Red Sox

Kennedy: Sox talk 'a lot' about contract extensions for young stars


Kennedy: Sox talk 'a lot' about contract extensions for young stars

BOSTON -- Nothing should bring Red Sox fans more optimism than looking at an outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts on Opening Day. Throw in Xander Bogaerts, and the Red Sox look set for years

Many, many years possibly, if the Sox shell out some big bucks to lock the kids up -- and maybe find a way to save a few bucks along the way.

Speaking to CSNNE on the Baseball Show podcast, Sox president Sam Kennedy made clear the Red Sox have been thinking hard about the best way to approach their young stars' contract situations, including the possibility of extensions.
Money for Mookie? Bread for Bradley? Kennedy wants to keep this group together.

"I would just say, without going into specifics, it's something that we talk about a lot," Kennedy said. "Now, there's been a lot of discussion, but I wouldn't want to go beyond that. But it's important, again as I talk about chess not checkers: you want to be thinking long term while having short-term success. So there's been discussions, but I'll stop short of saying anything beyond that.

"Those are ultimately decisions that [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] is making with respect to the player's abilities. ... Then we all sort of chime in on what the financial impacts would be on the franchise."

The people at the table include Kennedy, Dombrowski, assistant general manager and contracts expert Brian O'Halloran, plus  chief financial officer Tim Zue. Eventually, ownership gets involved too.

Baseball operations people don't go it alone when it comes to the valuation of players. Kennedy referred to Zue as "our Godfather of business analytics."

"First of all, I hope we can keep this core of players together for a long, long time," he said. "Sometimes the reality around economics of baseball make that impossible, but we'll see how it goes. But there's a desire from John Henry, Tom Werner, on down, to keep this group together. What an exciting time for Red Sox fans: you look at our outfield, you look at this young core of players that our scouting and player development get all the credit for. They've done a phenomenal, phenomenal job.

"I do think given the resources that we have, we should be able to retain our homegrown talent and players that we have. Now, again, I don't want to state that categorically. Because down the road, you don't know what's going to happen, things could change. But there is a desire."

The business side uses analytics more than the baseball side of the operation, just without the public's attention. Zue has worked closely with the Sox' leading baseball ops analytics boss, Zack Scott.

From determining the best time to start games, on down to concessions prices and the secondary ticket markets, the Sox mine data for it all.

What was that about chess and checkers?

"How to sort of think strategically, how to play not chess not checkers, think about what's coming down the line in 2018, 19, 20," Kennedy said. "I think we have the ability at sort of my level as the president of the team and dealing at the ownership level, looking sort of longer term.

"We do want to win tonight. We want to win in the next five minutes. But we also want to win long term. And so that's a real, that's an inherent conflict. Because it's very hard to do both."

Red Sox flight to Houston diverted due to mechanical issues, per report

Red Sox flight to Houston diverted due to mechanical issues, per report

The Boston Red Sox played at 12:37 p.m. ET on Thursday to get a head start on their weekend trip to Houston.

But travel plans don't always cooperate.

The Red Sox's charter plane bound for Houston from Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Thursday night diverted course and made an unscheduled landing in Detroit.

The diversion was caused by a potential mechanical issue, according to WBZ-TV.

Delta Flight 8884 carrying the Red Sox departed Toronto at 6:18 p.m. ET, a few hours after Boston defeated the Blue Jays 8-2 in their series finale. But the plane deviated from its flight plan and landed at Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County Airport about two hours later.

According to FlightAware, the Red Sox had a layover of several hours in Detroit and finally continued their trip at 10:47 p.m., arriving in Houston just after midnight local time (1 a.m. ET).

The Sox will spend the morning resting up before beginning a three-game set with the Astros on Friday night.

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Ryan Weber offers Red Sox a reminder that lighting up a radar gun isn't everything

USA TODAY Sports photo

Ryan Weber offers Red Sox a reminder that lighting up a radar gun isn't everything

The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin this week took a fascinating deep dive into baseball's toxic love affair with velocity, the force at the root of the game's decline as entertainment.

With more pitchers than ever throwing at least 95 mph, hitters are left with two choices: marry launch angle with exit velocity in the hopes of leaving the park, or find a new line of work. Pitchers roll off a similarly homogenous assembly line, with one 6-foot-4 reliever after another throwing gas. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Then there's Ryan Weber.

The 28-year-old baby-faced right-hander did not reach the big leagues on the strength of his arm so much as the dexterity of his fingers. He breaks 90 mph with his fastball about as often as most of us do on the highway.

He's a throwback to a time when baseball made room for pitchers who didn't max out the radar gun, and rotations craved variety: the flame-throwing right-hander, followed by the crafty lefty, followed by the innings-eater, followed by the forkball specialist, etc. . .

That would seemingly crowd out someone like Webber, who instead relies on the precise location of his sinker, changeup, and curveball. And it's not like opportunities have been plentiful for the former Brave, Mariner, and Ray. Since being drafted in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft by Atlanta, Weber has appeared in only 28 games.

He opened this season as Triple-A depth, and the Red Sox summoned him after injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and David Price thinned the rotation's ranks.

Following three solid relief outings, Weber received the call to start on Thursday against the Blue Jays, where his peculiar set of skills were on full display. Weber reached 90 mph exactly once in 93 pitches. He mostly lived at 86-88 mph with a ton of movement as he worked the corners, stayed out of the middle of the plate, and kept the ball down.

In an age where even accomplished sinkerballers like Rick Porcello feel no choice but to live up in the strike zone, Weber did things his way on Thursday with smashing success. One night after the Red Sox burned through six pitchers in a 13-inning marathon win over the Jays, Weber delivered six innings of one-run ball, limiting the Jays to three hits and striking out four in an 8-2 victory.

"It's different," manager Alex Cora told reporters in Toronto. "It's not that vertical attack, fastballs up, breaking balls down. It's more about pitching east-west and changing speeds. It's like a little bit of old school."

Weber earned his first victory as a starter after spending parts of the last four seasons with the Braves, Mariners, and Rays. If there's one common element to each pitch in his repertoire, it's that nothing is straight. Weber can generate movement to either side of the plate, and he does not let his lack of velocity keep him from throwing front-door two-seamers that start inside to left-handers hitters before zipping back over the corner.

"Just giving the team a chance to win and saving the bullpen was really my main goal," Weber told reporters. "And doing that, I'm excited and proud of what I did."

"Everything felt good," Weber added. "Arm felt great. First win as a starter feels nice."

With Eovaldi making progress in his return from elbow surgery and Price already back in the rotation, the Red Sox hope not to need a rotating fifth starter for much longer. If nothing else, Weber reminded the organization that there's more than one way to be successful, should the need arise again.

"Amazing," Cora said. "He did a good job changing speeds, moving the ball around the strike zone, changing eye level. He can pitch."

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