Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:39 pm

Red Sox pitchers, Francona speak on beer-drinking

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox have issued a statement, attempting to put the beer-drinking controversy to bed. The team is specifically refuting a claim that there was drinking in the dugout that was released Tuesday morning. Terry Francona is part of the statement, asking the team to release one for him, along with pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and president Larry Lucchino. The statement reads:
LesterJON LESTER (pictured, right): “The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false.  Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media.  
BeckettJOSH BECKETT (pictured, left): “I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough.  I admit that I made mistakes along the way this season, but this has gone too far.  To say that we drank in the dugout during the game is not true.”
JOHN LACKEY: “There are things that went on this season that shouldn’t have happened, but this latest rumor is not true, and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further.”
TERRY FRANCONA: “In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout.”
PRESIDENT/CEO LARRY LUCCHINO ON BEHALF OF THE BOSTON RED SOX: “Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona.  Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual.
“As we continue our internal examination to fully understand what went wrong in September, 2011, we appreciate these strong and clear statements from our players.
“It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from ‘anonymous sources’ to mislead the public.”
This should effectively confirm that all these Red Sox pitchers did, in fact, drink beer during games in which they did not pitch. Lester had previously admitted to drinking beer during games.

Can't get enough booze? Read more about the beer-drinking controversy.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 8:54 pm

Report: Red Sox pitchers drank beer in dugout

By Evan Brunell

A report from WHDH-7 TV's Joe Amorosino in Boston has Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester drinking beer during games. That's nothing that hasn't been reported yet, except this report has the beer-drinking occurring in the dugout.

During games in which the three were not pitching, the trio would go to the clubhouse as early as the sixth inning and fill cups with Bud Light beer and drink it on the dugout as games ended.

“Beckett would come down the stairs from the dugout, walking through the corridor to the clubhouse and say ‘it’s about that time’," an employee of the team said. "Beckett was the instigator but Lester and Lackey were right behind him. It was blatant and hard not to notice what was going on with all three guys leaving at once.”

Whether the team was winning or losing was irrelevant to the beer-drinking, and increased as 2011 wore on. Another employee said it was a cause of boredom on the nights all three weren't pitching and "is how they entertained themselves.”

It's difficult to tell whether or not this report is true. If so, it would point to reports that the three were essentially a clique and couldn't be bothered to care about other players on the team on days one of the three wasn't pitching. This much is true: whatever happened, it wasn't acceptable. What if one of them had to be pressed into duty in extra-innings, for example? What about supporting your team and being invested in the game?

Update: Jon Lester, who admitted to drinking beer in the clubhouse, called the reports of drinking in the dugout "completely false," according to ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.

Read more about the Red Sox's saga with drinking beer during games.

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:45 pm

Report: Epstein may steal GM Hoyer from Padres

HoyerBy Evan Brunell

The Cubs are considering stealing away GM Jed Hoyer from the Padres to work under Theo Epstein, SI.com is reporting.

Epstein is expected to become the new Cubs GM before long provided his current employer, the Red Sox, can agree on a compensation package to allow Epstein to depart to Chicago. Part of the issue is which of Epstein's assistants in Boston, if any, he would be allowed to take with him to Chicago. Given that Boston is playing hardball, it's possible Epstein may not be able to take anyone.

Hoyer (pictured) worked under Epstein for years in Boston and was co-GM in 2005 along with Ben Cherington, expected to be Epstein's replacement, for a month when Epstein briefly resigned as GM of the Red Sox. There's no indication that Hoyer would be interested in leaving his GM post for a lesser spot, but the fact that he's being considered is fascinating.

While there's a slim possibility of this happening, it's difficult to see. Hoyer is signed through 2013 and the move to Chicago would either be lateral or a step down from his current role. If Epstein joins the Cubs as president, as expected given moving from Boston GM to Chicago GM would be a lateral move, that does leave a GM spot open in Chicago, but why would San Diego let Hoyer out of his contract for a lateral move? Organizations can poach people from other clubs for promotions, but Hoyer departing for a demotion or lateral move would be unprecedented. You would think that if this came to pass, the Padres would ask compensation to allow Hoyer to depart.

If he did leave to Chicago, senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes -- also with connections to working under Epstein in Boston -- would take over as Padres GM. If Hoyer stays, Epstein is expected to target Byrnes as well as Padres assistant GM Jason McLeod, also formerly of the Red Sox.

Catch up on all the Theo Epstein to Cubs madness here.

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Photo: MLB.com.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 7:02 am

Rangers tab Wilson as Game 1 starter

WilsonBy Evan Brunell

C.J. Wilson has been tabbed as the Rangers' Game 1 starter in the World Series, manager Ron Washington announced on Monday.

“He’s my No. 1 guy, nothing has changed,” Washington told MLB.com.

Wilson has struggled mightily this postseason, posting an 8.04 ERA over three starts. However, not many of Texas' other starters have done well, so Wilson really wins the job by default. As the ace all year long, Wilson could still come through with a gem on baseball's biggest stage. It's unclear who will follow Wilson in the rotation, although Derek Holland has done so all October. Given how shaky Holland has been, though, it's possible he could be bumped down the list by Colby Lewis. Matt Harrison, who has been the No. 4 starter all postseason, will remain in that role, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram writes.

It is not yet known who will start Game 1 for the Cardinals, although it is widely expected to be Chris Carpenter, who would have pitched a potential Game 7 in the NLCS.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:34 pm

Report: Red Sox targeting Cubs pitcher McNutt

McNuttBy Evan Brunell

As the Red Sox and Cubs continue talking about compensation for GM Theo Epstein, one name has filtered out as to whom Boston wants.

The Red Sox are reportedly focusing on starting pitching prospect Trey McNutt, a 22-year-old who is the best pitching prospect in Chicago's system but a clear step down from top prospect Brett Jackson, as CSNChicago.com writes. Jackson, a center fielder, has already been ruled out as potential compensation for Epstein, who is expected to be named Chicago's new GM in the next two days, prior to the World Series starting.

McNutt had blister problems in 2011 and finished with a 4.55 ERA in Double-A Tennessee over 95 innings. He struck out 65 and walked 39 a year after breaking out, splitting 2010 between two Class A levels and Double-A. All told, the righty punched out 132 batters in 116 1/3 minor-league innings last season, walking 37 and checking in with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts.

Red Sox drama
McNutt was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft and wasn't highly regarded coming out of community college in Birmingham, Ala. Astros infielder Matt Downs is another active baseball player who came from the same college.

McNutt has a chance to be part of the rotation for the Cubs in 2012, which could scuttle discussions, but that's also the same reason why Boston would want McNutt. The Red Sox are severely lacking in upper-minors pitching depth and McNutt would be a major boost and could even potentially win the No. 5 starter's job out of spring training, although he more likely figures to be a late-season option.

Two prospects in total are expected to be part of the package heading to Boston.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 7:07 am

Jon Lester speaks on Red Sox accusations


By Evan Brunell

One of the Red Sox players accused of drinking beer in the clubhouse has come out and admitted such.

"It was the wrong thing to do," Jon Lester told the Boston Globe, saying he was one of the players to drink beer in the clubhouse this season -- but never on a day he pitched, and far less often than has been suggested.

"It was a ninth-inning rally beer," he said, shades of A.J. Pierzynski's own explanation for drinking while on the job with the White Sox. "We probably ordered chicken from Popeye's like once a month. That happened. But that's not the reason we lost."

"Most of the times, it was one beer, a beer," Lester added. "It was like having a Coke in terms of how it affected you. I know how it looks to people and it probably looks bad. But we weren't up there just drinking and eating and nobody played video games. We watched the game."

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Lester says the reason the Red Sox lost was because "we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball."

However, by the same token, the lefty also admits that the occurrence was a bad habit and he should have been on the bench more. How can he say, then, that drinking beer and secluding himself in the clubhouse had no impact on the club's fortunes? It's a pretty vague statement to make, but isn't it possible the loss of solidarity and gelling of the team -- which outgoing manager Terry Francona cited as a problem -- contributed to September's downfall?

"Are there things I regret? Sure there are," he added. "But nothing happened that had me unprepared to pitch. I don't blame people for wanting answers because we had a hell of a team and we lost. You can't have a team that gets paid like we get paid and loses and not expect people to want answers."

Speaking of Francona, Lester admitted that it was time for a change.

"I love Tito and he did a great job for us when he was here. On a personal level I was more than grateful for what he did for me and my family," he said. "But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there. You kind of run your course. People who knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it. We never had rules, we never had that iron-fist mentality. If you screwed up, he called you on it. That was how it worked.

"I never say guys [were] purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure."

Lester didn't feel comfortable speaking for the others accused in the fiasco, such as Josh Beckett and Jon Lackey and others, but felt he had to speak out in light of all the stories.

"We're not bad people and we're not a bad group of guys," he said.

Lester spoke at length with the Globe, also touching on the issue of player conditioning and the accusation that players allowed themselves to get out of shape.

"It's probably because of how we eat," he said of why pitchers gain weight as the season progresses. "We have some crazy hours with the travel and you get in at 4 a.m. and you get room service or something quick. But unless your body fat is going up 10 percent or something like that, you don't have a problem.

"I've heard what people are saying in Boston. I can tell you that guys were in the weight room. Guys were doing their shoulder [exercises] and guys were prepared to pitch. If we win a few more games in September and make the playoffs, none of this comes out. But we didn't and that's on us as a team and on me personally. I take a lot of the blame for this, a lot."

As part of the solution, Lester thinks high-character players are needed, citing Alex Cora, Eric Hinske and Sean Casey as previous influencers.

"We need that good veteran presence," he said. "If you have somebody like that, it makes everybody better. Everybody is accountable and we have plenty of people to look up to. That's not the problem. But we have a lot of guys who are kind of middle-aged in terms of their careers. Sometimes you need veteran guys who know their roles and can reach out to everybody."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 11:17 am

Alex Avila reveals sprained knee in July

By Evan Brunell

Alex Avila, who broke out as one of the best catchers in the game this season, revealed that he sprained his left knee in July.

"I have tendinitis," he told the Detroit Free-Press. "I don't think I have any ligament damage."

The Avila4-year-old's right leg also gave Avila trouble, as it buckled under the pressure of compensating for the left knee. After hitting .295/.389/.506 for the season, he slumped in October and collected just two hits in 25 at-bats, driving in one run. Avila's struggles were a major reason the Tigers lost in the ALCS, especially as he wasn't able to lengthen the lineup in the absence of Magglio Ordonez.

"He never once complained," starter Justin Verlander said.

Avila had a MRI on Sunday, but the results haven't come back yet. The diagnosis of tendinitis is expected to be confirmed. At that point, he will rest for a month, then begin a workout routine to get ready for spring training.

"I will be as good as new," he said.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 11:11 am

Dodgers owner McCourt settles with ex-wife Jamie

McCourtBy Evan Brunell

The Los Angeles Times reports that Frank McCourt has reached an agreement with ex-wife Jamie to assume full control of the Dodgers.

Jamie is expected to receive $130 million in exchange for dropping her contention that she is co-owner of the Dodgers. This would be a major step toward Frank retaining the team in its bankruptcy battle with MLB, as Jamie's absence from the proceedings would clear the way for Frank to sell the television rights to the club, using the revenue to fund the team. He would have been unable to keep the team unless he beat both his ex-wife and baseball. Removing Jamie from the equation simplifies matters greatly.

The settlement will position Frank McCourt to engage in a head-on battle with commissioner Bud Selig to keep the team. McCourt still has a ways to go in the proceedings, however. For one, he will have to be able to use revenue from any television deal struck to complete his divorce settlement, which Selig originally rejected, setting up the path of events to come. Selig and Fox Sports do not want McCourt to be able to auction off TV rights, which McCourt is asking the court to allow so he can raise money.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com