Archive for October, 2009

Sox Farm Director Hazen Interviews With Padres

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

WEEI.com has confirmed that Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen interviewed with the San Diego Padres for the position of Assistant General Manager. News of the interview was first reported by the ‘Inside the Padres’ blog.

Former assistant general manager Jed Hoyer, who worked with Hazen after he came to the Red Sox from the Indians and assumed the job of director of player development in 2006, was named San Diego’s GM Monday. The Padres fired vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson earlier this week.

Hazen, a native of Abington, Mass., spent two years playing in the Padres minor-league system.

Ken Rosenthal on D&H 10/29

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal made a guest appearance on the D&H Show on Thursday afternoon to talk about Game 1 of the World Series, a 6-1 Phillies win over the Yankees, and his prediction for how Pedro Martinez will fare in tonight’s Game 2 match-up.

Click here to listen to the full audio and read below for some highlights.

That was quite a performance by Cliff Lee last night, wasn’t it?

That was one of the great performances that I’ve ever seen in person and how he carved up the Yankees, how they had no chance, how he came to be — as [Fox broadcasters] Tim McCarver and Joe Buck said — performing as if he was getting his work in for Spring Training. The whole package was just frankly unreal.

How did you see the series playing out before Game 1? What your take? What was your prediction?

I picked the Yankees in 6. And, obviously, now you look at it and if they lose tonight they are in trouble. I have a hard time believing that Pedro is going to hold them down the way that Lee held them down. And I will say this, that the difference tonight is Charlie Manuel can go to the bullpen whenever he wants to. If Pedro is stinking it up — and I’m not saying he will — but if that scenario takes place, you got J. A. Happ, you got Joe Blanton, you have a group of relievers who haven’t pitched in eight days. So, they can practically turn this into a bullpen game and I will not be surprised if they do if they need to.

I don’t agree with Manuel pitching Pedro in Game 2…having said that, the drama for tonight is off the charts.

Well, I don’t think Manuel is thinking about that but I’m with you. I can’t recall the last time exactly when I was this excited to go to the ballpark. And it’s not just because of Pedro, although he is a huge part of that, it is because the Yankees lost Game 1 and they’re in a situation tonight where they definitely need to win and the Phillies are not like the Angels, they’re not like the Twins, they’re not like any other team really. They can stand up to the Yankees and it’s going to be really great theater tonight and very interesting to watch.

What’s your take on [Pedro] saying he’s the most influential player to perform in Yankee Stadium?

I think what he meant, and I don’t want to put any words in his mouth, is that he influenced the most emotion. Certainly he has influenced quite a bit of emotion. I don’t know that even Pedro would say he is a more influential person than Babe Ruth or any of the other Yankee greats. But, that press conference yesterday was absolutely fascinating. I know people in Boston are well aware of this; Pedro is not just one if the greatest pitchers in history, but one of the most intelligent players I’ve come across, one of the most well-spoken, and that thing yesterday was just a tour de force. And he had some points he wanted to make, and he got them out there about the New York media, about the confrontation with [Don] Zimmer. There are very, very, very few players I can count on one hand who can have that kind of press conference and speak so eloquently on a number of issues whether you agree with him or not.

Where would you put him [on the all-time great pitchers]?

He’s right there at the top. And we’re talking right now about Pedro in his prime in this discussion that we are having. In that aspect, yeah, I don’t know anybody better. Certainly [Roger] Clemens had his moments, Randy Johnson had his moments, there are a whole host of pitchers, [John] Smoltz. You can go right down the line. Roy Halladay for that matter. In terms of electricity, sheer stuff, and the ability to win, he dominated.  Pedro was the guy. I remember one year, I can’t recall which season it was exactly, it might have been 1999, but it was an MVP-type year. I remember writing a column, “Hey, he should be the MVP,” because not only does he impact the one game he pitches, but he impacts the other four because he saves the bullpen and he has this mystique about him. He was and to some degree he still is a transcendent figure. People have their opinions about him and that’s fine. He’s certainly angered people over the years, but he was absolutely brilliant in his prime. There aren’t many pitchers who I would get as excited about seeing.

I have more questions about the other starting pitcher tonight. A.J. Burnett has more to prove than Pedro does.

That’s fair and even if the atmosphere will be charged tonight, and it will be charged, he is going to be that much more tested because he is an emotional guy, he does get pumped up and carried away at times and he really actually has pitched very well in the postseason. You could even make the case in the last start he should have been out of the game before he was. Yeah, I see what you are saying, but my question is how is Pedro’s stuff going to match-up against the Yankees? Not only an American League line-up, but the DH, the highest scoring team in the majors, a team that generally abuses guys with that kind of stuff.  He has to know how, if his breaking ball is good, that will be an advantage. The other thing that we don’t know is how tight are the Yankees going to be? If they are tight and if they are stretching a little bit at the plate, then it plays right into Pedro’s hands.

Are the Phillies built like an American League team?

They’re not quite that, but they’re pretty darn good. [Pedro] Feliz and [Carlos] Ruiz are not great offensive players at their position. Ruiz, the catcher, has certainly had a good postseason, done a lot of really good things, a lot of big hits. When [Jimmy] Rollins and [Shane] Victorino are going, and they haven’t always been going this season — especially Rollins, they’re very dynamic. One of the huge differences already in this series is Rollins and Victorino vs. [Chone] Figgins and whoever batted second for the Angels in that series, mostly [Bobby] Abreu. That was a huge thing that the Yankees shut down the Angels’ 1-2 guys and they didn’t do that last night.

Is Charlie Manuel an old school guy?

That is totally accurate. What is inaccurate is the perception of him because of the way he speaks, because he is from North Carolina not West Virginia, is that he is dumb. Anyone who knows him or been around him for any length of time knows he isn’t dumb. He might not speak as polished as some people and whatever, but it bothers me when he went to Philadelphia for the first time [after] they hired him and the people of Philadelphia were all over [him] because of his accent. As if that city or any city for that matter was full of Nobel Prize winners walking the streets. Hey, he is a regular guy who has overcome a lot physically, being in Japan, all kinds of things happened to this guy and the proof is on that field every day. Look at that team, look how they played for him. And, yeah, they’re talented, no question about it, but there are other talented teams that don’t play as well as the Phillies do.

What are the offensive problems going on right now with guys like Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher? What’s going on with them?

I’m not sure with Teixeira. Swisher in the previous series was rushing a bit and just not himself. Teixeira actually in the final two games had kind of come around a little bit. Remember, he had the big bases-clearing triple and a couple of hits in the Game 6 as well. I’m not convinced his problems last night was totally Cliff Lee. Last night, Cliff Lee held Teixeira and A-Rod 0-for-8 with 5 K’s. That’s impressive and I want to see more tonight before I make any judgments.

Any predictions tonight for Pedro?

I think more like 4 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs. I love Pedro and I was warned last night by a member of the Phillies offense not to bet against this guy and we all know why. He’s brilliant out there and has got the heart of a lion, but I just think the Yankees are going to get him.

Were you buying [Manuel's] explanation for pitching Pedro tonight in Yankee Stadium.

Very simple. Pedro is pitching better than Cole Hamels, so you want Pedro on the mound instead of Cole Hamels. Also, and it hasn’t been talked about that much, Cole Hamels has been very inconsistent all season, you know that. He has been better at home: 3.75 at home ERA, 4.99 on the road. That means something to me and the idea of splitting the left-handers, there is some merit in that because you don’t give the switch-hitters a chance to get comfortable. They’re going left, right, left obviously pacing left, right, left. At the same time, if Pedro goes  2 2/3 tonight, we are going to see J. Happ and it’s going to switch all the switch-hitters around anyway. So, I understood it, it’s a bit of a questionable move , but Cole Hamels has really been an iffy guy all season long, especially in the postseason.

Who wins the managing match-up in you eyes, Manuel or Girardi?

I don’t know. They’re both guys that will leave themselves open for a lot of second guessing and this series will probably end up a second-guesser’s delight. They’re opposites. Charlie goes by his instincts, Joe Girardi goes by information from scouts, from numbers, and yet they still do things that make people scratch their heads and that’s the beauty of baseball.

What did you think of Girardi’s moves out of the bullpen last night?

Well, he has a problem. His problem is that he has so many young relievers that he can’t really put much trust in any of them. None of them are performing that well. So, I didn’t mind [Phil] Hughes starting off the inning. In fact, I said in the broadcast that Hughes is more comfortable in the wind-up or at least didn’t rush that much. I thought maybe that would help him, but obviously that didn’t make a difference. The [Damaso] Marte move was the right move, I didn’t mind David Robertson coming in. You could have had [Phil] Coke pitch to [Raul] Ibanez. It was one of those games where they weren’t beating Cliff Lee no matter what and the disturbing thing is that his relievers are simply not performing.

Red Sox Retain Rights to Indy Leaguer Rodriguez

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

According to a major-league source, the MLB Commissioner’s Office has ruled that the Red Sox still possess the rights to Reynaldo Rodriguez, a first baseman whom they acquired from the Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden Baseball League earlier this month.

There had been some confusion as to whether Rodriguez remained Red Sox property after a report that the Royals had acquired him. The Royals had indeed filed a transaction stating that they had reached an agreement with the 22-year-old, who is currently playing in the Colombian Winter League, though it had not been approved by MLB.

After reviewing the case, however, the Commissioner’s Office found that the Sox had gone through the proper channels in purchasing Rodriguez’ rights from the Golden Baseball League. Because the GBL had already picked up the 2010 option on Rodriguez’ deal after he hit .335/.380/.486 for the Scorpions, a team could only acquire his rights by purchasing his contract from the League, as the Sox did. Moreover, the player informed the club that he had not come to an agreement with the Royals.

The Sox will follow Rodriguez this winter in Colombia, and then let him compete for a spot on one of their minor-league affiliates in spring training. For a scouting report on the former Yankees minor leaguer, click here.

Jason Bay Chat Wrap

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Jason Bay stopped by the Virtual Press Box to take questions as part of WEEI.com’s weekly baseball chat series. The transcript of the chat — in which Bay discussed life playing for the Red Sox and in Fenway Park, his career path, teammates such as Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jonathan Papelbon, and some aspects of his impending free agency — is below:

How is it playing in left field with the Green Monster?

Jason Bay: Playing left field in Boston is great for a few reasons. The history of the wall and all the players who have played there in past years make it really special. I think that the monster is a little intimidating at first, but after getting used to it, I really like the nooks and crannies and the effect that it has on the other team and players who aren’t used to it.

Hey Jason…did you find that Fenway helped your offensive production in comparison to playing in a park like PNC?

Jason Bay: It’s definitely a whole different comparison when you’re talking about PNC Park and Fenway. The monster is very close and left center field in Pittsburgh was roughly 400 feet, so I would say that the Green Monster didn’t hurt my offensive numbers. That being said, I think more than the ballpark dimensions, the team I had around me in the lineup probably had a greater effect. When you have a former MVP, a guy who steals 70 bases and numerous high on-base percentage guys hitting in front of you, it makes it easier.

Jason if you could attribute one reason to the unfortunate early playoff exit for the Sox what would that be?

Jason Bay: I can’t give you one reason. It was a combination. It was no secret we didn’t hit very well. Now do you attribute that to good pitching or poor hitting? I say it was a combination of the two.

Hey Jason, what’s the most important factor for choosing which team you will sign with?

Jason Bay: There isn’t one important factor. The funny thing is that everybody has an opinion of what I’m waiting or or what I’m doing and I don’t even have an opinion, and that’s the truth

Phillies or Yankees and why?

Jason Bay: It’s funny, after playing baseball all year I don’t really pull for one team or another. I just enjoy watching it.

What is it like playing for Tito, and of all the teammates and coaches you have played with, who in particular has really helped you elevate your ability?

Jason Bay: Really, really enjoyed the atmosphere that he created. Boston is one of those places there is a lot of media and he does a very good job of not letting that affect his decision and let everybody does their job. I really enjoyed Brad Mills also, and wish him the best. He has great people skills like Tito, and like it or not that’s what a manager needs.

Who do you think will win the Stanley Cup?

Jason Bay: The Vancouver Canucks for the hometown call

How do the Pittsburgh fans compare to Boston fans

Jason Bay: Pittsburgh and Boston are very similar in their passion for sports. Obviously the Red Sox have had more success lately than the Pirates, but if you ever had a chance to go to a Steelers or Penguins game you would understand the two cities have a lot similarities

Hey Jason, I was just wondering what your favorite moment as a Red Sox has been so far?

Jason Bay: Scoring the winning run in the clinching game of the ALDS against Anaheim on Jed’s base hit

How many HRs do you think the Monster took away from you this year?

Jason Bay: I would say a couple but at the same time I probably got more than a few doubles that would have been fly outs anyplace else, so I can’t complain

The right field fence at the New Yankee Stadium is really only 270 feet from home, right? I mean even Pedroia knocked one over that thing.

Jason Bay: I don’t think it matters how far the fence is. I think it’s the same thing as Fenway. Both teams have the same amount of opportunities. It’s kind of like the weather. It’s really a wash. As for Pedroia, it seems like once a week he’s claiming that if a certain pitcher gets him out one more time he’s going to quit

Jason, ever gotten tips from Jim Rice on patrolling LF in Fenway?

Jason Bay: Jim is always in the clubhouse and around the guys and has numerous times offered bits of info. He always makes sure to mention the history of the guys that played there before me … hah, hah

Are you spending the offseason with a heavy training regimen…or relaxing at home and enjoying the offseason?

Jason Bay: As of right now relaxing but this Monday the offseason program begins again. I go to an athletic training institute and do a lot of running, jumping, stretching … not your conventional bench press and biceps curls.

All things equal, would you rather play on the west coast? We always hear you are a “west coast guy.” How much will that play into your decision this offseason?

Jason Bay: The window for my career doesn’t last forever so limiting myself to one geographical spot really has no bearing on my decision

There was a recent article about Youkilis, that he has a negative relationship in the clubhouse. How do you feel about him as a teammate?

Jason Bay: I definitely don’t feel the same way. Youk is obviously a great baseball player and a great teammate, on the field and off. I think his intensity sometimes gives people a skewed reality of the type of person he is, but I would take him on my team every single time

When would you like to get a contract signed seeing we’re on the topic?

Jason Bay: Ideally, I would like to know where I would like to be sooner rather than later, but understand there is a process to this as well

Hi Jason, Congrats on the new citizenship. Is sister Lauren still pitching the softball?

Jason Bay: Thanks for the pat on the back for the new citizenship. But for all you Canadians who religiously go to WEEI.com, I am still a Canadian citizen. My sister is happily retired, married and enjoying motherhood

Jason, where do you stand on the “existence” of clutch hitters? Most stat-geeks (like me) will scream from the mountaintops that they don’t exist. I think they do in that some hitters are able to mentally adjust better than others to the pressure situation at hand (most of the time). What are your thoughts?

Jason Bay: I definitely think that certain guys have the ability to rise up in certain occasions, but it’s very hard to quantify that with a statistic. I think you understand and get a better feel for that just by watching certain players perform. Obviously you aren’t going to get a hit or strike somebody out in every big situation. But if a guy is statistically superior in the statistical “clutch situations,” is he more “clutch” than a guy who doesn’t do much all regular season and wins a handful of playoff games?

Jason, When John Kruk said you have “dank” hands at the plate, was he giving you a compliment or was her being coy?

Jason Bay: Your guess is as good as mine

Were you shocked and disappointed that Papelbon did not win the Nobel Prize (again!)? I know I’m still dealing with the let down…

Jason Bay: Say what you want about Pap, you always know where you stand with him and there is no gray area. Sometimes people don’t like to hear it but he’s not hiding anything and you have to respect that

Given your background — 22nd round pick, traded a bunch in the minors, etc. — could you have ever imagined being in this free-agent position? Do you think back at all about that career path?

Jason Bay: Obviously I didn’t take the most direct path to the big leagues but I think it has an effect on the type of player and person that I am today. It has always helped me keep things in perspective and therefore this whole free agent position I’m in, I’m trying to treat like any other year and whatever happens, happens.

Seattle and SF have massive left fields to play. Just sayin’.

Jason Bay: I played in Pittsburgh for five years

Jason Bay: This was the first time I’ve done an online chat and I really enjoyed the questions and the genuine interest from everybody. We’ll see many of you next year????

Chapman comes to Boston

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman is in Boston to meet with the Red Sox. The 21-year-old lefty pitcher is being courted by numerous major league teams after defecting during a tournament in the Netherlands in July.

Chapman, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph, is considered to be one of the top pitchers in the world who is not currently pitching in the Major Leagues. Chapman has already met with the Yankees and the Mets, and figure to be scheduling meetings with the Cardinals and Mariners (among others) shortly. While Chapman’s upside is considered greater than one of his countrymen, Jose Contreras, who defected in 2002 before signing with the Yankees, the southpaw isn’t considered as major-league ready as Contreras.

Francona on D&H, 10/28

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale & Holley show yesterday and talked about losing bench coach and longtime friend Brad Mills to the Astros. He also touched on the World Series and the Phillies‘ keys to keeping the Yankees in check.

The transcript follows. To hear the interview, check out the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

What are you going to do without your best friend. He is your best friend, isn’t he?

He’s one of my best friends I’ve ever had in the whole world. I’ve known him since 1977 ‘€” that’s  college, professional, we’ve been through a lot together. And there’s a reason we stayed that close. You go through this game and if you don’t think alike on a lot of things, you’re friendship ends up taking a pounding for it. We’ve endured a lot of things together. He’s one of my true special friends in the whole world.

I think sometimes fans don’t understand what bench coach means. They know what a pitching coach is, they know what a hitting coach is. And I don’t think fans have a real grasp of how important Brad Mills was to what you guys were doing there.

Yeah, and every organization is probably a little bit different. nd again now that Millsy is gone, maybe the bench coach here may have a little bit different assignments or responsibilities. The one thing with Millsy is we knew each other so well that I knew if I left the room or I got called away to do something, especially in spring training, whatever was supposed to get done got done. Millsy had a lot of responsibility here, and he earned that. And it was great. It was good for him, it was tremendous for me. But again, you can’t just have that happen overnight.

(more…)

Chat With Red Sox Outfielder Jason Bay

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay will drop by the Virtual Press Box on Thursday, Oct. 29, at noon to take questions in the third installment of WEEI.com’€™s Thursday baseball chat series.

In 2009 — his first full season as a member of the Red Sox after coming to Boston at the 2008 trade deadline — Bay hit .267 with a .384 on-base percentage and .567 slugging mark, finishing third in the American League with 36 homers, second with 119 RBIs, and led all A.L. outfielders with a .921 OPS. His performance earned Bay his third career All-Star nod.

Bay was acquired by the Red Sox from the Pirates in 2008 in the three-way trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. He is one of eight players to hit at least 30 homers, drive in at least 100 runs and score at least 100 runs in a season in which he was traded. The 2004 National League Rookie of the Year has been one of the most consistent power hitters in the game since breaking into the majors. He ranks 15th in baseball with 181 homers since the 2004 season, and is one of 12 players in the majors with at least 20 homers in each of the last six years.

PREVIOUS CHATS

Oct. 22 — Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan

Oct. 15 — Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod

Chat with Red Sox Outfielder Jason Bay