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Billy Beane says A’s wouldn’t have made playoffs without Jon Lester trade 10.02.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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Billy Beane insisted that the deal to acquire Jon Lester from the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes was the right one. (Getty Images)

Billy Beane insisted that the deal to acquire Jon Lester from the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes was the right one. (Getty Images)

At the time, the trade sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the A’s in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes sent shockwaves through the baseball landscape. Those continue to reverberate more than two months later.

The A’s season came to a startling halt on Tuesday night, when Lester could not hold a 7-3 advantage that he carried into the eighth inning, with Oakland eventually falling, 8-7, to the Royals in extra innings. The July 31 deal between the A’s and Red Sox had long been controversial in Oakland given the plummeting productivity of the A’s lineup, which averaged 3.5 runs per game while going 22-33 following the trade deadline, going from the best team in the majors and a two-game lead in the AL West to losing 12 games to the Angels in the division and barely holding on to edge out the Mariners by one game for a wild card spot.

But Beane disputed the notion that the trade was the cause of his team’s collapse down the stretch.

‘€œSimply put,” Beane told reporters in Oakland, “if we don’€™t have Jon Lester, I don’€™t think we make the playoffs.’€

Lester was 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts with the A’s, pitching at essentially the same dominant level at which he’d been performing with the Sox prior to the trade. Cespedes likewise performed at a comparable level with the Sox (.269/.296/.423) that he did prior to the trade with the A’s (.256/.303/.464).

Beane suggested that the Angels’ dominance over the season’s final two months would have made it impossible for the A’s to keep pace in the division, regardless of whether or not the trade had occurred.

‘€œOne thing I’€™m going to say right now,’€ Beane told reporters, ‘€œthe Angels were going to catch us. They played nearly .700 ball from a certain point on.’€

Marlins president David Samson: Giancarlo Stanton will be on 2015 Marlins 09.30.14 at 3:13 pm ET
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Marlins president David Samson told the Miami Herald that the team plans to discuss a long-term extension with outfielder Giancarlo Stanton — who hit .288 with a .395 OBP and .555 slugging mark while leading the National League with 37 homers despite missing the final weeks of the season after getting beaned by a pitch — this coming offseason. That said, Samson also said that the team would not consider trading Stanton even in the absence of a long-term deal.

“He’€™s on this team [in 2015] either way,” Samson told the Herald. “I can’t wait until after the season to sit down with Giancarlo and [agent] Joel Wolfe and talk about contract. We’€™re ready. We want him to be a Marlin well past his arbitration years.

“We hope that he believes in us and believes in Miami and believes in the direction of this team and recognizes that he has a chance to be the leader of a successful team for many years to come.”

Stanton, 24, is under Marlins team control for two more years before he’s eligible for free agency following the 2016 campaign. He made $6.5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2014.

Read More: giancarlo stanton,
Ben Cherington, John Farrell take stock of a season gone awry, and where the Red Sox go from here 09.29.14 at 3:52 pm ET
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On the one hand, Ben Cherington is the architect of a World Series winner. On the other hand, he’s steered the team to a pair of last-place finishes that have bookended that triumph.

Good luck reconciling those drastically different conclusions to the three years of Cherington’s GM tenure. Of course, Cherington is not interested in reconciling those finishes. He’s interested in avoiding further repetitions of seasons like 2012 and 2014. The fact that he has not represents a failure of sorts.

“It’s hard. It’s been hard on us, the extreme outcomes. Obviously I like the upside, but the downside is hard to deal with, painful for everyone, and it’s not at all what we want to be. It’s not at all what I’ve said we want to be in the past,” said Cherington. “We want to build something that’s got a chance to sustain and be good every year. I don’t think — you can’t plan on a World Series every year, but we ought to be planning on winning teams and contending teams and teams that are playing meaningful games in September and getting into October more often than not, so obviously, based on the results of the last three years, we haven’t accomplished that yet.

“We need to figure that out and find a way to do that. I still believe that we will,” he continued. “I believe that there are too many strengths in the organization not to do that, but we have to sort of, we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves honestly what we can do to make sure that happens. That will be a big part of the offseason and moving forward. It’s a very competitive landscape, I think, in baseball. I think the talent is more evenly distributed than it was 15, 20 years ago. So we’re always going to need talent. We’re going to need good players. We’re going to need to construct the roster well. And then we also need to look for every other possible area of competitive advantage. If we do well enough in all of those areas, it will lead to what we want. We haven’t gotten there yet.”

Manager John Farrell likewise grimaced that the 2013 World Series triumph felt “longer ago than just one year.”

The struggles of the team’s young position players — most notably, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. — played a meaningful role in contributing to that volatility (though it would be a mistake to point solely to that group, given the lackluster production that came from elsewhere).

Did the Sox rely too heavily on prospects? Cherington answered that question by offering context for how the team ended up with three young position players. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ben cherington, christian vazquez, John Farrell, mookie betts
Red Sox health updates: Clay Buchholz to undergo right knee procedure; Allen Craig’s foot considered a non-issue 09.29.14 at 2:03 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz will have what GM Ben Cherington described as a minor right knee procedure. (Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz will have what GM Ben Cherington described as a minor right knee procedure. (Getty Images)

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington announced that right-hander Clay Buchholz was expected to undergo a minor right knee procedure to repair his meniscus by head team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis. Cherington said that Buchholz had been dealing with the issue on and off for some time, though the discomfort hadn’t always been present and it was not significant enough to prevent him from pitching. Cherington described the meniscus injury as “not a debilitating issue,” and was not at the root of the player’s struggles (8-11, 5.34 ER) in 2014.

“Given where we are in the calendar, it’s a fairly quick recovery. Let’s just knock it out and he should have a normal offseason,” said Cherington. “It’s something that we managed. I think he would tell you it did not affect him. We’re just trying to be proactive so it doesn’t turn into something bigger.”

– Brock Holt will see Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 9 to get clearance that he’s recovered fully from his concussion. He won’t play in games (that visit will come too late to clear him for fall instructional league), but given that Holt took batting practice and grounders in the final homestand of the season, all parties appear comfortable that he will enter the offseason healthy. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Allen Craig, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, mike napoli
Will Middlebrooks not playing winter ball 09.29.14 at 1:47 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks missed the final homestand of the season with a hand/wrist injury. (Getty Images)

Will Middlebrooks missed the final homestand of the season with a hand/wrist injury. (Getty Images)

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who missed the final homestand of the season with soreness in his right hand/wrist (an area that had been injured when hit by a pitch in May), is expected to return to complete health with rest. That said, the 26-year-old has decided against the team’s recommended course of going to winter ball.

GM Ben Cherington said that Middlebrooks gave the matter consideration, and while the team did want him to play in more games after missing roughly half of this season due to injuries, the decision about whether or not to play this winter would not impact whether the team views him as major league-ready in the spring.

“He’s made a decision that he’s going to focus on other things this winter. He feels he can address what he needs to address without playing winter ball. That’s a decision that he’s made,” said Cherington. “I don’t think whether or not he plays winter ball should be a determining factor on where he is next March or April. We talked to him about it. We felt there was some merit. But players have to make some decisions that they think is in their best interests.

“We’re going to present information and what we feel like might be helpful, but ultimately offseasons belong to players, and they need to do what they think is in their best interests,” added Cherington. “He gave it consideration. He thought about it. I think he understood where we were coming from. I think he just feels like it’s in his best interests to focus on an offseason without playing, to get strong, get ready for spring training.”

Cherington said that the 26-year-old is expected to be healthy after resting for the next month. Middlebrooks hit .191 with a .256 OBP and .265 slugging mark in 63 big league games this year, his season compressed by a pair of stints on the DL for a calf strain and broken right index finger.

Middlebrooks discussed his view of the 2014 season, and his reluctance to go to winter ball, here.

Read More: Will Middlebrooks, winter ball,
Looking back and forward with Jon Lester and the Red Sox 09.29.14 at 11:02 am ET
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Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason. The left-hander is slated to start the Athletics’ one-game playoff against the Royals on Tuesday night, his opponent (in almost comical coincidence) Kansas City ace James Shields.

With Lester on the mound following a 16-11 season, career-low 2.46 ERA, career-high 219 1/3 innings, 220 strikeouts (9.0 per nine) and career-low 48 walks (2.0 per nine) and on the cusp of free agency, the baseball world will be watching closely. That, of course, includes the Red Sox organization that traded him on July 31 (along with outfielder Jonny Gomes) for Yoenis Cespedes.

The negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Sox and Lester after the pitcher had stated a desire to sign a long-term deal to remain with the Sox, even if it meant taking a discount to do so, lorded over the Sox’ season. That was true while Lester was with the team, and it’s true now that he’s gone, given that the Red Sox make no secret of the fact that they have a significant amount of work to do regarding the rebuilding of their rotation, and more specifically, the front of their rotation.

“Hopefully we can get right back into it if we fix the top of the rotation,” Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said.

“That’s absolutely our intention,” team chairman Tom Werner said on Sunday about whether he believed that the Sox could build a rotation to return to contention in 2015. “We have the resources. Hopefully it will all fall into place soon.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester,
John Farrell: ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do … This is not what we envisioned’ 09.28.14 at 7:05 pm ET
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The long, painstaking, sometimes interminable procession to the finish line finally sputtered to its conclusion. With a 9-5 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox wrapped up a 71-91 campaign that represents both a disappointment and embarrassment for the team that still claims the title, at least for another month, of reigning champions.

The record did not fall to the same depths as 2012 (69-93), nor did the atmosphere assume the quality of a daily train wreck, but the reality of the record is hard to hide from.

“We didn’€™t anticipate the final record, but you play the games to determine that and it is where we are. We’€™ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of that has already begun. When we took the field on Feb. 15, this is not what we envisioned,” said manager John Farrell. “We know where our shortcomings have been this year. We have a clear to-do list. How we get to that point remains to be seen.”

Farrell did suggest there are elements of the roster that offer some promise going forward, and he believes that there are participants to the decision-making process who likewise offer the possibility of changing course.

“With all people involved we’€™re confident we’€™ll achieve that. There’€™s a number of good things in place right now in terms of guys on this roster,” said the manager. “We’€™ve got some meetings starting the second week of the offseason to put together our in-depth review of where we stand and begin to strategize how we’€™re going accomplish the objectives set out.”

Still, the fact that Farrell’s October now includes plans for fishing on the Cape followed by meetings about how to move on from this year’s struggles represents a form of finality to games that he does not relish.

“That today was the final game, we knew that for a while,” Farrell said. “That’€™s not something that sits well because of what our expectations are every year so it’€™s disappointing. The game of baseball has been put to bed for the time being, like I said, it’€™s not what we anticipated.”

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