Sox should bid McDonald a farewell to arms

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Sox should bid McDonald a farewell to arms

We know the Red Sox were strapped for pitchers Sunday, and we know they had no choice except to turn to a position player in the 17th inning against the Orioles. . . but did it have to be Darnell McDonald?

Since 1952 the Red Sox have used 10 non-pitchers on the mound, and McDonald's been the worst of the bunch. He's done it twice (he also pitched last Aug. 26 against Oakland) and, in his two innings, has allowed three hits and four runs, with four walks and a strikeout. That's an 18.00 ERA and a 3.5 WHIP. It would have been worse Sunday, too, if Jarrod Saltalamacchia hadn't throw out Wilson Betemit trying to steal for the first out of Baltimore's three-run 17th inning.

Compare that to Nick Green, who pitched two hitless, scoreless innings (albeit with three walks) in a 9-5 loss to the White Sox on Aug. 27, 2009. Or Bill Hall, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on May 28, 2010 as the Sox lost to the Royals, 12-5. Steve Lyons (July 21, 1991 against the Twins), Andy Tomberlin (May 20, 1994 at Minnesota), Mike Benjamin (June 16, 1997 at Detroit) and Jonathan Van Every (April 30, 2009 at Tampa Bay) also turned in scoreless outings. And Dave McCarty did it twice in 2004: June 12 against the Angels and Oct. 3 at Baltimore.

(On the other hand, Danny Heep and Dusty Brown, like McDonald, surrendered runs, and both McCarthy and Van Every had other outings in which they were scored upon).

None of those guys were available to Bobby Valentine on Sunday, granted. But he did have another option.

"Adrian Gonzalez really wanted to pitch, just for the record," the manager told reporters after the game. "And for the record, I didn't put him out there."

Maybe next time, Bobby?

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.