Quick Links

Martinez returns to Red Sox as assistant to GM

Martinez returns to Red Sox as assistant to GM

BOSTON (AP) Former Boston manager Terry Francona gave Pedro Martinez a big hug along with some advice to help him in his new job as a special assistant to the Red Sox general manager.

``Now he's going to have to be on time,'' Francona needled his former pitcher on Thursday when the two were reunited at the annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

A three-time Cy Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star who spent seven seasons in Boston, Martinez returned to the city where he had his best years. His role is still undefined - he has the same title as former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek - but Martinez said he would be willing to help with the pitchers, work in the minor leagues and generally be a friend to GM Ben Cherington.

``Varitek, Pedro - they are the Red Sox,'' said Francona, the current Cleveland Indians manager who received the prestigious Judge Emil Fuchs Award, named after the former Boston Braves owner, for long and meritorious service to baseball.

Other award winners included:

-Miguel Cabrera, the Ted Williams Award as baseball's best hitter.

-Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles, major league manager of the year.

-Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals, major league executive of the year.

-R.A. Dickey, the Tony Conigliaro Award for fighting through adversity.

-Dustin Pedroia, the Thomas A. Yawkey Award for Red Sox most valuable player.

-Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox pitcher of the year.

-Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox rookie of the year.

-Cody Ross, the Tommy McCarthy Good Guy Award.

-Mike Aviles, the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and desire.

Martinez spent his first day back on the Boston masthead at a lunch with Cherington, new Red Sox manager John Farrell, CEO Larry Lucchino and Boston Mayor Tom Menino and some civic leaders. Martinez said Menino had been welcoming to him when he first arrived in Boston in 1998 and once again was forthcoming with advice about where to live and what to do in the city.

``Menino was a friend to me,'' Martinez said.

Martinez was acquired from the salary-dumping Montreal Expos after the 1997 season, a few months before he would be awarded his first Cy Young. He instantly became the ace of the Red Sox staff, the biggest character in a colorful clubhouse and a key part of the team that won the 2004 World Series to end the franchise's 86-year title drought.

Martinez said his experience with the team during that era can help players who are trying to recover from last season's last-place finish.

``There was something missing, in the clubhouse, the players, around Fenway. This offseason, they realized that they lost something,'' Martinez said, noting that the addition of Farrell as manager and players such as Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli. ``We have the right group of people. These guys coming in have great, great character.''

Martinez, who's now 41, went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in Boston. His .760 winning percentage is the best in franchise history, and he ranks third with 1,683 in strikeouts and sixth with 117 wins in a Red Sox uniform. He is also the franchise's all-time leader with 80 postseason strikeouts; in the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park, he struck out the first four batters he faced.

In an 18-year major league career with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, Martinez went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. He has a career .687 winning percentage, and he led the majors in ERA five times, including 1997 when he had a 1.90 ERA with Montreal.

``I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love,'' Martinez said. ``It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again.

``My heart will always live in Boston.''

Also Thursday, the Red Sox signed left-hander Craig Breslow to a two-year contract with a club option for 2015. Breslow had been eligible for salary arbitration. Breslow went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 63 appearances for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox. Twenty of the 23 appearances the Yale graduate made in Boston were scoreless.

Quick Links

Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

Orioles starting rotation ranked near the bottom of MLB

BY TYLER BYRUM

Coming into the 2017 season, the Baltimore Orioles are looking to build off a Wild Card appearance last year that ended in disappointment. 

In the off-season the team needed to address numerous issues along their roster, especially the team’s starting pitching.  Without any major moves during the winter, the Orioles will start the season with the 24th best starting rotation in the majors according to USA Today.

Last year the team’s rotation was not that great and a majority of them are returning to the squad this season. Behind Kevin Gausman (3.61 ERA) and Chris Tillman (3.77), the remaining six regular starters averaged a 5.35 ERA. Only one of those pitchers had a sub 5.00 ERA and that was right-hander Dylan Bundy (4.02).

He started the season primarily as a reliever but towards the end of the year he was consistently in the five-man rotation. In the games he started, the right-handed pitcher finished with a 8-5 record. None of the other starters, excluding Chris Tillman, finished the season with a winning record. 

Based on essentially no pitching moves by the organization, it appears that the 24-year-old Bundy will be called on to be the third man in the rotation.

READ ALSO: Orioles projected to have a down season

The next rotation spot is lining up for Wade Miley, a starting pitcher the Orioles acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners. Starting in 11 games for Baltimore he only registered two wins.

Leaving only one rotation slot open, returner’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will be fighting for the spot. Jimenez, who gave up the homerun that ended the 2016 campaign against the Toronto Blue Jays, initially looks to be one of the pitchers to fill in.

While the free agent class was not stellar this off-season, it included two World Series champions Jason Hammel and Edinson Volquez. Other notable free agents were Ivan Nova, R.A. Dickey, and Rich Hill.

Of all the minor transactions the team made in the past three months only one pitcher, Tomo Ohka, has notable experience as a starting pitcher. He turns 41 in March.

RELATED: Manny Machado ranks high among third basemen

Quick Links

Where does Orioles star Manny Machado rank among MLB third basemen?

Where does Orioles star Manny Machado rank among MLB third basemen?

With the 2017 MLB season just around the corner, several positional rankings have made their rounds. The most tightly contested rankings are of those who man the hot corner because third base is arguably the deepest position in all of baseball. 

Manny Machado is one of the best in the game, but where did he rank with regards to other stars such as Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Nolan Arenado? 

Here's how Machado ranks according to several publications:

Tied for first with Kris Bryant according to CBS Sports.

Third accoring to MLB.com

Second according to FOX Sports

Second according to ESPN

It's mostly a three-man race for best third baseman in baseball between Bryant, Arenado and Machado. Over the last two season's Machado has accumulated  13.3 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs, while Bryant has 15 wins above replacement and Arenado has a 9.7 WAR. 

While all three players are similar in their offensive prowess, Machado and Arenado have been significantly better than Bryant when it comes to defensive runs saved over the course of the last two seasons. 

It's hard to go wrong with any of these players at the hot corner, especially with each one capable of hoisting an MVP trophy the end of the year. 

Related: Orioles picked to finish last in AL East in 2017