Cherington on the draft: 'We're not going to go after need'

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Cherington on the draft: 'We're not going to go after need'

BOSTON -- The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is next week, and prior to Thursday's game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park, general manager Ben Cherington met with the media to discuss his strategy for what will be his first draft as Red Sox GM.
But according to him, at least, his team hasn't yet discussed a specific strategy. As of Thursday, they were still just putting the players in order.
One thing is for sure. They aren't going to draft based on need.
"We're not going to go after need," said Cherington on Thursday. "We'll target the best player available at each pick. We're looking for the best full return from this draft class."
When asked if there would ever be a situation in which the Red Sox would make a pick based on need, Cherington said that it's unlikely, but don't rule anything out.
"Generally, we have not done that," said Cherington. "Baseball, as everyone here knows, it's a different beast than some other sports, because there's so much that can happen. So much happens between the time you draft a guy -- even the guys you think are closest to the big leagues, a highly-advanced college player. There's still a transition, there's still a development path that needs to be taken.
"And so much can change, not just from the player, but with our needs," added Cherington. "Our needs could look different six weeks from now, never mind three years from now. So, it's a dangerous game, I think, if you get into drafting for needs. We're just going to focus on trying to find the best possible impact and do as well as we can with each pick."
Cherington recalled the first amateur player he ever saw as an area scout. It was Josh Hamilton.
"I thought, wow, this is pretty easy, that guy looks good," he recalled. "And then the next few games, it was a little harder to pick them out."
Now, without Theo Epstein, Cherington is in charge. But with the familiar and experienced staff he looks around and sees in the Red Sox draft room, he believes the decision-making process will be very similar to how it has been in the past.
"There's a lot of things that feel very similar," said Cherington. "I'm in the room with a bunch of people that I've been in the room with for several years. We're using a lot of the same philosophies and the same standards to set the board up. We're talking about the same things that we care about. Ultimately, we have the same goal."

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.