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Pedroia clarifies shortstop drama

12.06.09 at 1:37 am ET
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During his weekly appearance on the Mut and Bradford Show, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia clarified the possibility of him switching to shortstop, as was reported earlier in the week.

“That situation got blown way out of proportion,” he said. “There was just a couple of talks … it was kind of a misunderstanding.” Pedroia went on to say, “If that situation came up, yeah, I would be willing to do it. That’s pretty much what I said … It wasn’t talked about as much as people thought.”

Pedroia also talked at length about the Red Sox’ newest acquisition, Marco Scutaro, as well as the perceived needs for the Sox as the Winter Meetings approach. To listen to the entire segment click here.

Red Sox have their new shortstop

12.04.09 at 6:37 pm ET
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The Red Sox made it official on Friday afternoon at Fenway Park when they introduced their new starting shortstop for 2010.

The club inked Marco Scutaro to a two-year contract through the 2011 season with dual club and player options for 2012.

The Red Sox 40-man roster is now at 34.

Further details are provided from the team release below. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Red Sox, Scutaro,

Marco Scutaro and what it means for Jed Lowrie

12.04.09 at 6:31 pm ET
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Theo Epstein was very clear on Friday. He still believes in Jed Lowrie.

But right now, not as the starting shortstop for the Red Sox. That job belongs to 34-year-old Marco Scutaro following Friday’s two-year deal with a dual option for a third that could carry through the 2012 season.

“We still believe in Jed Lowrie,” Epstein said on Friday. “I still believe in Jed Lowrie. He has yet to reach his potential because of some injury issues but we feel the best is yet to come.”

Lowrie has all of a sudden become a different sort of middle man. The man caught in between Marco Scutaro and blue chip Cuban shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias.

Epstein also said that Lowrie met with doctors on Friday to have his surgically repaired left wrist is getting stronger and stronger. Lowrie finished 2008 with a fracture in that same wrist and then tried to play in 2009, only to be forced to shut it down early in the ’09 season and undergo surgery.

Epstein said that Lowrie should be a go for spring training and expects him to fight hard for a utility infield position on the 2010 Red Sox.

Other tidbits from Friday:

Epstein said he expects the replacement for Amateur Scouting Director Jason McLeod to come from outside the organization.

“We’ll probably try to promote from within,” Epstein said. “It’s more likely that [the replacement] will come internally.”

Asked if he expects the replacement process to impede the planning process for the June 2010 draft, Epstein said, ‘No. We’ll be clicking on all cylinders by that time.”

The team also sent medical staff to check in on Mike Lowell this week. Epstein indicated that the team was told it usually takes a year-and-a-half for a player to get back to full speed and that’s where Lowell should be this spring following hip labrum surgery following the 2008 season.

Epstein said J.D. Drew is right on track to be at full speed following a procedure to clean out the AC joint in his left shoulder following the season. It is not the same shoulder the Red Sox protected themselves against when they inked Drew to a five-year, $70 million deal prior to the 2007 season.

Epstein said there is ‘nothing specific’ to report in the talks with Jason Bay’s agent.

The priorities for the Red Sox at the Winter Meetings are likely to include starting pitching, bullpen depth and bench depth with Epstein indicating the team would be ‘open-minded’ about a high-impact free agent.

“We still have a lot of moves to make,” Epstein said, before adding “This [signing Scutaro] is significant.”

The meetings start next week in Indianapolis.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, jose iglesias, marco scutaro, Red Sox

Former Sox Scouting Director McLeod Introduced in San Diego

12.04.09 at 6:26 pm ET
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Jason McLeod, who served as the director of the Red Sox‘ amateur scouting department for the 2005-09 drafts — a period in which Boston was consistently considered to rate among the best drafts in the game — was introduced on Friday as the new Assistant GM for the San Diego Padres. McLeod will work with Padres GM Jed Hoyer, who left his post as Assistant GM in Boston to take his job in San Diego.

McLeod suggested that the decision to leave Boston was not an easy one. The Red Sox presented a particularly appealing work environment for an amateur scouting director, given the team’s investment of resources and intellectual energy into its scouting operations. But, the opportunity for McLeod to enjoy a broader scope of responsibilities, coupled with the chance to return home to the San Diego area and to work with Hoyer, was too good for him to pass up.

“It wasn’€™t just a slam dunk because of San Diego and the opportunity to come home. I think I was at a point in my career where certainly I was interested in gaining more responsibility, learning more as an executive. The opportunity that Jed presented to come here had a lot of meat on the bone,” McLeod said in a conference call. “Scouting and evaluating is what I love to do. It’€™s something that I think I’€™m very good at. For me, personally, I’€™ve always felt that your minor-league system is the life blood of the organization. To me, draft day is one of the most important if not the most important days of the year for any organization. I don’€™t take it lightly, the impact that an amateur scout has on a major-league organization.

“When Jed presented the opportunity and described what he was looking for out of this role, it was extremely compelling to me. It had to be. I was in a great situation in Boston, working for a great organization, one of the most talented GMs in the game with ownership that gave us the support that they did. It wasn’€™t going to be just any situation that I would leave for. It had to be certainly fulfilling, challenging from a professional standpoint. That’€™s exactly what I saw with this situation.”

Hoyer, meanwhile, described himself as “thrilled” to be adding to his staff a person whom he described as “a great evaluator” in McLeod. He suggested that the fruits of McLeods successes are quite obvious when examining the organization that he left behind.

“All you have to do is look out on the field for the Red Sox right now and go around the field to see the success,” said Hoyer. “In the infield, you’€™ve got Pedroia and Lowrie. You’€™ve got Ellsbury in the outfield. You’€™ve got pitchers like Bard, like Buchholz, pitchers who we’€™ve traded away like Masterson, like Hagadone, and obviously, a very good minor-league system that he left behind. I think the success that Jason had as the scouting director in Boston kind of speaks for itself.”

Even so, Hoyer said that while McLeod was an important part of the success of the Boston front office, he also believed that the Red Sox would continue to thrive even after his departure. The Red Sox operate through collaborative processes, and Hoyer said that the group of people who remain in the Boston organization are capable of sustaining the success of their scouting effort.

“The last thing I’€™d want to do is imply that it wasn’€™t a big team effort in Boston. There’€™s a lot of great people that work there and have done great work. The Red Sox are going to operate just fine going forward because of all those great people and those processes,” said Hoyer. “I’€™m thrilled to have Jason here to run scouting and player development here because I know how talented he is, and obviously how successful he’€™s been, but at the same time the Red Sox are going to operate just fine. They’€™ve got a lot of depth on their bench, to use a cliché, and they’€™ll move forward just fine.”

Read More: Jason McLeod, jed hoyer,

Hoyer: ‘Level of Comfort’ in Potential Deals With Red Sox

12.04.09 at 6:06 pm ET
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San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer, who served as Red Sox Assistant GM through the 2009 season, suggested in a conference call that the Padres would have a “level of comfort” in any potential trade with the Red Sox.

Hoyer suggested that contemplating the likelihood of a trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Sox would be “just speculation.” That said, with both Hoyer and new Assistant GM Jason McLeod (former the Red Sox amateur scouting director) in San Diego, the Padres suggest that they would have greater confidence in evaluating any players whom they might acquire from Boston in a deal that they would with another club.

“I’€™m obviously talking totally hypothetically. Any transaction involving the Red Sox, I think there is a level of comfort,” Hoyer said in a conference call. “Most of the players over there were drafted by Jason. For a large part of that, I was the assistant GM. Knowing the player’€™s background, knowing their personality, there’€™s a comfort level in that, and frankly, I guess, a lack of risk compared to some other transactions where you don’€™t have the same level of knowledge. Any transaction involving the Red Sox mentally feels more stable because you certainly know the players. Certainly, putting it in the context of Adrian, that’€™s just speculation, but it is true that we know those players very well.”

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Jason McLeod, jed hoyer, Padres

Theo: Marco is ‘Really good player getting his chance’

12.04.09 at 5:37 pm ET
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Wearing his new Red Sox jersey with the number 16 on the back, Marco Scutaro met the media at his introductory press conference at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon.

Here is an audio sampling from the press conference:

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein explains the two-year deal for the 34-year-old shortstop, which includes a dual option for 2012.

Theo Epstein opened the presser by announcing that the team had met one of its offseason goals by upgrading the shortstop position.

Marco Scutaro excited for the chance to win a championship in Boston.

Read More: marco scutaro, Red Sox, Theo Epstein,

The Strange Case of Marco Scutaro

12.04.09 at 12:41 pm ET
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One could say that Marco Scutaro is unlike any player in the last 70 years.

Not since 1937 — when Rabbit Warstler of the Boston Braves did it — had a player had his first season with at least 140 games at shortstop at age 33 or later. Players simply aren’t moved to the most athletically challenging position on the diamond at that phase of their careers.

Until 2009, when Scutaro played 143 games at short for the Blue Jays, the newest Red Sox player had never had more than 81 games at short in any season. Indeed, until he got to Toronto, he was regarded widely as a utility player, someone capable at multiple positions but without mastery of any infield position. Scutaro changed that perception with the Blue Jays, and it was worth a two-year deal for at least $12.5 million.

For more on Scutaro’s career path, click here.

Read More: marco scutaro, rabbit warstler,

Report: Terms of Scutaro Agreement

12.04.09 at 10:52 am ET
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ESPN.com’s Buster Olney is reporting that Marco Scutaro will receive a guaranteed $12.5 million for two years, with the chance to push the deal to $17 million. According to Olney, Scutaro will receive a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $5 million each in the next two seasons. There is then a mutual option that would allow the Sox to pick up Scutaro for a third year at $6 million. If the Sox decline their option,then Scutaro could either exercise a $3 million player option, or he could take a $1.5 million buyout.

So, based on Olney’s report:

  • If the Sox exercise Scutaro’s third-year team option, he would receive $17 million over three years.
  • If the Sox decline their team option, and Scutaro exercises his third-year player option, he would receive $14 million over three years.
  • If both Scutaro and the Sox decline their options for the third year, Scutaro would receive $12.5 million for two years.
Read More: marco scutaro,

Red Sox Bullpen Moves On After Braves Plunder

12.04.09 at 4:55 am ET
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The Red Sox would have been content to bring back either left-hander Billy Wagner or right-hander Takashi Saito. Though both veterans will require careful health management to ensure their productivity, both the 38-year-old Wagner and the 39-year-old Saito proved effective in 2009.

Wagner had a 1.72 ERA in 17 big-league appearances in his return from Tommy John surgery, punching out 26 batters in the process. Saito had a 2.43 ERA in his 56 appearances.

But, with both relievers having signed with the Braves in a span of less than 48 hours, the Sox are prepared to move on. The Sox offered Wagner salary arbitration, though they anticipated that the left-hander would pursue a job as a closer elsewhere, a notion that was borne out by his $7 million deal. And yesterday, Saito — who was offered a short-money deal by the Sox, who liked the right-hander, but felt compelled to manage his usage carefully given an elbow that nearly required Tommy John surgery in 2008 — followed Wagner to Atlanta, with a deal that guarantees him a reported $3.2 million.

Now, the Sox have a pair of openings in their bullpen for 2010. Barring a trade, the team will return Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen to next year’s relief corps, the primary members of a group that forged a 3.80 ERA (second-best among AL bullpens) in 2009.

If the team wants to look internally to replace Wagner and Saito to fill out the ‘pen, it could look to left-hander Dustin Richardson (who struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings in the minors in 2009 before tossing 3.1 scoreless innings in the majors following a September call-up), Michael Bowden (who struggled to a 9.56 ERA in 16 big-league innings, but finished sixth in the International League (min. 100 innings) with a 3.13 ERA) or right-hander Junichi Tazawa (2.55 ERA in Double A and Triple A; 2-3, 7.46 ERA in the majors).

The team has also shown interest in free agents Rafael Soriano (2.97 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings with the Braves in 2009) and left-hander Mike Gonzalez (5-4, 2.42 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings for Atlanta in 2009).

Read More: billy wagner, dustin richardson, junichi tazawa, Michael Bowden

Marco Scutaro testimonials

12.03.09 at 11:59 pm ET
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With the Red Sox and Marco Scutaro having agreed upon a two-year deal (pending a physical) here are some “get to know your new shortstop” testimonials collected over the last week:

From Blue Jays first base/infield coach Brian Butterfield:

“His hands are as good as any hands I’ve ever coached in major league baseball, and I’ve been in the big leagues for 14 years and I’ve had the opportunity to be around some great infielders,” said Butterfield when appearing on the Mut and Bradford Show, Friday.

“This guy has no panic in his hands and he’s going to catch the ball. He’s very intelligent. He is 34 years old, but he takes great care of himself. He’s got a youthful body and he cares about baseball. A lot of times you look over at the other side of the field and you can see the skill, the arm strength, the running, the quickness, the ability to catch the ball, the ability to get it in the air. But a lot of times as a scout or being on the other side you don’t get a chance to get to know the player. But having had Marco I can assure you he cares about the game, he’s very popular among his teammates, he’s got an infectious personality, his teammates gravitate to him, and he does a lot of things on a baseball that help you win the game.”

Butterfield said that, if given the chance, he would have voted for Scutaro for the American League Gold Glove. Another advocate of Scutaro’s abilities is Blue Jays infielder John McDonald, who came up through the minor leagues with the former second baseman.

From McDonald:

“Last year I think he played one of the best shortstops (in baseball) for the first five months, until he hurt his heel,” said McDonald on the Mut and Bradford Show, referencing Scutaro’s battle plantar fasciitis. “He was tremendous playing defense … I thought last year (Scutaro and Gonzalez) were very comparable.”

And, finally, WEEI.com’s own Lou Merloni, who played with Scutaro both in winter ball and in the majors (taken from his Nov. 29 blog entry):

“Now that Alex Gonzalez has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox’€™ primary target to play shortstop should be Marco Scutaro. As a matter of fact, it should have been Scutaro from the very beginning.

“There has been a lot of talk about how Scutaro is coming off a career year at the age of 33. People are calling his defense ‘€œadequate,’€ saying that Marco is a career utility guy.

“The reality is is that for the first time in his career, he was given the starting job at short, his best defensive position. His defense is ABOVE average at short. If you ask me, the American League Gold Glove should have gone to either Eric Aybar or Marco Scutaro.

“People have no idea how good this kid is because we will always view him as the utility guy for the Oakland A’€™s. He’€™s much better than that.  I actually don’€™t see much difference between Scutaro and Alex Gonzalez defensively.

“I’€™m not talking about the Gonzo from 2006 ‘€” that was one of the best defensive seasons I have ever seen. I’€™m talking about the 2009 version of Alex Gonzalez.

“I’€™ve played against Scutaro for years, in the minor leagues and the big leagues. I’€™ve always been amazed that no team ever gave him a shot to start. Now the price for his services may be a three-year deal, but as Sox fans, I thought that we were more concerned with getting the better player.

“Scutaro is a more complete shortstop than Alex Gonzalez. He’€™ll come at a higher price. But what do you care how much money the Sox dish out? You’€™re not paying it.”

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