|David Ortiz thought Red Sox signing Josh Hamilton ‘was going to happen’||06.08.13 at 10:07 am ET|
David Ortiz thought the Red Sox were going to reel in what was perceived as this offseason’s biggest prize.
Ortiz told WEEI.com that he thought the Sox would sign free agent Josh Hamilton this past offseason. The outfielder, of course, chose to join the Los Angeles Angels, signing a five-year, $133 million deal.
“I thought it was going to happen,” Ortiz said. “It didn’t happen, but I thought it was going to happen. We let some guys go that was like $300 million, so I thought there was a chance.”
According to a major league source, Hamilton and the Red Sox never came close to a deal during the 32-year-old’s free agency period.
General manager Ben Cherington and John Farrell did meet with Hamilton during the winter meetings in Nashville, but with the Red Sox not willing to go beyond three years on any deal Hamilton’s representatives never truly fully engaged the Red Sox regarding a potential deal.
Hamilton has struggled in his first year with the Angels, entering their series at Fenway Park hitting .216 with a .660 OPS and eight home runs.
The struggles continued concerns left over from the second half of 2012, when he saw his OPS drop from 1.106 in the first half, to .833 in the final three months.
Hamilton continues to swing at an extraordinary number of pitches out of the strike zone, totaling the third-most (194) swings at pitches out of the zone of any player in the majors. He is hitting just .122 on those errant offerings.
Fifty-two of Hamilton’s 62 strikeouts this season have been swinging. He also has the second-most first-pitch swings-and-misses in the big leagues.
“Josh is struggling a little bit, but we know at the end of the season he’s going to be fine,” Ortiz said. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Making the Red Sox’ decision not to pursue Hamilton harder seem better for the time being has been the emergence of Daniel Nava.
The outfielder not only has emerged to play above-average defense at both corner outfield positions, but he entered Saturday totaling the best on-base percentage (.387) of any American League outfielder, while carrying the fourth-best OPS (.846) of the group.
|Red Sox-Angels series preview||06.07.13 at 12:49 pm ET|
Fresh off the latest round of David Ortiz’ late-inning heroics, the Red Sox prepare to host the struggling Angels for a three-game set at Fenway. The Angels are losers of five of their last six against the Astros and Cubs, and at 26-34 they are in third place in the AL West, 10½ games back of the Rangers.
If there is any team that could get the Angels back on track, however, it might just be the Red Sox. Los Angeles has won eight in a row against the Red Sox, albeit none of those against John Farrell’s crew, since this is the first meeting of the season between the teams.
The Angels also haven’t quite gotten the production they’re used to. Josh Hamilton (.660 OPS) and Albert Pujols (.732 OPS) haven’t lived up to their contracts, and the team’s best starter in the last month, Jerome Williams (2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), just got bumped back to the bullpen.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, will look to take advantage of the only team with a losing record on their schedule until they host the Blue Jays at the end of the month. They have handled their difficult June well thus far, getting contributions from just about everyone while taking two of three against both the Yankees and Rangers. They have averaged almost eight runs per game on the young month, even without the rehabbing Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino.
Here are the scheduled starters for this weekend.
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Since allowing six earned runs in back-to-back starts in early May, Doubront has posted a 2.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his last four turns. He capped off that run with what was arguably his best outing of the season last weekend, a one-run, six-strikeout performance in six innings of work against the Yankees. Buchholz found similar success in his first start since getting skipped for an irritated AC joint, using just 71 pitches in the rain-shortened five-inning complete game. In the bullpen, Koji Uehara (0.90 ERA), Craig Breslow (2.03) and Junichi Tazawa (2.25) have been sharp the last month.
|Why Mike Napoli left an ‘awesome’ situation in Texas behind||03.07.13 at 7:22 am ET|
For the past two seasons, Mike Napoli was part of a team that won more games (regular season and postseason combined) than any other team in baseball. He has been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons.
Now, the Red Sox first baseman is banking on the streak continuing.
Napoli not only left a team in the Texas Rangers that had won more than anybody in the past couple of years, but one which also possessed the kind of clubhouse the Red Sox aspire to duplicate.
“It was awesome,” said Napoli regarding the environment hovering around the Rangers. “You get up and want to get to the field because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the clubhouse that day. You just never knew what was going to happen. It’s always a good feeling waking up and really wanting to get to the field. And winning doesn’t hurt. It had a good feeling.
“Once you have such a good group like that … It’s everything in a clubhouse and on the field that you need. Looking at it, you think you would keep the core group of guys together and be able to keep things going.”
But in early December, Napoli made the choice to move on. According to the 31-year-old, it wasn’t easy.
When December rolled around, there was still a chance that not only Napoli would return, but Josh Hamilton could be back. And Michael Young, perceived as a cornerstone in that clubhouse, was still nine days away from officially being traded to Philadelphia.
“They were always in it,” said Napoli of the Rangers. “I felt really comfortable there. I didn’t know really anywhere else. The thing that came to mind was I didn’t want to go somewhere and it not be the same. I really enjoyed what they had there. That was the biggest thing for me. I knew they had a good team. We would win there. So they were definitely at the top of the list and I wanted to give them a chance and keep them in the loop and go from there.”
“I definitely thought there was a good chance he would be back in Texas,” explained Napoli explained, who was never asked by the Red Sox to help recruit the free agent outfielder. “But free agency is free agency. I guess they just couldn’t figure something out. But, yeah, it’s a little surprising just because of his whole situation. The Rangers dealt with a lot with him and were able to comfort him and be able to help him. Just being comfortable with all of his surroundings. That’s his personal decision.”
But three days into December, Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million with the Red Sox. He was not only sold on the financial terms, but the idea that the Red Sox could become what he was leaving behind in Texas.
Even when the initial agreement with the Red Sox blew up due to the diagnosis of avascular necrosis in both the slugger’s hips, the Rangers didn’t go away. They understood the value of Napoli, and thought he might want to continue what had been a good thing.
Still, even with contact continuing with Texas, Napoli was ready to move on.
“When I agreed here I felt really comfortable,” he said. “I liked what was going on. Talking to Ben [Cherington], John [Farrell], their visions of what was going on. Obviously there was the talent. Boston is a good place. I felt they definitely could win here. Texas was always there. I was in a weird situation where my emotions were so up and down. I think going through the whole thing I was hoping we would work it out in Boston. The role did play into it, but I think going into it and other teams being involved I still had my mind set that I was going to come to Boston. But I still had to listen and it just so happened the Rangers came in and were in the same area. I was weighing my options but I really already had my mind set. I already had my mind set once I agreed the first time.”
|GM Ben Cherington on what Red Sox still have to do||01.11.13 at 9:23 am ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, said that while the team has not yet resolved its need to add a first baseman given the unresolved nature of negotiations with Mike Napoli, the club is otherwise relatively well defined. The team’s primary focus, aside from concluding its search for a first baseman (with Cherington noting that the team continues to talk with Napoli and is “hopeful” of getting a deal done), mostly appears to be the addition of roster depth.
“Most of the heavy lifting is probably done. We feel pretty good about the options that we have on most parts of the roster,” said Cherington. “We feel pretty good about where we are. We’ve tried to improve as many parts of the roster as we can this offseason. I would expect that there would be some additions to major league camp. Whether that’s roster or non-roster remains to be seen, but I would expect we’d add some competition to major league camp before we get to Fort Myers, guys who are not with us right now.”
One area where the Sox might look to add more competition is in starting rotation depth options. Right now, the rotation in Triple-A Pawtucket looks set to feature prospects with limited big league experience. Of the four starters who appear almost certain to open the year in Triple-A, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa has spent just a few months in the big leagues with the Dodgers, while right-handers Allen Webster and Steven Wright and left-hander Chris Hernandez have never pitched in the big leagues. (Left-hander Drake Britton, whose performance in the spring will determine whether he starts the year in Double-A or Triple-A, also has never pitched in the big leagues.) Read the rest of this entry »
|The age and risk of the Josh Hamilton class, ages 32-36||12.13.12 at 4:27 pm ET|
A few days ago, we offered this column on Josh Hamilton and the likelihood of diminishing returns in the fourth year of a contract. In light of the fact that the 31-year-old (who will turn 32 early next season) signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels, it seemed appropriate to update the numbers to examine the standard performance of comparable hitters as 36-year-olds (Hamilton’s playing age in the fifth year of a deal), particularly given that, as Rob Bradford reported, the Sox were only interested in Hamilton on a deal of three or fewer years.
Hamilton is the 60th player since 1901 with an OPS+ (meaning OPS compared to league average but adjusted for park, with 100 representing 100 percent of league average, and 130 representing a player who is 30 percent better than average) of between 130 and 140 during his age 27-31 seasons and at least 100 homers during that time. As a group, his predecessors have seen their OPS+ drop from an average of 135 to 122 between ages 32-34 to 111 at age 35 before bumping back up to 114 at age 36.
However, the availability of those players into their mid-30s has seen considerable declines. While there were 60 players in the initial “Hamilton class” between ages 27-31, there were just 38 players who remained active at age 36. Meanwhile, of those who did play at age 36, those 38 players averaged 391 plate appearances, broken down as follows:
500-plus plate appearances: 12
400-499 plate appearances: 9
300-399 plate appearances: 4
200-299 plate appearances: 7
100-199 plate appearances: 3
1-99 plate appearances: 3
So, of the 60 original members of the Hamilton group, and excluding the six who remain active but younger than 36, just 38.9 percent have been healthy and productive enough to claim as many as 400 plate appearances at age 36. Players who are elite in their primes tend to remain productive (albeit considerably less so, and with far less power) as they age into their mid-30s, but their ability to stay on the field at age 35 and 36 tends to drop precipitously, to the point of creating the possibility of a very expensive contract albatross.
Here’s the breakdown of hitters in the Hamilton class:
|Hot Stove: Josh Hamilton reportedly offered 3-year deal from Phillies||12.12.12 at 9:27 am ET|
Rangers free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton was offered a three-year deal from the Phillies, according to a report from Philadelphia radio station WIP.
Dallas Morning News writer Gerry Fraley speculated that a three-year deal worth more than $25 million per season might be enough for Hamilton, assuming no team is willing to take a risk on a longer-team contract with the 31-year-old who has a history of substance-abuse issues.
Hamilton hit .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs last season. In six major league seasons (one with the Reds and five All-Star seasons with the Rangers), he’s hitting .304/.363/.549 with 161 home runs and 553 RBIs. He was named American League MVP in 2010 after hitting .359/.411/.633 with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs.
|Ben Cherington on Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Jerry Sands and the market for pitching||12.05.12 at 8:19 pm ET|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a relatively quiet day on the trade rumor front for the Red Sox, to the point where the most interesting items to come out of GM Ben Cherington‘s nightly media session at the winter meetings related to activity of the first couple of days.
Foremost, while Cherington did not discuss the agreement that the team reached on Tuesday with outfielder Shane Victorino, he did make clear that in the aftermath of a signing that gives the Sox a second potential center fielder, he is not looking to trade Jacoby Ellsbury.
“You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. Our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder,” said Cherington. “[Dealing Ellsbury] is not our intent. We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing.”
As for the level of interest in his center fielder, Cherington said, “I wouldn’t comment specifically. We have a number of guys who are really valued by other teams, so weve been asked about a number of guys. We’re not looking to move guys off our roster. We’re looking to add talent to the roster, not move guys off at this point. We’ll see. You’ve got to listen and learn and have the conversation. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t at least have the dialogue and gather the information and see what other teams are interested in doing.”
Secondly, Cherington said that he met with a player during team meetings. Colleague Rob Bradford confirmed that Cherington and manager John Farrell met with outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday.
A few other notes:
– Though Cherington said that he hasn’t talked to outfielder Cody Ross since signing Victorino, he didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back the corner outfielder who performed so well in Boston last year on a one-year, $3 million deal.
“We’re open-minded about it. See where it goes,” the GM said. “I guess that any time you potentially add a player of sort of significant commitment dollar-wise, it makes it a little bit tougher to add more, but I don’t want to rule anything out. We’re still looking to improve the team.”
- Red Sox sign 1st-round pick Trey Ball (UPDATED)
- Cup of Coffee: Shaw, Haeger help Sea Dogs earn split
- Players of the Week, June 10-16: Keury De La Cruz and Anthony Ranaudo
- Red Sox reportedly sign 12th-rounder Jake Drehoff
- Wendelken added to South Atlantic League All-Stars
- Red Sox reportedly sign Bryan Hudson, Jantzen Witte
- Cup of Coffee: Spinners open season with 15-strikeout gem
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: A-Ball hitters
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #39.1: Mellen's Excellent Adventure
- 2013 Annual Drive - Help Keep SoxProspects Free!