|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-Rockies series preview||09.24.13 at 10:55 am ET|
The American League East has been decided, and for the first time since 2007 the Red Sox have wrapped up the division title, completing their worst-to-first turnaround. All that’s left for the Red Sox to do is secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Sox own a 95-62 record, just one game better than the A’s (94-63).
The Red Sox continue to play good baseball in September, going 6-3 on the just-completed homestand, the last of the regular season. Although their streak of consecutive series wins was broken by the Orioles, who took two of three last week, they’ve still won five of their six series this month and have gone 14-6 since the start of September.
While the Sox might be looking to rest some players before the postseason, it doesn’t mean the lineup for the upcoming two games in Colorado will look like one for an intrasquad game in Fort Myers.
“We want to win out — we want to win 100 games,” Will Middlebrooks said. “And we want to have home-field advantage, too. It’s a close record for the best record. Oakland is right behind us. That’s important to us. A lot of starters are still playing. I’m sure they have the option to have the off time. But guys don’t want it. Guys want to play, and that’s pretty cool to see.”
The Sox dominated the Rockies in the two games against the interleague opponent at Fenway back in June, scoring a total of 16 runs off of Rockies pitching. The Rockies are 4-14 in interleague games this season.
It’s the pitching that’s been the biggest issue for the last-place Rockies. The Colorado staff has the worst ERA in the National League at 4.39. Both the relievers and the starters sit in the bottom third of just about every pitching category. And at 71-86, the Rockies occupy the cellar of the NL West, 19½ games off the pace set by the Dodgers.
The Rockies are coming off a game in which the staff allowed a season-high 13 runs, causing them to slip to a season-low 15 games under .500. It’s been a rough September for the Rockies, who have won just seven of their 20 games. However, with a decent offense, the Rockies could be a threat to any team visiting Coors Field. They own a 44-35 record at home as opposed to a dismal 27-51 mark on the road.
Here are the pitching matchups for the two-game set.
Tuesday: John Lackey (10-12, 3.44) vs. Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36)
Wednesday: Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.02) vs. Roy Oswalt (0-6, 7.71)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• The streak is broken and it’s been proven that Koji Uehara is in fact human, and not some strike-throwing pitching machine. But Uehara has shown very impressive resiliency. After a triple broke his club-record streak of consecutive batters retired at 37 and a sacrifice fly brought ended his streak of scoreless innings at 30 1/3, Uehara settled down and got the next two outs without a hitch. Since taking the loss in that game, Uehara has thrown 3 2/3 innings, giving up a couple of hits and earning two saves. The 38-year-old still is being used on a consistent basis and has yet to show any signs of fatigue. He’s racked up a total of 21 saves this season.
|Closing Time: Red Sox cap 2013 regular-season home slate with 5-2 win over Blue Jays||09.22.13 at 3:51 pm ET|
And now, Felix Doubront is off to the bullpen.
The 25-year-old left-hander stymied the cellar-dwelling Blue Jays in the Red Sox’ regular-season home finale, tossing through seven innings of two-run ball as the Sox beat Toronto, 5-2, in front of a sold-out crowd of 37,020 at Fenway Park.
The outing will stand, barring injury to another Red Sox starter, as Doubront’s final start of 2013. Manager John Farrell said before the game Doubront will work out of relief starting next weekend when the team visits the Orioles. Whether or not Doubront makes the postseason roster in any capacity remains to be seen.
Sunday, though, Doubront cruised through his seven innings on 97 pitches (61 strikes) and was particularly effective late. He retired the final nine Toronto batters he faced and saw only two over the minimum in his last four innings. His afternoon ended with a perfect eight-pitch seventh inning, capped by a nifty play by Stephen Drew, who ranged to his left, snagged a Kevin Pillar grounder, spun and got the out at first.
Although Doubront only struck out a pair — including Jose Reyes swinging to get things started — he scattered four hits and two walks to limit damage.
“He was very good,” Farrell said. “Much more powerful than the first few times out. The additional rest we were able to provide him seemed to pay off. A lot of strikes. Maybe not the number of strikeouts we’re used to seeing from Felix, but I though the carried his stuff through a full seven innings. He was efficient, they were aggressive early in the count. He went to his changeup when he needed to.
“He repeated his delivery. He just looked more fresh and rested. And that was the case. A solid seven innings of work.”
Doubront finished 2013 with a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts, giving the Red Sox five pitchers with sub-4.00 ERAs as starters. Only Ryan Dempster (4.64) is above that mark.
It has been the best season of Doubront’s relatively young major league career, and Farrell — who was Doubront’s pitching coach in 2010 when he made nine of his 12 major league appearances out of the bullpen — was complimentary of his growth.
“He’s a talented left-hander, he’s got a full compliment of pitches, he’s got some swing-and-miss to his fastball,” Farrell said, later adding, “The only thing that limits him currently is just the stamina and endurance over the course of a full season. He’s an extremely talented young guy.”
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Jackie Bradley Jr. put the Red Sox up for good with a three-run homer over the Blue Jays’ bullpen in the second inning, the third long ball in the 23-year-old’s sporadic major league time in 2013.
The home run tripled his big league RBI total from June 5 through Sunday, a span Bradely spent most of with Triple-A Pawtucket.
He didn’t have a ton of experience against knuckleballers coming into Sunday’s game against R.A. Dickey, but he did go 0-for-4 when the Sox faced Dickey April 7.
“I saw a pitch up that I could handle and I tried to take advantage of it with guys on base, and I was able to get it air-born and let the wind do the rest,” Bradley said. “When it went in the air, I was like, ‘Aw, man, please keep going.’ I think it got in on me a little bit, but I just got enough of it.
Sox fans could be getting a glimpse into the future with Bradley seeing more time in center while Jacoby Ellsbury remains sidelined with a fractured foot. In 10 games (31 at-bats) since rejoining the major league team, Bradley is hitting .258 with a .743 OPS and the three RBIs on that one swing.
|Closing Time: John Lackey loses no-hitter but punches Red Sox’ ticket to postseason||09.19.13 at 9:32 pm ET|
They’ve said they won’t celebrate clinching a wild card spot, but there was plenty for the Red Sox to celebrate beyond that as they topped the Orioles 3-1 on Thursday.
In one of the most dominant outings of his career, John Lackey carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when he surrendered the first of just two hits on a towering solo home run from cleanup hitter Adam Jones. The other hit was an eighth-inning single by J.J. Hardy. Lackey struck out eight, including AL home run leader Chris Davis twice, en route to a complete-game two-hitter.
In addition to the six strikeouts, Lackey recorded 10 outs on the ground, consistently getting weak contact from even the heart of the Orioles’ order. He did so chiefly on the strength of a powerful fastball, a pitch he used almost exclusively in his initial blitz through the Baltimore lineup, before mixing in an impressive array of cutters, sliders and curves.
Lackey’s start was a convincing statement after he entered the night having given up 11 earned runs over his last 12 innings. (In a reversal of his fortunes for most of this year, he actually went 1-0 in those starts because the Sox pulled off the rare feat of scoring runs when he was on the mound.) Thursday’s game was much more in line with the performances Lackey has turned in for most of this year. Aside from Jones’ home run and Hardy’s single, he allowed just two baserunners, both on walks, and did it all relying largely on his fastball and slider. (Five) of his (six) strikeouts came on the fastball, and he also got swings and misses on the slider.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Stephen Drew hit his 13th homer of the year, a shot to left field that brought home Jarrod Saltalamacchia as well. He also hit his seventh triple on a long fly ball to center that glanced off of Jones’ glove.
Drew had been cold this month, hitting just .226 with a .305 OBP in his last 14 games, but he does have five doubles and three of his 13 homers on the year in that span.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-3 with a double down the left-field line and a single up the middle, exhibiting the ability he’s shown in the past to hit the ball hard to all fields.
It was only the second multi-hit game of Bradley’s major-league career (the first came on June 1 against the Yankees).
– Dustin Pedroia was effective in the leadoff spot, doubling to start the game and bringing home Bradley with a single in the second. This was only the ninth game of the year in which he’s hit leadoff, but he’s hitting .325 in games when he’s at the top of the order.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Mike Napoli went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, snapping a modest streak of four games in which he had been on base.
– After a three-run third against Orioles starter Chris Tillman, the lineup sputtered, failing to push across another run. The Sox were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the game, and after starting with five hits in their first nine at-bats, the Sox went just 2-for-21 the rest of the way.
|Closing Time: Red Sox’ late-inning bullpen vulnerabilities persist in loss to Rays||09.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET|
For the second night in a row, the Rays got to the Red Sox bullpen and scored a run in the eighth inning. This time, the Red Sox were unable to come back and win in their last at-bat.
With the score knotted at 3, Rubby De La Rosa was ineffective in his one-third of an inning. De La Rosa relieved Drake Britton with one out in the bottom of the eighth and proceeded to give up a long ground-rule double to Evan Longoria. De La Rosa forced Matt Joyce to pop out to foul territory, but he gave up the go-ahead run in the form of a double down the right-field line off the bat of Wil Myers. De La Rosa was removed after a hot shot to shortstop resulted in an error on Stephen Drew and a first-and-third situation. Matt Thornton came in and closed out the inning.
The seventh and eighth innings have proven to be vulnerable frames for the Red Sox and their bullpen. Brandon Workman worked the eighth on Wednesday night and gave up a game-tying home run, and De La Rosa was saddled with the loss on Thursday. De La Rosa has been shaky in relief for the Red Sox in his 9 1/3 innings of work, and he looks unlikely to be included on the postseason roster.
While the Red Sox’ magic number remained at 8, another moment in the game proved more ominous than the loss.
With one out in the sixth inning, the Red Sox held their collective breath when Jake Peavy was pegged with a comebacker line drive off the bat of Desmond Jennings, a hot shot that deflected over to Xander Bogaerts at third base and eventually resulted in a forceout. Peavy remained in the game for the last batter of the inning and did not return for the seventh inning. Chances are, even without taking a liner off the wrist, Peavy’s evening would have been over after those six innings. He did not rush to the clubhouse, however, a potential indication that the impact of the ball did not raise undue concerns. Read the rest of this entry »
|Learning to win: Why PawSox playoff run matters for player development||09.07.13 at 8:52 am ET|
Even though Jacoby Ellsbury is dealing with a hand injury and the rosters have expanded to 40 players, Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in Pawtucket– as do Allen Webster, Brock Holt and pitchers like Brayan Villarreal and Pedro Beato, both of whom have contributed at the big league level this season.
For the third straight year, the Pawtucket Red Sox are in the playoffs, and it’s clear that the Red Sox feel that these players, each of whom could easily fill a spot on the club’s major league roster this month, would benefit from experiencing postseason play in Pawtucket. So it raises the question: why should we care about the Triple-A playoffs?
There’s not necessarily an obvious correlation between the success of high-level minor league teams and the success of the major league team, the players’ performance in that organization’s system, or even the depth of the organization. Sometimes clubs with strong farm systems will have poor records among their minor league teams because of the constant shuffling of rosters and movement of prospects throughout the levels or based on where players are in their maturation process.
But on an individual basis, getting a chance to play in the International or Pacific League playoffs is an important and positive experience. While there’s no way a minor league playoff appearance could compare to the atmosphere of a big-league postseason run, staying on the field into September has many benefits, included the added pressure of do-or-die situations, something that young players may not have experienced, and something that they would experience if they were called up to the majors.
“I think it mimics a regular season game in the majors more than anything, playing in that pressure,” former major league infielder Lou Merloni said. “Sometimes, in minor league games, when you play in front of crowds you’ll go out to win, but [in the postseason] you start to feel a little pressure. You start to get the nerves, and I think it’s the closest those guys will feel to playing in a big league game.”
Arnie Beyeler, who managed the PawSox last season and saw his team win the Governor’s Cup and advance all the way to the Triple-A National Championship, thinks that the playoff experience can really benefit young players.
“It’s great when guys get to win and go into the postseason and get playoff experience at any level,” Beyeler said. “Ultimately, when you get up here to the big leagues, it’s all about winning. So any of those experiences you can get, for guys to play extra or the pressure that you get going down the stretch trying to hold onto a lead, or playing and getting hot and getting to play in the playoffs, that do-or-die, day-to-day thing…you can’t get that experience anywhere else without being there.”
Will Middlebrooks, who was part of the PawSox club in 2011 when they finished first in the International League North division and clinched a playoff berth, thinks that while the postseason experience in the minors can’t duplicate what a playoff chase is like in the big leagues, it’s valuable nonetheless.
“Of course it’s a positive experience, it’s just a chance to play ball after the regular season is over, which is something not a lot of people get to do,” Middlebrooks said. “It doesn’t translate to anything up here [in the majors] as far as playoffs go, though. It’s another level.” Read the rest of this entry »
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