John Lackey Rumors
On September 3, the Red Sox had a 99.6% chance of making the postseason, according to statistican Nate Silver. The next day, Silver notes that Bill Buckner played himself on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that spoofed Buckner's legendary World Series error. The Sox went 6-18 after Buckner's cameo. As Larry David himself would say, that is a prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay big coincidence.
Some notes from Boston as the fallout continues from the Red Sox' legendary collapse....
- Theo Epstein and Terry Francona met with the media today, and Alex Speier from WEEI had the details. Epstein said that the team had just finished an initial review of its baseball personnel and wouldn't make any decisions for a few days yet.
- Epstein said that Francona wasn't being singled out as the cause for Boston's collapse. "That would be totally irresponsible and totally short-sighted and wouldn’t recognize everything he means to the organization and to all our successes, including, at times, in 2011,” Epstein said. “So we take full responsibility for what happened, all of us. Collectively it was a failure....I’m the general manager so I take more responsibility than anybody. I don’t think we believe in – I know we don’t believe in scapegoats. In particular, no one blames Tito for what happened in September. Look, we all failed collectively."
- Epstein dismissed rumors about his connection to the Cubs' general manager's job as "just speculation."
- Francona said he wasn't yet prepared to discuss his future with the Sox, saying last night's devastating result was "still pretty fresh and pretty raw." The manager said he and Epstein would sit down within the next few days.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated hears from several "baseball people" that Francona and the Sox could mutually decide to part ways. If Francona does leave, it probably won't be to the White Sox, as Heyman hears Chicago "may go younger" (both Twitter links).
- Epstein said the club would examine its process for evaluating free agents, given the failures of John Lackey, Carl Crawford and past free agents like Matt Clement and Julio Lugo. Though Lackey and Crawford struggled this season, Epstein said the team will do everything possible to get both players back up to par for 2012.
- Epstein praised the performances of David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, saying he hopes the Sox can figure out a way to bring both pending free agents back to Boston this winter.
- Peter Gammons thinks Lackey may have to be traded for another bad contract like Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano, reports WEEI.com's Paul Flannery. "I'm not sure John is ever going to fit in Boston again. I understand how upset he is but I think it's going to be hard for fans to warm up to him again," Gammons said. Gammons notes that other teams who suffered late-season breakdowns underwent major organizational changes, though he thinks Francona will return as manager.
- ESPN's Buster Olney looks at some key figures on the Red Sox and Braves whose status is in question in the wake of both teams' terrible Septembers. Olney thinks Lackey has to be moved, predicts changes to Boston's coaching staff and hears it's "highly unlikely" Epstein leaves, though friends of the GM say he would embrace the challenge of running the Cubs.
- Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal thinks Epstein should take the fall for building a roster with too many holes.
As the trade deadline approaches, the Red Sox are probably going to be looking for position players rather than pitchers, GM Theo Epstein told Peter Gammons in an appearance on NESN (video link).
"I don't see a ton of pitching help out there unless it's the few guys who can really make an impact, who will take your farm system to get," Epstein said. "I think we could benefit from a complementary position player in the right spot."
Epstein cited the organization's pitching depth as a reason why the club won't seek out arms before the deadline. For the time being, he says, the club won't look to tap into that depth to replace John Lackey in the rotation. The 32-year-old has a 7.47 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 through 13 starts this season.
The defending AL East Champion Rays are 47-38, which gives them the third best record in the American League. Unfortunately for the Rays, they're third in the AL East, behind the only two AL clubs with better records, the Yankees and Red Sox. Here's the latest on the division:
- The Orioles' reliance on Mitch Atkins and Chris Jakubauskas as starters shows that Baltimore's rotation has been a disappointment, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen have not pitched as well as expected, so the rotation has become a consistent weakness.
- The Orioles will purchase Atkins' contract today to add him to the active roster and they could consider designating Jakubauskas for assignment to create space, according to Connolly.
- Derek Jeter, who returned to the Yankees' lineup from the disabled list last night, told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he's unhappy with his first half performance and intends to improve "everything" in the second half.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks back at Boston's free agent additions under GM Theo Epstein and concludes that "the pricier investments have offered suspect returns." That's certainly true of two free agents the Red Sox signed before the 2010 season: Mike Cameron and John Lackey.
On this date nine years ago, Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez disposed of the Mariners in the first inning by striking out the side on nine pitches. Today, the outlook isn't nearly as rosy for Boston, which is above .500 for the first time this year. Here's the latest:
- The Red Sox announced that Daisuke Matsuzaka experienced elbow tightness during his last start. An MRI confirmed that the right-hander appears to have a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strain to his common flexor mass. The Red Sox will re-examine him in two weeks.
- Boston's other injured starter, John Lackey, received a cortisone shot in his right pitching elbow, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (on Twitter).
- Tonight, Victor Martinez returns to Fenway Park for the first time this season. Back in March, Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained that the Red Sox didn't offer V-Mart more than $42MM in guaranteed money, but believed he would have returned if they had matched the Tigers' $50MM offer.
- Peter Gammons weighed in on all things Red Sox earlier today.
On this date 15 years ago, Sammy Sosa became the first Cub to homer twice in one inning. Here's the latest from around the league, including a note on a less productive Cubs bat...
- The Cubs optioned Tyler Colvin to the minors after today's game and GM Jim Hendry told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he wants the outfielder to get regular playing time in Triple-A. As Hendry says, MLB teams are in the "production business."
- Scott Olsen made about $108K with the Pirates before they released him, according to Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).
- John Lackey's DL stint probably won't affect Boston's 2015 option for the right-hander, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Though the option will be worth the MLB minimum if Lackey misses extended time because of a right elbow injury that existed before he signed with the Red Sox, he'd have to miss the rest of the season for the option to be affected, according to Bradford.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com looks back at Drayton McLane's 19 years of ownership in Houston. McLane has agreed to sell the Astros to Jim Crane; for details on the sale and how it could impact the franchise, click here.
Ten years ago today, Marlins starter A.J. Burnett pitched a no-hitter against the Padres despite walking nine batters. Now a member of the Yankees' rotation, Burnett is off to a strong start after a disappointing 2010 season. Here's the latest on the Yankees' division rivals...
- Josh Rupe cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles designated the reliever for assignment on Tuesday.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald notes that the Red Sox inquired about Jose Bautista during the offseason, only to hear that the Blue Jays weren't interested in moving him. Talks never went anywhere, as the Blue Jays were in the process of trading Vernon Wells and extending Bautista (on a deal that’s looking shrewd in the early going).
- John Lackey is in a major rut and he knows it, as Tomase writes. “Everything went wrong that could go wrong,” Lackey said of his start against the Blue Jays last night. “It’s pretty much the story of the whole damn year.”
- Don Connolly of the Baltimore Sun looks back at the 2008 trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and others and concludes that it was one of the top five deals in Orioles history, but not quite as good as it seemed a year or two ago.
- James Shields has re-emerged as a top pitcher and is pitching with a sense of purpose, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who spoke to the Rays right-hander about his 2011 success.
- In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney notes that Rays ace David Price is relying heavily on his fastball. Price threw 103 fastballs out of 112 pitches yesterday, though he averaged a season-high 95.3 mph with the pitch and threw it to both sides of the plate.
Saturday night links, as Troy Tulowitzki's jaw-dropping September continues....
- Fort Washington, Pennsylvania product Sean Coyle is now represented by Sosnick-Cobbe Sports, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The shortstop received a $1.3MM bonus from the Red Sox as a third-round draft pick out of high school this year. Sosnick-Cobbe already represents the draft's other big-name Pennsylvania native in the Phillies' Jesse Biddle, who was drafted in the first round. There may be another million dollar draft pick from the state next year in Derek Fisher, a high school outfielder hailing from Rexmont.
- Clay Buchholz would love to see Victor Martinez return to the Red Sox next year, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Terry Francona tells MLB.com's Ian Browne that he was "thrilled" the Red Sox signed John Lackey last winter, and that he hasn't lost any confidence in the investment.
- A.J. Ellis' recent play for the Dodgers could put him in line for a bigger role next year, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Cubs will consider Bob Brenly for their vacant managerial post, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- David DeJesus is waiting to hear from the Royals about their decision on his $6MM option for next season according to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. The club has until October 15th to exercise the option, and GM Dayton Moore said he's "not prepared to say what [they're] doing at this point."
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier says that John Lackey hasn't been worth the risk for the Red Sox yet, and he'll have to buck historical trends to be worth the remainder of his five-year, $82.5MM contract.
- Meanwhile, Jim Donaldson of The Providence Journal jokes that the Sox should be able to ask Lackey and Josh Beckett for refunds given how they've pitched after signing their new deals.
- There will be plenty of competition for a spot in the Cubs rotation next season, writes Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune.
- David Barron of The Houston Chronicle looks at how the Reds are thriving thanks to a mix of young players and veterans.
As major league teams unveil their 2011 schedules, here are some news items....
- As Daniel Hudson improves to 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA as a Diamondback tonight, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets that Hudson "probably" could have been a Brewer had Milwaukee accepted a one-for-one offer from Chicago for Prince Fielder. The problem at the time was that the Brewers projected Hudson as only a third or fourth starter and wanted more for their slugger. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 on any missed trade, but if Hudson continues to pitch well in Arizona, it will put even more pressure on the Brewers to get a big return back if they do end up dealing Fielder.
- An anonymous NL official tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that Jose Reyes could command "one really good prospect, one solid prospect, and one or two medium-range prospects" in a trade should the Mets put their shortstop on the market this winter. This source seems in favor of a total rebuild for the Mets; he also thinks they should try to deal David Wright and Francisco Rodriguez.
- Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News cites Bronson Arroyo's durability, consistent win totals and veteran presence as reasons why Cincinnati should pick up the right-hander's $11MM option for next season.
- We've heard that the Rockies will look for a right-handed first baseman to platoon with Todd Helton next season, and ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill cites former Rockie Garrett Atkins as a possibility for the role. Atkins was non-tendered
by Colorado last winter and after signing a one-year contract with
Baltimore, was released by the Orioles last July.
- Interim Arizona GM Jerry Dipoto will interview for the full-time position tomorrow, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (Twitter link).
- Any Boston fans tickled by A.J. Burnett's struggles this season might not want to crow too much, since Fangraphs' Joe Pawlikowski cites Burnett as comparable to the also-struggling John Lackey.
- Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders if the Red Sox might pursue Jim Thome as a cheaper free agent DH option rather than pick up David Ortiz's 2011 option.
- Travis Buck's "organizational status is clearly at an all-time low" in Oakland, writes Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com. Buck is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and could be non-tendered given the number of other promising outfielders in the Athletics' system.
- If Jesus Montero can develop a solid catching glove to go along with his powerful bat, the Mariners may regret passing on New York's Montero-centered offer for Cliff Lee, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- Blogger El Lefty Malo praises the Giants' acquisition of Cody Ross and some other recent Brian Sabean moves.
- Angels manager Mike Scioscia thinks the Halos just need a "tweaking" rather than an overhaul in the winter, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says upgrading the infield should be a top priority for the Cardinals in the offseason.
On this date 12 years ago, Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter ordered closer Gregg Olsen to intentionally walk Barry Bonds with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th. Arizona was leading the Giants 8-6 at the time, and the move not only forced in a run, but also put the winning run in scoring position. The next batter, Brent Mayne, flew out to deep center field to end the inning and give the D'Backs the 8-7 win. It was just the third time in history that a batter was intentionally walked with the bases loaded, though the Rays' Joe Maddon turned the same trick with Josh Hamilton in August 2008.
Coincidentally, Bonds hit his 715th career homer to pass Babe Ruth for sole possession of second place on the all-time list on this same date back in 2006. Anyway, here's a collection of links from around the baseball blogiverse...
- Prospect Insider examines the Cliff Lee trade market.
- Capitol Avenue Club lists six players the Braves could select with their first pick, #35 overall, in next month's draft. Atlanta sent their first round pick, #20 overall, to the Red Sox as compensation for signing Billy Wagner.
- Mets Paradise looks at the internal candidates the Mets could turn to if they need to fill another rotation spot.
- Yankeeist reviews some players the Yankees either let go or passed on last offseason, plus some players they could pursue next winter.
- Dodger Dugout tries to figure out what Ned Colletti might be thinking as the trade deadline slowly approaches.
- Meanwhile, The Baseball Opinion speculates about Roy Oswalt landing with the Dodgers.
- The Bottom Line says that John Lackey's curve has been lacking with the Red Sox.
- River Ave. Blues takes a deeper look at some draft prospects the Yankees have been linked to.
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