Author: Craig Calcaterra

Cespedes Getty

Yoenis Cespedes knows he could be traded but is saying all the right things anyway


This interview with Yoenis Cespedes by Joon Lee at Over The Monster was conducted before the Sox signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, but Cespedes had already heard the rumors about Boston possibly moving him before then. And, despite the growing sense that he could be the odd man out in the Red Sox’ plans, Cespedes still had all of the right things to say:

“I’m working very hard in the offseason in order to help bring the people of Boston another Championship,” Cespedes said. “I plan on putting in extra work from learning to play left field in front of the Green Monster or making the adjustment to playing right field if necessary. Regardless of the position, I just want to continue working hard in hopes of winning my first Gold Glove.”

He certainly has the arm to play anywhere. And, despite some of the rumblings from Boston just after the season ended, doesn’t give off a vibe that he’s not a team player.

Not that individual considerations wouldn’t be unreasonable for him right now. 2015 is a big, big year for Cespedes. It’s the last before he hits free agency and where he ends up, should he be traded, could greatly impact the sort of dough he’ll make on his next deal. One rumored destination is Cincinnati, which has pitching to trade. That’d be a great park to showcase his power.

Lots of teams could use a power bat, of course. And there’s certainly a lot riding on his next season, both for him personally, for the team that lands him and for the Red Sox, depending on what they get in return. He may be the most interesting player to watch over the next couple of weeks.

Pablo Sandoval’s deal: five years, $98 million plus an option

Pablo Sandoval

Jon Heyman has the details of Pablo Sandoval’s deal with the Red Sox: five years and $98 million with a team option for year six.

That is said to be a tad higher than what the Giants offered, though it’s not crazy to think they were comparable deals as far as it all went with a small bump put in there at the end. Who knows how that works, really. It’s safe to say, though, that Sandoval was probably not going back to San Francisco once the Sox got within shouting range of their offer.

Now the question is how long this will be a good deal for Boston. As I said yesterday, it can and probably will be a good deal at the outset and gives the Sox a chance to go for it all for the next couple of years. If it does sour, it’ll be toward the end, as most large contracts sour toward the end and which does not, in and of itself, make the contract an unwise one. If Boston gets another title or two, it’ll have been proved more than worth it.

Press conference today.

Happy 100th Birthday to Joe DiMaggio. An overrated all-time great.

Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio was born 100 years ago today. On the occasion, John Harper of the Daily News talks with baseball historian John Thorn about the Yankee Clipper’s legacy. One that, in Thorn’s view, is a bit greater than the actual baseball merits. Or, to put it like the headline puts it, one that is overrated:

“Baseball is our national religion,” said Thorn. “And belief in DiMaggio is a central tenet. I’m not pooh-poohing him. It’s just that he has been the subject of so much apotheosis — the elevation to the heavens — that it calls for analysis from Dr. Freud rather than Branch Rickey.”

This is undeniably true. DiMaggio was a great hitter, but he was nowhere near the hitter of his contemporary Ted Williams. He was a good center fielder, but he wasn’t even the best defensive center fielder in his own family, for pete’s sake. While one can make a good argument that DiMaggio was the best all-around player on the best team for a handful of years, to suggest — as baseball fans and writers openly suggested for years following his retirement — that DiMaggio was, at any time in his life, “Baseball’s Greatest Living Player” is more than a little crazy. Indeed, at no time in his life was DiMaggio anything close to that, mostly because Willie Mays outlived him and still lives today.

But I think Harper and Thorn get at why the tendency to overrate DiMaggio persists when they talk about how DiMaggio was perceived. And it makes a lot of sense.

Part of it was the hitting streak in 1941 which truly riveted the nation in ways that no baseball event had ever done in close to real time like that. That’s pretty key. Also key: DiMaggio’s Italian-American heritage, which today may not seem like a big deal but certainly was in the 1930s and 40s, giving a lot of people a hero and role model who never truly had one in baseball. Also, don’t sell short the fact that DiMaggio was the star of choice for the parents of Baby Boomers. We’ve seen how outsized a phenomenon can be if Boomers talk about it. You have to figure that also applies to things Boomers talk about their parents talking about, which easily extended DiMaggio’s legacy into the 60s, 70s and beyond.

But Thorn reminds us that, whatever we say about DiMaggio on the merits, that’s not everything when it comes to talking about baseball history:

“But when you put it all together, I think the myth counts. The story counts. It’s not just stats. The DiMaggio myth transcends history and you deny it at your peril. I admire his performance, I’m just letting a little air out of the balloon.”

I think the same can be said about the Derek Jeter coverage of the past few years too. It’s possible to let some air out of the balloon because, man, there’s a lot of air in it, but let’s not forget why there was air there in the first place. DiMaggio (and Jeter) were important to a lot of people. They were leaders of teams that won and the exploits of those teams are, for better or worse, put in their individual columns. Which is fine because most baseball fans don’t consume baseball like analysts do. They have the game as memories and memories often need symbolic placeholders like that.

Anyway, happy 100th Joltin’ Joe. Overrated? Sure. But undeniably great for reasons that transcend our rating of players.

The Red Sox will introduce Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez at a press conference tomorrow

Hanley Ramirez Getty

We’ve already met them, but tomorrow we’ll get to meet them as they awkwardly put on Red Sox jerseys over their button-down shirts, as the Sox are reported to be holding a press conference to announce their newest acquisitions.

We rarely if ever learn anything truly new at these sorts of affairs, but I suppose there is always a chance that Sandoval will talk smack about the $40 million offer the Giants made him last spring and Ramirez will talk about how much he looks forward to playing shortstop even though that is likely to never, ever happen.

And, if nothing else, we’ll finally get new pictures of these two we can use.

UPDATE: The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox deal is done, pending a physical

Pablo Sandoval AP

UPDATE: Now it sounds as if the deal is in place:

8:15 AM: There are some reports circulating that Sandoval’s agent is denying that a deal is in place. With the caveat that I literally cannot remember the last time that Jon Heyman whiffed on transaction news, we will keep you updated on this.

7:46 AM: Big day for the Sox. On the same day they are expected to officially announce a deal with Hanley Ramirez, Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Pablo Sandoval for five years and close to $100 million.

Sandoval had offers from both the Giants and the Padres as well, but going back to last week it seemed like Boston was his top choice.

With Sandoval and Ramirez in the fold, there is clearly a bit of a logjam in the Red Sox’ lineup. We discussed how that might be resolved earlier this morning. Short version: figure Sandoval at third base, Ramirez in left field and a trade of one or more of the Red Sox’ outfielders and/or third baseman Will Middlebrooks, most likely in an effort to address the starting pitching situation.