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Why the Red Sox made an exception, and why Dustin Pedroia’s decision was ‘a no-brainer’ 07.24.13 at 9:08 pm ET
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Thought that long-term deals were a thing of the past for the Red Sox? Thought that, once the team had liberated itself from the weight of the seven-year deals for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, it was going to remain focused on shorter-term deals?

That is clearly the team’s preference — for most players. But the team nonetheless found itself celebrating an eight-year contract on Wednesday as a franchise watershed. And that is because the team added a player whom it knows, whom it trusts completely with that sort of length of commitment in the form of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a player whose constancy of effort and commitment is literally worn on his uniform every night in the form of the dirt without which he is never seen.

Pedroia signed an eight-year, $110 million deal with the Red Sox on Wednesday, accepting a contract that was considerably less than what the open market might have borne (indeed, it is considerably less than the $15 million a year that Ian Kinsler received from the Rangers while he was still under team control) in order to give him an excellent chance of finishing his career with the Red Sox.

The second baseman is a four-time All-Star, a former Rookie of the Year and MVP winner and a two-time Gold Glove winner. Still, he’s 29, and the deal covers not just the remainder of his prime years but also what is likely a considerable amount of the decline phase of his career, through his age 38 season.

And so, even with that below-market price point, the Sox would have been leery of giving such a long-term deal to most players. Pedroia is not most players. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington: Red Sox will ‘keep an open mind’ on bullpen trades, but Sox might not need ‘major change’ 07.19.13 at 7:10 pm ET
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The Red Sox thought they had achieved a measure of bullpen stability just before the All-Star break. The trade to acquire Matt Thornton on the final weekend prior to the break seemed like something of an offset to the loss of left-hander Andrew Miller. But one week later, the Sox are left to confront another likely season-long loss of a key reliever with the news that right-hander Andrew Bailey has both a capsular tear and labrum tear in his right shoulder, an injury incurred in his appearance against the A’s on the final day of the first half.

The Sox had already planned to see if they could reinforce their bullpen with internal options, having called up Brandon Workman (who will start on Tuesday unless he’s used out of the bullpen before then) and left-hander Drake Britton from Pawtucket. The team added Jose De La Torre from Pawtucket to take Bailey’s roster spot on Friday. There are other arms on the horizon in the upper minors, and the Sox will try to figure out as much as they can about the group’s readiness to help.

Ideally, the Sox would like to take a homegrown approach to their bullpen shortage. But GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that he will also certainly be exploring potential trade reinforcements — something that the team was already planning on doing even before Bailey’s injury.

A brief summary:

– Cherington acknowledged that the loss of Bailey was a meaningful one, and “did move the needle” to some degree regarding the team’s trade deadline motivations.

– He believes there are internal solutions in the organization.

– He will explore trade candidates, both prior to the July 31 trade deadline and in August.

– He doesn’t necessarily foresee drastic moves. “I’m not sure this team this needs major change,” he said.

“Obviously we were counting on [Bailey] being a part of the ‘pen. And we’ve still got a little more information to gather. He may get another opinion, but he’s going to be down for some time and so, you know, the guys have to step up,” said Cherington. “I think as far as how it affects us, we’re going to give younger pitchers a chance and see what they can do. As I said when Miller went down, when a guy goes down you have to replace him somehow. You hope that the guys are already here internally, but you’ve got to keep an open mind and continue to do that over the course of the next couple days.

“You’ve got to figure out who’s pitching what roles and some new guys are going to get a chance and we’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys,” added Cherington. “At the same time we will continue to work the phones and see if there are ways to help the team from outside of the organization. Those things are hard to predict. It takes finding the right match and we’ve got a lot of good things going on this team and we’re still very confident in the guys here now.”

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Read More: alfredo aceves, Andrew Bailey, ben cherington, Brandon Lyon
Clay Buchholz resumes throwing, but may receive second opinion on shoulder injury at 6:55 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that right-hander Clay Buchholz may receive a second opinion on the condition in his right shoulder — diagnosed as inflammation in his bursa sac — that has kept him out since June 8.

“He may get another opinion just [to gather] more information and hopefully put his mind at ease as to what’s going on,” said Cherington. “He knows his body better than anyone else and he’s going to tell us when he’s ready to ramp it up and we hope that’s soon. Based on everything we know we still think that will be soon. It hasn’t happened yet and that’s a source of frustration for him and to some degree for all of us.”

Buchholz was examined by team physicians and Friday and cleared to resume throwing from flat ground, something he hadn’t done since experiencing discomfort in his shoulder while throwing off a mound on Sunday in Oakland. The right-hander, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA, presented no new symptoms in Friday’s check-in.

“Exam was basically benign,” said manager John Farrell. “He went out and played catch out to 90 feet today. He felt free and easy. Didn’€™t feel like he did in Oakland. So that’€™s today’€™s latest on him.’€

Still, there’s no definition at this point to Buchholz’s trajectory back to the rotation or a timetable for his return. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the right-hander, however, Cherington said that the team didn’t feel as if his condition had forced the Sox to look for reinforcements via trade — at least not yet.  Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell, Ben Cherington take stock of Andrew Bailey’s struggles 06.19.13 at 8:42 pm ET
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The Red Sox claimed a doubleheader sweep against the Rays on Tuesday, yet there remained an element of uneasiness to the team’s victory in the nightcap. While a ninth-inning walkoff from Jonny Gomes gave the Sox a 3-1 win the Game 2, the blown save by Andrew Bailey in the top of the ninth offered some cause for pause by the Red Sox.

Prior to Wednesday night’s contest against the Rays, manager John Farrell praised the work of his middle relievers, heaping accolades upon the work of bullpen arms such as Koji Uehara, Junichi TazawaCraig Breslow and Andrew Miller. But . . .

“We recognize there’€™s still work to be done with guys closing out games,” said Farrell.

The Sox entered Wednesday with nine blown saves, tied for the fourth most in the AL. The team has converted just 13 of 22 opportunities, a 59 percent success rate that is the second-worst in the AL (ahead of only Cleveland).

Bailey is 8-for-11 in save opportunities, with his three blown saves tied for the fifth most in the AL. Of the 15 pitchers in the AL with at least five saves this year, Bailey’s 73 percent conversion rate is worst in the league. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andrew Bailey, andrew miller, ben cherington, Craig Breslow
Ben Cherington on D&C: ‘Unfortunate and sad’ that David Ortiz faces questions about PEDs 05.09.13 at 9:12 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, after the Red Sox lost for the fifth time in six games with Wednesday night’s 15-8 setback vs. the Twins.

“We hit a little bit of a bump. And obviously last night was not our best night,” Cherington said. “[We've] got to grind through those and get back to playing better baseball, more crisp baseball, and executing. That’s what we had done for most of April. Just got to minimize this little rough patch and get past it.”

Asked to pinpoint the team’s main problem, Cherington pointed to the pitching staff.

“It all really comes back to pitching,” Cherington said. “When we’re executing and pounding the strike zone and sort of taking it to the opposing lineup, we’re a much better team and gives ourselves a chance to control the game and keep our lineup in the dugout and keep the lineup rolling, etc.

“We feel good about our team and where it is. We just hit a bit of a rough patch. We had to use a lot of our bullpen over the weekend in Texas and then certainly Monday [vs.] Minnesota. It was a bit of a scramble to get through the last two days. Hopefully as we move forward over the next few days we’ll get a chance to reset the bullpen, kind of get the pitching staff back on track from a workload standpoint and get going. So, it just goes back to pitching. But the same guys are there, and we’ve just got to get back to executing.”

With some key injuries in the bullpen, the Sox have had to juggle the roster. Cherington said another pitcher will be called up from Pawtucket for Thursday’s game.

“We’ve had to dip into the Triple-A depth even a little bit more early in the year than we hoped,” Cheringtons aid. “But we’ve got some guys throwing well there. We’ll have another guy in there tonight — Jose De La Torre will get his crack in the big leagues. He’s been throwing the ball really well and has been throwing the ball really well for over a year now in Triple-A. He’s  a talented pitcher. It’s just an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week questioned David Ortiz about performance-enhancing drugs after the designated hitter returned from the disabled list and got off to a tremendous start. Cherington defended his slugger and noted Ortiz’ offensive skills have remained consistent for years.

“I was disappointed by it,” Cherington said. “And I don’t mean toward Dan specifically. But just generally, it seems as if when a player who happens to be in his 30s is still performing at a high level, there’s this sort of automatic suspicion. I sort of looked at it yesterday and thought about it. David’s been one of the most consistent and durable players in the big leagues over the last several years, even counting the fact that he missed some time last year. His performance when he’s been out there has been remarkably consistent, including the power numbers.

“So, if he had started this year, let’s say over the first 10 games or so hitting .300 with some power instead of .400 with some power, would anyone be saying anything? And then once you sort of take that into account and recognize that every good player goes through a streak during the year where they hit .400 and then every good player also goes through a streak during the year where they hit .200 over 10 games, and that’s how they end up at .300 at the end of the year. David would be the first to tell you he’s probably not going to end the year hitting .400. But we fully expect him to end the year being one of the best hitters in the league and a huge part of the middle of our lineup.

“It’s disappointing to me because of the hot start he’s got to face that question, when, as he said yesterday, when he didn’t get off to a good start a couple of years ago, he’s got to face questions the other way. It’s a disappointing thing. I guess we understand in the big picture where those questions come from. But, as David said, he’s part of a program as every player on our team is, every player in baseball is. It ought to take a little bit more than a hot streak to raise that question, in my opinion.”

Asked about the possibility of some players beating MLB’s drug testing, Cherington responded: “All I know is that the program’s in place, it’s a strong program. There’s a lot of testing. Every player in baseball is tested, including ours. They don’t know when it’s going to come. It happens during the offseason, it happens during spring training, it happens during the season. And there’s clearly penalties for testing positive. If a player tests positive, then that player has to be accountable for that, take responsibility for that, and there are penalties.

“But until that point, it seems unfair — it’s unfortunate and sad almost that David has to deal with that and we have to hear about it without any evidence other than a player just doing well on the field.”

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Read More: ben cherington, David Ortiz, joel hanrahan, jose iglesias
Ben Cherington on sellout streak: ‘It ends tonight and it was a great run’ 04.10.13 at 6:02 pm ET
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Speaking before the Red Sox‘€™ game against the Orioles, general manager Ben Cherington commented on the news that his team’€™s sellout streak would be coming to an end Wednesday night.

‘€œWe know that part of the reason it’€™s over is because we failed last year. So we take that on us and take responsibility for that,’€ said Cherington of the run, which dated back to May 15, 2003, and lasted 794 regular-season games (820 including the postseason).

‘€œHopefully the focus of this is a remarkable run for our team and our fans. I remember a lot of pretty miserable, cold April rainy nights everyone sat through. For it to last as long as it did is amazing. So it’€™s on us to make sure the place is filled and start a new one at some point.’€

When asked if the run might have been helped with an offseason of acquiring more high-priced players, Cherington referenced the ‘€™03 team that kicked off the streak.

‘€œWhen the fans really started showing up and selling out the place, I guess we had some star level players, but it was really about the team winning as a collection of personalities,’€ he said. ‘€œIf we put together a good team, a team that plays the right way and wins, the place will be full. It’€™s too good a baseball town. People care about the team. We’€™ve tested their faith the last 1½ years or so. As we said before, it’€™s on us to earn it back. Hopefully we earn that slowly but surely, knowing we still have some more work to do.’€

Cherington also took time to reflect on what made the streak possible, and how a new one might be some day built again.

‘€œAt the end what we’€™re trying to do is put together a team people want to see. Of course it’€™s reflection of work by the entire organization,’€ the GM said. ‘€œIt’€™s partly the team’€™s success. It’€™s partly what ownership has done in the ballpark, what Larry and others have done in terms of services fans get. It’€™s really a collective effort that resulted in that run of sellouts. And ultimately credit to the fans themselves, showing up day after day like that is amazing. Hopefully we’€™ll start a new one. I know the work that needed to be done to start a new one has started. It ends tonight and it was a great run.’€

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Ben Cherington on Ryan Westmoreland: ‘He got dealt a bad hand’ 03.06.13 at 6:14 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — After the news that Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland had decided to retire at the age of 22, Sox general manager Ben Cherington reflected on the circumstances that led to the former outfielder’s decision.

“Ryan is a remarkable young man,” Cherington said. “He was an incredibly talented baseball player, a special  talent as a baseball player. We got to know him more as a person after the first incident a few years back and we’€™ve come to learn that he’€™s even a more special person. Today’€™s decision by him was something that we knew was coming and we had been talking about it. we just couldn’€™t be more impressed by a human being than we are by Ryan in the way he’€™s handled this, the grace he’€™s shown and he’€™s inspired a lot of people.”

Westmoreland, who had surgery in March 2010 to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem, was initially making progress in attempting a comeback, Cherington said. But after having to have another surgery last July, a return to baseball became increasingly unlikely.

Westmoreland had been at the Red Sox’ spring training facility in recent weeks, using a cane to get around.

“I think after the first incident, I think all of our focus was first really on making sure he was OK. then he made such incredible progress,” Cherington explained. “He was really pushing the boundaries of what was possible in rehab. I think his doctors have said that he was sort of in the 99.9th percentile in terms of what he was able to accomplish. And it got to the point where he was doing things on the field and you start talking more about baseball. Obviously that was what he was focused on. He had a setback last summer and it was just too much to recover from. So I would say, for a little while now, we’€™ve started to shift focus towards let’€™s start talking about what makes sense moving forward and start thinking about something off the field and still, a very hard thing for him, even though he had probably been thinking about it for a while. I know it’€™s a hard thing to finally come to that conclusion that he needed to do something else.”

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