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Sources: Red Sox expected to replace Craig Shipley as director of international scouting

11.17.11 at 11:26 am ET
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According to multiple industry sources, as part of a restructuring of their international operations, Red Sox vice president of player personnel and international operations Craig Shipley is expected to be removed from his post as head of the team’s international scouting.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington declined to comment on any specific front office personnel until an announcement of the team’s restructured international operations is offered.

Shipley was one of the Red Sox’ first front office hires under GM Theo Epstein in 2002. While Shipley could be offered another position in the organization, he may also decide to leave the Sox after nine years to pursue other opportunities.

During his tenure, Shipley has long been considered a top talent evaluator in the organization, and he played a critical part on the Red Sox’ GM-by-committee in the wake of Epstein’s resignation following the 2005 season. Shipley was an influential voice in pushing ahead to make the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, even at the cost of star prospect Hanley Ramirez and big league starter Anibal Sanchez.

That said, the Sox have seen few top-end returns in the international market. Shipley’s most notable undertaking was his years-long efforts to lead the scouting process on Daisuke Matsuzaka in Japan. Matsuzaka was wildly successful at the start of his Sox career, but after being a key rotation member in 2007 and 2008, has offered limited returns in the last three years while dealing with injuries, and he underwent Tommy John surgery last June. Shipley also led the Sox to sign left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima, who emerged as an All-Star.

On the amateur side, the Sox have produced four big leaguers (Felix Doubront, Yamaico Navarro, Junichi Tazawa and Jose Iglesias) who were signed under Shipley. Doubront and Navarro represented relative bargains, with Doubront having signed for approximately $200,000 and Navarro having signed for just $20,000. Other notable Sox prospects in the pipeline who were signed under Shipley include right-hander Stolmy Pimentel, still regarded as one of the top Sox pitching prospects, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who is considered perhaps the prospect with the highest ceiling in the organization, and right-hander Raul Alcantara, a high-ceiling right-hander who reached Lowell this year.

However, even taking into account the long process that is necessary for 16-year-old prospects to make it to the majors, the Sox have seen limited return from their international talent pool. Some of the team’s most prominent amateur signings (such as third baseman Michael Almanzar, who received a $1.5 million bonus, catcher Oscar Perez, who received more than $700,000 in 2008, Tazawa, who signed a three-year, $3.3 million deal to come to the Sox from Japan for the 2009 season) have yielded limited returns.

The jury remains out on shortstop Jose Iglesias, whom the Sox signed to a four-year, $8.25 million major league deal that took effect after the 2009 season. Iglesias is still considered a top Red Sox prospect, and a potential future big league starting shortstop.

At the same time, this year, one evaluator of another organization referred to his offensive performance as “embarrassing” during a Triple-A season in which Iglesias hit .235 with a .285 OBP, .269 slugging mark and .554 OPS with one homer and 10 extra-base hits in 101 games. Another noted some of the Sox’ international signings of recent years and suggested that the team “bleeds money” in the international market.

Shipley’s scouting eye and the information-gathering processes he established prior to signing players were and are widely respected, both inside the Sox organization and by other members of the industry. However, the tangible big league results of the Sox’ international operations under him have been mixed.

Whether it was those results that led to Shipley’s likely removal as head of Red Sox international scouting or whether it was another matter related to the restructuring under GM Ben Cherington (who was a member of the Sox’ international operations staff under ex-GM Dan Duquette more than a decade ago) remains unclear. However, going forward, it appears that the Sox will have a new person directing their efforts to acquire global talent.

Read More: craig shipley, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, jose iglesias Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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