Boston Red Sox

McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

756986.jpg

McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

BOSTON -- "Toxic'' -- the word used by ESPN.com's Buster Olney to describe the Red Sox clubhouse dynamic -- may have been too strong a phrase.
But at the very least, emerging details of the 2012 Red Sox reveal the organization to be somewhat dysfunctional at nearly every level, more closely resembling a soap opera than a successful team.
Club insiders paint a picture of a handful of alientated players, a detached manager, an absentee ownership and a general manager caught in-between.
Numerous sources indicated that the relationship between teammates is better than some would expect for a club that has gone through the upheavel the Sox have experienced since last September.
As might be expected with a high-profile manager like Bobby Valentine, there's a divided opinion among the players. Some have no problem with his managing style, preferring to do their job and avoid conflict.
Others are not so accepting of Valentine, to the point, in one case, of openly challenging him. And a number are unhappy with the lack of communication from the manager's office.
One player involved in a transaction this season, for instance, learned of his fate through the team's Twitter feed. Others dislike his unwillingness to tell players ahead of time that they won't be in the lineup the next days.
"That,'' acknowledged one player generally supportive of Valentine, "is not fair.''
Valentine's style is about as different from his predecessor, Terry Francona, as could be imagined. While Francona interracted with players and valued communication, Valentine takes more of an old-school approach, feeling little need -- as he himself said on the first weekend of the regular season -- to inform the players of every lineup adjustment ahead of time.
Of course, one of the reasons that Valentine was hired was precisely (italics please) because (end italics) he was the polar opposite of Francona. While the latter was very much a player's manager -- to his detriment in 2011, when players tuned him out and took advantage of his trusting nature -- Valentine is known as a button-pusher, capable of tweaking players publicly in order to motivate or merely to make his point.
Perhaps Valentine's reclusive nature is somewhat understandable. Sources indicate that, following his infamous remark aimed at Youkilis in April, the manager felt he didn't get the support of management. Indeed, GM Ben Cherington publicly sided with Youkilis.
Moreover, a source said Valentine was told to apologize to Youkilis, though it's unclear who made that demand.
And because hiring Valentine wasn't Cherington's idea in the first place -- CEO and president Larry Lucchino invited Valentine into the process, then strongly advised his first-year GM to hire him -- there's a perception that the Sox are a house divided.
Sensing this, some players unhappy with Valentine have taken their complaints to Cherington, who must act as a mediator.
Finally, there's ownership, which, over the years, has gone from present and involved to increasingly distracted by other business interests. While the ownershipupper management troika of Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner make themselves visible at high-profile series such as last weekend's three-game set at Wrigley Field or the 100th Fenway Park anniversary in April, they're not nearly as visible as before when the club won two championships in ownership's first six years.
Fairly or not, some around the club see the owners as less immersed in the day-to-day operation of the club, and more preoccupied by other investments.
"It used to be,'' said one player, "that owners used to know everything was going on around here. Now, they have to hear about it from others.''

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

MORE:

The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Benintendi's single in 11th sends Red Sox over Orioles, 10-8

red_sox_andrew_benintendi_091817.jpg

Benintendi's single in 11th sends Red Sox over Orioles, 10-8

BALTIMORE -- Roaring from behind and then finally winning in extra innings, the Boston Red Sox did more than merely maintain their lead in the A.L. East.

They showed their mettle, a characteristic that should come in handy during the postseason.

Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning, Mookie Betts had four RBIs and Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-8 Monday night for their ninth win in 12 games.

Xander Bogaerts homered and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who remained three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East and reduced to four their magic number for clinching a playoff berth.

Boston erased a five-run deficit with a six-run fifth inning and needed 10 pitchers to beat a skidding Orioles team that has now lost 10 of 12.

"This is a big one, being down early and coming back," Benintendi said. "Obviously it's a good win, but it's kind of a character win. Everybody contributed tonight."

After three walks - one intentional - off Miguel Castro (3-2) loaded the bases in the 11th, Benintendi hit a grounder past diving second baseman Jonathan Schoop to give Boston its major-league leading 14th extra-inning win against three defeats.

"That's one of the reasons we stand here today," manager John Farrell said.

Matt Barnes (7-3) pitched the 10th and Carson Smith got three outs for his first save.

"Our group has such grit, such determination, such competiveness," Farrell said. "There's no quit in them."

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left in the fourth inning after being struck in the face by a foul ball he chopped off the plate. The team described the injury as a bruised nose and listed his availability as day to day.

It was the second freak injury Pedroia sustained at Camden Yards this season. On April 21, the All-Star was spiked on a late slide by Manny Machado, a play that created bad blood between the teams into May.

Baltimore built a 5-0 lead against Doug Fister over the first three innings, taking advantage of five walks and getting a two-run double from rookie Austin Hays.

After Betts hit an RBI double in the fourth, Adam Jones countered with a run-scoring single in the bottom half. But the 6-1 advantage vanished in the fifth under a torrent of six hits against Dylan Bundy and two Baltimore relievers.

The key blows in the six-run inning were a two-run double by Brock Holt - Pedroia's replacement - and a bases-loaded double by Betts that scored all three runners.

"It was just that one inning. I let things slip away from me," Bundy said. "I didn't really limit the damage very well, obviously. I was just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and they made me pay for them."

Pedro Alvarez homered in the bottom half and Tim Beckham put Baltimore back in front with a two-out RBI double .

"We find a way to build a big inning, we give it right back and then from that point on the bullpen is outstanding," Farrell said.

The see-saw leveled in the seventh when Bogaerts homered off Donnie Hart to make it 8-all.

BUNDY WILL CONTINUE

As the Orioles stagger to the end of the season, there's speculation that manager Buck Showalter might shut down Bundy, who's now at a career-high 169 2/3 innings.

"I don't think we're at that point yet," the manager said. "Stuff's fine, he feels great between starts, he's getting extra days rest."

Bundy said: "It's September. Everybody is tired right now. So, you've got to battle through it."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Betts was in the starting lineup despite hurting his thumb in two places Sunday. ... DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) did not start but appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. ... 2B Eduardo Nunez will test his sore right knee running the bases Wednesday. Farrell said: "Wednesday will be a good test in terms of where he is at."

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5, 3.28 ERA) looks to keep his outstanding season going in his fourth start of the year against Baltimore. Pomeranz was 25-36 lifetime before this season.

Orioles: Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.83 ERA) makes his 32nd start of the year, the fourth against Boston. He's 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA against the Red Sox in 2017.