Tag: Jason Varitek

MLB: Former Players Destined to Be Managers

In the past decade, a trend has taken over major league baseball front offices as they try to perfect their World Series formulas and put together the perfect baseball team. 

One of the most important decisions a general manager makes is not only who will play which position, but also who will reign over the team on a daily basis, make lineup changes, decide who pitches and control the clubhouse. 

Managers of baseball teams are given much of the credit when their team wins, and take most of the blame when their team loses. Some would argue that the manager is the most important man on the payroll. 

Among most of the recently hired managers, many are former players and are recent retirees. Robin Ventura, Joe Girardi (when he was hired in 2006), Mike Matheny and Dale Sveum lead a list of former players who are landing gigs as a skipper of a team rather than playing. 

What other former players will manage in the MLB one day?  

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Boston Red Sox: Character Is a Lost Trait These Days on Yawkey Way

It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was standing among a mass of Red Sox fans in the streets of Boston at the 2007 World Series Championship parade. What I will never forget from that day, aside from Jonathan Papelbon’s horrible Irish step-dancing, is the unwavering support that was shown to former Sox third baseman Mike Lowell.

People may forget, but it was that offseason that Alex Rodriguez opted out of his contract with the Yankees, making it possible for Boston to try and pursue him. Now there is no question that A-Rod’s talent far outweighed that of Mike Lowell. But for Sox fans, it was not about that. It was about the character that Lowell had shown on a consistent basis that made him the guy that Boston fans wanted as their everyday third baseman. Chants of “Re-sign Lowell” rang down upon the famous duck boats, and it felt like the party would never end as this team was sure to contend for years to come.

The same jubilation and hope for the future I saw exhibited by Red Sox nation that day does not exist anymore. Instead, it’s been replaced by a festering pessimism that has been rapidly growing since the team’s epic collapse last September. And if you even mention the word character to a Sox fan about this roster as it is currently constituted, expect a full blown laugh-out-loud moment to ensue.

Boston’s beloved Red Sox have somehow lost their way. In a span of five years this team has not only destroyed all of the goodwill that two championships within a decade brought, it destroyed the unbelievable high of breaking an 86-year winless drought.

And no one has been able to avoid this gigantic wave of negativity.

Dustin Pedroia, who many consider to be the spark-plug of this team, turned fans off with his comments regarding manager Bobby Valentine’s handling of the massively slumping Kevin Youkilis (via WEEI). David Ortiz, who in his own right should be considered a Boston sports legend, went on a tear this week while being interviewed by reporters making it clear that he is not enjoying his time on Yawkey Way anymore (via NESN). Even the former captain and now retired Jason Varitek came under mass scrutiny for his part, or lack thereof, in the handling of last year’s dreadful September.

Tell someone in Boston that Tek’s leadership skills were not up to par after his A-Rod face shoving heroics in ’04 and they most likely would have spit in your face. And don’t even go down the road of addressing Josh Beckett. Talk about a fall from grace since 2007.

So what character we thought existed amongst these guys has either faded away or maybe just never existed in the first place. Whatever the case may be, something needs to drastically change. This team has become a three-ring circus and it seems that there is no end in sight.

Sox fans have lost that faith they were told to keep in the entire organization, from ownership on down. Maybe it’s time to clean house and start fresh with the young guns down in the minors. The Red Sox are surely not famished for young, up-and-coming talent.

My question is, can this team find its identity again? For years what we thought we knew about these guys now seems like it was merely a mirage. All I’m saying is that the nation had it right in ’07. Character counts.

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Umpire Tony Randazzo Plays for Athletics in Red Sox Game

If you watch enough baseball, you see umpires blow a call now and then. Yet, they do manage to stay calm and try to maintain some aura of objectivity. After all, that’s what they are paid to do.

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, an umpire took the field in an effort to hand a game over to the opposing team at Fenway Park.

Will we learn home plate umpire Tony Randazzo has been investigated? Will we hear he has been disciplined? Likely not.

What happened? Tony Randazzo, apparently thinking he is one of the cast of the Sopranos, iced Jason Varitek and Jonathan Papelbon, erstwhile catcher and ace reliever of the Red Sox in a ninth inning, with the game on the line.

Papelbon, not exactly a paragon of logic, went berserk and bumped the umpire after having turned away on the mound after throwing a strike past the batter.

Randazzo pulled off his mask and charged the mound, sending Papelbon into the stratosphere. You seldom see an umpire ripping off his mask and stepping toward the mound as if the Godfather sent him.

Remember the name, baseball fans. Razzle Dazzle Randazzo. He should have his own reality show because he is living in his own reality.

Yes, Major League Baseball head office personnel, you have a problem. Sox fans had the feeling we were watching a basketball game where referees are key players to ensure victory goes where it belongs.

This was a scandalous and unacceptable behavior from the umpiring crew, and this disgrace to umpires should be reprimanded, if not removed. He won’t, of course. That would be like MLB admitting they hired an incompetent official who forgot how to officiate the game.

Thank heavens we have moved into the 21st century, or fans would be screaming, “Kill the Umpire!”

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Boston Red Sox Need Charlie Sheen To Save Their Season

The 2011 Boston Red Sox were supposed to bring balance to the Force, not destroy it. Sadly after a 0-5 start, people are beginning to doubt whether or not this team is the powerhouse that ESPN spent all winter screaming about. Luckily it’s only April, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. The Sox need help though, help that only one man can provide.

Charlie Sheen

That’s right. When you are losing, who better to turn to than a man who knows all about winning? Duh.

Charlie Sheen is bi winning. He wins here and he wins there. Where do the Red Sox win? Currently nowhere.

Critics call Charlie Sheen an addict. Many may doubt an addict’s ability to help a professional ballclub. But all Charlie Sheen is addicted to winning. The Sox seem to have gone cold turkey on winning.

Last time I checked, tiger blood was not on Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances. Even if it was, there won’t be a Mitchell Report to expose the Sox. George Mitchell had the Sox back the last go around, there’s no doubt he’ll turn a blind eye again.

Give Lester some tiger blood and he’ll be throwing no hitters every fifth day. I dare Ian Kinsler to try and swing at Lester’s fastball after he’s got some winning injected into him. The only bombs he’ll be dropping will be f-bombs in the locker room. Duh.

Tiger blood might help Jason Varitek remember the rules of baseball.

You’re either in Charlie Sheen’s corner or you’re with the trolls. Where do the Sox stand right now? 0-5. Looks like they’re with the trolls right now. The Baltimore Orioles are 4-1, looking much more Sheenish than the Sox. Is Red Sox Nation okay with that?

It is not too late for the Sox to get out of the troll’s corner. As Charlie Sheen said, “I’m so tired of pretending my life isn’t perfect and bitching and just winning every second and I’m not perfect and bitchin’.” I for one am tired of pretending the Red Sox aren’t perfect and winning every game. Enough’s enough.

Let the Red Sox and Charlie Sheen sit at the same dinner table and together embrace and feast on the bones of trolls.

One word can save the Sox and their savior Sheen has been saying it for weeks. Winning.


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The Last Hurrah: 12 MLB Players Who Will Likely Play Their Final Year in 2011

Each year, players call an end to a career in Major League Baseball for various reasons. Some become tired of the daily grind and want to focus more on family, some have simply gotten older and are unable to compete at a desired level, and some are unable to fully recover from prior injuries.

This spring, several players have already announced their retirement, including Garrett Anderson, Jim Edmonds, Ian Snell and Mike Hampton. While Anderson, Edmonds and Hampton all enjoyed varying degrees of success, and each with over 15 years of MLB experience, Snell retired at the age of 29, unable to fully realize his potential after being drafted in the 26th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We will take a look at 12 players who will likely call it a career after the end of the 2011 season, and conclude whether or not some of the players should have retired earlier, or if they could possibly continue to play at a high level going forward.

For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

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2011 Boston Red Sox: Five Necessary Changes to Their Starting Lineup

Terry Francona has been given a Ferrari and is expected to drive it into the winner’s circle. But to maximize the potential, he will need to take good care of it throughout the rigors of a 162-game schedule.

It would be hard to really screw up this lineup, as stacked as it is, but there are some changes that need to be made to make sure the team runs like a well-oiled machine. He’s got the pieces, now its time to put them in the right places.

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MLB Stars Past Their Prime: 10 Players Who Will Retire After 2011

Major League Baseball has had its share of legends who played deep into their careers. Some of the most recent to finally hang up their spikes and walk away from the game include Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, and, barring an unexpected comeback, Andy Pettitte.

Each of the aforementioned players stuck around for a long time and were able to leave a lasting impression on the game we all love.

Over the last couple of seasons, team executives have turned their focus to building winning programs with young, athletic, and less-expensive players while the elder generation nears a mass exedos via retirement.

Many of our favorite players will soon be leaving the field and this wave of retirees could certainly see the 2011 campaign as one last “hoorah.” Let’s take a quick look at ten impact players who will retire following the upcoming season.

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Max Ramirez, Former Texas Ranger Top Prospect, Claimed By Boston Red Sox

Max Ramirez is on his way to Boston, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.

The move comes after the Rangers designated the former top catching prospect for assignment in order to make room for Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes.

Theo Epstein’s interest in the young catcher have been well documented. Ramirez was the player involved in the Mike Lowell deal that was and then wasn’t last offseason after Lowell failed the Rangers’ physical.

Ramirez, now 26 years old, was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Atlanta Braves in 2002 and has also spent time in the Cleveland Indians organization.

In seven total minor league seasons, Ramirez has appeared in 563 games, making 1,989 at-bats while hitting .298/.396/.476/.872 with 72 HR and 358 RBI.

However, Ramirez has struggled mightily in his two brief Major League stints in 2008 and 2010. He’s just a .217/.343/.357/.699 hitter with four HR and 17 RBI in 115 MLB at bats.

Also, Ramirez didn’t have a great 2010 in the minors. He hit just .286/.373/.381/.754 with just three HR and 29 RBI in 189 at-bats while playing with the Texas Ranger Triple-A affiliate Oklahoma City Red Red Hawks.

Ramirez has typically been cast as a power hitting catcher with the ability to hit in the middle of a team’s lineup. However, his defense, arm strength and foot speed all leave much to be desired. 

Max was ranked as the No. 84 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2009 season. However, he’s regressed in the eyes of many since that time after producing two lackluster seasons.

Ramirez now joins the throng of young catching prospects—including Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway, Mark Wagner Luis Exposito and Tim Federowicz—who the Red Sox hope will produce an heir to Jason Varitek.

The group has a great deal of potential, but they lack the Jesus Montero-esque figure who is a lock to inherit the job in the future. The Sox seem to be taking the “law of averages approach,” in the sense that they’ve got to hit the talent jackpot on at least one catcher.

Just to be clear, there’s almost no chance Ramirez sees any time of significance in Boston this season. At this point, it’s hard to consider him little more than a “Theo Project.”

Dan is a Boston Red Sox featured columnist. For more news, stories, and opinion, follow him on Twitter at danhartelBR.

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Boston’s Reason to Believe: What Do the Red Sox See in Jarrod Saltalamacchia?

The big news today is that Cliff Lee rejected the Yankees. Red Sox fans have every right and reason to be delighted by this news. However, the Yankees did quietly sign Russell Martin this morning. The ramifications of Martin going to New York are not nearly as intriguing as those of Lee not going to New York, however they are still of particular interest to Red Sox fans.

With Martin off the table, the job of starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox now lays squarely in the hands of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia may not be the Red Sox catcher of the future, but he will have the chance to audition for just that role in the upcoming 2011 season.

Salty’s opportunity comes on the cheap for Boston: a one-year, non-guaranteed deal that will pay out a maximum of $750,000. Without venturing too much into the realms of cliche and speculation, the Red Sox front office probably feels considerably more comfortable handing Salty the reins with a healthy Jason Varitek signed on for one more year, in what will likely be the final year of the veteran catcher’s playing career.

But what exactly do Theo and Co. see in Jarrod Saltalamacchia? His name, alphabetically cumbersome as it is, is a familiar one to savvy Sox fans; Salty had been on Epstein’s radar for the past couple of seasons before he eventually acquired him last July.

Every previous time Epstein had inquired about Saltalamacchia, the Rangers had asked for Clay Buccholz. Upon his acquisition last summer, Epstein remarked that “[Saltalamacchia] came with a real high price tag in the past, and we hope he’s someone we’re buying low on right now as he’s battling a few different issues.”

The “few different issues” that Epstein was referring to are a rash of injuries that have plagued Saltalamacchia the past few seasons, delaying his emergence as full-time catcher, talented or otherwise.

Saltalamacchia’s brief stint with the Red Sox has been no different. Called up from Pawtucket on August 12, Saltalamacchia landed on the DL within a week with a leg infection. Once off the DL in September, Saltalamacchia’s left (catching) thumb began giving him trouble, and he had surgery later that month to repair ligament damage.

The Red Sox have always liked the way that Saltalamacchia can swing the bat. A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia is regarded to have below-average contact but great plate discipline, along with plus-power from both sides of the plate.

This is the same skill set that Jason Varitek brought to the plate during his prime, during which he eclipsed 20 home runs three times and reached 70 RBI four times. Varitek’s contact issues have become decidedly more pronounced in recent season yet he’s retained his pop, as evidenced by his seven home runs last season over 123 plate appearances over 39 games. Epstein believes Saltalamacchia can find a similar niche with the bat at Fenway.

However, what has made Varitek so valuable over the years has been his ability to call games. This ability is often listed alongside Varitek’s skills as a clubhouse leader. However, it is important to distinguish the two in analyzing Saltalamacchia. The Red Sox are not looking for Salty to be their next team captain, they just hope he can handle a pitching staff as well as Varitek has been able to. There is an argument to be made that the only reason the 39-year-old Tek is back with Boston is for him to pass on those same qualities to Saltalamacchia.

2011 is Salty’s shot at inheriting Varitek’s mantle. If the Sox aren’t impressed with what they see come July, don’t be surprised to see a deadline deal for someone like Colorado‘s Chris Ianetta. The Red Sox are also keen on 23-year-old Ryan Lavarnway, who figures to begin the season at Double-A Portland. However, if Saltalamacchia stays healthy and plays well in 2011, a two-to-three year offer from Boston in the neighborhood of $10 million would not be out of the question for either the player or the organization.

Clearly, the hope is that Saltalamacchia still has the potential to be the player that Epstein thinks he can be. He’ll be turning 26 in May and is still, as the scouts would say, “pre-prime.” Judging by how Boston has addressed the catching position this winter, Epstein’s hopes for Salty also appears to be mixed with sufficient confidence.

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MLB Free Agency Update: Varitek Returning To Boston Red Sox On One-Year Deal

Sports Illustrated and ESPN are both reporting that Red Sox team captain Jason Varitek will return to the team for the 2011 season, agreeing to terms with the club on a one-year, $2 million deal that will contain an additional $300,000 in incentives, based on playing time.

Varitek, 39, had not been offered arbitration by the team prior to last week’s deadline, and reports hinted the Los Angeles Dodgers might be interested in luring him westward to serve as a part-time catcher.

This is the way this situation was supposed to resolve itself. It was impossible to imagine Varitek wearing another uniform for the last year, or two, of his career.

I had visions of Dwight Evans, who signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles when the Red Sox turned their back on him at the end of his career. “Dewey” spent an inglorious season in Baltimore, and regretted having spent that single season in a uniform other than his beloved Red Sox.

I imagined interviewing Varitek ten years from now, having him tell me that he regretted having gone to the Dodgers for one last (smallish) pay day.

Instead, Varitek will return to the Sox for his 15th season, backing up and mentoring new backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will replace C/1B Victor Martinez after he signed a free-agent contract with the Tigers last week.

But V-Mart’s departure cleared the way for V-Tek to return to Boston.

Saltalamacchia’s reaction to the news? “That’s great… (I’m) thrilled he’s coming back.”

So is Red Sox Nation, Jarrod!

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