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Leyland on Granderson

12.09.09 at 2:10 pm ET
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Detroit manager Jim Leyland is speaking with the media and was asked about Curtis Granderson. His analysis couldn’t be more glowing.

“He’s everything that’s right with baseball,” Leyland said, later adding, “He’s the complete package.”

Leyland said that he thought Granderson’s numbers against left-handers (.183 last season) was a result of the emergence of some qualities southpaws in the American League, the likes of which the Tigers saw multitudes of down the stretch.

The Tigers’ manager also classified Granderson as a “very good” outfielder with a pretty good arm.

Granderson, of course, is one of the biggest pieces of the three-team trade between the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Tigers. Detroit wanted either Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury in return for the 28-year-old outfielder.

Rumor Mill at this hour: 2 p.m.

12.09.09 at 2:03 pm ET
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FoxSports reports that Rich Harden would accept a one-year deal to prove that he’s healthy, and that the Red Sox are one of the teams most interested in the pitcher, along with the Yankees and Mariners.

Royals beat writer Bob Dutton tweets that the Red Sox are considering signing former Royals first baseman Ryan Shealy to a minor league deal.

Rumor Mill at this hour: 1 p.m.

12.09.09 at 1:43 pm ET
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted a rumor that the “Red Sox have 2 or 3 teams they could trade Mike Lowell to right now if they take ‘similar’ contract back.”

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets are talking to Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and John Lackey, “with renewed hopes to sign 1 of big 3.” (Alex Speier also reported that the Mets and Cardinals could be Bay suitors, along with the Red Sox, Angels and Mariners, in today’s column.) He indicated the Mets still are interested in Bengie Molina as well.

Former Dodgers left-hander Randy Wolf reportedly has agreed to the rumored three-year deal with the Brewers worth between $27 million and $30 million after taking another look around.

Olney impressed with Red Sox’ approach

12.09.09 at 12:32 pm ET
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ESPN’s Buster Olney made an appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday morning to discuss the latest baseball rumors. Olney warned that the Red Sox very well may sit back and pass on the big-name free agents this offseason.

“There’s not a single player on the market that is a huge difference-making player if you don’t get him at the price you want,” Olney said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they wound up doing more incremental stuff than any kind of a big thing.”

Olney commented on the Sox’ key moves so far ‘€” the acquisitions of outfielder Jeremy Hermida and shortstop Marco Scutaro.

“The Hermida deal may not help them at all in the end. It might be that he’ll go to the Red Sox and be as disappointing to them as he was to the Marlins,” Olney said. “I know that there are questions about whether or not he’s going to be focused enough to get locked in and take it to the next level and realize his talent. I think that’s a worthwhile gamble for them, though, because he certainly does have that talent. And I like the Scutaro deal because unlike some of the other guys they’ve gotten in the past at shortstop, at least they’re not locked into this. If [Jed] Lowrie steps up then you could always move Scutaro to another position.”

Olney discussed a rumor that the Sox had a discussion with outfielder Coco Crisp, whom they traded last November to the Royals. Olney said Crisp likely will have better offers if he decides to come back from his shoulder injury. Said Olney: “I suspect that he’s a fallback position … if they don’t re-sign Bay or if they don’t sign Matt Holliday ‘€” if they find themselves looking to mix and match a little bit with Hermida and maybe some other guys.”

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Read More: buster olney, Coco Crisp, jason bay, Jeremy Hermida

Winter Meetings live chat with Lou Merloni

12.09.09 at 11:36 am ET
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Join WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni for a live chat as he reports from the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. The chat will begin at 1 p.m.

Winter Meetings Live Chat

Casey Kelly on Decision to Pitch

12.09.09 at 11:31 am ET
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Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly and farm director Mike Hazen just concluded a conference call to discuss Kelly’s decision to proceed as a pitcher rather than a shortstop — following a year when he had a 2.08 ERA in 95 innings at two levels of Single-A ball on the mound. Here are some highlights:

What finally brought you to this conclusion?

Kelly: It’€™s such a unique situation that I’€™ve been in for the last year by doing both positions and everything. When me and Mike and Theo sat down in Fort Myers, they presented information to me about how they felt about me as a pitcher and a shortstop. It took me a long time to kind of sit down with my family and think over everything.

The biggest thing for me was, I sat down and put the emotion aside, and asked myself what my main goal was in baseball. It was to make it to the big leagues. Pitching just seems like it’€™s going to be the faster and longer career for me. Pitching is going to get there faster and obviously a longer career in the big leagues for me. Once I decided on that, it was a pretty easy decision for me.

How do you feel about big-league spring training?

Kelly: I’€™m really excited, to be there and get to join that team is going to be unbelievable. Watching those guys and how they go about their business, how they handle things, is going to help me so much in my development as a pitcher. Then, I get to sometimes play, which is pretty cool. I’€™m really excited about the opportunity to be in big-league camp.

Any part of you wonder how it would be if you opened the year as a hitter?

Kelly: I think we thought about every situation possible. Everything just kind of swung back to the pitching side. My development as a pitcher is obviously a lot further along than as a shortstop. It’€™s going to take less time for me to make an impact with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher. Once we thought about that part of it, because being in the big leagues is the main goal, it’€™s really a no-doubter decision. Yeah, you think about that, but I’€™m excited about my situation. I’€™m ready to move on with one position and go from there.

How important was it for Casey to be on board?

Hazen: I think it was everything. When you’€™re dealing with a situation like this that is, as Casey said, very unique, when we first embarked on this situation, we knew it was very, very challenging. If it weren’€™t for Casey’€™s maturity and makeup, I don’€™t think it works the way it does. Because Casey had, I think, demonstrated that maturity, we felt comfortable wanting Casey as much involved in the process as possible. At the end of the day, he’€™s very athletic. He’€™s very talented. He has skills in both areas. This wasn’€™t an easy decision for anyone as we put all the pieces together and weighed all the factor for both sides. At the end of the day, having Casey fully invested in what was happening was of the utmost importance. I think that’€™s why Theo wanted to present his case and the case of the organization, to sift through all the variables.

At the end of the day, playing major-league baseball is very challenging. Casey diving in 100 percent on pitching, we think he’€™s going to be very successful, but we wanted him 100 percent fully invested in the decision that was made.

Trade talk ‘€“ have the Sox told you anything about your role in the future?

Kelly: No. They just said if I keep performing how I have been, and keep pitching how I did last year, I have a very good shot at being in the big leagues at a young age.

I’€™m just trying to put myself in the best position to help out the Red Sox.

Did the organization make any promises about not trading you?

Kelly: I really don’€™t know. I think the trade stuff is way out of my hands. That’€™s stuff you really can’€™t worry about. All I can worry about is stuff on the field and how I get ready for my starts.

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McLeod on ‘Bittersweet’ – and Deliberate – Departure From Sox

12.09.09 at 10:46 am ET
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Before the Padres requested permission to discuss the job with him, then-Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod anticipated staying in Boston. He oversaw one of the most aggressive amateur scouting departments in the game, trusted with significant resources as well as a great working environment. McLeod’€™s input, moreover, extended beyond just the draft, as he was one of the organization’€™s most trusted evaluators.

But, when the Padres requested permission to talk with McLeod in the first days of November, shortly after Sox farm director Mike Hazen turned down San Diego’s Assistant GM position, the Sox initially refused to grant San Diego that right. The process was surprisingly prolonged, with Boston going almost a month before finally allowing McLeod to interview formally for the position last week.

Over that time, McLeod realized how rare an opportunity he had in San Diego. There would be the promotion to the role of Assistant GM in charge of Scouting and Player Development, and with it, an interesting and challenging set of new responsibilities. There was the opportunity to take such a job with Padres GM Jed Hoyer, with whom McLeod had worked for six years in Boston. And there was the opportunity to take such a job in his hometown.

Upon reflection, as he waited to find out whether the Sox would allow him to pursue the job in San Diego, McLeod realized that the Padres job represented the perfect storm.

‘€œAt the end, when it finally happened, there was a sense of certainty and relief,’€ said McLeod, who has worked with Theo Epstein for 13 of the last 15 years, and counts the Sox GM as one of his closest friends. ‘€œIt was very bittersweet, because I have tremendous relationships over there. I love those guys over there. There was sadness there in leaving.

‘€œOn the other side, it’€™s a great job opportunity, working with Jed,’€ he continued. ‘€œThe responsibilities for the job will be great. And then just going home, my son is going to get to grow up three minutes from his grandparents and 10 minutes from his cousins.’€

The Sox made a concerted effort to keep McLeod. They offered changes to improve upon a job that he already enjoyed immensely. But, in the end, McLeod realized that he wanted to join Hoyer and the Padres, and so when granted permission last week, he accepted the position.

‘€œIt was flattering to know they were really happy with the work I had done,’€ said McLeod. ‘€œThey made an incredible effort to keep me. It was everything I could possibly ever want, if not for this one opportunity.’€

For a look at McLeod’s draft record with the Red Sox, click here.

Read More: Jason McLeod,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 10 a.m.

12.09.09 at 10:15 am ET
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Tom Haudricourt says the Brewers, who are expecting to hear back from Randy Wolf on their three-year offer today, will turn their attention to Jon Garland should Wolf not sign.

The Yankees are close to bringing Andy Pettitte back into the fold for one year and $12 million, tweets Jon Heyman. A source told Kevin Davidoff that the deal could be finished by tomorrow.

Read More: Andy Pettitte, Jon Garland, Randy Wolf, Rumor Mill

Lobby buzz about Mike Lowell

12.09.09 at 10:04 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — According to sources in the hotel lobby at the Indianpolis Marriott, the Red Sox continue to inquire with teams about their interest in third baseman Mike Lowell. The belief is that the Red Sox might be trying to position themselves to make a run at free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.

FoxSports.com wrote Tuesday night that the Rangers were at least considering the prospect of acquiring Lowell to play first base and be a designated hitter, although he doesn’t appear to be at top of their list to fill the position. Lowell has played in just four games at first during his professional career, all coming during the 1999 season with Triple A Columbus.

Lowell did tell WEEI.com that he believed he could play first base, and would attempt it if the team asked. ‘€œI wouldn’€™t rule it out, absolutely not,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™m a realist. If they think that makes us a better defensive team, that’€™s fine. I don’€™t have a major problem with that. I would have to work on it. I think Triple A was probably the last time I played first. I played for about three or four games. But that doesn’€™t mean I think I can’€™t do it. But I haven’€™t been asked.’€

According to the Seattle Times, the Mariners are ruling out bringing back the 29-year-old Beltre — a Type A free agent who is represented by Scott Boras —  back. If they were able to re-sign the third baseman, the belief is Seattle would play newly-acquired Chone Figgins at second base.

Rumor mill at this hour: 9 a.m.

12.09.09 at 9:42 am ET
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The Tigers wanted either Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury in exchange for Curtis Granderson. Your thoughts …

Buster Olney is hearing that the Red Sox have expressed interest in Coco Crisp. Crisp, who had surgery on both of his shoulders, told WEEI.com in Kansas City when the Sox were there last season that he fully expected to have a full offseason of workouts and that his ailments wouldn’t be an issue by December.

The Denver Post is reporting that the Angels are going harder after Roy Halladay than any other club.

Joel Sherman paints the picture of how the Yankees might be lining themselves up for a run at Roy Halladay.

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