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Why Adrian Gonzalez could be primed to put up huge numbers in Boston

12.04.10 at 10:22 am ET
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With a deal that would bring Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to the Red Sox appearing close — with one source familiar with the situation suggesting that he was cautiously optimistic even as a few roadblocks remain — it is worth considering what kind of slugger the Red Sox are getting. On its own merits, Gonzalez has offered remarkable performance in his time in San Diego. He has hit 30 or more homers in each of the last four seasons, hitting .284/.377/.517/.894 in that time while averaging 34 homers and 105 RBI per season. He has been named an All-Star in each of the last three years, and has won two Gold Gloves.

But that production may simply be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he is capable of accomplishing if in Fenway Park. Several talent evaluators have noted that playing in San Diego’s home of Petco Park is like playing baseball on a different planet, with balls that appear to be long gone off the bat dying before the warning track in the spacious park.

Indeed, Gonzalez himself remarked on the phenomenon to WEEI.com at the 2009 All-Star game, and suggested that the power-suppressing effects of Petco made him curious about the idea of playing elsewhere.

‘€œYou get there for the first time and everybody talks about it. Nobody really knows until they experience it. You have to play there as the home team to understand,’€ said Gonzalez. ‘€œThis is where I’€™m at, and I’€™ve got to be okay with it. I can’€™t dwell on the fact that I hit there. I would be interested in the future to see what that would be like (to play in another park).’€

(At that time Gonzalez also had this to say about the idea of being traded: ‘€œAs far as the future, all I can say is I have two years left on my contract, and I don’€™t know what’€™s going to happen after that. I signed it with the idea for security ‘€“ for financial security. … I’€™ve always said that I’€™m a guy who can be on a team that contends for a World Series. For me, the most important thing about playing the game is to win. We all play to win the World Series. That’€™s our main goal every year. That’€™s my greatest desire.’€)

Gonzalez is not the only one to remark on the Petco effect. He has an ability to hit for power to all fields, something that was masked at times in his San Diego numbers.

“His numbers would definitely be better [outside of Petco],” former teammate Scott Hairston said in 2009. “You could probably tack on another 10 home runs to his stats, and RBIs, about 20. His average would probably go up 20 points as well. It really plays a difference because Adrian hits a lot of deep flyballs. I think people are starting to realize that.

“I think he’€™d be an MVP candidate if he were in a different park,” he added. “Obviously, if he was in a bit city like New York, Chicago or L.A., he’€™d get a lot more publicity. … He was kind of overshadowed by the ballpark. He’€™d be a superstar in a lot of other cities.”

Over the last four seasons on the road, in fact, Gonzalez has the most homers in the majors (90), while hitting .306/.382/.591/.973. Both his road slugging percentage and OPS rank second in the majors (to Albert Pujols) during that time. In 2010, the splits were similarly pronounced: he hit .279/.383/.438/.821 at home, and .315/.402/.578/.980 on the road.

For that reason, the Red Sox might be on the cusp of acquiring not just a 28-year-old in his prime, but also one who is prepared to make a leap forward in terms of his production once removed from the cavernous parks of the NL West, including his own.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, petco park,

Source: Red Sox, Padres agree in principle to Adrian Gonzalez deal

12.04.10 at 9:12 am ET
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A source familiar with the negotiations confirmed that the Red Sox and Padres have agreed in principle to a deal that would send first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to Boston in exchange for prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes. The deal is pending a physical on Gonzalez as well as the negotiation of an extension for the slugger.

ESPN.com was the first to report the deal. Multiple sources familiar with the situation note that there are still roadblocks to a deal, and that there is at least the chance that it could blow up, but both teams expect a deal is likely to get done.

ESPN’€™s Buster Olney reports that Gonzalez was flown to Boston in order to negotiate a contract extension (the Padres exercised a $6.2 million option on his deal for 2011, after which he is currently slated to be a free agent) and to take a physical, with Major League Baseball having granted a window for a deal to be negotiated. While Gonzalez’ shoulder — which required surgery shortly after the season, and which will prevent him from swinging until March — would require a thorough exam, one source familiar with the situation said earlier in the week that he did not expect it to be an impediment to a deal.

The two sides had been discussing various scenarios for a Gonzalez trade for over a year. Last offseason, discussions of any deal began with pitcher Clay Buchholz. But Buchholz became untouchable due to his breakout 2010 campaign, and so the player whom the Sox had to include in a deal became top prospect Casey Kelly, the pitcher who was taken with the Sox’ first-round pick in the 2008 draft under then-director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod, who is now the Padres’ Assistant GM. Talks intensified in the last couple of weeks when the Sox acknowledged that they would have to part with Kelly and figure out the other players to include, yet even as the discussions gained momentum, they remained quiet even as recently as Thursday, when the two teams felt they were closing on a deal.

Gonzalez is considered one of the elite sluggers in the game. Despite playing in the power-killing environment of Petco Park in San Diego, he has hit 30 or more homers in each of the last four seasons, hitting .284/.377/.517/.894 in that time while averaging 34 homers and 105 RBI per season. He has been named an All-Star in each of the last three years, and has won two Gold Gloves. Gonzalez also leads the majors in road homers over the last four years with 90, suggesting that his numbers could take off in a new ballpark. (Indeed, Gonzalez himself has offered such a suggestion.)

While his 2011 salary is eminently affordable, even for the Padres, Gonzalez and his agent, John Boggs, had an understanding with San Diego GM Jed Hoyer that the first baseman would almost certainly depart in free agency after 2011. Boggs suggested that Gonzalez’€™ performance has him in line for a contract along the lines of the eight-year, $184 million deal between Joe Mauer and the Twins, the eight-year, $180 million deal between the Yankees and Mark Teixeira and the five-year, $125 million contract to which the Phillies and first baseman Ryan Howard had agreed. (One source involved in the trade talks guessed that it would take a deal of more than $20 million a year from the Sox to sign Gonzalez, but less than the $25 million a year that Howard will be paid.)

San Diego, as a team with a payroll near $40 million, cannot afford such a deal. And so, the Padres faced a difficult choice for the offseason: Do they retain Gonzalez for another run at the postseason after coming two wins short of the Giants in the NL West, or do they trade him in order to acquire a number of talented, inexpensive prospects who can allow them to compete for the long haul?

One major league source described the dilemma of what to do with a franchise icon as he approaches free agency as the most difficult that a team can face. But in the end, the talent package being offered by the Sox convinced the Padres to make their move. And so, the Sox may get the middle-of-the-order slugger whom they covet, while the Padres acquire three high-ceiling prospects with the chance to impact them — at a low cost — for years.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, jose iglesias

Red Sox sign five to minor-league deals

12.03.10 at 5:38 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they have signed minor-league deals with five free agents:

Jason Bergmann (RHP)

Brandon Duckworth (RHP)

Santo Luis (RHP)

Nate Spears (IF)

Drew Sutton (IF)

Spears and Luis were both in the Red Sox system last year. All of the players were added to the roster of Triple-A Pawtucket; all but Luis received invitations to big league spring training.

Here is a thumbnail of each of the five from the press release announcing their signings: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon duckworth, drew sutton, jason bergmann, nate spears

Report: Sox were prepared to dump Jonathan Papelbon for Mariano Rivera

12.03.10 at 2:08 pm ET
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According to ESPN.com, the Red Sox made a two-year, $30 million offer to Mariano Rivera, with the idea that, had he accepted, they would not have tendered a contract for the 2011 season to closer Jonathan Papelbon. Rivera instead is close to finalizing a two-year, $30 million offer to return to the Yankees, according to the Associated Press.

Rivera had a 1.80 ERA and converted 33 of 38 save opportunities for the Yankees in 2010. Meanwhile, Papelbon — who entered last year with a career 1.84 ERA — had a career-worst 3.90 mark, and while he saved 37 contests, he also blew eight saves.

Rivera turned 41 last week. His strikeout rate in 2010 (6.8 per nine innings) was his lowest since 1999, but he has also had a sub-2.00 ERA in each of the last three years, and in seven of the last eight.

Papelbon, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, made $9.35 million in 2010. When the Sox formally tendered him a contract for 2011, they ensured that the arbitration-eligible closer will receive a healthy raise next season, likely to more than $11 million.

Multiple major league sources have suggested that, had the Sox non-tendered Papelbon, he would have received a 2011 salary that will fall below what he earned in arbitration. One source, for instance, suggested that Papelbon — based on his 2010 struggles, the perception that he is not as dominant as he was from 2006-08 and the fact that he does have a shoulder issue (a subluxation of his right shoulder late in 2006) in his past — might be in line for a deal along the lines of the two-year, $20.5 million deal that Kerry Wood received to close for the Indians in 2009-10 (Wood ended up being traded to the Yankees late in 2010).

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Mariano Rivera,

Minor Details: Avoiding trade disasters

12.03.10 at 1:12 pm ET
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This week’s episode of the Minor Details podcast examined the importance of an organization’s ability to scout its own prospects. The significance is substantial, since an organization that undervalues its prospects risks a potentially disastrous trade along the lines of the 1990 deal made by the Red Sox of then-prospect Jeff Bagwell for middle reliever Larry Andersen. At the same time, an organization that overvalues its prospects risks inaction, and missed opportunities to trade for players who can help a club or even stars.

This week’s guests on Minor Details are former Arizona Diamondbacks GM (and Red Sox assistant GM) Josh Byrnes and former Red Sox player and manager Butch Hobson, who served as Bagwell’s manager with Double-A New Britain in 1990. (The significance of the Bagwell deal resurfaced this week, as the Astros great is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.) Byrnes talked about the state of the trade market, some of his past trades and the idea of trading outfielder Justin Upton, who played for Byrnes in Arizona.

To listen to the podcast, click here. Some highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, Butch Hobson, Dan Haren, jeff bagwell

Adrian Beltre: ‘I could make a deal right now if I wanted to’

12.03.10 at 12:49 pm ET
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Free agent Adrian Beltre said Thursday that he would like to remain a member of the Red Sox. “These guys are my friends and they made me feel part of the team,” Beltre told The Boston Globe. “There’s a lot going on right now, but I do hope I stay with the Red Sox.”

Beltre, who flew from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic to take part in David Ortiz‘ charity event, said he has a deal on the table, but he did not identify which team it’s from. “I could make a deal right now if I wanted to,” he said. “But I want to wait and make sure I make the right decision.”

The A’s reportedly are in pursuit of the third baseman, who hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI for the Sox last season. But Beltre said his enjoyed the experience in his first season in Boston.

“I got used to seeing that park full in the first inning and still full in the ninth inning. I liked that atmosphere,” he said. “If everything was close to the same, I would go back to Boston. But we have to see. The number of years is what is important to me.”

Read More: Adrian Beltre,

Yankees now going after Carl Crawford

12.03.10 at 12:27 pm ET
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According to ESPN.com’€™s Buster Olney, the Yankees are ‘€œvery much engaged in conversations’€ with Carl Crawford. Olney writes that is unknown whether or not New York would stay in the mix for free agent pitcher Cliff Lee if they were to allocate resources to Crawford.

This should come as no surprise for Red Sox fans (because it wasn’t for the Sox organization): A. There is a fit. Crawford would be valuable in the expanse of the Yankee Stadium left field; B. New York typically moves this way, coming in on guys a bit later (see Mark Teixeira).

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