|Mike Lupica on D&C: ‘Mystified’ by Yankees’ ‘dumber contract’ with Jacoby Ellsbury||12.04.13 at 10:02 am ET|
New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss Jacoby Ellsbury‘s reported deal with the Yankees, as well as Robinson Cano’s free agency situation.
On Tuesday night, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that New York signed Ellsbury, the former Red Sox outfielder, to a seven-year, $153 million contract. This figure seems exorbitant considering that Ellsbury, 30, frequently has struggled to stay on the field, and his best season was in 2011.
“Jacoby Ellsbury has been on two World Series-winning teams, I love watching him play baseball, has anybody ever thought of him as being one of the top five players in baseball?” Lupica said, adding: “And now you’re paying him like one of the very best players in baseball, even though he’s three or four years past the best numbers he’s ever put in the books?”
The deal, orchestrated by agent Scott Boras, is similar to what Carl Crawford received from the Red Sox in 2010. Crawford, an outfielder who relies on his speed like Ellsbury, got seven years and $142 million from the Red Sox entering his age-30 season.
“You know that Boras came into this thinking, ‘I’m going to get him more than Carl Crawford,’ but the Carl Crawford deal is universally analyzed as one of the dumbest the Red Sox ever made in all of recorded history,” Lupica said.
After his breakout campaign in 2011, Ellsbury struggled with injuries in 2012, and, to a lesser degree, in 2013. He missed 116 games in the last two seasons. Additionally, Ellsbury missed almost all of the 2010 season.
“I’m just more mystified that you’re taking a fragile player, who depends on his legs, who played  games last year, we don’t even have to go back to where he missed [almost] a whole season,” Lupica said.
|Buster Olney on M&M: Yankees need Carlos Beltran more than Red Sox||11.20.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox’ offseason, and how the Yankees are dealing with issues in their organization.
The Red Sox, along with the Yankees, are rumored to be pursuing Cardinals free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran.
“I really think that if it comes down to a bidding war between the Red Sox and the Yankees over Beltran, I think there’s much greater need for the Yankees than there is with the Red Sox, because the Red Sox have Ortiz, they have other parts of the lineup, and there are other alternatives on the marketplace,” Olney said.
One rumored Boston suitor on the free agent market, catcher Carlos Ruiz, was re-signed by the Phillies on to a three-year, $26 contract. The Red Sox have the option of re-signing free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia or pursuing other options.
“I think if the Red Sox really wanted to sign Saltalamacchia, they would’ve put a number on the table and said, ‘Here you go,’ ” Olney said.
Olney said he thinks Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan is “a guy who’s going to be a focal point among at least three American League East teams and maybe teams in other divisions.
“He’s very highly valued for his defensive skills,” Olney said of Hanigan, who’s not a free agent this offseason. “He was a high on-base percentage guy in every year of his career leading into last year when he had some wrist problems.”
|Buster Olney on M&M: John Farrell deserves Manager of the Year award||10.02.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney appeared on Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and made his picks for the Manager of the Year award and the World Series winner.
“I turned in my picks the other day, I’ve got John Farrell,” said Olney. “I think we can’t have a conversation last year about what a disaster Bobby [Valentine] was and see the team improve as much as it did and see John Farrell’s presence make as much of a difference — and I know they added other players as well — without giving him a lot of the credit for the turnaround there.
Farrell took a 69-93 team from last year and made the Sox into AL East winners with the best record in baseball (97-65) in his first year at the helm.
“I think Terry [Francona] has done a phenomenal job in Cleveland, but I’d give it to John,” Olney said.
Before the start of the playoffs, Olney chose Boston as the team to beat in baseball. However, he’s had a change of heart.
“I wound up picking Oakland, because I think they’re playing really well down the stretch, I do think that like Boston, they have a heck of a home-field advantage,” said Olney, who added that one could make a case for seven of the eight playoff teams (leaving out the Indians due to their lack of pitching depth). “The way they’re playing right now, they’re not concerned with convention or how people perceive them, they are going really well and to me that’s a really dangerous team.”
The wild card-winning Indians and Rays square off in Cleveland on Wednesday night for the right to play the Red Sox, the top seed in the AL. This is Cleveland’s first playoff appearance since 2007.
“The city’s all fired up, everywhere you go everyone’s wearing Indians garb,” Olney said. “I was in the Indians clubhouse after they clinched they other day, and they celebrated hard. This means a lot to those guys, and I think Terry Francona especially.”
|Yankees cherish rivalry with Red Sox, playing at Fenway||09.16.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
The Yankees won’t always admit it, but the bad guys from New York relish their trips to Fenway Park.
In the midst of a 162-game, seemingly never-ending season, Fenway Park provides endless intensity from its 37,400 rabid fans.
“What makes it so special?” asked Derek Jeter. “It’s a good atmosphere. It’s fun to play here. We played a lot games here over the years, so it’s something as a player you look forward to because the fans get into it.”
Even Boston’s — and these days, baseball’s — resident villian, Alex Rodriguez, is enamored with the Hub.
“I love competing against the Red Sox,” said Rodriguez. “A lot of people forget that I almost came here. I conceded a lot to come here, but the [players' association] took it down. Fenway is a great stadium. I visited Harvard again last year, too, and took my two daughters. I love Boston, it’s a great town.”
“Just being able to play here at Fenway is amazing,” said Mariano Rivera. “I love it. I’ve been playing here for so many years and I look forward to coming here to play.”
Even players no longer sporting the Yankee pinstripes still recall their favorite Fenway memories.
“It’s the best rivalry in any sport,” said former Yankee and current Indian Jason Giambi. “You feel like you’re in a heavyweight fight every time you play. You’re mentally, physically exhausted after every game. Not only is it important to the team, but it’s important to the fans and media, too. It’s got a lot of hype to it. It’s fun to be part of, and it challenges you as a baseball player. I definitely miss it.”
|Red Sox-Yankees series preview||09.13.13 at 9:39 am ET|
The Red Sox may not have completed the sweep against the second-place Rays, but they’ll come home to Fenway with an 8½-game lead in the division and a magic number of 8.
It was an impressive road trip for the Sox, who took series in New York (three of four) and St. Petersburg (two of three), and now have won seven straight series. They’ve already accrued more wins in September 2013 (eight) than they did in the last month of either 2012 or 2011. It appears the Red Sox have gotten hot just at the right time.
“We continue to play a very good brand of baseball,” manager John Farrell said after Thursday’s series finale with the Rays. “We’re executing for the most part in key moments and we come ready to get after it every single night.”
The Red Sox are hitting milestones left and right lately. Koji Uehara broke the franchise record for consecutive batters retired on Wednesday night, passing Ellis Kinder (32 in 1952). Uehara now has 34 consecutive outs. Mike Napoli collected his 31st bases-loaded RBI in Wednesday’s contest, which represents the highest total by a Red Sox player since Vern Stephens‘ 32 in 1950. And with their 89th victory of the season, the Red Sox have won 20 more games than they did in all of 2012, good for the largest season-to-season turnaround since the 1967 Impossible Dream team.
With a good amount of distance between them and the second-place Rays in the division standings, the Red Sox look to be a virtual lock for a postseason berth. They also have the ability to make a big impact on the wild card standings. Though the Sox don’t have any remaining regular-season games against the Rays, the team currently occupying the second wild card slot, they’ll come home to face the Yankees, who are hanging on to playoff hopes, staying within a game of Tampa Bay with a win on Thursday. Interestingly enough, the Yankees won their series finale with the Orioles on a wild pitch from Baltimore closer Jim Johnson in the top of the ninth inning, the second time this week they’ve won thanks to a wild pitch.
The Yankees, who have been playing nonstop baseball without an off day since Aug. 29, haven’t been playing bad baseball since the last time the Red Sox saw them (which, albeit, was five days ago). They managed to take three of four from Baltimore, moving ahead of the Orioles and Indians in the race for the second wild card spot. The Yankees just barely eked out the three victories in Baltimore, winning two of them by one run and the other by two runs.
The injury bug still is biting the Yankees. It was decided earlier in the week that shortstop Derek Jeter, who has played only 17 games this season, will return to the disabled list with an ankle injury and will not return this season. To fill the shortstop hole, the Yankees acquired the defensive-minded but light-hitting Brendan Ryan from the Mariners. Although the Yankees pulled out the victory on Thursday night, they lost a key member of their lineup when Brett Gardner was removed from the game and was diagnosed with a left oblique strain, an injury that can take a few weeks to heal. Gardner is scheduled to receive an MRI to determine the severity of the strain, but he will at least miss the series with the Red Sox, if not the remainder of the regular season. Catcher Austin Romine also is sidelined after suffering a concussion earlier in the week.
With the regular season winding down, this will be the last time the Red Sox face the Yankees barring a meeting in the playoffs, which means this weekend will be Mariano Rivera‘s final games at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are set to honor the closer on Sunday night.
Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend set.
Friday: John Lackey (9-12, 3.48) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99)
Saturday: Jon Lester (13-8, 3.86) vs. C.C. Sabathia (13-12, 4.82)
Sunday: Clay Buchholz (10-0, 1.61) vs. Ivan Nova (8-4, 3.17)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• As noted earlier, Uehara set a new Red Sox record with 34 straight batters retired. He’s been unbelievably dominant since taking over the closer’s role and just continues to get better. Uehara has recorded 26 straight scoreless outings, passing Daniel Bard for the longest streak in team history. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in over two months, not since June 30, which was 30 appearances and 32 2/3 innings ago. Since becoming the closer, Uehara has earned four wins (no losses) and 18 saves in 20 opportunities. His ERA as the closer is an absolutely remarkable 0.25, while his WHIP is an equally mind-boggling 0.3273. Opposing hitters are batting a meager .084/.099/.126 against Uehara in his last 34 games, and he’s walked only two batters while striking out 51. That means his strikeout-to-walk ratio is a staggering 25.5. According to wins above replacement, Uehara has been worth more wins than any other reliever this season, which really is not surprising when looking at his unbelievable numbers.
|Buster Olney on M&M: I’d take Red Sox over Tigers to win AL||09.11.13 at 1:47 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the first-place Red Sox and the American League playoff picture.
After Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over the Rays, backed by the return of Clay Buchholz after a three-month stint on the disabled list, Boston pushed its AL East lead to a season-high 8½ games. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Red Sox have a 100 percent chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“It’s really been amazing, especially how the pitching staff has progressed,” Olney said. “If you would have thought back six months ago and said they’re going to lose Joel Hanrahan, they’re going to lose Andrew Bailey, [Junichi] Tazawa’s not going to be as effective at times as they had hoped, and oh yeah, Koji Uehara is going to turn into Mariana Rivera, you would have said no way. But you’re right, they have a chance to go to the World Series.”
Olney discussed the amazing turnaround Boston has experienced from a 69-93 team last year that had a fire sale toward the end of the season to a World Series contender this year.
“I really think that last year framed 2013 for them in a really good way,” Olney said. “I think they’re excited to get to work, from John Lackey dropping the weight, to Jon Lester probably feeling like he had something to prove, John Farrell probably happy to leave a situation that had increasingly become dysfunctional in Toronto.”
The hosts put Olney on the spot, asking if he would take the Red Sox or the Tigers to win the pennant.
“This is a coin flip, you could make a strong case for either side,” Olney said. “I don’t think there’s a right answer for that question. But right now, based on the way they’re throwing and the confidence that Lester has and that big game that he pitched against Detroit, I’d take the Red Sox.”
|Red Sox notes: John Farrell on potential Yankees retaliation for A-Rod; no word on who leaves rotation; shifting roles for Allen Webster, Brandon Workman||09.05.13 at 6:59 pm ET|
NEW YORK — With the Red Sox and Yankees primed to meet on Thursday for the first time since Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch at Fenway Park on August 18, the question of whether or not the Yankees might retaliate and drill a member of the Red Sox has become a prominent topic in New York. As of Thursday afternoon, however, Sox manager John Farrell said that there had been no conversation with the Sox by either league officials or umpires about the possibility of the two sides being in a state of high alert.
“We haven’t heard anything to date leading into the series. If something is said at home plate, we’ll find that out right prior to gametime,” Farrell said about two hours before the scheduled first pitch. “But no, there’s been nothing said to our players or our team with the potential of what you just outlined.”
But what if the Yankees do appear to drill a member of the Red Sox intentionally? The manager’s response was intentionally vague.
“If there is to be retaliation, I don’t think there will be … but you never know,” said Farrell. “This game will find a way to take care of itself. If that’s to be the case, we’ll play the game.”
Dempster will not be pitching in this series. In a conversation with a group of reporters, the veteran didn’t have much to say about the incident or it’s aftermath.
“We’re talking about a start a long time ago. You’re going to have games where you don’t pitch as well as you want to and that was the case in that game. I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball better so I’m just going to continue to try to build off of that,” said Dempster. “I’ve just been going about my work and getting ready for my next start after my next start and just trying to be as prepared as I can and just pitch better. That’s been my main goal.”
Of course, the precise date of Dempster’s start is in some question. With Clay Buchholz making what is expected to be his final start of his rehab assignment in Pawtucket on Thursday, and in position to return as soon as Tuesday in Tampa Bay on normal (four days’ rest), Dempster faces the possibility of being squeezed out of the rotation. Farrell acknowledged that someone would have to leave the rotation to accommodate the return of the 2013 All-Star, but said that a final decision hadn’t been made about who would be moved out of a starting role. Read the rest of this entry »
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