Archive for July, 2009

Epstein on Victor Martinez: ‘A Great Fit for Our Club’

Friday, July 31st, 2009

On why the Sox went after Martinez:

We think Victor Martinez is a great fit for our club and provides a significant offensive boost, and he does it with some versatility that compliments our roster really well. He can catch and give ‘€˜Tek a little bit of a rest behind the plate and he can play first base and get some at-bats there with Youkilis’€™ versatility, and he can DH a little bit. So we thought it was a good fit for our roster and provides some offensive support and some depth at the same time.

On also going after pitching:

We were involved in some talks that could have led to some pretty good starting pitchers becoming available, but it didn’€™t turn out that way, and I don’€™t think we’€™re going to see much impactful starting pitching move in August. We like our pitching staff, and our run prevention’€™s been pretty good.

We have to do a better job than we’€™ve been doing lately, but you’€™re always looking for an impact starting pitcher if you can find one, especially this time of year, but it didn’€™t come to pass. We have a lot of pitching and I like our run prevention generally.

On trading LaRoche:

LaRoche did a nice job while he was here. We felt all along like he was the best for us if he had close to everyday at-bats, at least every day against right-handed pitching at-bats at first base, and with the addition of Victor Martinez, now there aren’€™t quite as many at-bats available at first base. With LaRoche’€™s timing mechanism with his swing and with his approach in general, he kind of needs to play to be productive, he needs to play every day or close to it, whereas Casey Kotchman has a little different approach at the plate that might play better, a little different type role, and Kotchman also is an elite defender, and somebody you could see coming into the game late for defense on days when Victor Martinez starts at first base.

On what this all means for Kottaras:

Nothing yet, obviously once the players report we’€™ll have corresponding roster moves.

On Martinez’€™ role in Boston:

As we contemplated his acquisition and talked with Tito about possible fits we all agreed what seems to make sense is a similar role to what he had in Cleveland where he had the ability to catch but not do so every single day — [it] wears his legs down — and then spend enough time at first base and DH to stay fresh, and that works for our club because Jason Varitek is and has been and will continue to be a very important part of the club and of our pitching staff.

On Martinez getting used to the new pitching staff:

It will be a process, but I think with his makeup that that should be a smooth process. He’€™s very conscientious, he’€™s the ultimate teammate, cares about winning and really does see his job when he does catch as defense first even though he provides the big bat. So he’€™s going to jump right in, he’€™s got some shared history with John Farrell, our pitching coach now. I see it as a very smooth process. It’€™s never easy in the middle of the season, but I think he’€™s going to jump right in and be up to speed pretty quickly.

Was it a frustrating day, with things that came close but didn’t work out?

Not today. In previous days we had some things working that we were really excited about, and a couple that got really close and then didn’€™t happen, but that’€™s par for the course in trade deadline season. I think we shot big on a couple things, deals that could provide maximum impact, and we were very aggressive in use of our own prospects. Those deals got close but didn’€™t happen. Maybe a foundation was laid for the offseason. Who knows? But in the end, we wanted to make sure that we had a deal that we could come back [to] and make, a deal at a reasonable acquisition cost and for a player who provides impact in his own right, and we were able to do that today, so it went somewhat according to plan where we knew if we did shoot for something really big and ended up missing, we didn’€™t want it to affect our ability to make a useful move, and that’€™s how it went down.

On dealing prospects:

Time will tell. I think generally we felt great about our depth. There were some deals that we were talking about which included giving up five or six good prospects, and even those deals, had they gone down, we looked and liked what would have remained in our system. So yeah, we feel great about what remains in our system and our ability to continue a flow of young players up to the big league level and/or use them in deals, but it hurts to give up players you believe in. Any time, it hurts.

First and foremost, Justin Masterson: this is a special individual and someone that we’€™ve come to really admire. Since he joined the organization he’€™s done nothing but affect people and influence people in a really positive way’€”his teammates, the front office, the fans’€”and accomplished a lot on the field, so it’€™s tough to see him go. Nick Hagadone: great kid who recovered from Tommy John surgery, worked really hard to get back on the field in almost record time, and just a few weeks ago was throwing the ball incredibly well, and he’€™s got a big future ahead of him, so it’€™s hard to include him in the deal as well. Bryan Price has only been in the organization for a short period of time, but another good kid who is an outstanding arm, so I think we do have a lot of depth, and especially with our pitchers, so we hope we have that organization that can afford to move pretty good arms. I think we do, but it’€™s never easy to do that, especially when you have personal attachments.

On controlling Martinez through next season:

I don’€™t think we would have moved these players, even for an impactful player back who was a free agent at the end of the season. I think having him for all of next year and having him fit next year’€™s club really well was a big part of this.

Breaking down the Kotchman deal

Friday, July 31st, 2009

This morning began with rumors that the Red Sox could be after Victor Martinez and that, if such a deal were to happen, Adam LaRoche would be the odd man out. Well, Martinez was traded, as a result, so was LaRoche.

The Red Sox sent LaRoche– just six games of experience into his Boston career– to Atlanta, where he spent the first three years of his career, and in return netted 26-year-old Braves first baseman Casey Kotchman in a one-for-one deal. “Redundant” was a word that Red Sox skipper Terry Francona used to describe LaRoche’s presence after the Martinez trade, so it’s clear that the Sox were looking for a different type of first baseman, which Kotchman figures to be.

On the season, the left-handed-hitting Kotchman has a .282 average, which sets him apart from LaRoche, who is known more for his power. This marks the second consecutive year in which Kotchman was traded for a power-hitting first baseman, as he was traded last July from the Angels to Atlanta in the Mark Teixeira deal.

Given the logjam that has already been brought on by the Martinez acquisition, Kotchman will likely serve as a bench player whose defense will be of value in the later innings. However, the Red Sox undoubtedly must have also been drawn to the fact that they could send Kotchman to the minors, something that would not be an option with LaRoche unless he cleared waivers.

Trading LaRoche for Kotchman helps the Red Sox not only for the rest of the season, but also for the long haul. Kotchman may not swing as big a stick as LaRoche, but he will fit better in the part-time role and will certainly not be the rental that LaRoche was. The Red Sox will control Kotchman’s rights through the 2012 season.  LaRoche is set to hit free agency at the end of the season.

Following the trade, LaRoche, who noted that he considers himself an everyday player, said he “didn’t mind sacrificing” playing time if it meant helping the Sox.

“I’d gladly take that (part-time) role (to be in Boston),” LaRoche said, also joking that he “should have hit more homers.”

Alex Speier contributed to this report.

Official Press Release: Red Sox Acquire 1B Casey Kotchman

Friday, July 31st, 2009

BOSTON, MA’€”The Red Sox today acquired first baseman Casey Kotchman from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for first baseman Adam LaRoche and cash considerations.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Kotchman, 26, will wear No. 11.  He has hit .282 (84-for-298) with 20 doubles, six home runs, 41 RBI, 28 runs scored and 32 walks in 87 games with the Braves this season. The left-handed hitter is batting .320 (24-for-75) and has posted a .427 on-base and .507 slugging percentage over 23 games in July.

Selected by Anaheim in the first round (13th overall) of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Kotchman has hit .272 (431-for-1,587) with 98 doubles, 39 home runs and 226 RBI in 481 career Major League games with the Angels (2004-08) and Braves (2008-09).  Kotchman’€™s career .998 fielding percentage at first base is the highest in baseball history among players with at least 3,500 total chances at that position.  He has played 156 consecutive games (149 starts) since he committed his last error on June 20, 2008, a span of 1,379 total chances.

Kotchman has appeared in eight postseason games with the Angels (2004, 2005 and 2007), going 2-for-15 with a double and an RBI.

LaRoche, 29, was acquired by the Red Sox on July 22 from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He hit .263 (5-for-19) with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in six games with the Red Sox.  The left-handed hitter went 80-for-324 (.247) with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 87 games for the Pirates this season.  Selected by Atlanta in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, LaRoche owns a .269 batting average with 124 homers and 429 RBI in 781 Major League games with the Braves (2004-06), Pirates (2007-09) and Red Sox (2009).

Price Comments on Trade to Cleveland Organization

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Wilmington, DE (July 31, 2009) ‘€“ Bryan Price, Boston’€™s 45th overall selection in the 2008 Draft and current righthander for the Salem Red Sox, was packaged with Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone in a trade for the Cleveland Indians catcher/first-baseman Victor Martinez on Thursday afternoon.

Shortly after learning about the deal, Price spoke to Red Sox radio broadcaster Evan Lepler about his initial reaction to the move.

Evan Lepler: You were on the bus with the team and then you were called off the bus to talk on the phone. What did you think when you were called off the bus and whom did you speak to on the phone?

Bryan Price: I didn’€™t really know what to expect or what it was about. I talked to Eppy [Salem manager Chad Epperson] and he gave me the news. Getting traded for a big leaguer is usually a good thing for a person’€™s career so I gotta think this is gonna be pretty good for me and I’€™m pretty excited about it.

EL: After you found out, you got back on the bus. What was it like to hear the combination of joking, applause, and jeers from your former teammates?

BP: They’€™re a good group of guys. I’€™ve had a really fun time with them. I’€™m gonna miss them all. You build bonds with them and they like to give you a hard time, but they’€™re really happy for you in the end.

EL: Did you think about the possibility of you being traded at all this past week?

BP: Ya know, it’€™s always a possibility, but it’€™s something you really don’€™t expect. But when it happens it happens, and it’€™s something you can be happy about.

EL: Have you thought at all about pitching against some of these guys (current Salem Red Sox players) if you end up in Kinston (Cleveland’€™s Advanced-A affiliate)?

BP: No (laughs), it’€™s just kind of setting in. I just found out 15 minutes ago. So I’€™m just starting to get a grasp on it all. It’€™ll be interesting. We play each other in a week, so we’€™ll find out if we get to do it or not.

EL: Have you been contacted yet by anyone in the Indians organization yet?

BP: No, not yet. I haven’€™t talked to anyone yet regarding details of where I’€™m going or anything like that. That all will get settled when it does.

EL: Is it strange that you’€™ve spent a year and a half in one organization and now you’€™re going to another?

BP: It’€™s a little different. I’€™ve always loved the Red Sox and it’€™s been a great organization. It’€™s gonna be different making that transition but baseball is baseball, and baseball is a business as far as this goes. So I’€™m looking forward to it. I think this will be a good experience for me.

Price began the season with Greenville and made eight starts for the Drive, compiling a 3-2 record with a 2.45 ERA, 40 strikeouts, and 10 walks. In 11 starts for Salem, Price went 1-6 with a 6.54 ERA, recording 57 strikeouts and 19 walks. The righthander spent three years at Rice University before the Red Sox drafted him with their supplemental round selection in 2008. In his pro debut in 2008, Price went 1-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) for the Lowell Spinners, racking up 43 Ks and only 10 walks.

Official Press Release: Red Sox Acquire Victor Martinez from Cleveland Indians

Friday, July 31st, 2009

BOSTON, MA’€”The Boston Red Sox today acquired catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez in a trade from the Cleveland Indians for right-handed pitchers Justin Masterson and Bryan Price and left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Martinez, 30, will wear No. 41. He is batting .284 with 15 home runs in 99 games with Cleveland in 2009 and is tied for ninth in the American League with 67 RBI. He has reached base safely in 81 of 99 games this season and ranks 16th in the league with 51 walks. He is fourth among A.L. switch hitters with a .368 on-base percentage and combined to bat .350 in the months of April and May, fourth in the league during that time.

He was named an All-Star for the third time in his career this season and has appeared in 52 games (51 starts) as a catcher and 47 games (44 starts) at first base. He has not made an error in 299 total chances behind the plate and leads all qualifying Major League catchers with a 1.000 fielding percentage. Martinez has a .992 fielding percentage at first base. He has thrown out 21.4 percent (122-for-569) of attempted base stealers in his career and ranks seventh in the A.L. with a 4.24 catcher ERA since 2005.

Originally signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent in 1996, he has a career Major League average of .297 with 103 home runs and 518 RBI in 821 games with Cleveland from 2002-09. He leads the Majors with 153 doubles and 406 RBI as a catcher since the start of the 2004 campaign and ranks among that group in batting average (3rd, .296), on-base percentage (4th, .369), slugging (4th, .466) homers (T-4th, 82), runs (5th, 324) and walks (5th, 269).

The 2004 Silver Slugger Award winner is a career .303 hitter off right-handers with a .284 clip against lefties. He went 14-for-44 (.318) with two home runs and seven RBI in his only playoff experience for Cleveland in 2007.

Masterson, 24, was 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 31 games (six starts) this season. Boston’€™s fifth pick (71st overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft made his Major League debut last season and owns a 9-8 career record and 3.76 ERA in 67 games (15 starts). He set a club rookie record with nine post-season appearances in 2008, going 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA.

Hagadone, 23, was taken by the Red Sox with their first pick (55th overall) in the 2007 draft. He was 0-2 with a 2.52 ERA, 32 strikeouts and 14 walks in 10 starts for Single-A Greenville this year. The University of Washington product owns a 1-4 record and 1.82 ERA in 23 career minor league starts in Boston’€™s system.

Price, 22, combined to go 4-8 with a 4.67 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 31 walks in 19 starts with Single-A Greenville and Advanced Single-A Salem. Boston’€™s second selection (45th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft made his professional debut last season and is 5-11 with a 4.42 ERA in 31 career minor league games (28 starts).

Report: Halladay stays put

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Joel Sherman says Roy Halladay was not traded before today’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Rumor Mill: Peavy to White Sox, take two

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Jon Heyman tweets the White Sox have traded for Jake Peavy for the second time this season. He vetoed a deal in May but has approved today’s move, according to Corey Brock. Peavy is on the DL with a torn ankle tendon.

UPDATE: It appears Clayton Richard, Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter and Adam Russell are going to San Diego in the deal.

Rumor Mill: Nick Johnson headed to Marlins

Friday, July 31st, 2009

According to FoxSports.com, the Florida Marlins have acquired Nick Johnson from NL East rival Washington. The Marlins recieve AA pitcher Aaron Thompson.

Johnson was a name that the Red Sox were rumored to be after. The first baseman was hitting .295 with 6 home runs and 44 RBI.

UPDATED: Rolen to the Reds

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Jon Heyman tweets that Scott Rolen has waived his no-trade clause for a deal that will send him to the Reds. Fox Sports says the Blue Jays will get Edwin Encarnacion and another player in what is a swap of third basemen.

Rumor Mill: Dodgers working on blockbuster for Gonzalez

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Ken Rosenthal has the Dodgers offering James Loney and a package of prospects to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. Stay tuned for updates.