Valentine backs Lackey; clarifies alcohol ban

741452.jpg

Valentine backs Lackey; clarifies alcohol ban

CLEVELAND Bobby Valentine made it clear during his Friday pregame meeting that Red Sox starter John Lackey didnt break any rules while stalking around the clubhouse with a can of Bud Light in each of his hands following Thursday nights loss to the Indians.

Or double-fisting as its known in the parlance of college frat party circles.

The Sox skipper instead pointed to a mini-fridge behind him complete with Bud Light and Blue Moon beer, and said that an inspection of his office hours after the game would have revealed the same thing.

"That's beer right there," said Valentine to a group of reporters with a smile on his face. "If you came in here last night, you would have seen a pretty heaping pile of empty bottles by the time I left. And I dare say there were a whole bunch of games this year at home that I would have liked to have the ability to make a big pile.

The Sox have banned alcohol from the home clubhouse since the beginning of the year after Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were at the center of a chicken and beer controversy that helped color the worst September collapse in Major League Baseball history. While Lackey wasnt breaking any team rules with his behavior it also shows a pretty clear lack of good judgment on his part given his leading role in the accounts of last years wild and unruly clubhouse.

A player like Lackey recovering from Tommy John surgery is allowed to travel with the team per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but its ultimately the call of Red Sox management whether an injured player is allowed to go on every road trip in a season hes not expected to pitch.

It should be noted that many of Lackeys teammates were vocal and undeniable in support for their teammate while maintaining that the pitcher is the one most responsible for keeping things light on the road.

MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

tr_haggs0504161462376231103_3450k_1280x720_679230020000.jpg

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

red-sox-pablo-sandoval.jpg

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.