Tagged: 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox

Nieves & Pierzynski share Sox…

Although the Red Sox made their one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski official on Dec. 4, it seems the free-agent catcher’s interest in Boston began much earlier than that.

Juan Nieves BostonHow early? According to Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, about five weeks earlier — when the team was on the verge of winning the World Series.  “We spoke in St. Louis because he was there [working as a television analyst],” Nieves said Saturday. “He mentioned the fact, ‘I would love to come here and be with this group,’ because he saw the atmosphere in the locker room.

“The seed was planted there.”

Indeed, Pierzynski worked as an analyst during the 2013 postseason for Fox, his Juan Nieves Chicagothird year doing so. However, it was the five years Pierzynski spent working closely in Chicago with then-bullpen coach Nieves that led to the conversation the two had in October.

“He’s going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of will to win,” Nieves said. “It’s going to be exciting to see how he manages our pitching staff.”

Pierzynski served as the Chicago White Sox’ primary catcher from 2005 to 2012 before signing with the Texas Rangers a month after Nieves left Chicago to join the Red Sox staff as pitching coach. Pierzynski hit .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs for Texas last season.

“When you see A.J. as an opposing player you don’t like him, but when you see him on your team you’re going to see a guy that comes in every day and plays hard,” Nieves said. “He wants to be in that big situation.”
AJ riled up
Pierzynski spent the first five seasons of his major league career on the Minnesota Twins, playing with current Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz; he caught pitcher Jake Peavy with the White Sox from 2009 to 2012.
Jake and AJ
“For the experience and for the type of player he is, I think he will be a nice fit on the team,” Nieves said. “We’re going to embrace that, but that will start right after the beginning of January.”

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Big Papi defined the term ‘sportsman’…

From: Scoop Jackson – ESPN

David Ortiz spoke with his bat, but it was his words that won the World Series

Boston Red SBig Papi Boston Strongox savior David Ortiz’s path to World Series MVP and my pick for sportsman of the year began on April 20. During a ceremony before a baseball game in front of his city, inside of his park, he grabbed a microphone and said these five words: “This is our fucking city!”

From that moment forward, David Ortiz became a symbol of hope, pride, strength and resilience for a city that was in need of something more than baseball to heal the pain it was struggling through.

Now all it needed was a hero.

Bats speak louder than words.

That’s what true baseball historians, aficionados, legends and lifers will tell you if you ever get into a real conversation with them about the importance of the game and the role it’s played in this country.

The game’s association with apple pie and Chevys is minimal and almost degrading. The game, when put in proper perspective, is so much larger. Pies get eaten, cars get driven. Bats create sounds and produce runs. They feed souls and drive spirits. And those who swing bats — and swing them well — have always had voices that have the power to go beyond the impact their hits can have inside the diamond.Ortiz Celebrates WS 2013

Somehow, Ortiz used the six months following the Boston Marathon bombing to let his bat speak. To back up the words he spoke on that horrific day.

He was able to take a team (and organization) that had just had one of the worst seasons in its 112-year history and ignite a resurrection rarely seen in modern-day sports.

At 37 years old and in his 16th year in baseball (11th with the Red Sox), his .309, 30 HRs, 103 RBIs, .395 OPB stat line was the omphalos, the center point, of a remarkable turnaround. In 2012, the team finished with 93 losses. In July, the Sox were 20 games over .500 and took back first place in the American League East by the end of the month. They never looked back.

Ortiz looks on 2103 WS

His numbers in the World Series did more than speak for themselves. Still two months after the fact it is difficult to comprehend what Ortiz did between the Wednesdays of Oct. 23 and 30.

Before the final game of the World Series, Ortiz was hitting .733 with a slugging percentage of 1.267 in the first five games. His 11 hits at the time were two shy of the most ever in a World Series and he still had two more possible games to play; they accounted for a third (11 of 33) of the total team hits. And this is without the first-at-bat grand slam that St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran robbed him of in Game 1. Add that to the list and Reggie Jackson loses his “Mr. October” nickname and his legacy is no longer as mythical and untouchable as it’s been made out to be.

The media dubbed Ortiz “King of October,” while his teammates began calling him “Cooperstown.”Papi WWE Champion

Ortiz’s final World Series math added up to him having a .688 BA, .760 OBP, 1.188 SLG with eight walks (a Series record), two HRs and six RBIs. His final postseason math for 2013 was .353, .500 OBP, .706 SLG. More telling: His World Series OPS was 1.948 while the team’s was .484.

When a player hits almost .700 in a championship round and the rest of his team hits below .179 and that team still wins it all, it becomes appropriate to for that moment spell team with an “i.”

“I would be doing him a disservice trying to put it into words,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters after the World Series. “He just keeps writing new chapters. I know great players are great, are more likely to be great in any moment, but it’s hard to see him in those moments and not think that there’s something different about him. He’s locked in. We’ve seen him locked in before, but to do it on this stage, and do it in so many big moments, I can’t add anything more to the legend that’s already there, but he keeps writing more chapters on his own.”

But it was the chapter he wrote in the dugout of Game 4 that elevated his team, Red Sox Nation and his own stature. It was a pivotal, Series-changing moment. With Boston down 2-1 in the Series, Game 4 was tied at 1 going into the sixth inning and Ortiz — not his bat — decided to speak.

“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” said teammate Jonny Gomes, who moments after Ortiz’s speech hit a three-run game-winning homer. “He got everyone’s attention, and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful.”Ortiz and Koji

In his own way, as only he could, Ortiz told his team to just do what he was doing: Play ball. Simple. “I know we are a better team than what we had shown. Sometimes you get to this stage and you try to overdo things, and it doesn’t work that way,” he remembers saying.

And afterward, whether it was sitting with his son, the World Series MVP trophy and Chris Berman on the field or in a studio chopping it up with David Letterman, Ortiz came off as the one athlete for whom moments like this were born.

A marriage of performance and personality. The mastering of craft and class. All along, when everything was supposed to be about him, about what he had just accomplished, Ortiz never ventured or leaned away from keeping this entire experience about — and for — Boston.

He put the victims and people affected by the bombing ahead of himself. He reminded us all along the way that while the game itself cannot change lives or save them, a sense of freedom can come through the swing of a bat. It can lift the souls of fans and in this case a city.

$120K Celebration

I’m not the first to suggest Big Papi as sportsman of the year. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci suggested it as well. I hope we are not alone.

The sublimeness of sports rests in the fact that no one sees something like this coming. No one at the beginning of 2013 could have told you that David Ortiz would elevate himself and the Boston Red Sox and the city of Boston (almost) single-handedly within a span of eight months. Especially someone who started off the season on the disabled list.

“Baseball deludes us,” Cal Fussman once wrote. “The crack of the bat, the majestic flight of the ball, the slow, regal trot around the bases. We rise to our feet and roar. We think we are seeing power.”

He started the next paragraph to open the final chapter of “After Jackie” with, “But we’re not.”

But sometimes, even in baseball, we witness something more.

Ortiz flashes his Treasure

After Ortiz released his infamous and FCC excused and approved “f-bomb” on Boston’s field of hopes and dreams, the words that followed were this: “And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

Sometimes, even when a bat is making a historic amount of noise, words can speak louder.

You’re Welcome…..

On the day he will be introduced as the newest New York Yankee, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe to thank Red Sox fans for seven years of “great memories.”

Ells Globe Thank You

Ellsbury, fresh off winning his second World Series ring with the Red Sox, agreed to a $153 million deal with New York last week. The contract includes a $21 million team option for the 2021 season, with a $5 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the deal would be worth $169 million over eight years.

Jacoby will wear No. 22 with the Yankees, (he wore No. 2 with the Red Sox, but obviously that belongs to Yankees captain Derek Jeter) taking over the number of Roger Clemens, another Boston Red Sox star who moved south to New York.

Ellsbury, who turned 30 in September, led the majors with 52 stolen bases despite being hobbled late in the season by a broken right foot. The lefty-hitting leadoff man batted .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs, and the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium should boost his power numbers.

He is part of a rebuilding plan by the Yankees, who lost All-Star second baseman to Seattle. New York also agreed to deals with catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran.

MLB, NPB agree to new free agent posting system

MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball have agreed in principle to a new posting system, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As Sherman notes, the final step prior to approval is for MLB’s executive council to sign off on the deal, which is expected to happen soon.

As for the details, it’s likely as expected: The NPB team posting a free agent will reportedly be able to name a posting fee up to $20 million. At that point, all interested teams will agree to the posting fee, and the free agent in question will then be allowed to negotiate with the teams that have consented to the specific fee. However, only the team that signs the free agent will owe the posting fee to the player’s former NBP club.

This new system is a win for MLB, as the old format permitted posting fees much higher than $20 million — Yu Darvish’s $51.7-million tab and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s $52.1-million fee, for notable instance (ugh..!).

All of this means we’ll probably soon have some clarity regarding the status of coveted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who’s generally regarded as the top potential free agent pitcher on the market. Tanaka’s current team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have in the recent past hinted that they may consider not posting their star under the new rules, but that stance seems to have softened this week. The general feeling is that if Tanaka wishes to make the jump, then he’ll be allowed to do so.

Masahiro Tanaka

On that front, it’s worth noting that Rukuten’s team president, according to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, is set to arrive at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. The Yankees, Cubs, Mariners and Dodgers are among the teams believed to have strong interest in the 26-year-old Tanaka.

One would have to believe that under the new system, the idea of parity between MLB’s ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’ will be at least, a little, improved.  Teams who otherwise would have sat back and watched due to the idea of paying over $50 million (in some cases a third of annual payroll for the ‘Have Nots’) for the right just to talk to the player may now be more inclined to take a chance and upset their division norm, whatever that norm may be.

If the Astros (it’s just an example, calm yourself) can take a leap and snag an import centerpiece to build upon, they can stand alongside the likes of The Dodgers, Bombers and Scarlett Hose… at least until they’re forced to trade that centerpiece for a bag of fungo bats, cash and some prospects.

“Natural Hitter My Ass”…

The perfect swing and complicated life of Ted Williams.

From: SLATE Book Reviews

The Kid book cover

There are a million ways to watch baseball. Many of them don’t even involve watching, technically. Come spring you’ll be able to find a graybeard on a rocking chair in Bar Harbor who will tell you, as he listens to Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien’s play-by-play come in through the static from Fenway, that he prefers radio to television, because just the sounds of the game—crack of bat, roar of crowd—put a picture of it in his mind. A friend of my dad’s used to say, “Just save me the box scores,” explaining how he followed the season, always a day behind, through the morning papers.

There are a million ways of writing about baseball, too—the prose poetry of Roger Angell, the clear-eyed analysis of Bill James, the storytelling of Michael Lewis. Baseball’s canon is vast and varied. And among the figures from the sport’s century-and-a-half history most worthy of all angles of study, few loom larger than Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox left fielder through the 1940s and ’50s, the last player to post a season’s batting average above .400, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, widely acknowledged as the greatest hitter who ever lived. There are many ways to write about Ted Williams. And longtime Boston Globe editor Ben Bradlee, Jr., touches them all with his exhaustive, 850-page tome of a biography, The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams.

It’s very long, this book. Too long, from an immediate-enjoyment standpoint: Some of the 126 pages leading up to Williams’s first major league at-bat bog down in picayune detail, and many of the 300 that chronicle his post-retirement years struggle to earn their keep. But the prose is breezy, the research and reporting are impeccable, and, taking a wider view, the length is easy to forgive. This book very much sets out to be the definitive document of a great, complicated, fascinating person—besides the baseball, Williams was a highly decorated fighter pilot and a world-class fisherman—and ultimately, it succeeds. If it sometimes strains to fit in absolutely everything anyone has ever known about Ted Williams, well, you come to see the value in its doing so. It’s a good book.

Ted the Fisherman

The best of it is the baseball. Hitting, specifically. Brimming with accounts of Williams’s swing—a fluid, balletic motion regularly described as “the most natural” that various describers had ever seen—the book approaches the act of a hitting a pitched baseball as high art. Six-foot-3 and always spindly for an athlete, the “Splendid Splinter” mastered the mechanics of batting such that he generated torque wholly disproportionate to his muscle mass. Bradlee collects and assembles awestruck anecdotes from friends, teammates, coaches, and journalists about balls hit harder and farther than anybody had ever seen balls hit before. None of them are not fun to read.

One of the best anecdotes comes from Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, who says the first time he saw Williams hit, “there was something about the way he tied into that ball which all but shocked me out of my seat. It was as though a shock of electricity had just passed through my body. In that fleeting moment, as he swung at the ball, I became convinced that here was one of the most natural hitters in the history of baseball. I’d have staked my life on it.”

Williams never liked the term: “Natural hitter my ass,” he said. He’d worked and studied, practiced countless hours, days, perfecting his swing. He was obsessed. The same way a million other American boys have been obsessed over the years, of course. But Williams’ drive, Bradlee argues, was intensified by the escape baseball provided from a neglected, impoverished childhood in southern California.

Ted at 17“When I wasn’t sleeping or eating,” he quotes Williams saying of his growing up, “I was practicing swinging. If I didn’t have a bat, I’d take any piece of wood, or make a bat of paper and swing it.” “Or,” Bradlee continues, for him, “he’d just swing an imaginary bat. If he passed a storefront that had a big, clear window, he liked to stop, take a few swings, and check his reflection out. When he did this, he’d be in his own world, oblivious to the merchants inside bemused by the vainglorious displays. The truth is, Ted didn’t want to just be good. He wanted to look good.” (It worked.)

Once Williams makes the majors—he joined the Red Sox for his rookie season in 1939—and Bradlee has national newspaper stories to draw from, the book really starts to sing. “In his third game, Ted had a double and single, but it was his fourth game, on Sunday, April 23, that served as his true Fenway Park coming out party,” Bradlee writes. “In his second time up against Philadelphia’s LeRoy ‘Tarzan’ Parmelee, Ted scorched a ball into the right-center-field bleachers, just to the right of the outfield triangle, about 430 feet away, for his first home run. Burt Whitman of the Boston Herald called it ‘as harshly a hit a line drive as anybody ever sent into that sector, not excepting even Babe Ruth …’ ”

Williams, handsome and charming—though egotistical, to put it mildly, and comically uncouth—was a magnet for press, an instant star. A slump at the start of his second season turned things sour, however, and an antagonistic relationship with fans and journalists alike became a dark theme of his career. Not that it hindered his production. He was an angry person, extremely self-critical and, at times, mean to others. It seemed to fuel his excellence.

He had a flair for the dramatic, and his heroics play out thrillingly on the page. The Press Clippinghome run he hit to win the 1941 All-Star Game. The six hits he collected the last day of that season, after choosing to play in a doubleheader in Philadelphia, rather than sit out to preserve his (last ever) .400 average. The home run he hit on Sept. 28, 1960, in the last at-bat of his career. (That one immortalized, three weeks later, in John Updike’s classic New Yorker essay, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”) Bradlee relays such moments well. “The crowd screamed anew,” he writes of Williams’ exit off the field in the last inning of his last game, “but Ted ran right through the cheers, still unwilling to bow to convention. As he passed shortstop, he said to Pumpsie Green, ‘Isn’t this a crock of shit?’ Green laughed.” And the context Bradlee provides—the heavy detailing, the quotes and anecdotes—brings the reader inside Williams’ psychology, to the extent that that’s possible.

Sure, you might scratch your head on Page 34, when you learn that Williams’ paternal aunt Alice had a dog, part coyote, named Cap, that her friend Roselle Romano thought “was a nasty thing,” wondering why you’ve learned this—especially as it becomes apparent that you will be learning little else about Alice or Cap or Roselle, or many of the other myriad members of the extended family who get a quick sketch early on. And you might have trouble keeping straight which horrible thing Williams said to which of the three wives he divorced before he settled down with Louise Kaufman, with whom he lived for 24 years and to whom he also said some horrible things. But by the time you get to the sad, disturbing Deathmaskend of the story, where you learn lots of sad, disturbing things about Williams’ children, and the legal fight that broke out around his will, and a “cryonics” company called Alcor that freezes human corpses in giant thermoses called “Dewars” in the hopes of unfreezing them in the future, once medical science has advanced to a point where it can bring them back to life, and you read the unpleasant and difficult-to-believe sentence, “With these fundamental issues resolved, Darwin picked up a carving knife and began to slice off Williams’s head,” you’re happy for everything you’ve learned in this giant book. Because it has portrayed the man in full.

Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya’…

Ells 2013 PSThe New York Yankees made it official Saturday, announcing the completion of a seven-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and a one-year contract for returning starter Hiroki Kuroda.

The busy Bronx Bombers have been undergoing a pricey roster overhaul after missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years.

Ellsbury, fresh off winning the World Series with Boston, agreed to a $153 million deal with New York on Tuesday. The contract includes a $21 million team option for the 2021 season, with a $5 million buyout. If the option is exercised, the deal would be worth $169 million over eight years.

The Yankees will hold an introductory news conference for Ellsbury at Yankee Stadium on Friday.

Ellsbury, who turned 30 in September, led the majors with 52 stolen bases despite being hobbled late in the season by a broken right foot. The lefty-hitting leadoff man batted .298 with nine homers and 53 RBIs, and the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium should boost his power numbers.

He joins a crowded outfield that will include Carlos Beltran, who agreed to a three-year, $45 million contract, according to two people familiar with the deal, on Friday. Beltran’s agreement came hours after All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano decided to leave for Seattle.

 

Really? You Don’t Say…?

The Phillies are looking to trade high-priced closer Jonathan Papelbon, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Papelbon, 33, is coming off a 2013 season in which he pitched to a 2.92 ERA, 131 ERA+ and 5.18 K/BB in 61 2/3 innings of work. Papelbon has long been one of the elite closers in the game, as he owns a stellar career ERA+ of 184 to go with 286 saves and a save percentage of 87.7.

With all that said, trading Papelbon will be a tall order for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. That’s mostly because Papelbon is still owed a minimum of $26 million over the next two seasons, and that’s not counting a $13-million vesting option for 2016. (Yes, that was an insane contract for a guy who pitches 60 to 70 innings a season.)

Papelbon Amaro show me the money

On top of all that, Papelbon has a partial no-trade clause, is likely past his prime and, as CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, has alienated some parts of the Philadelphia clubhouse.

In other words, the only way the Phillies will trade Papelbon is if they pick a large portion of his remaining tab.