Tag:Boston Red Sox
Posted on: November 28, 2011 10:15 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 11:29 pm
 

Astros obtain permission to talk with Friedman

It's a long way from job offered and job accepted, but the Astros on Tuesday obtained permission from Tampa Bay to speak with general manager Andrew Friedman, sources with knowledge of the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com.

New Astros owner Jim Crane, wasting no time after a firing GM Ed Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith, is setting his sights on the man widely considered to be one of the top executives in the game. That Friedman is only 35 and is a Houston native are both happy coincidences -- and, as for Friedman's hometown, one huge chip the Astros apparently hope they can cash in.

With Friedman in the GM's seat, Tampa Bay has won two AL East titles in the past four seasons. The Rays also earned an American League wild-card berth another of those years. The Red Sox, by comparison, have won only one AL East title in the past 16 seasons.

Friedman also spoke with the Angels earlier this winter, though he never reached the point where he waded too deeply into the interview process in either place. He absolutely loves his situation in Tampa Bay with owner Stuart Sternberg, club president Matt Silverman and manager Joe Maddon, according to multiple sources, and is not looking to leave.

Whether the pull of his hometown Astros would be enough will be determined in the near future, though sources indicate that it still would be a surprise if Friedman does leave his current situation. With the baseball winter meetings convening next week in Dallas, Houston is looking to move quickly -- though the Astros almost certainly will not have a new man on the job by then.

News that the Astros have obtained permission from the Rays to speak with Friedman was first reported by Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Red Sox look directionless in talking Bobby V

News that the Red Sox are talking with Bobby Valentine appears to mean one of two things for the flailing Bostons, who now are the only major-league team without a manager:

1. There is a total lack of direction and the Red Sox don't even know what they want anymore.

2. Ownership has seized the steering wheel from rookie general manager Ben Cherington and now is controlling the process.

Either scenario is not good, a far cry from the well-oiled machine that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

The first scenario is evidenced by the dramatic contrast between Valentine and the initial group of candidates they interviewed: Dale Sveum, who was named Cubs manager Friday, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gene Lamont, Pete Mackanin and Torey Lovullo. Of that group, only Lamont has prior major-league managerial experience (Mackanin was the Pirates' interim manager in 2005 and the Reds' interim pilot in 2007). All of those guys veer toward the quiet and unassuming and, to an extent, could be controlled by management. Valentine is brash, has years of experience and is his own man.

The second scenario is evidenced by the fact that Sveum veered in the Cubs' direction in short order following a lunch with Red Sox ownership on Wednesday. He was the only candidate brought back for a second interview. Clearly things did not click between Sveum and Boston's ownership. What we don't know is whether Sveum told Boston the Cubs were his first choice or whether Red Sox ownership pulled the plug on him.

Either way, it speaks volumes.

Obviously, Cherington did not think experience was a necessity when this process started. Valentine was on the shelf, available, when Terry Francona was let go. If the Red Sox were that interested in Valentine, they could have had him in place weeks ago. Why waste time first-dating all those first-timers?

Unless ... they arrived at Valentine once ownership lost confidence in Cherington.

Now there are more questions than answers:

-- Has aggressive president Larry Lucchino been turned loose by co-owners John Henry and Tom Werner to do his thing after being kept away from baseball operations during Theo Epstein's last few years in Boston?

-- By hiring Sveum, did Theo and Co. sting the Red Sox enough that Lucchino and Co. looking to one-up the Cubs with a splashy hire?

-- With his outsized personality, how much fun would Valentine be managing the Red Sox mixing with the outsized egos of ownership, the outsized coverage of the local media and the outsized noise from the New England fans?

-- How does Cherington regain his balance after his legs were cut out from under him this week and command authority going forward? Is it even possible?

At this rate, the Red Sox may take until Valentine's Day to have a manager in place. Or maybe (Bobby) Valentine's Day will come early to Boston.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 12:03 am
Edited on: November 17, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Cubs make it official: Dale Sveum is new manager

Dale Sveum is in place as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs. The club made it official Thursday and will formally introduce him at a Wrigley Field news conference on Friday.

As the Red Sox prepared for an 11th-hour expansion of their managerial search, sources said late Wednesday night that the Cubs had offered their position to Sveum. By midday Wednesday, he had agreed to a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth to replace Mike Quade in the Cubs dugout as the Red Sox regrouped.

Sveum was brought back for a second interview by both the Cubs and the Red Sox as the two venerable franchises lurched toward Thanksgiving looking to fill managerial vacancies. He met with Boston's brass in Milwaukee, site of the general managers' and owners' meetings this week, a second time over lunch on Wednesday.

While there were growing indications in recent days that Sveum preferred the Cubs' job to that of the Red Sox, Boston officials acknowledged late Wednesday night that they will expand their search. Sveum had been the only candidate invited back for a second interview by the Red Sox.

Sveum, who was Boston's third-base coach in 2004 and 2005, will re-join new Chicago president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer as the Cubs look to dig out of the mess of a 91-loss season that left them fifth in the NL Central last summer.

Sveum has been on Milwaukee's coaching staff for the past six seasons, and has served as the Brewers' hitting coach for the past three seasons, and his choice could be viewed as odd given that Milwaukee twice bypassed Sveum when its own manager's job was open.

In 2008, during one of the strangest finishes to a season for a playoff team in memory, the Brewers fired Ned Yost and replaced him on an interim basis with Sveum with just 12 games remaining.

However, instead of making Sveum their full-time manager, general manager Doug Melvin instead hired veteran baseball man Ken Macha. Then, when he fired Macha following the 2010 season, Melvin hired Ron Roenicke.

Reasons? Back in '08, the Brewers weren't sure Sveum, now 47, was ready for a managerial gig. Plus, Melvin philosophically is not a fan of hiring interim managers. The Brewers still weren't convinced that Sveum was ready after the 2010 season.

They are now.

"I think Dale's ready to manage," Melvin said Wednesday afternoon. "He's well-prepared, organized and conscientious. He's someone the players will like."

Both the Cubs and Red Sox viewed Sveum as being ready. And the Brewers have only good things to say about a man who has been loyal throughout when others may have fled the organization after being bypassed for the full-time manager's job.

"It was a very unfortunate situation at the time," Sveum said when we talked in mid-September about his brief interim gig in '08 and his reasons for staying in Milwaukee afterward. "I only managed for 12 days and then the playoffs. It wasn't like I was there for three months or something. It wasn't the norm where you think you deserve the job."

He said in September that he still wanted to manage and thought, given the right situation, he was ready to do so.

The Cubs may not be perfect, but they're the right situation. While Boston's roster is far more talented, Sveum lives in the off-season in Scottsdale, Ariz., not far from the Cubs' spring training base in Mesa. Boston trains in Florida.

Also, as a rookie manager, because the Cubs are not expected to win in 2012, Sveum will not face the same pressure he would have faced in Boston. He will have time to get his feet under him and break into the job (though Cubs fans who suffered while Mike Quade did the same in 2011 surely will not want to hear that).

During Sveum's 12-year major-league playing career, he spent time in Milwaukee (five seasons), Philadelphia, Chicago (White Sox), Oakland, Seattle, Pittsburgh and New York (Yankees). A cousin of former big leaguer John Olerud, Sveum managed Double-A Altoona in Pittsburgh's organization from 2001 through 2003 before joining the Red Sox coaching staff.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 6:09 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Matheny replaces La Russa as Cards manager

The Cardinals on Sunday named former big league catcher Mike Matheny as their new manager and will formally introduce him in a news conference on Monday morning in St. Louis.

Presumably, they've already handed Matheny a guidebook blueprint for replacing an all-time legend (Tony La Russa), taking over a World Series champion as a rookie skipper and making a managerial debut in the big leagues -- not in the minor leagues.

The truth? The only way Matheny's debut job could be any more difficult is if the club loses icon Albert Pujols via free agency.

Wait, hold that thought!

While Pujols was being wined and dined by the Miami Marlins over the weekend, the Cardinals whittled their short list of La Russa replacements to a final one.

The contrast between him and La Russa could not be more stark:

La Russa managed more games than any manager in major-league history after Connie Mack.

Matheny, 40, spent part of last season as a roving minor-league instructor for the Cardinals, and part of it in the St. Louis broadcast booth. He has never been a manager.

He has, however, managed games from behind the plate as a catcher for 13 years in Milwaukee, Toronto, St. Louis and San Francisco. He spent five years behind the plate for La Russa's Cardinals, from 2000-2004, and during that time forged a solid relationship and earned a tremendous amount of respect from La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

How much? As Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote earlier this month, La Russa once described Matheny "as the only big-league ballplayer he'd let one of his daughters marry." As Strauss noted then, the fact that the Cardinals would consider allowing Matheny to become their next manager might be nearly as impressive.

Matheny was said by industry sources to have been very impressive when he went through the Cardinal interview process earlier this month. That surely came as no surprise to general manager John Mozeliak and the club, given that Matheny was a clubhouse leader during his time in St. Louis whose leadership qualities were unquestioned.

That, and Matheny's familiarity with the Cardinals organization are the qualities that the club hopes make for a smooth transition. As a player, his attention to detail was evident, among many other areas, in the four Gold Gloves he won -- three of them while wearing a Cardinals uniform. He also helped mentor a young Yadier Molina, a relationship that should grow further and work as one of St. Louis' strengths in 2012.

One key for an inexperienced manager is his staff, and with Duncan expected to return, Matheny will have the game's most respected pitching coach at his right hand.

Another important hire will be Matheny's bench coach, presumably a veteran man with managerial experience. Colleague Danny Knobler is hearing that former Red Sox and Dodgers manager Grady Little is a possibility to join Matheny in St. Louis.

Matheny was chosen ahead of five other candidates: Terry Francona, who most recently managed the Red Sox; Chris Maloney, who managed St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis last year; Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Famer and former Cubs star who managed Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate; Joe McEwing, who managed the White Sox Triple-A affiliate, and Jose Oquendo, the Cardinals' third-base coach.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Orioles sure don't sound like players on Fielder

Regarding all the industry buzz that has the Orioles in hot pursuit of free agent slugger Prince Fielder this winter?

It might be time to cool it.

Baltimore issued its first public policy statement on Fielder on Tuesday, and in his introductory press conference as the club's new general manager, Dan Duquette sounded like a man more interested in devoting resources to the farm than to Fielder.

"Everybody wants to look at established major league players," Duquette said when asked specifically about big-ticket free agents such as Fielder or pitcher C.J. Wilson. "My success in the free agent market has been more signing players who can compliment the team [once core players are in place].

"When you can sign a player who can get you over the top, that's the time, I think, when it's right to go into the free agent market, personally."

From their perch at the bottom of the AL East, where they went 69-93 and produced the worst pitching staff in the American League, the Orioles do not look like they are ready to go "over the top" anytime soon.

Duquette's strength is in scouting -- both domestic and international -- and player development. He did sign free agents Manny Ramirez (2001) and Johnny Damon (2002) when he was in charge of the Red Sox, though those Boston teams were much further along than the current Orioles.

Duquette added Manny to a Red Sox club that had finished second in the AL East at 85-77 in 2000, then added Damon to a club that was second at 82-79 in 2001. Three years later, his instincts were proven correct: The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, and again in 2007.

Speaking in Baltimore on Tuesday, Duquette noted that when you think you're within a player or two of winning, or when you have a chance to sign someone who is "a good value for a long period of time, that's when you should go into the free agent market. I believe Orioles fans understand that."

Sure doesn't sound like an organization prepared to toss a blank check in Fielder's direction.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 7:39 pm
 

Selig expected to arbitrate Cubs-Red Sox dispute


When the Cubs and Red Sox announced the Theo Epstein deal Friday night, they said that they had "reached an agreement regarding a process by which appropriate compensation will be determined for the Red Sox and that issue will be resolved in the near term."

That process, sources with knowledge of the talks said Saturday, will involved Commissioner Bud Selig serving as the arbiter if the clubs cannot agree on compensation. Most likely, that would happen fairly quickly after the World Series.

The two clubs are bickering strictly over players coming back to the Red Sox, one source said. As of now, there are no financial considerations.

Epstein will be introduced at a Wrigley Field news conference on Tuesday, the travel day between World Series Games 5 and 6. As CBSSports.com reported Thursday, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, one of Hoyer's top assistants in San Diego, will join him in Chicago and the Cubs will send a low-level minor league player (or players) to the Padres as compensation.

Those moves, though, will not happen until later next week. At that point Josh Byrnes, the former Arizona general manager, will be named as the Padres' GM, succeeding Hoyer. Byrnes currently is a senior vice-president for baseball operations in San Diego.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:20 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Beltre lands in World Series after 14 years

ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Beltre has played a long time for a guy who has never reached the World Series.

A long, long, long time.

"You got that right," Beltre says. "It took me 14 years. But I'm here, man."

Beltre's 1,959 regular-season games are the third-most among active players for a guy who has never set foot in the Fall Classic, trailing only Bobby Abreu (2,247) and Miguel Tejada (2,118).

But as that great baseball man, Branch Rickey, once said, luck is the residue of design. And Beltre's splashdown in St. Louis for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday is more design than luck.

When he signed a five-year, $80 million deal last winter to play third base in Texas, he had plenty of other options. One was with the Los Angeles Angels, though, as he told me this spring, he spurned them because he thought the Rangers had a better team and, as such, a better chance to go to the World Series.

Beyond the Angels, Beltre had a few other options as well. Oakland. Baltimore.

"If it was the money, I'd be somewhere else," he said. "Money wasn't my main issue. I could have had more money [elsewhere] or I could have stayed home in L.A.

"It was a hard decision to come here, but it's been the best one."

Beltre was everything the Rangers were hoping for. He played Gold Glove defense. He hit .296 with a .331 on-base percentage. He slammed 32 homers and collected 105 RBI in 124 games. Only a hamstring injury slowed him late in the year.

Now that he's back strong, the Rangers' lineup is as dangerous and deep as there is in the game. Their second consecutive World Series appearance proves that.

Beltre said he never felt pressure in Texas because he was surrounded by so much talent, guys like Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli.

"I came here, but I wasn't the guy," says Beltre, who played exceedingly well in Boston in 2010 before signing with Texas. "I was just one of the guys.

"It's different when they bring you in to be the guy."

Asked about the Red Sox's meltdown and ongoing drama, Beltre quipped: "Why? What happened to the Red Sox? I don't watch TV."
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:14 pm
 

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Talk about a golden autumn for general managers. Billy Beane goes Hollywood in "Moneyball." Theo Epstein is about to go Wrigleyville in "Cubbyball."

What's next, the Martin Scorsese HBO documentary treatment for Brian Cashman?

Make no mistake, the Red Sox are on the verge of completing their most historically impactful deal since owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919.

Whatever side you're on in what suddenly has become a vengeful Theo Divide, the facts are that the man constructed two World Series winners in Boston. Whether or not he's run his course, whether he fueled the Red Sox's downhill slide by signing free agents John Lackey, Julio Lugo and Carl Crawford, he still brought two World Series titles to town.

You agree to allow that man out of his contract so he can move to the Cubs, it is a pivot point in franchise history.

While the principles for both the Cubs and Red Sox remained underground Wednesday, indications were that Epstein and the Cubs are handshake-deal close, if not even deeper into their budding new relationship.

Which does not necessarily mean it becomes official tonight or even tomorrow, for one very large reason.

Compensation.

That's the next step in this enormously complicated transaction, and it is significant enough to probably delay this deal from being completed for at least a day or two, and possibly through week's end, or the weekend.

Where Boston owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino are concerned, even if they've run their course with Epstein, both industry sources and Lucchino's history suggest that the Red Sox will extract a significant price from the Cubs before allowing Epstein out of the final year of his Boston deal.

Few in the industry are as sharp and as ruthless as Lucchino, whose negotiating tactics one industry source described as "conceal and delay" until usually gaining what he wants.

There are at least two schools of thought in the industry regarding what the Red Sox ultimately will demand from the Cubs.

The first goes like this: The Red Sox are loaded financially, and as such, will demand players in return. This isn't a franchise that needs more money.

But the flip side is this: If Boston receives, say, two second-tier players in exchange, then those players always will be linked to Epstein. And if he wins a World Series with the Cubs and the players fade as second-tier prospects usually do, then that becomes a lifetime source of embarrassment for the Red Sox.

Whereas, if an organization already flush with cash simply takes a few million back in compensation, that money will fade into history no matter what Epstein does in Chicago. Without a human face a prospect (or two or three) would bring back, the Red Sox could position the post-Theo narrative however they wish, explaining that they used the money to sign Free Agent A or toward Blue Chip Draft Pick B.

Though it happened more than a decade ago, it is instructive to look back to the end of the 1995 season, when Lucchino was president of the San Diego Padres and then-general manager Randy Smith turned in his resignation on the last weekend of the season so he could become Detroit's GM.

Because the Padres held a club option on Smith's contract, Lucchino refused to accept his resignation -- even though it was believed at the time that the Padres were not going to pick up Smith's option. Arduous negotiations then began for Smith's exit.

Lucchino finally allowed Smith to leave, but only after ensuring that Smith, in Detroit, would not be able to poach San Diego's front office, nor its farm system.

The separation agreement included a one-year moratorium on Detroit claiming any Padres players in the Rule V draft, as well as an agreement prohibiting Smith to take any Padres employees with him to Detroit.

A month later, the Padres did not renew the contracts of Steve Lubratich and Randy Johnson, and Smith hired Lubratich as an assistant GM in Detroit and Johnson as a special assistant/major-league scout.

"Larry's tough, there's no question about it," said Smith, now the Padres' director of player development, Wednesday from Arizona, where he was seeing San Diego's Instructional League club. "He's smart, and he's tough."

Right now, before they can finalize the deal with Epstein, that's the next path through which the Cubs must traverse.

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