|Jonny Gomes on M&M: ‘I jumped for joy’ when Mike Napoli agreed to return to Red Sox||12.09.13 at 3:06 pm ET|
Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes checked in with Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the Red Sox’ busy offseason.
Since the Red Sox won the World Series at the end of the October, they have seen Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia leave as free agents, and they signed reliever Edward Mujica and catcher A.J. Pierzynski and reportedly came to an agreement to retain first baseman Mike Napoli
Gomes said his first season sharing a locker room with Napoli left him with a positive impression of the first baseman.
“I played against this guy for a long time, when he came up as a catcher with Anaheim, then over to Texas,” Gomes said. “I couldn’t really get a good read on him, to tell you the truth. Always focused — whether you’re getting in the box and he’s catching or he’s at first, he wouldn’t talk to you. I was so curious to see what I was going to get out of Mike Napoli when I was sharing a clubhouse with him. I had everything, all doors open. I didn’t want to do anything.
“This guy is truly something else. He is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, one of the best competitors I’ve ever had, his work ethic, everything. They talk about championship-caliber players. That’s truly all he has on his mind. I’ve never seen someone in such a good mood after a tough 0-for-4 if we won. It’s team first, team second, team third for him.
“Hopefully like all the other Sox, I jumped for joy when this guy came back.”
Ellsbury is being viewed by some in Red Sox Nation as a traitor for signing with the rival Yankees, but Gomes said he doesn’t have a problem with Ellsbury signing the contract he received.
“I’m a firm believer in you are deserving of what someone’s going to give you,” Gomes said. “I’m sure a lot of people want to jump on the salary that he got, but no one wants to jump on some of the CEOs of some of these huge companies that make a lot of money, too.
“I played with Joey Votto for a while, and he did some pretty unbelievable things. I would always break it down to him, too: How many people in the world — in the actual world — can do what he can do? How many people in the world can consistently steal 50 bags in the big leagues and play a Gold Glove center field? What’s the price tag on that?
“I’m happy for him. He’s got security for his great, great, great, great, great grandkids. But we’ve got a spot to fill. At the same time, we’ve got the Executive of the Year on our side [in general manager Ben Cherington]. Hopefully we’ll get that spot filled.”
|A.J. Pierzynski on D&C: ‘Do what I need to do to fit in’ with Red Sox||12.05.13 at 9:58 am ET|
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss his decision to sign with Boston, his outlook on sharing playing time with David Ross and his reputation as one of the most disliked players in the league.
A two-time All Star, Pierzynski signed a one-year, $8.25 million contract with Boston on Tuesday afternoon. A career .322 hitter at Fenway Park, Pierzynski should be a durable presence both behind the plate and in the batter’s box this season, as the 37-year-old has started in at least 107 games for the past nine seasons.
“It was not an easy decision. It was something that I went back and forth with for a long time,” Pierzynski said. “I had other offers, I had multiple-year offers on the table. … One thing that led me to Boston was the fact that, ‘Hey, it’s not every day you get an opportunity, one, to play for the Boston Red Sox, and then two, to play for the defending World Series champions.
“When given that opportunity and from everyone that I spoke to and talked to, people that I trust, the signs pointed to Boston. … At the end of the day, I decided to go to Boston, and I look forward to it. I actually can’t wait for spring training to get started.”
Pierzynski has carried baggage for seemingly his whole career, as his hard-nosed style of play and abrasive personality has made him one of the most unpopular players in baseball.
“It actually makes me laugh at this point. I’ve been doing this for so long now, and I said yesterday that I won all of those contests and I won all those polls every year, so when I retire and I decided to hang it up, I feel sorry for whoever is next in line, because they’re going to have a rough foot ahead of them,” Pierzynski said.”It’s one of those things where I just laugh about it. Why am I not [liked]? I don’t know. I want to win, I play to win and I’ll do anything to win on the field. Off the field we can be buddies, but I don’t care if I have my best friend on earth pitching against me. I want to get a hit and I want to do damage to him. … It’s about business. It’s about trying to win.”
Added Pierzynski: “According to all the stuff you read, everyone doesn’t like me. … I’m not worried about that. I walked into Texas last year and there was a whole bunch of guys that were like, ‘Man, I really didn’t like you,’ and as the year went on, we became great friends.”
Looking at the situation in Boston, Pierzynski said he won’t change his personality to fit in on a veteran team.
“I don’t think so. I’m just going to come and try to fit in,” he said. “There’s no adjusting. I’m going to do the same thing and go about my business and put my work in and do what I need to do to fit in. Trust me, I know this isn’t my team. I know it’s David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester — these guys have been there, they’ve done it. They’ve won multiple World Series. And that’s what I’m trying to get to. I’ve won one [in 2005 with the White Sox], I want to win another one.
“One thing that definitely helps is being around and watching the way they did it, especially in the World Series, and the way they went about their business. That definitely helps, and it gives myself a little added advantage because of the way — a little bit, at least — how their team works and how their dynamics were.”
While Pierzynski is expected to be the No. 1 catcher for Boston next season, he’ll likely share some duties with Ross, who slugged four home runs in 36 regular-season games while receiving praise for his handling of pitchers.
“That was one of the things that we talked about before I came to a decision is, ‘Hey, I know David Ross is a really good player and I know he needs to get his at-bats,’ and I’m OK with that,” Pierzynski said. “Of course, I’d like to play 162 games, but as a catcher, you have to be realistic, and I think sometimes that playing a little bit less might actually help me. … Whenever I’m out there, I’ll give everything I have, and I can’t control when I’m out there and when I’m not.”
|John Farrell discusses offseason on Salk & Holley: Red Sox ‘jolted’ by Jacoby Ellsbury deal||12.04.13 at 10:47 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, acknowledged that Red Sox players were “jolted” by the news of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees, particularly given that word of Ellsbury’s signing came on the same day that the Red Sox elected to sign A.J. Pierzynski, thus opening the door for the departure of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins on Tuesday.
Farrell said that he heard from a number of players — he estimated about a half-dozen — who were curious about the developments.
“Because Jacoby and Salty hit the airwaves that they both signed, it was, OK, are we bringing any guys back? That was part of the question,” said Farrell. “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re in the works. We’re in the process.’ … That’s where [GM Ben Cherington] is doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew], we’re going to do anything we can to bring both guys back.”
Farrell touched on a number of offseason topics facing the Sox. To listen to the complete interview, click here. Some highlights:
On learning about Ellsbury’s deal: “I did get a text message last night saying, hey, he’s heading in for a physical, it sounds like it’s done. Then the news broke on the numbers and, my gosh, congratulations to Jacoby. We’ll miss him. He’s a very good player, had a great run here, granted, missed some time because of some serious injuries he went through. But he played through a lot last year for us. The foot breaking. The left thumb that was in a lot of pain towards the end of the year. But you know what? He deserved the right to see what his market was, and obviously it’s a big one.”
On the challenge of replacing Ellsbury: “Losing Jacoby Ellsbury, those players don’t come along very often, evident by the contract he got in New York. … To say how much we’ll miss him will be dependent on what we do with the roster before next spring training — whether we stay internal and look at our overall team, what we’re capable of, that’s probably the answer — not specifically one player compared to Jacoby. … Read the rest of this entry »
|GM Ben Cherington: ‘Market got past’ where Red Sox were comfortable retaining Jacoby Ellsbury||at 4:52 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington suggested that, while the Red Sox “would have loved” to retain Jacoby Ellsbury through free agency, the asking price ultimately reached a point where the team wasn’t comfortable doing so. He suggested that the fact that the center fielder — whom the Sox selected in the first round of the 2005 draft — ended up with the Yankees was not a huge surprise.
“There has been a bunch of dialogue with Jacoby or more specifically with [Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras] really since the season ended and the players left town. I met with Jacoby before he left Boston. Since then, I’ve been talking more to Scott. When you get into free agency with a player of Jacoby’s caliber, you know going in that there’s probably a handful of spots that he can end up. Certainly New York is always going to be one of those potential spots.
“It’s not altogether surprising that’s where it ended up. We wish Jacoby well. He was obviously a really good player here during the time he was in Boston. He was a big part of two World Series teams. We would have loved to keep him. But we felt like there was an area, a range we were willing to go to and the market just got past that. So we wish him well and will continue to work on our offseason plans as we try to build the best team we can for next year.”
Cherington suggested that the Sox have not yet identified how they will go about replacing Ellsbury. He spoke highly of prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. as one possible option to replace Ellsbury in center, but suggested that the team will continue to explore other options this offseason. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox officially announce signing of A.J. Pierzynski||at 2:32 pm ET|
The Red Sox on Wednesday confirmed the signing of catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal and will introduce him to the media in a conference call late Wednesday afternoon.
The 36-year-old Pierzynski has spent 16 seasons in the majors, including 2013 with the Rangers. Prior to that, he spent eight seasons with the White Sox. He also played for the Giants (2004) and Twins (1998-2003).
Owner of a .995 career fielding percentage — ranking him best all-time among catchers with at least 1,000 games behind the plate — Pierzynski led the league and set a Rangers record with a .998 fielding percentage in 2013.
He also is known for his durability, setting a record by catching at least 110 games in each of the last 13 seasons.
Pierzynski is a career .322 hitter in 33 games at Fenway Park (including postseason).
Johnny Damon appeared on Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and discussed the Yankees’ reported signing of Jacoby Ellsbury while revealing details of his own departure from Boston.
Ellsbury, who won two World Series with the Red Sox, reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $153 million contract with New York on Tuesday night. Damon, after spending four seasons as Boston’s center fielder and claiming a World Series with the Sox, also signed with the Yankees once his Boston contract expired in 2005.
“I respect the way [Ellsbury] plays. I know there were tons of comparisons with me when he came out of college, and there’s plenty of comparisons now, too,” Damon said. “I know he’s a good kid, he needs to stay healthy, I think he will do great in New York.
“I’m sure if Boston wanted to do six, seven years, he probably would have stayed. But Boston’s looking out for themselves. Sometimes when you get burned by certain contracts, like the [Carl] Crawford thing, it scares you some, and rightfully so. Boston is going to continue to make the right decisions.”
Asked about what Ellsbury will go through as he switches sides in the rivalry, Damon said: “I think the toughest thing for Jacoby is going to be going back to Boston, and everything leading up to it. What do you think the fans are going to do — are they going to cheer you or are they going to boo you? He’s going to answer that question so many times, and probably every time he goes back for the next seven years. I think that was the hardest thing.
“Everywhere you go people are Red Sox fans. I’ve been on deserted islands and a Red Sox fan popped up and started telling me how big of a fan they are. Red Sox fans are avid and passionate and it’s incredible. Jacoby’s going to find out how many Red Sox fans are out there now, just telling him how they respected his game, but also, ‘How could you go to the Yankees.’ But seven years, [$]153 [million], that’s a lot of loot.”
After signing with New York before the 2006 season, Damon said he had something to prove when he played against his former team.
“For me, it was about trying to show them that first year,” he said. “I was so upset that I didn’t re-sign with Boston. I bought a house, they told me to buy a house, I did, and then they don’t sign me, and I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, boy, this is not good.’ … This was after the World Series. I talked to Theo [Epstein] and he said I would be there for a long time. Then again, Theo the next year said, ‘You’re having too good of a year. You’re overpricing yourself to keep playing in Boston.’ … And I wasn’t going to take a few pitches looking to get the average down and get the numbers down.
“Unfortunately, I did have a great year. But if I had a worse year they would have just let me go and said he’s done. I had too good of a year, and I ended up going to New York.”
|Chris Singleton on M&M: ‘I definitely don’t love’ A.J. Pierzynski joining Red Sox||12.03.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
ESPN’s Chris Singleton joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ reported acquisition of free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year deal.
A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski hit .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs last season with the Rangers. Pierzynski has been one of the most durable backstops in the league over the course of his career, as he’s played in at least 120 games in each of the last 12 seasons. Pierzynski has had success in Boston, as the 36-year-old has a career batting average of .322 at Fenway Park.
“I don’t love it, by any means,” Singleton said of the deal. “I thought going to Texas was a pretty good situation. … With the Red Sox, it just didn’t click for me. … I’m not saying it’s going to be a bad fit, but just knowing A.J. for a long time, he’s a guy that I’ve grown to like and I have respect for definitely what he’s done on the field. … He battles at the plate, and especially in late innings, when he just gives you some tough at-bats. That’s great.
“The biggest question … is clubhouse chemistry and how do things flow. … We know that A.J. can have a bit of an abrasive personality or way about him, and seeing what the Red Sox pulled together … It’s just one of those things where you’re like, ‘All right, hmm, let’s see how this kind of works.’ I’m not big on it. I’m not saying it’s going to sink the ship, but I definitely don’t love it.”
While Pierzynski should be a solid presence in the batter’s box, questions have been raised about his impact on the Sox clubhouse, as Pierzynski’s abrasive attitude has rubbed many players the wrong way over the years.
“Instead of the big blow that’s just an outburst, let’s say like guys we’ve seen in the past that have had issues, let’s say a Milton Bradley or somebody like that — it’s not like that,” Singleton said. “It’s more of a daily, kind of just going to eat at you. Sometimes it’s good, because players need a little bit of an edge or to be a little angry, but I think over time it can be hard for a team to absorb that over time.”
While Pierzynski should be an upgrade defensively over Jarrod Saltalamacchia and can call a good game behind the plate, David Ross remains the top defensive catcher on the roster.
“Just look at last year, how many times did Yu Darvish have near no-hitters and A.J. was behind the dish?” Singleton said. “That says something. … I think he can be solid and good, but it’s just a matter of will he keep that up, because he’s a hitting catcher.”
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