GM Meetings notes: Red Sox expect more calls on Scutaro


GM Meetings notes: Red Sox expect more calls on Scutaro

By Sean McAdam

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The GM meetings are traditionally where ideas for future deals germinate and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, on his way out of the meetings and headed back to Boston Thursday morning, expressed hope that something may soon come of some of the talks he held here.

"Time will tell," said Epstein as he departed the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. "I hope so, anyway. There was plenty of talk. Whether it was effective or not, we'll see. But yeah, I think there was a good exchange of information."

Epstein said most of the trade talks here were a continution of things started, via phone calls, before the meetings began.

"Most of it was following up on discussions we had previously," said Epstein. "There was nothing really brand new."

Expect the Red Sox to field additional calls on shortstop Marco Scutaro, who has attracted interest from a half-dozen clubs.

Scutaro stands to make an affordable 5 million in 2011 and a number of teams -- including the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants - are searching for shortstop help.

The Giants would like to re-sign Juan Uribe, but if that falls through, Scutaro could be an option.

The Sox would move Scutaro if they could acquire some bullpen help for him. They would then start the season with Jed Lowrie as their shortstop, with Jose Iglesias perhaps ready to jump to the big leagues by midseason.

Commissioner Bud Selig, who briefed owners and general managers Thursday morning, met with reporters and answered questions on a number of issues.

Selig said his on-field committee will meet at the winter meetings next month to discuss a possible expansion of the current playoff format, adding an additional wild card team in each league, probably for the 2012 season.

"I have said we will consider it and we are," said Selig. "It has a lot of different of variations. My committee will meet at the winter meetings and that will be a primary topic of discussion. We'll continue the discussion.

"We have a lot of constituencies. We'll continue to pursue that. There were a lot of differences about the right format in the room. But we'll move ahead, and move ahead pretty quickly."

Selig wouldn't comment on whether he believed a one-game wild-card faceoff would be "too radical." Others have proposed a best two-of-three series.

"I don't want to comment on specifics until, in my own mind, we've decided what we want to do," he said. "I don't want to rule anything out."

Mike Hazen, the director of player development, has been traveling across the country, interviewing candidates for the Pawtucket managerial opening.

The organization will meet Friday to further discuss candidates.

"We're still maybe looking to interview additional candidates," said Epstein. "We're looking for either experience, or someone really dynamic. It's always an important job. It's kind of an extension of the major league staff."

The Sox still have to finalize some roster moves by Saturday, including placing some minor-league players on the 40-man roster so as to not leave them exposed for the Rule V draft which takes place next month at the winter meetings.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.