Red Sox reportedly nearing four-year contract extension with Josh Beckett

Leave a comment’s Buster Olney reports that long-term contract talks between Josh Beckett and the Red Sox “have progressed to the point that there is optimism a deal will be completed in the next week or two.”
According to Olney the Red Sox have offered Beckett a four-year deal worth “in the range of $65 million to $70 million.” This offseason Boston signed John Lackey–who’s about 18 months older than Beckett–to a five-year, $82.5 million deal, so a four-year extension for Beckett would lock them both up through the 2014 season.
Over the weekend’s Gordon Edes reported that the Red Sox were unwilling to guarantee Beckett a fifth year, but if Olney’s subsequent report is on the mark that apparently isn’t a deal-breaker for the 29-year-old right-hander.
Beckett is in the final season of a three-year, $30 million deal after going 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 199/55 K/BB ratio in 212.1 innings spread over 32 starts in 2009. During four years in Boston he’s 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 122 regular-season starts and 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA in the playoffs.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.