Why Chris Woodward didn't make the Red Sox' postseason roster

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Last fall, when postseason rosters were being finalized, the only real discussion in Boston was about a utility guy, with Nick Green, Jed Lowrie and Chris Woodward all in the mix.  Green was hurt, and Terry Francona said that they needed to limit Lowrie as well.  So you figured Chris Woodward — who was away from the team because of the birth of his son — would be the guy, what with guys usually only missing a day or too for paternity leave. 

But Woodward didn’t make the cut and Lowrie did.  The hardcore fans probably knew what was going on, but those of us who don’t spend all day thinking about the Sox didn’t give it a second thought.  Today, however, the story of Chris Woodward and the postseason roster is one of the more interesting things going:

“It went so smoothly, everything was perfect,” Woodward said. “My
mother-in-law was at our house with our other two kids, Sophie and
Mason. I was going to be able to spend a day or two with them all and
go back for the playoffs.”

It stopped going smoothly the next
morning, went Erin’s mother called from the Woodward home. Two-year-old
Mason had a fever, running a temperature of 104 degrees.

“I drove
home and took him to the pediatrician, who took tests and said it was
swine flu,” Woodward said. “They told me he couldn’t be near my wife or
the baby for two weeks. They told me we had to be careful with Mason,
and we all started taking Tamiflu that day.

And it only got worse after that as everyone in the family ended up getting the flu.

Not to diminish his talent too much, but the fact is that Woodward is a guy who could be in or out of the big leagues depending on some fifth level functionary’s mood on any given morning. I know we’d all say that we’d choose family over baseball if we were in his shoes, but the fact that he had the Red Sox calling him, asking whether he could make the postseason roster and was able to tell them “no, no, no, I have to stay home with my family,” despite the risk such a move posed to his baseball career says something pretty good about Woodward.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.