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Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli to receive one-year qualifying offer from Red Sox; Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely won’t receive one 11.04.13 at 10:05 am ET
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According to multiple baseball sources, the Red Sox plan to make a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman Mike Napoli by the 5 p.m. deadline to do so today.

If any of those players accepts the qualifying offer (which represents the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball in 2013), then he would return to the Red Sox on a one-year deal in 2014. If any of them signs with a team other than the Sox, then because of the qualifying offer, the Sox would receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the draft.

Ellsbury is expected not to be impacted significantly by the qualifying offer, given that he is expected to command a long-term deal whose annual value exceeds the $14.1 million mark by a considerable amount. Napoli and Drew represent somewhat different cases for whom the impact of the qualifying offer is twofold.

Not only does it ensure that the Sox would receive a draft pick if the first baseman or shortstop leave; by virtue of the fact that a team that signs Napoli or Drew would need to give up a draft pick, it also could decrease the market for their services, thus potentially increasing the likelihood that the Sox will be able to bring one or both back, whether if either accepts a one-year qualifying offer or if either can negotiate a multi-year deal, much as David Ortiz did last offseason after turning down the Sox’ qualifying offer. (In that vein, it’s worth noting that the Sox were pleasantly surprised when Napoli didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Rangers last offseason; the fact that he would not cost the team a draft pick made him a top priority with whom to negotiate in the free agent market, given the opportunity to acquire a player with considerable power and strong on-base percentages who could be acquired for just money, rather than any sacrifice of the team’s prospect pool.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: free agency, jarrod saltalamacchia, mike napoli, qualifying offer
Jon Lester hopes to remain with Red Sox beyond 2014 11.02.13 at 5:58 pm ET
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On Friday, the Red Sox picked up the $13 million option on Jon Lester‘s contract to keep the left-hander in the same uniform in which he’s played his entire career. No surprise there, shortly on the heels of the pitcher’s historic run through October in which he matched the single-postseason record for wins while going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA.

“That’€™s a foregone conclusion that option would be picked up,” said manager John Farrell. “The way he pitched through not only his entire career here but it’€™s almost like he took it to a whole another level this postseason. he remained strong. He remained calm in the moment, when, Game 5 was a pivotal moment, and he walked to the mound like it was just another game and pitched with a calmness, a relaxation, and it was dominant, and it was great to see.’€

Lester, who signed a five-year, $30 million deal prior to the 2009 season that included the team option for the 2014 season, expressed his gratitude at knowing that he’ll be back in Boston next season. He remains hopeful that it will not be his last year.

“I haven’€™t had a chance to talk to [Sox GM Ben Cherington]. But to obviously be back for another year is awesome,” said Lester. “Hopefully that’€™s not the only one and we can be here for a long time. We’€™ll worry about that when the time comes.”

Like most of his teammates, Lester was more interested in thinking about celebrating his team’s title than contractual concerns on Saturday. The left-hander had been in a parade before when he was part of the 2007 World Series winners, but this time, the left-hander suggested, was different.

‘€œEverything then was such a whirlwind for me, being part of that situation, kind of getting thrown into it. I didn’€™t really get a chance to enjoy it,” he said. “This morning, I got here early with my family, just trying to really enjoy it and let everything soak in, and I think ‘€™07 was just for me thrown together. I was told where to go and sit on a duck boat and wave, and that’€™s about it. This year, we’€™ll definitely enjoy it a little bit more.”

For Mike Napoli, contract concerns can come later 11.02.13 at 5:39 pm ET
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By his own account, Mike Napoli hasn’t had a lot of time to worry about his forthcoming foray into free agency. He’s been too busy enjoying the afterglow of Wednesday’s World Series victory, suggesting that he hadn’t slept since the Sox claimed their title and he had little intention of doing so in the immediate future.

“It’€™s pretty amazing. It’€™s been great. I can’€™t even explain the feeling,” said Napoli. “I won’€™t sleep for another, I don’€™t know, couple of days. I’€™m going to enjoy it, have fun, it’€™s been a great time.”

The Duck Boat rides on Saturday represented the culmination of what Napoli depicted as a tremendous experience with the Red Sox, with whom he agreed on a three-year, $39 million deal last winter that had to be renegotiated to a one-year, $5 million deal (with incentives that pushed the first baseman’s earnings back up to $13 million when he avoided the DL) once a degenerative hip condition was identified in the routine contract physical. He performed much to his career norms in 2013, and with no evidence that the hip condition had limited him, the 32-year-old is well-positioned for this offseason. But that was hardly his focus as he prepared to take part in the Sox’ victory parade.

“This is great. People here have been great. It’€™s been fun,” said Napoli. “I’€™d like to stay here but it is what it is. I’€™m pretty sure we’€™re going to talk and go from there.”

Napoli has, however, made one important decision about his future: The beard stays.

“It’€™s part of me now,” he said. “I’€™m going to keep it.”

Red Sox decline option on LHP Matt Thornton 11.02.13 at 5:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced on Saturday that they elected to decline the team’s $6 million option on left-handed reliever Matt Thornton, instead electing to pay the $1 million buyout. As a result, the veteran — acquired in July from the White Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs — is a free agent. 

The 37-year-old went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 1/3 innings spanning 20 appearances with nine strikeouts and five walks for the Red Sox after the Sox traded for him on July 12, just before the All-Star break. Overall, he totaled an 0-4 record with a 3.74 ERA in 60 games out of the bullpen this season. Though he stayed with the Sox throughout the postseason in case the team needed an injury replacement, he was not on the playoff roster for any of the three rounds. The 10-year major league veteran is 32-42 with a 3.53 ERA in 606 career appearances, including one start.

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Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes stock of past, present while eyeing free agent future: ‘Hopefully I can be back’ 11.01.13 at 2:33 pm ET
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Of course Jarrod Saltalamacchia would have preferred to be the one calling the final pitch of the 2013 season, the one who was the first to celebrate with Koji Uehara in the middle of the diamond. He wouldn’t have been human if he hadn’t harbored such a preference, or if he hadn’t thought that, after starting 120 games of the Sox’ first first 177 games at catcher, he had earned the right to be behind the plate at the end.

Still, that sentiment didn’t get in the way of his experience of the final pitch, when Uehara punched out Matt Carpenter to conclude Game 6 of the World Series.

“It was so emotional. You’re sitting there on the edge and know that Koji is going to get it done. It’s just a matter of when, and who you’re going to be out there,” said Saltalamacchia. “It’s about winning. That’s what we’re here for. We want to win. Everybody wants to be out there. There were 20 other guys or 15 other guys on the bench who wanted to be out there. At the end of the day, we want to win. I can’t say enough about Ross. He’s helped me out so much this year. I can’t ask for anybody better to go out there and take the reins the last few games. It was tough [to sit], just for the fact that I don’t know if this is going to be my last year here. [But] I took everything in and enjoyed every minute of it.”

Saltalamacchia was mindful throughout the 2013 campaign that, as of the conclusion of the World Series, he’d be a free agent. As a 28-year-old who enjoyed the best year of his career — a .273 average, .338 OBP and .466 slugging mark with 14 homers and 40 doubles (a team record for a catcher) and who, despite his postseason offensive struggles (.188/.257/.219), still guided the team’s pitching staff to a 5-4 record with an average of 3.4 runs yielded per game in his nine playoff starts — he is poised to reach the open market at an opportune time.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brian McCann, free agency, jarrod saltalamacchia,
David Ross has ball from final World Series out: ‘Whoever wants it can have it’ 10.31.13 at 4:19 am ET
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Sometimes, an out is an out. That time was not in the late hours of Wednesday night.

Catcher David Ross did not merely want Koji Uehara to retire Matt Carpenter to close out the World Series. The veteran, who emerged as the team’s primary catching option during the World Series, wanted a strikeout, which would offer the opportunity to be at the epicenter of the Red Sox‘ first home World Series celebration in 95 years.

It wasn’t easy, but after Carpenter fouled off three straight pitches, Uehara finally put him away with a splitter off the plate for the final out of a 6-1, mayhem-inducing victory over the Cardinals.

“I was hoping he’d punch him out. We have so much faith in Koji and what he does. That guy is a stud, I wanted him to get that last strikeout so bad,” said Ross. “He did and all I could do was thank the Lord for being there, run and go let him jump in my arms.”

That Uehara punched out Carpenter came with an intriguing offshoot. The ball that secured a championship stayed in Ross’ glove and possession, making him — like Doug Mientkiewicz and Jonathan Papelbon before him — the curator of a critical historical artifact. Yet Ross hardly seems intent on taking the precious item and defecting with it to a foreign land. The avuncular catcher was nothing short of magnanimous in articulating his plans for it.

“It’s in my locker. Whoever wants it can have it — owner, manager, Koji, whoever wants it can have it,” said Ross. “I’ve got a world championship to put in my back pocket.”

For a 36-year-old career backup who had never played beyond the Division Series round in his first 11 big league seasons, the title mattered more than any souvenirs.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m just enjoying this with my teammates. It hasn’t sunk in.”

Read More: David Ross, Koji Uehara, world series,
The Improbable Dream: Red Sox dispatch Cardinals in Game 6 to claim eighth World Series 10.30.13 at 11:24 pm ET
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The Improbable Dream became reality on Wednesday night at 11:22 p.m., when the 2013 Red Sox became the unlikeliest title winners in franchise history when closer Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter to close out a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals, thus concluding a six-game World Series triumph.

As if to dispel the doubts of those who might have been skeptical of such a plot line, the Red Sox claimed their World Series-clinching victory on home soil, the first title won at Fenway Park since the 1918 edition, led by George Herman Ruth, accomplished the feat at a time when the nation was more preoccupied with World War I than the baseball happenings in Boston.

Now, as in 1918, the Red Sox can claim that their championship — won against a Cardinals franchise that defeated them in seven-game World Series in 1946 and 1967 — cements their place as the most successful franchise of an extended era. That 1918 team won the franchise’s fourth title in seven seasons. This crown marks the third for the Sox in the last 10 seasons; since 2001, no other franchise has won more than two titles.

Yet this championship was drastically different from the first two that the Sox enjoyed this century. In 2004, the Red Sox had been constructed quite clearly to win a title after coming within five outs of advancing to the World Series in 2003. In 2007, the team responded to an 86-win season with an effort to construct, in the words of CEO Larry Lucchino, a “juggernaut.”

Not so in 2013 — or, at least, it didn’t appear that way.

The number of people inclined to place a wager on the 30-to-1 odds for the Red Sox to win a championship on April 1 may have been limited to the 25 players on the Opening Day roster — and they, of course, were expressly prohibited by Major League rules from betting on their own fortunes. Beyond the walls of the clubhouse, the few people audacious enough to suggest the possibility of a title in 2013 might have been dismissed for their lunacy.

The Red Sox’ stated goal last offseason, after all, following the train wreck of a 69-93 campaign in 2012 that earned the franchise its worst record since 1965, was merely to be better than last year’s mess. Towards that end, the team experienced enormous turnover — beginning, in some ways most importantly, with the quick dismissal of Bobby Valentine as manager and his swift replacement with John Farrell, and followed by the acquisition of seven free agents (in order: David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Uehara, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli) to reconstruct a roster that was gutted when the Sox made a transformative trade to get rid of its priciest players (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett) last August.

A team that had customarily announced bold goals during the winter — 95 wins, the postseason — conscientiously avoided doing so entering 2013. GM Ben Cherington‘s eyes were on the “next great Red Sox team,” with no announced timeframe for when it might arrive.

Yet even early, the Sox played with a team determined to operate on their own timetable for bringing that vision to fruition. The team displayed both dynamism and depth on Opening Day in New York, a game won with the critical signal of Jon Lester looking commanding after his struggles of a year ago. The team rolled to an 18-8 first month, in the process, finding an unwanted cause around which to rally. Read the rest of this entry »

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