|01.07.15 at 10:46 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday, after falling short of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the former Red Sox star said he believes some writers won’t ever vote for him because of his political leanings. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling received 39.2 percent of the vote, well short of the 75 percent needed for election. Four players were elected: Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and former Sox star Pedro Martinez, whose surprisingly low 91.1 percent result was more evidence to Schilling that something is wrong.
“The process isn’t flawed; stupid people do stupid things,” Schilling said. “I’ve seen so many in the past, voters making their vote into a news article, protesting this or protesting that, except just voting the player on his playing merits. And that’s normal, I guess, because we’re human, we all have bias, we all have prejudice. When Pedro gets 91 percent, that tells you something’s wrong.”
A case could me made that Schilling’s statistics are comparable to those of Smoltz, yet the Braves legend received 240 more votes. Schilling said Smoltz deserves enshrinement, but he noted that Smoltz’s political views are more consistent with many media members.
“I think he got in because of [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine. I think the fact that they won 14 straight pennants. I think his ‘Swiss army knife versatility,’ which somebody said yesterday, I think he got a lot of accolades for that, I think he got a lot of recognition for that. He’s a Hall of Famer,” Schilling said. “And I think the other big thing is that I think he’s a Democrat and so I know that, as a Republican, that there’s some people that really don’t like that.”
A proud conservative, Schilling has been outspoken in his support for Republican candidates. He also received heavy criticism when he moved his video game company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island to take advantage of government assistance and then the company went bankrupt.
Schilling said there’s no question that he would have received more votes had he been more mainstream in his beliefs and less outspoken and controversial.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Listen, when human beings do something, anything, there’s bias and prejudice. Listen, 9 percent of the voters did not vote for Pedro. There’s something wrong with the process and some of the people in the process when that happens. I don’t think that it kept me [out] or anything like that, but I do know that there are guys who probably won’t ever vote for me because of the things that I said or did. That’s the way it works.”
|01.06.15 at 6:25 pm ET|
Playing in the era that he did, Pedro Martinez could look to make excuses for a few of the home runs he gave up, a few games he lost, etc.
After all, he did play in the height of the steroid era, but that isn’t who Martinez is — he embraced it and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way — and that is why Martinez was voted into the Hall of Fame Tuesday on his first year on the ballot.
Martinez received 91.1 percent of the votes (500 of the 549) and will be inducted along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio on July 26 in Cooperstown. He became one of 50 players ever to be inducted in their first-ballot and one of 16 first-ballot pitchers.
“I appreciate the fact that I had to face probably the toughest matchup out there, and guess what? I didn’t want it any other way,” Martinez said Tuesday at a press conference at Fenway Park. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wanted to beat the best. I wanted to be the best I could be every time I went out there. I wanted to embarrass the best team out there. I wanted to. I meant to. Sometimes they embarrassed me, but when I got a hold of them, I did embarrass them.
“Anytime I had an opportunity to embarrass any team in the big leagues, including the ones that used PEDs, it was a great honor to do it. The same way every homer I surrendered, every game I lost, I am proud of. I am proud that I did it in an era that the challenge was at the top.”
The right-hander was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and an eight-time All-Star. During his 18-year career he went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA. His career .687 winning percentage ranks second among modern major leaguer’s since 1900. Among pitchers with at least 2,500 career innings in the majors, only Nolan Ryan (.204) has a lower opponent batting average than Martinez (.214).
Martinez said he had plenty of chances to go the “long way” and not be clean, but instead he chose to miss two or three starts a year, which sometimes came with criticism in the media. He said that is all worth it now.
“I went the long way, the way I had to go,” said Martinez. “The way that the integrity my mom and dad taught me to have, led me to. And when I said I kept it clean — I did it clean — I did it the only way I know. I didn’t believe in anybody’s choice to go out there and I wanted to do it clean. I had an opportunity more than once, [probably every day] to take the short path to a more successful year and escape the criticism from the media and being singled out for someone who is going to miss two or three outings a year. Yes, I chose to miss those three outings and now have the respect and appreciation guys are having for me today.”
|01.06.15 at 2:00 pm ET|
Martinez received 91.1 percent of the votes, with Johnson leading the pack at 97.3 percent. Smoltz got 82.9 percent, while Biggio finished with 82.7 percent. Just missing out on induction was Mike Piazza, who fell short of the 75 percent needed by receiving a total of 69.9 percent.
After Piazza, the leading vote-getters were Jeff Bagwell (55.7 percent), Tim Raines (55 percent), Curt Schilling (39.2 percent), Roger Clemens (37.5 percent), Barry Bonds (36.8 percent), Lee Smith (30.2 percent) and Edgar Martinez (27 percent).
The following are the credentials distributed by the Hall of Fame for each inductee:
1st year on the ballot … Played 18 season for Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies … Posted two 20-win seasons (1999, 2002) … Won three Cy Young Awards (1997, 1999-2000) and received votes in four other seasons: 1998 (2nd), 2002 (2nd), 2003 (3rd), 2004 (4th) … Finished ninth in 1993 National League Rookie of the Year voting with Dodgers … Finished in Top 10 of his league’s Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1999 (2nd) and 2000 (5th) … Named to eight All-Star Games (1996-2000, 2002, 2005-06), earning nod as his league’s starting pitcher in 1999 when he was named the Game’s Most Valuable Player … Led his league in WHIP six times (1997, 1990-2000, 2002-03, 2005), earned-run average five times (1997, 1999-2000, 2002-03), strikeouts-per-nine innings pitched five times (1997, 1999-2000, 2002-03), strikeout-to-walk ratio four times (1999-2000, 2002, 2005), strikeouts three times (1999-2000, 2002), winning percentage three times (1999, 2002, 2003), wins once (1999), complete games once (1997) and shutouts once (2000) … Won 1999 American League Pitching Triple Crown after leading the league in wins (23), earned-run average (2.07) and strikeouts (313) … Posted WHIP of .737 in 2000, the best single-season mark by any pitcher in big league history … Career winning percentage of .687 ranks sixth all-time and first among pitchers who began their careers after 1950 … Career WHIP of 1.054 ranks fifth all-time and first among non-relievers whose career began after 1920 … Career strikeout-to-nine innings pitched ratio of 10.04 and career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.15 each rank third all-time ... Struck out 3,154 batters, 13th all-time … Posted two 300-strikeout seasons (1997, 1999) … Appeared in 10 postseason series over five seasons with the Red Sox and Phillies, posting a record of 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 16 appearances … Member of 2004 Red Sox World Series-winning team, earning win in Game 3 with seven shutout innings.
3rd year on ballot … Played 20 seasons, all for the Astros … Seven-time All-Star (1991-92, 1994-98) and five-time NL Silver Slugger Award winner (1989, 1994-95, 1997-98)’ … Named to one All-Star team as a catcher (1991) and six as a second baseman (1992, 1994-98) … Named Silver Slugger Award winner once at catcher (1989) and four times at second base (1994-95, 1997-98) … Won four career Gold Glove Awards (1994-97) at second base … Also spent two seasons (2003-04) as one of Astros’ starting outfielders … Finished in Top 10 of NL MVP voting three times: 1995 (10th), 1997 (4th) and 1998 (5th) … Led NL in runs scored two times (1995, 1997), doubles three times (1994, 1998-99), stolen bases once (1994), hit-by-pitches five times (1995-97, 2001, 2003) and plate appearances five times (1992, 1995, 1997-99) … Led NL in games played three times (1992, 1996-97) and appeared in at least 150 games in 11 seasons … Scored 100-or-more runs in eight seasons (1995-99, 2001, 2003-04) … Recorded at least a .300 batting average in four seasons (1994-95, 1997-98) … Ranks fifth all-time in doubles (first among right-handed hitters) with 668 … Ranks 13th all-time in at-bats (10,876), 15th in runs scored (1,844), 16th in games played (2,850) and 21st in hits (3,060) … Only player in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs … Batted .234 in nine postseason series, with 39 hits and 23 runs scored in 40 games … Played in NLCS in 2004 and 2005 … Member of Astros’ 2005 NL Championship team … Won 1997 Branch Rickey Award, 2005 Hutch Award and 2007 Roberto Clemente Award.
1st year on the ballot … Pitched 22 seasons for Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees and Giants … Posted three 20-win seasons (1997, 2001-02) … Won five Cy Young Awards, including a record-tying four straight (1995, 1999-2002) … Received Cy Young Award votes in five other seasons: 1993 (2nd), 1994 (3rd), 1997 (2nd), 1998 (7th), 2004 (2nd) … Finished in Top 10 of his league’s Most Valuable Player Award voting twice: 1995 (6th) and 2002 (7th) … Named to 10 All-Star Games (1990, 1993-95, 1997, 1999-2002, 2004), drawing his league’s starting assignment four times (1995, 1997, 2000-01) … Led his league in strikeouts nine times (1992-95, 1999-2002, 2004), third-most all-time behind Walter Johnson (12) and Nolan Ryan (11) … Led his league in strikeouts-per-nine innings nine times (1992-95, 1997, 1999-2002) and holds the all-time record in that category with a career mark of 10.6 … Led his league in earned-run average four times (1995, 1999, 2001-02), winning percentage four times (1995, 1997, 2000, 2002), complete games four times (1994, 1999-2000, 2002), games started three times (1999, 2000, 2004), WHIP three times (1995, 2001, 2004), innings pitched two times (1999, 2002), shutouts two times (1994, 2000) and victories once (2002) … Won 2002 National League Pitching Triple Crown for leading league in wins (24), ERA (2.32) and strikeouts (334) … Posted six 300-strikeout seasons, tied with Nolan Ryan for most ever and representative of 18 percent (6 out of 33) of all 300-strikeout seasons in the modern era … Career total of 4,875 strikeouts ranks second all-time … Totaled 303 career victories, 22nd all-time and fifth among left-handers … Career winning percentage of .646 ranks 29th all-time and fifth among 300-game winners … Ranks 21st all-time in games started (603), 38th in innings pitched (4,135.1) and 57th in shutouts (37) … Pitched two no-hitters, defeating the Tigers 2-0 on June 2, 1990 and authoring a perfect game in a 2-0 win over the Braves on May 18, 2004 … Appeared in 11 postseason series over eight seasons with Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks and Yankees, posting 7-9 record with 3.50 ERA in 19 appearances’¦Struck out 132 batters in 121 postseason innings … Named co-MVP of the 2001 World Series after going 3-0 for champion Diamondbacks.
1st year on the ballot … Pitched 21 seasons for Braves, Red Sox and Cardinals … Won 1996 National League Cy Young Award and received Cy Young Award votes in four other seasons: 1998 (4th), 2002 (3rd), 2006 (7th), 2007 (6th) … Named to eight All-Star Games (1989, 1992-93, 1996, 2002-03, 2005, 2007), earning the NL’s starting assignment in 1996 … Finished eighth in NL Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2002 … Won Silver Slugger Award for pitchers in 1997 … Led league in games started three times (1992, 1997, 2006), strikeouts twice (1992, 1996), innings pitched twice (1996-97), winning percentage twice (1996, 1998), wins twice (1996, 2006), strikeouts per nine innings once (1996) and saves once (2002) … Reached 20-win mark once (1996) and 200-strikeout mark five times (1992-93, 1996-97, 2006) … Topped the 40-save mark three times (2002-04), the only three full seasons he served as his team’s closer … Ranks 16th all-time in strikeouts (3,084), one of only 16 pitchers in history with at least 3,000 strikeouts …. Ranks 75th all-time in saves (154) …. Only pitcher in big league history with at least 200 victories (213) and 150 saves …. Set NL single-season mark (since tied) with 55 saves in 2002 …. Won 2002 NL Rolaids Relief Award …. Pitched in 25 postseason series over 14 seasons with Braves and Cardinals, posting 15-4 record in 41 appearances (27 starts) with 2.67 earned-run average and four saves, striking out 199 batters in 209 innings …. In 11 Division Series, posted 7-0 record with three saves …. Named 1992 NLCS Most Valuable Player …. Member of 1995 Braves World Series champions …. Won 2005 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, 2005 Roberto Clemente Award and 2007 Branch Rickey Award.
|01.06.15 at 11:41 am ET|
This is what we’ve learned after the annual round of Hall of Fame discussion leading into Tuesday afternoon’s big announcement: it is an unbelievably flawed process.
The uncertainty and fragility that goes into deciding who will be next to enter into the MLB Hall of Fame is what makes the dead-of-winter baseball conversation so spicy. There are a lot of good solutions surfaced, yet none have offered any definition as to how these guys should be elected going forward.
Different eras and performance-enhancing-drug suspensions have clouded a world that is almost always driven by statistics. That’s why I prefer to start — that’s just start, not finish — any conversations with a simple (and probably somewhat flawed) mechanism:
– For hitters, how many times did they finish in the Top 10 in MVP voting.
– For pitchers, how many times did they receive Cy Young votes.
Here is the reason for this approach: it shows a dominance in a player’s era, no matter what the era is. The stats will go up and down (the MLB average OPS this past season dipped to .700 from .782 in 2000), but perceived elite status during that particular time span is what it was.
(Yes, I am one who is mostly in favor of voting in those formally and informally tied to PEDs.)
To me, the dominance in the era argument was a key talking point when looking at Jim Rice‘s candidacy. Six times Rice finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting. Six! Craig Biggio? Twice. Frank Thomas? Six. Barry Larkin? Once.
Let’s stop for a second and remind everybody: this is just to start the debate, not to punctuate it.
Pitchers? Randy Johnson received Cy Young votes 10 times, winning the award five times. Pedro Martinez got votes seven times, claiming the Cy on three occasions. Curt Schilling got votes four times, the same as Hall of Famer Burt Blyleven. Schilling finished second for the award three times, with Blyleven’s highest finish maxing out at third during a career that ran 22 seasons.
I do believe longevity with consistent performance puts somewhat of a dent in this philosophy, but shouldn’t wash away the theory.
Carl Yastrzemski belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he also finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting the same number of times as Dwight Evans (4), who deserves a closer look.
Of the candidates on the current ballot, perhaps one of the most interesting when looking at Nomar Garciaparra. Five times Garciaparra finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting, with one 11th-place finish. He only managed one Top 5 showing, placing second in 1998.
Garciaparra, however, just wasn’t quite dominant enough for a long enough stretch. Realistically, he played about the same amount of seasons as a regular as Rice did while totaling a higher OPS (.882-.854). But, using the aforementioned formula, Garciappara wasn’t nearly as dominant during his era.
Don Mattingly has been compared to Garciaparra when surfacing the former Red Sox shortstop, although Mattingly, while also playing for 14 seasons, had three Top 5 MVP finishes (winning once), and four Top 10’s. The former Yankees first baseman has been voted on since 2001, totaling 28.2 percent in that first year of eligibility. In ’14, he received 8.2 percent of the vote.
Some other on-the-bubble candidates: Mike Piazza finished Top 10 seven times, with four Top 5 showings; Tim Raines had three Top 10’s and one Top 5; Jeff Bagwell notched five Top 10 finishes, with two Top 5’s.
Flawed? Yes. As good a conversation springboard as anything else we’ve dug up? Absolutely.
|01.05.15 at 3:36 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with 30-year-old pitcher Mitchell Boggs.
He will make $750,000 if he makes the team.
Boggs, who will turn 31 on Feb. 15, is a right-hander who has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen since first arriving in the major leagues with St. Louis in 2008.
A fifth-round selection by the Cardinals in the 2005 draft out of the University of Georgia, Boggs didn’t pitch in the majors in 2014 after being released by the White Sox at the end of spring training. He had signed a one-year, $1.1 million with Chicago last offseason.
The 6-foot-4 Georgia native has shown a propensity to induce ground balls during his big league stints, managing a 54 percent ground ball ratio in ’13. At the peak of his powers, Boggs’ sinker was among the hardest in baseball, clocking in regularly at 96 mph.
Boggs got an opportunity to close for the Cardinals to begin 2013 after the season-ending injury to Jason Motte, possessing a sinker that averaged 96 mph. But his trial as St. Louis’ game-ender didn’t last long, with Boggs allowing 21 hits and 20 runs in his first 14 2/3 innings. He would ultimately be dealt to the Rockies later that season for international signing bonus money.
His best season came in ’12 when Boggs appeared in 78 games, posting a 2.21 ERA.
The Red Sox believe Boggs’ struggles can be traced back to the midsection discomfort he first felt while pitching for the United States in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. After two years of dealing with the pain, the pitcher finally went through hernia surgery in October, and is expected to be ready for full action when spring training starts on Feb. 20.
Boggs last pitched in the Giants organization, posting a 6.10 ERA in 10 appearances in Triple-A after signing with San Francisco in July.
He is of no relation to former Red Sox Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
Per another major league source, the Red Sox have also agreed to minor league deals with invitations to major league camp with catcher/outfielder Luke Montz, and slick-fielding infielder Jeff Bianchi.
Montz last saw major league action with the A’s in 2013 season, playing in 13 games. The prior season the 31-year-old played in 10 games with the Nationals. Montz spent 2014 in the A’s minor league system.
The 28-year-old Bianchi is a defensive specialist, having played second base, shortstop and third base for the Brewers in 2014, appearing in 29 major league games. He was the Royals’ second-round pick in the 2005 June amateur draft.
Bianchi appeared in 100 games for the Brewers in 2013, hitting .237 while primarily playing third base and shortstop.
|01.04.15 at 10:09 pm ET|
Back. Hamstring. Thumb. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, all such worries are in the past.
The Red Sox outfielder reports that everything in regard to his offseason training following back surgery has gone according to plan. Victorino wrote in a text Sunday: “So far full go. Picking up swinging this week. Throwing every day, and lifting, etc. So far, so good.”
There is also some video proof of his progress …
While much focus has been placed on the emergence of rookie outfielders Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts when trying to project the right field and center field for the Red Sox, it should be noted the importance of a healthy Victorino.
On a few occasions — including earlier this offseason – Victorino has proclaimed himself the starting right fielder for the Red Sox. And, even with the promise displayed by Castillo and Betts, if the 34-year-old offers his 2013 offensive and defensive production he could easily be classified as the team’s best all-around outfielder when healthy. (Remember, Hanley Ramirez still has to show he can catch a fly ball.)
During ’13, Victorino claimed a Gold Glove while manning Fenway Park‘s right field. He also finished with a .294 batting average and .801 OPS to go along with 15 homers and 21 stolen bases in 122 regular season games.
If Castillo or Betts finished with those sort of numbers, along with the defensive acumen, the Red Sox would be doing handstands.
While there would appear to be a major logjam in the outfield right now, with Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Brock Holt joining Ramirez, Castillo, Betts and Victorino, the likelihood is that it is a group that will be paired down by at least one (the guess here is Craig) before Opening Day.
The team’s current thinking is that the collection of the four righty hitters (Ramirez, Castillo, Betts, Victorino) can spell each other — with Nava and Holt matching up potentially in both outfield and infield situations — enough to keep everyone healthy.
There could be a scenario where the Red Sox cruise through spring training without any hiccups, and they feel confident enough in their outfield depth that a trade is made involving Victorino. That, however, would still offer a fair amount of risk considering you would be leaning on two first-time, full-time big leaguers and a newbie outfielder with a history of injury.
There is a ways to go before the Opening Day picture clears itself up. But Victorino’s progress offers a reminder as to exactly when and why he was missed so much during his absence a season ago.
|01.03.15 at 7:08 pm ET|
The guy who ran for the final first down in the University of Florida football team’s 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl Saturday, believe or not, should be of some interest to Boston baseball fans.
Jeff Driskel is, after all, property of the Red Sox.
Driskel, one of the Gators’ quarterbacks to play in their team’s season-ender, was drafted by the Sox in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft in the 29th round. At the time the former high school outfielder was coming off his freshman season with Florida, fully intending to pursue a career in the NFL rather than MLB.
He did ultimately sign a contract with the Red Sox a few weeks after the draft, locking his baseball rights in with the Red Sox.
“After my college football career is over I want to pursue a professional career in the NFL,” Driskel told the Associated Press after the draft via a statement. “If I ever decide I want to play baseball, I want to play with the Boston Red Sox who drafted me in the recent draft.”
But things haven’t worked out as planned on the football side of things for Driskel since that draft, ultimately losing his starting job with the Gators with new Florida coach Jim McElwain releasing the junior from his scholarship.
So, where does the 6-foot-4, 237-pound Driskel stand with the Red Sox?
Per a Red Sox team source, the organization has been in constant communication with Driskel. It is the Sox’s belief, however, that the quarterback remains focused on continuing his football career before hitting the baseball diamond again for the first time since hitting .330 as a senior at Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla.
The Red Sox went through a similar scenario with former Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee, who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season before being put on the injured list with a torn pectoral muscle. Magee was drafted in the 23nd round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Red Sox, attending spring training with the Sox last season. (To read more about Magee, click here.)
|01.01.15 at 10:14 pm ET|
It’s a reality the Red Sox are going to be facing in the coming days.
The Yankees traded for the 29-year-old Carpenter (along with pitcher Chasen Shreve) in exchange for young lefty hurler Manny Banuelos. Carpenter had briefly been a member of the Red Sox prior to the 2013 season, joining the organization when the Blue Jays sent him and John Farrell to the Sox for Mike Aviles. (The Blue Jays had to include a player in the deal, and Carpenter was that guy.)
Just more than a month after joining the Red Sox, however, Carpenter was put on waivers in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. Also designated for assignment in the flurry of moves for the Sox were Sandy Rosario, Zach Stewart, Ivan De Jesus and Danny Valencia. Taking their places on the 40-man were Dan Butler, Alex Hassan, Christian Vazquez, Allen Webster and Alex Wilson.
Few would have thought twice about it at the time, but they do now. Carpenter was claimed on waivers by the Braves, going on to pitch in 121 games over the past two seasons while totaling a combined 2.63 ERA.
Now the Red Sox will be charged with trying not to repeat such a misstep.
Craig Breslow, who has agreed to a one-year, $2 million with the Red Sox, is finally scheduled to take his physical Monday. That means that with the Sox currently maxed out on their 40-man, a decision will have to be made in order to get Breslow on the roster.
Many times, finding a candidate to bump off the 40-man isn’t difficult. But this go-round might be a little tricky.
The chief candidates: Pitchers Drake Britton and Butler. There is always the possibility they could go down another route via a trade (a very real scenario), or DFA a veteran (not as likely).
The really young guys have too much potential (Travis Shaw, Sean Coyle), and some of the pitchers showed enough in big league stints last season that value could still be had (Tommy Layne, Zeke Spruill, Stephen Wright, Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar).
Of the candidates mentioned, the guy who might be the most vulnerable is Britton.
Despite his brutal Triple-A season, Britton showed flashes of why he was so highly regarded last spring training when called up, not allowing a run in seven relief appearances. The problem for the lefty is that he is out of options, which isn’t the case for any of the aforementioned players.
The Red Sox certainly would love to see what they have in Britton this spring training, needing another lefty to step up with Andrew Miller having moved on. That’s also the value of Layne, who acquitted himself well in his 30 appearances with the Red Sox, limiting lefty hitters to a .159 batting average.
Butler is an organizational favorite, and the logical next man up if anything were to happen to Ryan Hanigan or Vazquez during the first half of the season.
It’s why these coming days will likely lead to yet another offseason shoe to drop for these Red Sox.
|12.30.14 at 5:41 pm ET|
Breslow has punctuated his first go-round in the world of living the life of a free agent with an agreement to rejoin the Red Sox on a one-year, $2 million deal. How he got to that point, however, encompassed a fairly unique path.
A one-year hiccup after a pretty impressive six-season run paved the way for the out-of-the-ordinary free agent experience.
“In terms of the process, it was exciting, it was unsettling,” said the 34-year-old lefty reliever, who still has yet to take his physical with the Red Sox. “I feel like if I were coming off of my 2013 season it probably would have been a much more opportunistic and exciting time. But the body of work I had over seven or eight years spoke to the capability of me as a pitcher. Only a handful of guys go through their career without some season that is an outlier. But everyone will go through a career with one season being their worst. Now, the fact that mine came on the cusp of free agency that’s not how you draw it up. Still, I think there were a number of teams that appreciated the big picture and the body work and that there were a number of things that went into the disappointment of my 2014 season and that I was very much motivated to change that.”
The adventure started after the Red Sox declined a $4 million option on Breslow’s contract, making him available to the rest of the baseball world.
The decision by the Sox came as no surprise to Breslow, who was coming off the worst season of his big league career. The lefty never felt right after his impressive run through October, 2013, battling shoulder weakness from first time he picked up a ball almost a year ago.
The end result was a 5.96 ERA over 60 appearances in ’14. It was a far cry from his showing from ’08-13, when he pitched in the second-most games of any lefty reliever (392) while compiling a 2.82 ERA.
Breslow had some explaining to do. So he, and his agent, Bob Baratta, set out to offer some explanations.
“There’s probably clear boundaries between the story that I have to tell and the information teams have gotten on their own,” he said. “Certain teams are probably more reliant on their own data, where others are very interested in what players have to say. I felt like because six years had taken such a distinct path and there was one data point that fell out of place I had a story to tell, and I knew there was nobody better to tell it but me. So I felt for a number of reasons it made a lot of sense for me to be very involved in the free agent process.”
How he got involved was to venture to San Diego with Baratta to the Major League Baseball winter meetings.
Breslow would join his agent in meeting with interested teams, offering a helpful complement to the track record Baratta could present via numbers on a piece of paper. It was certainly a unique approach for both the player and those attending what the lefty categorized as, “kind of like a combination of a high school prom, a college fraternity party and a corporate holiday party, all under one roof.”
“Ultimately even teams we diverged from mentioned their appreciation for my involvement and that I had left an impression on them,” Breslow said. “Certainly there will be teams where I’m just not a fit. And there will be teams that just won’t be an opportunity. Me as a player looking for employment and just me as a curious intellectual looking to gain perspective on the industry it was worth it.”
By the time he left California, Breslow had a fairly good grasp on what would be available to him. The Cubs and a few other teams continued to show healthy interest in him. But it was the Red Sox who never were too far out of the picture.
“Toward the end of the season I had a number of conversations with Ben [Cherington],” Breslow said. “I knew he had been in touch with Bob, but the timing wasn’t right for them to exercise the option, which I understood. Then some of the bigger pieces started to fall we both started realizing that maybe there was a fit. When it comes to feeling like I have an interesting track record and a story to tell, while nobody knows the story better than I do, the second character in the story — Ben and [manager] John [Farrell] and [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] and [bullpen coach] Dana [Levangie] — have been the guys literally across the street. I think I had expressed to Ben and John what I thought contributed to 2014 and what I planned to do this offseason so that 2015 could look a lot like 2013. I absolutely believed it and I know the work that I’m doing is going to pay off. And as the discussion progressed they realized it also.
“My story is that I didn’t have a healthy offseason going into 2014 and what I needed more than anything was to put this free agent process behind me and just focus on my workouts and physical therapy.”
With the offseason adventure over, Breslow will continue his workouts at Mike Boyle’s complex in Woburn before heading to Fort Myers at the beginning of February. Unlike the year before, he has felt healthy and strong ever since the first time he started throwing, Nov. 1.
“Last year I started throwing after the New Year and felt like I never really caught up to where I would like to be having gotten such a late start not feeling not so great when I picked up a ball,” he said. “It was never like I picked up the ball, started throwing and never looked back. I hit some bumps along the way. But ever since I picked up a ball on Nov. 1 I’ve been able to build up arm strength, increase distance, intensity and volume every step of the way and feel really good.
“A part of my decision making was influenced by feeling like I owed something to this organization based on how I left in 2014.”
|12.29.14 at 1:39 pm ET|
It never made sense, and still doesn’t.
When trying to identify landing spots for the free agent pitcher, the Red Sox keep coming up on the list. As was noted in a CBSSports.com column today, the Sox have the need for a top of the rotation pitcher, they have money and they have shown a willingness to extend to six years for a premier starting pitcher relatively the same age as Jon Lester. (Scherzer is six months younger than Lester.)
It makes for good conversation, but not realistic outcomes.
The Red Sox always valued Lester over Scherzer, so the idea that they would extend beyond the six-year, $135 million offer made the lefty for Scherzer isn’t plausible. One major league source familiar with the Red Sox’ thinking believes the notion of the Red Sox being a player in the Scherzer talks is driven by a desire to use the Sox as leverage against what many believe to be the most legitimate Scherzer suitor, the Yankees.
By all accounts, the Red Sox are more than willing to see what they have in their current group of starters and go from there. They seem to particularly be intrigued by what Joe Kelly could emerge into, with at very least the newly-acquired trio of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson have enough of a recent history to supply much needed quality innings.
It’s not to say the Red Sox won’t be on the lookout for an ace. But they have also come to the conclusion that such an acquisition may be more realistically explored months from now.
It’s not likely that Scherzer will slide into something like a one-year, pillow contract (there’s no way, Scott Boras goes that route in an offseason his client’s most logical comp hauls in a record deal with the Cubs). It’s hard to believe the Yankees won’t be a player, with the Tigers and Giants (with James Shields a more likely scenario) possibly looming.
The Red Sox? Don’t count on it.
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