|Car crashes take lives of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte||01.22.17 at 11:32 am ET|
Tragedy struck the baseball world early Sunday morning.
According to multiple reports, a pair of car crashes in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning took the lives for Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte. The two were reportedly separate incidents.
— Cristian Moreno|ESPN (@CristianMorenoD) January 22, 2017
— J.M.G. Baseball (@JMG_baseball) January 22, 2017
Ventura was considered one of the most promising young starting pitchers in the American League, going 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts with the Royals in 2016. The 25-year-old went 14-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2014, and 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA the following season.
The right carried one of the best fastballs in the league, ranking second in the majors in 2014 for hardest average heater among MLB starters. His performance in 2014 resulted in the Royals signing him to a five-year, $23 million extension.
Marte, who was 33 years old, never played for the Red Sox, but was part of one of the organization’s most memorable trades in recent years.
Prior to the 2006 season, the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox from the Braves in exchange for shortstop Edgar Renteria. At the time Marte was considered the ninth-best prospect in baseball, and immediately became the Red Sox’ top minor-leaguer.
Just more than a month later, however, Marte would be dealt by the Red Sox to the Indians in a trade that brought back Coco Crisp. He would go on to 308 major league games with Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, emerging in the big leagues for the last time in 2014 with the Diamondbacks.
Marte played for KT Wiz of the Korean Baseball League in 2016, and was in the midst of participating in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.
|Pedro Martinez on Trenni & Tomase: ‘I still believe David [Ortiz] is going to give it another try’ and return to baseball||01.21.17 at 9:58 pm ET|
Still dreaming of David Ortiz rejoining the Red Sox? Perhaps this will make you feel better — Pedro Martinez believes it’s going to happen.
Speaking on the Trenni & Tomase program on Saturday from Foxwoods, where the Red Sox were holding their Winter Weekend, Martinez made it clear that he’s 100 percent skeptical of Ortiz’s decision to retire, and believes it’s only a matter of time before he laces up his cleats again.
“David says he’s retired,” Martinez said. “But I still believe David is going to give it another try. I don’t know why I have that feeling that David might want to do that. I just don’t see David, having the type of season that he had, and having the success that he was still having, sitting at home wasting it. David is too smart. I still believe David is going to feel the little itch of coming back to spring training.”
What gives Martinez such confidence in this bold prediction, which flies in the face of literally everything Ortiz has said since announcing his retirement before last season?
“Because imagine, I’m one of his closest friends,” Martinez said. “And I’m going to have to come to spring training, so he’s going to be left in the Dominican alone. I know that he needs some time off. If he stays at home with his wife, his kids, it’s going to get boring sooner or later, and I believe he’s going to come over.
“I think the toughest thing is going to be when he finds himself with so much time, and not having a regimen to follow,” Martinez added. “That’s going to be really difficult for David, a man that’s used to swinging the bat 500 times a day, mingling with his friends and teammates and all that. It’s just going to be difficult.”
Martinez knows how hard it is to walk away. He retired after pitching in the 2009 World Series for the Phillies and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years later.
“[Ortiz] always laughs when I tell him that comfy is not that simple,” Martinez said. “To just sit at home and see every other player, every other friend you have go away, and then you’re sitting at home and not having something to do, it’s really difficult to deal with.”
So what Martinez is saying is there’s a chance, then? He’s not closing the door on Big Papi pulling on No. 34 again?
“No. No, I’m not,” he said. “And I won’t. Until the year goes by, I won’t.”
|David Price on past racist comments: ‘I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore’||01.21.17 at 5:57 pm ET|
Appearing on the Trenni & Tomase Show from the Red Sox’ Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Saturday, Price elaborated on the topic.
“I was raised to not see anybody different than myself, stuff like that. For me, it’s different. I think it got taken a little bit out of context, the way that I said it. I enjoy being in Boston,” Price said. “As tough as it was, I can only imagine having the year that Porc had, seeing the support that he poured into on a day to day basis. For me, that’s what it’s all about. I understood it was a very tough place to pitch and to play. I welcome that. That’s something that I want. That’s not to prove anybody wrong. I want to prove myself right. I know I’m capable of doing this. We have the zero-tolerance in the dugout, and out in the bullpen. All the guys reached out to me. Sam Kennedy, Dave and Kevin, all of them. It was something we talked about. It stinks that it happens, but I’ve heard it my entire life. It’s something that I heard. It’s not something that bothers me. I’m not going to let their ignorance slow me down or be an obstacle in my way. That’s just the way that I’ve been raised. I’m immune to it.”
When asked if he did, indeed, experience the kind of derogatory verbiage mentioned, Price said, “It can be a tough place to play. I’ve experienced it on the other side, sitting in the third base dugout. They love this team. I like that. I really do like that. People can have a little bit too much fun sometimes, whether it’s having too much to drink or whatever it is. To me, I don’t worry about it. I’m having my child in Boston. I’m going to raise him for however long I’m in Boston. That’s where he’s going to be. I love the city of Boston. I like the people here. Everything. I don’t think it speaks for the entire city.”
Price did say, however, the talk didn’t have an effect on him at the time he experienced it.
“I don’t really think I had a reaction to it,” he noted. “It’s not something I think about. I heard it all at a very young age. Kids say a lot of silly stuff to other kids. I’ve heard it. I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. I plan on dominating for the next six years and it’s only going to be positivity coming out of everybody’s mouths.”
|Tom Werner on David Price hearing racist taunts at Fenway: ‘We have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of behavior’||01.20.17 at 7:29 pm ET|
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Whatever David Price heard in Fenway Park last season, owners John Henry and Tom Werner insist they’ll do everything in their power to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Price told the Boston Globe last week that he heard racist taunts at Fenway last year, though he didn’t make it sound like a common occurrence. Speaking at Foxwoods before the team kicked off its Winter Weekend on Friday night, the owners expressed their dismay.
“I heard about this,” Werner said. “We haven’t talked to David, but we have a zero-tolerance policy for that kind of behavior. If we hear that somebody is taunting somebody, then he’ll be ejected from Fenway Park. As somebody who feels very strongly about this, there’s no grey area here. If this was happening with David, and I know he modified his remarks afterward and said this was something that happened to him as well previously, but there’s no behavior like that that will be tolerated.”
The owners also touched on a couple of other topics.
— On the belief that trading prospects has created a three-year window:
“I don’t think that has changed a lot since we first arrived,” Henry said. “This should be a very strong team for the next three years. There’s no way we could’ve signed every young player we have. We have so many. I think we’re good for the next three years. Beyond that, we have a terrific general manager and terrific resources, thanks to our fans. You have to feel good about this club.”
— On bringing David Ortiz out of retirement, which isn’t happening:
“He has not indicated that that’s of interest to him,” Werner said. “He knows that we’d love to figure out some way for him to be an important part of the organization going forward. We’re going to be seeing him next week [in the Dominican Republic] and beyond that, I think he’s having a good time in his offseason. I think he’s learning how to play tennis.”
— On signing Mookie Betts and/or Xander Bogaerts to contract extensions:
“It is important, but it takes two,” Henry said. “We’ll do everything we can.”
|How many times must we be reminded David Ortiz isn’t playing? Just in case, here are two more||01.20.17 at 2:09 pm ET|
The designated hitter has really bad heels/feet/lower legs, as was described by the man, Dan Dyrek, who helped keep him together for that final season.
But still, we have to execute a seemingly weekly exercise of wondering if Ortiz will magically reappear for 2017.
Well, he’s not. And the past two days, we were allowed a pair of reminders that nothing has changed.
First, prior to the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner Thursday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell did his best to punctuate the conversation.
“Oh yeah, he’s retired,” Farrell said. “There’s no fake tweets. No blank tweets. Whatever those might be, I don’t know. Yeah, we’re not waiting for David to walk through the door.”
And then Ortiz offered what might be construed as a hint that he is still trying to remain in playing shape, a video of him working out. But if you turn on the audio, he can be heard saying, “I’m not a player anymore.” So there you go.
|Pablo Sandoval inexplicably thinking about playing in World Baseball Classic||01.19.17 at 5:07 pm ET|
Starting pitchers David Price, Rick Porcello and Chris Sale? Nope.
Eduardo Rodriguez? We’ll see. The lefty was slated to get his right knee checked in Boston this week, with a decision being made after the diagnosis.
Closer Craig Kimbrel remains a maybe, with Sandy Leon, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts all choosing not to play.
Definitely playing will be Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez.
All of the decisions really didn’t come with any surprises. But then there was one: Pablo Sandoval.
According to Farrell, the third baseman is considering playing for his native Venezuela in the upcoming WBC. Considering Sandoval is coming off a serious shoulder injury, and he has to still compete for the starting job at third, such a scenario wasn’t really on anyone’s radar.
“I think that’ll probably garner more discussion because those three weeks, the potential of those three weeks in a situation where you’re competing for a job is important,” Farrell said. “We don’t want to stand in a player’s way if there’s not a pending health situation. Granted he went through a shoulder surgery last May. Still, that would be in discussion if that were to come up.”
Farrell confirmed that despite the optimism surrounding Sandoval, thanks in large part to the wave of Instagram posts has offered throughout the offseason, he will still have to prove his worth heading into 2017.
“Compliments to Pablo, he’s done a great job with the work he’s put in, the commitment he’s made,” Farrell said. “He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there is work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance. That’s the reason he was signed here. We’ve got a versatile team as well. In the event, we have to find what the best matchup is for us, whether that’s Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge — the beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp. That was born out of third base last year and that won’t change.”
Sandoval did participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
|Wondering if Red Sox, Mookie Betts are talking contract extension? ‘Not a peep’||01.19.17 at 4:28 pm ET|
One of those players who will continue to be a centerpiece of the conversations regarding possible contract extensions is Mookie Betts.
Betts is heading into his final year before becoming arbitration-eligible, having just finished second in the American League MVP voting. Considering he is entering the same service time Mike Trout did when he inked a six-year, $144.5 million extension just before the start of the 2014 regular season, the idea that the Red Sox and their outfielder might have had some talks is a very legitimate road to go down.
But, according to Betts, there are no signs any kind of extension is in the works.
“Not a peep. Not a peep. Nothing at all,” the 24-year-old told WEEI.com at the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner Thursday afternoon when asked if his representatives have had any contract discussions with the Red Sox.
Would it be something he would like to push for?
“Nah. Not right now,” Betts explained. “One year at a time. One year at a time and we’ll go from there. I’m going to go year by year and worry about one year at a time. Just go out, win and kind of keep my focus there.
“There are so many different views of things. I know what me, my parents and my agents talk about. We have one view and I don’t want to have three or four different views on that thing. I just want to have one view and kind of stick to it.”
And that one view is …
“One year at a time,” he reiterated.
As for one of the other 24-year-old foundational players on the Red Sox roster, Xander Bogaerts, he continues to keep his intentions close to the vest when it comes to the possibility of an extension. When asked if his agent, Scott Boras, has had talks with the team, the shortstop offered, “I would definitely say I’m looking forward to next year.”
Bogaerts recently agreed to a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration in his first year he was eligible for the process. That leaves him with two more offseasons of arbitration-eligibility before having a crack at free agency following the 2019 season.
“I haven’t even played my first arbitration year. I have two more years to go. Maybe after that first year I’ll be like, ‘Oh crap, I have only two more years.’ But I still feel like I’m at the minimum right now. But I haven’t got it so I can’t tell you that feeling,” said Bogaerts, who was also attending Thursday’s event.
“I like the city, and I enjoy my time here, but in the end if you go out there and do your job to help the team win, anything can happen. If you go out there and play well, the team will see that and maybe you can get something done. If not, we’ll see what happens. I know I enjoy my time here, I like it here and I have three more years here. I’m looking forward to it.
“You see numbers every day. Offseason is the time where you see everybody signing, and a few extensions here and there. It all depends. In season you probably don’t want to talk as much. So offseason is probably the best time. I just know I have two more years here, for sure, if they don’t get rid of me. If you play good, there are a lot of things that are possible. It’s on me to go out there and perform.”
|Hall of Fame voter explains why he checked off name of former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek||01.19.17 at 11:56 am ET|
If you’re wondering who gave Jason Varitek two votes for the Hall of Fame, we have half our answer.
The Trentonian’s Jay Dunn made his ballot public a month ago, and in it he laid out the case for the former Red Sox captain.
“[Pudge Rodriguez’s] presence on the ballot is likely to overshadow two other first times — Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek — both of whom were catchers. Neither had Hall of Fame numbers and I don’t expect either to get a lot of support, but both of them are getting my vote. Both of them were irreplaceable cogs to successful teams.
“Posada was the backstop for a Yankees team that won five consecutive World Championships [sic]. He was one of only three men to play as a regular on five teams. I doubt that streak would have occurred if the Yankees had a different catcher.
“Varitek was the catcher when the Red Sox won championships in 2004 and 2007. He was an iron man on both teams, [catching] almost every game not started by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Probably no one, not even David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, had more to do with the success of those teams than Varitek did.”
Dunn is sure to be mocked and ridiculed for his selection, especially since the Yankees never won five straight titles on Posada’s watch, but here’s why I think such outlier votes should be embraced as part of the selection process.
|Wondering about evolution of Red Sox clubhouse? Jackie Bradley Jr. gives striking example||01.18.17 at 10:16 am ET|
But there was also a very real difference in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, as well.
While so many focused on the presence of David Ortiz in the designated hitter’s last season, the team’s aura was being defined by the group of young players who finally became secure enough in their major league existence to not just silently worry about their own lot in life.
Bradley Jr. Betts. Brock Holt. Travis Shaw. Xander Bogaerts. Andrew Benintendi. Christian Vazquez. Blake Swihart. And the additional veteran presence of Chris Young. While Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were supplying their usual brand of leadership, the increased comfort level of the aforementioned group of position players became a very powerful dynamic.
Perhaps the most noticeable example of the evolution was Bradley Jr. He explained when appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast:
“Believe it or not, I’ve never really told anybody, this year was the first year I actually felt I was part of a team. In previous year, I stayed up the majority of year. But I didn’t really feel like I fit in. I was still trying to work through some things. I wasn’t sure when I was going to be up there at a particular time. The only reason why I started in 2014 there was because Shane [Victorino] got injured the last game of spring training so I didn’t necessarily make the team in 2014, even though a lot of people think I did. Just kind of finding myself and knowing what I need to do. I think this year was where I actually developed very strong bonds and close-knit relationships with people, not saying I didn’t have that before, but as a whole I was able to put everything together.”
While so many wonder about how the Red Sox are going to survive without Ortiz’s guidance, this reality should be understood.
Who knows how it will translate on the field. But whatever happens, it most likely won’t be pinned on the kind of uneasiness that Bradley Jr. explained.
|Which current Red Sox will make it into Cooperstown? Dustin Pedroia is building his case||01.17.17 at 10:58 pm ET|
That’s why we should spend today having a different conversation.
We have plenty of time for the David Ortiz talk. Until the year 2021, to be exact. So with the designated hitter starting his Hall of Fame clock, now we can turn to which player still wearing a Red Sox uniform should be considered Cooperstown-worthy.
It’s a debate that might take a bit more effort — which, as we found out through the latest round of balloting, isn’t often times a favorite of voters. But a worthy exercise, nonetheless.
Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts have Hall of Fame talent. That much we do know. But their cautionary tale is teammate Hanley Ramirez, who through is first five years as a major leaguer had .313 batting average and .906 OPS to along with the sixth-most total bases from 2006-10.
Now we can’t, with all good conscious, introduce Ramirez into any Hall of Fame conversation.
The pitchers? David Price could make a run at it. Through his first eight seasons he has the third-most wins over that span, equaling Clayton Kershaw. The lefty has also turned in more innings than all but four starters, while managing a 3.23 ERA, all while pitching exclusively in the American League.
Hall of Famer Randy Johnson had 20 fewer wins and a 3.55 during his first eight full seasons in the bigs, hitting his ninth legit year two years older than Price. So there is a chance.
But with the volatility of pitchers’ shoulders and elbows, projecting into their 30’s, is a dangerous proposition.
That brings us to Dustin Pedroia.
The Red Sox’ second baseman has put himself in a pretty good position.
His health is obviously the wild card. But for the sake of this discussion, we will work under the assumption that Pedroia is going to be using the momentum of last season’s health (154 games) to stay on the field.
The foundation of his case should be with the most recent second baseman to enter the Hall, Craig Biggio. Through the same number of plate appearances Pedroia currently own (6,280), the former Astro owned a .290 batting average and .809 OPS with 126 homers. They’re all numbers the Sox’ star eclipse, with both players hitting the plate appearance jumping off point at relatively the same age.
As we sit here right now, Pedroia has a career batting average of .301, an .811 OPS and 133 homers.
Biggio did go on to play nine more seasons, but hit just .269 during that stretch with a modest .776 OPS.
Perhaps comparing Pedroia to a sure-fire first ballot middle infielder might offer more of a convincing case. Let’s use Derek Jeter.
Through that 6,280 plate-appearance jumping off point, Jeter is ahead of Pedroia. But not by as much as you might think. During that start of the former Yankee’s career, he hit .315 with an .850 OPS and 151 homers. The rest of the way? Jeter totaled 6,271 plate appearances over just more than nine seasons and hit .304 with a .785 OPS.
Catching Jeter might not be realistic, but presenting a better case than Biggio? That isn’t out of the realm of possibility. And if that’s the case, then you should have another Red Sox Hall of Famer.
Such a long way to go, and plenty of time to talk. Seems like a good a time as any to kick things off.
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