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Jon Lester should be just fine without David Ross and the rest of baseball can learn something from the Cubs' catching plan.

For the past three or four years, one of the things we have known about baseball—just known, without question or reservation—is that David Ross was a vital part of Jon Lester’s success. Recall that Ross (who, we all knew, was an elite pitch framer) stepped in as the Red Sox’s primary catcher when Jarrod Saltalamacchia (in addition to being a terrible defender) got exposed by good pitching during Boston’s 2013 World Series run, and then became Lester’s personal catcher beginning in the spring of 2014.

Lester had a 2.02 ERA and held opponents to a .581 OPS when working with Ross that season, before being traded away from his new partner at the trade deadline. He still pitched well for the A’s, who paired him up with Derek Norris, but his opponents' OPS rose by about 50 points, and then the 2014 Wild Card Game happened.

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Chicago took Game 1 behind the Jon Lester-David Ross battery and Javier Baez's power.

David Ross doesn’t play all that often these days, what with Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras penciled in above him on the Cubs’ catching depth chart, but when he does—almost always every fifth day, when Jon Lester is pitching—he takes to the task with enormous seriousness of purpose. In his final big-league season, it’s his only chance to contribute to what has been a charmed season. As the league became increasingly aware that Lester—for whatever reason—doesn’t like to throw over to first, and so became increasingly enamored of taking the big lead and getting the early jump when Lester was pitching, Ross decided to take what had been a weakness and turn it into a strength.

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April 10, 2014 6:00 am

Free Agent Watch: Week Two


Mike Gianella

If these players are sitting on your league's waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format in which you play.


Hitter: David Ross, C, Boston Red Sox
Suffer an early catching injury? Wondering if you just simply leave a dead slot on your team or try to make a shrewd free agent pick up? Look no further than David Ross. He doesn’t offer much, but a handful of home runs without enough at bats to destroy your batting average is good enough in an AL-only league. Ross should be good for 5-7 home runs assuming he has no lingering concussion effects this year.

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December 4, 2013 6:00 am

Fantasy Fallout


BP Fantasy Staff

A look at fantasy impact of every significant transaction consummated on Tuesday.

After one of the craziest transaction days in recent memory, the fantasy team (literally, it took nearly the entire team given the short notice) went through all 10 transactions with fantasy implications to see who gained and lost value in the last 24 hours. A longer introduction than that is not necessary—let’s get straight to what you came here to read.

Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal

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How the Red Sox sent the series back to Boston with a one-win lead.

This series has been compelling from the start, but it took until Game Five for it to look like a contest between two of the best teams in baseball. Game Five was the first without an error. It was mercifully free of egregiously bad baserunning, and it didn’t end with a debatable call. With the memory of Dana DeMuth's floating strike zone still fresh, it felt well-officiated behind home plate, aside from this third-inning strike three to Matt Carpenter.

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November 19, 2012 12:00 am

Overthinking It: All Quiet on the Free Agent Front


Ben Lindbergh

Despite many factors pointing toward increased spending, baseball's salaries haven't seemed much more inflated this winter.

Late this season, Major League Baseball completed new broadcast deals with ESPN, Fox, and Turner Sports that will roughly double the amount of money the league receives from those three networks beginning in 2014. Couple those contracts with increasingly lucrative local TV deals, the highest regular-season attendance since 2008, the success of MLB Advanced Media, the new CBA’s restrictions on how much teams can spend in the draft and on the international market, the trend toward locking up young players before they become free agents, and the Dodgers’ apparent willingness to make their fans forget Frank McCourt by becoming big-time buyers, and the stage appeared to be set for significant offseason inflation.

It’s been less than three weeks since Sergio Romo struck out the AL MVP looking to end the World Series, and only a few prominent players have signed. However, the players who ink early have the potential to help dictate what the next few months might look like, and if an influx of cash were burning holes in baseball teams’ pockets, we would expect to see the new market rate reflected in the early returns. While it’s too soon to say with any certainty what the rest of the winter will look like, we can examine the first few signings for any evidence that a new spending boom has begun. Here’s a selection of deals signed so far compared to the contracts comparable players commanded last winter:

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Boston signs a part-time catcher, while the Dodgers spend more money to get bidding rights for Hyun-jin Ryu.

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The first play-in game ever will be remembered more for the umpires than for who won.

In an unfortunate turn of events, the first-ever Wild Card Game, and official 2012 postseason opener, will be known for an umpire’s call rather than the competitive and exciting play between two good teams.

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