Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:07 pm
Terry Francona derided his Red Sox managerial replacement Bobby Valentine's decision to ban beer in Boston's clubhouse as a "PR move'' while talking on one of his new employer's new shows. That banning beer became obvious and necessary due to Francona running a Romper Room the previous year was never mentioned.
Francona can have an opinion here if he wants, but it needs to be said in context. And here's the proper context: Francona's lax policing of a clubhouse gone wild necessitated this move by Valentine, which he likely would have done anyway.
Valentine banned alcohol in the Mets clubhouse and, as he pointed out, nearly 20 clubs have banned alcohol. Why the other 10 haven't remains a mystery.
Nothing good can come from drinking in a clubhouse, and the Red Sox's in-game beer drinking by three of its key pitchers last year covered that team in shame. Two, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, owned up to their mistake. How about Francona owning up to the fact he took a paycheck to do practically nothing last year?
Francona was there, but he wasn't there. He needed to speak to several of his players last year, and he blew it off. Instead, he called a team meeting, when at least 20 of the guys in the meeting probably wondered why Francona wasn't calling in Lester, Beckett and John Lackey individually. He mishandled the situation, and he managed to lose a job he appeared to own.
Now he's spouting off for cash. As Valentine -- who in a twist was Francona's TV predecessor -- said in a retort to the Red Sox writers: "Remember, you're getting paid over there for saying stuff. You get paid over here for doing stuff. I've done both.''
Francona will continue to get paid for saying stuff. But it is a more valid opinion when he targets someone other than the one guy in baseball who took his job.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:39 pm
Ft. Myers, Fla. -- Say this for the new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine: when he gets an 80-mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, he knocks it out of the park. Yes, of course Valentine told Red Sox players h was banning beer on the last leg of charter flights and also in the clubhouse. (He didn't say anything about chicken, but we'll assume that's still OK.)
Of course Valentine had to ban beer. You can't have two straight beer-stained seasons.
Red Sox veteran pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey spoiled the party after it was revealed they sometimes had their beer in the clubhouse while the game was going on (and their 2011 collapse was still going on). Beckett and Lester have admitted they erred in doing so. That's nice, but Valentine can't take the chance they'd do it again.
Valentine banned beer in the Mets clubhouse when he was there, so this isn't only a reaction to last year's shenanigans in Boston. He always worried about things that could happen to ballplayers who drank too much.
Valentine once got ripped by the New York press (me, included) for suggesting Mets star Todd Hundley "needed more sleep,'' which was actually a kind way of saying that he stayed out too late, which is a kind way of saying he should maybe drink a bit less. Hundley was a really nice man, but Valentine was right (yes, I was wrong). Hundley still is a great guy, but everyone around that team knew he should have drank less.
Valentine was lambasted at the time by Hundley's enabling agents, the Levinson brothers, who should have realized Valentine was right and gotten their client to sleep more. The agents should have thanked Valentine for caring about Hundley but instead to this day carry on a behind-the-scenes campaign against Valentine over his kind euphemisms. Not nice.
In this case, no one could argue with Valentine, unless not publicly. Red Sox star David Ortiz told Dan Roche of WBZ-FM, "We're not here to drink. We're here to play baseball. It ain't a bar.''
Anyway, Valentine isn't afraid to do what's unpopular. Asked how his decision was received at today's team meeting, Valentine said, "Do you mean was it a standing ovation or booing.''
He said it somewhere in between. It should have been the standing ovation.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:44 pm
The Angels and Marlins spent plenty, the Astros stood pat, and the Mets did worse than that. Here they, one through 30, from most improved team to least improved.
1. Angels. Anytime you add Albert Pujols when you don't really need a first baseman, that's quite a luxury buy. Maybe 10 years are too many, but he'll obviously make a major impact in the first years of that deal. C.J. Wilson gives them as good a first four as just about anyone. Plus, he comes directly from the main competitor.
2. Marlins. Jose Reyes is a monster get, when healthy, Mark Buehrle fits as the perfect veteran lefthander to pitch behind Josh Johnson and Heath Bell is a very good closer. Ozzie Guillen spices things up. Much more interesting team as they move to their new park.
3. Diamondbacks. Loved that they didn't rest on their laurels. Trevor Cahill bolsters their rotation and Jason Kubel their lineup. Also tried hard for Hiroki Kuroda, offering him $13 million, $3 million more than he got from the Yankees. Terrific effort by a team in an area hit hard by the economic downturn.
4. Nationals. I don't love Gio Gonzalez's 1.48 lifetime road WHIP, but he's a talented, young lefthanded starter who's exactly what they needed. Of course, they still could use a center fielder.
5. Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is the solid starter they needed, and Michael Pineda has a chance to be better than that, especially if he masters his changeup. Jesus Montero will be a mega star but they needed the pitching, so it was a worthwhile gamble. A.J. Burnett is addition by subtraction.
6. Rockies. Michael Cuddyer is a huge get, even if he did cost $31.5 million over three years. Jeremy Guthrie steps in as the Opening Day starter and Tyler Chatwood has a chance, though rotation questions still remain. Casey Blake might not have a lot left at third base, but super prospect Nolan Arenado looks to be close.
7. Rangers. Yu Darvish is going to be better than Wilson. They flirted with Prince Fielder, but came up a few years short. Had they pulled that one off, too, they would have easily topped this list. A lefthander in the pen wouldn't have hurt, either.
8. Rays. Carlos Pena will bring a lot more punch than Casey Kotchman, and if healthy, Luke Scott brings more still. Somehow, they find a way.
9. Blue Jays. Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver represent a nice bullpen upgrade over Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Never made the huge deal folks were expecting, though.
10. Reds. They gave up a lot for Matt Latos, a talented pitcher who'll have to adjust going from pitching-firendly PETCO Park to Great American Ballpark. The pen is better with Ryan Madson in as the closer and strong lefty Sean Marshall over from Chicago. Looks like a contender.
11. Tigers. Owner Mike Ilitch gets props for the $214-million, nine-year band-aid he bought in Fielder after Victor Martinez's brutal knee injury.
12. Phillies. They imported Jonathan Papelbon, who has a longer track record, to replace Ryan Madson. Jim Thome fills the resident nice guy role left vacated by Brad Lidge's departure (and Juan Pierre won't hurt in that dept. either, assuming he makes the team). They have more versatility with Ty Wigginton adding to their bench strength.
13. Pirates. The new killer B's are here -- Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and A.J. Burnett. The Bucs certainly should be better.
14. Mariners. Hong-Chih Kuo, Shawn Camp and Hisashi Iwakuma have a chance to help. But their offseason will turn on whether Montero becomes a bigger star than Pineda. The guess here is, he does.
15. Padres. They maximized the Latos trade. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal could become stars, and Brad Boxberger may be the closer of the future. Huston Street ably replaces Bell. And Carlos Quentin may thrive back in his hometown.
16. Cubs. David DeJesus is a solid outfielder, and Paul Maholm will help. But their winter will turn on whether slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo is the player they think he is. The real loss for them was the new rule limiting bonus pools for drafted players.
17. Royals. Jonathan Sanchez is just the type of high-ceiling pitcher who fits, Bruce Chen was needed back and Jonathan Broxton is worth a flyer.
18. Dodgers. They managed to cut to below $90 million as cash-strapped Frank McCourt sells the team, but they pieced it together pretty well. Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are solid starters but most of the other imports are extras. They also made an exciting secret grab at Fielder but were outbid by the Tigers. Their best move, though, was signing Matt Kemp for eight years at $160 million,
19. Indians. Given the restrictions of the budget, not terrible. Casey Kotchman looks to be on the upswing, and Derek Lowe is a veteran presence needed especially now that Fausto Carmona is better known as Limbo Carmona.
20. Giants. Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are late bloomers, and they might do as well as the combo of Caros Beltran, Andres Torres and Cody Ross. The comeback of Buster Posey is probably the biggest key. Also like the smaller pickups of Clay Hensley and Ryan Theriot.
21. Cardinals. It's hard to lose Pujols (not to mention Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan) and not feel it. But somehow, the Cardinals seem to find a way. Beltran replaces some of Pujols' lost offense, if not his presence. Adam Wainwright's return is the biggest addition, though.
22. Orioles. Nobody did more different things, but it's tough to evaluate or guess what Wei-Yin Chen or Tsuyoshi Wada will become. Wilson Betemit was an odd signing in that no one saw a two-year deal coming.
23. White Sox. Love the Robin Ventura move (though I suspect they should have made him take a more-experienced staff). The team will be a lot younger, too, with all the kids acquired for Santos and Quentin. Buehrle is tough to replace, though.
24. Braves. Their big deal was for utlityman Jack Wilson, which says a lot. Never found the right deal for Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.
25. Twins. Josh Willingham has a lot of pressure on him to make up for the loss of Cuddyer and Kubel. Joe Nathan preferred to go to a contender. Not sure how much Jason Marquis has left.
26. Red Sox. I like the way they recovered from the loss of Papelbon by adding Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey. Cody Ross and Nick Punto are nice complementary pieces. But I think they'll miss Jason Varitek more than think. And they still don't have a No. 4 or 5 starter or starting shortstop after trading Marco Scutaro in exchange for "flexibility.'' Bobby Valentine was a great call for manager, and he does his best work when there are issues, so maybe he pulls it all together.
27. A's. They did a nice job collecting prospects (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole could be stars) but will be hard-pressed to avoid 90 defeats this year after trading Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. Big Talent Yoenis Cespedes and Mannyball spice things up. Interesting offseason.
28. Brewers. Tough to make up for the loss of Fielder. Aramis Ramirez is a nice middle-of-the-order bat, Alex Gonzalez is an upgrade at shortstop and Nori Aoki may work. Also lost some bullpen depth with Takashi Saito and Hawkins gone.
29. Astros. They took a flyer on the oft-injured Fernando Martinez but after failing to unload Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee or Brett Myers, they basically return the same team. Which is not necessarily good news when you lost 106 games.
30. Mets. They lost the heart of the team (though an of-injured one), and Andres Torres wouldn't be my first choice to replace the dynamic Reyes. Actually, Pagan would have been better. But that's nitpicky. Let's face it, no one that cuts an unprecedented $50 million can do well.
Posted on: January 28, 2012 1:01 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 1:31 am
Longtime pitching star Roy Oswalt, who seems to have very strong geographic leanings, turned down a very large one-year offer of about $10 million from the Detroit Tigers, sources told CBSSports.com, and Oswalt is instead eyeing several other teams, most of them much closer to his southern roots, including the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Oswalt's main criteria seems to be proximity to his home in Mississippi. Other teams said to be in the running include the Red Sox and Nationals, but indications are that he prefers the Rangers and Cardinals. Above all else, the locale seems to be the key to him as his decision nears. Otherwise, how to explain the out-and-out rejection of the powerhouse Tigers?
The issue seems to be that the two teams he seems to most prefer -- the Rangers and Cardinals -- aren't perfect fits. Neither currently has an opening for a starting pitcher, though it's possible either team might try to make one for him. One report, from @Jim_Duquette, suggested the Cardinals are the frontrunner.
One thing is certain, and that is that he won't be a Tiger. Detroit's offer, which was made well before they came out of nowhere to sign Prince Fielder to a $214-million, nine-year deal, is no longer on the table.
Though Oswalt's agent Bob Garber denied it, one other person familiar with the Tigers' discussions with regarding said Oswalt declined to accept Detroit's offer of about $10-million after it met Garber's asking price. That person said Garber requested $10 million, but after Tigers owner Mike Ilitch signed off on the $10 million, Garber later informed Detroit that Oswalt was not prepared to take the offer. Garber denied by text that he had asked for $10 million, saying, "I never gave the Tigers a number.''
Garber added that Oswalt has "his top three (teams) he's still focused on.''
He didn't name the three teams. But it's hard to bet on the Red Sox, who like Detroit is in the north, and what's more, are believed to have offered nothing close to the $10 million Tigers bid (the belief is that Boston's offer is closer to $5 million).
Texas and St. Louis seem more likely at this point. The Rangers, who already have six viable starters, would insist he take their price, which would presumably be less than even Boston's price. Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux are both Oswalt fans (Ryan like Oswalt was an Astros star and knows him well) so they may do it if he'd take a fraction of the $10 million he turned down.
The Cardinals don't have an overwhelming need for another starter, either. But St. Louis has talked to both him and another free agent, Edwin Jackson.
The Astros, his former team, were mentioned as a possibility in one report. And they certainly would fit his geographic preferences. But that report was denied by someone close to Oswalt.
Oswalt has such strong ties to his home area that he left the Phillies last year for eight days after his hometown was wracked by a hurricane even though his own home didn't suffer significant damage. Oswalt, who also battled back trouble last year, at one point last year ruminated about retirement last year.
Had he done so, he would have missed one of the most interesting free-agent plays in recent memory.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 4:11 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:50 am
Respected longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has been invited by the team to come to camp as a non-roster player with only an outside chance to make the team, and Varitek seems likely to decide between accepting that invitation or retiring, people familiar with his situation said. Mostly out of respect for the iconic Varitek, they let him know the door is open, and they are giving him time to decide. Varitek, 39, who's played his entire big-league career in Boston starting with one at-bat in 1997 and helped them win two World Series, does not appear to be considering looking for a job elsewhere.
The Red Sox fairly have made clear to him that if he did come to camp, he'd serve mostly as "protection'' in the event one of their two catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Kelly Shoppach, is hurt. Ryan Lavarnway is seen as Boston's catcher of the future but is expected to start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket.
This is probably a tough call for Varitek, a great Red Sox who didn't have a bad year last year when he hit .221 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. Interestingly, the team was 42-22 in games started by Varitek, and 48-50 in games started by their other catchers, predominantly Saltalamacchia. The staff ERA was 3.57 with Varitek, and 4.62 with Saltlamacchia. But Varitek's throwing isn't what it was, and the Red Sox chose to sign Shoppach.
The respect for Varitek is such that Red Sox people would love him to work for the team in a non-playing capacity once his career is over. He just isn't sure it is just yet.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:57 pm
Jason Varitek was presumed to be an ex-Red Sox when the team signed catcher Kelly Shoppach a few weeks ago. But club decisionmakers are still considering yet another return to Boston for Varitek, sources familiar with their thinking said.
It's possible Boston people are just being polite to a longtime Red Sox loyalist. But it seems like more than that.
Boston certainly has plenty of catching options already, what with a revamped Jarrod Saltalamacchia, young up and comer Ryan Lavarnway and Shoppach already in the fold. And there wouldn't appear to be much room for Varitek. But Red Sox people value his presence and have taken note of the team's vast successes, even last year, with Varitek behind the plate and are still weighing a return for him for that reason.
Varitek has eschewed more lucrative options elsewhere in recent year. So you have to think if the Red Sox can make it work, he'll jump at the chance to come back. Varitek, 39, didn't have his worst season offensively last year, hitting 11 home runs with 36 RBIs and a .221 batting average. And while his arm isn't nearly what it was, the Red Sox do seem to continue to value him as a possible presence.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:06 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 9:00 pm
There is "no real favorite'' in the five-team Matt Garza sweepstakes, according to someone familiar with the talks.
The teams involved the derby for the 28-year-old Cubs righthander at this point are the Yankees, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox and Marlins. With the Cubs seeking young pitchers, it would seem that the Yankees, Blue Jays and Tigers could hold an edge ultimately. The Yankees have Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the Tigers Jacob Turner and the Blue Jays several well-regarded prospects at the lower levels. The Cubs are hoping to improve their young pitching stock, and Garza is the most marketable player they're willing to deal.
The Red Sox earlier named Garza, who went 10-10 with a 3.31 ERA in 2011, his only one with the Cubs, as a target in Theo Epstein compensation talks, but it's unclear wether the Cubs would even consider trying to solve the compensation issue while making a bigger Garza deal with Boston. They wouldn't surrender Garza straight-up for Epstein, and it's possible the Cubs would want to keep Garza and the compensation issues totally separate. The Red Sox don't have pitching prospects to match the Yankees or Blue Jays but do have hard-throwing righthander Anthony Ranaudo, who was drafted by Epstein, the new Cubs president.
The Cubs are obviously rebuilding but have been nonetheless tied to the Prince Fielder derby. A Cubs person suggested that while Fielder is the type of player they need, they aren't willing to pursue Fielder at all costs, a not unfamiliar refain for teams pursuing big-name free agents.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 3:41 pm
Andruw Jones and the Yankees have reached an agreement on a $2 million deal plus incentives for 2012, pending a physical.
Jones had a nice year with the Yankees in 2011, and both sides were thrilled with how things went, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Jones, who was believed to have received some interest from the Red Sox and Orioles, among others, clearly wanted to remain a Yankee. He also has transitioned nicely to a part-time role after beginning his career as a star.
Jones hit .246 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI with New York in 2011.