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Red Sox Make Roster Moves

The Boston Red Sox today announced the following roster moves:

- Infielder Carlos Rivero was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners.

- Infielder Jonathan Herrera was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcements.

Rivero, 26, played in four games (one start) for the Red Sox, making his major league debut and going 4-for-7 (.571) with two doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Before being selected to the major league roster on August 25, he split the season (105 games) between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket, hitting .264 (103-for-390) with 20 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, and 53 RBI.
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Herrera, 30, made 42 appearances for Boston in his first year with the organization, hitting .233 (21-for-90) with a double, two triples, and nine RBI. He was optioned to Pawtucket on July 7, playing in 13 games for the PawSox before missing the remainder of the season with a right elbow injury. The switch-hitter will become a minor league free agent this evening at 5:00 p.m. ET.
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With today’s moves, Boston’s 40-man roster is now at 36.

Happy Halloween!

When Red Sox fans woke up on Halloween in 2013, they may have felt just a bit different than this year. That’s because they were probably hung over from celebrating a Boston Red Sox World Series!

A year and a day removed from their 8th title, the Red Sox quest for #9 started as soon as the the regular season ended. Now that the series is over (congrats to the Giants and especially Madison Bumgarner!) contracts can be signed, options can be picked up or declined, and the rumor mill is in full force.

Boston made their first move Thursday afternoon by re-signing closer Koji Uehara. “High-Five City”, who will spend next season at the age of 40, inked a 2-year, $18 million dollar deal. The Red Sox will pay considerably less in average annual value than they would have if Uehara had been given a one-year $15.3 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline.

So, the Sox secured their closer…so what’s next? Starting pitching (Max Scherzer, James Shields, a Jon Lester return)? A new third baseman from outside the organization (See: Pablo Sadoval or Chase Headley)? This offseason should be a fun one.

Rusney Castillo Update

A bit of prospect news, OF Rusney Castillo is still having some trouble with his thumb in the Arizona Fall League. The bruise between his thumb and index finger on his right hand has made him miss a few games and he may not play Winter Ball (once the AFL is finished in a few weeks) as a result. The reason the Red Sox wanted Castillo to get at-bats in the offseason is because he didn’t play organized baseball for 13 months after being suspended in Cuba, and later defecting.
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Castillo hit .333 in the big leagues after starring for the PawSox in their Governors’ Cup Championship over Durham.

Baseball Season is Over

For those who want to see a recap of the postseason, MLB Network put together a fantastic piece that sums up the playoffs. It’s worth the four minutes and 30 seconds to put a ribbon on 2014.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v36879325/mlb-network-features-the-images-of-the-postseason

Biggest Stories of the Offseason

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian released his Top 10 Offseason storylines…and, no surprise, the Red Sox appear in a few categories. Take a look at the hottest topics…http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/11779913/mlb-top-10-offseason-storylines

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As usual, the Today Show on NBC dressed up in Halloween garb paying homage to the all-time great Saturday Night Live Characters. The Spartan Cheerleaders, “Mom Jeans” commercial, Wayne’s World, The Blues Brothers, Mary Catherine Gallagher, and Pat (classic Matt Lauer)! They never disappoint with their creativity…and thanks for sparing us of Lauer in a Baywatch lifeguard swimsuit.

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Be safe, have fun and don’t eat too much candy (you’ll get a tummy ache).

Happy Halloween!!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Red Sox Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America unveiled the Boston Red Sox Top 10 prospects heading into the 2015 season.

Good news for PawSox fans; EIGHT were in Pawtucket last year!

Here’s the full list:

1. Blake Swihart, c
2. Henry Owens, lhp
3. Rusney Castillo, of
4. Eduardo Rodriguez, lhp
5. Brian Johnson, lhp
6. Rafael Devers, 3b
7. Manuel Margot, of
8. Matt Barnes, rhp
9. Deven Marrero, ss
10. Garin Cecchini, 3b/of

Only 18-year-old Rafael Devers (who played in the Gulf Coast League) and 20-year-old Manuel Margot, who batted .293 with 12 HR, 59 RBI, 5 triple, 25 doubles and 42 steals in 115 games between Greenville and Salem, did not play at McCoy Stadium in 2014.

Three, as a matter of fact, made their major league debuts in 2014, Rusney Castillo, Matt Barnes and Garin Cecchini.
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The struggles with Boston in 2014 made it necessary for GM Ben Cherington and Dir. of Player Development Ben Crockett to move players rapidly through the system. So, compared to this year’s list of top prospects, there is significant turn over because of major league service time.

Here’s the 2014 list:

1. Xander Bogaerts, ss/3b – 144 Big League games
2. Henry Owens, lhp
3. Jackie Bradley, of – 127 Big League games (possible gold glove in CF)
4. Allen Webster, rhp – 11 Big League starts
5. Blake Swihart, c
6. Garin Cecchini, 3b – MLB Debut, 11 MLB games
7. Mookie Betts, 2b – MLB Debut, 52 MLB games
8. Brandon Workman, rhp – 19 big leagues games, 15 starts
9. Matt Barnes, rhp – MLB Debut, 5 games
10. Trey Ball, lhp

Weei.com’s Alex Speier also contributes to Baseball America and his full scouting report can be read here…http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/2015-boston-red-sox-top-10-prospects/

Game 7 of the World Series is tonight after Kansas City pounded San Francisco 10-0 last night. Tough one for former Sox starter Jake Peavy, 1.1 IP, 5 ER and now boasts the highest playoff ERA in history.

Now, a pair of veterans, Tim Hudson (39) and Jeremy Guthrie (35), go against each other tonight. These two went head to head in the lone pitcher’s duel in the series, Game 3, a 3-2 Kansas City win.

It’s the first Game 7 since 2011 (St. Louis/Texas) and just the 2nd since 2002 (Anaheim, San Francisco). Only twice has the road team clinched in either Game 6 or Game 7 since 1979 (Pirates in ’79 and Marlins in ’03). In fact, history says it’s actually the Royals who should be doing those cartwheels. No team has lost a Game 7 at home since the 1979 Orioles, and no team has won Game 6 at home and then lost a Game 7 since the 1975 Red Sox.

All hands on deck for, officially, the last day of the baseball season in 2014!

Enjoy it…Game 7’s don’t happen often (just three times since 2000).

Thanks for reading,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Pair of Sox Farm Hands Named to AFL Fall Stars Game

Several of the best prospects in baseball will play on Saturday in the 9th annual Fall Stars Game, the yearly All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League. This year’s contest will feature 14 players on MLBPipeline.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, headlined by No. 1 overall prospect Byron Buxton.

Fans can watch the game at 7pm EST on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com.

Buxton will be repeating the Fall Stars Game thanks to a number of injuries (concussion and both wrists) in the regular season. The uber-prospect outfielder will be joined by two fellow members of the Top 10.

Eight of the Top 100 will be playing for the East in the Fall Stars Game, and Buxton will be joined by fellow Top 10 prospect Archie Bradley. The East team will also have Pirates first baseman Josh Bell (No. 29), Cubs pitcher C.J. Edwards (No. 53), Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo (No. 60), A’s shortstop Daniel Robertson (No. 85), Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey (No. 88) and A’s first baseman Matt Olson (No. 98).

The West will be led by Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor (who PawSox fans saw in Columbus in 2014), rated by MLBPipeline as the No. 4 prospect in baseball. Lindor’s star-studded teammates will include Corey Seager (No. 13), Jesse Winker (No. 40), D.J. Peterson (No. 49) and Hunter Dozier (No. 86). Red Sox prospect Rusney Castillo joins this elite group of outfielders.
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The Fall Stars Game has traditionally been littered with players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues quickly. The 2013 edition of the game featured 23 players who went on to make the Majors in 2014, and between 2009-11, 70 future big leaguers played in the Fall Stars Game.

Here is a run down of both rosters

EAST DIVISION

Pitchers
Christian Bergman, Rockies
Archie Bradley, D-backs
C.J. Edwards, Cubs
Trevor Gott, Angels
Brian Ellington, Marlins
Nefi Ogando, Phillies
Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays
Steven Okert, Giants
Tyson Perez, Astros
Jake Reed, Twins
Adrian Sampson, Pirates

Catchers
Elias Diaz, Pirates
Peter O’Brien, D-backs

Infielders
Josh Bell, Pirates
Brandon Drury, D-backs
Kaleb Cowart, Angels
Matt Olson, A’s
Tony Renda, Nationals
Matt Reynolds, Mets
Daniel Robertson, A’s

Outfielders
Byron Buxton, Twins
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Brandon Nimmo, Mets
Dalton Pompey, Blue Jays (Buffalo, 2014)
Roman Quinn, Phillies

WEST DIVISION

Pitchers
Chris Bassitt, White Sox
Parker Bridwell, Orioles
Tayron Guerrero, Padres
Nick Howard, Reds
Cody Kendall, Rangers
Francellis Montas, White Sox
Nick Maronde, Indians
Robby Scott, Red Sox (Portland)
Burch Smith, Padres
Samuel Tuivailala, Cardinals
Tyler Wagner, Brewers

Catchers
Justin O’Conner, Rays
Mike Ohlman, Orioles

Infielders
Daniel Castro, Braves
Hunter Dozier, Royals
Patrick Leonard, Rays
Francisco Lindor, Indians (Columbus, 2014)
D.J. Peterson, Mariners
Jace Peterson, Padres
Corey Seager, Dodgers

Outfielders
Rusney Castillo, Red Sox
Steven Moya, Tigers
Hunter Renfroe, Padres
Tyrone Taylor, Brewers
Jesse Winker, Reds

Congrats to both Rusney Castillo and Robby Scott for their election to the AFL All-Star Team.

World Series Game 6 is tonight at 8pm…San Francisco leads Kansas City 3-2 in the series…Do you think they wrap it up tonight, or does Game 7 loom tomorrow night?!

Thanks for reading,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Monday Morning Memories

Mad-Bum

As in Madison Bumgarner.

One word comes to mind: STUD

He was utterly dominant Sunday night in San Francisco to give the Giants a 3-2 series lead heading into Tuesday’s Game 6. A complete game shutout…4 hits…no walks…8 strikeouts…and only 1 batter reached scoring position against him all night. When the Giants needed their ace to show up. He did; and then some.

There are five REMARKABLE stats that show Bumgarner’s excellence in the World Series; courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

• This was his fourth World Series start. He’s won all of them. And how many other pitchers in the history of baseball have won four World Series games before their 26th birthday? That would be none. Zilch. Just him.

• But let’s take age out of it. No pitcher in the past half a century had won the first four World Series starts of his career at any age. Last to do it: Lew Burdette, for the 1957-58 Milwaukee Braves, at age 30-31.

• And in those four starts, Bumgarner has given up a total of one run. And that one came on a solo homer last Tuesday, in a game he led by seven runs at the time. So he’s 4-0, with a 0.29 ERA, allowing 12 hits in 31 innings, in his World Series career. That’s absurd. Not to mention unprecedented. If he were to retire back to the farm in North Carolina next week, that would be the lowest World Series ERA of any pitcher in history with 25 innings or more.

• Sunday also marked the second complete-game shutout he has thrown just in this postseason. The other was in the wild-card game in Pittsburgh. That makes him only the fourth pitcher in the division-play era to fire more than one shutout in a single postseason (joining Josh Beckett in 2003, Randy Johnson in 2001 and Orel Hershiser in 1988), the fourth left-hander in history to do that in any era (joining Whitey Ford in 1960, Sandy Koufax in 1965 and the Big Unit in 2001) and the first Giant to do it since Christy Mathewson twirled three shutouts in the 1905 World Series. Whoah. How ’bout that list?

• And, finally, in Bumgarner’s six starts in this postseason, he has placed himself alongside Schilling (in 2001) as the only pitchers ever to make a half-dozen starts of seven innings or more in the same Octoberfest. And Bumgarner’s 1.13 ERA in those six starts (47.2 innings, 26 hits, 6 earned runs) would rank No. 3 among pitchers who threw at least 40 innings in one postseason — behind only Hershiser (1.05) in 1988 and Schilling (1.12) in 2001. Wow.

Wow is right!

And the Giants offense is out “Royaling” the Royals. Scoring runs without hits, Bleeders, broken bats, gappers, bunts, going 1st to 3rd on base hits, contributions from every spot in the lineup (including 3 hits from the 9 spot on Saturday night in Game 4), etc. Hard to believe that there was not ONE home run hit in the 3 games played in San Francisco. It’s the first time that there was not a home run hit in three straight World Series games since 1948!

The Giants have the momentum heading back to Kansas City; HOWEVER, they’ve been in this exact position before and lost…2002 to Anaheim. San Francisco led that game in Anaheim going into the bottom of the 7th, and Dusty Baker removed starter Russ Ortiz and gave him the baseball on his way to the dugout. Bad omen…The Giants blew their Game 6 lead and gave up 4 first inning runs in Game 7 and John Lackey shut them down from there.

So, there is some history and a shred of hope for the Royals. Jake Peavy will get the ball for the Giants in Game 6 against 22-year-old rookie Yordano Ventura, a re-match of Game 2 which KC won 7-2.

The Passing of a Budding Star

In about the 3rd inning of last night’s game, I was thumbing through my twitter feed. More and more tweets were showing up with reports that Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend had been killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

I couldn’t believe it…I didn’t want to.

For those that don’t know, I worked in Springfield, Missouri for the Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis, Double-A) for three seasons before I came to Pawtucket in 2013. Taveras was the MVP of the 2012 team that won the Texas League title. Batted .321 with 23 homers, 37 doubles and 94 RBI and won the Texas League MVP award.

He set himself apart with his skills as a player. And one of the best pure hitters I’ve ever seen.

In my 8 years of calling games now, I can think of just two players who I felt stood out more; Mike Trout and Justin Upton.

One at-bat, in particular, stands out to me for Oscar. August 30th, a game at home against Tulsa and into the bottom of the 9th the Cardinals were being no hit by, aptly named, lefty Josh Outman. He was carving up Springfield, 9 k’s and not a hard hit ball all night. He got Taveras down to an 0-2 count and needed just one more strike to finish off the no hitter and a 9-0 victory. Oscar battled. He fouled off a couple pitches, took a couple more that were close, but finally, Outman tried to get Oscar to chase off the plate away. The left handed hitting Taveras reached over the plate, totally off balance, flicked his wrists and lined a single back up the middle to break up the no-no.

It was an easy time to give up an at-bat in 9-0 game in the 9th. He didn’t. He never did. He cared too much about the game and his teammates.

His first big league hit, in his first big-league game for that matter, was a home run in May this year against the Giants…

http://m.mlb.com/stl/video/topic/11493214/v33333153/?query=Oscar%2BTaveras%2BFirst%2BMLB%2BHomerun

I could watch this over and over again and it NEVER gets old. The rain falling and that sweet swing; a thing of beauty.

His last hit was in Game 2 of the NLCS, a game-tying, pinch-hit solo homer against the Giants…The Cardinals only win of the Series.

http://m.mlb.com/stl/video/topic/11493214/v36800699/?query=Oscar%2BTaveras

An unfortunate book end to what a career that could have, should have been.

Taveras had it all, power, range in the outfield, a good throwing arm, hit for average, sneaky speed, and, more than anything, he loved life and was ALWAYS smiling.

If he went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, you could always count on a smile and a, “Hey buddy, buddy” after the game. The swing was pure, the follow through was sweet, and he was a prince of a guy.

Now manager of the Arkansas Travelers (Angels, Double-A) and then Springfield hitting coach, Phillip Wellman tweeted this…

Taveras pictured here with Matt Adams, another Texas League MVP (2011), two of the best people I’ve been around in the game.

Many articles have been written about Oscar and his tragic death. A couple that are worth your time to get a feel for who he was to so many and his impact, although very limited, on the game.

From Jeff Passan of Yahoo.com on how Giants Outfielder Juan Perez (a close friend of Oscar), who had a big game in Game 5, learned of Taveras’ death in the middle of the game – http://sports.yahoo.com/news/juan-perez-delivers-key-hit-after-learning-his-good-friend-oscar-taveras-died-074707879.html

Also from Passan – http://sports.yahoo.com/news/oscar-taveras-remembered–he–had-a-chance-to-be-a-huge–bright-star-024859366.html

From Jenifer Langosch, Cardinals beat writer for mlb.com – http://langosch.mlblogs.com/2014/10/27/a-jovial-young-man-a-budding-superstar-lost-too-young/

I have a number of bobbleheads on my desk in the office. One is of Oscar Taveras…he, of course, is smiling…and he always will
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Rest in peace, Oscar…

And, finally, Happy Anniversary to my wife, Ashley! 2 years in the books and I could not have scripted it any better. You are an amazing wife and an even better mom.
2014-10-03 19.43.18

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

News and Notes

First and foremost, impressive outing by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants offense last night in Kansas City. After a 3-run first by the Giants, the Royals were done and the crowd was stunned. Game 1, Giants 7 – Royals 1.

In the crazy stat category (thanks to ESPN stats and information), World Series Game 1 was the first game this postseason that was not within 2 runs after any full inning of play (i.e., the teams having equal chances to bat). Of the 252 total innings played, the margin has been 2 or less after 205 of them, and 0 or 1 after 164. Talk about tight games in the playoffs.

Here are a couple more gems:

- The 1st game does matter. The winner has won the last 4 World Series and 10 of the past 11. The lone exception was 2009 when the Phillies beat the Yankees in Game 1.

- In 21 years of Division Series (counting 1981), the Giants are the 13th team to win all three Games 1 (LDS, LCS, WS). Of the previous 12, eight went on to claim the title, including the last to do it, the Giants in 2010.

- From Elias: Madison Bumgarner’s World Series scoreless innings streak ends at 21 innings. Only 6 others had longer streaks in World Series History… Whitey Ford: 33 innings Babe Ruth: 29 innings Christy Mathewson: 28 innings Lew Burdette: 24 innings George Earnshaw: 22 innings Sandy Koufax: 22 innings

- Aces were on the table in Game 1, and both stayed true to their playoff colors. Bumgarner improved to 6-3 with a 2.54 career postseason ERA, including a ridiculous 3-0 record with a 0.41 ERA in the World Series. James Shields fell to 3-5 in his postseason career, with a 5.74 ERA. Shields is a free agent in the offseason and many reports speculate that the Red Sox could be a possible landing place.

- From the Levering vault – James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later (INF/OF Elliot Johnson) were acquired by the Royals from Tampa Bay for OF Wil Myers, LHP Mike Montgomery (1st #36 ’08, KC), RHP Jake Odorizzi (1st #32 ’08, MIL) and INF Patrick leonard. The PawSox faced Mike Montgomery in Game 4 of the Governors’ Cup Finals (no decision). The most interesting part, to me at least, Shields and Montgomery went to the same high school in southern California, Hart High School (although a few years apart). Hart High School also produced former big leaguers Kevin Millar, Todd Zeile and Indians starter Trevor Bauer (Montgomery’s rotation mate). Also former NFL #1 overall pick Kyle Boller and, my favorite, Mark Paul Gosselaar…Zack Morris from the TV show Saved by the Bell. Random…Yes! VERY.

Onto more Red Sox related news…
As reported by weei.com’s Alex Speier, outfielder Rusney Castillo left his game in the Arizona Fall League yesterday after getting jammed on a swing and brusing his hand/thumb. Castillo is hitting .278 (10-for-36) with a .333 OBP and .361 slugging mark with three doubles, three walks and six strikeouts in 39 plate appearances for the Surprise Saguaros.
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INF Sean Coyle is 5-for-17 (.294) with a double and a triple after five games.

SS Deven Marrero has cooled off a bit now just 5-for-23 (.217) in 7 games. MLB.com’s Jim Callis did a nice piece on Deven Tuesday…http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/98913376/shortstop-prospect-deven-marrero-aims-to-improve-his-hitting-in-the-arizona-fall-league
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RHP Keith Couch continues to impress on the mound having made three starts and going 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA (5 ER/13 IP).
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Relievers Aaron Kurcz, Robby Scott and Madison Younginer have combined to give up just 3 ER in 13 innings of work.

International League Prospects

Baseball America released it International League Top 20 prospects and, not surprisingly, a number of PawSox found their way on the list. Mookie Betts (#2), Anthony Ranaudo (#6), Christan Vazquez (#16) and Allen Webster (#19) were all named to the team and ALL ended up in Boston this year.

The Rest of the list includes:

1. Gregory Polanco, of, Pirates
2. Mookie Betts, 2b/of, Red Sox
3. Francisco Lindor, ss, Indians
4. Maikel Franco, 3b/1b, Phillies
5. Steven Souza, of, Nationals
6. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Red Sox
7. A.J. Cole, rhp, Nationals
8. Alex Meyer, rhp, Twins
9. Robbie Ray, lhp, Tigers
10. Christian Bethancourt, c, Braves
11. Casey Sadler, rhp, Pirates
12. Giovanny Urshela, 3b, Indians
13. Rob Refsnyder, 2b/of, Yankees
14. Micah Johnson, 2b, White Sox
15. Alex Colome, rhp, Rays
16. Christian Vazquez, c, Red Sox
17. Trevor May, rhp, Twins
18. Hernan Perez, ss/2b, Tigers
19. Allen Webster, rhp, Red Sox
20. Nick Kingham, rhp, Pirates

Finally, the PawSox have been nominated for several “MiLBY” Awards including Top Offensive Player, Top Starting Pitcher, Best Farm System, Game of the Year, Top Play and Best Blooper.

You can vote as many times as you want. Voting will continue until tomorrow. Cast your votes now, and every day through the 23rd!

Here is the link to vote: http://www.milb.com/news/awards/y2014/index.jsp

From the “Brock”ford Files

Little Levering is 3 weeks old today…hard to believe how quickly time flies!

Dad and Brock on a walk

Dad and Brock on a walk

Good morning! You're 3 weeks old today

Good morning! You’re 3 weeks old today

Thanks for reading!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

Red Sox Find “New” Hitting Coach

It has been widely reported over the last 24 hours, although yet to be confirmed ‘officially’ by the Red Sox, that Chili Davis has been named the new hitting coach of the Boston Red Sox. He replaces Greg Colbrunn who was the hitting coach for the last two seasons.

Colbrunn said that he wanted to spend more time with his family and would not be returning because of that reason, not due to his injury that forced him to miss six weeks of the season due to bleeding on the brain in early June. Under Colbrunn, the Red Sox rode one of the American League’s strongest offenses to the 2013 World Series championship. In 2014, Boston scored 219 fewer runs, tying for 11th in the American League with 634.

Davis, 55 in January, returns to the Red Sox organization after spending three seasons as the hitting coach with the Oakland A’s. He was previously the PawSox hitting coach in 2011 where the squad finished 3rd in the International League in runs scored at 4.63 runs per game.
2011 Pawtucket Red Sox
His Oakland clubs have consistently been at or near the top of the American League in on base percentage the last three seasons, even leading the AL in walks in 2014, despite being in the lower half of the league in team batting average.

The former 19-year big leaguer with San Francisco (1981-87), California Angels (’88-90, ’93-96), Minnesota Twins (’91-92), Kansas City (’87) and New York Yankees (’98-99) had a career batting average of .274 with 350 homers and 1,372 RBI in 2,436 big league games. And among switch hitters, only Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504) and Chipper Jones (468) have more career homers than Davis.
Chili Davis
He was also a three-time World Series Champion with Minnesota (’91) and the Yankees (’98 and ’99) and a three-time All-Star with the Giants (’84 and ’86) and Angels (’94).

Following his playing days, Davis was a part-time instructor for the Dodgers in their 2010 fall instructional league and a hitting coach in the Australian Summer League in 2003 and 2004. He also worked in the business world.

In an odd twist of fate, Davis was asked during the 2011 season by Pawtucket Times reporter Brendan McGair about his future with the Red Sox. He said, “I don’t know where this game is going to take me. I got back into it because this is the environment I’m used to. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season. Whether they’ll ask me back, I don’t know that. I’m not trying to count on anything, but if I have to be back [in Pawtucket] with these guys next year, I definitely won’t be disappointed.”

He’s a couple years removed from that quote, and has worked with MANY former Red Sox in his three years in Oakland, but Chili is back in Boston.

The Sox chose Davis from a pool that also included Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers, Red Sox Double-A hitting coach Rich Gedman, Angels hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento and former Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

World Series Set After Thrilling NLCS

I understand this is a blog for Red Sox fans and followers of their minor league system (and I’ll swing some Red Sox into this). However, just as a pure baseball fan, the National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and the Giants was one for the ages.

Great pitching from both sides.

Manager’s decisions galore!

Clutch hitting (sometimes).

Stellar bullpen work (mostly from the Giants).

And it featured a number of ways in which to score runs. For the Cardinals, LOTS of solo homers. For the Giants, they scored in just about every way possible. In fact, before Game 5, the Giants scored 22 runs; 12 without the benefit of the hit. Ground outs, sacrifice flies, walks, wild pitches, throwing errors (See: NLCS Game 3)…you name it, the Giants did it. Giants third base coach Tim Flannery even coined the phrase, “RTI…Runs Thrown In”.

San Francisco hit one homer in the play-in Wild Card game in Pittsburgh (Brandon Crawford’s grand slam). They hit one homer in the Division Series in Washington (Brandon Belt’s game winner in the 18th inning). After Belt’s shot, they went 242 straight postseason plate appearances without a homer. Then, in Game 5, Joe Panik homered for the first two runs; he hit one homer in 269 at-bats this season. Pinch hitter Michael Morse hit his first since Aug. 15 (the game tying blast in the 8th). And Travis Ishikawa ended the game, and the series, with a walk-off three-run homer — the first walk-off homer of his career and the fourth walk-off homer ever to end an LCS, joining Chris Chambliss, Magglio Ordonez and Aaron Boone. And the last walk-off homer hit by a Giant to put them in the World Series came in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World”.

It was an incredible five games where in every contest, fans had their finger nails glued to the arm rests in their chairs flexed and white knuckled. Again, even if you aren’t a fan of either team, this was a GREAT baseball series.

It now sets up a match-up with those pesky Kansas City Royals. The Team that has not lost in the month October. The team that was six outs away from their season being over, yet came from behind to win against Oakland. They swept the team with the two best records in the American League, Anaheim and Baltimore, in sweeps.

Now they get the Giants, a team they swept in a three game series in August this year in Kansas City.

Speed will be the name of the game in the 2014 World Series. Can the Giants stop the ground attack of the fleet footed Royals. And can San Francisco get an early lead, because, as we learned in the AL Division and Championship Series’, you aren’t scoring against Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland after the 6th inning.

You’ve got the “tug on the heart stings” factor for a team that hadn’t been to the PLAYOFFS since 1985 in the Royals. You’ve also got the “I’ve been playing a long time and have never gotten out of the first round guy” in Tim Hudson. Jake Peavy could get his second straight World Series ring (wonder if he buys a cable car if they win it?). Javier Lopez could win his 4th World Series ring (2007, 2010, 2012). Both Peavy and Lopez are former Red Sox (that’s my tie in, a stretch, I know).

There’s also the experience factor. 14 players from the 2012 Giants World Series run are still currently with San Francisco. Kansas City has just TWO that have ever played in a postseason before, James Shields (Tampa Bay) and Omar Infante (Detroit ’06, Atlanta ’10, Detroit again in ’12 and ’13).

A further glance into both bullpens

The Royals bullpen just keeps getting better and better. It has a 0.96 ERA since the start of the ALDS. In Game 3 of the ALCS, the pen threw four perfect innings, the third time a team has ever done that in postseason history. The Royals have won four one-run games this postseason, a tribute mostly to the threesome of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. This season, those three had 21 games in which they all pitched, and none of the three allowed a run. No other team had more than 16 such games from any threesome. That’s why the Royals were 65-4 when leading after six innings during the regular season. Herrera and Davis have not allowed a home run this year. And advanced metrics tell us that of the past 100 batters the three have faced combined, there have been only five hard-hit balls.

How good is the San Francisco bullpen? It has been terrific this postseason, posting an ERA under 2.00. The Giants might not have a threesome like Kansas City’s, but anyone who saw the 18-inning game against the Nationals in Game 2 of the LDS knows how deep and versatile that pen is. In that game, Yusmeiro Petit, who set a major league record this year with 47 consecutive batters retired, threw six scoreless innings and struck out seven, the most ever in extra innings of any postseason game. Petit has pitched nine postseason innings, allowing no runs and two hits. Closer Santiago Casilla has been really good; he hasn’t allowed a run in 17 consecutive postseason appearances (although things got hairy in Game 5 of the NLCS). Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt has gone 19 straight appearances in the postseason without allowing a run. And another lefty, Javier Lopez, has gone 15 straight scoreless appearances in the postseason. The Giants appear to have a slight advantage because the best starting pitcher in the postseason has been Madison Bumgarner (1.72 ERA), who is pitching so deep into games that he keeps the pen fresh. Don’t forget about their two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum who has yet to pitch in the playoffs…he’s also a weapon out of the bullpen.

And then the Managers

The Giants’ Bruce Bochy is attempting to become the 10th manager to win three World Series. The other nine are in the Hall of Fame. He is one of 12 managers to manage 20 years, have a career winning record and win multiple World Series; 10 of the other 11 are in the Hall of Fame. That’s where Bochy is headed. He is the master of staying calm, and he is one of the best in the game at using his bullpen.

The Royals’ Ned Yost is not going to the Hall of Fame, but he has more wins than any manager in Royals history. And he is the only manager ever to win his first eight postseason games. It’s not push-button managing by any means, but Yost has basically used the same starting lineup since he moved Alcedes Escobar to the leadoff spot, and Lorenzo Cain to the No. 3 hole, on Sept. 13. And when right fielder Norichika Aoki gets on base in the late innings of a close game, Yost pinch-runs speedy Jarrod Dyson, then keeps him in center field and moves Cain to right, creating the best defensive outfield in the game. And, of course, when he gets to the seventh with a lead, he brings in Herrera, Davis and Holland for an inning each.

So who wins? My heart says Giants in 6…my brain says Royals in stingy 7 game series. Who do you have?

On this Date 25 Years Ago

In a crazy twist, TODAY is the 25th anniversary of the 2nd largest earthquake in California history, the one that rocked the 1989 Bay Bridge World Series between the Giants and the A’s and delayed it 10 days. Coincidentally the day AFTER the Giants won the National League Pennant.

ESPN did a fantastic 30 for 30 Documentary on it and, if you have the time, watch it.

I was 6 years old sitting in my kitchen in Sacramento (90 miles from San Francisco) doing homework awaiting the start of Game 3 when I felt the ground shake. My mom told me to look at the chandelier and it was swinging like Tarzan from vine to vine. Then we walked through the dining room to look to the back yard where we saw the water from our pool sloshing up again three quarters up onto the wood seven foot high wood fence.

It’s a very vivid memory for me, even being so young, but I would encourage everyone to watch the documentary just to get a feel for what that day and subsequent ones after it were like in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

The Brockford Files

And one update from the “Brockford Files” (my son Brock, and me trying to be clever to integrate him into the blog)…He’s doing great! Nearly 10 pounds, born at just over 9 just over two weeks ago, and continues with his off-season workout program :) and he slept for five straight hours Wednesday night (WOW!!). Mom is recuperating more and more every day as we figure this “parenting” thing out.

Our first outing at just 8 days old to the Pumpkin Patch at Wards Farm

Our first outing at just 8 days old to the Pumpkin Patch at Wards Farm

Oh, hey...there's a smile!

Oh, hey…there’s a smile!

Channeling the 2010 Giants before Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS against St. Louis

Channeling the 2010 Giants before Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS against St. Louis

And…Happy birthday Dan Butler!

Thanks for reading, enjoy the weekend!

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

PawSox 2015 Schedule is HERE

It’s tough to say what’s going to happen six months from today. But, one thing is for sure, the PawSox home opener in defense of their second Governors’ Cup Championship in three years begins in EXACTLY six months.

The Champion Pawtucket Red Sox will play their 2015 home-opener at McCoy Stadium on Thursday, April 16th against the Rochester Red Wings at 7:05 pm. The PawSox 2015 season will actually start one week earlier on April 9th when they play in Allentown, PA against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The April 9th opener will equal the latest the PawSox have begun a season since 2009 (also April 9th that year in a 6-4 win at Buffalo). Other than 2009, the 2015 season-opener will be the latest for the PawSox in 17 years since they began the 1998 season on April 10 at Syracuse (4-1 loss). Furthermore, the April 16th home-opener at McCoy in 2015 will be Pawtucket’s latest home debut since the PawSox fell to Lehigh Valley, 4-3 on April 17, 2009. Besides that date in 2009, however, the 2015 home-opener on April 16 will mark the latest McCoy Stadium opener since all the way back in 1991 when the PawSox beat Rochester, 2-0 on April 18 to begin their 1991 home schedule.

The 2015 International League schedule will be substantially different from years past although the PawSox will once again play 144-games with the usual 72 games at home and 72 on the road. Pawtucket will play 81 of their 144 games against their five IL North division rivals and only 63 games against the other eight IL clubs from the West and South divisions. Furthermore, the PawSox have always played 16 games against each of their North opponents but now that number is unbalanced as the Sox will face Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 19 times (8 home & 11 away), Syracuse 19 times (11 home & 8 away), Lehigh Valley for 18 games (8 home & 10 away), Rochester for 18 (10 home & 8 away), and Buffalo for 17 games (9 home & 8 away).
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Because of the unbalanced nature of the schedule, the majority of series played during the season will be 3-game sets as the PawSox will have 28 3-game series (14 home & 14 away) compared to 12 4-game series (6 home & away) and just 6 2-game sets (3 home & away). Pawtucket’s longest homestand of the season is 9-games from August 17-26, but the bulk of their homestands are 7-gamers (six total including each of their first three homestands of the year). Their longest roadtrip is 8-games from July 16-23.
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The PawSox will begin 2015 with a 7-game roadtrip from April 9-15 featuring a 4-game series at Lehigh Valley followed by a 3-game set in Buffalo. Pawtucket’s home-opener on April 16 will begin with a celebration of the 2014 Governors’ Cup team as returning PawSox players will receive their championship rings as part of special pre-game ceremonies. The initial 7-game homestand at McCoy includes a 4-game series vs. Rochester from April 16-19 followed by a 3-game set vs. Buffalo from April 20-22.
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Pawtucket’s home schedule consists of 53 night games and 19 day games with the following breakdown by month: April (11), May (16), June (14), July (11), August (13), and September (7).

PawSox home night games through May 1 will begin at 6:15 pm with the exception of Opening Night on April 16 at 7:05 pm. Pawtucket will begin regular 7:05 pm weeknight starts on May 11 and play virtually all of their weeknight home games at 7:05 pm for the remainder of the season. The PawSox will play each of their Saturday night home games one hour earlier than weeknights beginning at 6:05 pm. Sunday games will remain at 1:05 pm with the exception of September 6 at 6:05 pm. Games on May 25, June 13, July 2, July 3, August 8, and September 6 will all feature post-game firework displays at McCoy with additional firework games possibly added at a later date.
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Pawtucket will conclude the regular-season on Labor Day (September 7) vs. Buffalo at 1:05 pm at McCoy. The PawSox will be bidding to make the International League Playoffs for the 5th year in a row. Four teams will again qualify for the playoffs that begin on September 9 – the three division winners and one wild card (the second-place team with the best record). The PawSox will be looking to repeat as Governors’ Cup Champs when the 2015 Governors’ Cup Finals are played from September 15-19. The Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game between the IL Champ and the PCL Champ will be staged on September 22 in El Paso. The PawSox have played in that game twice in the last three years.

All 14 International League teams are back in the same divisional set-up as last year with the same Major League affiliations. The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Boston Red Sox own the longest affiliate relationship in all of the IL (since 1973).

Post Season/Fall League Updates and More Awards

I trust everyone enjoyed their Columbus Day weekend!

The American and National League Championship Series are both in full swing and will resume today in Kansas City and San Francisco, respectively.

The Royals have been on some kind of run, being six outs away from getting knocked out in the play-in game against Jon Lester and the A’s, and now up 2-0 against the Orioles. The team that hit the fewest homers in Major League Baseball in the regular season, has been clobbering the ball in October. And the way they play the game, stealing bases, defense and pitching has been a bit of a revelation.

The PawSox saw this approach first hand in the Gildan Tripe-A Championship game against Omaha. The Storm Chasers were aggressive on the bases, had power arms out of the bullpen and played mistake free baseball in winning their second straight crown. But this philosophy has been instilled in the Royals system for years. Home-grown players like Eric Hosmer (best friends with PawSox shortstop Deven Marrero), Mike Moustakas, catcher Salavdor Perez and outfielder Alex Gordon have all come through the organization with the same message.

A skill that the Red Sox have gotten better at over the last few years, and you can see the results with all the young players contributing in Boston now.

Kansas City gives the ball to Jeremy Guthrie, who Red Sox fans know well after his years in Baltimore originally. It’s his first career post season appearance and in just the second Royals playoff game at Kaufmann Stadium since 1985 (after last nights rain out).

Former PawSox players in this series: Only Andrew Miller (traded from Boston to Baltimore for LHP Eduardo Rodriguez at the trade deadline). He’s pitched in four games (6.1 IP) having allowed no runs on just one hit with seven strikeouts. Miller was with Pawtucket in 2011 and 2012.

On the other side of the ledger, the Giants and Cardinals are tied 1-1 with game three coming up this afternoon. A 3-0 shutout by Madinson Bumgarner set the tone for San Francisco in Game 1, but homers by St. Louis in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings beat the Giants in Game 2 (all homers hit by home-grown players for the Cardinals) 5-4.

Former Red Sox/PawSox are prevalent in this series as John Lackey starts for the Cardinals in Game 3. He’ll be working with…short time Red Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski. After being released by Boston in late June, Pierzynski did not play much with St. Louis down the stretch, but has been thrust into duty after the injury to Yadier Molina (oblique strain).

Lackey dominated the Dodgers in the Division Series tossing seven innings of one run ball while striking out eight and walking just one. He has some playoff pedigree being a 2-time World Series champion with Anaheim in 2002 (clinched the series in Game 7 against…the Giants) and in 2013 with Boston.

The Cardinals 25-man playoff roster features 16 players developed from within their system. Incredible.

The Giants, in contrast have just nine. But they do feature a pair of former Sox, Jake Peavy (dealt in July this year for PawSox playoff standouts Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree) and lefty specialist Javier Lopez.

Peavy took a no decision in his start in Game 2 in St. Louis (2 ER in 4 IP) but has been very sharp in his two postseason starts so far (1-0, 1.86 ERA, 2 ER in 9.2 IP). Lopez, who has been a playoff standout with San Francisco in each of their World Series runs in 2010 and 2012, has pitched in 4 games so far and has allowed just 1 hit and recorded strikeouts to 2 of the 3 outs that he’s been asked to get.

This series has the makings to be a great one, nothing new to these two historic franchises who also met in 2012 in a series that went seven games won by the Giants (and had to come back from being down 3-1).

Who do you think wins each series?

As we talked about last week, the Arizona Fall League in ramping up. The Surprise Saguaros are 3-3 after a week and Rusney Castillo continues to shine. He’s played in four games thus far and is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with 3 2B, an RBI and a stolen base.

2B Sean Coyle has played in just two games going 3-for-7 with a triple and 2 RBI.

And SS Deven Marrero is hitting .300 (3-for-10) with an RBI, 3 walks, and 2 stolen bases.

Pitchers Aaron Kurcz and Robby Scott have yet to allow a run in their 2 games pitched (each an inning per appearance). And Madison Younginer allowed his first run in 2 games (2 IP, ER, 2 H, 2 K’s, 3 BB).

And the Post Season accolades continue to roll in for the Red Sox system. No surprise but Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart were named to the MLB.com’s All-Prospect Team by Jonathan Mayo. To view to full list and read scouting reports on each of the players, follow this link…http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/96473094/mlbpipelinecoms-2014-all-prospect-team

Betts also found himself on the Baseball America All-Rookie Team with the likes of White Sox slugger Jose Abreu and speedster Billy Hamilton. The rest of the All-Rookie Team is as follows:

C: Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets
1B: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
2B: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
3B: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (With Toledo in 2013)
SS: Danny Santana, Minnesota Twins (Rochester, 2014)
OF: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds (Louisville, 2013
OF: Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays (Durham, 2013 and 2014)
OF: George Springer, Houston Astros
DH: Kennys Vargas, Minnesota Twins
SP: Jake deGrom, New York Mets
SP: Collin McHugh, Houston Astros
SP: Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays (Buffalo, 2014)
SP: Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
SP: Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals
RP: Dellin Betances, New York Yankees (Scranton/WB, 2013

And, finally, Baseball America also unveiled its Top 20 Prospects in each League (International League to be announced later).

The Eastern League featured SIX Red Sox in the Top 20…oddly enough, all were in a PawSox uniform at some point in 2014.

#2 2B Mookie Betts
#6 LHP Henry Owens
#7 LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
#8 C Blake Swihart
#9 LHP Brian Johnson
#19 SS Deven Marrero

The rest of the list and rankings for the other leagues can be found here…http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/2014-league-top-20-prospects-index/

Will keep you posted on the International League Rankings. Got to believe there will be a good number of PawSox listed.

Don’t forget to vote for the MILBY’s! Many, Many PawSox in the mix for awards. Vote early and often!

Enjoy the the Game 3’s tonight,

Jeff
@jlevering4
jlevering@pawsox.com

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