|Ben Cherington on M&M: ‘We’re not going to proactively make a move just for the sake of making one’||12.10.13 at 12:38 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Mut & Merloni at the MLB winter meetings to discuss Boston’s offseason plans, the signing of Edward Mujica, and the future of players like Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox have been active so far this offseason, signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal, agreeing with Mike Napoli on a reported two-year contract and inking Mujica to a two-year deal.
“We feel pretty good where we are,” Cherington said. “I think we’re in a position where we can take advantage of the rest of the time we have here and the rest of the time in the offseason just to explore. If there’s things we can do to make us better and that make sense short and long term, we’ll definitely work on those things, but if we had to start the season tomorrow, we’d feel pretty good about that, too.”
If Boston decides to stand pat for the remainder of the MLB offseason, the team will kick off Opening Day with three players who have only played a combined 224 regular-season games, as Middlebrooks, Bogaerts and Bradley all seem penciled in to start next season.
“We wouldn’t consider committing to a young player unless we really believed in the young player,” Cherington said. “We think we have some guys who are worth believing in. … There’s quite a bit of value for us in finding spots to commit to young players, because at some point, you have to.”
One interesting topic this offseason has been the discussion over whether the Red Sox will trade a starting pitcher, as the Sox currently have at least six potential starters on the roster.
“I don’t think so,” Cherington said. “Somehow, a pitching surplus in general tends to work itself out by the time you get to Opening Day, so we’re not going to proactively make a move just for the sake of making one. If something makes sense, we’ll listen, but certainly we’d rather go into spring training with more than enough options than too few.”
The signing of Mujica could prove to be a big boost to the Boston bullpen, as the 29-year-old reliever had a stellar first half of the 2013 season with the Cardinals, recording 26 saves while walking only one batter. However, Mujica struggled in September with an 11.05 ERA in 10 games due to a groin injury.
“He had a groin issue that cropped up in September where he just couldn’t push off the way he normally did. If you look at the first half of the season, he was dominant. … We don’t have any concerns about him physically,” Cherington said. “He’s actually been remarkably healthy for his career. … He, along with [Junichi] Tazawa and Koji [Uehara] and the others hopefully allow John [Farrell] and the staff to manage everyone’s workload.”
|Buster Olney on M&M: Stephen Drew should accept Boston’s qualifying offer||11.06.13 at 4:32 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox’ offseason and the impending free agent frenzy.
With Boston not offering catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer, many have speculated that the Red Sox and free agent Brian McCann could be a match.
“Generally speaking, I can’t see them going absolutely nutty for a 30-year-old catcher who’s going to transition to DH,” Olney said. “And if the Yankees or the Phillies or the Rangers are going to go six [years] for [$]120 [million], I don’t think the Red Sox would chase them.
“However, if there are a number of offers that are within range of each other, and the Red Sox are one of those teams, there a lot of reasons why the Red Sox would consider it,” Olney said, adding, “Just knowing Brian, he was a great team guy, he fits totally into what the Red Sox built in 2013. I do think that if he feels like he can go to a good situation, and yeah it might cost him some money, I absolutely think he’d be open-minded about that.”
If Boston signs McCann, it would almost certainly spell the end of Saltalamacchia’s four-year run with the Red Sox.
“I got to believe he’s going to be somewhere else,” said Olney, who added that Saltalamacchia’s benching in the World Series could factor into the decision. “You don’t one week go from saying, ‘You know what, we’re going to play our backup catcher,’ and then say, ‘We’ll give you $50 million.’ ”
Boston did make the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to shortstop Stephen Drew.
“When you talk to GMs of other teams, they just cant see other teams coming close to giving Stephen Drew a $14.1 million salary that would be close to a qualify offer,” Olney said, adding, “I think in the end, the smart play for Drew is going to be to accept a one-year deal with the Red Sox, we just don’t know if that’s something that Scott [Boras] would necessarily do.”
|PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina hired as Angels third base coach||11.05.13 at 2:11 pm ET|
Multiple industry sources have confirmed a report by Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that the Angels have hired Gary DiSarcina — who spent 2013 as the manager of the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket — as their third base coach.
DiSarcina, 45, led the PawSox to an 80-53 record, a first-place finish in the International League’s North division and a spot in the Governor’s Cup championship series. But more significantly from the Red Sox perspective, in tandem with pitching coach Rich Sauveur and hitting coach Dave Joppie, he proved a critical contributor to the development of a number of key prospects during the season.
“DiSar is a really loose and upbeat personality, one who connects with a lot of different types of people well. That was absolutely one of his strengths throughout the year, especially coming in and not having managed at that level,” Sox farm director Ben Crockett recently noted. “It was impressive the way he took charge, got guys’ respect quickly but also managed different egos — both older players and younger prospects. He really did a nice job of dealing with challenges as they appeared.”
His imprint may have been most dramatic with infielder Jose Iglesias, who was admittedly disappointed after being sent to Triple-A following a strong start in early April, at a time when Stephen Drew was on the DL. Iglesias struggled not just offensively but also with his effort level in Triple-A, failing to run out grounders on multiple occasions.
DiSarcina pulled Iglesias in the middle of a game after one such incident, and the shortstop sat out of the next three games. But DiSarcina presented the approach not as a benching or a punishment, but instead an opportunity for Iglesias to catch his breath, to return to playing with the energy and joy that are often associated with the 23-year-old. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo: Sox expect 100 pitches from Clay Buchholz; Mike Napoli an ‘emergency’ option at third base||10.27.13 at 3:46 pm ET|
ST. LOUIS — Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, in an interview on WEEI, suggested that the Sox believe that Clay Buchholz is “ready to go” and give the team a full workload for Game 4 of the World Series.
“Clay is ready to go. He’s fully armed and loaded. We anticipate Clay giving us 100 pitches and getting into the seventh inning, that’s first and foremost,” said Lovullo, in a conversation about how the Sox used their pitching staff in Game 3 knowing that there are questions about what Buchholz might be able to offer as the Game 4 starter. “But you always have to have that backup thought that just in case, you better have some length or somebody in there to have a little bit of coverage.”
Lovullo also discussed the Sox’ impetus for having Mike Napoli take grounders at third base prior to Game 3 of the World Series, chuckling that team officials knew that having the first baseman do so would “raise some eyebrows.” But he suggested while the Sox are contemplating using Napoli at a position he hasn’t played as a professional since 2004, the team does not view Napoli as an option to start at third base. Lovullo characterized Napoli at third base as being preparation for “an emergency situation.”
“We’re looking for any advantage that we can have, any advantage that will help us score runs by putting the best players out on the field at any given time,” said Lovullo. “[The idea of Napoli at third base is] more of a) an emergency situation b) a quick matchup where we could put him out there for one inning with a double-switch and then potentially have another double-switch where, there might be a pinch-run situation or something for [David Ortiz] where we can slide Napoli back over to first base and now play defense in a go-ahead situation. It’s not for a long-term, nine-inning start. It’s mostly for an emergency, a quick inning double-switch or maybe lightning in a bottle, hit a three-run home run, go ahead and slide him over there, in a situation where we already have maneuvered with some of our backup infielders — in this case, Will — in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Will Middlebrooks recalls playing with and against young Michael Wacha||10.21.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
You won’t find the record of any current members of the Red Sox having faced Michael Wacha in the big leagues. But that doesn’t mean that the entire roster is unfamiliar with the Cardinals right-hander who has taken the postseason by storm.
Both Wacha and Will Middlebrooks hail from Texarkana. They played for rival high schools — Middlebrooks at Liberty-Eylau, Wacha at Pleasant Grove — while two years apart from each other and were teammates on their summer American Legion squad. Middlebrooks’ recollections of their past confrontations, however, was a bit hazy.
“I don’t really remember. I may have like one homer off him,” said Middlebrooks. “It was my senior year. I pitched against him. I threw maybe a one-hitter and we beat them by one.”
At the time, Middlebrooks likely had the superior stuff. As a senior in high school, plenty of teams scouted him as a pitcher who could run his fastball into the mid-90s, but the Red Sox opted to keep him on a track as a position player, converting him from shortstop to third in his first pro season. Yet even at that young age — when Middlebrooks was 18 and Wacha was 15 going on 16 — the future Cardinals first-rounder carried himself in impressive fashion on the mound, at a time when Middlebrooks recalled his fastball velocity being in the mid- to high-80s.
“Tall, skinny, lanky kid. Didn’t necessarily have the best stuff, but he could pitch. He threw strikes,” said Middlebrooks. “He’s smart. He’s really smart. And he’s always known — even back to Little League, he knows how to pitch. It was always just control over stuff. Then he got stuff to go with it. You watch him on the pitch chart, like a K zone — it’s corner, corner, up, down. There’s nothing in the middle of the plate unless it’s a first-pitch curveball.”
Middlebrooks already had a favorable impression of Wacha’s abilities when he was simply carving the strike zone in high school. A couple years later, however, he had to reassess what he knew of his friend and former teammate. Read the rest of this entry »
|Will Middlebrooks rendered ‘numb … speechless’ by Red Sox comeback||10.14.13 at 3:04 am ET|
At the time, it hardly seemed like the at-bat that would change the course of the game and perhaps the American League Championship Series.
When he stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Will Middlebrooks was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts against Tigers starter Max Scherzer. Though he’d been given something of a reprieve — Scherzer was out of the game after his seven overpowering innings in which he punched out 13 — at that point, Middlebrooks had done little to quell suggestions that the Sox should be turning third base over to Xander Bogaerts for the series.
But with the encouragement of Dustin Pedroia, Middlebrooks saw a world of possibility as he swung a bat to loosen for his third at-bat of the night. The Tigers had turned from Scherzer to reliever Jose Veras for the eighth inning, and the Red Sox were convinced that a rally was possible.
“We were out there during the pitching change when it was [5-1], Pedey’s looking at us going, ‘This isn’t over.’ This is in the seventh inning. He’s saying, ‘It’s not over,’ telling us, ‘This team is too good. We’re going to get into that bullpen and we’re going to beat them.’ This is during a pitching change,” Middlebrooks recounted. “To hear him say that, I don’t know if it was a confidence builder, but it was just good to hear that. We’re getting pounded pretty good by Scherzer, but to hear Pedey say, ‘We’re going to be fine; we’re going to do this,’ it was cool.”
The 25-year-old jumped on an 0-1 sinker from reliever Veras and steered it fair over third base and down the left field line for a double. At a time when the Sox trailed, 5-1, the team’s third hit of the game hardly seemed like much, but after the fact, Middlebrooks’ rally-starter turned out to be a tide-changer, the first baserunner in an inning that saw the Sox compile a walk and three hits (most notably, the game-winning grand slam from David Ortiz) against four relievers en route to a game-tying four-run rally and an eventual 6-5 win.
Middlebrooks was so excited by the end result that he admitted to losing sight of his own role in it.
“I’ve said unbelievable probably about 100 times. I’m pretty numb right now. I’m pretty speechless,” he said in the postgame clubhouse. “With all that happened after [the double], I kind of forgot about it be honest. It was like a movie, I’m just speechless right now. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
|Red Sox’ Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava likely to sit against Max Scherzer in Game 2||10.13.13 at 2:08 am ET|
The man who spared the Red Sox from the infamy of a no-hitter will not be in the lineup on Sunday for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
According to a team source, Daniel Nava, whose ninth-inning single off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit represented the Sox’ only hit of the game in a 1-0 Game 1 loss to Detroit, is expected to be out of the lineup for Game 2 against Tigers starter Max Scherzer, against whom the Sox switch-hitter is 1-for-9 with a walk and two strikeouts in his career. Likewise, first baseman Mike Napoli — a career 1-for-13 hitter with one walk and five strikeouts against Scherzer, is expected to sit on Sunday. In their places, the Sox are expected to start Jonny Gomes (2-for-6 with two strikeouts against Scherzer) in left field and Mike Carp (2-for-8 with a walk and five strikeouts against the Game 2 starter) at first base.
Though the Sox had contemplated the possibility of having Will Middlebrooks (1-for-6 against Scherzer with four strikeouts) sit in favor of Xander Bogaerts (never faced Scherzer), the team seems inclined to keep Middlebrooks in the lineup for Game 2, with Bogaerts once again available off the bench.
In two regular season starts against the Sox, Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 for the season) had a pair of two-run, seven-inning yields, striking out 14 and walking three in his 14 innings of work. He lost to the Sox on Sept. 3, when Middlebrooks delivered a two-run single to give the Sox and starter Jon Lester a 2-1 win.
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