Box Score Bank: Glavine vs. Avery

867179.jpg

Box Score Bank: Glavine vs. Avery

As you know by now, its been 15 years since the Red Sox finished a season below .500. And from time to time this year, to commemorate the return to despair, Ive checked back in with that 97 team to see how things were going the last time things were this bad.

Today seems like a good day to revisit.

So with that, lets set the Box Score Bank for 15 years ago today . . . August 31, 1997

Men in Black narrowly edged out The Lost World: Jurassic Park for No. 1 at the box office. (Sly Stallones Cop Land dominated the No. 32 spot.) "Mo Money, Mo Problems" was in its first of two weeks atop the Billboard charts. Earlier that month, Steve Jobs returned to Apple after a 12-year absence. Earlier that morning, Princess Diana was killed in a Paris car accident.

And over at Fenway Park, two former teammates were duking it out with absolutely nothing on the line.

Final score: Braves 7, Red Sox 3

This was the first season of interleague play, as evident by the fact that the schedule was a mess: Interleague games in late-August and early-September? That's ridiculous. Not that it mattered for the Sox, who stood at 67-69, 20 games back in the AL East.

Anyway, the former teammates dueling on this night (it was Sunday Night Baseball) were local boy Tom Glavine and his former rotation-mate Steve Avery, who was in the first of his two forgettable seasons with the Sox. And I'll give you one guess as to who got the better of the match-up . . .

You got it . . .

Charlie Liebrandt.

No, it was Glavine, who shut down the Sox to the tune of six hits and only three runs over eight innings. As for Avery, he walked six and gave up five runs (including homers to Andruw Jones and Keith Lockhart yes, that Keith Lockhart) over 3.1 innings.

The only real bright spot for the Sox was Mo Vaughn, who hit two home runs (his 29th and 30th) of the season, and really, there weren't many other bright spots for the rest of the season. The Sox went 11-14 in September and finished 78-84. (Although, Nomar won Rookie of the Year, so there was that).

As for the Braves, go figure, they finished with the best record in baseball and choked against the Marlins in the NLCS.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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.''