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Bay on Sox: ‘Nobody owes you any favors’

01.05.10 at 1:35 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Speaking to reporters at his introductory press conference with the Mets, at Citi Field, Jason Bay touched on his perception of the Red Sox now that he has moved on.

“It’s the nature of the beast. Nobody owes you any favors,” Bay said. “It’s a business and ultimately you go in one direction. I understand that. I liked it (in Boston). It was familiar to me, which was big. But I think being there helped prepare me to be here. I had a good time there. I see it as a good background for my time here.”

Bay also was asked what he thought of the offseason acquistiions made by his former team and responded, “They’re always going to make moves. They have to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak. They have a braintrust of people up there that do a number of things. They know what they’re doing. They have a good idea of what’s going on and they know they have to do things to compete, especially in that division.”

Bay went on to explain that another facto that played into his decision was the intensity of the Mets’ interest.

“Right from the get go, they were very interested,” Bay said. “Not that the Red Sox didn’t, but ultimately it worked out for here.”

Bay on Mets: ‘This Is Where I Wanted To Be’

01.05.10 at 11:48 am ET
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NEW YORK — Jason Bay was introduced as a member of the Mets on Tuesday morning. Mets G.M. Omar Minaya presented him with a No. 44 jersey, and hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert also gave the native of Trail, British Columbia, a Rangers jersey. Bay pronounced his excitement to join the Mets, a team that he said interested him from the beginning of the free-agency process, and his bemusement about the sort of rumors that made the rounds — both about his interest in going to New York and his health — over the course of the free-agency process.

Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end.

“What it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more,” he said.

Here are some of the highlights from Bay’s press conference.

Introductory remarks

I just want to say thank you to Jeff [Wilpon] and Omar [Minaya] and everyone else that made this possible. It’s obviously a big deal, a big day for me. I’m very, very excited to be here. We were talking about it before and I told my agent when the season ended last year, when you looked around and looked at some of the voids teams had and what I could provide, there was a short list of teams I wanted to go to. The New York Mets were on that list. To be able to be here, to be with a team and in a place I want to be at, in this city and this market and everything, you only get a chance to do this once or twice in your career, and I’m very grateful and very honored to be here.

Why were the Mets on the short list?

First of all, the chance to win. Regardless of what happened last year, you look at the players on this team and it’s a very good team. I think coming in, I offer a little bit of a fresh perspective as an outsider. I don’t really know what went on last year. I know a lot of guys got hurt. But from a straight talent standpoint, it’s a very good team. That was big — a chance to win. I was in a situation in Pittsburgh where I enjoyed my time, but we didn’t win. Then I went to Boston, and really found that winning was a big part of that. And the market and meaningful games, being in Boston, kind of feeling that, having that . . . the window for me to play is very short. If you don’t take advantage of it now, you may never get that. New York is one of those places that, regardless of what sport you play or what you do, it’s the center of everything. Like I said, there were a lot of reasons [why I signed].

Any concerns about power or defense in Citi Field?

For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do, Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on the road. I’m not really concerned. It’s something that’s there, but you go out and I’m confident in the type of player I am. Ballpark or not, I’m still going to do what I do. So that had zero factor in anything in my decision. Defensively, in Pittsburgh it was big there as well. The first few years there, I felt like I was a good outfielder. I got banged up a little bit in ’07, then I went to Boston. There ain’t a lot of room to run around. It’s a challenge to go out there and prove to everyone that I can play pretty good defense. I’ve said before, I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good. It will be a chance to show everyone that I can be.

You replaced Manny Ramirez in Boston. Does that help you with what you’ll see in New York?

I think it is a huge factor, not only for myself but for the Mets. As long as you toil a little bit in anonymity in some smaller places, I think a lot of people have questions as to if so-and-so can do it here, can they do it here, can they do it here? Through no fault of anyone, unless you get a chance to do it, you can’t prove it. I went to Boston. I’m sure a lot of people said the same thing — even myself. I was like, ‘This is the chance to do it.’ I think that has really prepared me, a lot moreso than coming here from a smaller market. That doesn’t seem daunting. For me, it’s just another year. I kind of feel comfortable having that under my belt.

Any concerns about coming to New York?

There were no concerns. Obviously, right when the season ended and you get the free agency [exclusivity] period and all of a sudden that ends, the Mets were the first team, right from the get-go. My agent actually flew to New York and met with them. Very good, positive meeting. They were all along, after the Winter Meetings, there wasn’t probably a 48-hour window or something where we didn’t talk. So right from the get-go, they were very persistent. They wanted me. I really appreciated that. And then, basically, after the Winter Meetings, it probably seems like it took a long time, but after the Winter Meetings it took less than maybe a week or 10 days or something. We actually had agreed in principle before Christmas. There was a myriad of reasons — I don’t think any of us were even in the country; I was just in Canada, so it wasn’t that far — but to try to get this all done. It probably looks like it took a lot longer than it did. But in reality, it didn’t.

How important was it for you to pick a team you thought could win?

It was one of if not the biggest factor. Like I said, my previous situations, I earned a lot about what type of team I want to be on and the type of atmosphere I want to be under. This was the first chance for me to get a choice. I had been traded and just told where I had to go. To kind of sit down and talk about what are the factors, being on a team with a chance to win, as a competitor, that’s huge when you have a choice. Like I said, record-wise, I know what happened here on the surface, with guys getting hurt. I think that I offer a perspective where, if you look from a talent standpoint. The lineup, if you have everyone healthy you have an amazing lineup and arguably you have the best pitcher, fresh perspective, I don’t see how that can’t be good.

After the season ended, how much did you want to go back to the Red Sox?

It was pretty basic. The season ended in Boston. Once the season ended, they were on the short list. They had the criteria that I was looking for. Ultimately, what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more. That’s what it felt, and it felt like it fit. Through no fault of anybody’s, I ended up here. This is where I wanted to be and I’m happy about it.

How much of this was about the money? Was anyone else close?

We can leave the second part of that question [out]. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been. Ultimately, I’m here. That’s what I’m focusing on. At some levels, people say it’s not always about the money. The money’s nice — don’t get me wrong. But you bust your tail and put yourself in a position to go somewhere. Money aside, you still have to make that choice. You still have to make a decision. Like I said, New York, it was the perfect fit for everything. We hammered out the contract in almost a week. It was pretty easy. Both sides were happy. I wouldn’t have signed the contract if I didn’t want to be here and wasn’t happy. That couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why I did it. This is one of the biggest days of my life, and I’m excited.

What did you think of Peter Gammons‘ statement that you’d rather play in Beirut than Queens?

I kind of heard about that around the way. It’s funny, maybe to my own detriment a little bit, we kind of cut off all contact until this was done. Basically, if I addressed everything that was false, I’d just be addressing that and not addressing the things that were true. There was a lot written. Where you come up with Beirut, I don’t know. … That’s the funny thing. No one refuted it. I never talked to anybody. No one knew my position on anything except for my family and my agent. People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit. But, once again, you can’t control it and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

What is the state of your shoulder and how did you hurt it?

I actually never hurt my shoulder. That was once again me not refuting much. It just kind of took on a life of its own. I had surgery on it in 2003. It’s been great ever since. I saw [Mets doctor Richard] Altchek. Everything was great. It was, again, just one of those things that took on a life of its own. No concerns. I don’t have any concerns whatsoever.

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Red Sox Agree to Terms with Beltre

01.04.10 at 7:49 pm ET
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WEEI.com has confirmed reports that the Red Sox and free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre have agreed on a one-year, $9 million deal that includes a $5 million player option in 2011. The terms were first reported by Peter Gammons (via Twitter).

There is also an escalator clause in the contract that could increase the value of the player option based on the number of plate appearances. By virtue of the inclusion of the player option, the Red Sox’ luxury tax hit will be diminished. Rather than being calculated as a $9 million salary for the purposes of the collective bargaining tax in 2010, Beltre’s deal will be interpreted as being worth $7 million against the $170 million threshold for the 2010 season.

The 30-year-old Beltre played in 111 games with Seattle last season, hitting .265 with eight homers. The three previous seasons, Beltre clubbed 25, 26, and 25 home runs, respectively. Beltre is known as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, which is one of the major reasons he was targeted by the Red Sox.

‘€œ[Beltre is] clearly the best [third baseman] I’€™ve ever seen in person,’€ Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon told WEEI.com earlier this offseason. ‘€œI think [Evan Longoria] is good, I used to think Scott Brosius was really good. ‘€¦ [Eric] Chavez was good, but Beltre was stupid good. I think Beltre is the best who I’€™ve ever seen with my two eyes ‘€“ defender, not just third baseman, but defense.’€

A source familiar with the negotiations also classified the rumored swap of Sox third baseman Mike Lowell and Mets second baseman Luis Castillo as not close.

For more on the Sox’ motivation in securing Beltre, click here.

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Bay Passes Mets Physical As Last Step in Deal

01.04.10 at 1:09 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, Jason Bay passed his physical with the Mets on Monday morning, the final step that stood between him and finalizing his four-year, $66 million contract that includes a vesting option for the 2014 season that could push the value of the deal to $80 million over five years. News of Bay passing the physical was first reported via Twitter by Brad Como of SNY.

Part of the hang-up in the Red Sox‘ negotiations with Bay, according to multiple reports, was related to the team’s concern about the slugger’s knee (Bay underwent arthroscopic surgery after the 2006 season) and right shoulder (which required surgery in 2003). But apparently those areas did not raise any red flags in the physical, with one source stating that suggestions about Bay being subjected to the mother of all physicals was vastly exaggerated.

Bay’s record of staying on the field, meanwhile, is impressive. Over the past five years, he has played the second most games and innings among all major-league outfielders, behind only Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki.

“When you’€™re talking about this level of elite player, I think that durability and consistency is important,” Bay’s agent, Joe Urbon, said in November. “Everyone talks about Everyday J-Bay, but the fact that he’€™s one of four outfielders who has not been on the D.L. for a single day in the last five years is something that raises eyebrows.

‘€œIt’€™s all about managing risk,’€ the agent added. ‘€œWhat [Bay] has to offer is exactly what [teams] are looking for when they’€™re looking to fill these holes and be safe with their investment, knowing that they’€™re going to have that rare and valuable combination of durability, consistency and productivity going forward.’€

As WEEI.com reported on Sunday, the deal between Bay and the Mets was reached on Christmas morning.

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Bay agreed to deal back on Christmas

01.03.10 at 8:32 pm ET
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All of those Red Sox fans hoping to get a late holiday gift in the form of the return of Jason Bay didn’t stand a chance.

According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, free agent outfielder Jason Bay agreed to his deal with the Mets on Christmas Day, four days before it was initially reported.

The agreement is for four years and $66 million with a vesting fifth-year option that could bring the total to more than $80 million. While the financial figures for the deal was slightly more than the Mets’ original offer to Bay, the option year was in the proposal from the outset.

A team source with the Red Sox had told WEEI.com that in the days leading up to Christmas the Sox were internally discussing adjusting their organizational budget to potentially take another run at Bay — with the price for the outfielder thought be be coming down — but never reached the point of topping the Mets’ offer.

Four days before Christmas Mets’ GM Omar Minaya was quoted by New York Sports Day at the ninth annual “21 Days of Clemente”, an event honoring the late Roberto Clemente, as saying, “We are pursuing Matt Holliday. It seems to be easier to make a deal for Jason Bay.” Bay will undergo his physical in New York Monday.

Alex Speier contributed to this report


Speier: Why the Deal Made Sense for Both Bay and the Mets

Speier: Bay, Mets, Minaya Come Full Circle

Looking Back: The Trials of David Ortiz

01.02.10 at 12:01 am ET
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(WEEI.com is counting down the ‘€œTop 10 Things We Couldn’€™t Shut Up About In 2009.’€ No topic commanded such attention as the year of David Ortiz in 2009. The Red Sox slugger struggled as never before, faced a barrage of questions about whether his career was in a free-fall, faced further inquiries about how a positive test for performance-enhancing substances in 2003 should force a re-examination of his career… and through it all, managed, by the end of the year, to resume his role as a power presence in the Red Sox lineup. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the most challenging of Ortiz’ seven years in Boston.)

No. 10: Bruins getting bounced by the Hurricanes

No. 9: Garnett’€™s knee injury alters Celtics’€™ fate

No. 8: The drama between Crowley and Gates Jr. and No. 7: The downfall of Steve Phillips

No. 6: The Red Sox reshape at the trade deadline

No. 5: The Manny/A-Rod steroid controversies

No. 4: Goodbye, Bay; Hello, Lackey, Cameron and Scutaro

No. 3: Fourth-and-2

No. 2: The Tiger scandal

No. 1: The trials of David Ortiz

Randy Moss recently pronounced that he bore the weight of the world on his shoulders, but with all due respect to the Patriots wide receiver, no topic in Boston sports was more Atlas-sized than the boulder borne by David Ortiz.

Ortiz had enjoyed a perfectly charmed life for his first six years with the Red Sox. But the eternal optimism and good will surrounding the slugger was challenged as never before in 2009.

His performance in the opening months of the season was simply abysmal. After going 0-for-7 on May 14, the defeated slugger could barely address the media, saying only, ‘€œPut down, ‘€˜Papi stinks.’€™’€

He did not hit his first homer until May 20. On May 31, his average stood at a pathetic .185 with a .284 OBP, .287 slugging mark and .570 OPS. He had gone from being one of the most feared hitters in baseball to one of the sport’€™s worst over the two-month spell.

The diagnosis of his struggles became a near-constant undertaking. Speculation was constant and almost uncontrollable: Had the injury to his wrist forever robbed him of bat speed? Were his eyes getting worse? (Ortiz saw an optometrist in June.) Was Ortiz much older than his listed age of 33? (This inquiry, however, ignored that Ortiz had already admitted early in his career to falsifying his date of birth so that he could sign at a younger date.) Meanwhile, Ortiz alluded to personal issues with his father that were weighing on him.

Whatever the cause of his struggles, the consequences were real. The unthinkable became a consideration, as there were calls for the Sox to bench or even replace Ortiz.

Eventually, after being dropped in the lineup from the No. 3 spot that he’d occupied since 2005, Ortiz managed to quiet those suggestions ‘€“ at least for a while ‘€“ by hitting again. He did a fairly remarkable job of shoveling himself out of the hole that he had entered, once again stinging the ball. From the beginning of June through July 29, he hit 12 homers with an .890 OPS. Times were good again for Ortiz’€¦before the other shoe dropped.

On July 30, the New York Times reported before an afternoon game against the A’€™s that Ortiz and Manny Ramirez had been among those whose names appeared on the list of those who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2004. The test results were supposed to be confidential; the test result came at a time when Major League Baseball did not penalize the use of PEDs; and there was no information about what substance triggered Ortiz’€™ positive test.

Nonetheless, the reaction was swift and became louder as Ortiz remained silent on the matter for over a week while consulting with the MLB Players Association. Against that backdrop, Ortiz ‘€“ after hitting a game-winning homer on the day he learned of the positive test ‘€“ struggled again.

He addressed the positive test in a press conference at Yankee Stadium in early-August. Ortiz said that he was guilty of having failed to pay sufficient attention to supplements that he was taking at the time. Some believed his claim; others did not. Regardless, Ortiz seemed relieved by the opportunity to publicly pronounce his innocence of having ever intentionally ingested a banned substance.

For the rest of the year, he managed to shed his difficulties. Though he finished the year with the worst hitting line (.238/.332/.462/.794) of his Sox career, he ended the year with 28 homers and 99 RBIs. He was able to take some satisfaction in overcoming one obstacle after another.

‘€œOne thing I’€™m going to remember about this year is that things got really, really bad ‘€” really bad ‘€” and I still fight back,’€ Ortiz said near the end of the season, while reflecting on a year unlike any other in his career. ‘€œI never shut it down. That’€™s the only good thing I can remember.’€

‘€œRemember this,’€ he added. ‘€œA bad year for David Ortiz is a hell of a year for some guys.’€

Even so, Sox GM Theo Epstein said in the end-of-season press conference that Ortiz had to return to being ‘€œa force’€ if the Sox wanted to accomplish their goals going forward, and the slugger acknowledged that he had to take responsibility for his offseason conditioning to ensure that he would avoid another slow start in 2010.

That offseason represented the culmination of a year when David Ortiz was an endlessly fascinating and relevant topic. For that reason, his unique year was the foremost topic that we couldn’€™t shut up about in 2009.


July 30 – David Ortiz talks to the media on the day that he learned of his positive test for PEDs in 2003.

July 30 – Terry Francona, in his postgame press conference, discussed the news of Ortiz’ positive test for a performance-enhancing substance.

Aug. 8 – David Ortiz addresses the media regarding the report that he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

Aug. 23 – David Ortiz sounds off on hitting seventh and discusses the positive test for a PED on the Mut & Bradford Show

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Why the Bay Deal Made Sense for Both Sides

12.31.09 at 4:28 pm ET
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Had Jason Bay re-signed with the Red Sox, the deal likely would have been heralded. The idea that a slugger who seemed to fit perfectly into the Red Sox lineup, ballpark and clubhouse had come to an agreement to return made enormous sense. Through most of 2009, the industry-wide expectation was that the outfielder would be back.

But when that turned out not to be the case, and Bay instead landed with the Mets, the reaction was far less enthusiastic. Suggestions in the aftermath of the four-year, $66 million deal that includes a vesting option that can push the deal to approximately $80 million over five years are widespread that a) the Mets had failed to address their most significant deficiency, b) Bay had no interest in going to the Mets, and only went because no other legitimate options existed, and c) Citi Field is a park that is death to homers and demands defense for the expansive left field, thus diminishing one of Bay’s foremost assets (power) and accentuating one of his chief liabilities (defense).

A few thoughts on each:

–At the start of the offseason, multiple rival executives believed that the Mets wouldn’t get in the bidding for Bay due to their acute need for pitching. And when the Mets arrived at the Winter Meetings, they didn’t necessarily disagree. But New York looked at a landscape in which the top pitcher (John Lackey) was going to command a larger contract than Bay both in years and dollars.

The other free-agent pitchers — hurlers along the lines of Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis, among others — were looking for the types of commitments that made the gap in annual salary between them and the top-of-the-market players (Bay, Lackey, Matt Holliday) relatively negligible considering the difference in impact.

Given that the health of pitchers in their 30s over a four- or five-year deal is almost always a riskier proposition than that of hitters, and that negotiations for Holliday (with agent Scott Boras) seemed likely to be protracted and filled with demands for Mark Teixeira-type money, Bay represented, to the Mets, a superior balance of risk, impact and investment size.

Even so, the Mets were under no illusions that their pitching staff is without flaws. That said, adding another pitcher would only do so much to boost a staff that has one front-line pitcher (Johan Santana) and a bunch of question marks. Adding a slugger — especially one who with the ability to produce at Citi Field (more on that in a bit) — offered the possibility of transforming the Mets offense from decent (assuming that Jose Reyes returns and approximates his prior career performance) to elite. And the Mets arguably had more room to upgrade their lineup of 2009 than they did their run prevention, since New York scored 671 runs last year, 12th among the 16 N.L. teams. By contrast, the team’s pitching permitted 757 runs, a mark that ranked ninth.

The team felt it looked better with Bay in the lineup than with Lackey in the rotation. And while there is risk on the pitching staff, there have been other recent seasons when the current pitching group has been above average: in 2008, for instance, Santana was brilliant (2.53 ERA), while Mike Pelfrey (3.72), Oliver Perez (4.22) and John Maine (4.18) all had an above-average ERA+. There is no doubt that there are significant question marks looming over Pelfrey, Perez and Maine going forward. But there is also a chance that the trio could be adequate to put the Mets in position where a significant jump in offense (with healthy seasons from Reyes and Carlos Beltran) could be enough to help the team improve significantly.

–The notion that Bay had no — or even limited — interest in the Mets was inaccurate, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. There is little question that Bay’s agent, Joe Urbon, tried to engage other clubs, but that is a common practice in free agency. According to the same source, when the Mets presented their offer, they received assurances of Bay’s interest in going to the team, and the two sides remained in near constant dialogue until an agreement was reached. The suggestion that the two sides experienced a lengthy period of non-contact while Urbon contacted other clubs was inaccurate, with there having been just one day when the two sides were not in contact.

Once the Mets broke the four-year threshold of the Sox’ offer by offering Bay a vesting option for a fifth year, it was reasonable for Bay to see if he could find a contract that included a fifth guaranteed year. Had that happened, the Mets might well have sweetened their offer to include a guaranteed fifth year. But, since there was no evidence of an offer by any other club for more than four years, and since Bay had rejected the Red Sox offer, the Mets could hold to the original framework that they proposed, and finalize the deal by a slight improvement in the guaranteed money and making the vesting option more attractive. (Contrary to some reports, the Mets never offered a deal that featured a guaranteed fifth year.)

And, in some ways, it is only appropriate that Bay would get an extra year based on a vesting option that is dependent on his health. After all, Urbon made the case to clubs that Bay was the durable and productive outfielder on the market. If he is confident of retaining that status, then he should feel confident in achieving the terms of the vesting option.

–As for the Citi Field impact on Bay, time will tell. It may be somewhat premature to characterize the park solely on the basis of its one-year existence.

That said, the Mets found that while the park plays big to the alleys and centerfield, that it is generous to right-handed pull power. The first year at Citi Field featured 10 percent more homers to left field than the average park, according to a source. Bay hit 22 of his 36 homers to left in 2009, another dozen to center and just two to the opposite field.

And, Bay’s power was anything but a byproduct of Fenway Park. Of his 36 homers in 2009, 21 of them came on the road.

While David Wright became a posterboy for the notion that the cavernous Citi Field was death to right-handed power hitters thanks to a precipitous drop from 33 homers in 2008 to 10 in 1009, his first in his new home park, the park does not account for the fact that Wright’s road homer total fell from 12 in 2008 to five in 2009. In many respects, it appears that Wright, in an otherwise strong year (.307 average, .390 OBP), did not drive the ball in a manner consistent with his past performance.

In Bay, the Mets have acquired a player whom they believe can sustain his power numbers in their new park. As for criticisms about Bay’s defense, the Mets believe that they have been exaggerated. Fenway Park, of course, skews the defensive metrics of left fielders. Bay is likely a slightly below average defender in left, but not so poor that his glove would offset his considerable offensive production. If it did, one can bet that the Sox — who believe strongly in defensive metrics, as evidenced by this offseason’s overhaul — wouldn’t have put a four-year, $60 million offer on the table.

–In the end, the Mets decided that Bay represented the safest value-for-dollar player on the high-end of the free-agent scale. Bay, meanwhile, received a contract that includes a guarantee that was 10 percent higher (in total unadjusted dollars) than the last offer made by the Sox, and that includes the possibility of an extra year. Ultimately, that positioned the two sides to reach an agreement.

The wisdom of the deal will be tested over the coming four or five years, but at least initially, the fit between the player and his new club is probably better than what has been characterized. Bay is a player who has managed to thrive regardless of setting, who has adapted well to change throughout his career and who seems to enjoy playing in a charged atmosphere of a major market after years spent in baseball obscurity. The Mets acquired a player who should be able to handle the critical environment and whose game, they believe, will translate well to their park and team.

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Looking Back: The Reshaping of the Red Sox

12.31.09 at 8:57 am ET
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(WEEI.com is counting down the ‘€œTop 10 Things We Couldn’€™t Shut Up About In 2009,’€ with the dramatic offseason overhaul of the Red Sox ranking at No. 4. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the team’s decision to replace Jason Bay’s middle-of-the-order thump with a club predicated on elite defense and dominant starting pitching.)

No. 10: Bruins getting bounced by the Hurricanes

No. 9: Garnett’€™s knee injury alters Celtics’€™ fate

No. 8: The drama between Crowley and Gates Jr. and No. 7: The downfall of Steve Phillips

No. 6: The Red Sox reshape at the trade deadline

No. 5: The Manny/A-Rod steroid controversies

No. 4: Goodbye, Bay; Hello, Lackey, Cameron and Scutaro

It shaped up as an offseason that might feature little more than a couple tweks to the status quo. Naturally, the Red Sox would re-sign Jason Bay, a hand-in-glove fit in Boston since his arrival in the deal that spelled the end of Manny Ramirez‘€™ career as a Red Sox.

With a rotation that ran plenty deep ‘€“ with returning co-aces Jon Lester and Josh Beckett flanked by Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and the emerging Clay Buchholz ‘€“ the Sox, coming off another 95-win season and their sixth playoff berth in seven years ‘€“ seemed like they would face little need for overhaul beyond defining the shortstop position.

The day after the season’€™s conclusion in a three-game sweep against the Angels, Sox G.M. Theo Epstein suggested that it would be difficult to predict the direction of the offseason. He identified defense and road performance as deficiencies that the team would like to address. At the same time, he was reluctant to say whether there would be minor or major overhauls to a 2009 roster that suffered a jarring and unexpected sweep in the Division Series.

‘€œI think [the offseason] could go a number of different directions,’€ said Epstein. ‘€œI think we’€™re always open to change because I think you need change to improve as part of the natural cycle in baseball and in life.

‘€œSometimes the market doesn’€™t bear that out. Sometimes there aren’€™t the right fits, sometimes it’€™s not the right free agent market and sometimes you end up with more status quo than you want. If that’€™s the case, if we look back three or four months from now and say, ‘€˜Wow, there weren’€™t major changes,’€™ then I think next year will be perhaps the last year of this main group of players, we have a lot of players going into contract years next year, I think it might be one more chance with this group to go out and win the whole thing.

‘€œIf we are able to make changes, maybe that transition we talked about will happen earlier than some people expected. I think it could go one of both ways. I think we have a nice set of about 10 pre-prime or prime players that we’€™re going to build around and eventually we’€™ll get more. Whether that happens this winter or in subsequent winters or when that group of really talented 18-to-20 year-olds is ready, that remains to be seen. We’€™re open to all possibilities. We’€™ll see how it develops.’€

The Hot Stove season ended up proceeding in a fashion that would have been difficult to foresee, thus setting the stage for a far-reaching conversation about how to build a winning franchise.

The early stages weren’€™t shocking. The Sox made a move to acquire outfielder Jeremy Hermida, a player who, at 26, remains long on heretofore-unfulfilled potential, but whom the club views as a high-upside lottery ticket.

Then, after free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez agreed to a deal with the Blue Jays the night before Thanksgiving, the Sox were left having to make a counter-move to acquire Marco Scutaro. Of course, that was hardly a disappointment to the Sox, since the term of the contract (two years) is far short of the four-year pacts with Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo that turned into disasters. Moreover, Scutaro ‘€“ whose career path is virtually unprecedented in the post-World War II era ‘€“ is almost certain to represent a significant improvement on the Sox’€™ 2009 productivity at shortstop.

With the shortstop position having been settled, the real haymakers of the Red Sox offseason were yet to come. From the time that Epstein had said he’€™d like to improve the team’€™s defense and road performance, Mike Lowell‘€™s future in Boston became cloudy. Thus it came as only modestly surprising when the Sox agreed to send Lowell ‘€“ and $9 million ‘€“ to the Texas Rangers in exchange for potential slugger Max Ramirez at the Winter Meetings.

Though the deal was ultimately canceled due to the need for Lowell to undergo surgery to repair a damaged ligament in his right thumb, the Sox’€™ willingness to move on from the 2007 MVP spelled the start of a dramatic makeover.

The team and Bay had worked unsuccessfully since spring training to negotiate an extension. On Dec. 12, Bay’€™s agent, Joe Urbon, said that his client was ‘€œprepared to move on’€ after rejecting the Red Sox offer.

The claim seemed like it might be little more than posturing. But the Sox did not treat it as such. Instead, the club acted boldly, first approaching Matt Holliday to see if he would accept a five-year deal in the vicinity of $82.5 million. Told by Holliday’€™s agent, Scott Boras, that the left-fielder was looking for a Mark Teixeira-type deal, the Sox presented the same money and years to right-hander John Lackey.

Lackey accepted, and in something of a stunner to the baseball world ‘€“ particularly after Sox manager Terry Francona had suggested that the Sox would be ‘€œuneasy’€ about making the commitment necessary to sign the pitcher ‘€“ he received the biggest free-agent contract in club history.

With Lackey having become the Sox’€™ big-ticket item of the offseason, the team moved swiftly to acquire Bay’€™s replacement. Rather than going for another thumper, the team jumped at the possibility of signing outfielder Mike Cameron ‘€“ a three-time Gold Glove winner ‘€“ to a two-year, $15.5 million deal.

Thus, in one 24-hour period, the Sox had redefined themselves as a team built on the idea of elite run prevention, but that seemed likely to experience a step back offensively (albeit perhaps an exaggerated one), given the likelihood that Cameron, Scutaro and Casey Kotchman could be replacing Bay (who agreed to terms with the Mets on a four-year, $66 million deal that includes a vesting option that could push the value of the contract to approximately $80 million), Lowell and the team’€™s ‘€™09 shortstop merry-go-round.

Even after the Lowell trade was canceled by the third baseman’€™s need to undergo surgery, the remake was complete and far-reaching. While the hot stove season is not yet over, the Sox’€™ bold strategy is one that will continue to be dissected for months to come.


Hall of Famer Peter Gammons appeared in studio on Dec. 23 to talk about the Red Sox offseason overhaul.

Curt Schilling joined the Big Show on Dec. 17 to discuss the Sox offseason moves, Lackey’s 5 year deal and Mike Cameron’s defensive ability.

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona talked with Dale & Holley on Dec. 17 about the acquisitions of Cameron and Lackey, Scutaro’s impact and his feelings on Casey Kotchman starting at first base.

John Lackey chatted with Dale and Holley on Dec. 16 in his first radio appearance as a member of the Sox. John talked about the factors that led to his signing with the Red Sox.

Mike Cameron also made his first Boston radio appearance with Dale & Holley to talk about his previous relationship with Terry Francona, his perceptions of the Sox as an opposing player, and how there is a lot more to his game than just defense.

Read More: jason bay, Jeremy Hermida, john lackey, marco scutaro

Lowell Surgery Successful

12.31.09 at 7:35 am ET
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According to a team spokesperson, Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell underwent successful surgery Wednesday on a torn radial collateral ligament in his right thumb in Arizona. Dr. Donald Sheridan, who also performed operations on Sox’ infielders Jed Lowrie and Dustin Pedroia, performed the surgery. According to the Boston Globe, it was discovered there was a 95 percent tear in the ligament. Lowell told WEEI.com on Dec. 21 that he is expected to be able to start throwing six weeks from the time of the surgery, which would be Feb. 10, with the clearance for hitting coming two weeks later.

Read More: mike lowell, Rangers, surgery, thumb

Looking Back: The Manny/A-Rod Steroid Controversies

12.30.09 at 9:48 pm ET
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(WEEI.com is counting down the ‘€œTop 10 Things We Couldn’€™t Shut Up About In 2009,’€ with

the steroids controversies involving Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez coming in at No. 5. Here is a written, visual and audio look at the situation that resulted in a 50-game suspension for Ramirez and a national TV confession from A-Rod.)

No. 10: Bruins getting bounced by the Hurricanes

No. 9: Garnett’€™s knee injury alters Celtics’€™ fate

No. 8: The drama between Crowley and Gates Jr. and No. 7: The downfall of Steve Phillips

No. 6: The Red Sox reshape at the trade deadline

No. 5: The Manny/A-Rod steroid controversies

Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez were no strangers to controversy heading into 2009. But the firestorm of criticism that hit the two superstars after it was revealed that both players used banned substances was at a new level.

Rodriguez was the first chip to fall. On the heels of a Sports Illustrated report that he had tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, an anabolic steroid, in 2003, the Yankees third baseman participated in an emotional, sit-down interview Feb. 9 with ESPN’s Peter Gammons to confess ‘€” at least partly ‘€” two years after famously denying he ever used steroids in a “60 Minutes” interview with Katie Couric.

“When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day,” Ramirez said of his stint with the Rangers.

“Back then, [baseball] was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

“I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”

Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he felt “personally betrayed” and “deceived by Alex.” Even Barack Obama weighed in, calling the revelation “depressing.”

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, the situation didn’t slow down the slugger. In fact, Rodriguez indicated to Gammons after the interview that finally telling the truth made him feel more at ease. Rodriguez missed spring training and the first month of the season with a hip injury. When he returned, he homered on the first pitch he saw and proceeded to help lift New York out of an early season funk. And while his regular-season stats were slightly below his normal standards (.286 BA, 30 HR, 100 RBI), Rodriguez came up big in October, ending a long run of postseason failure with a number of clutch hits while helping the Yankees win the World Series, his first championship.

Ramirez’ situation came to light a month into the season, when he received a 50-game ban after allegedly testing positive during spring training for the female fertility drug human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is taken by steroid users to restart their bodies’ natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. Reports indicated that Ramirez also tested positive for artificial testosterone, but facing a challenge from the player on that charge, the league did not pursue it as it already had enough to hand out a harsh punishment.

In a statement issued by the MLB players’ union, Ramirez said: “Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

While the general reaction was condemnation of the former Red Sox slugger, his current team and fans offered support.

“It’s a dark day for baseball and certainly for this organization,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “But people do make mistakes.”

Ramirez was welcomed back to “Mannywood” on July 3 and finished the season with a .290 average, 19 home runs and 63 RBI, helping the Dodgers win the NL West.

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports: Ken joined the show to help break down the entire A-Rod steroid story Audio|Mon, 9 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21848035/ken-rosenthal-fox-sports.htm

Mike Lupica, NY Daily News: Mike Lupica joins D&C to talk A-Rod Audio|Tue, 17 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21884959/mike-lupica-ny-daily-news.htm

Curt Schilling: Curt calls in to talk A-Rod, A-Rod and more A-Rod Audio|Tue, 10 Feb 200: http://audio.weei.com/m/21851766/curt-schilling.htm

D&C Opening Segment – 2-9-09: Dino and Gerry open the show with A-Rod talk: http://audio.weei.com/m/21847476/d-c-opening-segment-2-9-09.htm

Joel Sherman, NY Post: Joel Sherman joins Dennis and Callahan to talk A-Rod Audio|Mon, 9 Feb 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/21847477/joel-sherman-ny-post.htm

Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus: Will said there is no good explanation on why Manny took HCG and that Ramirez needs to come out and tell his side of the story right now Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254122/will-carroll-baseball-prospectus.htm

Curt Schilling, Former Sox Pitcher: Schilling joins Dino and Gerry to talk Mannywood Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254719/curt-schilling-former-sox-pitcher.htm

Sean Casey, MLB Network: Casey joins Dennis & Callahan to recap Mannygate Audio|Fri, 8 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22254724/sean-casey-mlb-network.htm

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports: Ken talked about what the Red Sox could do if David Ortiz continues his hitting funk and also what he thought about the Manny Ramirez suspension Audio|Tue, 12 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22275884/ken-rosenthal-fox-sports.htm

Terry Francona, Red Sox Manager: Terry talked about the Sox battling through some injuries and if he has ever had to deal with any players who have used PEDs Audio|Wed, 13 May 2009: http://audio.weei.com/m/22285354/terry-francona-red-sox-manager.htm

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