Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has a story up today that makes it sound like Bobby Valentine has lost the Red Sox clubhouse. He has cool relations with his coaching staff, Edes reports, and he has lost the support of the veterans, assuming he ever had it:
David Ortiz publicly stated his support recently for the manager, but another respected player on the team said privately that it was all for show. That same player has gone weeks without speaking to Valentine and said that the manager does not have the support of “anyone” in the clubhouse … Valentine went out to the mound in Chicago for a visit with his pitcher, and all the infielders joined him for the conference except star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who remained at his position.
Edes ads that players are grumbling about the Youkilis trade and that they are taking complaints about Bobby Valentine to GM Ben Cherington. Who, quite obviously, was not on board with the Valentine hire in the offseason, but rather had it foisted on him by team president Larry Lucchino.
It’s hard to know what really goes on in a clubhouse and, it’s worth noting, these stories always exist because someone has an ax to grind and seeks out the media to help him grind it. The other side — where there is harmony — doesn’t get reported, at least at first.
But to the extent there is something bad going down inside the Sox’ clubhouse, it would not at all shock me if this is a logical extension of how Terry Francona was treated last year. The coaches with whom Valentine is reportedly having trouble were Francona assistants. The veterans all reportedly liked Francona. He was thrown under a friggin’ bus and, though it’s not Bobby V’s fault that happened, he’s the guy who is going to get the cold shoulder.
If the Sox turn this around competitively and win despite the strife, all of this will be viewed with some amusement like the 1977 Yankees or it will turn into some coming together narrative. If the Sox lose, though, it’s gonna be ugly, ugly, ugly.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.