Archive for October, 2010

Casey Kelly’s Arizona Fall League season concludes

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The line score was fine. In his final start of the Arizona Fall League season, Red Sox top prospect Casey Kelly allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in five innings. He gave up one homer, walked one and struck out three.

But while that line might not exactly turn heads, Kelly finished the season flashing the sort of stuff that convinced the Sox that he had a very strong developmental year. His fastball topped out at 94 mph, and he showed a swing-and-miss curve and changeup. (Of Kelly’s 78 pitches, he elicited eight swings and misses, with five on curveballs and three on changeups.) As has been the case throughout this year, his mistakes were on fastballs up and over the plate, and against advanced hitters, that proved costly. All the same, it was a solid performance, giving Kelly three solid to strong outings (of his four starts) in Arizona.

Kelly’s AFL season is now over, and with it, so, too, is a 2010 campaign that was his first as a full-time pitcher. Between Double-A Portland and his time with the Peoria Javelinas of the AFL, Kelly logged 111 innings, going 4-5 with a 5.51 ERA, 92 strikeouts (7.5 per nine innings) and 39 walks (3.2 per nine innings).

While his 6.75 ERA in 16 innings in the AFL is gaudy, that was largely the byproduct of one terrible start (a two-inning, eight-run stinker) among his four outings. Otherwise, Kelly showed good stuff in Arizona and, perhaps more importantly, he was aggressive throwing strikes, walking just four in his 16 innings and allowing a pair of homers. (Both solid totals, considering the hitter-friendly environment of the AFL.) Considering that he was the second youngest pitcher in the fall league for top prospects (Kelly turned 21 on Oct. 4), he carried himself well, and he accomplished what he went to Arizona to do, tacking on 15-20 innings to his season to build his workload.

Now, with 2010 behind him, and the experience of a full season as a professional pitcher on his resume, Kelly is set up for a significant 2011 season. The Sox, with good reason, emphasized the fact that his stuff was better than his results in 2010.

Given that Kelly was dealing with youth (he was among the youngest pitchers in both the AFL and Double-A) and inexperience (he had 95 pro innings as a pitcher prior to this year), and that he was adjusting to physical development that took him from being a command pitcher to more of a power pitcher, it seems far to conclude that the numbers did not tell the whole story of his 2010 season.

But in 2011, with several of those adjustments having occurred, performance will likely be used as a meaningful barometer of his prospect status. If the physical gains of 2010 can translate into results, then his top-prospect status will be cemented further. If not, then there will be questions about whether he has been overhyped.

But, for now, such questions seem premature. This season was one of challenges, adversity and — the Sox believe — progress and development for a pitcher whose talent and makeup were both prominently on display throughout the year. For now, the numbers mean less in 2010 than the development that occurred for a young pitcher whose future, the Sox believe, remains extremely bright.

Ex-Red Sox Javier Lopez reflects on his journey from castoff to centerpiece

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Javier Lopez, in his second stint with the Red Sox, served as an at-times vital cog in the team. He spent parts of four years with the Sox, from 2006-09, and in 172 appearances with the club, he had a 3.30 ERA.

But the end was rough. In 2009, he appeared in 14 games for the Sox, and allowed 20 hits and 12 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. His 9.26 ERA — and the ascent of Daniel Bard in the minors — resulted in the left-hander being designated for assignment to clear a spot on the big league roster for Bard in early May.

“I really don’t think I threw the ball all that bad,” Lopez told Alden Gonzalez in a terrific feature on the left-hander on MLB.com. “But when I decided to get hit around pretty bad, I made sure I did a good job of it. I made sure I got hit around.”

He did a good enough job of it that the Sox could not be faulted for releasing him at the end of last season. But, much to his surprise, one year later Lopez has emerged as an enormous contributor for the Giants, who now lead the World Series, 2-0.

After San Francisco acquired him from the Pirates at the trade deadline, the 33-year-old had a 1.42 ERA in the regular season. In the postseason, he has delivered many crucial outs for the Giants, permitting just one hit, one walk and one run in 5 2/3 innings (1.59 ERA) while striking out six. He has been called upon to neutralize the best left-handed hitters of playoff opponents — Jason Heyward of the Braves, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard of the Phillies, Josh Hamilton of the Rangers — and he has succeeded.

“If you told me in May or June that I’d be here, in this spot, I’d tell you you’re lying to my face,” Lopez said in the MLB.com story. “It’s a dream. These are the spots that you try to play all your life for.”

October thoughts: The World Series and the Red Sox offseason

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Just a few thoughts while watching the World Series:

Beckett, not Lackey, might be the one who cost the Red Sox a shot at Cliff Lee

The Red Sox signed John Lackey last December 14th. The Philadelphia Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners on December 17th. Before Lee was traded, it was believed that the Phillies would do anything they could to try to re-sign the lefty. Once he was traded to the Mariners, you had to believe that it was a one-year rental.

I don’t blame the Sox for not holding out for Lee by not signing Lackey, but you could question extending Beckett knowing that Lee would be on the market at the trade deadline or during the offseason. I really thought that the Sox would hold out and wait and see how Beckett did throughout the season, and more importantly late in the season, seeing that he had struggled down the stretch in the two previous years. Don’t get me wrong, once they signed him to the four-year deal, I may have been surprised they didn’t wait, but I still thought it was a good deal at the time. But, did it cost them a shot at Lee? I think it did.

You need more than an ace come playoff time

If you look back at the American League Championship Series, there were two clear cut aces in CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. After that, there were a lot of question marks.

Lee wasn’t available at the start of the ALCS, after pitching Game 5 against the Rays in the ALDS. So, to me, the big game to me in that series was Game 2. The Yanks used their playoff experience to come back and take advantage of a “fragile” Texas bullpen and take Game 1. It had me wondering if the Rangers could come back from that disappointing loss. It was left up to the Game 2 starters Phil Hughes and Colby Lewis. Lewis gave the Rangers exactly what they needed, keeping the Yankees bats in check early in that game. The same could not be said about Hughes, as the Rangers jumped all over him early. The same three guys in the Ranger ‘pen that got beat up during game 1 — Clay Rapada, Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day — bounced back and shut the door on the Yanks. After that game, it was over.

Fast forward to the World Series. After the much-hyped (but disappointing) pitching duel between Lee and Tim Lincecum, it was left to the Game 2 starters. Did you have more confidence in C.J. Wilson or Matt Cain?

The moral of the story: If your “ace” happens to get beaten in Game 1, you have to have confidence in the next guy to even the series.

Don’t underestimate Ortiz — a DH doesn’t come that easy

I expect that David Ortiz will have his option picked up. If you ask me, that option should be ripped up and replaced by a two-year deal this winter. I’m hearing a lot that the DH has been devalued these days. That’s because there just aren’t that many hitters in the game who can do what David Ortiz can do. Do you really think that the Tampa Rays are happy platooning Willy Aybar and Dan Johnson? No, they do because they don’t have a “David Ortiz” to plug in there everyday. (Tampa Bay tried to get a real DH with Pat Burrell. That was a failure. Burrell never produced for the Rays, who released him this summer.)

Ortiz’ struggles against left-handed pitchers are well documented. His numbers aren’t what they used to be. But at the end of the day, when the season is over, the numbers are there. Over the last two years, he has hit 60 home runs and has driven in over 200 runs. Good luck finding someone who can do that through free agency.

Bullpens are a must

I’ve always felt that World Series are won and lost because of bullpens. Obviously your starter needs to set the tone, but as we’ve seen in this World Series and ones of the past, even “good” starts may only last six innings. After that, the pressure is on. If you don’t have a guy that can get you out of a jam in the sixth and then have another two or three guys to hand it off to your closer, you are in big trouble. Which brings me to the closer. You often hear that pitching the ninth is a “different animal.” It is, but pitching the ninth in the playoffs or the World Series is a completely different level. The game has to be over if you have the lead in the ninth.

Defense…Defense…Defense

During the course of a season we see a lot of plays that, if they were made, would be considered great plays. If they are not made, more often than not they go down as a hit. In the postseason, those plays NEED to be made. The games are so intense that every mistake gets magnified. When you play the best teams in the game, you cannot give them outs by kicking the ball all over the field. Ask Brooks Conrad. If the poor guy didn’t have a meltdown in the field during the NLDS, the Giants may not be in the World Series.

Curt Young should be the next Red Sox pitching coach

Curt Young should replace John Farrell. Young was a minor league pitching coach with the A’s when Terry Francona was the big league bench coach. The Oakland A’s struggled to score runs but pitching was not their problem. Their staff had the lowest ERA in the American League. Curt Young is more than qualified and a great guy to boot.

Where did this come from with Javy Lopez?

Javy Lopez….really? Lefties hit .162 off of the former Red Sox lefty in 2010. That would have been nice to have, huh? Unfortunately for Javy, he got off to such a poor start with the Sox in 2009 that he just couldn’t recover. He is a left-handed specialist, not a mop-up guy. If you look back in April of ’09, Javy was brought in for some tough situations for someone who is asked to just get lefties out. Too often he was brought in to give the Sox innings in a blowout. Because of that, Lopez often found himself facing all right-handed hitters. That is not putting him a good position to succeed. He lost his confidence to get guys out, but as we are seeing in the postseason, he is still more than capable of getting the job done.

The Sox shouldn’t let the marketing department dictate their offseason

There is a feeling out there that the Sox need to make a splash this offseason in an attempt to create interest in their product. I don’t agree with that. If the marketing and sales department get involved in the team-building aspect of this organization, I will be shocked. The front office should not be concerned how their team is perceived by its fans. They should be concerned with doing what’s best for the organization and bringing a championship back to Boston.

All of last offseason, I listened to fans calling this station to voice their opinions of how bad this team was going to be, saying that because they let Jason Bay go, they weren’t going to score enough runs to compete. Theo Epstein and company knew that the team they put together would be just fine. I know they only won 89 games, but when they were healthy, scoring runs was not the problem. They were leading the major leagues in runs scored before they got hit with injuries.

As far as interest goes, those days are over. From 2004 to 2007, there were two seasons in this town, football and baseball. The other two big teams weren’t close to being championship caliber. Those were the glory days for both teams.

Why did ratings drop this year? It’s simple: The Celtics and Bruins were going deep in the playoffs and nobody really cared about the Sox for the first few months of the season. By the time the attention had switched over to Yawkey Way, the Sox started to lose piece after piece due to injury. Fans looked at this team and didn’t believe that they were capable of winning a World Series. That was the reality. No matter what they did at the trade deadline, the Sox could not win it all without Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury. Say what you want, but Kerry Wood was not bringing a championship to Boston.

Tim Wakefield on D&H: Winning Clemente Award ‘the ultimate high’

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Fresh off of winning the Roberto Clemente award for his extraordinary contributions both on the field and in the community, Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield was still on cloud nine when he visited the Dale & Holley show on Friday.

When asked how he was doing, Wakefield replied, “Awesome. It was the ultimate high, I guess. What an experience. What an honor. It was truly incredible, not only to win the award but to be able to stand on the field and accept it in front of the biggest crowd, on Fox television, and to accept the award humbly.”

Following is a transcript of the rest of the interview, where Wakefield discusses the role of service in his  life, his outlook for next season, where he thinks the team may have been without any injuries, and more. To listen to the interview, click here.

You started with the Pirates and understand the significance of the Clemente Award.

I do. Coming up through the Pirates organization, you knew what his legacy stood for. It wasn’t anything that was really harped upon, but you understood it. You understood the ultimate sacrifice that he made when he lost his life going to help out the earthquake victims in Nicaragua. You knew what it was about. I felt like I got involved early in Pittsburgh with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I felt like I needed to carry that torch when I got into Boston. I feel like I’€™ve done that.

When did you recognize the responsibility of pro athletes to make an impact in the community? Was it in Pittsburgh or before that?

It was long before that. I think that was the way my parents raised me is to put other people first and treat other people with respect and try to help out as much as possible. I’€™ve always believed that there are other people out there that are less fortunate than you are, and they need our help.

I got involved with charity work when I was in the minor leagues with my charities back in *Melbourne*, and it’€™s just been going strong ever since. I’€™m very, very proud of this award and what it stands for and what it means. I feel very fortunate not only to be one of the 30 nominees, but to actually win the award is something very special. This is the award that deals with character. It has nothing to do with statistics in baseball or anything to do on the field. It’s an award based on character and I think that means the  most to me.

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Peter Gammons on The Big Show: Don’t expect Victor Martinez back

Friday, October 29th, 2010

MLB and NESN analyst Peter Gammons stopped by The Big Show on Thursday afternoon, and he expects the Red Sox to make some sort of free agent splash to reinvigorate a sagging fan base.

“There is a distinct game plan in that there are so many things they don’t know. I think they’re prepared to go in about 10 different directions,” said Gammons, before highlighting one such route. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are going to go really hard after Carl Crawford. That will be a matchup with the Angels, and you know there are some puffs of smoke coming out of New York that suggest the Yankees might go after him, even though their primary need is pitching.”

Although he expects the team to bring in a new face, Gammons also believes it could come at the cost of familiar ones. “I don’t expect Victor Martinez to come back, I think Detroit is going to give him four or five years. And I don’t think anybody else is going to give him four or five years to be a catcher.

“I’m not so sure Beltre will be back,” Gammons continued. “I can’t gauge that market. But I do think they will go very hard after Crawford, I really believe that. And I think they will go hard after some relief pitchers.”

Following is a transcript of the rest of the interview, where Gammons discusses the World Series, Barry Bonds, Cliff Lee‘s destination next season, former Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez, and more. To listen to the full interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

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Wakefield calls Clemente Award greatest honor of his career

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Tim Wakefield came up in the Pirates organization, and so he understands what Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente stands for. The Pirates great not only was one of the best players of his baseball generation, a man who won an MVP Award, collected exactly 3,000 hits and was named a 12-time Gold Glove winner and All-Star.

He was — more strikingly to Wakefield — also a great humanitarian, a notion embodied by the fact that, after the 1972 season, he died in a plane crash while trying to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake.

“You knew not only his on-the-field contributions as a Pittsburgh Pirate, but you knew about his off-the-field contributions, as well,” Wakefield told reporters in San Francisco, prior to Game 2 of the World Series, on Thursday. “You knew who Roberto Clemente was and what he meant, the ultimate sacrifice that he paid for everything that he did off the field. Not only was he a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but for what he did off the field, really epitomizes what I think athletes and people should be like, because I’ve said this story 100 — you’ve probably heard me say it 1,000 times, it doesn’t really matter what you do on the field, what matters most is making a difference in somebody else’s life, and Roberto was a class act when it came to that.”

And so, for Wakefield, the honor of being named the 2010 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award was tremendous. The award recognized Wakefield’s long history of community service. Major League Baseball cited his “Wakefield Warriors” program, in which he brings children from the Franciscan Hospital to Fenway Park every Tuesday, his involvement to “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit that provides grants across New England, and the Space Coast Early Intervention Center (SCEIC) in his hometown of Melbourne, Fla., a therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs, as activities that led to his recognition after being nominated for the award numerous times.

Wakefield has a pair of World Series rings. He has been named (in 2009) to an All-Star team. He has nearly 200 career victories, and ranks third in Red Sox team history in wins (179) and tops the franchise leaderboard in several other categories.

Yet amidst all the accolades and accomplishments in his career, Wakefield made no secret of how he regarded the Clemente Award given his belief that a player’s off-field conduct is even more important than what he does on the diamond.

“This is the ultimate. This is the highest [honor],” said Wakefield. “I said earlier to some other people, this has nothing to do with baseball. I mean, it has nothing to do with your statistics or anything, it has to do with your character. You guys know me in Boston, I take a lot of pride in my character. This award ultimately is the highest accomplishment I think you can attain or the highest compliment that you can get from somebody, and I’m very honored and humbled at the same time to accept this award.”

Tim Wakefield named Roberto Clemente Award winner

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Major League Baseball issued the following press release naming Red Sox pitching Tim Wakefield as its winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, recognizing a player who combines on-field excellence with extraordinary community endeavors:

Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox has been named the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet today at a press conference prior to Game Two of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Bestowed annually to the Major League Baseball player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field, the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet recognizes players who best represent the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their Clubs. The Award is named for the 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year’€™s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The Award pays tribute to Clemente’€™s achievements and character by recognizing talented current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

‘€œMajor League Baseball congratulates Tim Wakefield for being named the recipient of the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet,’€ said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. ‘€œWhile Tim has put together a wonderful career on the field, his efforts off the field have had a lasting impact on the lives of young people, particularly in New England and Melbourne, Florida. We are proud to honor him with this prestigious Award.’€

Since 2004, Wakefield has been actively involved with ‘€œPitching in for Kids,’€ a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across the New England region. It encourages children to participate in special events to learn important life skills and the spirit of initiative and giving within the community. He has co-hosted a number of fundraising events for the organization, which have helped raise close to $1 million.

Additionally, he supports the Space Coast Early Intervention Center (SCEIC) in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida. The Center is a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. He adopted the SCEIC in 1992 when it was struggling financially and faced closure. Since then, he has helped raise nearly $10 million for the Center through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction.

In 1998, Wakefield created the ‘€œWakefield Warriors’€ program, which enables patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston to visit with him and watch batting practice before all Tuesday home games at Fenway Park. Each year, Wakefield participates in the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which last year raised $4.5 million.

‘€œThis is a very special day for me and I am extremely honored to be named the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award,’€ said Wakefield. ‘€œRoberto’s legacy truly epitomizes how an athlete should act, not only on the field, but off as well. That’s what I’ve tried to emulate throughout my career. I feel very lucky to be living out my dream I had as a kid and I feel a responsibility to give back. I’d like to thank the Red Sox for their continued support in my off the field endeavors and the Pitching In For Kids Foundation for their help making a difference in the lives of children all over the New England area and beyond. I’d also like to thank MLB, Chevrolet and especially the Clemente family for this great honor that I humbly accept.’€

Wakefield was selected from a list of 30 nominees, one from each Major League Club, by a panel of dignitaries that included Commissioner Selig and Vera Clemente, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. Additionally, fans were able to log on to www.Chevy.com/clemente, which was powered by MLB.com and created specifically for the Roberto Clemente Award platform, and cast a vote for one of the 30 nominees. The winner of the fan vote was tallied as one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

‘€œI congratulate Tim Wakefield and welcome him to the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet family,’€ said Vera Clemente. ‘€œFor many years I have learned of his contributions in improving the lives of children across the New England region and his hometown Melbourne, Florida. Roberto would be very proud to have Tim on his team of great humanitarians making a positive impact in the life of
many youngsters.’€

Wakefield joins a distinguished list of national Roberto Clemente Award recipients, which includes 13 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame:
1971 Willie Mays* 1984 Ron Guidry 1997 Eric Davis
1972 Brooks Robinson* 1985 Don Baylor 1998 Sammy Sosa
1973 Al Kaline* 1986 Garry Maddox 1999 Tony Gwynn*
1974 Willie Stargell* 1987 Rick Sutcliffe 2000 Al Leiter
1975 Lou Brock* 1988 Dale Murphy 2001 Curt Schilling
1976 Pete Rose 1989 Gary Carter* 2002 Jim Thome
1977 Rod Carew* 1990 Dave Stewart 2003 Jamie Moyer
1978 Greg Luzinski 1991 Harold Reynolds 2004 Edgar Martinez
1979 Andre Thornton 1992 Cal Ripken, Jr.* 2005 John Smoltz
1980 Phil Niekro* 1993 Barry Larkin 2006 Carlos Delgado
1981 Steve Garvey 1994 Dave Winfield* 2007 Craig Biggio
1982 Ken Singleton 1995 Ozzie Smith* 2008 Albert Pujols
1983 Cecil Cooper 1996 Kirby Puckett* 2009 Derek Jeter
* Member of Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Wakefield has collected 193 wins over his 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1992-93) and Boston Red Sox (1995-Present). Wakefield, who was selected to his first career All-Star Game in 2009, is the longest tenured member of the Red Sox. The knuckle-baller’€™s consistency has helped him to become one of the best pitchers in Red Sox history, ranking third on the club’€™s all-time wins list (179) behind
Roger Clemens and Cy Young (192 each). On June 8, 2010, Wakefield, who now has 2,851.1 innings pitched in a Sox uniform, surpassed Clemens’€™ total of 2,776.0 innings pitched for the most in franchise history. In addition, his 93 wins at Fenway Park ranks second all-time to Clemens (100). In his first season with the Red Sox in 1995, Wakefield went 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA and finished third in the American
League
Cy Young voting. In 2004, Tim was a part of the Red Sox team that won its first World Championship in 86 years, and in 2007, Wakefield won a career-best 17 games while helping Boston to its second World Championship in four years. The 44-year-old right-hander was selected by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft out of Florida Institute of Technology. Wakefield has pitched in 18 postseason games, including 11 starts, over eight postseasons throughout his career.

For a full biography of Tim Wakefield’€™s charitable endeavors, visit the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet page www.Chevy.com/clemente, powered by MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball.

Dustin Pedroia on The Big Show: ‘I hope [Cliff Lee] is not in pinstripes’

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia called into The Big Show on Wednesday to announce that he will join the program each Wednesday during the offseason, starting on Nov. 10, in the offseason return of The Laser Show. In addition to the announcement, the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and ’08 Most Valuable Player discussed both the state of his left foot following the insertion of a pin in his foot in September and the postseason.

Pedroia, who grew up rooting for the Giants and would like to see San Francisco win, has taken note of the dominance of Rangers left-hander Cliff Lee. Based on personal experience and the glimpse of Lee during these playoffs, Pedroia would prefer that the free-agent-to-be sign somewhere other than with the Yankees this offseason.

“I don’t think about that,” Pedroia said. “We faced Cliff a lot, he’s pretty darn good. You saw what he did to the Yankees. He goes out there and pounds the zone with a 91, 92 MPH fastball and it looks like it’s about 100 MPH. He hides the ball real well. He throws it where he wants. He’s pretty special. I hope he’s not over there in pinstripes.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

You’ll be taking phone calls, but please tell the listeners not to spend all their time listing off your accomplishments.

I don’€™t need a confidence-booster people. I’€™ve got lots of confidence.

How are you doing?

I just got done doing my rehab. I’€™m still in the boot right now. It’€™s kind of a long way back. But I’€™m going to beat this thing. It’€™s a tough injury, but I can’€™t wait to get to spring training and get going. I know the season is still going this year, but I missed a lot of games. I’€™m excited.

On the World Series:

I think it’€™s going to be a great series. One of the best offenses in baseball and a great pitching staff.

Have you been watching Cliff Lee and wondering about whether he’ll be with the Yankees next year?

“I don’t think about that. We faced Cliff a lot, he’s pretty darn good. You saw what he did to the Yankees. He goes out there and pounds the zone with a 91, 92 MPH fastball and it looks like it’s about 100 MPH. He hides the ball real well. He throws it where he wants. He’s pretty special. I hope he’s not over there in pinstripes.

You grew up rooting for the Giants. Are you rooting for them now?

I want to see the Giants win. They were my team growing up. If we’€™re not winning, I’€™d like to see the Giants win one in San Francisco. That’€™d be great for them. … The Giants’€™ story is pretty cool. Cody Ross was put on waivers. I know him real well. For him to step up the way he has, just a lot of guys that not a lot of people have heard of, have stepped up and come through. It’€™s pretty cool to watch.

How are you feeling?

I’€™m feeling a lot better. I’€™ll be 100 percent when spring training comes. I’€™ll be ready to go. I’€™ve got a lot of energy and a lot of stuff built up from missing a lot of the year, so I expect good things.

What’s the timetable for your rehab?

It’€™s supposed to be 12 weeks from the surgery. I had the surgery Sept. 3. They said I should be around 100 percent 12 weeks after surgery. It’€™s going well right now. I should be out of the boot in about three weeks, so we’ll see how it goes.

Brett Favre seems like he will try to play in a boot.

I don’€™t know how he’€™s doing that. That’€™s going to be tough.

Mitch Williams on D&C: Jayson Werth ‘a five-tool player’

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

MLB Network analyst and former relief pitcher Mitch Williams joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to preview the World Series between the Rangers and Giants. Game 1 is Wednesday night in San Francisco.

To hear the interview, including Williams’ digs at former teammate Curt Schilling, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Williams said he’s excited for a series that features two middle-class financial teams. Said Williams: “I want people to figure out that the biggest payroll is not going to win the World Series every year. I am not a believer in that. I’ve always been a believer that you cannot go out and buy a team. You can go out and buy players, but they have to come together as a team in order to win.”

Williams compared the Giants to his 1993 Phillies team that reached the World Series. “You look at the Giants, they’re all a bunch of castoffs. And that’s what we were,” he said. “It goes to show you that you get the right group of baseball players together and you get all 25 of those guys on the same end of that rope, heading into the same direction, you can accomplish a lot.”

Despite the Giants’ feel-good story, Williams said the Rangers have the obvious advantage. “I think they’re a far more talented team than San Francisco,” he said, adding: “The Rangers are swinging the bat well. I think the Rangers offense is just going to prove to be too much for San Francisco.”

Asked about Phillies free agent-to-be Jayson Werth, Williams said the outfielder will justify the big contract he’s going to get. Williams said Werth is “a five-tool player,” and he discounted a comparison to J.D. Drew. “J.D. is not a five-tool player,” he said. “J.D. Drew can’t produce the power, he does not have the throwing arm that Jayson Werth has, he doesn’t have the speed Jayson Werth has. They’re not comparable. Not even a little bit are they comparable.”

Red Sox pitching coach search takes shape: Curt Young impresses

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

According to a baseball source, the Red Sox interviewed former Oakland pitching coach Curt Young on Monday about the vacancy for the position of pitching coach that was created by the departure of John Farrell, who left to become the manager of the Blue Jays. Young, according to the source, was the most impressive of the external candidates with whom the club has talked thus far.

Young spent the last seven seasons as the Athletics pitching coach. In 2010, the young Oakland staff led the American League with a 3.58 ERA. But after 27 years in the A’s organization as a player and coach, Young turned down the team’s offer on Sunday, and he appears to be a strong early candidate to succeed Farrell.

That said, the interview process remains ongoing for the Sox. Later this week, the team will interview a pair of internal candidates: Mike Cather, who served as an advance scout in 2010 after three years working in Double-A Portland (2007-09) and one with High-A Wilmington (2006), and Ralph Treuel, who has spent the last four years as the organization’s roving minor league pitching instructor. Treuel also spent part of the 2006 season as the Sox bullpen coach, and served briefly as the team’s pitching coach in Sept. 2001.