|01.18.10 at 6:30 pm ET|
According to Peter Gammons on NESN, the Red Sox and Jason Bay had agreed on the framework of a four-year, $60 million deal in July before an MRI raised concerns about both of the outfielder’s knees. As a result of those concerns, Gammons said, Sox ownership reduced its offer from four years to two.
Gammons suggested that the dispute illustrated the need for an independent medical staff in the majors, since there is sometimes distrust by players about the health findings of doctors who are employed by a team.
“You had the same thing here with Jason Bay, when he agreed to the four-year, $60 million deal near the end of July and then the MRI showed some problems with both knees,” said Gammons. “Ownership wanted it to be two years and he had to prove that he was healthy to be able to make it four years, and he wouldn’t sign. This is no reflection on [Red Sox team physician Dr. Thomas] Gill and the Red Sox doctors, because they are probably the best in any sport. But the fact is, there becomes this disconnect where the player says, ‘Is he doing this for the owners or is he doing this because of my knee?’ That independent panel, I think, will almost certainly be a compromise that the owners will make.”
To see the NESN video clip, click here.
|01.16.10 at 9:20 am ET|
Jonathan Papelbon was one of four Red Sox to file for salary arbitration Friday, joining 124 other major leaguers in declaring they were eligible for the process. Also filing from the Sox were outfielder Jeremy Hermida, and relief pitchers Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen. Tuesday is the deadline for teams and players to submit salary figures for arbitration.
No Red Sox player has reached an arbitration hearing in Theo Epstein’s tenure as Red Sox’ GM, with Papelbon having avoided the process last year by agreeing to a one-year deal for $6.25 million, a record amount for a first-year arbitration-eligible pitcher.
Hermida avoided arbitration in his first year of being eligible, last year, signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal. This will be the first time Ramirez or Delcarmen are eligible for arbitration.
|01.15.10 at 4:14 pm ET|
The Red Sox announced the signings of seven minor leaguers via press release. All seven of the players — four pitchers, two infielders and an outfielder — received invitations to spring training. Here is the press release:
The Red Sox today announced the signings of seven free agents to 2010 minor league contracts. In addition, all seven players have been invited to Boston’s Major League Spring Training camp as non-roster players.
The seven free agents are right-handed pitchers Fernando Cabrera, Edwin Moreno and Jorge Sosa, left-hander Brian Shouse, infielders Angel Sanchez and Gil Velazquez, and outfielder Darnell McDonald.
Cabrera, 28, spent the 2009 season in the Boston system, posting an 8.44 ERA (5 ER/5.1 IP) with eight strikeouts and four walks in six relief outings over two stints with the Red Sox. In 43 relief appearances with Triple-A Pawtucket, he recorded a 1.71 ERA (10 ER/52.2 IP) while going 0-3 with 22 saves, the second-highest total in the International League. The right-hander has pitched in eight games out of the bullpen for Leones de Ponce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, going 2-0 with three saves and a 5.14 ERA (4 ER/7.0 IP). Originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Cabrera is 8-7 with one save, a 5.12 ERA (99 ER/174.0 IP), 193 strikeouts and 96 walks in 131 Major League relief appearances over parts of six seasons with the Indians (2004-07), Baltimore Orioles (2007-08) and Red Sox (2009).
The 29-year-old Moreno made his Major League debut with the San Diego Padres in 2009, going 1-3 with a 4.84 ERA (12 ER/22.1 IP) in 19 games out of the bullpen. He also made 39 relief appearances with the Padres Triple-A Portland affiliate, tallying a 3-3 record with 10 saves, a 4.17 ERA (21 ER/45.1 IP), 40 strikeouts and 20 walks. After the season, Moreno pitched for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League and went 1-0 with 12 saves and a 3.12 ERA (6 ER/17.1 IP) over 16 games in relief. Signed by the Texas Rangers as an international free agent on February 13, 1998, he will be in his 12th professional season in 2010.
Sosa, 32, pitched in the Washington Nationals organization during the 2009 season, including 18 games out of the bullpen for the Big League club. He was 2-1 with two saves and a 6.45 ERA (16 ER/22.1 IP) in those outings while going 1-2 with three saves, a 2.79 ERA (15 ER/48.1 IP), 53 strikeouts and 13 walks in 20 appearances (four starts) for Triple-A Syracuse. Following the season, Sosa went 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA (17 ER/40.0 IP) in nine starts for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. Signed by the Colorado Rockies as an international free agent on June 23, 1995, he has a career 42-50 Major League record with seven saves and a 4.72 ERA (386 ER/736.0 IP) in 272 games (88 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays (2002-04), Atlanta Braves (2005-06), St. Louis Cardinals (2006), New York Mets (2007-08) and Nationals (2009).
Shouse, 41, went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA (14 ER/28.0 IP) in 45 relief outings for the Rays last year. He was on the disabled list from May 25-July 26 with a left elbow strain and made four rehabilitation appearances with Single-A Charlotte, collecting one save and a 2.25 ERA (1 ER/4.0 IP). The left-hander previously pitched for the Red Sox during the 1998 campaign and was 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA (5 ER/8.0 IP) in seven relief appearances. Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the 1990 June Draft, Shouse has a career 13-10 Major League record with six saves, a 3.72 ERA (145 ER/350.2 IP), 233 strikeouts and 118 walks in 467 relief appearances over parts of 10 seasons with the Pirates (1993), Red Sox (1998), Kansas City Royals (2002), Rangers (2003-06), Milwaukee Brewers (2006-08) and Rays (2009).
Sanchez, 26, hit .305 (137-for-449) with 29 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 60 RBI and 67 runs scored in 126 games for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate in 2009. He posted a .970 fielding percentage (17 errors/569 total chances) in 116 games at shortstop and also made 10 appearances at second base (0 errors/58 total chances). A native of Puerto Rico, he has hit .318 (41-for-129) in 38 games for the Indios de Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Sanchez played in eight Major League games with Kansas City in 2006 and hit .222 (6-for-27) with an RBI and two runs scored. He appeared in four games at both second base (four starts) and shortstop (one start) without committing an error (46 total chances).
The 30-year-old Velazquez played in six games for Boston last season, making appearances at shortstop (four games) and third base (two games) while going 0-for-2 at the plate. He hit .193 (56-for-290) with three home runs and 18 RBI in 93 games for Triple-A Pawtucket, including appearances at all four infield positions and left field. Originally selected by the New York Mets in the 14th round of the 1998 First-Year Player draft, Velazquez has appeared in nine Major League games with Boston over the 2008-09 seasons, going 1-for-10 with an RBI.
McDonald, 31, hit .267 (28-for-105) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBI and 12 runs scored in 47 games over two stints with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. In 73 games with Triple-A Louisville, he batted .314 (88-for-280) with 22 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, 40 RBI, 42 runs scored and eight stolen bases. His seven triples ranked tied for fourth in the International League. Following the season, he hit .378 (28-for-74) with six homers and 20 RBI over 19 games with Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Mexican Winter League. A first-round selection (26th overall) of Baltimore in the 1997 Draft, McDonald has a .231 average (34-for-147) with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs, 11 RBI and 15 runs scored in 68 career Major League games over parts of three seasons with the Orioles (2004), Twins (2007) and Reds (2009).
All of the free agents are on the Pawtucket roster.
|01.15.10 at 8:43 am ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, prior to the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner on Thursday, said that he has not considered putting Tim Wakefield in the bullpen. Even though the rotation would currently appear to run five deep with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, the days when the knuckleballer would be hustled into a relief role seem like a thing of the past.
“I haven’t thought about that a lot. He’s a starter,” said Francona. “How that slots out, we don’t know yet.”
That said, Francona didn’t have a blueprint for Wakefield. He avoided committing to a timetable for the pitcher’s start to the season, though he did put the knuckleballer in a separate category from John Smoltz (in 2009) and Wade Miller (in ’05), pitchers who were held back by months at the start of the season.
“I would be surprised if he’s real far behind, if any,” said Francona.
–While Jeremy Hermida suggested that he is “excited to play some real baseball” now that he has moved from the home of the empty orange seats in Florida to the packed houses of Fenway, his role appears ill-defined. The Sox believe that the 26-year-old retains significant offensive potential, and that he will probably reach it with some club.
Whether or how he might do so in Boston this year remains unknown. Francona was admittedly uncertain about the outfielder’s job description for the coming year.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. Good question, bad answer. He’s a left-handed hitting outfielder,” said Francona. “We could always move Jacoby [Ellsbury] to center when [Mike] Cameron doesn’t play. J.D. [Drew] has missed games in right, we know that. So there is a fit there.
“But I can’t sit here today and say Jeremy Hermida does this. On one hand, I hope he gets an opportunity to play enough because I think he can do some things offensively. On the other hand, if he’s playing everyday, something went wrong somewhere else. But there’s a lot to like about what he can do. But I can’t sit here today and tell you where he’ll actually fit.”
–Francona seemed either amused or bemused that Daisuke Matsuzaka, just a few years removed from being evaluated as one of the best pitchers in the world, has become an afterthought in his rotation. The right-hander, he noted, is just two years removed from a season when, “by hook or by crook,” he won 18 games with a sub-3.00 ERA.
There is little doubt that Matsuzaka’s 2009 season, when he went 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA in just 59.1 innings, represented a profound disappointment, not just for his numbers and his lack of availability but also due to his ideological clashes with the team over proper forms of preparation. But ultimately, the team believes that both the pitcher and his club will benefit from the pitcher’s pride to prove that he is still an effective pitcher.
“He’s almost at times fallen off from people’s thinking. He won 18 games the year before. It’s kind of out of sight, out of mind,” said Francona. “He’s supposed to be pretty good. If he’s pitching in that four hole, or that fourth game of the season, he’s going to match up.”
Sox officials were indeed surprised by Matsuzaka’s claim in a Japanese magazine that he had tried to pitch through a leg injury that caused his mechanics to suffer. But with the pitcher showing the commitment to spend the offseason working out at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona, the Sox believe that they are in a good position with the right-hander, and they are more focused on how he fares going forward than on any head-scratching statements about the past.
–Francona has been in touch with Jed Lowrie, whom he described as “cautiously optimistic” about the recovery of the left wrist that required surgery and sabotaged his 2009 season. The manager believed that the infielder had begun swinging, though it will be difficult to gauge the switch-hitter’s health until he is subject to daily activity in spring training. In some respects, only game activity will offer insight into Lowrie’s health, since he appeared to be recovering well last summer until he aggravated the wrist on check swings in games.
–Francona said that Mike Lowell’s situation would remain unresolved until he proved that he is healthy in spring training.
|01.15.10 at 12:04 am ET|
Knuckleballer Charlie Zink, who spent eight years in the Red Sox organization, agreed to a minor-league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 30-year-old went 63-60 with a 4.25 ERA during his Sox minor-league career, and spent parts of the last five years in Triple A Pawtucket.
He was named the International League Pitcher of the Year in 2008, when he went 14-6 with a 2.84 ERA. That same year, Zink made his lone appearance in the majors for the Sox, allowing eight runs in 4.1 innings in a no-decision.
According to Zink’s agent, Jim Masteralexis, Zink received an invite to major-league camp with the Cardinals. He is expected to compete for the team’s Triple A rotation in Memphis, but the fact that the Cardinals do not currently have a fifth starter also played into the pitcher’s determination that St. Louis offered a good opportunity. The Sox did not offer Zink the opportunity to return to the organization, nor did the right-hander seek one.
“We are grateful to the Red Sox for having the patience with Charlie to learn and refine the knuckleball, but it is time to move on,” Masteralexis wrote in an email. “Charlie is excited about this opportunity. It is a great organization, has a great major league pitching coach in Dave Duncan and it is a fresh start. … Charlie needs a fresh start and opportunity.”
In some respects, Zink’s departure is a commentary on the changing shape of the Red Sox’ minor league system over time. When he signed with the Sox as a undrafted free agent on the recommendation of college pitching coach (at Savannah College of Art and Design) Luis Tiant, the Sox had few useful pitchers in the system who could help the major-league team. But over time, Zink saw the organization become flush with talented young arms. Last spring, he reflected on his time with the Sarasota Sox in 2004 and the Portland Sea Dogs in 2005, when he was suddenly flanked by a staff that consisted of Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and others.
“You could see at that time there was a good group of prospects coming up. They were serious prospects. They were going to be impact players. That was the first time I ever noticed it. Before that, there wasn’t a whole lot here. Then it got big real quick, and all of a sudden we had draft class after draft class filled with power arms who were smart,” Zink said. “It’s not frustrating, but you see it. They just keep grooming younger and younger guys with power arms. You see them come and come, and keep going up.”
|01.14.10 at 9:13 pm ET|
Jeremy Hermida knows the quickest way to the hearts and minds of Red Sox fans.
Talk about how much he is looking forward to playing in Boston and how he’s heard it’s unlike any other place in the world. And follow that up by talking about how much he’s looking forward to his first taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry on Opening Night at Fenway.
The outfielder, who turns 26 on Jan. 30, did both on Thursday night at the Westin Waterfront in South Boston at the annual Boston baseball writers’ dinner.
He was acquired on Nov. 5 from the Florida Marlins to add outfield depth with the anticipated loss of Jason Bay. He spent his first five years in the bigs with the Marlins. But that didn’t keep him from speaking frankly about the difference he already feels in Boston.
“This is all new for me up here,” Hermida announced on Thursday. “Coming here from Florida, this is a little different but I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited to play some real baseball up here and play in a market like this.”
As for April 4 and the season lid-lifter with the defending champion Yankees, Hermida couldn’t be more excited.
“I’m more than excited about it, to be honest with you,” Hermida added. “I’m not even sure of a word that describes it. To be able to come up here and join a team like this is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time, to get in a market like this. I’m thrilled to be a part of this. The team that they’re putting together up here, it looks great on paper. We’ve got to prove it on paper.
“Opening Day against the Yankees will be fun, and get out there and get the seasons started.”
|01.14.10 at 8:03 pm ET|
John Lackey joined the Big Show Thursday afternoon to discuss his addition to the top of the Red Sox rotation. Lackey talked about the possibility of being the third starter behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and the prospect of pitching in Boston and at Fenway Park. The righthander also touched upon the Red Sox’ acquisitions of more defensive-minded free agents like Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron, as well as his impressive history against teams from the American League East.
You add a huge arm to this rotation. Obviously this is a great pitching staff, but why come here?
The chance to win every year. It’s an organization and a front office that are going to give you a chance and give you the pieces to win the whole thing every year. At this point in my career that’s all I really care about, is winning the whole thing.
You were a “one” out there for the Angels. Does it make a difference if you are the two, you are the three?
Honestly, at the beginning of the season I don’t really care. I’ve talked to Tito a little about this already and I told him you can throw me out there my 30 times and you can make a decision once we get to the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry »
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