|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.”
|02.05.10 at 4:36 pm ET|
The Red Sox announced a list of 20 non-roster invitees who will take part in the team’s Major League spring training camp. The group that will join members of the 40-man roster includes some of the top prospects in the team’s farm system — pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Lars Anderson and outfielder Ryan Kalish — as well as a number of pitchers who will compete for the final spots in the bullpen.
The team’s press release announcing the non-roster invitees is below:
The Red Sox today announced that 20 players will attend the team’s Major League Spring Training camp as non-roster invitees.
The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
The non-roster invitees are pitchers Randor Bierd, Fernando Cabrera, Kris Johnson, Casey Kelly, Adam Mills, Edwin Moreno, Joe Nelson, Brian Shouse, Jorge Sosa and Kyle Weiland; catchers Luis Exposito and Gustavo Molina; infielders Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Angel Sanchez and Gil Velazquez; and outfielders Zach Daeges, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin and Darnell McDonald.
Half of the 20 invitees have Major League experience, including Bierd, Cabrera, McDonald, Molina, Moreno, Nelson, Sanchez, Shouse, Sosa, and Velazquez. Cabrera and Velazquez both saw action for the Red Sox in 2009.
Pitchers and catchers will participate in their first on-field workout in Fort Myers on Saturday, February 20. The first full workout of the Red Sox Spring Training camp is on Wednesday, February 24.
All workouts take place at Boston’s Player Development Complex, located at 4301 Edison Avenue. The team will move its spring operation to City of Palms Park when the games begin on Wednesday, March 3.
2010 NON-ROSTER INVITEES
Pitchers (10) — Randor Bierd, Fernando Cabrera, Kris Johnson*, Casey Kelly, Adam Mills, Edwin Moreno, Joe Nelson, Brian Shouse*, Jorge Sosa, Kyle Weiland
Catchers (2) — Luis Exposito, Gustavo Molina
Infielders (4) — Lars Anderson, Yamaico Navarro, Angel Sanchez, Gil Velazquez
Outfielders (4) — Zach Daeges, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, Darnell McDonald
* – left-handed pitcher Bold – indicates new to Red Sox organization or taking part in first big-league spring training with the Sox
|02.05.10 at 3:10 pm ET|
It is now just under a year since the Red Sox gave Jon Lester the sort of deal that had no precedent. The Sox and Lester agreed on a five-year, $30 million deal that includes a $13 million option for the 2014 season. That deal represented a record in terms of guaranteed years (5) and dollars ($30 million) for a pitcher who had yet reached arbitration eligibility. (For the context of the deal at the time, click here.)
For the club, there was some risk involved. The Sox were making a sizable long-term commitment to a pitcher on the strength of one truly dominant year at the big-league level. Less than one year later, however, it becomes obvious that the deal is one that may end up saving the club tens of millions of dollars.
Over the last two years, Lester has established himself as one of the most dominant left-handers in the game. He is part of a conversation that includes CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Cliff Lee and not many others. In 2008-09, he went a combined 31-14 (tied for the 6th most wins in the majors) with a 3.31 ERA (13th), 377 strikeouts (12th), and a puny 74 OPS+ (6th). In his career, he is now 42-16 with a 3.66 ERA.
Yet assuming that the Sox end up exercising their option on the 26-year-old, he will cost $42.75 million between now and 2014. He’s only given up one year of free agency — two if the Sox exercise their option — but assuming the Boston front office does indeed keep him for the final year of the deal, Lester’s first two free-agent years would be coming at a cost of $11.625 million and $13 million.
As Brian MacPherson of the Union Leader has pointed out, those figures seem like a bargain when compared to the two market-changing contracts that were just signed by Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Seattle’s royal figure of pitching, Felix Hernandez.
Verlander — who has one more year of service time than Lester — just inked a five-year, $80 million deal that will keep him in Detroit through 2014. His free-agent years are being valued at $20 million each. That deal went just over the five-year, $78 million deal that Hernandez — who, like Verlander, has one more year of service time than Lester — signed to remain with the Mariners through 2014. His first three free-agent years are valued at an average of $19.33 million per season.
Verlander has a career record of 65-43 with a 3.92 ERA; he’s never had an ERA below 3.45. His strikeout numbers (8.0 per nine innings) are better than Lester’s (7.9), but not by much, and Lester is more of a groundball pitcher than Verlander.
Hernandez’ numbers compare more impressively to Lester’s: he is 58-41 with a 3.45 career ERA, 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a tremendous groundball rate that is better than either Lester’s and Verlander’s. He is also the youngest of the three. (Hernandez turns 24 in April; Lester turned 26 last month; and Verlander turns 27 later this month.)
If you were to bet on one pitcher to be the best of the three — regardless of contract — it would be Hernandez. But would you anticipate that he will be so much better than Lester that he would be worth an additional $35 million over the next five seasons? Probably not.
Put another way: had the Sox waited until after the 2010 season to sign Lester to an extension when he had accumulated four-plus years of service time, barring a disastrous performance in the coming year, there is little question that he would have been in line for a long-term deal along the lines of the ones signed by Verlander and Hernandez.
Of course, Lester’s contract cannot be compared apples-to-apples with the two that were just signed. He agreed to his deal at a much different point in his career than did either of the other two pitchers. In that regard, Lester did an excellent job of achieving a lifetime of security after just a couple years in the majors. Again, he received more guaranteed money than any other pitcher in his service class at the time that he signed his contract.
That said, the recent deals suggest that the Sox, by moving aggressively to achieve a long-term deal at an early stage of a dominant young pitcher’s career, got one of the best bargains in all of baseball. If Lester remains healthy, and continues to perform at the elite levels that have characterized his past two years, his deal with Boston will be one of the most team-friendly around.
|02.04.10 at 6:11 pm ET|
WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni reports that after talking to Nomar Garciaparra, the former Red Sox shortstop is intent on playing in the majors for the 2010 season if the right situation presents itself. Garciaparra said his calf, which has been hindering the 36-year-old for the past few years, feels better now that has in quite some time.
Garciaparra has talked to a few major leagues teams, but is holding out for the right situation. He also has had conversations about potentially doing work with the MLB Network. Garciaparra played in 65 games with Oakland last season, hitting .281 with three homers.
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that Garciaparra was “widely expected to retire.”
|02.04.10 at 1:33 pm ET|
According a post on Twitter from NPB Tracker, Sports Hochi is reporting that the Red Sox are one of four teams to have offered a minor league contract to left-handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi. The other three clubs reportedly showing interest are the Giants, Padres and Dodgers. Takahashi is a 34-year-old left-hander who has started for most of his career.
Last season with the Yomiuri Giants he went 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA, striking out 121 batters while walking 36 in 144 innings pitched. Takahashi 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. For more on Takahashi, click here.
|02.04.10 at 11:26 am ET|
Even though the great majority of the 15 Japanese baseball-playing participants have left the Athletes’ Performance training facility in Phoenix to attend their respective spring trainings in Japan, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is still working out at AP. Matsuzaka, who began his first offseason training at AP in early Dec., has left a positive impression on the Athletes’ Performance staff, according to the facility’s Director of Methodology Craig Friedman.
“He’s doing great,” Friedman said. “We have two Japanese coaches on staff, one of which has been working with him the whole time. The updates that I’ve gotten on him is that he is doing really well.” It was reported by MLB.com that Matsuzaka had “unexpectedly taken a week off” from AP, but Friedman reports that the pitcher has lived up to expectations during his time in Phoenix.
The other Japanese baseball players participating at AP this offseason, along with Matsuzaka, are: Shuhei Fukada, Hiroyasu Tanaka, Tsubasa Aizawa, Masamitusu Suzuki, Koji Yamasaki, Ryota Igarashi, Yoshinori Sato, Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi, Chikara Onodera, and Tetsuya Iwasaki.
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