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Diamondbacks choose Torey Lovullo to become their next manager

11.04.16 at 1:28 pm ET
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Torey Lovullo is finally getting his chance.

According to a major league source, Arizona Diamondbacks have named Lovullo to become their next manager. Lovullo had been the bench coach for the Red Sox since John Farrell was hired prior to the 2013 season.

It is the first full-time major league managing job for the 51-year-old, who filled in for Farrell on an interim basis in the final 49 games of the 2015 regular season, going 28-21.

Lovullo has managed in the minor leagues with both the Indians and Red Sox organizations.

He had previously interviewed for major league managing jobs with the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Astros, Rangers and Twins.

Arizona sports radio station 98.7 FM was first to report the news.

Red Sox keeping close eye on former Royals closer Greg Holland

11.04.16 at 9:35 am ET
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Greg Holland

Greg Holland

It makes some sense.

With bullpens evolving like they are – as was evidenced by the Indians’ regular season and postseason use of Andrew Miller – the notion of the Red Sox at least kicking the tires on Greg Holland is understandable. And that’s exactly what Dave Dombrowski and Co. will be doing.

Red Sox representatives are planning on attending Monday’s showcase for the former Royals closer.

Holland represents one of the more intriguing relieving options in the free agent market, having not pitched in 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season.

The 30-year-old had been one of the game’s premier closers prior to tearing his ulnar collateral ligament. From 2013-14 he was the closer for a Kansas City bullpen that was considered the best in baseball. During that stretch Holland posted a 1.32 ERA over 133 appearances, going 93 for 98 in save chances.

Holland ultimately pitched the entire 2015 season with a torn UCL, with his fastball velocity dropping significantly, with his average fastball going from 96 to 93 mph. That season he managed a 3.83 ERA in 48 games, going 32-for-37 in save opportunities.

The right-hander’s agent, Scott Boras, recently told the New York Post that Holland is back to throwing in the low 90’s and is “back at full steam” heading into the offseason.

While the Red Sox don’t figure to get in the mix for any of top closers on the market, with Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon and Aroldis Chapman all becoming free agents, a pitcher like Holland could be intriguing. Along with closer Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox figure to boast Carson Smith and Joe Kelly as potential high-leverage relievers. But if the Sox don’t re-sign Koji Uehara there may be a very real opening for a pitcher like Holland.

The Giants and Royals are two teams reportedly have significant interest in Holland.

Why picking up Clay Buchholz’s option made sense for Red Sox

11.03.16 at 4:42 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Make no mistake about it, $13.5 million is a lot of money.

But when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of allocating that figure to Clay Buchholz for the 2017 season, it’s not difficult to see why the Red Sox have committed to paying the 32-year-old in 2017.

Usually, when talking about Buchholz the conversation begins and ends with potential. Whether it’s the optimism that he represents, or the frustration which has often times followed. But this time that’s just part of the equation.

What most likely really put the Red Sox over the edge when it came to picking up Buchholz’s option was the market.

This is by far the worse starting pitching free agent market in years. It’s pretty much Rich Hill and then everybody else. Sure, the likes of Bartolo Colon, Doug Fister and Jeremy Hellickson can all serve a purpose. But are any of those starters in the class of what Buchholz showed for the final two months of the season?

Unlike last year, when the Red Sox chose to hold on to Buchholz instead of Wade Miley in the Carson Smith trade, there should be some willingness from Dave Dombrowski to either move on from Buchholz in a trade, or use him as rotation protection while dealing away someone like Eduardo Rodriguez.

David Price, Rick Porcello, and Steven Wright aren’t going anywhere. But if you want to get serious about a deal involving someone like Chris Sale, then Rodriguez or Drew Pomeranz might become interesting chips that you couldn’t afford to include last offseason. Buchholz, even as your fifth starter, is a very palatable starting rotation safety valve.

And what if the Red Sox want to explore taking advantage of starting pitching landscape by dealing Buchholz?

Buchholz went 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA in his last eight regular starts, while managing a 1.93 ERA in eight relief outings. Even with the 5.91 ERA in the first half, he’s the type of pitcher who should have substantial value, potentially getting an even greater haul (because of the market) than last offseason.

If the Red Sox didn’t pick up the $13.5 million option, then you just put an enormous dent in your offseason flexibility. It just wouldn’t have made sense.

As we sit here, it would seem like this financial commitment is money well spent.

Red Sox announce they are picking up Clay Buchholz’s 2017 option

11.03.16 at 3:34 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox are committing to Clay Buchholz for 2017.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that it is picking up the pitcher’s $13.5 million option for next season. It is the second straight year the Red Sox have exercised Buchholz’s team option, opting to pay the righty $13 million in 2016.

Buchholz’s case was an interesting one considering what he showed in the final few months of the regular season. Having gotten another chance at entering the starting rotation due to Steven Wright’s injury, the righty went 4-0 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts.

He also excelled out of the bullpen, managing a 1.93 ERA in eight relief outings.

The issue that made the option somewhat of a question is how Buchholz performed in the first half of the season, putting up a 5.91 ERA in the first half prior to making adjustments to his arm angle midway through July.

A recent poll conducted by WEEI.com saw a majority of fans (50 percent) thought picking up Buchholz’s option and putting him in the rotation was the right move, with 31 percent believing the Sox should exercise the option and trade the pitcher. Nineteen percent thought the option should be picked up.

Red Sox decline 2017 option for catcher Ryan Hanigan

11.03.16 at 2:58 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

Now that the World Series is a thing of the past, the roster-shuffling has started.

The Red Sox have officially informed Ryan Hanigan they won’t be picking up his $3.75 million option for the 2017 season. The catcher made $3.7 million in 2016, the final season of a three-year deal.

The 36-year-old Hanigan battled injuries during his two seasons in Boston, playing in 54 games in 2015 and just 35 last season. In 314 plate appearances with the Sox, he hit .219 with three homers and a .592 OPS.

Hanigan came to the Red Sox prior from San Diego in a trade that sent third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the Padres.

There didn’t appear to be a fit for Hanigan with the Red Sox in 2017, with both Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez out of options, and Blake Swihart coming back from his ankle injury.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman was first to report the Red Sox’ decision.

For more on the Red Sox’ offseason, go to the team page by click here.

Red Sox head into 2017 favorites to win American League

11.03.16 at 2:46 pm ET
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With the 2016 baseball season now officially in the rear-view mirror, Las Vegas has turned its attention to 2017.

And when it comes to next season, the Red Sox are already highly-regarded, at least by the odds-makers.

According to Bovada, the Red Sox are currently the favorites to win the American League, standing only behind the Cubs for odds of claiming the world championship. Chicago enters the offseason at 7/2 to win the ’17 World Series, while both the Red Sox and Dodgers stand at 9/1.

After Boston and Los Angeles are the Nationals (12/1), Indians (14/1), Mets (14/1), Giants (14/1) and Blue Jays (14/1).

The five teams pegged as the biggest long-shots at 100/1 are the Diamondbacks, Braves, Reds, Twins, Phillies and Padres.
For more on the Red Sox offseason, go to the team page by click here.

World Series Game 7 was most watched baseball game in 25 years

11.03.16 at 1:24 pm ET
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This was the World Series that got sports fans focused back on baseball. So it should come as no surprise that Game 7 offered the highest television rating the sport has seen in 25 years.

The overnight rating for the Cubs’ extra-inning game was 25.2, nearly double the 2014 Game 7 between the Giants and Royals.

Locally, 71 percent of the people watching TV in Chicago had the game on, with 61 percent of the Cleveland television viewers tuning in.
For coverage on the World Series and all things baseball, go to the Red Sox team page by clicking here.

Will this postseason change how we look at relievers? Bill James has some thoughts on that

11.03.16 at 12:02 pm ET
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Bill James

Bill James

So, what will be the legacy of this World Series? For many, the conversation has to start with how relievers were used, particularly by Indians manager Terry Francona.

For the third postseason in a row, you have a pitching staff led by the bullpen and not the rotation. And this time there was a pitcher, Andrew Miller, who pitched more innings than any reliever ever had throughout a run through the playoffs (19 1/3 innings).

So, will this change how we look at how teams should use their bullpens? The man who was at the forefront of prioritizing using high-leverage relievers outside the ninth inning, Bill James, has some thoughts on the matter.

In an email exchange with WEEI.com, the Red Sox’ Sr. Advisor to Baseball Operations gives his take on what Francona did this postseason, what it might mean to baseball going forward, and why there is a misperception when it comes to how the Red Sox’ approached their “bullpen-by-committee” in 2003:

DO YOU THINK THIS POSTSEASON WILL (OR SHOULD) CHANGE HOW BULLPENS ARE USED GOING FORWARD?

I would say generally not to a large extent, probably. People have ALWAYS done things differently in the post-season than they did in the regular season, for good reasons. The schedule is different; you have a lot more days off. The importance of the games is such that you don’t worry as much about the risk of injury from overuse, and, more importantly, the manager in the regular season has to worry about keeping the entire roster involved and productive. You know you’re going to need 12 pitchers to get to the end of the season, and you know that that 12th pitcher isn’t going to be there for you in August if you don’t let him pitch in May, so you have to use him in May. You don’t worry about stuff like that in the post season; the only thing that counts now is now.

In the 7th game of the 1924 World Series, the American League team started a right-handed pitcher, Curly Ogden, let him get one batter out, then switched to a left-hander, George Mogridge. A left-handed hitter (Bill Terry) had been killing them, and they were trying to drive Terry, who was a rookie and being platooned, out of the game. It worked; John McGraw took Bill Terry out of the game, the AL manager switched back to a right-hander, and the Senators won the game.

But did this have any impact on games the next season or the next season? None at all. It was something you can do in a “special” game; it was not something you can do in an ordinary game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Epic World Series Game 7 finishes with Cubs ending 108-year championship drought

11.03.16 at 12:48 am ET
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Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs are World Series champs. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Todays Spors)

Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs are World Series champs. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Todays Spors)

It was trending toward 109 years of agony for the Cubs, but then Ben Zobrist came up.

With one out in the 10th inning, Zobrist rifled an RBI double down the left field line off reliever Bryan Shaw to give Chicago it’s game-winning RBI, and the Cubs their first world championship since 1908. The Cubs added another run in the 10th on Miguel Montero’s bases-loaded single, securing the 8-7, Game 7 win over the Indians.

The two-run 10th inning came immediately after a 17-minute rain delay, which halted the game immediately following the last out of the ninth. Chicago managed the final out when Mike Montgomery came on to retire Michael Martinez on a slow roller to third baseman Kris Bryant.

The Indians did threaten in the 10th, with Rajai Davis ripping a two-out, RBI single against Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr.

An hour before Zobrist’s single, Davis entered himself into World Series history.

With two outs in the eighth inning, Davis pulled an Aroldis Chapman fastball just over the left field fence for a game-tying, two-out, two-run homer. It completed a rally against Chapman which saw the closer greeted by an RBI double from Brandon Guyer after the righty came on to replace Jon Lester with one on and two outs in the eighth.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the 365-foot home run wouldn’t have been out of two major league parks, one of which is Wrigley Field. It was the latest game-tying home run for any World Series Game 7.

Chapman’s ineffective outing came after he threw a combined 62 pitches over his last two outings, including 20 offerings in the Cubs’ Game 6 blowout.

Prior to the Davis’ heroics, the difference appeared to be the ineffectiveness of two of this postseason’s best pitchers, the Indians’ Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller.

Kluber, who came into the game having totaled an 0.89 ERA in his five playoff starts, gave up four runs in four innings before giving way to Miller. The lefty reliever would allow two runs over 2 1/3 innings, including home runs to Javier Baez and David Ross.

Chicago pitchers, meanwhile, seemed to be pitching just well enough, with starter Kyle Hendricks lasting 4 2/3 innings, giving up a pair of runs. His replacement, Lester, did let two runs to score on a wild pitch, with both Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis coming home on the errant offering to cut the Cubs’ lead to two runs in the fifth inning.

Hendricks, the majors ERA leader during the regular season, was pulled after just 62 pitches.

It was just the fourth time in Lester’s career he had come in out of the bullpen, having last served as a reliever during the 2007 American League Championship Series. He would ultimately last three innings, giving up two runs in the 55-pitch outing.

But the Cubs immediately got one of the runs back thanks to a home run by Ross, who came into the game upon Lester’s entrance.

Chicago jumped out to a lead out of the gate, with Dexter Fowler leading off the game with a homer over the center field fence. The Indians would tie things in the third inning after Santana singled in Coco Crisp, who had led off the frame with a double.

The Cubs came back with back-to-back two-run innings, with Baez’s leadoff homer in the fifth highlighting the attack. The blast would drive Kluber from the game.

For a complete recap, click here.

Red Sox ticket prices are going up

11.02.16 at 9:51 am ET
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It's going to be more expensive to go to Fenway Park in 2017. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It’s going to be more expensive to go to Fenway Park in 2017. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

For the first time since 2014, the Red Sox are raising ticket prices. Here’s what the organization had to say in a statement released Wednesday morning:

The Red Sox today announced that ticket prices for the 2017 season at Fenway Park will rise by an average of 2.9 percent. The increase primarily affects seats closest to the field in select seating areas.  
 
Prices will rise between $1 and $5 in the following sections: Field Box, Loge Box, Pavilion Box, Pavilion Reserved, Grandstand, Outfield Grandstand (Rows 1-10), Right Field Box, Right Field Roof Box and Terrace, Bleachers, and Upper Bleachers.
 
Prices in other seating areas will remain unchanged, including the Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck, Grandstand (Sections 13-27 & 28-31, Rows 11-18), Outfield Grandstand (Rows 11-19), and all Standing Room.
 
In 2017 the first five rows of the Field Box, first ten rows of the Grandstand and Outfield Grandstand, first nineteen rows of Bleacher Sections 40-43, and Rows A-N in the Right Field Box will rise slightly more than rows further from the field in those sections.
 
“We appreciate the steadfast commitment of our loyal fans and hope to reward their dedication by fielding a winning team that plays deep into October each season.” said Red Sox President Sam Kennedy.  “Our desire to bring another World Series Championship to Boston is as strong as ever, and the contribution and dedication of our fans are what allow us to remain competitive each and every year.”   
 
The lowest priced ticket to a game at Fenway Park in 2017 is $10, and the Red Sox will continue to offer special reduced pricing for students, clergy, veterans, and active duty members of the military. Tickets for high school and college students will again be available for $9, and the Kid Nation Program, a free program for those 14 and under, will continue to include a Red Sox ticket at no charge in 2017.
 
Including this year’s increase, the club has held ticket prices for three of the past six seasons and four of the past nine. The average annual increase since 2008 is 1.6 percent per year. 
 
A breakdown of prices for each non-premium seating category is attached. Seats in existing categories located in rows closer to the field are marked with a red asterisk. Also attached is a list of 2017 home games by tier. 

 
The last time the Red Sox raised ticket prices by this amount was following the 2013 season, when the average price increase was 4.8 percent. The following year there was a freeze on any increase, with last offseason seeing a 1.4 percent bump.

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