Red Sox agree on two-year deal with Gomes

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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.

Quick Slants the podcast Ep 54: Brady, OTAs, and contract situations

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Quick Slants the podcast Ep 54: Brady, OTAs, and contract situations

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry attended Thursday’s OTA session and offer their analysis on some of the new additions in Quick Slants the podcast.

Also on the docket, a look at some upcoming contract situations for the team, Tom Brady’s 17th season and Robert Kraft taking legal action in support of Brady.

Listen to the entire podcast via the player below, or by searching CSNNE on iTunes.

McAdam: Sure, take Buchholz out of the rotation, then what?

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McAdam: Sure, take Buchholz out of the rotation, then what?

It's easy -- obvious, even -- that Clay Buchholz should be immediately replaced in the Red Sox rotation.
     
What's more, it's apparent who should replace him. Eduardo Rodriguez, though his velocity remains mysteriously subpar, is otherwise healthy and available.
     
Even with the acknowledgement that Rodriguez's fastball isn't as lively as the Red Sox would prefer it to be, he remains a logical option.
     
And there can be little debate over the move to extract Buchholz from the rotation. In 10 starts, he's compiled a 6.35 ERA, and while pitcher’s won-loss records are notoriously misleading, this stat isn't: the Red Sox are 3-7 with Buchholz starting and 26-11 with everyone else.
     
Buchholz's confidence is shattered. You can see it in his body language on the mound. You can sense it with the glacial-like pace in which he works
with runners on base. You can observe it in his postgame remarks, where he looks and sounds like someone with no idea how to reverse his slide.
     
Case closed.
     
But the next part of the equation is a little trickier: what do the Red Sox do with him now?
     
It's highly unlikely that the Sox will just release him. For one thing, there's more than $8 million coming to him for the remainder of the season and those decisions aren't made lightly.
     
For another, it's possible -- hard as it might be to imagine now -- that Buchholz could help the 2016 Red Sox before the season is through. And if you think that's a ridiculous notion, then you've forgotten other similar stretches in his career.
     
In 2014, when Buchholz had what was, until then, the worst season of his career, he still managed to put together a seven-start stretch at the end of the season that saw him go 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
     
Or the 13-game stretch inside the otherwise hideous 2012 (season ERA: 4.56) in which Buchholz was 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA.
     
Those two stretches are at the heart of the paradox that is Buchholz - even in the course of miserable seasons, he invariably finds a stretch where he figures some things out and pitches brilliantly for a time.
     
It's one reason the Red Sox have stuck with him for the first two months -- the knowledge that, at any time, something may click, sending Buchholz on one of his patented rolls.
     
After all, Buchholz is just 31, too young to be finished. And as both the pitcher himself and manager John Farrell said Thursday night, in the wake of another poor outing, health isn't an issue.
     
And that's the rub here.
     
If Buchholz hadn't been given a public clean bill of health, the Red Sox could have discovered a heretofore undetected "general soreness'' somewhere on Buchholz's body -- a balky shoulder here, or a tender elbow there.
     
That would have bought Buchholz and the Red Sox some time to place him on the DL, take a mental break from the mound and work on making some adjustment away from prying eyes.
     
Now, that would seem not to be an option -- unless Buchholz, ahem, stubbed a toe getting on or off the Red Sox charter flight to Toronto early Friday morning.
     
Finally, Buchholz is long out of options and has sufficient service time to refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.
     
So what's left? Not much, beyond a trip to the bullpen. And that's where things get complicated.
     
In a 10-year major league career, Buchholz has made exactly two (2) appearances in relief, the most recent of which took place in 2008.
Given that Buchholz has struggled mightily early in games -- until Thursday's start, when he completely flipped the script and retired the first nine hitters he faced, Buchholz had allowed a batting average of  .366 the first time through the order -- it's difficult to imagine him being successful in relief.
     
Sure, the Red Sox could designated him as their mop-up man in  relief, brought in when the team has fallen behind early or jumped out to a huge lead in the middle innings.
     
But such scenarios can't be counted upon to provide Buchholz with enough regular opportunities, and even  if they did present themselves, there's no guarantee that Buchholz would thrive under such circumstances.
     
So, the club appears at a dead end -- unwilling to release Buchholz because of meager starting depth options and the likelihood that he might be needed in a few weeks or months, and unable to find a spot for him to get straightened out.
     
It's the ultimate conundrum, which, when you think about it, is the perfect way to view Buchholz's career.
     

 

New Patriots DE Chris Long willing to be led

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New Patriots DE Chris Long willing to be led

Chris Long’s been in the NFL since 2008. As the offspring of Hall of Famer Howie Long, he knows the ways and means of life in the league.
 
So, it’s instructive that a player who’s been around this long decided that success here hinged on allowing himself to be led. Check the ego, check the pride, behave as if you know nothing.
 
In doing so, Long’s affixed himself to the side of fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich like a 275-pound remora.
 
“Rob and I really clicked,” Long said Thursday after a Patriots OTA session open to the media. “We’ve got a lot of similarities, and he’s a great guy to learn from and shadow. He’s been here obviously a long time. Rob knows how to do things the right way around here. When you see a guy like that, if you’re halfway smart, you follow him around and do what he does. If Rob goes to lunch, I go to lunch. That type of thing. Rob’s a good buddy already.”
 
Long was also observed Thursday spending a lot of downtime with Jabaal Sheard, the two defensive ends on a knee near the Gatorade conversing for a couple of minutes.
 
With Chandler Jones now a Cardinal, the Patriots defensive end depth chart this offseason has have Sheard and Ninkovich at the top, with Long in the mix situationally, one supposes. Reps need to be split for freshness. Meanwhile, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers are coming into their second seasons and will push for time as well.
 
For his part, Long isn’t projecting anything.
 
“Well, I’m still learning, so I can’t make the determination yet,” Long said. “Ask me again during training camp. Every day in the NFL is an opportunity. A coach I’ve had before said every day is an interview, and that’s how I like to look at things. Every day, you have a chance to get better and learn and worry about your own — farm your own land and do all that good stuff. That’s the way I approach everything. It would be a disservice to the other guys if I was worried about anything other than myself, that opportunity just to get out here on the practice field and compete and get better.”
 
And let yourself be led.