The Pawtucket Red Sox received reinforcements today as GM Theo Epstein announced the signings of eight minor league free agents. Jeff Bailey, Alberto Castillo, Travis Hughes, Luis Jimenez, Joe McEwing, Ed Rogers, Kerry Robinson and Bobby Scales also received non-roster invitations to Boston's major league training camp in the spring. Castillo, a veteran of 407 major league games who spent 2006 in the Nationals' organization, had been rumored to be a candidate for the Red Sox back up catcher slot prior to the return of Doug Mirabelli and may still provide insurance in the event he falters. First basemen Bailey and Jimenez are familiar faces, having spent 2006 with the PawSox and Sea Dogs respectively. Robinson and McEwing have held major league positions in the past but would likely only be called to Boston in the event of an emergency, while Hughes, Rogers, and Scales provide for good minor league depth.
The Boston Red Sox plugged two more holes Friday, announcing the signing of J. C. Romero and Doug Mirabelli. Romero, a 30-year-old free agent left handed specialist who spent 2006 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, represents a reclamation project, having put up a 6.70 ERA. Romero, who had a general run of success in Minnesota before his bumpy single season in Anaheim, reportedly signed for $1.6 million. He joins fellow southpaw Hideki Okajima in the Sox bullpen, a point of weakness for Boston in recent years. In resigning Doug Mirabelli, a familiar face to Red Sox fans, Boston has filled its back up catcher position with a known quantity, intimately familiar with RHP Tim Wakefield's signature knuckleball.Mirabelli is slated to earn $750,000 in 2007, a figure that could rise to $975,00 if he meets performance incentives.
On Friday Boston bolstered its bullpen by acquiring right-handed setup man Brendan Donnelly from the LA Angels in exchange for minor league lefty Phil Seibel (pictured). In 2006, Donnelly went 6-0 with a 3.94 ERA over 62 games. Over his career, he has posted a 2.38 ERA for the Angels. Seibel had been in the Red Sox system since November 2003, but was sidelined for much of that time following Tommy John Surgery in 2005. The 27 year old lefty came back and pitched impressively in 2006, going 6-3 with a 1.24 ERA for Greenville, Portland, and Pawtucket. Seibel probably did not fit in Boston's bullpen plans for 2007, but stands a good chance of earning a spot in the Angels bullpen.
Last December Scott Boras facilitated the dramatic departure of a high profile Red Sox player who wore number 18. Almost a year later, at the conclusion of an even more dramatic process, he stood by as a new #18 was introduced this afternoon at Fenway Park. Before a throng of reporters, GM Theo Epstein formally announced that the Sox have signed Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka to a six year deal, reportedly worth $52 million with $8 million in incentives. In exchange for the right to sign the 26-year-old right hander, Boston will send $51.11 million to the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions--their record high bid in the Japanese posting process. Matsuzaka boasts a robust arsenal of pitches including a mid-90s fastball, a devastating slider which has drawn comparisons to Randy Johnson’s, and has been linked with the legendary gyro-ball. In an eight year career with Seibu, Matsuzaka owns a 108-60 record, a 2.95 ERA and 1,355 strikeouts in 1,402.2 innings, going 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA in 2006. He was named the MVP of the inaugural World Baseball Classic in which he won all three of his starts while allowing only two earned runs.
On a busy day in Red Sox Nation, Manager Terry Francona and Assistant GM Jed Hoyer formally introduced SS Julio Lugo today at a Fenway Park press conference. The Sox had come to terms with Lugo on a four year $36 million contract during the winter meetings, but the deal’s official announcement had been delayed pending the outcome of a physical. Hoyer and Francona were called upon to preside over the announcement in the absence of GM Theo Epstein and president Larry Lucchino, who were reportedly putting the finishing touches on a deal with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Good friend David Ortiz also was on hand to welcome Lugo. The 31-year-old with a career line of .277/.340/.402 in eight seasons will bat leadoff for the Sox in 2007 and wear uniform number 23.
The Boston Red Sox announced today that they have filled their managerial vacancies at the Portland Sea Dogs, Greenville Drive and Lancaster JetHawks. At Portland (AA) Artie Beyeler will take over for Todd Claus, who was named 2007 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America. In 2006 Beyeler served as the hitting coach for the Mobile BayBears (San Diego, AA)--where he worked with George Kottaras--and most recently coached under Claus for the West Oahu CaneFires in the Hawaiian Winter League, whose members included Red Sox prospects John Otness, Jeff Corsaletti, and Ryan Phillips. Beyeler previously managed in the Red Sox system at Lowell (2000-2001 seasons) and Augusta (2002). As had been previously announced, Claus will remain with the Red Sox as an advance scout. Red Sox fan favorite Gabe Kapler announced his retirement as a player Tuesday night, but was not out of work long, as he was offered and accepted the managerial position of the Greenville Drive (low-A). Kapler replaces another former big leaguer, Luis Alicea, who had been promoted to the Red Sox first base coach and infield coach. Chad Epperson, who had managed the Wilmington Blue Rocks, will move with the Sox to Lancaster where he will take the reigns of the JetHawks (high-A). Epperson was named BA’s Carolina League top managerial prospect in 2006 and led the Drive to the playoffs. He is in his sixth season in the Boston system, having previously managed at Augusta and Greenville.
The Sox selected Nick Debarr with the eleventh pick of the 2006 Rule 5 Draft. The 23-year old RHP from Lassen Community College missed all of 2005 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but bounced back in 2006 as a reliever for High-A Visalia of the California League (Devil Rays). Debarr features a sinker/slider combination with a fastball that sits in the high-80's to low-90's. He also mixes in a developing split-finger fastball. The general consensus is that Debarr will not stick on a major league roster. -templeUsox