Oct 31, 2013, 12:41 AM EST
BOSTON — In October 2012 John Farrell had just finished a 79-83 season managing the Toronto Blue Jays. Which was worse than his first year as Blue Jays manager. There were rumblings that the Red Sox might want to hire him to replace Bobby Valentine and most Blue Jays fans were OK with that. He hadn’t shown them anything, they felt, and they could probably do better.
In October 2012 Shane Victorino had just posted his worst offensive season in six years. And he finished it up in Los Angeles of all places, having been traded to the Dodgers in midseason. It was the Phillies’ way of telling him “no, we don’t need you anymore and we’d rather not even have to pretend to be interested in your services when you hit free agency this offseason.” With several outfielders on the free agent market it seemed that Victorino would have to scrounge for a job, let alone a decent free agent deal. Some folks even suggested that he may be done as an effective major leaguer.
In October 2012 the Boston Red Sox had just finished one of the most nightmarish years in their history. Indeed, it had extended back 13 months to their 2011 collapse, in which the Sox had snatched ignominy from the jaws of victory, and lasted all 2012 long. Bobby Valentine was hired, lost control of his team from almost the get-go, and then “led” the Red Sox to a 69-93 record and a last place finish.
What a difference a year makes.
Wednesday night, as he accepted his World Series MVP trophy, David Ortiz said that, as the year began, he didn’t necessarily think that the Red Sox could win a World Series championship. But that started to change once Farrell returned to the Red Sox (he was the pitching coach from 2007 to 2010), Ortiz said. Always a prickly personality, if David Ortiz says you got his attention, you’ve truly made an impression. And Farrell certainly had an impact. A team that couldn’t stay out of the headlines for all of the wrong reasons in 2011 and 2012 went about their business quietly and confidently in 2013. You have to give credit for that to John Farrell.
You have to give Boston general manager Ben Cherington credit for Victorino. Not many people thought a three-year, $39 million gamble on Victorino was a good one. Indeed, it was widely mocked. Part of the mocking was because, in most people’s minds, Victorino was a center fielder who had lost his center fielder’s skills. Signing him to play right field — which he played spectacularly — ended up being a master stroke. Victorino hit .294/.351/.451 and stole 21 bases as well. And while injuries and fatigue sapped him somewhat down the stretch, he drove in seven runs with two swings of the bat — a Grand Slam in the ALCS and a bases-clearing double in Game 6 of the World Series — that iced the Sox’ pennant and World Series title.
And this Sox team? Yes, they technically went from last place to first in the space of a year, but it’s not the sort of team we normally praise as a worst-to-first team. That’s usually reserved for teams which have had long histories of futility and then wildly surpassed expectations. No one expected the Sox to win the World Series as the season began, but most thought they’d be respectable. And most knew that with the brains in their front office and the resources at their disposal, the Sox wouldn’t be down for long.
But in some ways their accomplishment was even more improbable than that of your typical worst-to-first team. There was rot and negativity and shame in Boston a year ago. There were players who could be excused for looking a year ahead to free agency. People who, if they were betting the smart money, would never have bet on this team to flush out all of the toxins of 13 bad months, regroup and put forth an effort as dominant as the one they showed throughout this past year.
A year passed, but time doesn’t always heal all wounds, and even when it does, it doesn’t usually do it so quickly. But John Farrell, Ben Cherington, Shane Victorino and several others put in the energy that fought back the entropy. And because of it they will spend the next year as World Series Champions.
Dec 4, 2013, 10:18 PM EST
From Jon Heyman of CBS Sports comes word that the Yankees have agreed to a one-year contract with utilityman Kelly Johnson. It’s believed to be worth about $3 million and is only pending a physical. Johnson, who can play third base, second base and some corner outfield, batted .235/.305/.410 with 16 home runs and 52…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:34 PM EST
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has the inside info: The David Price sweepstakes is expected to heat up later this week, multiple executives with interest in the left-handed ace told Yahoo Sports, as the Tampa Bay Rays begin to survey the market for the former Cy Young winner and consider whether to trade him. Passan…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
From Andy Martino, the Mets beat writer at the New York Daily News: A new possibility for shortstop has emerged for the Mets, as the team plans to send scouts to a showcase this weekend for Cuban defector Erisbel Arruebarruena, according to sources. The 23-year-old Arruebarruena, who has drawn comparisons to Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, was…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:37 PM EST
According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, who has translated a Wednesday evening report from Sanspo in Japan, officials at Nippon Professional Baseball headquarters are prepared to accept a new outline of posting system rules from MLB execs. It’s not exactly clear at this point what their final agreement is going to look like —…
Dec 4, 2013, 6:23 PM EST
There was a report Sunday stating that the Cubs’ preference with Jeff Samardzija is to work out a long-term contract extension. But it appears that those negotiations have lost all momentum. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is hearing that the Chicago front office plans to “do some serious listening” on the 28-year-old right-hander at next week’s Winter…
Dec 4, 2013, 4:16 PM EST
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski was initially coy last week when asked if Miguel Cabrera would be moving from third base to first base following the Prince Fielder trade, but today he admitted that’s the plan. No surprise, certainly, as Cabrera was banged up physically a lot this year and has long been stretched defensively…
Dec 4, 2013, 3:45 PM EST
Joe Nathan‘s deal with the Tigers is now official and it’s a two-year contract believed to be worth $20 million with a team option for 2016, when the closer will be 41 years old. Nathan made the right call to turn down his $9 million player option with the Rangers, correctly predicting that he could…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
As a follow-up to yesterday’s reports that the Mariners were making a serious run at Robinson Cano, now Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports that the free agent second baseman and his agent met with the Mariners in Seattle. Kernan’s source told him “the meeting went very well.” There’s also been some recent…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Mark Trumbo has been linked to various teams in trade rumors, but yesterday Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto tried to squash that speculation by telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times: I wouldn’t even say we’re willing to trade Mark. We haven’t been out there shopping Trumbo. At the end of the day, our…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:19 AM EST
They couldn’t agree to a contract before Monday night’s deadline, so the Diamondbacks non-tendered Daniel Hudson, but Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the two sides are close to hammering out a new deal for him to stick around. Hudson is recovering from a pair of Tommy John elbow surgeries and figures to…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:47 AM EST
These huge, later-career deals never turn out great. The best you can hope for when you sign a 30-something baseball player to a hugely expensive long-term deal is that he will have a couple of good years on the front end to boost up his value, have a nice rebound year somewhere in the middle,…
Dec 4, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
For any Reds fans holding out hope that Shin-Soo Choo will wind up back in Cincinnati, general manager Walt Jocketty has some discouraging news: We have not had any discussions in a couple of weeks. I had one conversation with [agent Scott] Boras a couple of weeks ago. We haven’t done anything since then because…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:44 AM EST
Paul Konerko pondered retirement following the worst season of his career, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the 37-year-old will return to the White Sox for another go-around. Konerko hit just .244 with 12 homers and a .669 OPS in 126 games this year and the White Sox signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to…
Dec 4, 2013, 9:15 AM EST
Philadelphia has a new backup catcher, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Phillies have signed 36-year-old Wil Nieves after trading Erik Kratz for Brad Lincoln yesterday. Nieves spent this year with the Diamondbacks, backing up Miguel Montero and hitting .297 with one homer and a .690 OPS in 71 games for the second-highest…
Dec 4, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with Curtis Granderson on Sunday and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York was told by a source that talks between the two sides “intensified” late Tuesday. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears that nothing is imminent, but that there’s increasing optimism that the Mets will land him.…
Dec 4, 2013, 7:35 AM EST
After reportedly agreeing to terms on a seven-year, $153 million contract with Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees are close to securing some Robinson Cano insurance. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the verge of signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract worth between $2.75-$3 million. Of course, the Yankees…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:17 PM EST
A’s GM Billy Beane is not done making moves. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted Tuesday evening that Oakland is “likely to deal” left-hander Brett Anderson at next week’s Winter Meetings and lists the Yankees among the teams showing trade interest. The Blue Jays, Royals, Indians, Twins and Mariners are also thought to be in…
Dec 3, 2013, 10:25 PM EST
A minor trade in among all these high-profile deals, via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki: Phillies have acquired RHP Brad Lincoln from Blue Jays in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and LHP Rob Rasmussen. — Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) December 4, 2013 Lincoln was out of minor league options and the Blue Jays are loaded with relievers. The…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:48 PM EST
This ultra-active day on the hot stove continues. According to beat writer Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies are “closing in on” a two-year contract with free agent first baseman Justin Morneau. No word yet on the financial terms. Morneau struggled mightily throughout the 2013 season, batting .259 with a .741 OPS in…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:24 PM EST
The Yankees are betting big that Jacoby Ellsbury will age well in his thirties. They’re betting big that he’s not injury-prone and that his two season-ruining injuries were flukes. They’re betting big that his power will come back with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right serving as such a tempting target. They’re betting big that…
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- Yankees agree to seven-year, $153M contract with free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury 155
- Marlins sign free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to three-year, $21 million contract 42
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