McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

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McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

What's next?

What else is going to come from the steaming pile that was the 2011 Red Sox season?

What new, sordid tale remains to be told? What tawdry confession is on the on-deck circle?

First, it was beer being consumed in the clubhouse. Then, it was a beer-fried chicken-video game festival in the clubhouse. Now comes a report that three pitchers were drinking beer in the dugout during games.

In a statement released by the team late Tuesday night, all three of the accused players -- starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester -- categorically denied the charges, as did former manager Terry Francona.

Now, we're into "he said, she said" territory.

But the fact remains: After all that we've learned in the aftermath of the season, the report seemed, at the very least, plausible.

In other words, even if it's not true, as Lackey, Beckett and Lester maintained, it could have been. We've been conditioned to believe just about anything about these Red Sox.

Drinking in the dugout might have seemed like it crossed the line. But then again, the 2011 Red Sox crossed that line some time ago.

Consider Francona the lucky one. He may be unemployed for the moment and his reputation slimed by some anonymous cowards. But at least he doesn't have to go back and deal with this bunch.

Missing the playoffs with a 7-20 September was just the start, apparently. The Red Sox could have recovered from that. They had a brutal month on the field and their starting rotation failed them miserably. They became a punch line with their final-month freefall.

But that was nothing compared to the revelations that have come since the end of the season.

The Red Sox have gone beyond punchline and headed directly for laughing stock. For the rest of the offseason, they'll be proper fodder for Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman.

Guaranteed, someone will take footage from the World Series winners' clubhouse, with champagne flowing and beer pouring and identify it as the home clubhouse at Fenway during a July game.

In the immediate aftermath of Francona's departure, team officials -- both publicly and off-the-record -- insisted that things weren't as bad as they seemed.

Larry Lucchino told the New York Daily News: "I agree we need to restore some order and rules enforcement in the clubhouse and the new manager will do that. That said, I think the stories have been blown out of proportion by the epic collapse. We have a core of really good, talented, charismatic players."

Blown out of proportion? Wonder if Lucchino would like that one back?

Another Red Sox official admonished me for a column two weeks ago in which I suggested that the final month of this season was every bit as bad the final month of 2001.

In hindsight, of course, that person was correct. This year was much, much worse. It's going to take some time is latest bit of nausea-inducing news from Fenway.

The reclamation project needs to begin soon. Incoming GM Ben Cherington -- and how's this for a cleanup job on Day 1? -- must begin exploring dealing each one of his top three starting pitchers.

Other than Lester, this will not be easy. Lackey has more than 45 million remaining over three years and next-to-no value, after coming off what was, quite literally, the worst season ever for a Red Sox starter. Beckett has 10-5 rights -- 10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team -- giving him the ability to refuse a trade.

Something tells me that's not going to be much of a hurdle now.

As presently constituted, the Red Sox roster is toxic. Laughed at around the country and throughout baseball, they are positively reviled in their own region.

I've lost track of the number of people who have used the word "disgusted" in recent days and weeks about the 2011 Red Sox. And that was before the latest bombshell. Imagine their revulsion now.

Choking, fans can deal with. But that was when no one questioned the players' sobriety.

In addition to a roster makeover, there's plenty of other work to be done this winter.

If ownership has any sense of propriety, they won't dare introduce a price increase in tickets. In fact, a reduction -- the first in, what, decades? -- would be in order. For that matter, how about a modest refund to season-ticket holders who paid full price this past season for less than full effort from the players?

No more, please, about the consecutive-game sellout streak, since that's about to come to an inglorious end anyway, on, say, the fifth or sixth home game next April.

No more reminders that fans are inhabiting "America's Most Beloved Ballpark," and other similar sticky Valentines.

And please, no more institutional unhealthy obsession with the Yankees and repeated vows to outdo them.

The cleanup has to start at the top. It's time for Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner to revoke the fraternity charter, and put the players -- like the residents of Delta House -- and themselves on double-secret probation and go about the business of turning this bad joke back into a proud franchise.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam