Red Sox manager John Farrell named Greg Colbrunn hitting coach on Wednesday.As weve done with every position on the staff, we sought people who had great communication skills, they had a very solid personal experience level to tap into, Farrell said during a Wednesday afternoon conference call to introduce Colbrunn.And the more we did our homework and found out things indirectly from Greg it became through that process that he was a strong candidate. As we went through the interview process it became very clear that not only does he have a wealth of knowledge as far as hitting goes, but the ability to relate, at least in that interview process, it felt like that would certainly carry over to dealing with our hitters. His fundamental approach or approach to hitting is aligned with what we value. And all things considered, this became a very clear choice as we went through that process.The hiring of Colbrunn nearly completes Farrells staff. He is still looking for an assistant hitting coach. While Farrell said he is not close to naming anyone to that position, Victor Rodriguez, who has coached in the Sox organization since 1995, including serving as the minor league hitting coordinator for the last six seasons, would be a leading candidate for this second position.Colbrunn, 43, played 13 major league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Braves, Expos, Twins, Rockies, and Mariners, ending his playing career in 2005 with 11 games for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate. He hit .289 with a .338 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage over his career.This is his first major-league coaching job.He has spent the past six seasons with the Yankees Single-A Charleston River Dogs. From 2007-09 and 2011-12 he was the teams hitting coach, and in 2010 he was the manager. His team hit .268, fourth in the 14-team South Atlantic League last season, with a .334 OBP (sixth) and .394 SLG (sixth). Colbrunn is highly regarded within the Yankees organization and has had other opportunities with major league teams in the past. None appealed to him until now.Ive had a couple opportunities in the past, move up or doing something different than being here in Charleston, but nothing ever really sounded too good or anything until this offseason and then this situation came up, the opportunity came up, said Colbrunn, who lives in the Charleston area. After going through the interview process and my wifes being from Connecticut and all that, its a great opportunity.Colbrunn knows he will have different challenges dealing with major league hitters than he had working with young players in the low minors.The biggest challenge we went over this a couple of days ago in the interview process the biggest challenge for me as hitting coach coming from A-ball to the big leagues is dealing with big leaguers and dealing with all their personalities and getting them all locked in on the same page and things like that, he said. But the biggest thing for me as a hitting coach is getting to know the starting pitchers and the pitchers throughout the American League and the National League.Spending six years in A-ball you dont really get a chance to sit around and watch that many games. So getting to know the pitchers, their tendencies, watching our hitters, learning our hitters, and building relationships with our hitters is probably the most important thing thats going to be the biggest challenge.But just going about it on a daily basis and thats part of the challenge to it but thats the fun of it, too. So probably building relationships. And its probably when I first started coaching here in A-ball, it was a little different because I spent so much time in the big leagues and then coming down to A-ball my expectations about players and their talent. It took me till probably about halfway through my first year I had to realize we are dealing with first-year guys and just getting them to show up in the cage every day or keeping them on the same path on a daily basis was the hardest thing. So in the big leagues, they have the work ethic or they wouldnt be there. They can hit, and now just keeping them going good, getting them feeling, build up their confidence and keeping them locked in for as long as you can.Colbrunn said he expects to visit with some of his new players during the offseason, getting to know them, earning their trust.When you start being a hitting coach with somebody its about trust and earning that trust over time, he said. And me coming in and replacing former Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, who Ive known and I played with him, what a tremendous person and he did such a tremendous job for the Red Sox. Getting to know them, getting to know them on a personal basis, finding out what makes them tick, what they can do, and just trying to start that off instead of waiting till spring training. So over the course of the winter Ill start building those relationships up.Farrell is pleased with the staff he has put together Colbrunn, bench coach Torey Lovullo, pitching coach Juan Nieves, third base coach Brian Butterfield, first base coach Arnie Beyeler, and bullpen coach Gary Tuck.Very happy, Farrell said. In large in part not only because of the experiences and the success that each have had individually, but the people that they are. I felt this was, it was important to have characteristics that each possessed. And I can say to a man that they do. And thats the players well-being, their career thats the forefront of everyones mind. Its not about the coach, its about the player. Yes, we will hold players accountable to the individual needs and to our team goals but to have people that are not only dedicated but they communicate and teach, that common thread, thats a common thread that links all of us together and very excited about the group thats been put together.
Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry attended Thursday’s OTA session and offer their analysis on some of the new additions in Quick Slants the podcast.
Also on the docket, a look at some upcoming contract situations for the team, Tom Brady’s 17th season and Robert Kraft taking legal action in support of Brady.
Listen to the entire podcast via the player below, or by searching CSNNE on iTunes.
It's easy -- obvious, even -- that Clay Buchholz should be immediately replaced in the Red Sox rotation.
What's more, it's apparent who should replace him. Eduardo Rodriguez, though his velocity remains mysteriously subpar, is otherwise healthy and available.
Even with the acknowledgement that Rodriguez's fastball isn't as lively as the Red Sox would prefer it to be, he remains a logical option.
And there can be little debate over the move to extract Buchholz from the rotation. In 10 starts, he's compiled a 6.35 ERA, and while pitcher’s won-loss records are notoriously misleading, this stat isn't: the Red Sox are 3-7 with Buchholz starting and 26-11 with everyone else.
Buchholz's confidence is shattered. You can see it in his body language on the mound. You can sense it with the glacial-like pace in which he works
with runners on base. You can observe it in his postgame remarks, where he looks and sounds like someone with no idea how to reverse his slide.
But the next part of the equation is a little trickier: what do the Red Sox do with him now?
It's highly unlikely that the Sox will just release him. For one thing, there's more than $8 million coming to him for the remainder of the season and those decisions aren't made lightly.
For another, it's possible -- hard as it might be to imagine now -- that Buchholz could help the 2016 Red Sox before the season is through. And if you think that's a ridiculous notion, then you've forgotten other similar stretches in his career.
In 2014, when Buchholz had what was, until then, the worst season of his career, he still managed to put together a seven-start stretch at the end of the season that saw him go 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
Or the 13-game stretch inside the otherwise hideous 2012 (season ERA: 4.56) in which Buchholz was 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA.
Those two stretches are at the heart of the paradox that is Buchholz - even in the course of miserable seasons, he invariably finds a stretch where he figures some things out and pitches brilliantly for a time.
It's one reason the Red Sox have stuck with him for the first two months -- the knowledge that, at any time, something may click, sending Buchholz on one of his patented rolls.
After all, Buchholz is just 31, too young to be finished. And as both the pitcher himself and manager John Farrell said Thursday night, in the wake of another poor outing, health isn't an issue.
And that's the rub here.
If Buchholz hadn't been given a public clean bill of health, the Red Sox could have discovered a heretofore undetected "general soreness'' somewhere on Buchholz's body -- a balky shoulder here, or a tender elbow there.
That would have bought Buchholz and the Red Sox some time to place him on the DL, take a mental break from the mound and work on making some adjustment away from prying eyes.
Now, that would seem not to be an option -- unless Buchholz, ahem, stubbed a toe getting on or off the Red Sox charter flight to Toronto early Friday morning.
Finally, Buchholz is long out of options and has sufficient service time to refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.
So what's left? Not much, beyond a trip to the bullpen. And that's where things get complicated.
In a 10-year major league career, Buchholz has made exactly two (2) appearances in relief, the most recent of which took place in 2008.
Given that Buchholz has struggled mightily early in games -- until Thursday's start, when he completely flipped the script and retired the first nine hitters he faced, Buchholz had allowed a batting average of .366 the first time through the order -- it's difficult to imagine him being successful in relief.
Sure, the Red Sox could designated him as their mop-up man in relief, brought in when the team has fallen behind early or jumped out to a huge lead in the middle innings.
But such scenarios can't be counted upon to provide Buchholz with enough regular opportunities, and even if they did present themselves, there's no guarantee that Buchholz would thrive under such circumstances.
So, the club appears at a dead end -- unwilling to release Buchholz because of meager starting depth options and the likelihood that he might be needed in a few weeks or months, and unable to find a spot for him to get straightened out.
It's the ultimate conundrum, which, when you think about it, is the perfect way to view Buchholz's career.
Chris Long’s been in the NFL since 2008. As the offspring of Hall of Famer Howie Long, he knows the ways and means of life in the league.
So, it’s instructive that a player who’s been around this long decided that success here hinged on allowing himself to be led. Check the ego, check the pride, behave as if you know nothing.
In doing so, Long’s affixed himself to the side of fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich like a 275-pound remora.
“Rob and I really clicked,” Long said Thursday after a Patriots OTA session open to the media. “We’ve got a lot of similarities, and he’s a great guy to learn from and shadow. He’s been here obviously a long time. Rob knows how to do things the right way around here. When you see a guy like that, if you’re halfway smart, you follow him around and do what he does. If Rob goes to lunch, I go to lunch. That type of thing. Rob’s a good buddy already.”
Long was also observed Thursday spending a lot of downtime with Jabaal Sheard, the two defensive ends on a knee near the Gatorade conversing for a couple of minutes.
With Chandler Jones now a Cardinal, the Patriots defensive end depth chart this offseason has have Sheard and Ninkovich at the top, with Long in the mix situationally, one supposes. Reps need to be split for freshness. Meanwhile, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers are coming into their second seasons and will push for time as well.
For his part, Long isn’t projecting anything.
“Well, I’m still learning, so I can’t make the determination yet,” Long said. “Ask me again during training camp. Every day in the NFL is an opportunity. A coach I’ve had before said every day is an interview, and that’s how I like to look at things. Every day, you have a chance to get better and learn and worry about your own — farm your own land and do all that good stuff. That’s the way I approach everything. It would be a disservice to the other guys if I was worried about anything other than myself, that opportunity just to get out here on the practice field and compete and get better.”
And let yourself be led.