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Red Sox’ custom car guy: ‘It’s like a competition between all of them’

01.31.16 at 2:45 pm ET
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Alex Vega, owner and operator of The Auto Firm near Miami, has been in the news lately thanks in large part because of the article in the New York Times, chronicling his work on cars for more than 300 professional athletes.

Of note for Red Sox followers was the work he has had done for many on the current Sox roster, such as Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Brock Holt, Rusney Castillo and prospect Yoan Moncada.

Appearing on WEEI with Rob Bradford, Butch Stearns and John Tomase, Vega elaborated on his business relationships with his professional athlete clientele.

“It’€™s mind-blowing to me sometimes because they buy a brand new car, make it really nice and then six, seven months down the line somebody else gets something similar and they want to up it,” Vega said. “It’€™s like a competition between all of them.”

Vega detailed some of the particulars in each of the cars he has worked on for Red Sox players:

– Castillo has a Porsche 911 Turbo that not only shoots flames out the back, but has his uniform number light up on the front of the car, and on the ground underneath vehicle when the doors are opened.

– Ramirez’ Lamborghini also has the ability to shoot flames out the back.

– Holt goes against the grain for most bringing in Jeeps, upgrading the look, but not altering the Jeep appearance.

– Sandoval? “Crazy. I love these guys. He’€™s just a unique guy. Spur of the moment type of guy. He showed up with two of his Range Rovers I built for him that I want to change up the rims for spring training. Next thing you know he sees a [Mercedes] G63 I have outside. He says, ‘Man I love that car,’ drives it, trades in one of the Range Rover, takes the [Mercedes] G-Wagon.” (The Times article has Sandoval quoted as saying he gets a new car every year.)

– Moncada not only is in the market for one of Vega’s customized, $175,000 vans, but already has a BMW which glows in the dark.

– While he hasn’t done anything for David Ortiz quite yet, Vega said he is currently working on reeling in the Red Sox’ DH. “We’€™re working on him right now, actually. We’€™re working on surprising the world with what he wants. ‘€¦ He wants to leave with a bang, I guess.”

What kind of problems does Vega run into? Making it clear to his clients what is and isn’t street legal. “It happens a lot because I do a lot of cars for the Dominican Republic, different countries where they can have police lights and sirens. They don’€™t realize that’€™s something you can’€™t do in the States.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox

Yoan Moncada No. 7 on Baseball Prospectus list of top 101 prospects, four other Red Sox join him

01.29.16 at 6:18 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

The accolades keep rolling in for Red Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada.

The 20-year-old Cuban, signed to a record $31.5 million bonus last winter, checked in at No. 7 on the Baseball Prospect top 101 prospect list.

Moncada headlines a list that includes four other Red Sox: third baseman Rafael Devers (No. 35), outfielder Andrew Benintendi (No. 46), right-hander Anderson Espinoza (No. 73), and right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 98).

Moncada made good on the team’s investment in his debut at Single-A Greenville, hitting .278 with eight homers, an .817 OPS, and 49 steals in 52 chances.

For more on Moncada’s first year with the Red Sox and his adjustment to life in the U.S., check out Rob Bradford’s story.

The list could’ve included another Red Sox prospect, but outfielder Manuel Margot, who checked in at 14th, was traded to the Padres, alongside infielder Javier Guerra (No. 56).

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was the No. 1 overall prospect, one year after checking in at No. 7.

Red Sox agree to one-year deal with left-hander Robbie Ross, settle last remaining arbitration case

01.29.16 at 4:41 pm ET
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Robbie Ross Jr.

Robbie Ross Jr.

And then there were none.

The Red Sox on Friday announced a one-year, non-guaranteed deal with left-hander Robbie Ross, avoiding arbitration. Ross was the team’s last remaining unsigned arb-eligible player, which means they won’t have any arbitration hearings this year.

The 26-year-old shuttled between the majors and minors last year before settling in as closer down the stretch. He went 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 54 appearances, striking out 53. He recorded six saves and went a perfect 5-for-5 after being named closer on Sept. 13.

Ross was particularly effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .224 average. He joined the Red Sox almost exactly a year ago, last Jan. 27, in a trade from the Rangers. He’s 13-10 with a 3.95 ERA lifetime.

Ross opened eyes in September last year after the arrival of president Dave Dombrowski, and a job in the bullpen will be his to lose when spring training opens next month.

David Ortiz ready to teach Hanley Ramirez art of being DH

01.29.16 at 11:42 am ET
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David Ortiz said he is going to take Hanley Ramirez under his wing when it comes to learning how to be a DH. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today)

David Ortiz said he is going to take Hanley Ramirez under his wing when it comes to learning how to be a DH. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today)

David Ortiz believes Hanley Ramirez at first base this season. But he also knows the reality that is coming after the 2016 season.

Whether or not the first base switch works, Ramirez remains the No. 1 candidate to slide into the Red Sox‘ designated hitter spot once Ortiz retires.

That’s why the current DH is ready to offer some proactive advice.

“This year I’€™m going to talk to him about it and take him through things I normally like to do,” Ortiz said. “In case it happens, he will be ready for it. I’€™ve got no problem showing my boy anything that I know.”

Talking to reporters at last weekend’s Winter Weekend, it certainly didn’t seem like Ramirez was going to take offense to the idea he might slide over to DH a year from now.

“Hell, yeah,” Ramirez said when asked about his interest in potentially DHing. “When you’ve got two things to do, play defense and offense (versus) just sitting in the dugout, it’s a little different.”

Thus far in Ramirez’s career, the DH spot seems to fit him well.

In his 11 games as a designated hitter in 2015, Ramirez totaled a .295 batting average with five homers and a 1.001 OPS. For his career, the 32 year old has hit .316 with a .946 OPS in 25 games at the position.

Some factors to consider when playing out Ramirez’s potential move to first base is the development of Travis Shaw and/or Sam Travis, along with the Red Sox’ interest in Blue Jays first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion when/if he becomes a free agent after the ’16 season.

Until then, Ortiz believes Ramirez’s second season with the Red Sox will be a productive one — both while playing first and under the mentorship of the retiring DH.

“Hanley has the same personality that I have. He’€™s a lovely guy. He’€™s a guy who is noisy. He loves his teammates. He likes to have a good time. He loves the game,” Ortiz said.

“I definitely believe that he’€™s going to be OK. He’€™s going back to the infield. All he needs to learn is how to move around the bag, which isn’€™t anything that is impossible, and go from there.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez,

Koji Uehara has been time-lapsing his offseason workouts

01.29.16 at 9:47 am ET
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While we were so focused on Dave Dombrowski not lying, Hanley Ramirez‘s Instagram posts, and the deluge of Winter Weekend player availability at Foxwoods last weekend, we’ve been missing Koji Uehara’s offseason documentary.

While the video documentation isn’t exactly “Man on Wire,” or “Making a Murderer,” the nine episodes of You Tube videos does offer proof that the Red Sox reliever is fully recovered from his broken wrist and would seem to be ready once his stay in Fort Myers begin.

So, get the popcorn out …

Read More: Koji Uehara, Red Sox,

Bradfo Show: Joe Kelly recounts when John Farrell told pitcher wouldn’t be traded

01.27.16 at 11:26 pm ET
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Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly on Bradfo Show podcast

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

With David Price signed, and six pitchers making up the Red Sox starting rotation, Joe Kelly had his doubts as the winter meetings kicked off in early December.

And when rumors started surfacing from Nashville about teams such as Texas showing interest in Kelly, the pitcher’s anxiety only increased.

But, according to Kelly, one phone call eased his mind for the rest of the offseason.

“Every player until they don’€™t have a no-trade clause in their contract realize it can be a thing in the offseason, and something everyone follows,” Kelly said on the Bradfo Show podcast. “But there was a point and time in the offseason that I thought there was a possibility of me being on another team next year. But close to the deadline I got a call from John Farrell and he told me I wasn’€™t going anywhere. He said he knew my name was being thrown out there and that was just from other clubs. They put my name out there to see what fish would bite.

“I don’€™t know it was a surprise, but it shows the respect the organization has at the top, knowing that they didn’€™t want me to trade me. Obviously I didn’€™t get that phone call from the GM or the coach from the St. Louis Cardinals before I got traded, it just happened out of the blue. Knowing that I wasn’€™t going to get traded, it was a level of comfort and respect on both sides. It just goes to show that the front office that we have is very, very smart and understanding of both sides.”

Some of the other topics Kelly discusses on the podcast include why he picked “Knox” for his unborn son’s name, where the much-publicized “He’s the ace/I’m the ace” t-shirts went, what it’s like to suddenly be classified a millionaire, and the reasons behind his late-season resurgence.

Read More: Joe Kelly, Red Sox,

Red Sox parking lot in good shape thanks to Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

01.27.16 at 1:18 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval joins girlfriend Yulimar Martins in listening to Alex Vega about his new car. (Angel Valentin/ New York Times)

Pablo Sandoval joins girlfriend Yulimar Martins in listening to Alex Vega about his new car. (Angel Valentin/ New York Times)

It’s no news flash that big league ballplayers have nice cars. But the extravagance of their purchases really might not hit home until reading a story like the one in Sunday’s New York Times.

The Times rolled out a feature on the “Auto Firm,” a Miami-area garage that customizes cars for what is described as more than 300 baseball clients, and is run by a man named Alex Vega.

While there are a few professional athletes mentioned in the piece — including the Red SoxHanley Ramirez (who was buying a Ferrari for his wife), Brock Holt and prospect Yoan Moncada — Pablo Sandoval was most prominently featured.

The first paragraph of the story reads:

Pablo Sandoval pulled up to a custom car shop here on a recent Friday afternoon hoping to do some business. He wanted to trade in the Porsche Panamera he was driving, order new sets of rims for his two Range Rovers, pick up the gray one that was being worked on and discuss the next car he would buy ‘€” a 2016 Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Sandoval is followed around throughout the facility throughout the day, doing his shopping with girlfriend Yulimar Martins.

Details of Sandoval’s visit were chronicled, such as the particulars of the Porsche he left behind. There was just 15,563 miles on the car, that still possessed “three CD’€™s in the stereo, $3.26 of change in a cup holder and a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror.”

Sandoval’s philosophy toward his vehicle investments was perhapssummed up by this quote: “It’€™s like a sign when you get to the big leagues. The first thing you want to get is a nice car to drive around. Every year I try to get a new one.”

Read More: hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox,

What would have Red Sox done if they didn’t get David Price, Zack Greinke? Dave Dombrowski explains

01.27.16 at 12:09 pm ET
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In all likelihood, the Red Sox were not going to miss out on David Price.

They were going to keep spending until the free agent starter couldn’t say no. It was reminder that Cubs president Theo Epstein offered on the Hot Stove Show, saying that the Sox final offer of $217 million was “about $50 million” more than what Chicago was willing to give.

And if Price fell through, Zack Greinke would have surely gotten the same treatment, with the Red Sox undoubtedly ready to take on the six-year, $206.5 million deal the righty pitcher ultimately got from Arizona.

But what if both fell through?

The Red Sox were clearly prioritizing getting an ace, and those two were seemingly the only pair of free agents who could be classified as no-doubters in that respect. Johnny Cueto? Not the same stratosphere.

Appearing on the Saturday’s Hot Stove Show from Foxwoods, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski shed some light on the Red Sox’ plan of attack.

First off, even a portion of that money that went to Price, or potentially Greinke, wasn’t going to a high-priced position player.

“You can have your original plan, but then what based on what takes place you need to make some adjustments,” Dombrowski said. “I’€™m sure if we had not signed one of those two guys we still would have looked to do something with pitching, but I don’€™t know what may have been different at that particular time.”

But the real takeaway was that, according to Dombrowski, there was no chance that the kind of pitcher the Red Sox sought could be reeled in via the kind of trade the Sox would be willing to explore.

“I think that’€™s one of the advantages you have when you have some experience, and I’€™ve worked with a lot of the general managers … Some people can tell you that this guy is not available. Well, he might be available. You can really read his tone of voice. There are other guys who tell you that this guy is not available, and he’€™s not. There’€™s no sense in knocking your head against the wall all winter long trying to get that guy when he really is not available,” Dombrowski explained. “Now when I say that, any player in baseball is available if you want to overwhelm somebody so much you can basically get anybody. But you may get that guy in a trade, but now you have four other holes on your big league club so you really haven’€™t helped yourself.

“So I think in reading the trade market early, it was apparent to me to get the type of starting pitcher we needed with what we wanted to do, there was not any of them that were available that were going to come to us with prospects. It just wasn’€™t going to happen. So really quickly you could say that’€™s not the direction we’€™re going.

“I thought we would come back with a closer, back-end type guy through the trade market and it would be costly with players, which it was. But if you were going to get the type of guy we wanted in the starting rotation, that was going to have to come through free agency.”

Another interesting aspect of Dombrowski’s explanation regarding the Red Sox’ offseason plan was his very direct proclamation that any championhip-caliber team needs an ace to lead its starting staff.

It was about as direct of an about-face from the ownership’s previous philosophy as Dombrowski had delivered since taking over.

“To me, the No. 1 need we had was that ace at the top to go out there because I think our organization needed that type of guy,” he said. “And when you look at tradition of good clubs, championship clubs, they almost always have that type of guy. And when I also talk to people in the Red Sox organization it was apparent that when the Red Sox last won, every time they won, they had guys at the top of the rotation that can in turn take pressure off of others.

Clay Buchholz is a fine pitcher. Now, we need to work, and he has worked hard this winter and done some different things to try and keep himself strong and healthy throughout the years. And Eduardo Rodriguez, he is in a situation where he has a chance to be a very fine pitcher. He’€™s already shown you those capabilities. But I think it’€™s a lot different when you say, ‘€˜Well, he might slide into the third day or the fourth day, ‘€˜ compared to, ‘€˜Wow, we need this guy to pitch against the other club’€™s ace right off the bat.’€™ I think it puts people in a more comfortable position in an organization.”

Read More: Dave Dombrowski, David Price, Red Sox, zack greinke

Craig Breslow drawing interest from teams as potential starter

01.26.16 at 11:27 pm ET
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It’s been a long offseason for a multitude of still unsigned free agents, including former Red Sox lefty pitcher Craig Breslow.

But as the days until spring training dwindle, it appears as though the interest surrounding Breslow might be amplifying.

According to a major league source, the 35 year old hurler has recently drawn interest from multiple teams, in large part because of his potential versatility as a reliever/potential starter.

While there is still a flood of pitchers still on the market who might favorably match up with Breslow as a relief pitcher, a few clubs have been intrigued by the upside the lefty might possess as a depth starter (along with potentially helping as a veteran arm in the bullpen).

After finishing the 2015 season with the Red Sox with a pair of starts — allowing two runs over 9 1/3 innings — Breslow informed prospective suitors that he was interested in giving starting a try after previously spending his entire major league career relieving.

Breslow is coming off a season with the Red Sox in which he totaled a 4.15 ERA over 65 innings. His splits have traditionally been fairly down the middle, with lefties hitting .245 for his career, and right-handed batters managing a .242 clip. He had signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season.

Breslow has spent the offseason working out at Mike Boyle’s facility in Woburn with fellow reliever-turned-starter Rich Hill, as well as former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold.

It appears as though there is a growing acceptance throughout a good chunk of the remaining free agents to take a minor league deals, with Bronson Arroyo the latest pitcher to go that route (signing with the Nationals). It is a path Breslow might have to explore, particularly if he is going to try his luck at starting.

Other lefty relievers still on the open market include Joe Beimel, Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing, Sean Marshall, Franklin Morales and Matt Thornton.

Chat Red Sox live with WEEI.com’s John Tomase Tuesday at noon

01.26.16 at 9:47 am ET
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Live Blog WEEI.com Red Sox chat
WEEI.com’s John Tomase will be conducting a live chat here at noon on Tuesday. Take a first step towards overcoming your Patriots hangover right here. No Peyton Manning questions allowed.

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