Rare bad play by Ciriaco costs Sox

841103.jpg

Rare bad play by Ciriaco costs Sox

CLEVELAND In a season where there hasnt been a ton to feel good about, Pedro Ciriaco has been a great story.

The middle infielder rapped out two more hits in Wednesday nights 5-3 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field, and is hitting .341.349.482 in 28 games with the Sox in what can only be termed a surprise performance.

But Ciriaco was also in the middle of a crucial play that went against the Sox in their loss to the Tribe after hed started off the top of the seventh inning by rapping a double down the right field line. Carl Crawford followed a Jacoby Ellsbury strikeout with a ground ball to shortstop that Asdrubal Cabrera was able to field cleanly with the play developing right in front of Ciriaco.

It was a hard-hit ball and a split-second decision for the speedy Ciriaco, who chose to be aggressive trying to make something happen in a one-run game and was caught in a rundown between second and third. Instead of making something good happen, Ciriaco and Crawford were both gunned down in a 6-5-6-4 double play that ended the potential game-tying rally.

Pedro was a little over-aggressive. The ball was hit really hard and his first move was to score, and it went right to the shortstop, said Bobby Valentine. I thought the worst we would have in that situation was Pedroia hitting with two outs, and he would get him in. But a lot of things didnt work out the way we thought they would tonight and well go get them tomorrow.

Ciriaco appeared to be taking it to heart following the loss, and willingly accepted blame for the base-running miscue. Its one of the few times this season thats been involved in a negative play for Boston.

I thought the ball was going to pass him, so I went and he made a nice play, said Ciriaco. I should have waited to see if it went through. I made a mistake.

The loss was another example of the Sox finding a new way to lose a close game against an able-bodied opponent, and unfortunately Ciriaco was one of the guys explaining how it all went wrong afterward.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason witnessed Pete Rose hire people to sign autographs

Boomer Esiason tells Toucher & Rich a story from his early days in Cincinnati when he witnessed Pete Rose overseeing five guys he paid to sign a stack of photographs for fans.