|Red Sox prepare for life without Victor Martinez||11.23.10 at 11:02 am ET|
As of Monday night, multiple major league sources said, the Red Sox recognized the likelihood that Victor Martinez was slipping away to the Detroit Tigers. It became clear that the catcher was not going to accept the Sox’ last offers of either three years at $36 million or four years and $42 million.
That scenario appears to have unfolded as of Tuesday morning. Ignacio Serrano reported from Venezuela that Martinez and the Tigers were closing in on a four-year, $50 million deal for the switch-hitting catcher. Serrano reported that the Red Sox talked to Martinez’ agent last night, and that the team was not willing to match the Tigers in years. Serrano also reported that the Orioles had a four-year, $48 million offer on the table, while the White Sox had a three-year, $48 million deal available.
Martinez ranked among the most productive catchers in the majors from the time that he joined the Sox at the 2009 trade deadline, following a deal that shipped Justin Masterson and prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland in exchange for the four-time All-Star. Martinez hit .313/.368/.497/.865 in his time with the Red Sox, including a line of .302/.351/.493/.844 with 20 homers and 79 RBI in 2010.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said on multiple occasions this offseason that the team’s first choice for addressing its catching situation remained to re-sign Martinez. That said, he also suggested that the team was comfortable turning to 25-year-old Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the job.
For now, it appears the team is planning on trying to develop Saltalamacchia into an everyday player while signing another catcher to complement him. The team has also left open the possibility of re-signing free-agent Jason Varitek to partner with Saltalamacchia.
The Red Sox entered 2010 with some reservations about Martinez’ ability to remain a catcher long-term. (Indeed, at the time that the Indians traded him to Boston, they felt that his days as a catcher were already numbered.) At the start of the season, it seemed difficult to argue with such hesitation given that opposing teams were running wild on the catcher.
But he improved over the course of the season thanks to extensive work with bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck, and ended up throwing out 21 percent of would-be base stealers. Still, that was below the 26 percent American League average, and the Sox ended up allowing an AL-worst 80 percent success rate on stolen base attempts and an AL-worst 169 steals.
Perhaps as a result of such a performance, the Red Sox offered Martinez a two-year deal during the season. He told WEEI.com that he saw that as being too conservative given his age and performance.
“They came with something, and that might just be where the negotiations start, but I don’t see myself signing a two-year deal. I’m young enough. I work so hard and I give it all. I just want to be treated fair,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t hard because it was something I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting a two-year deal, anyway. I wasn’t expecting for them to come to me during the season anyways.”
The Sox remained engaged until at least last night in hopes of bringing Martinez back, but ultimately, the Tigers offer apparently proved to be one they did not want to match.
The Red Sox stand to receive a pair of draft picks with Martinez’ departure. Unless the Tigers sign outfielder Jayson Werth, the team would stand to receive Detroit’s first-round pick (No. 19 overall) as well as a sandwich-round draft pick. The Sox have, in the past, been able to leverage such draft pick compensation into important prospects. (More on that here.) Moreover, the No. 19 pick would be the earliest selection by the Sox since they took David Murphy with the No. 17 overall pick in 2003. Given the anticipated outstanding quality of the draft (and the fact that the Sox leveraged compensation picks in the last great draft, 2005, to acquire the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie), the Sox view the value of the draft picks as significant.
|Theo Epstein’s history of arbitration offers||at 8:27 am ET|
The Red Sox have until Tuesday to decide whether to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. Of utmost interest is how the team will proceed with its four free agents who would entitle the club to draft pick compensation should they reject arbitration and sign elsewhere.
The team is virtually certain to offer arbitration to Type A free agents Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. Both have markets so robust that teams will be likely to sign them even if they must sacrifice a draft pick to do so. Thus, should they elect not to re-sign with the Sox, the Sox are likely to get a pair of draft picks (one from the team that signs them, and another as a compensatory sandwich pick from Major League Baseball).
The team is also likely to offer arbitration to Type B free agent Felipe Lopez, a player whom the club signed in the final days of the season specifically in hopes of offering him arbitration, having him turn it down and seeing him sign elsewhere. As a Type B free agent, a club that signs Lopez will not have to part with a pick; the Sox would, however, get a sandwich pick from MLB.
The biggest dilemma facing the club is whether to offer arbitration to Jason Varitek, a Type B free agent who could net the team a draft pick if he departs, but who might well be inclined to accept an arbitration offer in order to return to the Sox. (For more on the Varitek situation, click here.)
The Red Sox have made no secret of how much they value the draft picks that can be gleaned through free agent compensation. Under GM Theo Epstein, the team has been willing to risk overpaying players who might accept arbitration in order to secure a chance at a pick should the player sign elsewhere. Notable examples of that stance include Jason Varitek and Paul Byrd following the 2008 season and Tony Graffanino following the 2005 campaign.
That said, while the Sox have offered arbitration to all of their Type A and Type B free agents in the past three offseasons, the team has, at times, resisted making such offers for players. Indeed, between the 2003 and 2006 offseasons, the Sox declined to offer arbitration to several of their free agents. (Caveat: it is worth noting that, whereas Type B free agents no longer require a signing club to part with a draft pick, until 2006, a team that signed a Type B free agent needed to part with a second-round pick.)
Here is a look at how the Sox have proceeded since the 2002-03 offseason under Epstein with regards to free agents who could net the team draft pick compensation.
|John Farrell on D&H: Players would ‘run through a wall’ for Terry Francona||11.10.10 at 12:56 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday to talk about his new stint as Blue Jays manager, and how he plans to use free agency in organizing his new clubhouse. To hear the full interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Farrell was drawn to the Blue Jays job because of the strengths of the team, its core group of young players, and the attraction of competing in the American League East. ‘I think it is the strongest division in baseball,’ Farrell said, ‘and to go up against those teams a third of the time, between New York, Boston and Tampa, that’s a challenge that was relished, not run away from.’
A smaller payroll than some of those other AL East teams is something that Farrell is unconcerned about when it comes to working with the Blue Jays. While payrolls may differ around the league, each team still has the ability and opportunity to go out and compete for a World Series. ‘I think what it comes down to is just a team, an organization working in unison to be as efficient as possible,” Farrell said.
The first step to Farrell forming that kind of team was to get his staffing situation figured out. He said that as a person who has never managed, it was important to him to have someone who had that experience, and also that ‘to have someone that I had a standing relationship with.’ So, Farrell dug into the Red Sox’ minor league staff pool and hired former Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo as his first-base coach.
Asked what he takes from his time alongside Terry Francona, Farrell said: “The thing that really stood out with Tito was his willingness to listen and, without a doubt, his unwavering confidence in players. He never backed off, even when a guy was struggling. So, players felt that belief in them and really that he had their back though thick and thin. ‘¦ When guys went through some times where things weren’t going well, he never backed off them. I really feel like they believed in him and would run through a wall for him.”
It’s possible that Farrell could look back to his familiarity with the Red Sox organization when it comes to free agency. Farrell did not deny that there are questions on the Blue Jays roster, including at the catching position, which could lead to a pursuit of Jason Varitek. ‘We all know what Jason is about,’ Farrell said. ‘He’s a great leader in the clubhouse and on the field. ‘¦ We’ve got a young catcher in J.P. Arencibia that still needs some development and grooming to become an everyday guy.’
The bullpen is another area of the roster Farrell said needs to be address, and though he agreed that Cliff Lee is probably the most desirable guy on the free agent list, that doesn’t mean the Blue Jays will make a bid. ‘Whether or not he fits what we’ve got going currently, that will be determined here as we go deeper into the offseason,” Farrell said. “But I’m sure there’s going to be some heavy pursuit for Cliff.’
|Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Tek’s true colors really showed’||10.07.10 at 2:59 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona made his last appearance of the season on the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon after being delayed one day due to the Randy Moss trade coverage. Francona talked about his thoughts on the trade, as well as ESPN’s 30-for-30 show about the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series run, and the start to his baseball offseason.
“I’m having knee surgery on Wednesday,” Francona said. “Next time you guys see me, I’m going to be 6-foot-1 and not bow-legged. I’m going to get that extra half-inch back, and I’m going to have to buy some new jeans.”
Following are highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, check out the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
What did you think of the Randy Moss trade?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a lot going on in those walls that we’re not privy to that would be really interesting.
How do you handle personalities on the team, especially ones that become agitated or irritated?
Well, it’s not just how to handle it ‘ sometimes I’m not sure you do. I think what you have to figure out is when does the production better outweigh the amount of headaches. When that stops happening, then I think teams start looking at different ways to look things.
Is there one thing that you can’t get past, in terms of player’s attitudes?
That doesn’t happen too much here. There are some things that probably aren’t very serious, you know. Go back to Jay Payton. Jay didn’t want to be here. We had a little episode in the dugout where it got a little loud, and so we kind of had to back up, you know, what I said. Don’t want to happen very often. That puts me in a tough spot, and I don’t like doing that. Since then, Jay and I have talked a couple of times, so that’s OK.
Again, when you get emotional during a game, you try not to say things that you either don’t mean or you have to carry out on, you know. You try to stay a little even-keeled and make good decisions not based on emotion, because that’s where you make mistakes.
Is it safe to say that one of the jobs of a manager is to praise publicly and criticize privately?
I agree with that. I don’t know that everybody does, everybody has their own style. Again, if we have a message to deliver that’s maybe not going to be real popular, we do it behind closed doors. That’s how I would like to be treated. I wouldn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the public. I think players just like to know that the manager kind of has their back. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk to them, and they all know that. But we don’t need to do it through the media.
|Was that it for Jason Varitek in Boston?||10.04.10 at 9:17 am ET|
Jason Varitek has never been one to speak about his own accomplishments that much. But what his bosses said following the 2010 season finale spoke volumes about what he has meant to the team, organization and city of Boston since the Red Sox aquired him and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb at the trade deadline in 1997.
“I don’t think anyone deserves that kind of reception from the fans more than he does.” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said of the captain. “No matter happens going forward, he’s a Red Sox more than anyone one of us, he’s a Red Sox.”
Then, without stopping Epstein, continued and acknowledged why the fans were giving him a standing ovation before his eighth-inning flyout to deep right center and his coming off the field before the top of the ninth began.
“The future is uncertain,” Epstein said. “Although warmth the fans showed, his teammates showed may have seemed like a goodbye, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.”
Indeed, the Red Sox have a huge question facing them heading into 2011. Do they make an offer to Jason Varitek, similar to the one he just finished out, two years, $8 million?
There’s one big reason they would.
If Victor Martinez, who sounded after Sunday’s game like he was very much looking forward to free agency, doesn’t return, who’s going to catch for the Red Sox?
Or Jason Varitek?
‘I just have to be patient and see what happens,” Varitek said in acknowledging his uncertain future. “There are a lot of things that have to be decided here. It’s not like there are one or two moving parts. There’s a lot of things to be decided.
“I don’t know if I can really answer that. All I can be is appreciative of being here. My time here, my teammates, the organization and importantly, the fans. I’ve said it, my kinds have grown up here. My oldest is 10 and I’ve been here 13 years. This is a part of them, too.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Terry Francona on D&H transcription||09.29.10 at 1:48 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, appearing on the Dale & Holley show one day after his team was eliminated officially from the playoff race, acknowledged the disappointment that his team will not be playing beyond this coming weekend. While Francona lauded the effort put forth by the 2010 Sox, he said that it will be difficult to follow a postseason in a year when his team is not in it.
“I’ll have [the playoffs] on. Down deep, I like baseball so much,” Francona said. “But it’s a bad feeling. It’s probably hard to explain. It probably sounds a lot like sour grapes. But we’re just not ready to go home. I know you’re supposed to be a good sport and congratulate the other team, but it’s hard. You want to be there. And we’ve been there before. There’s probably jealousy and envy. We just don’t like it.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
We sort of expected it would become official and it finally did last night, was it sort of inevitable you felt going down this last week or so?
I don’t know, we actually probably never really tried to think about it. I think sometimes if you’re supposed to try to be practical, you know, it doesn’t pay to be. We’re just trying to win and win and win and hope somebody else lost and, you know, just trying to make it last as long as possible. Like you said, it ended last night but, you know, we just, I don’t know, common sense, I don’t know if that really helps you sometimes.
You sound a little down, is it officially not making the playoffs or is it something else?
Oh, I’m just sick, everybody’s passing it around, and I’m miserable. I’m doing my best because my head feels like it’s beaten against the wall.
So what’s the plan now that it’s official, how do you approach the final days of the season?
You know, probably not a whole lot different. We’ve been trying to balance, for the last two weeks, playing some of the younger guys, keeping some guys healthy, you know, the veterans have been playing and playing hurt are doing such a great job. We’ll probably do pretty similar the rest of the way out. We have five games left and we’ll probably try to do that. We’re certainly not going to over-pitch somebody or overextend somebody, but at the same time, you know, we’re professional ball players and our guys have been in and out of the lineup and we’ll continue to mix and match and hopefully win games.
|Jason Varitek returns, and eyes playing beyond 2010||09.07.10 at 11:28 pm ET|
It was an inglorious time at which to return to the field. The Red Sox were trailing by 12 runs, and the team had made the decision to pull the plug in the sixth inning.
But even with his team trailing, 14-2, the significance was not lost on Jason Varitek. For the first time since June 30, he was on the field in a major league game, behind the Fenway Park plate that has been his crouching station for so many years. The moment, Varitek said, was “tremendously” exciting, a reward for months of hard work to come back.
“I’ve had a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of different people spent time with me from 1 o’clock in the afternoon till game time,” said Varitek. “I caught the ball good. I took some good swings. It was nice to be out there and to actually get into a game.”
Yet this was not the first step of a farewell tour for the Red Sox captain. Varitek, who went 0-for-2, said after the game that he envisions playing at least one more year, and perhaps several. The 2010 season — aside from the freak foul ball that broke his left foot — has left him feeling healthier and stronger than he has in years. That being the case, he looks forward to the opportunity to continue his career.
“I definitely want to play. There’s no question,” Varitek said. “Things have, health-wise, turned the corner outside of a freak broken bone that allows me to do some things at a high, high level. I definitely want to play.”
Varitek said that, in achieving health, he has realized how challenging the grind of recent seasons was, as he tried to push through injury. But now, perhaps because he was operating in a part-time role behind Victor Martinez this year, he feels that his bat has regained quickness, and that his actions behind the plate are better than they have been in some time.
“I’m able to make some adjustments offensively. I’m probably able to throw the ball better than I have ever in my entire life,” Varitek said. “And then the things you take pride in: Being able to block the ball, move, do things. I think that at some levels I’m just doing things better than I ever have.”
That being the case, Varitek is convinced that the 2010 season will not be his last. While he would like to play beyond 2011 as well, he is withholding judgment about just how much longer he wants to continue his career, at a time when he said that he has “no idea” how much the Sox will want him to play down the stretch.
“I want to listen to my body. At this point, I definitely want to play another year. I’d like to play a few more years. We’ll just have to see,” Varitek said. “If things go the other way and I wasn’t healthy, I’d have to evaluate. If my swings and stuff went the other direction, I’d have to evaluate. But I’ve made some drastic improvements, and I’m almost rejuvenated.”
|Postgame Notes: The (Wally) Bell tolled for Hall, Sox||09.04.10 at 6:34 pm ET|
Bill Hall had the pivotal at-bat of the Red Sox‘ 3-1 loss to the White Sox. After Jed Lowrie walked on four pitches, Hall stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the second inning, at a time when his team trailed, 1-0.
Hall struck out on three pitches against Chicago starter John Danks. After the game, Hall made clear that he believed home plate umpire Wally Bell was in no small measure responsible.
“We had the bases loaded. I came up. He’d just thrown four straight balls, so obviously it’s a situation where I’m on the take. Umpire gave him a pitch that wasn’t really even close,” said Hall. “When you get behind in the count against a guy like that, give him a chance to make pitches on a guy that can make pitches, it’s going to be tough. Next batter came up, [Darnell McDonald, who grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice], same thing.
“When you give a guy a chance to make pitches and you’re worried about swinging at pitches you don’t normally swing at, it puts you in a bind as a hitter. you start to expand your zone and swing at pitches because you don’t know if he’s going to call it a strike or call it a ball. We squandered an opportunity right there. Obviously, one pitch shouldn’t define an at-bat, but it definitely can put you in a hole. He made pitches after those.”
—Jason Varitek will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, catching four or five innings. He might also DH on Monday in the PawSox’ season finale.
—Mike Lowell discussed further the non-displaced rib fracture that he suffered on Aug. 20.
It has been an amazing run, of course, for the ribs of Red Sox players. Jacoby Ellsbury has missed almost the entire year after his collision with Adrian Beltre in April. Jeremy Hermida missed several weeks after he met Beltre’s knee.
Now, Lowell becomes the third member of the club to suffer a fracture that is rarely seen among baseball players.
“Beltre didn’t even hit me,” marveled Lowell, of an injury he incurred from a run-in with Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. “I just think it’s a freak thing.”
That said, Lowell feels that his game is not impaired by the injury, which was diagnosed as a fracture following an MRI and CT scan on Friday.
“It bothers me to sleep or if I get fooled swinging, so don’t get fooled,” Lowell offered. “They told me as long as I can deal with it, I can play. Hurting my hip last year, this is a much lesser inconvenience. Obviously I feel it sometimes. And when I finish all my cage routine, that’s when I feel it. I don’t think it changes my swing so I’m cool with that.”
—J.D. Drew and David Ortiz were a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, with all but one of those outs coming against White Sox lefty Danks. Ortiz is hitting .205/.259/.315/.574 against lefties, and Drew is hitting .183/.278/.290/.568 against them.
|Tek to return with PawSox on Sunday||at 5:42 pm ET|
For the first time since breaking a bone in his right foot in late June, Jason Varitek has been cleared to return to game action.
The team announced following Saturday’s Game 1 loss to the White Sox that Varitek will catch four-to-five innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday at McCoy Stadium.
Varitek will then DH for the PawSox in their season finale on Monday afternoon before a possible return to the Red Sox active roster on Tuesday. Varitek met with team doctors on Saturday to get final clearance to return to game action.
Earlier Saturday, manager Terry Francona said the team captain could be nearing a return to game action following a meeting Saturday with doctors. Varitek has been out of action with a broken foot since taking a Carl Crawford foul ball off his right foot on June 30 against Tampa Bay.
“He’s going to meet with the medical people and doctors today,” Francona said. “We’ll see what they’ll allow him to do. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go play, we’ll see. I know time is running out for the Triple-A guys so today is an important day and important meeting for him.”
The Triple-A PawSox conclude their season with a pair of home games Sunday and Monday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket against Syracuse.
|Pedroia to Tito: I was a ‘moron’||at 2:45 pm ET|
But at least his sense of humor is still in tact.
“He actually sent me a picture on his [cell] phone before he went into surgery. He took a picture of himself. He called himself a moron, which I agree with. Then [wife] Kelli called me, which I appreciated and he actually called me a little bit later. Then he actually called me a little bit later and sounded good.
“Then from what I understand, like a lot of people, he got a little nauseous, you know, it happens,” Francona said. “He went home and had a long night, but talked to him this morning and he sounded pretty upbeat. It sounds like, I’m sure Dr. [George] Theodore will have a report for you guys, but it sounded really encouraging from everything.
“From when they went in and saw the amount of healing, that it was in a line. It just sounded really optimistic. So that was good to hear. Certainly rather hear that than have them come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’t what we thought it was going to be and things like that.'”
Perhaps most encouraging was the news that come Dec. 1 or thereabouts, Pedroia should be just about on track for a normal offseason conditioning program.
‘That was a big reason why they did it [Friday],” Francona said. “That will give him, whatever the timetable is, four-to-six weeks with crutches, that’s basically what, three months? That gets Dec. 1, right? That’s basically when guys, and I know Pedey works before that, but that’s really when the winter program kind of starts, so yeah, he should have pretty much a normal winter, which should be terrific.”
In short, Francona said there’s reason to think Pedroia will make a full and complete recovery from Friday’s procedure to put a pin in his left foot to help heal the broken bone.
“It sounded really encouraging,” Francona said. “When they went in and saw the amount of healing and that it was in a line, it just sounded really optimistic so that was good to hear. Certainly, we’re glad to hear that have [doctors] come out and say, ‘Oh boy, this isn’t what we thought it was going to be.'”
After the Chicago White Sox were awarded Manny Ramirez this week on a straight waiver claim from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the slugger gets another chance to return to Fenway Park this weekend for a three-game series.
Asked if he thinks Ramirez can make an impact on the American League Central race, Francona sounded hopeful his team could get the job done like they did in June when Manny came back in Dodger blue.
“I hope not this weekend,” Francona said. The question was asked by New York Daily News sports writer Roger Rubin toward the end of Saturday’s briefing with reporters. Francona added, “You came all the way up here for that?”
The White Sox enter Saturday’s doubleheader with a 73-60 mark, four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
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