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Buchholz scratched from final start; Wakefield gets the nod

10.01.10 at 7:53 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz‘ breakout 2010 season will end in disappointing fashion, as the 26-year-old has been scratched from his scheduled start against the Yankees on Saturday due to a stiff lower back. Tim Wakefield will get the start in Buchholz’ place.

Buchholz concludes his first full year in the Red Sox rotation with a 17-7 record and a 2.33 ERA that ranked second in the American League to Felix Hernandez (2.27) of the Seattle Mariners. He made 28 starts and pitched 173 2/3 innings, joining Jon Lester to give the Red Sox two All-Star starters atop their rotation. Buchholz struck out 120 and walked 67, holding opponents to a measly .226 average and nine homers.

Wakefield gets his 19th start of the year, and his first since Sept. 8. The 44-year-old is 4-10 with a 5.20 ERA.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, felix hernandez, Tim Wakefield,

Adrian Beltre’s player option jumps up to $10 million

10.01.10 at 12:18 am ET
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CHICAGO — Adrian Beltre’s player option for 2011 officially doubled, from $5 million to $10 million, after he reached 640 plate appearances for the season with his three at-bats in the Red Sox‘ 8-2 loss to the White Sox, Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Beltre, who came into the game with 638 plate appearances, hadn’t reached the level of PA’s since 2006, when he finished with 681. The third baseman has now had at least 640 plate appearances four times in his career.

Even with option jumping up by $5 million, it almost certainly won’t factor into Beltre’s approach to committing to a team this offseason. He inked the one-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2010 campaign with an eye on securing a multi-year deal following the season. The plan has worked for the 31-year-old, who is hitting .321 with 28 home runs and an OPS of .923.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Beltre, who has played in 154 of the Sox’ 159 games this season. “It’s a testament that I was able to stay healthy, and be in the lineup almost every day. But that’s it.”

Beltre said coming into the season’s final week that the clause in the contract was never thought as something that wouldn’t be attained.

‘€œThat number was set because I had done it before. I had been close to that number for a lot of years. Since the season started I never thought about numbers. I never really thought about it,’€ he said on Sept. 21. ‘€œIt shows I wasn’€™t hurt, which was one of the things I wanted to do. Hurt is one thing, but to have soreness and nagging things are another. For me being hurt is having surgery. I’€™ve been lucky enough that the injuries I’€™ve had haven’€™t stopped me from swinging the bat or anything like that.’€

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

MLB alters free agent rules

09.30.10 at 7:01 pm ET
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The following statement was issued on Thursday by the Major League Baseball Players Association:

The Basic Agreement sets out rules that govern players’€™ eligibility for free agency, rules for the conduct of both Clubs and players during the off-season, and a means of enforcing those rules against parties who are alleged to be in violation. These requirements are the product of years of bargaining and earlier litigation between MLB and the MLBPA.

The Players Association brought to the attention of Major League Baseball its concerns about the operation of the free agent market during the past two off-seasons (2008-2009 and 2009’€“2010). The parties have since engaged in intensive collective bargaining in an effort to arrive at a mutually satisfactory outcome that would obviate the need for prolonged litigation. Today, the MLBPA is pleased to announce that its Executive Board has approved an agreement that will modify certain aspects of the free agent system for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 off-seasons.  The players did not achieve everything they set out to accomplish, but the Executive Board views the end result as preferable to continued processing of the potential cases under the Grievance and Arbitration provisions of the Basic Agreement.

The terms of the agreement are confidential, but among its provisions are the following substantive changes to the operation of the free agent market that will be effective for the 2010 and 2011 off-seasons:
— Automatic free agency for eligible players, without the need for election;
— A five-day period at the end of the World Series (shortened from fifteen) during which only the free agent’€™s original team may sign him to a new contract;
— Earlier deadlines for the original teams to offer, and for the players to accept, salary arbitration under the rules of the Basic Agreement;
— An earlier date for Clubs to make tender and non-tender decisions;
— Stricter rules for all parties (the MLBPA, MLB, Clubs, players and agents) to guard against collusion in the free agent process;
— Restrictions on the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.

MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner said:

‘€œThe agreement provides a meaningful response to the MLBPA’€™s concerns about the operation of recent free agent markets. It is intended to facilitate negotiations between Clubs and players throughout the salary structure.

‘€œThe agreement was approved by the MLBPA’€™s Executive Board, after consultation with a significant number of affected players and their agents. Those affected players, who had the most to gain if the Union had successfully litigated these claims, sacrificed for the benefit of players going forward, and deserve our praise and gratitude.

‘€œThe Commissioner’€™s Office worked productively and creatively with the Union to resolve our differences. I hope that we can build on this momentum when we begin bargaining for a new Basic Agreement later this year.’€

Theo Epstein on D&H: Transcript

09.30.10 at 2:53 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning and talked about his disappointment with his team failing to advance to the postseason.

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “We’re proud of the way the guys hung in there and played really hard to the end. But I’m disappointed that we’re going to fall short or our goal every year to get to the postseason and try to do some damage in October.”

Epstein said pitching and defense, which he thought would be the team’s strengths coming out of spring training, ended up being the major problems, especially the bullpen’s failure to prevent opponents from scoring.

“It’s just not acceptable,” he said. “If you’re looking for one area of the club, that’s really it. We didn’t pitch like we wanted to, we didn’t play defense like we wanted to, and we allowed our opponents to just score way too much.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

How are you doing? You don’t sound a whole lot better than [Terry Francona] did yesterday.

Yeah, we’re hanging in there. Tito was pretty sick yesterday. I just talked to him. He’s doing a lot better today. But no, it’s a long grind, physically and emotionally. And when you reach the end of the line, it catches up with you a little bit.

Is the raspiness I hear in your voice, is that just the realization that your team is not going to make the playoffs, and you were somehow holding out hope that there could be some kind of miraculous finish regarding the postseason?

Well, yeah, I guess you hear disappointment. I mean, it would be kind of disturbing if you didn’t. We’re disappointed. We’re proud of the way the guys hung in there and played really hard to the end. But I’m disappointed that we’re going to fall short or our goal every year to get to the postseason and try to do some damage in October. So, sure, yeah, you hear some disappointment.

If you had to narrow it down to your top thing, why are you in this position? Why is your team 87-71 and on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs?

Well, it’s always hard to identify any one single factor. It is definitely multifactorial. But, just kind of recapping the year, if you look back to where we were and how we felt when we broke spring training, I think we felt like we had a really good team, a legitimate chance to be one of the best teams in the league, one of the best two or three in all of baseball, and the chance to accomplish our goals.

I think we thought we had a balanced club, you know, one that would be one of the top two or three in the league in scoring runs, and one that would be one of the top two or three in pitching and defense and limiting our opposition scoring. That’s the balance that we strive for. Some things went right and some things went wrong, and obviously we had a lot of injuries along the way.

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Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lacket, Josh Beckett, Theo Epstein

Theo Epstein on D&H: ‘We’re disappointed’

09.30.10 at 2:20 pm ET
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Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined the Dale & Holley show to offer his thoughts on the 2010 season. In a wide-ranging interview, Epstein touched on a number of topics including the performances of Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jonathan Papelbon and J.D. Drew. (A complete transcript will be posted shortly).

“We’re disappointed,” Epstein said of the season. “We’re proud of the way the guys hung in there and played really hard to the end, but I’m disappointed that we’re going to fall short of our goal every year to get to the postseason and do some damage in October.”

Yet Epstein thinks that the Sox are not far away from returning to a championship-level club. “It adds up to an organization that’s in really good position and not far away from a championship,” Epstein said. “In fact we could very well win one next year and that’s the goal.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked if he could identify one thing that went wrong, Epstein said, “It’s always hard to identify one single factor. It is definitely is multi-factorial. We felt like we had a really good team, a legitimate chance to be on the best teams in the league. We thought we had a balanced club, one of the top two or three in the league scoring runs and one of the top two or three in pitching and defense. That’s the balance that we strive for. Some things went right and some things went wrong.

“The way things went offensively kind of went according to plan,” Epstein continued. “Given that, you can really isolate a lot of the issues to our pitching and defense where we underperformed pretty dramatically. … Our starting pitching was a bit of a mixed bag. [Jon] Lester and [Clay] Buchholz both had dominating years. The rest of the rotations didn’t really live up to expectations and then the bullpen turned out to be our major weakness.” Read the rest of this entry »

The case for why Felix Hernandez should win the Cy Young

09.30.10 at 1:48 pm ET
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I realize that the Yankees and the Rays are still battling it out to see who will win the AL East, but I’m more concerned with the other race in the American League: The Cy Young.

There are five legit candidates this year: CC Sabathia, David Price, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and Felix Hernandez. (No disrespect to Trevor Cahill, who has had an outstanding year, but I just can’t put him in same class as the others.)

You can make an argument for each one of them. If you look at wins, than Sabathia may be your guy. If you look more at ERA, than its between Hernandez and Buchholz. The final vote may be one of the closest races in recent history.

My opinion?  I give the nod to Felix Hernandez.

I just think that King Felix has been the most dominant pitcher in the game this year. I know that he only has 13 wins on the year, but you have to take into consideration how bad Seattle’s offense was this year. The Red Sox, Rays and Yankees have scored 290, 287, and 337 more runs, respectively, than the Seattle Mariners.  But with a race this close, I chose to take a deeper look and see how each pitcher did against the AL East. I don’t think that this should be the deciding factor, but as we all know, the East is the best division in baseball.  Take a look:

CC SABATHIA: 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 237 2/3 IP, 197 K’s

Against ‘€¦

Baltimore (6 starts) 5-1, 3.56 ERA, 43 IP, 31 K’s

Boston (4 starts) 1-0, 3.96 ERA, 25 IP, 17 K’s

Tampa Bay (5 starts) 1-2, 3.38 ERA, 34 2/3 IP, 29 K’s

Toronto (1 start), 1-0. 1.08 ERA, 8 1/3 IP 8 K’s

Total: (16 starts) 8-3, 3.41 ERA, 111 IP, 85 K’s

(CC’s numbers are good but nothing blows you away.)

DAVID PRICE: 19-6, 2.73 ERA, 207 2/3 IP, 187 K’s

Against ‘€¦

Baltimore (2 starts), 2-0, 0.60 ERA, 15 IP, 15 K’s

Boston (3 starts), 2-1, 2.61 ERA, 20 2/3 IP, 20 K’s

New York (4 starts), 2-1, 4.39 ERA, 26 2/3 IP, 21 K’s

Toronto (4 starts), 4-0, 0.58 ERA, 31 IP, 23 K’s

Total: (13 starts) 10-2, 2.12 ERA, 93 1/3 IP, 79 K’s

(Winning 10 games in the AL East is impressive. After looking at these numbers, Price jumps up the board.)

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Josh Beckett says back wasn’t an issue in season’s final months

09.30.10 at 12:02 am ET
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CHICAGO — Speaking after the Red Sox‘ 5-2 loss to the White Sox, Josh Beckett said that the back injury he had been sidelined with for almost two months wasn’t a factor since he returned to the team’s rotation on July 23. The pitcher finished off his 2010 season with a six-inning outing, in which he allowed four runs on 11 hits, giving up three runs in the seventh inning.

“The back has been pretty good,” said Beckett, whose ends ’10 at 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA.

“A lot of things are based on results. People say results don’t really matter, but results matter. When it’s all said and done, that’s what you have.”

Since returning from the disabled list, Beckett went 5-5 with a 4.94 ERA. In the season’s final month, he made five starts, going 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA while pitching at least six innings in each of the outings. Asked if he was hoping to build off of the final few appearances, and was looking forward to next season, the righty said, “I haven’t really thought about it. If I let things snowball like that, this year could have been longer and tougher than it was.

“I’m not going to worry about it. It is what it is. I know who I am. Move on.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Mike Lowell forgot to get the home run ball

09.29.10 at 11:37 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Mike Lowell showed that he isn’t quite used to this retirement thing, yet.

After hitting a solo homer in the eighth inning of the Red Sox‘ 5-2 loss to the White Sox, Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field, it didn’t don on the Sox’ first baseman to have somebody get the ball just in case it was the final home run of his career.

“I didn’t and about an inning later Eric Patterson told me, ‘You should have got the ball.’ Then I kind of said, ‘Maybe I should.’ I thought about it after the fact,” said Lowell, who now has 223 home runs for his career. “If it is then I’ll just get a ball and write it in. Just trick them.”

The homer was Lowell’s first since Aug. 10 in Toronto, and just so happened to come off of a familiar foe, Chicago starter Freddy Garcia.

“I actually worked out with Freddy Garcia this offseason,” Lowell said. “He grinds it out. He’s not that 97 mph thrower anymore. He pitched well, but I’ve got bragging rights for his offseason.”

Later the 36-year-old added, “Hopefully there’s one or two more left in the tank to do something. It sure feels good to run around the bases.”

Kevin Cash on Tampa Bay crowd situation: ‘It’s a joke’

09.29.10 at 9:05 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Kevin Cash — a native of North Tampa — not only agreed with the frustrations recently relayed by Rays’ players Evan Longoria and David Price over the lack of fans in the stands at Tropicana Field, but took his criticism to another level.

“I agree with them 100 percent,” said Cash, referring to comments made by Longoria and Price in regard to the attendance (or lack thereof) at the Rays’ home ballpark despite the team making the postseason for the second time in three years. “It’s a joke. I’m not going to sit here and call out fans. I respect everything about the economy and everything. But at the same time, the Yankees and Red Sox, they’re not complaining.

When asked if the trend in attendance at The Trop could ever be reversed, Cash said, “Not in that location. Never … It’s a crummy stadium. It’s not in a good location.”

Cash knows a little bit about the stadium in St. Petersburg, which was originally named the Suncoast Dome and didn’t host a major league baseball team until the Rays started calling it home in 1998. The catcher was a member of the Tampa All-Star team that went to the Little League World Series in 1989, a group that was part of the stadium’s grand opening festivities. (Singers Kenny Rogers and Bo Diddley also were part of the event’s entertainment, which featured Cash’s team playing Wiffleball.)

He has seen first-hand the impetus for the problems facing the Tampa Bay franchise from the start, and, in Cash’s mind, it begins and ends with where the stadium resides.

“I would say the biggest reason, and the basis is, is the stadium is in a horrendous location,” I grew up as a [Tampa Bay] Bucs fan where nobody went and it was right in the middle of the city in Tampa, and they got good and people showed up.

“Their fans aren’€™t very good to begin with. The way they’€™ve performed the last three or four years, they should be getting more fans than what they are. But what kills them the most is their location. That’€™s a huge ordeal for a family to pack up from the Tampa sub-divisions, go over the bridge, deal with all that mess. The parking, getting out of the stadium, it’€™s a joke.”

As for the comments made by the Tampa Bay players, Cash has no issues with any of the execution.

“I don’€™t see anything wrong in them saying that,” he insisted. “I agree 100 percent.”

Terry Francona on D&H transcription

09.29.10 at 1:48 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona, appearing on the Dale & Holley show one day after his team was eliminated officially from the playoff race, acknowledged the disappointment that his team will not be playing beyond this coming weekend. While Francona lauded the effort put forth by the 2010 Sox, he said that it will be difficult to follow a postseason in a year when his team is not in it.

“I’€™ll have [the playoffs] on. Down deep, I like baseball so much,” Francona said. “But it’€™s a bad feeling. It’€™s probably hard to explain. It probably sounds a lot like sour grapes. But we’€™re just not ready to go home. I know you’re supposed to be a good sport and congratulate the other team, but it’s hard. You want to be there. And we’€™ve been there before. There’€™s probably jealousy and envy. We just don’€™t like it.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

We sort of expected it would become official and it finally did last night, was it sort of inevitable you felt going down this last week or so?

I don’€™t know, we actually probably never really tried to think about it. I think sometimes if you’€™re supposed to try to be practical, you know, it doesn’€™t pay to be. We’€™re just trying to win and win and win and hope somebody else lost and, you know, just trying to make it last as long as possible. Like you said, it ended last night but, you know, we just, I don’€™t know, common sense, I don’€™t know if that really helps you sometimes.

You sound a little down, is it officially not making the playoffs or is it something else?

Oh, I’€™m just sick, everybody’€™s passing it around, and I’€™m miserable. I’€™m doing my best because my head feels like it’€™s beaten against the wall.

So what’€™s the plan now that it’€™s official, how do you approach the final days of the season?

You know, probably not a whole lot different. We’€™ve been trying to balance, for the last two weeks, playing some of the younger guys, keeping some guys healthy, you know, the veterans have been playing and playing hurt are doing such a great job. We’€™ll probably do pretty similar the rest of the way out. We have five games left and we’€™ll probably try to do that. We’€™re certainly not going to over-pitch somebody or overextend somebody, but at the same time, you know, we’€™re professional ball players and our guys have been in and out of the lineup and we’€™ll continue to mix and match and hopefully win games.

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Read More: Daniel Bard, Jason Varitek, mike lowell, Terry Francona
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