Red Sox exercise '12 option on SS Scutaro

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Red Sox exercise '12 option on SS Scutaro

Marco Scutaro got a nice birthday present today, as the Red Sox exercised his 2012 contract option, worth 6 million.

Scutaro hit a career-best .299 (118-for-395), the second-highest mark among American League shortstops with at least 400 plate appearances. He also set a career high with a .423 slugging percentage in 113 games.

Scutaro finished the season with 59 runs, 54 RBI, and seven home runs. He walked 38 times as well. While the Red Sox were in the midst of a historic September collapse, Scutaro had by far his best month of the season. In September, Scutaro hit a whopping .387 (36-93) with 28 runs, 21 RBI, 12 doubles, and two home runs. His on-base percentage was .438 and slugging percentage .581.

Statistically speaking, it was the best season for a Red Sox shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra in 2003.

In 263 games with the Red Sox since he signed with the club as a free agent on December 4, 2009, Scutaro has batted .284 (292-for-1,027) with 64 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 110 RBI, 151 runs and 91 walks.

Scutaro got to the majors late, breaking in with the Mets at age 26 in 2002 and spending two years there as a utility infielder. He was claimed off waivers by the A's after the 2003 season and spent four productive years in Oakland, bouncing around the infield and outfield and hitting around .260 each season.

He finally became a regular in 2008 after being traded to Toronto. He played 145 games at various positions in '08, but spent '09 as the Blue Jays' regular shortstop and hit .282 with 35 doubles, 12 homers and 60 RBI. He was rewarded at the end of that season with a free-agent contract from the Red Sox.

Exercising the option of Scutaro is the first major roster move made by new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. Eight members of the 2011 Red Sox team have filed for free agency, so Cherington has many more decisions to make regarding the team make-up.

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.