Red Sox, Napoli still not official; Swisher meets with Indians

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Red Sox, Napoli still not official; Swisher meets with Indians

It was two weeks ago, during the winter meetings in Nashville, when word got out that the Red Sox had reached an agreement on a three-year, 39 million deal with free agent Mike Napoli. The Sox have yet to make that official.

The Sox and Napolis agent have remained mum on the subject. Last week, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he did not want to comment on the situation.

I dont want to comment specifically, Cherington said last Thursday. Every time we sign a free agent to a guaranteed deal there are a number of things you have to come to agreement on and resolve. Some is contract language, terms, and money, and then theres a physical with all these agreements. Until all those things are done and agreed upon cant comment on it.

Will Carroll of SI.com reported on Thursday (via Twitter) that the Sox were trying to get Napoli to take fewer years but with the same annual average value (AAV) to protect themselves from what was thought to be a hipquad issue, with Nick Swisher being a Plan B. However, Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland reported Monday afternoon (also via Twitter) that Swisher would visit Cleveland Monday night to have dinner with Indians president Mark Shapiro.

Protracted negotiations with a free agent are not completely foreign to the Sox. At the winter meetings in early December 2006, word broke that the Sox had reached an agreement with J.D. Drew. That deal was not official until Jan. 26, 2007. The Sox inserted a clause into the five-year, 70 million contract that allowed the team to void the deal after three or four years if Drew had a recurrence of a preexisting issue with his right shoulder. The clause did not become necessary. While Drew appeared in just 109 games in 2008, his second season with the Sox, it was mostly attributable to a lower back strain, and not his right shoulder.

The Sox also used a similar approach when they signed right-hander John Lackey to a five-year, 82.5 million deal in December 2009. The Sox hold an option for 2015 at the major league minimum that became effective when Lackey required Tommy John surgery after the 2011 season.

That approach has not always been successful for the Sox, though. The team attempted to have a protective clause inserted into their deal with left fielder Jason Bay, whom the Sox acquired at the trade deadline in 2008 and who had become a free agent after the 2009 season. Bay balked at the clause and signed with the Mets instead.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.