Terry Francona broadcast last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game for ESPN, but before that the former Boston manager had what Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe describes as “a long conversation with six players and bench coach Tim Bogar” in the Red Sox clubhouse Saturday.
Francona apparently feared that might upset the man who replaced him as manager, so he sent an apology to Bobby Valentine via text message.
“I didn’t think it was any big deal,” Valentine told Abraham. “I didn’t see it. I wasn’t there partaking in the conversation. But what’s the big deal?”
And then Sunday morning, as part of the usual pregame prep for ESPN, Francona and his announcing partners Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser met with Valentine. And according to Valentine the previous day’s clubhouse meeting and subsequent texting didn’t even come up.
Realistically this whole thing isn’t much of a story, but the real headline here is that Valentine turned down an opportunity to make a big deal out of something.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.