Papi Can Wait

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Papi Can Wait

If you go back and play sore, of course you could tear it. Its not healed. Its not ready and I dont want to run that risk. Im a free agent after this year and I dont want to have a surgery going into free agency." David Ortiz

It's now been 27 days since David Ortiz went on the 15-Day DL, and even before the above quote surfaced yesterday, Ortiz was getting flack for putting free agency before the team. So, it should only get worse from here.

But if I'm the Red Sox, I'd actually prefer that Papi takes this approach.

First of all, let's be serious: The Sox aren't dead, but they're far more likely to miss the playoffs for a third straight year than to make a miraculous run. With or without Ortiz. So even if he returns, it will probably be in vain.

Second, and most importantly, while Ortiz likes to think of himself as a free agent this winter, the fact remains that he's still overwhelmingly likely to end up back in Boston. No other team will give him the kind of money that he wants; no one's going to break the bank on a 37-year-old, now injury-prone DH. Nope. It's going to be the same thing as last year. He'll bitch and moan and claim to have a better offer but eventually come back to the Sox.
And you know what?

They could use him. Ortiz was far and away their most important slugger this season, and even if he can't quite match it again next year, whatever he brings to the table will be an upgrade over their other options. He could and likely will be an enormous part of next year's lineup.

So why risk tearing an Achilles at the expense of next season?

It's not worth it.

So, take your time, Papi.

(And it also wouldn't hurt to stop talking.)

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

Time for Red Sox to clear away Clay

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Time for Red Sox to clear away Clay

In our Early Edition production meeting, someone said Clay Buchholz was pitching for his job tonight.

Sorry, not anymore.

As soon as Steven Wright pitched well for the fifth straight time last night, Buchholz's train left the station. It’s time to do with Clay what the Sox did to Panda: Make up an injury, fake a surgery (okay, that’s all a bit of an overstatement with Sandoval) and get him out of the way.

As soon as the White Sox said goodbye to John Danks, we all said the same thing: If Chicago can do it, why can’t Boston? Danks was to start tonight against Buchholz, but the Chisox said "No more" and paid off the final year of his $65 million contract. The Bosox -- haven’t heard that term in a while, have you? -- could do the same with Clay and the $13 million he's owed for this season, plus a $500,000 buyout at the end of the year. 

David Price is the No. 1 starter and eventually he'll be fine. Eduardo Rodriquez gave up three runs in six innings last night for Pawtucket and will soon be ready to take his spot in the No. 2 slot. Then there's my pick to click, Rick Porcello (with a 2.76 ERA), and the previously mentioned Wright with his 1.76 ERA. Wright was supposed to be the odd man out when E-Rod returned, but that’s not happening. So there are your top four starters. And what about Joe Kelly when he comes back? I would rather see Kelly and anyone from Pawtucket pitch in the fifth spot instead of Buchholz and his 6.51 ERA.

Is there any reason to keep Buchholz?  Not that I can see. Clay can throw his second career no-hitter tonight and my feelings won't change.

It’s time to move on from Clay Buchholz.

MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

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MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

Brian MacPherson calls in to Toucher & Rich to speak on the shoulder surgery Pablo Sandoval underwent, which will keep him out of use for the season.

McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

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McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

CHICAGO -- His left shoulder surgically repaired, Pablo Sandoval is now out of sight and out of mind for the Red Sox.
     
Travis Shaw, who beat out Sandoval for the third base job in the spring, is showing that the Sox made the right move with his play at third and his strong start at the plate.
     
Shaw may not be a natural third baseman, or even an above-average one. But his range is superior to that of Sandoval and his offensive production strong.
     
The move was addition by subtraction. Disregard the salaries attached to both players: the Red Sox got better -- not worse -- when Shaw became the starter and Sandoval the stand-in.
    
But the notion that the Red Sox have arrived at some permanent solution here is a false one.
     
Yes, Sandoval will be gone from Fenway, exiled to Florida to rehab his shoulder, and perhaps, reshape his physique.
     
But he's not really disappearing. He'll just be in hiding for a few months. And when spring training begins next February, Sandoval will be a problem all over again for the Red Sox.
     
This surgery -- beyond repairing Sandoval's mysteriously injured shoulder - can be seen as kicking the can down the road. Sandoval's not really going away.
     
When 2017 begins, the Red Sox will still owe him $58 million over the next three seasons ($17 million in 2017, $18 million each in 2018 and 2019 and a $5 million option buyout for 2020).
     
For that, the Red Sox will get a player coming off major surgery who's performance has been in decline for several seasons, who can play only one position, and despite nominally being a switch-hitter, can actually only hit lefthanded.
     
What a treasure.
     
Trimming one year of salary off the $95 million mega deal signed by Sandoval helps some, but it's really only a small step. There's still a lot of money owed to a player who will soon turn 30.
     
In the unlikely event that a player with that profile could interest another team, Sandoval will start have to prove that he's healthy next spring. No team is going to take on even a portion of that contract without having it demonstrated that Sandoval's shoulder is in working condition.
     
Could Sandoval then be pawned off elsewhere? Perhaps. But it will require the Red Sox to subsidize a significant portion of that contract to faciliate a trade.
     
Whatever that price may be -- half of the reminaining money? - the Red Sox should pay it. It's clear that Sandoval won't ever be a contrbuting player in Boston.
     
The Red Sox have Shaw, just 25, as their third baseman of the present and future. They have Hanley Ramirez to either handle first base or slide into the DH vacancy to be created by David Ortiz's retirement.
     
If the Sox want Ramirez to remain at first, they could seek a veteran slugger like Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to fill the DH job.
     
Or, they could have Ramirez move to DH and promote Sam Travis to be their first baseman.
     
Whatever plan they select, there's no role for Sandoval beyond "aging, overpaid, limited role player.''
     
That's not in anyone's best interest. So until the Red Sox find a more permanent solution, don't be fooled: Sandoval remains a burden - financially and otherwise -- who will, eventually, end up elsewhere.