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Boras: Unprecedented market for Adrian Beltre, and why Jayson Werth is the second coming of Dwight Evans

11.11.10 at 9:26 pm ET
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Agent Scott Boras, who represents several key free agents this offseason, appeared on MLB Network Radio’s Inside Pitch on Sirius XM Radio. Boras discussed the expected market for several of his clients, including two who are expected to be targets of the Red Sox this winter: third baseman Adrian Beltre, who punctuated his successful season in Boston on Thursday by being named the winner of the Silver Slugger Award as the top third baseman in the American League, and Jayson Werth, the Phillies outfielder whom Boras is pitching as the only player in this year’s free agent class who is a middle-of-the-order hitter capable of playing any outfield position. (He noted that Carl Crawford hit roughly half the homers of Werth over the last three years, making him more of a top-of-the-order hitter.)

Boras compared Werth to former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans, while positioning Beltre as a player who bears comparisons to Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Paul Molitor and George Brett. He described an unprecedented level of interest in Beltre’s services.

“I would have to say in my years of doing this, I’€™ve never had so much interest in one player,” said Boras. “I’€™m not sure the media quite understands what Boston did for Adrian Beltre. But I think his leadership has come to surface. We’€™ve had a number of teams contact us, vastly more than we ever expected. We expected a good number certainly, but there are teams wanting to move players to make room for him.”

Boras also discussed former Sox Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.

Highlights of the Inside Pitch interview are below:

Do the Phillies have any chance at Werth? Shane Victorino said he hasn’€™t received an offer from the Phillies.

[Phillies GM] Ruben [Amaro] and I have had conversations. We’€™ll continue to have them. The best thing I can say is the dialogue continues. That’€™s not something I can really define at this point.

What is Werth looking at in terms of geography, chance to win, lineup, etc.?

He’€™s enjoyed a tremendous platform in Philadelphia because he has what I think every free agent would want. You’€™ve got winning, you’€™ve got a great fan base, a nice stadium, an area that they’€™re geographically happy with. All of those elements, Jayson’€™s lived on the West Coast, he’€™s lived on the East Coast, so he’€™s open to consideration for a lot of franchises, which really, I think, look at his role on the team. I think, hitting in the fifth spot in Philadelphia is very difficult. To have the people behind you, certainly [Ryan] Howard and [Chase] Utley enjoyed having Jayson behind them.

It’€™s hard to score a lot of runs. When you’€™re scoring 100 runs from the fifth spot, you’€™ve done something pretty unique. For a guy with great speed and stolen base efficiency ‘€“ over the last five or six years, it’€™s one of the best in baseball ‘€“ you’€™re talking about a situation for him where he’€™s performed very, very well offensively and frankly had very good production numbers even though he’€™s hitting in the fifth hole.

What are the chances of Beltre returning to Boston?

Again, I think it’€™s, we’€™ve, I would have to say in my years of doing this, I’€™ve never had so much interest in one player. I’€™m not sure the media quite understands what Boston did for Adrian Beltre. But I think his leadership has come to surface. We’€™ve had a number of teams contact us, vastly more than we ever expected. We expected a good number certainly, but there are teams wanting to move players to make room for him. With both these players, the metrics are so good for the longevity of their performance with the positions that they play.

In Jayson Werth’€™s case, you can look at Dwight Evans and see what he’€™s done at an age from 29-31, and you see it’€™s actually a little bit under what Werth’€™s done. He played at a very high level, averaging about 27 home runs and 100 RBIs from the age of 32-37. You can look at [Mike] Schmidt‘€™s career or George Brett‘€™s career or [Paul] Molitor‘€™s career in the case of Beltre. He’€™s performed at levels that are commensurate with them from 25-31. You would expect that those players’€™ performances at the position from 32-38 was also at very solid levels you would expect from players of that ilk. I think the metrics are there to illustrate that these are really good players, and that they’€™re going to be really good players for a long time.

Have you talked with the Red Sox about having both at Fenway? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, carl crawford, Dwight Evans, Jayson Werth

Adrian Beltre wins Silver Slugger Award

11.11.10 at 6:50 pm ET
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Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre was named the winner of the Silver Slugger Award for the top-hitting third baseman in the American League.

When the Red Sox signed Beltre to a one-year, $9 million deal (which grew to $10 million based on his plate appearances) to play in Boston in 2010, both the team and player expected the third baseman’s offense to improve after leaving Seattle. In particular, the Sox expected Beltre to return to reach the mid- to high-20s in home runs.

Even so, few could have anticipated the huge year that Beltre produced. He hit .321 with a .365 OBP, .553 slugging mark, .919 OPS, 28 homers, 102 RBI and an AL-leading 49 doubles. He also played in a team-high 154 games, serving as the most constant force in a lineup that suffered an incredible wealth of injuries in 2010.

The 2010 season marked the second time that Beltre has been awarded a Silver Slugger. He also received the honor in 2004 as a member of the Dodgers, when he hit .334 with a 1.017 OPS and 48 homers.

Beltre, who declined a $10 million player option for the 2011 season, is now a free agent.

Beltre was the only Sox player recognized in the voting. David Ortiz lost out in the voting for the top designated hitter to Vladimir Guerrero of the Rangers.

Boston has been represented on the AL Silver Slugger Team in each of the last 10 seasons beginning in 2001 and Red Sox players have won 33 Silver Sluggers since the award’€™s inception in 1980. Prior to Beltre, the club’€™s last third baseman to receive the honor was Bill Mueller in 2003.

The complete list of Silver Slugger winners:

Joe Mauer, AL C
Brian McCann, NL C

Miguel Cabrera, AL 1B
Albert Pujols, NL 1B

Robinson Cano, AL 2B
Dan Uggla, NL 2B

Adrian Beltre, AL 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, NL 3B

Alexei Ramirez, AL SS
Troy Tulowitzki, NL SS

Carl Crawford, AL OF
Josh Hamilton, AL OF
Jose Bautista, AL OF

Carlos Gonzalez, NL OF
Matt Holliday, NL OF
Ryan Braun, NL OF

Vladimir Guerrero, AL DH

Yovani Gallardo, NL P

Read More: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, silver slugger,

Report: Red Sox express interest in Zack Greinke

11.11.10 at 5:19 pm ET
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According to the Kansas City Star, the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rangers are among the teams that have either expressed or plan to express interest in acquiring 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. But Kansas City GM Dayton Moore told the Star that he is not in any hurry to deal his ace.

“There’€™s a lot of talk because the free-agent market is so limited,” Moore told the paper. “There’€™s nothing in the works, and I don’€™t anticipate anything happening real quick unless someone calls and just blows us away. I haven’€™t made any calls to clubs.”

After going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA in 2009, Greinke slipped to marks of 10-14 and 4.17 last year. Even so, he is still considered one of the elite pitchers in the game, and he is both young (he turned 27 last month) and signed for the next two seasons at salaries of $13.5 million per year. While Greinke, who suffers from a social anxiety disorder, has said in the past that he expected that he might have trouble playing in New York, he also suggested he thought he could play in virtually any other environment. In Boston, he has a close relationship with Sox Assistant to the GM Allard Baird, a man whom Greinke suggests was critical in getting his life and career back on track.

That said, it is not clear from the report whether the Sox’ contact with the Royals was anything more than tire-kicking. The Sox, of course, have seven starters with big league experience under control for next season: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Felix Doubront.

Read More: kansas city royals, zack greinke,

Adrian Gonzalez: ‘Planning on going into spring training as a Padre’

11.11.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez did a phone interview with XX 1090, San Diego sports radio on Thursday, and discussed his recent shoulder  surgery and rehab heading into the winter months. Gonzalez has been the focus of several offseason transaction talks, including some involving Boston.

“As far as baseball, swinging and everything, it will probably take four to five months before I can swing a bat,” Gonzalez said. “[The offseason] is very minimal and very protected.”

The entire interview can be heard here. A couple of noteworthy elements:

When did you have surgery?

Um, two weeks ago Wednesday.

And when do they (trainers) say you’ll get into rehab in terms of throwing and swinging and everything else?

Well, rehab I start on Wednesday, which would be three weeks after the surgery. But, I mean, that’s just minimal, get the bar moving, just start going through those kind of things. And as far as full baseball swinging and everything, probably, you know, they say four to five months before I can pick up a bat.

So your offseason is really screwed this year, compared to years past?

Yeah, I mean, it’s very minimal, and it’s very, you know, protective.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, san diego padres,

What the Sox’ pursuit of David DeJesus means for Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth

11.11.10 at 9:53 am ET
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Not all offseason roads for the Red Sox lead to Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth.

For the second time in four months, according to a major league source, the Red Sox made a run at acquiring outfielder David DeJesus from the Royals. In July, prior to the trade deadline, the Sox had made an aggressive bid for the 30-year-old, who was amidst a career-best season in Kansas City, hitting .318/.384/.443/.827. In the summer — with a chance to benefit from the outfielder’s services in both 2010 (for the remainder of his $4.7 million salary) and 2011 (for a $6 million option) — the Sox were willing to discuss multiple top 10 prospects with the Royals.

However, Boston drew the line on including left-hander Felix Doubront (this was at the time when the Sox committed to the idea of using Doubront as a reliever for the duration of the year in hopes of bolstering a flagging bullpen). And so, the Sox might have fallen short in their pursuit of DeJesus over the summer. That pursuit was rendered irrelevant, however, when the outfielder tore a ligament in his right thumb on July 22, just prior to the trade deadline.

This offseason, the Sox once again made a run at DeJesus, but apparently, the summer dynamic played out once again, suggesting that the Sox and Royals did not see eye-to-eye on which prospects might be included in a deal. That, in turn, set the stage for the Royals to deal DeJesus to the Athletics in exchange for right-handed starter Vin Mazzaro (expected to start the year in the Kansas City rotation) and left-hander Justin Marks (who will open the year in High-A Wilmington).

Though the Sox did not acquire DeJesus, their pursuit of him is revealing on a few of levels: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, david dejesus, felix doubront, Jayson Werth

Report: Cubs consider possibility of trade for Daisuke Matsuzaka

11.10.10 at 2:17 pm ET
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According to a tweet from Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are considering the possibility of a multi-player trade that would involve sending outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to the Red Sox for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Both players have no-trade contracts, and it’s not clear if Rogers is implying the two teams have had discussions or if it’s a trade the Cubs might eventually offer.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kosuke Fukudome,

The Bradford Files: Why Cliff Lee doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox

11.10.10 at 1:13 pm ET
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I might be wrong (and probably will be) but I can’t see Theo Epstein getting on a plane to Arkansas to in an effort to court Cliff Lee, a task Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is reportedly undertaking Wednesday.

The news that the Red Sox were one of the teams to call on Lee shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody. They also called on both A.J. Burnett  and CC Sabathia two years ago when they were hitting the free agent market. But let’s make a few things clear:

1. The signing of Lee would put an ENORMOUS dent in the Sox’ ability to execute other moves. You’re talking somewhere in the vicinity of Sabathia’s $23 million a season (perhaps a bit less due to the 32-year-old Lee’s age), a number that would undoubtedly hamstring the Red Sox in fixing other problems heading through this offseason.

2. You have four starters who are locked into this rotation probably through 2014, the season in which Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Josh Beckett are under the Red Sox’ control through. You aren’t trading any one of those starters, whether it’s due to value or expense to the potential trade partner. Next season, that group of four will make around $37.5 million (thanks in large part to the only about $6 million committed to Lester and Buchholz). That number, however, will jump up past $52 million by the time ’13 rolls around. Factor in a Lee contract, and that obviously moves to upwards of $70 million for the starting rotation. No matter what the market, that’s tough to dance around when building the rest of your team.

3. Then there is Daisuke Matsuzaka. The 30-year-old has a full no-trade clause, which certainly limits opportunities to deal him. (It doesn’t, however, mean they won’t try.) He will make $10 million this upcoming season and in ’12, which is the final year of his deal. It is a somewhat manageable number for teams looking for top-of-the-rotation potential. Still, if even if the Red Sox are able to trade Matsuzaka, you’re talking about a spot you most likely want to reserve for either a controllable, young-and-up-and-comer, or cheap stopgap (see the interest in Justin Duchscherer).

4. The Red Sox are fully aware of the poor history when it comes to committing long-term deals to starting pitchers, and the even poorer history when they are on the other side of 30-years-old. It is most likely going to take AT LEAST five years to ink Lee, a road they were willing to go down with a 30-year-old Lackey, but probably not one their comfortable venturing toward again. Lee is a top tier pitcher, no doubt, but also soak in some reality. He hasn’t won more than 14 games in either of the last two seasons, went 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts with the Rangers, is markedly less dominant in the second-half of the season (not, of course, including the postseason), has a career regular season record of 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA against the Yankees, and hasn’t pitched well in either Fenway Park (4.73 ERA for five starts). Many of these facts aren’t deal-breakers, but when digesting a contract the likes of which Lee will be getting, you have to consider all angles.

5. If the Red Sox do decide to take this to a Teixeira-esque level in regard to competing with the Yankees (who are undoubtedly making Lee their top priority), they will lose. The only time the Sox have won a bidding war with the Yanks was in the blind bid for Matsuzaka, which is really apples and oranges when trying to uncover optimism.

6. The Sox’ spending power this offseason isn’t what many think it might be. (Colleague Alex Speier busted out the spreadsheet and projects the Red Sox might have around $30 million to spend. As he points out, this is a very inexact science, but there is nobody in the industry I would trust to be close on the matter more than Alex.) You need at least one middle-of-the-order bat — whether it comes from the outfield or a corner spot — another catcher, and bullpen help. Trying getting quality at all of those spots while living with Lee’s paychecks.

Maybe the Red Sox do make a strong bid at Lee. Perhaps the Sox even sign him. But, heading into the waves of free agent talk that is to come, consider this an opportunity to go in with eyes wide open.

John Farrell on D&H: Players would ‘run through a wall’ for Terry Francona

11.10.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday to talk about his new stint as Blue Jays manager, and how he plans to use free agency in organizing his new clubhouse. To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Farrell was drawn to the Blue Jays job because of the strengths of the team, its core group of young players, and the attraction of competing in the American League East. ‘€œI think it is the strongest division in baseball,’€ Farrell said, ‘€œand to go up against those teams a third of the time, between New York, Boston and Tampa, that’€™s a challenge that was relished, not run away from.’€

A smaller payroll than some of those other AL East teams is something that Farrell is unconcerned about when it comes to working with the Blue Jays. While payrolls may differ around the league, each team still has the ability and opportunity to go out and compete for a World Series. ‘€œI think what it comes down to is just a team, an organization working in unison to be as efficient as possible,” Farrell said.

The first step to Farrell forming that kind of team was to get his staffing situation figured out. He said that as a person who has never managed, it was important to him to have someone who had that experience, and also that ‘€œto have someone that I had a standing relationship with.’€ So, Farrell dug into the Red Sox’€™ minor league staff pool and hired former Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo as his first-base coach.

Asked what he takes from his time alongside Terry Francona, Farrell said: “The thing that really stood out with Tito was his willingness to listen and, without a doubt, his unwavering confidence in players. He never backed off, even when a guy was struggling. So, players felt that belief in them and really that he had their back though thick and thin. ‘€¦ When guys went through some times where things weren’t going well, he never backed off them. I really feel like they believed in him and would run through a wall for him.”

It’€™s possible that Farrell could look back to his familiarity with the Red Sox organization when it comes to free agency. Farrell did not deny that there are questions on the Blue Jays roster, including at the catching position, which could lead to a pursuit of Jason Varitek. ‘€œWe all know what Jason is about,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œHe’€™s a great leader in the clubhouse and on the field. ‘€¦ We’€™ve got a young catcher in J.P. Arencibia that still needs some development and grooming to become an everyday guy.’€

The bullpen is another area of the roster Farrell said needs to be address, and though he agreed that Cliff Lee is probably the most desirable guy on the free agent list, that doesn’€™t mean the Blue Jays will make a bid. ‘€œWhether or not he fits what we’€™ve got going currently, that will be determined here as we go deeper into the offseason,” Farrell said. “But I’€™m sure there’€™s going to be some heavy pursuit for Cliff.’€

Read More: Cliff Lee, Jason Varitek, John Farrell, torey lovullo

Minor Details Podcast, Ep. 1

11.10.10 at 12:17 pm ET
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This week marks the debut of the Minor Details podcast, a regular look at the players and state of the Red Sox farm system. This week’s episode focuses on the recent Baseball America list of the Top 10 prospects in the Sox system.

The podcast is joined by WEEI.com colleague Rob Bradford for the introductory segment, Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen (who joins at the 9:25 mark), and Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis (31:56). The process of assembling the Top 10 list is discussed, as is the significance of the list to a baseball organization.

Players discussed include Casey Kelly, Jose Iglesias, Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Ranaudo, Garin Cecchini (after much bungling of the pronunciation, for the record, we wanted to clarify: Cheh-Key-Nee), Lars Anderson, Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Westmoreland, among others. The outrageously awesome musical introduction is by The Porch Cops, featuring members of Tallahassee.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

For suggestions for future podcast topics and guests, or to offer feedback (good or hate-filled), email me at aspeier@weei.com or contact me via Twitter.

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Anthony Rizzo, baseball america, casey kelly

Sean Casey on D&C: Carl Crawford a ‘total game-changer’

11.10.10 at 10:41 am ET
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MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about Dustin Pedroia as one of the most interesting people in Boston sports, as well as what he thinks the Red Sox should do this offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

According to Casey, Pedroia is both interesting in the clubhouse as well as a pain in the butt. ‘€œHe’€™s a great teammate,’€ Casey said. ‘€œHe’€™s a guy that livens up the mood a lot, a guy that will bust your chops a lot, which I loved. I loved that he was so young but still felt confident enough to rip on anyone that came across his path. And I loved how he backed it up.’€

If Jason Varitek leaves Boston this offseason, Casey believes it would be very likely that Pedroia steps into a leadership role as a captain, because he does a great job of making everybody feel like they’€™re a part of the team. ‘€œEverybody from the Dominican players, the American players, to the Japanese guys, everyone loves him,’€ Casey said. ‘€œA leader for me is a guy that brings everybody in.’€

Another reason Pedroia would be a good fit as captain is because of the way he plays the game. ‘€œThat guy goes out there hard every day and plays and backs up what he’€™s doing,’€ Casey said. ‘€œSo, I think everyone relates to a guy like Dustin Pedroia.’€

Pedroia brings a certain comfort level to the Red Sox lineup. ‘€œYou feel like you’€™re never down, you’€™re never done,’€ Casey said, ‘€œbecause [Pedroia] might get one more at-bat, he might make a play up the middle.’€

To further improve the Red Sox lineup, Casey suggests the club should go after free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, because he’€™s ‘€œa guy that is just a total game-changer.’€ The combination of Jacoby Ellsbury and Crawford would put a burst of speed in the Red Sox lineup. ‘€œJason Werth obviously is a big right-handed bat, power bat,’€ Casey said. ‘€œHe’€™d probably be big there at Fenway with the big power to left. But I think Carl Crawford is a game-changer.’€

Read More: carl crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Sean Casey,
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