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David Ortiz named American League’s best offensive player

10.26.16 at 7:01 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

The awards have officially started coming in for David Ortiz.

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Ortiz has won the Hank Aaron Award for the American League, given to the best offensive performer in each league. The Cubs’ Kris Bryant claimed the honor for the National League.

Fans voted for the recipients on MLB.com and Twitter, and for the seventh straight year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron joined fans in voting for the Awards.The Hall of Fame panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time, such as Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Ken Griffey Jr., Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers – who combined for 17,010 hits, 8,844 RBI and 2,275 home runs – were all personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each League.

It is the second time Ortiz has won the award, previously collecting the prize in 2005. Previous Red Sox players to be named Hank Aaron Award winners were Manny Ramirez (2004) and Kevin Youkilis (2008).

In the final season of his 20-year Major League career, Ortiz led all players with a .620 slugging percentage, a 1.021 OPS and 48 doubles. The Dominican Republic native batted .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBI (tied for first in the A.L.), 80 walks and a .401 on-base percentage. His 38 homers – which included 16 of the go-ahead variety – and 127 RBI were his best totals since 2006. According to the Elias Sports Bureau,

Ortiz established single-season records for players over the age of 40 in home runs, RBI, doubles and extra-base
hits.

Kyle Schwarber adds even more motivation for player who might be next year’s Red Sox first baseman, Sam Travis

10.26.16 at 2:11 pm ET
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Sam Travis (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Sam Travis (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Sam Travis is a motivated individual. Talking to him for a few moments, that’s easy to uncover.

“Since I was four or five years old I’ve been telling people I was going to play major league baseball,” said the Red Sox’ first base prospect when reached by phone Wednesday. “They were laughing back then but I don’t see them laughing no more.”

Tuesday night just upped Travis’ adrenaline.

While gathered together with some former Indiana University teammates to watch Game 1 of the World Series, Travis witnessed his latest round of motivation. The group were watching their friend, and former college teammate, Kyle Schwarber, start for the Cubs despite having played just two regular season games due to a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee suffered back in early April.

It was an enormous storyline for anybody watching the Series, but was particularly poignant for Travis.

Not only was Schwarber one of the first baseman’s good friends, having dominated the middle of the Hoosiers’ batting order before Travis was taken in the second round of the 2014 draft, but they had also come across another bond during the 2016 season. Just about 1 1/2 months after Schwarber’s injury, Travis suffered his own left knee injury, tearing the ACL.

And while all has been going as planned in Travis’ rehabilitation (“I’ll be good to go at spring training. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be ready to go,” he said), the sight of Schwarber stepping on baseball’s biggest stage after just a few Arizona Fall League at-bats and ripping a double off the right field wall in his second at-bat was the kind of motivation doctors, physical therapists and strength coaches just couldn’t offer.

“It was awesome,” said the energetic 23-year-old. “I talked to [Schwarber] a few days ago when he was playing out in Arizona. When he found out he was flying to Cleveland, emotions were definitely flying. You couldn’t be happier for the guy. He’s always worked his ass off. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. When he almost went deep yesterday I was going crazy. I was fired up.

“Usually it takes guys a couple of weeks to get in the swing of things, especially at this level. But watching him, he looked really comfortable after five at-bats. You can’t make that up. He’s fun to watch. Just an unbelievable guy.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Corey Kluber, Roberto Perez help keep Terry Francona undefeated in World Series play, lead Indians to Game 1 win over Cubs

10.25.16 at 11:49 pm ET
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Corey Kluber was dominant in picking up the Game 1 win. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

Corey Kluber was dominant in picking up the Game 1 win. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

The Indians are still playing like the Indians.

The same formula that has worked for Cleveland throughout the postseason — getting ahead and staying there — translated into a 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs at Progressive Field Tuesday night.

It improves the Indians to 8-1 this postseason, having now claimed four shutouts while giving up a total of just 15 runs. The shutout was Cleveland’s fourth of the playoffs, tying them with four other teams for the major league postseason record.

It was a victory that bodes well for Terry Francona’s team, with 12 of the last 13 Game 1 winners have gone on to win the World Series. Francona also remains undefeated in World Series play, having now won all nine of the Fall Classic games he has managed.

The stars in this one were Cleveland starter Corey Kluber and his catcher, Roberto Perez.

Kluber absolutely dominated the Cubs from the get-go. The Indians’ ace became the first pitcher in postseason history to strikeout eight batters in the first three innings. He would go on to pitch six scoreless innnings, allowing just four hits while fanning nine and not walking a batter.

Perez supplied a good chunk of the Indians’ offense, hitting a pair of home runs. The first one was a fourth-inning solo shot, with the catcher then sealing the win with an eighth-inning, three-run blast.

The first threat mounted by the Cubs didn’t come until seventh inning when Kluber was driven from the game after Ben Zobrist hit the righty’s 88th, and final, pitch into left field for a leadoff single. Reliever Andrew Miller proceeded to load the bases after Kyle Schwarber walk and Javier Baez single.

But Miller came back to induce a fly out to shallow center off the bat of pinch-hitter Wilson Contreras before striking out both Addison Russell and David Ross.

Miller had to get out of a jam again in the eighth, putting runners on first and second with two outs. But the lefty fanned Schwarber with a slider on what was a season-high 46th pitch.

Taking the loss was Chicago starter Jon Lester, whose only real poor inning came in the first when he gave up a run-scoring infield single off the bat of Jose Ramirez before forcing in a run by hitting Brandon Guyer. The only other run given up by Lester came on Perez’s solo homer.

Lester finished his 5 2/3-inning outing having allowed six hits, while striking out seven and walking three.

For a complete box score, click here.

Dave Dombrowski explains how he is reconfiguring Red Sox’ front office

10.25.16 at 7:15 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

They aren’t exactly seismic changes, but they are changes, nonetheless.

The change in the Red Sox’ front office this offseason, started of course, with Mike Hazen heading to the Diamondbacks to become their general manager. And then, this weekend, news came down that team’s international and amateur scouting director, Amiel Sawdaye, would be following Hazen to Arizona.

That led to Dave Dombrowski having to shift things around a bit.

Tuesday, in a conference call with the media, Dombrowski explained his approach when it comes to reconfiguring the Red Sox’ front office, which included the promotion of Eddie Romero to assistant general manager while forgoing naming a replacement to Hazen in the GM position:

“When I set the departments up at this time, and I guess I should probably address as mentioned to you before, really went into this with the idea of hiring a general manager and there were two ways to go about doing it, one was internal, one was external. There were a lot of names on the list that were external that I think would have done a very good job.

“Interviewed two people here first in Eddie and Amiel. Were very impressed with both of them. However, I didn’t think from their exposure to the major leagues at this point were quite ready to be general managers. Thought it would be better for them to step into that next area in being an assistant. Amiel, Mike Hazen had asked if he could take an individual with him and we granted him permission to take Amiel to interview for. And Amiel felt it was best for his situation to go ahead and take that assistant role with the Diamondbacks. He and Mike have worked very closely together over the years and we’re very thankful for everything he did for the organization but I thought it was better to stay internal with promoting individuals of course with Eddie’s promotion some of the other things that will take place without title changes attached to them, we have now had our instability of having people move on, the compliment to Amiel is that he’s grown Eddie to be in charge of Latin America which Amiel used to be involved in but Eddie now has been running that as well as the world from an international perspective.

“[Amateur scouting director] Mike Rikard, who has been our – Amiel had trained him – has been in charge of the draft the last coulee of years. We’re in very capable hands with Mike. He will be with us for a long-term basis. We’re also in a position where we have a director of professional scouting Gus Quattlebaum who will continue to have more put on his plate as far as preparation for trades. Also, [farm director] Ben Crockett is director of player development, he will continue to be in that role. [vice president of baseball administration] Raquel [Ferreira] will continue to be our vice president of baseball administration, she does a tremendous job for us. Zack Scott, which he basically has done, will have more growth within our analytics department. He will continue to head that.

“A place that I felt I would need some assistance as far as contacting other major league clubs when it comes down to trades, we’re in a spot where we have real good evaluators within our organization, very pleased with our professional scouts. This is more when I’m working directly on special assignment scouts and major league scouts, but we’re in a position where two people who could help me a great deal on that and that’s Frank Wren and Allard Baird. So they’ll continue to live where they live. They’ll be in Boston a little bit more often, but they’ll have increased responsibilities in their roles of helping me contact other major league clubs and be involved in trade conversations in addition to their analytics, analyzing and evaluating those clubs. With Allard taking more of that approach, he will not travel to the Far East as much as he has in the past but he will continue to oversee that.

“[Director of player personnel] Jared Banner will be in a position where he’ll be promoted and assume more responsibilities and he will run that operation for us and he’ll also assume some other responsibilities when it comes to player evaluation. So that kind of sets us up going into the future. I think it’s a really good hand. I thought the promoting of these individuals and giving them more responsibilities would be beneficial rather than brining in someone from outside the organization. I think this group is more than capable of handling the responsibilities.”

Red Sox won’t hire general manager, promote Eddie Romero to senior vice president/assistant general manager

10.25.16 at 1:08 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski will not have a general manager at this time. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski will not have a general manager at this time. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox announced Tuesday afternoon they will not hire a general manager and have promoted Eddie Romero to senior vice president/assistant general manager after Mike Hazen left the team for the GM position with the Diamondbacks.

Romero along with senior vice president/assistant general manager, Brian O’Halloran, will both directly report to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and assist in all aspects of baseball operations going forward.

This comes after Romero was elevated to the position of vice president for international scouting at the start of last season.

“The Red Sox are very pleased to announce Eddie’s promotion to assistant general manager,” said Dombrowski in a statement. “This is a very talented individual who we think can make a real impact for us with his background in player evaluation and his knowledge of our minor league system. A native Spanish speaker, his ability to communicate with both players and staff is significant, especially in today’s game. We look forward to having Eddie on board to assist our efforts to improve our ball club.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Sources: Red Sox scouting chief Amiel Sawdaye joining Mike Hazen in Arizona

10.24.16 at 10:51 pm ET
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Amiel Sawdaye

Amiel Sawdaye

The front office wheels are turning.

According to multiple major league sources, Red Sox vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye is slated to become the Arizona Diamondbacks assistant general manager. Sawdaye joins former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen, who left to run baseball operations for Arizona.

The University of Maryland graduate joined the Red Sox as an intern in 2002-03 before becoming a scouting assistant in 2004-05. Sawdaye was named assistant amateur scouting director in 2005, serving in the position until ’09.

Sawdaye took over as the director of amateur scouting in 2010, replacing current Chicago Cubs assistant GM Jason McLeod, running the Red Sox’ amateur drafts during the drafting of players such as Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw, Blake Swihart, Michael Kopech and Sam Travis.

It is unknown if the Red Sox will formally replace Hazen’s GM position, with pro scouting director Gus Quattlebaum and international scouting director Eddie Romero among those mentioned as candidates for promotions.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was first to report the news of Sawdaye’s move.

Terry Francona, Indians headed to World Series

10.19.16 at 6:46 pm ET
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Andrew Miller and the Indians are heading to the World Series. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Andrew Miller and the Indians are heading to the World Series. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Terry Francona is headed to his third World Series.

The Indians, and former Red Sox, manager guided his team to a 3-0 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon, clinching Cleveland’s first World Series berth since 1997, not having won the Series since 1948.

Andrew Miller was named MVP for the American League Championship Series, not allowing a run over 7 2/3 innings, striking out 14 and not walking a batter.

It was the fourth time the Indians entered a Game 5 ahead in the series 3-1, having lost the three previous Game 5 opportunities.

The Indians, who won 94 regular season games, improved to 7-1 this postseason. The shutout of the Jays was the third time during this playoff run Cleveland held its opponent scoreless, and marked the first time Toronto had ever been shutout at home in the postseason.

Cleveland starting pitcher Ryan Merritt, who appeared in just four games (making one start) in the regular season, held the Blue Jays scoreless through 4 1/3 innings. The lefty allowed just two hits while not walking a batter before giving way to Brian Shaw.

After a scoreless inning from Shaw, Andrew Miller did his thing, throwing two scoreless frames. Cody Allen finished things off, recording the final three outs to punch the Indians’ ticket to the World Series.

The Cleveland offense was paced by a pair of home runs, coming from Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp.

The Blue Jays managed just one runner in scoring position for the entire game. Toronto finished the series just 1-for-35 with two outs and a man on base.

For an entire recap of the series-clincher, click here.

Man David Ortiz credits with saving his career, Dan Dyrek, leaving Red Sox

10.19.16 at 2:17 pm ET
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David Ortiz credited Dan Dyrek with helping save his career. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz credited Dan Dyrek with helping save his career. (Getty Images)

One of the key figures from the 2016 Red Sox season is leaving the organization.

WEEI.com has learned that Dan Dyrek, who has been the team’s coordinator of sports medicine service since after the 2012 season, will not be returning for 2017. The 63-year-old had asked the Red Sox not to extend him a contract offer at the completion of the ’16 season, having his term coincide with the completion of David Ortiz’s retirement.

One of the most well-respected physical therapists in all of sports, Dyrek’s key contribution since assuming his role with the Red Sox involved Ortiz. He was credited by both the player and the organization as perhaps the most important element in keeping the designated hitter on the field after Ortiz suffered a career-threatening heel injury in 2012.

Dyrek’s presence was deemed so important by the slugger that Ortiz requested ownership allow the physical therapist to travel with the team for all road games over the last few months.

“Huge. Huge,” said Ortiz when asked about the importance of Dyrek. “When he’s not around I’m not feeling comfortable. My feet hurt when he’s not around, more than usual. I swear.

“He started traveling everywhere because everybody wanted a piece of him. But this last month I told the owner we need him around 24-7 [24 hours a day, 7 days a week] because he’s incredible.”

Ortiz went so far as to say he most likely would have have retired before 2016 if not for Dyrek.

“Probably. Probably, because I was in so much pain,” Ortiz told WEEI.com when if he would have previously called it quits if Dyrek didn’t join the club. “All the treatments and all the stuff I’ve followed up with him, it has been right on. He tells me how my feet are going to feel.”

Ortiz wasn’t the first Boston sports icon who had Dyrek help prolong their career, with Larry Bird crediting the former collegiate swimmer in allowing him to play long enough to participate in the 1992 Summer Olympics with the first “Dream Team” in Barcelona.

Dyrek will continue his clinical practice by assisting Bird’s Indiana Pacers, and consulting with teams and pro athletes nationally and internationally.

Former Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop slams Tim Tebow signing because of $100k bonus

10.19.16 at 11:14 am ET
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Burke Badenhop

Burke Badenhop

Former Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop has no problem with baseball teams giving Tim Tebow a look. But signing him for $100,000? That’s where he draws the line.

Writing a column for MLB Trade Rumors, Badenhop blasted the Mets for disrespecting the work it took marginal prospects such as himself to reach the majors. He can’t believe Tebow received a bonus commensurate with a pick in the top 10 rounds when it’s clear he lacks the skill to be a big leaguer.

“Big leaguers are found all over the draft,” Badenhop wrote. “For every first-round superstar like Kris Bryant, you’ll find a Daniel Murphy in the 13th round. I was drafted in the 19th round as a college senior.  I signed for $1,000. You could draft 100 of me for the price of one Tim Tebow. Such a thought only elicits feelings of disrespect.”

Badenhop was kinder to Tebow’s game, which many scouts consider limited and one compared to an actor attempting to play a baseball player, like Freddie Prinze Jr. in Summer Catch.

“Tebow’s swing looked fine to me,” Badenhop wrote. “It was definitely long, but it was powerful and fell far short of looking as bad as a Charles Barkley golf swing. Tebow’s outfield work definitely left more to be desired, though. He shagged fly balls with an awkward ‘five step drop’ type of footwork. And I couldn’t stop looking at his glove. Not the type of glove or the color or anything, but how it was broken in. It was just wrong. It didn’t have a pocket, it was bent in a weird way and he had all five fingers in each finger hole, which I’ve never seen an outfielder do.”

In any event, Badenhop resents the Mets seemingly allowing Tebow to short-circuit the process.

“To see a team give a 29-year-old with no baseball experience a six-figure bonus because he was good at college football was confusing,” he wrote. “The road to ‘The Show’ isn’t a walk in the park. You don’t get to the big leagues as a 19th-rounder and stay without earning it. It was a badge of honor for me. This signing makes it seem that maybe teams don’t take the grind as seriously as the players do. It sends a very mixed message.”

The rest of the piece is worth reading.

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Tom Tippett, Red Sox statistical analyst, is leaving organization

10.18.16 at 5:58 pm ET
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The off-field losses continue to mount for the Red Sox.

One day after Mike Hazen was introduced as the new general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Red Sox also lost one of their brightest minds when the club confirmed that senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett will leave the organization when his contract expires at the end of the month to pursue other ventures.

Tippett said by e-mail that he informed Hazen of his decision in September. Tippett’s departure marks the end of a 13-year career with the Red Sox. He rose to prominence in the early ’90s with his Diamond Mind computer simulation, which the Red Sox used to help determine their Division Series roster against the A’s in 2003.

A native of Canada and graduate of Harvard Business School, Tippett will continue working for the Red Sox through Halloween. He headed up development of their in-house statistical analysis systems and supplied data regarding player personnel decisions.

The news was first reported on Twitter by Peter Gammons.

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