Blow up what?

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Blow up what?

At this point, there's no turning back and there's no in between. By the end of this season, the Red Sox will either make me look really smart or really stupid. I'm talking Bill James or Rick James. Bobby Fisher or Bobby Jenks. Carl Jung or Carl Everett.

OK, you get my point, and I've made it a few times on here over the course of the season. But here we are again, with another storyline that's given me the sudden urge to take a bath with my toaster: Is it time to blow up the Red Sox?

First of all, what do people mean when they suggest it's time to "blow up" the Sox? I assume that Big Ben and Loser Larry should fire up the trade machine and send a bunch of different pieces in a bunch of different directions? That they should find the heart and soul of this team, smash it to smithereens and build a new identity with a new batch of names and faces?

OK, so let's take a look at the roster and see how we're going to blow this thing up. I'll start naming guys and stop me when I get to someone you actually think would be worth trading right now. And by "worth" I mean that getting rid of him would actually help the Sox situation andor it wouldn't cost millions upon millions upon millions to convince another team to take him. Here we go:

Dustin Pedroia? David Ortiz? Jacoby Ellsbury? Mike Aviles? Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Cody Ross? Ryan Sweeney? Nick Punto? Will Middlebrooks? Vincente Padilla? Franklin Morales? Clay Buchholz? Jon Lester? Felix Doubront? Alfredo Aceves? Carl Crawford? Adrian Gonzalez?

Anyone yet?

OK, how about Josh Beckett? Yes, OK. You can make an argument that Beckett's awful attitude makes him a prime candidate to be shown the door in the event of a clubhouse cleansing. Of course, you can also make the argument that Beckett has been their most consistent pitcher and is the only one who's experienced any consistent success in the playoffs.

Kevin Youkilis? Yes, of course. We all know that Youk needs to go. We all know he eventually will go. But I'm not sure that getting rid of your struggling, malcontent third baseman while you already have a prospect bursting at the chance to take the starting job can be considered a step towards "blowing up" the team. In fact, I really don't understand where the idea comes from at all. Or more, how it's possible.

When we talked about the blowing up the Celtics all winter, it was because we assumed they achieved as much as they could as a unit. That they were old and out of shape that as a unit they had NOTHING left and that if this was going to be their last year together anyway, why not shop them around, see what you can get. Why not get a head start on the rebuilding? In basketball, all it takes is trading one or two guys to "blow things up." Sometimes that's all you need. In baseball? With this team?

One of the rallying cries of the blow it up crew is that the Sox are in last place. And I get why that's a point of frustration to an extent.

They're a last place team! Can you believe they're in last place?! What a bunch of last place bums! Fine, but what are you going to say if they win tomorrow? I mean, come on. They're in last place, but they're actually tied for last place. Not to mention, they're also only six and a half games out of first place and four and a half out of the wild card and, oh yeah, it's June 14.

It's June 14.

Their pitching is better than ever. They've got Josh Beckett and Felix Doubront who are tied (albeit with a bunch of other guys) for fourth in the AL with eight quality starts. Jon Lester is right behind them with seven. And Clay Buchholz had an awful first two months but is probably pitching the best out of any of them. In other words, the Sox currently have four very good pitchers in their rotation. Four guys that you're confident in every single time they take the mound.

And their line-up is a little broken right now, but it can only get better from here. And as it is, they're already second in the Majors in runs scored, fourth in batting average and fifth in OPS. Despite all the recent struggles, don't you still have faith in names like Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz and Gonzalez down the stretch?

Listen, I'm not saying that we should all just be hunky dory about the Sox situation. Believe me, I understand the hate. I listened to Theo Epstein on the radio yesterday and read his interview in the Globe this morning, and every step along the way, my hatred for this ownership continued to grow. I didn't think it was possible to hate them anymore than I already did, but no no, it is. And i do. But it's too early to give up on the guys in the field. I don't think blowing up anything in that clubhouse makes sense right now.

Although if you want to blow up the owner's box, you've got my full support there.

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

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

The dearth of homegrown starting pitching for the Red Sox is talked about almost as much as every Tom Brady post on Instagram.

Red Sox fans may take some solace in knowing their team isn’t the only one dealing with this problem.

In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t talk about his team’s pitching problems in context of the Red Sox. But the explanation the longtime Yanks boss offered should sound familiar. 

In the biggest of markets, time to develop properly is scarce.

“Yeah. It's a fact,” Cashman said when asked if criticism of their pitching development was fair. “I think part of the process has been certainly where we draft. Because we've had a lot of success, we've not been allowed to tank and go off the board and therefore get access to some of the high-end stuff that plays out to be impactful. Part of it is we can't get out of our own way because we don't have the patience to let guys finish off their development, because if you possess some unique ability that stands out above everybody else -- whether it was Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, now [Luis] Severino and before that [Bryan] Mitchell and Shane Greene -- we're pulling them up before their development is finished.

“Teams like Tampa Bay, for instance, they're going to wait until they have their four pitches down and their innings limits are all exceeded at the minor-league level; they're very disciplined in that approach as they finish off their starters. For us, if I'm looking at my owner and he says, ‘What's our best team we can take north?’ 

“Well, ‘We could take this guy; he's not necessarily 100 percent finished off, but we can stick him in our 'pen. He can be in the back end of our rotation, because he's better than some of the guys we already have,’ and then you cut corners, so I think that probably plays a role in it.”

Not everything is circumstantial, though -- or a deflection. 

“And sometimes we don't make the right decisions, either, when we're making draft selections and signings and stuff like that,” Cashman continued. “On top of it all, playing in New York is a lot different than playing anywhere else.”

We’ve heard that last part about Boston too, here and there.

Cashman was complimentary of his current Sox counterpart, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose team Cashman has compared to the Golden State Warriors.

On his feelings when he first heard the Sox were getting Chris Sale:

“When that trade was consummated, that was the first thing I thought about, which was, 'Wow, look at what they've done,' ” Cashman said. “I know how it's going to play out for them. Listen, Steve Kerr does a great job managing that team -- oh, I mean John Farrell. It's a lot of talent and with talent comes pressure to perform. I think Dave Dombrowski has done everything he possibly can to provide that city with a world championship team. They've got 162 games to show it.”
 

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.