|12.15.15 at 10:58 am ET|
“David Price is the best teammate I’ve ever been around.”
Perhaps. But, thanks to a bunch of scooters, Price has certainly defined himself as one of the most unique teammates in the big leagues.
Setting the scene …
It was Sept. 7, and the Blue Jays had just dropped an 11-4 decision to the Red Sox. Considering the pennant race Toronto was immersed it, one might expect Gibbons’ players to be trudging back toward their team bus with the expression befitting a beaten down club.
But about an hour or so after the final pitch, a wave of eight or so Blue Jays players — led by Price — could be found flying through the antiquated concourse of Fenway Park, all riding contraptions called EcoReco Scooters.
It turns out, not only was the group exiting Fenway on the electric scooters, but they formed a convoy on the streets of Boston, riding them to the park from the team hotel.
“We went from the hotel to the field. Nobody recognized us,” said Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. “That was our posse. We were the ‘Scooter Gang.'”
This was Price’s gang.
Upon arriving in Toronto via a midseason trade, the pitcher took it upon himself to buy about eight of the environmentally-friendly scooters, handing them out to some of his new teammates. Among the group joining the club were Dioner Navarro, Chris Colabello, Kevin Pillar, Liam Hendricks, Ryan Goins, and Donaldson.
“He just got a bunch of them and we were like kids in a candy store,” Donaldson said. “They all showed up when we were playing the Yankees in New York. Then the Yankees security tried to tell us they were going to take us to jail if we rode them at the stadium. We were like, ‘We don’t need to go jail so let’s put them away.’ I’m not going to jail.
“If the park was close enough we would ride together to the park with our own little posse.”
Price had evidently first been introduced to the scooters while in Detroit, with word spreading throughout the majors about the device. It was a following that may have started with former Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon, who helped his Pirates shorten their walk from the parking garage after doing a bit of research.
Hence, Price’s connection.
The scooter can go 500 miles on a $1 of electricity, while accelerating up to 20 mph. There is some talk of the new Red Sox ace spreading the word of his newfound transportation via national television at some point. But until such a plan is formally put in place, he will have to settle for his new teammates for the next marketing tool.
“We want to develop a culture that is very different than a big corporation,” said the co-founder of the San Franscico-based scooter company, Jay Sung. “So we try and make all of our companies happy and help the world, which is what David Price has been doing.”
|12.15.15 at 8:42 am ET|
There’s no better way to keep the baseball talk boiling, and get ready for Tuesday night’s Hot Stove Show (9 p.m. on WEEI), then a good old fashioned Hot Stove live chat with Rob Bradford. The fun begins at noon, so get you questions in now …
|12.14.15 at 5:05 pm ET|
The deal comes after Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million contact offer from the Diamondbacks earlier this offseason.
Cueto is the last top of the rotation free agent pitcher to come to terms this offseason (unless you consider Japanese hurler Kenta Maeda, Wei-Yen Chen or Mike Leake, in such a class).
Here are the contracts handed out to the other top tier starters thus far this offseason:
David Price: Red Sox, seven years, $217 million (opt-out after third season).
Zack Greinke: Diamondbacks, six years, $206.5 million.
Jordan Zimmermann: Tigers, five years, $110 million.
Jeff Samardzija: Giants, five years, $90 million.
John Lackey: Cubs, two years, $32 million.
“Johnny really wanted to go to the Red Sox,” Dixon told Gammons. “His idol is Pedro Martinez. He wanted to be with him. When he threw the shutout in the World Series, one of the first things he said was, ‘Did Pedro ever throw a game like that in the post-season?'”
Buster Olney of ESPN was first to report the agreement, with the Giants confirming it (thanks to Twitter):
|12.14.15 at 10:51 am ET|
When it comes to living the life as a Red Sox closer, the following is perhaps the highest compliment Craig Kimbrel has received to date.
“Me and Kimbrel are very similar in our styles. He’s a younger version of me.”
Those were the words uttered recently to WEEI.com by one Mr. Jonathan Papelbon.
You can have your opinions about Papelbon’s lightning rod personality, but what is inarguable is that he still represents the most prolific closing career of any Red Sox reliever in team history.
Papelbon served as the Sox closer for six years, which is longer than any Red Sox relief pitcher has managed since the role came into vogue. Koji Uehara might have gone on the best short-term run of any Sox game-ender, but in terms of long-term success in Boston, nobody approaches Papelbon.
He saved a team-record 219 games for the Sox before moving on to Philadelphia, including the clinching game of the 2007 World Series.
So, now the question is: Can Kimbrel be the kind of game-saving fixture for the Red Sox Papelbon was from 2006-11?
“The biggest thing is having no memory,” Papelbon said when asked what advice he might pass on to Kimbrel. “I remember what Mariano [Rivera] told me. ‘Papelbon, no memory.’ It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about, but I learned that is the biggest key, especially in Boston.
“I love Kimbrel. He’s a great guy. Closers are a fraternity. It’s like we’re a group. Every city I go to I try and get with the closer and tell them, ‘Mariano made this role special. Goose Gossage made this role special. Lee Smith. Let’s try and keep it going.’ And that’s the same thing Mariano did for me.”
|12.13.15 at 6:29 pm ET|
The 28-year-old righty started 13 games for the Phillies in 2015, going 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA. In 71 innings, striking out 35 and walking 20 while giving up 94 hits.
O’Sullivan, the Angels’ third-round pick in 2005, has pitched in 66 big league games, starting 52 of them. His career record in the majors is 11-23 with a 5.95 ERA. He made his major league debut in 2009 with the Angels.
According to BrooksBaseball.net, O’Sullivan’s most effective offerings are his slider and curveball, with both his four-seam and two-seam fastball rarely resulting in swing and misses. Click here for a scouting report.
The Red Sox most certainly view O’Sullivan as Triple-A starting pitching depth.
|12.12.15 at 2:44 am ET|
Speaking after the Warriors improved to 24-0 following a thrilling 124-119 victory in double overtime at TD Garden, Curry lauded the Red Sox for the moves he hopes will return the team to contention, including the acquisition of ace David Price and closer Craig Kimbrel.
“We’re making moves, and I know (the offseason) isn’t over yet,” he said after scoring 38 points. “But you’ve got to make splashes these days to stay competitive, and they’re doing it. It’s great.”
If you’re wondering how Curry became a Red Sox fan, it dates to his childhood in Charlotte, as he explained in a 2011 interview at Fenway Park, where he was having his bachelor party.
“Growing up, the closest team geographically was the Braves,” he said. “But my brother (Seth) chose the Yankees when we were six or seven. I had to choose the opposite team. I chose the Red Sox and I’ve stuck with them ever since. It’s a pretty cool thing between me and my brother.”
Curry, who grew up with former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard (Curry was a freshman at Charlotte Christian when Bard was a senior), remains a Red Sox fan. During that 2011 visit to Fenway, he got autographs from David Ortiz, posed for pictures with Mike Cameron, and spent some time talking with Kevin Youkilis, taking in the sights at batting practice from the field.
“I was just thinking about that today,” said Curry, whose college roommate was a Sox fan from Falmouth, Maine. “We haven’t been back to a game since. I’d love to get back there.”
|12.11.15 at 1:39 pm ET|
The deal is worth eight years at $184 million and includes two opt-outs, the first coming after three seasons.
Just 26 years old, Heyward was considered the top position player on the free agent market. In his only year with St. Louis, he finished 2015 hitting .293 with a .797 OPS and 13 home runs in 154 games.
Heyward’s value is centered around the ability to do a little bit of everything offensively, while playing superior defense, having spent the majority of his six-year big league career in right field.
Chicago has already been busy this offseason, signing free agent pitcher John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal, and utilityman Ben Zobrist at four years, $56 million, while trading Starlin Castro for pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named later.
Coming off a 97-win season in which they reached the National League Championship Series, the Cubs have to be considered the odds-on favorites in the NL heading into 2016.
Along with Lackey, Chicago boasts Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in a starting rotation that is filled out by Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. Their lineup boasts potential perennial All-Stars first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell, and young outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler.
|12.11.15 at 12:37 pm ET|
When visiting Boston with his Royals in late August, Johnny Cueto was surprisingly forthcoming when it came to his infatuation with Boston.
“Because I’m a free agent, and I’m just going to pick the best choice to go,” said Cueto through translator Hanley Ramirez. “The main thing — I would like to come here because it’s a championship-caliber team.”
Evidently, he wasn’t lying.
“Johnny really wanted to go to the Red Sox,” Dixon told Gammons. “His idol is Pedro Martinez. He wanted to be with him. When he threw the shutout in the World Series, one of the first things he said was, ‘did Pedro ever throw a game like that in the post-season?”
While there is a perception Cueto is on the verge of being on the outside looking in due to all the recent signings of free agent pitchers — including Boston’s deal with David Price — Dixon tells Gammons he believes the pitcher will be signing a deal within a week.
Cueto was once thought to be on the level of Price when it came to potential value on the free agent market. But after less-than-great results during the final two months of the season, and up and down performances in the postseason, the 29-year-old fell to a level clearly behind both Price and Zack Greinke.
Recent reports had the Dodgers interested in Cueto after having lost out on Greinke, and reliever Aroldis Chapman.
Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks earlier in the offseason.
|12.10.15 at 9:23 pm ET|
Casey Kelly was that young pitcher who had ace stuff. Now he is a piece of another deal … for what is likely a backup catcher.
Kelly joined catcher Ricardo Rodriguez in going to Atlanta Thursday, with the Braves sending backstop Christian Bethancourt (once a Top 100 prospect) to San Diego. (For more on that trade, click here.)
The right-handed throwing Kelly was the Red Sox first-round pick in the 2008 draft, deciding to play baseball instead of football at the University of Tennessee, thanks in large part to a $3 million signing bonus. He also made the choice to not play shortstop once in the minors, becoming one of the Red Sox’ most promising young starters.
Kelly would join former first-round pick Reymond Fuentes and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in making up the group of prospects the Red Sox would ultimately send to San Diego for Gonzalez.
Kelly would reach the majors in 2012, making six starts for the Padres in which he went 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA. But the following March it was determined he had micro tears in his UCL, forcing the Sarasota native to undergo Tommy John and miss the entire 2013 season.
He would pitch a few times in 2014 before bouncing back and forth between relieving and starting Double-A and Triple-A throughout ’15, going a combined 2-10 with a 5.16 ERA. Kelly would see action in three big league games late in the season, making two starts.
As for those other guys in the Gonzalez deal, Rizzo has obviously gone on to become one of the big leagues best first basemen, hitting 31 homers with an .899 OPS in 160 games last season. Fuentes’ only big league time came in 23 games with the Padres in ’13, hitting .307 with 29 steals in Triple-A for the Royals in 2015.
|12.10.15 at 2:33 pm ET|
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Thursday to discuss the new protective netting at Fenway Park, as well as the Red Sox‘ offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Ordway, Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.
On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced a recommendation for teams to add additional netting for the purpose of better fan safety. The Red Sox will comply and have protective netting that goes from dugout to dugout.
Kennedy explained in detail exactly what it means for Fenway Park.
“The current plan is to follow Major League Baseball‘s recommendations and just to be clear, first and foremost, they are a set of recommendations that commissioner [Rob] Manfred has come out with and we commend him and his team,” Kennedy said. “They have been working on this since last season and they have done a great job of engaging a lot of different experts, looking at it from a lot of different angles. They want balance to keep fans connected to the players around the dugout area. So the recommendation is to go from the inner wall of the dugout, so at Fenway, that would be dugout 29 across to dugout 61. The inner wall of each dugout around to the inner wall of the other dugout.
“What we don’t know right now is exactly what the screen, additional netting will look like given we’re working with the engineers to understand how we get that protection and coverage, at least 70-foot radius behind home plate that they are recommending. If I had to guess, it would be 5-6 foot high screen off the current field wall, but don’t hold me to that because we’re working on it now. Our current backstop has a field wall of three feet and then a nine-foot, eight-inch screen on top of it that extends all the back up to the EMC club, for comparison purposes. We’re working on it now, but we are going to follow the recommendations that the commissioner’s office put out — just this industry standard of a 70-foot radius to protect those sitting within a 70-foot radius of home plate with the expansion of the netting.”
Even with the protective netting, Kennedy acknowledged fans still need to be alert, especially in seats that don’t have the protective netting.
“Fans do need to be careful,” he said. “Balls come in, bats come in, so you have to be careful. We’re going to work with baseball to make sure we get that message out as well. The last thing in the world we want is someone getting hurt at Fenway.”
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