|02.14.10 at 12:21 am ET|
Appearing on the Mut & Bradford show, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said he was tired of hearing criticism of the team’s offense, saying the Sox not only won’t be solely about pitching and defense but can “absolutely” score more runs than in 2009.
“I’m excited. I’m definitely excited this year. I think it’s a challenge because everybody out there is saying all we can do is pitch and play defense,” Pedroia said. “I think a lot of guys are going to take that personal, and as an offensive unit we need to score a lot of runs and I have a lot of confidence we’re going to do all kind of good things.
“It gets to you a little bit. Every time I’m on the show somebody is calling asking about that. It kind of gets to you a little bit. A lot of guys take pride in having good at-bats and doing everything we can to score runs. We have a lot of very good offensive players. I’m confident in our team and I’m confident that we’re going to be great.”
When asked if the 2010 lineup had the capability to surpass last season’s 872 runs (third best in the American League), Pedroia didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely. The additions we made to our team I think have a lot of guys that will fit well together,” he said. “I don’t know what’s the lineup is going to be, but if you look up and down our lineup, guys can find ways to score runs. We can hit home runs, we can steal bases, we can bunt guys over, we can do a lot of things to score runs. You look at other teams’ offense, yeah, they might have more power, but 1 through 9 we’re going to work the count and do a lot things to win games.”
Pedroia, who plans on flying into Fort Myers Friday, also touched on one of the biggest storylines for the Red Sox coming into spring training: the value of Josh Beckett, who is in the last year of his contract.
“I always viewed him as the leader of the pitching staff,” Pedroia said of Beckett. “He’s a workhorse. He takes the ball, goes out there and gives everything he’s got, and that’s all you can ask from a starting pitcher. He never shows weakness, he wants to win more than anybody I’ve ever seen. This guy is intense and I think the fans and everybody love that about him. He’s shown a lot of the younger guys on the pitching staff how to go about their business, and that’s huge. How he’s helped Jon Lester and how he’s helped Buchholz and some of the other guys … I’m pretty sure everybody wants Josh around for a long time.”
|02.12.10 at 2:02 pm ET|
|02.11.10 at 11:54 am ET|
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox are no longer in the mix for the services of pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, whom the New York Times is reporting is on the verge of an agreement with the New York Mets. The Sox had offered the Japanese lefty a minor-league deal, with the opportunity to compete for a spot in the team’s bullpen.
According to the Times’ report Takahashi, has been a starter for most of his professional career, will be eligible to make $1 million for the 2010 season with the Mets, with another potential $500,000 in bonuses.
For more on Takahashi click here.
|02.10.10 at 5:09 pm ET|
The Red Sox claimed right-handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners. The 23-year-old spent 2009 with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate, going 10-9 with a 5.23 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 48 walks in 146-1/3 innings. He had a strong finish to the season, going 5-0 in his last five starts.
Hernandez has been at times a highly regarded prospect. Two years ago, for instance, he was rated the No. 5 prospect in the Florida Marlins system on the strength of a three-pitch arsenal (fastball, curve, change) and an ability to compete effectively against more advanced competition. At the time, the publication offered this evaluation:
Acquired from the Mets in the Paul LoDuca salary dump, the hometown Miami kid keeps impressing as he climbs the ladder. Hernandez annually has been among the youngest players at each level, but that has yet to catch up with him.
Strengths: Hernandez’ tight curveball comes and goes but still ranks as the best in the system. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 mph with good deception. His changeup is improving and shows plus life at times. He has proven to be durable, missing time in 2006 with a minor toe injury but having no other physical problems of note. He has a well-developed frame and good athleticism.
Weaknesses: Hernandez wore down in the final month, when he posted an 8.48 ERA, and may have put too much pressure on himself with a potential big league callup dangling in front of him. He needs to be more consistent and do a better job of resisting the urge to pitch backward. He can overthink at times and be too self-critical.
The Future: Hernandez will come to spring training with a chance to make the Marlins rotation, but more likely he will go to Triple-A Albuquerque for a few additional months of seasoning. Once he makes it to Florida, he profiles as a back-of-the-rotation piece who can eat up valuable innings.
Since then, however, Hernandez has struggled in consecutive years, posting a 6-9 record and 6.08 ERA in 2008 while splitting time between Double A and Triple A, and then producing last year’s struggle at Tacoma. Still, at 23, Hernandez still is young enough that his former prospect status should not be completely forgotten. He has two minor league options remaining for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
To clear a 40-man roster spot for Hernandez, the Sox designated right-handed pitcher Robert Manuel (claimed off waivers from the Mariners earlier in the offseason) for assignment. Manuel tossed 4-1/3 scoreless innings for the Reds in the majors last year.
Here is the Sox’ press release about the addition of Hernandez:
The Red Sox today claimed right-handed pitcher Gaby Hernandez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and designated right-handed pitcher Robert Manuel for assignment.
The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
Hernandez, 23, spent all of last year with Seattle’s Triple-A Tacoma affiliate, posting a 10-9 record with a 5.23 ERA (85 ER/146.1 IP), 98 strikeouts and 48 walks in 26 starts. He led the Rainiers in wins and ranked second in innings and strikeouts. Hernandez won each of his final five starts and earned Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors for August 31-Sepember 8, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA (3 ER/15.0 IP) over that stretch.
He was originally selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, and has played in the Mets (2004-05), Florida Marlins (2006-08) and Mariners (2008-09) organizations.
Manuel, 26, was claimed off waivers by Boston from Seattle on November 20. He made his Major League debut last year for the Cincinnati Reds, allowing five hits in 4.1 scoreless innings over three relief appearances. He has played in the Mets (2005), Reds (2006-09) and Mariners (2009) organizations after signing with New York as an amateur free agent in 2005.
|02.09.10 at 10:12 am ET|
His between-starts regimen has not only left an impression on the coaching staff (strength and conditioning coach Dave Page identifies Beckett as the hardest-working pitcher he has been associated with) but also other members of the starting staff. Jon Lester saw what Beckett was doing, saw how it translated, and now approaches his craft in a similar manner. And two years ago, when the Sox wanted Clay Buchholz to learn the same lessons, they encouraged an offseason get-together with the two pitchers to get the process rolling.
There won’t be the stand-on-the-table proclamations from Beckett, but when an organization full of young pitchers can learn from how a staff ace handles himself in ever nook and cranny of a professional hurler’s job description, that goes a long way, and don’t think the Red Sox aren’t acutely aware of it.
That said …
When it comes to Beckett’s next contract, the tipping point isn’t likely going to revolve around work ethic, big-game productivity, favorable comparisons or clubhouse importance. It’s not going to even revolve around whatever time the pitcher has missed due to injury since arriving in Boston. Perhaps the most critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting a deal done for Beckett could be something that hasn’t once surfaced as a talk radio topic of conversation in any of the past four seasons — the pitcher’s right shoulder.
The notion that you haven’t heard anything in regard to Beckett’s pitching shoulder is another check on his side of the ledger. He has worked hard to make sure this hasn’t become a hot-button topic. It can, in fact, be identified as one of the biggest reasons the 29-year-old’s professional approach has morphed into what it is today.
There’s been a skin avulsion, back problem and oblique/intercostal muscle ailment. But at no time has Beckett lost time due to his right shoulder, which, if you know the backstory, amps up the intrigue appreciably.
The first time Beckett’s shoulder was diagnosed as being a potential problem was back in 2000 when a doctor affiliated with the Marlins was telling the then-19-year-old that labrum surgery was inevitable. For a player just kicking off his career, the procedure (which is far less advanced than it has become) would have been a severe setback.
But at the urging of his agent, Michael Moye, Beckett sought out a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, who steered the pitcher away from surgery, paving an entirely different kind of career path. It also made him very aware of how important it would be to do everything he could to prevent the issue from getting worse.
“I probably would have had surgery on my labrum, and that was back when they were still shrinking capsules, so it wouldn’t have been good,” Beckett said back at the end of the 2008 season. “But my agent said we should get a second opinion before we do anything. That’s when I saw Dr. Andrews and he told me to rest it. He always took the cautious route first. ‘Let’s rehab this thing to see if we can get it stronger, and if it doesn’t we’re not losing anything.’ He spoke my language, too, and a lot of doctors don’t. When I went to the rehab clinic (after seeing Andrews in 2000), that’s when I knew.”
While blisters proved the biggest stumbling block for Beckett throughout his time with the Marlins, the shoulder concerns wouldn’t go away. After Beckett missed his final start of the 2005 season with shoulder stiffness (although there was some debate as to if the absence was related to injury or the team saving potential bonus money), the company Beckett was attempting to secure insurance from informed him that they would insure every part of his body but his shoulder.
By the time the Red Sox approached Beckett with a contract proposal midway through the 2006 season, the insecurity of not locking in insurance still was weighing heavily on the pitcher.
“I think if I had that insurance policy it would have been a little easier to go to [the Red Sox] with a hard number,” Beckett said in 2007. “The way it happened was that we both sat down and hammered out something that made us both happy. I got that insurance with the contract.”
While the subject of his shoulder never exited Beckett’s psyche, there has been encouraging signs since coming to the Red Sox. He was told after the initial rejection by the insurance company that he could get insurance if he pitched 600 innings from the time of his arrival in Boston if there were no shoulder issues. (He has pitched 792 regular-season innings for the Red Sox.) Beckett also underwent an MRI following the 2007 season as part of the process to potentially getting insurance, which he also identified as not raising any new red flags.
So, he has done his part and kept the shoulder intact. But now comes the part Beckett can’t control: How will the Red Sox view the long-term prognosis?
Most are jumping to the conclusion that, barring any physical or performance setbacks, Beckett’s payday will begin with the number just dished out to John Lackey (five years, $82.5 million). When it comes to going strictly by the numbers (and age), the two are extremely comparable. But, because of all of the aforementioned bits of intrigue, these are far from two identical negotiations.
It might simply come down to the simple question of whether or not the Red Sox are willing to have faith that Beckett’s approach toward his shoulder is good for at least another five years. Answer that and you’ll most likely decipher where the starter will be pitching in 2011.
|02.08.10 at 1:51 pm ET|
The Red Sox still appear to be in the mix for the services of Japanese left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, whom the Sox have extended a contract offer to. Takahashi is thought to be waiting on a few more potential suitors before deciding on whether or not he will take the Red Sox’ deal.
If Takahashi does sign with the Sox, it will be to compete for a job in the team’s bullpen, despite the fact the 34-year-old has pitched as a starter for most of his professional career in Japan.
It is believed that Takahashi will be throwing for teams that haven’t been able to scout him, with that session taking place at some point Monday afternoon in Arizona.
Last season with the Yomiuri Giants, Takahashi went 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA, striking out 121 batters while walking 36 in 144 innings pitched. He made approximately $1.3 million in 2009 with Yomiuri. The lefty’s best pitch is a screwball-type offering, with his fastball usually topping out at 90 mph.
|02.08.10 at 12:13 pm ET|
Posting on his blog, 38 Pitches, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling wrote that the Red Sox’ best course of action would be to sign Josh Beckett to a new contract sooner than later. Schilling points out that Beckett, whose current deal runs out after the 2010 season, shouldn’t be subject to just the statistical comparisons of other pitchers, but should also be valued for the type of presence he brings to the Red Sox’ starting rotation while pitching in the American League East. Schilling writes:
“Josh works from a different perspective than many, it’s why he was so good so young. He pushes himself with an internal bar and set of values that not many kids have. That isn’t going to change, in fact I’d argue that it’s only gotten ‘better’ over the past few years. He knows he’s in the games toughest division, he knows who people consider the best and I promise you he doesn’t ever take the ball, no matter who he is facing, and not believe 100% he’s going to not only win, but dominate.
“He’s getting to a stage in his career where the mental work, the prep work, is going to meet and surpass the physical effort. Which in his case is saying something because he’s a kid who does work his ass off and does want to be the best. When he does combine max effort in the mental preparation arena (which is not to say he hasn’t before, but as you age you learn different things about yourself and the game) with his physical preparation, things could get interesting.
“I do believe Jon Lester is an ace in the making, he’s going to be a legit #1 very soon, if not this year, the only thing stopping that is his command, when that comes he’s as good as there is, combining that with Josh, with Dice, with Clay and Lackey, there aren’t many deeper or more talented rotations anywhere.
“You lock Josh up you lock up the top 3 spots in your rotation (well 4 if you don’t trade Clay) for the next 3-5 years, and each of those spots is occupied by a 1 or a 2. In the AL East you go into each season with a legitimate shot at winning it all with that mix.
“Here’s the other thing. Whatever you perceive Josh’s value to be at the end of this deal the one thing you know for sure is that he’ll still be giving you every ounce of everything he has, that’s just who he is. You cannot say the same thing for other guys around the league.”
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