For a pitcher with Koji Uehara’s experience and stats, he probably had quite a few options when he was a free agent this winter? So why did he wind up with the Red Sox?
“I felt like the Red Sox wanted me more than the other teams. I felt wanted the most by this organization,” said Uehara, who arrived at camp on Sunday. “I feel comfortable about my role. I still have to compete for a position. I heard that John Farrell, when he was with Toronto, he liked me as a pitcher.”
Uehara was one of several Red Sox players to arrive on Sunday, including Mike Napoli and David Ross.
The righty came over from Japan in 2009, but he followed closely when Daisuke Matsuzaka arrived in Boston amid much hype in 2007.
“I was envious,” Uehara said. “I wanted to be there. He was a great pitcher and I also wanted to come over here.”
A starter upon his arrival in the Majors, Uehara has settled into a fine reliever the last three seasons. For the Orioles, Uehara proved he can succeed in the American League East. He put up solid numbers with the Rangers last season.
“Of course it helps, my experience in the AL East,” Uehara said. “Texas was also a small park. That challenge helps.”
Uehara and all other Red Sox pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals on Monday. The first pitchers-catchers workout will be Tuesday.
MLB.com on Saturday confirmed the details of Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli‘s incentive-heavy contract, and learned the potential opt-out dates for two of Boston’s late offseason signings: Ryan Sweeney (March 28) and Lyle Overbay (March 26).
If Napoli, who has a hip condition, reaches 165 days on the active roster in 2013, he makes a base of $13 million. If he does not reach 165 days, here are his incentives for being healthy and playing:
He’ll get $500,000 for each of 300, 325, 350, and 375 plate appearances. Then, Napoli gets $1,000,000 for each of 400, 475, 550 and 625 plate appearances.
In that same vein, if Napoli doesn’t reach that 165-active day mark, he also gets a $500,000 bonus for each of 30, 60, 90 and 120 days on the active roster.
The bottomline: if Napoli’s playing, even if he doesn’t reach 165 days, he’ll make well more than $5 million.
Napoli also contractually has a suite on the road, and has awards bonuses: $50,000 for All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove or an LCS MVP Award. He’d make $100,000 for a World Series MVP or regular season MVP ($75,000 for second and $50,000 for third).
WEEI’s Alex Speier previously reported Mike Napoli’s contract info.
More Red Sox contract info:
- Andrew Bailey is making $4,100,000 plus $25,000 for 25, 30, 35 and 40 games finished. He also gets $25,000 for an All-Star selection, Rolaids award and LCS MVP. He gets $50,000 for World Series MVP, and $100,000 for Cy Young ($50,000 for second, $25,000 for third). He would make $100,000 for MVP ($50,000 for second and $25,000 for third).
- Daniel Bard is making $1,862,500.
- Craid Breslow makes $2,325,000 in 2013 and $3,825,000 in 2014. The 2015 club option is for $4,000,000 or a $100,000 buyout.
- Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary is $9 million.
- Joel Hanrahan is making $7,040,000. He gets $15,000 for 45, 50, 55 or 60 games finished. He gets $25,000 for an All Star selection, Rolaids award and LCS MVP. He gets $50,000 for World Series MVP, and $100,000 for Cy Young ($50,000 for second, $25,000 for third). He would make $100,000 for MVP ($50,000 for second and $25,000 for third).
- Andrew Miller has a base salary of $1,475,000, plus $25,000 for 60 games and $25,000 for 65 games.
- Franklin Morales is making $1,487,500.
- Lyle Overbay would make $22,000 per month in the Minors or $1,250,000 in the Majors. He gets $50,000 for 350 plate appearances, and $100,000 for 400 and 450 plate appearances. If not on 40-man roster on March 26, he will be released if requested or added to roster within 48 hours.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia is making $4,500,000.
- Ryan Sweeney makes $1,250,000 in Majors, plus $50,000 for 350 plate appearances; $100,000 for 400 and 450 plate appearances. If not on Major League roster on March 28, he will released if requested.
– Ian Browne and Evan Drellich
In the good timing department, I flew in last night and beat the blizzard. Special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez is among today’s arrivals.
Pedro was decked out in a Red Sox t-shirt and gym shorts and seemed bubbly to be back, albeit in a far different capacity.
The equipment truck also arrived, for those who keep tabs on such things.
Among those already on the scene, four days in advance of the first official pitchers-catchers workout: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Daniel Nava, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.
Come here on a daily basis for updates, and also, of course, at redsox.com.
Looking for a baseball fix to tide you over before Spring Training? Theo Epstein and Peter Gammons have one on Friday night at Fenway Park’s State Street Pavillion, when they host their annual Hot Stove Cool Music Baseball Roundtable.
Though Epstein left the Red Sox for the Cubs following the 2011 season, he continues to have a charitable presence in his home city of Boston.
This year’s roundtable will feature the topic of changing a clubhouse culture. Epstein once did that in Boston, prior to the 2003 season. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is trying to do the same thing this winter by bringing in positive clubhouse influences like Shane Victorino, Johnny Gomes and Joel Hanrahan.
The roundtable will include Epstein, MLB.com’s Gammons, Cherington, Red Sox manager John Farrell, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Red Sox assistant general manager MIke Hazen. Gammons will serve as the moderator.
Tickets are $125 and on sale now at FoundationToBeNamedLater.org. Package deals are available for both HSCM Roundtable and Concert. The evening begins at 6 pm with a reception featuring complimentary Harpoon beer, Amberhill wine and a ballpark buffet.
“I am once again excited to join this year’s distinguished panel to talk about changing a clubhouse culture in baseball. The panel’s expertise and knowledge will provide fans an in-depth look behind the scenes,” said Gammons. “I’m appreciative of everyone’s continued involvement and support of Hot Stove Cool Music and The Foundation To Be Named Later. This year’s roundtable will surely lend itself to a great discussion for a very worthy cause.”
Here is the following info from a press release:
“The Roundtable is a special addition to the thriving Hot Stove Cool Music concert series which celebrates music, baseball and giving back. Proceeds benefit the Foundation’s Peter Gammons College Scholarships and nonprofit beneficiaries including BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), Citizen Schools, City Year Boston, The Home for Little Wanderers, Horizons for Homeless Children, Roxbury Youthworks, Steps to Success and West End House Boys & Girls Club.
This winter’s Hot Stove Cool Music concert takes place Saturday, January 12th, and features an ensemble of musical performances by two-time Grammy nominee Tanya Donelly, the dynamic multi-instrumentalists Parkington Sisters, Boston Music Award winners Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters, Billboard Music Songwriting winners The Chad Hollister Band and the returning Hot Stove All-Stars featuring Gammons, Buffalo Tom’s Bill Janovitz and indie rocker Kay Hanley with Robin Lane. Hollywood actor Mike O’Malley will again take the reins as emcee for the charity concert.
Hot Stove Cool Music events are sponsored by Ipswitch Inc., Comcast Business Class, Mintz Levin, Walmart, Hotel Commonwealth, Harpoon Brewery, Amberhill Secret Blend, Greenberg Traurig, Distrigas GDF Suez, RISO, Aramark, Abby Lane, Church, Boston Scientific, The Boston Red Sox and The Boston Foundation.
ABOUT HOT STOVE COOL MUSIC
Celebrating Music, Baseball and Giving Back
Hot Stove Cool Music is a biannual charity concert and musical variety show held in the winter and summer months. The event was created in December of 2000 by Hall of Fame Baseball journalist Peter Gammons and former Boston Herald sports writer Jeff Horrigan. Over the past 13 years, Hot Stove Cool Music has become a staple on Boston’s entertainment calendar and has raised more than $5 Million for the Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later.
ABOUT FOUNDATION TO BE NAMED LATER (FTBNL)
The Foundation To Be Named Later (FTBNL) was founded in 2005 by then Red Sox Executive Vice President and General Manager and current Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein and his twin brother Paul, a social worker in the Brookline public school system. Inspired by Paul and Theo’s commitment to creating positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families in the Boston area, the Foundation expands the impact of youth-focused nonprofits by raising awareness and critical resources. Over the past six years, the Foundation has invested $5 million in grants and in-kind donations to local organizations and has sent more than 4,000 children to Red Sox and Celtics games. Central to FTBNL’s work are strategic partnerships with a team of nonprofits that serve disadvantaged children and families, including BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life); Citizen Schools; City Year Boston; The Home for Little Wanderers; Horizons for Homeless Children; Roxbury Youthworks; Steps to Success; and West End House Boys & Girls Club. With the generous support of RISO, FTBNL also created the “Peter Gammons College Scholarship,” named for the beloved Hall of Fame sports journalist and humanitarian, to provide 28 college scholarships to exemplary Boston area students who have overcome tremendous disadvantages but have great potential. Visit www.FoundationToBeNamedLater.org for more information.
Mark Melancon’s on the move again, to his fourth Major League team in five years, as part of the six-player deal between the Red Sox and Pirates that lands Joel Hanrahan in Boston. A closer with the Astros before he came to the Red Sox, Melancon acknowledged his struggles with the Sox outside the closer’s role, but said they helped him grow tremendously.
“Obviously I got off to a rough start,” Melancon told MLB.com on Wednesday. “So you know, I don’t think they treated me unfairly. It’s hard for me because I feel like I didn’t produce as well as I should have and so there’s nobody to blame but myself. Obviously baseball is a game that’s built on failure, so you have to understand that too. It’s exciting for me because I had a great last half of the season last year, and that’s kind of who I am and who I anticipate being. Not only to build off of that last half of the season, but also I feel like I have a lot to prove. Being a closer, late-game guy, that’s kind of my mentality. Prove to people who I am and prove to them what I can do.”
Melancon spent Christmas in Hawaii with his family. The right-hander would like the chance to close again and was a much improved pitcher as the season went on.
“Being out of that situation — I learned a lot out of that situation in Boston,” Melancon said. “I learned a lot about who I am and myself and I had to combat those things. Cause when you don’t have that situation, that high pressure situation, things are a lot different. Mentality is a lot different. It’s a different ballgame. I learned how to combat that and it took me a little while understandably, but it made me a better pitcher and a better person. In my mind there wasn’t a whole bad other than I let down some of the team. Which is never fun. But I think as a whole I got a lot better.”
– Evan Drellich
Indians manager — yes, it still sounds a little weird to call him that — Terry Francona held court at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday in a media session that lasted nearly a half hour.
Francona spoke in-depth about his new challenges with the Indians while looking back fondly at his time in Boston, and sounding more at peace with how things ended with the Red Sox than he did a year ago.
Here is a sampling:
The swing of emotions from September of 2011 to a year as an ESPN commentator to, now, the manager of the Indians: “Uneven. A little bit of a roller coaster. I think you go back to September of ’11, and that was tough, man. I don’t care what city you’re in. When you go 7 and whatever, 20, if you’re the manager, you’re wide open for criticism. That’s just the way it is. And the way things ended was difficult. I thought stepping back was probably a smart thing. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to tell yourself you need to do that, but it was, I think, really healthy for me. I know I get back into it now feeling like I’m better prepared to do the job correctly because it’s got to be almost 24 hours a day to do it right, at least I think so. I was pretty beaten up by the end of that last year.”
Now on the other market of the small market/big market race, and losing out on Victorino to the Red Sox. “[Jerks],” quipped Francona. “You know what, it’s kind of hard to fault a guy like Shane Victorino for going to Boston. When guys get to be a free agent, they earn that right to go wherever they want, and it’s a great baseball town. Again, I have a lot of respect for him and the way he went about his decision. So it’s kind of hard to fault somebody for that.”
Difference in managing the Indians and the Red Sox? “When I took the job in Boston, the expectations were win or go home. I remember being very thankful that Dave Roberts was safe. I probably would have gone home. This is a little different now. We’re younger. We’re not in the same position. But our expectations, at least in my opinion, are still the same. We’re supposed to try to win. So Chris and I and all the guys are trying to put together the best roster we can, and when it’s time to put a uniform on, that’s when I get really excited, and we try to have our guys play the game correctly.”
People were surprised you took the Indians job? “First of all, people may not have known me as well as they thought they did, and the hurdle don’t scare me. I know they’re there, the challenges, but I wanted to do it with a group of people where I knew I’d be comfortable, and I wanted to be part of the solution. I didn’t want to be like a quick fix. When Chris and I talked, it became evident to me real quick ‑‑ again, I was either going to take this job or not this year. And I’m very comfortable with where I’m at. Again, having a challenge isn’t bad. Trying to find a way to tackle them is actually pretty exciting. And I’m not delusional. We have challenges. We have some things we’ve got to overcome, but trying to do that, I’m looking forward to it.”
What about the staff John Farrell has put together in Boston? “I want to be careful on rating everything that Boston does. That’s not my job anymore. I’m a manager of another team. I think, being totally honest, I think Boston’s biggest weakness is their manager,” Francona said to a chorus of laughs. “I want to kind of stay away from that. I don’t need to rate everything John does. That’s not going to work.”
Your upcoming book with the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy: “I don’t know. I hope people want to buy it.”
Do you expect fallout? “Fallout? I hope people buy it. I spent a lot of time. No, I think it’s more ‑‑ it’s eight years of a lot of funny, some emotional, a couple sad things. I think Dan busted his rear end on this thing. The fact that, first of all, me and him were together doing it was a shock to me. First time I picked him up, I told him, you have to blackout the windows because I don’t want people to see you driving me around. It ended up being probably ‑‑ I had a year where I could do it because under normal circumstances, you can’t do it. And it ended up being kind of fun. I think, for the most part, if somebody ends up being bent out of shape, that was not ever the intent. It was just to kind of tell the story, and I hope that people take it that way because I think it’s a really good story.”
Did you gain perspective on managing in your year away? “It’s hard to sit and just say, I should have put a hit and run on on April 13th or something like that. But in our game, the communication is so important, and if you get away from that at all, that can ‑‑ again, your talent level, if you don’t have enough talent, it’s going to get exposed at some point during a long season, but as a manager, if you have get your guys to play to most of their ability more often, you’re doing your job right.”
More at peace now with your departure from Boston? “You know what, I never had a problem. I think it’s a little bit of a misrepresentation. If you really think about it, it wasn’t like all of September me and you guys were feuding. We had a really tough September. It was a rough, uphill battle for us. We were leaking oil like every day, but our biggest concern was to trying to get to the playoffs. We didn’t deal with any of those issues until after the season. So it was kind of weird. I didn’t have a chance to like sit back and think about not having that job. Two days later, I was defending myself. So it was hurtful. And where it went from there was disappointing, but time does have a way of ‑‑ I don’t want to go through life being ‑‑ I don’t know if vindictive is the right word. I don’t know if that’s healthy. I have too many people there that are too special. I was disappointed with the way it ended, and I’ll probably always feel that way, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great seven years and five months.”
Coming back to Fenway for the 100th anniversary: “I was conflicted. I’ll be pretty honest about it. I wasn’t planning on doing it. I talked to some people who told me maybe I was a being a little too self‑centered. I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I was glad to be there, and I was glad to leave. But I’ve never felt like ‑‑ besides that one guy in the third row that used to scream at me, I thought Boston ‑‑ it’s a wonderful place. If you care about baseball, it’s a wonderful place. Sometimes things happen in that city. You can’t have all that good without having some of the bad, and I got caught up in it.”
Gain additional perspective on managing while working in the broadcast booth? “I hate to say this. I hope it makes me more respectful to the media’s job. Not you personally. Actually, it was a great learning year. One, you’re looking at a game not emotionally because, when the season starts, I don’t care what manager you talk to, you have no ability to view the game without emotion. When you lose, you’re beat up personally. You take it personally. Whether you have enough talent or not, you try to make it work. I also got to see what goes into putting that game on. I used to think those guys showed up and did the game, and it was a lot of work, but I learned a lot, and I was with people that were unbelievably good to me. So it was a great year. I just missed being on the field a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. I was kind of hoping I would. But I had a wonderful year.”
Let’s face it — the Red Sox’ clubhouse has not exactly had that 2003-04 vibe to it the last couple of years. So an important side benefit to the recent signing of Jonny Gomes is that he can loosen up a team during the heat of summer, much like Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon and some others used to do back in the day.
Fittingly, Millar has been ever-present around the proceedings at the Winter Meetings, doing a light-hearted interview with Sox general manager Ben Cherington on Monday.
“There’s something about Jonny, yeah. I saw Millar right there. I was thinking of Millar right there,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “Jonny Gomes, he’s a different cat. He really cares. He really cares about the rest of the group. Kind of like what I described with David Price, what he does, the lunacy in the clubhouse, et cetera, which is a very positive way.”
Maddon also thinks Gomes has become a much better hitter than when he managed him in Tampa Bay from 2006-08.
“And furthermore, I think he’s really improved his batting stance and shortness of his swing the last couple of years have been more effective, and I know the kind of hitter that he plays in that ballpark. I know he’s going to ingratiate himself to the fans there. He’s the perfect guy. John is going to fit in really well there. Good for the Red Sox,” Maddon said.
Reds manager Dusty Baker is another former manager of Gomes.
“Jonny’s a great teammate,” said Baker. “I had somebody call me this winter and ask me what does Jonny Gomes bring to the team? He brings a positive attitude. He may not like how he’s used, but he’s never a distraction. He never brings the team down. Jonny Gomes is one of the best guys I’ve ever had on the team. And I talked to Chili Davis this winter, and Chili feels the same way about him. A guy that can help your young players learn how to be professional. He can teach them how, hopefully, which is one of the toughest things to do, teach them how to be an unselfish player, especially in a selfish society, that’s very tough to do. Jonny Gomes is one of the best.”
The Red Sox never confirm a signing until a player passes a physical, but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was at least willing to speak about the pending Mike Napoli signing in general terms in a meeting with beat reporters earlier tonight.
“We’ve made some progress and he’s a guy who gets on base, has power, could be a good fit for our ballpark. We knew when we made the Dodgers trade, and moved Gonzalez, we were going to have to try to find a way to replace that offense and as we got into the offseason, we understood that that was probably going to have to come from a combination of guys and maybe not one guy. So that’s part of what we’ve been trying to do this offseason is add offense at a number of spots on the roster so we’re hopeful we can continue to do that.”
Will Napoli catch, or focus on first base? “He could catch, he can play first. If he’s here, we imagine he’d do some of both but that would be up to our manager to figure out.”
More details, please! “Hard to say. Obviously we’re not ready to announce anything. we can envision …there have been years when he’s caught a number of games, a lot, and there’s been years he’s caught less. We like his offense in Fenway, we like the versatility, so I’m going to say we’re hopeful to make some progress there.”
The Red Sox have a lot of catchers. Will they trade any of them. “We’ll see. I don’t have a good feel for that yet. It could be that that presents opportunities because of a potential surplus in that area, but I don’t know if that will turn into anything yet.”
The Red Sox have coveted Napoli for a long time. In fact, they claimed Napoli on waivers in 2010, but couldn’t work out a deal with the Angels at the time.
“Again we don’t have anything to announce,” Cherington said. “If we were to progress there, we’re looking at on-base, power, positional versatility and to collectively replace some of the offense we lost with Gonzalez and improve on the overall lineup performance. Someone like that can help us in a number of those areas.”
The Red Sox landed one of their top targets of the winter, agreeing to terms on a three-year deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the deal is worth $39 million.
Napoli gives the Red Sox the type of power they need, and is a right-handed bat who can complement star lefty slugger David Ortiz.
While Napoli has primarily been a catcher in his career, there’s a strong chance he will get the bulk of his playing time in Boston at first base.
With Napoli on board, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington can now focus on other needs, such as finding an outfielder, a starting pitcher and possibly a shortstop.
While it should be noted that teams discuss hundreds of conceptual trades during the winter that never see the light of day, a a lot of them never even reach the rumor mill. However, one surprising one was reported on Monday night.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported that the Red Sox and Royals discussed a potential blockbuster that would send Boston lefty Jon Lester to Kansas City for top Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford confirmed the report. Both writers said that no deal is close at this time.
It’s surprising, however, that the Red Sox would even discuss trading Lester, long a cornerstone of their rotation. But Lester is coming off the worst season of his career (9-14, 4.82 ERA) and is two years away from free agency.
Perhaps Boston just wanted to gauge his value. As for Myers, he is an intriguing soon-to-be 22-year-old prospect who hit .304 at Triple-A last season with 24 homers, 79 RBIs and a .932 OPS.