Sox coming up short in search for pitching


Sox coming up short in search for pitching

BOSTON -- With less than 24 hours to go before the non-waiver deadline, the Red Sox appear to be coming up short in their attempts to bolster their starting rotation.

The reasons aren't hard to determine: In a sellers market, those with pitching to offer are demanding a prohibitive return. Further, the Red Sox, after packaging three of their better prospects to land Adrian Gonzalez some 20 months ago, are reluctant to further dip into their inventory of quality, controllable young players.

The Miami Marlins, before effectively telling teams that they had pulled right-hander Josh Johnson from the market, were seeking teams' three top prospects.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox consider such prospect cornerstones as pitcher Matt Barnes, infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as untouchable.

Thus, any discussions for the few remaining front-line starters are essentially non-starters for the Sox.

Moreover, though Red Sox fans may not want to hear of such thinking, the team believes that they could well be better off hoping for Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to improve rather than overpaying for lesser talents on the market.

The one starter who might be worthy of such a package, Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, is seen as too expensive in another sense: Lee has three more years remaining after this one. With a 12.5 million buyout for 2016, that brings his total salary obligation to approximately 95 million.

The Sox, an industry source indicated, have discussed Lee internally, but the talks never progressed enough to engage the Phillies since, like other big-market teams -- the Phils themselves included -- the Red Sox are intent on staying under the 189 million luxury tax threshold.

Obtaining Lee would give the Red Sox three players with average annual salaries over 20 million, accounting for about one-third of the limit -- with 22 other players still to account for.

Another available pitcher that has been linked in some circles to the Red Sox, Seattle's Jason Vargas, doesn't interest the team much at all.

Vargas, 29, is 11-7 with a 3.76 ERA, but those numbers are helped by pitching in cavernous Safeco Field. Away from the big home ballpark, Vargas has pitched to a 4.67 ERA and allowed 19 homers in just 80 innings.

On the current Red Sox pitching staff, Vargas would be seen as the team's third-best lefty starting option beyond Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales.

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.