October 2012

Angel Sanchez signs with Angels

In the Majors with the Red Sox for one game in 2010, infielder Angel Sanchez has signed a Minor League deal with the Angels, a baseball source said. That includes an invite to big league camp.

Sanchez, 29, hit .320 in 107 games for Triple-A Oklahoma (Astros) last season. He’s a lifetime .255 hitter in the Majors (628 plate appearances).

– Evan Drellich

Farrell opens up on variety of topics

John Farrell was the man of the hour on Tuesday, unveiled as the 46th manager in Red Sox history.

Here are some of the many topics he discussed.

Can the Red Sox contend in 2013? “I think a couple of things will need to happen. certain players return to the form and the performance that they’ve established for themselves and not just one-year situation. Guys who have estabilished a cereer path and a career recod of being above average and get the guys back who were taken out because of injury, to get them back fully healthy and then whatever additions are brought forward into this group. I think this has got an opportunity to be a fairly quick turnaournd and get to the point of contending next year.”

Where do thing stand with the coaching staff? “I wouldn’t say were really advanced. I would say we’ve got a number of names who are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining the coaches who were here last year and will they continue to go forward. We’re probably in the third or fourth inning.”

How critical is the pitching coach hire? “Yeah, I think with any position, I think stablility is critical. I think it’s important to know for the pitching coach to know coming in this isn’t going to be a position, because so much has been brought out with the return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged. Certainly there’s going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and to the best of his ability. That’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”

In essence, here was Farrell’s mission statement.   “As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe that in an uptempo aggressive style of play. It will certainly take into account the strength of our roster. That’s a given. But I think to play that style of game, it does create an attitude, which I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless.  With our effort, with our preparation, with the work and the competitiveness that we take the field every night, that is of the utmost importance of how we play. So for the fans that will watch this team take the field, that’s, in some ways, a non negotiable as far as I look at it. our effort is controlled every night. It’s something we can control.

“And to give forth our best effort is a minimum. As far as dealing with players, I firmly believe that there’s an amount of professionalism that every player who comes to the big leagues and certainly would come to the Red Sox would have. That guides their preparation, their motivation, all those adjectives you can attest to it or attach to it. most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, earn their respect and create an environment in that clubhouse that is just that. it’s a trusting that, it will be a learning one, and yes, it will be a competitive one and hopefully a very successful one at the same time. If that’s being described as a player’s manager, then maybe that’s what I am. That’s still forming. I’m still learning.

“But I feel, as I mentioned before, I’m in a much better place today than I was two years ago because of those experiences. And finally, my many conversations over the last few days with Ben, we do have a number of things we’ve got to take care of. First will be the staff to get that in place and that’s ongoing. We’ll have those updates as they become available. Just one note, on probably the attributes and the characteristics of the people that we would like to assemble here – they are guys that are going to be credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players backs and interests in their minds, maybe their guide, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to the staff. I think it’s critical that we work as a unity. There’s the ability to challenge once another and express opinions in that coach’s room and in our offices downstairs, but when we go out, we will be on the same page and working on one voice and I think that’s something that’s important to the overall approach of a club. We’re eager to get started and hit the ground running.”

Changing the culture in the clubhouse? “I can’t speak to what the Red Sox clubhouse was last year. I think it’s important that we communicate consistently to the players, we outline expectations and we have to hold players accountable to what we’re trying to get done. That’s leading people. At the same time, they have to have a voice in this to give their input. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a leader at the head or a rudder to guide the ship. But I think it’s important their inclusion is there. It has to be a positive place that they want to come to every single day.”

Things he learned from Toronto. “There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto, in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players. We created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment and that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game. Maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker.”

What makes Boston so special? “One, I think Boston is in my mind and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicenter of the game. To come in and have at least four years experience previous to, not having sat in this seat, but close to it to see the demands of this position and the passion of this region, the energy that’s in this ballpark every single night. That energy and what people expect holds our players accountable for the effort they put out every single night. Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here, but by no means will that be taken for granted. There’s familiarity, there’s an understanding maybe of the person I am and who they are, but it’ll be my approach to go back in — and it’s already started with conversations; I had a sitdown with David here earlier today — to start to earn his  trust and regain and reestablish all those relationships.”

Helping to restore Lester, Buchholz, etc.   “Setting aside Jon’s mention, setting aside Clay’s name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let’s face it, that’s how we’re going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority. Not only with the returning guys, which I think is a very strong, core group, when you consider Jon, when you consider Felix, Clay, the return of John Lackey, that is going to be an important part of that. So there are things across the field .. There was a question before about across the field, what did you see some things differently? Yeah, from a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into that might have affected his overall consistency. You can’t underemphasize the importance of a starting rotation.”

On the separation between being a manager and pitching coach. “There’s demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day. Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That’s what happened in Toronto.  It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there. I see that dynamic being very comparable. The one thing I will be very clear with the pitchers here prior is that it becomes an open line of communication, and not to bypass that passing coach. There can be no confusion in message. The player is ultimately the one who loses out in that and then we ultimately lose out, because there’s the potential for confusion.

The Red Sox have their hands full. “There’s a list of to-dos, no question. But with the roster that’s there now, there’s a core group there that you can build around. Having a comfort level with Ben and Mike and Brian and BOH and everyone in baseball ops, there’s no communication barriers. There’s no reluctance to give a gut feel or an educated opinion on a given player, on a given combination of things that might currently or what we’re trying to achieve from a roster standpoint. But the game also fosters change, whether it’s through free agency or opportunity. It would be the same if I were able to assemble a coaching staff that would get opportunities elsewhere to become managers. We would champion that. That means we’re getting quality people and putting our players in the best environment to have success as well.

Getting Daniel Bard back on track. “We’ve exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails. Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn’t too long ago that this might’ve been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He’s not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability.”

 

Farrell officialy on board; Toronto GM weighs in

The Red Sox will likely wait until the conclusion of the National League Championship Series — Game 7 is Monday night — to have their formal press conference to unveil John Farrell as the team’s next manager.

Up in Toronto, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos weighed in on the situation in a conference call on Sunday afternoon. Here is a sampling.

How the whole situation opened up for Farrell to be allowed to consider the Boston job. “I’m not sure if it was a Sunday or Monday, we were off on Monday (October 8), I spoke to John, starting going through offseason plans and so on, and that was the first time we talked about the Boston circumstances, the rumors and everything else. That was the first time we sat down all season even and addressed it and even spoke about it. John expressed to me that he’d really like an opportunity to pursue that if it came about. I explained to him that at that time, we hadn’t gotten any phone call at all, and that obviously we couldn’t hold up our offseason and even go down that path if we hadn’t gotten a phone call and we couldn’t wait forever.

“We ultimately agreed that we’d give it a few more days and see if there was going to be a phone call in the next few days. If we did not, then we were going to move forward. And if there was a call, then we were going to see if we could get something done. This was, as John explained it to me, a dream job for him, an opportunity he really wanted to pursue. So we felt if there was a deal that made sense for our club as well, we were going to try to go ahead and complete that. So we never really got that far [as an extension]. That’s really the chain of events.

“And then after, I guess, our conversation, I’m not sure if it was a day later or two days later, John Henry, one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox, reached out to our CEO Paul Beeston, to express interest in working out a trade. I don’t know how long it’s been — maybe eight or nine, 10 days, or whatever it’s been from that time, and here we are today. It finally got done.”

You said at the end of the season you were certain Farrell would be your manager in 2013. What changed? “My focus was completely on the roster. We have a lot of work to do on the roster, starting rotation — that’s where it needed to be. It was 100 percent John was going to be manager for 2013. We were going to continue to discuss things like we always do — finalize staff, finalize roster, talk about offseason needs, things like that. But ultimately, when we finally discussed the Boston scenario, the fact that it was a distraction that came up, I told him we hadn’t even received a phone call at that point. He told me he’d really like to pursue it and it was something he really wanted. Ultimately, we both agreed though, that we couldn’t wait on forever. If there wasn’t any movement within a few days, then we needed to put it to bed and move forward. John was on board with that and I was on board with that. We had already started to discuss staff, players, roster. We’d already started to talk about some of those things geared towards 2013.

What was the process like? “I don’t know that I’d characterize it one way or the other. For me, with this whole process, what’s more disappointing to me is that there’s so much false information put out there, whether it’s, I read something the other day that supposedly John asked to release Omar Vizquel in July. One hundred percent false. Not one ounce of truth to it. There was all kinds of other things.

“I thought there was, to be completely candid, gamesmanship and a lot of things that went on from a negotiating standpoint, not on our end. But I thought there were a lot of things that were coming out that were completely false. You guys all know, we’re pretty good at not putting things out there in the media, or leaking things, or saying things. There was just a lot, the upsetting part for me is how many false reports were out there, that I just didn’t think were fair to John or to myself or to the organization entirely. From that standpoint, it was a story that was not going away. But we can’t do anything to control that. That’s the game we’re in. It’s going to happen with players. It doesn’t usually happen with managers, but it was just a unique timing of events, with Terry Francona being let go the year after the hiring of John. I don’t think anyone expected that. Again, this is something that John wanted. From that standpoint, once he told us that he wanted it and this was something that he wanted to pursue, at that point, it made sense for us to at least look into it with no guarantees and no assurances. If we could do something that made sense, it didn’t make sense for us to hold him back if we couldn’t work something out.

“Paul Beeston has various longstanding relationships with the ownership group there and Larry Lucchino, he’s got a very strong relationship there. So I think at times there were some things, I mentioned some of them, we don’t know where it came from or how it started, but probably didn’t go as smoothly as we think it could have. That’s just reality. We want to apologize, myself and Paul, on behalf of the ballclub, the fact that this even leaked last night. This was not a done deal last night, in the sense that John was finalizing his deal — I think he finalized that last night — but we had not finalized the medical examinations on the players, which got done today, and we did not get approval from the Commissioner until today to even go forward with this. We weren’t even pleased with the way it came out last night. Who knows? When more than one person knows what’s going on, you don’t know where these things are coming from. But from our standpoint, we wanted to apologize to our media, the fact that it did come out the way that it did. That was not our intent and that was not supposed to be done that way. It was supposed to be done collectively today. “

Could you have had Farrell back with just one year left on his contract? “We could have. We talked about it. He was prepared to do so as well. One thing, he was honest. He didn’t lie. I think that’s one thing you have to respect him for. I certainly do. He’s always been that way. You’ll always get the truth out of John. You won’t get a lie. From that standpoint, obviously, my responsibility is to the ballclub. But I also understand. I understand the connections. I understand the ties. John has been there a long time. There’s a lot of strong relationships there.

“I understand , it’s not completely foreign to me why there’s an appeal there and why there would be a desire on his part, that this was the one job. That’s how he expressed it to me: This is the one job. There was no other city for him that was more of a perfect fit and a perfect opportunity.
But, again, he was very candid and we talked about it, but we were prepared to move forward at that point. It was not going to drag on. If we didn’t hear anything or there’d been no phone call within the next few days, that was it. it was done. We were moving forward. We’d even gotten pretty in depth about some things that we were going to do. So, we were fully prepared to move forward, 100 percent. But we got the phone call. From there, it developed over the last nine days or so.

On David Carpenter coming back to the Red Sox as compensation, “David Carpenter, at the time, we thought he had a good arm. Obviously he wasn’t the centerpiece of the deal. He was someone that we added late at the end. But the primary pieces of the deal were Happ and Lyon, and again, Carpenter was a guy that we were able to get put on late. He wasn’t the main part of that deal. But ultimately, in looking at our 40-man roster, David, unfortunately, was going to have to come off the 40-man just with the spot because even now, we’re pretty full. With getting Mike Aviles back, we’re adding a 40-man roster player. So David was going to come off the roster. He was going to be available to any team for $20,000 either way. From a procedural standpoint and a transactional standpoint, there needed to be some type of player going back in this transaction. Ultimately, for us, if there was a player who was going to come off the roster and be available to the other 29 teams for $20,000, it made sense to put him in the deal.”
How the Red Sox tried to hire Farrell last year. “I probably don’t even want to go down the path of last year. There’s enough that’s gone on this offseason with this transaction. I’m not looking to add more to this story or another dynamic. Obviously, it’s been a story that started last year, it died, and then it continued I guess in the month of August. Today, I prefer to talk about what did occur and what happened. That’s what happened this past offseason. I’d probably rather just leave it at that.

“John, he gave everything he had. He worked incredibly hard from start to finish. He never let up. His focus always remained on the job. There’s no question, you prefer that something like this does not happen. …

On Mike Aviles coming to the Jays for Farrell. “No doubt, everyone is looking at on-base pecentage. It’s very hard to get middle infielders who can play shortstop for a lot of at-bats and get a good on-base percentage guy. Those are normally superstar players. I think if we were getting a left fielder with a low on-base percentage or a first baseman with a low on-base percentage, and with the fact that he can play middle infield, if you look at the free-agent market right now with respect to shortstop, second base, it’s just so thin. The fact that Mike does have control past this year. He is a hard-nosed player. He is a gamer. He’s not without his flaws, if you look at the on-base and so on, but he is a high-energy player. He has some power. The fact that he can play the middle infield, which is so hard to find in today’s game and is becoming harder and harder to find — we just saw a big trade with Oakland trading a shortstop over to Arizona for their center fielder, who was an All-Star a few years ago, the currency that shortstops bring, it’s such a hard commodity to find. You’d love to get the ideal .360-.400 on-base percentage guy, but finding those guys at shortstop, it’s very, very hard to do.”

Lucchino, Cherington talk Valentine and his replacement as Red Sox manager

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and general manager Ben Cherington sat down with media outlets individually Thursday at Fenway Park instead of holding a traditional press conference following manager Bobby Valentine’s firing. Here’s what they told MLB.com.

Would an earlier firing have made a difference?

Larry Lucchino: “Not very much. Our view was that, it’s been pretty consistent, we were going to wait until the end of the season to make any kind of changes or to do any kind of thorough diagnosis. We talked from time to time, but the plan has always been to complete the season.”

Could have changed the way the season was going?

Ben Cherington: “We were trying to diagnose what was going on with the team and looking at a lot of different things. As Larry said, we never really considered changing the manager at that point. We were looking at a lot of different thigns that weren’t going as well as they needed to. There was never any focus on changing the manager at that point.”

How much did communication issues play in?

LL: “We’re not going to get into specific topics or issues or diagnosis of problems. On balance, the record speaks for itself. There are numerous factors that contributed to it and by no means does the blame for this season fall on or exclusively on Bobby Valentine, on him or exclusively on him. We all share some full measure of accountability for the dismal year we presented. I will mention that in the first 10 years we were here under this John Henry and Tom Werner ownership, we have averaged over 92 wins a year for 10 years and none of us is smart enough of skillful enough to keep that going indefinitely. This is an ebb and flow, cyclical kind of business. We just experienced that in full measure.”

How did Bobby take it?

BC: “He took it with a great degree of class and maturity. We delivered the news and had a conversation about a bunch of different things. He handled it very well.”

LL: “I’ve been a part of several managerial changes over the course of my career and I think Bobby Valentine ended it with more dignity and class and constructiveness than anybody I can remember.”

Will Ben be more autonomous in this search than last?

LL: “I think the question is based on a false assumption, it really is. Ben led the search last year. He’s going to lead the search this year. The decision, there will be recommendations made along the way but the decision will ultimately be a consensus decision made by Ben and myself and John and Tom, but Ben will begin the leadership search immediately.”

How wide-ranging will the search be?

BC: “I think we need to, first of all, we’re not prepared to talk about names. It’s too early to do that. We know that there needs to be a bit of a reset with the culture in the clubhouse. We’ve lost too many games for the last seven months of play, Major League play, so that has a sort of wearing down, can have a certain wearing down effect. We need to revitalize the clubhouse, the manager’s part of it — the manager’s not the only part of it — but the manager’s part of it. We need someone to help us accomplish that. A lot of the qualities that we were looking for last year we’ll be looking for again.”

Target date?

BC: “No, we’ll work hard and judiciously and we’d like to, of course, rather do it in less time than last year. We need to find the right guy, more than anything.”

How much do you look for experience?

BC: “Yeah, we’re at a different point in the team’s evolution compared to last year. At the time last year when we made the decision to hire Bobby, we were fully expecting to contend in 2012. We had a sort of mature roster that we felt like if some things went our way, and we got some breaks, we had a chance to win. So I think in the end experience weighed in our decision. It’ll still be a factor, but the teams at a different point. We’ll see, I don’t think there’s a particular resume blueprint. We got to get into and talk to people and just find the right person for this job and move forward.”

Can you rule out Jason Varitek?

BC: “You know, we’re happy that Jason has joined the organization in the role he’s in. I think he’s enjoyed getting some time away from sort of the daily grind of being in the clubhouse for 12 hours a day, and he’s expressed to me that that’s been good for him. Look forward to working with him in this role for now, and we haven’t discussed anything beyond that.”

What about the coaches?

BC: “I’ll have a chance to talk to the coaches soon, I haven’t done that yet. Nothing to report there.”

LL: “We do think that Bobby may have talked to the coaches, but I don’t know that, you better check.”

But no guarantees for them, then?

BC: I just, I haven’t had a chance to talk to them, so I’ll do that soon.

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