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Rather than proceed through the 2015 season with a degree uncertainty surrounding its leadership, the Boston Red Sox have guaranteed stability by agreeing to contract extensions with manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington . The extensions were both learned on Saturday, though it’s reported Cherington’s new deal was finalized last season. As for Farrell, his extension comes on the heels of a disappointing 71-91 season that saw Boston finish last in the AL East, 25 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. Of course, in Farrell’s first season in Boston in 2013, the Red Sox were crowned World Series champions, so a reprieve was in order.  [ Baseball is back! Check out Yahoo For Spring Training for great spring training pics. ] As you might recall, Farrell was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, where he accumulated a 154-170 over two seasons as manager, in a trade for infielder Mike Aviles. He replaced Bobby Valentine, who was an unmitigated disaster during his one season with Boston. The Red Sox finished 69-93 in 2012, a full 26 games behind the New York Yankees. Under Farrell, they jumped to 97 wins and then dispatched the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals during the postseason. Farrell was to have one guaranteed year remaining on his contract entering 2015, with a club option for 2016. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe , Farrell is now locked up through the 2017 season, with an option for 2018. Financial details were not revealed on Saturday, but the press conference did take an interesting turn when Cherington’s pre-existing extension was casually revealed.  

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 21st, 2015
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Tim McClelland, MLB’s second-longest tenured umpire and pehaps its most respected, has announced his immediately following 32 seasons of service . The 63-year-old veteran hasn’t actually umpired a game since September of 2013. A back injury kept him off the field for the entire 2014 season, but he remained on staff throughout. Now he’s stepping aside in advance of 2015, no doubt in part due to that ailment..   It’s probably not the exit he envisioned, but it was still terrific run for McClelland, However, If you know the name, it might not necessarily be for the aforementioned accolades. McClelland, who umpired over 4,200 games, including 94 in the postseason, happened to be directly or indirectly involved in several moments that will live forever in baseball lore, including one of its most infamous.  Of course, we’re referencing the infamous “Pine Tar Game” played at Yankee Stadium on July 24, 1983. [ Baseball is back! Check out Yahoo For Spring Training for great spring training pics. ] After George Brett of the Kansas City Royals hit a two-run homer to give them a 5-4 lead in the ninth inning, Yankees manager Billy Martin complained there was too much pine tar on Brett’s bat. McClelland, who was serving as the home plate umpire, investigated and called Brett out, which led to Brett’s memorable explosion out of the dugout to confront him. McClelland’s decision was later overturned after the Royals filed a protest, and the game was restarted from the point after Brett’s home run. Kansas City won the game 5-4. That season also happened to be McClelland’s first as a full-time umpire. Clearly, it didn’t take the spotlight long to find him, but that moment helped establish McClelland as an umpire who was willing to take charge.  Another of those moment that involved McClelland but has kind of been forgotten about in recent years is the Sammy Sosa corked bat incident from June 4, 2003. This time McClelland’s investigation proved fruitful. Sosa was immediately called out and ejected from the game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sosa later served a seven-game suspension as a result, even though it was discovered the rest of his bat supply was clean. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today! ] McClelland’s other notable moment came during the 2007 National League tiebreaker game when he ruled Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies safe at home despite serious questions about whether Holliday ever touched the plate. San Diego Padres catcher Michael Barrett had the plate blocked, but was unable to corral the ball, which McClelland says allowed Holliday to get his hand in. To this day, it remains impossible to confirm McClelland’s call based on replays. Of course, McClelland’s career wasn’t based around controversies exclusively. It’s just, when you’ve established a three-decade career in his line of work, those moments will find you. His just registered on a grander scale due to the circumstances and individuals involved. Tim McClelland wasn’t right all of time. No umpire is. His strike call may have been a little slow. OK, maybe a lot slow. But he was always professional. Our best to you, Tim McClelland. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: – - – - – - – Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 21st, 2015
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Joe Maddon is already putting his imprint on the Chicago Cubs, from what they hear to how they wear their hair. The new manager has been meeting with his team and getting to know his players at spring training – not that they needed much of an introduction. Everyone I’ve spoken with loved playing for him,” said reliever Jason Motte, who signed with the Cubs in December.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 20th, 2015
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Pitchers and catchers reported for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday and there are plenty of questions at both positions for new manager Chip Hale. Hale, bench coach for Bob Melvin in Oakland, took over for the fired Kirk Gibson, He says 12 to 14 pitchers have a chance to make the rotation. Hale says all eight catchers in camp have a chance to make the team. The Diamondbacks had the worst record in baseball last season at 64-98.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 20th, 2015
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With the first batch of pitchers and catchers officially reporting on Wednesday, we can officially declare that baseball is back. And now that we’ve declared baseball is back, it’s time for players to officially declare their optimism for the upcoming season, and in some cases flat out mark their territory. Such was the case for Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who made it clear on Wednesday that Detroit is still the team to beat in the AL Central after winning it each of the last four seasons. That’s all well and good, say the Cleveland Indians, but their sights are set a bit higher than the division title. Like the Kansas City Royals in 2014, the Indians are looking to bypass Detroit and the rest of the division when it matters most, and ultimately they’d like to go one step further than Kansas City by bringing home a World Series championship. [ Baseball is back! Check out Yahoo For Spring Training for great spring training pics. ] According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian , catcher Yan Gomes feels a similar run is well within reach.  “Absolutely, especially seeing the Royals go all the way to the World Series,” Gomes said. “That was almost bittersweet. It’s bitter because they’re there, but it’s sweet because you know you can be there. We’ve got 23 guys back from the team last year. I think we’re in a good spot.” The optimism isn’t misguided. In fact, the Indians have been on the cusp of reaching that level in each of the past two seasons. In 2013, they won 92 games in the regular season before losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild card game. Last season, they got out of the blocks slowly, finishing April at 11-17, but still finished just three games behind the Oakland A’s for the second wild card position at 85-77. The Indians haven’t been far off, and though projections may point to Cleveland taking a step back in 2014, those same projections suggest they’ll be aided by the Tigers and Royals taking steps back as well. According to PECOTA projections, Detroit will win 82 games this season, Cleveland 81 and Kansas City 72. The Chicago White Sox check in at 78 wins. The oddmakers have it a little closer , with Bovada setting Detroit’s over/under win total at 84 1/2, Cleveland’s at 83 1/2, Chicago’s at 81 1/2 and Kansas City’s at 79 1/2. These projections obviously don’t tell the whole story, because the story will unfolds before our very eyes, but they paint a pretty good picture of expectations. Now the question is, can Cleveland surpass the somewhat lowered expectations.  [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today! ] Obviously, one guy they can’t count on to his raise his game is Corey Kluber. He was already among the game’s best in 2014, coming from nowhere to win the AL Cy Young. But will there be a dropoff, and if so, can others pick up that slack? Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer are pretty much locked in behind him. Both have good upside and complete a very capable top three. But then come questions about Gavin Floyd’s health and Danny Salazar’s consistency.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 18th, 2015
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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 17th, 2015
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Matt Harvey continues his comeback with the New York Mets. Joe Maddon takes over the Chicago Cubs, and Russell Martin gets a closer look at Toronto’s pitching staff. While much of the Northeast and Midwest navigates bitter cold and piles of snow, spring training begins in earnest this week when pitchers and catchers file into camps in Florida and Arizona. World Champion San Francisco is one of four National League teams slated to begin on Thursday, and most of the majors’ pitchers and backstops will be in place by this weekend.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 17th, 2015
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Outfielders Spencer Edwards of Tampa Bay and Brian Ruiz of Cleveland have each been suspended 80 games under baseball’s minor league drug program following positive tests for performance-enhancing substances. Free agent right-hander Joseph Gardner-Prophet has been banned for 50 games following a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Edwards, on the roster of Bowling Green of the Class A Midwest League, tested positive for Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone and metabolite, Methasterone and metabolite, and a metabolite of Tamoxifen. Ruiz, on the roster of the Class A Lake County, tested positive for metabolites of Methandienone and Oxandrolone.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 13th, 2015
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From A-Rod to Mike Trout to Joe Maddon and his lovable losers, spring training is almost here – and has no shortage of fascinating subjects.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 12th, 2015
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Our division-by-division bullpen analysis continues with the AL East.

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Post info: By TBRays01 on February 12th, 2015
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