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Mike Lowell talks Fidel Castro on Bradfo Show podcast: ‘I’m not sad he’s dead’ 11.26.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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DieCstroMike Lowell made no bones about it 10 years ago when his words regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were splashed across the front page of the Boston Herald: ‘I hope he dies’.

Now Castro is dead, passing away at the age of 90 years old late Friday night. And as the former Red Sox’ third baseman explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, his opinion of the Cuban revolutionary hasn’t changed one bit.

“I don’t think anyone should wish death on someone, but to live in this country and you’re hopeful Osama Bin Laden dies prior to him being killed. I would say probably 99 percent reaction would be, yes. It’s been said that Fidel Castro to the Cubans is Adolf Hitler to the Jews, is Osama Bin Laden to this country. That’s kind of the correlation,” Lowell said

“They had people who politically whose ideals were against Castro and they would put the mom and the dad in the middle of a circle and make the kids watch as they parade around them and then put a bullet in their heads. Now that’s savagery.

“I’m not sad he’s dead. Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it’s better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That’s basically the bottom line. I don’t think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life.”

The angst Lowell and his family has toward Castro is deep-rooted in family members who were killed during the dictator’s regime, and the suffering that was inflicted prior to the opportunity for his parents, and his wife’s parents, to escape Cuba.

One example of the direct impact of Castro on Lowell’s family came in the form of an incident involving his wife’s father, who was jailed for 15 years as a political prisoner after not supporting the regime.

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Remember Sean O’Sullivan? He’s heading from Red Sox to South Korea 11.25.16 at 8:54 am ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan started four games with the Red Sox in 2016. Now it’s on to South Korea.

The 29-year-old, who spent all last season with Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox after signing a minor-league deal with the organization last offseason, has agreed to play for Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, O’Sullivan will be making $1.1 million for the 2016 season.

The Red Sox won all four of O’Sullivan’s starts, with the righty getting 39 runs of support in those appearances. His best start came against the Angels at Fenway Park July 3, the day after the Sox had suffered an embarrassing, 21-2 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. In that outing he only surrendered two runs and four hits over five innings.

He would land on the major league 15-day disabled list (left knee tendonitis) July 9, making room on the roster for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty came back to make eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. With the PawSox, O’Sullivan went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 starts.

In his five big league appearances, O’Sullivan totaled a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has appeared in 71 major league games with five teams, making 56 starts.

Red Sox max out 40-man roster by adding pitchers Kyle Martin, Luis Ysla 11.18.16 at 12:06 pm ET
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Luis Ysla

Luis Ysla

The Red Sox were going to make sure they didn’t lose Kyle Martin or Luis Ysla.

Both minor-league pitchers were added to the organization’s 40-man roster in order not to expose either to the Rule 5 draft. By making the moves, the Red Sox 40-man roster is maxed out at 40 players.

Here is the release sent out by the team:

Martin, 25, spent the entire 2016 season with the PawSox in his Triple-A debut. He converted each of his six save opportunities and went 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA (25 ER/66.2 IP) and 10.53 strikeouts per nine innings in 36 appearances, all in relief. Opponents were only 10-for-65 (.154) against Martin with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-10 with the bases loaded. In 17 outings from June 20 through the remainder of the season, the right-hander posted a 2.29 ERA (9 ER/35.1 IP) and held opponents to a .207 batting average (25-for-121). Selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2013 June Draft, Martin has made each of his 120 professional appearances in relief, going 15-12 with 24 saves, a 3.41 ERA (87 ER/229.0 IP), 242 strikeouts, 63 walks, and 19 home runs allowed.

Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

Ysla, 24, made 39 of his 40 appearances in 2016 with Double-A Portland before finishing his season with a solo outing for the PawSox. He combined to go 2-5 with four saves, a 3.99 ERA (25 ER/56.1 IP), and 62 strikeouts, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. From June 1 through the remainder of the season, the Venezuelan native held opponents to a .208 batting average (26-for-125) in 24 appearances between the two clubs. Originally signed by San Francisco as an international free agent in 2012, Ysla was acquired by the Red Sox from the Giants in exchange for Alejandro De Aza on August 31, 2015. He has made four relief appearances for Margarita of the Venezuelan Winter League, his third consecutive season pitching for the club.


PITCHERS (22): Fernando Abad, Matt Barnes, Clay Buchholz, Roenis Elias, Heath Hembree, Williams Jerez, Brian Johnson, Joe Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Martin, Henry Owens, Drew Pomeranz, Rick Porcello, David Price, Noe Ramirez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Robbie Ross Jr., Robby Scott, Carson Smith, Brandon Workman, Steven Wright, Luis Ysla.

CATCHERS (4): Bryan Holaday, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez.

INFIELDERS (9): Xander Bogaerts, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Yoan Moncada, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Travis Shaw.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Chris Young.

Terry Francona wins American League Manager of the Year; John Farrell gets 2 first-place votes 11.15.16 at 7:25 pm ET
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Terry Francona

Terry Francona

It was a runaway for Terry Francona.

The Indians manager cruised to his second American League Manager of the Year award in the last four seasons, receiving 22 of 30 first-place votes. Francona last won the award in 2013.

Francona guided his team to 94 wins, claiming the American League Central Division by eight games despite the absence of top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar down the stretch. Perhaps the Indians’ best all-around player, outfielder Michael Brantley, also played in just 11 games due to shoulder surgery.

Red Sox manager John Farrell earned two first-place votes, coming from Hal Bodley of USA Today and FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris. He also claimed three second-place votes, with nine voters putting him in third-place, putting Farrell fourth overall.

Finishing second behind Francona was Texas manager Jeff Banister (4 first-place votes), with Baltimore’s Buck Showalter placing third, also claiming two first-place votes.

Also receiving votes were the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, claiming one second-place and two third-place designations, and Scott Servais of the Mariners, who got a third-place vote from Tim Booth of the Associated Press.

In his first season as manager of the Dodgers, Dave Roberts claimed the National League Manager of the Year, earning 16 first-place votes. The Cubs’ Joe Maddon garnered eight first-place votes to finish second, while Dusty Baker of the Nationals placed third.

All voting was done prior to the postseason.

To view all the voting, click here.

Why Red Sox will likely get their reliever before locking up designated hitter 11.10.16 at 1:55 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — As the morning unfolded at the Scottsdale Omni, baseball executives followed each other out, finishing off their three-plus days at the GM meetings with a trip to the airport.

Dave Dombrowski, who exchanged quick pleasantries with former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington as both exited, will now fly to Oklahoma to visit with his daughter before heading back to his 4 Yawkey Way office.

The question now is how quick Dombrowski will act on his to-do list?

The president of baseball operations said he has talked to every team in major league baseball while in Arizona, but still doesn’t know if the Red Sox will be getting their two targets — eighth-inning reliever and designated hitter — via trade or free agency.

But one reality that surfaced is the timetable for filling in the two positions. Because the new collective bargaining agreement hasn’t been finalized, the Red Sox don’t know what the new competitive balance tax threshold will be. What that means is that Dombrowski doesn’t know the level to which the team can spend before being taxed.

With that in mind, Dombrowski insinuated that finding the reliever might be first in line.

“Perhaps, because I think you’re talking about perhaps a different financial situation where it may not be the same impact on the CBT,” he said when asked if the relief pitcher would be the first acquistion.

Dombrowski also cited the unknown tax threshold when talking about being able to find his DH candidate on a preferred short-term deal.

“I do think it’s possible, but I also don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be a short, immediate type of situation,” he said in regards to finding the right player at the preferred price. “There might have to be some patience involved in that because a lot of guys fit that type of description. I also am not really pushing that as much because of the simple situation, we don’t know what the CBT situation is and the rules we’re playing under in the basic agreement. It’s really hard to push this some of those things until you really know what rules you’re playing under.”

As for how the Red Sox will acquire these players, Dombrowski said he doesn’t have a read on which route might be more realistic for either position. Last year he flat-out said his top-of-the-rotation starter would be coming via free agency after trading for closer Craig Kimbrel just a few days after the GM meetings.

“We aren’t aggressively looking to move any of our players,” Dombrowski said. “It’s not one of those situations where you’re sitting there and you’re saying, ‘I have to make this move, I have to make that move.’ We do have depth, but the depth we have we like, too.”

Days of having full-time DH are probably over for Red Sox 11.10.16 at 9:28 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez. (Steve Mitchell/Getty Images Sports)

Hanley Ramirez. (Steve Mitchell/Getty Images Sports)

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — The names have been out and about throughout the GM meetings. Carlos Beltran. Kendrys Morales. Somebody in a trade.

While the Red Sox aren’t quite ready to lock down a primary target to replace David Ortiz, they have settled in on a few realities when it comes to filling the position. First, Dave Dombrowski reiterated Wednesday that he is looking for a short-term deal when committing to the new player (most likely eliminating the candidacy of Edwin Encarnacion). And second, this isn’t likely just going to be a designated hitter.

“We’re not looking to have just a DH,” Dombrowski said. “I think really in today’s game the only way you really do that is to have somebody like David Ortiz and most of the time you really prefer to have some flexibility. It’s not to say somebody won’t settle in most of the time, but your goal is to use the flexibility of the players at this point. We’ll see how that all fits in.”

Just five players manned the DH spot more than 109 games or more, with Ortiz leading the pack at 140 games and Morales and Victor Martinez coming in at 138. After the trio, Albert Pujols totaled 123 games, while Nelson Cruz served as a designated hitter 109 times.

As for some of the candidates, Beltran played 69 games in the outfield in 2016, while Morales manned first base seven times, while serving as an outfielder in five games.

The Red Sox do, of course, have some flexibility thanks to Hanley Ramirez’s work at first base.

Prior to the 2016 season, it was assumed Ramirez would just slide into the DH spot once Ortiz was gone. But the first baseman played his new position well enough that the Red Sox aren’t hesitating throwing him back out in the field for another season.

“He can do both [play first base and DH],” said Dombrowski of Ramirez, who is coming into spring training with the intention of being a full-time first baseman. “He’s capable playing first and he’s also capable of being a DH. He’s capable of doing both during the season. That’s where we have some flexibility.

“He did a nice job for us. He did about as well as you could possibly hope for, and I would think he would continue to get better just because of the familiarity of the position. He worked hard, he’s a natural infielder and he did well.”

If Ramirez didn’t show so well at first, it would obviously be tempting to slide him into the DH spot considering the righty hitter’s previous success. In 48 plate appearances at DH, Ramrirez hit .364 with a 1.167 OPS and four home runs. For his career, he is a .331 hitter with a 1.014 OPS at designated hitter.

“His numbers when he DH’d were pretty good. Not pretty good, real good,” Dombrowski said. “We would think that he’s capable of doing that.”

Red Sox continue to show strong interest in Greg Holland, Carlos Beltran (among others) 11.09.16 at 2:36 pm ET
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Greg Holland continues to be on the Red Sox' radar. (John Rieger/USA Today Sports)

Greg Holland continues to be on the Red Sox’ radar. (John Rieger/USA Today Sports)

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Dave Dombrowski needs a replacement for David Ortiz and an eighth-inning relief pitcher.

But, according to sources, as the GM meetings wind down, no free agents are being classified by the Red Sox as the be-all, end-all in terms of players who might fit those roles.

Two examples of how the Red Sox are currently approaching the vacancies involve the cases of reliever Greg Holland and potential designated hitter Carlos Beltran.

The Sox have continued to show strong interest in Holland, who the organization sent multiple representatives to watch during the reliever’s Monday showcase. Considering Holland’s history as a closer with Kansas City, and the Red Sox’ need for a late-inning reliever, a partnership would make sense.

Reports from the showcase were that Holland, who underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season, showed good health while throwing his fastball in the low 90’s. He will now take six weeks off before resuming his throwing program.

Considering the potential cost of late-inning relievers (such as Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman) in the open market, Holland could represent the kind of investment which figures to be hard to find in this market.

The question will be how much the Red Sox want to allocate to that eighth-inning spot, and if they feel Holland can be more of a certainty than Carson Smith (who Dombrowski suggested would be brought along slowly throughout spring training). In terms of potential eighth-inning relievers who have previously shown the ability to pitch in such high-leverage situations, there simply aren’t a lot of options in the open market.

As for Beltran, the 39-year-old is drawing interest from the Red Sox for obvious reasons. He represents the kind of short-term solution at DH Dombrowski said he is looking for, having come off another solid season (totaling an .850 OPS with 29 homers between New York and Texas).

But, as one source said, Beltran shouldn’t be classified as the only Plan A for the Red Sox, with the team telling some in MLB trades to fill the position are still a strong possibility.

It doesn’t look like Chris Sale is going to be heading to Red Sox any time soon 11.09.16 at 11:41 am ET
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It doesn't appear the Red Sox will be making a hard push at acquiring Chris Sale this offseason. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

It doesn’t appear the Red Sox will be making a hard push at acquiring Chris Sale this offseason. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Piece together the comments from David Dombrowski and Rick Hahn over the last few days and you’ll be able to come to the conclusion that Chris Sale or Jose Quintana aren’t coming to Boston before 2017 kicks off.

Here’s what Dombrowski said on the first day of the GM meetings when asked if the Red Sox might dive into the starting pitching market, like they attempted to do last offseason: “I would be surprised. We have six starting pitchers right now. One of them is one of three finalists for the Cy Young Award [Rick Porcello]. Another is a Cy Young Award past winner we think very highly of [David Price]. Steven Wright made the All-Star team and we look for Steven [Wright] to be healthy. [Drew] Pomeranz made the All-Star team and we look for him to be healthy. And Eduardo Rodriguez we really like a great deal. We picked up [Clay] Buchholz’s option so we have a little bit of depth. Could we? Sure. Is it one of our top priorities? I would say no.”

And then the White Sox general manager chimed in on the matter Tuesday: “I don’t know if [the lack of starting pitching in the free agent market] changes our mindset. It may well change the value of control of premium talent given the absence of it in the market. That may therefore increase the return of a potential trade and move us more toward the position of making a deal. It doesn’t change how we value that talent. It doesn’t change our appreciation for how special and scarce that talent is. If other teams are sharing that view as well and are aggressive because of it, then we have to make a judgment what’s best for the organization over the long-term.

“[Chris Sale’s] understandably a popular name. He’s not alone on our roster, but he’s certainly the one who attracts the most headlines and speculation, and with good cause. He’s a perennial Cy Young contender. He’s in his prime and controllable for the next three years, so it certainly makes sense why people are asking.”

Not a top priority.

A potentially bigger payoff than what was coming last season.

And how about when the Red Sox last made a play for Sale and/or Quintanta, prior to the non-waiver trade deadline?

“No, we were not,” said Dombrowski when asked if he was ever close to a deal with the White Sox. “The biggest difference is that we have different needs than we did then. We’re not looking for a starting pitcher now.”

The White Sox might be more willing to deal Sale and/or Quintana than at this time last year, but the price certainly hasn’t gone down. And if that’s the case, with Dombrowski also saying Tuesday that he expects all six of his starters to be on the team heading into spring training, a legitimate push to get either of these pitchers doesn’t seem realistic.

“We have an obligation to listen on everybody,” Hahn said. “It’s no different this year as it has been the last several years in that Chris is an extremely desirable target in the game given his talent, given the control, given the scarcity of similar players. We’ve always had the obligation to listen and understand the value, not only of Chris but the other players on our roster. It doesn’t make us eager to move him. We feel he’s a fit for all 30 clubs, including us. Our goal is to always have him on the front end of a championship White Sox team pitching deep into October, but we need to understand the market value and the other players and do what’s best the long-term interest of the organization.”

Yankees GM Brian Cashman explains why David Ortiz never got to New York’s ‘door’ 11.09.16 at 11:00 am ET
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Todays Sports)

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Todays Sports)

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — At very times throughout David Ortiz’s career, it appeared there might be some opportunities to explore interest from other organizations.

When it was all said and done, Ortiz signed seven different contracts with the Red Sox, with some coming close enough to the end that the potential of free agency was at least discussed. And when hitting the open market entered into the conversation, so did the idea of playing home games at Yankee Stadium.

Yet despite the sometimes logical fit, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says he never entertained the possibility of Ortiz switching sides.

“I never thought he would be a free agent,” Cashman said from the GM Meetings. “He would always successfully create turbulence to make it look like, ‘I’ll leave you guys!’ He would pop off to scare the beejeezies out of those guys, but he never got to our door. I know the Pedro [Martinez] stuff worked out when Pedro knocked on our door, but he never did.”

The “Pedro stuff” Cashman referenced was when Martinez became a free agent after the 2004 season, ultimately signing with the Mets.

“Pedro met with [former Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner]. He tried to be a Yankee, but his medicals weren’t good enough, and that’s why Boston walked away from him,” Cashman recalled.

While Cashman was never sold Ortiz would leave the Red Sox, he does credit the now-retired designated hitter for how he maneuvered through a few years of uncertainty.

“He’s a smart man,” the GM said. “He was a successful, great player, and a smart player, too.”

Mookie Betts wins American League Gold Glove for right field 11.08.16 at 8:47 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has come a long way from being a second baseman trying to play outfield.

The Red Sox right fielder claimed the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, beating all other American League right fielders. Here is more on Betts’ honor courtesy a team-released statement:

The Gold Glove honors the best defenders at each position in each league. Major League managers and coaches, voting only within their league and unable to vote for players on their own teams, account for 75 percent of the selection process; the sabermetrics community accounts for the other 25 percent.

This marks the first career Gold Glove Award for Betts, who led American League outfielders with a .997 fielding percentage, committing only one error in 361 total chances. At only 24 years old, he is the youngest Red Sox player to win a Gold Glove Award at any position since Fred Lynn earned the honor in 1975 as a 23-year-old outfielder.

According to FanGraphs, Betts’ 32 defensive runs saved in 2016 were 10 more than any other player at any position. He was a part of four double plays—tied for most among major league outfielders—and recorded 14 assists, second-most among right fielders behind only Adam Eaton (15). The only other Red Sox player since 1960 to record as many as 14 assists as a right fielder is Dwight Evans, who reached that total four times.

Voted the starting right fielder in the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, Betts made each of his 157 regular-season starts at the position, more than any other major leaguer this season. He also led all right fielders in innings (1,381.2) and putouts (346) in 2016.

This is the 44th Gold Glove Award in Red Sox history—earned by 21 different players—since the award’s inception in 1957. Betts is the 10th Red Sox player to win a Gold Glove Award as an outfielder, joining Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ellis Burks, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, Jackie Jensen, and Jimmy Piersall.

The Red Sox have earned at least one Gold Glove Award in seven of the last 12 seasons (since 2005), totaling 10 awards in that time. Prior to Betts, the club’s last honoree was Dustin Pedroia in 2014.

Fan voting for the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award presented by SABR begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET at www.rawlings.com and continues through tomorrow, November 9, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Fans can select only one 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner from each league to take home this “best of the best” honor.

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