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- Tim Lincecum Undergoes Season-Ending Hip Surgery
- Dodgers To Promote Corey Seager
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The Mariners plan to interview current Red Sox consultant and former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Seattle recently parted with former GM Jack Zduriencik and is on the hunt for a replacement. Seattle appears likely to choose a baseball operations leader with prior experience in a general manager role, though it’s also said to be considering internal options.
Here are more notes on the front office and managerial changes expected to take place this fall and winter:
- Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen is a candidate for the Brewers‘ general manager position, Rosenthal and colleague Jon Morosi report (Twitter links). Milwaukee has not yet begun a formal interview process, he adds. The Brewers say they’ll take their time in finding a new GM, but could be leaning toward a young, analytically-minded candidate.
- Outgoing Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, meanwhile, may not be in a rush to reclaim that position with a new team, according to another tweet from Rosenthal. Cherington has received interest from clubs in unspecified opportunities, and he’s “in listening mode” rather than actively pursuing another GM post.
- MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez discusses the Angels‘ GM search, which as recently reported is expected to move quickly. The club has stayed quiet on its thinking thus far, says Gonzalez, but it seems reasonably likely that it will look to go with a first-time GM from another organization. Gonzalez lists a wide number of theoretical candidates.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today provides an overview of the actual and potential front office openings around the game. He breaks down the latest rumblings among all of the clubs that seem reasonably likely to pursue change.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick looks at the future of the Phillies‘ front office, noting that industry insiders mention Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington as possible successors to Ruben Amaro Jr. in the event that president-to-be Andy MacPhail makes a change. Interim president Pat Gillick, who’s stepping down after the season, tells Crasnick that he’s not sure if he’ll remain with the club in some capacity. Though the Phillies are one of the worst clubs in baseball this season and have long been on the downswing, there’s hope in the future due to Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford and others, to say nothing of a favorable payroll and television deal. “That organization is a gold mine,” one rival exec opined to Crasnick. “Look at the ballpark. Look at the spring training facility. Look at the television deal. This is a goose that’s going to lay a golden egg. No wonder Andy MacPhail came out of retirement.”
Elsewhere in the NL East…
- Jonathan Papelbon has thrown just eight innings since being acquired by the Nationals a month ago, and James Wagner of the Washington Post spoke to the D.C. closer about how he handles long bouts of inactivity. “For me, it’s about mentally staying prepared,” said Papelbon. “Staying mentally focused on the task at hand and not losing sight of that even though you’re not pitching. It’s easy to get out of that mode.” Papelbon says he feels he’s adjusted well to his new team and that his lack of usage is part of the “ebb and flow” of a season, Wagner writes. However, plenty have been critical about manager Matt Williams’ bullpen usage and his reluctance to use his top relievers in anything other than traditional save/hold situations.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells the Post’s Thomas Boswell that August has been his “worst month ever.” Rizzo notes to Boswell that the Nats have a group of star players that combined for 28.5 wins above replacement in 2014 but are collectively negative in 2015. “That’s a swing of 29 wins,” said Rizzo, likely in reference to struggles from Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth (among others). Rizzo referenced that swing as a means of defending Williams, stating: “It’s injuries. It’s coming back without your timing and not hitting for a while. It is bad years [for good players]. It’s everything. Twenty-nine lost wins [in player production] — and that’s on the manager?”
- Within his piece, Boswell also notes that the Nationals are unlikely to pursue any top starting pitchers this winter and that Drew Storen wants a trade “that he’ll almost certainly get this winter.” Storen, of course, was reportedly unhappy to be displaced from his ninth-inning role by Papelbon in the midst of a strong season.
- Jose Fernandez‘s most recent bullpen session for the Marlins was described as a “wow” by manager Dan Jennings, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Jennings called mid-September a realistic return date for Fernandez, whom the Marlins previously feared might not pitch again in 2015.
- Mike Morse spoke to the Herald’s Barry Jackson about his disappointing tenure with the Marlins, expressing that he wishes he’d have gotten a longer leash to sort things out at the plate. “I came out really bad [but] I wish they would have given me more at-bats just to prove myself,” said Morse. “…When you sign as a free agent, you expect to play on that team those years and you expect to get at least some time to play. But I got this opportunity to come to an amazing ball club [Pittsburgh]. It’s a gift and a curse.” Morse said he was very appreciative that owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson took the time to personally call and inform him of his trade out of Miami, however. Morse is hitting a much-improved .310/.394/.379 with the Pirates, albeit in a minuscule sample of 33 plate appearances.
Ben Cherington, who recently stepped down as GM of the Red Sox, spoke at Saberseminar in Boston on Saturday (joking that the forum was “a progressive event that even invites the unemployed“) and was unusually candid about his work with the Sox and about being an executive for a big-league team. Here’s a bit of what he had to say, via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Tim Britton of the Providence Journal (Twitter links: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9).
- Cherington says he misjudged how Hanley Ramirez would transition from the infield to the outfield. “We didn’t know what he would be defensively,” Cherington says. “We made a bet based on the history of what players look like going from middle infield to outfield. … It hasn’t gone well.” Ramirez has rated as well below average in left field, and his defensive struggles this season have coincided with a decline on offense, arguably making Ramirez one of MLB’s worst position players while still in the first year of his contract.
- Cherington adds that the Red Sox contacted Billy Beane and the Athletics about trading Josh Donaldson last offseason, only to be told the A’s weren’t interested in dealing Donaldson. They did, of course, ultimately trade him to Toronto, and Cherington says he credits the Blue Jays for their persistence.
- Instead, the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to play third, a move that hasn’t worked out thus far. Cherington says he didn’t necessarily expect the run-scoring environment at Fenway Park to be a boon for Sandoval, but instead was mostly focused on filling what had been a “black hole” at third. Sandoval has hit fairly well at home this season, batting .304/.347/.451. But he’s batted just .216/.271/.337 on the road.
- Some of Cherington’s mistakes as GM came as a result of rushing decisions, he says.
- One of the most crucial aspects of being a GM is interacting with team ownership, Cherington says, noting that it’s a sensible and necessary part of the job.
- Cherington seems happy with the state in which he left the Red Sox’ farm system, saying that there are prospects who can turn out to be special players and also areas of organizational depth.
- One decision Cherington says he won’t rush is determining the next step in his career. Instead, he’ll take his time in making that decision.
Earlier today, Jeff Todd rounded up some reactions from around the industry to the Red Sox’ franchise-altering decision to name Dave Dombrowski president of baseball operations and the subsequent resignation of GM Ben Cherington. There’s still plenty of buzz surrounding this move, however, so here are some additional reactions to one of the most impactful headlines of the summer…
- Cherington’s decision to step aside after the hiring of Dombrowski caught the Red Sox by surprise, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan adds that he, too, hears that Dombrowski will hire a new GM, with not only Frank Wren serving as a possibility (as Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported last night), but also former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd. From a bigger-picture perspective, Passan writes that Dombrowski’s success will be determined, to some extent, by the freedom he is given to make decisions without interference from ownership. Passan notes that Dombrowski inherits one of the best situations in baseball — a top-rated farm system with a young core in place at the Major League level. Of course, he’ll also have some work to do with the pitching staff and the albatross contracts of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.
- Outgoing team president Larry Lucchino appeared on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show today, and WEEI’s Judy Cohen has transcribed many of his comments. Most notably, Lucchino said that he expects “significant changes” in the baseball operations department, as Dombrowski may look to import members of the network of people he’s worked with over the life of his career. Lucchino offered strong praise for the work that Cherington did: “Ben has done a marvelous job, in my opinion. He is a terrific guy, and I think he’s built an organization that will serve Dave Dombrowski quite well in the months and years ahead, and so things will change.”
- COO/vice president Sam Kennedy also weighed in on the move on WEEI (also via Cohen). Kennedy said that he, owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner felt “disappointment” that Cherington didn’t want to remain on board, but ultimately they understood that the now-former GM felt a “clean break” was in his best interest. Kennedy addressed the difference between Dombrowski’s more traditional scouting background and the Sox’ recent analytical tendencies, noting that data/analytics, traditional scouting, the eye test and keen instincts are all important to success in baseball operations, and the Sox look forward to a blend of those elements.
- Alex Speier of the Boston Globe attempts to define Cherington’s tenure as GM of the Red Sox. Cherington, Speier notes, never allowed himself to be concerned with his own job security despite a firm belief that he was accountable for the entire front office in difficult times. Cherington, one source told Speier, was so committed to positioning the Sox for success that he was “100 percent” responsible for the hiring of Jerry Dipoto as a consultant. However, Cherington felt that the philosophical differences between him and Dombrowski would introduce an ideological tension that could have been detrimental to the organization. Cherington, according to Speier, could have stuck around at least through the end of the 2016 season, when his contract was scheduled to expire.
- At today’s exit press conference, Cherington told reporters, including the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, that the first he heard of the Sox’ interest in Dombrowski was this past Saturday. Said Cherington: “I was in my office and he came and let me know that he and Tom [Werner] were pursuing Dave for this role. That was the first I had heard of it. Yesterday I was told they had an agreement.” Cherington was caught off guard, as he’d believed his conversations with Henry and ownership had been open, honest and productive. Henry, on the other hand, maintains that he first spoke to Cherington about the pursuit of Dombrowski as early as Aug. 4. Cherington offered nothing but praise for Dombrowski, stating that he has “great respect” for an executive whose resume speaks for itself and will be “an asset, clearly,” going forward for the Red Sox.
- Cherington will be paid for the remainder of his contract despite stepping down, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford (Twitter link).
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe breaks down the new Red Sox chain of command in the wake of Lucchino’s impending departure and the changes on the baseball operations side of the hierarchy.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden writes 10 things that we can expect from the Red Sox now that Dombrowski is in charge of baseball operations. The most significant note, from a roster standpoint, is that Bowden expects the Red Sox to actively pursue the market’s top free agent pitchers, including David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann, with Price topping the team’s wish list. He also notes that we should expect Dombrowski to part with some of the team’s elite young talent in order to add a second top pitcher with some team control.
The Red Sox dropped a stunner on the baseball world yesterday when they announced the hiring of veteran executive Dave Dombrowski as the team’s president of baseball operations. Ben Cherington is said to have declined the chance to stay on in the GM role, preferring instead to look for a new opportunity elsewhere.
Here are some of the many reactions to the move:
- The deal with the Red Sox will give Dombrowski a raise over the $3MM annual salary he was earning in Detroit, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. The Nationals also had interest in Dombrowski, though they never made him an offer, Nightengale adds. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays had more serious conversations, and their involvement pushed the Red Sox to giving Dombrowski full decisionmaking authority, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. The Mariners were “next in line,” though, had Boston not pulled off a deal, Nightengale further tweets.
- Parting with Cherington is just one of the surprising angles of this move. As Nightengale reports, Dombrowski explained that he offered Cherington the chance to stay but understood why he did not. “We offered Ben the opportunity to stay as GM,” said Dombrowski. “I had a lengthy conversation. He could have stayed. We like Ben. He’s a good person. I don’t know him very well, but I have the utmost respect for him and as a person. But I could understand it. It hit him very quickly. He was surprised. As president of baseball operations, you have control over making deals, and the final say in hiring. I understand it would be a transition with him.”
- It may be a bit too soon to evaluate Cherington’s own legacy as the Red Sox GM, but as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, it’s already clear that it is a somewhat complicated one. While he won a World Series and leaves the club with a well-stocked farm, Cherington was not able to develop a stream of pitching and whiffed on several significant decisions.
- Bringing in Dombrowski represents a significant philosophical shift for the Red Sox, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. While it’s hard to see the organization suddenly shelving its analytics work, Heyman notes that they’ll get a hands-on executive in Dombrowski with a penchant for swinging quality trades and keeping a winner on the field.
- Indeed, the scope of the shift is somewhat hard to overstate. Red Sox “vaporized the way they’ve done business for the last 13 years” overnight, writes John Tomase of WEEI.com. And as Sean McAdam of CSSNE.com explains, it completes a month of change at many key levels of the organization.
- Dombrowski has a history of dealing away top prospects to bolster his clubs at the major league level, Ben Badler of Baseball America notes on Twitter. Now, he’s in charge of a Boston organization flush with young talent, and Badler rightly notes that it’ll be a fascinating offseason to watch.
The Red Sox announced tonight that they have hired Dave Dombrowski as their new president of baseball operations. Ben Cherington was given the opportunity to stay on as GM, but he’s chosen to step down instead. He will, however, assist Dombrowski in the transition process.
Dombrowski made an abrupt and unexpected exit from the Tigers’ front office following the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, ending a 14-year tenure as the team’s general manager. One of the most respected baseball operations executives in the league, Dombrowski has overseen some of the most memorable (and successful) trades in recent history. He plucked Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins in a trade that sent Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Mike Rabelo and Frankie De La Cruz to Miami — none of whom contributed much to the organization. Dombrowski also landed Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from the Marlins in exchange for Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn and Rob Brantly, and he acquired both Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson in a three-team deal that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the D-Backs. Dombrowski, of course, isn’t without his misses; the recent trade sending Doug Fister to Washington and the acquisitions of Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene, for instance, have not panned out over the past year-plus. (You can check out a full list of Dombrowski’s moves by using MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker.)
In a statement announcing the move, Dombrowski made it clear that joining the Red Sox was his top option once he hit the open market (so to speak):
“Although I did have other potential options within baseball, there was no option that stood out as clearly as the chance to come to Boston and win with the Red Sox. Boston is a baseball city like no other and its history and traditions are unique in our game. I expressed to [owner] John [Henry] and [chairman] Tom [Werner] that Boston would be my absolute top choice and am honored to have the chance to serve Red Sox Nation.”
Notably, Dombrowski has a lengthy history with Henry, who employed Dombrowski more than a decade ago when he owned the Marlins for three years prior to selling the franchise to Jeffrey Loria.
The change brings to a close a fairly brief run as Red Sox GM for Cherington. That would’ve seemed a virtually unthinkable outcome just 18 months ago, as Cherington’s Red Sox won it all in 2013 based largely on a 2012 August blockbuster in which he shed the contracts of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and, to a lesser extent, Nick Punto, setting up a highly successful venture into the free agent market. Cherington’s reshaped roster featured relatively short-term deals for Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes — each of whom played a significant role in Boston’s World Series run that year.
However, the Victorino deal wound up going south following that season, and the recent moves to add Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson have led to one of the game’s worst rotations. Taking on Allen Craig‘s contract (along with Kelly) in last summer’s John Lackey trade has also proved to be an ill-fated decision. (Cherington’s transaction history can also be viewed in the Transaction Tracker.)
Dombrowski, of course, is not the only new face in the Boston front office. Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, who resigned earlier this summer over reported differences with manager Mike Scioscia, has joined the Sox in a temporary capacity. He’s free to pursue other GM openings while working with Boston, but with Cherington’s departure, it’ll be interesting to see if Dipoto winds up getting consideration for the Sox’ GM post. Of course, Dipoto, like Cherington, is known as an analytical executive, whereas Dombrowski employs a more traditional approach. As such, it seems reasonable to expect a fair amount of turnover within the Boston front office. Many of the current lieutenants were hired by Cherington, and Dombrowski will undoubtedly want to have a say in who is at his side and contributing to the decision-making process.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Tigers shook up their front office earlier today, shocking many by announcing that Dave Dombrowski would no longer serve as the team’s general manager and that long-time Dombrowski lieutenant Al Avila would assume the role of executive vice president and general manager. Said Tigers owner Mike Ilitch in today’s press release: “I’ve decided to release Dave from his contract in order to afford him the time to pursue other career opportunities.”
Some more details on the decision, reactions to the move and a few rumors as to where Dombrowski may or may not end up…
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan writes that Dombrowski has become the biggest free agent on the market, and his contract, wherever he signs, should begin the trend of correcting the undervalued nature of executives. Dombrowski was earning roughly $3MM per season, but Passan wonders why the top minds tasked with overseeing a Major League team, six minor league clubs, domestic and international scouting departments, and much more earn just a fraction of what a back-of-the-rotation starter would earn on the free agent market. Passan notes that while Andrew Friedman’s reported five-year, $35MM contract with the Dodgers was a step toward correcting that inefficiency, the coming payday for Dombrowski should serve as a further benchmark for the future salaries of executives. Passan lists the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Mariners and Brewers as speculative landing spots for Dombrowski, adding that the Blue Jays have considered him over the past year while seeking a replacement for retiring CEO Paul Beeston.
- USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes that Dombrowski was seeking a raise, but the specific reasons for the split between the two sides remain unknown. Nightengale opines that the Red Sox make the most sense for Dombrowski, though he speculatively lists the same teams as Passan did, adding in the Orioles (which would make sense if GM Dan Duquette does end up taking a higher position with another team this winter). Nightengale writes that Dombrowski’s trade deadline actions spoke volumes about his integrity, as he knew that his departure could be imminent but still found a way to convince Ilitch to authorize the trades of David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria to create a brighter future for Detroit, even if he wouldn’t be around to be a part of it.
- At today’s press conference, Avila said that Brad Ausmus will continue to serve as the Tigers manager for the rest of the season, writes MLive.com’s Chris Iott. “[Ausmus] is our manager for the rest of this season for sure,” said Avila. “I have all the confidence in him. I think he’s done a good job. Just like everything else from here on out, everything will be evaluated. Our staff will be evaluated. Our major-league club will be evaluated as we have done in years past.”
- In a second piece, Iott writes that Avila acknowledged being in an “awkward” position by inheriting the job as GM of the team for which his son, Alex Avila, plays. The newly minted GM recants the story of the 2008 draft, when he asked that the organization not draft his son. He says now that the organization made the right call when looking at the body of work his son has compiled, but he made it clear that there won’t be any nepotism at play when deciding the team’s future. “You know how you go back to Little League and the dad used to be the coach and his son always played and was the fourth batter?” the elder Avila rhetorically asked reporters. “That ain’t gonna happen here.”
- The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes that Dombrowski’s sudden free agency places him “on a silver platter” before the Red Sox, who could use a set of eyes to oversee GM Ben Cherington. Team sources tell Cafardo that Cherington isn’t going anywhere, but adding someone of Dombrowski’s caliber to oversee the baseball operations department and help in the trading department — where Dombrowski has long excelled — would be a boost to the organization. Cafardo also spoke to Yankees GM Brian Cashman about the news. Cashman told Cafardo that he was “shocked” to hear of it, adding that Dombrowski could get a job “any place he wants.”
- There figures to be plenty of speculation as to where Dombrowski lands, but for the time being, the Red Sox may not be that place, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Edes cites a Red Sox source in stating that the team is not pursuing Dombrowski for an executive role.
- Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald cites a Major League source in writing that the Red Sox do plan to reach out to Dombrowski, but a match looks “iffy.” Any conversations with Dombrowski would be due diligence, but Silverman says there’s “informed speculation within baseball circles” that Dombrowski could be Toronto-bound, and he also notes that Dombrowski’s philosophies don’t necessarily line up with the strong analytical tendencies of the Boston front office.
- Suffice it to say, there are conflicting reports and opinions when it comes to the Red Sox and Dombrowski, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that he’s heard rumblings that Dombrowski could indeed be in the mix for the Red Sox.
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets that there’s buzz in the industry that Dombrowski will end up as the new president of the Blue Jays, though despite those rumblings, today’s news was unexpected.
- Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweeted shortly after the news of Dombrowski’s departure that Angels sources to whom he spoke didn’t envision Dombrowski landing in Anaheim.
The Astros will option righty Lance McCullers Jr. to Triple-A after his rough outing last night, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reported on Twitter and the team later announced. Manager A.J. Hinch says that the team is hoping to provide a break to the rookie, who may not even take the hill while he’s down, as Ortiz adds (Twitter links). McCullers has been outstanding since receiving an aggressive promotion to the big leagues at age 21, putting up 76 2/3 innings of 3.17 ERA pitching with 9.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9, but that line looked even better prior to yesterday’s dud, in which McCullers allowed seven hits and six earned runs while recording only one out. That’s just one game, of course, and McCullers still surely features in the team’s plans the rest of the way. But Houston does need to manage his innings, as he’s already exceeded his prior career high for a single campaign, so it could be that the club will use this as an opportunity to save some bullets. There could be down-the-line implications as well, though it’s not likely a driving consideration since the team needs a fully available staff. McCullers has only picked up 78 days of service on the year thus far, and will be held under 130 total days even if he comes back right after the minimum ten day stay on optional assignment. That makes him a somewhat marginal future Super Two candidate, with any further time away from the big leagues decreasing his odds.
- It was time for the Red Sox to nudge departing President and CEO Larry Lucchino out the door, writes Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, who says that undertones in the recent announcement suggest that ownership decided upon a change in direction. Buckley does credit Lucchino with a huge amount of credit for Boston’s successes (on and off the field) over his tenure.
- With Lucchino heading out, there could be more changes in store for the Red Sox front office, the Herald’s Michael Silverman writes. The baseball operations department is unlikely to carry forward without at least some modifications, says Silverman, who reports that a new executive could well be placed on top of or alongside GM Ben Cherington.
- While Angels lefty C.J. Wilson will seek a second opinion on his left elbow, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports, but it seems unlikely at this point that he’ll decide against season-ending surgery. Though the team has floated the idea of a rehab plan that could get him back in action late in the year, says Gonzalez, Wilson does not seem favorably disposed toward that option after battling with bone chips all year. “In the meantime, I’m working out and staying in shape, just in case they come up with some other magical course of action,” Wilson said. “But it seems more like a Hail Mary at this point. I want to pitch — that’s why I’ve pitched this whole time.”
A second opinion for Clay Buchholz from Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the right-hander does not need surgery, but he’ll received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t throw for five to six weeks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. As Mastrodonato points out, the Red Sox have a $13MM club option on Buchholz, so avoiding a serious injury is key for the right-hander. Buchholz hopes the option will be exercised — “I’ve definitely been here my whole career,” he said. “I don’t really want to go anywhere.” — and barring a significant injury, that seems like a foregone conclusion, Mastrodonato writes. Buchholz’s injury is a flexor strain, and the right-hander pointed to Royals lefty Jason Vargas as a reason to exercise caution: “I think it’s the exact same thing that [Royals starter Jason Vargas] got hurt the other day. That’s what he went on the DL for was flexor. Seeing that, that’s definitely not what I want to do. I’m going to take the time I need to take off for it to be better.” Vargas, of course, did originally hit the DL with a flexor strain, and he returned quickly, only he end up re-injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery.
More Red Sox notes…
- The team’s second-half woes have halted its pursuit of short-term starting pitching acquisitions, sources tell WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Sox had entertained the thought of a run at Johnny Cueto to give themselves an increased chance to sign him and to make a push in 2015, but that thinking has been tabled. Boston wasn’t involved in talks for Scott Kazmir, Bradford hears, although they had previously had some interest in him.
- In a second piece, Bradford urges Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to send a message to a team that looks to have lost direction by committing to a big-name starting pitcher to front the rotation — even if it means a painful parting of ways with top prospects. The Red Sox in recent years have focused too much on what might be (prospect value) as opposed to what presently is, Bradford opines, and that philosophy has led the team to its current predicament.
- Cherington met with the Boston media recently, and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes has a number of highlights from his conversation, including Cherington’s thoughts on the team’s lack of front-line pitching and the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez out of left field and to a new position. Cherington feels that Ramirez’s defense on the road is beginning to stabilize, though he admits that Ramirez faces challenges playing left field in Boston with the Green Monster. As far as the team’s rotation goes, the quest to add front-line pitching doesn’t end July 31, Cherington says, and the team will explore multiple avenues to try to acquire such an arm. He notes that the front office believes some pitchers currently in the organization could achieve the desired lofty heights. (That quote, in particular, is one that prompted the above-linked column from Bradford.)
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that despite all of the questions surrounding Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez and the team’s pitching staff, the biggest question facing the Sox is whether or not Cherington is the right man to lead Boston to a sustainable run of success. Lauber praises Cherington for being accountable and placing the organization’s struggles on his own shoulders, but he also notes that such accountability is easier when owner John Henry recently gave his GM a large vote of confidence.
- Shane Victorino hopes to remain with the Red Sox through the end of his current contract, he tells Bradford. As Bradford notes, even if the Red Sox do sell pieces, Victorino could very well remain in Boston, as he’s been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.
Last night’s game between the Red Sox and Athletics was temporarily stopped in the second inning after a fan sitting near the visitors’ dugout was hit in the face by a piece of a broken bat. The woman is at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Hospital with injuries that apparently are serious, although there is currently no specific information on her condition, as the Boston Globe notes. “Our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman who was struck with the bat, her, and her family,” says Red Sox manager John Farrell. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ballgame to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately with how close our stands are to the field of action . . . an accident like this tonight, it’s certainly disturbing.” We at MLBTR wish the fan and her family the very best in the wake of this very scary situation. Here’s more from Boston.
- GM Ben Cherington appreciates the vote of confidence he received from Sox owner John Henry this week, according to an interview on WEEI with Dennis & Callahan. “I’m not worried about job security, just worried about trying to win games, so I appreciate what he said publicly. I think it was important for John Farrell, the clubhouse, and as we talk about good clubhouses and good teams having each others’ backs,” says Cherington. The GM adds that the team has no plans to platoon David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez at DH, since he doesn’t want to reduce two proven hitters to defined part-time roles.
- The Red Sox’ season has been disappointing so far, but Cherington’s belief that the team can come back and win the AL East might not be off base, WEEI.com’s John Tomase writes. Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts have been productive lately, and so the key to the Boston offense will be the potential re-emergences of Ortiz, Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Meanwhile, Wade Miley has had a good run in his last several starts, and Clay Buchholz and newcomer Eduardo Rodriguez provide hope for the pitching staff.
- Another starter, Rick Porcello, has struggled so far, and his peripheral numbers have been unusual this season, as Tomase notes. He’s increased his K/9 from a 5.6 career rate to 7.1, but his ground ball percentage has dipped from 51.6 for his career to 43.1. He’s allowed 11 homers so far and has a 5.01 ERA, although his peripheral numbers suggest he’s been somewhat better than that, with an xFIP of 4.13 and a SIERA of 4.01. Porcello says the $82.5MM extension he signed in the spring hasn’t negatively affected his performance thus far.