Boston Red Sox Rumors
A year ago today, the Indians signed Johnny Damon to a one-year contract with the hope that clean-shaven caveman could bolster their lineup. Damon hit just .222/.281/.329 in 224 plate appearances for the Tribe. This offseason, there was no penny-pinching by the Indians, as they signed Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds to bolster the club. Here are some links from around the league...
- Carlos Zambrano is at Wrigley Field today, which sparked a great deal of speculation, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Zambrano is merely visiting. The Cubs aren't interested in a reunion.
- Red Sox minor league left-hander Miguel Pena and right-hander Gerson Bautista have both been suspended 50 games for violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Pena ranked 30th among Red Sox prospects, according to BA, who noted that his clean delivery and plus changeup gave him the ceiling of a No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
- Hanley Ramirez is anticipating a return to the Dodgers "way sooner" than his initially projected return of mid-May, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. The Dodgers have gotten next to no production from Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers in his absence.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post gives the "small sample size" caveat in noting that traded players such as John Buck, Michael Morse and Justin Upton are excelling. Vernon Wells and Michael Young have looked better than salary dumps thus far as well, Sherman continues.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden lists five impulsive moves that the GMs of contenders such as the Rays, Tigers, Angels, Cardinals and Giants should make to immediately improve their clubs' biggest weaknesses (ESPN Insider required).
Baseball, like the rest of the country, has its mind on yesterday's tragedy at the Boston Marathon. SI.com's Tom Verducci explores the role of the national pastime -- and, especially, Boston's own Red Sox -- in dealing with an event of such magnitude: "Every tragedy is ... an unwelcome reminder that life goes on for the survivors. Baseball, which, unlike any other sport, is there for us virtually every day, is entwined with what is the comfort and curse of that daily challenge. However small, however unimportant baseball seems today, the Red Sox remain a part of daily life in Boston. These Red Sox, win or lose, now play for a broken city. Whatever comfort or distraction they provide in the best of times assumes a different weight in these worst of times."
- Verducci went on to discuss the Sox' early-season pitching renaissance, crediting the club's deal with Toronto to bring back former pitching coach John Farrell as manager. In particular, starters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have been outstanding thus far, combining for a 5-0 record and 0.88 ERA.
- While only a side note, Verducci used interesting terms to describe the Boston free agent acquisition strategy, which resulted in the signing of players like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, David Ross, and Jonny Gomes. "The analytically-minded Red Sox ... disregarded the Carmine computer program to put an emphasis on extroverted, high-motor guys who fit the Boston fishbowl."
- As the Red Sox face the Indians tonight, Victorino reflected on his free agency decision between the two clubs over the winter, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The 32-year-old outfielder said that there were things he liked about Cleveland but he ultimately chose Boston because of their winning tradition.
- Outfielder Curtis Granderson is as eager for his return as are the Yankees, writes Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. While he says he will go about his business the same way regardless of his pending free agency, Granderson acknowledged that it makes it hard to remain patient knowing that he will be reaching the open market after this season.
- The difficulties facing the Blue Jays in filling in for Jose Reyes may be daunting, but they are not unique, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. With the Jays finding the asking price high on possible trade targets, they seem likely to use patches rather than make a big move. If that is the case, writes Nicholson-Smith, Toronto will be following the path of other clubs that lost their shortstops early in recent seasons.
- The Blue Jays' lineup was missing one quality everyday bat even before Reyes went down, writes Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail. GM Alex Anthopoulos is not only working the phones for a Reyes stop-gap, but is interested in what Blair describes as a "significant transaction that might require several moving pieces." With Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie potentially capable of manning alternative positions, Blair says Toronto may be looking for an impact bat that it can shoehorn into the lineup rather than targeting a specific position.
- The Rays' offensive struggles make a Wil Myers call-up enticing, but the club should nevertheless stay patient, writes Jonah Keri for Grantland. Keri wonders whether the club might pursue an Evan Longoria-esque early-career extension for the young outfielder, which would resolve service time concerns if the Rays want to call him up.
- Meanwhile, we heard earlier today (in an Insider piece) that ESPN's Buster Olney believes that Rays ace David Price would likely command less than Giancarlo Stanton on the trade market. Of course, the Rays would surely bring back an impressive haul if they were to make the reigning AL Cy Young winner available. Olney's "educated guess" at the top potential suitors for Price are the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Rangers.
MLBTR would like to take a moment to send our deepest condolences out to the victims of the Boston explosions today. If you're in the Boston area and would like to help by donating blood, Mass General Hospital in Boston is accepting walk-ins beginning at 7am tomorrow morning. With apologies for how trivial the following will seem, here's some baseball-related news out of Boston and the rest of the AL East...
- Jackie Bradley Jr. is mired in an 0-for-20 slump, but the Red Sox were prepared for the possibility of such struggles when they decided to bring the 22-year-old north with the team, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Manager John Farrell said Bradley has dealt with the adversity as well as the team could have expected.
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that he's talking with other teams about an upgrade to his middle infield but doesn't anticipate a deal in the near future due to rival GMs' asking prices (Twitter link).
- Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports company will not work with any sports talent agencies other than CAA Sports, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (on Twitter). The agency will hire established agents in multiple sports as well as have its own employees (link). Jay-Z entered the world of sports representation in a big way in recent weeks, taking Robinson Cano away from Scott Boras.
Tomorrow is the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Every player, coach, and umpire will honor Robinson by wearing his iconic jersey number 42 and it is a significant ritual appreciated by today's generation of players. "It's definitely one of those things you take a lot of pride in, putting on that jersey," said Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (as quoted by MLB.com's Tom Singer). "What (Robinson) went through, stepping up and being that guy to take that important step...it's something we need to always remember." This weekend, the nation remembered the Hall of Famer by making the biopic 42 the domestic box office champion with $27.3MM in ticket sales. This is the first time a baseball movie has ever grossed more than $20MM in its opening weekend and is also an opening weekend record for any baseball-themed movie when adjusted for inflation, according to Forbes. Here's the latest news and notes from America's Pastime:
- David Ortiz was scratched from his Triple-A rehab start today due to illness and it could become a very expensive setback, reports Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Ortiz's 2014 salary will be cut by $2MM (from $15MM to $13MM), if he spends more than 20 days on the disabled list and day 20 is next Sunday. His next rehab start could come tomorrow.
- Carlos Quentin announced he has withdrawn his appeal and will start serving his eight-game suspension today (first reported by the USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Twitter). "I’ve had time to have dialogue with Major League Baseball and a chance for the players association to protect me and my rights as a player,” Quentin told reporters including Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “When that time passed, I’ve prepared to serve my suspension." Quentin will miss the Padres' three-game series against the Dodgers, which begins tomorrow in Los Angeles.
- The Cubs could designate Brent Lillibridge or Alberto Gonzalez for assignment when Darwin Barney is activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, speculates the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles.
Teams that have inquired about Giancarlo Stanton have been told by the Marlins they are "not interested" in dealing their star outfielder, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network. Gammons specifically lists the Red Sox, Mets, and Rangers as teams who have checked in with Miami.
Yesterday, we learned the Rangers are reportedly doing early reconnaissance and prep work for what it would take to land Stanton while Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he hasn't had any conversations with the Marlins since early spring. Stanton has become the hottest name on the pages of MLBTR and more than 70% of our readers feel the Marlins will trade the 22-year-old sometime before Spring Training opens next year.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that MLB is working to address the lack of African-American participation in baseball, both on the field and in the stands. While the RBI program [Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities] has seen more than 200 of its kids drafted to major league teams, Cafardo writes that it hasn't sparked the kind of interest that leads to a kid getting his friends together and playing an informal game at the park. Here's more from today's column..
- The feeling is that if the Twins aren’t in the race in early July, Josh Willingham would become available. “He’s a power righthanded bat that any contender could stick right in the middle of their lineup and get outstanding production,” said one National League GM. “You’d have to give something up, but he’d be worth the expenditure. He can really hit.”
- Scouts and GMs say Chase Headley could be the most sought-after player at the trade deadline. Part of it is that the Padres star plays third, is a good hitter, and teams in contention believe he would really thrive if he played for a winner.
- The Pirates really wanted shortstop Jose Iglesias in the Joel Hanrahan deal as their scouts felt he would eventually hit. For now, it looks like his offense has improved. “The Pirates really wanted a young shortstop they could build around and Iglesias was the guy they earmarked,” said one baseball executive. “The jury was out by some teams’ evaluations on him, but there was no denying his defense and no denying that he had a chance with the bat as he matured. Maybe that time has come.”
- One scout who watched the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate recently gave high marks to the club for their haul in last year's mega-deal with the Dodgers. "If Ben Cherington never makes another trade he can rest assured that the two kids he got from the Dodgers [Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa] have tremendous arms." The scout added that he would like to see the Red Sox continue to extend De La Rosa as a starter.
- There’s a feeling among Astros personnel that Chris Carter, who was acquired from the A’s, could emerge as a 30-home run guy. Carter has been hot after a 1-for-19 start to the season.
Matt Harvey has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, and the Mets hurler appeared on the Baseball Tonight podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney to discuss how he could have signed with the Angels out of high school (Harvey appears near the 28:50 mark of this audio link). Here's more from the Eastern divisions...
- Tim Wakefield is joining the Red Sox as a special instructor and the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- We're less than two weeks into the season, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out that's long enough for the Rays to delay Wil Myers' free agency by a season if they wish to call him up. The team will need to wait until June to prevent him from reaching Super Two status, however.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Ben Zobrist is one of the two best players in the game, dating back to 2009, according to WAR. Rosenthal spoke with Baseball-Reference.com founder Sean Forman and Zobrist himself about the statistic.
- The Marlins TV ratings are at an all-time low, according to Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the ratings may see an uptick every five days when rookie Jose Fernandez starts, but the fans are simply too bored with the team to care most days.
- Denard Span and B.J. Upton of the Nationals and Braves, respectively, will be on the same field for the first of many times in the coming seasons on Friday, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Comak writes that there's a chance that this outcome could've come about with the pair's jerseys being flipped, had the offseason played out a bit differently.
In an interview with Mut & Merloni on WEEI, ESPN's Buster Olney said that the perception is that Jacoby Ellsbury will take Scott Boras' advice when it comes to free agency. That means chasing the biggest payday available, and Olney sees the outfielder leaving the Red Sox if he hits the open market. Here's more from around baseball..
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that there was not unanimity in the Yankees front office about bringing back Ichiro Suzuki and that the move was fueled by the club's hierarchy. There was specific disagreement about giving the veteran a two-year contract and there were execs who would have preferred to see that money directed to Russell Martin instead.
- The Orioles' trade of Luis Ayala shows their faith in left-hander T.J. McFarland, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. O's skipper Buck Showalter echoed those sentiments and also added that the club likes the player they got back, reliever Chris Jones.
- MLB's 40-somethings have shown that they can still produce, including the elder statesmen of the Yankees, writes John Schlegel of MLB.com.
- While it's a small sample size, the early returns on Vernon Wells are promising for the Yankees, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes was surprised when Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports pointed out that his new team is off the the same 2-5 start as the Marlins were a year prior. Reyes, however, isn't worried about his team's outlook: "...there’s no concern at all. There’s way too much talent on this ballclub to continue to play the way we’re playing.” Here are some more links from baseball's two Eastern divisions...
- WEEI.com's Rob Bradford hears that the Red Sox are not interested in trading for Aaron Harang (Twitter link). Reports over the weekend linked Boston to the recently DFA'ed right-hander.
- Offseason acquisition Denard Span has given the Nationals a "new kind of offensive identity," writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The presence of Span and Jayson Werth atop the lineup forces pitchers to work, given the high volume of pitches the pair averages per plate appearance. Werth and Adam LaRoche both offer high praise for the Nats' new leadoff man, who was acquired from the Twins for Alex Meyer this offseason.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca chronicles the early work that former Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero has done so far in his attempts to rediscover his mechanics. As Dividi notes, given the $7.5MM owed to Romero in each of the next three seasons, Toronto has no reason to rush and every reason to make sure they get it right.
- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that struggling ace Roy Halladay will have as long of a leash as he needs to get things sorted out: "If he needs 30 starts he’ll get it. As long as he’s healthy and he keeps working at it -- as much as he needs."
- Chris Dickerson is set to be added to the Orioles' 40-man and 25-man roster today, but speculation that it could result in a Steve Pearce DFA doesn't make sense, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports, who hears that the upcoming move won't involve Pearce.
A collection of links pertaining to baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post praises the Mets for leaving top prospect in the minor leagues and questions why the Marlins have chosen to start Jose Fernandez's service clock early. Sherman argues that non-contenders should be more mindful of the financial rammifications -- especially the Marlins, for whom money will likely continue to be an issue.
- Nick Swisher told reporters (including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger) that "it hurt" when the Yankees didn't make him an offer to return (beyond the one-year, $13.3MM qualifying offer to receive draft pick compensation). Swisher said he's no longer thinking about the Yankees and is focused on winning with the Indians, who have treated him "like a king" thus far.
- Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino told Jerry Spar of WEEI that baseball is "fun again" in Boston. Lucchino also praised general manager Ben Cherington's work in last summer's trade with the Dodgers, noting that they would have been happy to receive just one of Allen Webster or Rubby De La Rosa but wound up with both.
- In this week's Nationals mailbox, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes that the team has given no thought to cutting ties with flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. Manager Davey Johnson loves Rodriguez's arm, according to Ladson, so the organization plans to stick with him.