Red Sox introduce 'ecstatic' Victorino

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Red Sox introduce 'ecstatic' Victorino

BOSTON Saying he is ecstatic, Shane Victorino was introduced Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park as the newest member of the Red Sox.

Victorino joined the Sox as a free agent, signing a three-year, 39 million contract. A switch-hitter, Victorino has hit .275, with a .341 on-base percentage, and a .430 slugging percentage in 1,076 games over his nine-season career. He is expected to play right field, where he has appeared in just 148 of his 1,002 defensive games over his career, with Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Jonny Gomes in left.

Calling this home for the next three years, I'm ecstatic, said Victorino, who will wear No. 18. Looking forward to an opportunity to go out there and play right field, or wherever manager John Farrell wants me to play, Im more than ecstatic.

Shane fits perfectly into our short- and longer-term plan, said general manager Ben Cherington. Hes been a big part of great teams. Hes a guy that can do a lot of things on the baseball field. A great defender, a great baserunner, hitter from both sides of the plate, and one of the highest-energy players in the game.

For Victorino, who turned 32 on Nov. 30, this is his first time playing with an American League team. He was a sixth-round pick of the Dodgers in 1999, but was taken by the Padres in the 2002 Rule 5 draft, making his big league debut with San Diego in 2003. He was returned to the Dodgers in May 2003, though. In 2004, he was again taken in the Rule 5 draft, by Philadelphia, where he played until being traded to the Dodgers at the trading deadline in July.

Factoring into the Sox decision to pursue Victorino as a free agent is the on-going endeavor to improve the clubhouse culture, going after high-character players, along with his on-field abilities, Cherington said.

Were always looking at the body of work and the longer track record, said Cherington. I think Shane would say there were some times last year he didnt feel quite the way he wanted to. But what we wanted to do this offseason, as you guys know, is not just add to the outfield but add to the outfield with a guy whos a centerfield-quality defender. And if we can do that with a guy who can also hit and run the bases and add the energy that Shane does, we just felt like it was a really good fit for a lot of good reasons. We know the kind of player hes been over a period of time. Hes still young. Hes still in his prime age years. Looking forward to seeing him out here. And hes a big part of what were trying to do.

Despite the Sox disastrous 2012 season and problems in the clubhouse, Victorino said he needed no convincing to join the team.

"There is no convincing, he said. It's Boston. That in itself says it all. It's the Red Sox.Its a storied franchise. I think still, to me, if you look around the game of baseball, theres one rivalry that you speak of and thats the Yankees and Red Sox.

I look at the guys, the chemistry on this team... I look at the makeup of the team, the guys. This is one of those things we can turn around. And that's the goal. We don't want to be known as the team that didn't make the playoffs. I want to be a team that makes the playoffs.I fell short last year and it wasnt fun to be home in October.

The reason I chose the Red Sox over other organizations, the tradition, the history, the makeup of the team. The last couple years has been definitely tough for the Boston organization. But at the end of the day we look beyond that now. We need to look forward to 2013 and being that organization that we can be. The game of baseball is the game of baseball. It happens sometimes like that and you can't put a finger on it."

In addition to a new team and a new league, Victorino will be making some adjustments in his defensive position. He has played the vast majority of his defensive games 762 in center field. He played just one game in right field in 2012, with the Dodgers, where he also played 48 games in left and eight in center.

I did the same thing when I went to LA," Victorino said of changing positions. People talked about how I should be the center fielder going there. But I always look at it as, 'Im going to help this team win'. I came in as a right fielder ...If you speak to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, you can ask him. He thinks I was the best right fielder that ever played.

Don't get me wrong, I love center field. I want to be a center fielder. But Ive played right. I'm excited for the opportunity to just go out there and have fun. I still might wrap myself around that pole. But if Ive got to go get a ball, Im going to go get it.

Fenways expansive right field will present a challenge for Victorino.

Its a big right field. But Im always up to the challenge, he said. Im going to work hard in spring training to get that opportunity. Im going to get that opportunity in spring training to work with Jacoby in center field, and playing with two center fielders I can trust his legs. Playing in our home ballpark you dont have to worry about a left fielder too much with that wall out there. We can both kind of shift over.

Ive already spoken with Ellsbury. Were very excited to play alongside each other.

Playing in Boston should be less of an adjustment for him, having played in large markets with high expectations.

I hope it is not worse than Philly, he said, with a laugh. That was a pretty tough marketI learned through that experience too, what its like to be in a market where youre not that team, that number one teamIm going to try and stay positive. I think thats important. But its the fans. Its the tradition thats in this place, the Green Monster, Fenway, all these things.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

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Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.

Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find bullpen help?

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Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find bullpen help?

Jared Carrabis joins Sports Tonight to discuss the news that Carson Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery, and whether he has faith that Dombrowski will be able to find bullpen help.

Haggerty: Miller signing more of same head-scratching stuff from Bruins

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Haggerty: Miller signing more of same head-scratching stuff from Bruins

It’s more than a year into the Cam Neely/Don Sweeney partnership running hockey operations for the Boston Bruins, and it’s still incredibly difficult to decipher what their master plan is for turning around the downtrodden franchise.

The Bruins are badly in need of something special to sell to their fan base, and a four-year contract for Kevan Miller is most definitely not “It.”

The latest chapter in the sagging saga of the Black and Gold is the aforementioned four-year, $10 million contract extension for Kevan Miller signed on Tuesday with little clear reason for the urgency to get something done with the soon-to-be 29-year-old defenseman. There’s no doubt the Bruins will say Miller could have pulled that kind of contract offer had he gone to the open market, and Sweeney should have let him walk –and let another team overpay for him -- had that happened.

One also can’t blame the hard-working, no-nonsense Miller for being pumped about the contract that fell into his lap.

“It’s the team I started with, whether it was in Providence and then back to Boston, the organization I started with. I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone,” said Miller. “That was one of the big key factors of me making my decision is I really love the city. I love the fans. Like I said in my statement, we have the best fans in the league and they’re great to play for. The whole experience so far has just been great. I’m looking forward to four more years of that for sure.”

The immediate negatives are there for Miller after signing the deal: he’s been injury-prone throughout his NHL career, he really hasn’t proven he can be consistently effective against the other team’s best players and he does very little to solve Boston’s puck-moving problems.

There’s a lot of redundancy with Adam McQuaid on a number of different fronts when it comes to Miller and an alarming lack of proven puck-moving defenseman in general beyond Krug at the top of the B’s priority list.

If the undrafted former UVM standout can hold it together as a top-4 defenseman then the Bruins will have decent value for a limited player in Miller, but he could just as quickly, and perhaps even more quickly, develop into another overpaid member of the B’s if he settles into the bottom-pairing role that seems to be his NHL future.

The deal leaves the Bruins with Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Miller and Adam McQuaid as the four defensemen signed through the next two seasons, and features a pair of bottom-pairing D-men in Miller and McQuaid taking up a combined $5.25 million in salary cap space over the next three seasons. That means the Bruins have to move somebody from their aforementioned quarter of signed blueliners, and the Miller contract already has the Bruins backed into a corner before Don Sweeney and Co. even line up their other moves.

That’s the exact same problem that cropped up at the draft in Florida last summer when Sweeney executed a flurry of eyebrow-raising moves to ship Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic out, and then failed to execute when trying to move up for Noah Hanifin as Hamilton’s replacement. It would be an epic Black and Gold trainwreck if Sweeney makes the same mistake two years in a row in failing to land the big move, but it would be of Boston’s own doing.

It’s Roster-Building 101 in the NHL that a team takes care of their big ticket items first during the season, and then moves on to the complimentary and secondary pieces that backfill the roster. Sweeney is doing just the opposite here after tying up $2.5 million per year on Miller, and doing so before he’s even secured a top pairing defenseman or top line right wing on their summer shopping list.

It’s the same kind of thing departed GM Peter Chiarelli did for years in Boston after winning the Stanley Cup, and the very issue that Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs and Jeremy Jacobs threw their old GM under the bus for during last month’s end-of-season press conference. The multi-year contracts for Jimmy Hayes, McQuaid and Miller over the last two seasons are overly generous deals with too much term for limited players easily replaced by young, cheap players on entry level deals.

There's really no difference between them, and the contracts of Chris Kelly and Dennis Seidenberg that were previously cited so consistently as cap-busting deals. 

It also leaves the Bruins in a tough position with restricted free agent Torey Krug, who they’re going to have to now pay double what they gave to Miller ($5 million per season) if they hope to actually re-sign last year’s No. 2 defenseman. The bigger problem: retaining all these back end players after the B's finished 19th in the league in defense last season is asking, or more accurately begging, for more of the same problems that pushed Boston out of the playoff picture two years running.

It’s too bad the Miller contract has drawn a firestorm of Bruins criticism this week: the rugged blueiner is a good, tough competitor that’s developed into a responsible young leader on the team, and he can make opponents pay a physical price when healthy.

Miller has also been an impressive plus-55 over his three NHL seasons in Boston while at least becoming respectable in the offensive zone, and posted a career-best five goals and 18 points with the B’s last season.

This example of contractual largesse to a low-ceiling player in Miller, however, is exactly the kind of thing that landed the Bruins in cap jail in the first place, and also the very thing Neely and Jacobs claimed they were getting away from after firing Chiarelli a little over a year ago.

It sure feels like it’s the same old gaffes over and over again rather than some fancy new Black and Gold plan to reinvigorate things on Causeway Street, doesn’t it?