Bergeron: I didn't see Marchand dive

735432.jpg

Bergeron: I didn't see Marchand dive

BOSTON -- Brad Marchand has always had the ability to get under his opponents skin, but now hes become the subject of fan scorn in Washington.

After the Little Ball of Hate hit the deck following a collision with Jason Chimera at the end of the second period -- a play that led to a the game-tying goal for the Capitals in Game 6 -- the Caps fans have taken to attacking No. 63 as a diver.

Replays show Chimera grazed Marchands upper body, spinning the fiery right winger like a top and dropping him to the ice.

Marchand was left far behind the play following the collision, and Chimera was able to beat Dennis Seidenberg to the net for the goal when the German defensemans skate blade broke at the worst possible moment.

But Marchand, often one of the smallest guys on the ice, has been the target of Washingtons heavy hits throughout the series, whether it was Jason Chimera spearing him between the legs or Karl Alzner grazing his face with an elbow during Bostons Game 3 victory.

Marchand's also in the business of attempting to draw penalties in a series where one power play goal could mean the difference between advancing or being on a golf course next week. Because of that, Marchand has been anointed by Capitals fans as the Bruins resident flopper.

Claude Julien has always prided himself on coaching a team that doesnt embellish or flop to curry favor from the officials the way the Canucks and Canadiens have done rather flamboyantly in the past.

Marchands teammates quickly arrived at Marchand's defense when presented with the question of whether or not somebody nicknamed named Nose Face Killah could possibly be on a diving team.

"I dont have anything to say with it to be honest with you," Patrice Bergeron said. "I didnt see him dive, but Brad Marchand plays the game hard, plays the game with a lot of pride. Last year Marchands play was a huge reason why we went all the way. Im very happy to have him on my side.

A couple things in Marchands defense on the diving plays in question: Alzner approached Marchand apologize for nearly taking him out with a head shot that even the Washington defenseman admitted he felt badly about in Game 3, and Marchand was spitting blood immediately after the collision with Chimera that led to Washingtons goal in Game 6.

So perhaps that whole Marchand diving thing isnt quite as black-and-white as some Capitals pom-poms would have one believe.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''