Thursday, October 31, 2013
Major changes ahead for Red Sox
By Buster Olney
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia spoke after Game 6, and before, about how much the Red Sox players cared about each other, and after Matt Carpenter's series-ending swing, the hugs were strong, heartfelt.
Today, instead of working out, they will sleep in, and there will be a parade Saturday. Then they will start to say their goodbyes for the start of 2013, and except for future reunion events, this particular group -- the players, the staff -- will never be together again.
Jacoby Ellsbury will likely be one of those on his way out, given Boston's (failed) efforts to sign him to a long-term deal.
According to sources: After the 2011 season, for which Ellsbury finished second in the American League MVP race, the Red Sox offered him a deal that fell slightly short of $100 million. The counter-offer from agent Scott Boras, according to sources, was for a deal of about $130 million. The gap in the negotiations was too large to bridge at that time.
In 2012, Ellsbury's performance took a step back, with injuries limiting him to 74 games and a .271 batting average with 22 extra-base hits in 323 at-bats. Sources say the Red Sox took another run at signing him -- for less than they had offered before, because of his down year. Boston proposed a contract in the range of what B.J. Upton got from the Atlanta Braves, about $75.25 million over five years.
Ellsbury's side turned that down, gambling that the player would bounce back, and the center fielder had a better year in 2013, leading the American League with 52 stolen bases and scoring 92 runs in 134 games, with 48 extra-base hits. The talks stalled last winter, and now Ellsbury is poised to hit the market as the most sought-after outfielder, with the Mariners and Rangers perhaps being the teams that are the most aggressive in trying to sign him.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is set to be a free agent and he may have played his last game with the Red Sox, who also must decide whether to give a one-year qualifying offer of about $14.1 million to shortstop Stephen Drew, another player who is poised to hit the free-agent market. There will be changes in the pitching staff, as Boston restocks its depth after the summer injuries to Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey.
So the parade here will be emotional, and really, it's fitting that it would be, because these are the last hours of this band of bearded brothers being together.
From worst to first
On Feb. 25, MGM Resorts International listed Boston's odds of winning the championship at 18-1. Twelve teams had better odds of winning. The Red Sox odds of winning the World Series were the same as the Cubs (who went 66-96).
Reached World Series in season following last-place finish (since 1990)
2013 Red Sox (Won)
2008 Rays (Lost)
2007 Rockies (Lost)
1998 Padres (Lost)
1993 Phillies (Lost)
1991 Braves (Lost)
1991 Twins (Won)
The Red Sox went from worst to first, writes Brian MacPherson. It was a World Series that nobody predicted.
• John Lackey completely evolved this year.
• The Red Sox learned to be happy, writes Tyler Kepner.
The Red Sox got a special win in their ballpark, writes A.J. Ellis.
Papi does it again
• David Ortiz is the king of baseball. Ortiz has a third championship.
• Ortiz joined Barry Bonds as the only players to reach base at least three times in five straight World Series games. He's also the first non-Yankee to win three rings with one team since Jim Palmer did so for the Orioles (1966, '70, '83).
• Simply put, they couldn't score enough runs. Matt Adams, David Freese, Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso combined to go 10-for-69 (.145) in the World Series with zero RBIs.
• Something that absolutely jumped out as Game 6 was being played: Michael Wacha and Yadier Molina seemed to be making an adjustment based on the expected adjustment by the Red Sox hitters, because early in the game, Wacha threw his third pitch -- his curveball -- rather than his changeup.
However, by the time Mike Matheny took the ball, Wacha had thrown relatively few changeups, a pitch that has helped to distinguish him. I didn't get a chance to get into the St. Louis clubhouse to ask about this -- and nobody would've been in the mood to talk about it, anyway, in all likelihood -- but it was striking.
You can't blame Wacha for this loss, writes Joe Strauss.
• The Cardinals' season finished with a fizzle, writes Bernie Miklasz.
• Shelby Miller pitched one inning in the postseason. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the Cardinals could have done more with a couple of spots on their postseason roster. Miller was basically shut down, like Stephen Strasburg -- but without the fanfare and media scrutiny -- and the Cardinals' bench could have been bolstered.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Brayan Pena has been told he won't be back with the Tigers next season.
2. Lloyd McClendon's character and desire to win might not be enough to sway the Tigers, writes Lynn Henning.
3. Kevin Seitzer has been hired by the Blue Jays.
4. The Braves are about to get busy.
5. It's time for the Royals to spend like never before, writes Sam Mellinger.
• The Cubs put up a mock-up sign to allay fears.
• Tim McCarver is leaving his broadcasting post. John Farrell was so classy to take a moment in the midst of Game 6 to congratulate McCarver on the work he has done.
And today will be better than yesterday.