In all likelihood, the Red Sox were not going to miss out on David Price.

In all likelihood, the Red Sox were not going to miss out on David Price.

They were going to keep spending until the free agent starter couldn’t say no. It was reminder that Cubs president Theo Epstein offered on the Hot Stove Show, saying that the Sox final offer of $217 million was “about $50 million” more than what Chicago was willing to give.

And if Price fell through, Zack Greinke would have surely gotten the same treatment, with the Red Sox undoubtedly ready to take on the six-year, $206.5 million deal the righty pitcher ultimately got from Arizona.

But what if both fell through?

The Red Sox were clearly prioritizing getting an ace, and those two were seemingly the only pair of free agents who could be classified as no-doubters in that respect. Johnny Cueto? Not the same stratosphere.

Appearing on the Saturday’s Hot Stove Show from Foxwoods, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski shed some light on the Red Sox’ plan of attack.

First off, even a portion of that money that went to Price, or potentially Greinke, wasn’t going to a high-priced position player.

“You can have your original plan, but then what based on what takes place you need to make some adjustments,” Dombrowski said. “I’€™m sure if we had not signed one of those two guys we still would have looked to do something with pitching, but I don’€™t know what may have been different at that particular time.”

But the real takeaway was that, according to Dombrowski, there was no chance that the kind of pitcher the Red Sox sought could be reeled in via the kind of trade the Sox would be willing to explore.

“I think that’€™s one of the advantages you have when you have some experience, and I’€™ve worked with a lot of the general managers … Some people can tell you that this guy is not available. Well, he might be available. You can really read his tone of voice. There are other guys who tell you that this guy is not available, and he’€™s not. There’€™s no sense in knocking your head against the wall all winter long trying to get that guy when he really is not available,” Dombrowski explained. “Now when I say that, any player in baseball is available if you want to overwhelm somebody so much you can basically get anybody. But you may get that guy in a trade, but now you have four other holes on your big league club so you really haven’€™t helped yourself.

“So I think in reading the trade market early, it was apparent to me to get the type of starting pitcher we needed with what we wanted to do, there was not any of them that were available that were going to come to us with prospects. It just wasn’€™t going to happen. So really quickly you could say that’€™s not the direction we’€™re going.

“I thought we would come back with a closer, back-end type guy through the trade market and it would be costly with players, which it was. But if you were going to get the type of guy we wanted in the starting rotation, that was going to have to come through free agency.”

Another interesting aspect of Dombrowski’s explanation regarding the Red Sox’ offseason plan was his very direct proclamation that any championhip-caliber team needs an ace to lead its starting staff.

It was about as direct of an about-face from the ownership’s previous philosophy as Dombrowski had delivered since taking over.

“To me, the No. 1 need we had was that ace at the top to go out there because I think our organization needed that type of guy,” he said. “And when you look at tradition of good clubs, championship clubs, they almost always have that type of guy. And when I also talk to people in the Red Sox organization it was apparent that when the Red Sox last won, every time they won, they had guys at the top of the rotation that can in turn take pressure off of others.

Clay Buchholz is a fine pitcher. Now, we need to work, and he has worked hard this winter and done some different things to try and keep himself strong and healthy throughout the years. And Eduardo Rodriguez, he is in a situation where he has a chance to be a very fine pitcher. He’€™s already shown you those capabilities. But I think it’€™s a lot different when you say, ‘€˜Well, he might slide into the third day or the fourth day, ‘€˜ compared to, ‘€˜Wow, we need this guy to pitch against the other club’€™s ace right off the bat.’€™ I think it puts people in a more comfortable position in an organization.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

It’s been a long offseason for a multitude of still unsigned free agents, including former Red Sox lefty pitcher Craig Breslow.

But as the days until spring training dwindle, it appears as though the interest surrounding Breslow might be amplifying.

According to a major league source, the 35 year old hurler has recently drawn interest from multiple teams, in large part because of his potential versatility as a reliever/potential starter.

While there is still a flood of pitchers still on the market who might favorably match up with Breslow as a relief pitcher, a few clubs have been intrigued by the upside the lefty might possess as a depth starter (along with potentially helping as a veteran arm in the bullpen).

After finishing the 2015 season with the Red Sox with a pair of starts — allowing two runs over 9 1/3 innings — Breslow informed prospective suitors that he was interested in giving starting a try after previously spending his entire major league career relieving.

Breslow is coming off a season with the Red Sox in which he totaled a 4.15 ERA over 65 innings. His splits have traditionally been fairly down the middle, with lefties hitting .245 for his career, and right-handed batters managing a .242 clip. He had signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season.

Breslow has spent the offseason working out at Mike Boyle’s facility in Woburn with fellow reliever-turned-starter Rich Hill, as well as former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold.

It appears as though there is a growing acceptance throughout a good chunk of the remaining free agents to take a minor league deals, with Bronson Arroyo the latest pitcher to go that route (signing with the Nationals). It is a path Breslow might have to explore, particularly if he is going to try his luck at starting.

Other lefty relievers still on the open market include Joe Beimel, Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing, Sean Marshall, Franklin Morales and Matt Thornton.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

It’s been a long offseason for a multitude of still unsigned free agents, including former Red Sox lefty pitcher Craig Breslow.

But as the days until spring training dwindle, it appears as though the interest surrounding Breslow might be amplifying.

According to a major league source, the 35 year old hurler has recently drawn interest from multiple teams, in large part because of his potential versatility as a reliever/potential starter.

While there is still a flood of pitchers still on the market who might favorably match up with Breslow as a relief pitcher, a few clubs have been intrigued by the upside the lefty might possess as a depth starter (along with potentially helping as a veteran arm in the bullpen).

After finishing the 2015 season with the Red Sox with a pair of starts — allowing two runs over 9 1/3 innings — Breslow informed prospective suitors that he was interested in giving starting a try after previously spending his entire major league career relieving.

Breslow is coming off a season with the Red Sox in which he totaled a 4.15 ERA over 65 innings. His splits have traditionally been fairly down the middle, with lefties hitting .245 for his career, and right-handed batters managing a .242 clip. He had signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season.

Breslow has spent the offseason working out at Mike Boyle’s facility in Woburn with fellow reliever-turned-starter Rich Hill, as well as former Red Sox trainer Mike Reinold.

It appears as though there is a growing acceptance throughout a good chunk of the remaining free agents to take a minor league deals, with Bronson Arroyo the latest pitcher to go that route (signing with the Nationals). It is a path Breslow might have to explore, particularly if he is going to try his luck at starting.

Other lefty relievers still on the open market include Joe Beimel, Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing, Sean Marshall, Franklin Morales and Matt Thornton.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
This week the guys recap some of Red Sox Winter Weekend, play some clips from Dave Dombrowski and Hanley Ramirez at Foxwoods, and talk more about the pitching staff.
This week the guys recap some of Red Sox Winter Weekend, play some clips from Dave Dombrowski and Hanley Ramirez at Foxwoods, and talk more about the pitching staff

Live Blog WEEI.com Red Sox chat
WEEI.com’s John Tomase will be conducting a live chat here at noon on Tuesday. Take a first step towards overcoming your Patriots hangover right here. No Peyton Manning questions allowed.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

You might understand why Pedro Martinez wasn’t for having the designated hitter in the National League, as had been

Commissioner Rob Manfred  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

You might understand why Pedro Martinez wasn’t for having the designated hitter in the National League, as had been recently discussed. This is a pitcher who, after all, hit just .099 (43-for-434) for his career.

But, as Martinez explained on the Hot Stove Show Saturday, his opinion on the matter stretches beyond just having a personal discomfort in the batter’s box.

“When you tamper with the game, you take out the essence of the game a little bit,” Martinez said. (To hear Pedro’s comments on the DH, go to the 15-minute mark on the audio below.) “The National League needs to remain the National League. The American League needs to remain the American League. Just let it be. Let it be when it comes to the DH. Use the DH in the American League and you just choose the game you want to watch.”

Evidently, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred agrees.

“The most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo,” Manfred told ESPN.com “I think the vast majority of clubs in the National League want to stay where they are.”

According to the ESPN article, Manfred was left with the impression that there might be room for discussion regarding a change in the DH rule after attending the recent owners meetings.

“Twenty years ago, when you talked to National League owners about the DH, you’d think you were talking some sort of heretical comment,” Manfred said. “But we have a newer group. There’s been turnover. And I think our owners in general have demonstrated a willingness to change the game in ways that we think would be good for the fans, always respecting the history and traditions of the sport.”

The American League has used the designated hitter since 1973. Any change to the existing rules would have to be bargained into the collective bargaining agreement, which expires Dec. 1.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Christian Vazquez has lost 25 pounds this offseason. (WEEI.com photo)

Christian Vazquez has lost 25 pounds this offseason. (WEEI.com photo)

The family of five poured into the Foxwoods Resort and Casino elevator Sunday morning, all of them wearing their Patriots jerseys. The day before, they explained, the garb had been Red Sox-related (due to the team’s “Winter Weekend” event), but it was now time to focus on the task at hand — beating the Broncos.

Monday, Saturday’s shirts were pulled out of the hamper.

WIth the Patriots season now officially over, it might be a good time to offer reminders as to where things stand with the next team up — the Red Sox.

With nearly 6,000 people filing into Foxwoods over the weekend to see virtually the entire Red Sox team (those absent included David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, David Price, Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa), there were two days of reminders as to what awaits in a few weeks.

Most of New England might not have been paying attention then, but they probably will start altering their focus now.

Let’s help you catch up with some of this team’s key storylines,and where things stand with each of them …

1. Hanley Ramirez is a friendly first baseman

Ramirez swept through Foxwoods with plenty of smiles, handshakes and good cheer to go around. He received a standing ovation at the Town Hall event Friday night, and was the star of the show when participating in a Saturday game show featuring players, coaches and alumni.

But can he play first base? We still have no idea.

Ramirez has started taking ground balls in South Florida with Red Sox exec Laz Gutierrez, and checked in at 234 pounds. (Although he insisted that that is only three pounds difference from where he finished the season at.)

Ramirez told us on WEEI that this has been his most challenging offseason, referencing how many times he has been checked up on by the organization. He also remains supremely confident that playing first base won’t be a problem.

He remains concerned about the play that involves reaching for throws into the runner due to his left shoulder’s history. And the footwork thing is on his radar.

In the end, everything that has unfolded to this point won’t matter if he doesn’t put the time in once in Fort Myers. The kind of time Mike Napoli put in when trying to pull off the same transformation. If he does that, the skill-set would suggest his history as an infielder will allow him to manage. If not, nobody is going to remember any of the feel-good moments of this offseason.

2. What should we make of Christian Vazquez?

We got the first “I’m in the best shape of my life” reference over the weekend, coming from Vazquez. But we can absolutely confirm that this isn’t the usual February hyperbole. Vazquez is undeniably is in better shape than ever, which was confirmed with the presentation of a body 25 pounds lighter than the one we last saw.

Such a transformation shouldn’t be a surprise. When players have Tommy John surgery, their overall body is usually much-improved since it is rare time they can workout without having to focus on using their arm. (It is the reason pitchers often come back throwing harder than before the procedure.)

Now comes the question as to what it will all mean for Vazquez’s spot on the Red Sox roster.

Dave Dombrowski defined Blake Swihart as the team’s No. 1 catcher at the moment, with Vazquez not throwing to bases until this week. But there is every expectation that Vazquez — who spent the last few months serving as a designated hitter in the Puerto Rican Winter League — will be hitting the ground running come mid-February.

Dombrowski also confirmed that there have been no plans to try Swihart at a different position this spring.

The guess here is that if all three catchers — Vazquez, Swihart and Ryan Hanigan — are healthy, the Red Sox will wait as long as possible in spring training before either, A. trading Hanigan; B. using March performances to determine if Vazquez or Swihart could plausibly keep progressing in Pawtucket.

3. Rusney Castillo will play, but how much?

Castillo left the Puerto Rican League playoffs to swing through Foxwoods. He looked about the same as when we last saw him, passing along (through translator Brian Cruz) that he feels refreshed after a leg injury contributed to the outfielder wearing down in September.

He also still hasn’t shed that mystery man label.

Castillo is under contract for the next five years at $56.6 million. He has is 28 years old and has played in 90 major league games. And we still have no idea what to make of him, and neither do the Red Sox.

If the Sox did have full confidence in Castillo’s ability to be an everyday player, the guess is that they wouldn’t have spent so heavily in the free agent outfield market. Chris Young is considered a viable option to play a lot if Castillo slips, having totaled 140 games for the Yankees a season ago. And if the Cuban doesn’t then Young’s time will come more in a platoon situation for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Castillo has said he shortened up his swing, while noting the adjustments he has made to endure the long big league season. It’s a start. But the Red Sox would most definitely agree it’s time to pick up the pace when it comes to defining Castillo’s existence.

4. What will offseason of change bring to Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval?

Pedroia has gone to EXOS in Phoenix, working out in the same group as Xander Bogaerts, and used his time at the training facility to focus on the kind of agility and mobility he feels might have left him a year ago. (The second baseman said he focused too much on upper-body strength last offseason considering, trying to play catch-up after hand and wrist injuries had limited him during previous winters.)

As he pointed out during our interview with him at Foxwoods, Pedroia only attempted four stolen bases all season in 2015, getting caught twice. In his previous seven seasons, he totaled 118 steals in 153 attempts.

He certainly looked the part, showing to the weekend event seemingly in great shape. Considering the ability to put both the hand, wrist and hamstring injuries in the rear-view mirror, that’s a good start, especially considering Pedroia is coming off a pretty good season (.291 batting average, .797 OPS) in the 93 games he played.

We have also heard Sandoval has had a successful offseason, losing a reported 20 pounds. We’ll have to take their word for it, because Sandoval didn’t make an appearance in Mashantucket.

What we learned about the importance of the third baseman’s weight is this: when even a little lighter, he can actually move adequately at his position. When as big as he was in May, June and July, the range is so limited the player becomes a legitimate defensive liability.

The other big question for when Sandoval hits camp: will he hit right-handed? He has suggested that remaining a switch-hitter is his desired path, but you simply can’t ignore the numbers. In the 20 games he hit righty, Sandoval went 2-for-41 with a walk. Hitting lefty on lefty for 56 games, the clip was a very tolerable .255 (27-for-106), albeit with just five doubles, 10 RBI and no homers.

Did we mention that Brock Holt hit .312 with an .807 OPS against lefties?

5. Get ready for the netting, and maybe the Celtics

Team president Sam Kennedy explained what is in store for those sitting on the first and third base side of Fenway Park, from dugout to dugout. In short, they’re going to have a net in front of them.

While the material used in the net hasn’t yet been determined (that should happen this week), the area involved reaches from the beginning of each dugout. Kennedy noted that all season ticket holders who might have to look through the new obstacle have been notified and given options to relocate.

Kennedy also confirmed he has had ongoing discussions with Celtics president Rich Gotham about playing a basketball game at Fenway Park.

(To listen to Kennedy, click below)

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford