Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes


Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes

For dramatic impact, it pales in comparison to the last Thanksgiving surprise the Red Sox pulled, when they made a deal for Curt Schilling nine years ago.
It lacks the star power of, say, landing Torii Hunter or a bigger name on the free agent market.
But agreeing to terms with Jonny Gomes on a two-year, 10 million deal, as the Red Sox did on Wednesday, while hardly a blockbuster, can be as one of those small, first steps every bad team must make as it crawls from the wreckage of a 93-loss season.
Think of Gomes as this year's version of Cody Ross -- affordable, somewhat limited, but potentially valuable.
Like Ross, Gomes mashes lefthanded pitching. He had a career-best .974 OPS against lefties last year and sports a career OPS of 894 against them.
Like Ross, he has power, with 18 homers in just 279 at-bats.
And like Ross, Gomes is considered a positive clubhouse presence, with a strong, fun personality.
Unlike Ross, he can be a patient hitter. He had a .377 on-base percentage a year ago, and for a lineup that saw too few pitches and, for a change, showed little discipline, that quality represents an upgrade.
He also comes to the Red Sox as a relative bargain. His 5 million salary in 2013 will be 40 percent more than the Sox paid Ross last year, but it's still a modest figure.
What's more, the two-year commitment won't block any of the outfielders whom the Sox expect to be ready to contribute in 2014, including Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley Jr.
If those two are ready, Gomes can be a moderately-priced fourth outfielder, or perhaps, part of some DH platoon with David Ortiz, who will be 38 by then.
It's clear that the Sox are determined not to tie themselves to any extended deals, with an eye toward the minor league development system that they hope will provide the nucleus for what general manager Ben Cherington constantly refers to as the "next great Red Sox team.''
For now, it's difficult to presume what Gomes's exact role will be. The Red Sox understand his defensive limitations and he almost certainly will not be entrusted with playing spacious right field in Fenway.
But he can handle left field, and could be used in a platoon with either Daniel Nava or Ryan Kalish.
It's best to wait, however, before truly evaluating the signing of Gomes. If the Sox sign another signficant free agent -- or make a deal for another outfielder -- Gomes will be viewed for what he is: a solid, complementary player.
As for Ross himself, a baseball source said Wednesday night that the Sox do not rule out re-signing Ross. But an aggressive market for Ross has developed, with interest from the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves -- among others -- meaning Ross will likely get a three-year commitment from some team.
The Sox are reluctant to go that long, both because they don't want to block the likes of Brentz and Bradley, but also because, they're understandably wary of getting tied into long commitments for players in their mid-30s. They need only look back to Mike Lowell, who found his career essentially finished at 36.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32


Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics


Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.