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Long before he threw 100: Hunter Strickland’s Red Sox tenure recalled 10.06.14 at 10:39 am ET
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Hunter Strickland was pitching for Single-A Greenville in 2009 when the Red Sox traded him to the Pirates. (Billy Crowe/Greenville Drive)

Hunter Strickland was pitching for Single-A Greenville in 2009 when the Red Sox traded him to the Pirates. (Billy Crowe/Greenville Drive)

It has represented a parenthetical remark to an extraordinary emergence. Hunter Strickland, the Giants reliever who has been unleashing 100 mph comets in the postseason (including in his 18th-inning save on Saturday night/Sunday morning in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Nationals), was once a Red Sox.

But when he was with the Red Sox, he didn’t resemble the fire-breathing late-innings force that he’s suddenly become in the past five weeks for the Giants.

Strickland was an unheralded right-handed in Georgia when the Sox drafted him in the 18th round of the 2007 draft and signed him to a low six-figures bonus. Area scout Rob English liked the young pitcher’s arm action, pitcher’s build (he was a sturdy 6-foot-5) and particularly his outstanding makeup. English felt that Strickland might grow into a bit more velocity beyond the 90-ish he was showing as an amateur, and that if he got close to the big leagues, his work ethic and drive would permit him to thrive.

That said, Strickland never got close to the big leagues while in the Sox system — or, until this year, anyone else’s. In parts of three seasons in the Sox system — a pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2007, an assignment to Short-Season Single-A Lowell in 2008 and three and a half months with Single-A Greenville in 2009 — he proved a solid performer, going 10-9 with a 3.66 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam LaRoche, Greenville Drive, hunter strickland, kevin boles
Theo Epstein on why a second-round pick matters 01.04.13 at 9:55 am ET
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Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, suggested that draft picks — even second-round picks — are more valuable than ever in the current baseball climate, helping to explain a reluctance for teams to pursue certain free agents. (To listen to the complete interview, click here.)

Like the Red Sox, the Cubs — who went 61-101 in 2012, the second-worst record in the game, thus entitling Chicago to the No. 2 overall pick in next year’s draft — have a protected first-round pick. Chicago thus could sign one of the players who received one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offers from their 2012 teams without forfeiting its top selection in next year’s draft. Still, like the Red Sox, the Cubs are extremely protective of the second-round pick that they would have to give up if they were to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer (pitchers Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano, first baseman Adam LaRoche and outfielder Michael Bourn are the remaining free agents who would cost a draft pick).

In short order, the reasons for the Cubs’ protectiveness of the pick include:

— The second-round pick is higher than ever. In past years, under previous Collective Bargaining Agreements (when teams simply needed to offer free agents salary arbitration in order to secure one or two compensatory picks), there was a broader array of free agents whose departure would result in their former teams receiving one or even two compensation draft picks. The result was dozens of picks in the sandwich round that falls between the first and second rounds, on top of the 30 (or more) picks in the first round.

The result? In the last six drafts, the average top pick of the second round was the No. 56 overall pick in the draft.

This year, however, the number of compensation picks has been drastically reduced. In functional terms, the sandwich round has been almost eliminated. While there are six new picks at that stage of the draft (the result of a competitive balance lottery for small-revenue clubs), second-round picks now expose teams to a position in the draft where they should be able to make a more impactful selection. The top pick of the second round this year will be roughly the No. 38 overall pick in the draft. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adam LaRoche, draft pick compensation, Theo Epstein,
Hot Stove: Red Sox among five teams interested in Adam LaRoche 12.01.12 at 6:38 pm ET
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Free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, who hit a career-high 33 homers in 2012 with a strong line of .271/.343/.510/.853 while winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award as both the top offensive and defensive first baseman in the National League, told The Washington Post that he remains extremely interested in returning to the Nationals, but that he and the team have yet to find middle ground on the term of a contract.

LaRoche, 33, wants a three-year commitment from Washington, while the Nationals — most recently through a face-to-face meeting on Friday between the first baseman and GM Mike Rizzo — are holding the line at two years.

‘€œI think they’€™re really wanting to stick to two years. I’€™m trying to talk them into lengthening that. To be honest, probably just one year. I’€™m not looking for four or five. I understand I’€™m 33 years old,” LaRoche told the Post. ‘€œI can’€™t say it moved forward. We understand each other a lot more now. I think he understands where I’€™m coming from. He understands I want to be there, kind of my argument for three years not being unreasonable. So, I don’€™t know.’€

According to the story, LaRoche has also received interest from the Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners and Rays, while noting that “none of those talks [has] advanced past an early stage.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Hot Stove, Adam LaRoche,
Hot Stove: Mike Napoli reportedly seeking four-year deal 11.25.12 at 4:17 pm ET
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According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (via twitter), free agent catcher/first baseman/DH Mike Napoli is holding out for a four-year deal from the Red Sox, Rangers or Mariners. Bowden tweeted: Mike Napoli determined to get 4th year…waiting on Red Sox or Rangers to blink (Mariners still in it)

Napoli turned 31 on Halloween, meaning that a four-year deal would cover his age 31-34 seasons. He slumped to a .227 average with a .343 OBP, .469 slugging mark and .812 OPS with 24 homers in 108 games in 2012 with the Rangers, a year in which a leg injury limited him to 108 games (his fewest games played since 2008). For his career, he’s a .259 hitter with a .356, OBP, .507 slugging mark and .863 OPS while averaging 33 homers per 162 games. Among remaining free agents, Napoli has the fourth-highest slugging percentage since 2006 (behind Josh Hamilton, Jim Thome and Lance Berkman) and fifth-highest OPS (behind the same three as well as Kevin Youkilis).

The Sox’ interest in Napoli is primarily as a first baseman and a fallback DH option for for David Ortiz. His appeal to the Red Sox as a free agent was augmented by the fact that he was not given a qualifying offer by the Rangers, meaning that another team will not have to sacrifice a draft pick if it signs the free agent. That gives Napoli one advantage in the market over first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is coming off a stronger 2012 season but who did receive a qualifying offer from the Nationals. While the Red Sox have a protected first-round draft pick in 2013, the team is still reluctant to part with its second-round pick.

Read More: 2012 Hot Stove, Adam LaRoche, mike napoli,
Official Press Release: Red Sox Acquire 1B Casey Kotchman 07.31.09 at 5:50 pm ET
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BOSTON, MA’€”The Red Sox today acquired first baseman Casey Kotchman from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for first baseman Adam LaRoche and cash considerations.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Kotchman, 26, will wear No. 11.  He has hit .282 (84-for-298) with 20 doubles, six home runs, 41 RBI, 28 runs scored and 32 walks in 87 games with the Braves this season. The left-handed hitter is batting .320 (24-for-75) and has posted a .427 on-base and .507 slugging percentage over 23 games in July.

Selected by Anaheim in the first round (13th overall) of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Kotchman has hit .272 (431-for-1,587) with 98 doubles, 39 home runs and 226 RBI in 481 career Major League games with the Angels (2004-08) and Braves (2008-09).  Kotchman’€™s career .998 fielding percentage at first base is the highest in baseball history among players with at least 3,500 total chances at that position.  He has played 156 consecutive games (149 starts) since he committed his last error on June 20, 2008, a span of 1,379 total chances.

Kotchman has appeared in eight postseason games with the Angels (2004, 2005 and 2007), going 2-for-15 with a double and an RBI.

LaRoche, 29, was acquired by the Red Sox on July 22 from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He hit .263 (5-for-19) with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in six games with the Red Sox.  The left-handed hitter went 80-for-324 (.247) with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 87 games for the Pirates this season.  Selected by Atlanta in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, LaRoche owns a .269 batting average with 124 homers and 429 RBI in 781 Major League games with the Braves (2004-06), Pirates (2007-09) and Red Sox (2009).

Read More: Adam LaRoche, Casey Kotchman, Red Sox,
LaRoche headed to Atlanta at 3:21 pm ET
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According to Yahoo’s Gorden Edes, Adam LaRoche has been shipped to Atlanta.  NESN reported that the Red Sox have acquired 1B Casey Kotchman in exchange for LaRoche.

Kotchman was hitting .282 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI for the Braves.

Read More: Adam LaRoche, Casey Kotchman, mlbrumormill2009,
Rumor Mill: Braves interested in LaRoche at 3:08 pm ET
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According to SI’s Jon Heyman, the Atlanta Braves are interested in former employee Adam LaRoche if the Red Sox land Victor Martinez. The newly acquired first baseman would likely be the odd man out if the blockbuster deal goes through

LaRoche played three seasons for the Braves before playing for Pittsburgh.

Read More: Adam LaRoche, mlbrumormill2009,
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