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Curt Schilling on M&M: Red Sox ‘have no leadership whatsoever in that clubhouse’ 10.17.11 at 2:09 pm ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called in to the Mut & Merloni show Monday to discuss the news that Jon Lester acknowledged there was drinking in the clubhouse during games this season, although Lester downplayed the situation and insisted it had nothing to do with the September collapse.

“I mentioned something last week that I had talked to a couple of people that I’m very comfortable [with], are being up front and honest about this. And the one message I got was that Jon Lester never stopped busting his ass to the bitter end from a work perspective,” Schilling said.  “Unfortunately, I asked that when you think about his September, his final run of starts, you just have to attribute that to just lackluster performance. I was kind of hoping that wasn’t the case.

“But as far as Jon goes, I’m happy that the kid I knew, and the young man that I knew, wasn’t kind of dragged into this.”

Schilling said it’s not uncommon for pitchers to have a beer in the locker room after being lifted from a game. But if pitchers were exhibiting that behavior on days they weren’t pitching, that crosses a line.

“I was more concerned that this was something that was happening around guys just because. They were going up and having a beer in the clubhouse,” Schilling said. “I think for some of these guys that’s exactly what it was. But I would bet you that when it had to do with Jon Lester, the beer he was having was after he was out of a game. And given how they pitched in September, there might have been more than one beer.”

Asked if Josh Beckett should be next to come forward and explain his behavior, Schilling said all the pitchers should.

“I think they all have to. I don’t know how you get away from [it],” he said. “I mean, you were directly responsible for the largest collapse in baseball history as one of the pitchers that went down on the ship. As the leader of that staff, I think absolutely, he’s one of the two guys that absolutely has to.

“In my mind, there’s only one way to do this. It’s to sit in front of the media and say, ‘Listen, this is what happened. It’s horrific. It was stupid. I made a bunch of mistakes on top of other mistakes. It cost us a chance to go to the playoffs. It cost our manager his job. And I’m sorry. And I’m going to do everything I can do to make up [for it].’ Unless it’s a complete mea culpa, I don’t know that there’s any other path here, especially for these fans.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Curt Schilling, John Henry, Jon Lester
Sources: Jon Lester shouldn’t be lumped in with other starters 10.13.11 at 2:29 pm ET
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According to multiple team sources, the participation of Jon Lester in joining the other starting pitchers in drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse during games (as was reported by The Boston Globe Wednesday) was overstated. One source said Lester participated “occasionally, but very infrequent.”

The sources also confirmed that unlike some of the identified pitchers in the article, Lester’s work ethic didn’t trail off as the Sox slumped through September.

“Lester was not part of any of this,” said one of the sources. “He worked his ass off right to the end.”

The Globe report stated:

Sources said [Josh] Beckett, Lester and [John] Lackey, who were joined at times by [Clay] Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’€™s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

‘€œIt’€™s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’€™’€™ one source said.

“For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.”

Lester finished the season at 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, pitching 191 2/3 innings. The Red Sox lost five of his last six starts, with the lefty totaling a 5.40 ERA during that stretch.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, john lackey, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett
Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘This is what happens when you piss people off that are really rich and powerful’ at 11:18 am ET
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Former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to share his thoughts on an article published Wednesday outing some of the gory details of the Red Sox failed season.

Schilling, who sounded emotional when addressing the current Red Sox players’ silence in the wake of the reports, said he thinks the players need to start taking responsibility for their actions that led to the worst September collapse in baseball history.

“My biggest fear is that one or more players is going to come out and try to defend what’s happened instead of just doing a mea culpa and saying, ‘You know what? Wow was this wrong. Wow did we screw this guy. Wow did we cost you. I don’t know if there’s anything we can say or do to make this up, but we’ll do everything,'” Schilling said. “I don’t see anything other than that. Otherwise you can’t come back.”

Schilling said he was especially hurt and disturbed by accusations made about Terry Francona, and he even went so far as to say Francona may have the makings of a slander lawsuit on his hands because of statements made by anonymous sources about a pain-killer issue.

“I wonder legally whether he has recourse because the team trainer, the team doctor and the ownership, the executive people on this team I would imagine are the only people with enough knowledge of Tito’s medicinal habits to make that comment, to have that news out there,” Schilling said. “This was somebody out to ruin this guy’s life. Because now, I look at this almost like I look at a sexual harassment case. It doesn’t matter if he did it or not. He’s going to have to answer questions about this for the rest of his life.”

Schilling also called out Josh Beckett and Jon Lester for their behavior and condemned the leaders of the team for allowing their teammates to act irresponsibly.

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Curt Schilling, John Henry, john lackey, Jon Lester
Peter Gammons on M&M: ‘I’m pretty sickened’ by trashing of Terry Francona 10.12.11 at 1:28 pm ET
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Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance. Gammons gave his take on Wednesday’s Boston Globe article that gave a picture of the dysfunction that reigned in the Red Sox clubhouse during the team’s September collapse and even before that. One of the most controversial items in the article detailed how ex-manager Terry Francona may have been distracted by a failing marriage and health problems that forced him to use pain medication.

“I must say, I’m pretty sickened,” Gammons said. “I don’t need the Terry Francona out-the-door trashing. It’ll be interesting to see if they can screw it all up and trash Theo [Epstein] once he leaves. … It doesn’t speak really well about the way Tito left and the things he said, and the way Theo’s leaving, about how insane New England has become. There’s so much freneticism.”

The article suggested that Francona’s use of pain medication may affected his managing during the season. Francona has denied these claims. Gammons said that he feels that similarly controversial stories on Epstein may come out now that he is leaving for the Cubs.

“That’€™s my feeling on it, it’€™s just going to happen now with Theo, too,” Gammons said. “It’€™s not attractive. When I read this at, whatever, 4 o’€™clock in the morning here in St. Louis. I went, ‘€˜Why?’€™ … A couple of players texted me, ‘€˜Who in the world would read this?’€™ … It may be that some people in ownership think that Theo betrayed them. Maybe in the next week, we’€™ll get the owners of the Red Sox, the New York Times corporation, will trash Theo, too.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Epstein leaving with a year left on his contract: “It was my understanding that they would have discussed extending him. I don’€™t think he was interested in that. They clearly wanted him to stay. I’ve heard that some people in ownership have felt that he should stay for the last year of his contract. And I think the Cubs made it very difficult to turn it down with the power he’s going to end up having. … I sense more and more this year that it was getting difficult, that Theo was feeling claustrophobic. He went in there and right away had great success. He became, in a sense, a rock star. That burns out. … I think that it burned out a little bit. I think that was really, really hard on him. He’€™s such a private person. To lose that privacy I think is something that impacted him and his family.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Beckett, peter gammons
Poll: Which revelation in most recent report about Red Sox dysfunction ticked you off most? at 9:25 am ET
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For those who haven’t read Bob Hohler‘s look at the dysfunction within the Red Sox clubhouse during their collapse, I suggest you take a gander. It paints the picture of multiple causes for the disaster that was the worst September fade in Major League Baseball history. Of the instances touched on were:

‘€¢ Team sources were concerned that manager Terry Francona was distracted  by a troubled marriage and mounting health problems. Those sources also suggested that the manager’s performance may have also been affected his use of pain medication. (Both notions are vehemently denied by Francona.) The report also stated that Francona was concerned about the safety of his son, Nick, and son-in-law, Michael Rice, who were both serving in Afghanistan.

‘€¢ Even after principal owner John Henry offered $300 headphones, along with the chance to conduct a team get-together on his yacht, following the scheduling issues due to Hurricane Irene, the Sox failed to respond.

‘€¢ Starting pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz continued a practice that dated back to 2010 in which they would drink beer, eat fried chicken and play video games in the clubhouse during games. The group was also cited by a source as cutting back on their exercise regimens despite the urging of strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

‘€¢ Tim Wakefield‘s quest for personal records (200 wins, Red Sox career leader in wins) was perceived as the pitcher’s priority, with the story citing a quote to FoxSports.com (“I think the fans deserve an opportunity to chase that record”) as raising some eyebrows within the organization.

‘€¢ Sources suggested there was a lack of leadership among the veterans, noting in particular the ineffectiveness of captain Jason Varitek. As was previously reported by WEEI.com, David Ortiz did attempt to rally the clubhouse with a players-only meeting in September, but also, as stated in Hohler’s piece, was singled out more for rants directed toward Francona regarding a scoring decision and the reluctance to use Alfredo Aceves in the starting rotation.

‘€¢ Jacoby Ellsbury‘s relationship with his teammates was “chilled” after the incidents of 2010. (Note: For what it’s worth, this was one example of perceived dysfunction that I wouldn’t necessarily totally agree with. Ellsbury clearly socialized and regularly interacted with more than just one player — Jed Lowrie —  as the report suggested).

‘€¢ “The gift of leadership also eluded Adrian Gonzalez.”

‘€¢ The report states that ownership was divided over general manager Theo Epstein‘s push to sign Carl Crawford.

So there you have it. Really good report … and now your thoughts:

Which recent Red Sox revelation got you the most upset?

  • Starting pitchers eating, drinking and playing video games during Sox games (59%)
  • The team's lack of leadership (22%)
  • The alleged distraction of Terry Francona's personal issues (10%)
  • Tim Wakefield's focus on personal goals (7%)
  • Ownership's apparent division over the signing of Carl Crawford (3%)
  • Jacoby Ellsbury's alleged seclusion following last season's controversy (0%)
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Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, john lackey, Jon Lester
Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Tommy Hunter 09.26.11 at 12:10 pm ET
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An 14-inning win over the Yankees Sunday night preserved the Red Sox‘ one-game lead in the wild card race. Now, a tired Red Sox team will travel to Baltimore Monday to open their final series of the regular season.

The Red Sox need a combination of three wins or Rays losses over the next three days to make the playoffs. The Rays will play their final three games against a seemingly tougher opponent in the Yankees, but the Red Sox lost three of four games to the Orioles last week and the Yankees have been resting starters since clinching the division.

Josh Beckett (13-6, 2.70 ERA) takes the mound Monday looking to improve on his last outing, when he gave up a season-high six runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the O’s.

The loss was Beckett’s first against the Orioles this season, making him 1-1 with a 6.38 ERA against Baltimore in 2011. In 11 career outings at Camden Yards, Beckett is 5-2 with a 3.18 ERA. Beckett has been effective in his career against Baltimore slugger Vladimir Guerrero, holding Guerrero to a .268 batting average with two home runs, six RBIs and 10 strikeouts. Some of the other Orioles batters, however, have hit Beckett well. J.J. Hardy stands out with a .385 average, a home run and four RBIs.

The Orioles oppose Beckett with Tommy Hunter, who faced Beckett last Thursday. Hunter (4-4, 4.86 ERA) went 6 2/3 innings in that outing and allowed four earned runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out four. Carl Crawford has the most experience against Hunter and hits well against him, going .438 with a double, two triples and three RBIs. Crawford was a home run shy of the cycle against Hunter last Thursday. Adrian Gonzalez also bats well against Hunter, as he is 3-for-6 in his career with a double. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Josh Beckett, Tommy Hunter,
Closing Time: Late-inning woes doom Sox again 09.21.11 at 10:10 pm ET
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This is how it’s going for the Red Sox. Josh Beckett pitched well Thursday night, but not well enough. He dominated the Orioles for the first five innings and took a 4-2 lead into the seventh, but then he left a curveball up to Mark Reynolds and the Baltimore slugger crushed it over the wall. Tie game. The silence at Fenway spoke volumes.

The Orioles tacked on two more runs in the eighth and all of a sudden Beckett’s line: 7 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs didn’t look nearly as good as it had just a half hour previously when he was working on his best performance since late August. It was only the third time this month that a Red Sox starter has worked seven innings in a game — Jon Lester did it the other two times — and the first time since Aug. 14 when a Sox pitcher has worked into the eighth.

And it still wasn’t enough. The Sox lost again, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Orioles and now their fate rests in large part with the Yankees, who beat the Rays in the first game of a doubleheader. After a day off on Thursday, the Sox are headed to the Bronx with an uncertain rotation and an even cloudier future.

Here’s what else went wrong:

WHAT WENT WRONG

– In the third inning Mike Aviles appeared to beat out a play at first base that would have scored a run, but first base umpire Mike Winters called him out. It was the second time in the series that the Sox have lost a run because of an umpiring error.

– Two pitches by Beckett out of 108, two bad results. Reynolds hammered a solo home run in the second that got the Orioles on the board and then demoralized the Fenway crowd with his two-run shot in the seventh.

Alfredo Aceves got the call in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and one out, and he promptly gave up a two-run single to Vladamir Guerrero. The runs are on Beckett, but once again the Sox bullpen couldn’t deliver in a crucial spot.

Adrian Gonzalez committed an ultimately benign error when he missed a pickoff throw at first base. It was the Sox 22nd error in their last 21 games. He did make up for it with a diving stop of a Matt Wieters shot in the fourth that robbed the Orioles catcher of a base hit.

Josh Reddick went 0-for-4 and now has just two hits in his last 22 at-bats.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– It’s been an eventful week for Carl Crawford, who apologized to Red Sox fans in a blog entry on ESPN and then took some criticism for sitting out both games of Monday’s doubleheader with a stiff neck. Finally there was some good news for the beleaguered left fielder as he tripled and scored a run and later added a two-out, two-run double off the left field wall. Crawford went 3-for-4 and is now 19-for-63 in the month of September (.301). His seven doubles are as many as he’s had in any other month this season.

– Gonzalez must be sad to see the Orioles series come to an end. In four games Gonzalez was 10-for-16 after going 2-for-4 with two singles. This comes on the heels of an 0-for-12 showing against the Rays. Gonzalez now has 208 hits in a season, which set a franchise record for hits by a first baseman, passing the record of 207 previously held by Mo Vaughn in 1996.

Jacoby Ellsbury continued his streak against the Orioles and now has a hit in 33 straight games against them.

Read More: alfredo aceves, carl crawford, Josh Beckett,
Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Tommy Hunter at 10:36 am ET
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As the Red Sox pitching staff continues to struggle through September, Boston sends Josh Beckett to the mound Wednesday night in its series finale against the Orioles. Tommy Hunter starts for Baltimore, five days after he threw seven shutout innings against the Angels in his last start.

Boston does not have a quality start in its last 14 games, dating back to a 14-0 win over Toronto on Sept. 6. The Red Sox have given up 23 combined runs in the first three games of their series with the Orioles.

Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA) returned from an ankle injury last Friday, giving up three runs (two earned) through six innings in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Rays. The right-hander has been one of the only consistent cogs in the rotation past the All-Star break, posting a 2.88 ERA in the second half of the season.

In two starts against Baltimore this season, Beckett has given up seven runs in 11 innings. Vladimir Guerrero is hitting .283 with two home runs and six RBIs off of Beckett in his career, while Adam Jones is hitting .345 with a home run off of the Boston starter.

Hunter (3-3, 5.31 ERA) has struggled since he began starting games for Baltimore in early August, but the righty has been better in the month of September. Including his shutout of the Angels last Friday, Hunter has a 4.50 ERA with 19 strikeouts compared to just five walks so far this month. Hunter was traded from Texas to Baltimore at the trade deadline this season.

The Baltimore starter has not faced Boston at all in 2011. In his career against Hunter, Carl Crawford is batting .308 with a triple. David Ortiz has two home runs in just 10 career plate appearances against Hunter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Josh Beckett, Tommy Hunter,
Red Sox find stability in Josh Beckett’s return 09.17.11 at 12:23 am ET
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Fenway Park exploded in applause when Josh Beckett struck out John Jaso to finish his outing on Friday night. The fans’ excitement was well-founded.

Beckett’€™s six innings of work Friday represented the first quality start from a Red Sox pitcher since Jon Lester‘€™s seven innings of shutout ball on Sept. 6. His performance in a 4-3 victory proved pivotal in delivering the first Red Sox win in a game when scoring less than five runs since beating the Athletics, 4-0, on Aug. 27.

Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA), like many of the Red Sox, was a question mark because of injury before the game. His 108-pitch outing provided answers.

The right-hander looked like a healthy starter poised to help the Red Sox in a tight wild card race. Beckett allowed three runs — two earned — on seven hits through six innings Friday. He also notched his 1,000th strikeout in a Red Sox uniform when he struck out Ben Zobrist in the top of the sixth inning.

With the Red Sox searching for wins recently, Beckett’€™s strong outing was well-received by manager Terry Francona.

‘€œIt’€™s welcome anytime,’€ Francona said. ‘€œIf you give yourself a chance to win every night, you’€™re going to win some games and we haven’€™t done that very consistently lately. If our pitcher is able to stay out there, it gives your offense a chance and we’€™re not playing catch-up all the time.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Josh Beckett, Terry Francona,
Closing Time: Beckett helps Red Sox breathe easier after win over Rays 09.16.11 at 10:43 pm ET
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Before Friday’€™s game, Rays skipper Joe Maddon – a veteran of a 1995 Angels team that endured one of the biggest pennant race collapses in big league history — noted that when a team is feeling the weight of a meltdown, all it needs is for one or two players to lift the weight off the whole team.

Josh Beckett proved to be that player for the Red Sox Friday, giving Boston its first quality start in nine games while also giving the Red Sox a chance to collect a sorely needed 4-3 win over the hard-charging Rays. The win put the Sox back up by four games in the wild card race, and ensured that Boston will have no worse than a two-game pad in the standings when the Rays leave town.

Beckett shined in his first outing since spraining his ankle 10 games ago against the Blue Jays. The righthander allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out seven and walking just one over six innings. With the win, Jon Lester can approach Saturday’s start as a chance to stick a dagger in the Rays’ playoff hopes, rather than as a game that the Sox must approach with desperation.

Here’s a look at what else went right (and what went wrong) for the Red Sox on Friday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett,
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