Red Sox

Youkilis says Red Sox need manager that can 'handle the media, first and foremost'

Youkilis says Red Sox need manager that can 'handle the media, first and foremost'

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Kevin Youkilis knows better than most what can go wrong with a Red Sox manager, particularly when it comes to the media.

The former Red Sox star said Friday afternoon that he thinks both Alex Cora and DeMarlo Hale would be great fits to replace John Farrell because of their experience in the market. He acknowledged both are friends — Cora as a former teammate, Hale as a former coach. But he believes in their credentials as well.

“I think Alex Cora’s a great fit, I think DeMarlo Hale’d be a great fit,” Youkilis said Friday afternoon from the restaurant he owns in California, Loma Brew. “Because they both have experience in that city, they know that city, they’ve been around it. I think it’s hard — I don’t know what it takes to be a manager. I’ve played for good managers. I just know in Boston the key is one, the media, and two, culture-clubhouse. It can go sour quickly, and if you’re that guy, the glue that can hold the team together while also holding the glue together and handling that, it’s a great fit. 

“The reason I’d hire them is they have the experience working not only with the media, but just being in that town and seeing winning in that town. And understanding success and the failures, even when we lost. They’ve seen both.”

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Youkilis was criticized by Bobby Valentine in a television interview early in the 2012 season, an incident that prompted Dustin Pedroia to speak out and proved the beginning of the end for Bobby V.

“I think Tito worked out well because he came from a long background in baseball and his personality was perfect for Boston,” Youkilis said. “So I think Tito’s personality — just, you got to have somebody that can handle the media, first and foremost, and that can separate the team from the media and how to be the middle man. So [to me] personally, the Red Sox job, probably more than 50 percent is media driven. A sense you have to be able to handle the media and take on that role and be OK with it.”

Youkilis is still involved in baseball, helping out the Cubs and his first general manager, Theo Epstein.

“And the other half is making sure the culture of the clubhouse is good and the product on the field [is good] and the guys are doing the right thing,” Youkilis said. “That’s easier when you hire a good coaching staff. I’ve learned that through the Cubs. You put together a great staff, your in-game management’s easier. 

“But, managing in Boston’s a very tough task. And you got to have very, very thick skin. You just got to want to take on the challenge. And you’re going to have to force laughter when there’s no laughter to be around, and I think that’s why Tito did so well. And so, you have to have a good personality in a way. Or, you just have to be this guy that just enjoys that spotlight. Because if you don’t enjoy that spotlight…. you’re going to have a lot of clashes that aren’t needed.”

Living in Northern California, Youkilis has teamed up with Jonny Gomes — who’s from the area — to help those affected by the wildfires in the area. Youkilis is storing supplies at his restaurant and plans to deliver them himself next week.

“I’m driving up a truck on Tuesday,” Youkilis said. “We got a bunch of stuff here.”

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Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

Drellich: Red Sox identity, standing as league's best will be tested

The greatest question the Red Sox face entering the second half of the season — well, final two-fifths, really — whether they’re good enough to avoid a Wild Card game. Whether they hold on to the American League East and keep the Yankees at bay. 

How many wins the Sox (68-30) wind up with does not matter outside of that context. A 105-win season would look plenty disappointing if it gives way to a loss in the only playoff game the Sox play in 2018.

Lurking in the background is more of a question of context and remembrance. Will these Sox eventually be recalled for something other than being outrageously good? 

They do not need to be, mind you. No team needs to do anything besides win (and act responsibly and benevolently as citizens, you could also say). This is the best team in baseball, with 64 games left on its schedule. They arrive, they rake and shove, they do it again the next day. It's 2007 all over again.

“It’s a very weird feeling in the clubhouse,” J.D. Martinez said in Washington D.C., during the All-Star Game festivities. “From the moment I got into spring training, it’s like everyone goes out there and whether we’re losing by a lot or we’re winning by a lot, the mood is always the same. There’s never any panic. 

"There’s no really like highs and lows it seems like in the clubhouse. It’s just everything is kind of like, even-keeled. So to me it’s like, it’s almost like that’s who we are: we’re playing like how we’re supposed to be playing."

The Sox are not underdogs with the highest payroll in baseball. They’re not all bearded. There are no reports of Jack Daniels shots prior to games. There’s certainly no curse to be broken, or any other broad backdrop, aside from the desire to avenge early exits in 2016 and 2017.

None of those threads are necessary for enjoyment, although they can act as an enhancement. Perhaps there’s a blue-collar narrative to be found here, if you can ignore the highest payroll in baseball. 

“Ah man, I don’t know,” Martinez said when asked about identity. “I feel like this is a very close group. It almost feels like a family. Everyone’s rooting for each other. I don’t know if I can put a label on it, it’s just, everyone always wants to grow and get better. Everyone’s always asking questions, and continuing to just not be satisfied I feel like in their own. They always want to get better. It’s been fun.”

The questions for Martinez and Mookie Betts didn’t stop at the All-Star Game, either. Both players will be high vote-getters in the American League MVP race, and Betts may well win. The duo, led by Martinez’s methods as well as hitting coach Tim Hyers, seems to have figured something out, a hitting approach that maximizes their off-the-chart talents.

“There’s a lot of hitting talk, but it’s not necessarily, ‘How do you do it?’” Betts said when asked if All-Stars were trying to understand what he and Martinez have been doing. “It’s the approaches and what not that you use. Just passing along information, that’s how everybody gets better. Everybody wants to get better.”

Hard to imagine the Sox actually getting better, given it would be a shock if they did not win 100 games. The Sox need to play .500 ball the rest of the way to reach that vaunted mark.

Martinez was asked if the Sox have peaked.

“I don’t know, you can always get better, right?” he said. “But we have a good team. I think we’re a very versatile team. I always say this: like, this is a team that can beat you in multiple ways. You can have someone throw a shutout and us put up one run. Or you know, us go out there and put up 10 runs and us win. You know the bullpen comes in, shuts the door. 

“We can steal bases. We can manufacture runs. It’s a team that’s not dependent on winning on one way. I kind of remember when I was in Detroit it was like, we had to slug. That was what we had to do to score. Here, it’s different.”

But, again, being good, or being different, or improving from this point really matters in only one context: the Yankees (62-33). They’re the only other team that can with East. And the prize associated with clinching the division — avoiding a one-game Wild Card berth — is tremendous. 

The Yanks sit 4 1/2 games back, with more games to play than the Sox down the stretch. Whether the Sox win 100 games, 110 games, really doesn’t matter outside of the magic and novelty associated with a big number. 

As of Wednesday, the Red Sox had a 58.1 percent chance to win the division, per Baseball Prospectus’ daily playoff odds. The Yanks were at 41.9 percent. They next meet in the first week of August at Fenway Park.

"We have a long way to go," Betts said. "We have to take these couple days to heal up, rest up and get ready to go."

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Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

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Orioles trade Manny Machado to Dodgers for five prospects

The Dodgers are the winners of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, acquiring the ex-Orioles slugger in exchange for five prospects.

The prospects heading to Baltimore in the deal per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic are outfielder Yusniel Diaz, third baseman Rylan Bannon, right-handed pitcher Zach Pop, right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer, and second baseman Breyvic Valera.

Machado, 26,  is enjoying another stellar season, hitting .315 with 24 home runs at the break. The Dodgers fill the void at shortstop left by Corey Seager, who is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Machado is set to be a free agent after the season.

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