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Terry Francona: Marco Scutaro ‘is our shortstop’ 01.20.11 at 4:06 pm ET
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Ending any speculation that there will be a shortstop competition at spring training in Fort Myers, Terry Francona said Thursday that Marco Scutaro will be the club’s starting shortstop to begin the season. Francona was asked if Jed Lowrie, after his strong finish to 2010, could challenge Scutaro for the starting shortstop job this season.

“I think we’re thrilled,” Francona said of Lowrie’s recovery from a wrist injury and mono. “This kid went through a lot. He had the wrist injury, had mono, was in Fort Myers for the whole first half of the year. We didn’t see him. Then he comes up and gets an opportunity because we had a lot of guys beat up, and he hits the ball all over the ballpark, and he has the ability to play four different infield positions. So rather than worry about an infield competition, because Scutaro is our shortstop, this guy gives us something that I don’t know how many teams can say they have.”

Scutaro was also rumored to be a part of trade talks as the Red Sox explored ways to improve their bullpen.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
Epstein: Scutaro the Sox shortstop ‘until something changes’ 01.14.11 at 10:52 pm ET
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Speaking after the Hot Stove Cool Music roundtable, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that, as things currently stand, Marco Scutaro will be the shortstop for the 2011 Red Sox. That said, he also suggested that Jed Lowrie will be an important contributor, and that his performance will help to dictate his role and how much he plays at short.

“We have two really talented shortstops on the roster at different phases of their career, and they’€™ll both end up helping this club win,” Epstein said. “How it shakes out in terms of playing time will be up to [manager Terry Francona] ‘€” and, ultimately, the players will determine their own roles. If we’re a better team with one guy playing two-thirds of the time and the other guy playing one-third of the time and moving around, that’s what we’ll be. If it looks like we’ll be a better team with a more traditional arrangement or a time share, that’s what we’ll do. Players, ultimately, make those decisions for you.”

Scutaro played in 150 games last year, 132 at short (he was relegated to second base at the end of last season by a neck injury that affected his ability to throw). In the first season of his two-year, $12.5 million deal, he hit .275/.333./.388/.721 with 11 homers. Lowrie missed the first half of 2010 while recovering from mono, but in 55 second-half games, he hit .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers.

Based on Lowrie’s strong performance down the stretch, the Sox do view him as an important part of the 2011 roster, though Epstein did say that Scutaro is currently slated to be the primary shortstop.

“Scutaro signed here to be the shortstop,” Epstein said. “He should be healthy when he comes to camp, and he’€™s going to play a lot of shortstop. But we’re not good enough that we can’t use every available resource that we have. Jed Lowrie is someone who can play a good shortstop, can play a number of positions, and can help this team win. He’s going to see some time at shortstop. But Marco was our shortstop last year, and, until something changes, that’s how it’€™s going to be.”

Read More: Hot Stove, Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
Red Sox, Padres discussed including Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal 12.06.10 at 1:30 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox and Padres discussed several permutations for the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Different major league-ready players were discussed in the deal, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, left-hander Felix Doubront and infielder Jed Lowrie.

But the Padres opted to go for three solid prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes), each of whom they believe could develop into big league regulars, and perhaps above-average to well above-average ones. (The Padres simply would not have done a deal without pitcher Casey Kelly.)

The team was especially intrigued by the idea of adding Ellsbury to the deal, but he already has three years of service time behind him, and is now a first-time arbitration eligible player. So, if Ellsbury performed at a high level with the Padres, San Diego felt that it would have been in the exact same position with Ellsbury in two years as it was today with Gonzalez: In a position where they would have to once again trade Ellsbury (a Scott Boras client who is considered unlikely to sign a long-term deal before reaching fre agency) before his final controllable year. Meanwhile, the Sox continue to value Ellsbury as a potentially important part of the club for 2011.

As for the package that the Padres did get, they considered it the package that had the most high-ceiling players. Other proposals that they received might have featured current big leaguers, but San Diego did not feel that it was being offered projected stars, and the idea of short-term gain at the expense of a meaningful long-term infusion of talent in the Sox deal did not make sense for a team whose success will be dictated by its young, controllable players.

It is worth noting that when the Sox and Padres discussed potential deals for Gonzalez in the past, San Diego had been able to target even more substantial returns. In the middle of the 2009 season, for instance, the teams discussed having Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a deal that would have included more than three prospects. After the 2009 season, San Diego felt that a fair asking price for Gonzalez started with both Buchholz and Kelly (a proposal that the Sox viewed as too costly). The longer that the Padres waited to deal Gonzalez, San Diego feared, the more his trade value would diminish.

In that sense, Mark Teixeira offered an interesting case study. When traded from the Rangers to the Braves in the middle of 2007 with a year and a half left on his deal, he netted a huge prospect package that included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus. One year later, when the Braves dealt Teixeira in July — two months before his free agency — Atlanta got a package from the Angels that was featured the highly underwhelming package of first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Stephen Marek. The Padres did not want to face such diminishing returns by waiting too long to deal Gonzalez, a fact that helped motivate the deal with the Red Sox.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, felix doubront
Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Real confident’ despite Martinez’ departure 11.23.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. His visit coincided with the breaking news of catcher Victor Martinez departure for the Tigers on a four-year, $50 million deal.

“My phone started ringing about 20 minutes ago. I was like, ‘€˜Maybe we need to reschedule,’€™” Francona joked.

Francona praised Martinez as a player and person, and noted his appreciation for the switch-hitter’s efforts with the Red Sox. He did take some solace that Martinez is leaving the Sox for the AL Central, rather than an American League East rival.

“He’€™s going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it’€™s not in our division. These things happen. When guys get to free agency, there’€™s a lot of decisions to make. One is by the player, one is by the organization and one is by other teams,” said Francona. “Sometimes it works out where a guy doesn’€™t come back. That doesn’€™t mean we’€™re not going to be any good. I feel real confident. The winter has to play itself out. It’€™s just beginning. It will be really interesting.”

Francona said that he talked to Sox GM Theo Epstein as recently as Monday night about Martinez’ contract status. The manager had no qualms with the organization’s decision.

“We’€™re pretty much on the same page on a lot of things. Being the manager is a little bit different, making the lineup out, is a little bit different than having to be the care-taker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road. I try not to lose sight of that,” said Francona. “Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. When you have to make a decision and you’€™re talking $40, $45, $50 million, four years down the road, that’€™s not quite as easy. I respect that.

“If we went down to Fort Myers and we didn’t have a catcher, I’d be anxious,” said Francona. “I’ve been here long enough to know that this is the way it goes. When you’re the Red Sox and you have a high payroll and veteran players, you’re going to have free agents. That’s just the way it is. Theo and his guys have to walk the fine line of protecting — we talk about loyalty, and we certainly believe in that — but not going too far and have guys maybe in the last couple years of their contracts not doing what you want. It just seems like in this day and age, teams don’t mind paying money as much as they want to limit the years sometimes. … I understand it’s Nov. 22 and Victor is going somewhere else. Saying that, I have a feeling that be Feb. 15, we’ll have a team set in place.”

Francona spoke highly of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though while he said that the Sox believe he can develop into an everyday catcher, he also cautioned that it might not be ideal to confer that responsibility on the 25-year-old out of the gate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Jacoby Ellsbury
Minor Details: Keith Law on Sox trade chips 11.19.10 at 3:22 am ET
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Keith Law of ESPN.com joined this week’s installment of Minor Details. The weekly podcast, which examines the shape of the Red Sox farm system, focused this week on how well positioned the Red Sox are to make trades this winter now that the Hot Stove season seems to have been ignited.

Law touched on a number of topics, including:

–Is it worth trading top prospects for a one-year rental such as Adrian Gonzalez? Law suggested that while he thinks that the Padres superstar first baseman would thrive outside of Petco Park, the fact that he is only signed through 2011 means that the Red Sox should not deal a top prospect — such as Casey Kelly — for him.

“In the Red Sox’ division, I wonder if they’re ever really high enough of a probability of making the playoffs that it’s worth giving up prospect depth,” said Law. “You could probably look at Kelly and say he could be in the big leagues in 2012. Maybe not with the Red Sox, but he’s not that far away. … Casey Kelly is not untouchable for me, but he’s pretty darn close to it. I don’t think I’d trade Casey Kelly for one year of Adrian Gonzalez, and I love Adrian Gonzalez.”

–Do the Red Sox have the pieces to trade for superstars such as Justin Upton this offseason? For many teams, Law believes the answer is yes. There might be some clubs that are looking for what he described as the “country strong,” light-up-the-radar gun pitching prospect who is not to be found in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. But for most clubs, the array and depth of prospects the Sox feature create the basis for deal.

“Your currency may not be good at all 29 banks in the trade market,” said Law. “It might be good at 20 of them. That’s good enough in most cases.”

–Whether there are untouchables in the Red Sox system?

–The trade value of Felix Doubront, whom Law described as a valuable secondary component to a deal because he is big league ready and capable of either taking a spot in the back of the rotation or filling a bullpen role right now.

“He’s valuable as a chip because he’s a big league-ready arm in some role … who will make no money,” said Law. “That’s tremendous value. … You can’t build a deal around Felix Doubront, but he has a lot of value as the second or even third player in a larger deal because he delivers value to the acquiring club from day one.”

Law described Doubront as being a great fit for teams like the Padres and Pirates.

–How the Sox might view the possibility of trading either Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo, based on their relative values, their potential and the fact that the team has some redundancy at first base. Law describes Rizzo as potentially having 30-35 home run power, making him “the more valuable property,” although he also noted that Anderson could play first base for a major league club on opening day.

–Does Jose Iglesias make Jed Lowrie expendable? Does Jed Lowrie make Jose Iglesias expendable? Law described Lowrie as being, like Doubront, a very valuable secondary piece to a deal, a major league-ready piece but someone who does not anchor a deal. Iglesias — about whose defense Law raved — might have more trade value, or value to the Red Sox.

–At what position do the Red Sox possess the greatest surplus for a deal?

–Why did Andrew Miller project to be a star in college, and why does he now represent a project hoping to salvage his career.

–How are Red Sox prospects such as Ryan Lavarnway and some Rule 5-eligible relievers performing in the Arizona Fall League?

To listen to the podcast, click here.

To listen to the first episode of the podcast, discussing Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects with Sox farm director Mike Hazen and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, click here.

To send feedback or suggestions for future episodes, email aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Adeiny Hechevarria, adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, andrew miller
Report: Scutaro trade market taking shape 11.18.10 at 8:55 pm ET
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Could it be one and done for yet another Red Sox shortstop? According to CSNNE.com, the Red Sox would be open to a deal of shortstop Marco Scutaro — who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Boston almost a year ago, in exchange for bullpen help.

The Red Sox have dealt with a well-documented shortstop merry-go-round since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. The team signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year deal after that season, only to trade him to the Braves after one season. The team signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for 2006, then inked Julio Lugo to a four-year pact starting in 2007. But Lugo spent just one full year as the Sox’ everyday shortstop before injuries and poor performances led him to be dumped in mid-2009. Now, it would appear that there is at least a chance that Scutaro would part ways with the Sox before the conclusion of his deal.

According to the report, the Red Sox have received interest from a half-dozen clubs in shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scutaro signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal last offseason. He will make $5 million in 2011, with a $6 million club option that comes with a $1.5 million buyout, as well as a $3 million player option for the 2012 season. The report suggests that a number of teams — including the Cardinals, Reds, Padres and Giants — are in the shortstop market, and that the Sox would be open to moving Scutaro in exchange for bullpen help. In his place, the team could turn to Jed Lowrie at shortstop, with a possibility of having Jose Iglesias emerge sometime in mid- to late-2012.

Scutaro, in his first year in Boston, set a career high with 150 games despite dealing with injuries for much of the season. He hit .275 with a .333 OBP, .388 slugging mark, .721 OPS, 11 homers and 56 RBI, spending most of the season in the leadoff spot. Lowrie played 55 games down the stretch, spending most of his time at second and shortstop while hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers and 24 RBI.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
GM meetings recap: What Wednesday meant to the Red Sox at 7:35 am ET
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Wednesday marked the second full day of the GM meetings in Orlando. For a look back at Day 1, click here.

In 2008, there was not a single transaction that occurred at the GM meetings. In that context, two years seems like quite a long time ago.

This year’s GM meetings feel less as if they are transpiring in the shadow of Disney as much as they are in the middle of a bazaar. There’s been plenty of activity, both real and stage-setting.

While Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told reporters that he did not anticipate that the club would do anything of note before leaving Orlando, three notable transactions took place to further shape the market for offseason deals:

–The Tigers signed free agent Joaquin Benoit, an outstanding performer for the Rays in a huge bounceback 2010 season, to a somewhat staggering three-year, $16.5 million contract. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings while pitching on an incentive-laden deal for the Rays in 2010. Implications for the Red Sox: The Sox are no fans of multi-year deals for relievers, and while they were prepared to bite the bullet on a deal spanning multiple seasons for relief arms, this deal — for a middle reliever — will no doubt embolden pitchers like Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes to shoot very high. With three years now a baseline for the relief market (for a pitcher who is one year removed from missing an entire season), the Sox’ task of adding bullpen arms became more challenging, especially with the top 2010 performer no longer available.

–The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Rajai Davis from the Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Implications for the Red Sox: Limited, especially since the Blue Jays were not expected to be major players for the outfielders (such as Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth) whom the Sox are more likely targeting.

–The Chibe Lotte Marines of the NPB will make shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka available to Major League Baseball clubs via the posting process. Implications for the Red Sox: Assuming that the 26-year-old, who led the Pacific League with a .346 average, is acquired and signed by a major league team other than the Red Sox, it could take away a potential suitor should the Sox decide to try to move either Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie. Alternately, the Sox could make a bid for Nishioka, in which case the club could more freely market Scutaro or Lowrie (much as the A’s did by acquiring pitcher Hishasi Hiwakuma and then dealing starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals as part of the deal for outfielder David DeJesus).

While those were the deals that actually got done, there was yet another wave of rumors and statements to help illuminate where the Red Sox stand in the offseason. Here, broken down by area, were the major developments from Wednesday.

OWNERSHIP, PAYROLL AND OVERALL OFFSEASON STRATEGY

–Red Sox chairman Tom Werner appeared on The Big Show and shed light on the Sox’ commitment to return to the postseason next year. (For a transcript of his remarks, click here.) He observed that the Sox had the second highest payroll in the majors last year, and that they anticipated “a robust payroll, probably as high as last year if not higher.” He also suggested that the team will move aggressively to improve its roster, and made clear that he and Sox ownership have no intentions of treating 2011 as a “bridge year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bridge year, carl crawford, casey kelly
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