroll currently is at about $36 million. So, we can calculate how severe the economic pressure may be on them to move players one way or another. Now, I’m giving you published numbers because I don’t have the internal calculations that we have right in hand. That’s a reason why we don’t crow about that the fact that our payroll in 2010 will be higher than our payroll in 2009, and we don’t issue specific comments about what that number will be. There’s a method to analyze other teams’ payrolls to determine whether there are some compelling economic reasons why they may want to make a certain move or not make a certain move.

Is the rationalization [to paying contracts of players that have been traded] that’s just the cost of doing business? Are there rankings as to which teams in Major League Baseball are spending more money with other teams with [traded] players that you are?

Actually, there was a ranking that came out recently from the league regarding just what you’re talking about. Part of it had to do with the efficiency of contracts, the length of contracts entered into and whether there were dead years at the end of them. And despite the reference you make to the [Boston Globe chart] today, the Red Sox came out at the very high end of that, and were cited as being particularly efficient with respect to contracts. I think that’s a testimony to Theo and the way he has managed and negotiated contracts in recent years. We have certainly made some mistakes, we would certainly admit to that. What we are able to do because of the intensity and loyalty of our fan base ‘€” 550 consecutive sellouts, tremendously high ratings on NESN ‘€” what we are able to do is make up for those mistakes when we have them, and they don’t require us to dramatically cut the payroll in some major way for years and years in order to make up for a bad year or a set of bad contracts. We have the financial wherewithal and we use it. We don’t take money out of this team. The money that’s generated we put into major league payroll, we put into amateur signings. We’re about the most active teams when it comes to boldness in amateur signings. We’re at the top of the league when it comes to international signings. We spend the money to field a team worthy of the fans’ support.

Hypothetically, if a slugging first baseman with a checkered past was available, would be there an extreme hesitancy on the team’s part to pursue this said slugging first baseman.

Hypothetically, that is? I hate to overuse a phrase that I’ve used twice already in this conversation. But our obligation, in terms of our fundamental obligation as the ownership of this team, is to field a team that’s worthy of the fans’ support, and that means a team that is competitive year-in and year-out on the playing field, but it also means fielding a team that has players that has players that our children, our community can be proud of, that are not likely to cause problems off the field, or do to embarrass the name and the reputation of the Boston Red Sox. So, we scrutinize very carefully players who are available to us, to a ‘€” I want to good citizenship test ‘€” but to do a sort of personality assessment to see if they’re going to be troublesome or helpful in the clubhouse, and if they’re going to be players whose behavior would cause us some sleepless nights.

Read More: Larry Lucchino,

A Bit About Bay and the Mets

12.11.09 at 12:58 pm ET
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A baseball source confirmed that the Mets have made a four-year offer to free-agent outfielder Jason Bay. The proposal, according to the source, was for more than the $60 million that the Red Sox are believed to have on the table, but for less than the $65 million figure that was reported yesterday.

The Mets view Bay’s well-above-average pull power as playing well at New York’s Citi Field, where New York struggled to score runs while hitting just 49 homers. Bay hit 22 of his 36 homers to left, a dozen more to center and just two to the opposite field.

While the Mets view Bay as being a slightly below average defender in left, they do not believe that he is significantly worse than Matt Holliday at the position, and certainly they do not think that the dropoff in defense would be sufficient to justify a significant difference in years and dollars between Bay and Holliday. Neither player is likely an ideal defender for Citi Field, but both are viewed as adequate for the position. (It is worth noting that multiple American League talent evaluators at the Winter Meetings shared the conclusion that Bay and Holliday are comparable defenders, with perhaps a slight — though not significant — advantage going to Holliday.)

The Mets feel that they have a good shot to land one of the three biggest targets on the free-agent market: Bay, Holliday or John Lackey. Their preference would appear to be Bay, based on the fact that he was the player to receive a contract offer, based on production, Bay’s durability, and the years and dollars that it would appear to take to acquire the 31-year-old.

Bay could represent a potentially significant improvement to a lineup that had modest production (.276/.352/.421/.772 with 12 homers) from its left fielders in 2009. He would, in essence, replace Carlos Delgado (who earned $12 million in the final year of his Mets contract, but missed most of the season following hip surgery and an oblique injury while rehabbing) with a credible middle-of-the-order threat for a team that lacked one last year.

Read More: jason bay, Mets,
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