Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

Follow along in Indy

So the Red Sox have their shortstop, which means Theo Epstein can start pursuing all his other needs as he and 29 other general managers travel to Indianapolis for the Winter Meetings, which start Monday.

Roy Halladay? The more I hear on this, the less I think he will wind up with the Red Sox. The exception will be if the price drops. Much like the Red Sox wouldn’t give up Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury for Johan Santana two years ago, they aren’t going to give up a combination of Buchholz and Casey Kelly this year. It’s not just lip service when Theo Epstein says that every move he makes has both the present and future in mind. He won’t make moves that he feels will significantly impact the future of the organization, especially not for a pitcher who is 32 years old and entering the last year of his contract.

I arrive in Indy tonight. Starting tomorrow, check for regular updates throughout the Meetings, which conclude on Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft.

Harden on the radar

Just because the signings of Brad Penny and John Smoltz didn’t work for
the Red Sox in 2009 doesn’t mean that Theo Epstein won’t attempt to
make some similar low-risk, high-reward transactions for next season.
After all, they are low risk.

Rich Harden is a free agent
pitcher the Red Sox are “seriously” monitoring, according to, though the Web site said that no offer has been made yet.

one thing Harden proved — unlike Penny and Smoltz — is that he can
pitch in the American League. Harden was not offered arbitration by the
Cubs, which means the Red Sox could get him without providing
compensatory draft picks.

Becuase of his injury history, it is
easy to forget that Harden is just 28 years old. In 26 starts for the
’09 Cubs, Harden was 9-9 with a 4.26 ERA. He pitched better in August
and September than he did the first four months of the season. The
Cubs, out of contention, shut him down for the last two weeks of the
season as a precautionary measure.

Halladay in their sights

The Red Sox are reportedly in negotiations with the Blue Jays to try to
land Roy Halladay, who is likely to be the top pitcher available on
either the trade or free agent market this winter.

According to
the New York Daily News, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is
putting on a “full-court press” for the righty and would love to get it
done before the Winter Meetings, which commence in Indianapolis on Dec.

The question is, how far are the Red Sox willing to go to
land Halladay? The Daily News suggested that Boston might have to part
with Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly,  two of their most promising
right-handers. Buchholz established himself in the second half of 2009,
emerging into Boston’s No. 3 starter by the postseason. Kelly, a
pitcher-shortstop, is still in the development phase after being
selected by the Red Sox in the first round (30th overall) in the
first-year player draft.  The Red Sox haven’t officially decided if
Kelly will be a pitcher or a shortstop, though wide speculation has
always been that they are leaning toward the former.

In addition
to focusing on Halladay, the Boston Herald reported that Boston has
expressed preliminary interest in another player with Toronto ties —
free agent shortstop Marco Scutaro.

The Hot Stove is at last starting to simmer. Things will likely quiet down over the Thanksgiving holiday, but at least the foundation appears to be in place for things to pick up next week.

Now that one Jason is back, what becomes of the other?

The catching situation is now finalized. Jason Varitek has agreed to be a $3 million backup for next season. Now, on to some of the other matters of the offseason.

What will it take to keep Jason Bay under the employ of the Boston Red Sox? There have been several reports — though none substantiated — that Boston has made an offer somewhere around four years at $60 million. If that is indeed the case, I’m very encouraged that they can get something done.

If not, Holliday is not a bad alternative. Not at all. But Bay has already proved he can play in Boston while Holliday might need an adjustment period.

What else does Theo Epstein have up his sleeve this winter? I just get the feeling there is going to be a major move or two, but it’s too early to say what. The market needs to play itself out for a while.

If the Captain returns, will he keep his C?

Jason Varitek is one phone call away from putting himself back on the Red Sox’s roster for 2009. He simply has to tell the club he will exercise his $3 million player option.

At the GM Meetings in Chicago yesterday, general manager Theo Epstein made it clear that Victor Martinez will be a full-time catcher, which leaves Varitek playing once or maybe twice a week.

Under that scenario, would Varitek feel awkward keeping the C on his jersey? Knowing how much pride that man has, I think he might pass it on to Pedroia or simply give up his captainship.

Varitek knows better than anyone how important it is to be in the trenches every day, and my personal feeling is that he might feel sheepish about being a captain with a highly reduced role.

At any rate, Varitek has earned the right to do what makes him comfortable. He has until Saturday to inform the Red Sox if he will accept his option or become a free agent.

Stay tuned.

Red Sox are back in season

Now that the Yankees have capped off their 27th World Series championship, the work begins all over again for 30 general managers. This is their time of year. Free agents can’t start filing as early as today.

Jason Bay and Boston’s other eligible free agents aren’t eligible to sign with another team until Nov. 19.

What will this Hot Stove season bring? While the lasting image of the 2009 Red Sox is a sweep by the Angels in the Division Series, the fact of the matter is that this team is in pretty good shape going forward.

That being said, you know Theo Epstein will do something significant. The question is, exactly what?

Will there be major changes or subtle tweaks?

On a side note, it was too bad that Pedro just didn’t have it last night. I could tell from the first pitch it wasn’t going to be his night. He didn’t have that look of excitement he normally has when he knows he has his good stuff. He was so deliberate between pitches. There was little to no life on his fastball. And Matsui got him.

The next baseball game we will see will take place under the warm sun of Fort Myers. Bundle up until then!

Sizing up the Sox

Now that Theo Epstein has completed his last significant move of the season, getting Billy Wagner in the much-discussed deal with the Mets, it is a good time to look at the team as a whole.

And Epstein seemed fairly optimistic about a club that now includes Victor Martinez, Alex Gonzalez and Wagner.

Of late, the Red Sox have been crushing the ball. The bullpen only gets better with Wagner. And the rotation will get Tim Wakefield back Wednesday, and perhaps Daisuke Matsuzaka by Sept. 8.

“I think we’ve been through a lot,” Epstein said. “It hasn’t been one of those years where everything works like clockwork. If you look at the different elements of the team, our lineup is really talented and really deep. We have a lot of different options and we’re scoring a lot of runs now and I’d like to think that’s going to stay for the majority of the rest of the season. I think this team is perfectly capable of scoring a lot of runs and can certainly hit enough to win.

“Our bullpen is probably, I’d like to think, it’s very deep and talented and a lot of different looks now from the left and right side. It’s been a strength all year and I hope it continues to be a strength.

“And our starting rotation, the main issues in the middle of the season here have been the stability of the back half of the rotation. That’s something that we continue to work through. Clay Buchholz has had a pretty good second half of the season. I’d like to see him continue to build on that. We have a couple of different pitchers close to coming off the disabled list who have done a lot in their big league careers and I’d like to think they can help stabilize the back half of the rotation as well. We’re in the middle of it and we have our work cut out for us. There’s no guaranteed road to the postseason. There’s none in the offseason. There’s not in Spring Training. There’s not during the year. There’s not now. We’ve got to fight for it and I think we’re prepared to do that and we like the roster we have to try to get that done.”

What can the Red Sox expect from Dice-K?

“It remains to be seen what we’ll get. I don’t think anyone can say with any certainty. I will say that he’s worked as hard as a human being can possibly work under the circumstances to get back. He’s lost some bad weight, added some good core weight, some good core muscle strength and he’s getting through his delivery a lot better. I watched his rehab outing the other day on the web cam that we have down there. He was getting through his delivery a lot better. His arm was working well. He showed better shape to his breaking ball. Better command of his fastball down in the zone. So we’ll see. It was against a rookie ball opponent. We’ll see how he does as he works his way up. I don’t think we’re counting on him to be a savior. But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to hope that he can contribute in some way in September.”

One other interesting nugget from Epstein is that part of the reason ownership was so willing to pay the money necessary to land Wagner is that there were significant incentive bonuses for both John Smoltz and Brad Penny that won’t be used.

“I should note that ownership deserves an awful lot of credit here. We had a couple of starting pitchers who were due to make a lot of money in performance bonuses and due to some developments in recent days, and recent weeks, it was clear there’s going to be a savings,” Epstein said. “Some of the money budgeted for performance bonuses, it’s probably not going to end up getting paid out. So instead of just pocketing that money, we were allowed to look for ways to improve the club, improve our chances of getting to the postseason and winning a World Series. This was a redirection of those funds. I think a lot of ownership groups would have just said, ‘great, let’s come in under budget, let’s keep the money.’ This ownership group does whatever it takes to win. Redirecting those savings for someone like a Billy Wagner made a lot of sense.”

A blinking contest between Beckett, Burnett

Who will blink first? Great pitcher’s duel thus far between two former Florida Marlins gunslingers, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett.

It was an interesting day all-around for the Red Sox, with a notable addition (Junichi Tazawa) and subtraction (John Smoltz).

General manager Theo Epstein held court before the game, and had some good insight on the trying events of the last few days.

“We’re certainly day to day with a lot of things, if not inning to inning and pitch to pitch,” Epstein said. “Last night, we made Verizon a lot of money with the cellphones giving everything that was going on. Trying to find a way to field a full roster today and make things work. I don’t think it’s a time to make definitive statements, other then to say things will stabilize. It’s not going to stay like this and we’re going to get through it as an organization. We can’t have any firm commitments because we have to see how things shake out.”

How is Paul Byrd doing and when can he help?

“He was throwing and working out consistently, expecting a call in June or July from a club and then stopped throwing about two weeks ago,” Epstein said. “When we first called him a few days ago, he started again and was able to throw two innings against a college team. He reported today down in Fort Myers and threw. He’s got some work to do to get in game condition and to get his arm into shape. He’s probably about three weeks away from being able to help.”

It seems like the Red Sox will have three starters — Wakefield, Dice-K and Byrd — all ready to help around the same time. Wake could be a bit sooner, but he still has weakness in his calf.

LaRoche on board

Adam LaRoche is now a member of the Red Sox, reuniting him with former teammates Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, Nick Green and John Smoltz.

LaRoche will give the Red Sox pop off the bench and insurance and depth for Mike Lowell. It will also enable manager Terry Francona to keep Youkilis and Ortiz fresher.

I’m wondering if LaRoche could start as many as four days a week under a rotation system.

He has good thump in his bat, and the Sox need it right now.

Plus, he will likely be a Type B free agent this winter, meaning the Red Sox could get a draft pick if he leaves.

All in all, there is nothing not to like about this move by general manager Theo Epstein.

What to do about Dice-K?

The Red Sox are in an extremely tricky spot here, as Dice-K got rocked yet again tonight. Now what do they do?

Smoltz is already slotted in to take Matsuzaka’s normal day, which is Thursday at Washington. Do you skip Matszuaka altogether for one turn in the rotation? Do you put him in the bullpen for a couple of weeks? Do you somehow convince him to waive his no Minor Leagues clause and go down to Triple-A so he can put himself back together?

This is one of the most delicate situations the Red Sox have had during the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein regime. How do they finesse this?

Obviously the organization has made a $103.1 million investment in this man. Though the results weren’t pretty, Matsuzaka seemed like a pretty good investment those first two years.

This season? They can’t even get a decent start out of him. Matsuzaka is now 0-for-8 in the quality starts department.