A look at the top players to pass through McCoy Stadium during Ben & Madeleine Mondor’s ownership of the PawSox
By BRENDAN McGAIR
Last week marked the end of an era for the Pawtucket Red Sox as the franchise officially changed ownership hands.
To commemorate the long and successful reign of the late Ben Mondor, who built the franchise from the ground up upon rescuing it from bankruptcy in 1977, and later his wife Madeleine, who held the title of principal owner for four seasons (2011-14), we have compiled a list of the top ballplayers who performed at McCoy Stadium during the Mondor regime.
To merit consideration, one must have gone on to achieve notable feats in the majors. (Note: We are beginning at No. 20, so no scrolling to the bottom to see who received top billing!)
No. 20: Josh Beckett, RHP (Pawtucket)
The staff ace on two World Series winners and a World Series MVP recipient, Beckett appeared in two rehab games for the PawSox in 2010. He retired after last season with 138 wins.
No. 19: Dale Murphy, OF (Richmond)
Murphy appeared in 127 games with the Atlanta Braves’ top affiliate in 1977. He went on to win two National League MVPs and hit 398 home runs over 18 MLB seasons.
No. 18 (tie): Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (Pawtucket) & Jon Lester, LHP (Pawtucket)
They joined the parent team a season apart with Lester ascending in 2006 and Ellsbury a later after a PawSox stint that saw him steal 33 bases in 87 Triple-A games. Lester and Ellsbury were the starting pitcher and starting center field the night the Red Sox clinched the 2007 World Series in Colorado and were instrumental in bringing a championship back to Boston in 2013.
Lester made 26 starts spanning two seasons for Pawtucket.
No. 17: Jason Varitek, C (Pawtucket)
Long before he held the captaincy position for the BoSox, won two World Series and was behind the plate for four no-hitters, Vartiek was known primarily as one of the two key pieces (Derek Lowe being the other) that the Red Sox received from Seattle in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997. Vartiek was in Pawtucket for 20 games that season and returned to McCoy Stadium for rehab assignments in 2006 and 2010.
No. 16 (tie): Bernie Williams, OF (Columbus) & Andy Pettitte, LHP (Columbus)
Both were key catalysts during the Yankees’ late 90s/early 00s dynasty, so it’s fitting to list them together. Williams was a member of the Triple-A Clippers for parts of three seasons before going on to appear in five all-star games and win a batting title. Pettitte pitched for Clippers during the 1994 and 1995 seasons and went on to win 256 games over 18 major-league seasons.
No. 15: Willie McGee (Pawtucket)
McGee enjoyed an 18-year career that featured one MVP, four all-star game nods and three Gold Gloves. His last big-league game came at age 40. At age 36, he appeared in five games for the 1995 PawSox.
No. 14: Mo Vaughn, SS (Pawtucket)
Known as “The Hit Dog,” Vaughn played parts of three seasons for the PawSox in the early 1990s. He won the American League MVP in 1995 and finished with 328 home runs over a dozen major-league seasons.
No. 13: Chipper Jones, SS/3B (Richmond)
Jones is a cinch to be enshrined in Cooperstown thanks to a star-studded career that included 468 home runs, one batting title, one MVP and eight all-star game nods. As a 21-year-old in 1993, Jones appeared in 139 games for Richmond.
No. 12: Nomar Garciapara, SS (Pawtucket)
Garciaparra made what amounted to a cameo appearance at McCoy Stadium in 1996, but what a jam-packed 43-game stint it was with 16 home runs and a .343 batting average. He went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year the following year and consecutive batting titles before getting traded midway through the 2004 season. Garciaparra also appeared in a PawSox uniform during the 2001 and 2004 seasons.
No. 11: Dustin Pedroia, 2B (Pawtucket)
His time with the PawSox in 2005 and 2006 was the equivalent of one major-league season. Bigger and better things have since followed, including two World Series rings along with Rookie of the Year and MVP nods. A four-time all-star, Pedroia stopped by McCoy Stadium in 2010 for a rehab stint.
No. 10: Manny Ramirez, OF (Pawtucket)
In June 2002, Ramirez made an 11-game rehab stint with the PawSox. He didn’t encounter much success, hitting .100 (3-for-30) with one homer, but he qualified as a major hit as fans flocked to McCoy Stadium in droves. Part of the legendary 2004 World Series outfit, Ramirez belted 555 home runs over 19 seasons.
No. 9: Curt Schilling, RHP (Rochester, Pawtucket)
Schilling won 17 games for the Triple-A Red Wings between the 1989 and 1990 seasons, but he is best remembered around these parts as the PawSox’ 2005 Opening Day starter in Indianapolis – one year after helping the Red Sox capture their first World Series in 1918. Schilling appeared in nine games for the PawSox spanning two seasons.
No. 8: David Ortiz, DH (Pawtucket)
Big Papi’s 2008 rehab appearance with the PawSox proved memorable in every sense. He homered during each of the three games he appeared in, much to the delight of the capacity crowd. Ortiz returned to McCoy Stadium for the 2013 home opener. He enters his 19th major-league season with 466 home runs.
No. 7: Mariano Rivera, RHP (Columbus)
The game’s all-time saves leader was a starting pitcher when he visited McCoy Stadium as an opponent during the mid 90s. His Hall of Fame ticket includes 652 saves, five World Series rings and longevity. Rivera retired at the age of 43 after logging 19 seasons, all coming in a Yankees uniform.
No. 6: John Smoltz, RHP (Pawtucket)
His Hall of Fame credentials were long cemented before appearing in three games for the 2009 PawSox. A pitcher who found success as both a starter and a reliever, Smoltz’ day in Cooperstown will take place this July. He finished with 213 wins and 154 saves.
No. 5: Tom Glavine, LHP (Richmond)
The southpaw’s tour of International League ballparks came during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. His Hall of Fame credentials speak volumes about the kind of career he enjoyed: 305 wins, two Cy Youngs, 10 all-star games and five 20-win campaigns.
No. 4: Dennis Eckersley, RHP (Pawtucket)
Like Smoltz, Eckersley enjoyed a Hall of Fame career that featured success as a starter and a reliever. At age 43, he appeared in two games for the 1998 PawSox.
No. 3: Roger Clemens, RHP (Pawtucket)
“The Rocket” breezed through the PawSox during the 1984 season, making just six starts before getting summoned to Boston. He posted a 1.93 ERA in seven Triple-A games that season. Clemens returned to McCoy in 1993 and 1995 with at the time three Cy Young awards on his résumé.
No. 2: Derek Jeter, SS (Columbus)
Another Hall of Famer in waiting, Jeter was 21-years-old when he showed up in the visitors’ clubhouse at McCoy Stadium in 1995. From championships to personal milestones, his career with the Yankees hit all the prerequisite high notes.
No. 1 (tie): Wade Boggs, 3B (Pawtucket) & Cal Ripken Jr. (Rochester)
They will forever be joined at the hip due to participating in “The Longest Game” in 1981. Boggs went 4-for-12 with one RBI in that memorable 33-inning game while was Ripken went 2-for-13. They both ended up in the Hall of Fame with Boggs getting the call in 2005 and Ripken likewise two years later.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Delgado, 1B (Syracuse, Pawtucket); Don Mattingly, 1B, (Columbus), Bruce Hurst, LHP (Pawtucket), Derek Lowe (Pawtucket),
Brendan McGair covers the PawSox for the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call. Follow him on Twitter @BWMcGair03
By BRENDAN McGAIR
Spring has sprung … in Fort Myers that is where Red Sox pitchers and catchers have officially gotten down to business.
To those hailing from New England, doesn’t it warm thy heart knowing that there are some parts of the country that are devoid of snow and sub freezing temperatures? You wouldn’t know it when looking out the window, but your local MLB franchise is presently laying the groundwork for the 2015 campaign underneath the Florida sunshine.
There were no formal workouts at JetBlue Park on Friday as pitchers and catchers underwent their physicals. Saturday marked the first official workout of spring training, though in some respects, it must have felt like another day at the office – or at the ballpark in this case.
Stories about who has reported to camp have been circulating long before the New England Patriots captured Super Bowl XLIX. For someone in Matt Barnes’ position, it’s perfectly understandable why he would get a jump on spring training. The 24-year-old pitcher grew up in Connecticut and still makes his offseason home in The Nutmeg State.
“I got down to Fort Myers on Feb. 9. I like coming down early and getting settled in. You get acclimated to the weather because it’s a little different then up in Connecticut,” said Barnes when reached Friday afternoon. “You’re actually out on an official ball field as opposed to being inside.
“You’re anxious to do your thing before everyone gets here. Then it’s full team practices,” Barnes continued.
A 2011 first-round selection out of the University of Connecticut, Barnes spent the vast majority of last season with the Pawtucket Red Sox before making his big-league debut in September. He wound up making five relief appearances for Boston, though he doesn’t anticipate pitching out of the bullpen as being his primary role with the organization moving forward.
“I’m preparing in spring training to be a starter,” said Barnes, who has started 72 minor-league games the past three seasons.
Last year, Barnes saw his time in spring training cut short due to right shoulder tenderness. The setback wound up costing him all of March and nearly the first month of the regular season.
It took some time before Barnes started to feel like his old self. In early July, his Triple-A ERA stood at 4.85. Thanks to a stellar month of August where he posted a 2.16 ERA in six starts, Barnes was able to lower his season mark to 3.95 before heading up to Boston.
“You can’t make a team from the training table. My goal is to stay healthy during spring training. You want to go out there and pitch well, but it’s more about getting out there every fifth day and letting the rest take care of itself,” said Barnes. “I tried a different approach this offseason by throwing a little earlier than I normally would. It’s about building yourself up so that when the season starts, you’re good to go.”
On a personal level, Barnes admits that’s there’s a different vibe in camp with three of his 2014 Pawtucket rotation mates – Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa – now pitching for different organizations. Barnes was particularly close to Ranaudo, who helped mentor him when times got rough last year.
“Those guys gave you great energy, but the pitchers the Red Sox brought in are all very talented,” said Barnes, referencing fresh faces Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley. “They bring a wealth of experience and are all very good guys.”
Brendan McGair covers the PawSox for the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call. Follow him on Twitter @BWMcGair03
By BRENDAN McGAIR
Within the treasure trove that is Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, lies a section that offers a sneak peak into what major league teams may look like a few years down the line.
Lists like the one Baseball America cobbles together are intended to promote healthy debate, a rough draft if you will. Nothing is set in stone – far from it in fact. Consider it a jumping off point that serves as a means to promote discussion in an era of players constantly coming and going and wondering whether any of them will still be with their given team a year from now.
At a time when the Red Sox’ commitment to integrating pieces from their farm system is as strong as ever, let’s hop in the DeLorean and explore Baseball America’s projected 2015 lineup that appeared in the 2012 Prospect Handbook. (Note: the cover boy for the 2012 edition is Mike Trout.)
Catcher – Blake Swihart (The anticipated Opening Night starter behind the plate for the PawSox enters the season as the top-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.)
First base – Adrian Gonzalez (Far removed from the equation and presently cashing checks with ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’ written on them.)
Second base – Dustin Pedroia (He’ll be 31 on the first day of the 2015 season and has a contract that will carry him through the end of the 2021 campaign.)
Shortstop – Jose Iglesias (Now property of the Detroit Tigers and looking to rebound after missing all of last season with stress fractures in both shins.)
Third base – Will Middlebrooks (His lock on the position officially became null and void the moment the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a lavish contract. Here’s hoping he has a soft landing in San Diego.)
Right field – Xander Bogaerts (This is not a misprint. It’s clear though that Baseball America believed that Iglesias was Boston’s long-term answer at shortstop, which in turn would leave Bogaerts in no-man’s land as far as a position. Rest assured that the Red Sox aren’t ready to go the Hanley Ramirez route and take a player who has been a shortstop his whole life and turn him into a flycatcher.)
Center field – Jacoby Ellsbury (The folks in the projecting business must have believed that the marriage between Ellsbury and the Red Sox would continue after Ellsbury became a free agent following the 2013 World Series.)
Left field – Carl Crawford (See Adrian Gonzalez.)
DH – Kevin Youkilis (You were expecting David Ortiz and not the Greek God of Walks?)
No. 1 starter – Jon Lester (He’s taken his talents to the North Side of Chicago with the hope of breaking a World Series drought that stretches back to 1908.)
No. 2 starter – Clay Buchholz (For now, he’s the de facto ace of Boston’s pitching staff.).
No. 3 starter – Josh Beckett (Retired and the owner of two World Series rings.)
No. 4 starter – Anthony Ranaudo (With Boston set on their major-league rotation and with a host of up-and-comers such as Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez anchoring what should be a stacked Pawtucket rotation, Ranaudo appeared to be caught between a rock and a hard place. The Red Sox may have done the 2014 International League Most Valuable Pitcher a favor when they traded Ranaudo to Texas last month.)
No. 5 starter – Matt Barnes (Still property of the Red Sox, Barnes figures to be first in line for a call-up should a need for a major-league starter arise.)
Closer – Daniel Bard (In hindsight, this should have been the move the Red Sox made after Jonathan Papelbon departed. Bard is looking to make a comeback with the Cubs.)
Clearly there’s some swings and misses with the above group, but that’s why it’s important to keep “projected” in mind. Oh, and for the record, Baseball America didn’t have Mookie Betts listed among Boston’s Top 30 prospects in 2012. Betts was drafted in 2011 and had all of four at-bats with the Gulf Coast Red Sox to his name when the 2012 Prospect Handbook hit the shelves.
Brendan McGair covers the Pawtucket Red Sox for the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call. Follow him on Twitter @BWMcGair03
As many of you have read by now, my time with the Pawtucket Red Sox will come to a close today.
I have taken a job with the Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcast team and will also play a role in their new media department hosting a podcast, among other things.
It’s an opportunity to fill in for the legendary Bob Uecker. He’s been broadcasting for 45 years now and he’s earned the right to not do every game. So, I’ll do the road trips he doesn’t want to go on with fellow broadcaster Joe Block.
This, truly, is a dream come true; the opportunity to broadcast major league baseball games.
But, I would have never had this chance without the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Springfield Cardinals AND Pawtucket Red Sox. They all gave me a chance. They could have all hired any number of other skilled broadcasters, but instead each club at one point chose me.
The Quakes hired me to be their full time broadcaster having a TOTAL of six games of experience calling baseball on the radio. The Cardinals gave me a shot at the Double-A level after three seasons in the California League (High-A). And, after three years in the Texas League, the PawSox job opened and they offered me the gig. Thank you to each organization for having faith and allowing me learn from my mistakes and chase a dream.
I’ve called over 1,000 games in my 8-year minor league career now. And I have improved leaps and bounds from year one through year eight. But, especially the last two years in Pawtucket.
Red Sox fans keep you on your toes. The PawSox are blessed to have the largest radio network in minor league baseball with 13 stations. You never know who could be listening at any given moment, so, as a broadcaster, you can’t take pitches off. Just like the players who can’t have lapses in concentration, broadcasters can’t either. It’s a little easier to do when the radio station you broadcast on can’t be heard unless you are in the physical parking lot of the station (yes, that really happened). And, truth be told, I’m glad no one could hear me during my first season, because I was awful.
But, not only the number of stations and the strength of our flagship, WHJJ, but the fans keep you honest. Red Sox fans are really smart. As a broadcaster, if you get your facts wrong you lose credibility. Some fans would let it go, but not Red Sox fans. They’ll wear you out if you make a mistake. By no means do you have to be perfect, but you better get it right eventually.
So, thank you FANS for making me better, more accountable and for putting your faith in me to provide you PawSox baseball the last two seasons. You have made me a stronger person and a better broadcaster because of your support.
I would also like to specifically thank Mike Tamburro, Bill Wanless, Lou Schwechheimer and Matt White of the PawSox. Almost every minor league broadcaster aims for McCoy Stadium and these four men put their reputation on the line and hired me among more than 150 other applicants in 2013. Current Mariners Broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith deserves a lot of credit as well for putting his name behind my work and recommending me as he was on his way to “the show”. He’s a true friend and one that I’ll certainly enjoy crossing paths with at Spring Training in Arizona.
From managers Gary DiSarcina and Kevin Boles, coaches Bruce Crabbe, Dave Joppie and Rich Sauveur, and many players, just too many to name, to our press box staff and other International League broadcasters, I was able to work alongside some incredibly talented people who kept standards high and my head on a swivel. This was exactly the kind of environment I was hoping for and the kind I know I’ll be entering in Milwaukee.
As I close out this final edition of 45 Miles from Fenway we all know, we can’t get anywhere in life without the help of others around us and I’ve had dozens of mentors over the course of my life. From college professors to big league broadcasters, these people have helped create the person I am today. When thinking about writing this, I kicked around the idea of mentioning some of the specific people I just described, but if I do this, I know I won’t possibly be able to include everyone.
The only people I’d like to mention are the most important: my dad, my mom and my wife. Not only have they always been there for me, but they have always held me to a standard higher than I thought was possible, making me so much better than I should have ever been. Listening to bad demos, schlepping me all over the country for baseball games/tournaments, assisting in my moves from Rancho Cucamonga to Springfield to Pawtucket, and putting up with the demands that come with this crazy industry. Needless to say, they were all overjoyed when I received the call from the Brewers on New Year’s Day while visiting my parents in California. While a phone call would have been a fun way to break the news, getting a chance to tell them face to face was even more special and, frankly, something they nor I will ever forget.
To everyone else who has guided me along the way, I hope I’ve done a good enough job letting you know who you are and all you’ve done. Because none of this would be possible without you all.
It has been an honor and a privilege to be your broadcaster the last two years, PawSox Nation. And to continue the legacy set forth by my predecessors in the McCoy booth means the world to me.
Thank you…Thank you…Thank You
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.
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!
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.
Thanks for reading,
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.
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,