According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Cleveland Indians have agreed to a minor league deal.
Matsuzaka will reunite with his former manager in Boston, Terry Francona, and try to regain some of his success he had in his first couple of seasons while playing in the Hub. Daisuke won 33 games in his first two seasons in Boston, going 18-3 in his second season, but has only won 17 games since that point while suffering from numerous injuries and inconsistencies.
Heyman goes on to report that Matsuzaka can stand to make as much as $4 million, if he reaches certain goals with the Indians.
Cleveland made another minor league move today when the Indians signed veteran first baseman Jason Giambi to a minor league deal, according to the Denver Post's Troy Renck. The 42 year old Giambi is expected to play designated hitter if he makes the team. If Giambi makes the team, he would make $750,000 plus incentives.
We may now know a reason why Carl Crawford had an uncharacteristically bad season last year.
According to Crawford, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona had put too much pressure upon him last season.
Crawford told WEEI.com that he is still harbors some ill will after Francona had moved him to number seven in the lineup after a couple of bad games. Crawford started his Red Sox career going 0-7 as the Sox stumbled off the starting blocks with six straight losses.
"Every game you really have to try and show something," Crawford said. "But I'm always going to remember those two days. ... I didn't feel like I had the manager's confidence. I don't know about the organization, but I don't try and look past the manager, so I feel like I didn't have the manager's confidence, therefore I started to think something was wrong with me, and it just snowballed after that. It had a trickle down effect, and it just got worse and worse as the days went by."
Crawford is off to a good start this year after missing half the season rehabbing him injured elbow. He 4-7 with three stolen bases in two games this season.
We continue our Year in Review, albeit a bit late, with our look at the Best Sports Moments 0f 2011.
Abby Wambach Keeps US Hopes Alive With Miracle Goal
Remember in the 2010 World Cup when Landon Donovan's goal lifted the US into the knockout round, only to lose to Ghana, GHANA!, and made Americans care about soccer for a hot minute. Well, Abby Wambach's goal in the 2011 Women's World Cup was perhaps bigger than Donovan's. If not for that goal, the US don't make it to the Finals, where they eventually lose to upstart Japan. This goal does not get nearly enough credit like Donovan's did.
Mavericks Defeat Big Three, Nation Rejoices
The Miami Heat have become the villains of the NBA ever since LeBron and Chris Bosh decided that it would just be easier to join a team of superstars to win a title rather than lead one, like Michael Jordan did. So when they reached the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, most of the US, except for a smattering of people in South Florida, were rooting for the Mavs. The Heat finally met their match going up against Dirk Nowitzki and Jason "Jet" Terry as the Mavs won the series in six games. I don't think I've been that happy during an NBA Finals since Jordan pushed off Byron Scott in the '98 Finals to give the Bulls their most recent title.
David Freese Goes From Goat To Hero In One Game
St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese had quite a postseason winning the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP, but Game 6 every baseball fan can agree was quite a roller coaster. Freese had committed an awful error in the 5th inning when he dropped a routine pop up from Michael Young. That error allowed the Rangers to score later in the inning to take a one run lead. Then in the 9th inning, Freese stepped up to the plate with two outs against a young flame throwing closer in Neftali Feliz and hits a bases clearing triple to tie the game.
After the Rangers blew a two run lead in the 11th inning, Freese once again came to the plate against Mark Lowe, perhaps the Rangers weakest reliever, and hit a bomb to dead center field to force a Game 7 that the Cards would eventually win. ESPN's Buster Olney has said that Game 6 was the greatest game in baseball history.
Eric LeGrand Leads His Team On The Field After Spinal Cord Injury
This is perhaps the most inspirational moment of the year. Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand had suffered a severe spinal cord injury while making attempting to make a tackle last season in a game against Army. Doctors said that LeGrand would be paralyzed from the neck down, but in January, LeGrand defied the odds and regained feeling in his shoulders and sensation throughout his entire body. In July, LeGrand was able to stand with some assistance and was gaining feeling back in his arms.
On October 29, Eric LeGrand led his Rutgers teammates onto a snowy field for its game against West Virginia. LeGrand sat in his wheelchair with an ax across his lap symbolizing coach Greg Schiano's message to "Keep Chopping". LeGrand has indeed taken that motto to new heights.
Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas, Tim Thomas
As a Bruins fan, I feel I need to put this down on my list of moments. Without the outstanding goaltending of Thomas, the Bruins don't win the Cup. Hands down. Sure the Bruins have great pieces around him, but without solid goaltending you can't go far. Case in point, the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the epic seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thomas was perhaps his best in Game 7. The Bruins won Game 7 by the score of 1-0 and Thomas was a huge, if not the main, reason they won that game and the series. The Lightning gave the best challenge to the Bruins all playoffs, not the Canucks. Dwayne Roloson would not back down and if the Canucks had Roloson in net, Vancouver would be hoisting the Cup not Boston. Thomas' GAA was an outstanding 1.98 and his save percentage was .940. So, yeah Tim Thomas big, huge part of the Bruins Cup run.
September 28, 2011: Greatest Night of Baseball Ever
Four teams entered the final night of the baseball regular season with two spots on the line. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were trying to find a way to stop the bleeding and back their way into the postseason. The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays were just trying to complete to epic comebacks and surprise the baseball world by making the postseason.
The Cards won rather easily over the Major's worst Houston Astros, but the other three games were of epic proportion. The Atlanta Braves blew a 9th inning lead to the Philadelphia Phillies and lost the game in extras to complete the meltdown. The Red Sox seemed to have the game locked up, at least according to Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy, and all of New England was calling for the umps to call the game early due to rain, but to no avail. Papelbon ends up blowing the save when Red Sox killer Robert Andino lined a hit to left field that came up short from a diving Carl Crawford's glove. The Red Sox lost to the Orioles and were now rooting for the Yanks.
The Yankees had a SEVEN run lead in their game against the Rays, but in true Boston sports fan tradition the Rays came all the way back to tie it in the 9th inning when seldom used Dan Johnson just cleared the right field fence to tie the game. Red Sox fans should have known something was up when Joe Girardi kept one of his seldom used, worst relievers in the game for 2 and 2/3 innings and didn't use Rivera to close the game. Again in true Boston sports fans tradition, Evan Longoria launched a ball just over the left field wall and sent the Rays to the postseason and the Red Sox, and Terry Francona, packing.
I'm sure there is more, but I can't keep typing forever. If you have any more moments I should have mentioned, feel free to comment below. Have a Happy New Years, folks.
Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs have fired manager Mike Quade after just one full season at the helm. Quade compiled a record of 95-104 after taking over for Lou Piniella late in the 2010 season. The Cubs went 71-91 this season in Quade's only season as manager.
One week into his new job, Theo Epstein is cleaning house and appears to be bringing in his own guys. Who do the Cubs and Theo turn to now?
Theo Epstein has always been an admirer of Ryne Sandberg and could be on his shortlist for managerial candidates. Except, Theo Epstein said during the press conference Ryne Sandberg isn't a candidate. The Cubs are looking for people with managerial or coaching experience in the Majors. I think overlooking Ryne Sandberg is a huge mistake. Sandberg is a manger in waiting and what better place to start where he is a legend. Ryne Sandberg will get a managerial job sometime in the near future whether it be Boston or Philadelphia, after Manuel retires. Joe Maddon was overlooked for numerous jobs before he got his current gig in Tampa. Now he is regarded as probably the best manager in baseball.
An interesting name to look out for is Terry Francona. Francona has the experience. Check. He has worked with Theo. Check. So it just makes sense that the Cubs should just give him a look. Theo seems to be bringing his guys and Francona is one of his guys. Francona also says that he wants to manage next season, so I think the odds are better than average that Francona gets the Cubs job.
Then of course there seems to be the hottest name going around in the managerial vacancies, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. Martinez will get a managerial job, no question about it, but the Cubs look like they want a former manager rather than a great bench coach with no experience. Odds are that Martinez doesn't go to Wrigley.
Another one of Theo's guys could be on the list, Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. Sveum served as third base coach, a horrible one at that, in Boston while Theo was there. Sveum is going to be interviewed by Boston, so, presuming Sveum doesn't go to Boston, Sveum would more than likely get at least an interview with the Cubs. I give Sveum fair odds that he lands in Chicago.
Lastly, another one of Theo's guys, Boston Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale. Hale probably won't get the Red Sox job considering they want to shake things up from last year and Hale's hiring wouldn't do that. Hale is well respected by his players and by Theo Epstein. Granted Hale doesn't have managerial experience, but he was one of Theo's guys in Boston, so I give DeMarlo Hale a great shot at the job.
At the end of the day, I think Terry Francona gets the job because of his relationship with Theo Epstein and his track record. Francona and Epstein will try to recreate magic at the Friendly Confines.
I got into a debate with a friend of mine about who had the most exciting postseason, the 2004 Boston Red Sox or the 2011 Boston Bruins. He, and many others who chimed in, said the Bruins. I, and two other people, said the 2004 Red Sox.
People used the World Series as an example of why it wasn't exciting. The Red Sox World Series that year was a sweep, but did feature a very exciting Game 1 that was capped off by a two run home run by Mark Bellhorn in the eighth. But it all goes back to the grandiose American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox coming off a heartbreaking 2003 loss to the vaunted New York Yankees fell behind 0-3 and was three outs away from yet another defeat. Then the planets aligned and the heavens opened and the Red Sox miraculously won four straight to win the American League pennant. People also forget that the ALDS was won on a walk-off home run by David Ortiz.
The 2011 Boston Bruins playoff run was exciting don't get me wrong. The B's falling down 0-2 to the hated Canadiens before coming back to win Game 7 in overtime. The Flyers series was pretty much a stinker save for Game 2 when David Krejci scored a game winner in OT. The seven game defeat of the Tampa Bay Lightning included a 1-0 win in Game 7 and again falling 0-2 to the Vancouver Canucks before winning in seven. Tim Thomas was playing the best hockey of his career and the Bruins riding a wave of emotions after Game 3 when Aaron Rome viciously knocked out Nathan Horton.
Both teams were very similar when it comes to storylines and excitement, but in my opinion the Red Sox run in 2004 just beats out the 2011 Bruins. The Bruins are still fresh in people's minds and are just prisoner of the moment. When you think of the legions of Red Sox fans that have come and gone without seeing them win a World Series title, that right there takes the cake.
I might be a little biased in picking the Red Sox because of my brother. My brother, and pretty much everyone else in my family, is a Yankee fan and I had to endure and suffer through the Yankee dynasty as the Red Sox would just curl up and die when October came. For just one year, I finally had the upper hand and the Red Sox had finally broken through and beat the Yanks, in historic fashion nonetheless. I admit my eyes welled up a little when Keith Foulke tossed that ball to Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out I thought I would never see. My brother was away in college, so I didn't get to talk to him right after, but my mother received a phone call from my brother after the game and left a simple message: "Congratualtions".
I'm a huge Boston Bruins fan don't get me wrong (just ask my family during the playoffs), but that magical 2004 season cannot be beat in my mind. As Boston was finally kings of the baseball world and I could now gloat to my family members after years of suffering.
Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the Red Sox. The Red Sox drama sounds more and more like a soap opera everyday.
Today's installment of As the Red Sox World Turns, David Ortiz has said that he is fed up with the drama in Boston and might consider signing with the Yankees. Ortiz said, ""There's too much drama, man, there's too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year" and has heard that playing for the Yankees is a good situation to be in. The Yankees need a middle of the order presence and Ortiz fits that mold, so why not? Plus it would be a huge coup if the Yankees can steal a beloved Red Sox player.
Just two weeks ago, Ortiz stated that he wanted to return to Fenway next season. That was before the mudslinging and the departure of Theo Epstein. Since the season ended, reports have come out saying Terry Francona was distracted by martial problems and a substance abuse problem, pitchers partying down in the clubhouse during games, and players revolting against ownership over a doubleheader against Oakland. The Yankees will overpay for Ortiz that is a given, but will Ortiz bite? If Ortiz does sign with the Bronx Bombers it will erase everything he has done for Red Sox Nation and make him a vilified figure in Boston. Ortiz has to do what he has to do and if it is signing with the Yankees so be it.
When Ortiz leaves, it does give the Red Sox more money to go after bigger names like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Question is would any of them be willing to play DH with first base occupied by Adrian Gonzalez? Pujols will most likely re-sign with the Cardinals because he seems like a pretty loyal player and is known as one of the greatest Cards of all time and the Cardinals will break the bank for him. Fielder has previously stated that this season will probably be his last in Milwaukee. So the Red Sox have a better chance of signing Fielder than they do with Pujols. Fielder, if he does sign with Boston, would almost have to play DH because Gonzalez is better defensively. Problem is Fielder doesn't play any other position and a move to Boston seems unlikely. A move to the AL seems unlikely. When it is all said and done Pujols and Fielder don't end up in Beantown.
In my opinion, Ortiz has played his last game in Boston as the drama has gotten to be too much for him. It will be hard for new General Manager Ben Cherington to replace him during free agency without Pujols and Fielder. Red Sox fans, you are witnessing the beginning of the end.
More and more reports are coming out fighting between players and upper management and bribes to win the players trust back. Pitchers partying in the clubhouse during games and not following through on training regimens. All of this was a direct cause of the Sox abominable September.
A source close to the team has reported that former manager Terry Francona has been distracted but the separation of his wife of 30 years, Jacque, and an apparent prescription drug problem. Francona has had almost 20 surgeries on his knee, most recently in October 2010, and had used them this past season after a procedure to drain blood from his knee. One of Francona's children expressed concern after finding a pill bottle in his hotel room during spring training. Francona has vehemently denied theses allegations.
While the Red Sox were struggling to win games in September, pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester were partying in the clubhouse. The three pitchers often drank beers, ate fried chicken, and played video games during their off days. They also cut back on training and coaches tried to get them back on track but to no avail. Beckett, Lackey, and Lester went 2-7 with a 6.45 ERA in September. The pitchers were not available for comment.
When Hurricane Irene was fast approaching the east coast, the Red Sox rescheduled a game against the Oakland A's to a day-night doubleheader. The reason for playing the doubleheader was so that the Red Sox didn't have to play a make up game against a team from the west coast. Players revolted at the idea and owner John Henry buttered them up by providing all players with $300 headphones and a night on his yacht.
Also, Red Sox clubhouse leaders Kevin Youkilis, captain Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz was not as active to promote leadership and boost morale.
With these allegations, one would wonder how the Red Sox played that well. The fact of the matter is that the Red Sox gave up with a month to go. Beckett, Lackey, and Lester NEEDED to step up and increase training and practice in September, but decided to party and hope for the best. Youk, Tek, and Ortiz NEEDED to step up and light a fire under this team, but no. Now Francona is gone and Theo Epstein most likely off to the North Side and we are witnessing the disintegration of the Boston Red Sox as we know it. Whoever the new manager is needs to be a disciplinarian and not allow players partying and whining about having to play a doubleheader. You are professional baseball players, you need to suck it up and act like a professional and stop whining.
Terry Francona is now just a memory in Red Sox lore and the search for his replacement will soon start. But who does Boston turn to to get them out of this excruciatingly long two year playoff drought (Sorry Pirates fans). Do they go with a current or former manager who can add discipline inside the clubhouse or do they go with say a bench coach who is an up-and-comer and his overdue for a managerial job. Here are my choices that the Red Sox brass should consider to fill the big shoes of Tito Francona.
Willie Randolph- Orioles Bench Coach
I know what you are thinking, why replace the manager of the team who had the biggest September collapse with the manager who led the team who had the second largest September collapse. The 2007 New York Mets had a seven game lead with 17 to go but lost 12 of the next 17 and the NL East crown. Perhaps, Randolph will most be remembered for leading a team to an epic collapse but lest we forget in 2006, Randolph led the Mets to a tie for the best record in baseball with their crosstown rival Yankees. Since the Mets fired Randolph they have not posted a winning record and much of the blame for the Mets woes are squarely on Fred Wilpon. I still think, with the right team and ownership around him, Willie Randolph can still get it done as manager.
Dave Martinez- Rays Bench Coach
Dave Martinez, Joe Maddon's right hand man, has been the rays bench coach since 2007 and in that time the Rays have turned a complete 180 in their franchise. Martinez is a former Major Leaguer not far removed from the game (retired 2001) and can relate to the players in the clubhouse a little better. Also, the Rays seem to win with nothing. Imagine if he came to Boston with all the talent that they have it could be a great move by Boston.
Bobby Valentine- Former Mets manager current ESPN analyst
Bobby V's name has been floating around it seems with every managerial vacancy and I can see why, Valentine seems to be a likable person and has a fiery personality which will give the Red Sox some much needed discipline. On the other hand, Bobby V's record isn't all that great, 15 years 1,117-1,072 and just two postseason appearances (1999 and 2000). Valentine has made it no secret that he would like to return to the game and this could be the last time is name gets floated around.
Tony LaRussa- Current Cardinals manager
This one seems to be a long shot but LaRussa could be a free agent after the season (pending on whether the option will be picked up). LaRussa is a winner, period. If the Red Sox somehow get LaRussa, he will be sure to bring Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan along. Duncan is regarded as being one of the best pitching coaches in baseball and with a pitching staff that imploded down the stretch, Duncan's expertise will be greatly needed.
Ryne Sandberg- Phillies AAA manager and Hall of Fame shortstop
Ryne Sandberg is known as one of the greatest shortstops to play the game and a hot managerial prospect. So why not hire a guy who is long overdue for a managerial job. I understand the reservations of hiring someone for a large market team with no Major League managerial or coaching experience but he has done a great job within the Cubs and Phillies minor leagues and some say Charlie Manuel's heir apparent. Sandberg however would much prefer the Cubs job if Mike Quade gets fired so it is very unlikely he goes to Boston
Jason Varitek- Red Sox Catcher
This one is WAY out there but here me out. Tek doesn't have much left in the tank and is very well respected within the team. Ideally former catchers make better managers, such as Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Connie Mack, etc., and people think Varitek is already a manager in waiting so why not. I mean if Jake Taylor can do it in Major League II why not Varitek.
Whoever gets this prime job will be under a huge microscope that is the Boston media. So to whoever gets the job I say...... Good Luck to ya, Buddy.