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Jason Varitek back with Red Sox: ‘Physically’ ready for a few more years

12.11.10 at 12:35 pm ET
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Sporting the World Series championship ring from 2007, Jason Varitek sat comfortably Saturday in his seat at the end of a conference table in room off the EMC Club at Fenway Park, declaring that he’s is more than ready to return for the 2011 season.

‘€œIt’€™s awesome, it’€™s awesome,” said Varitek, who signed a one-year deal for $2 million, plus incentives. “Did I hope for it? Yes, I hoped for it and wished that it would happen. Did I necessarily this go-around, they may go in other directions? Yeah. I was excited I didn’€™t have to make that final decision.’€

What Varitek returns to is one of the best scenarios he could have hoped for with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez on board.

“It’s like a tale of two different [scenarios],” Varitek said. “The [Red Sox] Nation wasn’t as happy as they are now with what’s gone on. To expect it, no. To expect us to win, yes and how much that takes to do that, you have to be in the right places. That gives us a chance but we still have big steps to take for this team to be good.”

But he admitted that between the end of the season and Saturday, this was the off-season he actually thought he might not return as captain as the Red Sox.

‘€œThis, more than any time in my career, I had probably the most interest from other teams and it was probably in the same regards that they have a need for the same and have a same type thing and it might not be here [in Boston],” said Varitek, who did not disclose the teams or how far along he was in the process.

‘€œYou don’€™t know what’€™s going to happen. You never know what’€™s going to happen with injuries, etcetera. So I have to prepare like I know how to prepare everyday to physically and mentally be ready to play every day. That’€™s not necessarily the case but physically that’€™s what I have to do.’€

A broken right foot limited Varitek to just 39 games in 2010, when he hit .232 and belted seven homers for the Red Sox as a back-up to Victor Martinez. He comes back in 2010 and actually could have a more prominent role on the team as he helps Jarrod Saltalamacchia learn the pitching staff.

‘€œGoing into this last one, I figured a few more years but I don’€™t know,” Varitek said. “At this point of my career it’€™s almost a year to year basis of seeing where I’€™m at but physically, I think it’€™s a few more years.’€

‘€œI’€™m excited,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think ‘€˜Tek did an amazing job on the transition. That’€™s not an easy thing to do, to be like a stalwart. For many, many years be the captain, and then be asked to handle a reduced role, I think what Tek did, his role didn’€™t get reduced. He didn’€™t allow it to be.

“He picked it up in other areas, whether it was helping out the other catchers or his teammates, and as much as we appreciated, that’€™s why we appreciate it, because it’€™s not easy. He handled it with a lot of class and dignity. We’€™re actually thrilled he’€™s back. I think it’€™s easy to lose sight, because he got injured last year. but he was having a really productive year. this isn’€™t all about helping salty. This is about helping us win games. he’€™s going to catch.’€

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, jarrod saltalamacchia

Source: Red Sox beat Angels deadline for Carl Crawford

12.11.10 at 11:23 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox finalized the seven-year, $140 million deal for Carl Crawford 10 minutes before an 11 p.m. Wednesday deadline set the Angels. Momentum in the negotiations gained steam shortly after 8 p.m. when the agents for Crawford informed both teams of the parameters it would take to get a contract done. While the Red Sox did increase the monetary portion of their offer as the Angels’ deadline approached, they had consistently been at seven years. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Reports: Angels sign Scott Downs

12.10.10 at 7:39 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Angels have signed free agent relief left-handed pitcher Scott Downs to a three-year deal worth $15 million.

MLB.com/NESN’s Peter Gammons and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal both reported the deal, with Rosenthal noting that Downs can make up an extra $1 million based on games finished. The Blue Jays will receive a first-round compensation pick and a second-rounder from the Angels in next year’s draft for the Type A free agent.

Over his last four years, Downs has posted a 2.36 earned run average for the Blue Jays.

Read More: Hot Stove,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Sox winter meetings leftovers

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

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

In sum:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: Hot Stove,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick hits:

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

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

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

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

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

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