Red Sox Sign Lefty to Minor League Deal

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with left-hander Dana Eveland. He will receive an invite to big league camp.

The 31-year-old enjoyed a solid half-season with the Mets in 2014, notching a 2.63 ERA in 27.1 innings. That work represented his first stint in the Majors since 2012, when he playing in Baltimore.
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Eveland debuted as a 21-year-old reliever with the Brewers back in 2005 and struggled to establish himself in either the bullpen or the rotation with Milwaukee or Arizona over the next three seasons. Traded alongside Brett Anderson (now LA Dodgers), Chris Carter (Houston) and Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) from the Diamondbacks to the A’s in the Dan Haren blockbuster of 2007, Eveland tossed 168 innings of 4.34 ERA ball in his first season in Oakland.

He owns a lifetime 5.27 ERA in 420 big league innings, though he did make some significant strides in 2014. Eveland now relies on two-seam fastballs and sliders. Left-handed hitters batted just .241 against him last year.

And, for those of you curious whether or not lefty Cole Hamels will end up in Boston…Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said this, “I think Cole Hamels is going to be in our uniform, frankly. I don’t really foresee him being moved. It is possible because we’re literally keeping our minds and eyes and ears open on every player that we have on our roster. That said, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. And so, if we were to move him, we’re going to have to get some of the best prospects in baseball back.”

Cue the Law And Order theme song!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Red Sox Sign Quintin Berry to Minor League Deal

Quintin Berry slid across the plate to seal the North Division in 2013, just days after the Red Sox acquired him from Kansas City for Clayton Mortensen.

He now has a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training with the Boston Red Sox. The 30-year-old outfielder has seen infrequent action since making his major league debut with the Tigers in 2012. That year, he hit .258 in 330 plate appearances with 21 steals for a team that went to the World Series. He’s since served short stints with the Red Sox and Orioles as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

Berry played mostly for the Norfolk Tides in 2014 hitting .285 (3rd highest BA in his career) with 3 HR, 35 RBI, 53 runs scored and 25 steals.

This Just In

Max Scherzer is a Washington National. He will receive $210MM for seven years of work, but the contract has an unusual structure, with Scherzer receiving $15MM per season for the next 14 years. That means the Nationals will be paying Scherzer through 2028. The deal reportedly includes a $50MM signing bonus that will be paid out “over a portion of time” for tax reasons. Scherzer’s deferral is the largest one in MLB contract history, leaving Bobby Bonilla and the Mets’ lengthy $29.8MM (which ran out last year…not really, but for Mets’ fans, they probably think that).

So here’s the question…Do the Nats have the best rotation in baseball now. Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and now relegating emerging star Tanner Roark to the bullpen (or trade bait). Pretty formidable if you ask this guy.

Now that Scherzer is off the table, where does James Shields end up? Does Cole Hamels get dealt (and the Red Sox are supposedly in that mix)? There is still so much dust to settle before pitchers and catchers report in nearly a month (February 20th).

More news to come…I’m sure!

And finally, congrats to one of the best in the business, Brendan McGair. The Pawtucket Times PawSox beat writer has been named the Rhode Island Sportswriter of the Year. Quality writer, better person. Well done, Brendan! Congratulations.

http://pawtuckettimes.com/content/mcgair-named-2014-ri-sportswriter-year

Thanks for reading,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Dan Butler Traded to Washington

The Red Sox have traded catcher Dan Butler to the Washington Nationals in exchange for lefty Daniel Rosenbaum. Butler had been designated for assignment a week ago to make roster room for Craig Breslow.

Though Washington seemed to be set at the big league level, with three catchers on the 40-man (Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon) and another (Steven Lerud) coming to camp, the 28-year-old Butler apparently held enough appeal to add. He reached the big leagues briefly for the first time last year, but owns a .248 average with 22 home runs over 739 career at-bats with Pawtucket. He hit a career high 13 homers and was named the PawSox team MVP in 2013.
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Rosenbaum, 27, rose from a 22nd-round pick (from Xavier University) to the highest levels of the minors and even earned a Rule 5 selection before the 2013 season.

A prototypical soft-tossing/crafty lefty, Rosenbaum has not carried his domination of the lower minors into the upper ranks. Across 178.1 Triple-A frames with Syracuse, he owns a 3.94 ERA. He will need to finish rehabbing back from Tommy John surgery last spring before he can take the hill for the first time in the Sox organization. He pitched in just 4 games last season including 6.2 shutout innings against Pawtucket April 9th.

That the Nationals parted with an upper-level arm, rather than the usual cash settlement, could indicate that there was slightly more at work here than the average DFA deal. It could be that Washington faced competition in pursuing Butler and/or that the organization felt it had enough depth and was ready to move on from Rosenbaum, who would become a minor league free agent after the end of the season.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Sox Young Stars Coming to Boston Soon

With the minor league Opening Day just 87 days away (94 from the opener at McCoy on April 16th), it’s time to dive in, head-long, on what’s to come for Boston and Pawtucket.

First, the Red Sox will have 10 participants in their Rookie Development Program that starts this week. The program is designed to prepare players who are likely to reach the big leagues within an 18-month window. Last year’s participants included Christian Vazquez, Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Travis Shaw, Deven Marrero, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez and Dalier Hinojosa. All appeared in Pawtucket during the 2014 season, four with the Red Sox in Boston.

Several of this year’s participants made it to Boston last year, but will still benefit from the program.

Among the atendees:

C Blake Swihart (2011 draft, first round (No. 26 overall), HS)

Triple A Pawtucket: 18 games, .261/.282/.377, 1 HR
Double A Portland: 92 games, .300/.353/.487, 12 HR – Team MVP

Notes – Threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers. Baseball America’s top-ranked Red Sox prospect entering 2015. His second straight appearance at the Rookie Development Camp and another chance to familiarize himself with the big league staff. Worked out with catching coordinator, Chad Epperson, in the offseason prior to his appearance at the PawSox Holiday Party in December. Strong leadership behind the plate and improving defensive abilities for a player who had limited exposure to catching in high school. Added to the 40-man roster in the offseason.

Barring injuries to either Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez, he is expected to spend most of 2015 in Pawtucket.
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2B Sean Coyle (2010 draft, third round, HS)

Double A Portland: 96 games, .295/.371/.512, 16 HR, 13 SB (1 CS)

Notes – Added to the 40-man roster this offseason, had somewhat of a breakthrough in 2014 after struggling with either injuries or performance (sometimes both) for much of two years in High-A Salem in 2012-13. He got off to a huge start that earned him a spot in the All-Star Futures Game before tailing off down the stretch. Shows significant power and an ability to drive the ball to all fields. Plays second base primarily, but handled himself well at third base last season.

OF Mookie Betts: (2011 draft, fifth round, HS)

Majors: 52 games, .291/.368/.444, 5 HR, 7 SBs (3 CS)
Triple A Pawtucket: 45 games, .335/.417/.503, 5 HR, 11 SBs (4 CS)
Double A Portland: 54 games, .355/.443/.551, 6 HR, 22 SBs (3 CS)

Notes – Betts went from a fringe prospect with the projection of a utility player to one of the top young players in the game in 18 months after starting in Single-A Greenville, High A Salem, Arizona Fall League in 2013 and 2014 going from Double A to Triple A in June and Boston by July. His appearance at this years camp (did not attend last year) will give him a chance to work with the big league staff on his outfield defense (lots of right field work expected). Bottom line: Betts is good and he’ll be around a while (most obvious statement ever).
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OF Rusney Castillo: (Signed as free agent to seven-year, $72.5 million contract (2014-20) in August, 27 years old)

Majors: 10 games, .333/.400/.528, 2 HRs, 3 SBs (0 CS)
Triple A Playoffs: 4 games, .278 (5-for-18)/.381/.389, 2 2B, SB, RBI, 2 runs

Notes – Castillo took advantage of his initial exposure to pro ball in the US in 2014, after not having played for nearly two full years. His quick learning curve breeds much optimism moving forward. He struck out only six times in 40 plate appearances in the big leagues, and 10 times in 80 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League and Puerto Rican Winter League. Though he has speed on the bases, his swing is geared for driving the ball in a way that results in a big follow through; thus, making him an average runner from home to first. However, his speed and instincts show potential to be an above-average defensive outfielder (with a good enough arm) with the potential to hit for average, some power, and steal bases.

He hit the first pitch he saw in the National Championship Game against Omaha out of the park and saved the PawSox season with a two-out, two-strike RBI single to tie Game 4 of the Governors’ Cup Finals against Durham. He had two doubles and a steal in the clincher in Game 5.
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OF Henry Ramos: (2010 draft, fifth round, HS)

Double A Portland: 48 games, .326/.368/.431, 2 HR, 2 SB (4 CS)

Notes – Ramos was off to an great start in Portland before a stress fracture in his left knee ended his season. He did return to play winter ball in Puerto Rico, where he hit .217 in 32 games. One of the better athletes in the Red Sox system, a strong defender and also runs well. Very limited amateur career in Puerto Rico, more of a soccer player, so if he develops his offense, some evaluators believe he has a chance to be an everyday outfielder in the big leagues.

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez: (Trade with the Orioles for Andrew Miller – July 2014, 21 years old)

Double A Portland: 6 GS, 37 IP, 3-1, 0.96 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 1.9 BB/9
Double A Bowie: 16 GS, 83 IP, 3-7, 4.79 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9

Rodriguez looked like the best prospect in the system after being acquired from the Orioles at the trade deadline. He’s the one pitcher with a mix that suggests true top-of-the-rotation potential. He has two above-average pitches (a fastball that sat at 92-94 but could be bumped up to 96-97 when needed, along with a swing-and-miss changeup) while showing the makings of an average to above-average slider. With the input of Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper (now the pitching guru for the PawSox), Rodriguez started attacking hitters inside and using his change against lefties with great success. He made his Triple-A debut in Game 4 of the Finals against Durham allowing two runs over seven frames on just six hits while striking out six. The camp will give Rodriguez a chance to become familiar with the big league staff of his new organization as he is the most intriguing depth option in the organization.
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LHP Brian Johnson: (2012 draft, first round, college-Florida)

Double A Portland: 20 GS, 118 IP, 10-2, 1.75 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9
High A Salem: 5 GS, 25 2/3 IP, 3-1, 3.86 ERA, 11.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
One playoff start with Pawtucket: 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 7 k’s

Johnson delivered a fantastic season and finished the year by allowing two earned runs or fewer in 22 of his last 23 starts (24 of his last 25, including playoffs). While he lacks a true swing-and-miss pitch like fellow lefties Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez, he knows how to pitch to locations and change eye levels. Johnson features an 88-92 fastball (94 at times) to go with the best curveball in the Sox system, a slider and a changeup that developed last year into a pitch he believes in now. His tempo in quick which keeps hitters on edge and misses barrels consistently.

Johnson should open the year in Pawtucket, but could provide big league starting depth soon.
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LHP Edwin Escobar: (Trade with the Giants for Jake Peavy-July of 2014, 22 years old)

Majors: 2 G, 0 GS, 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Triple A Pawtucket: 5 GS, 27 IP, 0-2, 4.28 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
Triple A Fresno: 20 GS, 111 IP, 3-8, 5.11 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9

Escobar has touched 95 with his fastball, but more often works in the low 90s with inconsistent command, while showing a slider and changeup that are average. He could have the ceiling of a back-end starter, though some believe that with the chance to air out his stuff from the bullpen, his lefthanded crossfire delivery could make him a late-innings weapon. He pitched in 20 winter league games in Venezuela, all out of the bullpen, compiling a 4.05 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 9 walks in 20 innings. His role with the Sox is to be determined, but given that the team does have a number of highly regarded lefthanded starting prospects in front of him (Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson), the likeliest big league job is in the bullpen.

He was brilliant for the PawSox in the playoffs as their #1 starter turning in a pair of dominant appearances against Syracuse in the Divisional Round (8.2 IP, ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 7 K), in the Finals against Durham (7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 5 K) and even started the Triple-A Championship Game (5 IP, 2 ER, cut short due to bad weather)
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RHP Heath Hembree: (Trade with the Giants for Jake Peavy (July 2014), 25 years old)

Majors: 6 Gs, 10 IP, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Triple A Pawtucket: 7 Gs, 7 IP, 2.70 ERA, 12.2 K/9, 6.8 BB/9
Triple A Fresno: 41 Gs, 39 IP, 1-3, 3.89 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9

Hembree leverages the ball down with a low-to-mid-90s fastball and slider. He dominated righthanders (.224 average against) but got hit hard by lefties (.317). As a reliever with an option, he represents bullpen depth. Hembree allowed just one run and earned two saves in the playoffs for the PawSox in 5 appearances.
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RHP Zeke Spruill: (Trade with the Diamondbacks for RHP Myles Smith-December 2014, 25 years old)

Majors: 6 Gs (1 GS), 23 IP, 1-1, 3.57 ERA, 5.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9
Triple A Reno: 28 Gs (11 GS), 79 IP, 3-7, 6.04 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9

Spruill, like Hembree, will offer righthanded bullpen depth. He has a track record of being a strike-thrower who keeps the ball on the ground, and his stuff seemed to play up as a reliever. He works in the low 90s with his sinker and also features an average changeup and slider.

Handicapping the Red Sox Prospects with Projected Numbers

An intersting read from Jake Seiner of milb.com looked at the top prospects in the American League East and their potential major league numbers if they played the whole season in the big leagues.

http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20150112&content_id=105761494&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb&sid=milb

Congrats to the Patriots in advancing to their fourth straight AFC Championship Game after beating Baltimore last Saturday. Pats…Colts…Brady…Luck…should be a fun one Sunday night. As will Packers/Seahawks in Seattle.

Happy Monday!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

2015 PawSox Coaching Staff Announced

The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Boston Red Sox are pleased to announce that Kevin Boles will return as PawSox manager for the 2015 season and will once again be joined by coach Bruce Crabbe who is also back for his second season in Pawtucket. The clubs also announced today that former Portland (AA) hitting coach Rich Gedman will be the new PawSox hitting coach while former Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper has also been promoted to that same role with Pawtucket for 2015. Additionally, trainer Jon Jochim is back for his sixth year on the PawSox staff.

Dave Joppie, who had been the PawSox hitting coach for the last two seasons, will replace Gedman in Portland as Joppie returns to the Sea Dogs in 2015 after being their hitting coach for five years from 2008 – 2012. Rich Sauveur, the PawSox pitching coach for the last seven years from 2008 – 2014, decided to leave the organization following this past season.

Kevin Boles, 40, had a tremendous Triple-A debut season as he led the PawSox to the 2014 International League Governors’ Cup Championship. In so doing, the PawSox became just the third team in the 131-year history of the IL to go to three straight Governors’ Cup Finals with three different managers (Arnie Beyeler in 2012 when the PawSox won the Cup, Gary DiSarcina in 2013 when the PawSox lost in the Cup Finals, and Boles in 2014 when the PawSox recaptured the Cup).
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Last season it took 143 games (out of 144 regular-season games) for the PawSox to secure the IL wild card and earn their 4th consecutive trip to the International League Playoffs. The PawSox endured a total of 225 player transactions during the year, employed 66 different players, sent 25 players to Boston, received 16 players from Portland, and Boles used a rather amazing 150 different line-ups in 153 total games (and those included the batting order only and not the starting pitcher). Through it all he steered the PawSox to their second championship in three years (after a 27 year stretch with no Cups from 1985-2011) as Pawtucket swept Syracuse, 3 games to 0 in the semi-finals and then rallied to beat the Durham Bulls, 3 games to 2 in a thrilling championship series.

The upcoming season will mark Boles’ eighth year in the Red Sox organization. He had been the manager of the Portland Sea Dogs from 2011-2013 which marked his first seasons at the Double-A level after he spent the first 10 years of his managerial career at either the Rookie or Single-A level with the Marlins, Royals, Twins, and Red Sox organizations. Overall in 14 years as a minor league manager, Boles has compiled an 876-851 career record.

Bruce Crabbe, 52, will be back for his second season as a coach on the PawSox staff. He was the manager of the Lowell Spinners (Boston’s short-A affiliate) in 2012 and 2013 (along with 2006 & 2010) and he spent the 2011 season as skipper of the Salem Red Sox (high-A). Bruce has been in the Red Sox organization for the past ten years. His tenure with the Red Sox began in 2005 when he was the hitting coach for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (A). He was Boston’s minor league infield coordinator from 2007-2009. From 1995-97, Bruce was a coach and the director of player development for the Colorado Silver Bullets, a professional women’s baseball team. He returned to Minor League Baseball as a manager, infield instructor, and batting coach in the Texas Rangers system from 1998 to 2004.
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Rich Gedman, 55, has been promoted from the Portland Sea Dogs (AA) to become the new hitting coach for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015. Gedman has been the hitting coach in Portland for the past two seasons working with such notables as Xander Bogaerts, Garin Cecchini, and Christian Vazquez in 2013 and last season with Mookie Betts (.355 in 54 games), Deven Marrero (.291 in 68 games), and Blake Swihart (.300 in 92 games). Portland finished the 2014 season with an 88-54 record to win the Eastern League Northern Division.

A Worcester, MA native, Gedman played for Boston for 11 seasons from 1980-1990. In 906 career games with the Red Sox he hit .259 with 83 HR & 356 RBI. His best seasons came in 1985 and 1986 when he was an American League All-Star catcher both years…hitting .295/18/80 in ’85 and .258/16/65 in ’86. During that 1986 season Rich caught Roger Clemens’ 20-strikeout game on April 29 and played in all 14 of Boston’s post-season games in 1986 as he hit .357 with a HR in the ALCS vs. California and added a homer in the World Series vs. the Mets.

Gedman signed with Boston as a non-drafted free agent in 1977 and played for the PawSox in 1980 (batting .236 with 11 HR in 111 games). He also played for the PawSox for 25 games in 1981 (going 1-for-3 during The Longest Game in Baseball History in April of that year) and had a brief injury rehab assignment with Pawtucket during the 1988 season. He finished his big league career playing for Houston in 1990 and St. Louis in 1991 & ’92.

This will be Rich’s fifth year as a coach in the Red Sox system. In 2011 he was the hitting coach for the Lowell Spinners, in 2012 he served in that same role for the Salem Red Sox, and in 2013 & 2014 he was Portland’s hitting coach. His coaching career actually began as bench coach for the North Shore Spirit of the Can-Am Independent League before he became manager of the Worcester Tornadoes in that same league from 2005-2010.

Rich and his wife Sherry currently live in Framingham, MA and have three children: Michael, Marissa, and Matt (a 26-year-old infielder in the Red Sox system who has played for Salem for the past two seasons).

Bob Kipper, 50, has spent the last five seasons as Portland’s pitching coach (2010-14). His 2014 staff led the Eastern League in ERA (3.41), Wins (88), CG (9), and SHO (14). Three highly-touted lefties had superb seasons under Kipper. Henry Owens, 22, went 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA to finish 3rd in the league in ERA while leading the EL in both wins and strikeouts (126). Brian Johnson, 24, was 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA to win the league ERA championship. And Eddie Rodriguez, 21, acquired in a trade deadline deal from the Orioles, was 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA in 6 starts for Portland. The Sea Dogs rolled through the Eastern League with an 88-54 record which was the third best mark among full-season minor league clubs in 2014.

Kipper has also worked with several other top Red Sox pitching prospects in the past few seasons in Portland including Matt Barnes, Drake Britton, Keith Couch, Anthony Ranaudo, Junichi Tazawa, and Brandon Workman among many others.

Bob will be entering his 17th year in the Red Sox organization as a coach. He has been pitching coach for Lowell (1999), Augusta (2000-01), Portland (2003-04), Greenville (2005-06), Lancaster (2007), Greenville again (2008-09), and Portland again (2010-14). Kipper was the Boston Red Sox bullpen coach in 2002 under manager Grady Little.

Kipper was the 8th overall pick in the 1982 June Draft by California. He was 27-37 with 11 saves and a 4.34 ERA in 271 games (45 starts) over eight big league seasons with the Angels (1985), Pittsburgh (1985-91), and Minnesota (1992). Born in Aurora, Illinois, Bob and his wife Kristin reside in Greer, South Carolina and have two daughters, Kaylyn (20) and Kendal (16).

Fan Favorite, Dan Butler, Designated for Assignment

The Red Sox have designated catcher Dan Butler for assignment to clear roster space for left-hander Craig Breslow, who was re-signed recently.
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The acquisition of Ryan Hanigan (trade from San Diego for Will Middlebrooks in December) as a backup to Christian Vazquez and the presence of Blake Swihart on the 40-man roster made Butler an expendable asset for Boston. The 30-year-old Butler made his Major League debut (4-for-19, 3 doubles) in 2014 after signing with the Sox as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He has a nice track record at the Triple-A level. In 192 games with Pawtucket, Butler hit .248 with 22 home runs while throwing out 31 percent of those who attempted to steal bases against the PawSox. He was Pawtucket’s team MVP in 2013 and slugged a career high 14 homers.

Butler could end up back with Boston on a new minor league deal if he isn’t traded and passes through waivers unclaimed.

Former PC Standout Retires

For a guy who didn’t think he’d ever get a shot in the big leagues, veteran infielder John McDonald has decided to retire after 16 major league seasons.

McDonald, 40, said in September that he recognized the 2014 season could be his last, telling reporters that he got more out of his career than he ever thought possible. “I didn’t think I’d get a day in the big leagues, let alone parts of 16 years,” McDonald told MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez.

McDonald’s career closes with a .233 batting average, 28 homers and 34 steals in 2,651 Major League plate appearances split between the Indians, Blue Jays, D-Backs, Pirates, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and Tigers. On an anecdotal note, he also holds the rare distinction of being traded for himself. In July of 2005, Toronto sent him to the Detroit in exchange for a player to be named later, only to complete the deal by re-acquiring him from the Tigers in exchange for cash considerations four months later.

More to come later today!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Red Sox Sign Mitchell Boggs to Minors Deal

Just two years ago, right handed reliever Mitchell Boggs was one of baseball’s top set-up guys with the Cardinals. He has fallen on tough times since and has been nomadic as a result.

The Red Sox have inked the 30-year-old to a minor league deal, according to Peter Gammons and Rob Bradford.
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Boggs struggled through 51 minor league innings between the White Sox and Giants in 2014, totaling an alarming 8.59 ERA after a rough 2013 at the big league level (0-3, 8.10 ERA in 27 games with St. Louis and Colorado). The former 5th round pick in 2005 out of Georgia University was both durable and effective for the Redbirds from 2010-12, notching a 3.08 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 201 1/3 innings.

Former PawSox Stand Out Available after being DFA’d

The Rockies have designated RHP Chris Martin for assignment, the club announced. His departure from the 40-man will open roster space for Nick Hundley, who was signed yesterday.

Martin, 28, reached the big leagues with Colorado despite not pitching in the minors until age 25. He had signed with the Red Sox after a successful independent ball stint, and came to the Rockies with Franklin Morales in last winter’s Jonathan Herrera trade.
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Though Martin did not put up an impressive ERA (6.89) in his 15.2 innings of MLB action, his work at Triple-A with Colorado was strong, as he struck out 12.2 and walked 3.0 batters per nine over 26.2 frames. While Martin posted only a 4.39 ERA, he was pitching at a hitter-friendly park and in a hitter-friendly league.

Martin was Pawtucket’s set- up man on their North Division winning team in 2013 going 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 30 games adding 47 strikeouts. Over 12 games in Double-A Portland, prior to his promotion to the PawSox, he did not allow a run in 12 games (21 innings) adding 3 saves and 27 strikeouts while giving up just 9 hits. Overall, he was 5-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 42 games in 2013 while opponents hit just .228 against him.

He could be a big, no pun intended since he is 6’8″, pick up for the willing team to claim him. Really electric right arm.

Finally, don’t forget, the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be announced early this afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

2015 Hall of Fame Class and More

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015.

Let’s start the New Year off with a friendly debate. The Hall of Fame.

Who’s in? Who’s out? Who gets snubbed?

And for the second consecutive year, anticipation about the Class of 2015 is very high. It’s possible a large new group of players will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Electees from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot are set to be announced Tuesday at 2 p.m.

A star studded group highlighted the 2014 class with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas joining managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa forms one of the greatest classes in history. BUT, the prospective group in 2015 is just as impressive.

This year’s ballot features newcomers Randy Johnson (a 303-game winner) Pedro Martinez (a .687 career winning percentage is 6th best in Major League history and is by far the tops of his era), John Smoltz (213 wins and 154 saves in 21 seasons), Gary Sheffield (509 home runs and drove in 100 or more runs nine times) and six-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.
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Add Craig Biggio, the multi-positioned star who had 3,060 hits in 20 seasons with the Astros and the stage is set for another impressive class this summer in Cooperstown. Biggio is the only player with 3,000 or more hits who has not yet been elected.

Last year, Biggio finished with 74.8 percent of the vote (75% in necessary). He was followed by Mike Piazza at 62.2 percent, Jack Morris at 61.5 percent and former Astros teammate Jeff Bagwell at 54.3 percent. The names most often heard around scandal Roger Clemens (35.4%), Barry Bonds (34.7%) and Sammy Sosa (7.2% barely remaining eligible) are all back on the ballot for a third time. Clemens was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame last summer.

Of this year’s new crop, Randy Johnson seems to be a shoe-in. He struck out 4,875 batters (most ever by a left-hander) and ranks second behind Nolan Ryan’s all-time record of 5,714. He played for six teams, winning his 300th game for the Giants in 2009, pitching a perfect game for the D-backs in ’04 against the Braves and sharing the ’01 World Series MVP Award with teammate Curt Schilling (appearing in 3 games/2 starts and even pitched in back to back games starting Game 6 and earning the win in Game 7 out of the bullpen). He won five Cy Young Awards, one in the American League for Seattle in 1995 and four in a row in the National League for Arizona from 1999-2002. Like I said, shoe-in!

Oh, and he blew up a bird with a pitch as it flew across the plate in a spring training game (sorry PETA).
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Then there is Pedro, who also appears to be a likely first-ballot selection.

Martinez pitched for five teams in 18 seasons, but his claim to fame centers on the seven years, 1998-2004, he pitched for the Red Sox, where he went 117-37. His career record was 219-100. He won the Cy Young Award three times, twice while with Boston, including 1999, when he took the AL’s pitching Triple Crown with a career-high 23 wins, 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. With it all, Martinez should punch his ticket to Cooperstown.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Martinez said. “There’s only so much I can do. As of now, I’m just like you, hoping and waiting to get a chance to make it. I think I should have a shot, but it’s not up to me. Like I said, it’s not up to me. I can only hope and wait.”

John Smoltz is a tweener for me. I DO think he ends up in the Hall, but maybe not on the first ballot. The right-hander played 20 seasons for an Atlanta team that went to the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons from 1991-2005, won five NL pennants and the 1995 World Series. Smoltz was a huge part of all that wining, posting a 15-4 mark in the postseason, four wins fewer than Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, who holds the playoff record with 19 victories.

Between Smoltz and 2014 HOF class members Gregg Maddux and Tom Glavine, they own 6 Cy Young Awards…all in a Braves uniform.

Smoltz transitioned to relieving after undergoing Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2000 season. He saved 144 games from 2002-04, then returned to starting, going 44-24 from 2005-07. 210 of his wins and all 154 of his saves came for the Braves.

If I had a vote, and I don’t, I’d have Martinez, Johnson and Biggio all making it this year. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if both Martinez AND Johnson receive more than 90% or more. Who do you think makes it in?

And from the “Brock”ford Files…the Holidays in California were great and my little guy even got to meet Santa on Christmas Day.
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And he was dressed to the 9’s on New Year’s Eve!
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Finally, Happy birthday to my wife! She’s puts up with a lot with my schedule during the season (and off-season). She holds our little family together and I couldn’t do any of what I do without her!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com,

Long Time, No Blog

Yes, it’s been a few days since our last update, but things have been a little hectic in this broadcasters life lately.

Friday last week a cross country flight to Los Angeles…do play-by-play for back to back High School State Championship games Saturday afternoon for Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Comcast…Sunday fly to Sacramento to spend the holidays with my family…Tuesday, fly to Phoenix for 24 hours…hop back on a plane back to Sacramento shortly. Phew….

The family did manage to make it to the ocean while we were in Southern California to give the little Brock Star his first dip in the Pacific Ocean.
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So what’s going in Red Sox nation? Not too much, but here a few tidbits.

Minor League Signing

The Red Sox agreed to terms with LHP Casey Crosby. At one time in his career, he landed amongst the Tigers’ top thirty prospects seven times. The oft-injured 26-year-old only received three big league starts in Detroit, however, and continued to have control issues after being converted to relief last year at Triple-A.

Lavarnway’s Odyssey

The former Red Sox farmhand, Ryan Lavarnway has made his way around MLB since being designated for assignment by the Sox on Nov. 25, being claimed by three different teams in less than three weeks.
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Lavarnway was originally claimed on Dec. 5 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who DFA’d him five days later. The Chicago Cubs claimed Lavarnway on waivers Dec. 19, and it looked like he was headed to Wrigley Field to join former teammates Jon Lester and David Ross. But he lasted just four days in the Cubs organization before being placed on waivers again and claimed by the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.

David Ross Chicago Bound

The Cubs announced that they have signed catcher David Ross to a two-year contract. Ross will reportedly earn $5 million over the life of the deal, including a $500,000 signing bonus and identical salaries of $2.25MM in each of the contract’s two seasons. He joins fellow former Sox Jon Lester on the North Side and will back up recently acquired catcher Miguel Montero.

And…

Pawtucket Times PawSox beat writer, Brendan McGair checked in with the City of Pawtucket…http://pawtuckettimes.com/node/11166

I hope everyone enjoyed their final night of Chanukah and will enjoy a Merry Christmas Eve tonight!

From all the Lev’s from California to all of you.
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Thanks for reading!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Will Middlebrooks Traded to San Diego

The Padres have been very busy the last few days acquiring outfielder after outfielder (Wil Myers, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton) and now they can add a third baseman to the mix.

With a logjam at third base and a need for a backup catcher, the Red Sox traded Will Middlebrooks to the Padres on Friday in exchange for catcher Ryan Hanigan.

The signing of Pablo Sandoval earlier this offseason made it likely that Middlebrooks would be on the move or headed back to Pawtucket, the former was hard to fathom.
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Hanigan was acquired by San Diego from Tampa Bay earlier in an 11-player, three-team deal (the Wil Myers deal).

Adding Hanigan answered the question of whether the Red Sox would re-sign free-agent David Ross, who signed with the Cubs late Friday night.

After hitting 15 home runs in just 267 at-bats during his rookie season in 2012, Middlebrooks could never seem to duplicate that same kind of success over the last two seasons. In 157 games during that span, he hit just .213 with 19 homers and 168 strikeouts in 608 plate appearances int he big leagues while battling a series of injuries.

This came from Middlebrooks fiance, Jenny Dell.

Hanigan, an Andover, Mass., native, has a caught-stealing rate of 38 percent for his career and led the Majors in caught-stealing rate (minimum 50 games) in 2012 (48 percent) and ’13 (45 percent).

However, the veteran backstop has battled injuries each of the past two seasons. He played in only 84 games for the Rays last season (hitting .218) and 75 for the Reds in 2013.

Hanigan owns a .256 career batting average with 57 doubles and 25 home runs and has a lifetime .353 on-base percentage over the better part of eight seasons.

The 34-year-old Hanigan is set to make $3.5 million next year and $3.7 million in 2016, with a $3.75 million option for ’17 as part of a contract extension he negotiated following his trade to the Rays last offseason.

The Sox also re-signed LHP Craig Breslow as he looks to bounce back after an off year in which he owned an ERA over four for the first time in his career.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

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