|12.05.14 at 8:02 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney, in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, said that the bidding for free agent left-hander Jon Lester seems destined to clear $150 million. That likely outcome, in turn, will not reflect well on the Red Sox‘ approach to extension talks in spring training, when the team made a four-year, $70 million offer.
“It was mind-boggling,” said Olney. “If in fact Jon Lester ends up signing someplace else for about $150 million, and given the presence of the Cubs and the Dodgers and the Giants and the Red Sox, it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to be for less than $150 million, there’s no question that one of the biggest things you take away from that is, my goodness the Red Sox miscalculated. That offer, whether it’s the Red Sox signing Lester to $150 million or some other team doing it, your reaction is the Red Sox really misread where the market was going to end up winding up.”
Olney said that the industry is still trying to get a feel for what the Dodgers’ late entry into the Lester sweepstakes means.
“I’m surprised that the Dodgers are in this late. I think everyone is still trying to figure out how serious it is, but it certainly changes the dynamics dramatically. Imagine if you have a weekend poker game with three of your neighbors and then someone walks in with a stack of hundreds. That’s kind of what’s going on here,” said Olney. “Let’s face it, the timing of this was such that suddenly we heard from the Dodgers on the day the Dodgers were meeting with Lester, it may be the classic Red Sox-Yankees push the opponent to pay as much as possible. I think there’s reason to think that, but because the Dodgers have so much money, as one general manager said to me today, they’re the new Yankees. When they jump in, you’ve got to take them seriously just because of how much money they have. Quite frankly, if they want him, then they’re probably going to get him, unless Jon Lester has a serious problem pitching with L.A. We just don’t know yet if their end game is to sign Lester.”
Whenever Lester does sign, Olney expects a flurry of moves involving a starting pitching market that has yet to start moving. Free agents could come off the board quickly, and trade activity could be significant.
“[Lester is] the biggest domino. He’s the bottleneck in the whole marketplace right now,” said Olney. “I will tell you that talking with some teams today and this evening, they’re telling me that there’s a ton of talk going on. Whereas three days ago there were a lot of teams that were just inclined to wait until the Lester thing happened, I think the fact that it may not get resolved to the middle of the winter meetings — which is the latest timetable I heard — I think teams are now lining up to do other things. But [James] Shields is directly affected. If Shields, let’s say for argument’s sake, the feeling entering the winter was Shields was most likely to end up with the Dodgers or the Red Sox, and if one of those two teams winds up with Lester, that affects Shields. Maybe the Cubs look at Shields more seriously because of the history now with Joe Maddon, now that he’s their manager. I think for guys like Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy, they’re waiting for Jon Lester so they can kind of draft in his wake.” Read the rest of this entry »
|12.05.14 at 1:51 am ET|
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — The priority for David Ortiz at his annual golf tournament is to play the role of host for those helping support the event.
But there have been times he uses the occasion to get a message across via the small gathering of media attending the fundraiser. Last year, for example, the Red Sox designated hitter threw down the gauntlet to the team that he was intent on getting a new deal done before the 2014 season rolled around.
This time around, Ortiz lacked any sort of pointed remarks. (“I’m under contract,” he said. “I don’t have to talk about it.”) Instead, there was just a plea. He wants Jon Lester back with the Red Sox.
“Yeah,” said Ortiz when asked if he was optimistic that Lester would return. “Most of the time we come through. I know it’s a tough situation because my boy Lester, he’s got a lot of people in his head right now talking to him. I always wish him the best, but hopefully we end up having him. We need him.”
Ortiz explained he hadn’t spoken with Lester throughout the offseason (just ‘tweeting at him’), but reiterated an understanding of the pitcher’s mindset.
Now, with the pitcher on the cusp making his decision ‘ one which is appearing to be finalized around the time of next week’s winter meetings in San Diego ‘ Ortiz is presenting one last pitch.
“This is a guy who loves Boston, so if I’m the Red Sox I do whatever it takes to keep a guy like that because that’s a guy who brings everything he has every day to the field,” he said. “Not only that but he cares about the city.
“He was devastated when he got traded, and I know that. I can personally tell you that. But this is a business, and I know he understands that. So now is the time for us to step up, man up, and try to make the guy happy.”
Lester appears to be choosing between the Red Sox, Giants, Cubs and Dodgers, with some in baseball believing the Yankees are also lurking. Ortiz just so happens to seemingly be one of the people saying New York is, ‘going to go out and get some pitching, I guarantee it.’
Also in attendance for the first day of Ortiz’s event was third baseman Will Middlebrooks, along with free agent reliever Craig Breslow. The lefty pitcher has drawn interest from more than a handful of teams, but figures to sign only after fellow southpaw Andrew Miller kicks off the relieving market.
“That was something that absolutely surprised me,” said Ortiz of the signing of both Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. “It’s more offense. More good defense. That’s how you start winning and putting a good team together.”
|12.03.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
While the Red Sox, Cubs and Giants have all been part of a public courtship process of Jon Lester, interest from the industry’s financial heavyweights — the Yankees and Dodgers — had not been documented. But, multiple sources connected to teams interested in Lester have told WEEI.com that the Dodgers are a late entrant into the sweepstakes, with both serious interest in the top left-hander on the market and the resources to make a hard, late charge.
One industry source was under the impression that the Dodgers had already entered the bidding with an offer to Lester, while another characterized the Dodgers as poised to play a role similar to the one made by the Yankees in December 2008, when New York swooped in late to sign Mark Teixeira away from other interested bidders with a high bid of eight years and $180 million. A third noted of the Dodgers’ potential interest that Lester, “could help any team looking to win championships,” the unquestioned bar for a Los Angeles team that is after its first title since 1988.
The basis of a run at Lester by the Dodgers is fairly self-explanatory. While the team has the most dominant pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw and an elite No. 2 in Zack Greinke, the depth behind them is less than dominant — particularly given that Greinke can opt out of his six-year, $147 million deal after the 2015 season (the third year of his contract).
(Sidenote: Greinke’s deal likely would offer the opening framework for conversations with Lester given the career similarities of the two at the time of their free agency. Greinke secured his deal after the 2012 season, when, in 1,492 innings, he had a 91-78 record, 3.77 ERA, 114 ERA+, 8.0 strikeouts per nine and 2.3 walks per nine. Lester has logged 1,596 innings with a 116-67 record, 3.58 ERA, 121 ERA+, 8.2 strikeouts per nine and 3.1 walks per nine.)
Josh Beckett was excellent while healthy (2.88 ERA) for a half-season, but not only missed the final months of the season but announced his intention to retire after the conclusion of the season. Hyun-Jin Ryu had a strong 14-7 record and 3.38 ERA, though he logged just 152 innings and his ERA+ of 103 suggests he was in part a beneficiary of a very pitcher-friendly climate in the NL West (though his fielding-independent pitching (FIP) mark of 2.62 suggests that his excellent strikeout rate (8.2 per nine), low walks total (1.7 per nine) and stinginess allowing homers (0.5 per nine) could have yielded far better results but for the poor defense behind him). Dan Haren was a solid back-of-the-rotation contributor, with a 4.02 ERA (87 ERA+ — meaning 13 percent worse than league average when adjusted for park conditions), but he’s been a below-average performer (in terms of ERA+) for three years, and the Dodgers turned to Kershaw on three days of rest and skipped Haren in their NLDS elimination game against the Dodgers.
Lester has something that none of those Dodgers pitchers possesses — a tremendous postseason track record that now accompanies his career-best performance over the last year and a half.
The Dodgers, of course, have financial resources that can match those of any team in baseball, particularly at a time when Greinke may be within a year of entering free agency and when the team might be able to clear some payroll by moving one of its expensive outfielders (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford). One source went so far as to suggest he would be “shocked” if the Dodgers don’t end up being the high bid in the Lester sweepstakes, though whether that proves the case — or whether he ultimately would make his decision on the basis of the highest offer — remains to be seen.
|12.03.14 at 4:21 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an interview on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio, said that the Red Sox remain unsure of the means by which they’ll round out their 2015 rotation, but the team is confident in its ultimate ability to put together a group that will have aspirations to win the division next year.
“I wouldn’t rule out adding two starters. We don’t know what the names are. We don’t know where they’ll come from. We don’t know the cost associated with it,” Cherington told MLB Network Radio. “We’re in a position to be active in the market for pitchers. … Everyone’s got a budget, including us. There is some limit at some point to what you can do. We feel good we’re in a position, whether it’s talent or whether it’s the financial resources, to build a rotation that’s a good rotation and that, along with the rest of the team, can contend for the AL East next year.”
One asset that the Sox have to use in trying to address their rotation is their outfield surplus. Cherington echoed remarks he made at the press conference introducing Hanley Ramirez as the team’s new left fielder in suggesting that the team does face an increasing likelihood of dealing from its positional depth.
“The Hanley signing does increase the likelihood of us making a trade. It doesn’t guarantee it but it does increase the likelihood, and sure enough we’ve had a lot of calls on the outfielders since then,” Cherington told the radio network. “We’ll see what happens in the trade market over the next couple weeks. … We felt like the signing of Hanley put us in a better position not just to address our needs this offseason but to ensure the lineup in the short- and the long-term and to give us the best chance to make sure we have a high quailty defender in both center and right in the short- and long-term.” Read the rest of this entry »
|12.03.14 at 10:49 am ET|
‘Tis the season for all manner of rumors! WEEI.com’s Alex Speier will take stock of the rumor mill, answering your questions in a Hot Stove chat on Wednesday at noon. Line up your questions now:
|12.03.14 at 10:17 am ET|
With the Reds in the market for a corner outfielder and armed with a wealth of starting pitchers (Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon and Mike Leake) who are one year from free agency, Cincinnati has been viewed as a natural potential partner for a Red Sox team with multiple vacancies to fill in its rotation and power-hitting corner outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a player who can be moved. But according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that his team has not talked to the Red Sox about Cespedes.
Cueto went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 243 2/3 innings in 2014, finishing second to Clayton Kershaw in Cy Young balloting. Latos made just 16 starts in an injury-riddled campaign, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA while punching out 6.5 per nine innings and walking 2.3 per nine. Leake went 11-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts, while Simon, in his first full season as a starter, went 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA, 5.8 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine. Cespedes hit .260 with a .301 OBP, .450 slugging mark and 22 homers in 152 games for the Red Sox and A’s.
|12.02.14 at 7:56 pm ET|
On a day when the Red Sox announced that they had tendered contracts for the 2015 season to the 28 unsigned players on their 40-man roster, the team said that it had non-tendered corner infielder Juan Francisco, thus making him a free agent. Francisco had been designated for assignment last week to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Pablo Sandoval. By non-tendering Francisco, the Sox have the right to negotiate with him as a free agent. The 27-year-old — listed at a hulking 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds — smashed 16 homers while hitting .220/.291/.456 in 320 plate appearances for the Blue Jays last year, though he also struck out in more than one of every three plate appearances.
|12.02.14 at 1:10 pm ET|
Dale Scott, a major league umpire for 29 seasons, revealed he was gay and has been married to his partner of 28 years, in an interview with Outsports.com.
“I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else,” Scott said to Outsports.com. “And that’s the way it should be.”
Scott had been profiled in an October issue of Referee magazine, a subscription only magazine with a circulation of 45,000, and in the article was a picture of him and his partner on a flight to Austrailia for last year’s 2014 opener between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers that Scott had sent.
“Obviously, when I sent that picture (to the magazine), I knew exactly what it meant,” Scott said. “In a small way, this was opening that door in a publication that wasn’t going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it’s not Time magazine. I made that decision to go ahead and do it because I felt it was the right thing to do. I realized that it could open a Pandora’s Box, but this is not a surprise to Major League Baseball, the people I work for. It’s not a surprise to the umpire staff.”
Scott has been an umpire for three World Series, as well as three All-Star Games.
|12.01.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Cubs currently have the high bid in for free agent left-hander Jon Lester at six years and $138 million, while the Red Sox have “suggested at least a willingness to go to $130 million for six years.” Heyman suggests that the Braves made an offer of a lower figure than that for Lester to play close to his Georgia home. He also notes that right-hander Tim Hudson has been involved in the Giants‘ efforts to recruit Lester. Given the number of interested suitors, Heyman suggests that there is a possibility that Lester will end up with a deal in excess of $25 million a year for a total commitment of $150 million or more.
|12.01.14 at 1:31 pm ET|
Dick Bresciani, described by team CEO and chairman Larry Lucchino as “the institutional memory” of the Red Sox in a career that spanned more than 40 years with the club, passed away on Saturday night. He was 76.
Bresciani began his career with the Red Sox in 1972 as an assistant public relations director and over his 42-year tenure with the club, realized numerous promotions, first in public relations and public affairs before spending the last dozen years as a VP of publications and archives (2003) and then a club historian in 2009 — the same year that his years-long campaign to get outfielder Jim Rice elected to the Hall of Fame realized a successful conclusion.
Here is the Red Sox’ press release on Bresciani:
Richard (Dick) Bresciani, the longtime Red Sox Vice President who had served the club since 1972, died Saturday night of complications from leukemia. His devoted wife of 40 years, Joanne Bresciani, informed the club. He was 76.
Known universally as ‘Bresh,’ the native of Hopedale, Massachusetts was a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, the University of Massachusetts Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. In 1997, he received Major League Baseball‘s highest honor in Public Relations, the Robert O. Fishel Award.
‘Bresh was like a father to some members of our Front Office, an attentive uncle to many, and the institutional memory to all,’ said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. ‘He loved the Red Sox with a passion and zeal that reflected Boston and New England. He was a walking, talking encyclopedia of anecdotes and stories that cannot be replaced. The Red Sox family has lost a beloved and loyal member, and we offer our deepest sympathies to his beloved Joanne.’ Read the rest of this entry »
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