Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:22 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 3:14 pm
Tuesday was the last day for arbitration-eligible players to sign 2012 contracts before the arbitration process begins with an exchange of salary figures. Thus, it was a deadline day for some MLB teams teams that have a policy of not continuing negotiations after arbitration numbers are exchanged.
The big arbitration news involved two aces, the Phillies' Cole Hamels and the Giants' Tim Lincecum. Hamels avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $15 million deal for 2012 with the Phillies, while Lincecum is headed to arbitration.
The biggest signing beyond Hamels was Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who got $10.95 plus incentives from the Dodgers.
Among other signings Tuesday:
-- Jacoby Ellsbury got $8.05 million from the Red Sox.
-- Francisco Rodriguez got $8 million plus incentives from the Brewers.
-- Michael Bourn got $6,845,000 from the Braves.
-- Delmon Young got $6.75 million from the Tigers.
-- James Loney got $6.375 plus bonuses from the Dodgers.
-- Mike Pelfrey got $5,687,500 from the Mets, with incentive bonuses based on innings pitched.
-- Jair Jurrjens got $5.5 million from the Braves.
-- Francisco Liriano got $5.5 million from the Twins.
-- Erick Aybar got $5.075 million from the Angels.
-- Shin-Soo Choo got $4.9 million from the Indians.
-- Jason Vargas got $4.85 million from the Mariners.
-- David Price got $4.35 million from the Rays.
-- Geovany Soto got $4.3 million from the Cubs.
-- Brandon League got $5 million from the Mariners.
-- Justin Masterson got $3.825 million from the Indians.
-- Max Scherzer got $3.75 million plus bonuses from the Tigers.
-- Luke Hochevar got $3.51 million from the Royals.
-- Tom Gorzelanny got $2.7 million from the Nationals.
-- Jordan Zimmermann got $2.3 million from the Nationals.
-- Joba Chamberlain got about $1.675 million from the Yankees.
-- David Robertson got $1.6 million plus incentives from the Yankees.
-- Glen Perkins got $1.55 million from the Twins.
-- Wilson Valdez got $930,000 from the Phillies.
-- Don Kelly got $900,000 from the Tigers.
-- John Baker got $750,000 from the Padres.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:25 pm
BALTIMORE -- If you don't pitch, it doesn't matter how good you feel. Doesn't matter how relaxed you are.
If your aces don't pitch, you're in serious trouble.
The Red Sox, once again, are in serious trouble, after Monday night's 6-3 loss to the Orioles. A wild-card lead that was nine games just 23 days ago has now totally disappeared, after Boston's loss and the Rays' 5-2 win over the Yankees.
All tied up, with two games to play.
Disaster looms once again for the Sox, and if you want to blame anyone, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are available.
It was Beckett who started -- and lost -- Monday. But this disaster doesn't belong to just one guy. Right now, the two biggest culprits are the two biggest starters.
When September began, someone using my name wrote that the difference between the Red Sox and the Yankees was that Boston had two top-of-the-rotation starters and New York had just one.
OK, I'll confess, it was me. And I'll admit it, I was wrong.
The last two times through the rotation, when the Red Sox needed Beckett and Lester the most, the two have combined to go 0-4 with a 9.39 ERA.
That's worse than John Lackey -- who, after his performance Sunday night (in-game, not postgame), is now Boston's most effective starter.
Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury and the bullpen really did give the Sox a lift with Sunday's win. The pregame atmosphere in the Red Sox clubhouse Monday afternoon felt nothing like the weekend atmosphere in New York, or last week's at Fenway.
Sure enough, the Red Sox took a second-inning lead Monday night, just the second time in the last 13 games they'd scored first. Even when Beckett gave the run back in the bottom of the second, the Red Sox went back ahead in the fourth.
But on a night where they really needed Beckett to pitch like an ace, he turned the fifth and sixth into two innings of Red Sox misery.
When Robert Andino -- remember him? -- hit the first Orioles' inside-the-park home run in Camden Yards history (that's 20 years of history), the Red Sox were down four runs.
Andino's blast went off Ellsbury's glove in center field, but it would have been a spectacular catch, as he crashed into the fence. The blame goes to the guy who served up the blast, not the guy who nearly caught it.
It didn't help that the Sox didn't score after Jed Lowrie's go-ahead home run in the fourth. But this one was on Beckett, without doubt.
And the Red Sox' season now rests on the shaky Erik Bedard, who starts Tuesday, and then on Lester, now certain to come back Wednesday on short rest.
Normally, the Sox would feel good relying on Lester. They felt good relying on Beckett Monday.
Good feelings don't last around here. Right now, that should be obvious.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:44 pm
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox may still collapse.
Jacoby Ellsbury didn't.
The Red Sox may have been saved from collapse Sunday night.
Saved by Jacoby Ellsbury.
There are still three games to play, and the Boston lead in the American League wild-card race is down to one single game. Down from nine games, just three weeks and one day ago.
But the Red Sox and Rays aren't tied. The Red Sox still lead, and the feeling of doom has lifted just a little.
Because of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury has had an MVP-type September, overshadowed by his teammates collapsing around him. He had an MVP-type Sunday, and his three-run, 14th-inning home run Sunday night will be the one the Red Sox remember, if this season doesn't end in gloom.
It gave the Red Sox a 7-4 win over the Yankees, and it gave them a hint of life.
This race isn't over. The Red Sox will likely need a win or two or three in Baltimore this week. There's no guarantee how the Yankees will treat their three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
But the Red Sox were looking at a tie in the wild-card race if they lost Sunday night. They were looking at an absolutely embarrassing weekend sweep in New York.
Jacoby Ellsbury saved them from all that.
He may not be the MVP. But he sure is their MVP.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 3:34 pm
For all the complaints about fan voting, how much different would the All-Star lineups look if the players picked them instead?
In the National League, the players and fans agreed on the starter at all eight positions. In the American League, they agreed at six of the nine spots (including designated hitter).
The only differences were at shortstop (fans took Derek Jeter, players took Asdrubal Cabrera), third base (fans took Alex Rodriguez, players took Adrian Beltre) and at the third and final outfield spot (fans took Josh Hamilton, players took Jacoby Ellsbury).
A few other All-Star items of note:
-- The late votes helped, with four changes in the final week of voting (all four going in favor of someone the players voted for). Alex Avila (over Russell Martin), Prince Fielder (over Albert Pujols), Jose Reyes (over Troy Tulowitzki) and Matt Kemp (over Matt Holliday) won the fan vote, after trailing with a week to go.
-- As always, there will be changes in the rosters this week. Some are almost guaranteed, as five All-Stars (Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, James Shields, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez) are scheduled as of now to pitch next Sunday. They'll remain on the All-Star team, but will be ineligible to pitch, and another pitcher will be added to the team in place of each one. You can almost bet that there will be more changes, because of injuries.
-- As of now, here are the other 25 pitchers scheduled to start Sunday: Derek Lowe, Chris Volstad, Jordan Zimmermann, Ramon Ortiz, Mike Pelfrey, Ted Lilly, Edinson Volquez, Jaime Garcia, Brett Myers, Paul Maholm, Randy Wolf, Zach Duke, Tim Stauffer, Matt Harrison, Jon Lester, Brett Cecil, CC Sabathia, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Baker, Dan Haren, Trevor Cahill, Felipe Paulino, Jake Peavy and either Alfredo Simon or Mitch Atkins.
-- For all the talk of how New York dominates the voting, only two New York players have ever been the leading overall vote-getter. Darryl Strawberry of the Mets led in 1986, and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees led in both 2007 and 2008. Only one Red Sox (David Ortiz in 2005) has led, and no Phillie has ever led. Jose Bautista is the first Blue Jay to lead, and the Blue Jays are the 20th different franchise to have an overall vote leader. No team has had more than two, but a Mariner has led in eight different years (five by Ken Griffey Jr., three by Ichiro Suzuki).
-- The 10 franchises that have never had an overall vote-leader: Rockies, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies, Marlins, Astros, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Rays.
-- The Yankees still ended up with the most All-Stars (barring final-week changes), with six. The Phillies, Braves, Giants and Tigers had four apiece. But what might be more surprising is that 14 of the 30 teams had only one All-Star picked on Sunday.
Posted on: June 19, 2010 8:15 pm
BOSTON -- Yeah, the Red Sox were dead.
Thankfully, I never said they were, even though I quoted one scout saying just that in this May 18 column .
"They're dead," he said, one month ago today, when Boston was 8 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.
They're not dead, it's easy to say today, after a 5-4 win over the Dodgers that at least temporarily moved the Red Sox to within half a game of the Rays. If the Rays lose to the Marlins in a game that just began as I'm writing this, the Red Sox will be tied for the wild-card lead (and one game behind the Yankees), the first time they'd be in a playoff position since the second day of the season.
Good thing I didn't say they were dead. Too bad I gave almost all the wrong reasons for the way they could come back to life.
Let's look back:
1. What I said: Josh Beckett has to start pitching like an ace.
What happened: Beckett went on the disabled list with a back injury that he and the Red Sox said was a minor problem, and a month later he hasn't returned.
2. What I said: Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury need to come back.
What happened: Cameron came back. Ellsbury came back for three games, then got hurt again. The Red Sox outfield is still such a jumble that manager Terry Francona has used 20 different combinations in the first 70 games, and today against the Dodgers he started Daniel Nava in left, Darnell McDonald in center and Bill Hall in right.
3. What I said: The veterans need to stop complaining, and the newcomers need to fit in.
What happened: They've been winning, and it's been quieter, so maybe I was closer to right on this one.
4. What I said: They need to own Fenway.
What happened: The Red Sox were just 12-11 at home when I wrote that. They're 13-4 since.
5. What I said: The Yankees and/or Rays need to stumble.
What happened: The Yankees are 17-12 over the last month. The Rays, going into tonight's game with the Marlins, are 13-15. Is that a stumble? Sure, but not as big as I thought the Sox needed.
So why are the Red Sox winning, with Nava and McDonald and Hall, and without Beckett and Ellsbury?
Well, as Dustin Pedroia pointed out after his game-winning hit against the Dodgers, the offense that was such a question this spring is leading the majors in runs scored. And while Beckett hasn't returned, over the last month Jon Lester is 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA, and Clay Buchholz is 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA.
The Sox were 20-20 when I asked whether they were dead (and then said that they weren't). They're 22-8 in the 30 games since then.
No, they weren't dead (easy to say now). And yes, we might have that great three-team race in the American League East that we were hoping to get.
Posted on: October 20, 2008 5:04 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon says the Phillies are like an American League team, because they have a deep lineup.
Maddon's Tampa Bay players may not agree.
"I'll tell you what," ALCS MVP Matt Garza said today. "Facing that Phillies lineup, compared to facing the Red Sox lineup, the Tigers lineup or the Yankees lineup, you get a little bit of a break with the Phillies lineup, especially pitching in Philly. There's that nine-hole guy (pitcher) I get to throw against. I'm pretty pumped. I get to be that nine-hole guy, too. I'm excited about that."
While Maddon won't announce his World Series rotation until Tuesday, Garza pitched Game 7 against the Red Sox on Sunday night, so he won't be available until Game 3, on Saturday in Philadelphia. Maddon could go with Scott Kazmir and James Shields in the first two games, on normal rest.
"(Rollins) and Victorino are their sparkplugs, man," Garza said. "Just like Boston had Coco (Crisp) and (Jacoby) Ellsbury, and Chicago had (Orlando) Cabrera and (Alexei) Ramirez. Those guys are what make it go. (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard, you've got to watch out, because those are the ones who drop the big bombs. But if you keep Rollins and Victorino off the bases, you can control the running game, shut down their offense a little bit and let them rely on their big swings."
Posted on: October 14, 2008 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2008 5:34 pm
BOSTON -- Interesting to see how Manny Ramirez reacted when people suggested that Boston's two ALCS comebacks (in 2004 and 2007) should give hope to the Dodgers, who are now down three games to one to the Phillies.
"That's in Boston," Ramirez told reporters at Dodger Stadium. "That was a great team."
Now the Sox down two games to one to the Rays, with the chance that they could fall behind 3-1 tonight.
Of course they could come back from that. But is this still a great team?
But Manny is gone, of course. Mike Lowell is missing due to injury, and the Red Sox said today that Lowell will have surgery on his hip next week. Josh Beckett seems to be hurting (although the Red Sox continue to deny it), and Ortiz may be hurting, too.
Are they great? Maybe we'll find out.
Drew has led off 59 times in his career, including 17 times for the Red Sox in 2007 and eight times this year.
"Last year we hit him leadoff to get him going," Francona said. "This year, it was more out of necessity."
The reason today, Francona said, is that Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine holds runners on so well that it's almost pointless to have a base-stealing threat in the leadoff spot. There were only four steals attempted while Sonnanstine was on the mound this year, and just one was successful.
Posted on: June 17, 2008 8:29 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2008 9:32 am
Another American League pitcher fell victim to National League rules today, when the Red Sox put Bartolo Colon on the disabled list with a back injury suffered while swinging and missing on Monday night. At least Colon isn't as important to the Sox as Chien-Ming Wang is to the Yankees. In fact, the Red Sox were simply able to put Daisuke Matsuzaka into Colon's spot in the rotation.
"I don't agree with the American League," he said. "I don't want to be in the American League. I don't want to face a No. 9 hitter making $8 million."
When Hamels beat the Red Sox Monday, he twice escaped trouble by striking out Colon with two on and two out.
It doesn't hurt that Hamels is a good hitter himself, with a .316 average this season (although he's a more pitcher-like .176 for his career).
A few other Tuesday thoughts:
Did you notice that the Tigers' Marcus Thames has homered in five straight games, with six home runs total in that span? Well, Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey noticed. "I think if you give that guy 500-some at-bats, he'd have a shot to hit 40," said Casey, Thames' ex-teammate with the Tigers. "He's in the top five as far as the longest balls hit by guys I've played with. I'm a big fan of his."
The Mariners have a lot of work to do in the next month, but scouts from opposing teams say they should be able to start the rebuilding process by trading away pitchers Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard. The pitching market should be interesting to watch in July, with quite a few teams looking but also quite a few decents arms available (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Paul Byrd, among others).
While several other American League teams bemoan their lack of speed (White Sox, Indians, Tigers, to name three), the Red Sox are seeing the impact of AL steals leader Jacoby Ellsbury. "He's brought a brand of baseball that we're not accustomed to," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We talk about preparing for the Angels, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, teams that run and put pressure on you. Now other teams are having to prepare that way for us. We've always been good, but we've been big and slow. We went through periods where we didn't hit, and we looked big and slow."