Friday, October 31, 2014

Red Sox Decline $4M Option On Craig Breslow

As most observers expected—including Craig Breslow himself—the Red Sox declined a $4 million option on the left-handed reliever today. Breslow will become a free agent upon a $100,000 buyout by the team. The 34-year old port-sider had an off year in 2014—going 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA. Boston could still bring back Breslow at a lower amount, but the emergence of other left-handed options in the bullpen will probably prevent that.

Red Sox Locker Room—One Year Ago Today

(Exclusive FenwayNation Photo)

Rusney Castillo Likely Out Until Spring Training

The thumb/hand injury sustained by Rusney Castillo in the Arizona Fall League looks like it will derail his entire off-season. The Red Sox described the injury as "a strained abductor, the muscle belly between the thumb and the fingers." It was earlier thought that Castillo could simply sit out the balance of the AFL season and play Winter Ball in the Caribbean. That looks out of the question now. See you in Fort Myers, Rusney!

Ben Cherington "Hopes" To Talk To Jon Lester

Ben Cherington just gave The Nation a big Halloween treat—we're talking World's Largest Reese's Peanut Butter Cup here. The Red Sox GM announced today that he "hopes" to get a chance to talk to former Boston ace Jon Lester about a new free agent contract. Specifically, BenCher said, "We know him well and hope we get a chance to talk to him. I'm sure he'll talk to others and I'm sure we'll talk to others. We just have to get into the offseason and see what comes of it." As abstract as this is, it's the best piece of Lester-related news in weeks. It sure beat a granola bar in our Trick or Treat bag.

Japanese Team Offers Dice-K Four-Year Deal

Sooner of later, baseball is a closed circle. Former Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka may experience this hardball truism soon, as he has a contract offer from a Japanese team. The Pacific League Champion Fukuoa Softbank Hawks have offered Dice-K a four-year contract—said to be worth $3.58 million per year. Currently with the New York Metropolitans, Matsuzaka has a very specific desire in mind next year, "I want to start." Good luck, buddy.

'Greek God Of Walks' Retires After Ten Seasons

Moneyball got it partly wrong. Kevin Youkilis was not of Greek descent—but he did walk a helluva lot (539 times). The always popular Youkilis, who spent pieces of nine seasons with the Red Sox, is retiring from baseball. During his time in Carmine Hose, Youk hit .287, with a .388 on-base percentage. He also clouted 133 HRs for Boston and knocked in 564 runs. He will always be remembered for the classic "Yooooooouk" chant he got at Fenway and his utterly unique batting stance. The two years he spent in Chicago and New York are completely inconsequential to his career. He is Youk—and he will always be ours.

Red Sox Ink Koji To Two-Year, $18 Million Deal

(Exclusive FenwayNation Photo)
Hopefully, this deal won't be remembered for the day we all learned about it—Halloween. The Red Sox took a big gamble on 40-year-old closer Koji Uehara, signing the free-agent to a two-year, $18 million deal. This more than doubles his 2014 salary of $4.5 million. Uehara was—of course—lights out in 2013, but had some pretty serious struggles at various points in 2014. Nevertheless, Boston is clearly banking on the continuance of his overall record in Carmine Hose—a 1.75 ERA over 138.2 innings. GM Ben Cherington talked about the importance of the early signing of Koji, " we get into free agency, there will be a lot of other stuff to do." Indeed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whither Shane Victorino In The 2015 Sox OF?

As Red Sox GM Ben Cherington decides which of his free agents to offer qualifying offers to (starting today) and which free agents he covets from other teams (starting next Tuesday), there remains the issue of the 2015 outfield. Currently, it could be composed of any combination from among: Yoenis "He Hate Me" Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and (oh yeah!) Shane Victorino. For those of you who are cipher-impaired—that's seven guys for (basically) four spots. How will Boston deal with this surplus? Trades? Demotions? Releases? Our guess is that Cespedes (given recent news) will get dealt—as could either Mookie and/or JBJ. Unless those deals bring back another OF, our 2015 starters could be Castillo in LF, Mookie or JBJ in CF and Victorino platooning with Nava/Craig in RF. But, will a fully-healthy Flyin' Hawaiian accept a part-time role? That's another conundrum BenCher faces.

Rest In Peace, Tom Menino

Big Red Sox Moves Coming On 'Election Day'?

Now that The Fall Classic has ended, the feeding frenzy can begin. Starting Tuesday—which also happens to be Election Day in the real world—the Red Sox (and every other team in baseball) can begin to shape their 2015 rosters with free agent signings, trades and other moves. While filling the multiple starting pitching holes remains the top priority on Yawkey Way, dealing with the void at third base is also a huge need. And, with Pablo Sandoval (Boston's main 3B target) hitting .429 in the World Series, that price is going to be higher than expected. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington may have to act quickly to nail The Panda (is that hate speech?) or—alternatively—try to wean Chase Headley away from The Evil Ones. Multiple free agent pitching options will be looked at—including (at least as a formality) Jon Lester and James Shields. And, trades for pitching can also be pursued—for the likes of Chris Sale (already signed through 2019). Whatever they do, the Red Sox need to do it both quickly and right.

Congratulations To The World Champ Giants!

(AP Photo)
Unfortunately, our prediction from nine days ago on the outcome of the World Series was accurate—Giants in seven. Their experience, their clutchness and the ridiculous MVP performance of 25-year old Madison Bumgarner was just enough to outpace the go-go Royals. Despite the lack of long-ball power, it was one of the most enjoyable World Series experiences in a while (except for 2004, 2007 and 2013). Congratulations to the new World Series Champions—the only team besides the Red Sox to have three titles in the 21st century!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giants History Does Not Bode Well For Game 7

If you're a San Francisco Giants fan, stop reading this right now. Go get some latte. Are they gone? OK, the Giants franchise has faced a deciding World Series game four times—and lost all four. In 1912, they faced our very own Red Sox in Game Eight (the 20th century was so quaint, wasn't it?) and lost, 3-2 to the good guys. In 1924, the Giants lost to the Washington Senators in Game Seven, 4-3. Hold on, it doesn't get much better. In 1962, they lost 1-0 to The Evil Empire (which at that point was only The Moderately Wicked Fiefdom). Then, in 2002, The Los Angeles Angels (not yet of Anaheim) smacked them in Game Seven, 4-1 (with some guy named Lackey on the hill). So, if you believe in curses (and who among us doesn't?), put your money on the Royals tonight.

Lopez Best Shot At Sox-Related Glory Tonight

Lopez With A Young Fan (FenwayNation Photo)
With The Carmine Hose on the sidelines for Game Seven of The 2014 World Series, we have to really scrape for any—even tenuous—Red Sox connections. As it turns out, only the San Francisco Giants have any former Boston players—Jake Peavy (who really spit the bit last night), Javier Lopez (who's pitched great in 1.2 innings—0.00 ERA—in The Fall Classic), and Hunter Strickland (who was traded out of the Sox farm system for about a week-and-a-half of Adam LaRoche). The only even remote connection on the Royals is relief pitcher Tim Collins—who certainly visited Fenway Park many times having grown up in Worcester. That's about it, folks. Our guess is that Lopez has the best chance of impacting tonight's game.

Swihart Is Baseball America's Top Sox Prospect

Blake Swihart (Exclusive FenwayNation Photo)
Catcher Blake Swihart has been named as the top Red Sox prospect by Baseball America. The switch-hitting backstop made it all the way to AAA last season and might be paired with Christian Vazquez as the Boston catching tandem in 2015. Four pitchers made the Top Ten Red Sox list: LHP Henry Owens at #2; LHP Eduardo Rodriguez #4; LHP Brian Johnson #5; RHP Matt Barnes #8. OF Rusney Castillo was ranked #3 on the Baseball America list, and was also named to the Arizona Fall League All-Star Team. Also on the list were: 3B Rafael Devers #6; OF Manuel Margot #7; SS Deven Marrero #9; 3B Garin Cecchini #10

Ex-Sox Jose Canseco Shoots Self In Left Hand

(William Perlman/The Star-Ledger)
Folks, you just can't make this stuff up. Former Red Sox (and Oakland and Texas and Tampa and Yankee and White Sox) slugger Jose Canseco 'accidentally' shot himself in the left hand yesterday while cleaning a gun. Canseco told police he was cleaning the gun in his kitchen (that's where we clean all of our guns) when it went off and shot him in the hand. He was taken to a local Las Vegas-area medical center for treatment. You can all make up your own minds as to the veracity of Jose's story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seven Years Ago Tonight: Red Sox Glory Again!

Red Sox At Least Winning Series Ratings War

They may be playing golf, but the Red Sox (and Cardinals, for that matter) can take some solace in the fact that they pulled in more viewers in their 2013 World Series than the current one has. Games 4 and 5 in 2013 yielded a whopping 7.2 million more viewers than the corresponding 2014 tilts. Last year's clinching Game 6 at Fenway Park pulled in almost 20 million viewers (19.2 million). Tonight's Game 6 might not even get half that number. The rest of the country may hate us, but they love to watch us.

John Farrell Shoots Down Cespedes 'Hate' Talk

Red Sox manager John Farrell appeared on MLB Network Radio today and contradicted reports that his team's coaches "hate" Yoenis Cespedes. Farrell said he was "...totally surprised and caught off guard" by the reports and went on to state that they were "completely unfounded". Of course, Farrell may be acting on orders from management to tamp down the 'hate talk' to minimize the impact on the outfielder's trade value. We still feel the odds are very good that Cespedes gets moved in a one-on-one deal for pitching or in a "blockbuster package" for someone like the rumored Bryce Harper.