Manny Being…a Consultant?

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Manny Ramirez has joined the Chicago Cubs as a hitting consultant and will help mold the minds and skills of the young Cubs prospects. Team President Theo Epstein also hired another former member of the Boston Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis, to his staff as a scouting and player development consultant.

Theo must be stockpiling ex-Red Sox players and personnel.  Manny and Youk join General Manager Jed Hoyer, Director of Scouting Jason McLeod, and ex-players DarnellManny Ramirez McDonald and Ryan Dempster as former Red Sox personnel working in the team’s front office.

Then there are the half-dozen former Red Sox on the Cubs’ spring training roster, headlined by Jon Lester, as well as outfielder Ryan Sweeney, catcher David Ross, first baseman Anthony Rizzo (a one-time Sox prospect,) and pitchers Felix Doubront and Drake Britton. Let’s not forget Eric Hinske, who played parts of two seasons (2006-07) for the Sox and is now the Cubs’ first base coach.

It’s Manny, though, that is most intriguing. What advice will the twice-suspended slugger impart on the Cubs kids? Apparently one of the first things Manny did in the Cubs Mesa, AZ, spring training camp was meet with all of the minor leaguers and “shared all the things I went through so they don’t go through that” according to reports.

That must have been one lengthy meeting.  What was discussed first?  Being suspended not once, but twice for PED use? How to deal with 65 year old ball club employees with diplomacy, as opposed to assaulting them when your ticket requests aren’t to your liking? How not to be accused of quitting on your team, or will he profess how to force your way into being traded? Maybe he’ll share fashion tips, on how to make baggy pants look good at Wrigley Field.

We all know he could hit, and hit like nobody else.  Maybe, though, he’ll help the young outfielders in the ChiSox system deal with the lesser known facets of playing left field, such as where to take a leak during the game.  With no Green Monster to walk into in the Windy City, the ivy might be a logical target. Then of course, Manny can teach the kids how to make cut-off plays in the outfield when they aren’t needed.

Chicago Cubs Sign Jon Lester

JON LESTER SIGNS WITH CUBS

Well, the Jon Lester era is officially over in Boston. Early this morning, Lester agreed to terms with the Chicago Cubs according to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter.
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The Cubs won the war, but it was costly. Giving Lester $155 million for six years, Lester became the second highest paid pitcher annually in MLB history. Not only this, but he also sports the largest contract in Chicago Cubs history in terms of money.

Is Jon Lester the Answer the Cubs Have Been Looking For?

For the Cubs, it looks like they are trying to snap that World Series drought that has jon lesterhaunted them for so long. Perhaps he could help them try and turn around a 106 year long World Series drought that has plagued the team for most of its sported history.

Even though the Boston Red Sox lost out here, they did stick to their guns. With the recent failed contract of Carl Crawford, the club changed their philosophy and made a commitment against long-term deals. Here, there was a big test for the Red Sox but they still managed to refrain and stick to the plan.
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Since Lester is one of the top pitchers in the league (he went 16-11 with a 2.45 ERA in 2014), the Boston Red Sox took a big hit by not signing him back. They did save plenty of money, but now they must find two starting pitchers. With Lester and Jeff Samardzija, who was recently traded to the Chicago White Sox, off the market the Red Sox options are dwindling.
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Now, Cole Hamels may seem much more appealing for the Boston Red Sox in their search of an ace. Sure, the price tag may be high, but the Red Sox have pieces to move and Hamels may be the best pitcher they can get.

To compliment Hamels, the Boston Red Sox may go with a familiar face in Justin Masterson who they have shown interest in this offseason.
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Although Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer may believe they won this round, they may not be thinking the same thing five years down the road.

Red Sox Hot Stove: Jon Lester Gets Offer, Cole Hamels in Play?

Jon LesterAccording to a report from Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, Jon Lester has received a contract offer from the Boston Red Sox. There are no details of the offer at this time, but it has also been noted that many believe that Lester will be returning to Boston, according to CSNNE.com. For instance, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago said on Tuesday night:

“I think he’s going back to the Red Sox. That’s where I’d put my money. That’s kind of the gut feeling, just talking to people around the industry coming back from the GM meetings.”

The 30-year-old is one of the best commodities out there on the free-agent market and is a viable starting pitcher at the top of any rotation in baseball. Sure, he isn’t Clayton Kershaw (during the regular season), but he has proven himself time and time again during the postseason as well as proving himself a horse during the regular season.

In other pitching news, the Philadelphia Phillies have begun background checks on multiple Red Sox prospects, including Mookie Betts, Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez and even Blake Swihart. This could be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Red Sox prospects the Phillies are interested in a trade for Cole Hamels.

The veteran has been a steady workhorse for the Phillies and has a long-term deal that the Red Sox would need to take on in a deal. Plus, in order for the deal to go through the Red Sox would need to pick up an option worth $20 million in 2019 before the trade would be completed.

Red Sox Hot Stove: Pablo Sandoval, Jon Lester Getting Buzz

Pablo SandovalThe Boston Red Sox hot stove season began with the signing of Koji Uehara right after the World Series was won by the San Francisco Giants just two weeks ago.

The biggest piece of news has been the interest and push the team has had with third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The contract that “Kung-Fu Panda” has been looking for, with pretty good regular season stats with phenomenal postseason numbers, is a little over-priced, but the Red Sox have money to spend on the former World Series MVP.

The 28-year-old is seeking a deal in the six-year range worth over $90 million and has put up substantial numbers without missing much time the last three seasons. Sure, the weight might be a  problem in the future, but the Red Sox have to replace DH David Ortiz at some point, right? Plus, the third baseman is a solid defender at the hot corner as he was named a finalist for the Gold Glove award in 2014.

The Red Sox are considered “all-in” on the slugger and it might come down to the Giants and the Red Sox when the time comes to sign him.

As for Jon Lester, Ben Cherington met with the agent of the veteran lefty earlier this week and it is still a possibility that the 30-year could return to the Red Sox in 2015.

The left-handed starter finished with a terrific 16-11 record and a 2.46 ERA with both the Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics.while striking out 220 batters in 219.2 innings of work.

Lester might still be a dream to sign, but he is still on the table for the Red Sox front office because of his pedigree in the postseason and how well he has done in the Red Sox system, especially with the cancer scare early on in his career.

With the GM meetings wrapped up, the Red Sox need to get the ball rolling on at least these two players or sign them when the winter meetings start on December 7th.

Five Starting Pitchers the Boston Red Sox Should Target

starting pitchers James ShieldsHaving traded away Jon Lester and John Lackey back on July 31st, the Boston Red Sox now need to rework the starting rotation to include a couple front line starters to work alongside Clay Buchholz and several of the Red Sox prospects next season.

Sure, the Red Sox have  money to spend, but what pitchers can the Red Sox go after via trade or free agency?

1. James Shields: The veteran starter has not fared well at Fenway Park or against the New York Yankees in his career, but he has shown to be a competitor as the Kansas City Royals are back in the World Series for the first time since 1985. If the Red Sox want “Big Game” James on their team, it might take a better AAV with shorter years and they have the money to work with. The 5.19 postseason ERA does not affect this decision.

2. Jon Lester: The Red Sox may have really done themselves a disservice by not signing Lester during spring training, but they still have a chance to sign him for a luxurious contract. Sure, the $24-26 million contract might be too much, but during the postseason Lester has been a rock prior to 2014.

3. Cole Hamels: The Philadelphia Phillies have put Hamels out on the market, but he has not pitched well in his limited starts against AL teams. The 30-year-old already has a contract through 2018 with a team option in 2019. The Red Sox would have to put together a great package, but it could be a nice acquisition for the right price.

4. Ervin Santana: With a respectable 3.24 ERA two seasons ago with the Royals and a 3.94 ERA with the Atlanta Braves in 2014, Santana looks like a steady No. 2 starter who can eat up innings. He has less than 150 innings pitched twice in his 10-year career and could be a viable asset for a Red Sox pitching staff that had some health issues throughout the season.

5. Edinson Volquez: The 31-year-old might not be the most consistent pitcher on the market, but he did show great composure down the stretch for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sure, the San Francisco Giants roughed him up in the Wild Card game, but he could be a quality guy for cheap. His 13-7 record with a 3.04 ERA is impressive and were his best numbers since 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds. Volquez could be the best option if the Red Sox want to go cheap for pitchers with potential.

Is Tom Werner Hinting at a Jon Lester Return?

Jon LesterTom Werner might not always be the lead spokesperson for the Boston Red Sox, but, when he does speak, he has shown to have great insight into the workings that John Henry and Larry Lucchino don’t normally give on a regular basis.

In an interview on WEEI Thursday September 11, the Red Sox chairman talked about all the money the Red Sox will have to spend this off-season.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team,” Werner told WEEI.

Not only does he want to spend the money, but the front office also knows what it needs in order to improve in 2015—pitching.

“We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve,” said Werner about what the team needs to do this offseason to get better in the coming years. “I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of Rusney Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.”

It has been apparent that the Red Sox need a front-tier pitcher who can step up in the mound every five days to give the team the chance to win nearly 35 times a season. But does this mean Jon Lester is in the fold?

Lester was part of a package to acquire slugger Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics, and he has shown that he wants to make the big bucks with his last free-agency deal of value.

The 30-year-old is not the only option the Red Sox have to spend money on during the offseason. James Shields, Max Scherzer and even Edison Volquez could be near the top of the Red Sox rotation and old friend Justin Masterson should see a long-term deal after a couple successful seasons as a front-line starter for the Cleveland Indians before a down year in 2014.

Lester might just be one of a few options the Red Sox take a look at, but Werner definitely wants to see improvement for everyone’s sake. Another last place finish is not what fans, or the ownership, want to see going forward.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” said Werner to WEEI. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being first next year.”

If the Red Sox spend the money on pitching, and possibly trade for one more bat, then a first place finish might be a plausible outcome in 2015. But Werner and Co. are focused on spending the money on a pitcher who may or may not be Lester.