|Long before he threw 100: Hunter Strickland’s Red Sox tenure recalled||10.06.14 at 10:39 am ET|
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.
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 »
|Theo Epstein on why a second-round pick matters||01.04.13 at 9:55 am ET|
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 »
|Hot Stove: Red Sox among five teams interested in Adam LaRoche||12.01.12 at 6:38 pm ET|
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.
‘I 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. ‘I 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 »
|Hot Stove: Mike Napoli reportedly seeking four-year deal||11.25.12 at 4:17 pm ET|
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.
|Official Press Release: Red Sox Acquire 1B Casey Kotchman||07.31.09 at 5:50 pm ET|
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).
|LaRoche headed to Atlanta||at 3:21 pm ET|
Kotchman was hitting .282 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI for the Braves.
|Rumor Mill: Braves interested in LaRoche||at 3:08 pm ET|
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.
|Big Brother was watching||07.24.09 at 8:20 pm ET|
He met with the media prior to his first official game with his new team following Wednesday’s trade that sent him from Pittsburgh to Boston for minor leaguers Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland.
After acknowledging his appreciation to Red Sox management for bringing him to Boston, he said there’s only one really tough adjustment.
“The hardest part this year is leaving my little brother,” the 29-year-old LaRoche said of his 25-year-old brother Andy with the Pirates.
LaRoche got his chance to play with baby bro when the Dodgers traded Andy to the Pirates last season.
But quickly, both LaRoches learned that all the brotherly love in the world won’t turn them into the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
“I got a chance to play with him for a year,” Adam said. “It’s something that I can never replace. Obviously, we would have love to have done that for the next 10 years but not on a losing club.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Epstein: ‘We’re a good offensive club in a horrific slump’||07.22.09 at 4:42 pm ET|
The Red Sox are well aware of the depth of their offensive slump. The team’s lineup has been in a pronounced rut in July, and so it would be natural to conclude that the Sox acquired Adam LaRoche in part to address the lineup struggles.
Yet it would be inaccurate, according to Sox G.M. Theo Epstein, to draw such a conclusion. The Sox did feel that it was necessary to improve their lineup against right-handed pitching (something that the left-handed LaRoche is likely to help them with), and the team did want to add to its corner infield depth both as a hedge against injury and to make it easier to rest third baseman Mike Lowell. But while Epstein acknowledged his club’s offensive struggles of late, he also suggested that this move was not made as a desperate reaction to a relatively brief offensive struggle, or to a stumble in the second half that has seen the Sox go from three games up in the A.L. East to one game back.
“This move we made today is not in the least bit a reaction…When we sat down to assess where we were at the All-Star break’¦the way we assessed it was we were basically dead even in a three-way race. That’s how talented the other three teams were. If you look at underlying performance, there’s virtually nothing to separate the three club,” Epstein said in a conference call. “I think we’re a good offensive club having a horrific month. When you go through slumps like this — and we’re in a pretty bad team-wide slump; we only have one or two players performing to career norms this month; as a club, I think we’re hitting around .220, .225 this month, so it’s a bad slump — anytime you go through slumps like this, 1) It’s important to assess any areas you can improve without overreacting, and 2) to put it in perspective, to realize that it’s not a good time to make a through assessment of the club when you’re in the middle of the slump.
“I think we’re realistic about where we are offensively. We have the potential to be really, really good. Right now, I think we’re around fourth in the league in runs scored. We have the potential to be a little better than that, but right now, we’re not the most prolific offensive club in Red Sox history. I think we score plenty of runs. We have the ability to be dangerous against both right- and left-handed pitching. I think we got a little more dangerous against right-handed pitching today. We certainly have the ability to score enough runs to get where we want to go, when you combine it with the run prevention attributes this club has.”
Some other insights from the conference call:
–LaRoche is expected to join the Sox in Boston on Friday. The team will make a corresponding move to free a space on its 25-man major-league roster at that time.
–The Sox felt that now was the time to build their corner infield depth, particularly in a fashion that would strengthen the team against right-handed pitching, since it is easier to do so before the July 31 deadline for trades not requiring waivers than it is after.
–The LaRoche trade was about achieving insurance. The Sox remain open to “a second kind of trade,” according to Epstein, pursuing an “impact” player. Even so, there are no guarantees that such a deal can be consummated at a cost the club views as acceptable.
“There’s a second category of player we’re also going to pursue, where the player can make significant impact on the roster,” said Epstein. “Those trades are hard to make…That doesn’t mean you don’t pursue them.”
–The deal was possible because the prospect cost (shortstop Argenis Diaz and right-handed pitcher Hunter Strickland) to the Sox was reasonable (indeed, in some ways, it appeared minimal).
“We’ve been in the market for a player who can do some damage against right-handed pitching and who can help our club’s depth at the corner infield. We’ve checked in on a number of players who fit that category and found that, by a large, large margin, the Pirates had the most reasonable acquisition cost,” said Epstein. “This was the chance to get at a very reasonable acquisition cost a player that we think will help our club, help against right-handed pitching, add to our depth and leave us in a position to continue to look for more impact before the end of the trading deadline…It was a relatively reasonable acquisition cost in terms of prospect inventory.”
–Much of the deal had to do with the club’s desire to give Mike Lowell more rest in the second half. Lowell, who underwent hip surgery last October, might not be at full speed and agility until next season. He stands to benefit from more rest.
“Mike has worked remarkably hard to put himself in position to play major-league games and to help the club. I think he is helping the club,” said Epstein. “(But) it’s clear to those watching the games that he’s not moving around as well as he would like.”
–LaRoche has historically enjoyed huge second halves. The Red Sox would be delighted if he continues that trend, but they do not believe that his history of post-All-Star-break performances is a guarantee of future success during the final months of the year.
“The big second half numbers are nice. I don’t think we go so far as to say they’re definitely predictive,” said Epstein. “It does provide some reason for optimism. Despite the fact that it might not necessarily be predictive, you can’t deny the monster second halves this guy has had…If things fall into place, the trend continues, and we do get the big second half, we would certainly benefit from that.”
–The Sox are hopeful that LaRoche’s swing will play well at Fenway. Epstein said that LaRoche’s best, natural swing is driving the ball to left-center and center, but that he became somewhat pull-happy in PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
–There’s a chance LaRoche could qualify for Type B free-agent status (even though he does not currently), something that could net the Sox a draft pick following the season should they choose to offer LaRoche arbitration prior to his potential departure as a free agent. But Epstein said that was not a major factor in the move, which was made mostly to improve the 2009 Red Sox.
|The LaRoche Press Release||at 3:10 pm ET|
The Red Sox just sent out the following press release announcing the deal that brought Adam LaRoche to Boston in exchange for minor leaguers Hunter Strickland and Argenis Diaz (for the Pirates release, which includes quotes from Pittsburgh G.M. Neal Huntington on Diaz and Strickland, click here):
BOSTON, MA’The Red Sox today acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for shortstop Argenis Diaz and right-handed pitcher Hunter Strickland.
The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
LaRoche, 29, is batting .247 (80-for-324) with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 87 games for the Pirates this season. He ranks seventh in the National League with a .338 (54-for-160) average at home. Among current members of the Red Sox, only Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis (each with 42) have more extra-base hits than LaRoche’s 38, 27 of which have come at PNC Park . The left-handed hitter has committed just one error in 836 total chances and ranks second among N.L. first basemen with a .999 fielding percentage.
He has reached double digits in home runs in each of his six Major League seasons, including a career-high 32 for Atlanta in 2006. Since 2004, only six other N.L. lefties have more round trippers. Overall, LaRoche owns a .269 career batting average with 123 homers and 426 RBI in 775 games with the Braves (2004-06) and Pirates (2007-09).
The former first-round draft pick has posted second-half OPS of .941 since 2006, 12th in the N.L. during that span. He has belted 10 of his 12 home runs off right-handers this season and owns an .866 OPS against righties since the start of the 2006 campaign. He has appeared in eight career post-season games, going 8-for-25 (.320) with two homers and 10 RBI.
Diaz, 22, hit .253 (70-for-277) with 24 RBI in 76 games at Double-A Portland this season. Originally signed by the Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent in July 2003, he is a career .268 hitter with four home runs and 127 RBI in six seasons in Boston ‘s farm system.
Strickland, Boston ‘s 19th selection (18th round) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was 5-4 with one save and a 3.35 ERA (31 ER/83.1 IP) in 18 appearances/12 starts for Single-A Greenville . In three professional seasons in the Red Sox organization, the 20-year-old posted a 10-9 record with one save and a 3.66 ERA.
The Red Sox also promoted shortstop Yamaico Navarro from Single-A Salem to Double-A Portland today. He hit .319 (30-for-94) with four homers and 17 RBI over 23 games with Boston ‘s Carolina League affiliate this season.
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