|02.24.15 at 3:42 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the last several seasons, one rite of spring after the arrival of David Ortiz in camp has been speculation about just how much longer the slugger can and will serve as the Red Sox designated hitter.
And what will that cost?
On Tuesday, hours after Ortiz arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse, general manager Ben Cherington was asked both questions, despite the fact that he is signed for this season ($16 million) and has $10 million team options for ’16 and ’17.
“I think David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox for as long as he wants to be a Red Sox,” Cherington said. “There’s been no discussion on it recently, honestly. We’re just happy he’s here. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing on the field, still. Given his stature and his personality, I know he means a lot to people off the field, too. He’s part of the Red Sox legacy. He’s part of Boston pro sports legacy. But he’s also our DH and he hits in the middle of our lineup and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re happy to keep him there as long as he can keep doing it but there hasn’t been any conversation other than that.”
Last March, Ortiz signed a one-year, $16 million extension that will expire at the end of this season. That was an extension of a two-year, $29 million deal he signed in Nov. 2012. In that 2012 season, Ortiz, like he is now, played out a one-year deal for $14.575 million that was signed in mid-February before he reported for camp.
Has it been worth it? The numbers don’t lie. Ortiz’s power numbers continue to lead the Red Sox, including team highs of 35 homers and 104 RBIs in 2014. His average did drop to .263 but that is offset by the fact he has 88 homers and a slugging percentage of .550 in the last three seasons, just a tick above his .547 career average.
Despite options for each of the next two seasons, Cherington was asked if he had any idea how long the 39-year-old slugger wants to play.
“I can’t answer that question,” Cherington said. “That’s a decision he’s going to make. He certainly looks like a guy that can keep hitting. I think he wants to win. I think he probably has some personal goals, too. Motivated by both of those things. I don’t know. It hasn’t been a topic this winter or spring. I’m sure at some point it’ll be a topic for him. But right now, he’s here and he’s getting ready for the season.”
|02.24.15 at 3:01 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was not the way Clay Buchholz wanted to begin his offseason.
In early October, the Red Sox pitcher’s iPhone was hacked, allowing racy pictures of his wife, Lindsay, to be spread over the internet. It was one in a series of cases at the time where content from celebrities’ phones were being stolen, with Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander and his girlfriend Kate Upton having to endure a similar issue.
Buchholz told WEEI.com Tuesday that his first reaction upon learning his phone had been hacked was to enlist the help of lawyers. But after some initial investigation, it was learned that the source was coming from the Netherlands, where laws make it difficult to prosecute such culprits.
“They just told us there wasn’t a lot we could do,” Buchholz said.
“It was crazy, It is what it is,” he added. “It was one of those things, if we could have prosecuted, we would have prosecuted. But as far as the laws go, I think it was done in the Netherlands and they have fence around them where you can’t do anything. We had lawyers look into it.
“It was pretty shocking. It was one of those things. There’s always looking to get somebody. It just happened to be me. There were multiple other people that it happened to, obviously. Seriously, it took five days and we really didn’t hear about it anymore.”
Shortly after the incident, Lindsay Buchholz — a former actress/model — told TMZ.com the pictures in question were intended for the couple and nobody else. “Clay and I are good,” he told the outlet. “I sent him pictures on the road.”
“Lindsay was pretty shaken up,” Buchholz explained. “I just told her to try and forget about it. Everybody knows stuff happens. That’s my wife and it’s our business, but at the same time people are going to use you for whatever they can.”
With no available legal recourse (including involving Apple, which has protected itself in regards to stolen material off their iCloud function), the couple has moved on while obviously taking some extra precautions.
“I’m definitely more careful,” Buchholz said. “It’s just as simple as you dropping your phone and losing it, and somebody guessing your password. I try to try and keep everything secure as possible.”
‘ Lindsay Clubine (@LindsayClubine) October 15, 2014
Buchholz joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to talk about his offseason and the start of spring training. Click here to listen to the interview.
|02.24.15 at 2:35 pm ET|
“I think we’re as strong throughout the organization as we have ever been,” Henry said on Tuesday.
The reasons for Henry’s optimism? It’s partly the talent general manager Ben Cherington assembled this winter to help the big league club escape its second last place finish in three years, but it’s also the strong minor league system.
“I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Henry said. “I feel good about the pitching. I feel great about the hitting. I feel great about the organization, about the fact that so many players came early this year, and there seems to be a focus. It has to make you feel good at this point.”
The Red Sox are in the process of signing 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada, with the deal expected to be announced on Friday. Moncada adds another impact prospect to a farm system rapidly filling with them.
“At certain times you might say we might have had greater depth, but depth in the minor leagues sometimes doesn’t translate into the major leagues,” Henry said. “What you need are a lot of A and B type players, and we have a lot of A players in the minor leagues these days, people that should make it to the majors. I think we’re in as good a shape as we’ve ever been in that regard. If anything, I think maybe we’ve rushed our players a little bit, because the difference between Double A and Triple A baseball and the major leagues has never been greater. We have to feel good about not only the major league camp, but the minor league camp.”
|02.24.15 at 2:26 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was another long day for John Farrell, having brief meetings with every Red Sox position player. One of the more interesting get-togethers might have been the one with Jackie Bradley.
With all the talk of an outfield competition, along with Farrell’s recent proclamation that Shane Victorino (if healthy) would be the Sox’s starting right fielder, Bradley has become somewhat of the forgotten man.
(Hitting .198 in 127 games last season will do that.)
But Tuesday Farrell brought Bradley’s name back up to the surface with a vengeance.
“There are three prime candidates in that spot,” said Farrell when asked of the center field competition. “If you’re pinning those two positions on Hanley and Vic, what’s left over. That’s where Mookie [Betts], Rusney [Castillo] and Jackie come into play. Individual strength that vary to each person, each player. That’s what it begins to center around. And the durability and the dependability of the guys on the flanks will have some effect to the overall decision in the outfield.”
When asked if all three outfielders were starting on and even playing field heading into spring training, the manager responded, “I think every player is starting on an equal footing. But there are going to be some things that happen over the course of camp that we can’t turn away from. And there might be some things that are unforeseen at this point. We have all of camp to arrive at that initial Opening Day roster.”
Then, in case anybody didn’t realize, Farrell made it clear why Bradley is still in the mix.
“He’s working to establish himself more as an offensive player. In my mind, he’s the best center fielder in baseball and I’m not afraid of saying that,” the manager said. “He’s an extremely talented guy. There have been some offensive challenges, but don’t deny what he can do and he can play center field as good as anybody.”
|02.24.15 at 2:21 pm ET|
Anyone wondering why the Red Sox are in the process of signing 19-year-old Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada to a record $31.5 million signing bonus (with matching $31.5 million penalty payment to Major League Baseball), owner John Henry has an answer.
In not so many words, Henry suggested Moncada is the equivalent of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
“We’ve never had a No. 1 pick, and this is our 14th spring training,” Henry said. “Would we pay up to get one? Yes.”
In today’s game, young players are more valuable than ever, and Henry makes no apologies over the Red Sox‘ aggressiveness in targeting them.
“We do our best to quantify risk,” Henry said. “It’s difficult to do, because predicting the performance of baseball players is an imperfect science. But you do your analysis and look at all of the other factors. … I think we’re more discerning than ever, despite what people might write this week. High-ceiling players, you have to take risks on, but especially young players.”
|02.24.15 at 12:37 pm ET|
“There’s no doubt that Larry is in charge and continues to be in charge,” Henry said. “You can ask anybody on the Red Sox, and I’d be surprised if anyone would doubt that.”
There were rumblings of Lucchino’s role being reduced over the winter, and the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy addressed them in a recent column. Henry said there’s nothing to the idea, especially since, as president of Fenway Sports Group, Gordon spends most of his time dealing with the Liverpool soccer club.
“I read those ridiculous stories – or that ridiculous story that Dan wrote – ridiculous in this sense, that there’s some sort of power struggle between Mike and Larry,” Henry said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s never been, that I know of, a word spoken in that regard, within ownership, or by Larry. Mike is much, much, much more involved with Liverpool. He gets involved with the Red Sox with regard to the financial decisions, because he has a tremendous financial mind, but there’s no power struggle.”
Henry memorably said in a radio interview that, “Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox.” He was asked if that sentiment remains true.
“If you were to ask anybody in the organization, including over the offseason, that has been and remains the case,” Henry said. “He’s a pedal to the metal guy. You can call him a micro-manager. He’s involved in every decision. Jack Welch once said to me that micro-managing is highly underrated as a management tool.”
Lucchino is expected to arrive in Fort Myers on Tuesday night and address the media on Wednesday.
|02.24.15 at 11:49 am ET|
Even more former Red Sox are joining the Cubs, this time as consultants.
The Cubs announced Tuesday morning they have hired Manny Ramirez as a hitting consultant and Kevin Youkillis as a scouting and player development consultant.
Ramirez joined the Cubs last season as a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa and will continue to work with the major and minor league hitters on the “fundamental and mental aspects of hitting.”
Youkilis, recently retired after an 11-year major league career with the Red Sox, White Sox and Yankees will assist the front office by scouting amateur and professional hitters in northern California and will work with hitters in the minor league system under the direction of the hitting coordinator.
On the Cubs 40-man roster, former Red Sox players include: Jon Lester, David Ross, Drake Britton, Felix Doubront, Anthony Rizzo and Ryan Sweeney. This is on top of front office members Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|02.24.15 at 10:12 am ET|
Ramirez was just 21 when he made his Major League debut on Sept. 20, 2005 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, entering the game as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the seventh, striking out in his first at-bat in the top of the eighth against Tim Corcoran.
He appeared in only one other game that season and struck out again. Those were his only previous games played as a teammate of Big Papi.
“I don’t know that guy,” Ramirez joked when asked Tuesday about being reunited with Ortiz.
But the truth is that Ramirez and Ortiz have kept a close relationship over the years and the two workout together in the offseason in the Dominican.
“He’s a like a brother to me. Everybody pretty much looks up to him because of the heart he’s got and the way he plays the game and how much love he has for the game. Everybody respects him.
“What can I say about Papi? Those who know Papi know he’s [respected] because of his heart. He does on the field and off the field so many good things. We love Papi. He’s the man.”
Ramirez, now 31, can learn a lot from Ortiz, eight years his elder.
“He’s got some tricks at the plate. When you get old, you have to find way to get hits. So, it’s nice when your ability starts going down a little bit, you have to start on working on little things. I was with him in the Dominican this past offseason and he was working every day. He doesn’t stop working. That’s the key for him.”
|02.24.15 at 8:29 am ET|
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica joined Dennis & Callahan in studio Tuesday morning to discuss what is happening with the Yankees, especially Alex Rodriguez, and other sports matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Lupica wasn’t surprised the Yankees were outbid by the Red Sox for 19-year-old Cuban Yoan Moncada. He actually believes this is part of a long-term plan for the Yankees, that the team might be soon for sale.
“I want you to remember, to me the turning point for the Yankees and why — this is only my theory, I believe that sooner than later this baseball team will be sold by the Steinbrenners,” said Lupica. “I think they are already setting up a machinery that they aren’t going to saddle them with anymore A-Rod like [contracts]. [Max] Scherzer to me was the sign. Scherzer fit the Yankee blueprint perfectly. He was over 30, you knew the back end of the contract was going to turn out to be absolute crap, but he was irresistible because why? He was available.
“When they didn’t sign Scherzer, to me, that was a sign that they’ve completely changed doing business. To me, the fact they got outbid on the Cuban kid, that didn’t surprise me in the least because if you’re not going to spend on Scherzer, you’re not going to spend…”
Rodriguez reported to Yankees spring training on Monday, and Lupica also had a thought regarding the Yankees‘ designated hitter.
“Here’s what I think is going to happen. I think he is eventually going to limp away from this sport,” Lupica said. “… I think he’ll maybe show some early speed. I think he’ll maybe pass Willie Mays [in home runs]. I believe before this year is out — sooner rather than later he will limp away from this sport for good.”
|02.24.15 at 12:53 am ET|
According to agent David Hastings, in addition to Yoan Moncada, the Red Sox also plan to sign Cuban outfielder Carlos Mesa, whom Hastings describes as Moncada’s mentor.
The 27-year-outfielder spent three years in the Pirates system (2011-13), advancing as far as High A. He’s a lifetime .215 hitter in 327 games, and also pitched for one season in his native Cuba. He played in 14 games for the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association, batting .204 with a homer.
“Carlos is a player I showcased along with Yoan from the very beginning,” Hastings said by phone on Monday night. “He’s been a mentor to Yoan. He’s an important piece of the whole package, in my opinion. It was not presented as a deal breaker, but he tried out every single time Yoan did, and he’s impressive. The team saw value in him and offered him a contract.”
Hastings said Mesa will sign a minor-league deal.
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