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Clarifying Carl Crawford’s contract and the Yankees

01.31.11 at 8:40 am ET
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Over the weekend, a report in the Chicago Tribune suggested that, should the Red Sox trade Carl Crawford over the course of his seven-year, $142 million contract, the deal mandates that the team acquiring him would be prohibited from subsequently dealing the outfielder to the Yankees. However, a team source said that the report was inaccurate, and that there is no such contract clause.

Crawford’s deal does include limited no-trade protection. The Sox reportedly have the right to select 28 clubs to whom he can be traded without his consent; Crawford, in turn, gets to eliminate two of those teams.

In the past, when the Sox have had the right to select one team to whom a player will receive no-trade protection (as is the case with the structure of Crawford’s no-trade protection), they have chosen the Yankees, insofar as that minimizes the impact on their trade options. The Sox rarely if ever discuss deals directly with the Yankees, and the last time the two teams consummated a deal was in 1997, when the Sox sent Mike Stanley to New York for Tony Armas Jr. and Jim Mecir.

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Minor Details Ep. 7 — The Red Sox’ Cuban Connection

01.30.11 at 9:01 am ET
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The annual prospect rankings are out, and the verdict appears unanimous: Jose Iglesias is the cream of the Red Sox‘€™ minor league crop.

The 21-year-old shortstop is a dazzling defender with a quick, compact swing that results in a hail of line drives. He is viewed as an above-average everyday shortstop in the making, someone who could emerge as a Red Sox lineup regular by 2012, and depending on how his plate discipline and power develop, he could emerge as a standout.

But Iglesias is not alone as a Cuban player who is expected to make an impact for the Red Sox in the near future. Increasingly, the Sox system is being impacted by players who made the bold and irreversible decision to defect from their native country in order to pursue Major League Baseball careers.

Take Juan Carlos Linares. His signing last summer barely made a ripple, as the 26-year-old (then 25) outfielder did not make much of an impression when he made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League and then Double-A Portland.

But even before he emerged as a standout performer in the Arizona Fall League, a couple of factors suggested an intriguing player. First, the Sox signed him for a bonus of $750,000 after being impressed by his raw power, baserunning speed and ability to play all three outfield positions. Secondly, he is represented by Scott Boras.

Based solely on those two superficial measures, it is clear that the baseball industry assigned a meaningful value to Linares’€™ talents. The basis for that assessment became clear in Arizona, where Linares hit .397 with a 1.084 OPS while playing solid defense (with good instincts that made up for any limits to his range) at all three outfield positions.

‘€œThe fast-twitch bat speed is the best tool that stands out to me, watching him play. This guy’€™s got a knack for turning around a fastball,’€ farm director Mike Hazen said of Linares. ‘€œWatching a guy in a limited amount of time, you don’€™t know how the long-term reaction to the off-speed and the breaking ball is going to be, but he certainly shows that right off the bat.

‘€œThere was certainly no intimidation going out to the Fall League and playing at an advanced level. This guy played at an advanced level in Cuba, but coming into a new environment can sometimes be intimidating. He didn’€™t seem intimidated at all. Pretty impressive kid.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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Theo Epstein on Red Sox’ roster: ‘We’re more or less set’

01.28.11 at 3:11 pm ET
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Speaking at an event honoring the Red Sox‘ Opening Weekend Experience winners at Fenway Park, general manager Theo Epstein said that other than a potential late minor-league signing the team’s spring training roster is fully constructed.

“Who knows when there might be a waiver claim, or one more minor league sign,” said Epstein, “but, we’€™re more or less set.”

The GM did note that one area the Red Sox might add another piece for depth on a minor-league deal is in the form of a potential starter.

“We do feel OK about our starting depth. That’€™s one area we’€™re still looking, there might be a late minor-league sign, somebody who can go to Triple A,” said Epstein, who has already signed veteran starters Brandon Duckworth and Jason Bergmann for organizational depth. “But right now those guys are looking for major league jobs, so we’€™ll see. We do feel like we have some built in depth.”

The Red Sox did show some recent interest in adding lefty reliever Joe Beimel, but it appears the pitcher will be inking a minor-league deal with the Pirates.

“Late  in the offseason there are some guys who are potentially available on minor league deals who would be worth more than the look in camp, so we try and stay involved in some of those guys,” Epstein said. “Sometimes they stay on teams that have more openings on the 25-man roster.”

For more Red Sox news, check out the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox Review: JD Drew

01.28.11 at 9:00 am ET
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* – If you are looking for reasons why Drew’s offensive production fell off significantly in 2010, start with the fact that opponents took advantage of his patience to get ahead of him more often than in any of his previous seasons in Boston.
 
From 2007-2009, Drew put the first pitch in play 156 times (10 percent) and put up an OPS of 1.039. Last season, he still put the first pitch in play 10 percent of the time and saw some dropoff in OPS, falling to a still-potent .926.
 
During his first three seasons as a member of the Red Sox, Drew saw the count go through 1-and-0 on 47 percent of his plate appearances and recorded an OPS of .984 in those opportunities.  In 2010, he produced at even ever higher clip (1.043) but got ahead just 42 percent of the time.
 
Finally, Drew fell behind in 43 percent of his plate appearances during the 2007-2009 seasons and managed a .725 OPS. But last season, he watched (or fouled off) a first pitch strike 48 percent of the time and then struggled to a .572 OPS.
 
So if Drew’s “get ahead” ratio had remained the same in 2010, he would have had about 30 more at-bats go through 1-and-0 (at an 1.043 OPS) and 30 fewer go through 0-and-1 (at .572), probably putting him closer to an .820 OPS for the season, rather than .793.  It doesn’t explain everything, but it’s a start.
 
Perhaps Drew will consider being a little more aggressive at jumping on the first pitch in 2011, forcing opposing pitchers to re-evaluate their “strike one” strategy.

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* – Drew has hit 238 career homers but has had only two seasons with 75 or more RBI. Only two players in history have hit more homers with two or fewer seasons of 75+ RBI: Lou Whitaker (244 HR; 2 seasons of 75 RBI) and Rick Monday (241 HR; 1 season of 75 RBI).

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* – Drew has bounced into 41 double plays over his last four seasons (2,093 PA), the exact same number of GIDP’s that he recorded over his first nine seasons (3,774 PA).

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* – While his 172 plate appearances vs. lefties was the second highest total of his career (he had 206 in 2004), his .611 OPS against them was the worst of his career.

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* – Drew’s .820 OPS in road games last season was almost identical to his .821 road OPS from 2005-2009. It was his home OPS that took a beating last year (.766) compared to 2005-2009 (.954, fifth in the majors in that span).

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* – Was Drew just unlucky late last season? After putting up a .325 batting average on balls in play in the season’s first half (better than his career first half figure of .318), it fell off to just .233 after the break, fifth lowest in the AL (min. 240 second half PA).

—————————————————————————————————————————- Read the rest of this entry »

Dustin Pedroia: ‘There have been some surprises’ when it has come to injured foot

01.27.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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After conducting his daily rehabilitation/workout at Foothills Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in Gilbert, Ariz., Dustin Pedroia admitted to WEEI.com that “there have been some surprises” in his offseason while coming back from surgery on his left foot.

“I’d say there have been some surprises,” Pedroia said. “I thought when I had surgery on my foot, in three months I would feel 100 percent, and that wasn’t the case. It’s been a lot tougher than I thought it was, and what everyone thought it would be.

“The people that have had this injury, there’s not a lot in baseball, but in other sports Yao Ming and, shoot, he still hasn’t recovered, and Grant Hill had it and he’s kind of back normal. It’s a weird bone to break without a non-stress fracture. Mine is from impact and you never see those injuries from impact. They say that stress fractures with this injuries is different, where your body is taking over. Mine is from a ball hitting off it, so it’s a little different in terms of the recovery.

“The tough part is finding a way to figure out what the best thing is for me and how I can ready for myself to play every day. I’m two weeks away from spring training and I’m just now kind of getting the program to where I feel good and to where I feel good to where I can play a game.”

Pedroia talked at length about the importance of managing any soreness in regard to his foot, offering the example that he most likely wouldn’t participate in the team’s spring training conditioning tests. He also touched on how his young son, Dylan, offered a much-needed distraction through out an offseason, which included numerous bouts of uncertainty.

To read the entire column, talking to Pedroia, click here. For more Red Sox coverage, go to weei.com/redsox.

Larry Lucchino on D&C: ‘I give [Brian Cashman] credit for his forthrightness’

01.27.11 at 9:31 am ET
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During an in-studio appearance on the Dennis and Callahan Show, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino talked about a variety of subjects involving the team’s offseason moves, Fenway Park, and the upcoming season. Lucchino also addressed some of the issues surrounding the Sox’ rival, the Yankees.

Regarding comments made by New York general manager Brian Cashman saying that he was not on board with his team signing free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, Lucchino applauded Cashman.

“I give him credit for his forthrightness,” the Red Sox executive said.

As for the statement by Yankees’ co-chairman Hank Streinbenner that the Yankees didn’t complain about injuries last season, while the Red Sox did publicly bemoan their situation, Lucchino simply said, “Let Hank talk.”

Lucchino touched on a variety of other subjects:

  • On the term ‘Bridge Year’ and the impetus to make this offseason’s moves: “I think that term was misunderstood last year. ‘€¦ What really drove us was finishing third.”
  • On the temptation to simply get healthy and come back with relatively the same team: “That sentiment was expressed, but failed for a lack of seconding.”
  • Regarding competitors for the services of Carl Crawford: “We were aware of the Angels’ keen interest in him.”
  • On the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez: “It did help when Jed [Hoyer] went out there [to become general manager of the Padres]. He had a deep knowledge of our players. ‘€¦ We didn’t steal Adrian Gonzalez.”
  • In regards to failing to work out a contract extension with Gonzalez prior to making the trade for the first baseman: “If we didn’t think we weren’t within shouting distance, we would have gone through with the trade.”
  • Talking about the plan to expand the bullpens, thereby moving in the right field wall Lucchino said while the idea has been tabled for now, there has been discussion about moving the bullpen out rather than in, with the possibility of going underneath the ground, as well.

To listen to the interview, click here. For more on the Red Sox, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Former Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim signs with Japanese team

01.26.11 at 10:45 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim agreed to a one-year deal worth 33 million yen (approximately $36,500) with Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, according to a report in The Japan Times.

The 32-year-old submarine pitcher is a candidate for the closer’s role.

“I know that the team has high expectations of me, so I want to respond accordingly,” Kim said in a team statement.

Kim played nine seasons in the major leagues, posting a 54-60 record with 86 saves and a 4.42 ERA. He is best known for his disastrous performance as Diamondbacks closer in the 2001 World Series against the Yankees, when he coughed up two-run leads in the ninth inning of consecutive games, allowing three home runs and five earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in two appearances. He did not appear again in that World Series, which the Diamondbacks won in seven games.

He pitched for the Red Sox in 2003 and ’04 as both a starter and reliever. He compiled a 10-6 record with 16 saves and a 3.72 ERA. After being booed in the 2003 American League Division Series, Kim gave Sox fans the middle finger. He later apologized. He was traded to the Rockies before the 2005 season.

In 2010, Kim played for the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League.

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