Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

Spring Training, meet boot camp

This wasn’t one of the most glamorous days for Red Sox position players, but it was a necessary part of camp, as they all went through conditioning drills, which included the shuttle relay, among other activities.

David Ortiz walked off the field, claiming kiddingly, “I was the champ out there!”.

All kidding aside, manager Terry Francona appreciated Ortiz going through the drills like a professional.

“That’s a lot of body,” said Francona. “I got tired watching those guys. I laugh at them, but he did it. I don’t know how many players of his stature [would do that] – but that’s a lot of body to move twice 300 yards and he did it and I know his teammates probably really appreciate it. It means something. It’s not the end all. It doesn’t mean he’s going to hit home runs. It doesn’t mean he’s not. But it’s part of being a team going in one direction and that’s important.”

It wasn’t all business for Ortiz, who had some fun on the field with his little buddy Dustin Pedroia, as captured in this photo by Brita Meng Outzen.
pedeyandpapi.JPG
Pedroia, who works out fanatically during the winter, got to put his supreme shape on display in the drills. Here he is, setting the pace with teammates Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie.
conditioningdrills.JPG

Back when Red Sox manager Terry Francona was a player, these type of tests did not occur during Spring Training.

“We were just happy to get BP. I do agree with it though,” Francona said. “[Strength coach] Dave Page [suggested it] a few years back, because we’re always worried about ‘let’s get on the field, let’s throw, pitch, let’s hit, let’s take groudners.’ It’s really a good day. It gives us baseline testing for where everybody is. It’s just really important and our guys do a good job with it. no [whining] and moaning, they go out and do it. I would not enjoy doing it. but they do it and we appreciate it.”

Wednesday will mark the first full-squad workout for the Sox. Red Sox manager Terry Francona will hold his annual team meeting before the workout. General manager Theo Epstein will also appreciate, and so will the ownership trio of John W. Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino.

The first workout

There were about 900 fans there — and surely many more watching the live coverage at home on NESN — for Saturday’s first official Red Sox workout of Spring Training.

Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester threw on the side at the same time. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie took some hacks.  Terry Francona pelted line drives at his pitchers — called the rag ball drill — to make sure the reflexes were sharp.

And after that, there were press conferences galore. Wakefield and Jason Varitek talked about their expectations this spring. Francona and Theo Epstein gave their state of camp address, as captured below by photographer Brita Meng Outzen.

theotito.JPG

The offense? Don’t worry about the offense, urges Epstein. Look at the big picture, he says.

“I think we still have a chance to be a really good offensive club,” said Epstein. “I think there’s been a lot of skepticism out there about our offense. I think we still feel like we can be one of the top handful of offenses in the league. What we’re really striving for is balance.

“We want to do be one of the best pitching teams in the league. We want to be one of the best defensive clubs in the league. We want to be one of the best offensive clubs in the league. The years that we’ve accomplished that are the years that we tend to do better. 2004, by the end of the year, we had accomplished that. 2007 we had accomplished that. We’re really looking to be well rounded. Looking back at last year’s club, we were one of the better pitching clubs, we were one of the better offensive clubs. We were sub-par defensively. The goal this year is for us to achieve better balance.”

Two of the players who figure most prominently in this year’s offense? Ellsbury and Pedroia, shown here by Brita from today’s workout.

jakepedey.JPG

The pitching? Yes, that looks loaded. But Epstein preaches caution.

“Ask that in about eight months,” Epstein said. “On paper, I think we have a chance to be as solid a 1-5 pitching staff as we’ve been here and a chance to be pretty top heavy too if things go right. You’ll have guys vying to be called the number one on this staff, some pretty talented pitchers. It’s all theoretical this time of year. It doesn’t’ really matter how it looks on paper until we go out and do it.

“Just keeping a single pitcher healthy and effective from this point through September and hopefully through October in the American League East is a chore, let alone doing it with five guys or 11 or 12 on the pitching staff so we know we have our work cut out for us. Certainly there are some guys here who’ve had very effective seasons before in this league and if we can have them all do that at the same time, we could go pretty far.”

One pitcher who will be one of those five at some point, probably within a couple of years, is phenom Casey Kelly, who is experiencing his first spring at Major League camp.

“I’d actually like to be a little bit guarded in that,” Francona said. “The reason I say that, he just turned 20 years old. This kid is in a major league camp and we don’t want him to try to do more than he needs to. What we really want him to be is a sponge and soak up everything he can. He’s got a great feel for a young kid. Watch the way Beckett and Lester and those guys do things and just soak up as much as he can. He needs to prepare for his year, wherever that ends up being. Just have a real good experience and see how we do things here in our Major League camp.”

Daily Dice-K update? The righty is doing just fine, and his back injury is anything but significant. Matsuzaka will start playing catch again on Saturday.

“Dice will start playing catch tomorrow. Sixty feet,” Francona said. “Again, now, because of some of the downtime, we need build a base as we’re going to do with everybody. He was looked at by Dr. Gill, we got a very productive report through that, so now we’re going to start back up again and get him strong.”

The Bay saga had several twists

Great job of reporting by Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, giving readers an in-depth look at all the twists and turns that ultimately led to no deal between Jason Bay and the Red Sox.

First, Bradford confirmed what was reported earlier this week by MLB.com’s Peter Gammons — that Bay and the Sox had agreed on a four-year, $60 million deal in July, only to have it fall apart due to a medical dispute. Bradford’s account is the first time that Bay confirms the story.

“That,” Bay tells Bradford, “is just one-tenth of the story.”

Bay took a physical in July, and the Red Sox’s medical staff had some red flags, namely the condition of the left fielder’s knees. Bay’s agent Joe Urbon had come to Boston, presumably for a press conference announcing the new deal. Instead, general manager Theo Epstein informed him of the team’s concerns, and the deal was put on hold.

The Red Sox said that they would keep Bay’s AAV — average annual value — the same, at $15 million per year. But they wanted protection in the third and fourth year, in the event Bay’s knees and shoulder acted up. The team also wanted Bay to undergo surgery at the end of the 2009 season.

Bay felt that his knees were fine and sought the advice of another doctor, who confirmed his belief.

The sides revisited the situation in the offseason, when Urbon informed Epstein of the second opinion. The sides than agreed to get a third opinion, and once again, Bay was given a clean bill of health.

On the first night of the Winter Meetings, according to Bradford, Epstein updated his proposal and made it three years guaranteed, with protection for the fourth year. The Red Sox also wanted Bay to pay part of the insurance policy he would need.

“Listen, I could understand the club wanting all these medical contingencies if I had spent any recent time on the DL,” Bay said to WEEI.com, “but I had no history of being a risk for injuries and I wasn’t hurt.”

At any rate, Bay found another suitor — the Mets — that didn’t share Boston’s concerns about his long-term health. And that was where he ended up.

If Bay has knee problems at some point over the next four years, the Red Sox will be proven right to take the conservative approach they did. If not, perhaps they will have regrets about losing out on the slugging left fielder, who fit in so well to the fabric of the team during his year and a half.

Boras on Beltre, Ellsbury

Say what you will about agent Scott Boras, but it can be interesting to hear what he has to say. At today’s Adrian Beltre press conference, Boras spoke about how his client’s deal came to fruition with the Red Sox.

“We had to sit down and kind of marshall through the competitive balance tax, which I learned more phases to it. There’s a signing bonus aspect to it, a plate appearance aspect to it,” said Boras.

This contract, in the eyes of Boras, was a “pillow contract” because there is a soft landing to it that will keep the player comfortable for the short term.

“We have tremendous respect for his abilities. For that reason, I approached Theo and said, ‘I don’t want a three-year deal. I understand your situation. Let’s see if we can work something else.’ I said, ‘I need a pillow contract, some sort of back end on this, but basically it’s going to be a one-year deal.’ Theo, I think, I was on the phone with him, but I think a smile came to his face.”

Boras also spoke of another one of his clients — Jacoby Ellsbury — being moved to center field.

“He’s been a center fielder his whole life. On the other hand, Mike Cameron is clearly a guy who has been a center fielder his whole life. He’s a veteran. To make an adjustment at this point in his career, we agreed that it’s probably better for the Red Sox to keep Mike in centerfield. Jacoby’s a good teammate and said, ‘I understand that.’

“The other thing is, [Ellsbury] is an intense offensive player. When you’re out there, with that body type, banging 60, 70 stolen bases… I studied who has 60, 70 stolen bases, who scores 100 runs and who plays centerfield long term. Check it out. The metrics don’t work. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. So the idea was, there is benefit and detriment to it. The idea was that your contribution to this team is so important to us, and the stress [centerfield] puts on your body is extraordinary.”

Wednesday is media day

The Red Sox have just announced that the Mike Cameron signing will be announced at 11:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, followed by John Lackey at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Should be an action-packed day for Theo and his crew, not to mention the Boston media.

There will be a whole lot to go over. In particular, I’m curious as to the Red Sox abandoning their usually conservative approach when it comes to free agent starters. Theo Epstein has long been against paying big money for free agent starters, with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, which was a different situation altogether because of the international factor, and that it took a blind bid of $51.1 million just to secure the negotiating rights.

How exactly will Cameron fit in? I would imagine he will platoon with Hermida and rove all over the outfield. Does Epstein think he now has enough offense or does he need another impact bat to replace Jason Bay?

We will have updates aplenty from Fenway throughout Wednesday.

Mad Monday for Red Sox

Who could have predicted such an eventful day for Theo Epstein and his staff? First, reports circulated that John Lackey was in Boston for a physical. Not long after, there were rumblings of a five-year, $85 million deal that will soon be announced, assuming Lackey passed the physical.

Then, there was word that the Red Sox had agreed on a two-year deal with Mike Cameron, who figures to split time in left with Jeremy Hermida while also backing up Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew.

So ask yourself this: Who would help the Red Sox win more games in 2010? Jason Bay or John Lackey? I guess we won’t fully be able to answer this question until we see how the rest of the offseason shakes out.

Will the Red Sox turn around and trade Buchholz to get a star hitter? Adrian Gonzalez? Miguel Cabrera?

In other words, the offseason is still in full motion for Theo and the Red Sox.

I do like Lackey — a lot. He is one of those tough as nails competitors. The image of Lackey cussing out manager Mike Scioscia when he was given that hook in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Yankees speaks volumes about how much this guy wants to win. If that game was going to be lost, he wanted to be out there. He didn’t want his game decided by his bullpen.

So the Red Sox now have what could be a terrific rotation. Lester. Beckett. Lackey. Buchholz. Dice-K. And, of course, Wakefield.

If there are no more major moves with the offense, the lineup for 2010 could look something like this. Ellsbury-Pedroia-V.Mart-Youkilis-Ortiz-Drew-Cameron-Kotchman-Scutaro. I’m sure Theo has another bat or two up his sleeve, but that is how the tentative current roster would set up.

No official word yet on when the Lackey deal will be announced, but Tuesday seems like a logical guess.

Bye-bye, Bay?

It is starting to appear unlikely that All-Star slugger Jason Bay will re-sign with the Boston Red Sox.

Amid a report from Foxsports.com that Bay had rejected Boston’s latest offer, Joe Urbon, the left fielder’s lead representative, did not dispute that his client could be slipping away from the Sox.

“I’m just saying that the initial offers we’ve received from other clubs are just much more attractive to Jason then the last offer we received from the Red Sox,” Urbon said in a phone interview with MLB.com.

There were reports in November that the Red Sox had made a four-year, $60 million offer to Bay that was rejected. When was their latest offer?

“Recently, very recently,” said Urbon, who met with the Red sox multiple times during the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, which concluded Thursday morning.

The Mets made an offer to Bay near the conclusion of the Meetings. Multiple news outlets had that proposal at four years and roughly $65 million.

The Angels initially said they would make a push for Bay, but manager Mike Scioscia said it was unlikely they would land the left fielder.

The one possible suitor that has been coy throughout regarding its level of interest in Bay is the Seattle Mariners. That is a situation that bears watching. Bay and his family live in the Seattle area during the offseason.

How many offers does the 31-year-old Bay currently have?

“I don’t want to go there,” said Urbon. “Multiple is what I’ll confirm.”

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has a policy of not commenting on any free-agent negotiations until they are complete.

Urbon has not entirely ruled out Bay resurfacing with the Red Sox.

“I think the fact that Jason hasn’t signed with a club yet — every club has a chance to sign Jason Bay, including the Red Sox,” Urbon said. “We’ve just got better offers, better opportunities from other clubs.”

It remains to be seen what Boston’s best plan of attack will be should Bay go elsewhere. Matt Holliday is a free-agent left fielder with similar credentials as Bay. Agent Scott Boras has been comparing Holliday to Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million deal last winter.

If the Red Sox deem Holliday’s price to be too high, they could find a right-handed bat to platoon with Jeremy Hermida in left field. Mark DeRosa and Mike Cameron are two right-handed hitting outfielders the Red Sox have been linked to this winter.

The Red Sox are also in flux at third base, as Mike Lowell is on the verge of being traded to the Rangers. Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, is viewed to be one of Boston’s top targets at that position. The Red Sox could also get a first baseman and move Kevin Youkilis to third base.

Flexibility at the corners

The Mike Lowell deal isn’t done just yet, but it will be within a matter of days. All that’s left is red tape and medical clearance.

So who plays third base for the Red Sox next season? Maybe Adrian Beltre. But don’t be surprised, either, if it’s Kevin Youkilis. Much like when it was floated out a couple of weeks ago that Dustin Pedroia could play shortstop, somehting that probably helped in leverage with Marco Scutaro, the Red Sox can take a similar road with Adrian Beltre. Yes, they could tell Scott Boras they’d really love Beltre to be their 2010 third baseman, but at a reasonable acquisition cost.

Otherwise, general manager Theo Epstein could go in any number of directions. Would they make Casey Kotchman the primary first baseman, perhaps signing Mark DeRosa to form some sort of left-right platoon? Would they go after Nick Johnson?

In a side note, away from baseball, we should all wish a very happy retirement to Master Sergeant Michael Warren Baker, known on MLBlogs as shakenbake. Sgt. Baker — an avid Sox fan — retired today, and he should be recognized for his fine career.

Lowell to Rangers not done yet

The Red Sox and Rangers are deep in negotiations about a deal that would send Mike Lowell and cash — as in a substantial portion of Lowell’s $12 million salary — to Texas for Minor League catcher Max Ramirez. But Rangers general manager Jon Daniels emphasized several times Thursday morning that the deal has not been completed.

Here is a transcript from the discussion Daniels had with the media.

“Both clubs understand where the other one is and what we’re looking to do. At the same time, we’re also both looking at alternatives and what our options are as we kind of go through the process. “I don’t really have anything specific to give you guys but I think some of the reports of how close it is might be a little bit overstated.”

Specific obstacle to complete the deal, “I think there is always different layers to these things but both clubs are kind of evaluating. I think the general parameters are understood but both clubs need to decide whether it’s the right fit.”

Any chance of Lowell physical before deal is done? “Premature for me to say that.”

How long to decide? “I don’t know, I don’t want to put a time-table on it.”

Reports on money, six to total, “There’s a financial component to it but I’m not going to address that specifically.”

Agreement on how to handle finances, “I’ll just say that the general parameters of the deal are relatively understood. Both clubs know what’s on the table and we’ll continue to talk here and work through it.”

Holdup? “We’re not at that stage. But in any deal, a review of the medicals is part of it.”

“As Boston has, there’s a lot of moving parts. Sometimes it’s beneficial to take a half-step back and evaluate things.”

One team or another as further down the road? “Both clubs are looking at it.”

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein departed Indianapolis on Thursday morning and was unavailable for comment.

Casey on the mound

While the Red Sox eased their way into the Winter Meetings on Monday, they did have one formal announcement that could play a big role in their future. Casey Kelly, perhaps the top prospect in the organization, has officially decided to be a pitcher instead of a shortstop. The right-hander did both this past season and will put all his attention toward pitching in 2010. He will be invited to Major League camp.

“I think he saw himself more as a hitter coming into the Draft but again, I watched him pitch this year and he looks like a pitcher when he’s pitching,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “He’s got a lot of ability as a position player too but I think once he saw what he’s capable of on the mound and what the organization thinks of him as a pitcher, there’s a lot of mutual trust in this relationship. The meeting was important – to exchange information, to see how we see things, how he sees things. he just took all that information and made a decision.”

Kelly was 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA on the mound in 2009.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers