By Steve Perrault – Follow on Twitter @Steve_Perrault
If one were to describe the scene at the 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings, it may be best summed up as controlled chaos.
This year, the Winter Meetings took place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee and me oh my is this place an absolute gem. From the second you walk in you feel like you’re not just in a resort, rather a full-blown city. Check this place out:Along my walk around this enormous structure I came across a river (which includes a boat ride tour), fake hot air balloons (spotted on the left here), a thousand different Christmas trees (that number may or may not be accurate), and this weird looking horse playing a guitar..
Safe to say this place had everything, and it made for a perfect location for the 2015 edition of the Winter Meetings.
Now to the baseball stuff.
John Farrell spoke with the media on Tuesday, and he seemed to be in great spirits following his successful chemo treatment. Farrell addressed a number of topics, including recovering from his treatment and getting back into coaching mode. Obviously the Red Sox biggest addition this offseason has been highly touted ace David Price. So I asked Farrell if he thinks Price can jump right in and be a leader for a mainly young starting rotation in Boston. John replied by stating, “There will be some transition coming into the city, but David’s a genuinely confident person. He is certainly approachable and he has all the characteristics that you would characterize as a leader. I’m confident his transition to Boston will be a seamless one.” Farrell also added that he was surprised the Red Sox were able to add Price, but that he is very excited with what Price can bring to Boston right away in 2016.
Another topic that Farrell touched up on that caught my attention was about a starting pitcher that he expects to surpass the 200 innings mark next season. That pitcher is none other than Clay Buchholz. At least we can confirm that John is a comedian in the offseason with a line like that. Yes, this is the same Clay Buchholz that has never even surpassed 190 innings in one season as he now enters his ninth full season with the Red Sox. Every time things are going good for Clay, you know a DL stint is right around the corner. Take this past season for example. Clay was pitching some of the best ball of his life and then BOOM. In a big game against the Yankees in mid-July, after a pitch that seemed just as regular as the rest of them, Clay motioned to the dugout, was pulled from the game, and was done for the season just like that. So it’s safe to say that, without holding my breath, Clay Buchholz has ZERO chance of pitching over 200 innings next year.
Joe Girardi also spoke on Tuesday and he chimed in on the Red Sox offseason moves as well. When asked why the Yankees aren’t making the same offseason splashes as Boston, Girardi simply said it’s because the Yankees big name players are all in the middle of long term deals, so New York can’t compete with the prices that big free agents are asking for. This made me take a step back and think of how quickly the times have changed. Can you remember a time when the Yankees – the big BAD Yankees – were in a tight situation financially? To the point where they can’t afford to bring in that big name free agent pitcher?? This clearly shows the downside of investing large sums of money in players that will be past their prime by the conclusion of their contracts. Girardi also added “Boston is looking good right now, but that’s why you play the games.” Good to see that Joe has all his cliche lines ready to go.
One last manager that had a lasting impression on me was none other than Terry Francona. Tito was in his typical jolly yet sarcastic mood as he answered questions from the media on Wednesday. With Terry’s past history working with now Red Sox manager John Farrell, it was interesting to hear Terry’s take on what John has been through over the past few months. Here’s what Francona had to say about seeing Farrell at the Winter Meetings and how impressed he’s been with John’s recovery:
You can tell that Francona and Farrell treat each other like brothers, and it’s honestly very refreshing to see that from former colleagues. It’s not too often that managers can go their separate ways like they did and still maintain such a close friendship, so this is definitely a good sight to see.
I wouldn’t be doing this Winter Meetings recap justice if I didn’t briefly mention the autograph seekers (or maniacs) that roam around at this event. It’s baffling to me that these guys would travel all the way to Nashville to get autographs of just managers and the occasional player, but that seems to be the least of their worries. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the overweight guy with the long ponytail and lack of any sense of how to dress. To the guy in his late 20s that tries to blend in with a crowd just to get a chance at a signature from his favorite manager. These guys are a unique bread and stick out like a sore thumb and I can’t say I understand why they do what they do. I would have taken a picture of them to give you more of a feel of how rare a bread they are, but who knows what they would have done to me and my iPhone if that were to have taken place. Alright, there. Had to get my thoughts in on the autograph seeking crazies.
There weren’t nearly as many deals as you may have imagined this week during the Winter Meetings. It got to the point where you were hearing Ben Zobrist’s name brought up so often that you had to re-evalute if you were the one idiot who didn’t realize that Ben Zobrist was actually Babe Ruth. I have never heard more hype for an average to above average player in my life. Here was the scene at the press conference introducing Zobrist:
Rows of reporters waiting for every single word from…..Ben Zobrist?? Maybe I’m overdoing it, but the fact that Zobrist was the king of the Winter Meetings shows you that it was a very slow Winter Meetings indeed. The highlight of this press conference for me was watching this lady with the red computer-ish thing scribe the entire press conference. I was blown away by how quick she could type when there weren’t even letters on the keys!! This lady deserves a standing ovation.
Well that wraps up the 2015 Baseball Winter Meetings. If you ever get a chance to visit Nashville, you have to take it. Downtown Nashville has that great old-town feeling to it and the bar scene is phenomenal. Music everywhere and the people couldn’t be any nicer.
Take care, Nashville. Next stop: Spring Training.