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Red Sox non-tender Atchison, Hill and Sweeney

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 30, 2012 07:10 PM

The Red Sox did not tender contracts to righthander Scott Atchison, lefthander Rich Hill, and outfielder Ryan Sweeney. They are now free agents.

Atchison, 36, appeared in 42 games last season, posting a 1.58 ERA. He struck out 36 and had only six non-intentional walks in 51.1 innings. But Atchison also tore a ligament in his elbow in July and elected not to have surgery. He returned in September and pitched well in five games.

Atchison said he is open to going to spring training with the Red Sox on a minor league deal.

Hill, 32, appeared in relief in 25 games last season after returning from Tommy John surgery in April. He had a 1.83 ERA. Hill returned to the disabled list in June with a strained flexor tendon in his elbow and did not come back until September.

"I'm hopeful that this will be a positive for me. I felt like I pitched well last year and came back and showed I was healthy. There is usually a market for lefthanded relievers and I feel like I'm a major league pitcher," Hill said.

Hill was asked if he had spoken to the Red Sox about a minor league contract. He went that route last season.

"Not yet," he said. "We'll see what happens after the winter meetings. I'm sure we'll talk. I want to see what is available to me from any team."

Sweeney, 27, was limited to 63 games last season, making three trips to the disabled list in his first year with the Red Sox. He hit .260 with 16 RBIs and no home runs in 204 at-bats. His season ended on July 30 when he broke a knuckle on his left hand punching a metal door in frustration after making an out.

The Red Sox did offer deals to RHP Alfredo Aceves, RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Daniel Bard, LHP Craig Breslow, OF Jacoby Ellsbury, LHP Andrew Miller, LHP Franklin Morales, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Twenty-two others players with less than three years of service time also were offered contracts.

Red Sox name Rodriguez assistant hitting coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 30, 2012 06:01 PM

Victor Rodriguez has spent 18 seasons in the Red Sox organization in a variety of roles. Now, for the first time, he'll be in the majors.

Rodriguez, 51, was named the team's assistant hitting coach. He spent the last six seasons as the minor league hitting coordinator, a position he also held in 2002. From 2004-06, he was the club’s Latin field coordinator after serving as a minor league hitting instructor in 2003.

Rodriguez previously served six seasons as a hitting coach in the Red Sox system at High-A Sarasota (1996-98), Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox (1999, 2001) and Single-A Augusta (2000). He began his coaching career in the Boston organization in 1995 after playing in 31 games with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Born in New York City, Rodriguez was signed by Baltimore in 1977 at the age of 15 out of Naguabo High School in Puerto Rico. He played for parts of 19 professional seasons in the Orioles (1977-84), Padres (1985), Cardinals (1986-87), Twins (1988-91), Phillies (1992-93), Marlins (1994) and Red Sox (1995).

He got in 17 major league games, going 12 for 28. Rodriguez was a .295 hitter in the minors.

Rodriguez’s son Victor, Jr. is currently a scout for the Red Sox, and his son Miguel is a catcher in the Boston system after being drafted by the club in 2012.

Braves claim David Carpenter off waivers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 30, 2012 02:20 PM

The David Carpenter Era with the Red Sox is over.

The righthander, who was obtained from Toronto as part of the John Farrell compensation deal on Oct. 21, was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves today. Carpenter had been designated for assignment on Nov. 20.

Here is the Red Sox 40-man roster at the moment:

Pitchers (23): Alfredo Aceves, Scott Atchison, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Pedro Beato, Craig Breslow, Drake Britton, Clay Buchholz, Chris Carpenter, Rubby De La Rosa, Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Clayton Mortensen, Stolmy Pimentel, Junichi Tazawa, Allen Webster, Alex Wilson, Steven Wright.

Catchers (5): Dan Butler, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Christian Vazquez.

Infielders (7): Pedro Ciriaco, Mauro Gomez, Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jerry Sands.

Outfielders (5): Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Hassan, Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney.

Red Sox face some decisions today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 30, 2012 01:58 PM

Teams have until midnight tonight to determine the fate of arbitration-eligible players.

These are players with between three and five seasons of major league service time. For the first three seasons, teams can set a player’s salary. After six seasons, a player can become a free agent.

The Red Sox have 11 of them. Any player tendered a contract today will be tied to the Sox for at least one season. If the sides cannot agree to a contract, an arbitration panel would determine a salary for one season.

Players not tendered instantly become free agents, eligible to sign with any team including the Red Sox.

In some cases, there’s no decision at all. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will be offered a contract. So will players like catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and closer Andrew Bailey.

It’s not quite so simple for some others. The Sox want to open a roster spot or simply avoid giving a player a raise.

Here’s a look at the players affected:

RHP Alfredo Aceves: A series of insubordinate actions last season increased the chances of Aceves being let go. But new manager John Farrell has spoken to Aceves about his conduct and believes he can be salvaged. Ultimately, Aceves is too versatile and valuable to let go despite his stumbles last season. Don’t be surprised if he gets traded later on, however.

RHP Scott Atchison: He always seems to be the odd man out with the Red Sox then makes his way back. Atchison was outstanding last season (a 1.76 ERA in 37 appearances) before a torn elbow ligament put him on the disabled list. He eschewed surgery and returned in September, throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings in five games. He has earned a contract, but the Sox could non-tender Atchison and bring him back on a minor-league deal.

RHP Andrew Bailey: He tore a thumb ligament in a spring training collision and didn’t return until mid August. Bailey was inconsistent when he did come back, saving six games and blowing three others. But giving up on Bailey based on 19 games makes little sense.

RHP Daniel Bard: He made $1.61 million last season and a contract offer would mean a raise despite an awful 2012 season. Bard failed as a starter, losing his velocity and command in what was a poorly executed transition from the bullpen. But he is only 27 and the hope is Farrell can unlock the talent that once made him one of the best set-up men in the game.

LHP Craig Breslow: The situational reliever pitched well in 20 games after being obtained from Arizona at the trade deadline. The Sox have four lefty relievers, a valuable commodity in trade talks.

OF Jacoby Ellsbury: One of the best players in the game in 2011, Ellsbury suffered a shoulder injury on April 13 and missed three months, not the 6-8 weeks initially expected. He had a .693 OPS after returning and only four home runs. Ellsbury will be a free agent after next season and has open market advocate Scott Boras as an agent. Team officials say he is not being traded, but that could change if the Sox fall out contention again.

LHP Rich Hill: Hill has appeared in only 40 games over three seasons with the Sox because of injuries. He has pitched exceptionally well in those games, compiling a 1.14 ERA and striking out 36 in 31 2/3 innings. Hill has been compliant with the team’s wishes in the past and could agree to a minor-league contract.

LHP Andrew Miller: Long an underachiever, the former first-round draft pick found his calling as a situational reliever last season and excelled. He looks to be a big part of the bullpen again. And not just because he’s the tallest guy out there.

LHP Franklin Morales: He started nine games last season and relieved in 28 others. He pitched pretty well in both roles and is viewed as a reliever going forward. Depending on how the roles shake out, he could be asked for in trades.

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia: At the moment, he is the starting catcher and should get a nice raise from the 2.5 million he earned last season. Salty hit only .222 but had 25 homers and improved defensively. He could get traded at any moment, however, with the signing of David Ross giving the Sox a surplus of catchers.

OF Ryan Sweeney: He hit .260 with, remarkably, no home runs in 204 at-bats. Then he broke a knuckle on his left hand punching a metal door on July 30 and was lost for the rest of the season. Sweeney could be let go as the Sox rebuild their outfield.

Does Span trade open some doors for the Sox?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 29, 2012 09:49 PM
The Minnesota Twins traded center fielder Denard Span to the Washington Nationals earlier today for righthander Alex Meyer, a well-regarded prospect.

The Nats will have an outfield of Span, Bryce Harper, and Jayson Werth.

Here's where the Red Sox could come in.

Mike Morse, who started 92 games in the outfield for the Nationals last season, could shift to first base. The Nationals say they are still interested in retaining free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche. But now they have some flexibility and can negotiate with improved leverage.

The Nats want to give LaRoche, 33, no more than a two-year deal.

The Red Sox could view LaRoche as a fallback option should they fail to sign Mike Napoli. LaRoche is coming off a career year and is by far a better first baseman than Napoli. You could, in fact, make a case that LaRoche should be their first option.

Signing LaRoche would come at the cost of a draft pick, however, as he was tendered a qualifying offer from the Nats. The Sox' first-round pick, No. 7 overall, is protected. But the Sox would prefer not to lose their second-round pick as it will be fairly high in the draft.

In other hot stove chatter:

• The non-tender deadline is Friday at midnight. There is speculation that the Giants will non-tender closer Brian Wilson, who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery.

Because Wilson is from New Hampshire, the Sox might seem like a fit. But Wilson went to LSU before he signed with the Giants and now lives in southern California. His ties to New Hampshire are not what they once were. Indications are he could return to the Giants as a free agent or go to the Dodgers.

• The estimable Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote that the Red Sox are pursuing both Cody Ross and Nick Swisher and would sign both if able.

If so, was Jonny Gomes signed to be a $5 million a year backup? That seems unlikely.

• Speaking of Mr. Gomes, the Red Sox have yet to actually announce they signed him. He came to terms back on Nov. 21. The Sox have a full 40-man roster and may be waiting to make the deal official so they can first make another move.

• Russell Martin signed with the Pirates tonight and now the Yankees need a catcher. The catching-rich Red Sox surely won't help them. The last deal between the rivals was 1997.

Q&A with Larry Lucchino

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 29, 2012 07:15 AM

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Boston.com readers on Thursday to talk about baseball and the events the team is holding Friday and Saturday.

The Red Sox will open Fenway Park to the public on Friday for the Fenway Park Holiday Bash from 5 to 8 p.m., and the Christmas at Fenway event will be Saturday.

Review the discussion in the chat window below.

Two more minor trades for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 28, 2012 02:15 PM

The Red Sox have made two more minor trades.

Righthander Sandy Rosario was sent to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Infielder Danny Valencia went to Baltimore for cash considerations.

Rosario was claimed by Boston off waivers from the Miami Marlins Oct. 17 and was designated for assignment Nov. 20.

Valencia, 28, was designated for assignment Nov. 20. Acquired by Boston from the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 5, he played in 10 games over two stints, going 4 for 28 (.143) with a home run and four RBIs.

The Red Sox faced a Friday deadline to either release, trade, or outright the players they designated on Nov. 20.

Red Sox select Colbrunn as hitting coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 28, 2012 12:50 PM

The Red Sox completed their coaching staff on Wednesday, naming Greg Colbrunn the hitting coach.

The team is expected to name an assistant hitting coach. Minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez is the top choice for the position.

Colbrunn, 43, played 12 seasons in the majors, helping the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001. He has spent the last six seasons with the Yankees as a minor league coach and manager.

"This was a very astute hire," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Greg is more than qualified for that job and in our estimation no better hitting candidate in the marketplace than him. We were lucky to have him for as long as we did."

Colbrunn was the hitting coach for Single A Charleston from 2007-09 and 2011-12. He managed the team in 2010.

"Greg’s success as a hitting coach and his experiences as a Major League player make him a strong addition to the Red Sox coaching staff,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Selected by Montreal in the sixth round of the 1987 draft out of Fontana (Calif.) High School as a catcher, Colbrunn hit .289 with 155 doubles, 12 triples, 98 home runs, 422 RBIs, 337 runs, 170 walks and 29 stolen bases over 992 career big league games with the Expos (1992-93), Marlins (1994-96), Twins (1997), Braves (1997-98), Rockies (1998), Diamondbacks (1999-2002, ’04) and Mariners (2003) while appearing primarily at first base.

His .310 average and .476 slugging percentage as a pinch-hitter are both the second-best career marks among players with at least 250 plate appearances in the pinch since 1974.

Colbrunn played in 21 career postseason games and compiled a .344 average (11 for 32).

We'll have more on this later.

Red Sox trade Stewart to the Pirates

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 28, 2012 11:32 AM

Remember that great scene in "Godfather II" when Michael Corleone is negotiating for a gambling license with Sen. Geary?

"My offer is this: nothing," Corleone says with a cold stare.

That's pretty much how the trade for Kevin Youkilis worked out for the Red Sox with the news today that they have traded righthander Zach Stewart for a player to be named later.

Stewart was 0-2 in two starts for the Red Sox, allowing 14 runs on 17 hits over 5.2 innings. He was designated for assignment on Nov. 20. The Pirates will be Stewart's fifth organization in the last four years.

The Red Sox received Stewart and infielder Brent Lillibridge from the White Sox in return for Youkilis on June 24. He was 2 for 16 in 10 games before being designated for assignment and traded to Cleveland.

The good news was that Will Middlebrooks got to play a lot. There was that.

Erasing a line in the sand

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 28, 2012 08:45 AM

Here is what the Hall of Fame ballot says when it arrives in the mail:

Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

That's it.

Ideally there would be a list of those players who used performance-enhancing drugs, the dates they used them and a detailed statistical analysis of whether the drugs in fact enhanced their performance.

There's not, of course. You have to guess. In some cases, it's pretty easy. In others, it's pretty hard. In some cases, you have no idea whatsoever.

This will be my third year voting. In my first year, I mustered up a mighty wave of self righteousness and decided that no player I suspected of using PEDs would get my vote. I'll show them.

Last year I moved my line and decided that unless there was some kind of tangible connection to PEDs, I would consider voting for a player. I changed because of Jeff Bagwell, a guy who sure looked the part of a drug user but was never linked to it. It seemed unfair to exclude him based only on suspicion.

Now I've decided to erase the line completely.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and the rest of the scoundrels will get my vote. I'll look at the players based on their statistical merit, how they compared to other players of their era and to other players in the Hall of Fame. I won't sit at my desk and do Google searches to decide who is clean and who was cheating.

If you think that is a cowardly way out, I can't argue with you. But it beats stabbing around in the dark and hoping to be right.

It is my belief taking steroids or other performance enhancing drugs is cheating. If you have to obtain prescription drugs illegally, you're breaking the law of the land. Whether that happened to be a baseball rule or not is insignificant.

The first day Bonds stuck a needle in his buttocks, he didn't tell everybody. He knew what he was doing was wrong.

But it's also my belief that the Hall of Fame is a reflection of baseball history. There was a period in baseball when blacks were banned. There were 16 teams in 1920 and now there are 30. There was a Dead Ball Era. There was a time that pitchers were so dominant that they lowered the mound. There wasn't a DH until 1973. You can go on and on about how much the game has changed.

The Steroid Era is a part of that of history, too. There was a time in baseball when everybody — owners, players, management, the Players Association, media — looked the other way at drug use. It was generally accepted that a lot of players took steroids.

There was no testing, just balls getting launched into the atmosphere at historic rates and scrubby pitchers who showed in spring training suddenly throwing 95-mph fastballs.

Some of players got caught. They got their drugs from a small-time dealer named Kirk Radomski, a clubhouse attendant with the Mets who ratted them out. Clemens allegedly fell in with Brian McNamee, a former cop who proclaimed himself a trainer.

But other players were smarter and kept their secrets hidden. The Hall of Fame shouldn't be determined by who covered up their wrongdoing the most effectively. If so, then what is the point?

Then there is this: Clemens was ridiculously good for 13 years with the Red Sox. Then, if you believe McNamee, he started using PEDs after he got to Toronto in 1997. So is Clemens out because of some moral code or is he in based on those first 13 years?

What of the guy like Andy Pettitte, who swears he tried HGH only briefly? Is he excluded when he gets in the ballot?

Are amphetamines OK because the players back in the 50s used them? Is Ryan Braun in or out because he figured out a loophole in the testing system last winter when he tested positive?

Sorry, but I'm in no position to decide all that. The Hall of Fame is a wing in a museum, a place to go learn about the game. PEDs were part of the game and my ballot will reflect that.

I'd be happy to hear what you have to say about this. Please feel free to leave a comment and hopefully a reasonable discussion will take place.

Lester for a prospect? Here's why it's crazy

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 27, 2012 12:35 PM

Bob Dutton covers the Kansas City Royals for the Kansas City Star. He wrote a story on Monday speculating that the Royals could be willing to trade outfield prospect Wil Myers for a starting pitcher.

Dutton mentioned Jon Lester and James Shields as examples of such pitchers.

In the 12th paragraph of the story, halfway through, Dutton wrote:

Both deals have been discussed, but neither appears close at the moment. Other players could be involved, but the basic framework would be Myers for one of the two pitchers. At this point, all sides — the Royals, Rays and Red Sox — remain hesitant.

Obviously it's not something imminent, likely or even very probable. Otherwise Dutton would have made it first paragraph, not his 12th.

Nonetheless, this has become "Lester is on the trading block!" even though he's really not.

Would it be a good idea? Let's check it out:

• Wil Myers is a excellent prospect. He'll be 22 in December and he's coming off a season that saw him hit .314 with 37 home runs.

Myers also struck out 140 times in 591 plate appearances, 24 percent of the time. He started his career as a catcher and has since played right field, left field, center field and third base.

Scouting reports call him a below-average defender. He'd be passable in the majors at best. He has 29 stolen bases and 12 triples in four seasons.

This is not an athletic freak like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. This is a corner outfielder with great power. That's a very good piece but it may not be a piece you change your franchise for.

The Red Sox also have two solid outfield prospects in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz.

• Lester was 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA last season. It was the worst season of his career. In general terms, it's usually a really bad idea to trade a player when his value is at its low point.

• That said, Lester was 18th in the American League in FIP last season. Fielding Independent Pitching (per Fangraphs.com) is a statistic that measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.

In basic terms, it measures those things a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches, and home runs. FIP is a much better indicator of a pitcher's worth than ERA and it shows that Lester wasn't as bad as it initially looks.

If you watched most of his starts last season, you probably already knew that. Lester had one of those season where everything that could go wrong did.

• Lester has had three pitching coaches in the last two seasons since John Farrell left. None were particularly good at the job. He also transitioned to a new catcher after the retirement of Jason Varitek.

The return of Farrell will be very meaningful to Lester. Lester was 54-23, 3.40 when Farrell was the pitching coach. There is nobody on the roster happier to have Farrell back than Lester.

• Lester was a disciple of Josh Beckett, which had its good points and bad. Two of the bad points were that he got too fond of his cut fastball and working at a slow pace. Lester had a 3.60 ERA in his last four starts once he started to pick up the tempo. He also was less grouchy.

Lester vehemently disagrees with this notion out of loyalty to his friend. But there are people in the organization who believe he will be better off now that Beckett is gone.

• Lester is under contract for $11.625 million in 2013. The team has a $13 million option for 2014. Lester, who will be 29 in January, is under control for two seasons at $24.625 million. That is a bargain in the current market.

• The Sox already need one starter. Trading Lester means they would need two. Where is that coming from? The free-agent market is thin and expensive. The trade market for starters hasn't exactly been robust.

• Facts aside, let's say for a second that the Red Sox were indeed willing to trade Lester. Don't you have to get back much more than an outfield prospect?

If you want to trade Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury for Felix Hernandez, go for it. Lester for a terrific pitching prospect? You would have to think about it. But Lester for a corner outfielder who has yet to play a game in the majors? This is Jon Lester.

• The Red Sox, hideous as they were last season, were fifth in the American League in runs scored. Offense is not their problem. Offense has never been their problem. Offensive never will be their problem.

Pitching is their problem, starting pitching in particular. The single most valuable commodity in baseball is homegrown, cost-controlled starting pitching.

Pitching, pitching, pitching. This cannot be repeated enough.

We know what Jon Lester is. He may not have become the ace he was supposed to be. But he's pretty darn good and he's 29. Nobody can be sure what Wil Myers will be.

Delmon Young was the top prospect in baseball in 2006 and routinely destroyed minor league pitching. He has been with three teams in his seven-year career and soon will be on his fourth because the Tigers don't want him him back.

The same people convinced that Myers will be stud thought the same of Young. It's an inexact science.

GMs talk to each other. That is what they do. Dayton Moore should fish around because the Royals haven't made the playoffs since 1985.

But Jon Lester for a prospect? Come on now. That's crazy talk.

Ask Nick: How much does Bill James influence Red Sox signings?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 27, 2012 07:00 AM
I don’t sense a lot of optimism from questions to this week’s mailbag concerning the moves the Red Sox have made or are about to make. Jonny Gomes seemed to get more negative than positive reaction. David Ross was a straight line and the prospect of Mike Napoli is also barely a pulse.

Having said that, all of them are or would be sound moves by the Red Sox.

All I can say is, there are a lot of free agents and trade possibilities left out there. Let it play out. As I wrote in my Sunday Baseball Notes, I think the Red Sox need a splash and I think they believe they do as well. What that will be, I don’t know and they may not know at this point either.

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
Given the deals made by the Dodgers-Red Sox and Marlins-Blue Jays, all things are possible. There aren’t many untradeable players, though King Felix seems to be the closest thing.

That’s why I suggested the signing of Josh Hamilton, or trades for Joe Mauer or Troy Tulowitzki.  They would be impactful players who would really make a difference.  I love NESN pal Tom Caron’s suggestion of Justin Morneau at first base.

One transaction that would be exciting and bold is if the Red Sox executed a Jon Lester-Wil Myers deal, as reported in the Kansas City Star on Monday. Myers, a 6-3, 220-pound outfielder, should be a huge offensive star.

What’s worrisome is the lack of defense that Gomes brings to the outfield and that Napoli would bring at first base, if that’s where he was positioned for most of his Boston tenure.

The Red Sox are doing a good job so far of considering a good fit for this team and ballpark based on the numbers and character which they sorely need. With Ross, they addressed defense at catcher, but Gomes was strictly offense and righthanded power as would Napoli.

So here are your questions and concerns:

So far it seems the Red Sox are looking for character guys who can impact the team on the field and in the clubhouse, but at economical salaries. How much influence does Bill James have in signing players? Jonny Gomes seems like a poor man's version of Cody Ross. Do you expect them to pull the trigger on a big trade say for a few Minnesota Twins who could help at first and at catcher?
Dan, Charlotte, NC
I don’t think James has anything to do with the "character" aspect of these guys, but he has a lot to do with choosing players who statistically fit the team and the ballpark. I think his fingerprints are all over Gomes and David Ross, as they are on Mike Napoli and Nick Swisher.

With the 2012 finish, would it be justified to lower ticket prices for loyal Red Sox fans?
Bill, West Warwick, RI
Of course. They split it down the middle. They didn’t increase them.

Stocking up on mediocre free agents isn't going to win many games, so why not just promote from below and grow the young guys in the majors? Maybe it wouldn't justify the top ticket price in the majors, but then they wouldn't be paying a lot of money to has-beens.
Bob, Penfield,NY
I think the Red Sox are promoting players who they feel are ready or close to ready. When they promoted Will Middlebrooks, they weren’t completely sure he was ready, but he proved that he was and he took off. I think the feeling is this is a big market and they can’t afford to not have a contending team every year. They found that out in 2012 with 69 wins and little interest in the team except for some of Bobby Valentine’s episodes. When Valentine spouted off, or there was some thing associated with Valentine, it was really the only time anyone paid any attention to this team. They don’t have enough major league ready players to pull off what you’re suggesting. So far, Jonny Gomes and David Ross can’t be classified as “has-beens.” They’re solid role players which you need on any team.

For more Q&A, click the Full Entry button.

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The Gaslight Anthem talks some baseball

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 26, 2012 06:01 PM

Boston.com has its own radio station, RadioBDC and they've convinced a few cool bands to come play short sets at the Media Lab we have.

Brian Fallon and Alex Rosamilia from The Gaslight Anthem were there this afternoon and did three songs.

The band is out of New Jersey and Fallon is a big sports fan, especially of the Yankees. He joked about being born a Jets fan and eternally regretting it. He also said that he would stab Nick Swisher if the Yankees outfielder tried to join the Red Sox.

The band is playing at the House of Blues tonight. Fallon said he hoped to get in a quick tour of Fenway Park, which is good because he didn't know what the Green Monster was. He did say he thought Fenway was a better park than Yankee Stadium.

Fallon joked that he and Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys get along pretty well despite their different allegiances. But he and Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones don't talk during baseball season.

Over the years, it's always fun to talk baseball with musicians and to talk music with baseball players. It seems like good athletes wish they could be in bands and guys in bands wish they could play baseball. There are baseball writers who would love to try writing about music, too.

RadioBDC has posted a replay of the set. And if you like alternative music, you should give RadioBDC a try. They do a great job.

David Ortiz (and friends) have some cool auction items for charity

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 26, 2012 05:02 PM

The fifth annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Tournament starts Dec. 6 in the Dominican Republic. The event raises funds to support pediatric services at Massachusetts General Hospital and hospitals in the DR.

Even if you're not attending, you can support Big Papi's mission by bidding on some of the online auction items that are available.

The items include:

• Hitting lessons from David during spring training.

• A date with Heidi Watney.

• A behind the scenes tour of Fox NFL Sunday with Howie Long.

• Celtics courtside tickets.

• EMC Club Red Sox tickets

• Brooklyn Nets courtside tickets

• Dinner for eight in a private dining room at Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger with a paired wine and cooking demo.

A few Red Sox notes . . .

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 26, 2012 04:14 PM

A few Red Sox notes today:

• Craig Counsell has withdrawn his name from consideration for the hitting coach position, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. That leaves four candidates: Greg Colbrunn, Scott Fletcher, Victor Rodriguez and Rick Schu.

It is believed the Red Sox will hire one of the candidates as the hitting coach and somebody else from that group as the assistant. Many teams are going with two hitting coaches now given all the video work the job entails now.

The job will probably be filled this week. That will complete the coaching staff.

• Infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., who was designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple A Pawtucket. DeJesus was one of the players obtained from the Dodgers on Aug. 25.

• The Red Sox signed RHPs David Carpenter and Sandy Rosario to minor league contracts. They were designated for assignment last week.

• Outfielder Bryce Brentz was named to the Arizona Fall League All-Prospect team as selected by the mangers and coaches. Brentz hit .297 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 17 games.

Mike Napoli update, and some other Red Sox notes

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 25, 2012 05:23 PM

Free agent first baseman and catcher Mike Napoli was in Boston on Saturday and not only did he meet with general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell, but he also met with owner John Henry, according to team sources.

That can be taken of a sign of how interested the Red Sox are in Napoli. Henry has been focused on Napoli going back to September.

Napoli is expected to meet with the Texas Rangers this week. He previously sat down with the Seattle Mariners. Napoli is seeking a four-year contract

Napoli has primarily been a catcher, but the Red Sox view him as a first baseman who could also catch and occasionally DH. He hit only .227 last season for the Rangers but had an .812 OPS. Napoli is a career .259 hitter with a .507 slugging percentage.

While a four-year contract might seem excessive, the Red Sox could view Napoli as a first baseman and catcher for two seasons then as more as a designated hitter in 2015 if David Ortiz has retired.

Also:

• Former Red Sox coach DeMarlo Hale is leaving the Orioles coaching staff after one season to become the bench coach under John Gibbons in Toronto. Hale interviewed for the managerial jobs with the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

Hale was the third base coach in Baltimore.

• The mayor of Fort Myers, Fla., says his city should have let the Red Sox go to Sarasota rather than build them a new facility.

• Daisuke Matsuzaka would like to pitch for the Padres according to the The San Diego Union-Tribune. You watch, Matsuzaka will have a decent 2013 season. He will be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and pitching in the National League will help him.

• The Padres are set to make former Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure their bullpen coach.

• Nate Spears, who played in seven games for the Red Sox the last two seasons, has signed a minor league deal with Cleveland. No surprise there given that Terry Francona has always spoke highly of the infielder.

Report: Red Sox meeting with Mike Napoli

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 24, 2012 06:59 PM

Free agent Mike Napoli was in Boston on Saturday to meet with the Red Sox according to CBS Sports. Red Sox executives would not comment on whether a meeting took place.

Regardless, Napoli seems close to making a decision. He previously met with the Seattle Mariners and is expected to sit down with the Texas Rangers this week. Napoli, 31, is seeking a four-year contract.

Napoli caught 72 games for the Rangers last season. But the Red Sox see him as their first baseman. Napoli has started 118 games at first base in his career.

Napoli hit a modest .227 last season, but had 24 home runs in 353 at-bats and an .812 OPS. He hit .320 with a 1.046 OPS in 2011 for Texas in what was the best season of his career.

Napoli was not made a qualifying offer by the Rangers, meaning the Red Sox would not forfeit a draft pick for signing him. That adds to his appeal.

Most teams view Napoli as a poor defensive catcher and would prefer to use him at first base. He is not a particularly adept first baseman, but the Red Sox could compensate for that.

Napoli has hit well against the Red Sox (.288 with a 1.075 OPS) and at Fenway Park (.306 with a 1.107 OPS in 19 games) in his career. That could inflate his value in the eyes of some.

For more on Napoli, see this blog post from earlier this month.

Jonny Gomes has some personality

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 23, 2012 01:09 PM

A loyal reader, Matt, sent along this clip of an interview Jonny Gomes and Josh Reddick did on MLB Network last season.

It offers a little insight into Gomes' personality.

Some fans are angry that the Red Sox signed Gomes as a platoon outfielder and paid the market rate on a two-year deal. But Gomes does hit lefties well and he seems to be a good influence in the clubhouse, which is something they obviously need.

Given the assorted characters the Red Sox were running out there last season, $5 million a year on an actual major league player to play a corner spot and hit six or seventh doesn't seem like a big deal.

Beyond that, short-term deals for outfielders allows the Red Sox to bring Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr. along at the right pace.

Also:

• John Farrell mentioned on WEEI that Greg Colbrunn will interview for the hitting coach position on Saturday. That could make five candidates who are interviewed. The Sox could have this wrapped by early next week. They didn't name a coaching staff until Dec. 23 last year.

Butterfield ready to get started with Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 23, 2012 10:30 AM

The Red Sox named Brian Butterfield their third base coach on Oct. 30. But only in the last few days has he truly felt like part of the team.

Butterfield took the job with the caveat that he still hoped to be selected as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was something he made sure general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell understood.

“I was committed to the Red Sox but it was a tough time for me because I wasn’t 100 percent committed,” Butterfield said Friday in his first interview since joining the Sox. “I didn’t have both feet in.”

Butterfield, who spent 11 years coaching in Toronto, badly wanted to manage the Blue Jays and believed he had a chance at the job. But the team wanted a manager with experience and went with John Gibbons on Tuesday.

“I was disappointed,” Butterfield said. “It was kind of a letdown.”

Farrell understood and told Butterfield to take a few days.

“John was great; he knew how I felt,” Butterfield said. “I had been with Toronto for a long time. I had to let it soak in and turn the page.”

A conversation with his mother over Thanksgiving dinner helped. Patricia Butterfield retold some family stories about the times Brian would demand to stay in front of the television to see Dick Radatz close out a game for the Sox and the trips they would take from Maine to Fenway Park.

“Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, I loved all those players,” Butterfield said on Friday. “Growing up in New England, it was part of who I was.”

Butterfield is eager to get to spring training. The Red Sox players will find that no coach is more committed to their success than Butterfield.

The 54-year-old is one of the best at what he does. Along with coaching third base and working with the infielders, Butterfield believes coaches have the duty to make sure players handle themselves professionally on and off the field.

His message is one the last-place Red Sox need to hear.

“All coaches could want to stand for such a thing as respect for the game and integrity,” Butterfield said. “Players and coaches have a great responsibility beyond hitting a home run or striking somebody out.

“How you respond to a manager or the umpires or the clubhouse attendants, respect compasses an awful lot. As a coach, we have to stand for that and instill it in the players.”

With a resume that includes 34 years in professional baseball, the last 16 in the majors, Butterfield has the credentials to back up his personality.

“I’ve gotten to know some of their players. For me, as a coach you want your infielders to do things in a certain way. Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter are benchmarks for infielders in baseball,” Butterfield said.

“Dustin, the way he goes about his work, the way he competes and carries he torch and reacts to game situations, you can tell the Red Sox are his top priority. I’m so anxious to work with him.”

Butterfield is impressed with what he has seen of third baseman Will Middlebrooks. As a third base coach, he talks to opposing third basemen quite often.

“He had nothing but glowing praise of Kevin Youkilis and Youkilis had nothing but praise for Will as a player and a person,” Butterfield said. “It’s going to be fun getting to know him.”

Butterfield also offered a scouting report on shortstop Jose Iglesias.

“I made it a point to go watch him take infield. He certainly has all the prerequisites,” Butterfield said. “Great feet, makes plays easily. There’s no panic in his hands. He’s going to take away some hits.”

After two seasons with Farrell in Toronto, Butterfield believes the Red Sox made a smart choice as manager. Farrell, he said, has improved on the job.

“He’s very organized, very detailed and he gets input from all his people,” Butterfield said. “He’s open-minded and, to me, he’s gotten better as a manager. It’s a difficult chair to sit in.”

The Blue Jays, like the Red Sox, fell out contention because of injuries.

“It just happens and the game goes in cycles,” Butterfield said. “There are some good things in place in Boston. It’s an unbelievable place to play and a demanding place to play and coach. That is something I can’t wait to experience.”

See the Globe tomorrow for more from Butterfield.

Report: Gomes deal worth $10 million

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 21, 2012 08:23 PM

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Red Sox deal for Jonny Gomes is $10 million over two years, $5 million each season.

That's quite a raise for Gomes, who made $1 million last season.

That seems like a lot for one-dimensional player with severe platoon splits. But this is a market where 37-year-old Torii Hunter received two years and $26 million from the Tigers.

That the Sox are willing to drop $10 million on Gomes suggests they could view him as a regular player and not part of a platoon.

Red Sox close to deal with Jonny Gomes

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 21, 2012 03:07 PM

The Red Sox are close to a two-year deal with journeyman outfielder and designated hitter Jonny Gomes.

Gomes, who turns 32 on Thursday, hit .262/.377/.491 for Oakland last season with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs in 333 plate appearances and 99 games.

Gomes is a righthanded hitter who has always hit lefthanders well. He hit .299 with a .974 OPS against lefthanders last season in 164 at-bats. He hit .209 with a .715 OPS against righthanders in 115 at-bats.

Gomes has primarily played left field in his career, and not very well. But the Sox appear willing to take that risk in return for righthanded power.

Gomes was the regular left fielder for the Reds in 2010 and had a solid season, hitting .266/.327/.431 with 18 home runs.

The Sox would be Gomes' fourth team in the last three seasons. He started his career with the Rays. He signed as a free agent with the Reds in 2009 then was traded to the Nationals in 2011. Gomes had a $1 million deal with Oakland last season.

Gomes was involved in two on-field brawls in 2008, one with the Yankees in spring training and another with the Red Sox on June 5 when he pummeled Coco Crisp after Crisp charged the mound.

Gomes was a positive clubhouse presence in Oakland, however, and has a good reputation among former teammates.

Given that the Sox also need a right fielder, signing Gomes would not necessarily end their interest in Cody Ross. But Ross and Gomes have similar profiles and signing both players is unlikely.

The Sox could use a platoon in right field and employ Ryan Kalish or Daniel Nava in that mix.

CSNNE had the first report of Gomes negotiating with the Sox.

Red Sox add six players to 40-man roster

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 20, 2012 11:41 PM

The Red Sox added six players to their 40-man roster: righthanders Allen Webster, Steven Wright, and Alex Wilson, catchers Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler, and outfielder Alex Hassan.

Infielder Ivan DeJesus, third baseman Danny Valencia, and righthanders David Carpenter, Sandy Rosario, and Zach Stewart were designated for assignment.

The 40-man roster is now full. Teams had to set their rosters Tuesday in advance of the Rule 5 Draft Dec. 6.

Webster was one of the prospects obtained from the Dodgers in August and is considered a prospective starter. Wilson, who converted to the bullpen last season, profiles as a set-up man.Wright, a knuckleballer, was obtained from Cleveland for Lars Anderson in July.

Vazquez, 22, is a strong defensive catcher. The same is true of Butler.

Hassan was a bit of a surprise given that he hit a modest .256 with limited power (13 doubles, seven home runs in 312 at-bats) for Triple A Pawtucket. But the Milton native has uncanny strike zone discipline. Hassan has a career .391 on-base percentage in the minors.

DeJesus, Valencia, and Stewart had limited action in the majors for the Sox last season. Stewart was hit hard in two starts.

Rosario and Carpenter never played for the Sox. Rosario was claimed off waivers from the Marlins in October. Carpenter was obtained from Toronto for Mike Aviles in the trade tied to compensation for manager John Farrell.

The Sox have 10 days to trade, release, or pass those players through waivers. They have marginal trade value.

A few observations on the roster moves:

• The Sox now have five catchers on the 40-man roster, which is a lot. You have to think that trading Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway is in the works.

GM Ben Cherington said Monday that he would not be averse to sending Lavarnway to Triple A. But with Vazquez ready for Double A and Butler finishing last season at Triple A, that would create a logjam.

• Seems funny that the Sox kept the guy they got for Lars Anderson (Wright) and dumped the guy they got for Kevin Youkilis (Stewart).

• Butler is amazing story. He is an undrafted free agent who was a backup at the University of Arizona. The Sox saw him play at the Cape Cod League and signed him to be a backup at Lowell in 2009. Now he's made it to the 40-man roster.

• One notable omission from the roster is RHP Josh Fields, a reliever who struck out 78 batters in 58.1 innings last season for Portland and Pawtucket. But he is a 27-year-old reliever and the Sox have a fairly deep bullpen. If he is taken in the Rule 5 Draft, it would be a surprise if he stuck with another team all season.

• The Sox also elected not to protect several players they sent to the Arizona Fall League (3B Michael Almanzar, RHP Ryan Pressly, RHP Brock Huntzinger, RHP Pete Ruiz).

• Keep in mind that the roster will change plenty before the start of spring training. The Red Sox have plenty of holes in their lineup and decisions to make regarding their arbitration-eligible players. The moves Tuesday night were made with the Rule 5 Draft in mind.

Kuroda returns to the Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 20, 2012 07:02 PM

Hiroki Kuroda has returned to the Yankees on a one-year contract worth $15 million with incentives that could add another $1 million.

The 37-year-old righthander was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA last season.

The Red Sox had interest in Kuroda. But it became evident in recent days that he wanted to either pitch for the Yankees or return to Japan. The Dodgers also showed significant interest before Kuroda narrowed his choices.

Arnie Beyeler named first base coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 20, 2012 06:38 PM

The Red Sox today named Arnie Beyeler as their first base coach.

Beyeler, 48, has been in professional baseball since 1986 as a player, scout, coach and manager. This will be his first time in the majors.

Beyeler managed Triple A Pawtucket to a 79-65 record last season and the franchise's first International League championship in 28 years. Beyeler has 13 years of experience managing in the minors, going 802-756 and reaching the postseason six times.

“Arnie has had a successful professional career as a player, coach, and manager,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “This allows him to bring a wealth of experience to this position.”

Beyeler was an all-conference infielder at Wichita State and played in the Detroit system from 1986-91, reaching Triple A. He spent the 1987 season playing with Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo for Single A Fayetteville.

Beyeler was an amateur scout for the Tigers from 1992-96 before joining the Yankees as a minor league coach from 1997-99.

Beyeler joined the Red Sox as a minor league manager in 2000. He managed Rookie League Lowell from 2000-01 and Single A Augusta in 2002.

A move to the Texas system followed. Beyeler managed in the minors for the Rangers from 2003-05 then spent a season as the hitting coach for Double A Mobile in the San Diego system.

He returned to the Red Sox in 2007 as the manager of Double A Portland.

Beyeler's familiarity with the younger players on the roster should serve him well in his new role.

Fenway Holiday Bash set for Nov. 30

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 20, 2012 01:05 PM

The Fenway Park Holiday Bash will be 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 30.

The event will be highlighted by the debut of an LED musical "Fenway Park Winter Light Show" on the Green Monster, with showings at 5:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 7:45 p.m.

This light show will remain up for late-afternoon ballpark tours through Feb. 28.

The Holiday Bash will include player and alumni meet and greets, a Fenway Winter Village set up in the Big Concourse, winter ballpark fare with special concession prices, holiday photo opportunities, access to certain exclusive areas of the ballpark, including the home clubhouse and the warning track (weather-permitting) and first access to the Fenway Park yard sale.

The event is open to the public, although the club encourages fans to RSVP by visiting the Holiday Bash page on redsox.com/holidays and indicating if they plan to attend.

40-man roster must be set today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 20, 2012 11:55 AM

Teams have until midnight to set their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 6. You can expected the Red Sox to make several moves.

Minor league players drafted in 2009 or earlier (college) or 2008 or earlier (high school) would be eligible for the draft if left unprotected. For international players, it would be any signed in 2008 or earlier.

The Red Sox have 39 players on their 40-man roster and will need to open some spots for several prospects.

Righthanders Allen Webster and Alex Wilson are likely candidates to be added. Webster is one of the prospects obtained from the Dodgers in August and projects as a starter. Wilson converted to the bullpen last season and could figure in the mix as a middle reliever this season.

Catcher Christian Vazquez also has value.

The Sox also could consider righthanded reliever Josh Fields, who is 27 but had a strong season, striking out 78 in 58.1 innings for Portland and Pawtucket.

Any player selected in the Rule 5 draft would have to stay on a team’s major league roster all season or be offered back.

The Red Sox have a number of fringy players they could drop off their 40-man roster including pitchers Pedro Beato, David Carpenter and Zach Stewart. Danny Valencia and Mauro Gomez wouldn't be significant losses, either.

Via soxprospects.com, here's the complete list of players the Red Sox could risk losing if not protected:

Michael Almanzar, Chris Balcom-Miller, Luis Bastardo, Jeremiah Bayer, Ronald Bermudez, Carson Blair, Dan Butler, Miguel Celestino, William Cuevas, Jose De La Torre, Ryan Dent, Marco Duarte, Leonel Escobar, Josh Fields, Jose Garcia, Zach Gentile, Derrik Gibson, Aly Gonzalez, Alex Hassan, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Drew Hedman, Jon Hee, Pete Hissey, Brock Huntzinger, Jeremy Kehrt, Will Latimer, Mitch Maier, Heiker Meneses, Boss Moanaroa, Gerardo Olivares, Oscar Perez, Ryan Pressly, Manny Rivera, Charle Rosario, Pete Ruiz, Felix Sanchez, Matt Spring, Kyle Stroup, Tony Thomas, Christian Vazquez, Raynel Velette, Allen Webster, Ryan Westmoreland, Shannon Wilkerson, Tyler Wilson, Alex Wilson, and Steven Wright.

Other potential Rule 5 draftees include Butler, Hazelbaker, Huntzinger, Pressly and Wright.

We'll let you know what the Sox decide once the news comes out.

Ask Nick: More answers on the Red Sox' rebuilding plans

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff November 20, 2012 11:00 AM
While we haven’t heard much on the Red Sox front since they engaged in trade talks with Miami for Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, other GMs inform me the Red Sox have been very active in trying to make something happen.

The Sox are trying to make a trade that would land them either a starting pitcher/shortstop/outfielder and are trying to sign a first baseman/ starting pitcher. Names? There aren’t many guys they haven’t engaged in some level of talks with.

The latest is Lance Berkman. Berkman is a good name for a couple of reasons – he can still hit and he’s that clubhouse presence I’ve often talked about in recent columns that’s so important to this Red Sox team going forward. Berkman didn’t perform well in New York when he was there, but has been his old self in St. Louis, which has decided it can’t afford him.

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Berkman could return to Houston to be their DH, but right now he’s contemplating whether he wants to play at all. He would be a good stopgap type guy and really add some personality.

The Sox are also trying to finalize their hitting coach search. One name that has been intriguing is Greg Colbrunn, the firmer major league first baseman who is a hitting coach at Single-A Charlestown, SC, for the Yankees. Yankees GM Brian Cashman told me that Colbrunn is superb and had received many inquiries from teams asking permission to speak to him. He’s interviewed with the Red Sox, but to this point has resisted temptations to leave Charleston, where he lives with his young family, to make the major league commitment. Cashman is selfishly hoping he stays with the Yankees, but acknowledges he would be terrific.

Here’s the mailbag:

The Red Sox obviously need a deeper and stronger rotation. In my opinion, Kyle Lohse is the best starter on the free agent market. Do you think the Red Sox will try to sign him?
Matt, Brookline, Mass.
Lohse had a great year and yes, the Red Sox have called about him. At 34, he may be a bit out of their age range. He’s probably looking for at least three years and that may be risky.

I know Will Middlebrooks is still getting his feet wet in the majors. What are the chances he could see some work at first base to help keep him healthy and to get someone like SS Xander Bogaerts to the majors earlier?
Dan, Warwick, RI
This isn’t far-fetched. The Red Sox have to decide what Boegarts is – a SS or 3B. They don’t have to make that decision right now so I doubt they will. It’s also tough to come up with third basemen so Middlebrooks is extremely valuable. You could see some temporary types at first whether it be Mike Napoli, Adam laRoche or Lance Berkman, just to keep that possibility alive.

Are the Sox shying away from going after, say, Adam LaRoche or Nick Swisher because it would cost them a draft pick? Would giving up either Jackie Bradley or Matt Barnes (37 and 39 on one top 100 list) be worth either one of those two, in your opinion?
Pete, Apison, Tenn.
I think that’s the dilemma. Under the new rules where you have a cap on draft pick spending, draft picks are more valuable than ever. Sure, if you give one up, it had better be for a long-term, impact piece to your team. Are LaRoche and Swisher worth that? In my opinion no.

Click the Full Entry button for more Q&A.

FULL ENTRY

Cherington on the state of the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 19, 2012 08:55 PM

On at least eight public occasions since the end of the season, general manager Ben Cherington has spoken about his desire to build “the next great Red Sox team.”

What hasn’t been said is when that team will be assembled.

Cherington has carefully avoided making promises to a fan base that has been burned all too often in recent seasons by bold talk that proved to be unfounded. His goal is long-term success, not a quick fix after last season’s 93-loss debacle.

“We hope it’s 2013. But we have a ways to go to get a great team to coalesce,” Cherington said Monday. “Hopefully it will. We’re working as hard as we can, but it’s not just for one year.”

In an interview on Monday, Cherington addressed some of important questions surrounding the team. Tomorrow's Globe will have the full story, but here are some highlights:

On the idea that the Sox are not moving fast enough: “I never think about it that way. We’re working hard every day to execute the plan that we have. I’ve found that the best opportunities in free agency often come later in the offseason.

"That [Blue Jays-Marlins trade] got everybody’s attention. But it’s still relatively early. It’s not even Thanksgiving. I think most people understand we have a long way to go.

"We have a lot of work to do because we lost 93 games. But there’s no doubt that with some of the other things you have to do — the manager, the coaching staff, the infrastructure scouting-wise — we’re ahead of where we were last year. We’ve spent a lot more time on player issues at this time as compared to last year. That doesn’t always turn into announcements. You can’t predict when it will happen.”

On retaining Cody Ross: “We continue to talk. There’s really no other update then to say the door is open. We’re also talking to other guys and I presume he is talking to other teams. Those things have a way of starting to move once one of the dominos falls."

On why the Sox added David Ross to a roster that already included catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway: "We signed Ross because it’s strengthened the position. We thought that was the best alignment for us. We have wanted to have someone as part of the catching group who has been through the wars and has a good feel for the game. David has been in that second catcher role and has thrived in it. I’d rather have three good catchers rather than one or two.”

Ross, Cherington said, will probably play more than a typical backup catcher. The Sox expect him to have a significant impact on the field and of.

There is speculation the Red Sox will now trade Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway. But Cherington would not feed that fire, pointing out that Lavarnway has minor league options and could be returned to Triple A Pawtucket.

“All three could contribute to our team; I expect that to be the case,” Cherington said. “We have to see what happens.”

Saltalamacchia is viewed as the starter at this point. But spring training is still 12 weeks away.

“Salty has earned that right based on the last few years,” Cherington said. “He has done a good job.”

Cherington said there is “no consideration” to Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway playing another position.

On whether he would trade top prospects to fill a need: “I’m not going to rule it out. But you’d have to get a player that makes sense over the longer term than the shorter team. It would be hard, but when you lose 93 games, you have to be open to lots of difficult things.”

On giving a free agent a significant long-term contract: "There may not be one guy out there who is going to fill our needs. There are a number of players we have to look at. In theory, you can offer only so much to a player, even for only one year.

"We believe we’re going to have a significant payroll and we’re going to be active in adding free-agent talent to the team. But you want the contract to make sense.”

Selig approves Marlins-Blue Jays trade

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 19, 2012 05:37 PM

Bud Selig approved the blockbuster deal between the Marlins and Blue Jays, which was expected.

The unusual part is that he issued a statement about it:

"Since Tuesday, I have carefully reviewed the proposed transaction between the Miami Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays. I asked our Baseball Operations Department and our Labor Relations Department to compare this proposed transaction with similar deals. I also consulted with experienced baseball operations executives to get their input regarding the talent involved in this transaction.

"After a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established Major Leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both Clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion. It is, of course, up to the Clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future.

"I am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding this trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard since Tuesday. Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park. Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their Club. I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of."

Interesting that the commissioner used the term "plausible" to describe the deal.

Salty golf classic is Dec. 15

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 19, 2012 03:48 PM

Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will host a golf tournament on Dec. 15 at noon in Wellington, Fla.

The event, at the Binks Forest County Club, will benefit the Wounded Warriors Project and the Athletes Advantage scholarship fund.

If you are interested in playing and supporting Salty, it's $600 for a foursome or $150 individually. Contact Jim Munsey at SaltyClassic@aol.com for information or go to www.salty39.com/golf/ for information.

Major league players expected to attend include Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Jose Iglesias, Andrew Miller, Craig Breslow, Marco Scutaro, Eric Hosmer, Sam Fuld, Mike Napoli, and others.

There will be a putting contest, an auction, awards, and a dinner. The auction items will include signed memorabilia from David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Albert Pujols, Cody Ross, Mike Trout, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ichiro Suzuki, Andrew Bailey, Derek Jeter, Carlton Fisk, Alex Rodriguez, and more.

Red Sox set spring training schedule

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 19, 2012 02:22 PM

The Red Sox announced their spring training schedule today. Here are the key dates and information you need:

First workout for pitchers and catchers: Feb. 12.

First full-squad workout: Feb. 15.

First exhibition games: Feb. 21 doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College.

First Grapefruit League game: Feb. 23 against Tampa Bay at Fort Myers.

Tickets: Sales start Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. at the JetBlue Park box office, online at redsox.com or by calling 888-REDSOX6.

Spring training schedule
Feb. 21: Doubleheader vs. Northeastern and BC, 1:35 p.m.
Feb 22: Off day
Feb. 23: Rays, 1:35 p.m.
Feb. 24: At Cardinals, 1:05 p.m.
Feb. 25: Split squad at Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m.; Split squad at Toronto, 1:05 p.m.
Feb. 26: Cardinals, 1:35 p.m.
Feb. 27: At Orioles, 7:05 p.m.
Feb. 28: At Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
March 1: Pirates, 7:05 p.m.
March 2: At Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 3: Yankees, 1:35 p.m.
March 4: Rays, 1:35 p.m.
March 5: Team Puerto Rico, 7:05 p.m.
March 6: Pirates, 1:35 p.m.
March 7: At Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 8: Twins, 7:05 p.m.
March 9: Orioles, 7:05 p.m.
March 10: At Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 11: At Marlins, 1:05 p.m.
March 12: Blue Jays, 1:35 p.m.
March 13: Off day
March 14: At Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 15: Split squad at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m.; Split squad vs. Twins, 7:05 p.m.
March 16: At Rays, 1:05 p.m.
March 17: Rays, 1:35 p.m.
March 18: At Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
March 19: Orioles, 1:35 p.m.
March 20: At Yankees, 1:05 p.m.
March 21: Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
March 22: At Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
March 23: Pirates, 1:35 p.m.
March 24: At Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
March 25: At Orioles, 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Off day
March 27: Marlins, 1:35 p.m.
March 28: Twins, 7:05 p.m.
March 29: At Twins, 1:05 p.m.
March 30: Twins, 1:35 p.m.

Red Sox interviewing more hitting coaches

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 19, 2012 02:00 PM

There are at least five candidates to become the next hitting coach of the Red Sox.

The team has already interviewed former major leaguers Rick Schu and Scott Fletcher along with minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez.

Craig Counsell, whose 16-year playing career ended in 2011, will interview today. The team also is expected to speak to Greg Colbrunn later in the week.

Counsell is a special assistant to Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin. Colbrunn is a minor league coach with the Yankees. He played 13 years in the majors.

The Red Sox are likely to hire two hitting coaches.

Also:

• Former NESN Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney has taken a job with MLB Network as a studio host and reporter. Watney left NESN after the 2011 season to work in her native California for a year.. Watney will be based out of New York.

Another black mark on the 2012 Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 16, 2012 04:50 PM

The Red Sox were historically bad, everybody knows that.

Then there is this telling nugget: This is the first time the Red Sox were shut out in the American League Most Valuable Player voting.

In all 24 players received at least one vote this season. But because of poor performance or injury, no Red Sox players were deemed worthy. Frankly, it would hard to make a case for any of them.

The American League MVP award has been given out 93 times since 1911. There was no award in 1929 and 1930 or from 1915-21. In every season until 2012, the Red Sox had at least one player represented in the voting.

In 1965, a dreadful 100-loss season, there was Carl Yastrzemski. Even Felix Mantilla and Tony Conigliaro received votes.

During World War II, when Ted Williams missed three seasons, Boo Ferriss and Bobby Doerr were outstanding players. Jimmie Foxx was there before Williams.

Note: We initially thought the Red Sox were shut out in 1933, too. But Rick Ferrell was traded to to the Sox that season and played the bulk of his games for Boston and finished 12th in the voting. Thanks to Jake O'Donnell for pointing that out.

Red Sox interviewing Fletcher for hitting coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 15, 2012 03:01 PM

A few Red Sox notes:

• The Sox are interviewing Scott Fletcher for their hitting coach job today. He is the assistant hitting coach in Atlanta. Fletcher, 54, played in the majors from 1981-95 with six teams. He was with the Sox from 1993-94.

Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston had that news first.

• Ben Cherington was on WEEI this morning and spoke for 22 minutes without revealing much. Good GMs have that skill.

Cherington said the Red Sox would spend money this winter.

“I know that we’ll have a very strong payroll, a large payroll. I know that we’re going to add to it this winter. I’m confident in saying that we’ll be amongst the larger payrolls in the game," he said. "Exactly where it ends up, exactly what rank we are, I don’t know that yet."

• John Farrell will be honored tonight at the 31st annual Boston Dinner Gala held by the American Ireland Fund. The event is expected to raise nearly $2.5 million for nonprofit organizations across the island of Ireland and around the world.

Christmas at Fenway is Dec. 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 10:17 PM

The Red Sox will host their 10th annual Christmas at Fenway on Dec. 1.

Sox Pax first go on sale online and at Fenway Park that day. The ticket packages feature summer weekend games, Interleague play, and games versus the New York Yankees. In addition, individual tickets to select home games go on sale at 10 a.m. by phone, online, or for those selected to attend the event at Fenway.

This year, Christmas at Fenway highlights a new, week-long Red Sox Holiday Fest.

Red Sox players including Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Chris Carpenter, Pedro Ciriaco, Ivan De Jesus, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway, Mark Melancon, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are scheduled to participate at various times.

Online registration for the chance to attend Christmas at Fenway begins today at noon on redsox.com and ends Monday, November 26, at noon. Selectees will be invited via email to visit Fenway Park at a specified time. There is no charge for the event.\

Christmas at Fenway will include current and former players signing autographs and talking with fans at roundtable discussions. In addition, fans will be randomly selected throughout the day for special prizes and giveaway experiences such as Opening Day tickets, dinner in the EMC Club, and Green Monster seats at a Yankees game.

Fans who go online, call, or attend Christmas at Fenway will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to select games starting at 10 a.m. The phone number is 888-REDSOX6.

Red Sox make it official with David Ross

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 09:53 PM

The Red Sox on Wednesday night announced the signing of catcher David Ross after he passed his physical. Ross agreed to terms on Saturday on a two-year, $6.2 million deal.

Ross, 35, appeared in eight games for the Sox in 2008 before joining the Atlanta Braves for four seasons. He hit .256 with nine home runs last season.

The Red Sox did not make general manager Ben Cherington available for comment. But the addition of Ross gives the Sox three catchers and could lead to either Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia getting traded.

Two interesting statistics from the Red Sox release:

• The Braves were 54-35 in the 89 games Ross started the last two seasons, the best winning percentage for any National League catcher with at least 65 starts.

• Atlanta pitchers had a 3.33 earned run average with Ross behind the plate the last four years, the best four-year stretch in the majors for a catcher going back to 1998.

Trot Nixon to appear at Sea Dogs hot stove dinner

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 08:51 PM

Trot Nixon will be the featured guest at the Portland Sea Dogs 2013 Hot Stove Dinner and silent auction.

The event is Jan. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland and benefits the Maine Children's Cancer Program. Additional guests will be announced later.

Tickets, which are on sale now, are $50 and are limited to 300. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Hadlock Field ticket office, by telephone at (207) 879-9500 or online at www.seadogs.com.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the silent auction running until 7 p.m. A buffet dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m. All who attend will receive an autographed 8x10 photo of Nixon.

Werner to receive award from scouts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 08:08 PM

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner will receive the Dave Winfield Humanitarian Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation on Jan. 12 at the organization's annual gala in Los Angeles.

Winfield will present Werner with the award.

Over the last nine years, the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation has helped scouts in need because of job loss, illness or financial hardships. The group has raised more than $1 million.

Torii Hunter signs with Tigers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 12:11 PM

Outfielder Torii Hunter has agreed to terms with the Tigers for two years and $26 million.

The Red Sox took a look at Hunter. But a 37-year-old player would not see the Red Sox as a desirable destination. And $13 million a year for a 37-year-old player is probably not a road the Sox should be going down.

Ken Rosenthal had the Hunter news while he was on MLB Network.

Cody Ross has to be pretty happy Hunter received $13 million a year.

Hunter last season: .817 OPS, 16 homers, 92 RBIs

Ross last season: .807 OPS, 22 homers, 81 RBIs

Ask Nick: Rebuilding a contender

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff November 14, 2012 10:51 AM

The Hot Stove season is in full force after that amazing Toronto-Miami deal in which the Jays have revamped their entire team with one deal.

The Jays now have a lineup that looks like this:

Jose Reyes, SS
Emilio Bonafacio, 2B
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Adam Lind, DH
Colby Rasmus, CF
JP Arencibia/John Buck, C
Anthony Gose, LF

Starting rotation: Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ.

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
The Jays got sick of hearing about their "promise" and needed to show their fan base they were serious about winning. The deal was right for them. Whether it works or not remains to be seen as THINGS always seem to happen to the Jays pitching staff and team.

Now they pick the experienced manager that would fit this more veteran team. And given the solid nature of this lineup and rotation, I would think this has become a suddenly coveted job.

John Farrell is now taking a drubbing on Twitter and Canadian blogs for abandoning the Jays for the Red Sox.

But there’s a long way to go before the rosters are set. The Red Sox have time to respond.

Do you think the Tigers would be interested in trading Victor Martinez back to the Sox now that they have Prince Fielder to play first base? Would Victor Martinez be a good solution for Boston's first baseman?
Chris Gibbs, Wassenaar, The Netherlands

Doubt it. The Tigers are looking forward to having VMart in their lineup and will let Delmon Young go into free-agency.

I think it is safe to say that the Red Sox are rebuilding. Why won't they consider bringing up pitchers Matt Barnes or Allen Webster to start the season? They can't do any worse than last year's rotation.
Nate Burnett, Erving

It’s not safe to say the Red Sox are rebuilding, certainly not in the Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros sense. They’re rebuilding with veteran players so they can contend this year. So I don’t see them rushing young pitching talent.

I have great respect for you as a writer, but also someone who seems to always get it right with the Sox. My question is: name the three top choices the Sox would acquire if available.
Mike, Branford, Conn.

Hiroki Kuroda, Mike Napoli and Torii Hunter (editor's note: Hunter signed with the Tigers Weds.). There are variations off these. They would probably love Anibal Sanchez at the right price and terms, Adam LaRoche, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera in a trade with the Indians; Justin Upton in a deal with Arizona; Alex Gordon in a deal with Kansas City.

The Blue Jays must have been reading your paper's article about being bold. Seems like they have jumped out way ahead of the Sox.
Bob, Phoenix, Ariz.

Toronto had to be bold. They were stuck in fourth place, stuck in expectations that never seem to materialize. They had to do something. So they changed everything – the manager, the concept of developing talent and keeping it. So they’re going for it and the big thing up there is staying healthy. If those guys stay healthy along with with Bautista, Encarnacion, Lawrie, then that’s a potent and fast lineup and a solid rotation. Hey, the Red Sox were bold, too, weren’t they, dumping $260 million of salaries? Now it’s a matter of rebuilding quickly.

Opinion If the Sox were already talking to the Marlins about players and the fire sale in Miami is still on, could right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and pitcher Ricky Nolasco be considerations for the Sox?
Harry Reimers, Wilbraham

I suppose anything is possible, but because Stanton is relatively cheap and that the Marlins need someone on the field that fans look forward to seeing, I would guess he’s not available. But I suppose everyone has a price. I’m sure the Red Sox inquired about him in their Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson talks with the Marlins. I think Nolasco can be had for a mid-level prospect.

What's your assessment of Ben Cherington's abilities to build the "next great Red Sox team?" Based upon his trades so far, how can Red Sox have faith in him (nothing in return for Youk? Melancon and Bailey gave nothing, the fire sale was the sign of desperation).
Steven, Cranston, R.I.

I will give him every benefit of the doubt. He’s starting his second year as the GM. There are still a lot of free agents and trades to be made before spring training. I’m on a wait-and-see basis. You have to be fair. They’re taking a certain approach now of being disciplined after being undisciplined. At the same time you can’t let the world pass you by. I wrote about this last Sunday in Baseball Notes. I wouldn’t want to be Ben Cherington. You have a lot of money to spend, but you don’t want to be foolish with it, yet you don’t want to get scooped on players you want because you drew the line in the sand. It’s quite a balancing act


With the lack of talent Cherington got in return for Theo, Scutaro, Lowrie, Youklis, and Reddick, do you think he is the right person to lead them back?
Bob, Alexandria, Va.

Let’s take it one by one. Scutaro was a 36-year-old shortstop/second baseman. What are going to get for him? They got Clayton Mortensen, who I thought is a pretty good reliever. Marco excelled in the postseason. Good for him. He’s a tough guy who plays hard, but what percentage of him did Mike Aviles solve? A good amount I’d say. Jed Lowery is a very undependable player. They were very patient with his numerous injuries and long recovery times. I don’t think you should regret that one at all. Melancon didn’t work out this season, but relievers are relievers, quirky and down one year and good the next. He has good stuff. Watch a nice rebound from him this year. Youkilis was an older, broken down player and even teams in desperate need of a righthanded bat like Pittsburgh and LA Dodgers, wouldn’t give a whole lot for him. The White Sox made a good deal giving up a guy with a good arm, but who has never been able to put it together. And you subbed Middlebrooks for Youkilis, which was the right things to do. Reddick is the one for me. And even with him, until this year, a guy who overperformed for half a year and then underperformed. He smoothed that out quite a bit and became a Gold Glove outfielder. Tough one. But think we have to see what Andrew Bailey does as a closer before the jury is completely out on that one.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox lose some status in Tampa Bay

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 14, 2012 09:15 AM

Many teams in baseball have tiered pricing for their tickets, meaning games against the better teams are more expensive than games against the lesser ones.

For some clubs, it's a way to take advantage of out-of-town fans coming to their park. For others, it's just a matter of supply and demand.

In the American League, the Red Sox and the Yankees have been the prime-time attractions for several years now. But the Tampa Bay Rays have decided the Sox no longer rate that kind of treatment any more.

The Rays have reclassified the Sox and taken them out of their highest tiers.

Oh, the shame.

Not that the Rays had much choice. It's hard to sell anybody on the idea that a last-place team is a premier opponent. There may not be many Rays fans, but they're not stupid.

Cherington wants to stick by his plan

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 13, 2012 09:47 PM

AMHERST — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington knew that the Miami Marlins had players on the trade market. But like everybody else in baseball, the magnitude of the team’s deal with the Toronto Blue Jays surprised him.

“Wasn’t expecting to see that,” Cherington said on Tuesday night after learning the Jays were on the verge of obtaining John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes for a large package of prospects.

The American League East sent the Yankees and Orioles to the playoffs last season with the Rays finishing three games behind in the wild card. Now the Jays have made an aggressive move.

For the Red Sox, a tough road back to respectability could be even tougher.

“We have a plan for the offseason and we’ll see how much of it we can execute,” Cherington said. “If [the trade] does happen, it’s not going to change what our plan is or our ability to execute that plan.”

Cherington joined fellow general managers Chris Antonetti (Indians) and Neal Huntington (Pirates) at a panel discussion on Tuesday sponsored by the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management.

The trio, all graduates of the sports management program, discussed their experiences before a crowd of 750 at the Campus Center Auditorium. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, another UMass grad, was the moderator.

When asked about the most difficult moment of his career, Cherington smiled.

“I’m still trying to get through it,” he said, referencing the Red Sox going 69-93 last season and finishing in last place.

That drew a laugh from the audience. But what transpires in the coming weeks will determine how successful Cherington is at getting through a crisis.

The Red Sox could have their own deals to make. There is an agreement in place with catcher David Ross that is contingent on his coming to Boston for a physical. Once that is finished, the Sox could deal either catcher Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Cherington did not want to comment at length on how obtaining Ross would change the roster until the deal is completed.

“If we were to acquire and sign a catcher, we’re really just trying to strengthen the position,” he said. “We know that we lost 93 games. We’re trying to strengthen all areas of the team, not just the ones that seem more obvious.”

While Toronto may not spur the Red Sox into changing their plan, it could change how aggressively they pursue the players they want.

Mike Napoli is sending signals of his willingness to play first base, a position of need for the Sox.

"I just want to play," Napoli told ESPN Dallas. "I feel the most comfortable behind the plate because that's where most of my reps have been. Do I think I can be good at first base if I had reps and practiced it all the time? Yes. But it's not like I'm saying I have to be a catcher. I just want to be in the lineup and play. If it helps at catcher, I'll catch, or at first base, I'll play there. But I like catching. I look at myself as catcher.”

Also:

• The Sox are in the process of completing their coaching staff. Cherington said that minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez interviewed for the hitting coach position on Tuesday. Two other candidates could be interviewed later this week. The Red Sox also have spoken to former Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu.

The Sox also hope to select a first base coach this week.

The risks and rewards of Josh Hamilton

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 13, 2012 01:53 PM

joshblog.JPG

Josh Hamilton hitting at Fenway last summer. (Jim Davis / Globe Staff)

There is a team out there that will commit to paying Josh Hamilton a lot of money to play baseball for them.

There will be a press conference, a lot of smiles and photographs and handshakes all around. It's inevitable.

Later on that day, the general manager of that team will probably have trouble sleeping as he wonders whether he just made the best move of his career or the worst.

Here's the question: Should that team be the Red Sox?

The Red Sox can quite easily make Hamilton a three-year, $75 million offer and that could well be enough to get him. Cut short on the years and offer him a higher average annual value, it makes sense.

Hamilton just finished a two-year, $24 million deal. For him, $75 million would be a major step up.

There's plenty to like. Hamilton has hit .313/.370/.583 over the last three seasons with 100 home runs, 102 doubles and 322 RBIs. He hits righthanders better than lefthanders but certainly does not struggle against lefties.

Hamilton is not as good in the outfield as you might think (his UZR was -12.6 last season, actually) but he has the athletic ability to figure out left field at Fenway Park. A strong arm would give runners pause as they turn first base on ball hit off the wall.

Hamilton also would bring eyeballs to NESN, a part of the equation that only a fool would ignore. He is exciting to watch at the plate because you wonder if this will be the at-bat when he hits a ball 450 feet.

(As an aside, the show Hamilton put on at the Home Run Derby at old Yankee Stadium in 2008 is still something that causes me to sake my head in wonderment. The man nearly hit one out of the place, which should be impossible.)

Let's be honest, the Red Sox have been a boring team of late and Hamilton is an exciting player to watch. The Sox could use some excitement after subjecting the populace to assorted Triple A guys in the outfield last season.

But the Red Sox should not take this leap of faith. Here's why:

• Hamilton will be 32 in May. That's not old, but that's getting to the far edge of his prime years.

• The Rangers have all but pushed him out the door. It's always a red flag when a player's team doesn't really seem committed to keeping him, especially a team with the resources to do that.

• Hamilton fell off a cliff (.259/.323/.510) in the second half last season.

• Hamilton has missed 157 games over the last four seasons. He played 148 last season, but there are concerns about his physical health moving forward. He also was the DH in 10 games last season. That's not a lot but it's probably nine more more than the Red Sox would want him to DH.

• And there's the question of his past. This is a guy who was seriously addicted to drugs and, remarkably, reclaimed his career after many had written him off. Hamilton is an amazing story.

But who can say with any certainly to what degree his drug use will affect him in the years to come? Hamilton didn't occasionally use drugs and got caught, he was a crack addict who nearly ruined his life.

You can't sign Hamilton without factoring that into the decision. Hamilton has admitted to some relapses in the past and the Rangers tried to have a system in place where he had people monitoring his actions and even handling his money.

With a large contract will come pressure to perform and that would be magnified in a place like Boston. Some people like baseball in Texas. But it ranks behind pro football, college football, high school football and spring football in terms of interest.

Calm, cool and collected Adrian Gonzalez admitted the pressure got to him in Boston and he tried unsuccessfully to hit home runs. Carl Crawford said it ate at him. Boston is a great place to play when things are going well. It's the worst place to play when you're in a slump.

Forget for a second what the Red Sox need. Let's say Hamilton was your brother, would you advise him to go play in Boston? That may answer the question.

The Red Sox have run afoul of free agency in recent years and paid a significant price for the mistakes they made. There will come a time, maybe this winter, when they commit a huge contract to another free agent.

If it's Josh Hamilton, it will be quite a story. But that seems like a risk you let another team take.

No wonder the Red Sox love Mike Napoli

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 12, 2012 02:15 PM

Here's what Mike Napoli has done against the Red Sox the past four seasons:

29 games (100 at-bats): .320/.410/.790 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs.

Here's what Mike Napoli has done against everybody else the past four seasons:

446 games (1,456 at-bats): .260/.350/.494 with 86 home runs and 223 RBIs.

A player with an .844 OPS is very attractive, don't get me wrong. If the Red Sox sign Napoli to play first base, it would probably turn out to be a good idea. He hits for power, he'll take a walk, and he has played a big role on some very strong teams in recent seasons.

It's also true that 29 games and 100 at-bats is a small sample size.

But you do have to wonder if the Red Sox have fallen for a player based on what he has done against their pitching staff. Sure, Napoli is a career .306/.397/.710 hitter at Fenway Park. But what difference does that make? He'll be facing different pitchers now.

The Sox have liked Napoli for months now, John Henry in particular. They are sure to make a good run at him.

Napoli is not an especially good first baseman but can do the job. It also would be helpful to have somebody around who could catch if needed. His righthanded power would be a good complement to David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup.

Just be careful of extrapolating his statistics. If he signs with the Red Sox, he won't have their pitching staff to kick around any more.

Meanwhile ...

• ESPN Los Angeles is reporting that Torii Hunter will come to a decision fairly soon. The Tigers, Yankees, and Dodgers are among the teams most interested.

Hunter would be a good fit for the Red Sox. But that would be more the case if the team were a player or two away from being a contender. Should a rebuilding team be signing 37-year-old outfielders?

Speaking selfishly, here's hoping they do sign Hunter. He is one of the nicest guys in baseball and always a pleasure to speak to.

• Maureen Mullen of CSNNE reports that Alex Ochoa might be leaving the Red Sox organization to work for Scott Boras.

Ochoa is not being considered for a spot on the major league staff. He was the first base coach last season.

• Just thinking out loud here, but would the Red Sox forfeit a draft pick by signing a free agent who was given a qualifying offer?

They have the seventh pick in the draft. Their second-round pick would be (for the moment) 38th overall because there are 31 first-round picks this season.

Under the new CBA, the top 10 picks are protected. If one of those teams signs a qualified free agent, they would lose their second round pick. The 38th overall pick is pretty valuable, especially for a last-place team.

The qualified players are Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Hiroki Kuroda, Adam LaRoche, Kyle Lohse, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, and B.J. Upton.

Hamilton, Kuroda, LaRoche, Lohse, and Swisher are players who would fill needs for the Red Sox.

If you can get one of those players for three years, then maybe. But a long-term deal for a player like Hamilton and giving up a high pick sounds like trouble.

BBWAA awards are this week

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 12, 2012 01:40 PM

The annual BBWAA awards will be given out this week. Here's the schedule:

Monday: Rookie of the Year

Tuesday: Manager of the Year

Wednesday: Cy Young

Thursday: MVP

The announcements will be made live on MLB Network at 6 p.m. each day. The BBWAA has partnered with MLB Network to announce the awards.

The finalists have been announced for each award.

It will be interesting to see if any Red Sox players receive any votes. The odds are against it.

Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish and Mike Trout are the finalists for AL Rookie of the Year. Trout obviously will win, but Middlebrooks could have finished in the running had his season not ended in August because of a broken wrist.

The most interesting decision will be AL MVP. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown but a great case can be made that Trout was a better all-around player and more valuable.

The voting is done at the end of the regular season. Panels consists of two BBWAA members in each city within the league.

With three catchers, Red Sox can talk trade

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 10, 2012 07:31 PM

The Red Sox probably didn't drop $6.2 million on backup catcher David Ross without knowing they could trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway.

So let's try and figure out who the deal will be with.

There are a bunch of teams that could use a catcher but seven stand out: the Cubs, Mariners, Mets, Pirates, Rays, White Sox, and Yankees.

The Sox are unlikely to make a trade with the Rays and Yankees, so let's cross them them off the list.

A few other things to keep in mind:

• Saltalamacchia will be a free agent after 2013, which depresses his value. He also had a .288 on-base percentage last season along with those 25 home runs.

• Lavarnway has more upside because of his bat. He did not hit well at all in 46 games last season (.157/.211/.248) but is a career .286/.376/.506 hitter in the minors. He's going to hit in the majors.

Lavarnway also caught 80 games for Pawtucket before he was called up, by far his most in a season. Red Sox officials feel he was a little worn down.

• Lavarnway caught most of the games in September, which could be a sign the Sox favor him moving forward and would be more willing to trade Saltalamacchia.

• The trade could — and probably would — involve several players. Saltalamacchia and a prospect or two would bring back more than just Saltalamacchia. The Sox could stand to clear some room off their 40-man roster.

So here are some possible fits . . .

Cubs: President of baseball operations Theo Epstein traded for Saltalamacchia in 2010 when he was the general manager of the Red Sox and has long been a fan. The Cubs tried to trade righthander Matt Garza in July. Salty could be part of a package that brings Garza back. He would be a good fit as the No. 3 starter.

Mariners: Forget King Felix, that's not going to happen. But LHP Jason Vargas is coming off a good season. The Mariners also have some intriguing pitching prospects.

Mets: This team makes a lot of sense as a trade partner. The Mets could be willing to move first baseman Ike Davis. They also have some pitchers who could interest the Sox. There is trade speculation involving R.A. Dickey and GM Sandy Alderson raised the possibility of dealing LHP Jon Niese just a few days ago.

Pirates: There is no one player who jumps out at you on the Pittsburgh roster. Maybe RHP James McDonald?

White Sox: There are good fits here. Chicago has an extra starter and could trade RHP Gavin Floyd, who is a year away from free agency.

The guess here is that something will unfold fairly soon. What's your take?

Red Sox sign David Ross

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 10, 2012 10:34 AM

The first free agent signing for the Red Sox is ... a backup catcher?

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with David Ross on a two-year, $6.2 million deal. Ross, who will turn 36 in March, started 47 games for the Atlanta Braves last season, hitting .256 with a .770 OPS.

Ross played eight games for the Red Sox in 2008, signing as a free agent in late August. He was on the playoff roster for the division series against the Angels that season. Ross signed with the Braves after that season. He hit .269 over four seasons.

Ross is much better than an average backup. He is one of the best catchers in the game in terms of running a game and handling pitchers. He also is a positive clubhouse presence, something the Red Sox could use.

Ross threw out 15 of 34 base stealers last season. He caught 53 of 133 (40 percent) during his four seasons in Atlanta.

The Red Sox already have catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavanway on their roster. Saltalamacchia is arbitration eligible.

Signing Ross would appear to signal that a trade will be made involving Lavarnway or Saltalamacchia.

Lavarnway would presumably have more value in a trade, but the Red Sox have long viewed him favorably as a prospect. Ross would be an ideal backup for him.

Or the Sox could platoon Saltalamacchia with Ross. Saltalamacchia is a switch hitter but hits far better from the left side than he does the right. The righthanded hitting Ross would complement him well.

The Red Sox could use Saltalamacchia at first base (he has 40 games of experience there), but that is not likely according to team sources.

Fox Sports was first with the news of Ross agreeing to terms. The Red Sox are waiting on the results of a physical to announce the signing.

Henry shuts investment company

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 9, 2012 09:54 PM

John W. Henry & Co., the financial trading firm owned by the Red Sox owner, has informed clients it will stop managing their assets on Dec. 31.

The company managed more than $2.5 billion in 2006. That has fallen to less than $100 million according to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.

Henry has said in the past that the firm's dwindling assets have no effect on the Red Sox. Henry also has strongly denied several reports by Fox Business Network that he is looking to sell the team.

Henry has kept a low profile with the Red Sox in recent weeks. He did not make himself available to reporters when Bobby Valentine was fired or when John Farrell was hired to replace him as manager. His last Twitter post was July 16.

Red Sox prospect aids in Sandy relief

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 9, 2012 09:12 PM

Here is a neat story from Craig Forde's On Deck blog.

Red Sox prospect Jayson Hernandez, a New Jersey resident, is organizing fellow players from the Garden State to aid in relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy.

Craig has all the details, including how to help. Please check it out.

Wrapping it up from the GM meetings

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 9, 2012 01:15 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calf. — The GM meetings have broken up here in sunny southern California. But there are a few bits of Red Sox news to report before heading home.

Rick Schu is one of the candidates to become the new hitting coach and will interview with Ben Cherington today, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

Schu, 50, was the hitting coach of the Diamondbacks and then become a minor league instructor with the Nationals. He played nine years in the majors with five teams.

Two other notes from last night:

• Scott Boras did his annual catch-all press conference. He said there have been no talks on an extension for Jacoby Ellsbury. Boras is focused only on negotiating a deal for 2013. Ellsbury is in his final year of arbitration.

Typically, a player hires Boras with the intent of exploring the free-agent market. That certainly seems to be the case with Ellsbury.

• Boras also thinks Daisuke Matsuzaka will get a shot to pitch again. "He's really a candidate for a team that wants a guy to come in that may give you a ceiling that you may not expect," Boras said.

The agent also pointed out — and he's right about this — that many pitchers do not fully recover from Tommy John surgery until the second year.

The Red Sox haven't come out and said they have no interest in Matsuzaka. But that has been implied.

Ranaudo starts on the road back

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 9, 2012 12:57 AM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — There is nothing more important to a team than the ability to develop starting pitchers. It's the best, and most economical, path to success.

That's why you should be following the progress of Anthony Ranaudo in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Ranaudo, 23, was the 39th pick of the 2010 draft out of LSU. One of the nation's best pitchers as a sophomore, he had an inconsistent junior season because of an elbow injury and fell in the draft.

The Sox took a gamble and paid for it, giving Ranaudo a $2.55 million bonus to sign. He signed too late to pitch in 2010, but got in 127 innings in 2011 and looked worth the investment. The 6-foot-7 righthander struck out 117 while allowing 115 hits. His 3.97 earned run average was a little high, but there was plenty to like.

Ranaudo's career hit a wall last season. A spring training groin strain led to his not starting the season until May with Double A Portland. Once he took the mound, Ranaudo showed poor command and a loss of velocity. He had a 6.69 ERA over nine starts and 37.2 innings.

Ranaudo made his last start on July 3, the Sox shutting him down because of a sore shoulder. Tests came back clean and he was allowed to pitch in the Instructional League. That led to a spot with Caguas in Puerto Rico.

Ranaudo made his first start on Thursday night and pitched three no-hit innings. He walked one and struck out three.

The goal is for Ranaudo to get some innings in and come to spring training ready to return to Portland and pitch well.

How good can Ranaudo be? As a sophomore at LSU, he struck out 159. He was third in Division I behind Stephen Strasburg and Mike Leake. They're both in major league rotations now.

Ranaudo took a small step in that direction on Thursday. It's a journey worth keeping an eye on.

Red Sox reposition medical staff

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 8, 2012 09:50 PM

After going a season without a medical director, the Red Sox named Dr. Laurence Ronan to that post, the announcement coming Thursday night. Ronan was the team's head internist last season.

The Sox also named physical therapist Dan Dyrek as the coordinator of sports medicine service. He had been a consultant.

General manager Ben Cherington said the promotions were part of a restructuring that began a year ago. This was the final step.

"For all intents and purposes, the structure is in place," Cherington said. "Hopefully this will work for a long time."

As the Globe reported last week, head physical therapist Mike Reinold is not returning to that post. Massage therapist Mitsugi Funatsu also will not return.

The other members of the staff remain in their positions. Cherington said there could be one other position added.

The Red Sox had 24 players, 13 of them former All-Stars, go on the disabled list 34 times last season. They had 1,495 games missed because of injuries.

Since 1987, when records were first kept, no team in baseball used the disabled list more.

Iglesias has the edge at shortstop for Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 8, 2012 07:17 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said the idea of adding a shortstop is a "back-burner" issue for the team given their other needs.

The Red Sox are being careful not to say they're planning on 22-year-old Jose Iglesias getting the job. But that is clearly what they are hoping will happen.

"I think we're going to see where we are. We think Jose is ready to help the major league team, depending on what the rest of the team looks like. If we feel like we need to build some protection in that area, as the offseason goes on we'll consider that.

"Nobody is going to be given anything. If he's given an opportunity to win the job in spring training, then he'll have to win the job."

The Red Sox have Pedro Ciriaco on the roster but he is viewed as more of a bench player than a regular. Cherington said that 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the organization's top prospect, would likely be invited to spring training. But they're expecting him to start 2013 in the minors.

Bogaerts has played only 23 games above Single A.

Iglesias will not play winter ball. He has been told instead to work on developing more strength and will be spending time at the team facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

"We've talked to him a lot about his offseason and about the importance of a good offseason from a strength standpoint," Cherington said. "He has a plan in place and people that he's working with."

One likely scenario: The Red Sox give Iglesias every chance to win the job but also sign a veteran backup.

A few other notes:

• The eight free agents tendered $13.3 million qualifying offers have until Friday at 5 p.m. (ET) to accept or decline.

That group is: OF Michael Bourn (Braves), OF Josh Hamilton (Rangers), RHP Hiroki Kuroda (Yankees), 1B Adam LaRoche (Nationals), RHP Kyle Lohse (Cardinals), RHP Rafael Soriano (Yankees), RHP Nick Swisher (Yankees), and OF B.J. Upton (Rays).

It would be a bit of a surprise if any of the players accepted. Any team signing them would forfeit a draft pick. Because the Red Sox have a protected pick, they would lose a second-round pick.

The Sox have interest in Kuroda and LaRoche in particular. Hamilton, Lohse, and Swisher also are on their radar.

• The Red Sox are interested in free agent RHP Kyuji Fujikawa. The 32-year-old has been one of the best closers in Japan.

• Bids were due this afternoon on Korean LHP Ryu-Hyun Jin. He has been posted by the Hanwha Eagles. Teams will bid for the right to negotiate with Jin, who is represented by Scott Boras.

The Rangers and Cubs are among the teams interested in Jin. Cherington would not say whether the Red Sox are involved did but acknowledge that the team has done a lot of work on Jin and knows him well.

• The Red Sox are about to announce how their medical department will be structured.

• Cherington said the only internal candidates to play first base are Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands and are seen more as platoon candidates.

Gary Tuck returns as Red Sox bullpen coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 8, 2012 06:54 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said this afternoon that Gary Tuck would return to the team as the bullpen coach and catching instructor.

It will be his seventh season in the position. Tuck had an option on his contract but the Sox negotiated a new deal. Cherington did not disclose the terms.

Tuck was the bullpen coach under John Farrell from 2007-10. Cherington said he and Farrell both thought it was important to have at least one coach return from last season's staff.

"Aside from his skill as a catching instructor and a smart baseball guy, he's got a lot of insight into our players from this year and nobody else on the staff was going to have that," Cherington said. "We thought that was important."

The Red Sox still need to hire a hitting coach and a first base coach.

Interviews for the hitting coach will begin this weekend. Cherington said there are a handful of candidates. The Red Sox received permission from the Yankees to interview Tino Martinez for the job, but he was hired by the Miami Marlins this afternoon.

The first base coach is likely to come from within the organization. Triple A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler is a candidate.

Agent: Red Sox seen as contenders

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 8, 2012 09:33 AM
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- As we start the day here at the General Manager Meetings, here's a few things we know about what the Red Sox are trying to do:

1. A prominent agent said, "We view Boston as a contender because they'll build the team quickly. I don't think they'll have trouble attracting free agents." This is important because there is a perception out there the Red Sox might not be that good considering their current roster.

2. Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche are two first base candidates on their radar. The Sox, who have been in contact with most of the agents for free agents at this point, are pursuing talks with both, according to a major league source. But to what extent, is unknown.

3. The Red Sox covet Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon, but may not match up since the Royals are looking for a starting pitcher. The Red Sox would have to give up one of their starting pitchers and that is probably out of the question.

4. The Red Sox and Arizona do not seem to match up on Justin Upton. Kevin Towers is looking for a major league-ready starting pitcher, shortstop or third baseman and the Red Sox don't appear to have the pieces. The Diamondbacks would not be interested in Jose Iglesias.

5.The Red Sox like Indians rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who could be dealt, but he's in the final year of his contract and is represented by Scott Boras. It would be difficult to give up a lot for him and then not be able to re-sign him beyond next season.

6. The Red Sox will explore whether Jason Bay, released by the Mets Wednesday, and Grady Sizemore, who has been broken down for a while, could be worth a gamble on minor league/major league invite type deals.

7. Torii Hunter is an interesting possibility, not only because he can still play but the Red Sox really need a another highly regarded veteran voice in the clubhouse. David Ortiz said he thinks he can deliver him if the Sox have interest. But the Yankees seem to be closing in.

8. Nick Swisher is someone the Red Sox will look at, but not for five years.

Red Sox not looking to deal Ellsbury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 10:22 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Jottings from my notebook at the GM meetings:

• Asked two Red Sox officials the same question today: "Any interest in trading Jacoby Ellsbury?"

First answer: "No."

Second answer: "I'm sure we would listen. But no."

• Arizona GM Kevin Towers said he is not looking to trade OF Justin Upton but would listen. Sure, the Red Sox would have an interest, but Towers wants major league players back and unless they want to give up Will Middlebrooks or a starting pitcher, it's uncertain how the Sox have a match.

Upton, by the way, does not have the Red Sox on his no-trade list. He did at one time but no longer.

• MLB vice president Joe Torre said the GMs met Wednesday to discuss ways to control roster sizes in September. Everybody seems to agree there has to be system to keep one team from having 25 or 26 players and another 35 or more.

"Each team should have equal number of players available every day," Torre said. "I just think you play the whole season with one set of rules and the most important time of the year, especially for clubs that are in a pennant race, I just don't think it's fair for it to be done (with a) different number of roster people."

• Torre also said expanding replay is inevitable. Again, it's a matter of determining how best to do that.

• The Orioles have interest in Cody Ross. So do the Phillies.

• The Rangers seem almost determined not to have Josh Hamilton back. Doesn't that seem to be a red flag?

• The Mariners, now that Ichiro is gone, can afford Hamilton. They also need offense and are moving the fences in at Safeco Field.

• A candid Mike Rizzo said the Nationals did not make a qualifying offer to Edwin Jackson because he thought there were better options out there. It's amazing how often Jackson switches teams.

• Heard this: Troy Tulowitzki is open to a trade from the Rockies.

• No shock here, but no Red Sox players are finalists for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, CY Young or MVP. There's a decent chance that no Sox receive a vote in any of the awards.

Bay watch: Sox haven't talked about Jason

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 10:01 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - The Red Sox need outfielders, so the news that the Mets released injury-ravaged Jason Bay and negotiated a deal to pay the $21 million remaining on his contract caught Ben Cherington's attention.

Bay was a productive player for the Red Sox after being acquired in 2008, hitting .274 with 45 home runs and 156 RBIs in 200 games. He left as a free agent following the 2009 season.

"Certainly surprised it didn’t go better for him in New York," Cherington said. "He’s a terrific guy. He was a great player for a long time."

Would the Red Sox have an interest? "We haven’t talked about it yet," the GM said. "Wouldn’t rule anything out."

The Red Sox had contentious negotiations with Bay before he left for the Mets, the team believing that his medical reports precluded a major investment. That proved to be accurate as Bay played in only 288 games in three seasons for the Mets and hit .234 with 26 home runs.

Bay has had issues with concussions and other injuries. But more than anything else, he just hasn't been able to hit for a few years. At 34, he may be looking at no more than a minor-league contract and an invitation to spring training.

Bay is one of the more professional, accountable, and well-liked players in the game and those qualities will help get him a shot. Whether the Red Sox open that door remains to be seen. But they had that concerns in 2009 that proved well-founded.

Red Sox will double up on hitting coaches

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 09:54 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - The Red Sox hope to hire a hitting coach sometime next week. Then they'll probably hire another one.

Manager John Farrell said Wednesday his preference would be to hire a hitting coach and an assistant hitting coach. That is the path many teams are taking.

"That would be the preference, to go with two guys," Farrell said. "The consistency of message is what matters most. When you look at what the hitting coach is required to do and the amount of time spent in the cage in addition to preparing for an opponent on a given night or for a given series, I think it has evolved into more than a one-man system, one-man setup and we’re moving in that direction."

Farrell said interviews should start this weekend. The Red Sox need to replace Dave Magadan, who left for Texas.

"It's our goal to have the best staff possible [and] one that's in place in place in a relatively short period of time," Farrell said.

General manager Ben Cherington agreed with the idea of going with two hitting coaches.

"I think there ought to be some philosophical alignment, but perhaps a different personality, a different background," he said. "I think both ways can work. There are some guys, and Mags was one of them, who can do a good job on their own. But it's a big job. We're considering this approach. We'll see how it goes."

Cherington said the Red Sox are making progress with a bullpen coach. Incumbent Gary Tuck, who doubles as the catching instructor, remains a possibility.

"Hopefully we'll have something to announce soon," Cherington said.

The Sox are looking internally for a first base coach. There is value, Cherington said, in having a coach who is familiar with the players. That could bode well for Triple A manager Arnie Beyeler.

For Farrell, Nieves was a perfect fit

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 06:42 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - Juan Nieves had ample credentials to become the next pitching coach of the Red Sox, having pitched in the major leagues before embarking on an 18-year coaching career with the Yankees and White Sox.

In his 14 seasons with Chicago, the last five as the bullpen coach, Nieves worked closely with pitching coach Don Cooper, one of the best in the game.

Before he signed with the Brewers out of Avon Old Farms Prep in Connecticut in 1983, several Ivy League schools recruited Nieves. Even then, he profiled as a coach.

"He was a highly intelligent kid with great instincts for pitching," said Orioles general manager Dan Duquette, who was working for the Brewers at the time. "He was impressive in a lot of ways."

But what ultimately led to Nieves being hired by the Red Sox on Wednesday was the relationship he formed with manager John Farrell when both pitched for San Juan in the Puerto Rican winter league in 1986.

Nieves recalled meeting Farrell’s family and the two talking baseball on the bench. It was the start of a long friendship.

"When you’re a player, you identify with guys on your team that either you view the game similarly or you look at life in similar ways. That has always been the case with me with Juan," Farrell said during a conference call to announce the addition of Nieves.

"Even 25 years ago when we were in San Juan together and the follow up that has taken place almost yearly after that, I’ve felt like this was a very natural fit and a very important one."

For the Red Sox, it is crucial that be the case. The team has chewed through three pitching coaches over the last two seasons, the turnover contributing to the decline of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, and others.

Red Sox starters had a 5.19 earned run average last season, the third-worst in the American League. When Nieves interviewed a week ago, he presented his plan to create individualized plans for each pitcher.

The 47-year-old Nieves said he believes in, "establishing a structure for the guys and staying on that course.

"Creating some stability for the guys is very important. Through Don and through everything that he let me do throughout the years –- spring training, how do we work with guys, structure, form -– it's really unique and he did good work with that in the White Sox organization and I'm bringing it over."

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Nieves was "tireless" in working with pitchers and credited him with playing a role in developing several of the younger arms on the staff, including Sergio Santos and Chris Sale.

Nieves presented a clear vision of how he wants the Red Sox staff to improve when he interviewed last week.

"We need to get back to being a more aggressive pitching staff, attacking the strike zone," general manager Ben Cherington said. "There are things are need to happen with a pitcher before you get to that as far as the delivery and the mental approach. We thought Juan brought a good program to the table.

"Also looking for somebody with a strong voice and some conviction. I know that was one thing John wanted given his experience as a pitching coach, he wanted someone who's going to have a strong voice and stand up to him. John wants to be able to empower a pitching coach."

The Red Sox have focused on building a cohesive coaching staff after the discord that marked Bobby Valentine’s one season.

"The most important thing is that the pitcher gets clarity in the communication to him, which I'm confident will take place with Juan," Farrell said. "The ease of our working relationship will foster that.

"I think it's important that the guys in that clubhouse know that the coaching staff is working from the same page [and] there's communication across different areas of the game. When we work together and we give that feeling to those guys in the clubhouse, there’s a unified sense of direction. I think that is critical."

Justin Upton on the market again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 04:03 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- It was at the GM Meetings in 2010 when Arizona's Kevin Towers let it be known that he was taking offers on outfielder Justin Upton. Nothing came of it, although the Red Sox inquired.

And so it goes again.

Upton is back on the market according to Fox's Ken Rosenthal. The 25-year-old hit .280/.355/.430 last season with 17 homers and 67 RBIs. He is signed for three more seasons at $38.5 million.

Given their need in right field and payroll flexibility, the Red Sox are a match. But would Ben Cherington give up the prospects necessary to pry Upton away?

Arizona needs a shortstop and a third baseman. Getting a player like Upton would likely require moving somebody like Will Middlebrooks or Xander Bogaerts, at the very least.

Valentin to be named assistant hitting coach with Dodgers

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 03:18 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Former Sox infielder John Valentin will be the assistant hitting coach to Mark McGwire with the Dodgers, both Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Valentin have confirmed.

Valentin was the Triple A hitting coach last season and was highly thought of in the Dodgers organization. It was thought he might be a good fit the Red Sox.

The Red Sox, who hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach, are also starting to look into hitting coach candidates. One name who might be on their radar is Dwayne Murphy, who was a hitting coach on John Farrell's staff in Toronto. Murphy is also a six-time Gold Glover who also worked with Jays outfielders.

Jason Bay all done with Mets

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 03:08 PM

INDIANS WELLS, Calif. -- On the list of players who never should have left Boston, we give you Jason Bay.

The Mets parted ways with Bay Wednesday with still a year remaining on his contract. He was due to earn $16 million and a $3 million buyout of his contract for an option year in 2014.

Bay couldn't agree to terms with the Red Sox, who insisted on clauses to protect them in case Bay needed knee surgery. The Mets ponied up $66 million over four years.

“Jason is a great teammate, hard worker, stand-up guy and true gentleman,” Jeff Wilpon the team’s chief operating officer said in a statement. “Like Jason, we had planned for the kind of production here that he enjoyed in Boston and Pittsburgh, where he established himself as one of the game’s top players. We wish Jason and his family success and happiness in the future.”

Bay, whose career was never the same after he slammed into a fence and suffered a concussion and then post-concussion symptoms for two years, hit .234 with 26 homers and 124 runs batted in.

In 2012 he hit .165 with 8 home runs and 20 RBIs and suffered from various injuries.

Bay had a swing made for Fenway -- hitting 36 homers and driving in 119 runs in 2009 for the Red Sox after a superb career in Pittsburgh. He seemed to regret leaving the moment he signed on with the Mets, where the expanse of Citi Field never suited him.

“I still feel I have plenty to give to this game and that I can play baseball at a high level,” Bay said in a statement. “But after serious consideration, both sides agree that we would benefit from a fresh start. I’m grateful we were able to reach an agreement to allow that to happen. I’m excited to keep playing and have no intention of just walking away.”

It's expected some team will give Bay at least a spring training invitation and a minor league contract.

Juan Nieves to become pitching coach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 02:45 PM

nieves.jpg

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The Red Sox have selected White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves to become their next pitching coach.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the news first. The news is a bit of a surprise given an ESPN report that Baltimore minor league pitching director Rick Peterson was the favorite.

The Red Sox also considered Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire and Royals executive Steve Foster, a former bullpen coach.

Nieves, 47, spent five years in Chicago working under respected pitching coach Don Cooper. He was a pitching coach in the White Sox system for the nine years prior to that. He also spent four years coaching in the Yankees organization.

Nieves graduated from Avon Old Farms in Connecticut before pitching parts of three seasons in the majors for Milwaukee, going 32-25 with a 4.71 ERA. He no-hit the Orioles on April 15, 1987.

Nieves is in the Avon Old Farms Hall of Fame. He compiled a career record of 19-1 with a 1.05 ERA in three years at the school from 1980-83 and, in addition to baseball, captained the cross-country and basketball teams.

The Red Sox hope that Nieves will give them consistency. New manager John Farrell was the pitching coach from 2007-10. In the two seasons since, the Red Sox have had Curt Young, Bob McClure and Randy Niemann as pitching coaches. The turnover could be a contributing factor to the setbacks experienced by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.

In all, Nieves has 18 years of coaching experience and familiarity with the American League.

"It became very clear that Juan was not only a talented pitching coach, but one I feel very comfortable with in working with our pitching staff," Farrell said. "I have known him for many years, and I have a high level of comfort with his in-game communication."

Getting started at the GM meetings

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 01:18 PM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Good morning from the GM Meetings.

Great note from colleague Nick Cafardo already today. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told him: "I think I'll carry around a recording saying, 'I am not trading Felix Hernandez.' "

So there's that. Not that it will stop Red Sox fans from speculating.

There's also an interesting election note that is tied to baseball. Nate Silver came to prominence writing for Baseball Prospectus, coming up with the PECOTA system to forecast player performance. His ability to comprehend and explain statistics was ahead of its time and very accurate.

He switched over to politics and developed a model to evaluate polls. Silver nailed the 2008 presidential election and started a blog that was eventually licensed by the New York Times.

He did it again this season, correctly predicting all 50 states, the popular vote (nearly to the percentage point) and the electoral college spread. Silver's work at fivethirtyeight is fascinating.

The amusing part was seeing political pundits attack him in the weeks leading up to the election because he forecast President Obama winning handily and they believed it was too close to call. The same thing happened in baseball, traditionalists mocking statistical evaluation.

In baseball, the statistical evolution changed the game and now nearly every team embraces it. It's only a matter of time before politics does the same and uses smart guys like Silver to enhance how campaigns are run.

A lot of people in baseball nodded their heads when Silver was right last night because they had seen it before. Only this time he was projecting the presidency, not how a utility infielder would hit.

The ever-changing Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 7, 2012 08:30 AM

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- In April of 2011, the Red Sox were a team projected by many to win 100 games and then the World Series. They were on top of the baseball world.

In the 19 months since, here are a few numbers:

Two general managers: Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington.

Three managers: Terry Francona, Bobby Valentine, John Farrell.

13 coaches: Tim Bogar, DeMarlo Hale, Ron Johnson, Rob Leary, Dave Magadan, Gary Tuck, Curt Young, Bob McClure, Randy Niemann, Jerry Royster, Torey Lovullo, Brian Butterfield.

2 head athletic trainers: Mike Reinold, Rick Jameyson.

41 position players used: Lars Anderson, Mike Aviles, Marlon Byrd, Mike Cameron, Pedro Ciriaco, Carl Crawford, Ivan DeJesus Jr., J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Joey Gathright, Mauro Gomez, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Iglesias, Conor Jackson, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway, Brett Lillibridge, Che-Hsuan Lin, James Loney, Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Yamaico Navarro, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Scott Podsednik, Nick Punto, Guillermo Quiroz, Josh Reddick, Jason Repko, Cody Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marco Scutaro, Kelly Shoppach, Nate Spears, Drew Sutton, Ryan Sweeney, Danny Valencia, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis.

37 pitchers used: Alfredo Aceves, Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Pedro Beato, Michael Bowden, Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard, Craig Breslow, Clay Buchholz, Chris Carpenter, Aaron Cook, Felix Doubront, Justin Germano, Rich Hill, Tommy Hottovy, Bobby Jenks, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, Trever Miller, Franklin Morales, Clayton Mortensen, Hideki Okajima, Vicente Padilla, Jonathan Papelbon, Zack Stewart, Junichi Tazawa, Justin Thomas, Dennys Reyes, Tim Wakefield, Dan Wheeler, Kyle Weiland, Randy Williams.

17 trades involving major league players: They range from the humble (Danny Valencia for minor leaguer Jeremias Pineda) to the August blockbuster with the Dodgers.

The point of all this? The Red Sox have had an incredible amount of turnover in a short period of time and there is more to come. At some point, presumably by spring training, they will have a roster and a staff that will get a chance to develop. The revolving door at Fenway Park has been spinning.

Greetings from Gate B-31

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 6, 2012 06:22 AM

Good morning from Logan, where we are headed to Palm Springs (via Chicago) for the GM Meetings.

Loyal reader Allison emailed last night to ask if there are actual meetings at the GM Meetings. That is a good question because there actually are. MLB conducts a series of meetings for the GMs dealing with different issues around the game.

While they are there, the GMs also talk trades and a few agents will be around, too.

Traditionally, the GM Meetings are the place where preliminary discussions are held that get completed a month later at the Winter Meetings, But with free agents in the market, anything can happen at this point. We've already seen players like Heath Bell, Ervin Santana and Chris Young traded.

Plenty of readers are asking on Twitter or via email what the odds are of the Red Sox landing Player X. To be specific, guys like Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez, Nick Swisher or Mike Napoli.

In theory, virtually anything is possible because the Red Sox have tremendous financial and roster flexibility. In reality, Ben Cherington knows that spending money without much thinking helped lead to last place. Taking money ill-spent on Carl Crawford and giving it to Josh Hamilton wouldn't make much sense.

It's also likely they'll make a trade of some kind, too. They have pieces they can deal to obtain a player who might soon be too expensive for a small-market team.

If I absolutely had to guess on an Opening Day lineup, it would be something like this:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Cody Ross RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia / Ryan Lavarnway C
Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava or some kind of low-cost free agent LF
Jose Iglesias SS

Rotation: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Felix Doubront, John Lackey.

No matter what happens, it should be interesting. Hang with us this week for updates from Palm Springs.

And go vote. It's the very least you can do as a citizen of this great country.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 6, 2012 06:12 AM

As the GM Meetings get underway out in California, we have complete coverage:

Ben Cherigton, a year into his job, is ready for the challenge of rebuilding the Red Sox. Kevin Paul Dupont has a look at the GM.

Nick Cafardo breaks down the problems that Cherington has to solve.

David Ortiz got what he wanted from the Sox and that was a two-year deal.

The notebook has the Red Sox making progress with their coaching staff and Ortiz firing back at Bobby Valentine.

Ortiz answers back at Valentine

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 5, 2012 07:48 PM

During an interview with NBC Sports on Oct. 23, former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine implied that David Ortiz could have played the final weeks of the season but elected not to because of a strained right Achilles tendon.

"He decided not to play any more. I think at that time it was all downhill from there," Valentine said.

Ortiz withheld comment at the time. But he opened up a little on Monday.

"It was something that made me feel uncomfortable," Ortiz said. "I've been here for the past 10 years. You guys know pretty much know how I go about my business. ... You know how important to myself [it is] to be on the field and represent this organization the way I do. I don't really need to add any more things to it.

Ortiz also told ESPN Deportes that Valentine tried to explain the comment afterward.

"He sent me a text message trying to tell me that it was the media trying to change things. I did not respond to the message and I said to myself, 'This guy must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something?' I said, 'I am dealing with someone crazy and I am not going to drive myself crazy, so it is better if I leave it alone.' "

Red Sox making progress with coaches

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 5, 2012 07:44 PM

The Red Sox could have a new pitching coach in place before the end of the week.

General manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell interviewed four candidates and appear impressed with Rick Peterson, Baltimore's director of pitching development.

"We're moving along pretty good this week," Cherington said.

Peterson, 58, has been a major league pitching coach with the Athletics, Mets and Brewers. When Farrell started his playing career in the Cleveland organization, Peterson was his pitching coach with Double A Waterbury in 1986 and Triple A Buffalo in 1987.

The Red Sox also spoke to former Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire, White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves and Royals executive Steve Foster, a former bullpen coach.

The Red Sox plan to start speaking to hitting coaches this week. The remaining spots on their staff - first base coach and bullpen coach - should fall into place quickly after that.

The deadline to pick up the contract option on bullpen coach Gary Tuck is coming up soon. He remains a candidate to return.

Also:

-- The Red Sox had initial contract talks with outfielder Cody Ross but nothing that came close to preventing him from entering the free agent market.

"The door will remain open, and we'll continue to talk, but once we're in free agency, he's got opportunities to talk to other teams, and we fully expect him to do that," Cherington said.

"Going back to last fall when I first talked to Cody about coming here, the goal obviously was to do well as a team, but part of the goal was to put him in a better position. I felt it could put him in a better position by coming here and performing in this ballpark. The good news is that it did. That's to his credit. He's in a good position now. It makes it tougher to sign him. We'll keep the door open. We'll keep talking. At the same time, we've got to consider alternatives, too."

Ross hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs last season on a one-year, $3 million deal. He hit .298with 13 homers and 49 RBIs at Fenway Park. He is seeking three years.

This time, Ortiz got what he wanted

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 5, 2012 07:37 PM

The Red Sox celebrated the return of David Ortiz on Monday, throwing a catered afternoon press conference at Fenway Park to announce his new contract.

Eight-year-old D'Angelo Ortiz wore a tie for the occasion and his father broke out his 2004 World Series ring, the diamonds glittering in the television lights.

"Today is a good day for everybody," Big Papi said.

The atmosphere stood in sharp contrast to the previous two seasons when Ortiz's contract status was a touchy subject.

The Red Sox picked up Ortiz's one-year option for 2011, electing not to negotiate a new contract. The sides were minutes away from an arbitration hearing last season when they agreed on another one-year deal.

Ortiz was paid well on both occasions, but wondered aloud why he wasn't being accorded the same security as players who had not accomplished a fraction of what he has in Boston.

Now he has satisfaction in the form of a two-year contract that could be worth as much as $30 million.

That Ortiz would stay with the Red Sox was never really in doubt. What changed was his leverage.

Once the Red Sox traded Josh Becket, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers in August, retaining Ortiz became more of a priority. As the Sox rebuild following a 93-loss season, he represents a connection to their past, a drawing card for fans and a solid piece in the middle of the lineup.

Cherington and team president Larry Lucchino met with Ortiz during the final series of the season in New York. It was the start of a relatively uneventful process.

"They approached me really well. Our negotiations this year were easier than ever. They knew what they were looking for," Ortiz said. "It wasn't even a going back-and-forth type of situation. It was pretty much this is it and I agreed with it."

The Red Sox are taking a risk. Ortiz turns 37 later this month and spent the final 11 weeks of last season on the disabled list with a strained right Achilles tendon.

But Ortiz also hit .318 with a 1.026 OPS last season and remains the best designated hitter in the game. In 10 seasons with the Sox, his 343 home runs are fifth in franchise history.

"I think there's some real benefit in committing to a two-year deal in this case because we are trying to build something and we want David to be a part of it," Cherington said. "We don't need to have that conversation again at the end of next year."

The contract almost guarantees that Ortiz will finish his career with the Red Sox. But he's not thinking of retirement quite yet.

"I'm from the Dominican, so I might be 30 next year, you never know," he joked.

The Achilles injury did give the Red Sox pause and that was reflected in how his contract was constructed.

Ortiz received a $1 million signing bonus (payable by Jan. 15) and a base salary of $14 million for 2013. His salary for 2014 is $11 million and can expand to $15 million if Ortiz spends fewer than 20 days on the disabled list in 2013 because of the Achilles injury.

If he has 21-40 days on the DL next year caused by the Achilles injury, his 2014 salary would go up to $13 million.

There will be other precautions, too. After speaking with Cherington and ownership, Ortiz is likely to skip the World Baseball Classic in March.

"That might be an interruption between the things they are planning to do for next season and being aware of being ready to go for the season," Ortiz said. "Right now, that is on hold. We"ll see how things go. It seems like they don't want me to be out there."

For more on Ortiz's contract, see the Globe on Tuesday.

Red Sox make it official with Ortiz today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 5, 2012 12:27 PM

It's official, the Red Sox have signed David Ortiz to a two-year contract. There will be a press conference at Fenway Park at 4 p.m.

The breakdown of his deal is a base salary of $14 million in 2013, a $1 million signing bonus and a base salary of $11 million in 2014. He can add $4 million in incentives

Also . . .

-- The Red Sox will not bring head physical therapist Mike Reinold back for 2013, although he could serve as a consultant. He had been with the team since 2006 in assorted roles and was the head athletic trainer from 2010-2011. He also was the assistant director of medical services when that title existed.

Reinold is considered one of the best in his field. But the Red Sox have had a remarkable run of injuries in recent years. Reinold also had what at times seemed like undue influence on determining when injured players could return to the lineup.

-- The Red Sox interviewed respected scout and long-time minor league manager Tom Kotchman last week. Kotchman left the Angels after 29 years and has spoken to a number of teams. He is the father of major league first baseman Casey Kotchman.

The Red Sox hired long-time Angels executive Eddie Bane as a personnel adviser last week, which could give them an edge in adding Kotchman to the staff.

-- Gordon Edes of ESPN/Boston reports that Orioles minor league pitching coordinator Rick Peterson has emerged as the leading candidate to become pitching coach of the Sox. The Sox also interviewed Juan Nieves (White Sox bullpen coach) and Randy St. Claire (former Marlins pitching coach).

Peterson is an interesting guy. His father, Pete Peterson, is a former general manager of the Pirates and Yankees. Rick never pitched in the majors after being drafted by the Pirates in 1976. He started coaching in 1979 and is considered an innovator in the field of biomechanics.

Peterson has been the pitching coach of the Athletics, Mets and Brewers in his career. He also coached John Farrell in the minors when both were with Cleveland.

This much would be true: Peterson would be the first pitching coach in team history with a college degree in art and philosophy.

-- Bryce Brentz was 0 for 3 with a walk and Michael Almanzar was 0 for 2 and struck out twice in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game over the weekend.

Check back later for more after the press conference.

Mike Aviles traded to Cleveland

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 3, 2012 01:35 PM

That Mike Aviles sure is popular.

Only two weeks after being traded by the Red Sox to Toronto as compensation for John Farrell, Aviles was traded to Cleveland on Saturday.

The Blue Jays sent Aviles and C-1B-3B Yan Gomes to the Indians for RHP Esmil Rogers.

Gomes was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008 (39th round) and did not sign. Rogers is the pitcher who hit Will Middlebrooks on Aug. 10, breaking his right wrist and ending his season.

Aviles played the second half of the 2011 season under Terry Francona in Boston. The new Indians manager surely had an influence on the trade.

Meanwhile . . .

-- The Red Sox are expected to announce the David Ortiz signing on Monday.

-- ESPN's Keith Law, a clear-eyed analyst who views players through the prism of his scouting experience, does not have Cody Ross among his top 50 free agents.

You can debate whether Ross is being underrated or not. I would personally have him ranked higher than Jonny Gomes (No. 44), for instance. But it goes to the point that fans (and media) have to be careful in making familiarity too big a part of the evaluation as we look at free agents.

Ross was a good fit in Boston and played well. If the Red Sox bring him back on a reasonable deal, it would be a good move. But maybe Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter, Angel Pagan or Ryan Ludwick would be better. Law's rankings are a good reminder to take all opinions into account.

Red Sox have deal in place for Ortiz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 2, 2012 07:58 PM

The Red Sox are in the final stages of wrapping up a two-year deal with David Ortiz that would be worth $26 million and include incentive clauses that could add another $4 million.

All that remains, a source said, is finalizing the contract language.

The deal came together roughly five hours before Ortiz would have entered the free agent market and been eligible to sign with any team. Now he has a deal that could take him through to retirement.

Ortiz, who turns 37 later this month, hit .318 with a 1.026 OPS last season. He had 23 home runs and 60 RBIs despite playing only 90 games because of a strained right Achilles tendon suffered on July 16.

Ortiz said several times during the season that he wanted to stay with the Red Sox. General manager Ben Cherington was amendable to that, saying on Oct. 5 that retaining Ortiz was a priority for the team.

The process was relatively smooth after that, especially when compared to previous years.

The Sox and Ortiz were a few minutes away from what surely would have been a rancorous arbitration hearing last winter before the sides agreed to split the difference and agreed on a one-year contract worth $14.575.

In 2011, Ortiz was seeking a multi-year deal and settled for one year and $12.5 million when the Sox picked up the option on his contract. Ortiz complained about his contract status several times that season, pointing out that the Red Sox had signed Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to multi-year contracts.

The Sox probably would have preferred to keep Ortiz on a year-to-year basis. But the financial flexibility gained by trading Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez to the Dodgers on Aug. 25 made it easier to give Ortiz the security he was seeking.

In case of a snag, the Red Sox tendered Ortiz a $13.3 million qualifying offer earlier in the afternoon. That would have ensured the team receiving a draft pick had he signed elsewhere.

There was concern that at least one team, the Texas Rangers, would make an attempt to sign Ortiz.

The Red Sox did not make offers to righthanders Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Vicente Padilla, first baseman James Loney, and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Cody Ross.

Those players remain eligible to sign with the Red Sox.

Ross is clearly the priority among that group. The 31-year-old hit .267 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs last season after signing a one-year, $3 million deal in January.

The Sox would like Ross to return and he said several times that he enjoyed his first season with the Red Sox despite the team finishing 69-93. But Ross is seeking a deal in the range of three years and $27 million and little progress was made.

See the Globe on Saturday for more on this story.

Ortiz gets qualifying offer from Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 2, 2012 05:33 PM

The Red Sox today made free agent David Ortiz a one-year qualifying offer. Under baseball's new collective bargaining agreement, that offer is the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, which is $13.3 million.

Ortiz has until Nov. 9 to accept or decline it. Regardless, the Red Sox would receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round if he signs with another team.

It's probably a moot point. Of immediate concern is the looming 12:01 deadline for Ortiz to sign with the Red Sox. If not, he would be free to sign with any team. The sides are continuing to negotiate, hoping to reach agreement on a multi-year deal. As of 5:15 p.m., a source said they were "getting very close" to a deal.

The Red Sox did not make offers to righthanders Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Vicente Padilla, first baseman James Loney, and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Cody Ross.

Those players remain eligible to sign with the Red Sox.

Rangers interest in David Ortiz is for real, but Red Sox closing gap

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 2, 2012 10:38 AM
Interest by the Texas Rangers is perhaps just what David Ortiz needed because it appears that the Red Sox and Ortiz are starting to bridge the sizable gap they had just 24 hours ago.

"We are getting close," Ortiz wrote in a text concerning the status of Red Sox talks.

A major league source confirmed that Texas' interest in Ortiz is real, figuring they will lose Josh Hamilton in free-agency and need a big, productive bat to take his spot in the batting order. Ortiz would excel in that ballpark where the ball carries very well.

Former Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan is said to have recommended the Rangers pursuit of Ortiz to general manager Jon Daniels.

It's deadline day for David Ortiz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 2, 2012 10:06 AM

David Ortiz will enter the open market at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday -- roughly 14 hours from now -- if the Red Sox do not sign him.

That does not mean the Red Sox cannot sign him at 12:02 or any time beyond that. It just means they could face some competition for their designated hitter.

The Red Sox have until 5 p.m. to make a "qualifying offer" to Ortiz of one year and $13.3 million. That would ensure them of receiving a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

Free agents who receive qualifying offers have until Nov. 9 to decide whether to accept. Given that Ortiz made $14.575 million last season, he will surely decline it.

The Red Sox are comfortable with Ortiz receiving a two-year contract. The sides are apart on the money.

Is there a market for Ortiz outside of Boston? Potentially, yes.

Ortiz turns 37 in a few weeks and is coming off a Achilles tendon injury that cost him essentially the final two months of last season. But he is a power threat from the left side with established on-base skills.

From an intangible perspective, Ortiz is seen as a positive clubhouse presence and would arrive with two World Series rings and the experience of 66 postseason games. There is no player in the game with more friends on other teams than Ortiz.

Ortiz is seeking a two-year contract. In recent years, teams have been cautious about investing in designated hitters. Most general managers believe in roster versatility and using the DH as a way to keep older position players somewhat rested.

Ortiz can play first base but would prefer not to. That takes the National League out of play. It also somewhat depresses the American League market as teams will be playing 10 interleague road games next season

Texas is one possibility. The Rangers used Michael Young as the DH 71 times last season and could convert him into more of a super sub to make room for Ortiz. The Orioles also need help at DH.

The Yankees? Very unlikely. They need the DH spot to get at-bats for the aging Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

Ortiz wants to stay in Boston. His Big Papi persona plays well there and he is catered to by the organization. If he goes to Texas or Baltimore, he is just another hired gun. There is value, monetary, and sentimental, in finishing his career with the Red Sox.

The guess here is that the sides will get something done, whether it's today or not, to keep Ortiz in Boston. But once 12:01 hit, he is free to pick up the phone.

Red Sox considering Pete Walker for coaching staff

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 2, 2012 09:53 AM

New Red Sox manager John Farrell has already hired two coaches off his staff in Toronto. A third could be on the way.

Farrell, sources said, met with Toronto bullpen coach Pete Walker on Thursday and is considering him for a spot on the staff.

Walker, 43, spent last season with the Jays. He was the pitching coach of their Double A affiliate in New Hampshire in 2011. Walker is an East Lyme, Conn., native who played at UConn and pitched in parts of eight seasons in the majors.

The Red Sox have hired Torey Lovullo (bench coach) and Brian Butterfield (third base coach) off the Toronto staff.

Two Sox prospects picked for Rising Stars Game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff November 1, 2012 03:40 PM

Two Red Sox prospects -- third baseman Michael Almanzar and outfielder Bryce Brentz -- were selected to the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game.

The game will be Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. on MLB Network.

Almanzar was selected on potential, not performance. He was hitting .209 with a .320 OBP and.233 slugging percentage through Wednesday. Brentz was at .286/.362/.427.

Almanzar, 21, had a solid season for High Single A Salem (.300/.353/.458) that included 36 doubles and 12 home runs. Brentz, who turns 24 in December, finished last season with Triple A Pawtucket after hitting .296/.355/.478 for Pawtucket.

Ortiz and Sox hope to bridge gap

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 1, 2012 10:56 AM

As we posted yesterday, the Red Sox and David Ortiz have a ways to go before an agreement can be reached on a new deal for the 36-year-old DH.

Talks are ongoing and proposals have been exchanged, according to a major league source. The sides would love to reach agreement before tomorrow when the Red Sox will likely make a qualifying offer of $13.3 million before 5 p.m. just to protect themselves in case Ortiz signs elsewhere. The Sox would then receive a draft pick at the end of the first round.

But while the preference is to get a deal done sooner rather than later, the sides just want to reach an agreement that's of mutual benefit. Ortiz would have until Nov. 9 to decide on the qualifying offer. Since he earned $14.75 million this season he would likely reject it.

Red Sox among teams interested in Dan Haren

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff November 1, 2012 09:20 AM
Angels righthander Dan Haren is drawing interest from "several teams," including the Red Sox, according to a major league source.

The Angels are definitely exploring possibilities and could pull the trigger on a deal soon. They dealt Ervin Santana to the Royals on Wednesday for a lefty specialist prospect.

The big issue with Haren is the condition of his back, which was problematic for him last season, but improved late in the year.

The Angels can buy out Haren's $15.5 million option for $3.5 million. They could also pick up the option and trade him.

Despite his back issues, Haren, 32, made 30 starts for the Angels last season and went 12-13 with a4.33 ERA. Since 2005, when he became a full time starter for Oakland, Haren has never had fewer than 30 starts and has pitched 200-plus innings seven times.

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