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Picking a winner? A look at the draft picks gained and lost by the Red Sox 01.16.11 at 8:14 am ET
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Last time the Red Sox had the No. 19 overall draft pick, they took Roger Clemens. (AP)

It was not long ago that teams signed free agents without regard for the draft pick they would have to sacrifice to do so. Clearly, that has changed.

Indeed, the pick that a team must sacrifice to sign a Type A free agent who rejects salary arbitration from his former club has become so significant that it reportedly became the subject of significant contention in the Yankees organization. Earlier this month, New York GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees — after being spurned by Cliff Lee — wouldn’t sign a Type A free agent because they were unwilling to sacrifice their first-round pick. But he was reportedly overruled at the ownership level, resulting in the decision to give up the No. 31 overall selection and sign Rafael Soriano as the most expensive setup man in history.

Just how valuable is the No. 31 overall pick? The answer varies significantly by year.

In 46 June drafts, just 15 players taken at the No. 31 spot have reached the majors. (For the complete list, click here.) Only two of them emerged as above-average players. One was Jarrod Washburn, who won 107 games after being taken by the Angels in 1995. The other? Greg Maddux, whose 355 career wins are the most by a right-hander whose career started after the World War…World War I, that is.

The Red Sox’ free-agent activity resulted in their losing their own first-round pick (No. 24 overall) while gaining two (Nos. 19 and 26). Under GM Theo Epstein, the Sox have used compensation draft picks to acquire a number of their key prospects. (For details, click here.)

But historically, what kind of players have been selected with the first-round picks gained and sacrificed by the Sox this winter? Here is a look at the history of the three first-round draft picks that were affected by the Red Sox’ free agent activity this offseason:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Adrian Beltre, carl crawford, draft pick compensation
Epstein: Scutaro the Sox shortstop ‘until something changes’ 01.14.11 at 10:52 pm ET
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Jed Lowrie's play will help determine how much time he spends at shortstop in 2011. (AP)

Speaking after the Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that, as things currently stand, Marco Scutaro will be the shortstop for the 2011 Red Sox. That said, he also suggested that Jed Lowrie will be an important contributor, and that his performance will help to dictate his role and how much he plays at short.

“We have two really talented shortstops on the roster at different phases of their career, and they’ll both end up helping this club win,” Epstein said. “How it shakes out in terms of playing time will be up to [manager Terry Francona] — and, ultimately, the players will determine their own roles. If we’re a better team with one guy playing two-thirds of the time and the other guy playing one-third of the time and moving around, that’s what we’ll be. If it looks like we’ll be a better team with a more traditional arrangement or a time share, that’s what we’ll do. Players, ultimately, make those decisions for you.”

Scutaro played in 150 games last year, 132 at short (he was relegated to second base at the end of last season by a neck injury that affected his ability to throw). In the first season of his two-year, $12.5 million deal, he hit .275/.333./.388/.721 with 11 homers. Lowrie missed the first half of 2010 while recovering from mono, but in 55 second-half games, he hit .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers.

Based on Lowrie’s strong performance down the stretch, the Sox do view him as an important part of the 2011 roster, though Epstein did say that Scutaro is currently slated to be the primary shortstop.

“Scutaro signed here to be the shortstop,” Epstein said. “He should be healthy when he comes to camp, and he’s going to play a lot of shortstop. But we’re not good enough that we can’t use every available resource that we have. Jed Lowrie is someone who can play a good shortstop, can play a number of positions, and can help this team win. He’s going to see some time at shortstop. But Marco was our shortstop last year, and, until something changes, that’s how it’s going to be.”

Read More: Hot Stove, Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
Was Brian Cashman on board with Yankees signing Rafael Soriano? 01.14.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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Rafael Soriano will become the most expensive setup man in major league history for the Yankees. (AP)

Buster Olney of ESPN.com suggested (via twitter) that the Yankees’ decision to sign reliever Rafael Soriano to a three-year, $35 million was driven more by ownership than by New York’s baseball operations department. And based on what Brian Cashman has said about his beliefs in bullpen construction in the past, it is not hard to fathom that he might have been uncomfortable with the idea of handing out the fifth-largest average annual value ($11.67 million) ever conferred upon a reliever — and for a pitcher who will not even be asked to handle the ninth inning for the Yankees, who have a certain Mariano Rivera on the roster (at $15 million per year for the 2011 and 2012 seasons) as a closer.

In spring training, Cashman talked about the first long-term deal to which the Yankees signed Rivera. After having gone to arbitration in 2000 (with Rivera “losing” when an arbitrator sided with the Yankees in granting the closer a $7.25 million salary), the two sides avoided a repeat of that forum in Feb. 2001. Rivera and the Yankees agreed to a four-year, $39.99 million deal, the first of four multi-year deals to which Cashman has now signed the future Hall of Famer.

Cashman was asked whether, in 2001, he had any reservations about Rivera’s ability to remain healthy or consistent in his performance given the widely held view that relief performance is extremely volatile on a year-to-year basis. His explanation touched on how he envisioned building bullpens and, indirectly, why a signing such as the reported deal with Soriano might run counter to Cashman’s philosophy.

“Back then, the evolution of the game, the knowledge of the volatility of relievers didn’t exist then. There wasn’t the evidence of the ups and downs that had been studied to the point that I can remember thinking about it back then. Back then, if you had a good arm, had success, give him a multi-year contract and he should continue doing well,” Cashman explained. “Versus now, you’re a lot more hesitant. How I go about building my bullpens, I’m essentially pulling guys. You draft guys with good arms, if they fail as a starter you throw them in the ‘pen. You know what? You’d be surprised how it can work out for you.”

There was a time when the Yankees invested heavily in middle relievers. They shocked the industry with a four-year, $22.25 million deal for Steve Karsay from 2002-05. They gave Kyle Farnsworth $17 million for three years from 2006-08.

But in recent years, Cashman had made a point of building more economical bullpens, something he mentioned before the 2010 season.

“I’ve had a pretty cheap bullpen the last few years to set up Mariano. A couple years ago, we had Edwar Ramirez and [Jose] Veras. [In 2009], we had [Dave] Robertson and [Joba] Chamberlain. We had Phil Hughes,” he said. “We don’t have, like we used to, the Karsay, the Farnsworth contracts, the Paul Quantrills where you go out and get them to sign for three- or four-year reliever contracts, because it’s volatile.”

Now, however, the Yankees have a new reliever under contract for up to three years — unless, according to reports, Soriano exercises his right to opt-out of the deal after either 2011 or 2012. It is a deal in which the Yankees are getting a pitcher who, over the last two years, has been undeniably one of the best in the game, one who led the A.L. in saves and had a sub-2.00 ERA in 2010 despite pitching in a division of relentless lineups.

Even so, it represents a clear departure from the way in which the Yankees had been building bullpens in the past, and the way in which Cashman suggested he wanted to build bullpens.

Read More: brian cashman, Hot Stove, New York Yankees, rafael soriano
Peter Gammons previews Hot Stove Cool Music 01.12.11 at 4:11 pm ET
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Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons appeared on The Big Show on Wednesday afternoon. As an admitted outsider to the proceedings, he discussed his perspective on the verbal volleys that the Jets have been lobbing at the Patriots.

“I’ve never heard of a football coach saying it’s between him and another coach,” said Gammons, referring to Jets coach Rex Ryan‘s proclamation that Sunday’s game would be decided by him and Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick. “I’m absolutely astounded. It’s comical.”

Gammons also previewed the Hot Stove Cool Music events that will be taking place this weekend as fundraisers for The Foundation To Be Named Later. A roundtable conversation will take place on Friday night that will include Sox GM Theo Epstein, farm director Mike Hazen, trainer Mike Reinold, team psychologist Bob Tewksbury, former Sox pitching coach John Farrell and former Sox pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Curt Schilling. The panel will discuss the development of pitching.

The Hot Stove Cool Music concert will take place on Saturday night, featuring The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Kay Hanley, American Hi-Fi, The Candles, Arroyo, Gammons and others.

The details are below. To purchase tickets, visit foundationtobenamedlater.org: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: hot stove cool music,
Red Sox pegged for several ESPN Sunday Night games 01.12.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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ESPN released its first-half schedule of Sunday Night Baseball games, and the Red Sox are currently scheduled to be featured more often than any other team in the majors. The Sox have four Sunday night games: On April 10 when hosting the Yankees, on May 15 when visiting the Yankees in New York, on May 22 when hosting the Cubs at Fenway Park and on July 17 at Tampa Bay. The Yankees are featured three times on Sunday night.

For the complete lineup of Sunday night games through July 17, click here.

Read More: ESPN, sunday night baseball,
Red Sox announce ticket voucher giveaway and anthem contest 01.11.11 at 2:36 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued the following press release announcing the 2011 Red Sox Road Trip across New England:

As the Boston Red Sox prepare to launch the 2011 regular season general ticket on-sale on Saturday, January 29, the team will host the 2011 Red Sox Road Trip presented by Coca-Cola with stops in all six New England states from January 18 through January 24. The team will distribute vouchers redeemable for each respective 2011 regular season State Day game at Fenway Park, with a total of 6000 vouchers to be given out – 1000 in each state.

The 2011 Red Sox Road Trip presented by Coca-Cola will also feature the first-ever “Sing Your Way to Fenway” contest where fans of all ages will have the opportunity to audition to perform the National Anthem at Fenway Park. The first 100 fans at each stop will be guaranteed the opportunity to audition, with additional attendees to be viewed based on time constraints. The top two winners from each state will be invited to compete in the “Sing Your Way to Fenway” finals at Fenway Park, which is scheduled to be held at Fenway Park on February 9. The grand prize winner will be selected to perform the National Anthem at a 2011 regular season Red Sox game. For more information on the “Sing Your Way to Fenway” contest, please visit www.redsox.com/roadtrip.

Vouchers will be distributed on a first come, first served basis to fans that visit to the Road Trip stops. Coupon holders will have a chance to purchase tickets in advance of the general on-sale, which begins on Saturday, January 29, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox hire Rich Gedman, Chili Davis, Hal Morris in flurry of personnel moves 01.10.11 at 4:41 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced the following moves in their baseball operations department, which included the hiring of former Sox All-Star catcher Rich Gedman as the hitting coach of the Lowell Spinners, former big league slugger Chili Davis as the hitting coach for Triple-A Pawtucket and longtime Reds standout Hal Morris as a pro scout:

Major League Personnel

Mike Murov has been named Assistant, Baseball Operations after joining the Red Sox as an intern in the baseball operations department last season. He also served as a baseball operations intern with the Reds (2009) and Marlins (2008).

Amateur Scouting

Tom Allison joins the organization as a Regional Crosschecker for the Midwest. He spent the past four years as Director of Scouting for Arizona (2007-10) following seven seasons as a Scouting Crosschecker for Milwaukee (2000-06) and 10 years in the New York Mets organization as an Area Scouting Supervisor (1996-99) and Assistant Scouting Director (1995-96). Allison played as an infielder and coached in the Mets minor league system from 1990-94.

Jon Adkins has been hired as an Area Scout for the Ohio Valley. The former right-handed pitcher concluded a 10-year professional playing career in the Chicago White Sox organization last season and spent parts of six Major League campaigns with the White Sox (2003-05), Padres (2006), Mets (2007) and Reds (2008).

Chris Pritchett joins the Red Sox as an Area Scout for Canada. Primarily a first baseman, he played parts of four Major League seasons with the Angels (1996, 1998-99) and Phillies (2000) and spent 13 total seasons in the minor leagues (1991-2003). He served as hitting coach for Oakland’s Single-A Vancouver affiliate in 2007.

Player Development Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andy fox, chili davis, chris prtichett, jon adkins
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