|Buster Olney on M&M: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox’ interests will ‘diverge unless he starts to hit’||05.22.13 at 1:48 pm ET|
ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about Jacoby Ellsbury’s slow start and other topics from around the majors.
Olney pointed out in his column Wednesday morning that the 29-year-old might not have much of a market as a free agent this offseason if his poor performance continues, and that would be bad for both the Red Sox and Ellsbury.
“In the Red Sox best interests and in Jacoby Ellsbury’s best interest, he could go into this year or let’s just say from today forward and just start hitting like crazy and go back to being what he was in 2011, set himself up for a big payday in the offseason, the Red Sox let him go away and they get a draft pick in return,” Olney said. “I think at that point probably everybody would be happy. But I do think at some point the interests for the Red Sox and Jacoby are going to diverge unless he starts to hit. Because the Red Sox have to go about the business of trying to win games in 2013 and Ellsbury certainly needs to play as much as he possibly can to help his market value.”
Ellsbury’s numbers have dipped significantly from his 2011 season, when he was runner-up for the American League MVP. One of the biggest differences was that he hit 32 home runs in 158 games that season, while he has only hit five home runs in his last 119 games since. If he could regain those power numbers, his market value would significantly increase.
“You guys see his at-bats on a day-to-day basis more than I do, but what you hear a lot of is that he is rolling over balls,” Olney said. “Maybe that is a part of his effort to drive the ball and to hit for extra-base hits because that is the separator. The question is: Is he that type of player? Or was 2011 a really great and nice aberration?”
If Ellsbury does not improve soon, he could be left without many offers this offseason, and his best option could be to return to the Red Sox on a one-year tender, according to Olney. However, with prospects like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz climbing up the system, it would be an interesting predicament for the Red Sox front office.
“I think Bryce Brentz plays into it, who is a guy who has been on a tear lately in Triple-A,” Olney said. “He hits left-handed pitching. From what I hear he is a pretty good outfielder. He could play right field, they could move [Shane] Victorino to center field, they have Bradley they could play in center field. It doesn’t seem like when you look at the Red Sox being cost efficient for 2014 that having Jacoby Ellsbury on the team and paying him would be an efficient use of those dollars given the other players that they have. But it all becomes very murky because of what Jacoby is not doing right now.”
|Hot Stove: Yankees reportedly close to deals with Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera||11.27.12 at 10:50 am ET|
According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Yankees are nearing a one-year deal with left-hander Andy Pettitte that would pay the left-hander roughly $11 million in 2013. Pettitte, 40, made 12 starts last year after sitting out the 2011 season. He went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA along with 69 strikeouts and 21 walks in 75 1/3 innings. He also made a pair of postseason starts, going 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA while making one start in the ALDS against the Orioles and one in the ALCS against the Yankees.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter), New York is also close to a one-year deal with Mariano Rivera that would pay their longtime closer — who missed most of 2012 after blowing out his ACL — more than what they are paying Pettitte. Rivera pitched in just nine games in 2012 before suffering his season-ending injury, which broke a streak of nine straight years with at least 60 innings pitched and 17 consecutive seasons of 40 or more innings.
If accurate, Pettitte and Rivera would join Hiroki Kuroda as veterans with track records of success with the Yankees who have re-signed for one-year deals. That structure suits New York’s desire to avoid long-term commitments that would limit the club’s ability to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014.
|Mitch Williams on D&C: Red Sox ‘good enough’ for playoffs||07.25.12 at 9:47 am ET|
MLB network analyst Mitch Williams joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ mindset heading into the trade deadline and their chances of making it to the playoffs. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“This team is good enough,” Williams said. “Talent-wise it absolutely is good enough. Performance-wise I think there have been some guys on the team that obviously have not performed up to their capabilities.”
Based on Boston’s ability to win, Williams said the Red Sox should — and will — look for additions before July 31.
“Buyers,” Williams said of the Red Sox. “With the wild card teams there’s too much baseball left to just punt on the season right now. I look down in Miami and what they’re doing. They’re dismantling already and you’ve got 60-something games left. That’s just telling your players, your fan base that as a front office you’re giving up. And there’s a lot of playoff spots out there, and you don’t have to quit because they quit.”
Williams said Jon Lester is one of the players who hasn’t answered the call. Williams said the lefty is struggling because he won’t throw his most successful pitch, the four-seam fastball.
Lester, for reasons unknown to Williams, has continued to use the cutter, although it is the lefty’s weakest pitch.
“That’s the problem. I have not been able to figure it out,” Williams said. “He’s absolutely fallen in love with that pitch. … The thing about the cutter is there are two guys in the game of baseball right now that throw cutters that are cutters. That is Mariano Rivera and Kenley Jansen. It’s natural. They have to think to throw a four-seamer straight. It comes out of their hand cutting. It’s cutting from the minute it leaves their hand. The cutters that most pitchers are throwing today are just maybe sliders that are just offspeed fastballs that are moving maybe two inches.”
Added Williams: “When you can’t command the cutter, it just becomes a spinning, non-breaking 91 mph fastball.”
|Mark Melancon: The man who would have been Mo||03.13.12 at 3:06 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It has been a quiet spring for Mark Melancon. The Red Sox acquired the 26-year-old — who spent 2011 closing for the Astros — early in the offseason, but ever since the team followed that move with another to acquire Andrew Bailey from the A’s, Melancon has moved into the shadows.
With Bailey on board, the expectation immediately became that the former A’s closer would be the successor to Jonathan Papelbon. Melancon was thought of as the likely setup man.
Of course, while Bailey has been unflinching in the idea of following up a closing great in Papelbon, Melancon has some experience in that peculiar art as well. After all, Melancon was once viewed as the potential successor to Mariano Rivera as the Yankees closer.
Melancon was a dominant closer for both the University of Arizona and Team USA during his college career. In 2006, he was being considered a potential first-round talent before he suffered an elbow injury in the middle of his junior year that shut him down and squashed his draft stock.
Still, the Yankees were in the process of flexing their financial muscle in the draft. They selected Melancon in the ninth round but gave him a second-round bonus ($600,000).
Though Melancon would need Tommy John surgery for his elbow condition in late 2006, he came back in dominating fashion in 2008, marching through three levels of New York’s system.
By the next spring training, he was not only on the Yankees’ radar for a big league call-up, but there was even discussion that Melancon might be the heir apparent to Rivera — then in the middle of a three-year contract that ran through 2010 — as the Yankees closer.
“That was talked about,” Melancon said. “I guess it’s neat, but it doesn’t mean anything until you’re there and you’re doing it. It’s an action.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Why Jonathan Papelbon will be forever grateful to Mariano Rivera and Gary Tuck||02.18.12 at 9:08 pm ET|
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thanks to a lesson learned from Mariano Rivera the first time Jonathan Papelbon met him at the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, Papelbon won’t be obsessing about that fateful ninth inning from last September that ended his career in a Red Sox uniform.
“I don’t think about it at all,” Papelbon said Saturday while wearing his new Phillies uniform. “When I was a rookie and I made my first All-Star Game, I had a chance to talk to Mo about what was the biggest thing that was going to make me successful in this game. His first answer was, ‘short-term memory.’ So, you have to be able to learn from them still, learn from those situations but man, I don’t sit there and think about it all spring. You go over things and you try to learn from them but you have to be able to turn the page.”
Papelbon still has in his mind the goal of someday passing Rivera for the all-time saves lead. But that might be next-to impossible as Papelbon has 217 coming into this season, the first of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies. Rivera currently sits at 603. If Rivera doesn’t throw another pitch, Papelbon, now 31 years of age, would have to average 39 saves over the next 10 seasons to pass him.
“I think what Mariano has meant to the game pretty much speaks for itself,” Papelbon said. “But for me, I call him ‘The Godfather’ jokingly because he’s the Godfather of closers but at the same time, I think that he’s the guy you have to go after. Every time I saw him last year, I told him, ‘Man, you’re making my job harder to catch you every year. He’s found some kind of Fountain of Youth somewhere. To me, he’s always been special because I may not be sitting here today if it wasn’t for him.”
But there’s someone else Papelbon is grateful to, someone with a bridge from Rivera in New York to Papelbon in Boston and now Philadelphia – bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who stayed behind with the Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine.
“For so many years there in Boston, I was able to be under Gary Tuck, who was also with Mo for all those championship runs in New York,” Papelbon said. “How many times I heard ‘Repeat [your] delivery,’ I don’t know, but repeating your delivery and conditioning your body to do one thing, repeat your delivery. Mariano was religious about it and Gary kind of took of that into his role with me and making me realize how important that aspect is. Read the rest of this entry »
|Hot Stove: Yankees’ Mariano Rivera says 2012 might be his last season||11.23.11 at 7:34 am ET|
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is awaiting a second opinion about having surgery on his vocal chords, speculated that next season could be his last in the major leagues. The soon-to-be 42-year-old is entering the final year of his contract.
“I don’t know what will happen,” he told the New York Post. “I have one year left. I might call it over. I will know more in spring training.”
Rivera has been dealing with a condition that has affected his voice, and he is considering surgery to see if the problem can be fixed.
“Every time I talk it gets worse and worse,” he said.
Rivera also was asked about Jonathan Papelbon leaving the Red Sox to sign a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies.
“I have no reaction — that’s the market and he took advantage of it,” said Rivera, who is playing under a two-year, $30 million deal. “He is a good kid, he means well. He is a hard worker. I wish him the best.”
|Red Sox notes: Time and time again, pace is an issue with Josh Beckett and the Sox||08.31.11 at 8:51 pm ET|
With all the complaining and moaning about the length of Red Sox-Yankees games, there is some irony not lost on Terry Francona.
With Tuesday’s three-hour, 59-minute marathon, the two teams have combined to play 11 games of at least 3:24, including two over four hours this season. Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager and now an MLB operations executive, oversees how well games are managed by players, managers and umpires alike.
“What’s interesting about this is, because Joe Torre is in charge of this, he had the greatest quotes of all on why these games are long,” Francona said Wednesday. “But it’s two really good teams, and there’s a lot at stake, there’s a lot of attention to detail. Every pitch seems pretty big, every base runner seems pretty big and then there’s [the fact] so many of these are nationally televised games, that’s going to slow it down, too. I think it’s just the fact that they are important to both teams and we treat it that way. I think the players feel that way and the players feel that way.”
The Red Sox manager said he isn’t about to tell Wednesday’s starting pitcher Josh Beckett to do something that will make him feel uncomfortable. Beckett was criticized by former Mets manager Bobby Valentine on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball during his start on Aug. 7 for taking as much as 45 seconds between pitches to deliver the baseball.
“That’s not going to make me lose sleep,” Francona said of Valentine’s critique.
Wednesday’s game was on ESPN nationally but the lead crew of Dan Schulman, Orel Hersheiser and Valentine were not calling the game. Francona acknowledged that major league baseball will occasionally inform teams when they believe pitchers are being too deliberate and slowing the pace of the game.
“They could,” Francona said. “From our standpoint, we always want our pitchers to work quick, just because your defense is going to be better and the game flows better. But if I have my choice of him pitching slow and winning and getting a letter from the [MLB], that’s what I’d go with rather than him hurry and get knocked around.”
On Aug. 7, Beckett labored through 101 pitches over six innings, in a 3-2 game won by the Red Sox in 10 innings. That game took four hours, 15 minutes, with no delays.
“I understand the point,” Francona said. “That just happened. It was a tough night for him He kind of slugged his way through it but he’s generally pretty good.
“I notice it on my way home. Seriously, look at my watch and go, ‘Whoa! It’s 11:30.’ Not during a game. The only game I probably ever notice when there’s a game, 11-0, one of those type games. Games are fun.”
The best sign for Jarrod Saltalamacchia on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after getting drilled in the left forearm by a 93-MPH cutter from Mariano Rivera, was his presence in the batting cage, taking hacks with no visible discomfort.
“I think we thought it was OK just because it got the meat [of the forearm],” Francona said. “When it first happened, it’s hard to tell when a guy check swings, where it hits him. From my vantage point, it looked like it hit him on the back of the hand, which is kind of scary but he just got a good old-fashioned bruise. I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more, with the way that ball cuts. That’s a pitch that kind of has a mind of its own.”
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said before the Red Sox game against the Yankees Wednesday night that J.D. Drew suffered a mild setback in his rehab outing Tuesday night, with the outfielder spraining his right, middle finger while playing for the PawSox.
“We don’t think it’s anything major but he’s not going to play tonight. So we’ll see how long that puts him back,” Epstein said. “Right now, we’re status quo. We’ll see what happens when J.D.’s ready.”
Drew went 3-for-3 in the Tuesday night game, and was potentially set to rejoin the Red Sox’ lineup Thursday.
“I don’t think it as anything major, but it’s just kind of uncomfortable swinging the bat today when he tried it,” Epstein explained. “So we said they have a day off tomorrow anyway, just come back here and we’ll check it out and see where we go from there.” Read the rest of this entry »
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