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January 30, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Sox retain Varitek

Ian Browne at RedSox.com is reporting that catcher Jason Varitek will return to the Red Sox in 2009 after agreeing to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2010. As had been speculated over the past week, the deal will pay Varitek $5 million next season, with a base salary of $5 million in 2010 if the Red Sox pick up the option or $3 million if the team declines the option but Varitek wishes to return. He could also earn up to $2 million more in 2010 from incentives based on games played, raising the total value of the contract to $10 - $12 million. Varitek, who will turn 37 years old on April 11, batted .220/.313/.359 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 423 at bats in 2008, the worst offensive season of his big league career.

Varitek will play his 12th full season in 2009 with the Red Sox, the only major league team he has ever played for. He was an American League All Star in 2003 and in 2005, when he also won the American League Silver Slugger award with a .281/.366/.489 line that included 22 home runs and 70 RBI. A career .263/.346/.439 hitter with 161 home runs and 654 RBI in 1330 major league games, Varitek was originally a first-round pick (21st overall) of the Minnesota Twins in 1993 but did not sign. He was then selected in the first round (14th overall) in the 1994 draft by Seattle. He was acquired by the Red Sox at the trading deadline in 1997, along with Derek Lowe, for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. The Red Sox captain since the start of the 2005 season, the switch-hitting Varitek will likely be joined by the recently acquired Josh Bard to form Boston's catching tandem in 2009. To make room for Varitek on the 40-man roster, first baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket.
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January 27, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Chip Ambres and Ivan Ochoa signed to minor league deals

The Red Sox today announced the signings of outfielder Chip Ambres and shortstop Ivan Ochoa to minor league deals. Ambres split last season between the San Diego Padres and the team's Triple-A affiliate in Portland, Oregon, batting .279/.368/.539 in the minors with 22 home runs and 77 RBI in 412 at bats and adding .195/.313/.220 totals in 41 major league at bats. He put up impressive .294/.401/.495 totals as a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2005 before being traded to Kansas City as part of a deal for Tony Graffanino. A veteran of ten minor league seasons, the 29-year-old Ambres was the first round selection (27th overall) of the Florida Marlins in 1998. He owns career .259/.359/.440 numbers with 113 home runs and 466 RBI in 3587 minor league at bats playing in the Marlins, Red Sox, Royals, Mets and Padres organizations.

Ivan Ochoa spent most of last season at Triple-A Fresno (Giants), putting up a solid .318/.399/.445 line with 6 home runs, 32 RBI, and 20 stolen bases in 292 at bats. He also appeared in 47 games at the major league level with San Francisco in 2008, collecting .200/.244/.267 totals in 120 at bats. Ochoa was originally signed by Cleveland as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2000. He spent six seasons in the Indians system, making it as far as Triple-A Buffalo before moving on to the Giants organization in 2007. In 8 minor league seasons, the 26-year-old switch hitter owns career .255/.331/.325 numbers with 13 home runs and 203 RBI in 2387 at bats. Both players will receive invitations to major league spring training, but will likely begin the year at Triple-A Pawtucket.
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January 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Carlos Maldonado signed to minor league deal

In an effort to add more veteran catching depth to the upper levels of the system, the Red Sox have signed journey man Carlos Maldonado to a minor league contract. A right-handed batter, Maldonado spent 2008 with the Pirates organization at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was part of a three-headed catching tandem and put up .248/.312/.392 numbers with 3 home runs and 16 RBI in 125 at bats. The 30-year-old veteran also played in the Venezuelan Winter League this off season, where he posted an impressive .328/.422/.496 line with 5 home runs and 22 RBI in 125 at bats for los Leones del Caracas.

Maldonado has played parts of 13 minor league seasons with the Mariners, Astros, White Sox, and Pirates organizations, owning a career .259/.330/.362 line with 55 home runs and 455 RBI in 3,433 at bats spanning 1,034 games. He also received a total of 43 at bats at the major league level as a September call-up with Pittsburgh in 2006 and 2007, collecting 7 hits, including a double and 2 home runs. Maldonado will receive an invitation to major league spring training, but will likely end up in the catching mix at Triple-A Pawtucket. His fate will ultimately depend on that of fellow catcher George Kottaras, who is on the 40-man roster but out of options.
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January 20, 2009 at 10:21 PM

Aardsma sent to Seattle for Fabian Williamson

After being designated for assignment on Thursday to make room on the 40-man roster for Mark Kotsay, right-handed reliever David Aardsma has been traded to the Seattle Mariners for lefthander Fabian Williamson. Williamson, the Mariners' 22nd round selection in the 2006 draft, pitched last season for Pulaski of the rookie-level Appalachian League, going 4-3 with a 4.10 ERA in eleven starts. His 67 strikeouts in 52.2 innings were good for fifth in the league. The 20-year-old California native has been initially assigned to Low-A Greenville.

Aardsma pitched in 47 games out of the Boston bullpen last year, going 4-2 with a 5.55 ERA. He compiled 49 strikeouts and 35 walks in 48.2 innings pitched. The hard-throwing righthander will join his fifth major league team in six years, having previously pitched with San Fransisco and both Chicago teams before joining the Red Sox via an off-season trade in January, 2008. He will likely fill a middle-relief role with the Mariners.

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at 3:39 PM

Sox avoid arbitration with Papelbon and Lopez

According to Boston.com, the Red Sox have signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a one-year contract worth $6.25-million, avoiding arbitration with the All Star righthander. The deal will set a salary record for a reliever in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The 28-year-old Papelbon has saved more than 35 games in each of the last three seasons. In 2008, he piled up 41 saves in 46 opportunities, making 67 total appearances and posting a 2.34 ERA to go along with 77 strikeouts and only 8 walks allowed in 69.1 innings. He also held opposing hitters to an impressive .223/.245/.315 line. In his major league career, Papelbon owns a 13-10 record with 113 saves in 128 opportunities, with a 1.84 ERA and 270 strikeouts in 230 innings.

The Red Sox also avoided arbitration with lefthanded relief pitcher Javier Lopez, signing him to a one-year contract worth $1.35-million. Lopez, the primary weapon out of the Boston pen against left-handed hitters last season, posted an impressive 2.43 ERA in 2008, holding opposing hitters to a .245/.333/.366 line in 59.1 innings across 70 appearances. The 31-year-old native of Puerto Rico owns a career record of 11-5, notching 62 holds and 4 saves in 329 appearances with Colorado, Arizona, and Boston, all while posting a 4.38 ERA. Both pitchers figure to be fixtures in the Boston bullpen in 2009.
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January 19, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Pauley traded to Baltimore for Bierd

Earlier today the Red Sox traded righty David Pauley to the Baltimore Orioles for right-handed reliever Randor Bierd. Bierd, who will turn 25 in March, appeared in 29 games as a rookie last season for Baltimore, posting an 0-2 record with a 4.91 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and 19 walks in 36.2 innings. In his five-year minor league career, Bierd owns a 12-19 record in 106 appearances (including 29 starts), to go along with a 4.35 ERA, 282 strikeouts, and 86 walks in 273.1 innings. Bierd was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent in 2003, before he was selected by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft last off-season. He will likely begin the 2009 season in the bullpen for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Pauley will likely compete for a spot in Baltimore's starting rotation, which has a vacancy after the Orioles traded left-hander Garrett Olson to the Cubs on Sunday for outfielder Felix Pie. Pauley put together an impressive 2008 campaign for Pawtucket, going 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA. He was designated for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster for John Smoltz.
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January 16, 2009 at 9:04 PM

Christopher De La Rosa receives 50-game suspension

MLB.com is reporting that Sox minor league outfielder Christopher De La Rosa has received a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He tested positive for metabolites of stanozolol, a banned substance. The 19-year-old De La Rosa appeared in 42 games last season for the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, batting .219/.378/.343 with 1 home run and 16 RBI in 137 at bats. New York Mets Triple-A pitcher Junior Guerra was also suspended 50 games by the league Friday for taking the banned substance nandrolone.
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at 12:23 AM

Mickey Hall sent to Cleveland to complete Byrd trade

Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald is reporting that outfielder Mickey Hall will be headed to Cleveland to complete the August, 2008 trade for pitcher Paul Byrd. Hall, 23, played all of last season for Double-A Portland, where he hit .232/.333/.456 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in 263 at bats. Originally selected by the Red Sox in the second round (54th overall) of the 2003 Draft, Hall is a veteran of six minor league seasons in the Sox organization. He owns a career .239/.341/.408 line with 47 home runs and 222 RBI in 538 minor league games.
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January 15, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Youkilis contract details

According to Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, Kevin Youkilis' new deal with the Red Sox includes a $1-million signing bonus, and will pay the first-baseman $6-million in 2009, $9-million in 2010, and $12-million 2011 and 2012. Boston also holds a $14-million option for the 2013 season, with a $1.25-million buyout.
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at 4:41 PM

Kevin Youkilis agrees to four-year extension

Just before the deadline for players to file for arbitration, the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension with All-Star first baseman Kevin Youkilis, this according to ESPN's Peter Gammons. The deal will pay Youkilis more than $40 million, includes an option for a fifth year, and will buy out Youkilis' two remaining arbitration years, as well as his first two years of free agency. The 2008 Hank Aaron Award winner as the American League's best hitter, Youkilis put up impressive .312/.390/.569 numbers last season, including 43 doubles, 29 home runs, and 115 RBI in 538 at bats. He then added a .292/.346/.500 line with 2 home runs in the playoffs against the Angels and Rays.

The former University of Cincinnati standout was originally selected by the Red Sox in the eighth round (243rd overall) of the 2001 Draft, making his major league debut with Boston in 2004. Offensively, he owns career .289/.385/.472 numbers with 66 home runs and 314 RBI in 553 career games. While he played mostly third base in the minors, Youkilis was moved to first base by the Red Sox to start the 2006 season. He has since proven to be a defensive wizard at the position, taking home the American League Gold Glove at first base in 2007, and making countless spectacular plays in the field. Youkilis also holds baseball's all-time record for most consecutive errorless games at first base.

The Red Sox have now agreed to contract extensions with both of last year's All Star infielders, having signed Dustin Pedroia to a six-year, $40.5 million deal in December.
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January 14, 2009 at 8:47 PM

Sox sign Fernando Cabrera to minor league deal

The Red Sox have signed relief pitcher Fernando Cabrera to a minor league contract. The hard-throwing righthander pitched last season with Baltimore, compiling a 5.40 ERA and 31 strikeouts, along with 17 walks and 9 home runs allowed, in 28.1 innings pitched. This off-season, he played winter ball with Ponce of the Puerto Rican Winter League, collecting 12 saves while posting a 0.40 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only 6 walks in 22.1 innings pitched. Cabrera is a veteran of five major league seasons with the Indians and Orioles, and owns a career 5.02 ERA with 185 strikeouts, 92 walks, and 31 home runs allowed in 168.2 innings pitched. Cabrera will receive an invitation to major leage spring training, and with a strong spring he could compete for a bullpen role with Boston. It is more likely, however, that he will provide organizational depth by pitching for AAA Pawtucket.
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at 3:53 PM

Angel Chavez signed to minor league deal

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have signed 27-year-old third baseman Angel Chavez to a minor league contract. Chavez spent all of last season with Triple-A Las Vegas (Dodgers), where he put together .292/.335/.423 numbers with 10 home runs and 68 RBI in 463 at bats. A veteran of nine minor league seasons, the Panamanian infielder owns a career .269/.310/.399 line with 74 home runs in 936 minor league games, split between the Giants, Orioles, Phillies, Yankees, and Dodgers organizations. He also saw limited time with the Giants big league team in 2005. Chavez can play all four infield positions - while he played mostly shortstop and second base early in his career, he's played more third base than any other position since 2006. While Chavez will receive an invitation to major league spring training, look for him to start at the hot corner for the PawSox in 2009.

In other news, the Sox have released righthanded pitchers Kyle Foster, Jimmy James, and Scott Lonergan, lefthanded pitchers Dan Buller and MikeTomoleoni, and catcher Matt Cooney.

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January 13, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Pauley designated for assignment

To make room for the recently-signed John Smoltz on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox have designated righthander David Pauley for assignment. Boston now has ten days to trade, release, or outright Pauley to Triple-A (if he clears waivers and is willing to agree to a minor league deal). Pauley, 25, appeared in six games for Boston in 2008, going 0-1 with a 11.68 ERA, 11 strikeouts, and 5 walks in 12.1 innings. Despite failing to impress with the big league club last season, Pauley continued his dominance of Triple-A opponents in 2008, going 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA, 103 strikeouts, and 41 walks over 147 innings in 25 starts for Pawtucket.

from San Diego in December 2004 with Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, and cash considerations for Dave Roberts, Pauley is now out of options, meaning that the Sox could not have optioned him to the minors unless he first cleared waivers. However, if Pauley clears waivers and is willing to accept a minor league deal with the Red Sox, it is speculated that the team would be more-than-willing to have Pauley fill a spot in the starting rotation for the PawSox in 2009, providing further insurance for the big league pitching staff in the coming season.
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January 10, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Sox add Saito

Boston.com's Gary Dzen is reporting that the Red Sox have reached a preliminary agreement with former Dodgers closer Takashi Saito on a one-year contract with a team option for 2010. The deal is believed to be worth between $1.5 and $2.5 million guaranteed, with incentives that could push the total value up to $7-million. Saito, 39, had served as the primary closer for Los Angeles the past three seasons, saving 39 games in 2007. Last season, Saito missed nearly two months with a partially torn tendon in his elbow, but was able to avoid surgery and pitch in six September games.

Despite his injuries, Saito pitched to a 4-4 record with 18 saves, a 2.49 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 47 innings in 2008. In his three-year major league career, all with the Dodgers, the Japanese righthander has made 180 appearances, recording 81 saves in 91 opportunities. He has pitched to a lifetime 1.95 ERA, with 245 strikeouts in 189.2 innings pitched. Saito is expected to fill a middle-relief role with the Red Sox.
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January 9, 2009 at 5:40 PM

Virgil Vasquez and Dewon Day claimed off waivers

According to Adam Kilgore of Boston.com, right-handed pitchers Virgil Vasquez and Dewon Day have been claimed off waivers. The 26-year-old Vasquez (pictured) was claimed by the San Diego Padres, while Day, 28, was claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays. Both players had been on the Red Sox' 40-man roster, and both were claimed off waivers by the Red Sox in October, 2008. Vasquez came from the Detroit Tigers and Day came from the Chicago White Sox, and neither man appeared in a game while with the Red Sox organization. The moves were made to make room on the 40-man roster for pitchers Brad Penny, whose signing was officially announced today, and John Smoltz, whose signing is expected to be announced soon. The Red Sox' 40-man roster is now at thirty-nine players (not including Smoltz), so another move will need to be made when the signing of Mark Kotsay becomes official.
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at 8:56 AM

Sox set to retain Kotsay

As first reported by the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are close to bringing back Mark Kotsay to further bolster the Boston bench. The one-year, $1.5-million deal is still pending a physical and includes incentives that could raise its overall value. Kotsay, 33, was originally acquired by the Red Sox in an August 2008 trade that sent former Sox prospect Luis Sumoza to the Braves. Kotsay put up .226/.286/.345 numbers in 86 at bats after joining the Sox, and hit a combined .276/.329/.403 with 25 doubles and 6 home runs in 402 at bats between Boston and Atlanta. He then took over for the injured Mike Lowell in the 2008 post season, starting at first base while Kevin Youkilis played at third. The twelve-year veteran is expected to slot in as Boston's backup at first base, left field, and right field, as well as providing a left-handed bat off the bench.

Kotsay first broke into the majors with Florida in 1997 after being selected by the Marlins ninth overall in the 1996 draft. He has since played with Florida, San Diego, Oakland, Atlanta, and Boston, owning .281/.337/.414 lifetime numbers with 109 home runs and 609 RBI in 5,419 career at bats. The Red Sox had not offered Kotsay arbitration this off season. Many had believed that the outfielder had been looking for a starting job before he agreed to rejoin the Sox, but apparantly the market for corner outfielders failed to develop favorably for him.
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January 8, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Zink designated for assignment

To make room on the 40-man roster for recently signed outfielder Rocco Baldelli, the Red Sox have designated righthander Charlie Zink for assignment. According to Adam Kilgore of Boston.com, Zink has been outrighted to AAA Pawtucket. Last season, Zink led the Pawtucket Red Sox in wins (14), ERA (2.84), and innings pitched (174.1), and was second on the team in strikeouts with 106. The 29-year-old knuckleballer was named the 2008 International League Most Valuable Pitcher, and was also MLB.com's Triple-A Starting Pitcher of the Year. He also finished first in the International League in 2008 with a 1.11 WHIP. Zink is a veteran of seven minor league seasons since being signed by the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent in 2002, owning a career 47-41 record with a 4.05 ERA and 548 strikeouts in 885 innings pitched. He made his major league debut last season with Boston on August 12 against the Texas Rangers.
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at 2:30 AM

Sox announce new scouts

On Thursday the Red Sox announced a number of additions to their scouting department: Dean Decillis and Steve Peck will be joining the organization as professional scouts, Tim Hyres as the area scout for Georgia, and Fernando Tamayo as an international scouting assistant. Decillis, a thirteen-year scouting veteran, joins the team from San Francisco, having most recently served as their Southeast Crosschecker. Peck, a similarly tenured scout and coach, comes to Boston from Seattle, having served the last four years with the Mariners as an advance scout. Hyres, who runs a sports training facility in Atlanta, most recently worked in the pro ranks in 2002 as the hitting coach for Midwest League regular season champion West Michigan. Tamayo, a former Boston College catcher, previously joined the organization in 2008 as an intern. Additionally, the team announced the appointment of Tom Tippett as Director of Baseball Information Services. Tippett had served as a consultant to to the Department of Baseball Operation since 2003, prior to which he worked in baseball simulation software development.
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January 7, 2009 at 11:05 PM

Sox reportedly agree to terms with John Smoltz

The Red Sox have reportedly signed free-agent righthander John Smoltz to a one-year contract, this according to Mark Bowman of RedSox.com. The deal, which could be announced as soon as Thursday afternoon, is believed to be worth $5.5-million, with performance and roster-based incentives that could bring the total value to $10-million. Smoltz, 41, pitched in only 28 innings last season due to shoulder trouble, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.57 ERA and 36 strikeouts. Smoltz had surgery on his right shoulder in June, and isn't expected to be ready to pitch until the end of May. It is unclear what role Smoltz will ultimately occupy with the Red Sox, although the twenty-year veteran has said he'd like to return as a starting pitcher.

The eight-time All Star and 1996 Cy Young Award winner owns a career record of 210-147, with a 3.26 ERA and 3,011 strikeouts in 3,395 innings pitched, all with the Atlanta Braves. Smoltz has also recorded 154 career saves, including a run of 40+ saves in three straight seasons from 2002 through 2004. Smoltz is one of only two pitchers in major league history, along with former Red Sox great Dennis Eckersley, to win 20 games in one season (24 wins in 1996) and save 50 in another (55 saves in 2002).
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at 10:26 PM

Baldelli signing bolsters Sox bench

According to Tom Singer of RedSox.com, the Red Sox have reached a preliminary agreement with outfielder Rocco Baldelli on a one-year contract. Baldelli will receive $500,000 guaranteed, and can earn an additional $1.75 million if on the active roster for the entire 2009 season. The contract also includes incentives based on plate appearances that could push the full value of the deal up to $7.5 million. In 28 games last season, Baldelli accumulated .263/.344/.475 totals with 4 home runs, contributing another 2 home runs in the playoffs for Tampa Bay. Baldelli, 27, has played in only 155 games over the last three seasons due to an apparent mitochondrial disorder that left him fatigued after limited physical activity. However, in December Baldelli's condition was updated to a less-severe and more treatable disorder called channelopathy, and recent treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital have yielded positive results. The Red Sox fully expect Baldelli to be a major contributor in 2009 as a fourth outfielder and right-handed hitter off the bench.

Baldelli finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2003, when he put together a .289/.326/.416 line with 32 doubles, 8 triples, 11 home runs, and 27 stolen bases in 637 at bats. A veteran of six major league seasons, all with Tampa Bay, he owns career .281/.325/.445 numbers with 52 home runs and 234 RBI in 447 games played. Baldelli was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and was originally selected sixth overall by Tampa Bay in the 2000 draft. He will be presented with the Tony Conigliaro Award, given each year by the Boston Baseball Writers’ Association of America to a major league player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage, at the Association's dinner Thursday night.
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January 6, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Fall & winter league roundup

For most major league players, the final pitch of the World Series marks the end of the baseball season. However, for hundreds of prospects, post-prospects, and veterans, a new season begins when the regular season ends. Each off-season, dozens of Red Sox minor leaguers play in a variety of Fall and Winter leagues that take place in Arizona, Hawaii, and throughout Latin America. Some of these players are assigned by the organization in order to get more at bats or innings, or to rehab from injury, or to learn a new pitch or pick up a new position. Others join leagues voluntarily, whether it be to shore up their talents, play in front of their home crowds, or showcase their skills (in the case of free agents to be). With the conclusion of the Puerto Rican Winter League regular season on Monday, the Red Sox minor leaguers have finished their respective regular seasons, so it’s time to take a look back at their performances.

Puerto Rican Winter League: The Red Sox were represented by four prospects in this six-team league, which ran from November 6 through January 5. Righthander Jose Vaquedano (4-0, 1.96 ERA in 18.1 IP) tied for the league lead in appearances, pitching in 24 games for the Leones de Ponce (Ponce Lions). The Lions went 27-15, taking home the regular season title by four games over the Arecibo Lobos. Vaquedano was joined by first baseman Aaron Bates (.271/.358/.356, 0 HR in 59 AB), who transferred to the PRWL after playing in the Arizona Fall League, and shortstop Iggy Suarez (.247/.330/.278, 0 HR in 97 AB). Third baseman Jorge Jiménez (pictured) did his work for the Indios de Mayguez (Mayaguez Indians), putting up an impressive .319/.388/.462 line with 2 home runs in 91 at bats. He would have finished eighth in the league batting race, but was about a dozen plate appearances short of qualifying. Former Sox farmhands Joe Thurston and Craig Molldrem also competed in the league. Thurston signed with St. Louis earlier in the off-season and Molldrem is presently a minor league free agent.

Venezuelan Winter League: The eight-team Venezuelan Winter League ran from October 14 through December 30, and featured fourteen players from the Red Sox organization. Of those players, only righthander Yeiper Castillo (1-0, 4.50 ERA, 17 K in 14 IP), recently-signed Enrique Gonzalez (5-2, 4.55, 41 K in 59.1 IP), and shortstop Argenis Diaz (.184/.205/.184 in 38 AB) saw any significant playing time. Outfielder Zach Daeges (pictured) accumulated a 207./258/.207 line in 29 at bats while playing for the Leones de Caracas (Caracas Lions) during the first two weeks of the season, but he did not play again after that. Other Sox in the league included lefthander Hunter Jones (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K in 4.2 IP), Marcus McBeth (0-1, 23.62 ERA, 0 K in 2.2 IP), Jose Alvarez (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 K in 9.0 IP), Armando Zerpa (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K in 3.0 IP), Leandro Marin (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 K in 2.0 IP), Javier García (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 2 K in 5.0 IP), Nestor Lastreto (0.1 IP), Carlos Fernandez (.222/.200/.222, 0 HR in 9 AB), Juan Apodaca (two walks in four plate appearances), and Heiker Menses (a double in two at bats).

Dominican Winter League: Six teams featuring a combined six Red Sox players competed in the DWL from October 15 through December 21. Last season's Pawtucket catching tandem of Dusty Brown (220/.369/.283, 1 HR in 127 AB) and George Kottaras (pictured, .308/.419/.462 in 26 AB) were joined by Sandy Madera (.269/.259/.308, 0 HR in 26 AB) and lefty Jose Capellan (2-1, 5.00 ERA, 11 K in 18 IP) in playing for the Azucareros del Este (Este Bulls). Brown was the team's starting catcher for most of the season before Kottaras took over the reins for the season's final three weeks. Hunter Jones also saw brief action (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K in 4.0 IP) for the Leones del Escogido (Escogido Lions) before moving on to play in Venezuela. Former Sox minor leaguer and current minor league free agent Miguel Asencio tossed 4 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1 for the Estrellas de Oriente (Oriente Stars).

In other Caribbean action, recent Red Sox Rule 5 Draft selection
Miguel Gonzalez impressed for Mazatlan of the Mexican Pacific League, going 4-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 41.1 innings. However, Gonzalez only pitched in one game after being selected by the Sox, despite that first-place Mazatlan’s playoff run will continue through at least January 9. Also, righthander Randy Consuegra (0-1, 5.68 ERA, 2 K in 6.1 IP) saw limited playing time for Caimanes of the Colombian Winter League, and the recently-released Jorge Rodriguez (1-3, 6.15 ERA, 25 K and 18 BB) racked up 26.1 innings on the mound for Monteria.

Earlier this off season, a number of Red Sox farmhands played for teams in the Arizona Fall League and Hawaii Winter Baseball League.

Arizona Fall League: The Red Sox sent eight players to compete in this six-team league that ran from October 7 to November 22. The AFL is generally reserved for highly-regarded AAA and AA prospects. Headlining this year's Sox contingent was Clay Buchholz (pictured), who went 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. Buchholz was limited to five starts per the direction of the Sox front office. Ultimately, he was fairly dominant in his first two starts (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 K and 2 BB in 8 IP), and somewhat pedestrian in his final three (0-2, 6.23 ERA, 10 K and 7 BB in 13.0 IP). Buchholz was replaced on the roster by righty Eammon Portice, fresh off being named Pitcher of the Camp at the Sox’ Fall Instructional League. Portice pitched to an 0-1 record with a 6.14 ERA and 8 strikeouts in 7.1 innings. Catcher Mark Wagner also had a strong performance, putting together a .288/.373/.542 line with 4 home runs in 59 at bats. Other Sox participants included Bates (.200/.310/.360, 1 HR in 25 AB), outfielder Josh Reddick (.189/.210/.389, 5 HR in 98 AB), and righthanders TJ Large (0-2, 6.00 ERA, 15 K in 18 IP), Ryne Lawson (0-3, 6.43 ERA, 6 K in 14 IP), and Beau Vaughan (1-2, 3.52 ERA, 18 K and 1 BB in 15.1 IP). Vaughan has since been sent to Texas in a trade for reliever Wes Littleton.

Hawaii Winter Baseball: Five players from the Red Sox organization took part in Hawaii Winter Baseball, a four-team league that ran from September 27 to November 16. Big lefthander Dustin Richardson, making the transition from the rotation to the bullpen for 2009, had a very strong showing, going 0-2 with a 2.41 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched. Outfielder Ryan Kalish also put up solid numbers, generating a .282/.446/.366 line with 1 home run in 71 at bats and a league-leading 13 stolen bases. Kalish was limited to designated hitter duty for most of the season after experiencing some discomfort in his elbow that affected his ability to throw from the outfield, but he was able to play in the field in a few games toward the end of the season. Highly-regarded shortstop Yamaico Navarro struggled a bit, putting up a .207/.283/.253 line in 87 at bats. Capellan (0-1, 4.74, 22 K in 24.2 IP) also pitched for North Shore before moving on to the DWL. Hawaii native Jon Hee appeared in 4 games while serving as an alternate, racking up a single in 9 at bats. The HWB won’t be back next season, as Major League Baseball has opted to consolidate its winter off-season developmental leagues to Arizona. A second tier of the AFL will reportedly be created next year for A-Ball level talent.

The Sox also sent
thirty-eight players to the Fall Instructional League in Fort Myers in September and October. Among the notable developments at the camp, 2008 draftee Carson Blair saw some time at catcher, Chih-Hsien Chiang played some outfield, and Jered Stanley played some first base. Boston also sent young prospects Bryan Peterson, Pete Hissey, Casey Kelly, Derrik Gibson, David Mailman, and Ryan Westmoreland to the Dominican Instructional League for two weeks in October, to give these players some time to gel as teammates. In addition, thirteen players are participating in the two-week long Red Sox Rookie Development Program in Boston.

While the “off-season” for the minor leagues technically runs from mid-September until Spring Training, a lot of these players will have found little “off” time, as the Red Sox’ voluntary winter workout program begins in Ft. Myers this upcoming Monday, January 12, and many players will be reporting to Florida by February 1.
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January 5, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Nick Green agrees to minor league deal

According to Boston.com's Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with IF Nick Green on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. Green will reportedly be given a chance to win a utility infielder spot with Boston. The 30-year-old right-handed hitter last appeared in the majors in 2007 for the Seattle Mariners, when he played in 6 games, but did not record a hit in 7 trips to the plate. He spent all of last season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA), where he compiled a .233/.285/.373 line in 112 games. He played mostly 2B and SS, but also saw time at 3B, RF, and LF.

Originally taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 32nd round of the 1998 draft, Green has played parts of 5 seasons with the Braves, Rays, Yankees, and Mariners, and owns career .240/.309/.347 numbers with 10 home runs and 59 RBI in 275 games. Among Green's career highlights is as a walk-off home run he hit as a member of the Braves off of Red Sox RHP Anastacio Martinez on July 2, 2004. Green also has an identical twin brother, Kevin, who had a brief minor league career with the Braves.
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January 3, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Rookie Development Program 2009

The fifth annual Red Sox Rookie Development Program is set to take place at Boston College from January 4 - 16. The development program is a 13-day camp that allows Red Sox major and minor league coaches to instruct MLB-ready prospects on life in the big leagues. Team management chooses players for the program that are likely to contribute at the major league level within the next twelve to eighteen months, regardless of the level they played at in 2008. The players are tutored on the physical and mental aspects of playing in the majors, with a particular focus on the challenges of playing in Boston. Many young Red Sox who have participated in the past have spoken highly of the program, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson.

Included in the program are sessions on dealing with the media, money management, alcohol, drugs, umpire relations, and other obstacles that players may face upon reaching the major leagues.
Typically, mornings are spent working out, with afternoons spent in classrooms. The program also gives the players a chance to get to know one another, as they may have played at different levels during past seasons.

According to WEEI's Alex Speier, the thirteen players who will participate in this year's Rookie Development Program are 1B Lars Anderson (pictured), RHP Daniel Bard, OF Zach Daeges, RHP Dewon Day, SS Argenis Díaz, LHP Felix Doubront, LHP Kris Johnson, RHP Richie Lentz, RHP Wes Littleton, RHP Adam Mills, OF Josh Reddick, LHP Dustin Richardson (who also participated in last year's program), and C Mark Wagner. With the exceptions of Day (AAA), Doubront (Hi-A), and Littleton (MLB), all of this year's participants finished up the 2008 regular season in AA Portland. For more information on participants in previous programs, check out the Sox Prospects Wiki.
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