Gonzalez: 'This game is all on me'

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Gonzalez: 'This game is all on me'

BOSTON -- Adrian Gonzalez didn't come through when he had the chance Wednesday night and he didn't try to hide from that fact.
"This game is all on me,'' said Gonzalez after the Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Oakland A's, 4-2. "I had two great opportunities and I didn't come through. It's one of those things that I'll make a definite point to not let happen again.''
In the seventh inning with the Red Sox trailing 4-1, Gonzalez came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out, but fanned against Ryan Cook.
Then, in the ninth, after Dustin Pedroia had doubled home a run to bring the Red Sox to within two and make Gonzalez the potential tying run at the plate, he grounded out for the final out.
That brought Gonzalez's hitless streak to 17 straight at-bats.
Manager Bobby Valentine theorized after the game that perhaps his first baseman was tired -- physically and mentally -- but Gonzalez said that wasn't the case.
"Not at all,'' said Gonzalez. "I feel great. I had two at-bats where I should have come through at least one of those times and I wasn't able to. I feel great physically and I'm not tired at all. I just didn't come through. It won't happen again.''
Instead, Gonzalez said his recent slump is the result of being off "just a click in the timing department. I'm just a little late on fastballs and a little early on off-speed pitches. It happens.''
As disappointed as he was with his 0-for-4 (with a walk) night, Gonzalez isn't one to panic.
"It's just four games,'' he said. "At the end of the day, I'm always going to have the right approach, I'm always going to be prepared and I'm always looking to get a good pitch to drive.''
Thought he stranded four baserunners over his last two at-bats -- including three in scoring position -- Gonzalez had actually been very productive in big spots for the Sox. Before Wednesday night, he was hitting .458 with RISP and had an OPS of 1.217 in such situations.
"His recognition of the strike zone is just a little off,'' said Valentine. "He'll be fine.''

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.''