How has Cherington fared so far?

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How has Cherington fared so far?

CHICAGO -- The interleague meeting between the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs this weekend has already brought with it an analysis of Theo Epstein's 10-year tenure as general manager of the Sox -- a period that began with such promise and ended in a far less satisfactory manner.
But with Epstein focused on revitalizing the last-place Cubs, perhaps this is also a good time to evaluate how his successor, Ben Cherington, has fared.
Cherington was hired last October, on the very same day that Epstein was introduced as president of the Cubs. That's fitting in a sense, given that the two will, for some time, be linked.
The 2012 Red Sox are, in large part, still Epstein's team. It was on his watch that the entire starting rotation was either signed, drafted or traded for. The same can be said of the starting infield, and much of the rest of the roster.
Cherington also took over at a time when a new austerity swept Yawkey Way, limiting his ability to makeover the roster with budget-busting signings or deals.
It's also Cherington's misfortune to have the club beset with a rash of injuries that decimated the roster. The Sox had projected their outfield to feature Carl Crawford in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and perhaps a platoon of Cody Ross and Ryan Kalish in center field.
Crawford and Kalish have yet to play a single game. Ellsbury played a week before suffering a shoulder injury during the home opener and by the time he returns from a broken boot in his foot, Ross will have missed nearly a month.
Andrew Bailey, perhaps Cherington's biggest acquisition in his first six months on the job, suffered a thumb injury in spring training and is weeks away from throwing his first regular season pitch in a Red Sox uniform.
Cherington's first draft took place earlier this month and it will be years before it can properly evaluated.
Here's a look a the moves he's made to date which can be judged -- The Good, The Bad and The Too Soon to Tell.

THE GOOD:
Cody RossRoss was signed to a 3 million deal for 2012, and at the time of his injury, was second on the team in homers and slugging percentage. Ross has proven to be an adventure defensively -- even in left field at Fenway, where the challenges aren't great.
But as an offensive player, he's got plenty of value, especially given his relatively modest salary. It's possible that Ross could be dealt in the second half of the season when Ellsbury, Crawford and Kalish return to full health.
If not, he's an affordable and productive free agent signing.

Mike AvilesNo, Cherington didn't trade for him, but he did advocate that Aviles be the team's starting shortstop at a time when manager Bobby Valentine was clearly pushing for Jose Iglesias to take over the job.
Cherington made the right call here, reasoning that Aviles was better than he was being given credit for. That's proved correct, with Aviles currently second on the team in RBI and first among major league shortstops.
Moreover, Aviles has done a nice job at short. He doesn't possess great range, but he's been relatively sure-handed and has done a nice job on double plays with second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Kelly ShoppachShoppach won't win any Mr. Congeniality awards, but he's hit .282.373.533 and though Shoppach is supposed to crush lefthanded pitching, he's actually hit better against righties this year.
Shoppach has thrown out a respectable 29 percent of opposing basestealers and his overall .905 OPS represents a bargain for a player signed to a modest one-year (1.14 million) deal.

David OrtizCherington wouldn't give Ortiz the long-term extension the slugger wanted, and while it can be argued that the 15 million is too much for a DH, there's no arguing Ortiz's production this year -- or the benefit of a one-year commitment.

THE BAD:
Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland for Mark MelanconIt can be misleading to judge trades this soon, but for now, the Sox got the short end of this deal.
Lowrie, who couldn't stay healthy in Boston, has played well as the Astros' everyday shortstop (.279.354.515) while displaying surprising power (12 homers). Weiland underwent shoulder surgery in early May after three poor outings.
Meanwhile, Melancon pitched himself back to the minors after just two weeks and only recently retutrned to the majors. In time, Melancon may develop into a reliable seventh- and eighth-inning reliever. But for now, this trade favors the Astros.

Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara for Andrew Bailey and Ryan SweeneyReddick has been a revelation for the A's, with 14 homers -- or, more than he had in parts of three seasons with the Red Sox. Perhaps more amazingly, he's done it in a big ballpark with virtually no protection in an otherwise feeble Oakland lineup.
Sweeney, too, has outstripped expectations, hitting .301 though, as expected, showing little power (zero homers in 175 plate appearances). With Ellsbury sidelined, Sweeney is the best Red Sox defender in the outfield, capable of playing bothcenter and right and even when the others return, he can be a useful role player off the bench.
It's Bailey, however, who was supposed to be the centerpiece of the deal, but there's nothing on which to evaluate him -- yet. Cherington had hoped to obtain an effective closer whom he could contractually control for a number of seasons. But to date, Bailey has merely been as injury-prone as he was in Oakland.

Nick PuntoOn the same day he dealt away Lowrie, Cherington signed the veteran utility player to a two-year deal. Punto went the entire month of May without a hit and is hitting just .209. He's hit better of late and has played a few infield positions without an issue. Still, the two-year commitment seemed a reach last winter and looks even more so after 2 12 months of the season. Daniel Bard as a starterThis was Bard's choice, but Cherington backed it fully, even when Valentine wanted Bard to go back to the bullpen during spring training. To date, to put it plainly, it's been an unmitigated disaster. Bard, demoted back to Triple A, looks lost on the mound.

TOO SOON TO TELL: Bob McClureCherington had his first manager foisted upon him by CEO Larry Lucchino, retained holdovers Tim Bogar, Gary Tuck and Dave Magadan and allowed Valentine to hire Jerry Royster as his third base coach. McClure, who had already been hired as a scoutminor league coordinator, was the choice for pitching coach, but with less than half a season, it's difficult to assess McClure's impact one way or another.

Scott PodsednikPodsednik has been a nice find off the scrapheap, obtained for virutally nothing from the Phillies' Triple A team. But 16 games does not a career renaissance make.

Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

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Five reasons why Stamkos won't be coming to Boston

The downright mania around Steven Stamkos is reaching a fever pitch with the clock counting down to July 1 and unrestricted free agency, and doubly so with former Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton stoking the Boston fires on Monday by lumping the Bruins in with Tampa Bay and Toronto as potential favorites to land the top free agent big fish out there. Unfortunately I have heard absolutely nothing about Stamkos harboring a desire to play in Boston, and there’s no reason to believe the Black and Gold have anything resembling a legit shot to land the Lightning center this weekend.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why Stamkos won’t be picking the Boston Bruins as his NHL destination of choice when the moment of truth comes, likely on Friday.

1. Going in the wrong direction

The Bruins are headed in the wrong direction at this point. Let’s say the Bruins sign Stamkos to a $10-11 million per season contract for seven years, and immediately plug him into the lineup. Things might work out financially for the 2016-17 season, and perhaps the Stammer Hammer on the PP is enough to get the Bruins back into the playoffs. They are still a deeply flawed team even with Stamkos, and the giant $11 million cap hit is going to make it impossible to keep everybody with Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all looking at new contracts over the next calendar year. That doesn’t even mention trading, or signing in free agency, a potentially expensive defenseman, and replacing Loui Eriksson on the right wing if he walks on July 1 as well. The Bruins could theoretically sign Stamkos at the end of this week because they have $20-plus million in cap space, but they would immediately be in cap trouble once again with a roster that’s still nowhere near a Cup contender. Signing a shiny, skilled sniper off the free agent market isn’t a good strategy to build the Bruins back up into Cup contender, and it could actually set them back even further than they already sit at this point.

2. Krejci would have to be dealt

The Bruins would need to move heaven and Earth to make Stamkos happy. Okay, so maybe not heaven and Earth, but they would have to find a taker for playmaking center David Krejci. The Tampa Bay Lightning scorer is leaving the Bolts, and looking for a team where he can play center after battling with Tampa coach Jon Cooper over his playing position for the last couple of seasons. Going from Krejci to Stamkos would clearly be an upgrade on paper, and on the ice where Stamkos is one of the most electrifying players in the entire league. But there’s no guarantee Krejci would be willing to waive his no-movement clause to accommodate the Bruins bringing in his replacement, and that could blow up in Boston’s face if they make the signing before clearing out Krejci. Imagine if the Bruins are stuck with an unhappy Krejci who knows the Bruins want to move him, and an unhappy Stamkos that’s playing out of position because the Bruins once again didn’t get all their ducks in a row. That would be just another disastrous scenario for the Black and Gold where not enough attention was paid to the details. Speaking of those details, Brett Connolly and Stamkos are fairly good friends after their time in Tampa Bay. So non-tendering Connolly certainly wouldn’t have won any points with a player in Stamkos they’re allegedly attempting to woo.

3. Ontario is home

People need to realize that part of what’s going on here is Stamkos harboring a dream to go home to Ontario, and be the player that’s going to lift his Maple Leafs back to a proud, winning organization. There are pictures all over the Internet of Stamkos wearing Maple Leafs gear as a kid, and he’s said to those close to him that he wants to play in a real hockey market where the NHL is king. That was never the case in Tampa Bay where he still flourished, became a leader and developed into one of the most well-liked superstars in the entire league. But Stamkos now has a chance to go to the biggest hockey market that the NHL has to offer, and that’s Toronto where were Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre is a certified sports event. It doesn’t matter which team is in town, the Leafs get top billing on Hockey Night in Canada, and those Leafs players are splashed all across TV sets throughout Canada. Boston is a great hockey market, and an Original Six city that boasts its own considerable amount of hockey history. But it doesn’t compare to Toronto for an Ontario kid that grew up worshiping the Leafs, and now potentially has a chance to go home and lead that franchise to glory. There’s no just contest there when you think about it.

4. Julien is not Obi Wan Kenobi

There are many that think Claude Julien holds some kind of special bond with Stamkos, and that is going to be the key to getting him with the Boston Bruins. I’m sure that Stamkos appreciates that a classy guy like Julien visited him in the hospital after he gruesomely broke his leg in Boston, and they have forged a good player/coach relationship during their time at Team Canada events. But people are portraying this as Julien being some kind of Obi Wan Kenobi figure that’s going to wave his hand, and use some kind of Jedi mind trick on Stamkos to get him to sign on the dotted line with the Black and Gold. This is probably one of the most ridiculous theories in this entire Stamkos-to-the-Bruins propaganda that’s floating around. The truth of the matter is that Stamkos’ offensive numbers would take a dive in Claude Julien’s system, and that he wouldn’t be the top center in most situations while giving way to Patrice Bergeron at important moments. I don’t think that is what Stamkos has in mind when signing with a team, whether it’s Toronto or Tampa, or somebody else. It’s nice to hold out hope that the Bruins are going to land a big fish despite being a star-crossed franchise that’s very much in the middle of a painful reloading process. But some of these are delusions more than reasonable scenarios based on what might actually happen.

5. Bruins aren’t on the list

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s the most damning piece of proof. TSN’s ultimate hockey insider Bob McKenzie was on the phone with TSN Radio out in Edmonton on Tuesday morning, and was asked about the Stamkos sweepstakes right out of the gate. He labeled Detroit, Buffalo and Toronto as the three favorites to land Stamkos in free agency, and Bobby Mac never even mentioned the Bruins during a lengthy, information-filled discussion with numerous follow-up questions. Other teams like the Canadiens were tossed into the mix for discussion purposes, but at no point were the Black and Gold even a glint in McKenzie’s eye during his comments. All due respect to Lawton, but it’s like I said earlier: there is a 0.0 percent chance that Stamkos signs with the Bruins on July 1 if he ultimately leaves the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Red Sox recall reliever Pat Light as replacement for Eduardo Rodriguez

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Red Sox recall reliever Pat Light as replacement for Eduardo Rodriguez

The Red Sox made the demotion of Eduardo Rodriguez official on Tuesday, sending him to Pawtucket and recalling reliever Pat Light from Pawtucket.

Light was briefly with the Sox earlier this year, allowing two runs in one inning during a game in Atlanta in April. He has 2.05 ERA in 26 1/3 innings with the PawSox, with 13 walks and 32 strikeouts, and hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings, dating back to May 21.