|Sources: John Henry makes trip to visit Jon Lester||12.06.14 at 3:00 pm ET|
With Lester on the cusp of making a decision as to where he might sign, Henry´s visit was thought to be a chance for the owner to re-emphasize the Red Sox´ interest in signing the lefty. It was the second time Henry has met with Lester at the pitcher´s home during the free agent process, although the previous get-together was with other members of Sox´ownership.
It is believed that while a decision is expected from Lester at some point during the upcoming winter meetings, negotiations with multiple teams (Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants) remain fluid.
|Sources: Dodgers have serious interest in Jon Lester, poised for potential late negotiating push||12.03.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
While the Red Sox, Cubs and Giants have all been part of a public courtship process of Jon Lester, interest from the industry’s financial heavyweights — the Yankees and Dodgers — had not been documented. But, multiple sources connected to teams interested in Lester have told WEEI.com that the Dodgers are a late entrant into the sweepstakes, with both serious interest in the top left-hander on the market and the resources to make a hard, late charge.
One industry source was under the impression that the Dodgers had already entered the bidding with an offer to Lester, while another characterized the Dodgers as poised to play a role similar to the one made by the Yankees in December 2008, when New York swooped in late to sign Mark Teixeira away from other interested bidders with a high bid of eight years and $180 million. A third noted of the Dodgers’ potential interest that Lester, “could help any team looking to win championships,” the unquestioned bar for a Los Angeles team that is after its first title since 1988.
The basis of a run at Lester by the Dodgers is fairly self-explanatory. While the team has the most dominant pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw and an elite No. 2 in Zack Greinke, the depth behind them is less than dominant — particularly given that Greinke can opt out of his six-year, $147 million deal after the 2015 season (the third year of his contract).
(Sidenote: Greinke’s deal likely would offer the opening framework for conversations with Lester given the career similarities of the two at the time of their free agency. Greinke secured his deal after the 2012 season, when, in 1,492 innings, he had a 91-78 record, 3.77 ERA, 114 ERA+, 8.0 strikeouts per nine and 2.3 walks per nine. Lester has logged 1,596 innings with a 116-67 record, 3.58 ERA, 121 ERA+, 8.2 strikeouts per nine and 3.1 walks per nine.)
Josh Beckett was excellent while healthy (2.88 ERA) for a half-season, but not only missed the final months of the season but announced his intention to retire after the conclusion of the season. Hyun-Jin Ryu had a strong 14-7 record and 3.38 ERA, though he logged just 152 innings and his ERA+ of 103 suggests he was in part a beneficiary of a very pitcher-friendly climate in the NL West (though his fielding-independent pitching (FIP) mark of 2.62 suggests that his excellent strikeout rate (8.2 per nine), low walks total (1.7 per nine) and stinginess allowing homers (0.5 per nine) could have yielded far better results but for the poor defense behind him). Dan Haren was a solid back-of-the-rotation contributor, with a 4.02 ERA (87 ERA+ — meaning 13 percent worse than league average when adjusted for park conditions), but he’s been a below-average performer (in terms of ERA+) for three years, and the Dodgers turned to Kershaw on three days of rest and skipped Haren in their NLDS elimination game against the Dodgers.
Lester has something that none of those Dodgers pitchers possesses — a tremendous postseason track record that now accompanies his career-best performance over the last year and a half.
The Dodgers, of course, have financial resources that can match those of any team in baseball, particularly at a time when Greinke may be within a year of entering free agency and when the team might be able to clear some payroll by moving one of its expensive outfielders (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford). One source went so far as to suggest he would be “shocked” if the Dodgers don’t end up being the high bid in the Lester sweepstakes, though whether that proves the case — or whether he ultimately would make his decision on the basis of the highest offer — remains to be seen.
|Source: Red Sox hire Chili Davis to become hitting coach||10.19.14 at 6:11 pm ET|
According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with Chili Davis to become their next hitting coach.
Davis, who worked as the hitting coach for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011, has been the Oakland A’s hitting coach for the past three seasons. Though the A’s finished third in the AL in runs per game (4.5) under Davis this year, the team’s offense went into a tailspin in the final two months of the season, likely contributing to the A’s willingness to let the Sox talk to Davis, at a time when he remained under contract with Oakland.
The Sox chose Davis from a pool that also included Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers, Red Sox Double-A hitting coach Rich Gedman, Angels hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento and former Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller.
UPDATED (9:13 p.m.): According to one source, with Davis on board, the Red Sox will conduct interviews for the position of assistant hitting coach starting this week, with the team wanting to get the input of Davis on making that hire to ensure a comfortable working relationship with whomever is chosen. Davis does have a prior history with Victor Rodriguez, who was the Red Sox’ assistant hitting coach in 2013 and 2014, after serving as hitting coordinator for several seasons prior to that — including 2011, when Rodriguez was the minor league hitting coordinator at a time when Davis was the hitting coach for Triple-A Pawtucket.
The current candidate pool (and whether it includes Rodriguez) for the assistant hitting coach position remains unknown, though it is believed that the Sox may talk with some of the individuals who were candidates for the position of hitting coach about the assistant position.
|Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn won’t return in 2015||10.03.14 at 11:27 am ET|
The Red Sox announced that hitting coach Greg Colbrunn “has elected not to return to the position for the 2015 season.” According to multiple sources, he was offered a position in the organization, but declined.
In a text, Colbrunn said he was unsure if he wanted to work in baseball for the coming season, but if he did it would have to be close to his South Carolina home.
One year after Colbrunn served as the hitting coach of a team that led the majors with 5.27 runs per game en route to a World Series, he oversaw a squad that managed just 3.91 runs per game, 11th in the American League. Colbrunn also spent time away from the team in June due to a brain hemorrhage that resulted in his hospitalization. Over time, upon his return to the team in July, he was able to build back to his regular duties amidst a dramatic second-half roster overhaul.
Prior to joining the Sox as the lead hitting coach of their two-coach structure (with Victor Rodriguez, a longtime Sox minor league coach and coordinator, as the assistant hitting coach), he’d spent six seasons as the hitting coach and manager of the Yankees‘ Single-A affiliate in Charleston, S.C., where Colbrunn makes his offseason home.
One name to keep an eye on in regards to replacing Colbrunn is former Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. Magadan has one more year on his current contract with the Rangers, but with Texas in the process of looking for another manager a reunion with the Sox might make sense. (Magadan’s wife is from New Hampshire.)
|Red Sox pregame notes: Rusney Castillo to make Red Sox debut on Wednesday||09.16.14 at 7:57 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Rusney Castillo is about to become a bit less mysterious.
Castillo will lead off and play center field for Pawtucket in the Triple-A championship game on Tuesday night in Charlotte, NC. Once that contest is concluded, he’ll fly to Pittsburgh to join the Red Sox, with a Wednesday night start in center field in the offing. The initial, brief read on his performance through 10 minor league playoff games — two in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, four in Double-A Portland and four more with Triple-A Pawtucket — has been favorable, particularly when taking into account that it had been roughly a year and a half since he’d last played baseball in a competitive environment.
He’s hitting .297 with a .381 OBP, .405 slugging mark, five walks, seven strikeouts and four doubles to this point. The Sox have seen some evidence of the athleticism and energy that scouts have seen for years.
“He’s an electric player and there’s a lot of skills here, it’s explosive, it’s quick twitch. Looking forward to seeing him in this environment,” said manager John Farrell, who said that, at the plate, “he’s handled himself well, and given the time off since he last played competitively, his at-bats have been productive, they’ve been consistent.” The defense has also been at least solid according to the reports of Triple-A manager Kevin Boles, with his reads and routes being described as average but with his closing speed permitting his range to exceed such descriptions.
While the early signs have been promising, Farrell suggested that it will be important to recognize that Castillo remains in spring training mode. While he is expected to play regularly, he will play less than everyday (in part due to the gradual buildup of his workload, in part because the Sox still have to work in other outfielders). Meanwhile, a team source said that Castillo is not expected to serve as the leadoff hitter — at least in the immediate term — while getting acclimated to the big leagues.
“I think it’s important for us to keep in mind and keep in perspective that it’s been a year and a half. He’s just kind of getting back into game shape,” said Farrell. “I think the goal going in for the games that he’s on the field is for him to just experience the environment. We’ve got a little bit of a read on him right now on where his strengths and limitations might be but that’s just an initial view. We’re still in the getting familiar stage of all this. I think any judgment on my part is reserved until we get to see him more.”
|Dustin Pedroia may be shut down for season||09.09.14 at 4:17 pm ET|
He’s got some soreness in the left hand, and he’s been getting treatment on it for some time now. As it has worsened some, we felt like he needs to give this a little bit of a break,” said Farrell. “I can’t say whether it’s directly related to the repair that he went through last year, but an MRI did reveal that it’s got further inflammation in the left hand, left wrist area. … It’s been a little while, and yet he’s been banged up a little bit and being able to manage it to a certain extent while still playing. As it continued to worsen a little bit, we backed him off.”
Farrell didn’t know yet if surgery would be an option, saying that Pedroia has been dealing with the issue for a while. The team, the manager said, is still working to gather more information about the extent of the injury and options for dealing with it.
“It’s had an impact, there’s no doubt,” said Farrell. “To what extent is hard to say, but he’s dealt with this for some time.”
Farrell said that Pedroia had continued to play because there was no risk of further injury, but given his worsening health, the team recognized the need to evaluate him.
“If he were to continue to play, does it put him at further risk? I don’t think that the medical staff is saying he’s at further risk. It’s just to the point where the discomfort is there, and we’re taking some time now to gather all the information and lay out the best plan going forward for him,” said Farrell. :His long-term health is the most important thing, and that will always be kept in the forefront.”
Pedroia is currently batting .278 with seven homers, scoring 72 runs , having played 134 games. He has also walked 51 times, while totaling 75 strikeouts.
Jemile Weeks is the Red Sox‘ starting lineup Tuesday, hitting eighth. Farrell said that when Brock Holt recovers from both a recent illness and a stiff neck, the team would like him to be its primary second baseman. He suggested that, for now, the team does not expect to consider Mookie Betts at second, instead preferring to continue his regular work in the outfield.
|No fracture, but David Ortiz day-to-day after suffering foot contusion||08.24.14 at 5:08 pm ET|
Ortiz exited after favoring the foot while rounding first base on a single to deep right field. Upon returning to the base, the DH walked off the field with manager John Farrell.
The initial injury seemingly occurred in the fourth inning with one out when Ortiz fouled a ball off the inside of his foot, sending the DH to the ground while bringing on the Red Sox training staff. An initial fluoroscan on the foot after Ortiz was removed from the game did not show a fracture.
“He’s day-to-day. The foul ball off the foot obviously after he hits a ball off the wall in right and can only get to first base. It’s a contusion. The fluoroscan at this point proved negative. No fractures of any kind based on that test,” said Farrell. “We’ll check him once we get to the ballpark tomorrow and obviously throughout the night tonight.
Ortiz reached two more times (single, walk) in his four plate appearances, making it 20 times he has safely gotten on base in his last 26 plate appearances. While Kelly Johnson — who entered as a pinch-runner — hit a double in his first plate appearance, the fact that Johnson rather than Ortiz was at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, ultimately striking out to conclude the Sox’ 8-6 loss, represented a source of some frustration for the Sox.
“Anytime you lose David Ortiz out of your lineup, it’s a hole. That’s not to take anything away from Kelly Johnson who doubled in his first at-bat. We’d like to have David up at the plate more often than the four or five times a night to begin with,” said Farrell. “It’s someone that we miss, who’s been a main cog in our offense daily and year-to-date. Hopefully this is just a short-lived loss in the lineup for him.”
|John Farrell: ‘No new news’ on Jon Lester as deadline nears||07.30.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
“Jon-ny Les-ter! Jon-ny Les-ter!”
It was a spontaneous crowd tribute to a pitcher who has spent his career with the Red Sox since the team drafted him in 2002, who has spent every day of his nine-season big-league career calling Fenway Park home. It was a moment of recognition that, by the time the dust settles on the Major League Baseball trade deadline at 4 p.m. on Thursday, there’s a very real chance that Jon Lester will no longer be a member of the Red Sox.
“We were well aware of it, heard it. Wouldn’t expect anything less,” said Sox manager John Farrell after the game. “This is a fan base that is very much in tune with what we’re doing, good and bad, and I think it’s a clear sign of support for Jon.”
Lester, said Farrell, was in the dugout for the full nine innings of the Sox’ listless loss to the Blue Jays. And as of the end of the game, the manager added, there was nothing to report regarding the possibility of a trade.
“No new news or any progression of any sort to announce,” said Farrell. Read the rest of this entry »
|As talks advance, Red Sox scratch Jon Lester; Brandon Workman to start Wednesday||07.29.14 at 10:41 pm ET|
With trade winds blowing around Jon Lester, the Red Sox have scratched the left-hander from his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Blue Jays. The team will recall Brandon Workman from Triple-A Pawtucket.
“In light of all the uncertainty surrounding Jon Lester, it’s probably in everyone’s best interests that he does not make that start, so Brandon will be recalled,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays. “There will be a corresponding move roster-wise at some point tomorrow.”
That corresponding move, of course, could be a trade that sends Lester elsewhere. The 30-year-old — amidst a season in which he’s 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA — represents one of the foremost chips on the market.
One general manager who has checked in with the Red Sox said that it was looking like a deal would be done either on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Industry sources suggest that some teams that had been involved in talks for the pitcher are exiting the running for his services, including the two AL East teams — the Orioles and Blue Jays — that had been kicking the tires on the pitcher.
UPDATE (11:19 p.m.): According to an industry source, multiple teams remain involved in negotiations about a potential Lester trade, suggesting that a deal is not yet in place.
|Red Sox cautiously optimistic Shane Victorino ready for activation on Saturday||07.19.14 at 8:17 am ET|
According to a team source, the Red Sox are cautiously optimistic that right fielder Shane Victorino will be ready for activation on Saturday against the Royals. Manager John Farrell told reporters on Friday night that Victorino would be examined at Fenway Park on Saturday to verify that he’s ready to return from the D.L.
Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings in his second of back-to-back games with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, and he was 3-for-8 over the two games (with all three hits coming against right-handed pitchers). The 33-year-old has played in just 21 games this year, spending the majority of the year on the sidelines in two separated disabled list stints for hamstring strains, the second of which was complicated by back discomfort. Victorino is hitting .242 with a .276 OBP and .352 slugging mark, and given the fitful nature of his season, the Sox have rarely benefited from the dynamic player who impacted the game in numerous ways last year.
“We’ve missed his energy. We’ve missed his talents, his in-game decision, his instincts on the basepaths — we’ve missed a very good player for the majority of the year,” said Farrell, who added that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Victorino requires some time of readjustment at the major league level before he achieves familiar levels of production given the amount of time that he’s missed.
If Victorino is activated, the Red Sox, according to an industry source, are expected to create a roster spot by optioning Mookie Betts back to Triple-A. Though hitting just .235 with a .278 OBP and .382 slugging mark, Betts has shown flashes of a far-reaching skill set. Yet he’s played in just 10 games in the three weeks since his promotion from Triple-A, and concerns about both the need for his playing time and a desire for Betts to gain further comfort in the outfield (where his routes are, unsurprisingly, a work in progress given that he has spent less than two months in the outfield as a pro) point to the merits of sending Betts back down.
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