|10.27.14 at 12:02 pm ET|
October has not been kind to the public perception of Yoenis Cespedes.
Trade rumors. Surfaced concerns over his game. And now a report suggesting that not only would the Red Sox hesitate offering the four- to five-year deal they had been contemplating offering due to Cespedes’ switch in agents, but that (according to a “Red Sox insider”) “he marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him.” (To read the entire New York Daily News report, click here.)
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at the reality of Cespedes’ situation.
When last we saw the Red Sox left fielder, he was catching a bit of heat for some poorly played balls in left field while finishing his two-month stint in Boston with five home runs, 33 RBIs, 48 strikeouts, seven walks, four stolen bases, a .269 batting average, a .296 on-base percentage and a .719 OPS.
His new fan base loved his arm and ability to supply a much-needed commodity for an offense devoid of timing — the ability to drive in runners when it counted, hitting .338 with a .907 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position (for the season).
Cesepdes also seemingly supplied some additional protection for David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup, while possessing the much-needed skill set of being able to hit a baseball over the fence.
And, as was the case in Oakland, he was a popular figure in the Red Sox clubhouse among his teammates.
But there were other factors that didn’t make a long-term commitment to the outfielder a no-brainer.
The initial issue came when, after the Red Sox publicly gushed about the notion that Cespedes would be using his excellent side-to-side speed in right field at Fenway Park, he never played a moment at the position. Instead, there were a few days of shagging balls next to Pesky’s Pole before abandoning the workouts in right altogether.
|10.23.14 at 9:45 pm ET|
In a conference call introducing Chili Davis as the new Red Sox hitting coach, the former A’s instructor talked about how he viewed one of his former player’s in Oakland, Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes and Davis were together since the outfielder’s arrival with the A’s up until his trade to the Red Sox at the non-waiver trade deadline this past season.
“Cespy is a special player, just a very special player with a lot of talent,” Davis said. “We saw that in Oakland and I’m sure that’s why they brought him here from Cuba and put him right into the big leagues. Big game guy, loves the noise, loves the lights. I feel like we formed a relationship but we weren’t quite finished building that relationship from the relationship we formed it wont be that difficult to pick up where we left off. As far as I’m concerned and I told him this to his face, he has greatness written all over him. He does. He does everything, he can run, throw, hit for power.
“It took him a while to get comfortable in Oakland as well but once he gets comfortable there there’s no telling what he might put up in a season as a player. He’s just, to me, I think he can be a great player. It’s all up to him, whether or not he wants to be there. But I think he has the ability to be a great player.”
Here are some of the other topics discussed on the call:
— John Farrell cited the organization’s (and his own) familiarity with Davis and being a key in bringing him on board: “It goes back to the person Chili is. You all will get to know him firsthand. This is someone that, setting aside a great playing career, it’s someone that cares about the individuals that he’s working with ultimately to make them better and to make us better. You’re talking about an incredible playing career, an incredible message, the person and the genuineness that Chili is, our players will feel that immediately. Some have already from their time in Pawtucket. It was the person that drew us to him, the experience we had with him back in 2011. We were teammates a number of years ago. Knowing him personally, knowing what our needs are here, this is an ideal fit with Chili joining our staff here in the organization.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.23.14 at 5:58 pm ET|
Three members of the Red Sox were named finalists for the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which recognizes one player from each league at each position. Three-time winner Dustin Pedroia was named a finalist along with Robinson Cano of the Mariners and Ian Kinsler of the Tigers. Jackie Bradley Jr. was named a finalist in center field along with Adam Jones of the Orioles and Adam Eaton of the White Sox. And Yoenis Cespedes, acquired in midseason from the A’s, is a finalist in left field, along with Michael Brantley of the Indians and reigning winner Alex Gordon of the Royals.
Fangraphs had Pedroia as the major league leader by a considerable margin in UZR. John Dewan’s Plus/Minus system had Pedroia as second to Kinsler in both runs saved and defensive plays made above average.
Fangraphs had Bradley leading the American League, also by a significant margin, in UZR, while Dewan’s system had Bradley behind only Leonys Martin of the Rangers in runs saved (14), but placed him behind Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson of the Royals as well as Eaton in plus/minus.
Though Fangraphs had Cespedes being below average in range, his howitzer of an arm permitted him to rank second in the AL (behind only Gordon) in UZR, according to Fangraphs. Dewan’s runs saved system likewise pegged Cespedes as the second most impactful left fielder in the AL with 12 runs saved, behind only Gordon’s 27.
Arguably short-changed as a nominee for the second straight year: Mike Napoli, who according to Dewan, ranked third in the AL to a pair of Orioles (Steven Pearce and Chris Davis) in first base runs saved and led the AL with 10 plays above average. Fangraphs pegged Napoli as having the third best UZR (behind Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira) in American League UZR.
|10.23.14 at 4:50 pm ET|
The Red Sox officially announced the hire of Chili Davis as their new hitting coach Thursday. In addition, the team announced that Victor Rodriguez would return for his third season as the team’s assistant hitting coach.
Davis spent the last three seasons as the hitting coach for the Athletics, who finished third in the American League in runs each of the last two season. As a player, Davis ranked seventh all-time among switch hitters in both home runs (350) and RBIs (1,372). He previously worked in the Red Sox organization in 2011, when he was the hitting coach for Triple-A Pawtucket.
“Chili’s experience and success as both a player and a coach make him a valuable addition to our staff, and we are excited to have him working with our hitters,” John Farrell said in a statement.
Rodriguez has spent the past 20 years in the Red Sox organization, serving in various roles in the minors before becoming the Red Sox’ assistant hitting coach in 2013.
“We look forward to having Victor return to the staff,” Farrell said. “In his time here, he has built strong relationships with our younger players, some of which date back to his days working in our minor league system.”
For more on Davis and his potential impact on the Red Sox, check out this column from Alex Speier.
|10.23.14 at 3:46 pm ET|
As time ticks toward the Red Sox having to make a decision on Craig Breslow’s contract, the reliever remains realistic.
The Red Sox have until five days after the completion of the World Series to decide whether or not to exercise Breslow’s $4 million option for 2015. The 34-year-old lefty is coming off a disappointing season in which he totaled a 5.96 ERA in 54 1/3 innings over 60 appearances.
“If you were to strictly look at 2014 with blinders without what had happened previously and what you might expect to happen going forward, $4 million is probably a hefty price tag,” Breslow said by ph0ne Thursday afternoon. “But I think if he look at the body of work from 2008-13, you can better appreciation for the pitcher that I’ve been and the pitcher that I will.”
He added, “If they were to decline it I would be a bargain for somebody and I’ll pitch to the value of the contract.”
Breslow noted his representatives had been in preliminary contract discussions with the Red Sox toward the end of the ’14 season.
The reliever seemingly never recovered from the workload of pitching through the Red Sox’ ’13 World Series run. Not only did he delay his throwing program due to the 993 pitches thrown during the championship season, but upon arriving in spring training it was determined his shoulder strength was still lacking.
Breslow wouldn’t pitch at throughout the club’s stay in Fort Myers, not making his ’14 big league debut until the 10th game of the season.
“Only having December and January to get ready becomes problematic,” he said.
From ’08-13, Breslow pitched in more games (392) than any lefty reliever, except Matt Thornton, totaling a 2.82 ERA, while limiting hitters to a .224 batting average.
The Connecticut native plans on spending the majority of his offseason working out at Mike Boyle’s training facility in Woburn.
|10.21.14 at 6:23 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an interview on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio, suggested that the notion that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — acquired from the A’s at the trade deadline for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes — is being shopped had promoted him to “chuckle a little bit.” Farrell said that Cespedes remains in the team’s plans for 2015.
“I did see some of the reports and the rumors that are out there and I can tell you this: For the two months that Yoenis was with us he was a main member of our lineup, his work ethic was strong and very consistent,” said Farrell. “We did talk about the potential of a shift to right field because of our configuration. But when you look at the emergence of Mookie Betts, the addition of Rusney Castillo, the return of Shane Victorino, we want to put guys in the best position to succeed. And with the guys that we just mentioned in addition to Daniel Nava we’ve got a number of right field candidates. Allen Craig is also in the mix. So I kind of chuckle a little bit at some of the reports that were out there about Yoenis. And we’re fortunate that he’s on our club and very much looking forward to him being part of our offense going forward.”
Farrell said that, while the team was interested in the idea of having Cespedes in right field when it acquired him based on his potential outfield range, the idea of such a move is currently “on hold,” an approach the team decided to pursue in order to permit Cespedes to achieve comfort with his new team rather than introducing multiple variables (new team, new position) simultaneously.
“He has played center field. He has not played right field. And we felt that it was best for a player that comes in mid-year to find a way to get him on his feet with a new club, to get comfortable as best possible,” Farrell told MLB Network Radio. “We talked about it, how do we make the best situation of Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes. It was a discussion point. The range of two guys, particularly in our ballpark, you would say are reversed ‘ Allen Craig in left, Yoenis Cespedes in right. Allen did get injured with the foot and went down for some time so we tabled that and then thought, you know what, if we’re going to look to do this, depending on what players are on our roster and what’s the best team for the Red Sox, we would address it in spring training if it needed to be. But, like I said, with the addition of others guys and as well as Shane Victorino, who is rehabbing right now, that move to right field is on hold.”
Farrell also spoke enthusiastically about Chili Davis, whom the team has tabbed to be its next hitting coach.
“We’re extremely excited to have Chili with us. I think there are some details yet to be finalized but, you know, Chili obviously worked here in the past back in 2011 in Pawtucket, so there’s some initial relationships already in place with a number of the guys that are on our roster,” Farrell said. “When you consider the pedigree that he is, the player that he was, how successful he was, how he’s been able to transfer some of those skills’most of those skills’into a hitting coach now, his ability to connect with guys I think is one of the strong suits, as well as a long playing career that gives him a tremendous amount of reference to give his experiences to guys he’s going to be working with.”
|10.21.14 at 5:44 pm ET|
Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo, currently in the Arizona Fall League to get at-bats in preparation for an everyday big league role in 2015, left Monday’s game after two plate appearances due to a bruised hand/thumb from getting jammed while hitting. Castillo is considered day-to-day.
Castillo, who signed a contract in August that runs through 2020 for $72.5 million, is currently hitting .278 with a .333 OBP and .361 slugging mark with three doubles, three walks and six strikeouts in 39 plate appearances for the Surprise Saguaros. He’s up to a total of 125 plate appearances (39 in the AFL, 40 with the Red Sox in the big leagues, 46 in the minors after signing) with a goal of accumulating approximately 200 plate appearances by the time he concludes his first professional tour, which will wrap up with an assignment in the Puerto Rico winter league.
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